Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress, pain and pictures

Progress is great because the App was in fact sound yesterday.  We have been doing leg stretches to stretch out the hind muscles and it seems to have been effective enough to bring him sound.  I will attempt to keep up on them because I know how beneficial stretching can be.  I rode around bareback yesterday after doing groundwork with the App and got a little Appytude, someone was quite peeved over the fact he got only a HANDFUL of grain instead of his whole dinner since we were going to work but we worked through it and ended on a good note.  I will probably ride him again tomorrow, gotta get back in shape for our xc schooling in 3 weeks.  Yikes!

Pain is all about me.  I did two point most of my trail ride on Sunday and oh the pain!  I look like I am probably 70 gimping around but my thighs are useless, painful appendages.  I would rate myself at least a 3 on the lameness scale if I was a horse.  I know the new boots had some to do with it, thanks to the nice sores on the back of my knees, but my being out of shape is most of it.  I am going to push through the pain and ride Wed and Thurs, maybe even Friday. We'll see how it goes, come on painkillers kick in soon!

Finally we have pictures of Daisy and her new toes.  She is moving amazingly compared to how she moved last week.  Last week was especially bad and she required bute both AM and PM and was still uncomfortable.  Right now I am only giving her a half gram in the AM and am on the fence about taking her off of it.  I am so happy with her progress.  I think it is worth noting that to get her here has taken only 3 farrier visits and 2 xrays, less that $200. 

Daisy says Hi!  I am almost pain free!
Note snow still on ground, ugh.

Hind feet
 The hinds are coming along greatly and I am happy the vet wasn't concerned with them to even feel the need to xray them.  The farrier worked on shaping them and removed about 1/4 of an inch in height.

Hind feet. Look at the nice shape
 It is nice that she is actually looking like she has hooves now instead of the the clunky chopped "things" she had before.  Of course the second trim was the week I had just gotten her to pick up her hind feet without retaliation on her part so we couldn't do too much with them at the time.

Front feet, they actually look like hooves
This is what I am most proud of, she is starting to look normal.  Armed with a printout of the xrays, the farrier 
was able to alter her angles to match her bone structure.  We had slight reservations over ligament damage but because she has been so extremely lame we all agreed it was more important to get her correct and deal with ligament issues if it arrived because she couldn't stay in the pain she was in.  Luckily we haven't had any issues at all.

Front feet with rear feet in background.
You can still see the laminae via the upside down smile, we still have a way to go and need to take about an inch or so off of height still.

And just to remember what her front feet USED to look like
We really have come so far with my lame donkey.  I am really happy I have been able to make her life more comfortable.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Things are looking up, a sound(er) donkey?!?

Had a good weekend, got a lot accomplished.  Armed with printed xrays, the farrier was out on Saturday and worked his magic.  I am truly impressed in the difference, Daisy now actually seems comfortable and I would rank her as a 2 to a 3 on the lamness scale instead of a 3 to a 4.  Even this morning, without getting bute last night, she was fairly sound and I would rate her a 2.  She even looks like she has "normal" hooves, he was able to shape them to look like hooves instead of the horrors that they were.  Am hoping to get pictures of her feet tonight, was just too busy this weekend to pull out the camera.  I am impressed and hope you would be too.

The App is doing better, the farrier agrees it looks like he pulled a muscle probably in his lumbar area.  We are doing some leg stretches and there is already good improvement in his movement.  When I went out to feed yesterday it was really cold and the App was doing a full body shiver in his stall so I threw his blanket on.  When light walking wasn't stopping his shivering I threw him in the indoor and had him trot around a bit and he looked pretty sound.  I withheld bute this AM and am going to check him tonight to see if he is still off, here's to hoping he can be ridden on Wednesday!

