Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She Thinks it's Funny

WAGING WAR. Part 001.
In the midst of all the chaos resulting from Suzie's vet appointment, a certain red-headed mare has decided it would be the perfect opportunity to begin testing my self-worth, and subsequently, my self-esteem. After numerous attempts to hide her antibiotics in mushy feed - which might I add was yummy, expensive and totally awesome feed!! Senior-mare would just turn up her nose and wander away from the mushy-feed filled bucket and go back to snarfling her hay. I stood there, eyebrow raised and a hand hoisted on my hip. This, was war.

With my chaotic work schedule, the feed stores had long time closed by the time I had carded out. I had to come up with another solution. Many suggested syringing the diabolical antibiotics into her mouth and after exhausting several options, I opted to give it a try. I mean, how bad could it be? It'd be like, 5 seconds of grossness and then Suzie could go back to eating her hay. Simple pimple.
I came to her pen at quarter after five in the morning, armed with a syringe filled with watery antibiotics. I felt like a cowboy in the wild west, unholstering the medication from my pockets and sizing up my opponent. Suzie gazed a careless glance my way and started to make her way over - I'm assuming she was interested to see what kind of feed I had brought her today and if it was acceptable enough to her standards.

I climbed into the pen and gripped onto Suzie's head and put the syringe up to her mouth. In response, she threw her head back, jerking my arm and she began to back up... and back... and back.... and back she went. We walked backwards in circles for maybe five minutes until I managed to pulled her head down and around my hip. We continued on a bitter battle of "Here Suzie, please just take this." and it promptly escalated to, "EAT IT YOU RED DEMON COW." I did manage to syringe about half the medicine into her mouth and made the amateur mistake of letting her "take a break" before attempting to administer the rest.

I approached Suzie again and she looked at me with a, "You've got to be kidding me" expression. She attempted to run away from me - well, she senior-fast-walked, and I caught up to her quite fast. We struggled again; backwards, forwards, head jerk here, head jerk there. I heard the car door slam; Jamie had joined in to watch. As I looked up from holding Suzie by the ear I saw Jamie look on with a slight twitch in his lips - he was smiling.

Managing to rough-house the last of her antibiotics into her ungrateful-self, I watched without the inability to react to Suzie's next move. She twisted her head.... and.... DROOLED her medicine ALL DOWN ME. It covered my hands, my arms and down my pant legs. I looked at Jamie, looked at the time and watched as Suzie snorted her retribution and returned to her hay.
So now here I sit. At work, covered with dried, paste-y horse antibiotics.
At least I smell like apples.

Update: Well... The evening dosage went... erm... badly. LOL Although, it couldn't be that bad considering I got the job done, right?

I was smart and put a halter on her and ran a chain over her nose - I don't typically use chains on halters other than using it for showmanship training and it certainly isn't over her nose in that instance... But, I didn't want to be almost whacked in the face again and she really SHOULD know better. So, I opted to use the chain.

She tried to pull back and fling her head around like a freak of nature, so I gave a few corrections with the chain (I wasn't mean about it but she was being disrespectful) and made her back up/ move her legs. I did end up fighting with her for about... 5 minutes?? and then finally I got her to take it.

This AM dosage, Jamie came with me and he stood on her other side and while I pulled her head over to my hip (don't ask, that is the only way I know she'll actually take it... if I can get her head wrapped around my hip, LOL) she took it in like 2 seconds! So progress? I THINK SO!

The scoreboard reads:

Suzie: 2
Cathryn: 1

 Update update: New score:
Suzie: 3
Cathryn: 1

Friday, April 25, 2014

Photo Friday

Took the mare-pants out for a little walk on Wednesday to stretch her legs. Did a bit of SMS practice, but nothing too crazy as she is still a bit "off". I've been going out every morning before work (5am comes early!) and after work to give her her meds.

This morning when I pulled up to dump her grain/meds mixture off, I noticed she hadn't eaten the portion I had put in her bucket lastnight. UGH. Seriously, mare!? Unfortunately, I didn't have time to stick around, so after work I'm going to have to come up with a new game plan if she decides to dislike her soaked senior feed + meds mixture.... A trip to the feed store just may be in order. Otherwise, I'll have to purchase a crapload of applesauce and syringe it into her mouth.

