Thursday, June 21, 2018

New Shoes

Life goes on, and part of Penn's rehab is "corrective" shoeing up front. It's not all that corrective, but it isn't as simple as plain shoes.
Please ask your farrier to adjust his front shoes as follows: set the shoe back to better support the caudal heels and shorten the toe. For the LF foot, we suggest an Onion style shoe, which has a wider branch at each heel region to provide a greater base of support. For the RF foot, we suggest a wider webbed medial branch and narrower lateral branch with a beveled edge at the lateral edge. This is to support the medial suspensory branch while it heals.
So red in the last light of day!

I opted not to reschedule his existing farrier appointment- he was due to be reset a week after our trip to VEI, so I let that roll and didn't take him for as many tack walks that first week.

This appointment took a long time- like 2.5 hours. My farrier has done onion shoes before, but not the shoe with widened medial branch. He did a lot of forge work- checking the fit of the shoes, going back to the forge and heating the shoe, hammering it, cooling it a little and then rechecking the fit. That on top of manually hammering out the wide parts of both shoes, and grinding the RF shoe down on the lateral branch, meant that this shoeing job took a while to do.

Luckily, out home vet was at the barn that night and was an invaluable resource. We were able to run the RF shoe by her before it was nailed to his hoof. She suggested a few changes to it, Farrier made them, she approved it, and on it went!

Barn cat Syndrome kept Penn company one evening.

It was neat to watch Penn's stance as the shoes were put on. I could tell he was instantly more comfortable because he stood squarer and more evenly on each foot. His right side that has been dramatically sunken (I had the saddle fitter out to refit his saddle because of it and she was astonished at the difference in shape because he's been very evenly muscled the entire time she's known him), and when the farrier was done, his right side had lifted up to be almost even.

There isn't much to say about a farrier appointment, so off to the shoes themselves!

Shortened toes. We're going to stick to no more than 4 week cycles to keep his toes short.
The heels of the shoe are a little further back than usual. I was told to go buy major bell boots so he doesn't accidentally rip them off.
The hole in the RF is where he stepped on himself many months ago (see below) and destroyed the coronary band, which resulted in a very deep hole. I was cleaning it every day to make sure nothing got packed in, which was annoying. Instead, I stuffed it 2 or 3 shoeing cycles ago with Keratex Hoof Putty. The putty is a little pricey but gets an A++ for longevity. I thought I would have to stuff it weekly, but I haven't had to restuff it once.
The original injury.
The LF: onion shoe
Onion shoes are wide at the end of the bar to provide heel support.
The RF: Wide medial branch that is thicker than the lateral branch, and beveled edge on the lateral edge of the lateral branch.
The vet wanted the medial branch thicker to prevent the tendons on that side from stretching as much as the ones on the lateral branch.

I took Penn for a spin after he got his new shoes, and he felt much much better. He has a habit of shuffling off the block, to the point where he looks lame. The time he spent doing that was significantly less, which was very exciting. He felt freer in his front end and shoulders and moved from collected walk to an extremely stretchy free walk easily and with continued reach and overstep.

New bell boots that will cover down to the ground and then some... they will drive me absolutely batty, but they should provide adequate coverage to keep his shoes on!

I took the pictures for the blog, but also to send to Dr Cricket at VEI. Since we had some confusion about how the RF should be set up, the farrier and I wanted to double check with her. Good news! Dr Cricket was extremely happy with the shoes. She said the onion shoe was well done, but she wants the medial branch of the RF to be even wider, and she wants the shoes set back even further to provide even more support for the heels. I told her we were doing a 4 week cycle to keep the toes short, and asked if she wanted him reset immediately or if the changes could wait. She said it was perfectly fine to wait until his next reset because these are more than adequate, so we now have a plan for the next visit!

His hips are almost even again. This is one week post-shoes, 6/20/2018. I wish I had taken pictures of him before!
His back is almost back to normal. The right side is no longer dramatically sunken.
I'm going to have to call the saddle fitter to come out and fix his new saddle! She was out for the 30 hour recheck at the end of May, and his right side had sunken so much that she had to add flocking to it... well now it needs reflocked... again. I tried to find his back tracings for this post, but I think I left them at the barn. :(
Also, I promise I'll write about his new saddle soon!

