Thursday, December 26, 2013

A thank you to Hillary and Houston! Secret blogger gift reveal

I am such a bad, bad blogger, I did not get this up before Christmas.  To my defense, we didn't have power from Saturday night until JUST NOW and I can't seem to use blogger on my phone but I am still sorry that I didn't get it up when I should have.

Tracy over at Fly On Over hosted a Secret Blogger Gift Exchange.  I got Karen from Bakersfield Dressage and I was lucky enough to have gotten Hillary and Houston.  I hadn't ever read their blog before but I am now!  Unfortunately for Houston, he got hurt right as the gift exchange was happening but a special gift was sent out and imagine the gleam in my eyes as I got THIS from the Brown Santa aka UPS truck:

Aaooooo!!  I LOVE Smartpak!!
Another bucket?  Who can't use a bucket?!
They used to come in a cardboard box.

Oh man the boys are going to be SO happy!
The TWH took NO time whatsover deciding that the Hanging Balls are much more important than hay and thus we have had a lot of this:


Thank you so much to Hillary and Houston for the yummy treat, I hope Houston heals up fast!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mia introduces her sassy side

The horses are doing really well, the dental visit has done wonders for the TWH.  He went from wasting about half of the hay despite a slow feed hay bag back to being my Hoover.  From being able to feel ribs when you press through his fat to now solidly being unable to know he even has ribs.  Mia has become quieter in the bridle and she has continued to put weight on, I think I will have another easy keeper once she is where she needs to be.  The App is having his typical hard time acclimating to winter but after supplementing with some rice bran he is almost where I want him and he is really easy to keep once he "gets there".  Weird old horses and their weird quirks.  He can be/was super fat in the summer.  Fall came he was fine, cold hit and he just drops the weight despite the additional hay and doubling of grain.  Sept/Oct/Nov for the past 4 years are spent re-packing pounds on and then he is always fine all winter.  Go figure.  Speaking of winter, what happened to the slow winters like I have been having the past few years?  I've actually had time to ride several times in the past couple of weeks. With giving lessons and other things going on though, I just haven't been riding much as I wanted.   "Several times" does not equal 3-4 times a week which is what I need.

On Sunday, though, I finally found time to ride the horses! I rode Mia first, our goals have been pretty simple.  We've been working on trying on maintaining contact while balancing while steering and also playing with the canter.  She has been doing really well and now that we have steering most of the time, it is time to focus on the canter.  I should have taken things as an omen when I started tacking up, Mia was pawing in the cross ties.  Bad mare!  No pawing, not going to let you start that bad habit.  I hadn't ridden her since Wednesday and they hadn't ran much due to the really bad weather, good thing she is so chill right?  I got her ready and made the decision to ride the fence line to make sure nothing big was on it after the 5+ inches of snow.  I brought her into the main pasture and hopped on, it sure was windy but it wasn't a big deal.  We started walking and we hadn't even made it to the treeline when I felt a big hitch.  What was that, did she just kick?? I booted her around in a circle felt it again.  Yes, that was definitely a kick.  I put her nose to my knee and made her circle 5-6 times before letting her go, under no circumstances is that behavior allowed!

We walked on and while she was very up and alert, our ride was fairly uneventful.  We made it to the second corner and I had to correct her speed only once.  She had a pretty decent spook at a huge deer that leapt over the fence but thankfully it was a spook that was mostly in place.  I much prefer those kinds of spooks!  After that she was even more up and alert when we made it to the third corner and started to home.  About a third of the way there, I felt it again.  That was definitely either a kick or a buck.  Before I could do anything about it, she gave a couple crow hops just to make her point.  BAD MARE!  I yelled at her and put her nose to my knee again and kept kicking her until she had spun at least 10 circles, it was enough I was getting a little dizzy!  She was eager to go while we walked off but we were successful in walking back to the arena without incident.  Once there I put her on the lunge line and pushed her out, if she had steam to blow let her blow it without me on her in the middle of a field full of stumps and limbs!  She volunteered the trot very quickly and took very little encouragement to go into a canter.  I held her in the canter about 3x longer than normal, however and after she was starting to lose her breath, I switched direction and did it all over again.  All in all, I only lunged her for about 10 minutes and the look on her face when I hopped on instead of letting her be done was priceless.  She seemed genuinely surprised I wasn't giving her rest like I normally do when she works.  Haha, bad mares don't get rest!

The arena part of the ride went really well, Mia is steering very well now and is even keeping her shoulders up through corners 90% of the time.  If she does drop one, it is her right shoulder as she turns left.  We even got the canter and I have to say, if it was her being tired or her getting more balanced, that was the best canter she had ever given me.  It was fairly slow and fairly balanced instead of plowing along at mach 1 as she tries to keep me between her and the ground.  Quite impressive!  After a good 40 minute ride we called it quits and she got to walk under the cooler for a good 10 minutes or so.  Plenty of treats afterwards seemed to have fixed any bad feelings, however, as all seemed forgiven as I put her away.

The ride on the TWH was uneventful, I am working on getting him fit again and getting him to work in a shorter frame, especially in the trot and canter.  We are progressing but it will take a little time.  This week has been a complete failure for riding but I am really hopeful next week will have plenty of riding time as I have the week off.  Let's see what I can get done.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New background info on Mia

When I bought Mia, the people I bought her from had her skinny, in dire need of a farrier and just about nothing else.  I asked about her background and they couldn't give me anything, not who they got her from, the area she came from, nothing.  After I got her home I tried calling the phone number listed on her coggins and despite leaving 2 messages, no one ever called me back.  I tried finding her breeder and wasn't successful so I gave up.

For whatever reason, today I decided do start researching again.  I went into the ApHC site and pulled her Dam's production record and found she had only 2 foals, both from the same sire and a year apart.  I pulled the breeder info and got a new city so thanks to the wonderful, dangerous world of Google I was able to find her phone number.  It is scary how easily you can find info online nowadays!

I called expecting to leave more messages and to my surprise someone answered!  I talked to the guy and it turns out the breeder listed was the guy's daughter, all of the horses actually belonged to the guy and his wife.  Mia was registered to the daughter as the daughter is the one who showed the breed circuit so Mia was registered as such.  It turns out the dam came from South Dakota and showed with the daughter for many years and won several championships together.  She had a small injury so she was bred to a World Grand Champion while she recovered and had Missy.  At some point between the time she had Missy and the time Mia was born she got pretty sick and lost her vision.  Mia was worked with and imprinted from day one, they spent a lot of time with her as they did with all of the horses.  She was halter broke at a week old and was exposed to as much stuff as possible at a very young age.

About 5-6 years ago, when Mia was just turning one, the daughter became pregnant and couldn't ride due to a very complicated pregnancy.  After her child was born, she apparently gave up riding and as a result both Mia and Missy sat around for years.  They put about 30 days of training into them and sometime last year they sold both Missy and Mia to the same person for almost nothing with promises of a great home with huge pastures.  I don't think who I bought Mia from is the same person who bout Mia and Missy from the breeder but I still know the condition in which I bought Mia.  I told them about the condition I got her in and told him that they didn't have Missy when I went and saw Mia.

I gave them my info and we may connect to see new pictures of Mia, they had wondered how the horses were doing but hadn't gotten a hold of the buyers.  It makes me really happy to know that Mia was bred purposefully as a show horse and had a lot of ground work installed on her at a young age to prep her for it.  It makes me much happier knowing her history and knowing that the condition she lived in when I got her was only for a very short period in her life.  Hopefully at some point they will see her name on a showbill know she has a great home.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Vacation time over, back to work

With Mia progressing under saddle, I was time to have the vet was out and took a look at her teeth.  I knew Mia was due but the TWH had also been making a grinding noise and wasting hay.  Since this is very unlike him, I figured we might as well have everyone looked at.  The vet really liked how Mia is coming along, you can almost not feel ribs which is a complete turnaround from when he first saw her.  When we got her she was very ribby, a good solid 3.5 on the BCS scale and she is now a comfortable 4.5 to 5.  He worked on her teeth first and though she had a set of extremely sharp front molars, the rest of her teeth were in good shape.  We did find she is one who will likely need tranq'ed for floating, she was tranq'ed lightly and she still kicked out, moved around a lot and gave them a hard time.  The TWH had a sharp hook in his back molars that Dr A took care of and said the rest of his teeth were fine.  Hopefully he stops wasting my hay, it is expensive!  The App didn't even require a touchup, everyone will get done in March and then hopefully we will be back to the once yearly schedule.

