Tag Archives: horses

The Sensitive Baby

A few posts back I mentioned that somehow, despite my best efforts, I had ended up with a sensitive horse. And, surprising even myself, I am really enjoying the problem solving that goes along with starting a sensitive horse.

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I have little applicable media, so enjoy pics of when my Dad visited last week and met June for the first time

Now, here’s what I mean by problem solving, and sensitive:

This weekend, I hopped on June and she was feeling good. In front of the leg, and ready to work. I wanted to work on bend, especially going right, but I noticed she kept breaking to the canter instead of bending in the trot.

So, we did some trot/walk transitions. But, lo and behold, she continued to want to canter rather than bend.

In the past, I probably would have found this really annoying. But during this particular ride, I tried to figure out why she was breaking to the canter and how to “fix” it.

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I put my Dad to work adjusting her new blanket liner. It’s purple of course. Also, I need to do a review of the Porta Grazer!

At first, I attributed it to anxiousness. But, while she was forward and wanting to work, she was also fine to just walk, so “being anxious” or trying to anticipate the canter, didn’t totally seem to make sense to me.

I decided to really think about what my body was doing when I asked her to bend right.

My leg went on, and I asked for some right flexion.

Wait. My leg went on.Why wasn’t it on before?

I soon realized, I was asking for bend with my calf. Which prior to asking, was not on. I was putting my calf on, pretty forcibly, when I wanted to ask for bend.

So, I stopped doing that.

I asked for bend from my thigh and knee, and kept my calf from pushing into her.

And guess what? She gave me bend without breaking into the canter.

I’m a genius.

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I have zero idea why I was posing like this except that I must have known I would need an “I’m a genius” picture

So, my sensitive mare understands the difference between asking from my calf and asking from my thigh. Which means I need to get better at asking from different parts of my leg.

And despite the fact that this took a good part of our ride to figure out, she tolerated me confusing her. She tolerated the fact that I kept asking her to canter with my calf and then immediately asking her to trot. She was a very good sport about all of it. Which is all I can ask of her. My hope is, she’ll continue to be patient with me.

Although it does worry me that my horse is already teaching me things. Even though she is supposed to be the green baby… lol.

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Macy gave my Dad her typical super friendly greeting. I closed my eyes and prayed she wouldn’t bite him

So much learning with this youngster. Every ride I learn something new, and I can’t even describe how fun it is!

 

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Best Yet

I was really really excited to write a recap on my most recent jump lesson. But work has been busy, and I have family coming into town tomorrow and I just can’t settle down enough to write a thoughtful play by play.

So, instead, you’re getting a recap through pictures. But just know this. It was super fun, and left me with so much homework. But I am so incredibly excited about June’s potential.

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We cantered over two poles to a jump. I had to work really hard to maintain rhythm. June was like a torpedo to the jumps

At first it was just a simple crossrail. But June wanted to pull me along to it, so I had to work really hard on keeping the uphill balance and not letting her take over.

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She was just like “easy, peasy, yawn, what’s next?” Meanwhile I was trying to remember how to jump and do a million other things

We had to work off the left and right, and our right lead canter has been, well, less than stellar, or consistent, but I was really happy with how we were able to work within the canter in this lesson and actually make some changes. Progress!

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Sometimes June took the long spot. Especially when she would take over and drag me down the line

But I worked and worked on getting this to improve. I wasn’t making changes quick enough, or insisting soon enough, but it got better as the lesson progressed.

And then, the crossrail became a vertical (yes it’s a vertical in the last photo but ignore that). June and I have never jumped a vertical before! So exciting!!

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Lets just say it was no problem for her

Going left I could get a fairly adjustable canter. Going right, well, we had to go right a few more times than left, but in the end it was far better than in the beginning.

And June just kept jumping out of her skin!

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I think she likes jumping.

June is just a natural jumper. It was so easy for her. Which meant I had to work hard on getting her to the first pole and not letting her drag me past our distance. I had to work on keeping her in an uphill frame. I had to keep my elbows moving and my leg from clamping (less successful with this..). My take away was that I can expect more from her than I was. I need to instill what I want from the get go, cause June is pretty sure she doesn’t need any help from me.

At the end I asked Sarah how high the jump was. 2′? 2’3? She paused and got the measuring stick. Almost 2’6! What??? We went from jumping crossrails to jumping 2’6 and I had zero fear, zero trepidation and it was SO FUN.

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Because I have the best friend ever, I asked her to stand next to the jump and look excited. And she did! And June just posed naturally, lol.

