Monday, May 5, 2014

Contact

Yeah, so when you get the contact right, you get the horse's back back.

He turned at the last second, weirdening the perspective of this shot.

This intermittent spring of ride one day, wait ten days, ride two days, wait three weeks has left us a bit out of sync and searching for Sherman's back.  This morning, I found it.

In my defense, this was the first he's offered it, so it was pretty easy to find.

The difference?  15 minute warm-up on the lunge, with sliding side reins.  He stretched and loosened and strode out, working through his back for the first time this spring.  He also threw in three spring yee-haw bucks for good measure, but mostly settled down to a nice, focused bit of work.

Since we weren't leaving the arena today, I left the side reins on when I mounted.  Sherm was loose, round, and 90% free in his back, the opposite of the 10% he's been up to now in our work this spring.  We just worked at a walk, but his response in hand was light and relaxed, and his back was finally working in a way I had not felt yet this season.

In my classic over-thinking, I'm trying to decide whether his lightness was due to
  • the unburdened warm-up (including the bucks, which he never gives me under saddle, but which he does like to throw after being turned out)
  • the side reins, which 
    • provided a clear contact zone
    • balanced his turning
    • steadied a busy french-link, loose-ring snaffle bit
    • kept him quiet, which induced a quiet pair of hands in his rider
Whatever it was, he was light and calm and steady, which allowed me to be the same.  So I'll keep working this way to see what we get.