Tuesday, November 11, 2008

big strides and a bobcat

Yesterday's ride on Cody was quite good, once I got past the initial struggle with a pair of stirrup leathers that had to be put on his dressage saddle.

The moment I mounted though, things were good. He walked off with a HUGE stride, markedly different than his normal gait. Cody has had some tendencies to not use his hind end well, and we've always done exercises to work on that. Getting the shoes off was the first positive step, and then finding our current trimmer, who doesn't take much sole off those hind feet.

We have encouraged Cody to really stretch out and use his body, and to forget the small, mincing steps he learned in his Western Pleasure training. He's made tremendous progress but has always needed praise to "walk out." He seems to enjoy it but is also anxious that he's doing the wrong thing.

Anyway, yesterday, after not riding him myself for a month or so, I was struck by the movement of my seat when he walked out. It felt much more like riding Keil Bay, who has a huge stride, and it was relaxed and rhythmical from the first step.

I knew from watching my daughter ride that he's been looking quite nice this fall, but yesterday's ride went even further. After a long walk warm-up, we trotted, and the big relaxed stride carried through. He did well at the transitions, and I could feel in every single stride his back moving up and through.

He's on day 5 of his supplement to deal with the kidney stone, and I'm wondering if that is being dissolved and his hind end comfort is rapidly improving. In any case, I'm thrilled with his progress.

Later in the evening, while getting everyone set up for the night, the Corgis started barking like mad and in response there was, right at the woods' edge by the back yard, an odd shrieking bark-like sound that was so loud and intense I marched over to see what it was.

I actually thought at first it was my daughter playing with the Corgis, pretending to bark at them, but then I saw her walk by the glass doors inside the house, and realized then it was an animal.

My husband came out and went looking with a flashlight. Dickens came marching out of the woods, totally calm and not at all scared, and in a few moments there was a bounding crunch of leaves as something ran along the fenceline. Shortly after that a small herd of deer bounded by.

We never laid eyes on the shrieking creature, but I'm almost certain it was a bobcat. I've been finding bobcat scat and I guess last night the bobcat had a confrontation with Dickens.

Bobcats are solitary and symbolize secrets and silence and the power of the life force. They also represent clairaudience and the ability to know what isn't being said.

My first response was: "I want it relocated."

Which today makes me laugh, because wouldn't that be convenient - being able to relocate the "messages" that make us uneasy!


the7msn said...

That Dickens is one tough hombre. So glad he came out on the winning end of this encounter. He was probably thinking Rafer and Redford had his back if he needed it.

billie said...

Linda, there didn't appear to be any physical contact, but for Dickens to stand there while that shrieking noise was being directed at him did take some courage! It was LOUD.

Of course, he is used to pinning his sister Muffine Eloise, who screams like a banshee, so maybe this wasn't that much different to him.

The donkeys actually shoved through a 6-inch crack in the barn doors to come out there during the melee, so they did indeed have his back!

jme said...

wow, that sounds scary and exciting at the same time! glad everyone emerged unscathed. a local hunter just told me that we've got two big mountain lions and a 400lb black bear in the neighborhood in addition to the usual coyotes. in the past my aussie has come out of the woods with her ears cut up and bloody, carrying a joint of fresh venison she has no doubt fought over, so i'm a bit worried she might try to take on one of these bigger critters and get herself into trouble... at 16, she's not as quick as she used to be!

as for relaxation and stretching, it can't be easy for an ex-western pleasure horse to feel ok opening his stride, but it sounds like you're doing a great job with him and he is really coming into himself :-) i've also found with my big horse that praise works wonders to relax and encourage him. if we're trotting along and i pat his neck or rub his mane to reward him for something, he'll round himself, pop his crest back and forth and launch into such a huge springy trot i can barely keep my seat - i think it's his way of saying he's proud of himself :-)

billie said...

jme, love that image of the crest-popping pride! :)

Cody was, if you can believe it, trained in basic Western Pleasure at the age of TWO. We thought he was 3 going on 4 and even that was pushing it training-wise, imo, but we fell in love and bought him anyway.

Come to find out, when his papers arrived in the mail, he was only 2 years old. :/

He got ridden a couple times a week, flat work only, with total permission and encouragement to learn how to be in his body. This year we started baby jumps and have started asking for more contact and lightness in the bridle.

He's really coming into himself and it makes me smile when he opens up and really moves out. The canter he came with was basically a collected nightmare. The thing is, when he's out in the field you can see much bigger and more expressive movement, and he does gorgeous passage out there, fully rounded and beneath himself, so I know he has it in him.

We just had a local rider get the USDF gold medal on his 10-year old QH, so we have high hopes for Cody to put the past behind him. :)

He is looking quite fine over baby jumps too!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Wow, Dickens is a tough guy. I'm glad he didn't get hurt.
As for Cody, I think it's great that he is coming out of his little western steps and opening up. I'm sure once he gets used to the whole stretching it out process he will enjoy himself immensely and want to do it all the time like he does in the field. It all takes time I guess, but it's so good that he is relearning how to use himself correctly with your permission and encouragement.

billie said...

Thanks, Arlene. He is such a good, honest boy, with a real connection to his riders.

He gets a lot of attention for his floppy ears - he often carries them at "half mast" and I have yet to see him pin them (he's 5).

Isn't it Rocher who has those floppy ears? I figure Rocher, if that's who it is, is a great role model... :)

Cheryl said...

Hello there! I book tagged you for "Book Tag"! Here are the rules:(1)Grab the nearest book; (2)Open the book to page 56.(3)Find the fifth sentence.(4)Post the text of the next two to five sentences.(5)Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one.Pick the Closest.(6)Tag five people to do the same.
Come view my blog to see my post on this. ENJOY and have fun!

billie said...

Cheryl, thanks for the tag. Unfortunately, I can't do this one right now. I think I've declined the last few tags for the same reason: there are so many things going on here.

I sit down at the computer and whip out a quick blog post and that's about all I can manage. :)

I did take the time to look for the nearest book and it is my ms! Which is partly why I'm so busy. :)