I think I have been grinning ear to ear ever since.

But OMG so much to work on. And I am SO EXCITED!!!

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Plans for 2019

The fact that I have a horse, that I am riding, and able to compete with, it’s beyond exciting for me. Considering the last two seasons, I either had a horse who was semi retired and not really sound enough to make plans with, or I had a horse who was too young to ride. But this year, even if none of these plans come to fruition, the fact that I have a horse I can go out and do things with? OMG I am so excited.

So, what’s the plan for the baby monkey? Well, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I feel like this past summer and fall we worked hard to get her out and about so that this year, we hopefully can have a horse who is comfortable in new places and understands we are there to work. I plan on getting her out as much as possible this spring to new places as well. More trail riding (to help with fitness too), more small schooling shows, and hopefully lots more time out on xc.

But, because I am a Planner with a capital P, I’ve started working through 2019 month by month. Which seems like testing fate, right? But see first paragraph in this post. I am fully aware much of this might not happen. I just want to PLAN it, because that is SO MUCH FUN. Plus, she’s a green bean. Things might change drastically if she can’t handle the work I am asking of her or if she progresses faster than expected.

So, while I apologize that this post may be more for me than my readers, hopefully you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse into how I’ll be handling June’s first competition season! I also, (more for me, but maybe interesting to you?) added some notes on how I want to prepare and some expectations for each event listed.

January 2019:

1/26: Our first mounted lesson with a different instructor! We have a jump clinic/lesson scheduled with Gary Mittleider at our barn.

Prep: I’ve scheduled a few more lessons in December and January than normal so that hopefully we can go into this lesson ready for what’s asked of us. I hope to work on our steering and keeping the same rhythm to the base of the jump. Also, we should work on cantering to a jump a bit more…

February 2019

2/2: NWWJS Jumper Show I’ve had to scratch from this low key jumper show twice already. Once because of June’s ulcers (it was two days after they were diagnosed and I didn’t want to make her travel) and again in January because my family are coming to visit. So, I am REALLY hopeful we will go in February. It’s about 2.5 hours away, so in the winter, weather is a variable as well.

Prep: See prep for Gary Mittleider clinic. At this point I want to be comfortable cantering fences. I’d also like to be jumping 2′? Also, I want to remember to use this jump show as a schooling experience. If she gets fast and unresponsive, it’s not above me to ask her to walk during parts of the course. Must remember this is a teaching experience.

2/9: Test of Choice Dressage Show Another in barn experience. I am hoping to sign up for BN A test. But, that means cantering. And right now, while I write this, all I can picture is how braced, disconnected and horrible our canter feels. So, we’ve got a lot of work!

Prep: Beginning yesterday, start working on the canter. Just ask for forward to begin with. After you get forward, work on some connection in addition to forward. Work the canter in lessons so you can feel more and more comfortable with what you are asking of June. Also keep working on connection and June working into the bridle. She loves to jump, so dressage takes some serious patience. BE PATIENT.

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She can do dressage, it’s just a question of if she wants to

March 2019

3/9: NWWJS Jumper Show Again, lets hope we can go. If we can, maybe we are jumping 2′ and 2’3? Or two very well executed 2′ classes.

Prep: Lots of work over jumps and approaching jumps and maintaining rhythm.

3/23: Wasatch Ice Breaker Show One of my favorite schooling shows for the mere fact that it is well run and super laid back. I’m hoping to hop into the dressage arena for a BN test as well as do a couple of stadium rounds. I may be there by myself, so will probably ride conservatively.

Prep:  Start working on movements within the test and trying to refine them. Take what I’ve learned from the schooling shows this winter and apply that knowledge to these rounds. This will be a much larger arena, so I need to work on maintaining rhythm and keeping June in front of my leg for longer periods of time.

April 2019

4/20&4/21 Wasatch Spring Fling Show Same venue as in March, but this time they add a xc element. So, dressage and SJ on Saturday and xc rounds on Sunday. From what I remember you can mix and match, so you can jump levels higher than your dressage test etc. If you want to compete in one division, like a true derby, you can also do that. I think I will probably mix and match? I’m not sure yet where we’ll be

Prep: Well somehow, in Idaho, I’m going to have to go get out on cross country prior to this show. Luckily we have a local schooling facility. Unfortunately the footing isn’t always great in early April. So, we’ll have to figure something out. Otherwise I can enter groundpoles and just use the experience to get June out the start box and into water.

