Monday, May 31, 2010

Riding Tina, Chrissy's Journey and Trimming

Trim Rain, washed her.

Rode Tina, washed her. She loves the water!

Tacked Rio, he flipped over! Then ground work in the saddle until he was calm.

Cowboy trim

Chrissy rides! Yay!

Caught up on trims

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Lone Ranger!

It turned out to be a much longer day away from home than I'd planned. That being said, had a blast!

Met Jess at Greenland again and today I brought Rain for her friend James to ride. That helped Z in the trailer, which is nice. I wanted to practice my bareback riding, so I started off in the bareback pad and we headed for the obstacle course. Greenland has a great obstacle course with stairs, jumps, cavalettis, gates, boxes... really awesome. Doing those bareback was a great challenge for me. I'm riding my horse bareback much better these days and feeling a lot more confident. I helped James a bit with some obstacles and we stayed there about an hour.

After that we decided to hit the trail. I thought about it hard, but decided to go back to my saddle and not push it for a few more hours of trailriding bareback. It was interesting going back to the saddle after being bareback and challenging myself on obstacles! I know my seat was just slightly improved. We went about 8 miles at a trotting pace and to the top of the bluff. Z and I brought up the tail for a good portion - a challenge for Z. She likes to lead and being behind makes her a little flustered. There were lots of trains, probably one every hour. But on the way back, a train came that was very fast moving. I've never seen one move that fast on this trail. It unnerved Russia and Z and at the same time James cantered off with Rain. Z came a little unglued and I decided to hop off of her for a few mins. It was the right thing to do and I hopped back on when she'd started using her brain again.

At the trailer, we did our usual routine and I got the girls loaded to go. I turned around to say goodbye and Russia walked out of Jess' trailer and went back to the trailhead. She did not want to be caught! Jess followed her for about 1/4 mile then came back upset and didn't know what to do. I had been watching and kept thinking that surely Russia would turn around so Jess could catch her, but she never did. I unloaded Z, quickly tacked her back up and cantered off to get Russia. Z was a little miffed as to why we were doing this, but she obliged. We probably went about a mile before we saw Russia. Z and I were cantering up and down the rolling hills and pausing when something caught her wary eye. We were riding along humongous electrical poles and the noise from them was eery. There was snow fence blowing in the ridiculous wind and we were alone. My horse did great though and I was so proud of her.

We were able to grab Russia's lead pretty easily and I ponied her back. Thank goodness we got her. I know Jess would have been so upset if I couldn't find her. There was lots of speculation as to why Russia did this but Kime really felt that Russia was just not ready to leave. After all, this place is a horse's paradise.

I was gone a total of 8 hours and luckily my husband wasn't mad at me. I meant to get other horses moving but I couldn't ask for more time with horses after that much time away. It was a grand adventure and my horse and I are quite the team. The rescue team! :-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good day of riding!

Tina - had a great session with Tina today. I had Steve supporting me with the line. I warmed her up, played with the mounting block and teaching her to sidle over to it, played with my boot in the stirrup, then mounted. She was quite calm and even cocked a leg after a sat there a moment. I asked for lateral flexion and she gave it easily. Then we walked off. Something caused her to scoot out at one point and Steve handled it well. It can be scary with a big animal deciding to move it's feet and you on the other end of the line. I remained calm and it ended soon enough. She was fine and we walked on. I was on her back about 20 minutes and felt that it was the right time to get off. She was relaxed and happy and it was the perfect quitting spot. We can build from here. What a great deal we've got going.

Before we got started, Steve was coming into the round pen and decided to climb the panel rather than go through the gate. Tina saw him get high up on that panel and became extremely worried! So we played with that for about 30 minutes before I mounted. I had Steve stand up, sit down, reach out to touch her while I asked her to "touch it", played squeeze and circle game around him. It was interesting to see the emotion his height created but by the end she was fine with him dancing and wiggling high on the panel and we moved on. Nice to find those holes and get them fixed so that maybe someone doesn't have to ride through that sort of thing. She'll see judges sitting high up in the dressage ring some day.

