11.08.06: Up and Down the Road to Success

Jeffra was in town this weekend to straighten Jim and I both out again. I had been looking forward to her visit to see if she noticed any difference since we started to take our Alexander Technique lessons, but I was disappointed that the office move had wreaked more havoc than I wanted it to. Jeffra arrived in a flurry with Melina after they drug themselves through Friday evening traffic. Melina was not in a hurry to leave, which I do not blame her! Jeffra got started on me right away, and found that I was pretty locked up, my hips were out and I was a bit crooked again. She also checked my jaw since I had been to the dentist the week before and helped to straighten it out again. She found that while I was pretty knotted up, my body was releasing quickly back to where it should have been. I was glad to know that there seemed to be some benefit to what I had been working on, and I hope that it will continue to improve in the future.
We got started early on Saturday with the horses, and worked through Blu, Lily and Julius before I finally grabbed Winston. Winston turned out to be in quite a bit more of a mess than anyone realized from his tumble two weeks before. Jeffra spent a long time working on him with a tens unit to help release all of the blocks he was carrying in his back. It was a struggle for him, but she finally got to a point where she knew she couldn't do any more work on him for risking over doing it. She said if she could have she would have treated him again in a week, which is the drawback to her being all the way down in Florida.
She finished with him, and time was beginning to get tight, but she wanted to at least see Storm to see how he was doing. I turned Winston loose and headed down to get Storm, and brought him up. She was thrilled with his sarcoid, it is much smoother, and there is hair beginning to come back over the spot. She poked at it and said that it seemed that there was still a bit more left under the skin, and to keep putting the ointment on it until it was gone. She checked his hips, and to her surprise, they were aligned perfectly. She checked a few more things, and found that he was in great shape, much to my pleasure. It really is a testament to the work that we have been doing and the diligence to sticking with the program.
We hustled her off to meet with Connie to take her to Virginia for the next couple of days, and that was that. We did discuss plans for her next visit back, and hope to be able to line it up for about 2 weeks after Jim has his surgery so that she can work on him and help him get back into shape again.
Since Julius was worked on, Jeffra advised that he not be ridden for a few days, so Nancy and I scrapped our plan to go riding together on Sunday morning. She called me about 9:30 teasing me that I wasn't out riding yet, and I asked her how the arena was since it had rained pretty solidly on Saturday afternoon and night. She said it was puddled, but workable, of course coming from Nancy that meant it was pretty wet. I decided to head out anyway, and spend some time just in the arena since we hadn't done that for two rides to make sure that Storm was really working on his balance and sticking to that since the trails are very taxing in other ways.
Storm wasn't too dirty, they had all been left in the night before, so he was reasonably clean so it didn't take too long to get him tacked up. I noticed that his back was pretty dirty, and looked a bit strange, and made note to check on that again later. We headed to the arena and found Pat and Shaggy already working in the round pen, and shortly after we got started Jim came down with Carissa and Woody to do a little work. It was nice to see so many people doing things.
I set Storm up in the balance bands, and got started lunging. He seemed sluggish, and a bit reluctant to want to get down to work, but eventually settled down. It took a lot of work to really get him up into a trot, but eventually he did so. I allowed him as much time as he needed, and simply slowly kept adding one ounce at a time until eventually he slipped into the trot. He lost it quickly, but we reorganized, and tried again, slowly ounce by ounce working up into the trot. It was very hot and sticky, so I didn't push him to find the canter, it just wasn't worth the energy. I attempted to stay as much in the shade as possible, but the shade was quickly slipping away, and happened to also be full of puddles.
We changed directions and repeated the process in the opposite direction, and got much of the same results. It was getting pretty hot, so I decided to get ready to ride.
I borrowed the fence and Carissa waited as we mounted and then moved back to the middle of the arena. We began working on our balance and happened to go to the left first. I worked on focusing to keep my left side weighted and long, and finding the ball behind me. It seemed to come quickly, and he was responding well. Eventually I worked up to a trot, but it took a long time and a lot of effort to get there. He was giving me good steps, but I quickly realized I was getting sucked down into his loss of balance into posture 2a, and he was losing the gait as quickly as we would get into it. At that point with the heat, I didn't push it too hard. I was pleased we were getting into the trot again, but also realized that things weren't working quite like they were supposed to. We spent some time refining that just a bit before changing directions to go to the right.
He did well to the right, which made me happy. Again, I had trouble getting the trot, and noticed I was getting pulled down which resulted in him losing the gait again. I just made mental note of it and worked for a little while more. I realized it was getting late, and we had errands and an Alexander lesson to get to still, and I knew I'd need a shower before I could be presentable! We wrapped it up shortly after that, and I rode up the hill to get off so that he wouldn't associate riding out of the arena equating to a trail ride. Consistency AND variety, all in moderation! He walked up the hill nicely without getting worried, and I went right away to the table and climbed down. 
I was disappointed to see that he had a larger dry spot on the left side, with a still dry-er spot on the right (still wet with sweat, but not AS wet as the rest of his back). I suspect it is something that I am doing, but figuring it out on my own is going to be tough. Why does it feel like its already been weeks and weeks since Kirsten was here??
I am looking forward to the weekend, Jim McDonald has a trail clinic, and I think that the group will be small enough for Storm to ride along. We will see how it goes.
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