I had my first riding lesson in French! It worked out ok... I learned a few new phrases and promptly forgot most of them, but I'm sure some of them will eventually sink in and lodge in my brain.
I did my usual cautious thing of leading Aero around once in each direction, but he was very calm and placid - tired after all his trekking over the weekend, I'd say. I mounted and then we stood for a while, as I went over the things we are struggling with with Alexandrine. It was interesting, that at the end of the lesson she remarked that he was tense as soon as I sat on him, but as we stood there and talked, he relaxed more and more... a point to remember, perhaps.
Before we got moving, we practised flexion to each side, with Alexandrine reminding me to release the rein when I get a response. Once we started walking around the arena, I continued flexing him, to the inside down the long side as we went straight, and then turning a 10M circle at the corner. The next step was to turn a 10M circle using just the outside leg to move the shoulders, and use rein only if I needed to. All of this went well, and we progressed to leg yielding, so Alexandrine could see the issues I was having.
The first issue was that Aero's rider was a bit thick - I made a stupid approach to the long side which started us off crooked before we ever tried to go sideways. Once she corrected my approach, we did a sort of jerky, stop/start leg yield from the quarter line outwards. To improve things, we started leg-yielding along the fence-line, with a stop half-way along and a reward if he gave a couple of good steps. We also started throwing in a bit of trot work from time to time, just to keep Aero thinking "forwards." The fence-line leg yielding got quite good, and we finished up with a lovely, stretchy, over-the-back trot - best I've felt from him yet! I think that the leg-yielding (when properly performed!) had loosened up his hocks & hips, resulting in the much freer movement.
Points I have to remember : RELEASE when I get a response. Can I please have it engraved on my corneas so I can see it all the time? No?
Tuesday & Wednesday
Aero had a day off on Tuesday, while I rode Flurry to Reillanne and back, then on Wednesday we had our big, long, exciting picnic ride to the river - but there's no point in rehashing that!
I gave Aero another day off (he deserved it) and rode Flurry in the arena, trying out the Micklem bridle in its "Bitless" configuration for the first time. I think the Bitless progression will merit a post of its own, so more on that later.
This was the day the Osteopath was coming to see Aero. I rode Flurry part of the way down to Reillanne with MC, she was taking Quieto home for a couple of days. I did a nice loop, going down one way and back another - it took a little over an hour and was very pleasant. Flurry was in lazy mode.
The Osteopath duly arrived. She was young, petite and slim - she reminded me of the YD a bit - and she was accompanied by two cute and well-behaved Jack Russell terriers! They busied themselves checking everything out while she and checked Aero over. Sure enough, he had some stuff going on. Now I'm feeling guilty I didn't get her out sooner.
His sacrum was tilted, up on the left and down on the right, we are assuming this was caused by leaning against the ramp of the truck for hours and hours while travelling from Ireland to France. This crookedness in his sacrum was causing him to over-push with the left hind, and compensate for this by throwing out his right shoulder, which manifested itself as the reluctance to bend right that I could feel. Everything else she found was linked to the sacral issue. There were three lumbar vertebrae out of line - this was the warm and slightly tender spot I could feel behind the saddle. His withers was also "stuck," three cervical vertebrae were out of line and he had a lot of tension around his poll, which was caused by the other misalignments.
He has to have two days off, followed by a gentle lunge (that might turn out to be a walk in hand!) followed by a day when he's only ridden in walk and trot, on the arena or out on the trail. After that, it's back to normal work, but I am to let her know how he's getting on and he may need another visit.
Poor Aero! I hope this treatment makes him feel better and better!