Then, Jen came over so that we could ride the trail together. I rode Lynx, Jen on Rain. Jen is working through some trust issues with her horse and she wanted to see how I would handle her horse's behaviors on the trail. It was a great ride and we found a place to hang around and focus on fundamentals. We worked on backing up a hill, scooting down a hill, going up and down embankments, cantering and the dreaded separation! Rain is fine with separation but Lynx is not. She's actually ok with leaving Rain, but cannot handle Rain leaving her. I rode her through a few panic attacks, asking her to partner up by giving her lots to do. She became quite nervous and I continued to reassure her that paying attention to what I was asking was the right deal. When I'd get her calm, we'd go back to Rain. She got better each time and it was quite fun to help her through this. It gave Jen food for thought and allowed me to practice my skills. Her horse can be quite energetic and she likes to rear, but it never got that out of control. She did well and she was challenged.

When we returned, Chrissy was all ready to go and wanted some help working through her fears. Jen helped while I went inside to prep for company. Chrissy and Jen decided to use Rain and Jen helped her find her seat. It was short but I think Chrissy got someone else's perspective besides mine, which is a great thing.

It was great day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Trimming, soaking and cursing the wind

Soaked Ruby, trimmed Zarah.

Ruby came over for some soaking and boot fitting. We didn't get to the fitting because the soaking was tough on her. The trailer ride over was also tough and she unloaded pretty nervous and sweaty. The wind was also slightly ridiculous so we agreed to boot fit another day.

I managed to get Z trimmed, but the wind was fierce enough to keep me from riding/playing with horses.

Darn wind.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cantering bareback and more Spinning

Today I had some time for 1 horse and I chose Z. I decided to do some more bareback riding. I also put a bareback pad on with a saddle pad underneath, thinking that I could ride her longer and help her stay comfortable. We warmed up and then I started to ride in the round pen. The pads definitely made it easier! Her withers hit my pubic bone sometimes and the pad stops that discomfort. She cantered off my ask easily and we were flying around with ease. I worked on canter/trot transitions and found them easily and fluidly. We'll continue to practice and improve.

I got a little video that I'll post thanks to my supportive husband.

We also did some ground work and progressed with the spin. Z seems to have some fun with that! She shoots out from the spin with gusto then comes straight back to me. I don't necessarily want her coming straight back to me, but for now I'll reward that because the spin is so good! Proud of my mare and had a great session.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Helping a friend, Part 2

A few weeks back, I helped a friend with her horse. Her horse has serious defensive behaviors when anyone tries to do work on her hind hooves. She kicks, stutter steps, pulls back - just a general defensive and unwilling response. She's learned this over years of time and at this point, it's impacting her ability to have her hind feet properly cared for.

Since I trim alone, I've learned a lot of great tactics to help the horse figure out how to help me trim. I focus on being natural and never disrespect the horse or strip him/her of their dignity. So, I decided to help Ruby using the same tactics. I gave the owner some specific things to practice to help Ruby feel less defensive and more like a partner. We then decided I would come back and put a good barefoot trim on her hinds.

Tonight we put the practice to the test. This horse hasn't had great trims and she has very overgrown bars (spread all over the sole) a closed sulcus, extremely wide collateral grooves and hoof wall separation everywhere from stretched laminae. She has quarter cracks and missing horn from the flare. She needs help. Her toe is long and her heel is low.

I took my time and gave her breaks. I respected her thresholds and didn't push through them. She stood ground tied for the entire trim! She never kicked, stepped away, got overly defensive. She got better as I went along and I was able to use my nippers to get some of the wall (save my rasping arm!). Ha! Trimming is hard work. I really try very hard to work smarter and not harder.

My friend has owned this horse for years - I believe 6 years. She apparently has never allowed anyone to trim her hoof with nippers. She was amazed! Ruby was calm, really not too hard to trim. They'd had some good practice since my first visit. My friend is very close to taking the barefoot plunge with pleases me greatly. She's a more traditional gal who's used shoes forever, so it's quite a change for her to even consider it.

