Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Real riding happening

We have officially moved onto the phase of riding where it isn't quite fitness anymore and there is more asking of some real work.  No real surprise that Mia has gone from Ms Fabulous to Ms Nuh Uh.  Suddenly the ability to ride shoulder in is a foreign concept and one is absolutely not able to move without haunches being thrown to the inside.  Yeah.

We had one ride where I ended up putting spurs on AND having the whip because Mia was absolutely positive that she could not listen to my right leg under any circumstance.  I mean, hey, I get it.  This leg has been operated on 3x and I know it isn't as strong as the other but that is no excuse to blatently ignore it.  It's been okay ALL winter and NOW it should be ignored?  I ended up tapping her every single time I applied my leg just as a reminder for the entire ride. 

The horses got their teeth done on Friday and while there was some minor sharp points, there was nothing major. Maybe it is what made a difference though, as on Saturday and Monday, Mia was actually pretty nice to ride again.  Phew!  She is still unsteady in the bridle going to the right, doesn't want to stay consistent in the contact and wants to keep her haunches in, but it is much better compared to the previous week.  Some more fitness and practice will help straighten her back out, and hopefully we simply move forward and onward.

My happiest moment is that we were actually able to get a few moments of a collected canter again, almost like what we had last year!  I have been asking for more canter and on Saturday she just "got" it.  The instructor last year said to ride the canter like I am approaching a fence.  Sit up, sit back, leg on but not faster.  Try to get her to tilt her pelvis down so she sits and elevates the front with impusion and energy like she needs to go over a fence.  Ding Ding Ding!  It made so much sense, I got it and she was doing it SO well last year before it fell apart.  The fact she was able to hold it for a few strides made me so happy, if we can get that canter at a show?  Our weakest movement would no longer be our weakest movement!

With our third Nor'Easter in as many weeks, I am hopeful that the weather starts cooperating so that I can continue with this riding business.  The lesson next week was cancelled and my sights are now on a tentative show on April 15th, a small CT.  Let's hope we can be at our best for it!

Friday, March 2, 2018

New boots make everything better

Things are picking up around here!  Last week it was unseasonably warm and wet.  Oh so very, very wet.  Tuesday it was SO WARM, 57 at 630p, so I gave App a much needed bath.  It was.... disgusting.  So gross.  The water coming off of him was chocolate colored.  He was dry, there was no soap and it stayed that color, it didn't start running clear.  Ewww.

Clean wet App
So he got a full on, soap filled bath.  It was so extremely gross but he was SO clean after!  Of course, he didn't dry before I left and then he rolled before I got out on Weds to see the results, but look!  Clean!

Cleanish dry App.  He looks so good for almost 25
Last Thursday I got a text from the barn saying they finally separated App from the 30yr old who had attached himself as the BFF, which was the reason App has been in a stall this winter.  App now lives outside again and is paired with a very laid back OTTB and they both have a round bale.  I'm very happy he is outside again, even if App does strongly prefer a stall, as it makes him move more.  When I was out this week, he was already moving around a little better so it is a win.  Even if App wants the luxury.

Happy Appy
Then this week the mail truck pulled up.  Strange, as I was not expecting anything. I was handed a suspiciously large box.  From Dover Saddlery. OMG.

He did not, oh yes he did!
So some backstory, so for about 5 years I have lusted over the Dubarry boots.  But I can't bring myself to spend over $400 for a pair of boots.  I just can't, and I have tried several times.  Last year at Rolex, I was excited when they had two colors on clearance for $179 but because of my gigantor calves, they had nothing that fit in the clearance section.  On the last day of Rolex, we walked around all of the vendors to see if any of the non-Dubarry's were left but, again, because of my tiny feet and huge calves, anything that was left did not fit.

So pretty!
Hubby really wanted me to have a pair so apparently he saved money on the sly, sold car parts and squirreled away enough cash, he thought, to buy me the pair of boots.  A few weeks ago he asked me about the barn owners boots, they are Dubarry's.  I talked about them for a LONG time and then showed him how expensive they were and lamented on how I wouldn't buy them. When he asked what I would buy, I showed him the Dublin River boot but said that it was still over $200 and I am too cheap for that so one day I will find something on clearance.

I know the website says to use a spray to keep the light tan, but I LOVE this chocolate color!
Apparently, he had intended on buying the Dubarry but when he realized he would have to save for yet another year to have the money, he bought the River boots instead.  He went to a Dover retail store, paid cash, and had them mailed to the house.  All without me knowing. OMG!!! I LOVE them and am not bringing them to the barn yet.  These are pretty boots and will stay that way until we go to (Not-Rolex) K3DE.  Once they get thoroughly gross there, maybe I will wear them to the barn.  Right now I wear them every time I leave the house and have conditioned them with Lederbalsam which has darkened them to an amazing chocolate color over the tan that they were.

