Thursday, September 10, 2020

Not very superficial to me

 You know what they about horses and best laid plans, right? 

Thurs pm, left front

Thurs PM, right front

I grabbed Mia on Thursday, walked through the entire 5 acre pasture, brushed her, got on, walked about 5 minutes and the instructor came in. A watched us walk around for about a lap and a half because I mentioned Mia's right front was clicking oddly. 

Thurs PM, outside of right front normal

We halted and chatted with A for about a minute. When I asked Mia to walk on, she was suddenly lame. Seriously?!?  
Weds PM, Left front
Her ligaments were sort of thick and lumpy on her front right, so she was able to get out of a dressage lesson while also being "poisoned" with bute. 

Weds PM, right front

The rest of this past week has been identical. Mia gets bute 2x a day and poultice at night when I am out.
Weds PM, right front

Only the inside of her legs have this puffiness and obvious thickening of the ligaments. No real heat, no other swelling, and the outside of her legs look completely normal. 

Weds PM, left front

I had the vet out and Mia was completely non-reactive upon palpation. The vet said she would be very surprised if Mia tore or strained something because of just how completely non-reactive she was, but if Mia was still puffy in 2 weeks we can ultrasound her. *sigh* 

Thermal image, right front

The vet thinks it is her superficial digital flexor tendon and not her deep digital tendon. On the plus side, Mia isn't lame anymore on either foot?

Thermal image, left front

The concerning part of the thermal images is that it is obviously something going on in the tendons, especially the left front which was normal last Thursday. I am glad I snapped a pic on Thurs of the left front, as it looks so much worse now despite having a full week off. 

I am giving her another week off, why not at this point. I did take some video with the new Pivo, that will be for the next post! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Taking the plunge - I bought a Pivo!

 I did it, I bought the thing. I have been seeing ads for Pivos for a while. I have read several blogs from people who have gotten them, including Amanda at 900FBPony who has given the best insight IMO. Honestly? It was reading her posts and her overall guide that had me finally do it. I am hopeful I will be able to get good feedback, since I operate best that way. The ability to have decent video all year? Yes please! I tried using a remote and small tripod 2 years ago, but the issue was the remote only worked reliably at 25 feet away. Videos were okay enough, but it tied to one spot. Then I would (very often) do a thing only to find the remote didn't start the video. I am hopeful that this is the answer, because more video would be cool!

My instructor also talked about a Pivo, we had been having scheduling difficulties while I was "gone" from blogging and she had suggested a video lesson. I am not sure how much I need that, since I can see my flaws just fine thank you, and I think I would prefer having the instant feedback but it could be an option. Like a dressage test, there is only so much feedback you can get and improve upon after the fact. So anyway, it arrives this Friday. Fingers crossed!

This past weekend was cool in that Mia and I went to a hunter pace, the very first outing of the year. At the end of August lol. Mia loaded up with no hesitation and trailered like a champ. We were in the walk division with a group of 9 others that went from our barn. It was cool to be in a big group, which was a first for me, but it was also frustrating with some people having their own agenda. I do agree that schooling is required when a horse is being difficult, however there are some exceptions and certainly limitations. Some people on the ride lost my respect and that is really too bad. Overall, though, we had a good time and I enjoyed the ride. Mia and I jumped every jump we saw and she was a rock star. She was sticky to only one jump, the rest she was totally dragging me to in her excitement to finally be out and about! 

It ended up being a 6.7 mile ride, thus it was no surprise that the next day she was quite stiff so we just did a long walk ride. We were joined by a lady who is rehabbing her horse and they needed to walk for 20 mins so it worked out quite well. Someone to ride with when I am always alone? Yes please! At the end of the ride Mia was loose and swingy, so while we didn't work on homework, I think it was a very successful ride. We have our next lesson tomorrow and I am excited to see what kind of buttons we get to play with. 

