Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Spring has finally arrived. For Bastian and I, March came in like a lamb and has gone out like a lion. We've been making some tremendous progress towards mastering 2nd Level. He's getting so much stronger, balancing back more and lifting those magnificent shoulders of his. Our turn on the haunches is getting cleaner and his barely-trot-lengthenings are actually becoming lengenthings and dare it say it, (dare! dare!) mediums. He has been loving his Neue Schule Tranze Lozenge Bit (which we got from my amazing sponsor Hastilow Competition Saddlery!!!) If you haven't checked out the info and research that has been done by the Neue Schule Bit Company, I highly recommend it. I just ordered the new bits for my double- they make a Weymouth just for Thoroughbreds!! Woot!

However, March was not without its difficulties. They were all linked together and has reminded me of how Bastian communicates. As long as I listen he'll remember to be the loveable dragon I've know for the past 10 years, although he maybe needs to simmer down a bit since his method of communication can be a bit, well, painful.

On a particularly windy and dismal day, Bastian and I had a rough time. Every know and again he gets a bit looky and his looky-ness is generally related to him not feeling 100%. I make it a regular habit to check is back for soreness and like all good horsewomen, check his legs and just generally make sure he's well. So I didn't find anything amiss before I got on. However, for whatever reason he decided to be a complete asshat that night. Everything was going great then he spooked at the wheelbarrows (which have been in the same corner for the past six months that we have been riding in the indoor). He did his classic duck and spin move, which I've gotten fairly good at riding, except for this time. He went left, I went right, my foot got hung up in the stirrup for about fifteen feet as he bolted until my leather slid off the stirrup bar (always ride with those down kiddos!) So I can now officially cross "having been dragged by a horse" off of my list. So I get back on, things are going pretty well-I'm not gonna lie, I was giving the wheelbarrows at the other end of the arena a wide berth- and I felt him starting to get tense again, we cantered by X on a circle and he pulled the move again and I completely gave up on him. I'm as much to blame for the second time as he was. So long story short (too late!) we had a glitch in the matrix moment, he went left and went right again. As in right into the dirt. I haven't been dumped more than once in one ride/day since I rode a lovely school horse at Wilson named Snoe-she had a penchant for dumping riders who got ahead over jumps and that was pretty much my cardinal jumping sin. I got on a third time, cantered (or loped, I was keeping him sooooooooo slow) one more circle to say that we did it and then I got off. Aside from a few sweet bruises and having to replace my helmet, no harm done.

Tawny was scheduled to ride him the next day and from the text I got afterwards, he was a complete BUTT. :( The next two days, he won't let me catch him in the pasture. He walks away from me and makes me chase him down through the muck and the mud. That right there is Bastian-speak for "something hurts and I don't feel good." I found a little bit of discomfort right over his hips, but only before we rode, after we rode he was completely fine through his back. So we did the lunging to warm up thing so that until he got his muscles loosened up I wouldn't be on his back making anything worse. Tawny rode him again and he was just being a butt again, so the decision was made to just lunge him until I could get some maintenance done.

So Bastian got his teeth done, and the dentist said they definitely needed it so that could have been causing him some discomfort and caused him to pull his shenanigans. I had also already started making plans to get his hocks done before all this craziness started, so Cleveland Equine came out and injected those puppies this past Monday. Bastian has been on stall rest since then (he finally gets to go back outside tomorrow!). Today was his first day back to riding, just 15 minutes walk and trot only. So perhaps against better judgment (and yes, there is a huge flow chart that goes into whether or not I get on my horse's back each time I ride) I took his new hocks for a test drive tonight. And I was rewarded by an amazing ride on the Dragon that I know and love. There wasn't anything particularly fantastic about his quality of movement-I didn't push him at all, we were going for calm- but he was unbelievably well behaved.

I was expected some fire breathing and just a general feeling of him being higher than a kite having been trapped in a 10X10 for four days. He was super lazy....I had to push him to get a nice swingy hunter trot and as soon as I started to half halt to transition he was walking. He didn't look at anything (I was looking at stuff, waiting for him to find an excuse to spook). So there you have it, Bastian-speak for "all is right in my body now." I know to listen to my boy, but I guess I needed to refine my listening skills. The only times he is every bad is when he is uncomfortable. Granted, he needs to maybe give me a bit more of a chance to translate the Bastian to human, its not like he comes with subtitles. ;)

So here we are. The last bit of spring cleaning we need to do is to get new shoes for the B-man. I'm hoping I can make it into the Lake Erie College Prix de Villes show at the end of April so we can get started on earning our Second Level scores. I want another week to make sure we've addressed all of his issues and then I'll send my entry in. Unfortunately, since its a team competition, teams get the first priority. If we don't make it in, our first show will be the Grand Haven Schooling show in May. Did I mention that I'm anxious to go to a show? He just feels so much more amazing than last year, I can't wait to get some judges perspective on him.

The final piece of good news is that towards the beginning of the month (on a really good day) Tawny was riding Bastian and she got a successful flying change each direction with him. He's got a super solid counter canter and very few people have been able to get a flying change on him, including a BNT-who was awesome enough to not push the issue and say he just wasn't ready for it. Which he wasn't, he wasn't strong enough or straight enough in the canter. So this gives me hope for getting to 3rd level this year and earning my last two scores towards our Bronze medal. I never thought I would get there on Bastian and I am humbled and excited that we're doing this together piece by piece.

Fingers crossed we get into the Lake Erie show!!

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