You can plan a pretty picnic…

But you can’t predict the weather. Somebody from Outkast must’ve trained horses.

Yesterday I laid out a solid plan for our dressage work. It involved warming up at the walk & trot on a loose rein, then incorporating leg-yielding and turns on the forehand before doing some shoulder-in at the trot to get him into the bridle. For our actual workout, I planned on working transitions: walk-trot, trot lengthenings, canter-trot, and halt transitions. We were going to finish with a stretchy trot, then cool out with a nice stretchy walk.

What’s that saying about the best-laid plans are often laid to waste? Yeah, that’s the one. Johnny might as well have told me just where I could go. He was tense and spastic from the get-go. I probably should have lunged him first, but he tends to get pretty worked up on the lunge, so I bit the bullet and hopped right on his back. I’m not sure if he’s got a cropping of ulcers, needs chiropractic adjustment, or if it was just the sudden change of weather, but he was definitely not his normal, lazy self. He was H-O-T, and that’s an understatement. A long time ago, I probably would have taken him out for a good gallop to wear him down, but I’ve learned over the years galloping tends to fire OTTBs up, rather than wear them down. Additionally, I had my son at the barn with me, so even a nice relaxing hack was out of the question.

Instead, I tried valiantly to stick to the plan. We did work transitions, and I used leg yielding and shoulder-in to help corral his energy. We did absolutely no straight lines so that he wasn’t able to get his freight train in gear. My goal for the ride ultimately was for him to relax. Just a little. I wasn’t asking for much. After a 1.5 hour ride, I finally coaxed him into some semblance of a stretchy trot. He mostly reached for the bridle, but he wasn’t as relaxed as I would have liked, and he was probably a bit too much on the forehand. Though, however, he wasn’t falling on his face–we were able to keep a nice rhythm, which let me know he was at least carrying himself somewhat.

The ultimate good news is that the tie-back surgery seems to have been ultra-successful. I can still hear him breathe when he gets into work, but it no longer seems to be affecting his cardiac ability. He’s now like any other out-of-shape OTTB–raring to go but lacking the muscle capacity to maintain the effort. I’m hoping his attitude yesterday was simply due to the weather change and his sudden ability to breathe again; our barn manager mentioned he and the other horses were playing pretty exuberantly in the field that morning. Today’s plan is a gymnastic jumping session. Yeah. We’ll see how it goes.


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