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She needs to get used to all that water splashing around

May 2019 (where things start to go full steam ahead)

5/3-5/5 Skyline Horse Trials This is a recognized event at a very inviting facility about 6 hours away. I would be going Intro. I’m not sure I want to drive 6 hours and pay to go Intro at a recognized event. On the other hand, it could be a great experience for June. On the other, other hand, schooling shows are also great experiences and I should probably re-route to those. This is really early in the year.

Prep: Everything I have been doing x 10

5/25 Chicken Event This is probably the wiser choice. A one day, unrecognized event that is about 3.5-4 hours away. Totally appropriate for us.

Prep: Feel comfortable on xc. Know what I need to work on when June and I are out there. Feel polished and prepared for SJ and Dressage. Figure out our show outfit.

5/31-6/2 Equestrian’s Institute Horse Trials If for some reason the Chicken Event doesn’t pan out time wise, I can re-route to this event. About 7 hours away, also a recognized event, would also be going Intro. But gives me more time to feel prepared.

Prep: Save my money and work my ass off. I am not going to a recognized event this far away only to have it not go great (i.e not get around xc or have June jump out of dressage arena). So, if I go, I need to feel really prepared and ready.

June 2019

6/8-6/9 Hawley Bennett Clinic Deposit has been placed and I am really hopeful we will go to this SJ clinic. It’s about 4 hours away, so another road trip for June which means I will be spending a lot of money on Ulcergard. I’ll have to see how she is feeling in May- it probably isn’t a wise choice to do a recognized HT the weekend before a clinic.

Prep: I want to be polished and prepared. Ideally, we’d be in a BN group. Which means I can jump courses at a canter, our steering is on point, and we look like a BN worthy team.

6/15-6/16 Golden Spike Recognized Event This is only on the table if the clinic and the recognized event prior to it didn’t happen. Otherwise, that’s way too much traveling for June. But, it is at the same location as the Chicken Event (this time just a USEA event) so it would be nice to come back and see how it goes a second time.

Prep: If I come to this event it means others didn’t happen. So, I need to reassess why those didn’t happen and have a good plan going into this one.

6/28-6/30 Inavale Horse Trials This one’s a pipe dream. But Inavale is my most favorite event in the entire world. So, to be able to go back and compete would make me so happy. But, it’s a 12 hour drive, and there ain’t no way I’m taking June 12 hours to go Intro. So, unless we’re rocking BN, this ain’t happening. So sad.

Prep: Um, well, in order to go to this we will have exceeded all expectations up to this point. So, keep doing what we are doing.

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So puurrtttyyyy

July 2019

I have ZERO on the table for July. Which is ok. My pony and wallet can probably use a break

August 2019

8/10-8/11 Sizzling Summer Show Same as the derby style show in April at the same venue

Prep: This will be my final show prep before what I hope is my debut at BN at a recognized show. So, we better be rocking it at this level. Or, at least feel confident that throwing money and travel time at this level is a good idea.

September 2019

9/7 Pumpkin Event  If I am going to this one day unrecognized event, it means things did not go as planned, and I am sad.

Prep: Well, clearly we had a hitch in our plans and I just need to keep working hard

9/13-15 Skyline Horse Trials Back to Utah for our first foray into BN at a recognized event. This event is fun because they have just about every type of jump on xc so you really get the xc experience. I don’t want to drive 6 hours and just jump a bunch of logs. Or maybe I do? It’ll be fun to freak out at jumping BN jumps.

Prep: We had better be: consistent (ish) in the bridle, making lovely 20 meter circles. I need to have a brave horse who has spent time on xc and understands what is being asked of her. And she needs to be listening to my aids, and I better be executing them well, in the SJ arena.

October 2019

10/13 Sawtooth Pony Club Jumper Show Another low key, home barn jumper show. I hope to have some smooth rounds and may even participate in the costume contest?

Prep: An organized round where I’m thinking ahead and feeling good in the SJ ring can only be attained if we have done our homework up to this point.

10/20 IRELAND!! After canceling the trip in 2018 because of, well, Stella, we’re headed back in 2019! Foxhunting and jumping cross country jumps to my heart’s delight!! Plus, June will enjoy some time off!

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Dublin, the original Irish horse in my life

November and December 2019

Not much on the books for these months yet. I’ll have to see where we are at and what is going on. It may be a nice time to just bring June back from a mini vacation (since she isn’t going to Ireland..) and get to work on all the holes in our training.

Looks like it’s going to be a fun year!!

 

 

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A Christmas Surprise

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season and were able to spend time with those you love (2 or 4 legged!)

