Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fighting Failure from Sacrifice

I've been reflecting on the 2015 goals I set for myself in January and as scrolled down the list, I came to find that I couldn't be any further from reaching them. Something about having a large list with no items crossed off sends me into complete "failure" mode.

Half the year has already come and gone and yet, here I am, still at Square One.  Still at a stand-still, not making much impact or change.

It's been absolutely frustrating and disheartening to not use my horse's to their full advantage. It has saddened me mostly because Suzie is not getting any younger, and because I know life will only continue to get busier.

Lack of saddle time has been attributed to a multitude of things. For one, work has taken up a large portion of my life. I mean, I practically live there. Ten hours a day, for twenty days straight is enough to make anyone go crazy and even forget they are human.

Secondly, the property and home-stead are in the process of changing, and being molded. Without time spent at the property, how will a barn ever be built? So it's a Catch 22 in some instances - hang up the bridle to sacrifice time now for a barn and riding arena, or continue to pay board and not have my own amenities, but swing a leg up in the saddle as often as I can?

Thirdly, comes personal energy and responsibility. After a grueling ten hour shift I am completely exhausted and although a nice hack around the block would be an instant mood booster, I honestly have no desire to lug out a saddle and tack up. It sounds like I am not taking advantage of the opportunity when it is before me, but keep in mind that often times I have things like grocery shopping, vacuuming, laundry, etc to do as well. Grown up stuff. Stuff I hate.

Truth be told, I am blessed and I know it. I am lucky to own not just one, but two horses. I am lucky I have a job that continues to support my lifestyle, my needs, and my wants. I am in relatively good health (apart from being a bit... large) and have not only amazing parents and siblings, but a generous boyfriend as well. Complaining that I don't have time to ride my horse's sounds a bit prima donna-esque.

They say that with great sacrifice comes great reward - but why can't there be a middle ground?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Friday Night

Awkward pose of Ms. Mare.
 It's no secret I've been itching to ride. But after cleaning up the house, unpacking, and trying to get back into the groove again, I wasn't left with much barn time for the evening. Admittedly, any time at the barn is better than nothing, so I spent the hour and a half grooming, playing dress up, and cleaning the pasture.

Suzie is losing the last bits of her winter coat and I think the reason she was still holding onto it was due to the lack of grooming from the last week. I ran over her coat with a grooming pumice stone and plucked most of her belly hairs. Hopefully I can rid the rest of the hair in a few more grooming sessions because she looks like she has mange. Pair that with her too-long-to-be-cute mane and she looks like a real winner. I can deal with the rain rot easily, but that mane will take some time to grow (I refuse to cut it again).

And unfortunately, Mare had another case of "rain rot", although I hesitate to call it that since there aren't any actual sores and it just appears to be clogged/ dead follicles. I had doused her the night before with Sore No More's "The Sauce" and it seems to have stopped the weird hair loss in it's tracks. Her hind white sock appears to be having the same issues, so I'll be applying some "sauce" to it tonight. She had the same weird skin issues last year around this time too, so it must be a seasonal thing. Thankfully, it is much more mild this year and she isn't bald.

During the grooming sessions I outfitted Spud with some of his new attire, and much to my surprise, the SMBs and bell boots barely fit! Say what?! I'll have to put an order in to Horze (since they have "Shetland" sizes) for some bell boots and splint boots. He did look totally adorable, though.

So snazzy.
 At first Spud wasn't so sure of the boots - he sniffed them a little and nibbled on my back as I put them on. I wanted him to get a feel for them, as I assumed he had never worn any kind of protection on his legs, or even had a bandage applied. I was right - he lifted his legs in the air as high as they'd go and stomped his little hooves back down in attempts to get rid of the odd feeling. Of course, I laughed and giggled and took videos (to be uploaded at a later date, I promise!). Above all, his reaction to the Hannibal Lector muzzle took the cake as he pawed the ground in sheer frustration, snorted, and threw a miniature sized hissy fit.

"I hate you."
 After he had some time to get used to the muzzle I turned them both out on the grass, just to see Spud get a true feel for the new contraption and it's limitations. He was not pleased and would shake his head wildly, stamp his feet, and gallop around in protest. It was actually pretty hilarious.

