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I had a lot of success with something called Cough Free. My Isabeau has seasonal allergies, only in spring and fall. It worked great . . . until she decided she wasn't going to eat it. She only coughed after eating in her stall, not while being ridden, so I just decided to live with the coughing. Wetting her food didn't make a difference. Still have a big tub of Cough Free in my feedroom, but I am glad I don't really HAVE to use it.

Are you able to get Cough Free where you live?
 

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I had a lot of success with something called Cough Free. My Isabeau has seasonal allergies, only in spring and fall. It worked great . . . until she decided she wasn't going to eat it. She only coughed after eating in her stall, not while being ridden, so I just decided to live with the coughing. Wetting her food didn't make a difference. Still have a big tub of Cough Free in my feedroom, but I am glad I don't really HAVE to use it.

Are you able to get Cough Free where you live?
BO uses this same product on his horse with heaves - I have never heard this horse cough. He's a reiner that kicks up a lot of dust undersaddle, and in general likes running around while in the pasture. It may be worth something looking into if you can get it in Canada!
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #363 ·
Aaaaand... we're off. And not the good kind of off. I mean we're stumbly and uneven, and I'm not sure what it is. It's the same issue that's been happening, to some degree, for the past couple of weeks now.

I rode her Saturday and she was greatly improved, but last night was... not great. There's an unevenness in her trot, and she's prone to tripping. Now, the footing last night was a bit more challenging than usual, as it had just rained a lot, which makes it heavier going. But I'd be naive to think that's all it is. She was also rushy at times during the ride, which I think is her staying more on the forehand to compensate for something being uncomfortable in her back end. I'm inclined to think either her hocks are bothering her, or her stifles. Or both.

I free lunged her briefly, after the ride, to see if I could catch it on film. She only did one tiny hind end trip (which is not in this video), but you can see here, when she kicks it up a gear, that the rhythm is a bit off and she bobs a little. On the other hand, she's very happy to go, and would have completely ignored my request for her to move out if she didn't feel up to it. If this horse doesn't want to move, believe me, she doesn't. Her canter feels fine under saddle, and again, she's quite happy to do it. All her transitions were on point last night during our ride, and she was very forward and seemed happy enough to be moving. But... sloppy.


I'm in a bit of an awkward situation right now, as I'm moving her in just over two weeks and will have different vets there -- different everything, really. So there's no point in getting my current vet involved. It's also possible that she'll work her way out of this without additional intervention. She's been great all year, other than feeling off from being body-sore when her cough was bad back in early May. My question to myself now is what to do in the meantime. I feel like, given she's still quite happy to work, continuing light work is the best move. My part boarder only rides her lightly anyhow, so if I dial back my own work on her a bit, we can keep her moving, I think, without overdoing it. If she's just stiff, then pushing through it (to a point) is better. If she's actually hurting (and she's not communicating that to me so far) then rest is better. Could be she'll be perfectly fine the next ride again, or she could be dreadful. Who knows. At 25, she's allowed to have some off days without it being cause for a meltdown on my part (or so I'm trying very hard to convince myself). Yay, horses!!! 😕
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #364 ·
Minor update: texted my coach (Elle's old owner) all worried, asking her to talk me off the ledge about this.

Coach: Well have you tried giving her a little extra Previcox for a bit to see if it helps?
Me: No. I guess that's probably more logical than panicking?
Coach: LOL.

So I guess I'll double her (very small) dose for a bit and see if that helps get her through this. She only gets 1/4 pill a day, so going up to a 1/2 pill for a couple of weeks should be safe enough.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #365 ·
Last night was kind of... neat? I decided not to ride, even though my part boarder said Elle had actually been fine the night before. No tripping, no weirdness. So that was good news. Still, I wanted to evaluate for myself, and figured movement was probably good but one less ride was probably also good, in the circumstances!!

I took Elle for a 20 minute walk before we did anything in the ring, just to get her limbered up. She does seem to really enjoy being walked like a big dog -- which is something I can look forward to, more, at the new place -- so she was engaged and following, relaxed, on a loose lead. I was able to snack on a few wild raspberries on the walk, too! For some reason, that's always so much more rewarding than just buying a carton of them, haha.

When we finally got ot the arena, after she'd been following so nicely the whole time, something really neat happened. I unclipped her and... she was hooked on to me. I had never tried "hooking on" before with her, or with any horse, nor did I try to have it happen then. It just... did. She followed me, stopped when I stopped, turned when I turned, and just stayed with me without me doing or asking anything. Normally she would have ignored me and gone to graze at the edge of the arena before I got the lunge whip and asked her to move. But last night, she was engaged and present and relaxed. I actually felt really badly having to send her out to work!!! But I did need to see her move!

This is how she looked, which is a FAR cry from how stiff and uneven she was in the video from my previous post. Phew! Not sure what made the difference, as by that point, she'd only had 1/4 extra of a previcox pill the previous evening. Really not enough to have made an impact yet on her system. But whatever the case, it was a relief to see her back to her normal self, or at least most of the way there. She wasn't super peppy, but it was quite hot out. And she was willing and didn't have any obvious trouble. She even did a good buck-fart while cantering! And didn't trip even once!


Afterwards, I took her for another walk, and decided to start the walk with no lead rope. Again, she followed me, and was more interested in being with me than doing her own thing. She followed me through a ditch and across a bunch of tasty grass, too, and didn't stop for either. She didn't start ignoring me until I had to ignore her, first, for a minute to text my coach the better news. And even then, she just stood nearby and looked at the barn -- but didn't ditch me to head back to it or anything! Very very cool.

I probably won't ride her again until she's been solidly sound for a bit longer, but hopefully this is the end of that gimpy episode. Fingers are all crossed!! At least she and I are both VERY much enjoying the walks together! 💕
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #366 ·
A tale of two horses...

Okay, it's actually all Elle, but definitely two different sides to her on the last two visits!!

