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Wizard Sessions 430, 431, 432, 433: Walking Distance

January 3, 2013

Wizard works in long lines

I got in touch with my regular vet last week and we had a good chat about what she saw in the x-rays (see previous training blog). She also talked with my farrier about a shoeing plan.

First of all, and this may or may not be related, but his Lyme Disease levels are much lower now than they were when we tested and treated him a year ago.

Basically, she has seen way worse on many horses, and she is optimistic that corrective shoeing and work will help quite a bit. She saw some very minor arthritic changes in the right knee. In the right foot, she did not think there was coffin bone rotation, per se. She said there was a change in the angle, but she was looking more at the whole picture, including the broken-back angle of P2 and P1. I was glad to hear this, because my farrier agrees with this assessment. My vet saw some very minor sclerosis of the navicular bone. It sounded to me like whatever issue he has/had was affecting the whole foot and the angles. Shoeing, injury, etc. Wizard’s body compensated, and we are seeing the long-term results in the x-rays.

Since we were between shoeings, my farrier came out and put aluminum shoes on his fronts, set well back for heel support, and a size larger to support his whole foot (aluminum because the larger size would make regular steel shoes heavier). He put snow rim pads on him. And the day we put the new shoes on Wizard, I saw him land consistently flat on the footing for the first time. He always tends to be toe first. It wasn’t heel first, but I was pleased to see flat!

So the short-term training plan is to let him get used to the new shoes and gently work him until my saddle arrives. I’m trying not to do too much circling, but when we’re stuck indoors due to the weather, it’s tough to avoid it.

Wednesday, 12/26/12 We worked indoors in long lines, and upon suggestion, I tried a little flash noseband attachment thingy, as an experiment. Wizard is very chompy on the bit, and the suggestion to try the flash was not in order to crank his mouth shut, but instead to steady the bit. Some horses don’t like bit movement, and a flash can help to keep things steadier. Wizard was NOT amused. He stuck his nose out, and leapt around a little when he felt rein pressure. We kept the session short, mostly doing bending exercises at the walk and a little trot work.

I’ve been at the barn for a lot of grooming sessions and sometimes quick hand walks in the park, but these are the actual work sessions he has had recently:

Thursday, 12/27/12

Years ago, when Wizard was doing more of his spinning and occasional rearing routines on the longe, a friend suggested longeing him in two lines. It seemed too complicated for my clumsy self, so I never tried it. Now that we’ve done more long lining work, it seemed like something worth revisiting.

We worked indoors again (%&*$%&$ winter &%*^&*% rain), and it was mostly successful. The biggest issue I had was him sucking back off the bit and geting behind the driving aid (whip) from time to time. I’m going to try a longeing cavesson next time out. Other than that, the two-line method was pretty neat.

Friday, 12/28/12

Wizard was tacked up in a bridle, surcingle, and longeing cavesson for this session. We were indoors (again). I used two longe lines, with the clips attached to the rings on the cavesson instead of on the bit. It worked much better. He was feeling a little fresh from all the rain and not a lot of work, and threw some pretty wild kicks when the longe line got too tight around his hind end. At one point, it also got shimmed up under his tail for a minute, ending in another kicking spree until his tail loosened and he got back to normal. We also experimented with the outside line draped over his back. I like the two-line method quite a bit, because it is closer to riding, and I have more control of his shape. On a regular longe line, I have no outside “rein” so he can pop his shoulder whenever he wants.

Thursday, 1/3/13

OUTSIDE- finally! The rain cleared, and a strong wind blew for a few days, drying things up nicely. I was going to go for a walk in the Assunpink, but I forgot to renew my permit, so we stayed at the farm and worked in the outdoor arena. I swapped bits to a fat loose ring snaffle, trying to make it as mild as possible for our groundwork. Over the bridle, he wore his cavesson. We warmed up at the walk on long lines, with me walking behind and also working from his hip. Then, we did a little light trot work, all with the lines snapped to the cavesson. The cavesson is basically as mild as a halter, and Wizard started to play, breaking from a big trot circle to a loopy, bucky canter festival. I was able to slow him down, but the force of him against the lines was hard enough that I was running pretty quickly to keep up as he slowed down. Okay, I guess he can handle a bit now! So we went on to the bit. He did his curling routine again, backing off the bit. I asked for a few transitions, which helped a lot. After a little gentle work, he began to stretch into the bit at the trot. YESSSSS. My goal with the long line work is to patch up some of the holes in his training, especially getting him to accept contact and loosen his back more. Today, I saw him doing a little bit of that. Now if only that saddle would arrive…

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