Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Someone Else's Horse

I awoke this morning sore and ready for another ride, determined to get this whole 'video camera' ordeal worked out. And I had a perfect muse...a stately black percheron-morgan cross who's mama gave me the go ahead to ride him while I was acting as 'pony-sitter'. A couple years back before I had a horse of my own and needed some more miles in the saddle, she had given me the opportunity to catch-ride on him and we did a little ring and trail work. I often say that our horses suit our personality, and these two are a pair. He's no push-over. Sweet horse, but there's no bossing him around. Gain his respect and he'll give you lovely moves; thump around on him and he'll give you the horse-equivalent of the finger.

I've been thinking lately about how much time I put in on Moon and wondering how different other horses are to ride. At large barns as a lesson go'er, you might ride a different horse every week, from tall lean TB's to short little ponies to big draft crosses. Horses that ride this way or that, always different, each with a unique personality and way of going. But for the first time in a very long time, I've only ridden one horse. Moon.

So having finally the time to take her up on the offer, I hopped aboard...and caught some neat shots on video...(and nearly killed the battery on my car, 'cause genius me left the lights on...I used my car as a tripod...).

I haven't yet uploaded the huge video file to a server, but here's some stills I could pull off. This camera has the awesome ability to capture stills from video, which I'm loving.

He is soooo different to ride from Moon. It occured to me today, after riding Moon, that the cues Moon knows to do certain things aren't neccessarily the right cues. They're simply MY cues. For almost a year now he's been in training by ME, to do things I want, as I ask for them. Sure, W gives me the aids to use, but the way I use my body is unique to me. And the way Moon understands what to do based on body language is unique to how I've been asking for the last 10 months or so.

Which means my cues aren't necessarily tailored to all horses.

The Black Stallion (okay, he's a gelding, but go with me on this one) and I had some confusion at first about steering, but after I dropped the stirrups a few holes (I'm way too leggy) and we made a few laps to sort things out between us, things were much better. He had a much lower head carriage then Moon, but the opposite response when he wanted to avoid contact. He'd get behind the bit, curling his head in towards his chest. Moon does the opposite and sticks his head up in the sky. The easiest solution seemed to be to ask for more impulsion and he'd stretch down and resume a nice position. Cool.

We walked-trot-cantered, and I have to admit, it's lovely to canter a circle. I'm fairly determined to get W to have a sit on Moon'er and see how he does for her. Being on a horse that knows how to do it made me feel like maybe I spend too much time staring at the arena wall in fear of running into it, throwing us off balance. Because I was beautifully balanced at a canter on this guy. We did need to work a bit more on lifting his inside shoulder when he'd tilt inward, but it was our first go 'round together in years so who's complaining? He probably had a few things on his mind that I should be doing too!

His sitting trot was soooooo easy to move with! The Black, he almost has a western lope, all slow and low. Moon goes like a standardbred, all head in the sky and knees to his chin. 

After going through the video (genius me only caught 5 minutes on Moon because after transfering The Black's video, I forgot to clear the card : P), I notived ONE GLARINGLY big issue. My position. From the side, I've no complaints; my side position is pretty good, except for needing my heels down. But THAT is clearly part of my HUGE problem...

Can you see it here?? What about in the next one?? The one after that??? And keep in mind, my stirrup leathers are the same length...and the saddle is centered on the horse's back...

Yeah. My right leg. WOW. Wth is that?! In EVERY frame. I've always noticed that my right toe points out more then my left (and too much by riding position standards), but this is the first time I REALLY noticed how LOPSIDED my legs are! It's no WONDER Moon falls in on the circle going left. That heel is sticking in his rib cage! Except for the last picture, my shoulders are level which tells me that it's going to be down towards my hip that the issue exists. After my trail ride yesterday, I noticed that my right thigh muscle was hurting until I readjusted my leg so my toe didn't turn out. Suddenly the pain dissapated...hmmm...

