Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hard to believe it's been over a month since my last blog post. It's time to check in with the group that started this whole venture. There have been some changes. Trent is no longer riding Penny in the lessons. He bought a foundation bred filly, Hannah, and she is now his project. So here are some pictures and a bit of commentary.

The first picture is from a very early lesson with Penny. The tension in this mare is evident not only from her facial expression, but also in the muscles of the neck. Notice how the bottom muscles appear heavy and the top muscles undefined. There is no clear definition of the throat. Though not visable, this tension is held all the way through this mare's back, preventing her from engaging her hind legs. The result is that this mare is "cold backed" and if this tension is not addressed early in the ride she requires an hour or more of work before she let's go and begins to swing through her back.  Trying to force a soft poll does nothing to help that tension. We'll have some more pictures of her in another blog about warming up the horse.

The second picture is of Hannah, Trent's new 3 yr old filly. Here Trent is starting with a fresh slate. This horse has no history to overcome. She is comfortable with the bit, accepting light contact without  tension. Note the muscling of the neck, the clear definition of the throat latch. If you track the footfall you can tell that unlike Penny, the hind foot is going to step into the hoof print of the forefoot when it hits the ground. BTW, note Trent's leg position. He's riding without stirrups here. Like the horse, he is relaxed. Check the position of the upper arm, relaxed and hanging by his side, then compare the upper arm on Penny, where he is trying to be soft and instead is creating tension in his shoulders by hold the arms in front of his body.  With less than 30 rides, this mare is already well on her way to a good basic education.

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