I felt good that I was able to help them break a rough pattern and put a proper trim on this horse. I was able to share a lot of info with Ruby's owner that will at least have her asking more questions to other professionals and coming up with her own path.

Cool stuff!

I'd planned to take Z and Tina over with me for some indoor arena time as the wind was simply horrendous. Work went late and I changed my mind. It was a good thing since the 2 hooves took 90 minutes. Rewarding time, though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Mounting with Calmness, Bareback and the Draw

Started with Tina tonight and was trying hard to beat the sun. I tacked her up, gave her a trim, and warmed her up with some groundwork. For the first day in 4 days, the wind wasn't insane. So nice to be outside w/o the crazy wind. Tina was doing great with groundwork. I'm doing a lot of the same things, so it's time to step it up and get more progressive on the ground. We pushed the ball - she pushes it for several strides now. We went over the teeter totter with calm confidence. We practiced the figure 8, falling leaf and jumping the barrels. In the round pen, we played with sideways/sidepassing, pushing the ball more and change of direction. Her head is low, she's not flinchy, things are good.

We practiced sidling over to the mounting block. She is starting to understand this one. I think put my foot in the stirrup and fidgeted around vigorously until the flinching stopped. It was much better tonight! She stopped flinching in 30 seconds and it was done. I reached over her back with my weight and rubbed the off-side, especially the flank area. This is an area where she get's very reactive and tonight she didn't flinch at all. So great. Then, I had Chrissy come support me by holding the lead while I mounted. We started on the left and surprisingly, Tina was unable to stand still for mounting. I drove the hind around quickly multiple times, then asked again. Again, she moved so I drove the hind around and tried again. It took 4-5 times of this before she realized it was easier to stand still for mounting. I mounted and waited for her to release any tension. It didn't take long at all, maybe 30 seconds. By now, the sun was setting and we had to quit. Darn, because we were making progress. Tomorrow...

With a few minutes of daylight left, I wanted to be sure Chrissy hopped on her horse bareback. We quickly sidled him over to the mounting block (he's figuring this out) and Chrissy hopped on. Kris, her fiancee took a turn too.

It's was pretty dark by now, but I grabbed Z and just worked on increasing her draw. I need strong draw from her for the spin, so I'm going to focus on that for a few sessions. She improved quickly. We pushed the ball a few times and did a few strides of the Spanish Walk. Then, it was time to call it - too dark to see. It was a productive 10 mins.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Breaking through and THE SPIN!

I spent 3 hours with Tina today. With the relatives in town and graduation, birthday, anniversary festivities, I had to put horses on hold for 4-5 days. So, today I had big plans to play catchup - specifically with Tina. I committed to 7 days of JUST ground work and confidence building. We did our 7th session last weekend and today I wanted to get back to working on mounted sessions. Tina has come back around so beautifully. She's regained the confidence she had and then some. She's calmer and braver. She's learning so well (she can only do that if she's not afraid). She's trying new things and showing curiosity. She's ready for mounted work.

We started tacked and ready to go. We played for quite a while first. I started teaching her to sidle over to a mounting block - a great skill for any horse to have. Today, I built on that and also desensitived her to my foot in the stirrup with a ton of stimulation. I wiggled, poked, prodded, etc with my foot in the stirrup until the flinching was gone and she relaxed. I layed over her and made sure she wasn't flinchy on the off-side, the flank, etc... She was quite relaxed - like she was when I first started her.

I decided to have Chrissy help by holding the lead line of my rope hack while I mounted and rode. This way I have reins and Chrissy can help disengage the hind if things get rough. I mounted repeatedly and she was calm and relaxed. She actually started to nap a little! This pleased me tremendously. I swung a leg over and sat on her back and sat for minutes at a time. She didn't do a ton of blowing, which shows me that she wasn't holding back or showing right-brained introversion. She was truly calm and ok. I must admit that I have to learn to trust her and this was a positive step. It was insanely windy and in the past I wouldn't have bothered even trying to mount on her on a windy day. All things considered, we've made huge progress together.

