Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Riding and the Chiropractor

OK, back to ponies! We're finally out of the cold, so riding can happen again! Hope everyone stayed warm!

Penn's rides have been oh-so-riveting the past two weeks. Ok, so they're not exciting at all. I'm working on keeping him uphill and light in my hand, as well as trying to toss in some of the moves from 2-3 and 3-1. It's barely exciting to ride, so writing about it sounds terrible.

There were some good rides where Penn worked hard, I didn't get in his way too much, and we quit quickly.

There was one very bad ride where I wanted to kill him (and so I quickly found something we could do in a mediocre fashion so we could stop on what could be called a good note). He forgot how to trot and do things in that ride, as well as laying on my hands in canter. I tried shoulder in to a 10m circle to haunches in at trot. He giraffed in the shoulder in and slowed way down, was jerky and lame feeling through the 10m circle, then kinda sorta did OK in the haunches in since he likes tossing them in right now anyway... I have to say he did have a worried look in his eye after we were done riding when I got after him for being the mouthy bastard he is.

Then there were the rides where he just laid in my hands at the canter. It took several rides to get him back up and light. In fact, I had a ride where my hand just got too tired to hold him up so I threw him away in an effort to rest my arm. The bastard started carrying himself instead. Less is more. Gotcha.

I had an "aha moment" with the lateral work though- it's always "inside seatbone on!" and well that gets me to crushing him, then it doesn't work, so I try harder. In general, I sit heavier on my left seatbone (even in my chair right now, as I type this). GP Trainer had me sit a little more to the right on lefthanded 10m circles (and Penn was magically able to stand up and bend and finish the circle). I figured there must be something to that, so I tried cuing for shoulder in with more tucking my hips under me and belly button in feeling than a single seatbone feeling. Penn seemed to appreciate that because his lateral movements became less jerky and softer in the bridle. Less is more. Again.

I love Zootopia.

I was able to ride outside twice in the last two weeks- on 12/26 and 1/1. Both days the sun came out and warmed up our dark-footing outdoor enough that while it was wet, it was not soppy and it was soft. I took full advantage of those days to work on trot 5 loop serpentines with plenty of time to get straight and bend, and then to work on the canter 3 loop serpentine with no change of lead that we need for 2-3 (since we go down centerline in a month!). I want to talk about that, because they were happy rides, haha.

The first time I tried the 3 loop, I could feel Penn questioning if I wanted a change. I tried to make it very clear that he was to maintain the lead, but track the wrong way. He only had one lead goof in the 8-10 serpentines we did (I made sure to do 4-5 each direction because I had no idea when I would get to school it again), when he was on the right lead loop and swapped over to the left about halfway through the second loop. I ignored the change, brought him back to walk quietly, and asked for the right lead again. He never did it again. I was "helping", aka not helping, him along that first day by lightening my seat a lot and letting him carry himself much lower than I usually would (which I'm sure contributed to the lay on my hands days that followed). He did have trouble maintaining the canter in general, and most often the "fall apart" time would be when we got back to true canter at the start of the 3rd loop. I never made a big deal about it the first day we worked on the serpentines because I don't want them to be a hot button issue or something to be nervous about. Around that time, I let him carry himself less uphill to help him make it to the end of the serpentine, where he would promptly collapse. He tried very hard though, and the right lead is definitely harder to maintain into the 3rd loop (go figure huh).

He's going to retire from dressage and become a magazine model.

The second time I got to try the 3 loop work, I made him travel more uphill, and I paid more attention to what my shoulders were doing. He never offered me another lead change, and I was very pleased with the uphill canter and the amount of jump he developed in the counter canter. Again, he struggled to maintain the right lead canter in the third loop. I rode the 2-3 pattern in two pieces- once on the right lead, then instead of a simple change to the left, we took a short walk break before picking it up to work to the left. This way, he never learned he could "stop" after the 3 loop, but I would never be unfair to him and force him to continue on when he's been quite good.

