Saturday morning I tacked Eeyore up figuring we could at least walk around for a bit and stretch ourselves out. For completeness sake I will say here that I have been dealing with some pretty significant depression all summer which has zapped all my motivation to do much beyond be irrationally angry or cry all the time. My head hasn't been a great place to be in for several months now. I have an answer to it and a treatment plan which I'm glad to finally have after several doctors had written me off and refused to take the time to listen. Hoping that relief comes soon.
Eeyore felt really great going right, his bad direction, but when we switched and went left at the trot he felt near head bobbing lame on his good left front leg. On the verge of yet more tears, I went right again and let him canter because if he was broken why the hell not? He cantered just fine and when we went back to the left he felt normal so we cantered left too. Now confused about what was going on, I texted Trainer AB to see if she had time Sunday to hop on him and figure out if it was a me or Eeyore issue.
|Fluffzilla joined us to play in the puddles on Saturday. I told Eeyore "Fluff is having more fun than you"|
Trainer AB hopped on him Saturday and put him through his paces a bit then looked at me and said he was fine...maybe it was a me issue? She had me hop on (I had thankfully planned on this being an option so I had dressed in riding clothes and brought my helmet) and uh..yeah it was me.
Ever since rehab began I have been dealing with a very different Eeyore. Pre rehab his response to life in general was to CANTER! GO FASTER! WEE ISN'T LIFE FUN! and so my rides were focused on slowing his roll, balancing him and getting him to relax without the constant anticipation of potential canter work. Apparently the never ending walk and trot rides did just that - too well. Now he was sucking way back behind my leg and barely moving so what I thought was a lameness issue was really a lack of forward issue and what I was feeling in his trot was a more vertical choppy motion as he sucked way back.
Once I booted his butt forward he felt lovely.
|Took him for a short ride through the woods behind her arena after the lesson. It felt nice to be in the woods again|
This was then the theme of the ride. Trainer AB said he was being extra tricky because even with her onboard his response to her aides wasn't correct. Anytime she touched the reins, he'd go "ok...I'll stop then" and dive to the forehand and let his legs go out the back of him. He would use that as an excuse to not collect up at all so she'd have to keep her hands steady and boot him forward. He is a smart cookie and picked it up quickly with her but then it was starting all over with me.
This was particularly apparent in down transitions where he'd just plop on his face and call it quits. Keeping him moving in a trot after a canter was next to impossible. Part of this was my doing. I was so OCD about his rehab that at exactly 2 minutes, when my timer went off, we would walk again. He quickly learned the buzzer sound and would slam to a halt and since it was 2 minutes I did nothing to keep him going because I was told 2 minutes and I refused to go a single step beyond that. I should have kept him trotting for another 10 -15 seconds, but oh well. Hindsight.
So anyway..once I got his feet in front of him and his weight shifted back a bit things felt good. We began canter work to the right which has been tricky to get lately. I have the tendency to lean into the canter which isn't correct and is worse going right. Well he picked it up just fine but then dropped to a trot before I asked and then refused to get it again. I did what I generally do which is to slow his trot back down, rebalance and ask again which can take a few circles to get. Well, AB said nope...pony club kick him if I need to but get that canter right away. Even if it is ugly. She said that he knew full well what I was asking him for, he knew it was the canter cue and was just not doing it. Like I said, he is a smart cookie and she said that he knows that he will get to slow down, trot and get out of it so make him canter NOW.
|He broke his beautiful teal halter so no he gets the back up mustache one until I get to the store|
It was ugly, but he gave in and we cantered around nicely. He was blowing pretty hard at that point even though it had been all of 15 minutes of work time. We took him to the hose to get cooled down before returning to the ring for the left canter. He picked the canter up nicely but was very stuck behind my leg. Trainer AB said "Good boy" and he let out a series of huge bucks. Good thing he is as wide as a couch and easy to sit. AB told me that again his legs get going backwards. He heard the GOOD BOY and celebrated but since all his weight was on the forehand and his hind legs were running out the back of him, he had every chance to playfully buck.
The end analysis - MORE FORWARD. MORE LEG. No excuses. He is sound, he is capable and he knows what I am asking of him. Of course he is also a very large and out of shape potato and I have to be careful not to push his cardiovascular system too far or he won't be able to do it. To that end I have acquired a heart rate monitor from a fellow endurance rider and will be using it for a while on my rides to ensure that I'm asking enough but not too much of the Orange Beast. Come September I am allowed to add trails and ground poles back into my life so that should really help as well.