Spring Excitement

Yesterday, I was leading Ava, and the footing was uneven so my whole upper body went rigid in an attempt to stabilize myself. The second my upper body went stiff, Ava reared, wide eyed, throwing her head around.

I had to consciously relax my body and pretend I was a wet noodle before she would quietly walk next to me again.

Horses… way to perceptive.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I have finally started riding again after nearly 4 months off.

I am floppy.

I’m amazed at how much Joy has retained training wise. It’s all still there. She’s still a bit out of shape, but the buttons are there.

Last Sunday was the first time I’ve been on Joy’s back since Dec 26th. That Sunday I lunged her first. I hopped on expecting the worst! The only time Joy bounced around a little was when the cats decided to jump on top of the metal pile and make it crash and clang next to us. Joy gave a short hop, but that was it.

Next day, I hopped on Joy without lunging first. She was a doll. We w/t/c around. Even got the correct lead both ways.
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Yesterday, we did a bit of short trot/canter work. Got both leads again. Would’ve gotten the right one with bend on strike off, but I messed it up… I was impressed she offered it. That lead is always going to be tough for her.

We have absolutely no balance in the canter. I can only hope that the quality improves as balance improves. I think it will, but the other half of me is like “What did I get myself in to?!?!”

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Funny thing yesterday, after we got done with the arena work, we went for a short trail ride (by ourselves). Joy hasn’t been out since maybe early Nov. It’s been a long while.  We get 10 feet from the barn and there’s a dark patch of dirt we have to walk over. Joy gets one foot on it, brakes hard, and starts back-peddling manically. I could not convince her to walk over it, so I finally hopped off and had to show her it was just dirt. She very cautiously followed me over it. Rest of the trail ride went smoothly. We didn’t go far, she was hyped, but sane.  Coming back, we have to cross the black dirt again… Joy takes a sniff, and walks over it like it’s nothing. Yay!

Ava had a tough winter:

  • She had two boughts of laminitis,
  • her feet look horrible,
  • she got a nasty case of thrush that no over the counter medication was killing,
  • vet diagnosed her as IR (insulin resistant).

On the plus side:

  • She’s lost a lot of weight,
  • she’s sound again,
  • thrush is nearly knocked out,
  • she does not have cushings,
  • vet says IR can be managed without medication at this point,
  • she’s back to her old bossy self again

I forgot how much fun Ava is to ride.  Joy feels like a race car, Ava is a muscle car.  I started riding Ava in the pasture since the previous time I rode her she tried to toss me off. We walk/trotted a couple of small laps around the pasture, then headed outside for a short walk loop around the back field.

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Ava March 2016.jpg

 

I haven’t seen any detrimental effects from riding Ava. Hoping it stays that way.

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Slow but steady Trailer Training

I had a few days where I lapsed on the trailer training a bit. Rainy, cold, tired… you know, the regular excuses.

Next session, I barely get the door open and Joy wants on. She barges in once I’ve got the rear door latched open, and dives into her grain. This has been somewhat par for the course. I’m not shocked. What did shock me was that after finishing her meager amount of grain, she started in on the hay on the floor. Previously, she would finish her grain and want out. This time, she stood quietly, munched her hay, didn’t care that Ava was calling to her.

I still don’t have the stall partition closed yet, but I jiggled it around and banged it against the wall several times to get her accustomed to the noises. She didn’t care. I jumped up and down in the trailer. I walked to her butt and scratched her. She ate her hay. That must’ve been some dang good hay.

I’ve also, finally, been able to get her to line up with the slant wall so that she’s in position where I could close the divider. Previously, the second I asked her to move her body parallel to the wall she wanted out of the trailer. So that was good progress. She stood there quietly for a good minute before I asked her to back out and come back in again (I’m trying not to let leaving be her choice).

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I’m not quite sure what the next step is though. I know I want to close the partition and get her used to that, but how to go about that? I’m a bit scared to try it…

Is there a baby step in between no divider and divider closed?

I’m a bit gun shy about the divider. Ava taught me all of the horrible ways that divider can be used against a human.

I don’t know how to do this next step… every other trailer I’ve ever owned has been a straight load. You attach the butt bar, the horse hits it, end of story. These dividers are too easy for a horse to crush me with.

Any ideas?

Non-Traditional Breeds

Warning: Rant. Swearing and NSFW, so skip if you need to.

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This shit pisses me off. You’re getting high 50’s at Training Level because your horse doesn’t have correct training. Don’t blame this on your horse’s breed. There are MULES competing at Nationals who get better scores, at higher levels, than you’ve gotten.

Stop making excuses for poor training and poor riding. Even if Carl Hester handed you his most promising young horse, you’d STILL be eeking out a high 50 at training level. But by then I’m sure you could find a new excuse for why your riding and training was not the problem.

Horses don’t lose shows, riders lose shows.

It’s not like we’re talking GP at Wellington. She’s at Training Level in MI for God’s sake.