Other than that, I just spent some good time with both horses and worked some more on the fly-spray issue with Spud. It was an evening well spent, even if it didn't involve riding. Hopefully Sunday I'll be able to climb aboard my mare.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Leaving the City

First off, I appreciate everyone's well wishes and warm thoughts regarding the last post. It has been an interesting last couple of days, especially since I literally hopped onto an airplane right after burying Ratticus on the property. Thankfully, my mom came over on the ferry and visited for three days so I wasn't completely alone and bored out of my skull.

BUT, it truly never ceases to amaze me how much I hate the city.

And people.

In between the work courses I was able to get a decent amount of horse-related shopping done and subsequently spoiled Spud rotten. Poor Suzie didn't get anything - not that she really needs anything though!

Pony loot!

I ended up purchasing (from top L clockwise):

1. A new hard bristled brush (I like how big the brush is).

2. Grazing Muzzle - you will notice I actually have two muzzles. I found this grazing muzzle after and prefer it, simply because he can still eat, although minimally.

3. Mini Bell Boots - OMG. How cute are these!?! I wanted some kind of leg/ heel protection for him, esp. if I am going to continue to have him canter in harness.

4. Mesh Muzzle - I bought this muzzle before I found the grazing one. I was going to return it, but it was only $11 and you never know when it might come in handy (ie. Spud loses or destroys the other one).

5. Mini SMB-Type Boots - These are hilariously little, too. Only one pair in the entire store and they were about $15 so I snapped them up. Score.

6. Suckling Leather Halter - I couldn't for the life of me find a break-away mini halter so this is the halter that will be attached to the grazing muzzle. I don't feel comfortable turning him out in a nylon one, just because he could get hung up on things and knowing Spud, I know he'll panic. The halter was pretty cheap too and it makes sense to have for safety reasons.

7. Braiding Bands - 'Cause why not. I never have any when I need them and am forever losing them.

8. Pony-Sized Saddle Pad - Anyone recognize this pad? Suzie has the exact same one. I can't wait to see them twinning all over the place.

Suzie's blue pad.
I did try to find bell boots (NOT rubber) and a saddle-horn bag for Suzie but couldn't find anything! Ah well, I did end up finding a cute rectangular "purse" thing I can use to hold my cell phone, hoof pick, spare lead, etc  for distance rides and just have to jimmy-rig it to the saddle.

And all in all, I'm tired of the hustle and bustle of the city. I'm ready to go home and cuddle my pets, grieve for my little Ratticus, and see my sweet man who has been holding down the fort.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Goodbye, Ratticus. July 2013 - May 2015

Unfortunately for me, this week has been both busy and full of all kinds of road-bumps. I have been out of the saddle for about a week now, as work has become exceptionally busy. Last minute I was scheduled to fly out of town for a training course that is a three days long. By last minute I mean I only had a few days to really prepare for it all. I was fine with that, of course, but needed to study and practice for the courses which ended up having me work longer days and thus, have less saddle time.

Saturday night I had cleaned out the rat cage, much like I normally do. To be honest, I had let it get a bit messier/dirtier than I normally would, but I wanted to clean it at the last possible moment (so the boyfriend wouldn’t have to clean them up too much while I am gone). Both rats were scampering around and Ratticus was out and toodling around the bedroom floor as I washed up the cage and took old hammocks out.

Everything seemed normal until I came back two hours later and saw him lying on the cage floor, slumped over and not really responsive. I immediately and instinctively knew something was wrong; he seemed very lethargic and he looked tired and in pain. He was cool to the touch – certainly not as warm as he normally is. I brought him out and wrapped him in a towel, holding him close and trying to take into account all the symptoms he was displaying.

 He moved across my arm at one point and a smear of blood was left in its place. I checked his underside and could smell a pungent odor – much like an infection of some kind smells. There appeared to be blood dried onto his back foot and front “wrist”; it looked like it was coming from his penis but there was no real “dripping” or leaking. He also felt really light and skinny – his hips were sunken in and his head drooped into my hands like it was too difficult for him to hold up.
So very tired.
I boiled some water and sat on the couch with him wrapped in a blanket and a hot water bottle underneath him. He laid quietly and rested on my arm without much protest – I could easily manipulate his arms/ legs and he even let me check inside his mouth (something I’ve never even attempted). After two hours of alternating positions and breathing heavily, he became restless and wanted to get away. 

