He is a jumbled mess of contradictions that I have yet to make sense of.
You often hear of horses who are one sided, and Trax is no different. The problem is that he is one sided for somethings yet the opposite for others. Which leads me too believe that when he gets "stuck" it isn't physical at all, but mental.
But with that being said, as I contemplate more and more about that, I realize that I have to put this under a microscope and dissect it to see if that is really the case. Meaning, that different maneuvers require muscle tone in different areas, and the places where he gets stuck just might be related to the way he is built physically. So let me see if I can remember them all and list them out.
Lateral flex at a stand still: He weighs nothing to the left but has trouble with the right. Not as bad as he used to be, but there is an obvious difference.
Flexing at the poll when standing still: Pretty soft although still wants to push into the bit as the first resort and then goes to dropping his head. We go through this exercise every time we ride and continue it until he chooses to get soft first, but each time is just like it was the day before. We have to search for it.
Flexing at the poll when moving forward: About the same as standing still although by the end of the ride his is usually much much better.
Flexing at the right jaw when moving forward: Okay this is where things get weird. To the right when moving forward he gives pretty nicely, which doesn't make sense since at a stand still he is heavier on this side. So I am wondering if what I am seeing is him actually giving his face or just arching the whole body.
Flexing at the left jaw when moving forward: This has always been stiff and awkward for him...until yesterday. I will elaborate on that more later.
Side passing from left to right: We are lucky to get it done
Side passing from right to left: Smooth like butter, with very little pressure at all. In fact he does this so well he will often go from left to right even when I am asking for right to left. And yes I am making sure that I open my opposite leg to give him room to move, but he still just moves into the pressure.
Roll back from right to left: Makes it 3 steps and falls out
Roll back from left to right: Can do a full circle without too much trouble.
Lead change from left to right: All I have to do is sit down in my seat, let him break his lope for one stride, cue with my leg, and he does the change almost on his own.
Lead change from right to left: We struggle just a little bit more. He will still do it, but often I have to break down his lope for a couple of steps. (this doesn't make sense to me since when I got him he was a completely left lead horse)
Loping in a circle to the left: He generally stays pretty calm and will rate.
Loping a circle to the right: Is when he wants to get chargey.
I'm sure there is stuff I am forgetting, but those are the things I have noticed so far.
So fast forward to yesterdays ride; we went to the desert and started by just long trotting and "checking fence". It wasn't our fence to check but since we were out there and I really wanted to see how much room we have to ride in, I rode one fence line for a while. Of course there are always trees and bushes around and I used those "obstacles" for our serpentines.
I did find the gates that will allow me into other sections, and they all have signs that say, "Please Close Gate" Which to me means, go on through just don't let our cows out."
We found open areas where we did some loping in circles, some lead changes, and just different stuff. Anytime I felt him wanting to get chargey we did a lot of "Lope n Stops" and that would usually take care of that.
We went through the water, we did some spins, we just did anything I could think of. We stopped for a minute at a stock tank but he didn't want to drink, however when we got to the big "pond" he went right in and got a nice long drink.
We found stuff.
And then we headed back. Of course being who he is, the minute we headed home he though that work time was over....he was wrong.
When we got to the gate which takes me back to the neighborhood, I asked him to side pass in each direction before I got off. He WOULD NOT side pass from right to left.
So I took him back out to the desert and we loped a couple circles, did some lead changes, and then stayed there until he would side pass either direction. Then we made a beeline for the gate....well sort of.
It was more like ten steps forward, side pass to the right five steps, side pass to the left five steps, ten steps forward, side pass left, side pass right...etc, etc, etc. And we did this all the way to the gate. By time we were done, he was sooooo soft in the left jaw (just like when he is standing still) and his side pass from left to right was the most gorgeous thing I have sever seen him do. He was soft in both the jaw and the poll and crossed over correctly. (remember this used to be his hard side) But now he struggles going right to left.
I keep trying to determine if it is something I am doing. Am I holding the reins different? Am I using my legs different? I just don't know. But it makes sense for him to be softer on the left side for this, since he is softer standing still. But this just happened yesterday. So it really doesn't make sense to me at all.
So anyway, we got to the gate and he gave me two very nice side passes, and I got off and let him rest.
Then we headed home and he was so nice an relaxed, and I was enjoying just being up there.....and then the donkey came to the fence and my horse lost his ever loving mind again!
But just for a second and I got him moved away and standing still enough for me to get off of him and take him to the fence where the donkey lived. Unfortunately the donkey was a ghost, because for some reason I couldn't find him. He literally disappeared. However a little mini came to the fence and he and Trax sniffed noses, which was almost as good, since he doesn't like mini's either.
After that he was a little spooky just knowing that "Ghost Donkey" was going to sneak up behind him. We spooked at goats, and dogs, and so I went back to side passing him back and forth, and that took his mind off of scary things.
I used my pedometer to track our ride, it was 13.85 miles, and 3.45 hours. You can see the parts where we were training...they are the squiggly parts.
It seems I have developed and allergy to sun, or perhaps a sensitivity. I am broke out in hives now, not just where the sun was on me, but all over my legs. I googled it, and learned that taking an antihistamine before sun exposure will help with it.
*disclaimer- anyone who knows me and knows how much trouble I have with left and right, will appreciate how difficult it was to keep this all straight in my mind as I wrote it down.