We All Need Somebody To Lean On

Today I got to hang out with Rachel.


First of all, it was SO good to see her after months of withdrawal; we had WAY too much to catch up on and probably could have spent another four or five hours talking ourselves hoarse.

Secondly, it reminded me how much of a social experience riding is for me, and of the importance of having a friend or two to keep you on track, reassure you, encourage you, and journey with you through the process of training and improving your pony and yourself. There is just nothing like having another kindred spirit to talk horses with!

It was incredibly encouraging and refreshing to hear Rachel tell me over and over again that Dino looks great, that his muscling has actually improved and it's not just my imagination, his feet look fabulous, and that I've done a really good job bringing him back from all of his medical issues, tying-up episodes, and all the other things he's kept me entertained with. She was also a total peach and took a bunch of riding pictures for me, which is SO wonderful because photos are such an important tool for me to track our progress with since I ride alone.

And while my equitation still leaves quite a lot to be desired, the improvement that Dino has made over the last year is astonishing to me; despite having TWO different conditions that cause muscle loss, by God's grace (and the knowledge of my incredible vet!) he has gained muscle and strength and is starting to look like the awesome little sport pony he is!

Let's look at some before-and-afters. I LOVE before-and-afters!

We've gone from this, in April 2011, which was not really a BAD trot per se, but you can see he looks a bit tight in the neck, his expression is tense, and there's just not the overall feeling of forward movement and connection going in this picture...
 To this...
 And this...
 And finally this, all taken during today's ride, December 2011:
In all of today's photos I noticed immediately Dino's HAPPY expression, the engagement in his hind end, the supple flexion in his neck, his abs and topline working overtime, the appearance of connection and forward motion, and the way he's reaching softly into the bridle. He felt absolutely great, too! But it was really wonderful to be able to see what I feel in the pictures, and to have Rachel's eyes on the ground confirming my thoughts.

So thanks, Rachel, for being an awesome friend, for encouraging me, for taking great photos, for being there to bounce ideas off of, and for being one of Dino's favorite people. We love ya!


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