Our veterinarian was at the farm yesterday to give Ike his last spring shot and to also give him his chiropractic/acupuncture tune up. If you have followed us for a while now, you know that big man had a nasty reaction a couple of years ago when he was administered three vaccines in one day. It was bad enough that there was discussion of sending him to one of the vet hospitals for observation and treatment (to make matters worse, the reaction showed up after I’d left on vacation 5 hours away and that required a ferry ride to get off the island.) Luckily, he responded positively to the home treatment, but ever since, he has had to have his vaccines given one at a time along with an antihistamine. That means 5-6 separate barn calls to get all the shots done. The things we do for the love of our animals. Dr. F was quite happy with Ike’s physical condition. He was only slightly sore in his shoulders and hips which we attributed to the hyped up work schedule. He has learned to stand quietly for the needles. I hope that means he enjoys the treatment.
Today our saddle fitter paid a visit to the farm. I had been dreading scheduling the visit for fear that I would learn that my most favorite saddle would have to become a dusty relic. It is a Custom Saddlery Advantage buffalo leather saddle that I had custom built and fitted for Cigar back in 2007. There were also some minor adjustments made to the block and flap to accommodate my legs. There is no other saddle exactly like this one and it fits me like a glove. Two previous saddle fitters did some minor flocking adjustments in 2012 and early 2013, but since then, Ike has “blossomed.” Charlene spent 2 solid hours doing tracings, observing Ike’s back, feeling how the saddle sat on his back, adding some flocking, and then observing me ride. At the end of the visit, she told me that the saddle was still a good fit for Ike (no adjustments to the tree necessary) and that I should never sell this saddle. Phew!! The best news I could have asked for…my wallet is also rejoicing.
Ike has also had two lessons in the past 5 days. Not really his choice, but, to his dismay, he doesn’t really get a vote. We have our next show dates set, and I am bound and determined to cross the 60% mark on First Level Test 3. To accomplish that goal, there are a number of things that need to happen between now and August 9th that I shared with you in my last post. Here is our progress – it is minimal, but I will take baby steps in the right direction.
1) I am doing better with riding counter canter correctly. No more allowing Ike to straighten, since I’ve now learned what happens when I do. Counter canter requires me maintaining the correct flexion, keeping my outside leg back, and using my hips to ride each stride. Ms. C used trot half pass to help teach me the correct positioning for the shallow canter loop. Ah! That helped a lot. The most important thing to remember? Look where you are going! Stop looking down to make sure you have Ike positioned correctly. So much to remember and all I can hope is that I can slow down Ike’s canter enough after the lengthening to make the loop a remote possibility. If he is too strung out, then we will yet again be doomed to more 4’s.
2) Ike and I are still working on establishing clearer signals for trot lengthenings. Too much spur and we canter. Giving too much rein and Ike flattens. We are testing the use of the whip, but there are no conclusive decisions yet. The key to remember is that forward does not mean faster. Faster will get us more 5.5’s and the 60th percentile will get further and further away.
3) Those 15 meter canter circles? It appears that I struggle the most when they are at A or C. The video from the last show showed that I rode an egg shape right in front of the judge. That isn’t going to get me into that 60th percentile. Ms. C almost went hoarse screaming, “Turn your horse.” at my lessons. When I forget to ride the quarters of the circle, we drift out on the half of the circle away from the rail – thus my perfect rendition of an egg. I can only hope that either ovals are introduced when the new tests are released later this year or that I remember to turn my horse to execute a circle.
After all our strenuous riding these past few days, I know Ike is ready for his day off, but I think I am as well! When you actually try to actively influence the horse’s movement, you find there are some muscles in your legs and core that have been coasting for a while. Yikes, too bad the hot tub has been drained for the summer.
Happy riding everyone!