Following our good start to the 2015 show year at Bascule, December sort of turned into a giant void.  I mean, part of it is my fault, because I went to Florida and sat on a beach for a week.  But after getting a massage while there, I think my shoulder is feeling better than it has since I got hurt, so there is that.  The immense amount of time in the hot tub was probably good for it too.  Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Then of course there was working some overtime, and the holiday, and some family circumstances with WBBF’s folks, so we ended up taking two solid weeks off.  I did manage to get out and groom her and give her some Pentosan in that time, so at least she’s looking and feeling good.

But oh, gracious, is she not thrilled about going back to work.  At least she wasn’t on Christmas Eve.  I’m not sure when she’s been so spooky lately; at the poles in the corner of the ring, at the mounting block, at the gate at the far end of the ring, at a shadow on the footing, at pretty much absolutely nothing.  Since that was pretty much preventing us from doing anything productive (like walking), I decided it was time for a different tool, and went back to the barn and got the draw reins out of my locker.  I’m not a huge fan of gadgets, but they do have a time and place.  And boy howdy, did they, when used as an “emergency don’t be stupid break.”  I didn’t even really use them, just had them on, loose enough that they were doing nothing as long as her head was in a neutral position or better, and she hit them exactly once, and went “Oh, no, no, that was just me stretching over here, let’s get back to work like serious rock stars” gave me about 10 minutes of practically perfect.

Since they seemed to preempt the problem, today I went straight to them today, figuring that it was better to have them and not need them, rather than vice-versa.  So we started off with some nice walk work, with one attempted spook, then she thought better of it when she hit the draw reins, and went right back to focusing on what I was asking.  We did a lot of walk warmup, quiet, relaxed, some leg-yield and shoulder in, and no spooking.  Then some nice forward, happy trot work, and even a little bit of canter, and while the transition was a little questionable, the canter was quiet.  After that, she got lots of pats, and we went for a walk down the driveway, as the sun had some out.  I think the draw reins got their most use of the day in averting her traditional “spook at trashcans” maneuver.  As we got back up to the barn, we ran into a barnmate handgrazing a horse recovering from colic surgery, and were asked if we’d mind accompanying them on another driveway lap; I said of course, and enjoyed getting to spend a little more time outside in the sunshine.

I think tomorrow we will graduate to riding in a standing martingale, putting the draw reins back into the recesses of my tack locker from whence they emerge perhaps half a dozen times a year, and if the weather is good and the footing cooperates, try to get out and do some hillwork.  I think after that, we may be good to go gadget free again, and look forward to doing a lesson with Kelley on Friday, then start our month of part-training with Barbara next week.  We’re really going to start 2015 off right, and get ourselves where we need to be for the real show season to gear up!