Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Cavalry is Home

I had to dig them a small path to the trees so they'd have
some space to walk in.
And they have been home for a while.

I had initially planned to take two more lessons with Trainer K before bringing Annie home on the 27th - with my work schedule and a private clinic taking place during the last weekend of training, it didn't make it possible to take another lesson until the 26/27. Which, was all fine and dandy.

Unfortunately, things with Ty kind of fizzled the week prior and led me to (for lack of a better term...) abandon both horses at their temporary residences while I garnered as much time as I could with my boy. I am thankful tho, because when I told Trainer K, she basically said, "Leave your mare here and come get her later in the week." The same goes for Riding Buddy N and her parents (I'm pretty sure they were secretly hoping I'd leave Spud there forever though).

The water trough is somewhere behind the fence... buried

The week off of work was a bit insane and hectic, as we said goodbye to Ty, and also geared up for a major surgery for our other dog, Roxy. She has bilateral luxating patella - her left leg needed surgery as soon as possible and her right leg seemed to have built up enough scar tissue from what the Vet suspects was an old ACL tear. Which, as a previous vet assistant has left me astounded. This dog never showed any indication of pain - not once.

In fact, the only things that indicated she was uncomfortable in her knees was the fact she'd sit on her hip and wasn't running as much as she did before... And yet her x-rays tell the story of a torn and re-repaired ACL. The self-repair has built a little "shelf" which is holding her right patella ligament in place, so we will see how that continues to play out. She may be small, but the dog is tough as nails!

Her recovery of the left leg, thankfully, has gone very smoothly. She is currently just over 1 week post-op and we'll be able to start more rigorous rehabilitation next week, after her stitches are removed.

We moved a mattress into the living room vs choosing to
crate her overnight. 
The day after Roxy's surgery, I went out and picked up Annie from Barn C. Which, would have been a total non-event save for the fact snow was never cleared from the front of the trailer and had since turned into some variation of ice/snow that I ended up chipping/ swearing at for over an hour. When I pulled Annie out of her pen, she blew hard at the trailer, and danced a bit on the lead while I took her blanket off, but loaded up quietly.

She was equally good while I rounded up and loaded Spud - who had finally getting along with his two gelding counterparts. I think they were a bit sad to see him go, but they didn't really show much interest when I latched the gate behind us.

Digging out the trough.
Hard work - but I did it!

Once back at home, I gracefully slipped and went down like a ton of bricks on an icy patch beside the trailer. Ouch. Thankfully, that was the only real drama of the day, and Annie and Spud unloaded just fine. I tied them at the barn so I could start digging out a path and setting up the water trough. I had intended to do that earlier in the week, but... life sucked and I didn't get motivated enough to do it.

Spud was tied inside the shelter of the barn and Annie was tied outside the stall like usual - so, out of eachother's eye-sight. Annie stood quiet after shuffling a bit, but Spud... Spud neighed and cried and carried on like he'd lost his only love in the world.

Another hour chopping and scooping snow, and then I let the horse's loose to explore the very limited pasture that was available. Both of them seemed excited to be home, but took one look into the paddock and sighed as if they were completely disappointed. They were even more disappointed to find I had left hay littered along the trail I had built them (to encourage them to stomp down the snow).

This is looking out towards the trees from under the lean-to.

Looking out from the other side of the lean-to.

One little pathway.
Check out the fences in the back!
The entire saga took just over five hours from start to finish. The trip to Barn C, digging out the trailer, loading all my tack/items, hauling home, picking up Spud, unloading, digging the horses a pathway, setting up the water trough/heater, tossing hay, driving the trailer back into town and parking it and finallllly heading home.

Since being at home, I've managed to get a ride in on Annie (which will be blogged about later) and have worked more on tying/picking up feet/ etc. I don't like my horses to go completely feral in the Winter (especially Annie, since Trainer K put so much time and effort into her). Unfortunately, we have a ton of snow still hanging around so any "real" riding will have to be on the back-burner until the brunt of it melts. Luckily, Annie retains things quite well, so I don't while I don't suspect we'll be able to "pick up" where we left off, we'll be able to get back to that place quite easily.

