Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lessons in Shimming

Visited Sherri today out at her place, today. We took the girls (Cerra, 6 yr old QH cross mare, and Cheyenne, 4 yr old QH mare) out for a little spin, which was fun. The really interesting thing about playing with those two is that they're such polar opposites of eachother. Cerra's a deeply layered RBI mare, prone to spooking, bolting, and sudden panic attacks. Cheyenne is a happy-go-lucky (sometimes a bit TOO happy) LBE mare, who enjoys putting anything and everything in her mouth, and also takes pride and joy in eating so persistantly on rides that you'd like to rip your hair out.

Anyway, so Sherri started on Chy, I started on Cerra. Cheyenne was tacked up in a Circle Y Park and Trail saddle with Parelli Theraflex Pad, and had a Parelli halter and reins. Cerra was decked out in my Fluidity saddle (She really needs that Super Wide gullet!!) theraflex pad, and bridle with confidence snaffle and finesse reins. We rode out to the big field (66 acre alfalfa) and just played around for a bit. Cerra and I did some Canter/Halt transitions, which she's sickeningly good at.

Sherri and Cheyenne were butting heads a bit, however. Chy has this lovely tendency to sull up and get LBI food oriented when we come anywhere NEAR a field with edible foliage. And Sherri, of course, does not want to spend all afternoon waiting for the fatty to fill up so they can move on. So it ended up that I got on and did some "WIPE THAT LOOK OFF YOUR FACE!" from her back, but as I was doing this, I began kind of observing some patterns.

*Chy's attitude usually comes with upward transitions that require more topline, and with backing up.

*Her neck gets bracy, her head goes up before anything else

*Gaits seem rushed

All these things point to a shimming problem in my mind. Chy's having problems rounding/using her topline, and when she goes to put her head down (she's a pleasure bred QH) she would get snotty, like something was poking her (like a poorly shimmed/placed saddle)

So, we rode back to Sherri's, pulled out her marking stick (Sorry Sherri, I know that's just one more thing for L and D to give you crap about!) my extra sets of shims, and we untacked. I gave a full shim demo, all the way from marking Chy's scapula at rest and in motion, to explaining where the saddle needed to be placed, to how Chy needed to be shimmed. (Looking like 2 or 3 thick in the shoulder, and a wedge) That all went well, and the moment of truth came when Sherri hopped on. First thing she said I think was "Oh wow, I feel so much...farther back?"

She and Chy walked, trotted, and cantered around, and I can say from an observer's perspective that Cheyenne looked MUCH more comfortable, and the look on her face was that of mild interest, not complete and total resent (cranky). She stretched her neck down and blew several times, a good indication: Topline is coming up, ribcage is expanding, and therefore the horse wants to stretch and breath. So overall, I'm pleased to see this, and we'll see what we can do to keep it going next week!

Afterward, they gave me a little liberty demo, which was a pleasent surprise. They looked LOVELY, Chy's LBE enthusiasm is really really fun to play with, and Sherri's done a great job in developing it.

I really appreciated Sherri's comment in jest at the end of the session "Wow, that was the best $10 I've spent in a long time!" Glad you got your money's worth, Sherri :)

another cute circling one

A photo of Chy and Sherri, taken in April 2007. Kinda fun, look how far you guys have come!!

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