Tuesday 21 July 2020

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

I've been doing some physiotherapy for my groin pain over the last couple of weeks. I had dry needling done on it (wasn't terrible if you have to have it done) and that really seemed to help the muscle/tendon relax. Since then I've become very familiar with my foam roller (we have a love/hate relationship) and I have some stretches to do a couple of times a day. I also have to work on activating my glutes so that they can fire and take some strain off my adductors.

The good news is that it seems to be helping. Slowly. This isn't something that's just going to go away overnight. It's going to take some diligence on my part to make sure that I keep up with the stretches and rolling and exercises that I'm being given.

I rode for the first time in 10 days on Sunday. My groin was still pretty sore in the saddle so I kept it short, only about 25 minutes. 

What was interesting was how loose my body felt. As soon as I sat in the saddle I felt very around my horse, which was great, but when I picked up the trot I felt very loose through my legs and hips. It's going to be a bit of a challenge to keep this loose feeling but put some tone into my body, without allowing everything to get tight. 

At the canter my butt was glued to the saddle despite Cisco being a little bit giraffe-y. I also thought it felt easier to turn my torso to the right when tracking right, which is usually a problem.

I was more sore after the ride than before the ride, but things have worked out over the last couple of days with the stretching and rolling. I'm still going to limit the amount that I'm riding for a while, ideally riding every other day. Fingers crossed that I can go back to riding more by the end of the summer. 
The ponies are pretty happy with their lack of work at the moment.

I'm thinking of getting some Franklin balls to try to ride with. If I'm going to be spending a bunch of time doing slow stuff in the saddle, might as well try something new!

Friday 10 July 2020

The Best Laid Plans

Since my province went into stage 3 of reopening at the end of last month, I made sure to make a massage appointment this week during my vacation. I haven't had a massage since around Christmas, and oh boy, did it ever show. She said she could have easily spent 90 minutes on my legs alone. There were a whole bunch of areas that normally aren't a problem but this time they were super tight and sore. She also spent some time on my left thigh and the adductors that have been sore for the last few weeks. Which meant they were pretty pissed off on Tuesday when I went to ride.

My plan for that ride was to work on Cisco coming forward at a canter when I was in 2 point off my legs and not my seat. I had set up a few single poles to ride over. We were going to follow the mantra that I picked up at a clinic years ago of turn, straight, forward, balance into the pole. 

It didn't quite go that way.

Cisco was in the arena by himself, which always means he's a bit more up. My leg was more sore than usual once I was in the saddle so I planned to keep the ride short. I skimped a bit on the warm-up to try to get to the meaty bits of the ride sooner (going over the poles). I should have spent a bit more time riding him down at a trot first.

He wasn't bad, he was just a little sassy. I wanted forward, and he gave it to me. Unfortunately, he didn't come back very well. 

Instead of going towards the poles with turn, straight, forward, balance, it was turn, straight, get wiggly, slow the f down. Only at a trot - we didn't make it to trying it at a canter. 

Our canter - well, he went forward off my leg at a 2 point, going up the long side towards the scary end. He typically backs off heading this direction, so I was happy that he easily went forward. And he hand-galloped forward instead up upward (he often gets high headed and bouncy when he gallops). Again, good. Unfortunately, we didn't really get much of a transition to settle back into a canter, and I kept losing my foot position in my outside stirrup and couldn't get it back on my foot properly and we were heading into the scary corner where he's likely to suddenly drop his shoulder and dive to the inside without warning and I didn't want to die because my position wasn't overly secure. 

Yeah, I gave up on that.

I then tried to just get a decent canter before hopefully attempting the poles. We had prompt transitions, so good. The transitions had a bit of rocket power behind them and then never really slowed down. Bad.

And then he started coughing at the canter. When Cisco coughs, his head just drops and he lets out a huge cough and it feels like he's going to fall on his face. Not fun when you're in 2 point. 

Yeah, I gave up on that too. The whole ride.

In reality, I probably shouldn't have ridden. My leg was really sore the next day. I probably should have given it a couple of days off after the massage, and I think I'm going to give it the next week and half or so off of riding. Next week I have three days where I won't be able to ride because of work, and this weekend there's a clinic at the barn and I can't use the arena until the evenings, so it's a good time to take a bit of a break. I also have a physiotherapy appointment booked for Thursday and figure I'll be pretty sore the next day so that means riding Thursday and Friday are out. 

The ponies will be getting ground work though! I've been starting on the piaffe training from the TRT Method, so I'll see how far we can get in the next 10 days or so!

Tuesday 7 July 2020

The Suspension is Killing Me!

In reviewing Pixio footage from Sunday's ride to get a couple of decent screenshots for yesterday's blog post, I came across something that I found kind of interesting.