Had a good trail ride on the TWH yesterday.  It was pretty dang cold but I worked on two point and we even cantered a bit to keep warm.  I LOVE the fact I can canter him without fighting like I have to do with the App.  Every time I get frustrated over the fact I can't do what I want thanks to Sinatra's "extra" gaits he reminds me of his awesome qualities and I get determined to find a way to make him work with what I want to do.  Most people would have sold him and gotten something they knew could do what they want, I am taking something and remodeling him to try to do what I want.  It's a good thing he has such a great personality, if he was stubborn like the App I probably would have given up too. 

So on a fun/sad note, there is a tack shop in my area that is closing so the owner can retire.  I am really disappointed because they really helped me make contacts here and there isn't another tack shop in the immediate area.  This tack shop was heavily involved in the community and even held "pro nights" which is where an equine professional of any kind could come and give a presentation to help anyone learn more about them.  Farriers, vets, chiros, hydro-therapy, they've had them all.  Pretty sad they are closing but they have everything 40-50% off so I went to say goodbye and see what they had left on Sunday.  I was able to find a pair of boots that FIT and DH didn't squabble over their price!  They are Mountain Horse with zippers and the calf is big enough that I am pretty sure I won't bust out the zipper.  I am so excited, finding boots that fit my small feet but ginormous calves and even more ginormous instep is virtually impossible so the fact they had a pair (a single pair, in the entire store of over 150 pairs of boots) AND they were 50% off made my day.  Also able to get some bucket hangers, bull snaps, hanging saddle racks and other fun hardware all on sale.  I now have my tack room 95% complete and it is actually organized.  Once I find a spot for my winter blankets I can call my room complete! 

Pics of the donkey to come shortly.  Waiting for April because as soon as April hits it is supposed to get up to 50 degrees again!  Waking up to single digits when the normal low is supposed to be in the 30's sucks.  Come on spring, push winter out of the way!

Friday, March 25, 2011

It is good, it is bad

So the App is still slightly off, he has been off in the right hind before the vet was out and he is still slightly off despite a week of bute.  It has been a pretty low dose, 1/2 gram 2x a day but he hasn't became sound yet and that is frustrating.  The vet had said it wasn't joint related and is probably soft tissue, maybe a slight strain thanks to the mud, but I had hoped it would be better by now.  I will do another recheck tomorrow, hopefully he will be sound.  I could probably ride him now since the lameness is so mild but don't want to cause more damage since I am not trying to make the problem worse.  Hope he's liking his time off, he has 4 weeks until we xc schooling and he has to be good to go by then!

I am also getting quite frustrated thanks to my non trotting horse.  I had emailed the local dressage organization and talked to them about doing "gaited dressage" back in December and they said they wouldn't have a problem with that but they didn't know how they would handle awards and such.  I emailed them a couple of weeks ago with a link to the updated NWHA dressage tests so they would have easy access to them and got an email back.  The email stated they had talked about my situation with the board and they do not feel they can offer assistance to me.  They couldn't offer a "new" division for gaited dressage because they said they would then have to open divisions for other specific breeds as well.  They won't let me compete in the "normal" divisions because I have an unfair advantage since we wouldn't be trotting.  They then went on to advise I could ride in a Test of Choice/Percentage class.  I am okay with this, this is how I have ridden dressage in the past.  They continued in saying that in most instances I would be riding for a score only and would not be placed because I, again, would have an unfair advantage.  They operate by the USDF/USEF rules and the rules require trotting so that is that.

Am so frustrated I am seriously considering not showing dressage anymore.  I truly don't enjoy doing dressage, I really dislike it.  The App truly dislikes it and the TWH doesn't mind it and tries hard.  I understand I wouldn't be trotting but I would be doing a gait in place of a trot.  I experienced a similar situation in Ohio when I started riding the TWH and had given up when I met up with a dressage organization that was understanding.  It had totally renewed my faith in dressage and kept me going at it for the past 3 years.  It is disappointing that this organization doesn't really want me to compete in their sport because we don't naturally trot.  There is the possibility to rejoin my old association, ride up here for score only and mail my tests down to my old association for year end awards.  It is the principle though, I am not sure.

