Friday, March 2, 2012

Life Rushes On

I haven’t posted in forever, but I’ve been riding regularly, and Sofie’s doing well. We’ve gone out on a few trail rides, both alone and in company. The footing is changeable, especially on the driveway, and last time we ventured out we had to walk across a patch of glare ice. Not advisable, but Sofie is very surefooted on ice and she did just fine.

Mostly we’ve kept to the indoor, and I’ve kept up my bareback riding. Sofie has learned to back up with more impulsion, and she stays straight much of the time. She’s sitting better behind and rounding throughout her body. She’s especially good at it when we ride bareback with just a halter, and I can really feel her lifting her back and using herself. I’ve done a little bit of leg yielding at the trot as well, which is a fun exercise. I’m hoping to improve our leg yields as we’ve done with the rein-back.

Sofie has been staying round pretty consistently, and she seems in a nice frame of mind. As long as I don’t overreact and expect her to be round every second, she does very well. Overreactions never help, I’ve found. If she’s allowed to pick her head up when she loses balance or is a little stiff, she comes right back to me. On the unfortunate occasions when I forget how best to ride her, I always learn and return to the barn with a better attitude.

I’ve been doing leg stretches before and after I ride, as well as back and butt lifts. She’s not fond of those, but she is responding better and it seems to be helpful. I was able to free school her for the first time in months the other day. No one was at the barn, so I let her loose in the indoor for a few minutes after a ride (horses aren’t supposed to be loose in the indoor…shhhh. They do let the minis out in the arena, though, and Sofie is hardly the type to shatter the mirrors with her crazy antics. Anyway, I cheated). I wanted to be able to visually evaluate her after her injury (more on that later), so I had her walk and trot both directions. She was perfect, of course, remembering all her previous training and going right on the rail, calm and steady. And I was happy to see that she looks more balanced and muscled.

I recently started cantering on her again as well, bareback in a halter, of course. She’s been much better about going into the canter, which makes me think that my riding was affecting her before. My position tends to be more balanced when I’m riding without stirrups (or a saddle). In any case, it’s been nice. We still don’t have a right lead (we may never again have a right lead) and Sofie’s been a little disgruntled about the whole thing, but she hasn’t gotten sore. She’s been picking up the canter within a few strides, and holding it for at least a third of the long side. Her head does come up, and she’s still not entirely sure about cantering in the indoor, but it’s still a big improvement and I think in time we’ll be able to do even better. She hasn’t kicked out, thrown her head or done any other potentially unseating things, and she’s calming down quickly after coming back to trot. Instead of throwing her head up and rushing, she’s actually stretching down right away.

I’ve cut out cantering for now, as last Monday I discovered a rather large scrape on the inner part of her left hind, above the hock. Most of it is just hairless, but there’s a small chunk of hide missing in the center. None of us have any idea how it happened. She was never lame but was pretty sore at first, and her leg was stocked up because she was constantly resting it and not moving around. Fortunately it is not a puncture, and there was nothing to stitch so veterinary attention was not needed. We cleaned the wound and have been treating it with Vetricyn, and she’s already feeling better. We also went out to check on and exercise her five times last week to help keep the swelling down, so I got to see her a lot.

I stopped by late on Friday night (we were in the vicinity), sprayed her wound, cleaned her feet and did the short version of tacking up (helmet on me, reins on her halter). I hopped on for a few minutes, and without even a real warm-up she did nice transitions and rein-back and was basically a gem.