I spent the 24th with family, which is our tradition, which meant the 25th was a day for me to do what I pleased. And while I had plans to spend part of the day with friends, and part of the day walking Shelter dogs, I had the morning to myself.

Which meant, after a nice run, I could ride both of my favorite grey mares!

I hadn’t ridden Georgie in a few weeks, but Sarah asked me to hop on her and tune her up for an older gentleman who takes dressage lessons on her. I was happy to have the chance to hop on her!

I started with June and she was full of it. Not in a bad way, just in a baby horse way. She wanted to root and run through my hand. She wanted to act spooky at one end of the arena. She wanted to skip trotting and get to cantering.

We worked through all of it and it was actually really fun. We’d get a lovely rhythmic trot and she’d start rooting. We’d work on that and she would get spooky. Oh baby horse, so many tricks to get out of work! In the end we had some lovely moments. I love how forward she is, and honestly, love how easy the work is for her. She’s still a baby and so so green, but she clearly has so much talent and if I can harness that, I really think we can have years of fun ahead of us. By the end of the ride we were both sweating, but had accomplished a lot, and I called it a day.

Cute barn cat Willie dressed up in a red bow

While June cooled off, I hopped on Georgie. Georgie will always be my heart horse. Let me start by saying that. She is safe and uncomplicated and she and I have had so much fun together. I have so much love for her and am so lucky she is a part of my life.

Always makes me smile

But, oh my God, riding her and “tuning her up” was more of a workout than I expected. She’s gotten heavy and hard in the mouth. She’s been allowed to go around on her forehand for so long now, that asking her to go in an uphill frame with impulsion was a true test of my fitness (and hers). I spent the entire ride just getting her to come up off of her forehand. We worked on keeping her uphill through corners while not losing impulsion. I worked my butt off to get her to canter over two ground poles, two strides apart, and not letting her fall on her forehand on the backside. She seems to have lost the concept of bend, so we had a conversation about it.

By the end of the ride she was forward, bending, and somewhat uphill. I was dripping in sweat.

As we both cooled off, I thought to myself “Well, if I’m being honest, I enjoyed riding June more than Georgie.”

And if that’s not a Christmas surprise, I don’t know what is. I’m sure the next time June throws me into next week I’ll be singing a different tune, but for now, I’m really appreciating all that is baby June.

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When a Pony Ride Cures What Ails You

I had a really craptastic day Tuesday. After getting some really bad news about a family member, I went out to my car and found this:

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God Damn you, Siri. I had started letting her out of her crate when she was in the car because she had been doing SO WELL. We were about 6 months post crate when she decided the passenger seat of my Subaru was really tasty. I about lost it and considered just leaving her in the parking lot and driving away.

But, instead, I put her in her crate in my car and drove to the barn. Being sad while also fuming is a weird emotion to try to describe. I tried my best to let it all go, as I had a jump lesson on June in 60 minutes.

Thirty minutes later, as I was tacking up June, I was still a bit of a sad/angry mess. So, before starting to lunge June, I asked Sarah if one of two things would be possible. I explained my current state and how I really didn’t want to get on June and have an explosion of emotion. So, would she consider riding June? And if that wasn’t ideal, could we just jump a grid or something simple where I didn’t have to think “turn here, remember your course?”

Sarah was game to ride June, but also game to set up a straightforward jump exercise. Since June has been feeling great, and I really, really, wanted to ride, I decided to hop on her.

And I am so glad I did.

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So happy with herself

We’re almost three weeks into the Gastrogard and for the last couple of rides, June has felt like a different horse. She is calm on the lunge line, but really forward under saddle. It’s really lovely. She used to be a bit of a kick ride, but recently I’m having to execute half halts and do lots and lots of transitions to get her to listen to me and not just trot as fast as she can. I never knew I would enjoy a forward horse this much, but it’s been really fun. Also, the buck, while I am sure it is still in there, seems to have gone on vacation. I ask for the canter and she canters. Our transitions are smooth and just not an issue.

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We even worked on cantering a circle over this pole all on our own!

Excited to do some jumping in our lesson, we started by working on maintaining a nice rhythm as well as staying straight through a set of poles on the ground. Sarah brought two flower boxes out and set them up at the third pole in the line. She asked me to walk up and over it. June’s ears shot forward as we approached it but she didn’t waiver. After doing this a couple of times in each direction we then approached it at the trot. She gave it some room as she jumped over, but it was calm and lovely. She landed in the canter and was easy to bring back to the trot.

