Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bar and the art of the turn

Big brown fuzzy OTTB

Calabar, like many ex-racehorses, has not perfected the art of the tight turn. The turn at the end of the straight-away? Not an issue. He'll even switch leads for it, as he was well-trained to do.

But a small circle? Oh, now that's a different story. And it's a particularly different story to the left.

Ellen was helping us on our trot and our turning using the same exercise--short reins, outside elbow out slightly to support the neck, inside index finger inching up the rein, Dressage whip at the ready. It works pretty well to the right. To the left, especially when he gets tired, not so well. We get drift, major drift, to the outside.

Was it me? I know that my own spinal mis-confirmation twists my pelvis to the right and it is a physical effort to drop my left seat bone into the saddle. A contortion that sometimes escapes me despite all my best efforts.

And, as previously mentioned, Calabar does try.

So last night, after our workout, I asked Calabar to move around me both directions, just at a walk. I pushed his hindquarters while directing his head. He was lovely to the right, loose and crossing over behind beautifully.

To the left (also known as racing direction), we were not so smooth. One step, two steps, then his left front would plant and he would try to rotate around it.

Well that just won't work for all kinds of reasons.

And here is where some knowledge and training on my part would really come in handy. I know I need to lift that left leg somehow and get him off of it, but I am not at all sure how to do that.

He needs to be looser there, of that there is no doubt, and the left has always been the tighter shoulder--despite the bowed tendon being on the right and the compensation that entails. So massage and stretching for sure. But what else? Do I push with my left hip/foot to get him to extend? Do we do more circles? Less circles?

If it were me, I would do gentle extending exercises. If it were me, and it is in some ways, I would keep working it, keep gently moving to build the balance and strength required.

I just need to figure out a way to help him do that.

It appears the lessons never end, but that is why us crazy horse people do this, right?

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