She never used to be a picky eater before!! Although, in her defense, I think she dislikes the fact that her grain is soaked instead of "crunchy" like she normally likes.

The "SO" showing his love, and approval (?) of Suzie and her smell. LOL

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teeth Floating Phenomenon

It's tooth time!
 I promise you I will update with last weeks SMS schooling, but the video is having a devil of a time loading onto Youtube, so until that happens I will just have to put off blogging about it. For now, however, I do have some interesting stuff to talk about. Suzie had her vet appointment yesterday for her annual wellness exam.

I will preface by saying that we are not fortunate enough to have large animal vets in this area - the closest one is a 6+ hr round trip away and the only Vets that DO come to our area come up only twice a year - once in the Spring and once in the Fall. These Vets are "mobile" so they travel all the way to my town - and surrounding areas - and provide annual vet care. In addition to this, when I brought Suzie home last year, the Traveling Vets had already been to our area and left. When the Traveling Vets came back in October, I was unable to make an appointment because I simply am stupid. I was told Suzie had been floated before I bought her, so I didn't bother to make the appointment. I am regretting that now.

Examination of the teeth - and finding some unexpected surprises.

The Traveling Vets were already at Suzie's boarding home when I arrived, they were working on the BO's two young horses. I readied Suzie up, got her all brushed out, clean, and presentable and when it was my turn, I introduced myself and gave the Vet a brief history run down on all of our struggles since I bought her. When I had finished, the Vet smiled at me but stayed quiet and I kind of looked at her like, "Did I say something wrong?" She must've seen the slight confusion on my face because she instantly divulged that she was impressed at the amount of work I had put into Suzie, especially considering she was my first horse and she commented that Suzie was very lucky to have someone like me in her life.

We started the examination and Suzie was sedated and vaccinated for West Nile, Tetanus, Herpes Virus and I believe Influenza (when I get the actual medical records emailed to me I will confirm this). Suzie was good, took the sedation very well and went to Sleepy-Land quite quickly; we took a look into her mouth and low and behold... it was a mess. Actually, to say it was a mess would have been an understatement. I never would have guessed what was next, as Suzie had never showed any of the traditional indications that her teeth were poor. She was a good eater, ALWAYS eating, never dropped food, had good poops, and never had trouble eating. Ever.

Just before starting on the filing.

Ulcers were clear as day along my poor mare's mouth and her teeth were as sharp as a knife - the vet actually let me and her volunteers feel in Suzie's mouth and I swear had I put any pressure on my gloves against her teeth it would've cut me. In addition to her teeth being ridiculously sharp, there was one of her lower molars that was 10mm high and subsequently, the top molar was worn down quite badly. The Vet corrected this molar and ended up filing it down by a whooping 8mm! Vet called her tall tooth a "castle"; I can't imagine having something like that in my mouth!! We also found three fractured teeth in Suzie's mouth and one of which was removed due to it being loose. The tooth oozed some pus and infection so as per the Vets recommendations we put Suz on antibiotics. So no riding for five days and only light riding for the first few rides back. She is also on pain meds in addition to the antibiotics. She was pretty good about the whole thing, although she did pull back and require a bit more of the "sleepy drugs" since her mouth was quite painful, especially for the pulling of the loose tooth.

Awful iPhone photo of her recovery.

She recovered quite well and when I went to check on her in the evening she was frustrated because she was having difficulty eating - I assume from the pain as well as having a completely foreign and new mouth. She kind of just rolled her hay around her mouth and spat it out and did the same with her soaked grain/antibiotic concoction. I tied the bucket up and left it overnight for her and this morning when I went out to give her her meds the grain was gone from the night before. She looks quite bright-eyed, although I can imagine how sore she is. She'll be okay in no time and I most definitely have learnt my lesson - get things done RIGHT AWAY. Don't assume things have been done and unless you have proof of it, consider it didn't happen.

The offending, and odor-filled tooth.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nose to the Grindstone

Its back to work today... Wahh! The week off was just starting to feel like a vacation; but duty calls and there are bills to be paid and horsey items to buy!

I'll update later of our SMS session on Friday, but wanted to drop a quick line prior to that. As of right now, the clinic this weekend is still a-go and I have two booked lessons - very excited for that! Although,  I am a bit nervous it'll be rush-rush-rush to get out there since I get off of work at 5PM and need to be out and warming up by 6:30PM! Yikes.

