It finally rained last night for the first time this spring, and so this morning was one of those magical times where my dad and I could literally see shoots of grass where there hadn't been any the night before and flowers starting to bloom where 12 hours ago there had only been stubborn and dormant buds. It was a lot like the scene in My Neighbor Totoro where they sprout their garden overnight into a mighty camphor tree, only better because it was real and happening all around us:
But I digress. The true purpose of this post is that I did some major spring beautification with Ringo yesterday, and took some conformation shots for comparison afterwards. Watching him transition from event horse to dressage horse over the past few years has been equally amazing in its own way to watching the spring bloom (but unlike the natural phenomenon, it did NOT happen overnight!!). It's been a long, slow, arduous process, but I finally feel like our hard work is paying off.
So, to review, here's Ringo in July 2010, a few days after he went on stall rest for the bowed tendon that ended his eventing career:
And here he is today:
As always with Ringo, the changes are subtle (fortunately, it's not like he was in awful body condition to start with!), but I think there's a lot to see.
1) Neck: Ringo is never going to be a big cresty warmblood, but his neck has subtly but definitively changed shape. In 2010 he had a pronounced underneck muscle and zero topline to speak of, making his neck look like it was put on upside down. Now that ewe neck vibe has been completely eliminated, and his neck looks significantly more substantial and filled out. Additionally, he has at least an inch of crest that he didn't have before.
2) Weight: Ringo was still a tucked-up event horse in 2010, and in the ensuing 3 years I've struggled really hard to get him to a rounder, more relaxed body shape. I'm really happy where he is right now: hardly fat, but significantly more filled out than he was before (check out the difference in the outline of his belly now and then)
3) Hindquarters: Ringo is not the most naturally uphill horse, and has a pretty high natural croup. In 2010, this problem as exacerbated by the fact that he didn't have a ton of muscle on his hindquarters; looking at that picture, it's no wonder that the collection in the canter has been such a long process for us!! Now his hind end, while hardly massive, is significantly more bulked up and rounded out. It's still a lot of work to shift the weight onto that somewhat raised back end, but we've at least got the muscle power to do it now.
4) Cosmetic: Dude. Check out his tail in 2010. Ratty like woah. I just banged it 15 minutes before the 2013 picture was taken, and must say that, for a skimpy little TB-esque tail, it's lookin' mighty fine.
It's just a waiting game at this point for Ringo's lovely black summer coat to come in (and hopefully not get too quickly bleached out again!); now that's he's all trimmed up, it's starting to feel real that we're going to a show in a week and a half!!