Currently, it is raining and 32*, so though the weather is currently lame, there is hope for a white xmas! The forecast has been really back and forth this week, I guess the storm is unpredictable. At first they were saying it would snow Tuesday-Thursday and accumulate 9 inches. Then they said no snow, just rain. Now they are saying that we should expect about 7 inches between this evening and Saturday!
I rode Boomer yesterday and Monday and he did well both days. Monday, John came out to watch and see our improvement. Boomer was pretty good about everything we have been working on and nailed the right lead canter transition, but the couldn't seem to get the left lead. he just kept trotting faster. We had to take a little break and move to the other end of the arena, and then he nailed it in both directions. John was impressed that we were doing a walk-canter transition. I was impressed that a) he noticed and b) he knew the difference! After the ride I rasped his hooves a little and clipped his muzzle. I am going to try to make Monday the designated day for extra grooming maintenance. I figure that will help keep things from getting out of hand and will end up taking less time in the long run. His hooves are looking really good. His nail holes are almost all grown out already. I have stopped giving him a biotin hoof supplement because I am curious to see how good his hooves really are. He has never not had the supplement as far as I know and I wonder if it is unnecessary. So, we will see how that works in a few months.
Our ride Wednesday was pretty good as well. I lunged him for about 20 minutes first to see if that made any sort of difference. I think it did help with his excess energy. Boomer has always warmed up the same way, under saddle and on the lunge. He takes about 5-10 minutes to stretch and wake up, the he has a huge blow out of high energy for about 5-10 minutes, and then he is ready to work. So, when I got on, he just needed suppling and stretching rather than to blow out his energy. I don't mind riding him in a long warm up, but I was just curious what lunging would do. His cantering is continuing to improve, especially to the right. I set up 8 cones around a circle so that I had to steer between them and he did very well with slowing down and steering. I was very happy. I actually felt like he was slowing and balanced enough that I could sit back and count his hoof fall pattern with my seat. You know that nice slow one-two-three you feel in your seat as you are rocking your hips forward with each stride? Yeah, we got that!
Boomer is still a little resistant about bit contact and was really having a time of it, throwing his head above the bit. I ordered a full cheek french link snaffle to see if that would help. He (and other arabs) tend to have smaller mouths and lower palates and a traditional single jointed snaffle can really put a lot of pressure on the roof of the mouth. If that doesn't work I think I will have his teeth checked when the vet comes out for spring shots. I have also considered having a chiropractor out as he is just not getting over this stiffness issue on his left side. With all of the pulling back and flipping over he has done in the last year and a half, I wouldn't be surprised if he has some neck/poll stiffness. We do neck stretches during our ride. I make him stretch to the left and right and touch my boot for a few seconds on each side 2-3 times at the beginning of the ride and again whenever he starts to feel stiff. He has really started to understand that he has to stretch AND soften in order to get a release and he has started holding the stretch even after I release. I think he enjoys the stretch, especially to the right.
Less than 2 weeks until my first lesson! I had hoped to get in at least nine rides before then and it looks like I am well on my way to making that goal. I think that our canter has almost gotten to the point where it isn't completely embarrassing. It is at least becoming obvious that we are trying, for what thats worth! Leg yields continue to improve and straighten, with his hind end not trailing nearly as much. Our biggest problem is his resistance to the bit and carrying his head up high. We definitely get good quality work at the walk and usually at the trot, but about 30-40% of the ride he is high headed. I am looking forward to Karin's take on how to get him to round down. I have noticed that pushing him forward actually brings his head down, however counterintuitive that is!
So, lots to work on and lots to look forward to! Next year should be a good one!