The TWH has had an adequate vacation, being worked lightly since last month and having no real work since the beginning of September, and is now cleared to go back to work.  The past couple of weekends I have ponied him as I rode the App around the 3 mile loop and I have ridden him a couple of times these past few weeks but it was finally time to get back to work.  I rode the TWH Tuesday and while I am impressed in how he has maintained some of his transitions, he is isn't the same exact horse I hopped off of in September.  The biggest difference is his attitude, I think he seems me as The Leader but not as His Leader anymore.  I think this has to do with his confidence, since bringing Mia home the TWH is now constantly reminded that he is at the bottom of the list and he has reverted back to being slightly standoff-ish and randomly spooky.  Because, of course, just a couple of weeks ago I was just telling someone how I didn't even consider him randomly spooky anymore.  I am going to have to work really hard at boosting his confidence again and get him back to being my trustworthy partner.  I think we will get there, hopefully it will only take a few rides to make the progress.

We started our ride at a nice walk, putting him in a frame and getting him off of the inside rein.  It took a bit longer than I expected, he is obviously rusty.  He had really good lateral control though and was quite responsive to just my soft leg.  The trot transition was pretty bad to start, he wasn't just picking it up but was instead gaiting for 6-7 steps before trotting.  That was easy enough to fix though, we spent most of our workout doing 1/4-1/2 circles of walk to 1/4-1/2 circles of trot to help quicken and improve his transitions.  Overall it went pretty well and at the end his transitions were decent.  His canter transition was awesome and his dreaded canter/trot transition was actually really good!  Going to the left, his bad side, he would give me a couple of gaited steps before trotting but was picking the trot right up.  Thankfully I am not going to have nearly as much work as I was afraid of to get him back into tip top shape.  Phew!  That leaves more time for fun stuff like jumping!

We rode for about 40 minutes before calling it a night, he is resembling a musk ox with his winter coat and I worked him into a sweat.  40 minutes is also a decent amount of time to start with in having a "real" workout anyway.  I threw him under a cooler and parked him in front of a hay bag to cool off while I brought everyone in for feeding.  This morning he was no worse for wear and his suspensories aren't inflamed or sore, sorry TWH but vacation time is over!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gift exchange!

This is what I get for being so busy lately, I haven't been reading everyone's blog and when I checked in on Tracy not only is she doing a 5 day challenge where she answers questions but she is also doing hosting a gift exchange.  Cool!  While I don't have a lot of readers, maybe someone will want to participate.  Send her your email with 2 ideas for small gifts under $20 and then she will send it to someone and send you someone else's idea.  You buy and ship it out and then share what you got on your blog.

To participate, go to  Someone is going to learn who I am, no axe murders please!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time for our first lesson

On Thursday H came out and I took my first lesson on Mia.  H was quite impressed with how Mia looked, she had gained a good bit of weight since H had seen her last.  I hopped on and I told H the story about getting her and what I have been doing with her.  How I am taking things really slow with her to lay a very firm foundation that, hopefully, has no holes so things will be easier as we progress.  H saw fairly quickly Mia's current weak spot, her shoulders.  She loves to drop her inside shoulder and plow along instead of keeping herself upright as she makes a turn, something I have been slowly working on.

After some warmup H had us start doing exercises to fix that shoulder, H called it "ice-capades", do as slow of a trot as you can get and then make as small of a circle as possible.  Keep your outside rein firm and fixed and make Mia bend to the inside. As soon as she holds it herself, give her a release to encourage her to keep the frame herself.  Overall it wasn't a bad exercise.  I wouldn't want to do it for long periods because of how small of a circle we stay on, however Mia responded pretty well with it and was staying much more upright by the end of the ride.  Success!

After some walk/trot transitions we figured we might as well try to canter under saddle, something I hadn't yet done.  I didn't expect anything bad out of her, Mia just is rather forward and very unbalanced.  H set a pole down on the ground for me and after trotting over it a couple of times, I verbally and physically asked for the canter.  She gave a couple of scrambling steps but picked up a pretty nice right lead canter.  Of course, by nice I say there wasn't any bucking/leaping/killing me because that there also wasn't any of was steering.  We made it around the circle the first time but the second?  She came so close to the arena wall her whiskers brushed the wall.  H said she was so concentrated on what she was doing, she didn't look at where she was going and, of course, had completely blocked out what my rein and leg were saying.  At the very (very!) last second she adjusted course and just my boot hit the wall.  Oh baby horses.  After that attempt I rode with a much stronger outside rein and fought to get the turn a quarter of a circle ahead of time with fairly good success.

Thankfully the left lead is much, much easier and while we still had the huge, unbalanced canter, we also had about 70% steering where the right lead had maybe 20% steering.  After several canter transitions we called it done as Mia is certainly not in good enough shape yet to have a full hour lesson with H.  H really liked her, she really liked her movement and said Mia will be very eye catching in the ring.  She has a lot of front end movement and a lot of hock action on top of her chrome hind legs.  I am glad things worked out the way they did, getting a third horse seems to be working out quite well.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Going for a trail ride

Sorry for the long delay, between being super busy and losing power, it has been crazy here!  My goal last weekend was to finally ride Mia on the road.  I have walked her around the pasture a couple of times now and she is doing really well, she is now remembering how to steer and stop which is really nice.  On Saturday I decided it was The Day.  A friend, we will call her RB5 even though she doesn't ride much, was supposed to come over but had to cancel but waited until she was supposed to arrive to actually cancel.  That sucked, now it was 445p and it was going to be dark at 530p.  I hurried up and saddled Mia up and asked SO if he would come walk with me.  He said yes until he realized I was riding a horse in which case he bailed on me because Mia walks too fast.  ARGH!  I wanted someone to come with us on our first ride out in case I was catapulted and now everyone had bailed.

Because I am super stubborn, I said FINE and went off by myself on a greener than grass horse.  It was really, really hard to keep a relaxed seat as by this time I was a buzz of energy, afraid she was going to have a huge spook at any moment. We went .7 miles down to the first large intersection and then came back and by the time we turned around I had finally relaxed.  Enough that we even trotted a couple of times!  I kept them very short, only about 50 feet at a time and as soon as she stopped plodding along and started to pick up her step I brought her back to a walk.  Good girl!  We made it back in one piece and it was a great experience for both of us.

This past week didn't allow much riding time but I did ride Mia twice and she is becoming MUCH more confident in the contact.  We worked on keeping her inside shoulder up instead of dropped around corners and we are making progress.  Add the fact she is riding with her head down at a normal level and accepting contact, I would say the steering is now 100%!  At least until we canter lol.

This past weekend was super busy, there was tons of housework and horsework plus I gave 3 lessons on Saturday and on Sunday went to a used tack swap.  I found some amazing deals again, last year I found a Back on Track saddle pad for $5.  This year I found a Mattes correctional half pad with shims for $40!  Score!  When things finally settled down on Sunday I went for a ride around the block and rode the App and ponied the TWH again.  They both need to become fit and ponying is becoming a very easy way to work 2 horses at once.  When I did it last weekend, I trotted only a third to a half of the 3 mile loop.  This time I trotted half to 2/3rds of the loop.  The App decided that he was in no way an old man, despite having his workout he was as ready to go when we got back as when we started.  My little energizer bunny, he always has been.

Sunday is also when we lost power and we aren't expected to get it back until at least Saturday.  We will see how it goes, right now we are running on generator power.  As long as nothing else runs, I can run the arena lights to ride.  Keeping my fingers crossed as I have my first lesson on Mia on Thursday, I really don't want to have to reschedule!

Hopefully I will have time to blog more next week, things are just crazy around here.  I was even 5 days behind on reading everyone's blogs, something that I don't usually get behind more than a day or two on!  I will finish catching up and hopefully have lots to talk about after my lesson.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Learning to canter

It is time to start teaching Mia to canter on the lunge line.  Through the years I have found the easiest way to train this is to have the horse go over a pole on the ground or over a small jump and to say CANTER a stride before they go over it.  Ideally they don't know how to deal with the pole so they will canter over the pole and voila, they learn how to do it without chasing and it is a fairly natural progression.

Mia is doing really well on the lunge line, I have even been successful in adjusting her speed on the lunge at both the walk and the trot.  I also tried side reins on her and while we did have some baby moments where she hit the contact and just stopped, she is starting to figure it out.  I have lunged several times this past week and while these past couple of sessions she seems to has forgotten how to Whoa, overall she is doing great.

To start our canter training I had a standard on the outside of our circle and put a pole on it at about the 2 foot mark.  This way one end was on the ground and the other was 2 foot in the air.  Instead of hopping over it, however, she just kept trotting over the part on the ground.  Erm, no mare.  I put the end on the ground on top of my 2 step mounting block so one end was 2 foot and the other was about 18" and while she was actually going over it, she was doing it at a trot.  Erm, no mare, you are supposed to CANTER away from it, not just give big trot steps!  It took a while but with a chase to the jump she would offer a canter stride or two after the jump so I would then stop her and give her a pet or a treat.  After doing this a couple of times I called it a day as she was getting stressed and was already a little sweaty.  Someone is out of shape!

The next day I lunged with a pole on the ground instead it raised into jump, with the intention of putting it on a standard when we got into the canter work.  To my surprise though, a pole on the ground was more than enough to get her to cantering and raising the pole wasn't needed.  Impressive!  After she started learning to canter at the pole I had to work on letting her know to canter when I asked versus when going over a pole, no need for volunteering a canter.  I kept her session short and when I was finally able to get her to canter an entire circle each direction, after asking for it, we called it a day.  Overall the session went really well, much better than expected.  She isn't taking off and I didn't have to chase her almost at all, just when we started the session to help her make the transition to a canter at the pole.  At the end of the session I would ask for the canter before the pole and within 2-3 strides she would give it to me even if it was after the pole.

Lunging with side reins was another session and was quite amusing to watch, she just couldn't figure it out.  When I ride, I keep a very loose rein and even when asking for contact I am not asking for any type of frame and am pretty forgiving with the contact.  Side reins are more of a fixed object and it definitely took her a little bit to figure it out.  I started her on hole 5 (I use 12 on the App and 10 on the TWH) which put her nose just a tiny bit in, just to keep her slightly contained. I sent her out at the walk and had to really push her forward as she stopped as soon as she felt the contact.  Eventually we got the walk and some trotting down when she volunteered a canter.  It was quite amusing, in fact.  Every time she would relax and lower her head in the trot, I would have her walk as I want to encourage this behavior.  She was fighting the contact pretty hard this particular time and volunteered the canter.  She took 1.5 strides before she hit the contact and came to a four legged screeching halt, she certainly didn't expect that contact!  Eventually she relaxed enough that I called it a day and while we didn't get much canter in, accepting contact was more important.

This morning I lunged her and she has come SO far in just a week.  She now canters on command 90% of the time and while I am fighting her conveniently forgetting the halt, she is lunging really nicely.  After doing some fast/slow walk and fast/slow trot, she quite nicely gave me some canter transitions and was able to hold the canter for 3 circles before falling into a trot.  That is a record so far, she is really getting better with regular exercise.  It was fairly light, as dawn was just appearing, so I decided to mix it up and see how she would behave outside.  I looped the line over her nose as a tiny bit of control and sent her out at a walk.  She gave me a walk and then a half hearted halt.  Awesome, this will be easy I thought!  I asked for a walk and she did.  And then she trotted, and then went faster.  And then picked up the canter and then did the sit-n-scoot maneuver where she had no intention of sticking around and was going to take off.  Oh great!  I had about .75 seconds to drop the lunge whip and put a second hand on the line before she hit the end of the lunge and became my big fish on a line.  Oh baby horse, you gotta learn.  I *just BARELY* was able to hold her before she randomly slammed on the brakes and looked at me with a expression that appeared to wonder what I was doing.  Like "OH, Hi!  What are you doing, I forgot you were there."  I put her on a very small circle again to get the walk and halt back and after several circles I let her back out and she did really well.  Then I got greedy and asked for a trot, basically it was a repeat of above except I was a little more prepared and she was pretty confidently in my grasp this time.

This time, after getting her back, I booted her forward and tried to get her to soften.  Just my luck however, the TWH decided that her antics meant that HE needed to start feeling jolly and he spent almost 5 minutes running, bucking, kicking and galloping all over the pasture.  Thanks dude, that helped a lot.  Not!  While he was being an idiot, however, karma decided to help me out.  She was prancing, trotting, cantering a little, everything but walking.  As she brought herself into a nice prance, her left hind slipped a little and I could see it happen before it did.  Her left hind went under her a little and then backwards.  Her right hind couldn't catch herself and down she went, quite slowly.  I figured her haunches would sit down but to my surprise she tangled her front legs and fell all the way down to the ground!  She laid there for a half second before popping backup and looking at me with a Super Surprised expression on her face.  It was priceless!  She had no idea how I did that to her.  I walked over, pet her and told her to listen from now on.  I sent her out and, to my surprise, she did!  We were able get a decent walk, trot and even canter with her being soft and responsive.  We finished with a halt and she followed me back to the arena without even having a lead on.  Talk about a win, I hope she blames me and doesn't try being a butthead when outside again!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pony up!

Part of the homework I was given for the TWH was to walk him up and down hills to try to help him muscle back up in his stifles.  Apparently his almost 2 months of being a fluffball has had a negative effect on his muscling, go figure haha.  With now having 3 horses, I will admit it is a bit harder to keep everyone in a shape that isn't round. I am doing a pretty good job of working Mia most mornings and then working either Mia or the TWH in the evenings but that leaves the App without work and I am only giving a couple of lessons a week which isn't enough to keep him fit.  Since he is now sound (95% sound and works out of it), it is apparent he has also lost all of the little muscling he had as well.  Oh geez, what is a girl to do when there are only so many hours in a day and she still works full time during the day?!

SO is actually the one who made me feel guilty enough to do something about it, I was getting ready to work the TWH one night and he made a comment that the "poor app" is just a forgotten horse now.  Well that doesn't make me feel very good!  In my last post I worked everyone with cavaletti, this time I bumped it up a notch and decided to pony these dang horses.  I have ponied the TWH before and it went well but I haven't actually ponied the App before.  I grabbed the TWH and saddled him up, while walking to the arena I threw the halter on the App and brought him in too.  We started out with some basic walking and it was quite apparent the App did not appreciate this new job.  The App tried walking as slow as possible, making ugly ears at the TWH, trying to take a bite out of the TWH, trying to stop and just being a boat anchor.  I gave the App a couple of good smacks when he was being dominant to the TWH and finally just braced the lead rope across my hips and let my hips pull him along instead of my arms.  This worked significantly better as there wasn't any give, after a couple of laps the App started to actually follow along and did a decent job of keeping up.

We moved outside to the pasture for more room as a small arena starts feeling really small with 2 horses.  While it was completely (and totally) dark outside, the lights from the arena and the outside light on the barn made it light enough to walk around the pasture.  The TWH was awesome as always.  I was able to spend the majority of my time focusing on keeping the App in line while steering and rating the speed of the TWH using just my legs.  I was even able to get the TWH to do a nice flat/running walk and the App trotted along with us.  Success!

After a half hour I left the App go and grabbed Mia, might as well work her too!  She was much easier to pony, she kept right up with the TWH and wasn't the boat anchor the App was. She had to learn to stay on one side of the TWH and not give ugly ears but overall she was super easy.  She is a super smart horse.

Last night I did the same except I went out an hour earlier so it was light outside.  I rode the TWH and ponied the App first and we went up and down the big hill in the pasture 5 times.  It was a pretty good workout for the both of them, as it is a pretty big hill.  The App was much better about ponying and wasn't nearly the boat anchor he was the other day.  He is, however, not in shape and was a little winded with the hill climbs.  Gotta get these guys back into shape.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Picking up toes

Mia is coming right along in her training, I would now say her steering is 90% which is HUGE considering where we started and the fact we have less than 10 rides under our belt.  I also think that is awesome and shows what I am able to do when given the chance.  That damn horse that was boarded and in training last year, the one that ran me over and blew out my knee, gave such a huge blow to my training confidence that I had serious doubts and Mia is doing a great job of bringing that confidence back.  It is really awesome.

Ride 8 was working a little on contact and continuing to introduce leg commands while moving.  It is great to see it all come together and even without spurs she is moving off of my leg.  We are starting to be able to enlarge circles by legs commands and started to move into baby leg yields.  Ride 9 was a little more interesting as I put a PVC pole down on the ground to walk over.  After warming up we walked over to the pole and her reaction was pretty funny, she was quite concerned about this pole and was really unsure about going over it.  It took a little bit of urging and after several snorts and a leery eye, she finally stepped over it.  Ah kids lol.  After that initial concern, we were able to walk and trot over the pole without much issue.  She doesn't understand the reason but is grasping the concept.  There was more steering work done but my main focus was having her start to accept contact and learn the "head down" cue.  She is one smart cookie (most times haha) and picked it up pretty quickly.  We were able to walk with contact and trot with inconsistent contact, progress is being made.

I also rode the TWH for the first and second time since he was cleared by Dr A!  We have 2 weeks of walking which makes some rather unentertaining and not blog worthy rides.  Our first ride was a trail ride around the 3 mile block and he was awesome.  You wouldn't have known he hadn't been ridden for a month and a half, a very model citizen.  Love that horse!  The second ride was just walking around in the arena (because since it is dark in the morning when I can ride and dark in the evening when I can ride, I can't ride outside unless it is a weekend) and we played with lateral movements and lightness in the bridle.  Pretty boring stuff.

