Topline

Guys!  I finally believe that it's not a figment of my imagination!  We have real, actual, honest-to-goodness topline development!  Look!

TOPLINE!


Novmeber 2011 comparison photo.  Sorry about the not-helpful angle.

April 2012 closeup.  Real muscles!
As someone who's never observed topline development before, I thought "That has to be swelling on either side of his withers," the first time I really saw it.  Of course, my rational side of my brain (and my hands) soon corrected my irrational brain, though I could still hardly believe it.  A real topline!  On my pony!  Something must be going right.

Something CERTAINLY went right today.  We had the best flat lesson ever.  Through an exercise that my trainer designed to loosen up his tight neck and shoulders, we took connection to the next level.  By that, I mean he was steadier in the bridle than he's ever been, he was quiet(ish) but forward despite kids riding bikes and screaming next to the arena, and he was actually mouthing and chewing the bit, which has been a goal since I got him.

For the exercise, she had me carry my hands very, VERY wide (which accentuated my habit of using my hands/wrists instead of my elbows...I got chastised a lot) and bend him dramatically to one side while pushing the shoulder forward - almost carrying his shoulder outside of his hindquarter, but going forward instead of sideways.  If that sounded vague, it's because I'm still puzzling it out myself, but it WORKED.  She had me do it at the trot until I got the aforementioned best connection I've ever felt, and then we threw some canter transitions in there.


I don't know if he's more confident in the canter after jumping, if he's got the muscle so that the transition isn't as scary for him, or if he's just a better horse than he was before, but we got some damn beautiful canter transitions today.  There was no fuss, no freakout, just pure and smooth transitions.  He cross-cantered once, but otherwise picked it up correctly every time I asked, and gave me a 20m circle afterward.

The development of the equine athlete is fascinating.

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