I am so grateful that there are no egos with any of his care: Home vet loves VEI and is happy to do whatever they want. Farrier is happy to do shoes the way VEI wants and is OK with me having VEI check them. Barn owner is happy to follow VEI's turnout plan and has been bringing Penn in as soon as his stall is done in the morning to get him out of the weather and bugs before he starts pacing in the dry lot, as well as keeping him in overnight when we get horrendous amounts of rain (like Wednesday afternoon and overnight). I was worried he'd lose weight in the dry lot since there's very little grass... I didn't have to worry! They throw hay to him every night, give him as much hay as he'll eat inside, and they've been liberally feeding him the Alfa-Lox I have sitting outside his stall. He's actually gotten a bit chunky! That's fine, the summer heat is coming and he'll be back to work soon enough!

Monday, June 18, 2018

And it was Over Before it Began

Show season is officially over. Before it even began.

Let's take a step back. I went for a lesson weekend and Penn was having a bad day during our first and only lesson, and GP Trainer was very concerned about him. I told her we thought it was a hind end weakness issue and she suggested I get a second opinion at Virginia Equine Imaging, her local lameness clinic. They have the ability to x-ray the spine and stifles and all that huge expensive stuff, and are packed full with Olympic and USEF Team vets, so I made the appointment. At worst, I would get a very expensive bill saying his back is weak and he needs to push through it.

GP Trainer also suggested I get a thinline or prolite pad to go under my saddle, just for concussion protection. She said it's no dig my weight, even she uses one or the other under every saddle since she's tall and not a stick either. Penn really likes it, so it stays! Plus I got it from the fitter's website, and they had a special discount for Loch Moy's Starter Trials going on, so I saved $10!

Penn's appointment was Monday 6/4 at 1pm, so we drove out Monday morning and arrived just in time. I ended up driving through the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, which looked amazing and I was sad I didn't get to go back to the show to watch (or shop!).

His appointment was with the USEF Dressage Team vet, and as the appointment started, I'm thinking "This has to be the cheapest horse she's worked on in a long time." Cricket was great though, GP Trainer had talked to her about Penn so she had her take on things, she listened to the history of what's been going on and how we treated him so far, felt him all over, praised him for being so well behaved, and treated him like he was a million dollar horse.

She got a baseline of his confirmation and movement first- one of the interns (who is a full fledged vet in her own right, but is basically doing a residency with VEI), jogged him on a smooth surface and lunged him on a hard surface. The vet noted he's close in front- he prefers to walk like a cat with his front legs and put one directly in front of the other. She also noted he's straight in the hock, which wasn't new to me because well, he wasn't a 50k or even 20k horse when I bought him.

They lunged him with 60lbs of dead weight attached to a surcingle to evaluate back pain- horses generally buck or hump their backs if they have any pain at this point. She was pleased that he didn't get worse, and in fact, seemed to get better with the added weight.

Then they flexed him 8 times- lower and upper limbs. I got a bit nervous as she'd flex, an intern would jog him off, they'd discuss a lameness level (mild/moderate), she'd type it into the system, then they'd flex again. Basically every flexion came up lame.

It's easier to screenshot the notes than to retype it all out!

Part of the reason I ponied up for a very expensive vet visit is because these people only look for lameness. I could see the unevenness when he lunged on the hard surface on the circle, but couldn't pinpoint what leg. I saw almost nothing on the straight line. I could tell something wasn't right, but I couldn't have told you where. To have him rated between 1-2/5 lame in basically every test was horrifying, because I felt horrible for missing it all, let alone misidentifying it as hind end.

At this point, Cricket knew I wanted to attempt to keep to a budget, so she said she wanted to focus on the front right, even though his right hind felt funny to me. She was more concerned about what's going on in that leg, since he had some bulging over the inner sesamoid bone. She wanted to get him sound up front, and then see what effect that had on his hind end.

Nerve Blocks
Photo Credit: Merck Vet Manual Online
Also, that link has great descriptions of the blocks if you want to learn more!

Off we went to nerve blocks! The first thing she did was nerve block the heel of the right front (distal digital nerve block). This didn't make a huge difference, so she blocked the left front heel (distal digital NB) and what I think is the pastern (proximal digital NB). His left front unsoundness resolved itself, but the right front wasn't completely better.

The next nerve block was a bit more intensive- it required more prep, so he went into one of the treatment rooms to have his leg scrubbed up and receive a low four point NB in the right front. As we left the room to wait for the block to take effect, I mentioned that it looked like Penn was standing squarer, and his right side wasn't so sunken, and asked if it could be because of the nerve blocks? Cricket said that's an excellent observation and yes, as the pain is blocked off, the horse stops compensating and sometimes irregularities work themselves out. Funny how much some horses compensate?

