The claustrophobia problem has been solved. All I needed was for it to stop raining!
The past three rides have been exercises in forward motion. Final Call, with all the blood of three centuries of moving forward as quickly as possible, has been begging for more room. I don’t have a mile loop for him to stretch out in – I don’t have a quarter mile loop for him to stretch out in! – but I can finally offer him more than a twenty-meter circle. What bliss, he says, flinging out his hooves in an extended trot. What bliss, he says, slipping effortlessly from canter to hand-gallop. What bliss, forward motion!
The opposite of forward is, of course, straight up (the physics of the Thoroughbred are unique) and his tightness was affecting everything from upward transitions to his ability to maintain a canter. He was working so hard off of his hind end – an interesting problem to have in a young horse – that he was tiring quickly. It’s nice to have a horse willing to engage the hindquarters, don’t get me wrong! But when he’s working so hard that his stifle starts to drop out from under him after twenty minutes – really, my dear, stretch out a little! It’s okay to be green!
But the addition of just a little extra room was just the ticket. The trot today was forward and masterful – the sort of big glowing trot I’d look for in the cross-country warm-up. The canter transitions were quick and correct, and it was easy to nudge him into a nice gallop – something I couldn’t resist! I was already looking for trouble, having spent the coffee hour watching the hurdlers at Aintree. Talk about forward motion! I’m half-surprised this blog post wasn’t entitled “We Jump Every Fence On the Farm At Full Gallop.” Luckily my occasional good sense made an appearance. Because I think he may have done it for me had I asked nicely, and provided cookies. As it was, we contented ourselves with cantering over a jump pole on the ground. And that was pretty fun, too.