Something Is Bothering Him
Nice cool day, promising of rain.
I chopped down a lot of weeds aroung the arena this morning and again tonight. As in the past they had taken over during the heat wave when I simply could not handle cutting them. If I'd gotten them even earlier when school was still in session, I probably could have handled them with the weed whacker, but now they have nice sturdy stalks so I had to use a hand cutter to get rid of them. More yet to do, but things to look better. I can weed whack some of the vegetation, but that will have to be another day as I wore myself out today.
Then I rode. Tucker was first. His trot work was quite nice. Forward and responsive. The canter? Kick out, buck, lay back the ears, and generally miserable. I had to make a choice of letting him fuss his way out of it or work through it. I decided on the work through, for now. Eventually, with a great deal of determination on my part, he gave me a series of good departs on both leads and some pretty good canter work, although I did not challenge him by asking for any sharp turns or small circles.
The horses are due for fall vaccinations, so when I get the vet out, I will have him give Tuck a going over. If it's his stifle, then he needs to work. If it's his hock(s) then I will have to decide about xrays. Until then, I'll work through it. I still have not tried giving him some bute to see if he works better, but again, that's for another day. The forecast is calling for rain over the next few days, so I will have to wait it out anyhow.
I rode Chance next and he was much steadier than the other day, so I will have to guess the flies were bothering him then as I suspected. Not too much to report as all the work is very basic with him. I did a few transitions, working on keeping his head down, so that was good. While the transitions into canter are still unbalanced, the canter itself is improving every time I work him. He stays round and on the bit for the most part, but will fall apart and break gait if I am not quick enough to correct him before it happens.
Successful riding is often anticipating a problem before it happens, so you can make an adjustment before it actually becomes a problem. That way you never really have to make a dramatic correction. It doesn't always work, but the quicker you can be the better the ride.
With Chance, adjustments need to come every two or three strides right now. Sometimes, I am a little too slow, however, so I have to make a bigger deal out of what I want from him. But he has a really good attitude and does try to do things right. Sometimes, it's just hard for him to balance himself and me at the same time.
I do feel a little weakness on his right side, however. That is the hind leg where the strange lameness showed up. I still don't know what that problem is, or whether it's still there, but I do think he is not as strong on that side. Again, it's kind of a wait and see thing. As he gets more fit, it will either get better or worse. So far, so good, and since the vet never did find anything specific, we'll just play it by ear.
I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. When horses are not exactly "lame" it is a tricky proposition. Many people would just ignore it and treat Tuck's behavior as a training issue. I'm just not that kind of person. I do not think horses lie to us about how they feel. They try to tell us if something is wrong and as trainers/riders/owners, we need to learn to listen.
Sometimes it's just hard to understand their language.