I jogged him off on the straight line and lunged him for the hard circle tests, and Cricket declared him sound. I finally saw the sound horse too. With all the wiggles and compensation out of his motion, I can see what he actually looks like sound and it's lovely. That's a horrible statement, but he's never been easy to find unsoundness because his legs have wobbled and flung so much. His front legs had reach again, the toes pointed nicely, and he happily trotted around.

Cricket again talked to me about the best use of the money available- she wanted to move on to x-ray and ultrasound the right front fetlock to find out exactly what's going on in there before we did anything to the hind end, especially since the hind end looked ok now that the front end wasn't in pain.

We pulled him into a different treatment room, and she said we probably don't have to sedate him for xrays since he's been so good about everything else. (Side note to everyone: the staff enjoyed working on Penn because he stood and took everything they dished out with minimal resistance. He gave them great side eye when they were flexing the front legs and they laughed and noted he's really not sure about what they're doing but was like, "Okaaaaaay..." They complemented his manners and said they don't always have that luxury.) I held him, the intern held the board, vet held the machine (everyone got awesome lead vests), and she snapped 4 shots of the pastern, fetlock area, and lower cannon bone.

Can you spot the issues?

Arrows pointing to some irregular surfaces on the sesamoids (I think, I was having trouble telling the difference between healthy hooks in the sesamoid vs unhealthy because I only have these x-rays to go of off... but it's my understanding that the normal hooks are rougher than they should be).
Circles are arthritis.
The side profile of the sesamoid isn't as smooth as it could be (it won't match the arc of the line though).
The circle show low density spots.
The green semi circle is the good shape of the capsule itself.
Red arrows point to irregular vascular lines- they should be the same width and they're not. Sesamoid is not as dense as it should be.
The lower white shadow that's out of place is the ergot.
Arrows point to irregular vascular lines, the thick horizontal arrow points to rough surface on the sesamoid. Sesamoid is not as dense as it should be.

Cricket was more concerned about the low density of the sesamoids rather than the arthritis that's starting. I seem to remember some funkiness in that fetlock on Penn's prepurchase, but his x-rays from that visit are so terrible that I can't tell if it's worse or not. (also I found his PPE x-rays after this visit, it didn't occur to me that they might want to see the shitty x-rays)

I can see some funkiness on the side in the absolutely awful PPE x-rays... but there's no way to compare how bad it was in 2015 vs 2018, the x-ray just isn't clear enough.

The next thing she did was an ultrasound to check out the state of the suspensory tendon branches, and I'll admit... this is where she completely lost me. I haven't looked at enough ultrasounds to get my head oriented correctly in it, and I don't know the medical terms. I did a lot of research and I'm hoping I got this right. I'm quite sure she knows what she's doing, and if I have pointed something out incorrectly on the x-rays or ultrasound images, that's my own fault because I didn't have enough knowledge when I spoke with her.

Medial Proximal Sesamoid (inside sesamoid) vs Lateral Proximal Sesamoid (outside sesamoid)
The white line is the attachment of the suspensory tendon branch. The branch attached to the medial is weaker than the one attached to the lateral, and the white line isn't as sharp and clear, meaning its adherence to the bone is weaker.
Ligament attachment below the sesamoids. The black in the medial image is the nerve block. It looks like these are in better shape than the suspensory branches, but the medial is still weaker with not as smooth bone attachment.

Found on Google.

So the final verdict:

So what are we doing about it?

Cricket wanted to get the right front under control before we do anything to the hind end.
  • Shockwave therapy of the RF medial suspensory branch insertion was performed. 1000 pulses were applied with the R20 trode at E6.
  • Two additional shockwave treatments should be done by your home vet: one in three weeks, and one three weeks after that.
  • OsPhos administration. 15ml was given IM, divided in four locations (left and right cervical, left and right pectoral).
  • Class 4 Laser Treatment, 3x per week, if one can be rented (lower class laser is acceptable, but not ideal). More details to come on that if I can find one to rent. I'd have to ask exactly where it should go, but the goal I believe would be to break up any scarring of the tendon. I might be wrong though. I'm on the clinic's waitlist to rent a laser.

I'll be taking him back to VEI in the middle of August (4 weeks after his 3rd shockwave treatment), which I happened to have already requested time off during the appropriate week for lessons and a horse show... so instead I'll take him to the vet. Cricket will do a recheck, and a new lameness exam. We'll discuss injecting the right front fetlock at that time. She didn't want to inject it this time because the steroid will inhibit the healing of the tendon. Another thing we'll discuss at that time is injecting the hocks or stifles.