I didn’t really know what to do for him at this point – the vet in town is not even familiar with rats and I wasn’t even certain I wanted to have him euthanized. Euthanasia for small pocket pets is very different than dog/cat euthanasia; needles from most regular vets are too large and really hurt the rat. I can understand that one second of pain is worth it more than agonizing hours of pain but I was afraid of the result – and I didn’t want to give up on him. I didn't want to make a judgement call if he were to make it through and continue to survive for many more months. I didn't want to play God. And truth be told, I was afraid.

When he started to fuss, I had him drink some water and  placed him back in his cage with a blanket. Checking on him throughout the night revealed he had continued to thrive and when I got up for work in the morning I found him in one of the mid-level hammocks (the only way to get into this hammock is to climb the cage bars). He seemed much brighter and alert, but was still sluggish and lethargic. I had him drink some sugar water since I had no yogurt or baby food in the house and he drank a bit of it, which was good. I hesitated for more than a second, as I did not want to leave him and go to work, but I didn't have much of a choice. Rats can be so finicky and there isn't a lot I could do for him. He is in a warm house, a clean cage, and has access to water and food should he desire.

At work I tossed around ideas of taking him to a vet or to see how he'd progress when I got home. My sister ended up going to check on him and he still hadn't gotten any better. I headed home around lunch time to get ready for the airplane ride and pack the rest of my things and found Ratticus even worse off than he was before. I cuddled him, tried to feed him, and loved on him but I knew I was putting off the inevitable. I knew I would have to make that decision and I knew it was the right one. Doesn't make it any less painful.

He was put to sleep two and a half hours before my flight, with me cradling onto his little body. Unfortunately, the boyfriend couldn't leave work to join us (my brother and sister came with me) but I did have a good conversation on the phone with him and made sure he was okay with what I had decided. I honestly do not know why his health declined so fast, but one of the exotic vets I spoke to (3 hrs away) said he could've easily been full of tumors on the inside and likely, this problem was brewing for a long time already.

Letting him go was incredibly difficult and although he was barely 2lbs, he left an enormous imprint in my heart. We buried him on the property and laid some flowers before I left town. Jamie, the boyfriend, told me that Rattitina won't leave her hammocks and that she seems lost. I can't say I blame her.

Rest in Peace my little man <3

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Week In Review: Trail Riding and Cantering in Harness

Suzie, you aren't supposed to be in there...

 I've been a carelessly awful blogger, I'll admit it. Maybe it was the fact I had seven whole days off of work, or maybe it was that the sun shone like a burning ball in the sky and caused a perpetual heat-wave. I enjoyed each and every day I had off and barely spent much time, if any, inside or on the electronics.

I apologize in advance for the word vomit that is about to surely follow and hope you'll forgive me (endless cookies for those who actually read each and every word?).

Sunday was supposed to be my first day off work but I needed to head into the office for one more day since we wouldn't have enough coverage. It actually kind of sucked considering I was wanting to ride and sleep in, but the extra cash was nice (so I can't really complain). After work it was a dinner date with the MIL since it was Mother's Day (my own Momma got a nice flower arrangement sent to her house courtesy of moi).

Monday the SO and I spent a better part of the day fixing fences since Spud and Suzie have been getting out nearly every goddamn day. It has literally made me seethe in anger to see yet another message from the Land Owner saying Spud was loose and her poor husband had spent 20-30min chasing him around and trying to get him back into the pen. Color me totally embarrassed! After we had mended the fences and whatnot, I ended up buying a gift card and card for the Land Owner and her Hubby for their troubles.

Tuesday and Wednesday brought some serious work on the property - falling trees and clearing some brush. I scratched up my legs and arms from falling, carrying dead logs, and falling some more. It was over 12 hours of hard work and it was a bit daunting at first, but we've got a pretty good portion done and had another load of dirt delivered so we could extend the driveway out more. So much work which left me unable to celebrate Suzie's 22nd birthday on Wednesday - I meant to quit working earlier but drew a huge blank and didn't end up celebrating with her. I'm a bad mom. 

Thursday and Friday were write-offs, to be honest. On Thursday we spent in the next town - purchasing flowers and items to get our garden ready for the year. I also bought some seeds and whatnot for my vegetable garden. The day was pretty well a write-off and with the high heat I didn't feel much like riding but a friend and I did take Spud out for a little drive - he was pretty well behaved. Friday was a bad day all around and towards the afternoon we headed out to the property again and fell more trees.

Light blue = Starting point
I used the white color to show us going back thru the water and towards home.

