Friday, March 14, 2014

Only the Distance From Back Leg to Back Leg

Deliah, the barn supervisor :)

As promised a post about Comrade. In between snow and rain storms I have managed to get some rides. The first couple with Comrade were bareback. Boy did he make me work. He was so frisky, but the footing was not that which I would feel comfortable just letting him burn it off with speed. So I resorted to Squirreling, aka a shitload of constantly changing lateral work. I had to keep him thinking and the hardest part waiting for instruction. He has a tendency to say "I know what we are doing!" With the second ride, my thighs were shot. I did not have it in me to get the lateral movement and stop his evasions. My Mom came to the rescue by getting on him and working through that squirreling session. Comrade's biggest evasion is to overdo the movements, like swinging his butt too much. This time he also decided to try and sit down and then attempt to canter. I guess we could be happy he was pushing off his hind end.
I take full advantage when I have Mom around. Nothing beats eyes on the ground and she has sharp ones. I got back on to work on Comrade's shoulder in. She helped me by telling me when he was cheating. To help prevent him from just swinging his butt instead of moving his shoulders, she had me put him on the fence. This way the fence blocked him and I could focus on the shoulders. All good right? Not quite, then she had to work on me. At times I was asking for too much. She told me to picture his back legs and the distance in between. That distance is ALL I need to ask for. Less for a shoulder fore. With the fence for physical help and the picture for mental help, we both did shoulder in cheat free.
Another exercise she had me do to help with this was to circle. As I reached the fence and he just came off the track, we moved forward. In both methods I knew immediately by Comrade's body language we were doing it right. He slows down, which means he is working rather than running through the movement. Mom told me not to rush to push him and let him figure it out. So I used enough leg to keep him moving forward, but not beyond his comfort zone.
Well, both of these rides ended on a very high note. Comrade gave me the most awesome trot ever. The energy circle was complete and unblocked. Being bareback, I could really feel the push from behind. My seat did that great lift movement at center and Comrade maintained the connection through his shoulders, neck and head. Both directions too.
Sweaty, but happy boy after being double teamed

Still riding high from those two rides, I put a saddle on the next weekend. Still had to use the squirreling method to get him thinking and working, but it did not take as long. His work still felt great. The next day, the pony decided he wanted to warm up doing canter laps. The footing was much improved so I let him. Oh and I must not forget that the pony also did some smooth flying changes during those laps. Even to the right. Then he was ready to work. Four rides in a row that produced awesome, consistent work. He has definitely turned a corner.
I had hoped Peggy would come to watch so I could get pictures or video, but she was painting the tack room and missed the whole ride. Ah, well maybe next time. One of the biggest differences all of us have noticed is in Comrade's walk. A horse uses his head and neck at the walk and canter, so the rider's hands must follow. That was not the case with Comrade before his chiropractic visits. Now after 3, maybe 4, visits his front end is so different. His walk is true and through. He can maintain contact at the walk and my hands have something to follow now. I told Peggy that all the money she has spent ($150 each visit) was worth seeing these results.
I was so impressed I took a short video from his back at the walk. He does lift his head because the scary dog he lives with came running into the arena, but then finds his groove again. Notice the lovely floppy neck, nicely lowered and long. That right there is worth every cent :) Jen at CobJockey commented when I posted it to Facebook that it reminded her of Connor. One of these days I would love to get the brothers together. They seem so similar.
These rides also motivated me to finally start the exercise program my brother talked me into. It has been painful, but promising. I am taking it day by day.


  1. That trot sounds so amazing! I'm interested to hear how much of an effect the chiro had. Connor doesn't feel tight, but it might be something to think about for me. I will have to take a similar video and show you, it was so weird to see Comrade's neck as if I was riding him! It was wild.

    1. If you are getting a walk like Comrade's, Connor is most likely ok. I wish I had a before version of his walk to really show the difference. But I highly recommend getting a consult if you have the chance. Barry and Sherman used to have an annual adjustment which did wonders. I would love to see a video of him too. I knew some people would think it weird, but some would see what was so good.