Did a little round pen work with Shad this am. He was delightful! Very easy, soft and responsive. The slightest change in focus from my core would bring him up or down. The draw in to me still isn't as soft as I would like, but it was way better. The chiro arrived around ten and I had her look at him. She found him to be very locked up in his right hip/sacrum and very rigid along his whole back. There was a nit of "stuff" in his left hock but she thought that was compensation for the right side issues. She gave me a couple of things to do with him that she thought would be helpful.
Before she got there I had jumped on in the western saddle and was trying the stirrups Kathleen uses on one of her saddles. They are offset and were super comfy. I think I will probably get a set. I don't remember the name of the gal who makes them. Maybe Kathleen will chime in. It
was funny because the saddle is new and I was a little bummed because I wasn't really liking how it felt, but once I changed out the stirrups, it felt way better! Sort of an interesting aside - the chiro arrived while I was still riding in the western saddle and observed that I had a dressage seat. Pretty good eye!
At this point, Callas is an old hand on the high line. She has spent several hours there each day and is pretty happy to stand quietly with an infreqent whinny for Shad, so she graduated from the high line to the hitching rack today. She did get herself turned around on the wrong side of the rack - didn't quite work out like she had planned as there were bushes and pine trees on that side and they were poking her in the behind. She couldn't figure out how to get back around and was getting a little worried, but one of the other folks there went over and re-situated her. She was quite steady after that, perking up a little when people or horses went by, but no hollering at all. It was neat to see how she took the lesson from the high line and applied it to the hitching rail.
One of the other things I had been talking about with Kathleen was my feeling of reluctance to ride (and specifically canter) Callas. Since she had gotten so anxious Wednesday when I tacked her up after the round pen work, today I wanted to look at how she did with tacking up - specifically bridling in this case because I didn't have any funny vibe on the saddling stuff like I did with bridling. So we took her in the round pen again because she was feeling pretty comfy in there and just checked in. She was a bit distracted at first, but came back pretty quickly.
Kathleen observed that she would really like to see her come in ok from the git-go, but that would probably come with a bit more consistent work, especially since she was settling so quickly and offering some big tries. Then we worked on bridling. She showed a bit of a brace when I went to bridle her, so Kathleen took her for a few minutes and played around with how she felt. She suggested that I ask Callas to curl her head around towards me but to be sure that I keep
that soft. If I have her curled around but still bracey it doesn't do any good.
Then we popped the Western saddle on and I sent her back out in the round pen. She was a little tense and bracey in the walk and trot but clean broke in two when I asked her to canter. I was a little bit "deer in the headlights" - it wasn't totally unexpected, but I am in awe of how that mare can buck! Kathleen reminded me to keep asking for canter and finally after a couple of circuits bucking around, she finally leveled out into a try at the canter. Kathleen said to notice her breathing. She was gulping and gasping for air. One of the things we waiting for was nice rhythmic breaths. It took a little while for her to settle and then she had another little blow up shortly after we switched sides. Kathleen observed that she really understands her job now in
the round pen without tack, so the next step is to help her get more comfortable
wearing tack. She got so that she could transition between all three gaits
pretty respectably. She was trying really hard, so that was cool to see.