Saturday I finally was able to take the horse's out and rode Suzie on a trail. Spud was ponied along and initially, we were going to cross a small pool of water but everything was flooded... and I wasn't certain if Spud would follow Suzie through the water. So I made the decision to turn around and go the longer route (you can see in the photo where we turned around and wandered up towards the Fairgrounds).

The rest of the ride was pretty quiet and non-confrontational on both parts until Suzie decided to lose her damn mind when I let Spud off to follow us. He'd gallop up ahead or trot ahead and disappear around the corner of trees and Suzie got a bit snorty and huffy when she couldn't see him.At one point, in the "moose meadows" I got after Suz a bit more and made her work some figure eight circles as Spud nonchalontly trotted with the dogs and stuffed his face.

We continued on our merry way and came to a more "violent" water crossing that had a fast moving current. It wasn't too deep but I was concerned for our little dog, Roxy so I hopped of Suz and rode across the river with Roxy firmly in my arms. Yet again we came towards more water and Spud was all game - never balked once. Even at the section where I feared it would be wayyy too deep Spud and the rest of the gang followed along. His upper lip was curled back and he swam like a little beaver - good job!

Sunday being the last day off the BF and I took Spud for a ride. I ended up pushing him a lot more than I had in the past and he was game on; just trucking and really wanting to pull and put in some real effort. We went up several hills, trotted across a bumpy dirt road, and at one point he even offered up a canter when we were working on extending his trot! It was the most comfiest feeling in the world and I was so SO proud of him. He got a lot of pats and extra treats for his efforts.

And that's basically a wrap for the week. A bit disappointing since I didn't ride more but hopefully that'll change. Also, I've started the ordering process for Spud's new harness AND clinic we are wanting to go in for June! Woohoo!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why I Changed Spud's Name

"Whatchu talking about, I'm such a good pony."
 I'm not the type to needlessly harm my horses or the kind that takes pride in beating the living beJebus out of them (I don't even really *beat* them, if you can catch the sarcasm), but a certain miniature is really beginning to test my patience and MacGuyvering skills.

At first I thought that I had missed a few holes in the fencing and Shithead  Spud had casually come across them and thus, exited his paddock. At first I blamed myself for not being diligent enough and not checking over the fencing more religiously. I even blamed myself for not giving him more hay or opening up the paddock a bit more to prevent boredom.

But after I've fixed several fences and installed a FOURTH vertical rail, the little Shithead pony has continued to test not only my handiwork skills, but my mental health. It's getting to a point that I'm not even sure how he's getting out. Is he like a hamster that can squeeze through dime-sized openings? Or is he a magician that thrives on mind-fuckery?

"Look at how starving I is."
The BO messaged me the night before last to tell me she caught him out of the pasture - again. This time in the FRONT, by the ROAD. Seriously, little horse?!

She put him up for me and I thanked her profusely after apologizing for the millionth time. This isnt' the first time he's been caught running amuck but it was the first time he was caught in the front yard. 

I went out and walked down the paddock again to try and see if there is evidence of hair, hoofprints or the like but I cannot make heads or tails of it. Most of the paddock has weld wire fencing overtop of the two vertical posts but since the barn and pasture alike are very, very old and some of the wire had been disposed of when I moved Suzie in almost a year ago since it was peeling back/ broken/ twisted. Additional boards have been added to prevent Shithead Spud from ducking under the "mid-level" boards and in some cases it's working but in some cases it obviously isn't.

This week we already have it planned to fix up the fencing in the connecting paddock so they can have a bit more room - hopefully that'll keep the troublemaker at bay. And if not, I'm turning the entire fence-line into a giant electrical charge. Perhaps a bit of a zap would prevent little Shithead from entertaining even the slightest idea of a disappearing act.

I loves my new name.
Thanks, Mom.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jogging GIF-fery and Some Musings

Ha! I finally figured out how to make these things.
I intended to just do some general clean up around the barn since Spud thought it'd be funny to get out into the back pasture AGAIN. But after tinkering around with the fences and repairing a few of them so the little jerk-face couldn't get out, I wanted to ride.

Out of sheer laziness I popped my CC saddle on, slapped the Western bridle on and off we went. Unfortunately, the only place to really school anything is very, very small. I mean, like a 30 meter circle. Tiny.