This morning was going to be an easy workout, I was originally going to ride the TWH over some 12" cavaletti but after SO made me feel bad that I am not working the App, I decided to work everyone.  I changed it into a ground session and started with the TWH, the purpose of the session was to help the TWH build his stifles back up.  We walked over a set of 3 12" cavaletti and after several repetitions of that, I set up 2 18" cavaletti.  They were a good bit harder but the TWH was a champ and didn't knock anything over and was careful about picking up his legs.  After 5 reps over the large cavaletti I turned him loose and grabbed the App.  The App didn't have any issues with the 12" cavaletti either, not that I expected any.   He rapped the poles a couple of times but nothing bad and he did try.  When putting him over the 18" cavaletti, however, he did struggle.  It was pretty hard for him to go over them at a walk but despite looking awkward, he didn't knock anything over and put in a good effort.  After a couple of reps I went back to the smaller cavaletti and let him finish on a good note.

At this point the session was going well, all right!  I will be able to go in and have plenty of time to get ready for work.  Famous.  Last.  Words.  I grabbed Mia and worked the small cavaletti.  She took her time and stopped before each pole but walked over them.  When I asked for more speed, to not stop before each and every pole, she complied but wasn't getting it.  She was knocking the poles down semi regularly despite numerous repetitions so I tried the higher cavaletti to see if that would encourage her to pick her toes up higher. It absolutely did not.  We tried 6 times to go over the 18" poles and she obliterated the course each time.  Not only knocking the poles over, but also the standards.  Ugh mare.

I brought her back to the lower cavaletti but our problems followed us there.  She was consistently knocking the poles down with her hind toes, pick your toes up mare!  I tried moving the cavaletti closer, further apart, giving her more energy, less energy, leading on the left side, leading on the right side, giving her a smack when she knocked one over, making her back up when she knocked one over and even clucking and kissing while going over the poles and they just kept coming down.  And not just the poles, sometimes the standards too so I had to keep rebuilding the whole thing.  It was quite frustrating and eventually we just walked for a good 5 minutes to regroup.  That time seemed to do us both good as when we started gain, she still hit the poles but now there were just occasional knock downs.  Finally after going through the cavaletti 4 times without a knock down, just raps, I called it a day.  Mare, you aren't going to jump very well if you bring everything down with your hind toes!  That doesn't make a good eventing horse, I guess we have our work cut out for us.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wha, wha, what?! I found video?! Plus vet visit recap!

The vet was out today for our last follow up visit and it went quite well!  The TWH has been cleared to start back under saddle, Dr A wants us to go really slow since we aren't rushing for a show and I agree.  Our plan is 2 weeks of walk, 2 weeks of walk/trot then 2 weeks of walk/trot/canter with walking up and down our big hill to strengthen his stifle.  He is sound but is a little wonky in his right stifle and Dr A is pretty certain it is due to (now) being out of shape (or rather, now in a round shape) and strengthening exercises will fix him right up.  I also had him look at Mia to see if I missed any issues, now that she has manners and knows how to lunge I threw her on the lunge line.   Dr A really liked her movement, he said she has really nice hock action which is not what he expected out of her.  He said he could see she is gaining weight and that he is pretty certain she is going to be a really nice horse.

The App is diagnosed as still off, he is still sore on his left front.  I had Dr A take an xray of it to make sure we knew what we were facing.  The App has a thin sole, a good bit of arthritis in his lower coffin joint, has some joint narrowing and a remodel on his coffin bone that has a small point that could be scraping his coffin joint.  Dr A did say, however, that this would not be causing the App's issues he is currently experiencing.  We are going to keep continuing on and give him another couple of weeks.  We will need to revisit the situation if he is still sore as Dr A says it should just take time.

In other news, however, I found video posted by a friend of mine that shows the second half of our Novice dressage test in Sept!  I had forgotten she had posted it as she posted it under her horses name and not mine. This works out well because I had been asked how the draft roll looks on the TWH, the video shows his mane plus some of our ride.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rides 6 and 7, starting to come together

I have now ridden Mia 7 times and she hasn't offered a single rear or buck, I think that is awesome for a horse being started/restarted!  She is taking everything in stride, gaining weight and now has a good set of manners installed.  She can be led next to another horse when being brought in and out of the pasture, she can now stand quietly and wait while I do some task and stands decently in crossties.  Give it a few more weeks and no one would know that she was pulled out of a pasture with virtually no training!

Ride six introduced a new change, I changed from the loose ring french link that I had for the boys over to a copper mouth full cheek snaffle.  A loose ring wasn't my first choice for her but I couldn't find the bit I wanted to use so it was working in the interim.  It only took me 2 weeks to actually find the full cheek among all of my "stuff" and am glad I finally did.  She rode so much better in the full cheek over the loose ring, she was much more confident in the contact and her steering was SO much better.  For her, it was a great switch.

Ride 6 consisted of also introducing a new concept, sidepassing.  I am trying to introduce something new every ride and since I have accomplished so much in so few rides, I think I am being successful lol.  We started with some turns on the haunches and shoulders and while the shoulders need work, they are coming along and at least she understands the concept.  It took several attempts to get a sidepassing step but eventually she seemed to get the idea.  We also attempted some figure eights and even a baby serpentine and I was quite impressed at the steering capacity I suddenly had, so much better than those first few rides!  I kept the ride short, as I have been doing, and after some trotting figure eight's, called it a night.

RB4 came over for ride 7 and aside from a big spook while we were tacking up (one of the barn cats running between her legs which resulted in a small rear/surge forward) it was an uneventful ride.  Just how I like them!  She was much better about sidepassing and while there is definite forward and backward motion, there is also true sideways motion.  Mia was also much better with steering and with a little correction, we were able to walk and trot an actual circle.  Progress success!  I was able to get her to trot 3 laps without having to kick her to keep going, something we hadn't accomplished yet, and we attempted and got a shoulder in at a walk.  Nothing like putting those new movement buttons to use.

I finished the ride by showing off Mia's new lunging skills, I am quite proud of her progress already.  She halted, walked, trotted and reversed on command without careening out of control.  She conveniently forgot how to halt after her trot again but a bump with the lunge line corrected her so it is just a matter of time.  Other than that she behaved like a model citizen.

Tonight will be ride 8 and I think I am going to put some poles down to start doing some real steering exercises.  Walking and trotting around the arena is boring since she is quite okay with that concept and doesn't need correction, it is time to introduce something new.  The vet comes out on Thursday for the boys, hopefully I will have sound horses and the TWH can go back to work!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ride 5 and lunging basics

It is amazing to think that I have already had Mia for 2 weeks now, it seems like it was just last weekend that I picked her up and yet it also feels like she has been here forever.  She has integrated into the herd perfectly and, aside from some bites from the App, it has been an extremely uneventful integration.  The App is doing much better, he has been very sore these past 2 weeks with a hoof bruise/abscess.  I was planning on bringing him back up to the equine hospital to see my vet this past Thurs as he was so uncomfortable that banamine was the only thing keeping him semi-comfortable, but the threat of the vet worked because he suddenly got better Wednesday night.  He went from almost non-weight bearing to barely limping.  I can't find anywhere where an abscess would have burst through but he is certainly more comfortable, comfortable enough that I even took him off of bute on Saturday.  Success!  He is now/finally being turned out with everyone instead of being locked in the indoor arena by himself and he hasn't relapsed.  This week the vet will be out to do another evaluation on the TWH and his suspensory and I will have the App checked on too, hopefully I will have 3 sound horses.

Mia is flying right along in her training and is picking everything up quite quickly.  I had ride 5 on Friday and we can walk, trot, transition between trot and halt off of my seat and even halt off of my seat.  She can now also move each haunch and shoulder away from pressure on command and even back.  I rode her for the first time at a trot with blunt spurs on Friday and while I didn't really use them, the feeling of them there was enough for Mia to really move out and trot quite nicely.  She is going to be a nice mover once she gets some muscle and balance.

This morning I worked on lunging for the third time, the majority of her sessions are ground work and I have free lunged her twice so I figured it was time to try something new.  She has learned to walk on a lunge line (in a small circle) and she halts, most of the time.  After some warm up I worked with making the circle bigger, I have kept her on a really small circle for control and after some clarification on what I expect on a bigger circle, she was walking and halting on a 15-20m circle like a pro.  Yay!  It actually took a little time to teach a calm change of direction, the first change of direction she was completely confused on what I wanted and the second resulted in a nice, springy trot away with a strong eye at the door as she planned to make a break for it.  Ah young horses lol.  With more repetition she figured out how to change direction and then decided to start offering it whenever she felt like it, Uh no mare.  Must wait until asked thank you.

