Last Sunday I did a ride at Hidden Mesa that I haven't had time to process and post about. I will work on getting the video off of the GoPro and into a blog post. One of the issues that cropped up, however, was Ashke being a bit off on his right hind.
This played a part in last night's lesson. I think the changing weather is effecting how comfortable Ashke is under saddle. He struggled a bit to get warm and loose enough to bend, even at the trot. We started out with lots of walk, some trot and a brief canter before the lesson started. He was rough on the left lead, which is indicative of that hamstring being tight. The weather is much colder and chilly than it has been, so I am going to need to address methods to help him with that particular injury. I have some thoughts and we will see. Luckily, he was not cross cantering or bunny hopping, both are compensation methods for that hind leg, and Amanda said he was tracking up nicely when we started our lesson.
We started with some more canter so she could assess what was happening with him. After a short canter in each direction, Amanda had us working on a 10 m circle at the trot until he loosened up and began to bend. Once we had that release in one direction, we moved to the other direction. Finally, he was able to relax into the bend and we began to get some swing in his back. Amanda had me start the canter circle coming to a walk at the rail. On the right lead, he was soft, quiet and collected and after three circles we stopped. It wasn't going to get any better than that. When we turned to the left, we struggled a bit. He was trying very hard to maintain the proper lead, but it must have been somewhat painful, because he got pissy about it. More pissy. Instead of flaring back at him, we stopped and I rubbed his neck and face, until he finally relaxed enough to try again. This time we got three or four decent circles before stopping.
Next was trotting serpentines, working on maintaining bend and our cadence regardless of direction. He did awesome. I was too tired and my legs felt like spaghetti, which I have been reassured, means the lesson was good. Next we did shoulder in along the rail. Then haunches in. Then Amanda had us do haunches in moving from the far side of the arena to the near, while watching myself in the mirror. That was very good, because it gives me a way to check if we are doing it correctly when I am riding by myself. Finally, we worked on the shoulder in at the trot.
We took lots of walk breaks in between and Ashke stretched down a lot. I know that helps him when his hammie is bothersome.
Finally, we worked on cantering a figure eight. Amanda is trying to get me to really be clear in my seat before the up transition to a canter in the other direction. Ashke bucked once when we were going to the left (harder on his right hind leg) and so we walked a bit before I asked again. We finished on those.
I need to be sure to be riding four days a week. The best thing for his stiff hind end is consistent work. I'm also going to attach my BOT insert into his turnout sheet so it will help with keeping that muscle and ligament warm and loose.