Sunday, April 11, 2010

Plastic Flowers of Doom

The weather has continued to be 100% cooperative, we had a brief snow flurry on Friday, but since then it went right back to the upper 60s and has been dry and perfect.  This has been an excellent week for Bastian and I.  There was a lesson on Wednesday where we made some real progress on working towards staying steady and in self carriage.  I'm starting to get my body more un-twisted and am sitting more correctly.  Lots of grooming went on and Bastian is staring to look summer sleek in his neck, his haunches still need some work though!  Saturday, my instructor rode him and schooled over some fences.  He was being a bit of a nincompoop (NCP) about jumping when I attempted to school over a x-rail and then a 2' flower box.

He was actually pretty good over the x-rail, I was having a bit of trouble finding our distances at first, but then we settled into a rhythm and it felt great.  So I head for the flower box (we had totally conquered flowers in January!) and first he ran out, a sneaky, dirty, NCP kind of run-out.  So I regrouped, and I am not ashamed to say that I was now worried, I've had enough bad stuff happen involving horses, but at the same time I was determined not to lose to the fake, plastic flowers), and headed towards it again, smacked him with the crop and he jumped it like it was a three foot oxer and landed bucking.  Great.

Thankfully I kept my seat, growled at him and we went at the fence again. This time he took it almost like a regular horse, but I could still feel the NCP-ness lurking beneath the surface.  I went back to the x-rail and he was fabulous.  I decided that the flowers were tabled until Saturday.  He pulled the same stuff with Kristin, who, thankfully is not a wimp like me.  He was chastised and by the end of the session he was taking the fence beautifully.  Here is a pic of one of the fences right before he settled back into his "I'm a perfect hunter pony" mode.  He was ignoring her half-halts.   I wasn't being very successful with taking pictures.  I was either getting the stride before or the landing.  This was the only one I actually caught over the fence (and he was still being an NCP, but a very cute NCP! ) , he actually knocked the rail down this time around.

I love riding the day after Kristin, Bastian is always such a sweetheart.  So I avoided the flowers, but jumped the x-rail and paid very close attention to my warm up (which I had truthfully been somewhat ignoring on jumping days).  He was AWESOME.  Light, responsive, rhythmic.  So I did the classic hunter school of 15 minutes and then he was done.  I have a jumping lesson on Wednesday where the flowers will be addressed by both Bastian and I together, but I felt it best to wait for supervision for that one :)

Bastian really does live up to his name of Luck Dragon.  He is very, very lucky.  As a three year old, after I had owned him for just a scant four months, all of which were spent by me in the hospital and then on my couch (broken back, great story), the vet called to inform me that she felt it was very likely that Bastian had EPM.  Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis, that wonderful and still oh so mysterious disease spread by nasty little opossums.  He was dragging his left hind foot and when you looked at him from behind, this is what you saw, his left hip had actually dropped down quite a bit. 

This has since improved greatly.  I have had chiropractic and massage work done on him (and he positively adores his massuese, Marnee) and the hip is now back in its place, but the atrophy to the muscles is somewhat permanent.  He is never even when you look at him from behind, but he has managed to compensate quite nicely and he does not look or feel unsound because of his unevenness.  It took nearly two years for him to regain 100% "soundness" (I only use "" because he was never truly unsound, you should have seen him buck and play and run when he was recieving the Marquis treatment!)  But I do feel that the combination of circumstances that led to him never fully going into training until February of 2009 allowed his body to adjust appropriately. 

He also periodically wears a weighted hind boot on the left side to help improve the muscle tone.  The biggest challenge we have had to overcome was straightness.  He naturally wants to compensate with his right side, so I always have to pay extra attention to keeping him straight and when he gets tired, it gets really tough.  Unfortunately, my left side is my weak side (that relates back to the broken back) so its easy for him to pop out that way or ignore what I think are leg and weight cues that he should be listening too. 

But somehow we muddle through.  Now to focus on the week ahead.  Lesson on Wednesday and Friday, Clinic on Saturday.  Until next week, enjoy the weather!

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