With the changes of direction becoming easier I figured it was time to try a faster gait and with some encouragement she went into a pretty nice trot on a nice 15-20m circle.  No zoomies, no buck, no take offs, just a nice slower trot that she was more than willing to drop out of when asked.  Yay!  We need to work on the whoa more, apparently she forgets how to whoa if it is asked after a trot but it will come and everything else is going fantastically.

Ride 6 will be tonight and ride 7 tomorrow, I are going to start incorporating some of the new leg cues while moving to see if we can get some of this steering business under control.  I think I will also start trying to ride with some contact at the trot to introduce that concept.  Right now I leave her be while she learns the basics and I think she has got them pretty well.  I am so happy with this horse and am really excited to see how we progress through the winter.

In other news, check out Denali's mom's new adventures now that she lives in Alaska and is horseless.  She is doing a great job of balancing humor and adventures without making it a mommy blog.  Jealous of her cupcakes though!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Getting our learn on

Mia is marching right along in her learning adventure.  What have we learned? Well...

1. She CAN walk with her head down around the level my shoulder
2. She CAN stop when a person stops without needing a yank on the lead line (not 100%, but getting there)
3. She CAN be excited about something and NOT run the handler over or step on them
4. She can move her haunches away from pressure instead of leaning into the pressure
5. She can move her shoulders away from pressure instead of leaning into the pressure
6. She can pick all 4 feet up when asked (vs when it is convenient) and hold them on her own
7. She can stop when she hears the word Whoa (not 100%, but getting there)
8. She can back up with her head down (vs it being much higher than my own head)

Not too bad for a single week of work!  All of these were non-existent when she came here so I am really appreciating having some manners installed.  I still haven't figured her completely out but she is very laid back.  One of the best things about this horse so far?  She spooks at nothing.  NOTHING!  Chickens?  Eh. Deer?  Eh.  Weird shadows?  Eh.  They all elicit a pause and a strong look but she always, always walks right up to see what it is.  AWESOME!  She also isn't afraid of blanketing (yay!), was good for the farrier and can now be lead next to another horse without any issues.  Progress indeed!

Pedicure in progress!
Note her feet were in fact worse than this pic makes them look
We had our first ride last week.  The grooming went well and tacking up went well until it was time to bridle, up went the head and the nose was stuck straight out with teeth clamped in an attempt to avoid the bit.  Oh mare, you have no idea.  First, this isn't a curb bit ("You can't ride this horse in anything but a curb", yeah, we will see about that).  Second, I do this cool thing called bribery.  See, I give you a treat in exchange for taking the bit.  Deal?  It took several attempts but I got the bridle on without *too* much fuss.  She actually stood fairly still for mounting and from there it became quite obvious just how little the mare knows.  Legs are virtually meaningless, steering is sketchy at best and she constantly stops.  Well, I guess that is better than  a horse constantly taking off?!?  The first ride was a lot of walking and baby steps of steering with legs being applied to hopefully get her used to them.  We even trotted a few laps and man does she feel good.  She has a really big, sweeping stride and if I can get her to move out, she can really move.  Our first ride was about a half hour long.

Our second ride was more of the same.  There was less of a fight about the bridle and she is getting the concept of keeping her head down and taking the bit with a cookie at the same time.  We tried getting some basic circles and then one loop serpentine and while we looked like greenies who can't steer, she gave a good effort and she tried.  I also found that she will halt off of my seat all by herself, a button I don't have to install?  Cool!

Our third ride had much more progress.  When I went to bridle her, she actually put her head down and opened her mouth nice and wide to take the bit and bribe.  Then when we were done, she even kept her head down while I took the bridle off (with bribes of course).  Success!  We started the ride off with some walking and large circles but the main goal of this ride was to learn some leg commands.  With her stopped, I put my leg behind the girth and pushed and pushed (and pushed) and eventually gave a poke with my small, blunt spur until she finally figured out how to move her haunches away from pressure.  It took several tries however at the end of the ride she was getting it 75% of the time.  Yay!  I will ride again tonight and see what she remembers, thankfully she seems smart as well as laid back so hopefully we will speed right along!

In other news, I found her baby pictures on the back of her registration.  What a butt high cutie!
6-8 months old

6.5 years old
6-8 months old

6.5 years old

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Very good follow up vet vist

Today the vet was out to see everyone, it was time for TWH's recheck on his suspensory.  The App was included because he suddenly came up lame on Sunday and had been almost non-weight bearing until this morning and I had been alternating between giving him bute and banamine to keep him comfortable.  Mia was being seen as a general overview to see if he agreed that she appeared capable of doing eventing.  Fingers were crossed as I started pulling horses out of their stalls.

The App went first and while he is now walking, he is still very lame on his left front.  Sunday had been filled with lots of icing and panic, the day started out with him being a little off during a lesson.  He was walking around fine though so I kicked him back outside.  When I went to get him for dinner, however, I found him laying down and he was almost non-weight bearing.  His foot was very warm and he had a strong digital pulse, I immediately threw every ice cube we had in a bucket with some salt water and left him standing in it for 45 minutes. I gave him some banamine to help settle him, he was obviously extremely uncomfortable and at the end of our soaking the App was trembling.  In the morning he was much, much better (gotta love drugs) and though both feet were now pretty warm, his left wasn't as hot and his digital pulse wasn't *as* strong.  More soaking and some poultice applied, last night he was pretty uncomfortable again as the bute had worn off.  I gave him banamine, more poultice and this morning he looked remarkably more alert.  He was even gimping around on his left front instead of hopping.  Progress!

Dr A looked the App over pretty well and hoof testers show he is most sensitive on the left, front section of his hoof.  Dr A thinks that he has a pretty good sole bruise (which makes sense as there were a lot of rocks in the arena during our lesson due to the addition of some sand(y dirt)) and possibly a small abscess but an abscess shouldn't have gotten better so quickly.  He said to keep doing what I am doing as I am doing a great job and start him on limited turnout for several days and then he should be fine.  Phew!  When I had talked to him Sunday night and again on Monday, Dr A said he was pretty confident it wasn't laminitis or a fracture and that it was likely an abscess so it makes me happy for the App to be getting better to support Dr A's conclusion.  I am leaving him stalled again today and will turn him out in the arena tomorrow.

The TWH was next and after a quick flexion test and some trotting on the lunge, Dr A said the TWH is 80% better which means the treatment we did is working.  YAY!!!!!!  He recommending giving him another couple of weeks off and we will recheck him again in 2 weeks but that the TWH should make a full recovery.  That really made my day, it is what I was hoping for and am so glad it happened :)

Last was Mia and I warned him that she doesn't have many manners and I don't know if she kicks, just that she hadn't kicked *yet* lol.  He looked her over pretty thoroughly and his findings are that she has an upside down neck, her feet are bad, she looks slightly clubby in her front feet and she is slightly back sore.  The neck is a non-issue as it will resolve some with muscling and she doesn't need a great neck for jumping, farrier work will fix her feet and we think the clubbiness will disappear with farrier work as will the back soreness.  He liked Mia and was happy to see I got such a large horse to train.  He likes having bigger horses train for the higher jumps vs the shorter horses and I have succeeded in that area lol.  His only suggestion was to not work her hard until we can get her feet under control, something I am already doing anyway.  That's another win for me!

All in all it was a very good, and rather inexpensive, vet visit.  He will be out again in 2 weeks, hoping to have 3 sound horses at that time.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What did I do, must have head examined asap

One of the bigger philosophies I have followed in life is Everything Happens For A Reason.  While things tend to suck and something good doesn't always result from a sucky situation, the majority of times it turns out that things happened for a reason.  Something bad happens because I am being set up for something good that wouldn't have happened if option 1 had stuck around.  Buying our house in MI was a great example, we went through 7 months of hell, offers falling through after months of waiting on different 2 houses, SO living in a hotel for 6 months, unbelievable stress and then suddenly our dream home with a barn, arena and workshop popped up in our search quite suddenly due to a price decrease and 30 days later we closed on it with no drama.

TWH came up lame after our show in September and I brought him to the equine hospital on the 20th.  2 days later I got a phone call from my instructor, H.  She had looked at a horse as a potential prospect for herself and was passing because the horse is smaller than advertised but thought it would be a good fit with me.  Wait, what?  She said it was a young mare that was just broke out this past spring, 16 hands, has good conformation and for some reason had caught H's eye for potential, that I should go look at it.  Everything happens for a reason, right?  If TWH hadn't gotten hurt and had felt as great in the last show as he did in the August show, I wouldn't have even considered it.