So what's happening now?
  • Please restrict Penn to QUIET small paddock turnout while he is resting for the RF injury. You may need to use acepromazine or reserpine to keep him under control. Please let us know if you need these medications or advise using them.
Penn's turnout for the next 10 weeks. We might set up some kind of temp fencing in his regular field when the grass is truly gone from the dry lot. For now, they're haying him out there.
Cassi is a huge slut, and Penn is over there sniffing poop.
  • Please limit Penn's exercise to tack walk five times per week for up to 25 minutes. Initially we recommend avoiding excessive graded terrain, deep footing, and lateral work. Lateral work is OK in walk after the second shockwave treatment. (aka, 10 weeks of tack walking- nothing more until his recheck in August)
  • Please ask your farrier to adjust his front shoes as follows: set the shoe back to better support the caudal heels and shorten the toe. For the LF foot, we suggest an Onion style shoe, which has a wider branch at each heel region to provide a greater base of support. For the RF foot, we suggest a wider webbed medial branch and narrower lateral branch with a beveled edge at the lateral edge. This is to support the medial suspensory branch while it heals.
VEI had this handy dandy chart on the wall!

I guess I've had a NQR horse for so long that I'm not even really upset about missing the season. I'm happy to have an answer, I have a great team who agrees on the plan (oh thank goodness there are no egos), and I've got some other life things I can focus on instead, like losing weight and riding my new bike. I never got around to looking in earnest for a new job. With Penn's NQR, I was afraid to look and spread myself too thin, and even now I'm afraid to leave my job because I need the vacation time to get Penn fixed up.

I don't think we got as far as a prognosis, except I do know he has arthritis in that fetlock so that will eventually end his dressage career. Hopefully we can delay that for a few years, he's only 9. I think I'll get more of a prognosis next time we're there- this was really only half of the work that needs to be done.

I'll be hurting for content for the next 10 weeks, so you'll be seeing recycled pics, if I have anything new to say anyway!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

That Time I Brought My Horse to My House

As in, home to my suburban neighborhood where horses are against the zoning. And I didn't tell my husband what I was doing. Hehe.

I have family visiting from South Africa for a couple weeks, and they wanted to meet Penn. I had Penn out this past weekend for a trip that went sideways, so I found myself with extra time on Sunday. I had the horse out, free time, so I brought him to my house! My parents brought the family over, and we had a meet and greet in the front yard!

My horse brings all my neighbors to the yard... wait, is that not how the song goes?
Also, I have an abundance of older neighbors and very few children neighbors... not one child came to see Penn!
Everyone was THRILLED to meet him and he even talked one family out of several pounds of carrots.
Nomming the never-been-nommed-before grass.
Don't worry blogland, Husband and I don't treat our grass with any chemicals or fertilizer, and neither do our direct neighbors, Penn was safe!
Penn should be an equine model, in my front yard of never been grazed grass.
Seriously, how do I sign him up to be a paid model?
Mom held on to him while I got him a bucket of water and shuffled things from the truck to the house. He always kept an eye on me and made sure he knew where I was. He tried numerous times to leave her to come over to me. So cute.
Dogs barking?
"Mom, I'm coming to see you because this place is weird."

I have to say, I'm pretty stoked. I fulfilled a childhood dream of bringing a horse home to eat my yard. Oh, and no one called the police to tell me Penn wasn't allowed to be there, hahaha!

I luvs him.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5/21/2018 - Alfredo Hernandez Clinic

Both Jenj (here, here, here, and I know there's more but these were easy to find) and Megan have ridden with Alfredo, enjoyed it, and blogged about it. I was STOKED to find out he was coming to a barn a mere 4 hours from me for a 3 day clinic 5/21-23. I wanted to learn his methods for piaffe/passage, he was here on the east coast, and he wasn't stupidly far from me. Jenj described his cool way of getting changes on a horse, which I recreated at home and bam, Penn had changes. I needed to take a turn with him.

Lots of learning happened!

I messaged the trainer organizing it and tried to sign up for 2 of the 3 days. All was well until I asked work for the time off... and they told me no. I could have the first day (a Monday) but not the second day because of an outage test that was being conducted. I had to make a deicison at that point- do I make a crazy plan of drive down Monday, ride, drive home, go to work Tuesday, or do I skip out?

I went, duhhhhhhh!

I got up at 4:30am Monday, met two ladies at the barn who were coming with me to audit, and we were on the road at 7:05am. Alfredo's flights got messed up, so the clinic was shuffled from noon to 6:30pm, no lunch break. We were excited to get there in time to see the first few rides, one of which was a GP horse.

