Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vacation is over

Sorry for the lack of updates, I had warned I was on vacation and I had my grandmother in from out of state and those took up most of every day.  We got a lot of things done, for a 70 yr old lady she sure works hard.  I would easily say she worked as hard as, if not harder than, most teenagers.  We cleaned a ton of brush/shrub along our property line, we put up a new pasture (YAY!!!), we whipped my flowerbed into something respectable and so much more.  Sadly she left yesterday and the affects of not having a third person to help can already be felt, it took more than 20 mins to clean stalls lol.

Last Sunday we went to a C rated show with Sinatra.  He has only been to one "real" hunt/jump show and that was spring of last year.  Since I can't seem to find any open shows with jumping classes around here, I figured go big or go home right?  We went into the 18" crossrails division and 2' beginning jumpers division.  Unfortunately I was the only adult in the crossrails division, despite being told there would be enough adults to hold the class, so I was put in with 27 little kids.  I hate showing against little kids and I am pretty certain the judge didn't place me b/c she thought I was in the class incorrectly.  The HUS class with the kids was split and I ended up in the second split that contained only 10 people.  Despite having the best ride of the entire day, and knowing I did better than at least 2 kids that placed, I did not place.  Was pretty disappointed as I wanted to drop that class, it was the last one of the day, I was tired and I already had to fight off parents making comments about me showing against the kids and then didn't even place.  Ugh.

My Beginning Hunters class went much better however.  There were 7 people in the division and they were all adults.  We had our 2 fence classes first and Sinatra impressed me by not refusing or second guessing a jump a single time, not even at the super scary red flowers!  There was one time he offered to help me fall off, he deer leaped the red flowers, however all went well and I got 5th and 6th and then got 4th in the HUS class.  Overall not too bad of a show however I don't think he is quite ready for a rated show and am renewing my efforts in finding small open shows.

Our other big accomplishment is our new pasture.  It's a small pasture, about a half acre, but it increases the turnout areas we have to 3.  Now we can rotate grass turnout and still have the indoor for when the weather is yucky.  Thew new pasture is Electrobraid fencing and it is super cool, well actually super hot.  We got the Electrobraid energizer since it was actually cheaper than some of the other energizers when you compared the output and range.  The voltmeter that came with the kit doesn't seem to work right but if it is even close to correct, that baby is putting out 12k in volts on the fence.  Both boys touched the fence on Sunday and each gave an impressive reaction, I know when I accidentally touched the fence I got a good zap and it tingled for a good couple of minutes afterwards.  I am quite happy with my new pasture and the boys are very happy being out on grass, finally.

More updates to come, hopefully some pictures too.  Getting ready for Sinatra's xc schooling on Saturday and the eventing derby on Sunday.  Keep your fingers crossed for us, we have to do a w/t/c dressage test.  EEK!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Daisy has a blowout

I had noticed Daisy had become slightly lame over this past weekend but was super busy with riding and getting ready for my grandmother I didn't investigate too deeply.  On Monday, after picking up the grandmother, I noticed Daisy was noticeably lame so I sighed and gave her a half gram of bute.  On Tuesday I had time to mess with her so I brushed her down and picked her feet out.  As I got to her right front, her worst foot, I saw what looked like poo stuck to her foot, sticking out from the sides.  I picked it out and realized what I saw was not in fact poo, it was her heel.

 What are you looking at you say?

Her huge heel has been demolished.  The farrier thinks it was the body simply shedding the frog in a dramatic fashion, this is the foot we have had issues with the frog not actually being attached and being thrushy.  Don't remember what it looked like?  Here is pic from Feb-ish to show how much heel we have:
This is a hind foot, but the heel size is about the same.

You can see how much heel there was, we had taken some of the heels off but not too much as we were working more on angles.  Anyway, Daisy was pretty sore on it so I tried to soak it to clean it.  Let's just say donkey's think buckets with water are meant to eat any foot that dare enter said bucket.  I had tied her up, good idea on my part, and Daisy proceeded to sit back and pull and pull and pull.  When she wasn't pulling she was trying to rear or walking in zig zags.  When she finally stood for a moment in said bucket I took the opportunity to pick the foot up to apply some neopsporin before wrapping.  This proved to be unwise as Daisy reared and basically put her front leg over my back while still pulling backwards.  She was finally able to wrestle her foot away from me and she dug into the sand trying to pull away.  Ugh.  Donkey - 2 Me - 0

Repeated the process again with very similar results so I gave up and asked the grandmother to help pour some of the water over the hoof while I held it.  That should be easier, right?  No hoof eating buckets, I will be holding a leg, I'll be in control. Except it turns out donkeys hate water being poured on their foot even more than they hate buckets.  Needless to say I got soaked.  And dirty.  And thrown around a little.  But I was able to get the hoof *mostly* clean so I removed the evil water from the equation, brushed out the dirt I could, put a big ribbon of neosporin in the frog area and wrapped it with vet wrap and duct tape.  On the plus side my vet wrap was black and my duct tape was yellow so she looked like a big caution sign.  Donkey - 5 Me - 1.  I am calling that victory.

The farrier came out last night and trimmed the frog/heel flaps completely off so they wouldn't catch on anything.  She is now over an inch shorter on the right front foot, when the farrier is out in June he said he will start cutting the heels down more to prevent this happening on the other feet.  Unfortunately she was a little too ouchy to try trimming the left front to level her out.

She is back on bute and will be for a few more days and thankfully it really has helped.  She is now back down to a half gram twice a day and I hope to give it to her only in the AM starting this weekend.  I have to try to soak her foot in some solution for 15-30 mins a day (really farrier?!?!?) and apply a combo of neosporin/athletes foot cream daily to keep anything from developing while the tissues heal.  I am thinking my best option will be a heavy gallon sized freezer bag duct taped to her leg.  There isn't any way I will be able to get her to stand still that long with a bucket or the too large soaker boot the farrier brought.  Let's see if I survive the weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ready to jump again, we can do this!

Since my first rated show is this weekend, I figure I better get in gear and ride Sinatra otherwise this weekend could be a disaster.  Yesterday we worked on the flat, getting a good trot transition, getting a good canter transition from trot and still working on trot from canter.  Sinatra finally figured out that when we go from canter to the next gait down, I want a trot and not a pace so I consider that progress.  I end up getting only a stride or two of pace before a nice trot is picked up, I am hoping that will be good enough for our first show.  An expensive gamble yes, but we will try!   

Sinatra has a very nice floaty trot and has a beautiful "show" canter when he wants to.  Thankfully it is fairly easy to get it so I am working on getting it as soon as possible when I start riding.  Yesterday we worked on keeping a nice consistent headset when transitioning to and from trot and keeping a nice rhythmic canter.  Unfortunately I am just hoping for the best for the canter/trot transitions but we did practice them.  Also practiced backing up without reins, I think it looks nice to be sitting there and suddenly he backs up.  He can do it so it was just a matter of finessing.  He is really good at backing, which is awesome considering what he used to do when asked to back.  Rear, go sideways, require pulling, never backing straight.  Now I can simply apply leg and he drops his little head and backs, I love doing it in the ring.  I had a judge audibly say "wow" one time when we did it, loved it.

Today I jumped him under saddle for the first time since cross country schooling last month.  Should I have been doing this all along?  Uh, yeah but I ran out of time.  Oh well, I only do this for fun right?  If you recall I have spent most of my workings with Sinatra on a lunge line going over jumps so he learns how to jump by himself and without refusing.  I started the ride with some nice wt/c transitions and getting a decent gait within a lap.  I had originally measured my jumps as a 50' 3 to 4 stride but unfortunately that wasn't going to work due to size restrictions of my arena so I bumped it to a 30' 2 stride.  The line was a 2' vertical, 2 stride, 2' vertical.  I definitely wanted to push him over an immediately hard jump to see if he would back off and I was pleased to see he didn't.  I was displeased, however, to have him consistently be unable to meet the striding, jump properly, keep the lead or be quiet.  After trying to go over the set of jumps about a dozen times I gave up and moved the configuration.

I removed the line and set the jumps to be two single verticals, each with a long and short approach from the wall.  The first time over Sinatra brought down the fence which resulted in a pretty impressive spook. He tried really hard to help me fall off, I guess it is saying something that I am not falling off even though everyone's continued attempts lol.  A pretty hard one rein turn and some softening exercises brought him back and we didn't even hit a jump the rest of the ride.  It then took a few times for him to go over the jump correctly, a couple times he took off much too late, one time he took off way too early but he is getting better.  After finally going over both jumps correctly 3x each I put one of the jumps up to 2'6" and we went over it 3x like we had been doing it for months.  That made me happy, I am taking it to mean the work I was doing on the lunge is working.   He isn't being intimidated by the jumps anymore!  Am planning on jumping again tomorrow morning and as much as we can before Sunday, let's see how prepared I can get us!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cross Country May recap

First off, how awesome is it that people are starting to follow me?!?  Really cool I think and as a result I am celebrating by putting up pictures of xc schooling early AND going to post more than I planned on.  Enjoy!

I had sent in my registration for schooling a little late but was surprised when I hadn't heard from the manager by Friday to schedule my ride time so I gave her a call.  After a call back it appears as though she hadn't gotten my registration until that day and all time slots had filled up.  She had 65 people scheduled to school but if I wanted to come early she could squeeze me in on Sat at 8 or 9a.  After some quick phone calls I confirmed we could do Sat morning which resulted in some scrambling Friday night.

Got off to a good start on Saturday even though it was raining.  It wasn't raining too hard and the ground wasn't that soft so I put my rain suit on and off we went.  If you recall from my last post, my App normally requires a lot of effort to be usable.  I had tried my copper mouth full cheek last time per my instructors request with very tired, sore shoulders to show for the efforts.  My instructor suggested I try a waterford bit this time as it works well for horses that pull.  Unfortunately the waterford bit I had ordered last weekend didn't come like I had hoped so I rode in my normal cross country bit, a slow twist snaffle.  For whatever reason, my App was amazing.  Gone was the pogo stick, fast, forward, pulling horse and I had a nice relaxed horse.  YAY!!!
Who me? I'm a good horse even in rain
We started over some nice easy jumps and we did that well.  I got half halts when I asked for them (?!?!) and he stopped when I asked.  Such a welcome change!

Easy Peasy

 We quickly moved over to real xc jumps and we soared. The only problem with the App and jumping is he doesn't tuck his front legs very well.  He almost always "hangs" his knees which can be dangerous over solid fences.  He is much better over big jumps, though since his fracture 09 I don't want to jump him higher than 2'9" so the hanging issues sticks around.

After finding a lot of the jumps we went over last time were now in pretty wet ground we decided to finish the day by playing in the water.  Would it really matter that we would play in water considering it was starting to rain harder?  Everyone was getting soaked, even me and I was fully covered in my rain suit.

We ran in the water and jumped up banks and down banks, this time we got pictures though.  This is easy stuff for him though, we've been jumping in and out of water since about 03. Since SO had borrowed the "good" camera, not only do I have good quality pics, I was also able to get multi action shots so we have progressive pics like these:

While I am not super happy with my position here, as my reins are too long, I just love the pic of Chip here, so much effort and a great shot.

 You can tell if you look at the water that it started raining a little harder than "hard".  When we started, remember, it was a light rain.  By the time we got to the water jumps it was raining hard.  By the time we got to the end it started pouring hard.  These next pics you may think are hazy. The reason is not due to any kind of color adjustment, it is due to how hard it was raining and I was still crazy enough to jump in it. 
When it started pouring is when we got our few refusals, I am going to be nice and tribute the weather and his being tired to the refusals.  I got worried, since he doesn't refuse, and looking back I suppose it was good that my instructor pushed me on.  I was going to get him over a single jump and call it quits for fear something was wrong, she is the one that insisted he was fine and he was just tired and showing attitude.  Thus I went ape on him and we were able to finish our course.  I absolutely will not ride without my crop again, I don't think I would have had these problems if I had my "encouragement stick".

There is a reason they call eventing the second craziest discipline in the equine world.  In weather that no one would be riding in period, I am out jumping 2' to 2'6" jumps in slippery grass. I think being barefoot really helped, I never used studs when I had shoes on him and I am sure we would have slipped if we had shoes on.  All day?  Didn't have more than a slight slip.  All in all we had a good time.  We got back to the trailer completely soaked and cold, I realized I didn't bring my cooler so I threw the App in the trailer and we headed home since it is only a 20 minute drive.  Got him covered up, gave him some hay mash, liniment and bute and he recovered fine.  Myself?  A fresh change of dry clothes, a hot cup of tea and a bunch of chores awaited me.  Sometimes I think my horses have it too easy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Soooo tired

Had a pretty good day cross country schooling with the App today.  It rained the entire time, which sucked. And the last part it poured, and I mean poured which sucked even more.  I think it was a combination of being tired and the crappy weather I got a couple of refusals from the App, something that is practically unheard of from him?!?!  I got really angry and frustrated and was able to finish the little course that we arranged.  Got LOTS of pictures this time thanks to SO not locking the keys in the truck lol!  Hopefully I can get them sized by Monday and do a recap.

Also THANK YOU to Denali's Mom for being my new follower!  I have been following her for about a year and I happened to alert her about a fabulous deal on a Back on Track blanket she has been drooling over.  I am so happy she was finally able to get one and at such a great price.  THANK YOU to Achieve1dream for being my first follower!  I saw her comments semi regularly on an amazingly large amount of blogs that I follow (over 50) and was happy when she started to follow me.  More to come, I'm exhausted.  Bed here I come!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Putting things back together

Things have been fairly quiet the past few days, what a nice change!  I went on a relaxing trail ride with my riding buddy and didn't make the TWH think too hard after his jumping session.  I think it helped giving him another day off.  I went to lunge the TWH today and quickly realized that his screws are still loose from our jumping session on Monday.  I abandoned my plan of lunging basics and perhaps a small jump and went straight back to groundwork.  I took out the metaphorical duct tape and worked at putting him back together and I think it worked.

Lots of yielding, lots of stopping and not moving until he relaxed, lots of transitions.  Lots of backing and despooking, even more stopping.  My hope for a quick 20 minute session turned more into a 40 minute session but I think it was time well spent.  By the time we were done I think I had the horse I had before he lost his screws.  I let him be my weedeater and eat some of the grass along the arena so I don't have to mess with it and turned everyone out.  It's looking to be a good day.

Things are about to get very hectic, no big surprise considering this is my life.  This weekend I am going cross country schooling again on the App, hopefully we will get pictures this time!  My grandmother is coming to visit from New England, she is very excited to see my new place and all that has been accomplished.  If I don't post anything over the next 2 weeks, that is the reason.  I will post as soon as I can.  The following weekend, the 21/22, I am going to my very first rated show!!  I am quite excited and a bit intimidated.  It is a C rated show so it shouldn't be too bad but still.  I will be bringing the TWH and going over 2' and 2'3" fences.  Keep your fingers crossed, maybe we will actually do well!

After these two weeks we have a one week break and then have our first eventing derby of the year at the place we go cross country schooling.  On Sat I will bring the TWH for schooling (and hopefully do better than this past time) and on Sun I hope to be able to bring both horses and show our stuff.  I am very excited about the first weekend of June, it looks to be a very good time.

Alas, I will let you know how things go.  I notice I am getting more page hits, I keep hoping for a new follower.  How cool would that be?!?  I shouldn't be too disappointed since I don't advertise my blog but my current follower found me without my advertising.  Maybe I'll start putting my blog out there, I will admit I have found it is really cool to post things and have someone comment on them.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Your screws are loose

Since I am bringing the App to more xc schooling this weekend and not the TWH, I continued with my plan to school the TWH over jumps.  I really want to solidify the idea that refusal is never the best option and that I can test him and he just has to figure it out.  Thus, out came the jump standards and lunge line but this time I had a camera!  Apologies in advance for the pic quality, only so much one can do when I have to drive, drive, drive with the lunge whip to get him over big jumps plus manage the line plus manage the camera.  I can say the jumps in which I wasn't trying to take a picture did go better.

I set up an easy oxer, about 2 feet wide with "wings" on the inside so the lunge line will side over.  The wings make a smooth line over the standard so the line can't catch and bring fences or horses down.  Jump cups are their resting point with the poles being laid over the top of the standard itself.

I really wanted to push the TWH's limits today and see what his limits are.  I want to start jumping under saddle again and need to know where the gaps are over bigger fences. So instead of progressing slowly like normal with a crossrail I immediately put him over a 2' vertical and then oxer and we had no issues.

Easy peasy
I bumped it up to 2'6" and again we had no issues jumping though we started to have "other" issues.  Like the inability to "whoa" or "walk"?  We took a small break and worked on those issues and when I thought we were okay I started again.  Looking back I now realize "the package was breaking" at this point.

Two six is easy too.  Baby stuff!
3 foot came much easier than I expected, there wasn't any refusal or hard looking, he just jumped it like I had hoped and I was quite happy!

Burning calories here, 3' means we gotta really push. Notice lunge whip lash on left
Three foot isn't too bad anymore.

Hind feet can clear jumps!  They are about 3' 9" high here
At this point, however, I started to notice the package of screws really wasn't right.  The ability to calmly walk was suffering and if I picked up the lunge line he would immediately start trotting instead of waiting for a cue to move.  After some pretty firm convincing, the TWH remembered he could listen on a lunge...sometimes.  I really needed to finish the exercise however so I bumped the jump straight up to 3'6" and waited to see what happened.
Notice how high the hind feet are, over a foot above the jump standard,
front feet brought the poles down
The front feet are again bringing a rail down
 Yeah, that is what happened.  He clips the jumps with his front feet, almost never his back, and brings it down. The second time being presented to the jump he did refuse, he slowed down to a halt in front of it.  Not skidding, just a trot/pace then a walk and a stop.  Needless to say he got chased over the jump and that was again the only time there was a refusal.  We then started getting real jumps


Need to tuck just a little more and jump a little further back. Notice how vertical
he/his back is b/c he is jumping so close to the fence.
Nicely done

At this point his brain was pretty frazzled and he was pretty bug-eyed.  He couldn't listen or concentrate so I put the jump back down to 3', put him over it until it was clean 2x and then did some light groundwork to mend is broken mind.  Poor guy had his screws all over the place and not in that nice little package of a brain.  I am going to do a lunge line session with him tomorrow to reestablish the basics and hopefully unfrazzle his brain.

Overall I am happy with his progress and am very happy with some of his efforts.  He has learned he has to jump things even if he knows he will bring them down.  He has learned how to jump big things.  I will now bump him back down and work on some stretching over fences and getting him to jump them correctly, he really likes to put himself really deep/close to the jump which will be bad for me as a rider.  On the plus side, however, now hopefully he won't refuse just because he sees a jump and it is big.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We can haz brainz! Pt II

Unfortunately I didn't get chance to work the TWH on Sat or Sun (ugh!) so I did it last night.  My only intention in working him was to get him over big jumps without a refusal.  I am still fairly irritated at his refusal when we were going cross country, I think if I can get him more comfortable going higher maybe I won't have such issues as he won't have an "Oh Crap that's big" moment.. Once he goes higher we can start doing more gymnastics and get him thinking, it will be a win-win.  However, despite my daredevil personality, I had absolutely no desire to strap myself to the white beast while he has to figure new things out.  Picture a toddler putting together a puzzle, it doesn't always go very well and there are lots of "ugh" moments.  As a result I put him on a lunge and set up a jump with "wings" on the inside to help the lunge line slide over.  Another useful benefit of the "wings" is the jump obtains a chute like appearance, it helps to keep horses from running out.

After a quick warm up we started over a small crossrail  and then bumped it up to a 2 foot vertical.  After he was okay with that I made it into an oxer and had him go over it 3x each direction.  He got it pretty easily so I bumped it up to 2'6".  He rapped the poles a couple of times but eventually I got him over it clean 3x each direction.  I stopped him and let him rest while I made adjustments to make it a 3' oxer.  I got his rhythm down on a smaller circle and sent him out into a canter towards his very first ever 3' jump.  He cantered casually on the circle until he saw the jump.  It was funny his eyes widened, he stopped/refused and you could see him go "WTH!?!?! I can't go over that!".  I was right there, however, with a loud kiss and a good spank with the lunge whip to make him find that courage he was lacking.  He jumped into it and brought the entire jump down but the fact he tried and that he decided that refusing wasn't the best option made me quite happy.

I put the jump back up and tried again and he soared over it like it was 4 feet high.  Note to self, he can jump when he wants to!  I put him over the 3' oxer until he was clear and comfortable 3x each direction and then put it up to 3'3".  He looked at the jump pretty hard and almost stopped but he jumped it without a refusal or a stop.  He knocked down the jump a few times by hitting the back of the oxer with his front legs but eventually he got it figured out.  After 3x each directions we cooled out and I let him have some grass.  I will do this exercise a couple more times before I ride him at that height, I want him confident and forward and I think repetition with the freedom to figure it out will help.  He is currently jumping anything  2'3" and higher quite vertically and deer like, I would like him more forward and round.

I am very very happy that he used his head and was able to figure out how to go over bigger jumps.  I am also very very happy that he only refused once and tried to jump even though he brought the jumps down a few times.  I would much rather have a horse bring rails down than one that refuses.  I am very proud of my boys.

We can haz brainz! Pt I

I am breaking my thoughts into two entries because otherwise it is one long entry.  Had some breakthrough moments on both boys lately and want to share.  The first came from this past weekend.  Of course I was busy though I didn't get as much done as I had hoped.  SO made the decision he had to buy a bike, and not just any bike but a Giant bike thus we had to go to a bike store.  Ouch, out whips the credit card.  As a result of the new purchase he wanted to ride it on Saturday so I figured I'd follow behind him on a horse. 

I took the App out since I wanted to jump the TWH, though was dreading the ride because I know what it entails, see here for how our trail rides have been going lately.  We set out and the App seemed pretty settled.  At about a quarter mile in he started getting fidgety so I booted him into a trot and kept him going for about a quarter of a mile.  I sat back and asked for a walk and he gave it to me (?!?!).  He was nice and relaxed, he didn't try to jig or speed back up, he was quite content to stay at a nice relaxed walk. 

We walked for a bit longer on the 2nd leg of our journey around the block and I tried a canter to see if I could catch up with the SO.  He gave me a nice relaxed canter that was contained and relaxed, it was simply awesome.  Unfortunately the third and longest leg of our trip was set at mostly a walk due to the road being recently graded, lots of larger rocks were all over the road.  We caught up with the SO about 3/4 the way on the third leg, he is just starting this biking thing lol, and we went together to the fourth leg.

He thought it would be fun to race so he took off down a small hill, the App of course had no problem chasing and catching him.  On the plus side?  We found he goes about 18 mph at a gallop.  Down side?  When we got back I found he had a pretty good chip of hoof coming off down by his heel.  No worries though, the farrier came back out yesterday and we shouldn't have to worry about it.  I was so happy my boy had a brain, didn't scream for his buddies and didn't act like a moron, as a result we were able to have FUN!