12.07.28: Horse Power

After getting Storm all clipped this week and keeping him extra cool in his stall during the day I decided it was probably a smart idea to squeeze a ride in on Saturday morning. I was concerned that he was going to get a little squirrely from being locked up every day. I headed out to catch him and took him right out to the hose for a quick rinse to get him a bit wet and then put him in the stall under the fan to chill while I pulled out all the tack. With no hair there really isn't anything to clean, especially since I already rinsed him down a bit. Got tacked up and headed down to the arena ready to ride. He was in a good frame of mind, so I got right up and we set to work.
We headed off to the right, and I noticed an immediate difference from our lesson. He was lighter on the reins from the beginning without near as much struggle on my part. I worked hard to maintain my bubble, and keep the thought of lifting upward and back, especially when he began to pull on my hands. Each time I was able to clearly think about shifting up and back the tension on the reins lightened. Nothing more than a thought was changing his posture and balance. It was a delight to ride, and Storm was working really hard. We continued, lap after lap until he began to struggle a bit. I worked to try to have one final lap to the right that felt really good, making sure to make corrects as quickly as I noticed the smallest change rather than waiting until he was leaning on my hands.
We changed directions and worked to the left, finding the same feeling of lightness and  corrections based on thought. Once in a while he would get the better of me, and I would really have to work hard to get him off the forehand and shifted back again. I was thrilled with how well he was working, and his breathing stayed nice and light through the work. The morning wasn't too warm, but the humidity was up, so I was keeping a close watch on how he was feeling. We worked for a while, and again he worked very hard and then began to get a little tired. We made one more really good lap and then I switched to working the figure 8's through the arena. The sand was damp from the dew overnight and after a couple laps of the 8 I noticed that we had a beautiful pattern in the sand. At first it was a challenge to help him shift into the tighter turn and took a lot of work to keep him balanced and turning at the same time. Eventually he settled into the pattern and swinging the S through the middle became easier and easier.
He was doing so well and staying cool enough that we switched back to working the circle, and once he was balanced again, I asked him for a bit of trot work. We only trotted a short lap or so, once he was able to find his balance and maintain the gait. We switched directions again and had another short trot the other way, and finally called it a day. I was really proud of him for how hard he worked. I didn't have any extra stuff with me down at the arena, but since he was having the issues with the heat I decided it was probably better if I didn't ride up the hill.
We untacked and I was pleased to find that he sweat pretty good under the saddle and girth. He was a little more dry on the left side than the right, but that is a typical pattern for the two of us. I also tend to end up with a bit of pain in my left shoulder, and I am not clear where that is coming from. I rinsed him off again and made sure to get the sweat off of his skin and then put him back in his stall with some hay under the fan for the day. I couldn't have been happier with our ride.
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