There is no Left! Only Right!

So, for those not in the Midwest, it’s basically been an exercise, the last couple weekends, in finding ways to work a horse when it’s absurdly hot without a repeat of . Fortunately, in the ‘purchase and scrounge’ category, I have come up with a lunging surcingle, a lunge line, and side reins (which I knew we had lying around somewhere, and turned out to be exactly where you’d expect-in the deacon’s bench with the winter caps and the baseball bats.) Lucky needs to work on building up that right side, and on not playing giraffe with the bit.

It’s also rather revealing to be able to watch him go from the side (rather than craning my neck in a desperate attempt to see if that left rear feels funny from up top at the trot) and to really get a look at what needs work. He’s better to the left than he feels from aboard. The canter to the left almost, sort of, even works. He takes some shuffling and some snapping of the lunge whip to get into it, but he does get into it. To the right? Another story entirely. The first day of lunging, canter on the right did not happen. The second time, canter TO the right happened, but on the left lead. Riding on Monday (more on that later), the only way to accomplish a right-lead canter required popping him over poles (he WILL jump if you push them all together in a pile, though not if you actually raise them so they’re high, not wide.) So there was tweaking of the right side rein for that direction, and lots of trotting.

Well, when “lots” is defined as about fifteen minutes on the lunge, total. We’re still working up to it, for a start, and he needs time to build those muscles. Also, on Saturday, it was hot. For those not in the Midwest, it was really hot. It was like Floriday in July hot, without Disney World or the ocean. Now, I’m sure that overall, Lucky has experienced hotter. He was born in Florida, he ran most of his races at Tampa, Gulfstream, and Calder, at least for the first three years, he is used to heat. I, however, am not. Lunging is useful here, because it gives me an excuse not to keep him out too long, and I can wear my very stylish W&L riding baseball cap instead of a helmet.

Riding on Monday was an exercise in “how do we make a hack at the walk in the lingering heat-haze that’s cloying all over the landscape” into a productive use of our time?” Hacking can be an end in and of itself, but given how few days a week I can get out to ride, it sometimes seems a bit indulgent. So Monday, we had the day of no left turns. (Well, practically none.) There is only turning to the right. Bending to the right. And only five minutes’ trotting and cantering to the right. And lots of walking. Ambling around, really. Somehow, all this still resulted in a very sweaty horse. He got a bath and brace, which he likes not so much for the bath but because I try to hand-graze him until he’s dry, meaning he gets to eat all the nice grass outside the pastures.

Lucky will be, weather and her time permitting, enjoying a visit from his massage artist tomorrow (Touch of Soule, whom I’d be happy to recommend to anyone in the area with a horse or dog in need of some TLC) for a therapeutic massage. I will in all probability be hiding in the air conditioning with the dogs, if not lugging water down to the garden (though thanks to the foul weather, I have had a few storms where I haven’t had to do that every day. However, I could do without being woken in at four in the morning by a neurotic shepard mix who is deeply convinced there is something I can do about the booms. No, Puff. There is not. At least his does seem to tone down the hysterics a bit.)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jessica Boyd
    Aug 03, 2011 @ 23:20:15

    It has been interesting to watch (over my last year of injury) Bar’s transformation on the ground. He is actually smoother at the canter going right (non-track direction), but smoother and more collected at the trot going to the left. And all the ground work has done wonders for his beautiful self.

    Just have to translate it to the saddle now, which is really more of an issue with the rider than with the horse. Or at best, 75-25 me and him.


    • The Author
      Aug 04, 2011 @ 08:38:03

      When I get around to writing another entry, I have to describe the obnoxiousness…my parents were visiting this weekend and had heard about him and his right side. It was insanely hot, so I wasn’t planning to ride for long, Jim had obviously rake the ring so all the jumps and barrels and such weren’t out, so I just got on and we were doing a few figure eights at the trot and a little flat, and I went to ask for the right, assuming (especially since he was doing his ususal “not gonna turn right” routine at the trot) that he’d demonstrate what I’ve been talking about, and of course he not only fell into the right lead, he kept it up all the way around without swapping or just swapping behind. My mom was like “What right-lead problem?” Of course my parents know horses. They figure he knew they were watching. (Or maybe shortening the side reins last time I lunged, at least on the right, taught him a lesson, cooperate with the rider and she won’t work you on the ground…)


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