She looks unenthused, but was so happy to be out.
As far as training, Trainer K was quite pleased with Annie by the end of the month. She did pretty much a work-up on everything. Some significant changes tho:

  • Standing quietly while tied made a huge turn around. Typically, Annie is very good at tying quiet at home, but will dance around at new places. She spent a lot of time standing tied at Barn C, in different areas.
  • Smoother down transitions. Before, Annie would kind of pull out the e-brake and almost transition like she was a reiner. Now, the forward energy is there when she comes back to a slower gait.
  • Stretching into the bridle. We started to get some of this at the end of last year and at the Derek clinic, but it seems much more consistent now.
  • Leg yielding. It's just overall better. My leg cues mean something now.
  • Suppleness exercises are the go to for when Annie gets stressed/tense/nervous. Trainer K showed us a variety of them to do, and I was able to practice them last week when I rode and they made a huge difference.
  • Jumping - Annie has become more aware of her feet.
  • Canter leads - almost no tail swishing, switching leads (cross-firing) or picking up wrong leads. Trainer K went just over two weeks without having Annie cross-fire or picking up multiple wrong leads.

Feeding the horses on the snow to make more pathways
has made a mess of the pasture...
Spud isn't happy with his muzzle either.
The whole training thing, I feel, was the right call. Trainer K understands how Annie's brain works more than ever and is able to either call the mare's bluff or support the horse as a rider when she reacts to something. I had muddled between the line of "Is she reacting this way because she's green?" or "Is she reacting this way because she is trying to get out of what I am asking?". I think it also helped Annie understand that when she gets a negative response from the rider, not to take it so damn personally.

She tries hard, but sometimes evades the question being asked, and when called out for it or redirected back to the original question, doesn't really enjoy being told she is wrong or to do it again. Trainer K was able to work with her in a way that set her up for success, as well as tapping into the mind-set that she is just a young horse. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the whole training process and how it played into mine and Annie's relationship as the year progresses and I am able to ride her more.

For now, we are eagerly awaiting daylight savings time and are welcoming any riding - be it road-hacking or hauling out for lessons on my week off!


  1. Glad the horses are back home and settling in! God I can't imagine that much snow, ugh. At least DST is here!

  2. Omg - you're going to have snow until August!

  3. You must be exhausted! Congrats on finding that water trough and on having the ponies home :)

  4. that is a LOT of snow! glad everyone is home and doing well!

  5. Glad everyone made it safely home and Annie was able to make so much great progress at Trainer K's!

  6. Ugh, what a long day! Glad everyone's home safe and sound. Also glad the training went well. Sounds like Trainer K is a great fit for you two.

    1. It was!

      And thank you - I think Trainer K is great for us as well :)

  7. Isn't it amazing how tough dogs can be? Herbie tore her CCL in July and was three legged (dangling the bad leg) when it happened. She just bounced up, grabbed her ball, and brought it back to throw again (obviously, that didn't happen!) Thankfully, with PT she's been able to avoid surgery, but we discovered her luxating patella in the process. Thankfully it's only on one side.

    1. I honestly had no idea (or ANY inclination) that she tore her ACL. It's insane!!
      Glad Herbie is recovering well from her surgery. Is she requiring surgery for her LP?

  8. So glad everyone is back home and doing well. Hopefully Roxy feels right as rain soon. And that snow. Damn, the fences really tell the story! I can't even fathom dealing with so much snow.

    1. I'm glad they are home :)

      Ugh, don't remind me about the snow :(

  9. What a wringer you've been through! And still you got your ponies home safe and sound. Hope you're able to breathe now and that Roxie and Annie can continue to recover/progress :)

  10. I would have been tempted to leave them where they are till spring that was way too much work for you LOL and that snow!! Glad Annie had a good training time and Spud had a good vacation :) HA and hope your Roxy bounces back fast!!