Saturday night, I went out and repeated exactly what I had done on the previous visit. Long hand walk, followed by free lungeing in the outdoor arena. However... This time, once we got into the outdoor, I decided to really play more with her hooking on to me and following me. And wow, did she ever!!! She followed me through turns, stops, even over poles! And not just at a walk. She even trotted along behind me!! I was genuinely giggling with delight. I felt like Alec Ramsay playing with The Black on the beach. :love: It was such a horse movie moment, and I would never have believed it from stoic, "Are you serious?" Elle, who generally has the same vibe as Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. She did eventually get bored and start lagging and give up on following me, but I couldn't believe she did it at all, much less for as long as she did!!

I didn't make it out again until yesterday in the late afternoon/early evening. It was HOT and humid. Felt like a thunderstorm was brewing -- though it has yet to happen, to my knowledge. I used the heat and sun to my advantage, to oil my jump saddle -- which I'd intentionally let dry out for a long time as it kept molding -- but that was starting to feel like cardboard. The heat and the sunshine helped the leather soak it right in. I did the entire surface, as it hadn't been oiled in AGES, including a light pass on the seat and visible surfaces. Sometimes, you just gotta do the whole saddle!!

After oiling the saddle, I sat back and relaxed and chatted about this and that with the BO. And in amazing news, the nightmare boarder is GONE GONE GONE. Finally!!! Oh happy day!!! I'll be gone myself in a week and a half, but it's still nice to know, for everyone, that she's out of there. We came to learn that she has burned bridges all over the place, and ripped off many people -- barn owners, vets, etc.. NOT a good person.

Anyhow, back to Elle. She may have been her best Jekyll lately, but yesterday Mr. Hyde showed his ugly face! I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but Elle used to have a problem with pulling back in cross ties. I had only seen her do it once -- maybe in 2017 or 2018 -- but she'd been cross tying happily the entire time she's been at the current barn. I had eased her into it, and taken to feeding her treats, etc., to make the cross ties a relaxed and pleasant place for her. Weeeeeeeelll...

It was super hot yesterday, so I decided I'd just put the bareback pad on her and hop on her for a relaxed little wander at a walk. Didn't groom or anything as she was relatively clean. Just popped her in the cross ties, grabbed the bareback pad, BARELY started to cinch it up, and I see her head fly up, and next thing I know, EXPLODING HORSE!! She had set right back in the cross ties!! Broke her halter, spun around, and trotted out the back door through the indoor arena going NOPE NOPE NOPE all the way out to the driveway. It was scary for just a split second, but then almost comical as she did her huffy little trot outside, naked except for her royal blue bareback pad. Caught her easily, thankfully, now having to resort to a rope halter because she had broken a DIFFERENT halter last week by stepping on her lead. Oy. Brought her back into the same spot in the aisle, and she was all pointed ears and dragon snorts at something ahead of her. The culprit? An oscillating fan, about 40 feet away, that she had already walked past a million times. I guess it being backlit in the dark aisle, in silhouette, and having the nerve to MOVE BY ITSELF was too much for her and had worked her up, and then the feeling of the girth, while she was distracted by it, had put her over the top. I assume. Sigh.

Now, one thing about Elle: great horse. Typically pretty unflappable. The other night I was hand-walking her on the shoulder of a small highway that runs past the barn, when a huge lumber truck went WHOOSHING by from behind us. She startled a little, but just a few steps and was back to business as usual. Would have probably been a sittable spook. Things that should LOGICALLY spook a horse rarely rattle her much. No no, it's always something either completely invisible or TOTALLY STUPID when the big spooks happen. Fortunately, they're rare to the point of only happening about once a year!!

I got her bridled and did hop on her bareback, having taken her outside first and given her some time to calm down. But despite this, we were both too "up" to do that safely. I rode her at a walk, up and down the short main driveway a couple of times, but she did the laser ears at a random bush we would have had to walk by, and despite having her relax and try again, she did a pre-spook body twitch that I did NOT like when we tried it again. Hopped off and decided to live to ride another day.

Horses, man. 🤷‍♀️
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #367 ·
Finally had a proper-ish ride for the first time in a week and a half! Happy to report that Elle was herself again, in pretty well every respect. Relaxed in the aisle, in the cross-ties. So relaxed she looked half asleep, and I swear she was smiling! Ha. I still kept the chin undone on the (BRAND NEW!) halter just in case, but she was happy happy happy.

Ride was short, as I didn't have a ton of time before work, but she felt really good both directions. No tripping, other than her occasional mild lazy-hind-leg stumble that she sometimes does before she's fully warmed up. Only one cough. Good energy. Canter felt really lovely! No unevenness in trot. And she seemed to take zero issue with being barefoot again. Hooray!! I would have loved to have made it a longer ride, but it was a good check-in. Even collected up her canter a bit and got one really gorgeously smooth flying change!

After the ride, I took my loop knife out and cleaned her frogs up a bunch. This is NOT something I should have to do just three days after the farrier was there, grrr. I really hope the farrier at the new place is an improvement on this guy. He's not so bad that he's actually messing up her feet by any means -- he's just not very thorough. While it's mostly a really REALLY good thing that he barely touches the soles and frogs, sometimes they at least need a little maintenance. Yeesh. At least one of the barn dogs had a snack, haha.

I also am hopeful that her elbow that's been chronically crusty for a couple months now will finally get a chance to heal up. I think pressure from the shoe, when she lies down, caused it. It's not a traditional shoe boil though -- just crusty skin. I've been hitting it with some Sole Cleanse spray to wash it (just mild zinc and eucalyptus solution, worked well on her scratches), letting it dry, and smothering it in diaper rash cream, then fly spraying well around it. It at least doesn't seem to be hurting her. But would be nice to finally heal it up!
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #368 ·
Wellp, she did it again. Another pull-back. I don't think this one was an "honest" one like the previous one -- I think this was her deciding, after last time, that this (previously common for her) move belongs back in her repertoire.

However.

