It’s Time for Boot Camp

It’s been an interesting month or two for Jag and me.    A couple months ago, he became very sore in his back.  It turns out that two factors were at work in creating his discomfort.  The first was a recurrence of kissing spines, which we were able to successfully treat, thanks to our wonderful vet, Dr. Nicky Wessel.  The second complication was poor saddle fit.   Now, this was actually good news, as we’ve been working really hard to build Jag’s condition and his top line.   Doing so will help prevent the aforementioned kissing spines, and is obviously conducive to better performance and a happier, more comfortable horse.  So a new saddle to fit his more muscular back was quickly procured.

However, getting back on track has been more difficult than I originally anticipated.   You see, the back soreness described above evidenced itself first in Jag’s under saddle behavior.  He started showing signs of resistance, and because we’ve dealt with this previously, I didn’t push it.  At the first sign of resistant behavior, I called the vet.   However, unbeknownst to us, the saddle was also causing him discomfort.  It appeared to fit well, but the horse remained unhappy, pinning his ears when I tacked him up and continuing to be resistant.  We figured things out pretty quickly, however, when we put Christy’s saddle on him – and he immediately relaxed.

During this period of treatment, trial and error, something else was happening.  I was riding Jag very gingerly, not asking very much of him.  And when he showed discomfort, we stopped the ride.  While both Christy and I agree that we did the right thing in listening to the horse – because he did have legitimate problems – we also created a new set of problems by rewarding negative behavior.    The horse is feeling good, looking good and is moving well.  There are officially no excuses for being a stinker under saddle.

So, to un-do what has been done and get us back on track, I had Christy do a week of full training with Jag last week.  She had her hands full – he was being pretty naughty early in the week.  By the end of the week, however, he was an entirely different horse.  The half-halt had been reinstalled, and Jag discovered miraculously that he could in fact move his hindquarters in each direction, re-learning leg yields.  Christy also worked on bending and flexion, and the horse is now much more supple.

This week, it’s my turn.  I’m taking the week off, and am having a lesson (or two!) each day.  Yep, I’m going to boot camp.   I’ll let you know how it goes!

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