Awhile I ago I was talking to my husband about how this is the furthest I’ve ever taken a horse that I restarted from the track, and how I wasn’t quite sure where to go from here.
Well, guess what? I get to start from scratch again, only on a horse that I put 3 years into.
Commence mad/sad/frustrated face.
The beginning of my wanting to take P off the market started when I received a text with a picture of P that had the caption, “Look how much muscle he’s gaining.”
Huh? I see a tense horse that is bracing in the bridle. What is he doing? Is he walking or trotting? If so, why is he so short-strided? Is he backing up? I’m just not sure what’s going on here, but I don’t see a horse in self-carriage, or who looks particularly comfortable. And I don’t see this deluge of extra muscle.
The only thing that makes sense, given that P had the same shoes on for 11 weeks and didn’t lose one, is that he wasn’t ridden as much as I was told he was, or as much as I paid for. It would also explain why he can’t do the things he used to- walk to canter transitions, lateral work, staying balanced, trotting for longer than 2 minutes- boy is out of shape.
Since riding has been spotty since he’s gotten back, I haven’t worn spurs. And oh my goodness, how my legs have gotten a workout for the 20 minute rides that we have had. He’s back to plodding around at the walk, having to be kicked to stay in the trot, and keeping the canter for even a 20m circle is a joke. So spurs are going back on the boots today to see if I can start to refine him again.
My favorite analogy for getting a horse in shape (or back in shape), is to liken it to weightlifting (because I love weightlifting). And that sentiment is shared by the famous Denny Emerson, and he just so happened to post a little something on it at just the perfect time for me.
That 5th paragraph makes a really good point: a trained horse will do what’s being asked, even if he’s physically now unable to. I could tell in my rides that P knew what I was asking for, but he either couldn’t do it, or he couldn’t hold it for very long, if at all. Like when I asked him to counterbend, he went in the general shape, but then just couldn’t get that hind end to comply and he just fell in. When I finally got him into a working walk and gave him the signal for canter, he just kind of fell all over himself, then ended up doing a crazy speedy trot for a few steps before going into the most unbalanced canter I’ve felt from him in a long time.
I still can’t believe that this all happened. And I’m not even sure WHAT happened. Did he sit in a stall for 6 weeks? That’s what he feels like. Were his rides being supervised? Doesn’t seem like it. I made so much progress on him when we were training there, I don’t how or why it all fell apart.
Dressage trainer and I are trying to find a lesson time, so we’ll see how it goes from there.