Chrissy and Cowboy had a great day too. Chrissy is starting to work on her bareback riding so she hopped on and we talked about her seat and how to achieve balance. I believe this was really her first time focusing on this and there's so much to learn from riding bareback! Good for her. She said she liked it better than riding in the saddle. I agree!

I spent a little time near the end of the day on Z bareback. We rode around the property and I tried to make it enjoyable for her by letting her stop and graze often and for long durations. I just wanted to hang out on her back. Afterwards, I hopped off and we did a short liberty session in the round pen. For the first time, I asked for the spin at liberty and wow!!! I got several beautiful spins in both directions! I've been building this maneuver online and just whimsically decided to test it. How impressive that she was willing and able! Her Spanish Walk is beautiful too. We really need to film! I'm excited to see where we are and how far we've come.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pony rides and Bareback :-)

With the relatives in town, we decided to give the nephews some rides on Rain. The kids had a blast! I led them around the yard, asked Rain to stand on the pedestal and other obstacles and the kids were thrilled. The kids took turns standing on one end of the teeter totter while Rain, on the other end, would weight her side and cause the kids to go up and down. Even my sister-in-law hopped on for a little ride around the yard!

When that was over, Marla hopped on bareback and I gave her some help getting started with developing balance. She loved that and spent about 45 mins figuring out her seat and how to balance. I hopped on Z as well and did some trotting practice. Z was calm and felt great! Marla was a great time and I know she wanted to go longer.

I also pulled Gem out and showed some of his play! I was working on getting the rear, but he was acting pretty lazy and I never got it. However, he showed some good stuff and we had fun. I think the relatives enjoyed seeing the kind of things I do with horses.

Rain was a great "party horse" and I'm thankful to have her in my life and in my herd. She's a pleasure. Z and I are getting better and better and I'm going to keep trying to log 4-5 hours per week bareback.

I managed to get Gemini trimmed before calling it a night, too.

Great day sharing horses with the city folk!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Helping a friend

I have a friend that I ride with sometimes. She and I trade the use of her indoor for coaching from me. She has a very neat OTTB that gives her some interesting challenges. Today, I went to help with her hind feet and trimming troubles. She expects she's going to need to shoe her hinds soon and she doesn't believe the farrier will be able to get it done with her defensive behavior.

I have to trim 6-8 horses alone every month, so I have some experience getting horses to behave so I can get my work done. Ruby was definitely defensive and she also has 7-8 years of patterns developed. She snatches her foot back and will kick out and move away and yadda, yadda, yadda. So I decided to play a game with her. First of all, I never gave her anything to brace against. She can't brace if there's nothing to brace against. So if she wanted her hoof back, I continued to hold it, but I didn't fight her pull. I moved with her. She quickly learned that snatching her hoof back netted her nothing. Then, I asked her to stretch her leg back so I could be in trimming position. We slowly worked on approach and retreat where she didn't have to try, but I made it easier to try than not try. Finally, I made it clear that the game was over when I put her toe on the ground. She could pull back or be bracey if she wanted, it just wouldn't get her anything. She's no dummy, her resistance broke down quickly and Tammy was very pleased to see her horses behavior change. For years, she's struggled with Ruby's hinds and Ruby's plan to be intimidating and bracey has worked. So, this was a huge pattern interrupt that should have a positive impact - if carried out the way I demonstrated. Ruby was relaxed by the end and had a leg cocked and I was able to do some rasping w/o issue. Yay! If that's kept up for 4-7 sessions, the pattern of behavior will be broken.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Greenland - and finding time to relax and enjoy

I made a new trail riding friend a couple weeks ago and we decided to meet for an adventure. I've been working very hard, motivated to progress, working long hours with my day job and I decided to take a day off from progression and just relax with my horse on the trail. My husband says I don't do that enough - I'm always reaching some goal. That's just how I'm wired. I'm always progressing and motivated to be better or get better results. It was tough to let everything else go and just ride a trail, but I did it.