As the lesson progressed, June got a bit stronger in the bridle. She began to anticipate the jump and would quicken through the turn and hollow as we approached. So, as often happens with green horses, we stopped worrying about a jump lesson, and instead worked on remaining calm with a consistent rhythm. And while I love that June appears to love jumping, the last thing I want is a horse who is like “WE JUMP NOW! MUST GET TO THE JUMP!” And moderately loses its mind. Instead, I want a horse who thinks “We’re jumping? YAY! Ok, fine, I’ll maintain this rhythm, ok, I’m adjustable, ok, fine, your way works.” That’s the hope, right? We worked a bunch on approaching the line of poles to the jump in a walk, trot, circling, and just asking her to relax and listen to what I was asking. In the end, I have to say, she was really great and I am loving this forward horse I have, especially as she begins to listen to my aids and understand what I am asking of her.

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I’m also loving how she just voluntarily stands for a conformation shot

Our second to last time over the flower boxes she did this funny little hop on the backside. I wouldn’t call it a buck, or even a kick, it was more like she was trying to swap leads and just hopped. Instead of pulling and clamping  I laughed and just kept going. Guys, I didn’t freak out that she was going to buck. Sarah, asked me to come through the line one more time. So, we came back to the trot, appoached the line calmly without having to circle first,  jumped the flower boxes, and cantered on the back side without issue. It’s like if I stay calm, she stays calm.

This ride, although simple, was the highlight of my day. If I can ride June this calmly even when my mind is racing, it must mean that she makes me happy. Because even when we had to work through her hollowing and quickening, nothing escalated. We just slowly worked on understanding what was expected. She never got pissy or naughty. She just acted like a green horse. And I reacted kindly and fairly. And it was SO FUN.

Sometimes, a ride on your pony really is what helps.

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What’s in a Name?

I take show names VERY seriously. I’m always thinking of good names and forgetting to write them down for the future. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve tried to think of clever names for our horses, even if I was the only one in my family who thought our horses needed anything beyond the name we used in the barn. One year I even went so far as to save up my money and get a stall plaque for our horse Mouse with the name I had given him- Frequent Flyer. My Dad was kind enough to put it up on his stall, not even questioning the fact that I had renamed his horse.

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Mouse. Man this horse was fun to jump!

When I got my first horse as adult I thought endlessly about what I wanted to name her. Her current name, Hillary, was the same as my sister’s, so I knew that had to go. Being obsessed with everything Irish, I named her Kilkee, after a small seaside village in Ireland. As for her registered show name? I knew I wanted it to be a nod to U2, the band I have loved since grade school. And so, Kilkee’s Beautiful Day became her registered name. I LOVED it. Even if it was a mouthful.

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This was Buttons. The Irish horse I did not bring home. But I decided that if I had his name would be Dartfield’s Dream Maker

The only bad part about leasing Georgie was I couldn’t change her name. And while I deemed her The Sweetest Thing (another U2 song) for unrecognized shows, her “show name” was always just.. Georgie.

And so, clearly, I’ve given a lot of thought to June’s show name.  And while I thought I had one all figured out, now I’m doubting myself.

Because June is a warmblood, and I got her from a breeder, her name comes with some contingencies. Apparently, in this new world to me, warmbloods are supposed to have names that begin with the letter of their sire.

So, June’s sire is Riverman, and therefore her name should start with an R.

And, her breeder, before I bought her, had already named and registered her with USEA as Riverine.

Which, if I am being honest, I don’t like at all.

But, June’s registered name is still Riverine and will be for a little while longer per an agreement with her breeder. And, that’s fine. Other than her 4yr old FEH class, I haven’t taken her to a recognized event.

Knowing that I don’t want her name to stay Riverine, yet wanting to stay with the U2 theme, I got to thinking. Here’s my choice of songs that start with R:

Raised By Wolves
Red Hill Mining Town
Red Light
The Refugee
Rejoice
A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel
Running To Stand Still

And while Raised By Wolves would actually be apretty funny show name, it may not be appreciated by those who raised her…And she’s actually far from feral. I LOVE the song Running to Stand Still, but it seems to be asking for a jump refusal?

So, I decided to stretch my scope a little bit and moved to an album name. Rattle and Hum. Not my favorite U2 album, but I liked the idea of the name. A little bit rough, a little bit smooth. I figured this characterized our relationship. So, currently, her unofficial show name is Rattle&Hum

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Her recognized name is Georgie, her barn name is Pig Pen

But there’s been something nagging away at me. One of my most favorite names for a horse, and one I have been DYING to name a horse, is: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.