On the flip side with good news, the TWH and I are actually trotting very well right now.  We are going to be able to show intro classes in a walk/trot and are working hard to get a canter/trot transition so we could show in normal training classes if we so chose.  Or we can continue down a new path of hunter/jumper with some eventing thrown in which is more what I am considering.  I really am serious about the consideration of not showing dressage anymore.  We had a lesson last night and it went very well, complete difference from last weekend. I had to ask, multiple times, to get the feedback I was looking for but in the end I enjoyed the lesson.  Need to work on getting the TWH actually ON the bit all of the time and lots of work on 10m/15m circles at the trot.  If we can get that then I am pretty confident we will have a good show season regardless of the discipline.  So I guess we will see how things play out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Xray pictures of Daisy

So I had xrays taken of Daisy last Friday so we could see what was going on.  Why is she still so lame, what can we do to make her more comfortable?  First lets remind our self what a normal hoof should look like.

Notice a nice triangular shape with an even space of hoof that runs the entire front of the coffin bone.  The bottom of the bone is solid and flat as well.  This is what Daisy's xray of her "good" foot looks like.

Notice the front edge not being straight.  There is also bony changes along the bottom of the coffin showing growth where the coffin has grown to accommodate its new shape.  Here is her "bad" foot.

 This one is especially bad, notice the curve on the front edge being more significant than the left front.  You can see there is even more bony growth and the bottom of the "new" bone is slightly curved and not flat like the left front.

Both xrays do a good job of showing how much hoof still needs to come off.  The farrier got these xrays today and he will be out on Saturday to make changes.  About the only good thing we found in the xrays is that she doesn't have any fractures, something I was afraid of.  Maybe someone is better at reading xrays than I am and has additional insight?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Waiting for pictures so just an update

As you know I had the vet out on Friday to do spring shots and to take xrays of Daisy's feet.  The shots went uneventfully save when the vet walked up to Daisy too quickly for her preference, she decided to high tail it out of there and man did she.  She ran around the pathway from in front of the stalls over to the hay area and was headed outside when I was able to stop her at just barely the last moment.  I told the vet she wasn't used to other people so go slooower and we had a good chuckle out of it.  For a lame donkey she sure can move super fast when she wants to!

I also had him do a lameness eval on the App since he was off last weekend and hasn't been "right".  Not really lame, not really noticeable but not really sound.  He said it looks like he may have simply pulled a muscle or ligament in the mud and so the App gets a week off with bute.  He wasn't even lame after a flex test (18yrs old and not lame after a flex test, go App!!!) so we are just giving him rest from work.  I will evaluate him mid-week and see how he looks, he definitely feels better on bute as he has been pestering everyone during turnonut.  I am quite happy that he has been ridden very regularly since he was 2 and doesn't have crippling arthritis.  Yay for my management processes!

We took the xrays of Daisy and all hopes of a donkey pulling a cart were deflated.  At best we will make her pasture sound.  Her coffin bone looks like her feet did, they are turned up in an elf shoe shape and there is significant bony changes on the bottom of her coffin.  The vet knows my farrier so they are going to pow-wow before the farrier comes out on Sat and find a game plan for her.  I am glad I now know why she is so regularly lame, I know there isn't anything I can do to fix her and I can just make her comfortable.  It makes me not feel so guilty when she has a bad day, at least she can walk now.  She couldn't really do that when I got her.  Pics to come as soon as they are emailed to me.

