Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swollen Ankles

While I was grooming Bear at the hitching post he was very fidgety.  It was a warm day and I have no doubt the bugs were the culprit.  But there could have been more.  While going over his legs I noticed that the area just above his hind ankles was rather swollen.  They did not seem tender to the touch, so that was good.  I took him into the outdoor arena and did some light groundwork.  He still seemed a little bothered by the bugs and distracted, but I didn't get the impression that he was sore.  However, he wasn't moving as freely as he usually does.  His stride was more labored and less springy, also he was carrying his head a little higher than when he's normal-relaxed-Bear.

I hope it is a minor issue.  I hadn't ridden him in two days, and while we've been getting some good riding hours in, they have not been overly difficult.  Robin said he might be swollen from stamping at so many flies.  That would make sense as bugs seem to be his arch nemesis.

I finished tacking him up and brought him out to the strip.  I had no plans to ride hard at all, and I was prepared to get off at the slightest hint of discomfort on his part.  We started with a little groundwork, and I thought he was moving a teeny bit better.  He was definitely paying better attention to me, so that was good.

When I climbed on, though, he was just distracted.  I had a very hard time directing him, stopping him (which is weird, as he loves to stop), and changing gaits.  We were only doing a little trotting as it seemed to help him loosen up, but his transitions were nothing like they were before.  He was actually doing the thing Steen loves to do, jump into the trot after we've come back down to a walk.  Very un-Bear.

So we kept the ride short and I finished with a little more non-demanding groundwork.  Today was a tough day for me as he was definitely not feeling great, but I am also often at a loss for what to do when Bear is inattentive.  I get frustrated and irritated with him.  This does not help me stay calmly assertive, and I think I lose a little touch in my releases.  I'm also less likely to give him any praise for the things he is doing well.

At least I'm aware of this.  Right now I'm reading Buck Brannaman's second book Believe.  I started it about a year ago, but I don't think I was ready to get into it then.  Now I'm getting some more stuff out of it.  And I'm starting to come up with a few ideas to try with Bear.  Even if his ankles are still a little swollen we should be able to work on stuff.

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