I had a few more days of hand walking but finally, after two weeks of hand walking on hard ground, his leg finally felt good. I spent the last couple of hand walk days agonizing over if it was better or not. I had to check against his other leg to make sure.
I’d been worrying about it and trying to push it for a bit as I had paid for April training. I wanted to get that training. Especially since it was sunny now! But I also didn’t want to push Ezio into making things worse. We’d already waited a week and a half by the time I brought it up to my trainer again. Waiting a bit longer to make sure seemed a better idea than possibly extending for longer. She agreed and we just put the training on hold. We’d figure out what to do with the training payment/remaining time for April.
Once his leg looked good, I decided to lunge him in the arena and then check how it looked after being on soft ground before making the decision to ride. He definitely had reached the end of his patience for hand walking. Overall, I’d been so impressed with his ability to hold himself together for our hand walking. He’s improved a lot in that area recently. He had some serious wiggles and feelings while lunging. I was trying to not let him go too wild as that wouldn’t help anything if he made himself lame the next day.
The next day, Friday the 14th, his leg was still nice and tight so I gave him a serious lunge. He truly needed to get some energy out. We had a lot of trotting, some canter and he even got to roll a little bit. I figured that since he behaved himself fairly well on the lunge, we were good to go. I should have just lunged him again the next day but hindsight.
On Saturday, I was so excited to get on. It was the first day in quite a while. His leg still felt good and he was pretty dang good for grooming. Picking his right front is almost always a battle so that’s the only place we still need more improvement. When I got out to the arena, he needed more groundwork than I normally do before getting on as he was very distracted by other horses outside the arena. Once he settled, I got on and rode.
He needed a bunch of small circles for the first minute or two to get him to breathe but we got through it and started doing some decent walk work in a figure 8. We had even paused for a halt break. Then, while walking, he suddenly exploded.
He pulled his head down and bucked a few times. I got it up but when I went to turn him in a small circle, we just spun in circles far away from where we were. We were in one corner of the arena by the gate and spun all the way to the far opposite corner, which is normally quite spooky. He felt like he was on the edge of rearing the whole time. I was trying to get him to step in small circles because foot movement = brain connection but he was just gone. 100% gone. It was quite unnerving. There was a moment where I considered if an emergency dismount would have been the smarter solution. He was just that gone.
It was very different from his normal freak out options. I didn’t feel like I could use my whip to encourage any forward movement without setting him off and I don’t wear spurs. But he doesn’t mind thumping on the side so I continued to push and push to get him to take steps forward and into the circle. It probably didn’t take as long as it felt but we eventually got to a place where he was moving again. The freak out probably happened around ~7 minutes into my ride. It took the rest of my 30 minute ride to even get him to go around in his normal figure 8s in a semi-relaxed manner. Definitely a shit back to riding ride.
Sunday was our one year anniversary so I really wanted to ride. But I also didn’t want to have the same ride as the day before. So I free lunged him a TON. He definitely got his butt run off. I got on him and was very clear that we needed to relax and walk in a decent manner. It took him a bit but we eventually got it. I ended with a nice trot circle and called it a day.
Definitely happy to be on the horse again but man did he have to make a statement with our return rides.