For a funny donkey story to close, we have this.  No sense in having a sad post..  Since it is so wet lately I have been putting the critters in the indoor for turnout to save what little pasture I have.  Once it firms up I will put them back outside.  I have 2 chains spanning the large doorways so they have sufficient airflow and sunshine.  Yesterday we were getting sawdust which is stored in the indoor.  I was in the barn spreading sawdust/cleaning stalls and DH was getting the sawdust and driving to me.  During the last load I was done with my part and decided to go help him instead of standing and waiting for him to show up.  Walked outside and there is Daisy eating on a pine tree.  Walked over to her and she walked off.  Talked to her and got her to look at me, at that point I was able to walk up and grab her halter and walk her back into the arena.  DH had put up only the top chain to keep the horses in.  He didn't think that by leaving the bottom chain open it became a perfect donkey door that was wide open.  Moral of the story?  Daisy had her chance at freedom and instead chose to come back where there is apple treats and oats.  Good donkey!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The App is a smart one

Here is how I imagine the conversation went this afternoon.

Donkey - I am thirsty.  The buckets are empty.
App - Yeah well she brought 2 buckets out this AM.  Not my fault we were thirsty.
Donkey - And you dumped the last quarter of a bucket on the ground.
App - It was... an accident.  Yeah, an accident.
Donkey - Well DO something about it!  You think you are the leader.
App - Me?  Mom checks on us during lunch, I will just stand here at her new chains looking for her.  
Donkey - I said do something, that's not doing anything.
App - She will see me and will come say Hi
TWH - You guys are dumb.  Just eat hay, there is hay still.
App - I'm thirsty too, I'm gonna look for her.

Me - go downstairs for lunch, notice App is staring at the house.  Start lunch, open patio door, App turns his head and looks straight at me.  Figure might as well go say hi.
Me - Hi guys!  How are you enjoying the weather?  You are really enjoying this sun huh?  Guys!  You drank your water and dumped the rest over.  Ugh.
Me - go get 2 more buckets of water, bring it out.  App drinks about 1/4 of bucket.  Donkey walks over drinks about 1/8 bucket.  Groan and get another bucket of water to top it off.

App - See told you she'd bring more water.  I just had to look for her.  You should take notes.
TWH - So what, there's haaayyyyy....

Cool pics to come

So I finally broke down and called a vet to come out for spring shots.  Since moving I haven't heard of a decent, reasonably priced vet in the area.  While I understand some people think $75 for a barn call is reasonable, I find that pretty high!  Especially since it is just a standard, run of the mill vet.  If they were a specialist then I could see it but if I just need some shots, I'm gonna pass.  That is reasonable thinking, right?  Or am I crazy, wait maybe don't answer that last one...

Anyway, I am going to try a guy recommended by both the farrier and my riding buddy.  He is coming out tonight to give shots and to also take some xrays of Daisy's feet to see what is going on inside.  Since she still bounces between a grade 4 and a grade 2 lameness, I want to see if it just angle/ligament issues or if there is something bigger going on.  I really hope we can fix her soon, it is hard to watch her gimp around on her bad days.  She still lays down a good bit so I know her feet are bothering her.  I asked for a copy of the xrays for the farrier so I should also be able to post them.  I hope you will find them to be cool to look at.

Have a lesson for Sunday again though I may reschedule it for next weekend.  I haven't been able to ride a single time this week due to being busy and spending time with DH.  I've been having a hard time even getting up at 530 so riding in the AM has been out.  At night we've had something going on every night since he's been back, aside from last night where the contractor didn't show up or call until it was 45 mins after he was supposed to be here.  At least we were able to get other things done but it meant riding was out.  Maybe tonight I can accomplish something.

I have been turning the horses out in the indoor arena since we have had the great melt and it is working out really well.  We bought chains and put them up where the sliding door of the arena goes so the horses can have a nice spring breeze and warm sunshine and still be contained.  I didn't like how stuffy it got in the arena when they were out there on Saturday so this is a nice compromise.  They can be out, they can eat hay, they can have sunshine and I don't have to worry about them destroying what little pasture I have.  It's was in the 60's yesterday and will be staying in the 40-50's this upcoming week, thank goodness spring is here this weekend!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A lot has happened lately, where to begin?!?  Well let's start with this weekend.  I had 2 lessons, one with a girl who knows gaited gaits and one with my normal instructor.  MIL had a medical emergency that required SO to travel back to Ohio, hoping he comes back tomorrow.  Had gutters put up on my barn and arena.  Got real internet.  Also kept myself sane.