This one had a few interesting factors. One, is that I arrived to the sight of a lounge chair stacked on top of a kid's bed, being stored IN the CROSS TIE area. I sighed, took a picture of it to have yet another reminder of why I'm moving at the end of this month (like I really needed another reminder), then scooched it as far back as I could out of the way. It wound up being backed right up to the door to the indoor arena. Two, is that it happened, again, while I was doing the girth up on Elle. Three, is that I had the chin strap undone on her halter this time, so she just pulled loose -- and then the stupid bed thing blocked her from making an exit out the indoor arena door again, this time with my GOOD saddle in place, so I guess that was a plus. Four, is that she's apparently very much in heat right now, which always makes her a little more reactive. Five, is that she did NOT do this the other day when I got her ready. She was perfectly relaxed the whole time.

Is she suddenly ulcery? Probably not. I think it's a combination of her being in heat, and having rediscovered the effectiveness of the pull-back. But, being a good owner and willing to do my due diligence, I have now just spent $100 on a rush order of Mad Barn's Visceral supplement, which has an excellent reputation for preventing/managing/treating ulcers. I had already been considering putting her on it for a month or so to help manage her stress and gut health during the move, so this sudden extreme reaction to having the girth done up was the final push. Again, I think it's in-heat-related and/or behavioural. But hey, no harm (except to my wallet) in some digestive support for a while!

The ride afterwards was completely unremarkable, except that I felt tense because of the pull-back that preceded it, so I didn't feel as confident and relaxed as I have lately. She didn't actually do a single thing wrong, though! I even lunged her before riding, just to make sure she wasn't experiencing any observable discomfort, and she was as relaxed as could be. Not a horse communicating pain at all. She was happy and forward under saddle, and none of her coughing or tripping or unevenness that she had been experiencing returned at all. She felt great!

Again, I say... horses, man! Just looking forward to our fresh start in August!!!
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #369 ·
Well, there has been a LOT going on since the last update!! The move went ahead, and went quite smoothly. I have a whole separate thread on it, complete with pictures of the new facility, and some descriptions of my first couple visits, here:


I had my first ride on her there on Thursday night, although I picked one heck of a night to try it, as there were more lessons going on than usual, and people getting ready for showing this weekend. Still, I managed just fine. Tacked Elle up in her stall to keep things simple, and since the outdoor arena was busy, I just rode her in the quiet, shady indoor. She was actually pretty perfect in there for her first ride in it! Fairly calm. Looked around a bit -- of course -- but didn't have any kind of startle reactions. I only rode for 20 minutes, but did some walk, trot, and just a couple circles of canter. The only time she got really distracted was when kids on three ponies rode by outside. But even then, it was more of a "ooh what's that about" than a "they might kill me, mom!"

The tack room is tight, so when you have a lot of people trying to move around it gets a little silly. And I smashed my head pretty hard on the open door of the locker above mine, owwww. But other than that, I managed fine! Just going to be an adjustment. I also met a few of the people there, including two really nice 8 and 9 year old girls. They came over and met Elle and gave her treats. There's quite a range of age and skill levels!

Last night I went out again, and it was a complete contrast. NO ONE was there, haha. It was actually a bit of a relief to know it's not ALWAYS super busy. I suspect somewhere in the middle will be the average experience! It was HOT and they were inside. Elle was grumpy, and had eaten most of her hay, but was ignoring the last bits. She wasn't out of hay by any means, but just seemed to be in a bit of a mood. Not surprising in the heat. It was around 30 Celsius (86 F) and humid, so I didn't intend to do much during our ride. Figured we could just have a relaxed little ride in the -- surprisingly cool and pleasant -- indoor, in the shade. I tacked her up in the aisle for the first time there, but didn't use the cross ties, given our recent misadventures with them. I just passed her lead rope through the bar of a nearby stall to give her the illusion of being tied, which usually works.

However, she was a bit antsy and just kept creeping forward. She was intent on going nose to nose with the mare in the stall ahead of us -- who wanted NONE of it. There was much ear pinning, squealing, and stamping, all from the other mare, while Elle was like "oh hi, tell me more." Meanwhile the old gelding in the stall next to her seems quite taken with her, and they have NO drama. But did she want to stay put and get nose-to-nose with him?? Nooooo.

The ride started out great, but I could tell leading Elle to the indoor that she was kind of wired. I would have thought the heat would have the opposite effect, but who knows. She's still settling in, getting used to having grain again instead of just a balancer (though if she ends up too hot on it in the long run, I'll ask them to cut back). She's also back on the prednisolone, and has been for a while now, and it did make her more forward (probably from feeling so good!) last time. Plus she hasn't been worked all week, really. Suffice to say, she had lots of good reasons for having lots of energy. And she did!!

My plan had been to have a sedate ride in the indoor, and then head out from there at a walk and ride around outside a bit to explore. However, it was not to be. The ride was fine -- Elle was very good. She had radar ears a few times, but never felt actually tense. Just forward. We did a good ten minutes of walk warm-up just getting comfortable in the space, although she seemed fine about that. We picked up trot and did some poles, and I worked on moving her out and collecting her back up. I did a full lap or two of canter on the right lead, but she started getting a bit hot and harder to keep organized than usual. Left lead canter she was a little strung out and tripped on our first attempt, then did some better work after. While she never actually put a foot wrong, really, I could tell she just needed to GO and I didn't want to have to do that with her carrying my butt along for the ride, on such a hot day. So I lunged her and she cantered and cantered and cantered. She did some head tossing and I could tell she probably had a good buck-fart or several in there, waiting to be set free, but I even though I egged her on she wouldn't do it. Haha.

After all that, she was pretty sweaty, so I used the wash stall there for the first time and hosed her off well. It was so nice to be able to control the temperature -- and to contain the horse!! I also hosed off her girth and her bit. We went for a walk-and-graze to dry her off and cool her out, and let her have a drink, and she was still really energetic. Again, not spooky, but spicy. After some exploring I put her away, cleaned some tack and did some organizing, then took her out for more hand-grazing and walking before I left. It was getting dark by then, but she was still a bit amped up. I trotted her in hand up and down the driveway a few times, as she just seemed to have a lot of spice still.

