Thursday, November 15, 2018

Things My Horse Does Now

Aside from the regular training and being able to do the whole "walk/ trot / canter" thing, there have been some things that have taken time to establish and it's been an interesting process to see how they have developed. Some are the nature of things with baby horses, and others just make me laugh at how long it finally took the light-bulb to switch on.

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).


2. Stretching
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.

4. Eats
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!


14 comments:

  1. There is nothing worse to me than a horse who won't eat, Penny was the same for the longest time, and sometimes she is meh over her grain, but 99% of the time she is a total pig now. I'm glad you were able to figure it all out for her!

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    1. Is it not the most frustrating thing ever?!

      I'm so glad Annie is not like that anymore. It literally made me pull my hair out

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  2. i love posts like this bc it's so important to reflect on where we've been to fully appreciate where we are now. from a reader's perspective, so much of the tone of your writing has subtly shifted over the past few months. from the earliest days with Annie where you wrote about the frustrations of working a baby horse through the most elementary tasks, to all the last few months where you could write about riding out with friends and shipping out to lessons and clinics and doing much better than just 'surviving.' it's exciting stuff, Annie is growing up too!

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    1. It really is. And it's interesting to me to see what things I consider "achievements". When I got Annie, I was certain things like "we're doing 3rd level" or "we're jumping 3ft" was going to be what made me happy. I think those things will ALSO make me happy, but it isn't what makes me proud of her right now.

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  3. Isn't it amazing how much they can learn in a year (or so)? Really glad you got the diet sussed out! She's looking nice and round! I've always been one to feed as little processed feed as possible (mostly hay if I can), but now with all the dietary issues my two old men have, there's a lot more bagged feed in my feed room. Oh well. As long as they're happy and healthy right?

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    1. It really is. Sometimes it feels like you are stuck in an endless whirlpool of... surviving haha. But it's so nice to finally look back and say, "OK, all of this stuff is THERE now."

      Ugh... tell me about it. My pocket book is so much happier now. The ulcer meds the vet gave us rang in at $200 for 21 days... and of course she sold me two buckets of it. Ick.

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  4. You have done such a wonderful job with her. I’m a fan of a more natural diet. I think it makes a huge difference

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    1. Thank you <3
      Yes - it's been a learning curve for sure. I don't think I will ever go with anything other than "one name only" grains.

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  5. Always great when they learn about gladly accepting the bit!

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    1. Haha. We took our time learning that one, lol.

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  6. I love the reflection on all of tour accomplishments. That's funny about not wanting to trot/canter on the hills. While I initially do everything at the walk with mine, too, they LOVE going fast up hills and pout when I make them walk. It's hard work building that booty with a slow burn lol

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    1. Thank you :)

      It IS hard work building that booty, haha. It's funny - she never really questioned going fast up the hills, lol.

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  7. I just finished reading your blog (okay I might have skipped a few posts here and there) and it is amazing to see how far Annie has come! Reading the post and seeing the pictures after each other makes the change so clear. I'm excited to see how much you both learn in the future.

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Jenna. That means a lot :)

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