03-04-2014, 08:01 PM
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Winter has been tough. Between the weather, wisdom teeth, and illness, it's been tough. But hopefully we are all out the other side and on to Spring shortly. Jayne's started shedding, so he's ready anyway. Got completely side-tracked from laying down since I didn't want to be outside for more than the minimum time necessary in the past couple of months.
He got his shoes pulled about 7 weeks ago. There were five farriers who I considered last summer and I went with (IMO) the best of that bunch. Tried to get another out last week, he no-show/no-called so I'm not in a hurry to set up another appointment there either, so PonyO is stuck with me for a bit longer. He's doing well barefoot. He was initially very short strided and mildly lame at a trot, in a circle, on hard ground. Definitely landing toe first. He also had thrush in both fronts, which I didn't catch on to for another couple of weeks, and just got cleared up (I hope) a few days ago.
I have been obsessively taking pictures. I compared yesterday's from the ones a few days after his shoes were pulled in JAN. Over that time, the width of both his frogs has increased and the angle/shape of the frog has widened from 27 and 29 degrees to 34 and 35 respectively. AND he is moving much more freely and not 'lame,' though if true soundness requires heel-first landings, we're not there yet either. I ordered a pair of renegades to go along with the easyboots I've got. We'll see what works best for him.
He keeps getting better though, and so long as things are improving, I am happy. Tonight was DEFINITELY better! He was giving me the best jog I have EVER gotten from him! It wasn't smooth, but it was actually sittable, which is a huge improvement over his 'normal.' He was also WAY more responsive to leg than I've ever felt him. He wasn't bracy, stiff or fighting me to lean in or counter-bend. He was just relaxed and attentive. We actually did figure eights, sitting trot, to a stop off of zero rein whatsoever. He was moving entirely off leg and seat, which has never happened before.
Not sure if it's age, experience, some part of his training gelling in his head after this time off, or his feet (pain?) playing into it, but it was amazing. We actually had a much shorter ride than I was planning simply because he was being so good and nailing just about everything I asked.
04-25-2015, 08:10 PM
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WOW. More than a year since I posted. Time flies!
We did some arena work yesterday, and while he was not thrilled about it, he was pretty good. He had some opinions though, and there was some amount of head tossing to display his opinions. He didn't pull down on the bit or jerk on it or anything like that, he just maintained normal contact while moving his head up and down... he was almost closer to proper position then than he is normally, which was the kicker. He didn't try to slow down or otherwise be naughty though, so we'll see if these 'opinions' settle down on their own considering this was the first day of arena work in at least a year, or if I actually need to do something about them.
We worked on trotting on our 'bad' diagonal and cantering. He's not too bad to the left, but cantering to the right is a mess, he trys to counterbend his neck, fall in, and all sorts of other evasions. This is not at all new, but I got some good advice to work him on the right lead in straight lines until that was solid to build his strength on that (bad) lead. So we did, and it too a bit just to get him going solidly straight on that lead. Then we started thinking about bending (which we were practicing trotting too) in the correct direction at a canter. He tried really hard for me, but started to get tired, so we quit while he was still being successful.
Today he "got" to bring me back down the length of the pasture again, which is no less than he deserves for making me walk the almost mile up to get him. I put him in a deep narrow muddy ditch to get on... pretty sure he thought I was nuts, but after a moment cooperated. Then he about walked us all the way back on his own. I barely had to steer, and that was only when the rest of the herd trotted up, started grazing, and he thought maybe I'd let him stop and graze with them too. He took us both down through the pastures, across the creek and to the catch pen all on his own. Guess he's figured out that that is what we "do". :)
Still shedding though. The hair. Everywhere.
04-26-2015, 08:19 PM
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And days like today are why I ride with a bit when I'm not in an arena, even though the vast majority of time my guy would be (and often is) fine in a halter.
It's about 15 degrees cooler today than yesterday, and it rained hard overnight, and my horse was hot hot hot today. I figured we'd do a longish easy ride. Long, slow distance for endurance conditioning to help get him back to being fit is the theory. A couple miles out on the route, there's a good stretch of good footing though, so I figured we'd canter that and then trot the rest, maybe 12 miles rpundtrip or so.
Well, we did that, after walking and then trotting the trail to get there and get warmed up, and he was really good. He gave me a nice canter, asked to slow down, responded to my leg, etc. We got started on the rest of the trail I wanted to go on, but it was no good. Too much rain, too much slope to be worth continuing on, so we turned around to go back the way we came.
That is when the crazy appeared. He was on rocket fuel. Wanted to gallop back, so we went another way. He didn't want to trot. If we were walking, he was moving, if we were trotting, he was trying to canter, if we were cantering, he wanted to gallop. So I took him on the old gravel road to help work on conditioning his feet. It's not too bad, gravel-wise, most of it has sunk in and grass is growing over it, but it was enough for him to watch his feet rather than getting all squirrely about wanting to run and he trotted nicely. Then we cantered back away from home another mile the way we had come.
Turned towards home, and again with the rocket ship and head-tossing. So we did a mile of trot-canter-trot-walk transitions. He was sweating and breathing hard, but finally started to relax and listen rather than just trying to pull my arms out. We walked the last mile back on an old worn bike path. He actually lifted his back noticeably, presumably to un-weight his fronts, while we were walking on it, which makes me wonder, but watching his footing was enough mental work for him to actually relax, cool off and dry out a bit before getting home.
Not what I had planned for the day, but on google maps, we wound up doing 10 miles with the back and forth, and most of that hard work for him, harder work than I had planned on asking him for, so I suppose we'll call that good for conditioning anyway.
05-25-2015, 10:25 PM
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Ow. Owwww... Owww...
First dressage lesson in a year. A deployed year, where I spend 9 months away from horses and 9 months lifting weights. One dressage lesson. I would have told you that we didn't even do much physically if you asked. A little of this, a little of that, mostly theory. My Instructor pointed out I was really tight through the hips and back, which is typical of weightlifters and runners, which is mostly what I've done this last year. An hour later though, my back and my hip flexors and a few other muscle groups would have you know we most definitely DID do something and they hurt. Glad I already took an NSAID...
1. Relax my lower back and loosen those hip flexors.
2. Belly button towards spine to open hip angle so I CAN move with the horse.
3. Less butt/seat moving, more using lower leg (think ankle bones) to ask the horse to go. It's okay to move my ankle forward or back a couple inches if I need to in order to get the horse to respond.
4. Bracing doesn't help (which I already knew, but yeah. Still doesn't help)
Exercises to think on/recall
1. Direct rein of opposition, opening rein, supporting rein, up to me to feel contact
2. Leg yield (straight horse, moving away from leg pressure)
3. Shoulders-in (bend through body, rear straight, shoulders stepping over, nose to inside/bend)
4. Haunches-in (bend through body, nose and front legs traveling "straight", rear stepping over
5. Turn on the hind/fan a small circle, then leg yeild back to the original line of travel
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