Hopefully she'll chill out a bit soon as she adjusts. This has been a BIG change for her, and as I said above, less exercise right now, concentrates in her feed, steroids for her lungs, and just a lot going on. All in all though, I'm still THRILLED with the move, and if things need to be adjusted a little after some settling in time, that's completely doable. I'm just so happy to see her have more daylight and some real BEDDING in her stall. Sigh! :)
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #370 ·
Well, yesterday was, uh... interesting! The short of it is that Elle is still being a bit of a nutter, moreso than she should be after a week and a half to settle in, so they're going to try cutting the Purina Senior she gets in half, and giving her more roughage. I'm still giving her a half ration of her Amino Trace+, so she should still be getting her complete vitamins and minerals on half the senior feed too.

It's funny because they don't know her, right? So they're like "oh she's been fine" but fine is relative, and I can look at her and tell she's way more amped than she should be!

I brought her in and tacked her up in the wash stall (which is perfect for cross tying her because she can't pull back in there) and she was a bit wiggly and high-headed. VERY into getting cookies, at least, haha. Then I led her out to the outdoor arena to try her there for the first time, and she was basically a giraffe. I tried several times to line her up at the mounting block, and while she WAS standing still... she was so distracted by some geldings in the paddock across the way that I think she forgot I existed. And I'm not about to swing a leg over a horse who is THAT distracted. Luckily there's always a lunge line out there, it seems, so I grabbed one and spent about ten minutes getting her warmed up and focusing a little better. After that, she STILL wanted to stand like a giraffe and stare at the boys, so I turned her a different direction on the block, flexed her head and neck a bunch, and basically annoyed her into paying attention to me.

Once I was on, we did about 20 minutes of just walk around the outdoor. It was a pretty tense giraffe walk. Lots of high head, snorting at things, and radar ears. VERY VERY out of character for her. Even when she's just taken off-property for ONE day, she's never that silly and distracted. But here we were on day nine!!

Despite all this, she didn't really put a foot wrong. She startled slightly at a small puddle on the ground, and looked askance at a patch of flowers growing near the gate, but again, she didn't DO anything. Still, it's no fun riding a horse who is super wound up and close to threshold. Normally beginners can handle her, and she was not in that state yesterday. Still, I was proud of myself for persevering with her. I kept a few fingers on my grab strap -- more for my own peace of mind than anything -- and just stayed calm and stayed at a walk for however long it would take her to focus and calm down.

Eventually her head carriage got a bit less silly, and her radar ears were only happening when we were facing certain direction. I got her onto a trot circle, and she settled in quickly, and stopped being a giraffe so much and actually went REALLY low with her head and neck. It was funny at first because she was stretching and rounding on about 3/4 of the circle but she'd pop back into giraffe mode when we came around facing the boys. Once we got that circle working both ways -- relaxed all the way around -- I expanded our trot circle to include most of the ring, and take us over some trot poles, and she felt great. She REALLY wanted to round and stretch right down, which was fine by me!! It was a good sign, and if that's how she needed to move to be happy and relaxed, great!!!

We finished by walking some full laps of the ring, by which time she was in a fairly neutral head carriage, only a LITTLE looky at the gelding paddock, and able to walk past the puddles and plants without caring, haha. Eventually she got a little bored with this though, and got perky and looky again, so I waited for a moment of relaxation to hop off and end things on a good note before she decided to be amped up again.

After untacking her, I walked her over by the paddock where the geldings are, and were some moms and babies are too, but she was NOT interested in them. Just wanted to walk all over and grab at some grass.

And then when I led her back out to her paddock, she was barging ahead of me and being a twit, so I had to do some corrections with her before turning her out and it was a bit silly and messy.

I'm confident she'll chill out eventually between settling in some, getting used to the new feed, and also having some of that feed reduced. A lot of her energy seems to be positive energy and not negative. She's very interested in EVERYTHING and doesn't seem fearful. But... whew... it's a bit much. At least it's a reminder to appreciate her usual calm self all the more, heh.

And one lovely thing: her bed sores are already almost healed up. Amazing what ADEQUATE BEDDING can do for an old girl, right? Sigh!!!
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Discussion Starter · #372 ·
I wonder how much of her heat has to do with not having the extra riding of the lease girl too.
Could be! She's always been one of those same-no-matter-what horses, though, to at least some degree. Hasn't been noticeably different even when one of us has been away for a couple of weeks or something. Still, in this situation, it is probably contributing, and more frequent work might have helped her settle in faster.

It's nice to know she can still be feeling herself at 25, haha, but I certainly look forward to getting my somewhat-zen old lady back!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #373 ·
Well, I have good news! I rode Elle last night and she was... normal!!!! They reduced her Purina Senior to a half ration as of Tuesday night and, I guess between that and a little more settling in time, she was herself again.

How normal was she? We rode outside, during a jump lesson. There was a bleacher full of people beside the arena, who were kind of hidden by a tree. There was a woman in a blanket, in a wheelchair, watching from another side, while a kid with a walker played on the ground beside her with a big Tonka truck. There were three Jack Russell terriers hanging around. There was a small child on a pony, but also, a girl on a spicy OTTB jumping a 3' course right beside us for the entire ride. And Elle was her old, chill self. The only thing that got her for a second was when a dog sneezed beside her, and she took ONE faster step!! We did lots of walk and trot, and only a little bit of canter because she decided steering was optional at the canter. So, a little ways to go, still, but about an 80% improvement from her silly self the other day. I'm sure we'll be rockin' soon!!

Ahhhhh, what a relief!!!

