11.03.19: A Study of Change

Yesterday was Storm's 9th birthday. Coincidentally, as I was organizing computer files, I stumbled across the photos that we took on April 18th, 2008, from our first visit out to meet Storm. Not having looked at them in almost 3 years since we purchased Storm just after he turned 6, the change was dramatic. For starters, unknowingly, he was 100 pounds under weight, and as a result his ribs are visible in many of the original images. I won't make that mistake again in purchasing a horse! That was just the start of his problems. The positive aspect is that despite being under weight and poorly muscled, he was still able to respond to a skilled rider and try very hard to get into a "frame." However, it was painfully obvious that without the guidance of someone that "knew what they were doing" he couldn't hold it together. He was entirely dependent on the rider to create his shape and hold him there, which is a game that ultimately he and the rider would both lose by playing.
We've changed all of that, and are slowly on the road to a better body. The changes are glaringly obvious in the photos from last month's lessons. The 100 pounds was put on quickly, and after that things happened very slowly. But the change is very distinct now.
In the photo from 2008, Storm is being ridden by a girl taking lessons at the barn where he was consigned. She is able to hold him in a frame reasonably well, however, there are several key things to note that are drastically different in the two photos. Firstly, in the 2008 photo, his ribs are visible, and there are some obvious differences in his muscle development. His shoulders and under neck are over developed in the 2008 image, along with his butt being very angular with hollows and over developments in different areas. In the image from last month's lesson, his muscling is smoother and more balanced. There is less muscle under his neck and shoulders, and much more muscle on his rump. His rump is rounder without as many lumps or angles to it.

After finishing our lesson on March 20th, I took a new set of photos to be able to compare his body structure and development directly.
From the front there are a few noticeable differences.

Yellow Arrow: Note that his stance is much closer to square in the current photo. His both of his hind feet are clearly visible in the 2008 photo, where as they are set much further apart in the 2001 photo.
Blue Arrow: Being under weight is noticeable from the front view. Additionally, notice that his ribs are pushed out to his right (the side that the arrow is on), but in the photo from 2011 his posture is much straighter, with an equal amount of rib on either side of his body.

Blue Arrow: Storm's stance is uneven, his head is off to the right, reflected in the position of his feet. His hips are very uneven across the top.
Yellow Arrow: In the 2008 image his ribs are not even visible, and his hindquarters are much less muscled than in the 2011 image.
Purple Arrow: Storm's stance has improved, standing much closer to square with a much wider set to his feet.

From the side there are many more drastic changes that are easily visible.
Green Arrow: The difference in the muscling is obvious across his topline, including the dip in front of his withers from being tight through the trapizius muscle.
Red Arrow: The hollow behind the withers from saddle damage has smoothed out in the 2011 image, and his back is visibly less dropped.
Blue Arrow: The overall shape of his entire rump is much rounder and less angular having developed muscles for Storm to push forward rather than pull with his neck.
Yellow Arrow: Reduction in the muscling on the bottom side of the neck from using his topline/hindquarters to move forward rather than "pulling" with his front legs and lower neck muscles.
Purple Arrow: Despite his stance, there is visibly more weight on the forehand in the 2008 image versus the 2011 image. Storm's front leg is more straight under him, rather than back at an angle, in the 2011 image, indicating that his weight is not as heavily anchored on his front legs even when standing still.

Similar things to note from the right side. It is also noticeable in this set of images that Storm's head does not appear as large in the 2011 image. This is due to the fact that his neck is more appropriately developed, along with the rest of his body. His head is no longer as out of proportion with the rest of his body.
Next Page:
11.03.19: Reriding