Mia isn't sure about this work business
On the riding front, Mia has been quite good.  On Tues she was pretty full of attitude, she wasn't completely sure she wanted to participate in the nonsense I was insisting on.  Shoulders in, controlled trot, transitions, all crap ideas apparently.  The rest of the rides have been quite nice.  Lots of long and low, lots of transitions.  On Weds I even broke out the jump saddle and we did a w/t/c session over a cavaletti.  Working on an adjustable canter to the pole and finding the striding.  We finished with the cavaletti all the way up and Mia really seemed to enjoy doing something other than silly dressage.  And to my surprise, I could walk the next day!  Fitness for the win!  We are both developing serious muscle too, her chest is no longer flabby and I am getting the definition of abs under my flub.  We have a long way to go, but we are on our way to a show season.

Monday, February 19, 2018

All things broken

Ahh, what is going on in this little world?  Lots of stuff, not all good.  After my last post, I rode on Tues and Thurs.  On Thurs the 8th, we were doing our normal ride and the person who rides with us at night came off and fractured her collar bone, 5 ribs, and a vertebra.  Her horse was being a true ass, he simply refused to stop or slow down and ended up taking off on her.  There are absolutely things she could have done to prevent it but I am not going to bash her. It happened and everyone reacts differently.  After she was up and walking (Yes, even with all of that, she was walking around AND got on Mia for about 3 minutes), I got on her horse and spanked his ass.  He tried to take off on me a couple of times so she got to see pulley rein action on him.  Then he tried to take off in the canter and not only did he get pulley reined, he got spun hard.  After the third time of being spun, he reared up.  Note, she has super long legs and I have short stubby legs.  Like a 27" inseam.  Since I ride so often without stirrups, I don't even bother changing the stirrups when I ride him.  Well, since I  had nothing to support myself on, I literally slid off of his back and ALMOST landed on my feet.  When he came down, he gave the slightest tug backwards on the reins so I fell on my butt and got tons of sand in places there should not be sand.  There should never ever be sand in those places.

Unfortunately for him, I don't let go of reins when I come off (bad habit of mine, I know) and I also had the dressage whip in my hand from when I had been on Mia.  He got his butt whipped pretty hard to understand that was a VERY BAD IDEA before we walked over, I got back on and then rode him hard again.  I made him canter a solid 6 minutes.  At the 4 minute mark, I asked him to trot but he didn't right away, and instead sped up, so we cantered more and more until he wanted to stop.  And then we cantered another 6 full laps.  I was so angry at him, as was his owner, as there really was no reason for his behavior.  She asked him to slow down and he didn't, she asked him to stop and he didn't, he wanted to just go because he had too much energy. 

The rider is down for 3 months before she can ride again. I have offered to ride the horse at night after I am done with Mia if she comes and tacks him up, we will see if she takes me up on the offer.  Mia was an angel through the entire ordeal, she was called a Classy Lady the other day bc of how proper and unphased she can be.  Ha!

After that endeavor, the farrier was out.  When I brought Mia in, she had a good bit of blood on her leg.  She had been bitten (assuming the 3yr old gelding she is out with) on the inner thigh at some point that morning.  We got her cleaned up and put some Neosporin on it, however on M/T/W she was lame on that leg.  Last Sat it was not really warm anymore but still a little tender to touch.  She is slightly short on that leg but works out of it at the trot until she turns.  When she puts a lot of weight on that leg, she gets really short for 6+ strides before she works out of it again.  Ugh.  The scab sloughed right off so it got cleaned again, more meds put back on and kicked back out.

I am going out again tonight to see how things are.  Tomorrow should be 60+ degrees so if that happens, App will get a bath (DISGUSTING HORSE!!).  I am excited to ride, maybe I will just get on Mia and walk around and work on two point.  Damn horses, stop being broken!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The start of fitness begins with a single step

Things are finally starting to go right in my riding world.  Though without a lot of time, and it being late, I feel this post is a little scattered.  So, my apologies?  But the weather is staying above 15 degrees, the arena is finally NICE and I (mostly) have time to ride (current week excluded)!  We have worked exclusively on long and low, getting Mia to lift her back and really work on some fitness for both of us.  I have even been doing some workouts at lunch, though not as regularly as I should be.  *eyeroll at myself*  These types of rides are cool, but don't give a lot to talk about in blogger world.

We start our rides with a stretchy walk, really marching forward and trying to get Mia to stretch down.  I try to keep her in a shoulder in position, sometimes I succeed, sometimes not because I am not working hard at it as I am more concerned with her staying long and low.  After a few laps each direction, 10 mins or so, we pick up the trot and I really ask for the stretch down.  The lower the better, peanut rolling if she could do it.  Which she can't.  I am able to keep the shoulder in here and at this point, we usually start doing some 3, 4 and 5 loop serpentines.  Ride shoulder in, ride the turn, straighten for a step, shoulder in the opposite direction, ride the turn, straighten, shoulder in the opposite direction, wash, rinse, repeat. Also throw in some 10m circles, lots of changes of direction, and am really focusing to keep Mia's tempo and connection the same throughout.  We both have been doing really good at this! 