Things did actually go a bit wrong later... but through no fault of Elle's. When the lesson was over, we followed the girl on the OTTB -- who is a FANTASTIC rider, and a really nice and lovely person -- on a walk hack around the place. Unfortunately, her boy took MAJOR exception to a tractor being parked a ways ahead on the lane we were going to ride up, and he did a big spin-and-bolt which of course became a compound spook and Elle did a smaller version of the same. Fortunately I had my hand on the grab strap (love that thing) as soon as I saw her guy get weird. And while it felt big for me at the time, I'm not sure Elle actually went faster than a trot during her "bolt." Ha! So we were fine. The other girl stayed on too, because apparently her butt is made of velcro! Elle had a bit of trouble relaxing on our ride after THAT, but fair enough. When, farther along, she got looky about a group of people and didn't want to listen to my rein aids, I opted to just hop off instead of riding her through it. Would she have been fine? Meh, probably. But there was zero reason to push it. She had already been a very good girl!! We'll get there.

Today she will have been trimmed by the farrier there, so I'm looking forward to seeing his work. She was actually only done about three or four weeks ago, but her feet have been chipping badly where the nail holes were -- and growing like weeds. Her frogs are also so ready to shed that the points of them are wiggly, heh. I was tempted to trim those frogs myself but I want to see what this guy does with them. I didn't love my previous farrier, so I hope this new guy is good!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #374 · (Edited)
Ahhhh, where were we! I had a bit of a crazy week, but got a few rides in there between my last post and now. In fact, four rides! I won't go into heavy detail on them, but here's a little recap:

Saturday evening: I rode Elle in the outdoor arena, for I think the third time since we've been there. Another girl (the one with the OTTB who spooked last time) was out there with me. Unfortunately it was not as relaxed a ride as the previous one, as there was a LOUD WEDDING right next door. The OTTB was completely calm about it. But. Elle was distracted by it, but worse, I was distracted by it, and distracted by her being distracted by it. We just did a walk-trot ride, but it was pretty unfocused and crummy. Also I was, ahem, mildly hungover from Friday and just did not have the energy to make it a good ride. But nothing bad actually happened. Still, Elle and I were just in our heads in an unproductive way.

Monday evening: I rode Elle in the indoor arena, as it was nice and quiet, and no heat and no bugs in there. I'm happy to report that she doesn't seem to have a "spooky corner" in this arena AT ALL, so far, which is remarkable for any horse in an indoor arena! Everything went great, walk trot canter, untiiiiil... we did some left lead canter, and she started jerking on the reins and tossing her head. I tried to work her through it, but it became obvious that the best thing I could do for her would be to hop off and let her have a little run and maybe a buck, as I think she was trying to work something out. And, bless her, she will NOT buck under saddle!!! Once she was on the lunge, she actually only did ONE buck, but did she did keep rooting a bit at the reins. So at least I knew it wasn't my contact causing it. I decided, seeing her zipping around on the lunge, that maybe she needed to be ACTUALLY TIRED OUT for the first time since we'd been there. So I sent her into lots of very forward canter, both directions, before bringing her back to a trot where she showed a little tiredness finally. Then we called it a day.

Wednesday afternoon: We used the indoor again. A load of hay was being tossed in at one end, and as they were backlit by the entrance and the arena was pretty dark, I knew Elle would need to have a good look at it before she'd be okay about it. High-contrast lighting situations confuse her sometimes -- even if what was happening wouldn't have actually bothered her otherwise. She stared and snorted a little, but settled down a bit. I lunged her a little at that end, too, and she was fine about it. It was clear when I lunged, though, that she was really feeling the workout from Monday evening. She was poky and stiff. So I got on and just rode her walk and trot, and focused on just limbering her up. She did shy very slightly once in one corner, but I think a very bright spot of sun caused it. Her stiffness was much better by the end. Afterwards, I untacked her and hand-walked her up the paved road beside the barn, quite a ways, and she was moving very forward and freely. She saw two or three black angus cattle across the road, that must have been at least 200 feet away, and stood and STARED at them. Note to self: get her used to cows before hacking around there!! I see more hand-walks up that road in our very near future!

This morning: I had a lesson with my coach (Elle's old owner) and it was a good breakthrough!! We rode outside, since she's had more trouble focusing out there, to see how she went. She was a total pill to lead out there, and then was tossing her head and walking quickly as soon as I got on. But we channeled that energy in a positive direction and just worked on keeping her focused and doing lots of bending. My coach was actually THRILLED with how much energy she has. She said this is what she SHOULD be like, not the poky version I'm used to. And we really did get some lovely work from her! She started rounding really nicely, and really moving out. And her canter, once we got to it, was really round and energetic and lovely to sit to. Quite a pleasure! It was a little faster than I'm used to, but again, in a good way. She tends to labouriously gallumph instead of doing a nice round movement with some lift. Today the energy in it was great! We even did a flying change that was nice and smooth instead of her usual forehand dive.

Speaking of lift, she was in heat today, and had some runny poops and a lot of gas... and every time she was working well and lifting her back, the FARTS that were coming out of her. It was pretty hilarious. She was engaging her tummy muscles, which was great, but it was squeezing them out. Too funny. On the plus side, no tripping at all, and no coughing at all. Just... farts. So many farts.

Anyhow, my coach's assessment: she's not being "crazy" at all. She just feels REALLY GOOD and I should enjoy my newly enthusiastic horse. I just need help channeling it. LOL. It's a relief!!!

After the lesson, I hosed her off and took her for a walk. We explored the back hay fields, which they have just mowed, and they are huge and GLORIOUS. We're able to ride on them, so once we're confident to do so, that's something wonderful to look forward to!

I also figured out how to deal with her new tendency to barge ahead while being led. Instead of yanking on her or admonishing her, I just... send her around me. She wants to cut in front? Cool, she can carry on to the left in a big circle and yield her hindquarters, and end up back where she SHOULD be. After about 5-10 minutes of doing this every time she got ahead of me, she was paying VERY close attention to my speed, slowing down to match me without me even touching the lead or having to do a thing. A very good use of the "this will not profit you" principle of training, I think!!