I talked to SO and he said he has been expecting the 3rd horse for a year now so I might as well go look at her.  She was being advertised about 1500 out of my price range but H said the people were desperate to get rid of the horse due to a boarding situation gone bad.  I was sent several really bad pictures of the mare because, obviously, why would you take GOOD pictures of an animal you want to sell?!?!  (Sorry, major pet peeve of mine).  I finally requested very specific photos that would show her squared up, in frame and clear so I could evaluate her conformation.  I got them and they were actually not bad at all so I made an appointment to look at her on Saturday.

Saturday I drove a little over an hour to see this horse.  Upon arrival, we discovered we couldn't bring her into the arena to ride because the gates to her turnout were padlocked.  Apparently these people owe board and the barn owner said they owe 2k and they say they owe 200 and the barn owner wanted this mare and another one of their horses in trade and they were refusing.  Oy, what was I getting into?  I climbed over the gate to see her and though she is underweight and her feet are horrible as they haven't seen a file in a good while, she moves quite nicely and was very soft in the halter. Apparently the owners also didn't have any tack at the barn anymore other than a bridle for one of their other horses.  Luckily I had brought my own saddle to see if it would fit (it DID!) and they found a girth that should have been thrown out 5 years ago.  The owners weren't to keen on getting on and I hopped on to see what she would do.  She knows how to move forward into a walk, she knows how to turn when I pull her head and she knows how to stop when I pull back.  Nothing else.  Well, that isn't all bad I suppose.

There was some discussion with them that yes, I liked her but she isn't worth anywhere NEAR what they were asking for her.  She is very green, underweight, in need of a farrier, not UTD on shots or coggins and are coming into winter when horses don't sell.  They asked what I valued her at and to not worry about insulting them and I told them what I thought she was actually worth which was well less than half of their asking price.  There was actually very little negotiation and I bought her for $200 more than what I told them.  I went home, got the trailer, made the trip back down and picked up my first ever 3rd horse.  OMG.  Introducing Mia, a 6yr old greener than grass Appy.  She is chestnut with some frosting on her hip and some slight roaning through her body.  She is hopefully my diamond in the rough.  Once I got home and could look up her papers, I saw her sire is a national ApHC champion in hunter in hand, hunter hack and hunter under saddle.  He is also has multiple world grand championships including suitability for dressage.  COOL!!  We have lots of work to do, she is content to bump into you when excited, head in the air and has no manners.  The next week or two will be mostly ground work, I am so excited!

No worries though, our beloved TWH still has plans.  If he passes his checkup this week he will be going Novice level next year while I have fun with him and work on training Mia.  If he doesn't pass his checkup, he will get some months off and be relegated to a judged trail ride horse and maybe even a mounted patrol volunteer!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A visit to the equine hospital, getting to the root of the problem

After the last visit with my vet, his recommendation was to give the TWH 2 weeks off until we could get him in for an ultrasound.  The first vet recommendation for the ultrasound wasn't available until at least this coming Friday so I called the second vet recommendation and was able to schedule the visit for this past Friday AND was able to have my vet there at the same time.  Success!  While the vets are colleagues, it was important to me to have my vet there when the ultrasound was being done.  I trust his opinion and believe that he will recommend what is needed to for testing and won't go overboard just because or to bill me more.  When talking to the ultrasound vet on the phone, he was making me nervous when he said the ultrasound was just a starting point in our visit, ugh.

On Friday I washed the TWH all up so he would be clean(ish) and threw both him and the App in the trailer to make the hour long trek to the equine hospital that my vet, Dr A, works with.  It was a pretty nice facility, there was a nice drive-thru space so we could unload out of the mist that was coming down.  The TWH had a nice fluffy stall of straw waiting on him and he was content to snack on straw as we waited for Dr A to arrive.  Dr A and the ultrasound vet, Dr K, had a fairly long discussion of what was going to be done, Dr A was telling him what he had seen last week and that we didn't need to do a full lameness exam with blocks before the ultrasound, he just wanted the suspensory checked first and to proceed from there.  This was the exact reason I wanted Dr A there, love Dr A!  We don't need to start from scratch, we already have a pretty good idea of what is going on.  Dr K tranq'd TWH and got him shaved for the ultrasound.  It was so funny, TWH is a lightweight with his drugs.  He kept having a hard time keeping his hind legs still because his head kept falling so far forward he was having to move his hind legs to rebalance and not fall on his nose.  Hahaha!  Finally the vet assistant held the TWH's head in their arms in a big hug to hold his head up and that seemed to be enough to have the TWH hold still.

The ultrasound was actually kinda cool to watch and I could (eventually, after some pointing and explaining) see the issue.  His left mid-suspensory is slightly inflamed and swollen, instead of a straight line like his right, it bulges.  Interesting.  Thankfully that was the only issue found in both of his hind legs, no torn ligaments, no frayed ligaments, nothing else abnormal.  I then agreed to a nerve block of his mid-suspensory to see if he was sore in his suspensory, his hocks or both.  The treatment options are different and we might as well know what the root of the issue is so after a quick 10 minute wait, we put the TWH on the lunge line.  The difference was amazing.  He went from a 2.5 lame going to the right to a maybe .5, if that.  Dr K said if he didn't know the horse was lame, he would have diagnosed the TWH as sound.  Yay!!  We successfully pinpointed the cause of his pain!

The treatment we are going is injecting his left mid-suspensory with some steroids and an anti-inflammatory to reduce the swelling.  He has 2 more weeks off of work and then Dr A will come out to re-evaluate him.  If it doesn't work, however, I will need to decide if I want to spend $600-1k to fix him or if I want to retire him as sound to a non-jumping job and spend the $600-1k on a more suitable-to-eventing replacement.  Ugh the decisions.

We then took a final look at the App, he was just coming along for a follow up appointment to see how sound he was after his polyglycan injection/rest/salve application.  A quick lunge showed him moving awesomely, the vet agreed he is sound, sound, sound!  We are going to give him bi-weekly injections of pentosan and if he goes south again we will switch over to polyglycan.  Soundness success!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vet visit

With the TWH being a bit off at our last show, it was time to call the vet out.  It worked out well as the App had been off for about 2 weeks and I was planning on calling the vet out anyway when his issue didn't resolve on its own.  My normal vet wasn't able to get out until the following Friday and I needed someone sooner, I had entered a clinic for the Sunday following our show and had to let them know asap if I had to withdraw.  I asked around and made an appointment with RB3's vet.  Her comment was that he was good, but he was expensive and charged for everything.  Eh, I can handle that if he is good.

Vet 1 came out on Wednesday and evaluated both boys.  He could see the issue with the TWH and said the issue was his stifle and hock soreness.  He was tender upon palpation though he flexed out without too much lameness.  He gave some banamine to reduce any swelling, some polyglycan for the joints and some estrone sulfate to help tighten up his stifle.  He said to rest the TWH till Friday and then he should be good to go for the clinic.

He said the issue with the App was also hock pain, I thought it was more front end lameness.  Opps!  Apparently the App is compensating so much for his hocks that he is showing front end lameness, great.  He said to give 4 grams of bute for a day, 2 grams of bute for a day, 1.5 for a day then 1 gram for 3 days to reduce the swelling.  He said our only option was to inject his hocks and that he really needed front shoes, he would recommend backing up the breakover about an inch and squaring off the toes.  Ugh, I don't want to do that without a second opinion.  He did, however, look at the App's eyes and said they aren't as bad as my vet thinks.  My vet said he was likely 75% blind in bright sunlight and thus should work mostly inside.  Vet 1 thinks he is closer to 40%.  He said his eye structure is still in very good condition with slight cataracts but no moon blindness, etc.  He said the corporate nigra is a bit large but isn't blocking his vision that badly and that the App is seeing close objects quite well.  Yay us!

I had my normal vet come out on Friday and check the boys again.  The TWH was a bit better but not great, he was still quite sore in his hocks and the vet said he is much more concerned about his suspensory/ddft ligament.  He is concerned over the amount of reaction the TWH is giving when pressing on it, he is afraid we have sprained the ligament.  He recommend against riding in the clinic unless we absolutely had to because he didn't want the ligament to rupture.  He recommended having someone come out and ultrasound the TWH to see the extent of the damage, he doesn't want to inject his hocks and have the TWH feel good enough to snap his ligament.  Great!  Not.  Thankfully the clinic was willing to let me drop out without a hassle, phew.

My vet did agree with Vet 1 that the App's issue is with his hocks but he agreed the App does have some mild front end lameness.  He gave the App a shot of polyglycan in hopes that the new injectable supplement will work better than the pentosan I am currently using.  He gave me a salve to use on both of the boys hocks for 7-10 days and I was very pleased when his vet bill was half of what Vet 1's bill was.  Small victory lol.

