Slow And Steady Wins The Race

I'm having warm-up problems.

While Dino has been performing some absolutely phenomenal flatwork lately, his warm-ups have been a total horror. I find myself in a daily battle just to get him to trot around and loosen up, booting him like a barrel racer to get past the "I don't wanna" phase. Once I manage to get him up into a canter and hand-gallop around the ring a few times he's great: forward, compliant, loose and swinging. The other day I had him doing shoulder-in at the canter and steps of baby half-pass at the walk, not to mention a stellar lengthened trot that felt like his hind legs had relocated somewhere near his stomach. But getting him to that point is a complete war.

And of course Dino makes it ten times more difficult than a normal horse to decide how to handle it. The fact that he has a muscle condition that causes tightness and pain on occasion AND a serious pony'tude makes it near impossible for me to figure out what the root of the issue is, his physical problems or his pain-in-the-butt attitude.

That said, I've found that in my experience, caring for and training horses is an invitation to experimentation.

So we tried stuff.

My first thought was that this was mostly a behavioral issue, because Dino has been a total rockstar for Michael, and a complete and utter punk every time I get on. So, spurs and dressage whip in hand, I made that pony march on out from the very second I mounted up.

This technique was not met with a very favorable reaction. At all.

I then moved on to the theory that this was Dino's PSSM flaring up for whatever reason, perhaps the fall grass has been a little more sugary than he's used to and it's making him tight. The DMG supplement does seem to be helping with lactic acid buildup as he's having no issues whatsoever during or after a workout, but perhaps Dino was staring out a little more sore than usual. After all, Michael tends to do a LOT more walking than I do, and maybe Dino just needed a more thorough, slow warm-up. So I tried lunging him briefly before getting on, and while it did help a bit, there was still some resistance until I got past the hand-gallop.

My final experiment, and I'm sure not the last, was to take my little dude for a nice hack down the road before doing any kind of work in the ring. Long reins, no agenda, just walking down the quiet street. I paid close attention to how his stride and back felt, and it took walking nearly all the way down the road for him to loosen up and start moving out. When we got back home and into the ring, while Dino was pretty pokey all around, there was no pinned-ear resistance or serious crankiness. I attributed some of the 'sticky' feeling to him being a bit stiff from having been vaccinated the day before, but overall his attitude and response were vastly improved!

So, for now, lots and lots of walking it is! This gives me a great opportunity to work on my own fitness by doing two-point with no stirrups the entire time. Yay?


  1. YAY! (and yay for supplements! Now if only they had one called "fix my broken navicular bone" for Digby!) I still love your Dino stories <3 they make me smile. So happy he ended up in a good home.


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