Mainly, it pisses me off because this is basically saying anyone who has done well on a non-warmblood against a warmblood has done so by mistake or bad judging.

Worse yet, say someone else reads her post and owns non-traditional breed. What if they never even try showing at a rated show because of this lady? What if the first snag they hit in their training they give up because their Arab, TB, QH, whatever isn’t a fancy warmblood. An opportunity that person had to improve as a rider is gone, all because this lady decided she couldn’t train a non-warmblood. What if you’d been told you had no hope of being competitve? Would you have even tried? Would you have made it where you are now if someone had told you it was hopeless?

I just want to end with – – Speak for yourself lady… YOU will never be competitive because YOU make excuses instead of focusing on fixing your training problems. The rest of us will become excellent riders and trainers on our non-purpose bred horses. Some of us with horses that have far worse conformation than your horse’s. And we’ll go on to successfully compete at rated shows against “fancy warmbloods”. And not once will we make excuses when we do poorly, or hit a snag in our training. We’ll own that shit and overcome it.

Day Three – Trailer Training

I’m in full bore mode for getting Joy accustomed to the trailer.  I didn’t do much work on it last year. A few walk in/back out sessions,  but that was all.  This year I have to have her trailering well.  And by well,  I mean hop on immediately with no issues, stand quietly while I latch all partitions,  and most importantly have her riding quietly whether we move or not. Not the throwing herself violently around that she did when we moved her here. That scared the crap outta me. 

I really want to get Joy so comfortable in the trailer that it’s like walking into her stall.  Where the bangs and creaks and sways are normal to her,  and no longer cause the panic attacks. 

I don’t know if I can do it though.  Way long ago,  I trained two geldings to trailer.  One I trained to self load and he was a saint in the trailer,  the other I was just training for a friend but within 30 days I had him loading and trailering well enough that he could be hauled safely.  And that was a horse that had never seen a trailer before.

But I’ve had such a hard time with Ava that I no longer trust that i know what I’m doing.  She really destroyed my faith in being able to train this successfully. 

The other part of me thinks I can do this.  I mean,  Ava is not normal…  I’ve gotten several people to help me train Ava to load,  and no matter what it all came down to whether Ava felt like going along with the puny humans plans that day. 

Joy is nothing like Ava.  Joy wants to go along with whatever I want,  she just gets nervous or uncertain about new things.  Joy’s a lot like a gelding in a lot of ways.  So I tend to think that with all the tricks I’ve learned with Ava,  that I can overcome pretty much anything Joy can try.

Plus,  every single other person on the planet can freaking haul their horses places.  And yet here I am,  freaking out about if.  It’s not that hard to do…  I make it too big of a deal.  It’s not that hard,  right?

But I’m still uncertain…  If I mess up then Joy will be a pain to trailer forever.  Or worse, Joy will seriously hurt herself (or me).

What if I mess this up???

I have all these things I want to do with Joy this year,  but they all depend on Joy trailering well.  I really,  really do not want to spend another year stuck at home because my pony won’t trailer well. I want to go to shows,  take lessons,  take clinics,  haul out to friends houses to ride. There’s this big,  fun world out there once you’re mobile.  I want to be a part of it.

Can I do it?  God I hope so… 

Up in the air

My index finger on my left hand no longer bends without pain.  This is from mangling it in the stall door last October/November. I can’t remember now.

This winter has been difficult. Ava was getting better, but in February came up lame again. I can’t seem to control her food enough to get the weight off her. Not unless I starve poor Jessie. So as soon as the ground thawed some, hubby and I built Ava her own paddock/dry lot.

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We spent 6 hours on Saturday building the framework. I hurt in places I’d forgotten existed. I begged the hubby to delay putting up the metal portion until the following day because my arms felt like rubber.

Next day, we spent 2 hours getting drenched in frigid temps to finish the fence. Welll, hubby was drenched. I had a rain coat, but still, it was miserable. We should’ve just finished it the previous day.

My procrastination foiled me again.

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The finished product is working fantastic. I’m able to control Ava’s feed to a T. Ava seems quite happy with her little plot of land.

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I also had the vet out last week to draw blood for IR and Cushings to see if there’s a metabolic issue at play with Ava. Plus, Ava’s got a mean case of thrush, and nothing I’ve tried has gotten rid of it. Vet gave me some stuff to squish in there, but Ava’s decides she’s over it and that she’ll just jump on me instead. Luckily I had my trusty hoof pick and poked her in the shoulder before she could complete her evasive maneuvers. Still managed to twist my mangled finger around though.

I also had Joys hoof x-rayed (the club foot). Vet said a Grade 1.5 to 2 out of 4 on the severity scale, but it’s manageable with proper hoof care. Part of me worried that inside that hoof was a right mess… I felt better after the x-ray.

Amazing what can change in a few days.

March 5th:

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March 9th:
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