Saturday, September 9, 2017

Stiff, Slow, Sleepy, but Sound!

My big plans for today were to ride my newly uninjured horse! I got to the barn early in the morning, taught a lesson, and then went to grab Casey.
So cute
She was incredibly sleepy when I went to grab her, and things didn't improve much when I started grooming and tacking her. Her eyes were droopy and she looked like she was struggling to stay awake. I waffled on the decision, but ended up giving her a little bit of Ace, just because the weather was the coolest it's been in probably a month and she hadn't gotten ridden in a week. I didn't really feel like riding a bronco and figured it was better to be safe than sorry. It turned out to be totally unnecessary though, because Casey was relatively sleepy for our entire ride.
This is post-ride, but accurately represents her sleepiness the entire day
Our ride wasn't too intense. We started off with ten minutes of walking where I mostly just let Casey relax, but we did a bit of lateral work just to get our brains in gear. After our walk warm-up we did some stretchy, relaxed trot. I just wanted Casey to get her body warmed up since she was really stiff at the start, due to all the time off and her stocked up fetlock joint. I just held the reins at the buckle and tried to get responsiveness from her using the tiniest possible aids. We did this for five minutes and then had a short walk break before moving on to actual work.
She only perked up when she was offered food...
We did about ten minutes of focused trot work in which my primary goal was to get Casey moving off her butt instead of falling on the forehand. I also was trying to get her to be more bendy. It was a real struggle because she was so stiff. After a summer of rehab in which Casey got really responsive and light in the bridle, this was the worst feeling ride EVER, but in retrospect it actually wasn't too terrible, I just have a much higher standard now than I used to. I'd liked to have seen more flexibility and power in her movement today, but I think that it'll just take a few days for Casey to work out of the body soreness. Also, all the smoke has done its damage on our lungs, because all of the horses are struggling a bit.
Again, she only looks awake in this photo because of food...
After we did all of the trot, we turned our attention to cantering. My goal for this was just to get Casey moving forward (since she was so sleepy the entire ride). Our current riding goal set by the vet is five minutes of canter, which is about ten laps of the indoor arena, but man it was a struggle. We could only canter two laps at a time (by the end of that we were both collapsing on our cores) and since Casey was so stiff to the left the entire ride (it's naturally her weaker side), we really had a hard time picking up that lead at the canter. We were able to get it eventually but it took two-three times circling at a trot before we could get it. Although the upward transition was a bit rough, the canter itself was not bad. Casey felt balanced and was moving easily in the gait, we just didn't have the stamina to maintain it. Hopefully we can build that back up. Again, I think that the smoke really didn't help this factor.
Cantering is hard
When we were finally finished with our five minutes of canter, completely out of breath and dripping with sweat, we ended the ride with a calm ten minutes of walking. Afterwards, Casey got a nice hosing off with some cool water and tons of cookies.
Eden "helping" lead the horse
Even though the ride was disappointing in terms of technical aspects, overall it was a great ride because Casey was sound on her left hind leg and she was so well-behaved. I really see a huge difference in her attitude and feel sure that it comes from the amount of time I put into building our relationship over the summer. Who knows how she will act once we get back into jumping, but I'm hoping that she continues with her current easy-going, willing-to-please attitude.
She's had the best attitude lately

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