12.09.09: Moving Out

I hadn't had the chance to work Storm since our last lesson (much to my own frustration), and so I had a little bit of time and the weather had cooled considerably, so I took the opportunity to get out the long line again and help him move out at a faster speed to find more balance and stability on his hind legs. I got him brushed down and cleaned up a bit before putting on the bridle and balance bands and got the 45' line. We headed to the arena and found a group lesson going on, and so we politely asked for a little space in the middle while the group worked on the outside rail doing canter transitions. At least we were in good company.
I got him set up, and organized the line so that we could manage all 45' and neither one of us get tangled up. He headed out reluctantly on the circle, and so I quickly moved him up into the trot and began working on really pushing from behind. I ended up closer to him on the 45' line to help him find balance on the circle and navigate some of the obstacles that were scattered around the arena for lessons. It also kept the line from getting twisted up, so that actually helped even though it meant that I was walking a lot more than I wanted to.
I worked him at the trot, and when he seemed to find a better level of balance I asked him for a canter. He stepped up, though it was very unbalanced and he did not hold it for long. I allowed him to trot for a bit, and reorganize and then asked him for another upward transition. He found it easier, and found a little more rhythm in the gait. I allowed him to find the trot, and work his way back down to the walk again and take a bit of a breather and make sure he wasn't over working himself. He was breathing, but no harder than I would have expected him to do from a normal level of work. After a breather we picked up the trot again, and I asked for another transition. He was handling the requests calmly, almost sluggishly, but without any emotional issues, which was a dramatic improvement from where he has been. I allowed the transition and then left him alone to come back down on his own and gave him several laps at trot and then a handful of laps at the walk to even out his breathing again before we switched to the right and settled into the new direction. 
He was finding the walk reasonably well, and trot helped him to find more balance, and keep the back band down lower, so after he had plenty of time to settle in, I asked him to step up into the canter. The first attempt was messy and he was not completely getting into the canter and was throwing all sorts of things out there. I gave him a little bit to reorganize, and asked again, and he found something, though I don't think it was a clear canter. We worked at the trot for a few laps to resettle and find balance again before I asked him for another transition. He couldn't pick up the canter, so I kept gently but firmly encouraging. He ended up throwing out a very large and powerful fast trot, which looked impressive, but was not as balanced as I would have liked. Finally after quite a bit of effort he found a strong canter on the correct lead. He only held it for a few strides and then was back to a trot and back to walk pretty quickly. In reviewing it, I probably should have allowed him to slow down within the trot and then re-ask for the canter, rather than continue to ask. He was definitely working hard for me, and it was physically demanding for him. I let him cool out on the circle for a while before we called it a day.
I took him back up to the barn, and he was still breathing a little hard so I decided he'd be ok if I hosed him anyway, and grabbed my curry to really scrub his skin since he was pretty dirty from not being washed daily in the cooler weather. He stood very well for the most part and I really scrubbed to try to get down into the hair and get the grit and yuck out of there so we don't end up with scratches or some other fungal issue. I scraped him off and then let him graze in the warm afternoon sun and breeze for a while as he dried and enjoyed the lush grass on the hill. It was a short session, but hopefully helped him to find more balance and swing in his hind legs in preparation for our lesson next weekend.
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