09.11.22: Breakthrough

Kirsten was back again for the month, and since Jim wasn't feeling well we tacked him up and took him to Kirsten and turned her loose. The day was fading, and we sat there freezing while she worked away with him. She decided to start with the long reins since we had not had a chance to spend much time with him due to the rain and mud over the past several weeks. She began working with him and it quickly became apparent that was as much as she was going to do for the day.
She began guiding him with the long reins. He was putting effort into it, but at the same time was doing many of the same things that he had under saddle. He was mouthing a lot, to the point that he was dripping green tinted foam from all the grass he had been munching on before his lesson started. He was twisting his head and neck back and forth, trying to find the point of release and the right answering, but just not quite getting it. He finally began to make effort to shift his weight back, however, when he did he found the instability of his hind legs, and that made him anxious. She did such a fantastic job supporting him through the uncomfortable sensations, and encouraging him to continually try to shift his weight back where it belonged. He really made some efforts to try to avoid the entire thing by turning around completely in the long reins. Kirsten would gently redirect him to get him turned back around and moving in the same direction that he was in the first place.
After seemingly forever Storm finally began to make some changes. Kirsten commented that he was finally beginning to build stability in feeling his weight on his hind legs. After two really solid laps, Kirsten changed directions. He went back to wobbling again, but took less time to find his hind legs and find stability. She worked with him for a while more, and finally stopped, and Storm stood very still with a very thoughtful look on his face chewing and licking now and then as he processed what just happened.
Kirsten came in with us to eat dinner with everybody since we had to set the schedule for 2010, and we had a great chat about his progress and where he was going to be when I was ready to get back on board. Kirsten said that she was working very hard to teach Storm to be self supporting so that when I got back up I would be able to have his support rather than need to support him through so much. I was pleased to hear her say that, and am glad that she is very conscious of where he is. She explained that she was able to work with him longer on the ground doing the same work that she would have done from the saddle because he wouldn't be able to sustain the work with a rider on his back yet. So allowing him the freedom to sort it out on the ground and find the stability without having the weight of the rider to complicate things allowed him to stick in the positive patterns for longer.
She's back again in three weeks due to the holidays and hopefully he will fall right into the pattern faster so that she can do some refresh work in the long reins and then get on board and start really applying the concepts with a rider. As much as having surgery stinks, this opportunity is a really great one to be able to help Storm through some tough spots and help develop his own self carriage really well for when I do get back on board.