There isn't much room to get things done so I stuck to just walk/jog. We worked on suppling again and I concentrated on her bend at the jog - she did well but tends to get a bit speedy to steady herself (if you watch the gif closely you can see she slightly speeds up after lowering her head into the bridle). I didn't get mad at her for speeding up - she is an older horse and is out of shape. Doing this kind of stuff is HARD. So I let her "go" for a few strides, let her find her balance and went on our way. You can see that in the first 1/3 of the gif she is trying - she's swinging through her hips and is accepting my aids (note the slight tail swish).

You can see how we lose our bend coming around the corner.
 We also did a lot of walk/jog transitions and she did pretty well. She does better with the downwards transition than the upwards. I had a hard time utilizing the small space we had and because I wanted to ride large and open, I didn't have much opportunity to do any leg-yielding or work on straightness.

I only rode for about 20 minutes and then quit while we were ahead. She feels good and she's responding well to my requests. We have a long way to go, but I don't think she looks bad for a 21 year old horse coming out of 4 months off work and after a fall that rendered her lame a week and a half ago.

If you are just reading for a horsey update, feel free to stop there. It gets kinda sad and non-horse-related in this last bit...

In other news, I found a large-ish tumor on my male rat, Ratticus while cleaning their cage lastnight. He's only 22 months old and it is quite uncommon for males to get tumors... it makes me sad. I'm hoping that he still has some time left but rats can be so finicky and when they get sick they can go downhill fast. For now he is still being a goofy, licky, handsome rat-butt. The unfortunate thing about the whole situation is that while most rat tumors are benign, I have a strong suspicion it is malignant (it feels "attached", is lumpy and HARD as opposed to moveable and soft). Think good thoughts for my little man.

And as if that wasn't enough, Ty has been having a hard time sitting and getting up from laying down. Of course, he is 10 years old and arthritis is a common thing among dogs, especially large breeds like him. It still makes me sad and I often wonder how next year will look for him. I really shouldn't be worrying about the future and what it holds because Ty is not too affected by it - he takes it day by day! He was put on some green lipped mussel powder and another powder called "Run Free" to try and help with the inflammation and pain. The last few days were a bit rough with him since he must've tweaked his elbow and was a bit lame.

Sigh. Why must animals grow old?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Week 2: Equine Choice Probiotics

I'm a day late on this, but I know you all will forgive me!

Day 8- April 26th
Last 20cc dose of paste

I am quite certain Suzie was relieved that it would be the last day of the paste. Still wasn't her favorite thing, although Spud loved to lick the remainder of it from the syringe.

Day 9 - 14 - April 27th - May 2nd
2 scoops Probiotic powder 1x daily
First thing I noticed was how difficult it was to open the tub - I literally have to pry it open with a hoof-pick every time or else I can't open it. Scoop was included and as per the directions it recommends 2 scoops daily. It doesn't smell bad, but it does smell "different".

I first mixed it in with Suzie's grain and she didn't really snarf it all up - I started to mix some beet pulp with it to "hide" it and mask the taste and she does better with that. I honestly did not notice a huge difference in her this past week other than her hair seems to be growing quite fast. I'm not sure if that's attributed to the good weather, the minerals, or the Farrier's Formula.

Regardless, she is still sensitive in the one area on her flank and more recently, she has started to swish her tail and look at me during the girthing process... Say what?! She normally twitches her tail a bit, but has never really looked at me before. Interesting to note though, is that I forgot to feed her the probiotics that day... Coincidence?

I swear... everytime she blinks. Every. Time.

So What Does This Mean?

We'll stay on the product until it runs out and see how it progresses from there. Obviously some things take more than two weeks to "fix". Although, it is interesting to note that the Vet checked her over for signs of ulcers (we did not do a scope and I realize this is pretty much the only reliable method) and did not find anything conclusive to suggest she may have them. However, it's not really set in stone because a scope is really the only way we'd know for sure.

Back in the Saddle

Since the Vet had given us the "all clear" for riding, I could hardly wait to get back on my mare. Unfortunately, the rain and high winds made that an unlikely possibility until Friday morning - the sun had finally decided to come out to play. Game on.

However, as fate would have it, I didn't end up riding my mare. Instead, my nephew went for a pony ride and Suzie begrudgingly played babysitter. It was a very light, low impact task (given the nature of pony rides), but it was also great to spend time with my sister and her children, as they are moving mid-June. I figured I could give up one ride for the happiness of a little kid (who ended up crying when he was told they had to leave). I didn't mind - it was good fun and Calder enjoys riding "his" pony. Not many kids get the opportunity to ride horses outside of Canada Day pony rides, so I am grateful I can share something so special with my relatives.

