Thursday, September 20, 2012

The 4 Yr Old Dilemma

You know you have a problem when you thoroughly enjoy riding your aged, gimpy, walk-only mare far more than your fit, athletic 4 yr old.

Ben has had a case of the naughties all week. This started out on Sunday, after a 2 day break, after having a great week prior.

On Sunday he was just not having anything to do with being a riding horse.

On Monday he gave the trainer some lip, but worked out of it.

On Tuesday he gave her more lip, but worked out of it. On Tuesday afternoon he was pretty good for me (more to come on that in a later post- I dont routinely have him be ridden 2x a day)

On Wednesday our lesson was cancelled, but I rode anyway, and he was a jerk for 20 minutes. He never actually worked out of it, but he stopped screwing around but was still nervous.

Today - trainer rides him - we'll see what she gets.

So what to make of all this. My first thought is the P word...Pain. Could it be possible that he is sore - either from work, tack, rider crookedness on my part, or maybe even he did something in turnout? I mean, this has not been a gradual descent into naughtiness- it just showed up on Sunday, BAM.

Could it be that he is being a testy 4 yr old?

Could it be that he is burned out and needs a break?

Could it be that he needs a little Come to Jesus and work a bit harder?

With 4 yr olds, its difficult to diagnose, and therefore also, treat.

My inclination, my gut, tells me there is pain or soreness. Specifically on the left side of his body. I think said pain and soreness may be due to saddle fit, rider crookedness, natural horse crookedness, and the introduction of working smaller circles mixed in with big circles.

What is my evidence?

- I know I am crooked.
- I know from feedback and riding it myself, that smaller circles to the left is much harder for him. 2/3 of the 10-15 m circle he can do..the last 1/3 he drifts and cant do it.
-We've been asking him to take smaller steps, and soften his back. This is the complete opposite to what he was born to do. 
- He is resentful when I carry my whip on the left, and use it on the left.
- Saddle fitter came out on Tuesday (more on this later) and highlighted 2 problem areas on his left right behind his shoulder and 1 higher up, closer to his croup...on the left.
-His body is changing, again.

This doesn't really explain why after 2 days off he's super cranky to get back into work. Or does it? He was off a couple of days, and then the re-introduction to work, aka pain, is too much to bear.

The fact that he works out of it with the trainer also tells me that it could be pain. She is much lighter than I, far more balanced and thus effective. She can get him focused and using his body better, whereas I cannot.

So where does this leave me. I have a hard time believing that my horse is being a prick for the thrill of it. He's not that kind of guy. 

Now what to do about it...

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