I usually ride Henry on the Thursday before my Saturday lesson and then give him Fridays off (as there isn’t much time between both jobs to do much other than feed him on Fridays). My Thursday ride started really well. He started off with a super forward walk (YAY! GO HENRY GO!).
But as we progressed into the trot work things got a bit funny. He didn’t really feel off but his head seemed to be bobbing slightly more than usual. I lunged him and he looked totally fine. I decided to hop off and was left sort scratching my head.
Mr. Frosty Ears
I texted ST that Henry wasn’t quite himself. I said that I wanted a lesson either way (even if just for another pair of eyes). I suggested she book us in for a shorter one just in case he was more off, then it wouldn’t throw her schedule off too much and he could have a shorter lesson if he was feeling like himself again. I kind of threw saddle fit and extra deep footing (that needed to be levelled out desperately) as possible culprits. ST suggested riding him bareback to see if that made a difference…..
So I hadn’t ridden Henry bareback yet. I know that RK did a little bit during his training (mostly when he was getting Henry used to a person sitting on him). All of my internal organs are rearranged when I post his trot... I hadn’t even attempted to sit it. He has a wonky big ass trot. It’s smoother when he’s moving forward, but forward is our ongoing struggle.
After my unpleasant ride on Mystic my nerves were a little shot. But on the Friday before my lesson I summoned all my courage and put my bareback pad on the baby warmblood and gave it a try.
His walk felt great again. I attempted to trot just the long sides in both directions. I almost bounced into oblivion. But he felt sound and happy with no head bobbing at all. So that was good news.
I texted ST the good news and then we kind of hemmed and hawed about if I should do a bareback lesson for the Saturday lesson. We decided to try it.
So for extra good news the arena was all levelled out for me on Saturday morning (yippee!). We did about 5 minutes of walking before ST instructed me to get trotting!
I was able to do about 10/15 minutes of trot. My leg really wanted to creep up and my knees really wanted to grip (these are two fun things that make you bounce more!). I had a few really nice moments where I let my leg stretch down and I was relaxed enough to follow his movement better through my body. I felt like because I was bouncing so much it was hard for me to genuinely ask him to go forward. I felt like I was giving him some mixed signals and it wasn’t very fair (go forward Henry, SLOWLY, go forward SLOWLY).
So I suggested instead that ST give me a hand free jumping him. So we did! J
Henry Longlegs at sunrise
And homeboy has hops. We freejumped over two fences in a line, with the second one maxing out at 3ft. He sailed over it and seemed to really enjoy himself! I am such a turd for not getting video, will have to try it again on my own and share some videos/photos of Henry the jumping bean!
In other Henry-related news…
I finally had the Equipe saddle fitter out and unfortunately that other saddle I liked won’t fit Henry. I guess his wither is very long, which is difficult to fit (this is also why his current won't work, and likely is uncomfortable for him). The fitter gave me two models/styles that will work for him. They are both $$... so I will be saving all my pennies and hopefully will be purchasing something for him in January. So I will be riding bareback in the meantime… Holy crap. I've had a few bareback rides since my lesson and am gradually improving (also my baby warmblood should be sainted).
Henry from saddle fitter night (if you look closely you can see the chalk marks on him... he creepily loved that)
Henry did have a massage last Friday (November 11th) and his back looks great and has no ouchy spots so I don't think the bareback riding is negatively affecting him. Coach D has watched me ride bareback and doesn't think I bounce much at all (...tell that to my internal organs).
I still need more work before I can do an ST lesson again (I don’t it’s an effective use of a lesson at this point, as I really just need practice). Hopefully if I work really hard at my bareback riding we can start up again in a week or two. It’s not the end of the world for him to be in lighter work as he’s also going through a bit of a growth spurt anyhow.
I warmly welcome and tips or tricks for sitting super bouncy trots!