Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Still Some Soreness

It was really great to hang out with Bear again after my Laredo ride yesterday.  It is amazing how comfortable the two of us are with one another.  I just know what he's going to do and how he is going to move.  Maybe not in every single situation, but for the most part, we are very familiar with one another.  I particularly enjoy how he lets me clean out his eyes and get the dirt out of his ears.  When Laredo won't let you near the top of his head without putting his guard up, these things really stand out.

He also knows when I'm poking around his back in order to help him.  I usually do this after I groom him but before I throw the saddle on.  Today I noticed his back was rather tight, and tight in a longer section than it normally is.  He was not inclined to move away from the pressure like he sometimes does, but he did have to convince himself to stand still while I probed around and worked to get the tension out.  After a minute or so he cocked his hip and just let me rub him out.  He'd flinch if I pushed too hard, but I got good at figuring out what was just right.  I didn't get rid of the tightness before the ride, but I hoped it would be enough to help some. 

We warmed up with a little groundwork, and he was good for that.  Under saddle he was flexing nicely, and it just felt good for me to have a really solid horse underneath me.

When he started moving out I could feel he was definitely stiff and perhaps a teeny bit ouchy.  He didn't want to bend right and he certainly didn't want to keep his weight back on his haunches while bending right.

So I kept things slow.  We went both right and left in many different sized circles.  I never tried to push him through something that would be overly awful, but I did push his body through a number of bends that I hoped would be good for him.

Throughout it all I stayed as soft as I could.  I've been working on holding the soft feel in our upward transitions, so I had lots to work on at slow speeds.  Occasionally I'd test how Bear was feeling by moving him out a little faster.  If he was uncomfortable we wouldn't do it for long, and then we'd go back to our bends at the walk.  Test again.  Then bend again.

In the end we made some nice progress.  Bear kept a very willing expression on his face and I thought he was moving better, too.  When we untacked, though, I got some confirmation.  He was not nearly as tight in his back.  I rubbed over the same spot that I did before the ride, and while it was still tender and tight, it was not nearly as tight as it was before the ride, and the tightness did not stretch over as large of an area.

So we just finished up with a little more gentle rubbing, some chopped hay and vitamins, and then I put him back out with his buddies.  It wasn't necessarily the ride I anticipated, but I think it was good for both of us.

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