Anyhow, feeling much MUCH better about things. Also, my coach says Elle seems to have filled out a bit since the move (in a good way!) and that she was moving GREAT today. Looked like a 10 year old, not a 25 year old. Fingers crossed that she just keeps on being Benjamin Button for me!!

A couple nice recent shots: one from the distracting wedding night, and one from today in the hay field. She does look GOOD! 😍

Horse Sky Cloud Plant Eye


Horse Sky Ecoregion Plant Working animal
 

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Been out a few times since my last update! Still very happy with the new place. Elle continues to settle in nicely.

Last Saturday, we had a relaxed ride in the indoor. I don't remember much about the ride; only that it went smoothly. She didn't care at all about anything else going on. There was a pony rider in there doing circles and laps of canter. Elle didn't bat an eye. Didn't care about the open doorways, either -- of which there are three -- and was just a good, reliable professional, like I'm used to. I think it was this ride that I actually rode her out through one of the doorways! She was hesitant at first, but did it. It's tricky because I do have to duck a little to get through, so between the change in lighting, my shift in posture, and the fact that there's a small slope to the outside, it's a bit confusing for her. Once we got out, she was a bit looky -- as there was, again, a party happening at a neighbouring property. But this time on the other side. I stopped the ride there and hopped off. One little stretch of the comfort zone at a time!

Wednesday I rode her in the outdoor, and while she's still a little more nervous out there than she is in the indoor, it's much, much better. I even mounted her at the block that's right outside the barn, and rode her into the outdoor arena from there. A few little things made her react, that normally probably wouldn't, but she's probably about 80% better than she was her first couple of weeks there. She looked askance at a planter under a tree, and also picked up speed a little when some kids who were playing got loud. I've learned from this, and the wedding, that she's not fond of shrieking, haha. Who is?? I didn't have as much trouble getting her focus this time in the outdoor, and afterwards, I thought I'd try hacking her up the little path at the back of the property. We've been back there a TON for hand walks and grazing, so I thought it would be fine, but she was having none of it. She balked in the same spot where the compound spook with the OTTB had happened a week and a half earlier, though whether or not that was related, who knows. It was clearly going to be a losing battle, and I didn't want her to spin with me or pitch a fit, so I got her calmed down and hopped off, and then I just hand walked her back and forth and back and forth and back and forth... dozens of times... through that area.

Last night I went out again. It was a nice night, but the outdoor arena was pretty soaked from some recent heavy rains. There were a LOT of people around, but my timing actually worked out well. I tacked Elle up in her stall, took her out for hand-walking for quite a while first, and by the time I came back to the barn, the last person who had been using the indoor was just finishing up. So I had it all to myself. She was, once again, pretty perfect in the indoor. She didn't startle at anything. At one point a cat walked through one of the doorways, but she only looked at it. I took us down from a canter to a walk when I noticed the cat, but I think she would probably have just gone on by. Once again, proving to myself that I tend to be spookier than she is, haha. I do need to do more cantering to build my stamina back up -- in some ways I haven't gotten my riding fitness all the way back from riding so little last winter -- but over all I'm feeling pretty good. I'm sure I'll feel even better as Elle and I both relax more into the new space and develop a good routine. I did briefly consider riding her out of that side door again, but there were big puddles out there, and she was a bit resistant to the idea, so I just decided not to push things and hop off on a good note. After that, we did lots more hand-walking, including going up and down that path again, culminating in a nice long grazing break in the back field. I am determined to get us comfortably hacking out there!! So I will do whatever it takes to make it a place she WANTS to be!

Horse Cloud Plant Sky Tree
 

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Discussion Starter · #378 ·
Yesterday was... neat!! A mix of good and bad, but the bad was more silly than actually bad. Over all, Elle still gets a gold star and an A+. I get... a B+ only because I was a little greedy, haha.

I go out to the barn around 4:30pm, and Elle was already inside, and quite clean, so tacking up was quick and easy. It was one of those hot, sunny, lazy kinds of days, and the barn was super quiet, so... perfect time to try solo hacking again!! I didn't beat around the bush at all (though that's kind of literally what we did do, ha) and just hopped on right outside the barn, and rode her straight out to the back.

Where we ran into trouble the last time was where you turn to the right, off the main track back to the paddock, and take a narrow-ish roadway with paddocks on one side and trees lining the other. That goes on for maybe 100-150 feet, and then there's a big grassy field where they grow their hay. Elle was slightly nervous about going up the path, but really didn't put up any resistance and we made it back to the field without complications. Once we were out of that laneway and in the big field, she was more relaxed. We just sort of meandered a bit, and did what I think of as "slalom walking" where we just sort of head vaguely in a direction, but doing big curves in alternating directions on the way there. It keeps bend in their body, and keeps them focused and relaxed, instead of walking in a straight line which can lead to them being more tense and fixated. I also talked and sang to her a lot, and gave her lots of pats.

Once we had that field pretty much aced, we kept on towards field #2, which requires riding through a short, shady path at one corner of the field, with horses sometimes on the other side of a fence there. Slightly more challenging than the field! For the approach, I again went up to it on a diagonal, and let her stop and think while not pointing right at it, to relax and assess, and then we rode through. She perked up going through it, but she seemed more interested than frightened. So, hooray!! Another win!

Sky Cloud Horse Plant Green


We did more slow exploring back there, keeping up the slalom walking, and I did something that would HORRIFY my coach. I let her graze!! With her bridle on!! And with me on board!!! GASP!! I figured it was a small evil in the name of the greater good, LOL. Serves a number of purposes:
-reward
-positive association with the place
-chewing, lowered head and neck posture, stretch over topline = encouraging relaxation

She was very funny after the first one or two times, because she is NOT used to being allowed to do that. So she was walking VERY SLOWLY, I think hoping I'd let her do it again before I came back to my senses. After more grazing/walking though, a little of the novelty wore off and she was more forward.

We wound up going back and forth through that shady path between fields a couple of times, just to get good with it, and then rode around the first field again, having a look at some old cross country jumps at the edge of it. We could hear a helicopter go by overhead at one point, and some other vehicle noises nearby, but I was more worried that she would react than she was. She listened, but didn't care that much.