From here, I mix it up. We always work on trot adjustability, though one night I really pushed harder.  We were able to get slow trot, working trot and even a true extended trot (without a change of pace!) all with seat and leg cues.  That was a cool night, but she needs lots of trot transitions before she can do that because otherwise she just goes faster.  She usually just goes faster.  Another night we worked on half pass vs leg yield, a half pass is harder of course.  One night she had just so much energy, I let her go.  She galloped around 5 or 6 laps before she brought herself back to a canter.  I really think she fully enjoyed that opportunity.  We do some canter, working at shoulder in, and also a nice stretchy canter where she is still carrying herself and not plowing onto her forehand.  So much progress is being made!  On Saturday I even rode in my jumping saddle for the first time since October, let's just say my muscle fitness is non-existent in that saddle.  More work is needed for certain.

This week is really a bust in riding.  Yesterday we got 6.5 inches of snow. Today was 12 degrees and I had a ton of stuff to do at the barn that was not riding.  Supplement bags, dewormer, Pentasan shots, thrush treatments, blanket changes, not enough time and just too cold.  Tomorrow I have to bring my cat to the vet and Wednesday I have a dentist appointment on top of the additional 5-8 inches of snow that is supposed to show up.  Oh joy.  That's okay, one doesn't get fit in a day and we have a good 2 months to work on it.  We do have a lesson scheduled for March 24th, I am super excited to have a goal to work towards.  I want to be fit for that lesson, being able to ride in both saddles and be jumping by then.  I work better with goals so one is now firmly in place. Time to get into a shape that isn't round!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Something finally happened!

App is doing well!  His weight is perfect now, I am cutting his rice bran down to one scoop and going to leave his blanket off a little more.  His thrush is as good as it can be, he is turned out in a paddock that isn't cleaned and there isn't much I can do about that.  I have asked to have him moved and it never happened because, well, barn politics.  He has 3 weeks until the farrier appointment and his hoof crack is looking good, I am super hopeful we can get rid of it with this next trim cycle!  It's funny, the barn is back to calling him an angel and the best behaved horse on the property.  HA!  You forget....just a short 6 months ago it was impossible to keep him fenced in.  He really is either awesome or an total ass and not much in between!

After month(s) of nothing happening, the planets aligned.  The temperature was above 10 degrees (40 in fact!!), the arena wasn't dusty (just watered as we still wait for MAG flakes) and I had time to ride.  Out came my trusty (dusty) dressage saddle and although Mia wasn't fully amused at first, we had a good ride.  It was structured solely with fitness in mind, we did lots of trot that focused on a long and low headset.  I wanted her back up and her head down to really work over her topline.  We did a ton of directional changes and gait changes, going from walk to trot to slow trot to mid trot to extended trot and back and Mia was SOO GOOD.  She seemed really happy to be doing something after a week of doing nothing, she didn't pick a single argument.  It was almost like picking back up from last fall!

We did 2 laps of canter each direction before I figured I'd ask for a little more canter.  Mia went from perfectly content mare to "GALLOPS ALL THE TIME!" mare.  Luckily we were alone in the arena so I just let her go. It's been since fall since we actually galloped and she seemed to enjoy my allowance.  After 3.5 laps around the arena, she dropped back but I made her canter another lap for good measure before calling it quits.  She was just so happy to be doing stuff, as was I.  I was borderline sweaty and she was breathing a good bit, I'll call that a good start to getting back into fitness.  We cooled down with a hack down the driveway and while Mia was much more "up" and ready to go than I expected, she was good, listened and she got stuffed full of treats.

I had big plans.  This week is supposed to have lows in the 30's, the MAG flake was delivered today, perfect time to work on fitness.  And then Saturday night I tweaked my bad knee again.  Seriously.  SERIOUSLY! ARGH! This time I seem to have hurt my LCL ligament vs my ACL which I have torn twice.  I did go on a group trail ride Sunday which went well enough.  I rode bareback with the thought that having no stirrups would be easier on my leg.  Mia behaved beautifully and didn't put a single hoof wrong.  My leg, on the other hand, was pissed and screamed at me the whole time.  Okay, I got it.  No riding.  The outside ligament is pretty sore to touch and wakes me up at night if the leg goes in a position it doesn't like.  SMH.  So apparently now I am taking a few days off to try to let it rest.  I have my Back On Track knee brace on, taking some advil and taking it easy.  Is anyone else happy to see warmer temps finally?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

In which nothing has happened

So....yep.  Pretty much sums it up right there.  The arena was not ridable for 90% of December due to the extreme dust.  They fixed the arena with different footing right before Christmas but then the holidays happened and then the super extreme cold arrived in which we weren't hitting double digit highs.  At least we weren't as bad as others, many friends didn't even hit single digit highs!  Then it warmed back up but when they had put the different footing down, they didn't put any dust control on it so as soon as the footing dried out, it became WORSE than in December if you can believe it.  UGH!!! The footing issue is slated to be fixed today with 50 bags of MAG flake going down, so crossing fingers I can actually use the facilities I pay for.