Going to clear that video card and capture some more video to keep working on evening out those legs. Anyone know any stretches or techniques for staying even??

Now, for techniques for staying on, I've got that one down pat. It seems that my canter requests result in a buck, as Moon did on the trail yesterday, and The Black did today. The warm weather has likely resulted in too much energy and it's entertaining to play bronco once in awhile. Assures me that even if my legs are lopsided, I'm still sitting nice and deep in the saddle. Landed comfortable back in the saddle with both feet in the stirrups after this one:

Looks awesome on video. He's so slim and trim that he gets a good height! LOVE my position and how beautifully tucked his neck is!

I went round on Moon afterward, and could tell that he was tired from yesterday. All of his hot-headedness seemed drained and he went pretty lovely for the first half-hour. We even did another 1/2 circle at canter, though he fell out at the second corner and was just peetered right out. He'd trot for me but it just got slower...and s...l...o...w...e...r.
So we did a few nice trot circles in our difficult direction and then called it a ride. He's been a good boy and there's no reason to overdo it.

I spent awhile afterwards brushing and loving on him, even braiding his tail in a thick braid. Wondering if it'll grow a little longer??? We definately need to pull some stragly hairs on his tail though. But can someone promise me that he gets to keep his beautiful mane for dressage??! I just don't want to pull it short...

I also finally got the shots of his hooves, and you can clearly see the new growth. I was comparing it with in2paint's hoof growth and was thinking the the amounts were pretty close, so assuming they're growing at the same speed (probably not, but go with me on this), then we're looking at 4 months of growth. Which places us EXACTLY at when we moved to W's.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the below trim picture. And the way his hoof wall isn't touching the ground in the middle. Hmmm...going to read up a bit more and see if that's supposed to be that way. Never noticed it before.

Other then that, the angle is perfect and he seems to have a nice bit of heel going on. The flaring is also reduced, and I have to say, he still doesn't seem sore.

Tomorrow I'll probably head out and actually capture some video of us, though he'll probably be tired and a bit slow. Wonder if that means it's a good day for some pole work??

Overall it was a great riding day...and I even got to catch a beautiful sunrise. Country living is the best, isn't it??


  1. His feet are looking good!

    Just a note: the picture where the quarter region of his hoof isn't touching the ground is normal - it's a quarter scoop. Here's a blog post on it:

  2. Nice pics for horse.
    Stirrup are the only stirrups in the world with dual lateral flexibility thereby softening the impact on your ligaments, cartilage and joints.

    Horse Stirrups

  3. As far as the quarter scoop goes, pretty much what TBA said. There are some different thoughts on this, though... my trimmer never creates a scoop because it can stretch the hoof out from front to back, but if there's one there naturally, it's definitely not a bad thing. Sometimes one is created when flare is rasped, but she never intentially creates a scoop.

    That whole stirrup thing is weird! I usually only have an issue with mine when one is stretched... are they truly the same length? Love the pictures, by the way! :)

  4. That upward scoop on Moon's quarters is awesome! That is supposed to be there. If you put a camera on the ground and walked him past it, you will see those scoops disappear when he transfers his weight onto that leg.

    A horse's hoof is supposed to flex, and those scoops allow it to do so. You can not trim for it. Your farrier has put a mustang roll on his hooves, and the scoop is natural! That's his body telling the farrier he needs that scoop, so it shows up on its own. Ever wonder why his quarters broke so frequently in the past? You got it - his hooves were trying to create that shape themselves. Of course when they break on their own, too much comes off and makes him sore.

    The flex in the hooves will also produce more healthy circulation in his hooves. When he was sore these past few months, it was probably because he was "feeling" more through his feet than he's ever felt before. Now that he is through the transitioning phase, he's no longer sore after trims.

    You should get your BF's infrared camera, take picture of him, and compare his hooves and legs now to your previous photos. I bet you will see a huge difference!

    Stick with your farrier. She is doing an amazing job! Here are some resources for you as you research this trim further: