Thanks! She is coming along and I sometimes get impatient with the progression and a bit frustrated. She is just so ready to fight at any given moment. For instance, she was fine with the tarp until I asked more out of her, then she decided she was going to fight about the tarp and we weren't even talking about it!
Me: Please step through and bend
Raina: Well I don't like that tarp, its the wrong color and it doesn't match the hay under it and we're within 30ft of that color abomination and I'm angry about that and...
Me: Just step through and bend
Raina: I'm not done complaining yet
I was very happy because she is stiffer to the right than to the left, and she finally bent and yielded to the right leg. No softening or anything, but when I put my leg on to move her away and picked on on the right rein, she gave me a bend. Very happy!
Remember back in the logs when I mentioned I took Raina out on a trail last winter and she was on 2 legs the whole way to woods?
I haven't taken her out since, save for that trail ride with my sister. She took Raina's best friend, Shaggy. And still, Raina was a mess of uncertainty. Since then, I've worked her in the arena and I feel we have gotten some good progress. Not great, but good. I struggled with the idea of taking her back out. Why? Basically fear. The way to the trails is up a gravel driveway with patches of old, broken up cement. Its up hill and the last time she reared on that, I was afraid she'd lose her balance and smash me into the cement.
I drove up to the barn today and caught Raina. I pushed her away from the herd and she ran herself like an idiot around the pasture for no reason. When she finally stopped, I caught her rather easily. I brought her down into the barn and she was challenging me every step of the way. She wouldn't move when I pressed on her hip, she wouldn't pick her feet up. She was being a general pain. I unhooked her from the wall and had a session with her about yeilding when I say yeild, and things were a little better.
The polo wraps kind of made me angry. She should have gotten used to them by now but everytime I go to wrap her hind legs, she picks her legs up and tries to move around. I got on to her about it today because I had to take the wraps off and redo them because she kept lifting her feet. After that little correction, she stood for it.
The BO was using the outside arena as a turn-out for the inside horses. If I'm allowed to have an opinion, I'd say that I hate that. I wasn't able to use the outside arena and the inside arena gets so dusty, even after you water it down. So I looked at Raina and said "Lets hit the trails, sister". It was now or never.
I trotted her around the inside arena for about 10 minutes to grab her attention. She neckreined like a dream and was sharp in the rollbacks, so I unlatched the gate and rode her out. We rode down the driveway and up the other one towards the trail. Past the field....we rode past the field! We RODE past the field! She didn't bulk, she didn't rear! I made sure my legs were right on her sides just in case, and I brought my whip with me...but I didn't need it. The last time I took her out alone, we reared and reared and reared. Today she walked right past the barn and field, and we headed into the woods.
We cantered up the first hill and I gave her the reins. She discovered the little target practice area for the neighbor (it had targets and a big plastic deer) and she was rather looky going past it, but we didn't have a problem. About 50 yards later I opened my little trail pouch (it had velcro) and we just about orbited the moon because of the noise. Haha. That was her only spook though.
She wasn't confident, but she went along rather pleasantly. I didn't want to be out too long since it was her first trail alone since last winter (and that didn't go well). We bent through the trails and went up and down the hills. We walked, trotted and cantered. We finally came upon a log she didn't like the looks of and she tried to turn around. I got her back on track and we made it past it.
By this time, she was breathing pretty hard and I could tell she was just working herself up, so I got off and did some pretty normal stuff. I checked the saddle, made some adjustments, and then sat down and had a cigarette. Before long, Raina's wide eyes calmed and she hung her head next to me. I sat around for maybe 10 minutes until she was relaxed, and remounted.
The break did her some good. She was still alert but her walk was much slower. The break brought her back to me. We encountered a RANDOM bulldozer in the middle of the woods. Right smack dab in No Man's Land. She bulked but didn't turn around, and walked past it hesitantly. Up ahead, I noticed a gigantic green machine parked in the middle of the trail and thought "Oh dear god, she's not ready for that yet" so I turned her around. She hadn't seen it yet because it was dark green and blended it. We walked past the bulldozer again and finally followed the dog home (because she's a great GPS).
We made it home and everyone was pleasantly surprised to see that Raina had been on a trail alone. I guess she still has that "NightMare" name at the barn and will probably carry that reputation for a long time. They are still surprised she canters without bucking, and doesn't do have the stuff she used to. I'm not surprised, just happy with it.
We made it through the trail alone though, and nobody died...especially Raina. She was so sure she would, but she kept trucking on when she felt my leg.
I wasn't going up to see Raina today until someone at work mentioned they were going on a trailride. I thought...you know what? Why the heck not.
So after work, I drove up to get Raina. Again, she ran from me but this time it wasn't nearly as long and she didn't run nearly as much. Little progress is any progress, I guess.
I tacked her up and took her out into the arena. I have been backing her up everytime we stop, and today she finally got the concept. We started out with walk and stop transitions, then went up to the trot. We first did trot/walk transtions, but then they became trot/stop transitions with the back. She has tucked her little butt under her pretty well a couple times.
The canter was pretty cool. I dropped the rein and within three strides of just leg, we were in the canter. I'm beginning to allow her to find her own balance. I feel I have aided her enough to start with that she can now figure it out...and I do help her still on occasion.
The best part is that she's not rearing anymore. I can pull back on those reins and she'll back 10 steps if I asked her too without taking her front feet off the ground. I had a lot of doubters, and I'm glad to be able to say that.
I took her back in and untacked her, and just spent time with her. We went outside and I hand grazed her for 10 minutes, and then we played a "chase" game where I turned to face her and backed up, and she followed me around. I went left, right, forward and back and she kept right up. When I went forward, she went back. It was a cool game. Then I climbed on her bareback and walked and trotted a little bit more. Hopped off and played the chase game again, and I fed her some treats.
Overall, I think she had a good time. I took her out to the pasture without a lead and opened the pasture gate, brought her in, closed the gate...and she was right there by my side every step. I took the halter off and rubbed her down. She didn't bother to move until I walked away, and she casually strode off.
She was in no hurry to rejoin the herd today. That makes me happy.
I haven't been active on the board for the last couple months due to real life stuff. Inbetween, I've ridden Raina on and off and saw a couple big changes in her.
For one, she comes to me in the pasture now instead of run away. This changed when she became ill. Snotty nose, swollen lymphnodes, the runs, fever, wheezing and coughing and she was lethargic. I brought her inside and put her on sulpha tabs for a week and by the end of that week, she was back to herself. The BO was out of town for that week so I had to go clean her stall every night. Since then she's been coming up to me in the pasture and she whickers at me. I don't know why that changed, but I'm not complaining.
I think she was in heat a couple weeks ago because she tried to attack the dog when I was leading her in from the pasture. She also nipped at me. I gave her a swat and she pinned her ears, rolled her eyes, flared her nose and beared her teeth at me, so I threatened to swat her again and her attitude changed in .2 seconds. I then hopped on her and we went for a bronc ride around the arena. She was just in a huge sour mood and it made me laugh.
I could only chalk it up to being in heat since she has never, ever been this sour...even on her bad days. The next time I went up to ride her, she was back to normal.
I've been trail riding her mostly. The outside arena is frozen over and used as a make-shift pasture for the stalled horses, and the only thing that's left is the small inside arena or the trails. The inside arena gets really crowded very quickly so I usually take to the trails.
She hasn't done her rearing bit in a long time. She used to try and refuse the trail by rearing but now all she does...if she's feeling particularly barn sour, is try to turn around. If I don't catch it in time, I just circle her until we face the trail again and make her move on. Though our last trail ride, she didn't even think about circling. She wasn't exactly confident but she was cooperating with me without argument, which is a big step for her. I feel she is trying her best to work harder for me (other than that time she was in heat!) and its beginning to show with his willing she is to follow directions and not bulk.
The trail didn't last very long since it was snowing, and the ground was very slippery. I ended up getting turned around and just let her have the reins, and she took us home. So much better than a GPS!
ETA: I also wanted to add that I've been playing around with bits. I tried a western curb on her with a low port and a roller for a couple weeks. She didn't seem to mind it and I didn't use much pressure on it since I'm pretty well versed in snaffles only and anything with leverage makes me cautious. It has something to do with the feel. I'm not in direct contact with the horse's mouth when there is leverage and it feels weird. Two rides ago I switched her back to the snaffle and again, no real big changes. I'm happy to see she responds just as well as she did before the curb. She seemed indifferent to the bits, even though they were so different.
Iseul and I randomly took a trip up to the barn yesterday. I wanted to show her the facility and after we had gotten done trimming her horse's feet, we were so close to my barn that we figured we'd just stop by.
Raina was alright to catch. A little uncertain for some reason. I looped the noseband around her nose and she started to back up. I didn't have any treats for her so this may be the reason she was more reluctant than not to be haltered. I normally don't lean on treats when it comes to training, but they entice her enough so venture forward. After a treat or two, I can halter her with no problem. Yesterday there were no treats and she harbored some resentment about that.
We brought her in without a problem and I brushed her down real fast. There was a lot going on in the arena so I noticed she was a bit antsy. Nothing big, just figiting. I hadn't brought my saddle along with me so we were just going to hop on bareback and goof around. But really, theres no "goof around" time on Raina. Every ride is a training ride. She needs to be guided and secure in every step otherwise she'll spazz.
I hopped on first and she was fine. We did some walk and trot and I showed Iseul how she pivots on her hind end. Its not a show quality spin, but I felt it was something she should learn for her possible future of team penning.
Then Iseul hopped on and Raina flipped out. Iseul tried to hop on via the bench and Raina didn't want anything to do with it. She hardly got her leg over before Raina was scooting off to the side like a reject (as though she's never been backed before) and Iseul landed on her feet. Raina and I had a short lesson (rather, a reminder) on standing still for someone to mount and how her behavior was unnacceptable. After that, she refused to step back to the bench and wouldn't step over when I asked, so I grabbed the whip. A couple taps later and she was standing where she needed to and, with one eye on me, accepted Iseul on her back.
She walked around for a little bit while someone at the barn was watering horses. She would have to step over the hose (normally not a problem) while the hose was moving across the ground. Raina spooked twice. They weren't big spooks but I can't tell you how often I've ridden her around with that hose moving about.
Iseul asked her to trot then and Raina gave her this speedy, bouncy trot with her head waving around the air like an alpaca.
I knew Raina was a bit of a pill. That's why I like her so much. She's never dull and you always have to be one step ahead of her. She had come very far with ME but I don't really let anyone else ride her to know if the training would stick with another rider.
She may just be a "one person horse". I hopped back on her and she settled back down. She attempted to spook once or twice more, but I managed to catch her quick enough to correct it and move her through it. I asked her to trot again and after a few halfhalts she came back to a nice and easy one...and even stretched down to the ground to find some type of contact. It took me a second to realize what she was doing. At first I thought she was trying to sniff at the ground as we went along, but she just wanted that contact. I haven't felt that in a horse in a long time (since I last trained) so it took me a moment to really remember lol
I haven't done contact work with her in a long time. Mainly due to the fact that we have been trail riding lately and the inside arena can get very crowded to work in through winter. The main reason I even started it was because she needed balanced and rebalanced when I first started working with her. She still needs help in the canter so I continue it there and will until she learns how to carrie herself right without help. It was very nice to see her reaching and -wanting- that contact.
On a side note, I knew this before and it really came to light yesterday as I reviewed the photos, but she is very downhill. If I were to ride her in dressage, it would be very hard and challenging for her to tuck her rearend under her and use it properly. I plan on doing some team penning though so I don't feel as though its AS important as it would be in dressage. Its still a key factor in tucking and turning though, and its something I am going to work on her again with when the inside arena is clear for work or when the outside arena dries up.
Looks like I have to correct my "puppy dog hands". Blah!
The last couple times I have seen Raina were fairly uneventful. No riding since she's been gimping. The old farrier came out to trim her hooves and it occured to me that this particular farrier didn't mix well with Raina or what I wanted in a farrier.
She was very cautious while trimming her and didn't take a whole lot of time doing it. Raina was obviously upset with her because she kept acting up. Nothing bad, but she'd pull her feet away. All in all, it was a rough job. There were pieces of sole that weren't entirely cut out (like she thought about it but decided not to, so stopped) and her hooves were chipping even before I put her back in the pasture.
The farrier said she might have an abscess so I should soak her foot. Then (since she knew Raina from before) went on to tell me that she'd never stand for a soaking, so just sit and wait.
Raina had her feet fixed the next day and she walked a lot more evenly, even though she was still limping a bit. She seemed a lot more cooperative with having her feet done and when the farrier got to her sore foot, her eyes got real wide but she didn't move an inch. She stood for her foot to be soaked (after a spook when she moved her foot and the bucket moved) and just about went to sleep.
Its been a frustrating couple days. I'm crossing my fingers that this soaking will do her some good and she does blow an abscess soon. If she doesn't, I'll have to get her checked out.
I'm glad I'm keeping this blog at least semi-updated so that on days like today, I can look back and review the progress.
Its been a slow couple months and I'm a little discouraged because we've plateaued. This is due to a couple different factors, but the main one is winter. My expectations for the winter months and what I wanted to do in them have kind of been a failure, and instead of progressing, we've just basically "sustained".
The outside arena is a lake of soupy mud. I lost two of my boots in there already. The inside arena is crowded and barely big enough for the canter work I want to do. And just when I was capable of going up to the barn more consistantly, Raina goes lame. So we've not been progressing. I read what others have written in their journals and I feel discouraged.
She still has a reputation, and I don't think that will ever change no matter how well she comes along. She'll always be viewed as the "psycho horse". When she's in tack and I'm riding her, people don't even recognize her. She stands there with her head low and people ask me if they can come over and pet her, because she used to bite/kick/rear/terrorize. She no longer does those things. I have to keep that in mind.
She has bucked in the inside arena. I kind of threw that at her before she was prepared for tight circles. She bucked a bit at first but then figured out her balance with a little help and for a while she was fine. Then she began bucking again and I believe this is reluctance to move forward due to her abscess/sore foot. So I'm not too worried about the bucking. It will subside when she feels better. I haven't ridden her for a while but I don't suspect a whole lot of trouble when she is feeling better.
I have to keep in mind that she never cantered before, and she was cantering rather smoothly before her lameness.
The farrier said she "knew this horse" and she would never stand to have her foot soaked. She stands like an angel. She stands still as a stone inside the washrack that every horse is petrified of. The BO was pleasantly surprised.
I guess Raina's motto would be something similiar to "Challenge accepted". You think she won't do something, whether its good or bad, and she accepts the challenge and does it anyways. We are a like on many different levels.
The last time I went up to treat her foot, I wove a crow feather into her mane with sinew. I also sewed a small pouch together which contained a small hunk of chrysoprase, pure tobacco and a pinch of corn meal and wove that into her mane as well. Chrysoprase is a healing stone and helps speed the healing of any wound. Some people have Jesus, I have the Earth.
I'm going back up tomorrow to do another check up and to soak her foot again. I hope she feels better soon. Not that it matters riding-wise since we can't really ride much anyways. I just want her to feel better.
And to help my spirits, I'm going to post a "before and after" of her trot
Crazy trot where she'd just run around like an alpaca
Right before she went lame. Rode her bareback on a loose rein and she stretched low to reach for the bit
Trying to stay positive...its just hard sometimes with a lot of setbacks!
The past couple days have been a mixture of relief and disappointment.
I am very bad at recalling specific days. Seriously, yesterday is nothing but a blur. But I can remember events so that's something, I guess.
Anyways, a couple days ago I went up to visit Raina. I walked/trotted her on the lungeline and she was fine. I looked for the area where an abscess might have blown out but I didn't really see an exit wound. I thought I might have seen one and was satisfied with it. It was very small and I guess I should have known better to think an abcsess hole would be as small as what I thought I saw.
Anyways, she traveled just fine so I hopped up and rode her. She went great. Walked and trotted without a problem. I asked for the canter and we cantered rather smoothly. No bucking, no fits. Just dandy. I didn't ride her for very long. Satisfied, I hopped off and put her back in the field.
The next day I went up, she was sore again. I didn't notice it at first since she wasn't limping at first. I tacked her up and walked and trotted. We cantered and she went along just fine. She is the type that if she is in any discomfort, she will kick and buck and let you know. But nothing happened at the canter.
I went to cool her down (she wasn't hot, didn't ride her for too long. I was just walking her around until her breathing returned normal) and there was her limp. It wasn't very noticable at all, but it was there. She was still tender. Rather discouraged, I put her back in the field after checking for any heat and swelling. Didn't find anything.
I went up today after looking at a purchase mare with Isuel and she was still sore. Not majorly, but if you knew her stride, you knew she wasn't feeling 100%. I walked her out of the arena and into the gravel and she gimped like an idiot, so obviously more tender on solid/rocky surfaces.
The vet is coming out in the next week and I'm going to ask him to review her. A friend of mine says I am being impatient/paranoid and that I should just toss her back in the field for 2 or 3 weeks and let her work it out on her own, whatever it is. I can't help but be pro-active though since I worry so much about what it could be. So the vet is going to check her out.
The vet came out yesterday to give another horse some shots so I hopped on board with it. Of course, I was still freaking out over navicular because that's what I do. I'm sure this board and my friends are all tired of hearing the word by now but its literally been the only thing on my mind because I fear it so much.
I went up to get Raina and she was in a following mood today, but she was following all the wrong people. She followed Shaggy, her herd leader and he decided to push the herd into a trot when I arrived. They didn't go far. When I caught up, everyone had slowed down and were milling around so Raina decided to follow the "runner" in the herd. So I pushed them for a minute before managing to separate them. She came up to me after that and I brought her down.
She was an angel for the vet. The vet had me trot her in both directions on the lunge, walk her to and away from her as well as trot her to and away. She hoof tested Raina and basically said "She's not lame". Of course she wasn't lmao. The vet palpated her knee and her shoulder and said she had some soreness in her knee. I told her that she did this to me once before. She was sound and then after a day of average work, she went off again. She said I could do one of two things. I could work her hard over the weekend to make her sore for her to check back on Monday or I could rest her and see how that goes.
I decided to rest her. The vet said she was pretty confident it wasn't navicular. She pressure tested the area on the frog where the navicular bone sits and if it was sore, it would hurt. She said it was just one test though and navicular could be tricky, but as it stood right now, she couldn't peg her as lame.
So I tossed her back up into the field and paid the vet $63 for her opinion lmao It was more or less for my peace of mind and now my friends won't have to tell me to shut up about navicular anymore.
Raina had last week off and she'll have the following week off to see how she does. The vet said that Raina had become extremely well mannered since I had her, and I beamed.
Of course when the vet went, so did Raina's patience. I have no idea what the problem was. The horses were down in the field so she could see them and Raina started swinging back and forth on the tie and screaming. I took her off and did some ground work with her. Walked/trotted her, random stops and back-ups, turns and whatnot. Her general demeaner calmed down. I put her back on the wall and she stopped swinging, but she still called.
Alahna (Iseul's mare) and Raina (in the back) hanging out after the vet
Went out to see Raina and she was sound. I trotted her both ways on the lungeline without a problem, so I figured we'd take a short trail to get her off of running in circles to see if straight lines worked out any better for her.
The wall ties were occupied so I brought her over to the tack post. Tossed the saddle pad up without a problem, which was GOOD. We've been working on standing to be tacked. I let my guard down and tried to put the saddle on her, and she sidestepped away. My saddle is about 50lbs, half my weight, so its pretty important that Raina stands. She didn't stand. BAD. She sidestepped across the arena until I managed to grab the lead and then the drama llama freaked out. I put her back in her place (figuratively and literally) and the next time I lifted the saddle, she stood for it.
She's not sore in the back, so she really had no excuse.
So out to the trail with Iseul we went. Raina never really was a leader on the trail. I can take her out alone and she'll try and turn back once or twice, but once we hit a certain point on the trail, she's fine. She certainly tested me that day though.
She tried to turn around 3 times, I think. And instead of accepting the fact when I turned her back to the trail, she thought she'd fight. The worst of it was her last "fit". She was so focused on fighting that we literally bowled into Alahna and I could feel Alahna's tie-down get caught on my knee (but luckily it slipped off without a problem). Just about had enough of it all, I reached behind me and slapped Raina on the butt and Raina immediately moved forward without a problem.
We encountered some small streams and much to my liking, Raina just walked right over them. Big improvement from the last time we saw little streams! The BEST part was when we were walking along the trail and there was a huge hump on the trail, and behind the hump was a big dip into a deep water puddle. Instead of leaping off the hump and over the water, she ducked her head, studied the puddle for a moment, and then dropped down into it. I was very proud of her.
Our trail took a lot longer than I liked because we got lost, and I never felt Raina limp once. We encountered a steep hill that I remembered. There was a bunch of white chalky substance (naturally occuring) at the top of the hill and 4 years ago, Raina wouldn't go near it. We'd run half way up the hill and she'd spin around and bolt back down to avoid the white ground. It would take me a couple tries to get her up the hill. She took the hill like a champ this time though. Didn't think twice about it, and bucked at the top like a big "Yeehaw!"
If I had remembered where we were going, I wouldn't have taken that particular trail. It had a lot of obsticals on it. We came across the old abandoned buildings with a loose tin roof that was flapping and clanging in the breeze. I'd gotten Raina past that 4 years ago but that was 4 years ago. She didn't want anything to do with it, so Alahna went first.
We also saw a quad rider who was very polite, much to my liking. When he saw us, he stopped the quad, turned around and drove off. I was certain Raina would explode but she was really good. Her ears were up and she was watching the quad intently to decide her next move, but that was it.
We finally made it back to the stables after a trial and error in finding the right path home and the rest was pretty uneventful. I lunged her to see how she was doing and she looked a little sore, but not dead lame. I spoke with the barn manager to get some ideas on where I needed to go with it.
When she's off work, she's fine. I can lunge her both directions and she doesn't show any signs of being off or lame. After I work her, she's sore again with no heat anywhere. I'm stumped. The BO said that I never ride her hard. Its not like I'm driving her into the ground. The farrier said she found no signs of lameness in her feet. The vet didn't see anything. I palpated her muscles and if she's got a sore muscle on one side, the other side is sore as well. So why is she off everytime we ride?
Ok, enough wondering. I'll pinpoint it sooner or later, whether it be with x-rays or a chiropractor.