Monday night we had our first lesson since mid February. Since Foster is starting to feel so much better, I’ve been adding slightly more work and asking a bit more of him with each ride, but continue to feel his hind-end weakness as a result of having so much downtime. So I scheduled the lesson in order to have a professional assess the weakness and the program I have come up with, to see if I am heading in the right direction.
To make a long winding story short, all is well. After riding him for 15 minutes, Eliza agreed that if you really leg yield him to the left his weakness gets prominent, as he takes uneven steps getting worried about it all. Otherwise though she was happy with how he felt, especially his canter work. She felt that it was exactly right to insist that he do things correctly, and just keep it in short sessions until his fitness returns. It will be hard for him to stay straight for long periods until the strength comes back to that leg, but the only way it will get stronger is if he uses it.
I also got the all-clear to practice walk-canter transitions again, which I am excited to hear. And for now, any and all lateral work at the walk will be great for him. In the past week I had started re-introducing shoulder-in and haunches in at the walk, so it will be fun to practice half pass and renvers in addition to these movements. Rein-backs as well will officially become [a small] part of our routine.Since it has been, oh, 15 years since I last taught a horse rein-back, and knowing that in a test it is such an easy thing to go wrong, I wanted some feedback on the movement. A rein-back actually starts with a quality walk then halt. If the halt is crap, the rein-back will follow suit. So, square halt, soften then jaw, then put both my legs slightly back and even but light resisting aids with my hands. I’ll have to watch out for him dragging his toes, and staying soft through the jowl. But it was shocking how easily the idea came to him. How is this the same horse that in our early days, would stand with his jaw like a rock and refuse to give in any way shape or form?
Overall I am really pleased with how things are going, and am hopeful that the next scope will reveal a happily ulcer-free pony. Just two more weeks!!