So over all, she was fabulous. Much better than I expected!!

Aaaand I probably should have ended things there because she had been an angel. But.

It was a gorgeous day, she was now VERY well warmed up and still had lots of energy, so I rode her into the outdoor arena and did maybe 20 minutes of work in there. She was fine for walk and trot, but bargey and heavy and silly about the canter. I had to use a LOT of hand to slow her down, which isn't usually necessary, and which I don't like to do. But she was being rude. I eventually got her settled and got a half circle of nice canter and then called a stop to the ring work.

After that, I thought I'd see how far I could ride her at a walk in the other direction -- which didn't end up being far. Whether she found the other direction more upsetting, or she just was DONE (I think the latter) she was anxious and distracted and didn't want to go forward. So I got her settled and hopped off. I could tell she was annoyed at that point, as I could her hear grinding her teeth -- either that or she was just chewing her grass loudly. Maybe both! I then untacked her, hosed her down, took her for a walk and a bit of grazing, and then put her away and cleaned my tack and boots before heading home.

All in all, success!! And I'll try to be a little more respectful of her mental limits next time. But it's still sooooo nice and such a relief that she's mostly settling in and calming down. And who doesn't dream of riding their horse out in a big gorgeous field on a sunny day?? I'll definitely keep that memory close at hand in the depths of the coming winter!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #379 ·
I'm currently in the home stretch of my 7 days a week, no actual days off pretty much ever, summer schedule. This coming Tuesday is the first day the store will be closed since... early June, ugh. I did get a whole three days of over that stretch, wooooo, when my partner took the store and I got to go take a breather. But three days off over the course of almost three months is...... not much. Sigh.

And yet somehow, I've still fit in the horse-ing that I can. I feel a bit bad lately that Elle isn't getting worked as much as she's used to. Not that she minds, probably!! But I'll be able to do more with her soon. I haven't found a part boarder yet, but I'm not in such a hurry that I can't just wait for something to happen organically or by word of mouth. I've made it clear to my previous part boarder that she's welcome to come ride and visit now that Elle has settled in, but she has yet to take me up on it. I'm sure she will at some point.

I went out to see her last night. My stomach had been doing somersaults all day so I wasn't super keen to actually ride, but I hadn't been out since Sunday night and presumably she's been basically a potato since then, so she definitely needed a workout. My intention of not riding turned out to be just as well, as she had some big, angry, itchy, swollen bug bites right in her saddle area. The plus side to these bug bites was that I got to see her get REALLY INTO some scratches. Stretching her neck waaaaay out, rubbing her lips against the wall and the bars on the window in her stall. She was even sort of chewing at them. She's not a mouthy horse at all, so this was pretty funny! She's been so robotic for so long that any time I can get a not-a-robot response, it's so lovely! She's been getting better over the last few years with expressing herself, at least.

I still saddled, her though, as I wanted to lunge her with some elastic side reins, and haven't brought my surcingle to the barn yet. I started out hand walking her a bit, then lungeing her in the indoor arena. We warmed up without the reins, and then I popped them on to do some more structured work. She is NOT a fan of them, but they do help her use herself more effectively, instead of just slopping along on the forehand. The style I use is a "neck stretcher" (hate the name, it makes NO sense) that goes over the poll, through the bit rings, and clips off to somewhere on the surcingle or saddle. I just had them clipped to the girth buckles, but as I had her in the dressage saddle, that was pretty low. I might try the jump saddle next time, so I can clip a little higher. See if that helps her step under a little better. I did probably ten minutes at most with that get-up on, as I don't want to overdo it. She then got to stretch right out without them, after, in all gaits too.

She seems very comfortable in the indoor there. Actually more comfortable than in the outdoor, still, which is odd for her as it was the opposite at our previous barn. She did spook once during lungeing, when someone walked in the big end doorway and was backlit, making a silhouette. It wasn't a HUGE spook though, and probably would have been less of one under saddle. One hopes. It was also VERY windy, so that always does make them a little jumpier. In fact, a rider who was in there before me had just fallen of from the horse spooking at the noise the wind was making. She was fine and got back on and finished, so she wasn't too rattled, at least.

After the lunge, I took Elle for a walk to the back fields. It was more of a graze than a walk, frustratingly, but the fields were FULL of clumps of new alfalfa that had sprouted up since the hay was mowed and collected a couple weeks ago. It was like trying to make me walk past an all you can eat lobster buffet, I imagine. So there was a lot of grazing. She was a bit silly and rushy on the walk back, but I did my best to make her wait. I like to find ways that aren't confrontational, but those weren't working so I eventually just popped her in the chest when the lead rope when she tried to get ahead of me, and she actually listened better after that.

Since she had some quirky energy, and the outdoor arena was empty, I decided to just let her loose in there just see what she did. Well, what she did was trot over to the gate and look expectantly at the barn, ha. So I grabbed her halter and just pointed her away from there, and walked and ran at liberty with her a bit. With mixed results. We had a few fun moments where I was really running, and she was right alongside me, doing funny little excited head tosses. Buuuuut she kept heading back to the gate, so I gave in and brought her back inside.

She got a good grooming, and I peeled her chestnuts and ergots. I also now have a little surform pocket plane, which it like a little handheld rasp. It's been perfect for cleaning up little chips now that she's barefoot and is growing out her nail holes. Nice to be able to do little touch ups between trims!! The horses are all starting to grow their winter coats though, alas, so that's always a little depressing. Soon I'll have to dig out all her blankets and hose them down, and take some to the laundromat. Ughhhh, the woooooorst. Fall is gorgeous here, but I am NOT looking forward to our inevitably crappy winter!!!
 

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Morning! Didn't mean to go so long between entries, and unfortunately my last few outings are all a bit blurred now! I've been out... four times since then? Maybe four?