My lesson with the gaited gal went pretty good.  I was happy to hear that I know the TWH gaits pretty well and am working in the right direction for him.  I didn't get as much out of the lesson as I had hoped but she is going to try to set up a long lining session with one of her horses free of charge.  She thinks that would help him and I am not experienced with it so I don't have the techniques or finesse.  I can ground drive and lunge so it should be an easy transition.  I had to reiterate many times that I am not interested in showing, that my reason for this lesson is simply to expand my knowledge on the gaited gaits.  She did say I didn't need regular lessons, only occasional pointers so that was good.  Overall I had a good time and met someone I seem to mesh with well.

My lesson with my instructor was a little disappointing, I really didn't get the feedback I was hoping for.  Our plan was to ride the new dressage tests and get feedback.  While I did get feedback, it was about a quarter in volume as I was expecting.  The App was slight off in his left hind and didn't work out of it.  We found we can ride First 1 this year if I can get him consistent again so I now have a goal.  The lesson with the TWH didn't go as I anticipated, with it being cut short in addition to very little feedback.  We rode Training 1 and he did pretty good.  Need to try the intro tests to see if we can trot them.  We do need to work on our walk/canter transitions and get them sharper before our show season.  Overall I really didn't like the "feel" of the lesson, hoping it was just an off day and next weekend will be better.

Thanks to the great melt and rain, the barn and arena have been flooding so I hired a contractor to put gutters up.  Had seamless gutters installed and am hoping for some good drainage now.  Am very happy to see how well they work since we will be getting rain tonight and on Thursday.  Here's to less flooding and the same amount of mud!

Hoping for a better week and that SO comes home soon.  It is difficult to do everything myself and still stay positive.  A couple of nights I was a bit moody when I finally talked to SO and I know I shouldn't be.  On the plus side we now have DSL internet and it makes me quite happy.  I can now watch a video and not have to wait forever for it to load.  And listen to music online again.  And and and.  The only downside is that it goes down much more frequently than my broadband, the upside is that it comes up within a minute of going down and without intervention on my part.  Hoping that resolves itself soon cause I need a break somewhere.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Appytude breakthrough!

Am so happy about my progress last night.  When I rode with my riding buddy on Tuesday the App gave her some attitude, mostly pinned hears and a swishy tail protesting transitions and good forward movement.  Despite that she was able to get some nice canter circles out of him and still had a good time.  The boys got the day off Wednesday thanks to a trip to the vet for the dog (itchy ears) so I figured I would suck it up and work the App last night.

I gave him a good brushing and de-haired as much as I could.  I am starting to see his summer coat shine through, and shine it is!  He was pleasant and attentive to what I was doing, progress I thought.  I only had about a half hour of ride time available so I figured what better way to feel satisfactorily tired after a 30 min ride than to do it bareback.  This is taking a fairly big gamble with the App since he has been so bad lately but I had made up my mind.  Grabbed my lead rope, bridle and pad and headed off to the arena realizing I had a 25% chance of actually riding since our groundwork sessions are quite spotty, most times he requires some pretty strong convincing that I am the boss.  We yielded his shoulders, backed, stopped, turned and then faced to those dreaded haunches and side passes.  I know this is the turning point in our session, he has been very soft and responsive so far but the haunches are his sticking point.  If this doesn't go well then I know my ride just disappeared.

I asked him to yield his haunches on his better side and he moved without any thought.  Holding my breath I asked him to sidepass and he... just did it?  Didn't swat a tail or throw his head?  Hmmm.  Asked for another yield and went to the other side.  Could he possibly be listening and not fighting me tonight???  He hesitated about moving his haunches but then stepped under himself like he has been doing it for years (which he has).  Sidepassing was a breeze too.  I was so happy I figured I would really push my luck, why not right?