Annnnd a random photo of Suzie to break up the wall-o-text.
And tomorrow afternoon I'm heading out of work early since the vets are coming to float Suzanne's teeth and do her yearly shots. Hopefully all goes well and there are no complications - I have a feeling it'll be routine stuff with her, as I haven't seen much evidence of an ouchy mouth or her teeth bothering her.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Week in Review

Wearing a pretty browband. Super star!!
In the midst of being "ghost-like" to this blogging thing, I have been riding quite a bit! So, lets recap the week... or most of it anyways! Suz and I have been busy; we've put in some great schooling rides, have been visited by both the farrier and the chiropractor - wahoo.

On Sunday, we were visited by Stephanie who is Suzie's chirpractor/massage-er-er... er? We had a relatively quick visit due to the fact that, thankfully, Suzie didn't need much adjusting this year. Her topline was pretty much perfect - although her left hip was more "out" than her right one. Stephanie set her knee and right shoulder and that was pretty much it for our appointment. The Chiro commented how wonderful Suzie looked this year and that she seemed a lot more flexible and had retained a lot of the previous adjustments, which is fantastic news! Suzie was quite unhappy for the most part during the adjustments, but I could tell she had some immediate relief, especially in her knee-area which has been a problem area for quite some time. Chiro reccomended two days off for Suzie, so we did just that.

Riding in "Our Meadow" at the top :)
 Tuesday rolled around, and I saddled up Suzie-mare and we headed out to Our Meadow and instead of working in the spot that we normally do, I went farther up near a kids park and we worked a nice walk, jog and lope which Suzie gave wonderfully. We had some issues with inside bend and a bit of rushing, but I chalked it up to being unfit and not as limber as she could be - I did attempt to fix the issue, and Suzie DID try but I could feel that she just didn't "have it" in her to do it just yet.

At around 3 o'clock, a bunch of kids got off school and cut through the field and startled Suzie. Two girls literally sprinted towards us as we were loping in circles. Suz gave a little leap in the air and I brought her back to a walk - no muss, no fuss - and the girls running at us promptly stopped and stood there and watched. Several pedestrians passed on the sidewalk across from us, pushing strollers, some running their dogs and some were riding skateboards and the like. Suzie had no issues and settled her brain on schooling and was a receptive, willing partner. In the end it was We settled for a nice schooling and when we headed home.... NO HEAD TOSSING!!! -Insert Happy Dance here!!- We walked home on a long, loose rein and it was a great end to a wonderful ride.

Loose rein, walking home! Hell ya.
Wednesday we had an off day, as it was not only raining, but I was completely and utterly sore. The SO and I had been doing a lot of outdoor work and it had taken it's toll on my poor, aching body. So, Suzie got a day off, and so did I!

And lastly, today, the farrier came to visit this am and did a little reset of her shoes and now, I am still debating heading out to go do some Showmanship schooling. I am certain that tomorrow we will school SMS in a more proper manner and tonight may just be cause for some light grooming and loving before I head to bed and hit the hay.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunshine Schooling and Goals!

How I spend my "TGIF" after work!
Yesterday the sun was shining - finally! - and I could barely contain myself after work. Pony time! Pony time! Pony time!

I headed to the barn with a game plan; we were going to work on our schooling again like the previous day and fortunately for Suzie, we have to trail-ride TO Our Meadow, so we are covering all of our bases!

But first, I feel like I need to divulge into what my general goals for this month are.
With both Suzie and I coming back into work, I'll be looking into these four things as my primary concern:

Trail Riding/Barn-Sourness 
My first and foremost priority is to mitigate Suzie's barnsourness she likes to show every Spring with me. This will be taken care of relatively quickly, I predict, due to the fact that if we want to ride at all, we HAVE to leave the property. She hasn't escalated to how dangerous she was last year and I have better tools to deal with her resistance, so I am confident we will overcome these issues this month.
Right now, she is feeling quite strong and ready to take on work-tasks, but at the same time I have to remember to take it slow with her. We will keep this ongoing throughout the rest of her years with massages, chiropractic adjustments, supplements, corrective shoeing and by the end of the month some BOT therapy!

