Thursday, October 21, 2010

Best Ride of the Month

I rode Tucker last night and we had our Best Ride of the Month, which is the ride after he gets his acupuncture.  Dr. L came to see him on Monday and said he was great, just some routine adjustments in his neck and back but otherwise he felt really good.  I told her that I'm hoping one of her visits falls on a weekend sometime soon so that I can get a photo series put together for the blog.  I want so badly for you all to see the look of sheer bliss on Tucker's face while Dr. L works on him.  It looks like heaven!

I gave him Monday and Tuesday off for the adjustments and acupuncture to work their magic, since the weather was nice and he's been going out from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (couldn't have planned that schedule better myself!) and has plenty of time to stretch himself out. 

Last night I flatted in the hackamore and pretty much just enjoyed how supple and springy he felt.  We did a lot of transitions, since that seemed to be what needs work based on our lesson over the weekend, and they were significantly better in the hackamore (much less tendency to get stiff and lean on my hands when there's nothing to lean on).  So I worked on my position during the transitions -- stretching taller, weight in my heels, legs closed, sitting deeper and looking ahead.  As I continued to work on my position, they got better and better, to the point where I could pin point exactly where in the ring I wanted the walk to happen (there are these nifty letters on the side of the ring and I have no idea what you DQs use them for but they sure do make nice landmarks for me). 

As we worked on canter transitions and they improved, I added in asking him to countercanter down the long side, and walk in the corner, and back to the inside lead.  Once he was carrying the counterlead well in a straight line, I'd ask him to hold it around the turn, which he did well.  The only minor blip we had was that I was doing canter transitions on a big circle and they were going very nicely, and then I asked him to countercanter as we were approaching the corner and he had a -- system malfunction -- does not compute -- command failed -- moment.  He just did not understand why on earth I'd be asking for the wrong lead around a corner plus he said it would be really hard to do that and didn't seem at all natural or right.  So he kind of bounced up and down a bit and then stopped and waited for further information.  I realized I had inadvertantly blown his mind for a minute (tried not to laugh) and just trotted around the ring once, then walked at the start of the longside, asked for my countercanter, and then he was happy to hold the counterlead around the corner.  Stupid mom moment.

My favorite part of the ride was after I had done canter transitions tracking right and went down the diagonal of the ring at the trot.  I gradually let the reins out of my hands and he took the bit and reached his nose all the way to the ground but kept tracking up and never felt unbalanced, and then we trotted a big left circle, bending left but continuing to stretch down through his neck and back.  Then I gradually reeled him back in and he kept coming forward really freely and stayed nice and soft. We went back to some more canter transitions tracking left and then finished up with some more stretching down at the trot.  Such a nice ride!

I have been having such fabulous rides lately that I went back and thought a little more about last week's not so good ride.  Alicia also rode him the day after that, and she didn't have the best ride either -- he was still pretty resistant and didn't really want to work.  Then it slowly dawned on me... he got his fall shots on Wednesday afternoon.  DUH.  Talk about your dumb mom moments.  I had felt along both sides of his neck for soreness and didn't feel anything so I figured they hadn't bothered him, but I've since remembered that our vet usually gives Tucker his vaccinations in his chest (because he gets sore in his neck).  He was probably feeling really lousy for a couple of days and didn't want to work.  It explains everything, but now I feel really, really bad.  I guess technically it's not like he was suffering with intense pain and he probably should have just dealt with it and done his work... so it wasn't really all that cruel to get after him a little. 

But you'd think with everything this horse does for me I could at least be a little less of an idiot and keep track of things like vaccinations that might leave my horse sore and not wanting to work....  I'm hoping that if I bribe him with treats and take him for a nice long trail ride on Saturday, he'll forgive me.  Or at least, I can keep him from calling his case worker again and requesting that I only be allowed supervised visitation.

Speaking of treats, adorable story for you:  My grandmother wanted to send me home with something for Tucker last weekend and asked me "what does he like?"  I told her apples always go over well, and then she showed me half an apple wrapped in saran wrap and asked if he'd eat that.  As if Tucker's going to notice that the apple's browning a little?  Then she asked "what about carrots?" and proceeded to dig around for some of those in the fridge.  As she carefully tucked them into the giant bag of food she was sending me home with, she said "make sure you tell him they're from me."  Keep in mind, my family members are NOT horse people.  I can count on one hand the times any of them have seen Tucker, collectively.  My grandmother especially is not an animal person, and the fact that she wanted me to say anything to an animal, as though he would understand, is too sweet for words.  Somehow I think I love Tucker so much that I've made her love him too.  She must sense that this is not just any ordinary horse.


  1. It's so lovely when you have rides like that!

  2. ;-) Those nifty letters are pretty much for the exact thing you used them for--they give us precise places to do things. Not that I'm a DQ, but we dabble in dressage.

    Sounds like a great ride!! I feel for poor Tucker with the shots. Izzy has a pretty strong reaction to her spring shots, but the fall ones don't bother her. Go figure.

  3. I am LOVING all these posts from you! I am so happy Tucker and you are communicating so well and having such great rides :) Just an FYI...I will be in the Jerz 11/21-26 and then 12/19-28. We should plan some fun things both at the barn and not at the barn!!!

  4. Nicku: Thank you! Just plugged those dates into my outlook calendar -- we are definitely hanging out! Yay! (claps hands)


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