Galloping off into the sunset

First off, let me start with my regular Wednesday lesson.  It went as usual, except when we finished, Margie pointed out that Bentley looks like he has some bowing in his back tendons.  She said that it looked like it was caused from trauma, there were 2 little scuffs on his legs about the same height that looked like he hit them on something.  Apparently these types of injuries are common with steeplechasers who catch their legs on the down part of the jump… but we haven’t exactly been steeplechasing recently!

I do remember seeing these scuffs for the last month when he was lame, but didn’t think much of them as there was no heat and they didn’t look fresh.  Plus it looked like all the lameness was coming from his front.  Marg assured me that it clearly isn’t bothering him (although its hard and a bit swollen in front) and it reduces once we have warmed up.  So we don’t have to stop riding, even got the go-ahead to do small jumps.

Right now we are sweating them out by applying goo on it daily, and wrapping it in plastic.  I have to admit, it worked really well, noticed a difference just after one night!  I know its not a problem for him as hes moving great, but we don’t want to get to our first OCTRA ride and have the vet say “OMG BOWED TENDON” and prevent us from starting.  The hardness is breaking up and the legs are almost back to straight form.

But this curious clue may have led us to a closer idea of what exactly happened to him a little over a month ago.  As I said, something had to have happened out in the field as one day he was his beautiful dressage-y self, the next dead lame at the trot.  At that time, he was in a field with the bullies, one of which had abscess which led us to believe pulled muscle or also abscess.  The field also has some junk and stumps in it including an old bath tub and unusable water trough (ok let those groans out now).  So I am guessing he may have got chased away from the food by bullies, and either tried to jump the tub/trough and caught legs, or somehow managed to get stuck in one of these?  The front may have been lame from compensating, or maybe pulled something funny when he was doing this to his back legs.  Horses provide such interesting puzzles to decode!

Long and the short of it, hes back in great form, we are fixing up some cosmetic problems, and we are training for Bentley’s debut ride at Coate’s Creek.

Last night, for the first time, I allowed and encouraged a gallop out of him.  I know I know I know… I shouldn’t do this until we have mastered the canter, but I honestly think it really helped our canter training.  Here is my reasoning:

He gets so excited when we canter, it starts as a gallop anyway.  So what I did was ask him to canter, and gently after that got into my 2-point and gave another kick for the gallop (even though he was already doing it) just so he would know what that meant.  I was trying to work with what he gave me.  After we had galloped the once, I worked on refining it and ended up with great transitions between canter and gallop and back down, in fact our canter was much better once I had clearly defined the lines.  After that, even our trot to canter transitions were much improved as he wouldn’t take off, I stayed relaxed (since I knew he wasn’t going to be a wild maniac) and we had some beautiful gaits around the plateau, including a very nice speed of gallop, easy to control and maintain (did 1/2 mile easily after having trotted and cantered a lot before)

After our lesson on Wednesday, Linda had made a comment as to what great shape he was in (less the ugly legs) and that in her opinion he was more than ready for 2 x 15 mile rides, and may already be in better shape than a lot of the horses that do far more in distance and speed.  I kind of shrugged it off because we haven’t been working on him long enough to think hes superhero fit, but our ride last night proved me wrong and her right. 

After our gallops and walks and happy canters, I was so pleased with his behaviour that I let him pick what gait he wanted to do.  I said “Bentley, at 8:15 we are cooling out, what do you want to do?”  And he led me through a beautiful series of trots and canters for about 4 miles straight.  I don’t think he wanted to stop at 8:15 either, he was ready to keep going between the 2 gaits, but we still had lots to do that night and the ever-suffering Lee was getting bored of watching us from his camping chair.

Still unsure what his heartrates are, we need to get a monitor for him, but I think we will be aiming for the faster speeds and a grade 1 on our set speeds next month with this kind of energy!

Here is the GPS of our ride (i must have hit the stop button and missed at least 1 mile however) including our cool out – which put us at over 7mph.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/196333729

So what I learned last night (which I have learned several times over now but still manage to forget) is that I just have to trust him and let him do his thing.  If I let him do the things that I think are crazy but he’s begging to do, hes actually more sane than trying to hold him back.  What a great guy!  I can’t wait to see what he wants to try next!

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