Z doesn't appreciate trailering alone and I was a little concerned that I'd be asking too much of her. She loaded fine though, but coming and going. She was eating in the trailer and she seemed ok. She unloaded calmly as well. So, I'm assuming it was a challenge she could handle.

We went about 6 miles at Greenland and we walked basically the whole way. We talked a lot and our horses got to relax and eat grass often. Z has an amazing fast walk and the Thoroughbred we were with could not keep up at all. Actually, I don't think she cared to either. :-) Z just likes to cover ground and I love that about her. She's got the need for speed and so do I. So walking for 6 miles was good for both of us. She was relaxed, easy going (usually) and was happy to lead or follow. We had a great time talking about our horse experiences and our plans for the future. I enjoyed it immensely!

This coming week is all about relatives flying in from out of town for Kyle's graduation and making sure the house is ready, we are ready, the food is bought, the plans are made... Kendall also has her birthday party Thursday night, so it's just an action-packed week. I expect to get very little horse time this week, but that's ok. I miss the horses when I don't have time with them, but I could probably use some thinking time too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Playing on a Saturday

Nice to get some time with the horses as we've had snow and rain all week! The ground is soft and mushy, so keeping things low key.

Tina - more ball! She was so great today and pushed the ball around with confidence! She actually rolled her front legs over it at one point and I could see her thinking, "Wow, that was kinda fun!". We worked with plastic bags and she's doing great dealing with the plastic bag rubbing on her face, neck and chest. We did some driving from zone 2 and stick to me. She's doing more licking and chewing during our sessions and seems to be ready to progress to riding again. I laid over her bareback and rubbed her all over on the off-side and started teaching her to sidle over to the mounting block. This was the 7th session of ground work and confidence building. Now, we get back to work on bringing her along as a trustworthy mount.

Cowboy - I played with Cowboy and put a ride on him for Chrissy. The ground work went well and although he had a little attitude in the beginning, he quickly softened up (10 mins?) and got his head in the game. I rode him into the arena and we played with transitions on the rail. We started with moving the fore and hind and those felt better. He's still bracey there, so we'll keep working on it. Transitions were nice and he did a lot of blowing! That means to me he started more tense about the arena riding than he showed. He was transitioning up and down from only my seat after a little time and just a pleasure to ride. He's so cool.

Chrissy then hopped on him and worked on relaxation. She seemed the more relaxed she has in a while and we talked and joked while she worked through her nerves. A great step!

Zarah - more bareback transitions from extended trot to canter. We left the property alone and I took her to a great place for grass. She was eager and willing to leave - no resistance. This was nice to see since I haven't ridden her alone on the trail in a while. My seat is better and better and I felt very comfortable and fluid on her bareback today. Excited to start jumping bareback.

I also played with Z on the 45'. We went to the hills and I asked her to go over jumps and play a solid circle game. She must have been feeling good because she galloped around me for probably 10 laps each direction! I didn't ask for that, she offered it and I allowed it. In the end, I asked her to walk the circle on the 45' and that was actually quite a challenge for her. She was just feeling good and ready to go! Her backup on the 45' was straight and beautiful. We should get started on filming our L4 online. We're ready.

Gem - trimmed his left front and hind. His hind frog was interesting and I was able to get it cleaned up and open the sulcus for better health. His lateral wall needed a strong roll but it didn't have near the white line stretching that I expected to see. I love that horse - I need to find more time to ride him somehow.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Trimmed Rain. Front left hoof capsule is slightly twisted from her crooked front legs. She was perfect for me (perfect behovrior).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 2 with Kime

More bareback. Focused on riding the fast, extended trot into the canter and back down to the fast trot. Z's large and bouncy trot is much easier to ride fluidly now.

Simulations with the 45' - how to tell a left handed from a right handed 45'. Coiling it so it doesn't get twisted. I'm using a rt handed rope, so learned how to work with that and make sure I don't foul myself up working backwards. Talked a lot about safety with the 45' and avoiding an accident with loops on the ground. Tell a rt handed from left handed by holding the end with the bull snap away from you and seeing which direction the threads go.