Sassy mare is sassy!
So since October, I have maybe ridden in a saddle three times?  Maybe four?  With it being so dusty, riding bareback (and in just a halter 50% of the time) is doing a good job of making sure I don't overdo it when I do ride. Even when we don't do anything but walk, I have been riding at least 2-3 times a week (save the week of extreme cold).  Now while bareback in just a halter we can do shoulder in, some beautiful serpentines, leg yield, and all the laterals.  Riding shoulder in all of the time is really helping her, maybe once we start riding again with a saddle I can work on it harder in the canter again.  Also counter canter.  Plus fitness.  So much fitness needed for both horse and rider....

Broken ponies still get to play in the arena
So what else has happened?  Not a whole lot.  Nothing to note from the farrier side of things.  App had a big fight with thrush and had a split that went through his frog into his heel, rendering him basically 2 legged lame (we call him 3 legged with his shoulder issue).  An aggressive treatment of Coppertox and Neosporin fixed that and he is back to normal after about 2 weeks of uncomfortableness.  He still has thrush issues due to the turnout the barn is keeping him in, unfortunately there isn't a whole lot I can do about that but I am still treating it aggressively.  Mia is doing quite well, the (not really new anymore) farrier has done a fabulous job of tweaking her right front so it is not as clubby.  Small surface cracks have reappeared on that hoof but the farrier says it is because her hoof capsule is finally expanding out instead of being so upright.  Since the hoof doesn't really flex that way, small cracks are showing as it expands but to not be concerned about them.  They will either always be there, as long as her hoof is growing good and wide, or the hoof will accommodate and produce more keratin and the cracks will grow out.  We won't know which it will do yet, I am aiming for the latter.
More treats required. Always. You can see her upright vs normal hoof here really well.
I HOPE, like seriously hope, that I will have more to talk about next week.  This is over a month of doing nothing but toodling around and I am so over it.  It is hard to stay fit when you can't ride!  It is one reason I have stayed bareback all of this time, at least it makes me work harder than riding in a saddle.  And it has helped.  My balance is still on point and I am super secure in all gaits.  Since I have my strength and balance, I just need to add fitness back into it.  Fingers crossed!

He looks so good right now!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A whole lot of nothing going on

What a crazy few weeks.  The trip to visit family went actually much better than expected.  I had threatened them that I wouldn't go back if there were crazy dramas and it must have been taken to heart because no dramas happened whatsoever! 

No zooms here, but she moves so nicely
When I got back, the arena was super dusty again and has been like that ever since.  It was supposed to have been fixed last week but wasn't, now it is supposed to be fixed this week and we are still waiting.  It is now below freezing so they can't even sprinkle with water anymore.  Even walking makes a pretty good amount of dust so I haven't been doing much riding.  *sigh*  I get it, arenas are dusty but I am paying a lot of $$ to have a facility that I cannot use.  Grrr.  Winter blues are setting in.

Those who are not amused about their picture being taken
App is doing much better.  The farrier said she thought it may have been an abscess blow out.  I don't agree because I was treating it as thrush, but it doesn't really matter.  The frog was fully split and went up into his actual heel bulb causing him enough pain to crabwalk.  He is no longer thrushy and is walking fairly normal.  Most days he walks with just a very slight limp, other days he has a very noticable limp but he is still in great spirits.  

He will deny any extra weight
He has also gained a LOT of weight finally!  He is within 50lbs of his ideal winter weight.  I think it is a combination of the rice bran plus the barn keeping hay in front of him 24x7 that has done it.  Win!
Still looking good for a retired old man!
Mia is doing well too.  I am not quite sure how to blanket her this year, she is in a pasture without a lot of wind block, unlike last year.  She never acts cold and she doesn't really shiver, so she is capable, but still.  She was blanketed last night as it was super windy and super cold, single digits with wind chill.  Let's see if she maintains weight, starts shivering, etc.  She is in a lightweight blanket now and I have a mid/heavyweight one if she needs.

The "You haz carrot. Give me now" face
The in-laws are coming in for two weeks this weekend so I suspect I will be at the barn more.  Maybe the arena will be decent enough for me to ride in.  One can hope for the Christmas miracle right?