Starting Stiff as a Rod

Muchu and Patrick

Wonderful day today….well at least for me…lol.
Oh—and by the way—am going to segway here for just a moment–I have such a horrible hard time remembering to call the girl Muchu—Sushi just comes to mind and lips so much mare naturally for me…lol–my son hates it—but have told him—it may be his horse but is my perception of her so to me, she is Sush…but for anything official I will have to ….sigh….bow to the powers that be–namely my son AND wife and call her by her real name….

But—back to the real reason for writing….giving her the day off yesterday worked out about perfect. She was so relaxed and totally calm today that to look at her-brush-tack her up—she could have been any school horse in the barn. The only thing I am finding is that when we go to put the saddle on—she tends to get a bit nippy—not like a bad vice or acting out thing but more like when one horse nips another in the pasture in anticipation of work….she never does it any other time—and even then generally only once. Anyway…she went out and lounged like she has done it a billion times all her life–completely soft eyed-relaxed—worked for me and then for my son—who I will finally send a few pics of tomorrow as got a few today finally….but not just relaxed as in perceptual mind kind of thing but absolutely thru her frame as well—she was very light on her “toes” so to speak…very springy in the trot and long in the walk..moving thru her whole frame. It was really pretty to watch an animal that large look so light that she hardly seemed to touch the ground.

We followed it up with Patrick getting up and walking her around on the lounge after her work was over. I am thinking to get her used to our weight on her back gradually thru the walk and after she is warm–generally probably in a walking out thing…she was just floppy eared. So……..I decided she was looking so relaxed and totally accepting of everything that I would get up and give her a walk about and see how she took to a bit of trot…just to see where her body and her mind was. She was pretty surprised by me I think…my son doesn’t use his legs for aids beyond just go right now much but I do automatically. Also he doesn’t evaluate or shift weight to purpose yet–and I do.

She was very accepting—but not at all sure what to expect as when Patrick has been up has still been in the framework of lounging…and this certainly wasn’t. She wanted to skitter forward a bit to the leg—but then sort of wanted to stop right away afterwards too like she was confused…were we going to GO or not….and all I was doing was sitting quiet–trying to match her movements and stay away from her mouth so as to minimize the confusion. She was pretty quick and real unsteady….one thing that puzzled me and I don’t know if it has something to do with the way a horse is ridden at the track—when I shifted forward just a bit-not true forward seat but to more try and stay off her back and match her movement—she would invariably feel the shift and come to walk or halt in response—and it was a pretty clear response specifically to that as she did it several times. I was dead certain was off her mouth entirely–it was the weight shift she responded to.

It has been a long time since have ridden a horse as green as her….she was like a board against my leg whether walking or trotting a circle or turn with a leading rein. You could feel absolute rigidity from nose to tail…although she did move her hindquarters slightly out to the leg…she just kept her body ramrod strait…well—that being said—she did actually start to bend a couple of times…but it was so unfamiliar to her she almost was timid about trying it.

Total time up was maybe 7 minutes for me—I wanted to see where she was at with her as calm as possible. She did start a bit of a challenge today—actually one she has tried on the ground a couple of times too—and while we got thru it today–am certain as my name is Chuck am going to see it again—when leading her out thru a door she just planted once or twice..not thru fear but because she was testing the waters to see where her limits were….she hinted at the same thing today under saddle—like I said—we got thru it as she didn’t want to scrap and I just talked to her and nudged her thru it…but am certain she is thinking it over and she will decide it is worth revisiting.

I am planning to keep the mounted work quasi-lounge right now with my son in the middle with the lounge whip but her not actually on the lounge line—sort of take away the idea of evading the rider by making the ground person the focus—that way we can keep forward the idea of the moment and let her get to sensing the differences in riding style we are going to be looking for. But am still not looking for much more than relaxing walk and maybe a very little light trotting and let her come to it gradually as she bulks up a bit and grows up and learns how to ues her body differently. What kind of workout does a racehorse get—do they trot at all or is it almost all hand gallop or canter?—She seemed unsure about the trot and very unbalanced with the posting…like she had rarely seen it.

The OTTB that I worked with before wasn’t as unsteady as her in her initial trot work—but in all fairness too—she was 5. Anything either of you could tell me about what a normal day’s work for her would have been like will help me talk to her better as I will understand what she is thinking or expecting better. Am thinking also to keep the mounted “work” to a couple of times a week for now and focus on continuing to loosen her and get her shifted and “right” in her work–loose flexible and relaxed with just enuf saddle work to make sure she continues to feel comfortable with it. Does any of this sound right to you guys? and any other suggestions? I am giving her back and haunches good deep rubs whether we have worked or not to try and make sure she stays muscularly as loose as I can….funny—was massaging her poll and upper neck the other day—she started yawning over and over and twisted her neck around to me some much she practically turned herself inside out…lol. Was the funniest goofiest thing, she was practically looking up at the ceiling. I will send what few pics on tomorrow that I got today….being around Sush it makes it real hard to see others in her boat wonder if they are going to be as lucky as Sush and us have been. Am still grinning tonite and I rode this morning after work…lol. Hope all is well—and thanx for whatever advice you have…..later….Chuck