Attend a Clinic/ "Fun" Day
I have signed up for a clinic April 25-27 with a clinician I've ridden with in years prior and I am very excited! Hopefully we have enough riders so it won't need to be cancelled; and fingers crossed for decent weather! I will be hauling out after work each day! I feel like a clinic to start off our riding season will be a great way to gauge how much/how little I should be asking and if I am being too harsh/ too soft with her. I haven't had a lesson in over two years! Eeek.

Develop Schooling Around Fitness LevelsThis may sound like a stupid one, but Suzie and I aren't very fit right now and I need to not over-face her in what we are doing. As more rides come, I'll have more "technical" riding goals established, but for now we will work on fitness as a per-requisite for difficult work.

Our ride yesterday went SO well. She sucked back for the walk to Our Meadow, then relaxed into some contact walking, circles, serpentines and bending. We had some uncommitted stops - I'd ask and she'd sort of just "fall" into a halt. Will work on those as time progresses. We picked up some trot work and oh my, it was heavenly after the first 5 minutes of ugly, rushy and unbalanced mach-10 trotting. She really stretched into the bridle and softened for me. Ah, it was bliss. We did a few transitions and she was quite compressive; was easy to get her to change from slow/fast and despite being out of shape, I am quite pleased to say she did a lot better than I thought! What a pleasant surprise.

We cantered both ways and although it was very discombobulated, it was a nice, uphill and quiet canter. We finished off with some more long-trotting and walking and then SO texted me saying he wanted to meet up with the dogs. So I headed up the long side of the field where a side-walk connects to our street (the same one Suz and I walked up a few days prior). She started to realllly suck back on me and spooked at some dogs running at the fence. She got kind of looky and uppity, so I schooled up in the upper field until the SO popped around the bush with the dogs. I called it quits, she was quiet and reaching for contact so I walked several steps and then dismounted.

I walked back to the barn with the SO, Suz, Ty and Roxy. We even stopped at the park for a little photo op and let a few kids pet Suzie - one girl was yelling over to her mom, "Mom! Look! A horse is in the backyard!" I'm sure her mom though she was just being a kid, LOL.

A Head-Toss Here, a Head-Toss There, a Head-Toss EVERYWHERRRRRE

Let's recap on my lovely rain-fall ride on Tuesday. I was just itching to ride - seriously, after work my hands were just vibrating and I was eye-balling my English saddle and gear. So, when the disastrous out-pour of rain ceased, I jumped at the chance and saddled up the pony and headed out.

Old photo, but here is a photo of the roadway we walk down to get to
"our meadow". The blue house in the background is where she is boarded.
Suzie is in an area where properties range from an acre to several, and if you walk down the long stretch of asphalt, you will end up on the main road and from there, it parallels to the soccer fields and a large meadow spot if you cross the road. I talked about this spot we school in frequently here and here.

To be fair to Suzanne, she hasn't had much done with her since she moved to her "Winter Home", so I wasn't necessarily expecting much from her. We headed to Our Meadow and during our walk there, she was sucking back quite hard and trying to turn around to go back home. I kept an active leg on for the most part and once at the meadow, I attempted to school some reasonably elegant walk circles and engaging an active leg to get her brain switched over to the "thinking" side instead of the strung out "I wanna go home" side. I failed miserably.

I switched it up with a trot. She took off at mach 10 - her little stout legs flying this way and that way. I engaged my core, sat the trot and really concentrated on using my seat to bring her back to a reasonable speed. She agreed, but each time we came close to where the trail to home was, she'd amp up and get rushy and bracey. We did get a few great stops and after a few transitions, circles, serpentines and leg yields I called it quits - my legs were KILLING me. I had just run on the treadmill the night before and completed an ab workout so I was dyinggggg.

Shortly before she decided to try and kill me. Kidding.

We trail-rode up past a cute little kids park where Suz and I loped lightly and then ducked down a sidewalk, up the street and parked ourselves in the driveway until the SO discovered us. It was so nice to have a mare dependable enough to walk up rows of houses, loose dogs, moving vehicles and startled people and not even flinch. It was, however, not Suzie's favorite thing to do. She promptly began backing up, flinging her head and trying to start off to go home. I bid the SO adieu and Suzie side-passed down the asphalt, flinging her head trying to jig her way back home.

I decided to let her play up until we got back onto the grass where it would be safer to disagree with her - I didn't need pedestrians or vehicle traffic stopping and making a big scene with my mare who was dancing sideways down the street because she wasn't getting her way. As soon as I put on rein pressure, up her head went and she'd yank at the reins like an untrained beast.