Threw my pad on in an attempt to stay cleaner and hopped aboard leaving the bridle hanging up.  Just me, my horse, a pad and a halter.  I hadn't done this for a couple of years and its been close to a year since I had ridden him bareback.  Asked for a walk and worked on steering with my legs.  And stopped. And walked.  No issues, no attitude, nothing.  Pushed forward into a trot and if anything it was pokey.  I was able to walk, trot and canter in just a halter without ever feeling out of control.  I truly didn't think I would ever be able to do that again on him, it brought tears to my eyes as I finished.  I am so happy we got back to this point, I really hope we can stay here for a while.

This weekend is our big challenge as I will be taking him on a trail ride on Saturday after my lesson on the TWH and then we have our dressage lesson on Sunday.  If nothing else I should have lots to report on Monday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is coming, projects to do

The good thing about March coming is that it starts to get warmer and spring is finally around the corner.  The downside is that it creates mud and slop and lots of rain.  I am turning out in the indoor arena today thanks to a "wintery mix" of precipitation all day today.  And by the end of the week the low is supposed to be above freezing, how awesome is that!  The yard is getting torn up pretty badly with simply walking back and forth to the pasture with the horses so it looks like gravel will be in the works soon.  Wonder what it will look like once the ground firms up...

On another note I have a funny story to share.  Keep in mind I am not a good storyteller, absolutely horrible if I try to tell one in person and just bad when I write one out.  So I shared how my arena flooded thanks to the rain and snow, it needs gutters but we don't have a way to get up there to install them.  After discussions with DH I finally called contractors to obtain quotes and had 4 people come out.  I advised I wanted a full material list so I could compare apples to apples.  Guy 1 was pretty nice, guy 2 gave me a verbal quote but never emailed me a written quote (still, to this day haven't heard from him).  Guy 3 was nice but his written quote was missing verbiage about an elevation change, specified one downspout when there was 2 and didn't include things like endcaps, elbows, etc.  Guy 4 was simply crazy.

I called guy 3 and asked for an updated quote that included the missing materials and was told "Are you kidding me?  Of course those are included, you would assume that if gutters were being installed." When I advised I had advised I had wanted a full material list he made the sarcastic comment "Should I count how many hangers I would use too?".  I advised no, as he included the spacing, but thank you for his time.  When you make a contract and don't include X, you aren't obligated to give me X.  Also, as a contractor looking for work why would you give attitude to a prospective client?  His quote was the lowest by over $150 but I didn't use him because of his attitude.  I don't need that kind of treatment, I got enough "you don't know what you need because you're a girl" from guy 4.  Sheesh.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wet weather and lunging the TWH

After some weird weather over the weekend, we did manage to get some things accomplished.  I was able to fix the gutters on 3/4 of the barn so now my barn won't flood anymore.  The gutters need replaced but that requires a day that it isn't raining and is 32 degrees.  Freezing rain, ladders, 3 inches of icy water in gutters, not a good time.  A big agenda on my to-do list this week is to obtain quotes to have gutters installed on the arena.  It is 14 feet high and I don't have any way to get up there so it shall be farmed out.  I went to put the horses in the arena on Saturday morning, thanks to the sloppy weather, and was met with half of the arena very wet and a good third of it actually underwater.  Perfect.  Thankfully it drained really well once things got cold enough for the snow to stop melting off of the roof and it now looks beautiful  as we scraped and dragged it and made it usable again.  Yay us!

I did take time to lunge Sinatra again, though not making him spotless, this time with the camera in case he decided to give me the most beautiful trot again.  Alas I did not get what I was looking for, I did get video however until I obtain DSL I cannot share it.  Until then here is what it looks like.  When we start, Sinatra is very wiggly and bendy.  He likes to look at me, see exhibit A.

So... What are YOU up to?  I am forward so I'm behaving.

Even if you push forward, you will still be watched because you are obviously more interesting then where one is going.

You are so nice to look at, so I must look at you.
 The only way to eliminate this behavior is to put things on the ground or attach side reins so I opted for option B today.

