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Lesson number two happened with Bruce and it left a lot to be desired. Bruce was up the whole time, wanting to just break into a canter whenever I touched my leg to him. Normally he's quiet and lazy. Today there was nothing normal.

To Canter or Not to Canter

My trainer told me to just let him canter and get it out of his system. We picked up a canter which really felt like a hand-gallop. His stride is massive, and the arena felt small. Bruce carries himself well and is very comfortable but with his young horse body, sometimes it feels like guiding a drunk great white shark. 

When it came time to pick up the right lead now, Bruce had other ideas. We pick up the left lead instead and do a decent counter canter around the corner. I bring him back down to a trot and try again. Same result. I try a shoulder in to keep him from dropping his shoulder and no dice. Now Bruce is upset. This time he takes a hard left out of the arena. I turn him left and get him back in.

This time Sarah tells me not to let him turn to the left, no matter what. We get a pretty impressive side pass at the trot and then literally bounce off the pasture fence. I’m kicking, and steering right and we finally get back into the arena. Repeat this several times and I’m absolutely defeated. We decide to call it and Sarah tells me my homework is to get that right lead. 

Houston, We Have Uh-Oh

Two days later I put on my rough-out saddle and my determined face. The ride goes great as we practice everything from our last lesson. Then we go for that right lead. First try we pick it up. I’m triumphant. I’m ecstatic. I’m…no longer in the arena. There’s no whoa in Bruce’s go as we head down the hill straight for the truck and trailer. Go, go gadget pulley-rein. At the very last minute we do a one-eighty (thanks rough-out for saving my life). We try again with almost the same results.

Back in the arena I’m walking him out and my mom notices his stride seems a bit off. He’s coming up just a little short on the back right. We poke and prod and nothing seems painful; we agree to keep an eye on him. He looks normal in the pasture. 

I figured maybe he just isn’t strong enough on that side and we need to build muscle. To get a better look I decide to lunge him. To the left he was looking fantastic, really stretching under himself. To the right…yikes. He is coming up a little short again and that right hip drops out from under him occasionally. 

Good thing I have the chiropractor on speed dial. If there’s an issue, he’ll get to the bottom of it. We have an appointment next week. 

Megan Smith
Published on 2020-06-29