Horribly awkward photo of Suzie (who was stepping forwards) and Calder.
The saddle pad is long because it is her Western BOT pad.

Saturday was a different story; I intended to ride, come hell or high water! A friend and I arranged to meet and both of us would be ponying another horse (I'd be bringing Spud, obviously). Initially, Suzie felt a bit stiffer than normal, but I let her poke along and didn't interfere too much with the reins. We trail rode the 20 minutes to the Fairgrounds and upon arriving, I tied Spud to the fence and took Suzie into the arena to ride since it was drier than it had been the previous weeks.

We worked a lot on stretching and suppling her around my leg - worked a fair amount on counter-bend and correct bend on the straight as well as circling. A fair bit of haunches in and out was used, although she has a harder time with haunches in to the right. She tried and that is what counted the most.

I didn't want to incorporate too many circles in our exercises so everything was quite exaggerated and much larger than 20 meters. At first she was concerned with where Spud was since he was whinnying at her, but after we worked thru some bend and change of direction a few times, she settled into her work nicely. I think having the distraction of Spud is a good idea and I'd like to incorporate it into our schooling in the future.

Midget pony standing on my mounting
 I didn't want to do anything more than walk and jog, so we worked on her halt a bit. I'd sit deep and ask her to halt and if the halt didn't come right away she was backed up a few paces. The same went for if she halted and decided to step forwards one or two more steps. Once I corrected her she put her game face back on and started to stop properly. Part of it is complacency on her part and a lot of it is complacency on my part. Better stops start here, mare Cathryn.

Going into the jog I wanted to just focus on getting a steady rhythm and establishing some bend. I had no desire to really work on her lowering her head or having perfect circles. At first she had some speedy moments but I remembered to sit deep to bring her back and a few times she dropped down to a walk (oops! sometimes I forget she has all the "buttons") so I had to do some fine tuning of my riding to regulate how much/ how hard I asked for her to slow down as well as how much leg to back up my seat. The bend was so much easier for her after we worked through the exercises at a walk and really established some suppleness - very happy and very glad my good friend over in the US sent me those tips (thank you Lindsay)!

We had some AMAZING moments where she felt like putty in my hands and although it was only for 15-20 strides, I am tickled to know that it's there! She HAS it. Going through the corners she tends to speed up to get her balance around them, and I have to remember to support her with my outside leg and prepare her before we turn or else she just falls. But overall she was wonderful - had a very, very quiet jog and even lowered her head down on her own accord. She felt like a Western Pleasure horse and as I jogged around I said to my friend, "Wow... I don't want to stop." THAT is what riding is. That is why we do what we do - even if it is for 15-20 strides at a time. Suzie-mare got lots of pats and love and we ended it there. I didn't want to push the envelope and at the same time wanted to reward her for her good behavior and quality of her work (it isn't all about quantity).

He looks fat, but still has about 3' worth of hair!
 Suz was tied and I took Spud out to the middle of the arena to lunge. I warned my friend that "We aren't quite so good at this yet!" but instead of being naughty, he wowed me by being SUCH A GOOD BOY! He listened to every request I had and although he wasn't perfect, he didn't yank the lines out of my hands, take off trotting, or refuse to stop trotting. My friend commented how well he was behaving for a horse who has barely been taught to lunge. I beamed a little! Good boy!

We trail rode the long way home and both horses were well behaved, save for one moment Suzie wanted to go home and tried to speed walk down the street. It didn't take much to bring her back and plod along on a loose rein.

So overall I am pleased with both of them - they put in some good work and hopefully it will continue from here. Suzie's jog work was some of the best I've felt so I know it can only go up from here!

Friday, May 1, 2015

April Re-cap/ May Goals

April was a pretty decent month in the form of pony riding and while I got a lot accomplished, I still feel like I didn't do much. I am pretty pleased with what I did accomplish with both horses - including the items that were not on the list but were quite note-worthy in itself. I've already begun tailoring more specific goals (ie. working on Suzie's halt) rather than giving a broad goal that could be attained through several exercises or instances. It is time to start buckling down a bit more, but at the same time working well within both horse's abilities - which have both changed in light of the recent vet visit. Since the unfortunate fall, the "cost" of it is coming to bite us both in the butt. I still feel wholly responsible and am upset I hurt my mare, but a small rehabilitation as per the Vet's recommendations will do us both good.

