I hope you all never have to deal with a similar is-he-lame-or-is-he-pissed-or-both situation with your horses. It's a miserable mind-game.
I'm happy to report that our rides over the last ~week have been very positive, due primarily to the following:
- Having TK ride Hemie while I watch.
- Making sure I'm in a good head space before mounting. I am suiting up in full armor, giving myself a pep talk, and visualizing myself handling issues quickly and efficiently.
- Having a very simple, straightforward plan for the rides. For example, my first solo ride we focused on 2 things only: #1 FORWARD/no-behind-the-leg-ness-whatsoever, #2 CONSISTENT contact/following elbows.
- Giving Hemie lots of praise and pats during rides - it helps us both to feel happy and calm.
|TK on Hemie, with Laurie (and George) looking on.|
Watching TK ride Hemie is very helpful. Nothing she does with him is new or different than what Laurie has been having me do per se, she just is a more consistent, fast, effective rider than I am. And it is helpful to see the differences so I can really know what to work on.
The other weekend I audited a Dr. Christian Schacht clinic, and got to watch the fabulous Karen of Not-So-Speedy Dressage both days on her OTTB Sydney. I've audited Dr. Schacht's clinics before, and even rode in one earlier this year, and he is quite fabulous. Weeks later his calming voice still comes to me during rides.
|Karen and Sydney looking great!|
After Karen's second ride, she was discussing with Dr. Schacht how Sydney acts up one way but not the other (only too familiar...), and his advice was to start off riding the good direction, then change direction across long diagonal, but DO NOT CHANGE YOUR POSITION. IE, still ride like you're going the other way. Don't ask for new outside rein. Don't ask for new bend. Don't change your hips or legs or anything. Then...after any tension from the direction change has gone away, slowly start to ask for new outside rein, for true bend, etc.
Flash. Light bulb. As soon as he said this, I knew that needed to be my plan of attack for the next ride. And it REALLY helped.
So, what about Hemie's unevenness/bucking stuff?
After repeated in-depth evaluations, both my trainer and TK think that Hemie is 100% sound. They believe his intermittent issues are behavioral/training rather than lameness related. I truly value their opinions, but I don't feel pressured to come to a personal conclusion at this point. The vet is coming out next month for shots, so I may have him do a lameness evaluation. I've also considered chiro, massage, etc, and I've been doing lots of reading on various health and training topics which may be relevant.
I've also done A LOT of research on therapeutic saddle pads. This is where I owe another huge THANK YOU to the blogosphere for reviews and commentary on various pads (side note - if your blog doesn't have a search feature, will you kindly please add one? Helps tremendously with topic searches).
I currently have a thinline pad on trial, and so far I like it but will give it a few more rides before I decide whether to buy one or try out a different type of pad if I can.