Monday, February 14, 2011
Running and bucking and riding, oh my...
Jasper's scar is pretty much as healed up as it's going to get. You can still see where line where the skin was stitched together and there are a few extra folds here and there, but the hair is growing back and after that it will be almost invisible.
Last weekend I wanted to ride, it has been almost 2 months and we needed to start out slow, like walking for 10 minutes at first and building up. The problem was that I wasn't ready to head down the road and the smaller arena is still muddy and slick with a few areas of super muck. I decided there are two ways to look at it. One is that the arena is dangerous because it is muddy and slick, and if Jasper freaks out/bolts/bucks/etc. he has a high possibility of slipping/falling/injuring us. The other is that the arena is muddy and slick and Jasper would have enough self-preservation to NOT freak out/bolt/buck/etc. I decided to trust him and go with the second train of thought.
He was basically a good boy. Tense but good. Couldn't stand still after mounting (nothing new here), and had a few moments of feeling rein pressure and shaking his head and rooting. Even did a few trot steps on the dry stretch. He was trying really hard to be good. The horses in the pasture by the arena started trotting around and he totally jumped inside his own skin, then stopped himself from reacting, jump stop jump stop jump stop. I know my adrenaline was through the roof but in the end he kept it together and walked off.
This past week I only got out to the barn a couple of times and took him to the larger outdoor at the bottom of the hill. He went ballistic. Sprinting down the sides, sliding and hopping and bucking around the short side, then gathering speed into a full out fast-as-you-can-go sprint down the long side again. Throw in many bucks and kicks, grunts and squeals. I don't encourage him. I just stand in the middle of the arena and watch in awe, and cringe as the end of the arena gets closer and closer and he hasn't checked his speed yet. And as he hits a slick spot and slides around.
Since he was free lunged yesterday, and because there were other people around, I decided to try riding in the larger outdoor. The smaller one is a swamp. It was... exciting. He was pretty much looking for any excuse to increase speed. Many, many, many very nice but not asked for canter transitions. There are lots of reasons for cantering. Slight inclines, circling, slight declines, going down the long side, going down the short side, cues for leg yielding, tripping, sliding, going by the pole bending poles, going over the trot poles, going by the barrels, going by the people sitting at the picnic table. A gust of wind. Another horse trotting. Someone opening a gate. I found myself laughing out loud a couple of times, I mean come on, doofus!
For the most part I ignore the bad and praise the good. I ride through the small bucks and crow hops and back legs kicking out. I ride through the head shaking and spooks. When we are heading for complete meltdown though, I circle. When he stops, the head goes up and and shakes and he starts jackhammering with all 4 legs I pull his head to my leg and circle. It works for me. It allows him to keep moving but keeps him on the ground. Usually he stops on his own, I release, pause for a few moments to regroup, and then continue on in whichever gait we were in before meltdown. I'm pretty sure I would be criticized for this by many people except cowboys... but I feel like it keeps me from getting into battles with him.
And he feels sound. This was reinforced when he was good for an entire circle so I got off and removed his tack. He ran and ran and ran, (dripping with sweat and foam in a full winter coat, ugh) and for the first time since the injury stayed on the right lead for extended lengths of time. It was his right fore that was injured, and up till now would canter and gallop around on the left lead only.
So now I need to start riding consistently and start building muscle back up. Start treating him like an out of shape horse rather than an injured one. I believe that Jasper is back. Woot!