I have a cold so I haven’t been able to ride much this last week. I was going to read so I got Ajax (my sister’s German Shepard that is staying with us for a bit) to put him on the treadmill while I sat next to him and read from my Kindle (I love that Kindle). Ajax moves differently that any other dog I’ve seen: his hips don’t swing back and forth when he walks; instead, is pelvis tucks under a bit. I noticed this, of course, because of all the Optimal Balance work we’ve done with Kirsten. I’m convinced this is because my sister takes Cesar Millan’s advice and uses a treadmill for the dog.
Ajax just walks faster whenever I increase the speed on the treadmill — he doesn’t break into a trot; although he does so when outside. I also noticed that he wasn’t walking quite straight. Using the language of the Optimal Balance model: his box was shifted to the right of his ball, and his triangle was shifted over to the left. I realized that by sitting next to him, I drew his attention — and so his balance — over to me.
I started thinking how I might influence his box and triangle. I ended up using a leash to pull his triangle away from the side I was standing on, bringing him up against the edge of the treadmill, and I used the proximity to the edge to straighten out his box. He started walking straight, but was “heavy in my hand”, meaning he was leaning against the pull of the leash. I decided to let him “sit in my hand” (lean on the leash), temporarily supporting his balance. The treadmill speed was set where he should have been trotting, so it must have been awkward to stay at a walk, particularly an unbalanced one.
After about just 5 seconds he became “light in my hand” (stopped leaning into the leash) and broke into a comfortable trot. I let go and he stayed in the trot, carrying himself straight and balanced.
It got me wondering about the generality of the fundamental principles behind Kirsten’s Optimal Balance. Dogs and horses are both quadrupeds, but their skeleton and musculature must be very different. Certainly their size is vastly different.
Well, something to think on while I spend the day trippin’ on cough medicine.