Any Friday Night Lights fans reading this blog? If there are, you’ll know that before running out onto the field, the football team would rally around each other and yell “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”

And, since that show gives me ALL the feels, I would get goosebumps every time. (Also, if you’ve never seen the show- give it a shot. It’s actually NOT about football, and is so incredibly well done.)

But, that name would not start with an R. So it went out of contention pretty quickly.

And then this happened:

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Taylor Kitsch, one of the stars from Friday Night Lights came and played hockey against our local semi pro (ish) team

And I totally fan girl’d. I went to the games and was the only one cheering for the Austin Wolves, our home team’s rival. And it was a blast.

And I started thinking about the show, and how much I loved it, and also, more importantly, how much I loved the message of Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.

Maybe it’s totally cheesy? Maybe I’m over thinking it? But besides most U2 songs, there’s not much else that gives me such strong feels as much as this show does. (Some seasons and story lines more than others..)

So, what’s a girl to do? How important is the whole sire thing? I guess the real question is, how important is it to me? And the answer is not very. I clearly root for the underdog, so I don’t care that everyone knows I have a Riverman baby (although I do name drop him here a lot- sorry about that.) I also don’t “owe” anything to anyone- I’m not campaigning this horse for anyone. I’m pretty sure people aren’t going to watch us go around and immediately try to find out who her sire is.

So, do I buck convention and go with my heart? I’m leaning that way.. but a part of me sometimes has a hard time bucking convention because I don’t want to upset anyone. Even people I don’t know. Sigh. It’s a problem.

And here are some more photos of Taylor Kitsch on the ice, because I hope I’ve got some fans reading this blog.

So, let me know your thoughts. And also if you’ve got some great names you’re dying to use.

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Ulcers Confirmed

Yesterday June went in to have a gastric scope done and see if ulcers were in fact the culprit. She was not happy about having been fasted, which I found ironic, considering the hunger strike she’s been on.

I’ve never seen a horse have a gastric scoping, and while I would have preferred to have seen one done on someone else’s horse, it was still really interesting.

I’m smiling as dolla dolla bills come flying out of my wallet…

June was sedated for the scoping and once she was sufficiently sleepy, a tube with a camera on the end was placed into her nose. The tube was snaked along until it entered her stomach. At this point, air was pumped into her stomach, making the lining nice and taught, so the veterinarian could get a better view of what things looked like.

At first, things looked really good. But then the scope was snaked a little further, and we could view the opening of the small intestine. Apparently this is where ulcers like to hide. And, we found some!

See the white line at the bottom right of the picture? That should be nice and smooth. The jagged edges are indicative of an ulcer, as is the redness in her stomach lining

The veterinarian considered them mild to moderate, but in my mind, an ulcer is an ulcer. You either have them or you don’t, and if you have them, they need to be treated. So, we’ll continue the Gastroguard regiment for 28 days and see how she’s feeling.

We spent quite a while talking about management as well as how to move forward. My veterinarian felt June had experienced quite a few changes lately, so it wasn’t totally surprising that she developed ulcers. In her opinion, the best thing we can do is give her a chance to be continually eating. She said she wanted June to have the opportunity to eat for 20 of the 24 hours in a day. Wow. Now, I know I’ve mentioned that my horses growing up would do this. But that’s the joy of having horses at home. You can control things like that. It’s far more difficult when you are at a boarding facility.

A drunk June loves Sarah

So, I’ve begun researching slow feeders in earnest. And have a few ideas on which path I want to take. (But would love any yays or nays for those of you with experience with certain ones). We’ve added alfalfa to June’s diet which has shown to help ulcers and I’ll be adding a feed that also helps prevent ulcers. When she travels and is at shows she will get Ulcerguard. Hopefully, with some good management we can keep this from happening again.

Such captivating images of her stomach!

I lunged her today per my veterinarian’s recommendation to exercise her lightly and she seemed to feel good. She ate quite a bit post vet appt and seems to have a bit of an appetite back, so hopefully her meds are helping.

I’m hopeful we can get back to a consistent routine soon, and also hope our new management routine will be good for her long term!