The conversation between us went something like:

Me "PLEASE please please behave."   

 So we did a lot of circling, halting, leg yielding, sidepassing and half-halts. She is just being an impatient butt-face and there is no reason for it. She tried to pull this crap on me last year and it ended with her rearing several times and I fully intend to nip it in the butt this year. And about 50 feet from the driveway to "Home", Suz went on a nice loose rein and stopped trying to sit her head into my lap, which was nice.

Suzie, consider this your warning. We will be trail riding lots if you don't change your attitude, little Missy!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SMS Improvement

I am beyond excited! We've started to get our SMS together and I am quite happy with our progress. I decided to go out on Monday - even though it was raining! - and take my mare for a little jaunt. It ended up turning into a little training session, which I videoed for reference. In the training sequence we focused a bit more on being "snappier" when doing the walk/halt/walk transitions so you will see me backing her up for not stopping instantly and you will also see me moving off before taking a moment to stand still.

She kept up pretty well and I was quite pleased; especially since our turns are really starting to come together. I feel as though we haven't really found our "cue" with body pressure to get her to move over, and instead, I have a hand on her shoulder as support to keep her straight when I am walking into her and as the video progresses, you will see the lightbulb start to go off.

I didn't have her SMS halter on - I have to clean it and oil it really badly. The leather is still quite stiff and could use some good conditioning so that is on the agenda before I use it again.

And without further ado, here is 13 minutes of our boring, but progressive training journey:


You can see our "training arena" is quite a mucky, disgusting piece of land that the contractors have been cleaning up and working on. I didn't intend to really do training and when I saw all that open area, I thought "what the hay". Initially it was a good plan, but I soon realized how slippery it was, I nearly took a spill a few times LOL! And other than the progress, I have nothing more to report on our adventures that day; other than OMG look how cute the heart on her bum looks!!

In other news, yearly Vet appt is scheduled for the 21st and her massage/chiro appointment is on Sunday morning. Oddly enough, she is as sound as she's ever been (knock on wood) and her legs feel great, nice and tight as well as her back... there aren't any sore spots except for a few parts here and there. I'm excited to hear what the Chiro will say about her visit this time!!

Also, I have to update as to my ride lastnight - soon, I promise!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Becoming a Respectable Equine Citizen

After her bath, clearly not impressed, but looking rather cute with
a heart on her bum.

Yesterday I took the day off work; I needed a day to recharge and also, my sister's dog was not doing too well at the Vet's so I was there as moral support for her. The dog, Lola, was doing remarkably well so instead of spending most of the day consoling my sister and visiting the dog, I decided to have some pony time.

I went out, armed with shampoo, buckets, towels, clippers, brushes and other necessary bathing equipment. Initially, I had intended to just wash up her udder, dock-area, tail and wash her white leg, which I started with. She was pretty good, although I don't think she appreciated the cool water on her teats! And her tail. Oh my goodness. It was DISGUSTING. The ends of it were all caked in mud and poop and whatever else she sits in... *shudder* I washed it out. TWICE.

Afterwards, I led her over to a little power-source and clipped part of her chest and put a little heart on her hind-quarters. She stood like a rock - a bored rock, actually. I really need to get the hang of clippers, though, because I did a terrible job! I was initially going to clip her entire body, but got bored after doing just her neck/chest area. To those clipper crazy equestrians out there... I salute you!

I gave her a bridle path and brushed out her mane and tail while we waited for her to dry, which wasn't too bad considering it was a warm 15 degrees out! We basked in the sun, I dried her off a bit and then we schooled some Showmanship. Unfortunately, it wasn't our best SMS schooling we've had, but it was still a schooling session at least. She responded better and was more "uppity" instead of lagging behind me, which was a plus. However, our pivots just aren't where they need to be.

And lastly, I am STILL waiting for the farrier to call me back... Sigh.

And today is a sad day. Lola, my sister's dog, passed away sometime lastnight at the vet office. We are all absolutely heartbroken and will miss her a lot. She was such a whiney, squeaky dog, but she was well loved by her people. I was glad I got to see her the day before and give her some love before she passed on to the Rainbow Bridge... It will be tough for my own dog,  Ty, as him and Lola got along like two peas in a pod.