Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sizing Things Up.......A New Ball Game.........

Part 1

The first opportunity after the Arabian horse's feet were trimmed, I had Storm over to the park. To my best recollection the horse has never been there before so I didn't know what he'd think. That big open arena with the hill overlooking it can intimidate even a well trained horse at times.

Most of the time if anything scary happens it comes from up on that hill. With horses being prey animals that overhead intrusion is one extremely sensitive for most horses. A "bad" experience on a first time experience at the park can result in a hyper vigilant horse for months to come.

With Storm being a sensitive horse in the first place, I expected some snorting and blowing and probably lots of sweating. Just being allowed to lunge in a strange place can elicit that kind of response from a young horse. I'd seen that happen earlier in the year with Percy, Tag and Louie. With Percy being very much like Storm in temperament since they are full brothers, I figured I'd have at least the same.

Leave it to horses. Anytime you think you have them figured out the opposite always happens. Storm didn't seem to mind these strange new surroundings. Not only that but his response to my request to lunge was totally regraded to meet my expectation of lunging just as a temperature gauge of the horse. Storm paid close attention to me and put on the brakes at first request. There was no sign of the zoned out horse expecting to be "lunged down." Storm was working bit harder than he had to.

I hadn't really planned on riding the horse the first day over at the park. I'd expected him to be so wound up about the new surroundings that the horse would have done enough exercise for one day. With his quiet response I quickly changed my plan and climbed on board.

I know the farrier had commented he didn't know how come Storm even looked sound on the lunge line with his feet so bad but I guess I hadn't really thought much about how the change might affect him now so it caught me off guard to have the horse stumbling with me astride.

At first I thought it was me. I must be sitting funny and throwing the horse off balance. I've been known to do that every now and then, although I usually notice right away because I feel off balance when I do. That, however, was not the problem today. It was clear right from the start that Storm was quite sure what was going on with his feet.

My usual flexing and bending exercises to warm my horse up were causing Storm to step all over the place on himself. I decided to just let the horse relax and walk straight to figure out his balance with me. It didn't take long at the walk for Storm to get more comfortable with things but he still struggled a bit with any lateral movement.

At the jog the horse was cautious and rightly so although he did seem to be more square than on that first ride. The horse was not underneath himself, however, so I decided to move him out into a working trot. The horse was reluctant at first and still unsure about his feet but it didn't take too long to get a reasonable trot so from there we moved on to the lope.

That gait really showed how off balance this horse was. It didn't matter which direction we travelled, the horse felt very rough and odd. I don't remember his lope feeling like this even the very first time. There was another indicator the horse was unsure of what he was doing. Storm was tripping and stumbling. Once going to the right, the horse nearly fell to his knees before recovering. I was doing to have to do some thinking about strategy for dealing with this.

To be continued....................

A Change of Tack

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  1. I wondered if he had been compensating for those unkempt feet.Sounds like he was doing exactly that. Hope he adjusts quickly .I wonder if massage and some theraputic stretching or chiropractic work needs to be done ,or as he is a fairly young horse maybe just time will fix the instability .Amazing what they can get used to isn't it?

  2. Poor guy. But sounds like he gave you a good try. I hope he "compensates" back the other way — the right way — quickly for you.

  3. Gymnastics. Gymnastics. Gymnastics. Cavaletti and the like. Little bounce fences. That kind of of thing.