For now, May isn't an incredibly busy month. Reflecting back on the Show and Event schedule I made back in January, there is a small schooling show the second week of the month. However, I work both the Friday and Saturday of the three day show and would only be able to participate in the Sunday events. Right now that gives me only two weeks to prepare Suzie and I honestly don't feel prepared at all. Unfortunately, I heard that the Show Committee also cut a large amount of the in-hand classes, so taking Suzie for Showmanship or otherwise is not feasible now. The only class I could really do is the in-hand trail with Spud, but I think he is too old to compete it in now. Ah well, we'll see what happens.

Onto the exciting things:

April Recap- Suzie

  • Start working on a topline and w/t/c. Rhythm and balance, as well as establishing a connection and cadence at all three gaits. We've started and will continue to do so. She seems to have pretty good rhythm right now, but does need to supple up considerably. Incorporating a lot of counter flexion, baby haunches out, and baby shoulder seem to be helping her.

  • Go on an outing (with the trailer).  I tried borrow a friend's trailer but it was being used to store hay. I really need to buy my own trailer... sigh.
  • Showmanship - polish skills with quality work. We actually busted out the SMS skills a few times this month and Suzie has been pretty good although her pivots kind of stink right now. I'm actually pretty impressed with her on this.
  • Veterinary and chiropractic appointments/work ups. Veterinary work up got done  - the chiro had to cancel and reschedule.
  • Trail ride with other horses Bam. We got this one crossed off a little late in the month but I'm almost 100% sure her silliness is gone. We met a friend and her horse halfway to the Fairgrounds for a ride and Suz was just great.
  • Put front shoes on only- see what happens. After much thought I went ahead and had her shod only in the fronts. Other than the unevenness, she is doing great.
  • Start Suz on gastro/ulcer meds with preventative supplements as well as Farriers Formula for her hooves. She is currently on both ulcer support supplements and Farriers Formula. I'll have posts up about this as I get more data/information.

 May Goals - Suzie

  • Work more on suppleness - utilize exercises such as leg yielding, counter-bending, haunches in, shoulder in, etc. Utilize the walk to really warm her up and get her going. Obviously keep in mind her abilities and non-abilities while she is rehabbing.
  • Spins - start to piece together more of a spin within her limitations (save this for the end of the month). Ensure there is forward energy going into the spin and remember to sit tall, engage the core and guide her instead of leaning.
  • Halts - get better halts. Right now she likes to step forward one more liiiiiittttllleeee step when I ask her to stop.
  • Control of the haunches. This kind of ties into the suppleness exercise, but start to get control of her hind end and placing it where needed.
  • Go on an outing if possible.
  • Carrot stretches, belly lifts, and try and book a massage appointment for Suzie.

April Recap - Spud

  • Buy a new, better fitting harness. Pushed back until I get my tax return. I don't really want to dive into my savings at this point.
  • Practice turning - more bend and turning thru the body. We addressed this through some lunging and ground-driving sessions. He's getting better.
  • Work on connection, straightness, and rhythm. Be aware of his sticky moments and push him FORWARDS. We had a few good drives for the month of April and he was well behaved. I am kind of lessening the amount I drive him right now because I want a better harness first.
  • Desensitization and manners - ground drive over tarps, thru scary things, over poles, etc. Also work on having him move his body over when asked. Yes! We did this a few times - he's pretty great about everything, esp when the blinders are on. I did find out he's afraid of being fly-sprayed so we've been working on that a lot. We've also worked quite a bit on his ground manners, which are getting better and better. He does "lock up" on me sometimes though.
  • Take him on an outing and do some fun in-hand stuff. It depends on what one would consider an "outing". I ponied him a few times which was good, but I didn't really take him anywhere new, which is what the plan was.
He still has about 3 inches worth of hair. Curious to see how
fat he actually is.
May Goals - Spud

  • Buy a new, better fitting harness. (It will happen!)
  • Start to shed the pounds: continue to pony him to build up fitness (as well as instill some "ponying manners").
  • Plug away at working on his fear of fly spray and ground manners.
  • Drive him in the arena at the Fairgrounds if the footing is decent enough or the meadow. Instill the morals of connection, straightness and rhythm.
  • Work on his lunging manners.
  • Make sure when working on driving, in-hand, etc to QUIT while I am ahead. Don't ask for more when "more" isn't there.