Tina hanging out while we watched trailer loading and getting on the pedestal - she was so cute and extremely confident! I was suprised and impressed by her. We sat on a large tractor tire filled with dirt with the instructor did a trailer loading demo. Tina continued to vie for attention by loading herself onto the tire with all 4 feet! I wish I'd taken a picture. She was so cute and nuzzled me constantly. We've hit a new plateau in our relationship.

I decided to play over her back while the trailer loading went on. I bellied her, rubbed her all over, made some commotion above her... she took it all in stride and only thought to move her feet once or twice. I realize it's not me she doesn't accept, it's the saddle.

Loading to leave, Tina went to look under the panel and lost her footing. She slipped and fell in the trailer. I opened the panel quickly and she righted herself and got out. Poor girl! I let her settle down, another student did some acupuncture with the red light to relax her (worked great!) and then about 30 mins later I loaded her again. She was fine - not scared or worried. I took my time and loaded her respecting her thresholds the best I could. I quickly loaded Z so Tina was calmer quicker.

My abs were sore for a couple days after all that bareback riding! I probably rode bareback for 6 hours in the 2 days. Pretty cool! I'm excited to start jumping bareback. Z was awesome the whole time. She was relaxed and sensitive and paying attention. She was a great partner most of the time. Tina was calm and her ground work looked fantastic! We're working on a straight backup to 22' away and she's doing great.

Enjoyed my time at Nancy's immensely!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 1 with Kime

Bareback - once with Kime, once alone, getting much more fluid. With Kime, she has the 22' line and she's asking Z over cavalettis, in tight circles, quick transitions between gaits, etc... It's much harder than riding Z bareback alone. I also did a lot of zone 5 driving with Z. Her turn to the outside needs a little more work, but she was able to stay pretty far ahead. We were driving from zone 5 with the 45 so I was able to get 20-30 ft behind her. However, the turn to the outside was tough if it was away from the barn and the other horses. I'd creep close, make the turn, then move back. We'll keep practicing.

Tina: we worked on playing over obstacles, loading into trailer (large and small), standing on pedestal, change of direction, she is so much calmer and better!! Is it the sessions of not riding or is it the magnesium? Or both??

She was awesome. She was a horse that I'd ride - calm and thinking.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A gelding who thinks he's a stallion

I've had Cowboy and Gem in stalls for several weeks. Cowboy is in because he doesn't respect the fence when there's spring grass. Gem is in because he leaves so many marks on the other horses. Here's the problem... mares are in spring heats and Rio, the only other gelding, thinks he's the stallion. I'm guessing he was cut late because he mounts the mares much more than Gem or Cowboy. He also has stallion behaviors all the time (low nickering to mares, territorial with the mares). Luckily, he's not at the top of the pecking order. So today, I let the boys out to get Rio in check. They don't have near the testosterone and they'll keep Rio from mounting the mares. His stallion-like behavior is becoming slightly dangerous for the people that come around.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Playing with the Boys and the end of an Abscess

I also agreed to put some rides on Cowboy for Chrissy. She isn't riding him right now and she'd like him to get some time under saddle. I'm happy to do it, so I played with him on the ground for a while before mounting. I need to know he's going to view me as the leader before I mount and ride. We played for a while and he had some interesting ideas about things. At one point, he kicked out at me while squeezing between me and a panel. He stopped to eat grass in the middle of the squeeze! I touched him and he got defensive. He and I need to get to a better place and we will over the next couple weeks while I ride him. I did ride him for a bit after the ground work and we just worked on soft things like moving the fore and hind and lateral flexion. He was doing great so I decided to quit there. Good boy!!

I played with Gemini and was thinking to ride him. The weather was moving in and by the time I finished riding Cowboy it was starting to rain. Darn! So, I'll ride Gem after the clinic this weekend.

