|I am excited for next year - to see where we go and for the journey to get there.|
1. Accepting the Bit
When I first got her, she was a bit difficult to bridle. Mostly just tossing her head, refusal to open her mouth for the bit, etc. I knew it was just a baby thing, so I started out slow and combined the use of treats to help her have a more pleasant experience. Unfortunately, it didn't really help much, and it often ended with me having to use my fingers to poke her tongue.
Her teeth were in great shape too, so there was no real reason for the hesitation. I thought she'd catch on after she was fed copious amounts of treats. But instead, it kinda confused her because she didn't understand how to eat treats with the bit in her mouth, haha. So, I just stuck with alternating treats and my finger on the side of her gums.
And over a year later? She gladly accepts the bit when I offer it.
|She also finally has accepted the neck stretcher, which has become a|
large part of our lunging routine (when I do lunge, which isn't often).
I had tried several times before to get Annie to stretch - her first year undersaddle it was a battle and a half to even get her to extend and elongate her neck downwards. Which, yanno, is fine. She was a baby and such, so I get it. It was only earlier this year I was actually able to get some decent stretching out of her and REAL stretching. She also learned she could stretch and trot, without falling on her face, haha.
She also finally learned she can stretch out on the trail and on the lunge. More often than not, after a few moments of looking around, scanning her surroundings, she'll sigh and drop her head before plugging along quietly.
|No media of our hill work - so here she is being cute in a|
home-made hackamore, haha.
3. Going Faster Than a Walk Up Hills/ Down Hills
For the longest time, I only walked Annie up hills on the trail. As a young rider, I used to gum-boot it up a few of the bigger hills and it led to my mounts charging up any hill we could find.. which, isn't always a good idea. So I made it my mission to teach Annie to first walk before any other gait. Except... I kinda forgot to teach her she could trot and canter up hills, lol. The first time we trotted up a hill, she kept slowing to a walk, like, "This is hard work." By the end of this year, we have done enough canter sets in the trail along the fairgrounds that she can canter up AND down inclines with no issues. Her first canter down a hill was exceptionally hilarious.
|An updated picture from last week.|
She is disgustingly dirty, so ignore that, lol.
It took a lot of time, stress, and money to suss out this issue. When I first got Annie, she was uninterested in grain, mash, and even her hay. She preferred to stand at the front of the paddock, staring down the street for hours on end. I'd show up at the barn to her untouched raised feeder (that Spud cannot access), and it would frustrate the heck out of me! I tried leaving hay out (I typically have it in a slow feeder net) so she wouldn't have to nibble through the net, but it didn't seem to matter...
I consulted with two vets (which we all know are 6+ hours away), and made several adjustments throughout my ownership of Annie, including a physical exam with a traveling vet last Fall.
I did manage to find things that helped - the myoplast for one - but nothing could consistently keep the weight on my mare. After utilizing expensive ulcer medication that didn't do much for the either of us, I ended up reaching out to Bloggers (link here) and dug into OTTB groups on Facebook to learn more and try to get to the bottom of the problem.
Long story short, I started from the beginning and scrapped my whole feed plan after it was costing me hundreds of dollars a month. I power-pac dewormed both Annie and Spud, as well as added a product called Elite Three to her diet. I completely eradicated all of her grain, and only have her on beet pulp and supplementary alfalfa cubes. She also no longer stands at the side of the barn, staring down the driveway for hours on end. Almost every time I am at the barn, she is stuffing her face with hay, which delights me. I'm not sure which change evoked the increase in her appetite or interest in hay, but either way... I'll take it!