Last Sunday night I was exhausted when I got to the barn, and wasn't feeling like riding, buuuut I had new reins I was dying to try out!! I'm glad I did ride, actually, because it was a lovely, relaxed ride in the indoor, and Elle was suuuuuper chill. A perfect saint. Her default mode was her best imitation of a western pleasure horse! The reins were lovely, too. All-leather but with stoppers INSIDE the leather. Nice and squishy and comfortable (and easy) to hold, but I can still feel for evenness. And a DREAM to clean because I don't have to work around anything. While I didn't hate riding with my previous web reins, they were basically impossible to clean. And they have built-in sliding martingale stoppers that I didn't need, and that just always got in the way.

Then on a Tuesday outing, I tried some hand-walking up the road a little ways, but she seemed to find that very upsetting. I think a lot of it has to do with the cows that are a little ways down and across the road. If she were in a calm mood to start with I don't think she'd be very bothered by them, but because she's already a bit upset at being led away from the property, they're just the icing on the cake. Lots of staring and snorting, and me needing to send her in far too many circles to keep her focused. She also jiggy jogged and did THE LOUDEST snorts I've ever heard from her, on our way back. Once we returned, I learned that a dog had been hit and killed on the road in front of the barn just minutes before I had arrived, so I'm sure the scent and the "vibe" out on the roadway weren't helping. Note how she was too distracted by WHATEVER, here, to put her tongue back in. Sigh. Weirdo.

Horse Head Sky Cloud Eye


I decided I probably didn't want to ride her while she was like that, so I popped lungeing gear on her and took her into the indoor arena. She was a perfect saint in there once again, so that was nice! She really does seem to love that indoor. Even with the lowering sun cutting in at harsh angles through the windows, she was relaxed and listening. I put her in her surcingle -- for which I now have a girth extension and a nice fluffy pad. The pad is kind of hilarious because it has wide red and white horizontal stripes. When I added the bungee side reins, and she arched her neck into the contact, she looked like a circus pony! Wish I had taken pictures. I think lungeing her in this get-up at least once a week will help her use herself and step under more in transitions. Because she's long through her back and neck, she tends to get sloppy and just sort of paddle along with her back legs. Engaging herself is HARD, you guys!

The other night, I rode her in the outdoor, but it was during a lesson, so we were a little limited on what we could do. It was fine though -- she just needs some time and miles in that outdoor to make it be okay. She's already a LOT better than those first snorty, tense, distracted rides!! Unfortunately there were two huge tractors and trailers going back and forth over and over again, hauling manure out of the paddocks. I mean, great that this was happening, but unfortunate timing. Elle, bless her, didn't seem to mind after doing one initial startle at the beginning. (She "took off" with me by trotting without being asked, LOL.) I did sit out, though, when everyone cantered. Even though she looked lazy and calm, though, I could feel that she wasn't completely okay with everything, which was proven at the end when a truck and horse trailer came in and she refused to stand still and started backing up and wiggling all over the place. I hopped off because I didn't want us to collide with the person trying to jump a course. Then I hand-walked her, after, behind the other two riders on their short cooling-out hack around the property. All in all, though, it was her most relaxed ride in the outdoor to date -- which is saying something, with those tractors!!!

Last night I went out again. No lesson this time, so I had the arena to myself. Buuuut there were still tractors going, and random gusts of wind were making the bushes shake and rattle on one long side of the arena. Now, here is the funny thing about "trigger stacking." Elle only did a couple little flinches at the tractor noises, but was otherwise pretty indifferent to them. And normally wind doesn't bother her AT ALL -- which I have to say is pretty great. But because of the tractors... which didn't seem to bother her... the wind was upsetting. Yeah, odd, but there's always SOME logic to these things, and that's what I could glean. So we just did a walk-trot ride, and mostly steered clear of that side of the arena. The couple of times I tried to ride her on even a little bit of the track there, she got the radar ears and I could feel her hollow her back and suck back. So I did not push it. Partly because I'm a wimp, and partly because I don't want her to feel forced into a fearful situation there and then associate that side of the track with a problem, in a lingering way. I think part of the way that horses end up with "the spooky corner" in arenas is by being forced into them over and over instead of being given a chance to process their initial nervousness. And then the damage is done and there's no fixing it. Just a theory, but I feel good about my wimpy approach, and think it will be best in the long run.

I hopped off and lunged her a bit, just in the outdoor with no special gear, to work her at a canter too. She was doing her best "ooo I'm old and stiff and slow" impression. Fun fact about Elle: when she's nervous she doesn't actually speed up. She goes slow and looks lazy, which is absolutely great on the one hand, from a safety perspective, but kind of embarrassing if you tell an observer "she's really on edge tonight!" and it LOOKS like you're riding a big plodding thing that's half asleep. After bringing her in for a couple tighter laps where I could ACTUALLY flick her with the tip of the lunge whip, she went "AUGH yes MA'AM" and moved out very nicely. We went for a walk after that -- with a chain lead. Just a little ways up and down the road (need to get her used to that) and then out to the back fields. I'm not crazy about using chain leads, but she's been really pushy during leading lately, so it was just a polite reminder, and she respected it.

After the walk, I took her into the outdoor arena again, and turned her loose. She of course immediately trotted to the gate, haha, but I was able to just get the lunge whip and play with directing her a little, off-lead. I was able to direct her up and down and up and down and up and down the long side that had bothered her earlier -- entirely off-lead! She could have taken off at any time, but she was much more relaxed, and I fed her some carrots at the especially bothersome spots, while we stood and contemplated them. She did do a couple little spooks, so it wasn't ALL in my head, of course, but she still stuck with me. Good girl!!

Horse Plant Working animal Liver Bit


Stuck around and cleaned all my tack after that, which was nice. So good to not be in a rush! Oh, and Elle's feet were done yesterday and they looked far better than I expected based on how weird they were looking from the nail holes, etc., growing out. The farrier apparently said that she's a "lovely horse with lovely feet." Soooo good to have her barefoot again!!
 
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