At 5 days later, both boys are doing better.  Or rather the TWH is doing better and the App is doing fantastic.  The polyglycan seems to have really helped the App as not only is he no longer lame looking, he is moving around a lot better, trotting in the field (something I hadn't noticed he wasn't doing until he started doing it again) and is walking with his ears up more.  Success!  I am waiting for an appointment for the ultrasound still, the first ultrasound vet wasn't available for another 1.5 weeks so I am waiting for the other partner to check their availability.  Looking forward to getting the boys comfortable again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Novice success

Sunday the TWH had is debut in a Novice level show.  I was fairly worried about the dressage test as it is significantly harder though we have worked on it pretty hard for the past two weeks.  Friday we had a quick jump school and while the TWH was a little odd to the fences, he jumped nicely and was MUCH better than during our previous jump session.  He only knocked a pole down once, success!  Saturday was a quick dressage ride and it went pretty well.  He was a little sticky in the trot when we started but once he was warmed up he did great.  His canter/trot transitions were spot on, his trot was moving along nicely, he was balanced in his 10m circles, we were ready.

Sunday we went to the show, RB4 came with me and was my groom again.  I LOVE having a groom!  She braided him all up using a draft roll which is working spectacularly well for him.  His mane is long and french braiding isn't working as it always falls out.  The draft roll is the perfect solution as it is neat, it is super fast to do and it stays in as long as we need it.  Fantastic!  At warmup, the TWH had some sticky trot transitions again but some lengthening and shortening fixed that issue.  Some quick canter/trot transitions were under our belt and then it was our turn.

We started off nicely with a good trot down centerline and a 10m half circle at C.  A decent circle at E, he had nice bend and didn't fight me too hard in the bridle.  Good.  Another decent 10m half circle at A as we went back up centerline, 10m half circle at C to the right and a circle at B.  We are doing great, as I rode away from the judge I had a huge smile on my face as I rode towards RB4.  Our walk was good, our freewalk could have used more stretch but was decent.  A good trot transition back at A, I didn't forget the canter patterns (something I was quite nervous about!) and had a SPOT ON canter/trot transition.  Go TWH!!!  He went immediately from canter to trot, that rocked!  A long trot down the diagonal with a tiny lengthening to our final canter circle, our circle to the right felt amazing.  I was SO happy with it!  Our last movement was canter to trot between B and F which isn't a lot of room to the prepare for our last 10m half circle.  He bobbled it a little in that he took a single step of pace before picking the trot up and I had to really slam his outside shoulder around the circle as he almost overshot the centerline but we finished.  I am so happy with how our ride went, it was amazing (for us)!  I am so proud of how far he has come in dressage!

We went back to the trailer to relax for a couple of hours before going cross country.  One of my students showed up and and we had a good time hanging out and relaxing with RB4 until it was time to ride.  There was an off handed comment about how the TWH looked odd when walking down a hill but he looked sound so at 1p it was time to ride again.  I hopped on and started warming back up and the TWH was having a harder time with his leads, he was counter cantering when we went down a small hill in the warm up ring.  Hmm, odd.  I threw him over the warmup fences and he was good over the small crossrail but then knocked down the vertical.  Crap!  I certainly didn't want to start this again.  I jumped a couple more times and he was having a hard time getting over.  He was adding extra steps despite being put at the right distances, damn.  It was the same issue he was having in our jump schooling 2 jump sessions ago.  RB4 said he was acting very stiff legged in the rear but it was loosening up as we went so we pressed on.  I threw him over a couple more jumps and RB4 agreed he looked better than he had and wasn't obviously lame so off we went.

When it was our turn, we went to fence 1 and cleared it with no problems.  Fence 2 was a vertical and he put the brakes on and jumped from almost a standstill.  Uh hello horse???  Fence 3 was a decent oxer and while he came at it funny, he jumped clear.  I decided if he gave me a single rail or refusal, I would pull up and excuse ourselves.  He was feeling odd but he wasn't refusing and he was jumping clear so we finished the course which including a little bank down (yay!!) and a jump right in front of the water.  We walked around a good bit and RB4 said he looked worse but she couldn't pinpoint where he was truly off.

When the results were finally posted, I was actually really disappointed with our placing but am really happy at how our ride went.  All in all it was a success in my eyes despite ending up 10th, the dressage judge hated our ride.  Lots of comments about needing balance, needing more collection and needing to push more from the hind.  We did not, however, despite the harsh judging, get a single comment about being lateral or pacey!  Yahoo, that is a win in my book!  When I got home I scheduled the vet to come and check the TWH out, let's see why he isn't 100%.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A little novice, a little training, a little dressage

After we did so well in our last show, I immediately sent in my registration for the derby with the Novice box clearly checked.  We are moving up a level!  I then downloaded the new dressage test so I could practice, CRAP!!!  It was a good thing my entry was in the mail, otherwise I might have changed that little box.  Lots of 10m half circles to turn up centerline and a canter/trot transition at B-F with a turn up centerline?!?!?  Am I insane???  What did I get myself into.

Thankfully I have had 2 weeks to work on it and I will say, we are getting closer.  We have been schooling 10m circles pretty hard and the canter/trot transitions are getting there too.  I am fairly concerned with the balance we will have after our last canter/trot transition as we turn up centerline, very good possibility that inside shoulder will drop but I keep telling myself if nothing else it is only 10 points.  Ugh.  Our canter is awesome, our canter up transition is awesome.  Our circles are great and as long as the TWH doesn't plow on his forehand, his trot is really good.  His free walk is really good if I refuse to let him have a long rein until that moment lol.  We are still playing with it.  I also had a dressage lesson Tuesday night, stuff to practice!

This past weekend, however, we went cross country schooling.  Since I am riding novice, I wanted to jump novice jumps and perhaps, maybe, if not too scary, try some, perhaps, baby training jumps????  Novice jumps are a max of 2'11" and training is 3'3".  A pretty big difference from the 2'6" jumps we have been showing but I want him to go over whatever I point him at and he has been doing well so....  time to move up?!

We started over jump 4 that was at our last show, the one with the red roof in the previous post, and he was a little funny to it.  Not bad but he added a gaited step in with our canter right before jumping it.  Almost like he wasn't sure of the distance.  H had us try again and had me keep leg on to keep the energy going and he jumped it like it wasn't there.  Now that was a better start to the day!  We put some jumps together and did 3 in a row, jumping the beginner novice jump and then 2 novice jumps.  If I kept my leg on he was great, even at the funny looking flower bench and jumped the novice table SO awesomely.  He felt like a well oiled, knowledgeable machine instead of a green bean!

We played in the water and H seemed really impressed with how well he is starting to jump now.  She said he has made remarkable improvement, go us!  We meandered over to the "high meadow" and found ourselves at the banks.  My App loved the banks and I miss not being able to ride him to them, time to see how the TWH would handle them.  I seemed to have done my homework with introducing little banks down through the past couple of years as when I asked him to go down a 3'6" drop he did without having to ask twice!  No kicking at all!  We were both impressed with his willingness to try something so new.  We circled around and attempted to go up 3 consecutive 3' banks up but poor TWH didn't yet have the engine to get up all three.  I was only able to boot him up 2 banks before he gave out and so I didn't even ask for the 3rd bank as I didn't want him to have to tell me no.  Don't ask a question you don't want to know the answer to right?!?!  After a couple of tries he was able to get up 2 banks decently so we put a small course together of going up 2 3' banks, jumping an oxer, circling around, jumping a hanging log that is 3 strides out to the 3'6" drop.  Yowsers, definitely a training level question!!  Not only did the TWH do it beautifully, he didn't even pause at the drop!!!  He came up to it and hopped down like it was no big deal.  AWESOME HORSE!!

We played with ditches a little and the TWH is getting much, much better with ditches.  He has been stopping at them and this time he paused but didn't stop, stare, ponder, leap.  This time he paused, looked, jumped.  Progress indeed!  After the ditch H had us try our first, true Training sized fence.  It is a rather inviting 3' ascending, 3 bar vertical.  The first time over the TWH wasn't sure how to jump it and jumped straight up and over instead of being round-ish, it was a pretty rough landing but there wasn't any refusing or hesitation.  Yay!  After schooling it a couple more times until the TWH figured it out, she brought us to our second training level jump.  This is a true 3'3" jump that is set just on the top of a little hill so it has a 3'6" drop on the other side.  Oh great, lol, a blind landing to boot.  We got a long start to it and H's commentary of TWH's face said it best.  We were going to the jump and TWH was trying to drift left.  I applied more left leg, TWH looked like "Mom, if we keep going straight we are going to have to jump this".  I applied more leg and a little rein and TWH looked like "I am not sure if I am going to be able to get around this if we don't turn now!".  Finally after a little spur TWH seemed to say "OK, I have no choice, hold on!".  I actually concur with her assessment of his expression, that is exactly what it felt like!  He seemed totally taken by surprise by the jump, it is one we typically run around (for obvious reasons) so he thought it was pilot error until the last moment haha.  What a good horse for trying!  We went over it a couple more times for experience and called it a nice day.