I am trying to stay excited about horse stuff, which is hard when I am going to absolutely nothing this year. It is hard to have a laser focus when your goal vanishes into thin air. The barn had planned to bring a BNT in for a clinic, but even that also evaporated and isn't happening. I know this is temporary, and so many people have it worse, but sometimes it is hard to stay positive and upbeat when 2020 is such a....well you know. Everything is bad, getting worse, and pointing towards catastrophe. 

Here is to hoping for motivation and for the Pivo to help as much as I hope it will. If not, I will have one for sale in short order! HA! No worries, I do plan on reviewing this bad boy!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lesson 17 - Soften your GD hands!

Yes, an update already! I want to get this down before I forget my lesson again. As said in my last entry, Mia had her hocks done so she was off until this past Monday. Getting her hocks done was an interesting endeavor, Mia is really hard to sedate! She ended up with Dorm and Torb, double what everyone else got, AND was very awake well before the horse that went an hour before her who had much less than she did. The vet said she was happy with the sedation level to get Mia done for hocks, but she would need more if they did much else.  Even with the heavy sedation and a twitch, Mia was still flinching and jerking when getting poked. Sheesh!! The vet did say that Mia's right hock, the one that doesn't really flex, had really good joint space and no real arthritis, but that the joint was really dry. She couldn't even get any fluid to come to the end of her needle hub like she could on the left hock so injections are definitely something that will help.

She is looking good!

Since I wasn't able to have a lesson this past Sunday, I asked for the first possible lesson and Tuesday was available. Mia definitely has springs now, and is challenging to ride at times! She felt as bouncy as she does when she is a firecracker ready to go, except that she wasn't happy going back to work and had no energy. Was definitely a weird feeling! We started the lesson with one plan but immediately scrapped it to work on frame. Mia was all kinds of unhappy about getting back to work and so we spent the entire lesson trying to re-engage her. Transitions (about 1000 of them lol), more transitions, transitions in gait, transitions up, down. Walk/canter. Canter/halt. Halt/back. Halt/trot, so many transitions. 

Favorite view

About halfway through the ride, Mia started really working and being happy again. Her movement is so big now! A said she was striding well under her saddle pad in the back, which rarely happened before. The big takeaways from the lesson were that Mia is absolutely not listening to my leg/spur and that I have regressed and am pulling with my hands again. I need to soften my hands and stop letting her bait me into pulling on her. Ugh, always something to work on! 
You haz treatz for me? I like treatz!

When I flex her, I am also not keeping an even pressure on both reins, I am losing my outside rein and flexing her only with my inside so I need to fix that. I need to remember to ride with my hands forward and push her up to my hands, not pulling on her. The answer is always more leg. Speaking of leg, my homework is to get her OFF OF MY LEG. A was amazed that she saw me using my spur on Mia and Mia was still not moving off of my leg. Either I am not using it hard enough or Mia needs to "remember" how to listen to my leg. 
Big fat eye :( While still weepy, it isn't swollen and the vet didn't see anything wrong

Last night I rode again and the focus of 75% of the ride was getting off of my leg. If I applied it and she didn't move, she got a smack with the whip. It took more than I expected to get her to move every time, especially off of my bad, right leg, but at the end she moved off as soon as I put my leg on in the walk and trot. She also kept her haunches behind her in the canter, something she had been adamant couldn't happen anymore. She is getting today and tomorrow off, as she has now had 3 dressage rides in a row after 2 weeks off (she also had a weird eye problem before her hocks were done) but we ride again on Saturday AND possibly Sunday on group trail ride! Fingers crossed Hurricane Laura isn't too bad for us or anyone else? 

OH! And I bit the bullet and bought myself a Pivo. I love seeing videos to self-critique and after reading posts by others, I am going to try it! Let's hope it works for me?!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Well hell - Where is the time going?