We actually got to see majority of the clinic (I only missed part of the rides before and after me)- we were there for the beginning and stayed until the end... meaning I dropped Penn off at midnight, and got myself home by 1am Tuesday morning, showered, and got way too little sleep for a Tuesday in the office. It was totally worth it, majority of the horses were FEI level horses, or aspiring, and several of the riders were ones I knew about and have seen go at shows.


Some of the things he covered with the other riders:
  • No hanging on the reins for balance. He made a rider with a "lazy" horse who couldn't be ridden without two whips ride without any whips. He got after the rider to stop hanging on the reins and to sit better (on the back of the pelvis) and to collect the canter using the middle of the thigh. Her horse was beautifully forward with tons of jump in the canter, of which I was quite envious! He made her do her PSG tempi changes on the wall while holding the reins at the buckle, each direction. She struggled, but she did it and she had beautiful smooth changes.
  • He does not advocate riding with a whip because that is not the kind of rider he is building. He is going to treat you like you want to ride in CDIs and guess what's not allowed? A whip. They aren't allowed at championships either.
  • To help with getting the changes: trot around the ring, go down the longside and go from shoulder in to renvers to travers to leg yield with the nose on the wall. Continue to flip between those in that order on the long wall until it is smooth as butter. Go to canter, half pass in (more of a haunches in) on the circle, then leg yield out, repeat. On one of the leg yields out, ask for the new lead.
  • Half pass corner to corner on the diagonal, but before you get to the corner make the haunches lead the half pass, and do a turn on the forehand into the same half pass back down the same diagonal.
  • Open the inside hand instead of pulling it back.
There was also a huge lesson in being tactful. The first 3 lessons were a trainer, her student, then the trainer and one of her GP horses. Both riders had a little attitude, but the student opened up to Alfredo's ideas and ended up with all of the auditors applauding her efforts and finished a very good lesson.

Sunday night, all scrubbed up and clean for the clinic!

The trainer... is not one I want to ride with. I saw her compete a few years ago and was impressed with her canter work but not her trotwork- it was irregular and tense.... and now I know why. She would tell Alfredo how it is, threw her own trainer (who was there watching and hosting the clinic) under the bus, and basically went off about how her GP horse was a huge ass and how he took years to learn things because he was so uncooperative and was prone to rearing. Alfredo immediately told her to pretty much simmer the fuck down because her body language was so aggressive and that she rides this horse very differently than her first horse (he did not use that language,I'm creatively paraphrasing). He tried to tell her in every way imaginable that the reason the horse had a rearing problem is because she has an anger problem (short of outright yelling that at her). He had to tell her to give the horse a moment to think about the piaffe/passage transition and to stop hitting the horse with the whip when he didn't respond immediately. The trainer rode angry and defensive, but eventually she opened her inside hand when the horse would get stuck and the horse would think and move forward instead of rearing.

Alfredo asked to see the trainer and the host trainer work on the piaffe/passage, which the trainer said "it took me 2 months to undo what [the hosting trainer] did", and about 15 seconds into it, Alfredo ripped her off the horse. He was warned, "That horse will rear and run you over" as he set the gelding up in a side rein and prepared to work him in hand. He simply said, "We'll see" and got to work making the horse do a turn on the forehand in hand. The horse's eye immediately softened and got right to work for him. He settled him on the wall and worked him through a few rearing threats with beautiful timing/pressure/release, and don't you know it, that horse piaffed without running anyone over.

Moral of the story? Be fucking nice to your horse. No emotions. Let them think. GP Trainer got that in my head already, but it was nice to see a horse that is wound so tight relax because Alfredo was simply unemotional with it. I learned later that he almost dismissed the trainer from lesson for being so disrespectful to both him and the horse.

Tacked up, waiting for my lesson. Penn decided to rest his face on the wall for the 10 min we stood there.

On to happier things, like my lesson! I'll admit, after watching the lessons before me, I was extremely anxious.

I told him Penn and I finished my bronze medal last year, we're working on making third better, Penn can sometimes be bolty in the changes, but I really wanted to learn how to do the in hand piaffe/passage work. I also told him that Penn had SI injections about a month ago and is getting back into full work. He asked how many days of the clinic I was riding, I said just the one day... he wasn't happy. He told me outright there's a limited amount he can get done in one day because he's getting to know you and the horse, and you can only cover so much in  45 min and you can only push something so far in one day. I told him I understood completely and knew that coming in, and we'd do what we could.

