Saturday, September 12, 2009

A tale of two horses

Working with Bar to help him (and me) find his frame, seems to have produced lots of blurry pictures of both horses in the round pen. Lena shows such a good picture of where he needs to be, but her training, confirmation, and fitness level all support that.

He just hasn't had that in his life, but he has had good care and nutrition, and has learned a lot about trust, so we have a good place to start. Even if he does still look a lot like the "before" picture in the training books a lot of the time.

Riding both horses is very important, but the work from the ground with both horses really provides a good "snapshot" of where Bar is now and what the goal is. The progress is slow, but it is inching along. He leads with his toes on both front feet, something that may never be fully corrected considering his confirmation and injuries, but if he can get stronger and more balanced, it will be less of an issue.

Several of yesterday's shots were of his feet and legs to show the mechanics and, even at a trot, it's too fast to follow just yet. It made for some interesting and vaguely artistic shots, but really it helps gauge his progress inch by inch and movement by movement.

Working with both horses also reinforces just how different they are. Bar will trot around the round pen with minimal input until called into the circle. Lena Rey does fine until she is behind me, then she tries to stop and come in. She relaxes pretty quickly, but is then looking immediately for the release. Focusing energy on Bar makes him tense and worried, so sitting down in the middle of the round helps him come down a few notches, even as he continues to work. Lena (at least right now) requires constant input at some level or she decides it's time to stop and do something new. (More fun, in other words.)

He is willingly cantering in the round pen, now--better to the left than the right--but it is smoother and less of an argument than it was previously. For awhile, he would do it, but not for long and not without a lot of head tossing and breaking gait. He is still very resistant traveling to the right at any gait under saddle, so for now we are keeping it very slow until he trusts me not to make him do anything that will get him hurt--and until he trusts his own body enough to be there when he needs it.

Karen is coming out tomorrow to give him another massage and check his progress. His muscles seem to look better, and his neck looks and feels softer and less tight--hopefully Karen sees the same thing.

Meanwhile, Lena Rey--who already thinks Bar gets more than his fair share of attention--will surely be wondering when she will be getting her massage and spa treatment.


Kate said...

I like your slow, careful approach tailored to the needs of each horse. And thanks for the pictures - they captured the personalities well.

Edie Freedman said...

I envy you access to a round pen. I've gotten to work Wolfie once in a round pen, with my friend and horse trainer Ray Hackett. Wolfie loved the clarity of the exercises we did, and joined up in about 5 minutes. It's clear that you love these two horses and invest a lot of time and energy into keeping them healthy, happy, and engaged with you. Bravo!