I had every intention of fully documenting each of my lessons and I am not sure what happened. Let's do a short and quick review to get caught up and then I will try to be better.  Lesson 14 was a dressage ride which went well, but short and easy. Mia was a bit stiff/sore and A was sick. She didn't even charge me for the lesson, despite my insistence to pay her, because it was such a short lesson. 

Lesson 15 was a very good ride, we did some stadium jumping for A to see how we go. She loves Mia's jumping and she loves my jumping position. She had us do some super tight and controlled turns to test our abilities over height (3') and while it wasn't perfect, I was able to do everything she asked. Mia is also one of the most balanced, unbalanced horse A knows, apparently. We found the weaker areas are my not having flying changes over fences (worked on it), Mia can be heavy and fast at times, and A thinks I am using a slight crest release over larger fences versus an automatic release. The last one was surprising and I think I want some pics, as I haven't done crest releases in I don't know how long. I have always done automatic releases with Mia, so I am not sure.

Lesson 16 was the following week and we did some XC jumping around the farm. A really, really likes Mia's jumping and loves her "get it done" attitude. A had me practice "hailing the taxi" when going over a jump with a drop to really think about sitting back. We don't have any jumps with a serious drop, but by practicing over a jump with a small drop will help build muscle memory for when I face a jump that does. The other take away was A seeing Mia freight-training it. I am not sure if A had really ever seen Mia really freight train until that day! There was a lot of water-skiing as I fought for control, especially at the start of the ride lol. 

A recommended doing more canter fitness with gallop sets to help remind Mia to come back when I ask without having to yank on her. She also wants me to change up Mia's bitting for cross country for extra brakes. I do have the wonder bit I used last year, however am trying a pelham bit for now so I still have the basic snaffle. The first day I did the gallop sets, Mia took off and wouldn't come back so I kept going around and around and around the hay field. After the 5th gallop set, Mia was absolutely exhausted so for the 6th lap I had her canter it. I had to really force her to canter, as she was begging to stop, but that is the risk one takes when wanting to take off. When I rode her a few days later in a a field, we cantered and the second I sat up, Mia dropped into a trot. Ha! I did it three times and each time Mia let me know that she will gladly stop when I ask, as she now remembers we may not stop.

The other takeaway we had in lesson 16 was that A agrees it may be time to do her hocks. We tried a round of Legend as a passive approach and while it worked, it only worked for about a month and now Mia is barely flexing her right hock. While I try to put off hock injections as long as possible, she is 13, we work regularly, and if it makes her comfortable, I will do it. Those happened last Tuesday and Mia had the week off. The vet confirmed while Mia had good joint space, her upper right hock joints were super dry so it was the right move. We went on a short, flat trail ride on Sunday and last night we did a short dressage ride. I may have to re-learn how to ride my horse, she has SPRINGS now! She felt like she had the bounce of when she is super geared up, but she was being incredibly lazy and uninterested in working after a full week off. I have a lesson tonight, I'm super excited to see how Mia performs with eyes on the ground! 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Lesson 13 - the not-really lesson

I am so incredibly happy to say that Mia is 100% back to normal after her personality swing. She is back to being happy, eager, and (her level of) affectionate. It has made riding so much easier as we aren't fighting each other and she isn't actively saying no the entire ride. The barn sour-ness has also basically vanished into thin air. What a relief! I am still riding when I come back to the barn as an in-case, but whatever happened in Mia's little brain seems to have been pacified as we are back to normal.

Things change a lot around here, and it is of no surprise that the COVID situation isn't helping. In an alternate universe, I would be heading to Breyerfest this year. :( Instead, with things getting worse across the various states, we cancelled everything. Breyerfest was cancelled months ago, we cancelled our trip to MI for a family reunion for July 4th, we cancelled both of our car races, we cancelled our trip to Dallas in August, we even cancelled our vacation to FL in November. *sigh* I feel much more comfortable knowing we are staying home and secluded but it is extremely disappointing. I have even made the decision to cancel all shows except possibly the show being held at my barn. No shenanigans are to be had for us!

