Friday, September 12, 2014

Working it out

Over the past two weeks I've been easing back into riding with Charlie. If you remember, he'd been somewhat off and I was worried about saddle fit or him having played a little too rough outside with his friends, basically got myself all worked up that he's either hurt or that my saddle is broken, yada yada yada....

What? A growing, healing boy needs sustenance!
But I want to ride my horse, darn it, and all I can see every day is his neck and topline - which I worked so hard to start building up - wasting away even over just the last month (seriously, how can all that hard work disappear so fast???). So I said screw it. I want to ride. And you know what? It's actually been going ok. 

When I flex you can still see my muscles...
Looking back, Charlie started acting out right around when I was finally getting him to start using himself correctly. And then I gave up the basics in favor of doing some fun stuff. This makes me think 1) he didn't like how tired he got when I asked him to actually work, 2) he was sore from using his back and neck in new ways, and 3) I was too eager to do fun things like jump and gallop and neglected to continue to properly condition him because, well, it's boring to just trot trot trot....

So my new goal is to keep Charlie busy, changing it up each day so that both he and I don't get bored, but making sure to focus on some core strengthening too: open lunging, stretching(!), long lines with my new surcingle (thanks, Emily!), and of course some riding.

Long lines one day...
Fun round pen open lunging and playing with tarps another...
Yay! Finally a ride!
Loving the side reins right now!
Definitely going to be doing more of this.

This time my focus is on making everything quality. I'm going to really work to get Charlie long and low for extended periods, correcting him if he starts to hollow out. After all this is a barn, not a zoo; no giraffes allowed. Hopefully it will be something that starts to feel natural to Charlie and after awhile I won't have to work so hard at it. I've never had a horse this long-bodied before and difficult to package.

I think the side reins are going to be my new best friend. After just five minutes with them earlier this week, Charlie's back was lifting, his neck was softening, and we had some glorious slobber going on (only a horse person would be excited about that). Plus Charlie knows open lunging really well, so I can work him in the side reins in the round pen without a line.

He licked a lot of it off but we do have slobber! Success!
I do think there is something up with Charlie's right side, maybe a rib out of place, since he's still more sensitive than usual about being brushed over there, but since I don't have the money to have a chiro out right now I've decided to just try to work it out the best I can with stretching on the ground and from the saddle.

Luckily Charlie tolerates stretching and will let me do all kinds of pulling, pushing, prodding. And he loves carrot stretches. Anything for food. I think I could make him roll over like a dog if I really tried...
Aaaaaannd gotcha!
Sneaky carrot, hiding way down there.
Hopefully this renewed focus and determination will last so I can enjoy much more saddle time with a happy, comfortable horse :)
A rare sight: everyone at the barn together, enjoying a ride


  1. That last photo is so cute! Glad things are going well :)

  2. Good to see you back in the saddle and Lu was the same way when I started getting her to stretch out and use her body. She got pretty sore from not having her head up her a$$ haha. But it all worked out in the end! We do what we need to! Miss you!

    1. I'm glad to hear you were able to work through it. Hopefully that's the case with Charlie. I keep thinking back to when I was a kid and we used to ride terribly and if the horse acted up it was simply that, they were acting up. Not that the saddle was broken or they were hurt. We just worked through it. I'm going to try to get back to that kind of a mindset.

  3. He's so cute in his stretches!! I love side reins and think they do a ton of good!

    1. Thanks! I like the side reins too. I had started using them when I first got Charlie but he was such a jerk then I gave up. Now that I've uncovered them from the bottom of my tack trunk I'm excited to give them another try.