We worked on transitions between the walk and flatwalk as he claimed to have forgotten the queue to slow down.  A little trot work.

Until we were finally able to obtain something pretty and forward.
While this is a slightly awkward photo, I like how he is really bending his left hock to put his leg underneath of him.  For someone who had to have injections done last year because of hock problems, I am always happy when I see him really bending his hocks.  We worked on canter with a down transition to trot and it is coming pretty well.  I only got 2 really good efforts but it is better than last time when I only got one so I am calling it progress.

I am riding with the buddy tomorrow and then have 2 (TWO!!!!) lessons this weekend.  On Saturday I am riding with someone that is supposed to know gaited horse gaits!  She is a trainer/instructor for Icelandics however does help other gaited horses with the basics.  I am excited to see what she has to say about our gaits, exactly what he is doing and how to work to get the elusive running walk.  If we aren't doing it already since I don't *really* know what I am doing.  Am hoping for some good feedback.  On Sunday I have my normal lesson, we are concentrating on the new dressage tests so we'll see how it goes!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let's meet the TWH

My walker is currently baggage free, at least IMO, however I was introduced to him back in 07 and he had baggage, a lot of it.  As a previous post talks about here, he was bought as a padded horse throw away.  He was bred by the former president of TWHBEA and his dam's side is a long line of padded horses.  He had joint clicking at the age of 4 and had virtually no training.  Very jumpy and very sensitive to the touch, he was someones first horse.  He was probably stacked at the age of 1 and backed by the age of 1.5 and didn't make the cut so he was shipped down the road to be sold as a trail horse to someone who didn't know better.
I call this his Young and Ugly pic, this was his sales picture.
Only one I have from his younger years.
My first meeting with him was very brief, I saw him for probably only 30 mins and then didn't see him again for almost 6 months when his owner contacted me and was upset over his behavior.  The barn he was at was recommending selling him or putting him down as he had gotten into the habit of rearing and flipping.  I went and evaluated him, determined he wasn't mean about it and that he just had huge gaps in training and what they were riding him in hurt.  Like a double twisted wire snaffle with huge shanks.  Or  a bicycle chain bit with shanks. And a saddleseat saddle that didn't come close to fitting.  As I was the only one crazy enough to ride this rearing beast, I started retraining him by starting back at the basics.

Fast forward a couple of years and he has been moved to the barn I was at, I was riding him a couple of times a week and was working on getting him to learn how to canter.  Tragedy struck when he kicked the App (who fully deserved it) and fractured the App's front leg.  While the App was out of commission for 6 months, the TWH became my full time project.  We learned to canter, we learned to trot, we learned to jump.  After the App was rideable again, I simply forgot to stop working with the TWH.

We started showing in gaited dressage, some jumping shows and even placed 5th out of 18 in a w/t/c flat class.  When I found I was moving to Michigan, the owner asked if I could take him with me. She couldn't bear to sell him and not know what would happen to him and she couldn't afford him anymore.  Obviously I have SUCKER written on my forehead because of course I took him.  Despite the fact he is gaited, randomly spooky, passive and reactive I think I am actually going to be able to use him for what I want to do.  By jumping I am teaching him to think before reacting, by turning out with the App he is learning to be more aggressive.  By trotting we are opening up possibilities for normal classes and the random spookiness we will just have to deal with but it is SO much better than it used to be.

So meet Sinatra, my TWH who is becoming a well rounded trotting horse whether he was bred for it or not.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

So happy, no longer in the dark ages (non horse related)

Someone once said something about a squeaky wheel, how about one that is also constant, insistent and a touch demanding?  When I moved here I was told I could not have high speed internet.  I can't have cable, I am 1/2 mile too far from where cable runs and it is not cost effective for them to extend the lines.  I can't have DSL because no one offers it.  I can't have wireless because I am in this tiny 1/3 mile triangle that isn't serviced (literally).  My only options are broadband, dial up or satellite.  I have been using broadband but it kinda sucks. 