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Cold Temps, Belly Kicks, and Scopes

Not too much to report, as I am just waiting to get June scoped tomorrow. She was doing much better, eating well, and then fell off the wagon again and went on a mini hunger strike. We added some straight alfalfa to her daily feeding (she already gets grass/alfalfa mix) and she seems to enjoy that. She is eating out of the hay net, but prefers to throw it around all over the place when it starts to get empty. I was worried she wouldn’t eat out of it, but that isn’t a problem. Apparently she thinks of it as a toy that also tastes yummy…

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I have zero recent media so here’s a pic of happier times

I took her out Monday to groom and lunge her a little and she was feeling meh. On the lunge I asked her to trot and instead she started galloping and kicking out. Not a buck, more of a “my belly hurts” kick. So, we stopped, and I walked her and then put her away. Interestingly she went to eat when she returned to her paddock. So, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when she does and does not eat.

Tuesday I just came down to give her meds and kiss her nose. It was all of 1 degree out, so I didn’t stay out there any longer than I really needed to. This cold spell has me even more concerned about the fact that she’s not eating, and my hope is the cold weather spurs on a need to get some calories and she eats a bit.

Fingers crossed the scope is routine. I am expecting ulcers, but lets hope they aren’t horrid, or the worst the vet has ever seen? My animals seem to go to the extreme when they hurt themselves….

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She may have severely injured her back at age 14 but look at her go now!

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Dressage Tests and Ulcers

Despite the fact that we had a dressage schooling show coming up, in my most recent lesson, I opted to jump. And while I have no media as proof, June was really fantastic. I gave her a day off afterwards and got a text that June didn’t seem very interested in her hay. I went down to the barn to find June in her shed with a tub of uneaten hay. Banamine was given, she was lunged lightly and fingers were crossed. She wasn’t any better the following morning, so Sarah gave her some more Banamine and I stopped by to check on her. She was bright and alert and seemingly normal. If she was colicking, it must be mild. But then, why wasn’t the Banamine working? Just as I was thinking she might have ulcers, I received a text from Sarah that said “Ya know, I think she might have ulcers and this isn’t colic.”

I drove over to the vet’s office to see about having them come out and happened to catch her veterinarian between appointments. She agreed, ulcers seemed likely. I have her scheduled to be scoped on Thursday, and in the meantime have begun her on the crazy expensive Gastroguard regime for 30 days. I will admit there was a part of me that was like “How does this horse have ulcers??? I haven’t even asked anything of her yet?”

But in thinking it through, and reading a great article Sarah sent me from horse.com (along with some others) it seems it doesn’t take much for most horses to have ulcers. And probably the biggest contributing factor to her ulcers (which at this time I can only assume are the problem) are that she is “meal fed” as my veterinarian called it. Meaning, June gets two meals a day, and that isn’t great for a horse’s gastric health. Now, I love the barn I board at. But, do I love that my horse spends hours upon hours without anything to eat? No. Especially since I grew up with horses who never had any issues with colic or ulcers and spent their days out on pasture, eating all day long. So, this is tough for me. And clearly, it’s tough for June too. But the good news is, I have some solutions to keeping hay in front of her for longer periods of time, without having to change how the barn feeds her. More on that, later.

 

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More of this please!

Having suffered from an ulcer myself this summer, I knew how painful they can be, and also, that eating actually makes them feel better. Along with Omeprazole. I also knew the meds can take a few days to work, and actually, if she doesn’t have ulcers, they would not help a bit. But, by the next day, she was already eating a bit more. And while she wasn’t her complete sassy self, she was feeling well enough to at least get excited about feeding time.  And while I had initially thought I would scratch from the dressage show, on Saturday morning, seeing as she was feeling better, I decided to go ahead and ride in the show. I mean, we were doing a walk/trot test and it was at our barn. Stress levels should remain low for all involved. I made a deal that I would keep spurs off and that I wouldn’t fight with her. We’d just go into warm up and see what mood she was in. If she was willing to work, we’d work. If she felt crappy, I’d scratch.

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So cute!

She actually felt calm and relaxed. Perhaps a little duller than usual, but with lots going on around her, she was curious, but not anxious. And she handled the little bit of atmosphere like a champ. I definitely could have been smarter about my warm up. I could have done more transitions and worked on getting her to listen to my aids. I did some work on 20m circles and trying to be straight up centerline, which was fine. But I think in general, I just need to go into warm up with a plan, rather than figuring it out when I am already on her back. Especially with a young horse. I was overly concerned with symmetry instead of quality of my gaits. Therefore, our circles were ok, but June was dragging me around, and not listening to my aids very well. Lesson learned. There is a lot of work on transitions in our future. I was also overly worried about connection, instead of riding forward and with rhythm. Rhythm before connection, Nadia. Remember that next time.

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But connection can look so pretty!