His medium canter was very very strong feeling- he kept the rhythm a lot better than he has in the past and I could feel the bigger air time happening. The transition back to collected canter takes too long, but I don't care. Not yet at least. He's barely strong enough to hold the collected canter through all that canter work in 2-3, I'm not about to nit pick how long it takes him to return to collected canter at this point. (that goes back to, "He can only make good canter out of good walk and good trot. He's not strong enough to make good canter out of bad canter." and going from medium to collected is dangerously close to making good canter out of an ok/bad/unorganized canter.)

Another good exercise I've done in the past week was walk/canter/walk/canter on a 10m circle, especially to the left. It reminds me to sit up, and reminds him to hold his own damn face up. I did that a few times and his left lead became notably better.

By this point though, I could feel Penn's need of a chiropractic adjustment. I'd get on him and he would take short walk steps to start, almost like he was lame (I remember this being a cue from last winter/summer that he needs to be seen), but he'd work out of it in a couple minutes. The ride we had 2 days after our lovely outside work was not good- I worked him without boots, and maybe that was the problem since he interferes badly, but he had to work out of something in the trot (but then had a lovely start to his half pass work), and could not canter to save his life. 1/4/17 was 9 weeks from his last adjustment by Super Chiropractor, so I'm actually impressed that it took this long for him to start feeling bad.

I had been pestering Super Chiropractor's office assistant for most of December, "Does he have his January schedule yet? When is he coming back to my area?" Finally, I was told, weather permitting, he would be in town on 1/4/17. Sign me up!

Acupuncture Injection Therapy- B12 shots in his adjustment areas.

Gosh, I love Super Chiro. He does such good work. Penn's right hip has been a little low, but no where near as bad as it was when Super Chiro did him the first time. Super Chiro was working on the left hip more than the SI area (where he did a lot of work last time- Penn's spine was curving instead of going straight into the SI area), before a huge pop happened and Penn's back immediately became bouncy and loose, and his hips were magically even again. Super Chiro isn't crack happy, and he doesn't man handle or surprise the horse, he just makes firm adjustments. I helped him make a shoulder adjustment (held up the right front while he did something, I couldn't tell you because I was trying to hold onto a foot that Penn did not want to hold up, haha).

His really super badonkadonk is even again!

I decided that while Penn is gaining the strength to do 2nd/3rd level work, I'm going to have him seen every 4 weeks by a chiropractor (goodbye money, glad I got a promotion with a significant raise in December), especially since 8 weeks is a stretch for Penn and we're going to start showing again soon. So Penn will see Super Chiro every 8 weeks (that's SC's goal schedule), and he'll see Local Chiro (the local vet I used all summer) 4 weeks after SC's visit. I'm hoping I only have to have Local Chiro work on him 2 or 3 times, and then maybe toss in an extra visit near Championships.

But we're still plugging away at holding an uphill canter longer, trying to make the walk relaxed and on the bit again, trying to make the trot work again, working on the devil's transition simple changes, and starting to mix in the movements for 2-3 and 3-1.


  1. I can't believe Penn's butt. It is so even!!!

    1. Me either! I'll have to see how long it stays even. It didn't stay even for long after the first adjustment, but it didn't sink any more over the course of the 9 weeks. I'm hopeful it will stay even longer this time, or not sink as much.

  2. Massage in between chiro appointments can help a lot! (Since muscle is what pulls bone out of alignment unless there is a catastrophic fall/accident.)

    1. I forgot about massage! That's a good idea. I have a book I got to teach myself, but there's also a lady I can call who will do it for far less than a chiro adjustment.

  3. That is one glorious looking booty!

  4. I think your horse can definitely count on modeling as a second career option!

    1. Maybe I should have him do some it now so he can earn his own keep!

  5. He has an AWFULLY nice butt.

    I have achieved a few steps of some really lovely uphill canter lately and I love the feeling! The feeling is addictive.

  6. I'm freakin amazed by Penn's bootifully symmetric derrière !!!

    1. Haha, give it a little time, the one hip will probably drop. I always thought I was riding him unevenly, but it's nice to know when his hips are even, the rest of it is too!