I never really realized how much a horse's body moves up and down in a trot. 

It was just the perfect set-up to be able to see the suspension in the gait. Cisco was trotting in front of a contrasting coloured half wall, and his butt was pretty well level with the top of that wall when it was at it's highest point. I was slo-mo'ing frame by frame to find a good shot and noticed the difference in the amount of wall that was exposed above the horse.

Here a still of when his butt/back was at it's highest point:

And here is the lowest point halfway through the same trot stride.

You can see quite a bit of the dark wall behind the saddle when compared to the first picture.

Does it mean anything? Nah, I just think it's cool. It was just kind of flukey that he lined up so well against the wall to be able to easily see it.

It's just another way that I'm amazed at how the horse's body works. Think of the amount of pressure that the legs have to absorb to move that barrel of a body up and down with every stride. It's all about that suspensory ligament doing what it was designed to do - act like a thick rubber band that absorbs the shock and releases the energy again.

Cisco is by no means an extravagant mover with a bunch of suspension in his trot. Just imagine what we would see if he moved like Valegro!

Monday 6 July 2020

Continuing On

Sunday brought yet another good ride on Cisco.

I'm going to have to do a year-end spook compilation video.

The other horse in the arena left before we picked up a trot so Cisco started his trot with a bit more enthusiasm than was required. I'm starting to insist that he keep his shit together in these instances. Keeping the pace that I desire is becoming a non-negotiable. I just need to figure out how to control his ability to throw his shoulders around. He's a very wiggly horse.

He was maybe a little bit steadier in the contact at a trot than he has been. Since changing to the Turtle-Top bit every ride has gotten better than the last one, so it seems to have been a good choice. His mouth is still busy, but I think I'm giving up on fixing that. 

I'm working really hard at keeping his neck long and his nose out a bit. He's better at the start of the ride, after we have cantered he wants to get a bit behind the vertical. I'm wondering if it's a bit of a strength issue - he's a bit tired after some canter so he starts to cheat. 

I don't mind his frame, but I wish my hands were higher and more forward.

I'm off this week but the weather is not going to be conducive to do anything fun. We were hoping to head to the mountains for a day trip - Jasper National Park is about 3.5 - 4 hours away. But the highway in washed out last week, and although traffic is getting through, the delays are huge. My brother was already planning to go for the weekend so they drove out on Friday - it took them 7 hours to drive 20 km. We're definitely scrapping the plans for a day trip.

We've had a lot of rain this year, similar to last year. This resulted in poor quality hay in this area. Farmers were not able to get the hay off the field because it kept raining, the grass grew too long and got stressed, and the hay ended up with low nutritional value. 

I've heard from multiple people that this was the first year that they've had to work to keep weight on their easy keepers. This is the first time in my life of horse ownership that I've had to put weight on my horses instead of worry that they're too fat! Both of my horses are currently at a good weight, but I've had to be very vigilant about it. We're all hoping to get better hay this year, but it isn't looking too promising.

Friday 3 July 2020

That Feeling of a Great Ride

You know that feeling you get when you've had a great ride? The one that no matter how crappy your day was or is you have a perma-grin on your face?

I had that feeling after my ride on Thursday.
I definitely didn't have a good feeling before my ride when I had to deal with mud up to his knees.

Cisco started off pretty relaxed and I hoped it would continue through the ride. I got kind of lucky in that just as the other horse in the arena was leaving and Cisco was starting to worry that he would be abandoned another horse came in. He's always more relaxed when he has an arena buddy.
Mostly better - the mud around the coronet band was still wet though.

It was a ride where he just tried really hard to stay relaxed and do whatever I asked of him. At a trot he tried to keep his neck long and I tried to let him. He moved away from my inside leg to keep the circles round, and when I remembered to ride the outside of the horse at the same time as the inside he got really steady and felt solid on the circle. His canter transitions were prompt from a light aid. And when I asked him to drop his head from the giraffe carriage at a canter that I've been getting since I changed his bit, he finally gave me an honest attempt.
Post-ride stare at the new spotted horse along the driveway.

There were a few spooks - a dog suddenly barked, something in the scary corner moved, and one dead person sighting. But every time he came right back to me and settled back into his work. A couple of years ago he wouldn't have been able to let these things go and the rest of my ride would have been super tense.

I was really happy with this ride. It wasn't perfect. But I really felt that Cisco was with me for the whole ride. His attention is so often focused on something somewhere else in the arena, but for this ride he was focused on me.
There's always a derp photo though!

Too bad that I rode in the evening and most of my day was over. I would have liked to enjoy my horse created elation a little bit longer!