10.10.23: Work Out

Despite waking up feeling pewney this morning, I did manage to work the horse. I canceled my planned trip to visit Shari and attend a clinic she was presenting on Leadership using the horses for a learning experience, which was very disappointing to me, but I felt it was better to lay a bit low and try to recuperate to make sure that I didn't get any worse.
Storm's herd was in one and two and of course they were out the chute and in the back forty and I had to go find him. He started to approach me, but then stopped under the Mulberry tree and rubbed his neck on the branches. I swung around behind him, and eventually he came over to me and I haltered him.

Several people had issues trying to bring horses out of the back field and through the chute, the rest of the herd would decide just about when you hit the chute with the horse that it was a GREAT time to come thundering up from behind. The others did this to me once, and I was able to get Storm to settle down, but its a bit different when you're leading the boss out versus some of the bottom rung horses.  He got a bit high headed, and so I turned around and went into the walking backwards mode just so that I felt safe moving him out of the group, and it gave me the additional support of being able to see the herd if they did decide to make a rush toward us. It was difficult walking backwards through the grass and up the hill, but we finally got up to the gate and I felt like he was pretty well set up to get started. I put his bridle on and we headed down to the round pen, dropping off the long reins over the arena fence as we headed by.
I got started in the round pen and fell right into trot work. I asked him to move off to the left and he took the suggestion, which pleased me, but right as he got to the fence he asked if he could go right. I stepped forward to block the direction and he swung back to the left again. I gave him about a quarter lap to settle in and then asked for the trot. He was a little bit sluggish, and I had to keep asking him up again, so I threw in a canter transition. He struggled to get into the canter, but held it for a bit before dropping almost all the way off to the walk. I quickly responded again with a trot cue, and he was able to maintain the impulsion a little longer. He was not as balanced as I hoped, but it was improving as he made more laps.
Finally I gently stepped back to ask him to stop and face me, and he did so quickly. He seemed a bit sluggish and not so interested in going forward today. I was pleased with the draw, though, because it is important, and it is something that I have worked hard to develop.
I sent him off the other way, and settled him into the trot, and tossed in a few canter transitions. Going to the right he struggles a bit more to get into the canter, so it took more work to bump him up there. Eventually he settled in a bit, but then something distracted him and his head went up for several laps. I kept on doing what I was doing, and eventually he found his rhythm again and was able to produce some really nicely balanced trot work. I was pleased that he found it after running around like a giraffe for a little while. I suppose that the "bad" steps made the good steps feel that much better and is the reason that he produced such great work there for a while.
I stopped him, and again was rewarded with a quick draw into the circle, with him licking and chewing. I decided to experiment a little bit since we had begun to work on the trot work on the long lines. I asked him to move off on the rail of the round pen, and walked next to him on the inside of the circle. After we walked a little ways next to each other, I started to jog slowly, still matching his walking pace, and then gave him the cues that I would give to ask him to trot. At first he was very confused, and attempted to back up, so I stepped back a little further and put more pressure on him to move forward. Eventually he figured it out and I jogged next to him trotting until he settled out and wanted to walk again.
We repeated the pattern several times, and finally I threw in a canter transition. I was having a bit of trouble remembering to throw in all the steps though (canter-skip step, cluck twice, use the stick aid, repeat steps two and three until canter results). I had to move closer to the center of the round pen so that my short legs could keep up with his longer legs. It was pretty wild to be running next to him though. We reversed direction, and repeated the pattern, and he was a little bit steadier, and maintained the gaits a little longer. So long, in fact that I was pretty worn out when he finally stopped!!
I put his lead rope back on, and we headed down into the arena to work on the long lines for a while. He was not as steady as I would have liked, but he seemed to be stretching and working reasonably well. After several laps of figure 8's I gathered him up and got organized to ask for the trot. I began to jog gently and then flicked the inside line and clucked, and he set off in a trot easily. I worked on finding some steadiness for him, and making a circle that was large enough that I wasn't working too hard but not so small that he was struggling to maintain the shape. He fluctuated in and out of finding his balance and really rounding his neck and shifting his weight onto his hindquarters, and then falling a little flatter and pulling from the front. It was a real delight to feel him lighten up on the reins and support himself on the circle. I was pleased that it was not taking much work to keep him balanced, he was developing his own balance without needing hang holding and a lot of work. Our circle to the left was fairly
steady and even all the way around. We worked for a few minutes and then changed directions to the right. It took more work to keep him on the circle, but again he was really able to settle in and find his balance without too much struggle. He was also able to sustain the gait for more than a lap, which was a good thing. It wasn't taking much to get him back up into the trot, only a few clucks and some jogging and he was able to go back up into the gait again.
We finally quit for the day, and I let him graze on the hill for a while since he was quite warm in his almost winter coat. Had to hike him back out to the back pasture again, and was met by the four stooges waiting for us. Noticed that my knee seems sore after all the work, but it was super satisfying, even if the sore knee does add to the sore throat...

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