Saturday, 29 December 2007

A few problems

I have been struggling a little with Echo this week. She had four days off over Christmas, as I was seeing family and doing Christmassy stuff. I rode her on Thursday in the indoor school and she was so fired-up it was unbelievable. When I asked her to trot, she shot off at a horrendous speed (in trot, but fast) and I couldn't slow her down at all. I decided to work her a lot in walk, but she wouldn't calm down - she was like a coiled spring. Whenever I put my leg on, she zoomed forwards - it was quite disconcerting. Near the end of the session, I asked her to canter, but because I hadn't been able to put my outside leg on properly, I didn't have control of her shoulders, so she kept cantering on the wrong lead. She did eventually slow down her trot, but she was then very heavy in my hand. I thought that perhaps she was just a bit fresh from her time off. She worked very hard and was very sweaty (really needs clipping now!) so I thought she would be OK on Friday.

I rode her yesterday, again in the indoor school and it was very windy outside. The doors were rattling and Echo was very on edge again. I got on and she just wouldn't settle at all. I have never known her like that. After a couple of minutes, I got off and put her on a lunge line that was in the school. As soon as she was on the circle, she raced into trot and raced around at a crazy speed. I just let her run for a little while - she wasn't being naughty, it just seemed as if she needed to get it out of her system. When I asked her to canter, she leapt into it, but then cantered beautifully. Once she was willing to trot calmly, with her head lowered, I got on again. She still felt sharp off my leg and hot, but she was a litle more settled. However, when I asked her to trot, she just raced forward again.

I find it really difficult to slow her trot down - I've tried slowing my rising down, I've tried doing periods of sitting trot (I find it much easier to half-halt in sitting trot) and I've tried keeping her thinking by doing lots of turns and serpentines. Again, by the end, she was trotting in a more relaxed way, but she was very heavy in my hand. I didn't ask for a canter, as I didn't think I had much control over her shoulders again. I could really do with a lesson. I was supposed to have one on Thursday, but the timing didn't work out. I am a bit out of ideas. Perhaps I will call my old boss today and see what he says about it. My concern is that she may be sore in some way, as it is particularly out of character, but her saddle was reflocked a couple of weeks ago and she didn't seem sore in her back at all. Any ideas?

1 comment:

dressagemom said...

Obviously I haven't seen your horse go, but from what you describe it doesn't sound like a pain issue to me. When I've seen horses that are likely reacting to pain in some way while being worked, they tend to be fine initially but then suddenly bolt forward in an uncontrolled manner, usually with tightening throughout the body.

I know what you mean about having issues keeping the tempo slow. Kaswyn tends to want to rush when we work, and just recently I've been able to half-halt through my seat and slow his rhythm (now that my horse is 17 and I've been doing dressage for 12 years!). I know that it's easier to half-halt while sitting, but I tend to think that the rising trot gives the horse a better feel for your seat and weight, so that's where I'd try to be.

Something to be careful of that you might not think you're doing - you might be squeezing with your leg as you post or sit the trot. As your horse gets more educated about your leg she might be just reacting more to it out of both obedience and delight at being able to go forward at your command. It's nice to have a horse that reacts shrply to your leg, but I know that you don't want her rushing forward either. It's so hard to find that balance of dullness to the leg and hyperreactivity! Anyhow, try keeping your leg off for a few days and see if that helps. Then try gradually to reintroduce the leg when she's relaxed and working fine. Think of it more as a hug for the horse instead of a squeeze with the leg. It's vital that you be able to use the leg not only to ask her to go forward but for bending and positioniong so she's got to be able to accept it eventually in the way it's intended to be used.

Just my opinions, of course. Hope it helps or at least gives you some ideas!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.