12.12.05: Immitation Racehorse

Since mom was visiting I had some extra time off and was able to get in a session with Storm. Sadly, its probably the only session before our lesson, but what else is new? I found Storm in the pasture, very dirty and fuzzy, and so it took us a while to clean him up properly. We took our time grooming and letting him graze a bit on the hill behind the barn before we tacked up and I carried all the tools down the hill while Mom led Storm.
I rearranged a few things in the arena, and then put the 45' line on Storm to let him work out whatever he needed to before I put her up there to ride. I had a hunch there was something hiding under the surface, and I was right. I asked him to walk off, and let him make a bit more than a lap before asking for anything more, and when I asked for the trot I received the rocket race horse imitation  I had to let the line play out fast to allow him as much room as he needed, and he careened around the circle as fast as he could in the tight (for him) space. He jumped the cavaletti the first two laps, and each time he passed it and came around the back side of the arena I could feel him attempting to shift a gear and go even faster, but the trajectory of the circle kept him contained. As emotional and fast as he was going, he was always fairly polite about it. I had the rope braced across my hips for better stability and to make sure I'd be in the best position if he did decide to jerk on the rope, but he never did. I was pleased that he was actually moving out on the correct lead, and was fairly balanced despite his emotional state. After more than a dozen laps, he finally decided to slow down a bit and trotted for several laps before coming all the way down to a walk, blowing and huffing. I left him out there for several laps to catch his breath a bit.
Holly happened to walk by at the top of the hill and I told her she missed his race horse imitation, and she commented that she didn't think he really did it because she always sees this sweet calm innocent horse. I laughed and asked him for a canter again, and was amused to discover that now he couldn't find the correct lead to save his life. Several requests for transitions all gave me scrambled legs instead of a clean lead. I allowed him to settle down again, and finally changed directions.
Working to the left he was a little more stable, and didn't have any more emotional blow outs. He was able to find the lead on that side, but I could tell that he was already pretty tired. I didn't want to over work him since we were still going to be riding him, and so I gave him a couple more transitions before allowing him to come to a halt and brought him to the rail to prepare to mount.
As squirrely as he was, I decided I would get up and ride a little bit before I put mom up. He was doing pretty good, and so I did a few laps while he settled down and his breathing became more even again. My left shoulder didn't hurt when we were going to the right, so I took that as an improvement over the past. I know he wasn't super focused, but he was putting effort into things, and there was quite a bit of movement coming out in his mouth and twisting and stretching of his topline. 
I was finally satisfied that he was calm enough and so I climbed down and switched to the long reins and put mom up on top. With the long reins I was able to stabilize him better and help him to find his balance with her up on top even though she may not have been as balanced as she needed to be. He was working very hard, and putting in a lot of effort. It probably helped that she weighs more than I do, so he had more resistance to work against. I was pleased that he was putting in the effort even though it wasn't me riding up there. He was feeling fairly light in my hands, and fairly even. I was able to make corrections with my hands rather than needing to play out or shorten the outside rein to help him find his balance. We did several laps while I talked to her about what she was feeling, and gave her feedback based on what I was seeing in Storm's body. We changed directions and headed to the right, and I began to feel a lot of weight on the inside rein and was needing to make bigger corrections, so I had Mom check in to see where her thighs were visually, and see if she could feel anything through her seat. She identified the pattern that I was feeling in my hands, so I had her scoot over in the saddle to see if she could make her thighs visually the same, and make the feeling under her seat the same. As she worked to shift her weight over a little bit at a time, I felt the reins lighten and the pull become even. She was able to feel the rhythm smooth out as Storm found his balance and straightened his body out.
We worked for a while as Storm cooled down, and Mom had a workout. We finally stopped and took him back up to the barn to cool him out good and try to get some of the sweat out of his coat. I lightly sponged him off, and then left him in his stall to (hopefully) dry before we came out to feed for the night. When we returned to feed, I found that he was still damp and so I toweled him off as best I could before giving him his dinner.
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