Tina's abscess is behind her now. Now she just has to safely heal the opening in the coronary band from the bacteria moving out of the hoof. I'm so happy it worked out well by soaking her and buting her for pain for 2-3 days. Much better than the hole the vet would have poked in her hoof. She's ready to hit the clinic with me this weekend.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Prepping for a Trail Competition with KK

KK and I planned to ride today, but the wind was absolutely ridiculous. We started to leave the property and I asked her if we could stay home and ride instead. This way, we could ride behind the barn and have some wind block. We started to work on obstacles! I taught KK how to get Rain to sidle to the fence/mounting block so she can mount herself. She loved learning that! Then we played over the teeter totter, the bridge, the pedestals... She handled Rain very well and I was able to drop her a few more hints on handling the reins more easily and helping Rain understand what KK wants.

We spent some time in the arena working on the cloverleaf patter at the trot. KK was able to take Rain tight around the corners and they looked great together! I'm proud of them both.

Z did well for me while I focused on KK. I was able to practice transitions and bridleless riding with Z while helping KK out. Pretty cool.

I also decided to put Tina back with the herd. She's had 3 soaks now. She's standing still too much in her stall and her left hind is starting to stock up. I knew it would help her move the abscess if she was moving her leg vs standing still on it. She's better off with the herd, feeling safe and getting the blood flowing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Hoof Abscess

Tina developed an abscess and it started last night. I decided last night to tuck her into a stall because I didn't understand at first why she was acting lame so I decided to watch her, bute her, and check her again in the morning. This morning I realized she must be abscessed because there was nothing else wrong with her left hind leg. She had one I believe about 9 months ago so I'm wondering why she's gotten one again. Researched this and it seems that there are 100 opinions out there among professionals. I'm going to a 2-day clinic this weekend and I'd like to take her. To help clear the abscess, I immediately did a White Lightening soak and buted her again. I then soaked her again in the evening. I'll soak her once or twice tomorrow. Soaking her in White Lightening helps the hoof absorb the anti-bacterial agents in the soak and fight the infection. Typically, this soaking helps the horse clear the infection quicker so I had my fingers crossed. I was against calling in a vet, who would put a hole in her hoof to drain the bacteria and introduce a large risk of secondary infection. I'm also wondering if the SmartCalm product is helping her relax - hard to tell with the abscess. She's been on it for 4 days now.

I also soaked Gems hinds tonight as they looked like a little thrush was settling in.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Helping a friend and playing with horses at home

I trailered over to a friends today with Rain so that we could hit the trail together. She's having some fear issues with her mare and the idea was that I would ride her horse and she'd ride Rain. Her mare is LBI with some LBE tendencies. She's a dominant confident horse and she's caused a lack of confidence in her rider. I warmed her up on the ground and she quickly got with the program. She's a nice horse, very nice, but she needs a confident leader or she takes charge. I established up front that there was no reason to doubt that I would be the leader.

She actually did quite well on the trail! She wanted to move out, so I trotted and cantered circles around Rain so that my friend could go at her pace and Lynx and I could move out. I'm sure we looked funny to anyone that saw us. :-) I was very specific with her. I wanted her to know that I was in charge of her feet, so I often asked for a single step at a time. It took her about 15 minutes to realize it was much easier to follow my lead than have a lot of her own ideas. I moved her out whenever I could to help her have some fun and brought her back down if my friend became unnerved.

When we got back, she was in such a great place - calm, soft, no emotional brace in her mind. I was pleased (I've always liked this horse). So my friend rode her at all gaits and enjoyed herself for about 20 mins while Rain relaxed and grazed and I watched. I love helping horses and I really love helping people with their horses.

When I got home, I brought Tina in for another ground session. I put a new, heavy western saddle on her that I'm trialing for colt-starting. Tina could tell the difference between this new saddle and the other saddles I've used. She bucked quite a bit the first 10 mins. I was surprised that she bucked but she's just telling me she still hasn't accepted the saddle. That's good to know, we'll keep working on it. She's calm and easy for the act of saddling, but wearing it on her back while she moves is still quite a challenge. She's extremely sensitive!

