Flashback Friday: Trot Evolution
|I'm all about that |
|First week of retraining.|
Early October 2017
|1 month into retraining|
He was starting to elevate his steps already. Unfortunately he was also developing a hell of a bolting problem, which made me defensive and him a ball of nervous energy. Good moments were good, bad moments were common.
Early November 2017
|Lovely balanced working trot.|
|Developing push from behind.|
|Beginning to learn "stretch".|
Two months into retraining, and I was in love with Bast's good moments. He was starting to figure out how to accept my leg (when not bolting from it) and figuring out contact enough to start to stretch. His mouth was still open a lot, but he seemed content to work on pushing into a bit a little. Because of these things, I was able to start working on the concept of loading his hind legs more and asking him to push. He was still very wiggly, and lacked basic control of his parts.
|5 months into retraining.|
Behind the bit.
|Behind the leg.|
By February we were still struggling with Bast's issues. He swung violently from one extreme to the other. For example, during this ride he bolted and sliding stopped into a fence. He also put in super work in the ring. Volatile was the name of the game, and training was falling by the wayside.
With all this difficulty, Bast's outlines veered between either behind the bit or behind the leg. Thankfully he is rarely both (I'm looking at you, Pig!). As long as he wasn't trying to actively kill me, I was kinda fine with both.
|6 months into retraining.|
God he was so good on this day.
|On the bit, losing the hind leg and back.|
The above photos were taken the same day Bast sprang a splint on the outside of his front right. This injury was more devastating because his attitude had seemed to settle in the previous few weeks. He was so good, and was learning to push into the bridle. I had stopped being a bit afraid of him, and things were progressing. He wanted to be behind the vertical, but was still pushing from behind very well and not completely escaping the bit. Behind the vertical felt like a young-horse appropriate strength issue. When he would come "on the bit" he tended to drop his back and lose the power behind. All of this is normal and just takes time and work to develop. I was so ready to tackle it, but he required time off for the injury.
Early April 2018
|7 months into retraining.|
A few days later he t-rex'd right through a pasture fence and everything came screeching to a halt. Ugh.
Late May 2018
|8 months into retraining|
Pushed beyond his natural pace, but engaged!
|Ugh. Rooting. Still in front of his balance.|
I made the mistake of allowing him to motor along at an overly fast tempo, for the sake of engagement. While it helped me establish contact with the bit, it did not help him develop balance or confidence in bend. Oops. He often lost his balance forward, due to being pushed past his gait. This resulted in a lot of rooting and pulling. For a horse with a short neck, this is a big no-no.
|11 months in retraining.|
Tempo too fast. Braced in neck.
|Overbent. On forehand. Starting to lose right shoulder.|
|Some magical combination of nearly all the above faults in one photo. At least he's not overbent?|
August was the month Bast really started getting put to work again. I was once again introducing him to the idea of "being in a box," like I had been in April. Only now I was using a slightly different tactic, and not worried about his bolting into the next county. As a result we were actually going somewhere.
Bast is clever and short in the neck, so he quickly figured out he could use his neck and shoulder to weasel his way out of the box. When pushed more forward than he should be going, Bast was easier to ride straight. But again, this was not helping his confidence. Slowing things down made him less likely to feel out of balance. The road toward straightness was starting to feel very long indeed. He bulged and wavered at every chance.
|1 year in retraining|
|1 year + 1 month in retraining.|
Straightness and engagement. Behind the vertical.
|More in front of vertical, but shoulder completely lost and tempo too fast. Also, why am I pulling on that inside rein? Ugh.|
His mouth started to become a lot quieter.
|Oh. Hell. Yes. Er, I mean... 1 year + 2 months into retraining.|
|Forward. Balanced. Straight. In the contact. Over the back.|
(Also tense in topline, a bit in front of his balance/downhill, and thinking about bulging through his left shoulder.)
The change to the new saddle later in the month made his trot even better. In fact, he's become so much more confident now that my position isn't so tense and grabby. His topline tension has dropped considerably, and he now steps nicely into the canter about 80% of the time! We've been playing with bits of collection and shoulder-in, too. I can't wait to see what the next year of training does to the trot!