With our July 4th trip cancelled, I was able to squeeze in a quick lesson. A decision that turned around and bit me in the butt because I woke up that morning with a serious impingement in my shoulder, I could barely use it! Ugh. The lesson was short because I couldn't do much but it was helpful. We worked on "long rein dressage" and going over how A wants me to ask for laterals. Remember how I said A is changing everything about my riding? I mean literally everything. Ha!

A said I ask for too much and I ask for too long. I ask for laterals by applying my aid(s) and not removing it until I am done asking for it. A wants me to ask "every stride" instead, so I have been bumping. Apparently I am still not doing it correctly as "every stride" means every single footfall. I have been putting my leg on for 1 second, removing, and then reapplying. She instead wants me basically thumping with my leg in a more rapid fire motion. I think it is nagging, but she disagrees. To her credit, Mia did respond better with this new method, so there is that! It is going to take some adjustment to relearn how to apply aids, but I am dedicated and am going to succeed to make my mare better.

We discussed half halts again, and how using my seat is a great but Mia needs the more rudimentary half halt of leg/hand and how sometimes using both reins is also appropriate. We practiced as much as we could with my bum shoulder and I was assigned it as homework again.

I have ridden three times since the lesson after my shoulder finally fixed itself, we went on a short trail ride with another boarder and Mia was absolutely perfect. No barn sourness in sight. We did an actual fitness ride with w/t/c. I was a little more concerned about that ride bc the last time we tried some fitness after a dressage ride, Mia refused to stop and I got the worst raspberries I have ever gotten in my life. Which also seems to be scarring, which is nice. Mia told me not to worry though, we had an easy peasy ride. When I pushed her into an extended canter, she went. When I asked her to come back by sitting up, she slowed down. Such a different horse from a month ago!

Yesterday I wanted to jump so even though it was raining, we jumped the couple of things that are outside. That was the ride I knew I had my old mare back. Mia was flexible, adaptable, willing, and happy. Even though the jumps were 2'6" and lower, she jumped them quietly, calmly, and didn't knock anything. We then jumped some of the small xc logs and she came back to me when I asked while also having fun. No bolting over fences like she had been doing. This makes me so incredibly happy. My next lesson is July 12 and I am looking forward to showing off some of our skills!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Lesson 12 - homework is assigned

I have been able to ride only 3 times since A rode 2 weeks ago, and the first time was super short as my back said "Nope!" and required a day to recover. Gah, it sucks to get old. On Tuesday I tried again and things went much better. We did a short walk ride, which wasn't entirely fun thanks to Mia insistence on turning around to go back to the barn. Eventually she got a pop on the nose when she tried to do a reining horse spin because that is not okay. She used to enjoy going out, I really don't know what changed. Does she want to work in the arena? No, she wants to just go to the barn aisle. Does she want to work hard? She will when she has to, but doesn't seem to. Ugh.

Thursday was a baby dressage day, with some light walk/trot/canter to see if my back would be upset, and it was not. Friday was a short, hard dressage ride outside followed by a short hack down the driveway, and a fight to get her head back towards the barn without jigging/trotting/spinning to head that way, and then straight back to the arena to work since she wanted to go to the barn so badly. *sigh*

Sunday was my lesson, and while I had a ton of homework I wasn't able to work on, I was ready to work. A immediately commented that Mia is using her hocks very nicely and evenly, the Legend is doing a very good job. So there is that. At one point A said "Man, she is really being a bitch today, look at that side eye!" Yeah, thanks. She definitely doesn't want to work today. Our ride was a lot of over flexion to work on getting Mia off of my leg right now. No more being nice, no more giving her the benefit of the doubt, if she doesn't move then she gets a smack with the whip. At one point, A walked next to us and smacked Mia for me when Mia wouldn't respect my leg.

