Hindquarters

Today, Skye looked heavier on the forehand, not lighter, and with a weaker backside! Not what we want. I think I’ve not been vigilant enough with the raised poles (and poles in general), as I’ve been favouring the things we both find interesting. Namely, going out for a walk. Which is beneficial, for sure, but it isn’t very hilly here so it doesn’t automatically engage her hind end. Ah well. 

But, excitement, we are moving to the new grazing! I’m hoping I’ll be able to set out some “permanent” logs or raised poles there. If they’re always out it’ll be far easier to incorporate them into Skye’s life every time I see her. If it’s easy we’ll do it (environment matters) and she’ll receive the benefit. She has been getting a little bit bored which I think is even more reason to work it into our routine rather than have it be a focus of some sessions. Let it be second nature. 

Second farrier visit today. Horse perfect when I picked out her feet, then fidgety for the farrier. Ain’t that just the way. She wasn’t bad though and wasn’t worried by it like last time, was just impatient and didn’t see much point in standing around. Like horse, like human, I’m impatient too. 

He started with the hardest foot though! So at least that was over and done with first. Said they were looking a lot better, we’ve almost got the tiny cracks grown out. At one point we were all talking and he said people didn’t realise how much more horses could do than we ask of them. I agree, in terms of general stamina and distance. Posted on Instagram just last night about the distances wild horses cover. Domestic horses do far far less (less than half, usually, and that’s when living out). Little need to travel when food is plentiful. But travelling is to their benefit. So, in terms of replacing what’s lost in domestication, hacking is of great benefit. 

We then waited around for Monty the cob to have his trim and front shoes. Skye really didn’t understand why we were standing on the yard, so dull! She also wasn’t thrilled when we did some lunging with Monty likewise working at the other end of the arena. She did the job though, and I kept trots short and sweet (never more than a circle, but generally only half a circle) as it is the transition I want more than the trot itself, at this stage. 

She was pulling herself along on the forehand in trot, but it was slightly improved from before as today we went back to using the proprioceptive wrapping technique. It looked, to me, as though her cervicothoracic junction was straightened out by the “sling” of bandage around her chest. She didn’t fully go into the beautiful posture we want, but her withers were a bit more up than usual and you could see her trying to figure out her balance. So I must remember to keep trying this when we lunge once a week. 

But yes, I am thinking to get a saddle or someone light on her soon. She’s gained weight again which doesn’t help and I don’t think I’m going to be able to achieve much more in terms of her posture without levelling up the challenge or hours put in. She needs some general fitness now, to keep the belly off and thus help the back, but I don’t want to lunge more than once a week. 

I read some maths on lunging. When you work it out, about twenty-five 20m circles equates to one mile travelled. In one lunge session you could easily do fifty circles, so about two miles. Two miles of trot would be great for fitness, but on a circle?! That’s very intense on the joints, especially if the horse isn’t carrying herself properly yet. So as far as I’m concerned, lunging should be about getting that supple bend (ie: educating) rather than just getting the miles in. If you want to get the miles in, do it in-hand or under saddle. 

It’s a conundrum at the moment, for sure. Progress has gone backwards, a touch. All I can think is that it’s down to this: her belly is pulling her down (bloody rain, bloody rich grass!)… I’ve neglected the raised poles so she’s re-lost a little bit of muscle tone through her thoracic sling… and perhaps her quarters are no less weak than they were, but with the big belly they’re looking it. So, get poles involved again, get her moving for longer periods of time or under a light load, and persist with transitions and focussing on quality when we lunge once a week. 

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