What a surprising and wonderful experience it’s been for me to walk through this process with Kastani. I am completely smitten with him. It feels amazing to have our relationship back on solid footing. I look forward to breaking things down one more time to redefine and refine my next steps!
This morning I was running a lot of anxiety for some reason. I felt quite tired, which is somewhat unusual after my day off. I even went to the mountains and soaked in hot springs. Possibly just a bit over done with everything that’s been going on in my world. It certainly didn’t feel like the ideal time to be working with Kastani but it also felt absolutely perfect since being with him is balm for my soul.
I gathered all my equipment, including, at long last, a muck tub to use as a mounting block!
Kastani has a knack for being the farthest away when he’s out on pasture. I have not tried to get him to come when called and besides, it’s nice for me to walk out there and clear my head/settle my dust. Especially on a day like today. He is so good at reading me, of course. So he popped his head up, took one feel of me and went back to eating. Another - why are you even here moment.
I had to acknowledge he was right so I took some time to feel my feet on the ground and look around. Notice what a beautiful day it was! It was actually a bit cloudy and blissfully cool this morning! I talked to him and explained that I realized I was buzzing and that I was really tired. I asked him if he’d be willing to spend time with me anyway just because I felt like the thing that would be most supportive for me was sitting on his back and moving together.
I put my hands on Kastani and he positioned himself, once again, with his rump toward me. I decided to do a little work on his hamstrings before haltering him. I noticed a lot of tension - as usual - but also found lots of stringy, tight areas. I wonder, if in his years away from he, he had to have antibiotic injections because that’s what this kind of stringiness reminds me of. In the course of working in more detail on his hamstrings my hands drifted closer to his inner thighs where I was quite surprised to feel quite cold tissue as compared to anywhere else on his body. This is something I observe in geldings if there are issues with the gelding scar. I’ve never noticed this on Kastani and wonder if it’s something that is getting stirred up as we get more into working. This happens sometimes where nothing is noticeable around the gelding scare until a horse goes to work…
When I asked him if I could halter him he politely kept grazing so I stood back and turned on my music on my phone. He’s so funny. If I do that he seems to realize I’m serious and he pops his head up and marches off with me!
Karin and I ended up doing some tag team facial release of the area. Again, I am fascinated by how he’s started to direct and do things in response to body work unlike any horse I’ve ever worked with. Leave it to Kastani! When he indicated he’d had enough we left him to process and move around on his own a bit and then I continued to groom him, put his bridle on and do our in hand warm up.
Today he did really well with turns to the left and right (with me always on his left side which is helpful since my left shoulder is bothering me). We also worked on more balance control and I started to find more ways to influence him with my entire body. The halt transitions were much better and I think a good part of that was that I did my request for halt in a more fluid and connected way. Overall he felt much better balanced and I’m pleased with the changes I’m seeing in his body.
He took a moment to consider but then walked over to the muck tub with me standing on it, at liberty. He positioned himself too far forward for me to mount and after picking up the reins to see if he’d step back, realized he was asking for more bodywork. I used the height to my advantage and did some deep work on the left glutes. When I was done with that he moved off so I waited a bit to see if he’d reposition. good opportunity to practice squatting on an unstable surface. Then I did a modified plank on the tub and stretched out my shoulders. Great way to keep myself busy so as not to rush Kastani.
He seemed in a good place so I repositioned the muck tub. It’s MUCH easier to hop on when the surface is solid! :-)
Today Kastani was far more responsive to my small changes of position. We got a lot more free walking in with fewer and fewer bumps into the bit. I like the way he’s feeling. He does struggle to feel my through turns - moreso to the left, which makes sense, but also a bit to the right. There was one brilliant moment when I felt the beginnings of enough energy and impulsion to start working on a trot transition!