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.