Broadband sucks, Exhibit 1.  I have to put an ice pack on the bottom of the wireless card because it gets too hot.  If no ice pack used it will drop connections if used for anything less than very light usage.  Exhibit 2. It is kinda slow, approximately 200-400kbps on a given day.  Faster than dial up, but not very good at all.  Exhibit 3.  Not entirely reliable.  While it isn't UNreliable, it goes down about once per month.  When this happens I have to take my butt to Wendy's/Tim Hortons and use their free wifi.  It's only a 7 minute drive but actually working a desk job in a public fast food restaurant is not exactly a pleasurable experience.  Exhibit 4. Virgin Mobile has changed their unlimited broadband plan, which is what I have/had.  I use about 8gb per month since I work as a programmer out of my house and the unlimited was great.  The "unlimited" plan is now capped at 5gb and then the speed drops to dial up speeds.  This means I am screwed for the last third of every month starting tomorrow. 

I would call my list of numbers every month to bother someone about getting internet, always with failure.  When I finally got a home phone in December (for work), I started calling every other week and asking about internet. And getting transferred.  And being "escalated".  And put on hold for long periods of time.  When the local phone provider put an ad in the paper announcing they were offering high speed internet in my town of course I called them.  And was told I was too far away.  So I called back.  Every week.  And then they offered an open house so I went and talked to the tech manager.  He said of COURSE I qualify for internet, I am only 2.2 miles from the substation.  But the people he gave me to talk to still said nope.  I called twice per week and was finally told I am 193 feet too far away, there isn't anything they can do for me (and stop calling was implied). 

I received a phone call today.  Someone my case was escalated to, and to whom I spoke to for about 15 seconds, has been working on my case for over 3 weeks and *gasp* I CAN HAVE INTERNET!  She said she had to jump through a lot of hoops and track down a lot of people to get this so I told her sign me up before they change their mind about my qualification.  I am so happy I will actually have real internet on March 14th.  Maybe I will be able to upload my videos now, right now youtube says it will take over 10 hours to upload my videos.  Sheesh.  Today looks to be shaping up to be okay after all.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The beginning of progress

So after being royally peeved off at the App, I finally broke down and rewatched some of Clinton Anderson's groundwork sessions for more ideas.  Why Clinton Anderson when I don't agree with about half of his stuff?  Because I do agree with *most* of his groundwork sessions, just not his riding and he is easy on my eyes.  And I would rather watch a cute younger cowboy than an older cowboy who does similar things. 

After some thinking and analyzing I realized that the App isn't nearly as soft and responsive as he used to be and no longer is giving to pressure.  Laziness on my part I assume, as he used to do it and I haven't insisted he stay that way.  So I took a break from riding these past few days and we focused on groundwork.  We worked on yielding the quarters and sidepassing, of which he adamantly denied knowing how to do.  Worked on changing direction on a lunge line and giving/turning to pressure.  Getting him to give to pressure when pulling diagonally back is still a problem for him but we will keep working on it.  We have had 3 good and hard ground sessions since Monday and already I can see a good improvement in his attitude.  No longer is the App walking beside/in front of me when going to/from the pasture.  No longer is the App walking with his head straight up in the air to see what is going on, he walks with it down and relaxed like a good horse.  No longer is he making me go to him and put the halter on, he is now coming to me and starting to put his head down for the halter.  No longer am I getting nasty ears when I go into the stall (which I never tolerated but would get them until I sternly corrected him).  I had a short grooming session last night and actually enjoyed our time.  Success!

Canceled my lesson for this weekend and will have it next weekend instead, hoping if I keep the groundwork up that I can ride on the road this weekend and not end up on the screaming beast.  He's not doing it when we are in the arena so I am keeping my fingers crossed.  Then with success our lesson will be great because he will have automatically stopped fighting me.  Time will tell, am going to ride him tonight so we will see how it goes.