Friday, 28 March 2008

Great Timing!

Echo has had the last couple of weeks off for various reasons, and to be honest she hasn't worked consistently for a couple of months now. I'm not worried about this, as she is young and growing at a rate of knots, so the time off will not do her any harm. However, I lunged her last week and she didn't look quite right in her hind legs. She didn't look lame, but there was a definite 'not quite right' thing going on. I'm sure that phrase is becoming a technical term among horse owners! I couldn't really put my finger on it, so I trotted her up for the yard manager and he said she did look a bit stiff in her hind legs, possibly through her back a bit too. He suggested that it might be from having lots of time off and only sporadic work, so he suggested I should ride her and see. I didn't end up riding that week for various reasons, then was away all weekend.

I lunged her again yesterday, thinking that a week off might have rested anything that was sore, and to begin with she did look slightly better, but she was doing something very odd in her walk-trot transitions. Rather than push off her left hind, she would do a strange sort of jump in front, then would use the left hind properly once she was trotting. I had a close look at this, by timing the transition just at the moment where she should have to use the left hind to propel her into trot, but she wouldn't use it. I trotted her up again afterwards, but no one could see anything conclusive.

Today I had the saddler check the fit of her saddle and was thinking that I would see how she felt with me on her, but when I mentioned to the saddler that I thought she had a sore back, he ran his hand down her back, behind the saddle. It was amazing - when I have done this, she hasn't flinched at all - I must not be pressing hard enough. When he did it, she nearly fell over! He said that she has a very sore back, but that it is too far back to have been caused by the saddle (and luckily for my bank balance, the saddle still fits fine!) and must be due to something she's done on her own. It has been so wet recently, that it is quite possible she's slipped in the field. Her front end is also rapidly shooting up to reach the height of her back end, so this could be tweaking something. What is good to know is that it is predominantly on the left side, which would explain the problem with the left hind.

I have contacted the Bowen back specialist and she is going to treat her on Wednesday. She will have to have two weeks off while she is treated over a five day period, and that is just typical, as I am on my school Easter holidays right now. How do horses manage to time things just perfectly? However, at least the clocks change this weekend, so it will be lighter after work and we won't always have to go in the school in the evenings. I will update once the back lady has seen her next week. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sorry for the absence!

I am so sorry for my lack of posting over the last couple of weeks - I don't have access to the internet in the house I am temporarily staying in, and work is so busy that finding time there is tricky. However, I am moving house very soon, and so shyould have lots of time to blog! I will also be on my Easter holidays soon, which will mean lots of time for riding Echo. It's been a bit erratic up to the end of this term, but she is going well when I do get to ride. I will post more information VERY soon.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Echo has been going really well this week. I have only been riding her for about half an hour each time I’ve ridden, but this is plenty, as she is still a bit lacking in strength through being young and having had a holiday. I have been feeling very emotional towards the end of the week (it’s up and down!) and felt that I needed something specific to work on with Echo, to keep me focussed and sane. My theme for this week has been working on getting her to work into the outside contact. I felt that I was using too much inside rein and decided to do something about it!

Working in walk a lot to begin with, I started by asking her to flex her neck dramatically to the inside, while still walking in a straight line. Once she worked out what to do, she immediately felt more flexible through her body. I then started to ask for leg yielding from the three-quarter line to the track. She knows what to do with this, but is sometimes keen to not take the outside contact. I find myself over-using the inside rein, which is not good.

I then started to ask her to leg yield along the track. When I came round the corner before the long side, I asked her to bring her hind-quarters in and leg-yield along the track. She finds this difficult, but I find it a more successful way of getting her to work into the outside rein (albeit the ‘wrong’ outside rein each time!) I then started to ask for these movements in trot, which she finds easier in some ways, but does then have a tendency to rush. I worked hard at using half-halts in the leg-yielding to control the pace, which in turn got her to work more into the outside rein.

We are making small steps with this, but I feel that she is starting to understand what I am asking her to do. The other interesting thing with all of this is that on Sunday I managed to get a walk to canter transition for the first time – and on the left rein, which is notoriously our worst for striking off on the correct leg. I was really pushing her into the corner in walk, asking her to really reach in to the outside rein and step under with her inside hind, and on a whim, I decided to ask for the canter transition, as she felt very connected. She just sort of popped up through the transition and the actual canter then felt amazing and balanced. What a result! John tried to get us to do walk to canter in our last lesson and we didn’t manage it, so I am really seeing progress now.

It isn’t that I want her to be able to do this all the time, but it is a great way of balancing the transitions and stopping her falling onto her forehand when going into canter. The other thing I felt able to do on Sunday was actually ask a bit more of her in the canter. I was able to sit up and really ride, using my inside leg to engage her. This is a good step forward, as previously I have been satisfied with just getting into canter in the first place. I now need to work on the downward transitions. She still really falls into trot and then runs along on her forehand, so I have decided not to trot after cantering at the moment. I bring her back to a walk straight from canter, which I am hoping will instil a desire to balance herself after the downward transition. I am not sure on this point though, so any ideas would be appreciated!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.