I am so thrilled he is so willing to jump whatever I point him at, so different from the horse that would freak out over the smallest xc jump back in 2011.  He is learning how to jump and is applying his knowledge and seems to be enjoying it.  I am really looking forward to our show next weekend, let's see how we do!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Strutting our stuff Part III (PICTURES!!)

After a great cross country ride we settled down and waited a little over 2 hours for stadium.  SO brought us some Subway for lunch and it was fun hanging out eating lunch with a little group.  We took it easy and relaxed and by the time we had to get ready for stadium, we had plenty of prep time.

With TWH all gleaming and glowing, we meandered over to stadium and watched the Novice rounds to get a feel for the course.  Overall it wasn't a bad course, there was a three stride to pay attention to and fence three was at the bottom of a hill, headed back up but everything else was straightforward.  During the course walk I happened time it just right to walk with 2 other sets of people and got a full play-by-play of what to do over each fence via one of the instructors to a set of kids.  Ha!  I haven't ever had a stadium course walk explained so it was interesting listening in but overall it didn't help me much as it was pretty straight forward and a basic explanation of everything.  What I didn't do, however, was walk the last two fences as they looked straight forward and my boots were giving me a blister.

When it was finally our turn, we went in and I biffed the start.  I was too busy messing with my damn watch and gave TWH a bad distance to jump 1.  It was ugly and he hit it hard with his hind leg but at least it didn't go down, totally rider error.  We swung really wide for fence 3 to give him plenty of energy to go back up the hill and cleared it with no problems.  Fence 6 had been giving people problems and while he looked at it and jumped it funny, TWH didn't refuse or knock it like others did and we continued around.  The three stride went fine and we headed for home.  As we looked at fence 8 I realized I should have walked these last 2 fences, it turns out fence 9 is on an angle from fence 8.  A little surprising however everyone else seemed to have had gone fairly straight and so could we.  I pushed for a longer stride and took jump 9 at an angle and cleared it without a knock.  It wasn't super pretty but it was clean!

I knew that we were sitting 5th after dressage and 4th after cross country, I didn't know who was in the top 3 though.  I watched horse after horse have issues, some with time faults, others with jumping faults.  I wasn't sure how we would place and when they finally called us in to place, I was thrilled to find we were able to stay in 4th place.  4th place out of 15 to finish on our dressage score of 39!  I was so proud of him, he was awesome.  I signed us up to go up a division, to Novice, at the little eventing derby on Sept 8th, let's see how we do!
This is the jump he told me that he could do this and I didn't help again, save for the ditch.

Rocking this XC Course.  He did this without my help!


Biffing fence 1, way to forward, wrong distance.  He saved it though!

Our oops at the last fence, jumping at an angle.  Look at how high he picks his feet up though lol!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Strutting our stuff Part II

Having two grooms was amazing and allowed me to not fret while I walked the cross country course.  They untacked TWH, brushed him down and one settled in to knit while the other walked the course with me.  Awesome!  The courses are always fairly long, almost 2000m but this one is more complicated with lots of impressive hills.  Makes for a tired horse but an even more tired rider during the coursewalk.  I pushed it at the end to get back in time and the walk still took a good 40 minutes of our allotted 1 hour 30 minute break.  It sounds like we have plenty of time, we really didn't.

Once back at the trailer, the grooms set to work tacking the TWH up while I switched attire.  Thanks to my groom I wasn't eliminated for forgetting my armband (YIKES!!) and was able to hop up with 15 minutes before my ride time. They meandered onto the course to set themselves up by the water jump  to spectate and I set to warming up.  I was the third rider in the BN division and that meant there was a 15 minute pause in ride times for jump judges to move and for some fences to be adjusted.  As a result, the warmup fences were still set to Novice height which made me very happy.  My philosophy is that we should be comfortable jumping harder or higher stuff in warmup so the actual course is somewhat easy.  After a quick walk/trot set I set him over the crossrail before going around and jumping again, this time over the big oxer.  He was. Amazing.  He came at the right distance to the jump and when we went over it, I felt like we were seasoned pros instead of green beans.  Yes!

When our time came up, off we went.  Fence one was an inviting log and fence two was a log with a bunch of flowers.  I kept a good strong leg on him and something happened over fence 3, another log.  It was like I could feel something change, the TWH didn't seem hesitant.  He didn't look at the fence.  The encouragement I gave seemed unnecessary.  He acted confident and calm!  Fence four was a "barn" and he just soared over it without a second thought.  We went through some trees to fence five and I didn't press him forward.  It was a smaller coup that he could jump from almost a standstill so I waited to see what he would do, he jumped it confidently.  I let him cruise over fence six before kicking him into a strong, fast gallop.  Fence seven was the baby ditch, except they had redone the ditch so it was now an actual small ditch instead of a log on the ground with a trench behind it.  Since ditches are our problem, I wasn't taking any chances!  The TWH did take a look at the ditch but we were going so fast he didn't have a chance to think and just went over it. Yay!!

From that point on, our ride felt different.  It felt like we were a true team, working it together.  It felt like he was a serious competitor that was taking his job seriously.  I stopped kicking him over fences and let him approach them.  He felt SO confident and bold, it makes me so proud!  I worked hard to eat up time since we were going pretty fast and came in at 5:50 out of an optimum time of 5:58, double clear!  He felt So Awesome.  It was the first time I actually trusted him over the fences.  Now to settle in for a nice 2 hour wait for stadium.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Strutting our stuff Part I

On Sunday we had our show, this is our second "big" show of the year, a real three phase Horse Trial.  Horse Trials are ran with 3 rides and the combined score determines your placing, first dressage, then cross country and finally stadium jumping.  Unfortunately since we haven't been riding much this past month due to the fencing project, having a friend in town and volunteering last weekend, I really only had a week to prepare for the show.  My next show is in 2 weeks and I swear I will be better prepared! 

I was super busy on Saturday and was successful in accomplishing everything on my list!  Loading and filling water tank?  Check!  Cleaning tack?  Check!  Loading tack? Check! Loading show clothes? Check!  Hay nets? Check!  Bathe horse?  Check!  Ride horse?  Check!  I was very happy with my accomplishments Saturday night around 8p as I was riding.  Until I realized I had forgotten to go walk the cross country course because I didn't write it on the dang list.  DAMN!!  Timing was going to be tight, I only had an hour and a half between dressage and cross country and walking the course usually takes at least a half hour.  Damn!

I was lucky enough to have RB4 and another friend come help me and their help was awesome!  They braided him, helped tack/untack him, rinsed him off and kept great company with me, I certainly couldn't have asked for much better help.  Dressage was a little rocky, both the TWH and I were a little tense and it seemed to show.  He started our warmup by shuffling the trot instead of truly trotting and half of our warmup consisted of lengthening/shortening the trot in an effort to get the true trot back.  As we went around the ring I realized I had only practiced the pattern once in the past month, way to go silly!  I went through my memory, hoping I remembered the pattern, when the judge ran the bell.  Damn.

We made our way into the dressage ring and the TWH dumped himself on the forehand and worked hard to stay there the entire ride.  I tried fixing some of it by doing a little lengthening after our first turn at C and while I thought the trot felt really nice, it only earned us a 6.  The judge seemed to love our canter however and surprisingly enough both canter departs and canters earned us 7's!  My first transition down went quite smoothly and the freewalk was good but inconsistent in the stretch.  His trot at A was prompt and I worked to get a little lengthening before our circle at C but didn't get much.  Our second canter/trot transition was a little rocky with him pacing 2-3 steps before picking up the trot but we finished nicely.  Needless to say I was a little shocked when I got our test, she gave us a four for both canter/trot transitions.  A FOUR?!?  I really, truly think it was a bit undeserved, the first transition he had only a single step of pace!  One could chalk it up to imbalance or whatever like i normally get, I could understand if we were showing 2nd or 3rd level dressage but this is the equivalent of training level :-(  She gave him a 5 on his gaits saying that he paces out of the canter and is lateral in the walk but she did give me a 7 for my position and seat.  Her comments said he was cute but gets lateral in the trot and walk.  Ugh.

I was reminded that we are paying for one persons opinion at that moment on that day and I shouldn't get too upset about it.  I heard a competitor say the same judge wrote "Horse doesn't seem to want to be here today".  I was fairly happy overall though, we got a 39.5 score and it put us 5th out of 15 in our class.  Time to hurry up though, we gotta walk the cross country course!