10.09.02: A Ride and a Walk

We arrived in Florida Wednesday evening after an uneventful flight. Our bag was fast out of baggage claim so we were waiting for Kirsten within short order. She arrived and we loaded up the trunk of her little car and headed off into the dark Florida night. There
wasn't much to see on the ride to her house, which took about 45 minutes. We arrived and settled our stuff in and spent a little while hanging out on the back porch with her and the working student that is here at the moment, Anthony. Sitting on the porch and hearing the horses snort off in the darkness beyond the porch light was a pleasant evening.
We woke before Kirsten and returned to the porch to look at the horses while we waited for her to get up and plan the day. We had bagles for breakfast, and watched the horses in the yard. River and Milogro are both here with her in training, River is a slight chestnut Arabian-Quarter Horse cross that inherited the wiggly arabian with the steadiness of the Quarter Horse. Milogro is a dark bay Preuvian Paso that apparently was worse than Bonnie when her owner got her, and has come a long way, but still has fits of wiggly.
We finished up bre
akfast and got organized to take care of the day's business, first order was to
head over to another farm and work a horse whose owner was out of town, then come back to the house and work the two here, and then run some errands and catch up with Jeffra, to head to the rescue to work on a little mare, and then head over to Kirsten's barn to watch a lesson and work her horses.
We headed off to go work Cody, who is a stout quarter horse. Kirsten was working on the trot with him and helpin him find his balance at the faster gait. She rode him for almost an hour while we watched and Jim took pictures. The farm was a beautiful piece of property with a pond that had ducks and egrets hanging out. Jim managed to get a killer photo of an egret making a strike for a fish. The sequence of images was pretty crazy! Cody did very well, and was super sweaty when she finally finished. Even his poor face was sweaty! He got a good hose off, and turned back out into the pasture.
We headed home and got started with the two horses at her place. She set me up to ride River first, and got on him to show me where they were currently working. He is very wiggly and constantly flips his ball out, but is fairly clear about where it is, and then very clearly will move it when you get all the pieces in the right place. He also needs to have all the parts and pieces in the right places in order to make it work. First, you have to sit over the ball, then you have to start asking for a bend in the neck, and keep asking until he finally brings his shoulders around, which causes the ball to shift to the center, and he puts his head down, and stretches. Then the process starts all over again. She worked him for about 15
minutes, and then let me get up and ride. It went very well, I had to be fairly over exaggerated in order to make the shift, but feeling that helped me to find the ball and keep working to know when it had moved and what that feels like and what is correct, and what is not. We worked to the right for a while, which is his harder side, and I was able to get him to keep moving the ball over. Lather, rinse, repeat. We finally changed directions and I had a harder time getting his left side to
move, but it was still possible. After several laps around the side yard, he began to blow out on me, and would not continue on around the circle. I had to get Kirsten's assistance to sort out what was going on. Somehow, so logically, you have to put the outside leg on if they are blowing out of the circle. That worked for the first couple of laps, and then he began to blow through my leg I checked in again and this ride was a long one for him, so it was likely he was really just getting tired. So I worked him around a bit more and found a good point to stop, and we wrappd up.
In the mean time, Kirsten got Milogro set up with the long lines and Jim took some photos attempting to capture the wiggle that Milogro was going through, it was very obvious and easy to see since Milogro was shorter. Once Kirsten went over everything, she handed the reins to Jim so that he could feel what she was going through to better understand it and be able to capture the wiggle in photos and on video.
We wrapped up and both horses got a thorough hosing before we turned them loose again and decided it was a good time to make a quick grocery run and pick up a few things. When we returned Jeffra was already here and so we all ate lunch and then got organized to head over to Equine Rescue & Adoption Foundation, also known as ERAF. Kirsten does a lot of volunteer work there, and it has been through her work with the rescues that her program has become really refined and distilled down to the essential elements. There was a specific horse that Jeffra was coming down to work on, she was a cute little Appaloosa mare that apparently had suffered some kind of untold trauma that really had her messed up and crooked. She stood and walkd like a car out of alignment, her left hind foot was actually tracking outside her right front foot. When she stood still her hind end listed to one side so badly that it apeared as if one puff of wind would blow her completely over. She was obviously protecting her leg for some reason, but the injury was long gone. Jeffra went to work and found all sorts of problems, many of which seemd to be patterns that likely developed as a result of her hind end being so crooked. It was hard to tell which injury came first, but it didn't really matter. Jeffra went to work on helping her find release and discovered that she could put weight on her left hind, she was just habituated to protecting that leg and not bearing weight so her entire posture was centered around that stance. When Jeffra was done she was very encouraging to being able to work the mare to help her "find" her hind leg again so that she could move in a balanced manner.
We wrapped up there and headed over to the barn where Kirsten keeps her horses so she could do a lesson with two ladies that are leasing horses there, plus have Jeffra work on Prima and Mick. We arrived and met the ladies for their lesson, and Jeffra got started on Mick while they tacked up. I enjoy watching her work and seeing her work on Kirsten's horses was interesting. Kirsten checked in before the lesson started and told Jeffra a few things that she was having trouble with, and Jeffra found all the issues that Kirsten identified, and was able to work them out. She corrected his hips, and helpd him free up his neck. She finishd up with him and got started on Prima, who turned out to be stuck in a few different places. Jeffra went to check one of her lower legs, and her fetlock actually popped in both directions. Jeffra wrapped up with her and headed back up the road for her 3 hour drive and we headed to watch the rest of the lessons. The two ladies were a mother and daughter and were working on a lunging lesson working through the gaits and having the horses begin to get confident and find balance in the gaits. One of the horses reminded me a lot of a horse that works in our group on our monthly Saturdays, and has similar blood lines. The ladies did very well, and the horses got a good hosing when they finished.
Kirsten decided we should work Mick and Prima on the long lines when they left, and so we got them tacked up with bridles and headed back into the arena. Apparently Jeffra's sessions on both of them made it more challenging for us, as we ended up having to work twice as hard to get either of them to move. Prima, the little Arabian princess lookd more like a little cow pony than anything. She was trotting but it looked as though it was taking a horrendous amount of effort for her to do so. She had so little impulsion it was taking me so much effort in order to just keep her going.
We finally wrapped up everything with a good rinse for the horses and let them eat their dinner before turning them out for the night. We headed back to the house exhausted and jumped into the shower while Kirsten put dinner together. We fell into bed pretty early, but it was for much needed sleep!