Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chiro Visit

Things have been very low-key at the barn lately. It has been a little over a week since Pandora had her shoes pulled. She's much better, but not 100%. I longed her last night. Couldn't get much of a canter going because there was one boarder riding and the resident trainer had two horses tied to the rail (one of whom was throwing a fit because she was clipping around a girth sore), but her trot looked way improved over earlier this week. I will probably longe her again today to see how she is at the canter, then ride either tomorrow or Monday.

I have to say I'm a little frustrated with how long it is taking her to adjust, but I probably shouldn't be so impatient. It's just that she was fine last fall barefoot, then we shod her in the winter as a clinician suggested it might help her stride out a little better in front - she thought Pandora looked a little sore. Of course, Pandora has gone through SO many changes since then that it's really hard to tell. We'll just give it some time, I guess.

Pandora got a visit from the chiropractor/massage person/bodyworker guy on Tuesday. It was probably the most productive session we've ever had. There was quite a bit for him to work on, but none of it was "rehab" type things, i.e. fixing problems that have been set for a very long time. Her jaw was out quite a bit (which I noticed about a week ago as I was tacking up and fiddling with her mouth, because I do strange things like poke around in my horse's mouth and look at her teeth on a fairly regular basis). A little to work on in her spine back towards her pelvis, a little in the neck, a little in her tail which is pretty standard for her. The major areas were her right shoulder, which has been a source of consistent work, and quite a bit of the muscles in her back half - gaskin, glutes, and the like.

Strong suspicion that this is related to the big lateral work progress we have made over the past two months. I took her from sort-of capable leg yields and a general understanding of moving away from a leg to forehand turns, haunch turns, forehand turns in motion, proper leg yields (at walk and working towards it at trot), shifting the haunches to the inside or outside of the track, shoulders in, and the like. I noticed that I had to work hard to supple her hips and get her to smoothly cross under herself with those hind legs while still moving forward. I think this probably had a lot to do with the soreness back there. So, a good kind of soreness - a progress kind!

In any case, he was very pleased with Pandora and so was I. She was easier to work with than ever before. She always gets a little dramatic about some of the releases, especially that right shoulder. He uses a big cotton rope to manipulate the legs and essentially allows the horse to do the release themselves; with the shoulder she kind of goes up and rolls the whole shoulder up and forward, but sometimes she goes up a little more forcefully than necessary ;) But this time, she was obviously trying to figure out how to get the releases herself. She was more supple than she's EVER been, which was very obvious as he did various stretches to help her relax before making an adjustment. She was very calm and quiet for most of the session.

She is also looking maaaaaaarvelous. You guys are probably sick of me basking in how filled-out she is getting, but this is not something that I've taken for granted with her! Her topline is smooth! Her spine doesn't poke! Her back runs smoothly into her haunches! Her muscle is developing! Okay, I promise I'll shut up about that for awhile.

At the end of the session she was a very content, relaxed pony, and I was pleased (and I wanted to RIDE the dang horse to feel the difference!). I also received some homework: he wanted me to back her quite a bit for the next couple weeks to help her stretch out and back with the muscles he worked on in the hind legs.

Have I ever mentioned that she sucks at backing up?

She'll do it, but she's sticky and crooked and will go for a few steps then stop and be cranky about it. Anyway, since I haven't been riding, it's been easy to just longe her for a bit, then work on our backing. She is getting better. We're working on the straightness (backing next to a wall helps), and I insist on a few freely 'forward' relaxed steps backward, then she gets to walk immediately forward. The immediate walk forward seems to be clicking in her brain, because I am able to get longer and longer stretches of free backward motion with a very light touch on the lead rope.

Anyway, lots to work on.

I have been riding McKinna more, a convenient side-effect of not riding my own horse much. Her canter has gone downhill again, pun somewhat intended. It's never been perfect, but I know that great show-jumping canter is in there (and she would be a blast to take to the show-jumping rally this spring, she's so tight and quick). So, little by little. If I push it too much she flattens into an awful canter and races around and it's just miserable and frustrating, so I have recalled that once upon a time Pandora had a terrible canter. Do you remember that? I could barely keep her cantering down a long side, never mind that she was jackhammering on the forehand and pulling me out of the saddle. Now I can sit, with a light contact, and she will carry herself straight down the long side! It's great.

Right, so. I remembered that when I first worked on Pandora's canter, I had to be in a light seat and we had to do it in small, bite-sized chunks. We worked almost entirely on 20m circles, because going down a long side was a bit too much. And we did short spurts: canter, hold the balance, no really hold it please, okay good girl, now trot. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I tried this last night with McKinna and she was much more agreeable about the whole thing, so back to Canter Therapy 101 for her. On the plus side, her trot is very nice and she's willing to relax into my hands a bit. I think I will take her to some dressage lessons with the nearby trainer as well. I had planned on taking Pandora there around this time for a lesson, actually, but I never made the call because we ran into footsoreness. I'd take McKinna now, but I'd rather put some time into her first and at least get a passable canter.

So, there. Loooong update. This is what happens when I don't write all week - I have so much to tell you! I will try to post more often.


Sydney said...

For backing up: everyone comments on how well my horses back. I just shift my weight back and backwards they go. I like to set up obstacles such as two poles and back through them, cones that you serpentine through, backwards, L shaped set of poles ( four poles in an L shape) Makes you brush up on disengaging their hindquarters when you gotta back up and change directions. Gives it a purpose.

Ms.BarnBrat said...

Not on topic of backing up but more on asking for your advice on Tack Cleaning!! ha ha I figured with your PC experience.....I've just started riding a seasoned eventer, who's tack is DISGUSTING! The only part I have no idea how to clean.....the joint on the figure 8 noseband, it's got gross dirty shearling on the underside. I thought about literally washing it by hand in the sink with woolite or something and then conditioning the heck out of it so the leather doesn't dry out......any tips??

manymisadventures said...

Thankfully, Pandora's backing improves every day. Letting her walk forward after backing REALLY works. She'll now go mostly straight in a free fashion for as long as I ask! We are working on the straightness, and I've started asking for it under saddle, where we still need to resolve a lot of stickiness.

Ms. BarnBrat, oh dear! I'm certainly not The Authority on tack cleaning, but here's what I would do.

If the shearling is not removable, I would suggest taking a wet sponge to it before you try dunking the whole thing. Scrub at it with the sponge till it's wet, then go after it with some sort of mild soap (a gentle hand soap, maybe?) and see if that does the trick. If not, you might go the Woolite or Oxyclean route...but I'd try to do it all with a sponge using plenty of water and scrubbing, rather than dunking. At least that way you're not soaking the whole bridle! But yes, a light conditioning afterward is a good idea.

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