We warmed up with the leg yield on the diagonal exercise, trotted briefly, and moved on to in hand piaffe work! I told him I wanted to learn how he worked it, because I've had hit or miss lessons with it and I'm unable to reproduce the results on my own consistently. He told me flat out, "This horse is ready to piaffe." Ok, awesome. He asked to see how I asked for it, I sucked at it, and he immediately said, "I can see why the horse bolts through you in changes. We can fix that here." Ok, that's even better.

He started by putting the outside side rein on and looping the reins over the head and through the bit (outside rein over the head like a lunge line, and through the inside bit ring) so that way he had both sides of the mouth right there in his hand. Then he asked Penn to move his hindquarters in a leg yield/turn on the forehand by tapping him rather smartly with the whip on the fleshy part above the gaskin. He always gave a light tap to start with, then a sharp tap if the horse didn't respond. If the horse moved away, he'd immediately stop applying pressure for a moment before asking again. He did that until the horse was reaching the inside hind leg under him and moving to the outside rein without pulling on his hand at all. The cue to stop moving was when he'd put the whip vertically up against the shoulder/neck parallel to the slope of the shoulder.

The bridle set up was like this (picture taken after the fact).

He then took that leg yield to the wall, and used a specific clucking noise (aka, start developing different clucks now), in a trot rhythm while tapping the same spot above the gaskin with the whip with the same gentle/sharp intensity. Penn was confused by what he wanted, and reared a few times (we'll call it levade, lol), before figuring out he was supposed to trot in place.

Alfredo did a few rounds of it, before handing Penn to me to walk once around the ring (the horse works when Alfredo is there, the rider gets to be "the good guy" and walk the horse on a long rein).

Alfredo took him back and asked for piaffe, which was very nice, and then said, "You want to try? Let's see what you learned from watching."

I have to say, I missed the part with the leg yield turn on the forehand and the reasoning behind it. He explained it to me, and off I went. I sucked at it. He took Penn back from me to show me again, and then had me try again, and then schooled me on the ask gently once, then ask sharply. I didn't get anything magical, but I learned a lot on the timing of things. If Penn went to bolt through me, I was to immediately put him on the leg yield/turn on the forehand until he was light in my hand again. I didn't get the excellent response Alfredo got, but it was apparently sufficient because he eventually said, "Ok, that is enough of this for one day. Get on and let's look at the changes."

Penn's best piaffe of the session.

We went back to the trot after the piaffe work, and Penn was immediately more uphill and forward. Alfredo wanted his head a good bit lower with much more contact than I do, but we did it because that's what we were told to do and I am here to learn. Off to the canter!

The first thing he did was encourage me to follow the canter better. GP Trainer has been after me for a long time to sit into the canter and it has been a struggle. He wanted me to pull my pelvis up and down with the motion of the canter, which really forced me to absorb the motion in my core. Thinking about it that way made me realize I completely seize up in my seat when I ask for anything in canter that's not a circle (like half pass, leg yield, flying changes etc).

It took me a while to work out what he was telling me to do with the canter after that. The other riders mostly stuck to the circle and leg yielded and half passed on it, so when he said circle, go to the rail, and leg yield... I tried leg yielding down the rail. Wrong. We had a few communication issues to work out, and then I finally understood he wanted me to leg yield from the corner to X in canter. He then sprung the change on me, and bam, Penn did is very nicely!

The leg yield kept him very straight so I could simply ask for the new lead. I got the one change, and Alfredo said walk... and I couldn't get Penn stopped on the CC. He got bolty and did another flying change. Alfredo immediately said, back to canter! If he's going to run through you, he's going to keep cantering.

He had me repeat the leg yields and changes until we had clean changes, and multiple changes! Penn did his first real set of multiple changes, just two on a long side, but I was super happy!

I would advise anyone who wants to ride with Alfredo to audit him first, to make sure you like his style. He is... quirky. Between quirky, a thick accent, and sometimes he didn't quite finish the instructions, made him difficult to ride for. Once I understood what he wanted, I did it immediately, which made him very happy. That's not to say I didn't enjoy my lesson, because I did enjoy it.

In short, Alfredo is intense and extremely demanding as a clinician. But again, he is building you as if you want to be a CDI rider. He is not someone I would host at home barn, because he's more expensive than most people would do, and he's much more intense than most people I know would be happy with. He is supposed to come back to this host barn every 8 to 10 weeks, so we'll see if I ride again!