We do have a lot of homework, which is good because it is going to be a few weeks before I can take a lesson again. Firstly, I am using too much aid for too long. When I apply my leg, I wait a stride or two before I remove it. She wants one ask to equal one try. Which means I am going to be applying my aids all of the time instead of asking and leaving it on until I don't want it anymore. I am also changing my rein aids to focus on the hind end. When I flex or overflex her, I am to give and soften when she yields her hindquarters instead of the yielding her hindquarters and softening at the poll. She wants me to wear the biggest spurs I have so that I can get Mia to respect my leg with minimal movement from my legs, I have to curl my leg up and in to use the spurs I wear 95% of the time.

She said we are solidly schooling 2-3 levels above where we are showing right now, and we were even able to get a few steps of piaffe (!!). She thinks that Mia will top out at 2nd/3rd level dressage which will equate to a Prelim horse, which is what I was aiming for anyway. She things we may be smacking against the petering factor, where Mia is petering out because she may not have more in her to give. Or at least if she does, she may not have it right now. Our goal is to change her response and my riding a bit to make her Training level tests be as perfect as possible and then move forward. Perhaps Mia needs a little more time to build muscle before we ask for more, not to mention 2020 has been one hell of a year.

My next lesson won't be until after July 6th, possibly not until July 13. I am excited to see if I can replicate some of the progress we made in the lesson during a regular training ride. Here's to finding some motivation, now to see if I can keep it!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lesson 11 - a short post

The past few weeks have been weird. Thanks to pulling a muscle in my back, and it not being better after 2 weeks, I was not able to ride. Sometimes I couldn't even walk! During this, I spent a lot of time and money trying to see if we could help identify the source of Mia's personality change. So far, I have cut back her way grain, removed the weight supplement (which was no longer needed anyway thanks to grass), removed the protein supplement, made horse crack cookies, tested her for lyme (which came back completely negative, something the vet said is uncommon around here), had her teeth done, dewormed her, got a massage therapist out, started her on Mare Magic, and had the vet out for a full eval with lameness.

The dental visit was interesting, as it was with power tools. 1cc of Dorm was not enough for Mia, I had to hold her head down so the dentist could work and even with that Mia lifted me off of the ground different times. Next time we are going to mix in something else! Her mouth was completely unremarkable, just some sharper points and basic maintenance. The vet visit was completely uninteresting, Mia isn't back or body sore. She is in excellent condition. The vet says sometimes she recommends hind shoes but Mia is barefoot her whole life and doesn't want me to change that. The only thing of note was Mia's left hock is a little stiff so we added in a loading dose of Legend to try to loosen her up a little.
Mia does not like the dentist, and needs a LOT of sedation
Since I couldn't ride, I offered let A ride Mia and she was more than happy to hop aboard and give her opinion on how Mia is doing.The part that made me laugh was A's agreement that while in the past she has said Mia could never be bad, she agrees that Mia can be difficult. Ha! Mia is a redhead Appy mare, of course she can be difficult sometimes. She also was difficult to work with at the start of the ride, though she came around towards the middle of the ride.

A riding
The takeaways was that I am doing a pretty good job of riding Mia, as A couldn't tell just how little Mia was respecting my right leg (bad leg). She also couldn't tell just how much Mia pulls on the left rein, so I do a good job of making it look effortless. A spent most of the time getting Mia flexed, counter flexed, and over flexed to get her hind end working. She confirmed that Mia does take a good while to get warmed up, and that her first right lead canter is pretty bad although it does get better.

Mia is difficult to stay consistent in the bridle, even with A, so that is homework with some new tricks. I am also now supposed to start wearing spurs again to really get Mia to respect my leg. She said Mia's canter may not get much better than where we have made it due to Mia's confirmation but we can give Mia all of the tools we can so she stops fighting herself.

A riding, engaging those hocks
It took another 9 days after the lesson for my back to release and for me to start riding again. Unfortunately I had this post all typed up and Blogger ate it which set me back and I didn't recreate it until I had my lesson today. So....lesson 12 is coming right up!