But overall? Overall I was thrilled with her. She was focused and willing and a really really good girl. I think with a better warm up plan, and using warm up wisely, I could have imporved a lot of things, but I came out of both tests just thrilled with how it went and thrilled at our potential future.

June seemed unfazed by all of it, and was completely ready for treats when we were all done. And while she never gets treats unless she is in the horse trailer or her paddock, I made an exception and was happy to see how eager she was for them.

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So, all in all, a mixed bag week. I’ll keep you all posted on her scope this Thursday. I guess at this point, fingers crossed we find ulcers? Blerg. But, as always, I have a plan in place and we’ll get through this.

 

 

 

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How To Let It Go

June has been back about 3 1/2 weeks now, and all in all, I am REALLY happy with the progress we are making. But, as of 5 days ago, I hadn’t cantered her since her return. I wasn’t really all that worried about it, we had so many other things to work on, but then I realized I had entered an upcoming dressage show and that test involved cantering. So, the time had come to get cantering.

On this particular evening where I decided to canter again, June and I were not having the best of rides. There was a lot of miscommunication going on, a lot of unhappy pony and rider. But, because I am not the most easygoing and flexible person (I’m working on it!) I decided it was still time to canter. And so, I asked her to canter. She picked it up for a stride and broke. So, we tried again. And same result. So, I changed direction. No better luck. So, the next time I kicked her into the canter and off we went. There was nothing nice about it, but we were cantering. At about the third 20m circle she let out a buck. And while it didn’t unseat me, I did pull her up, which is basically exactly what you shouldn’t do. But, I was by myself, and scared. So, we did some trot work, and then I threw her in side reins and lunged her in the canter. She didn’t buck once

A couple of days later, I had a lesson. I let Sarah know what had happened and we both agreed we would see how the lesson went, and if we would canter. And the lesson was going great. I had a responsive horse who was trying hard and there were very few disagreements between us. And so Sarah said “when you get back to the rail, ask for the canter.”

Oh, we’re going to canter? Wait, I didn’t know. Um, ok.

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Basically my face when I heard the word canter

But, I asked her to canter. And she had the loveliest transition. So what did I do?  I sat on her back  with my knees clenched into her sides, my arms not moving, and I couldn’t get my shoulders behind my elbows if my life depended on it. Sarah was telling me to relax, bring my hands down, follow, ungrip my knees, essentially do ANYTHING other than what I was doing. And I got a little better, but then we had to change direction. And again, lovely canter transition, but I didn’t care, I was gripping and pulling and then I felt her back tighten and I just stopped her.

Ellen Oh No You Didnt GIF

Basically what Sarah looked like after me pulling up June

Which led to a bit of an exchange between Sarah and I. When I tried to explain that I pulled her up because I thought she was going to buck, and I clearly was riding like crap, and couldn’t relax and was therefore pissing her off, Sarah basically read me the riot act. Sometimes, when it’s your best friend, who is also your instructor, you can be brutally honest with each other. And essentially, she told me to buck up (ha ha ha) and that I need to get over the fear of her bucking and ride well, and don’t teach her that if she gets tight in her back, she gets to stop.

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Yeah. She’s right. But still. My tailbone is barely healed.

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So, we picked June back up, and got right back to it. Sarah was expecting June to be pissy now that she had gotten a break and I didn’t know what to expect but I vowed to ride well and be better than who I had been 5 minutes ago.

So, we did some nice walk/trot/walk transitions, and then moved on to the canter. I relaxed my knees. I followed with my hips. My arms moved with the motion, elbows unstuck from my sides. By God, I think my shoulders were actually behind my elbows, in case something went awry, but most importantly, I just let her canter. And it was quite lovely. And easy. And then we trotted, changed direction at X and did it all again the other way. We had lovely upward and downward transitions and it was all just magical. I didn’t worry about getting bucked off. I didn’t worry about anything,really, and instead I just rode my horse, and did what my instructor told me to do. Essentially, I took Step 1 in Letting It Go.

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Macy used to be spooky and reactive and I used that as a crutch as to why I couldn’t do what Sarah was asking me to do.

Now, June bucks, and I am using that as a crutch as well. But unlike Macy, this is my horse, my partner for the foreseeable future, and to have that crutch is just going to hold us back. So, I’m letting it go. And I’m going into each ride, thinking about riding well, and how I want to ride this horse, instead of “but what if?” Because “what if” has never helped anyone move forward, find inner peace, or develop a partnership with their new horse. So, here’s to a new attitude, and riding to my ability, not my fear.

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