We played in the round pen with disengaging, nice circle game at the trot and canter, and some sideways. I just wanted her feet moving so I could help her relax. When she started to blow and the adrenalin was waning, we got to work with the ball. She did very well! She pushed it multiple times in a row (vs just one push) with her legs and nosed it a lot. She was showing a bit of interest in it. I was very glad to see that behavior! She would once in a while get startled (the cinch? something else she sensed?) and I decided to stop the ball work and go back to getting her relaxed and blowing. Change of direction works very well for this as she draws in to me when I step back and fluidly moves back out in the opposite direction. She can do wonderful lead changes at the canter with this maneuver (this is COD). Her draw was quite nice, which means she's feeling safe with me, not thinking to avoid me.

It started to rain, so we did a little teeter-totter until the rain got hard and then went into the barn. I wanted to get some hoof trimming done on her and decided to keep the saddle on so she could wear it longer. Her feet have come along so nicely - I'm proud of where she is with her hoof shape. She tends to flare so she needs frequent trimming to keep her hoof wall intact.

My sister walked in with a plastic bag full of apples for the horses and Tina became so unnerved by the bag! That's our next feat - the plastic bag on her body everywhere. This will be a big challenge for her but it will also help her get to the end of that extreme fear. I've got bags hanging and blowing in the wind around the barn now and in the round pen. She's still got a special reaction when a bag is in a humans hand versus hanging around attached to an object.

We'll keep building! This was Tina's 4th session of 7 for confidence-building.

After the weather passed, I pulled Gem out and did some liberty with him. He was cute. He's so playful! We had some fun working on his cutting pattern (moving left/right fast when I do), flc at liberty, stick to me. I taught him to rear and he enjoys getting his hooves in the air. Now I will refine it so he can do it w/o a buildup to it and only when I ask specifically.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Advancing my bareback riding

Had an very great lesson with Kime today. I decided I wanted to focus on improving my bareback riding so we spent 3 hours with Zarah. First we worked on the ground (of course) and I realized I've somehow broken my "allow". Hmmm, when did I do that? We fixed that and then we worked on squeezing over jumps. I told Kime that I want to get my bareback jumping more solid so she wanted to make sure Z was going over jumps in a "rideable" manner. We worked on lots of jumping and making sure Z was efficient and smooth over the them.

We improved the falling leaf by me asking for a partial disengagement sooner than I'm used to. That allowed Z to keep the forward motion and turn on the fore with less of a struggle. We also squeezed over 2 cavalettis at w/t/c. We played circle game among the obstacles and the barrel jumps on the circle at all gaits. We were looking for Z to make the decision to go over versus me asking her to go over (maintaining gait on the circle). Her attitude was much more compliant at the end of the ground work. I've been lazy with her ground work as I've been training for endurance and spending more time groundworking others.

Then, I showed her how I'm doing with my bareback riding and we decided the best place to start was improving my ability to ride the extended/fast trot fluidly. The fast trot is the hardest gait to ride bareback because there is so much motion in the horses back. She wanted to do a "lunge line" lesson, so we put Z on the 22' and got started. She focused on transitions so that I could improve my fluidity between the up and down transitions (walk, trot, canter, fast trot, halt). It was my first time doing that bareback and it was quite a challenge! I never knew what would come next and I had to really stay balanced to ride the transitions that quickly. It was a blast and I was actually quite exerted. A couple times, I asked her to stop so I could catch my breath.

A few friends came to watch and had good things to say about how intense the lesson was. I wish I would have had one of them video the session.

Afterwards, Chrissy took a lesson with her (her first lesson with anyone besides me). I've been pushing her to do this. I know I benefit greatly from hearing and learning from as many instructors as I can. They may mean the same thing, but they say it differently and I might hear it in just the perfect way from a particular instructor. I also think they focus on different things and it helps me be more rounded. I commit to myself to take lessons as long as I'm able.

Chrissy had a good time and was glad she did it. So was I.

Before closing the day out, I trimmed Cowboys fronts.