Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Case of the Missing Farrier

I'm sure we're all familiar with this mystery, and one has to wonder where they disappear to.  I've still no answer to explain Liam's absence, but Owen is really missing his front shoes and does not care for the hard ground we've had during this drought.  I was hoping that a couple of months of going barefoot would toughen his soles but Owen never has been into roughing it and insists on his hand made designer shoes, (Jeannie refers to him as a metrosexual.) and since I've got some sidesaddle exhibitions planned I can't just wait it out...we need to school.

I dug around in the tack room and found some Cavallo boots that I had bought for Chummie way back when he was tossing his shoes regularly, even tho' in general I'm not a fan of buckle on boots.  In my experience, like most designer jeans, they never really fit well having been constructed with maybe 2% of the equine population in mind.  In my time in equine practice I think I saw maybe one or two pairs of hooves that were that perfectly round.  But I was desperate, so despite Owen having rather longer than wide feet, I velcroed them on and when we set off down the drive the difference was immediate.  Owen was not mincing down the gravel but striding out, albeit occasionally trying to stall while looking whistfully at the other horses still grazing out in the fields. 

The intial hollow clop clop when we picked up the trot startled me at first and I kept looking down at Owen's feet to be sure the Cavallos were still there, but those chunky platform shoes didn't bother Owen in the least.  Well, not until we got to the piaffe.  When moving forward he seemed to be unfazed by them, but when I first asked him to piaffe he took one step and froze with one front leg held up in the air while he flicked his hoof like a cat that has stepped in something wet and sticky.  Eventually he realized that the boots didn't paralyze him in the collected work and we even did 7 three tempi changes down the long side...Owen is really beginning to believe that a balanced canter and changes are nothing to get worked up over.

But I have altered my mind set a little bit when it comes to the canter.  I've really been thinking about the similarities between dressage and saddle seat (some of you are snorting and gufawing right now) but if you've never ridden a good saddle seat horse at the canter you wouldn't understand the connection.  Really well trained saddle seat horses have rocking chair balanced canters that don't rely on the reins to keep their strides short and active, and good saddle seat riders have impecable posture and sit motionless in their saddles...which, by the way, don't prop them in position with thigh blocks. And as I've stated in previous posts, I believe there is something of value to be learned from all types of riding and horsemanship and my dressage can really benefit from it.  When riding the canter I imagine showing in a Classic English Pleasure class and it magically changes my seat, spine, and hands and Owen responds in kind.  When we get that rolling canter the changes and pirouettes come so easily!

I've got a busy weekend planned, with a sidesaddle demonstration and lecture with Barb Thelan that we're giving to a 4-H group on Saturday, and then Sunday I'm headed back down to Virginia to try PB again.  Who knows?  Maybe there will be a new horse in the barn by May.

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