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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
Today was Teddy's big day. I have been working with him on loading, but I think he knew something was up. To say he was hard to load would be putting it very mildly. The barn owner was there and ended up getting him on the trailer. After the dentist, we had a super hard time with him. He wasn't really acting up so much, but acting like he couldn't step up into the trailer. Finally I suggested finding a spot where we could back the trailer into a little hill, and we finally got him loaded that way. He tries, but once his anxiety takes over, there's no reasoning with him.

They took out one tooth and filled two more. They were the worst teeth. They want to see him again in a few months to do the rest. They said they will come to us next time, thank God. I obviously really need to work on his trailering a lot more.

Moonshine came too, mostly as a calm buddy for Teddy. But she also got her shots and Coggins (which she was a little overdue for) as did Teddy.

I have to admit I'm a little disappointed they didn't do all of his teeth. I thought they would. They did apparently think his teeth were so obviously bad that they made a little video about them. The vet is trying to spread awareness about this way of dealing with bad teeth.Frankly, I can tell you that the holes were terrifying when we saw them on the camera. I don't know how all of his teeth haven't yet fallen out.

I am just pooped. I didn't think it would be that much work. Not just trailering him, but a long drive (in pouring rain, on the way there), then standing around in the cold at the vet's office waiting (they had just moved into this place, and it was not yet finished; no climate control, no bathroom, nothing). I was hoping to get some actual work done today, but I'm just going to bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
I went to give Teddy his medicine today. Of course I let in and fed the other two also. They were very happy to see me, and came in more or less nicely and settled in to eat.

But even though I called Teddy, and he saw his friends go in, he just stood in the back of the pasture in the shelter looking at me. I went and got his halter and went to get him. As soon as he saw me in the pasture, he started talking to me. He seemed really happy to see me. He talked all the way until I got to the shelter, then put his head down nicely for the halter and came in with no problems. But I still feel terrible, like he is a little afraid of me now or something.

Also, despite all the practicing we've done with giving him oral meds, and as well as he did with the de-wormer last time, it was back to the beginning with the bute. He was back to rearing. A lot. I eventually just put it in some senior feed and he ate most of it, although you could tell when got a bit of bute because he made a funny face.

I'm feeling a little discouraged with him right now. Loading and unloading him were terrible experiences, for everyone involved. I know that with horses you tend to make some progress and then have some backwards steps, but it seems like lately all we've had is backwards steps. I'm also obviously unhappy with myself, because I feel like his reversions are due to something I have done. I guess I will just keep trying.
 

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I am feeling sorry for you. I have two horses that, after years of practice, take the applesauce in the tube just fine (but it took years), But wormer or medicine? Na ah, not a chance. I just give up and put it in their food with lots of molasses. When they start rearing and you start fighting them, all they remember (in my opinion) is how they hated it. I have decided that forcing them with twitch and 3 people is counter productive. But that's just my opinion. Owning horses is not easy. (But it sure is fun!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 · (Edited)
Last Saturday was the show. As I posted elsewhere, Moonshine and my daughter got a surprise result for their dressage test. We were just stunned. We both honestly thought there must have been some mistake. Now, having had time to think about it, all I can think is that the judges somehow judged her and Moonshine not against the other competitors, but against what they were capable of. Like somehow they knew that my daughter has not been riding for very long, that Moonshine is an ex-roping/ranch/trail horse who couldn’t even stay on the rail even two months ago, that Moonshine was so heavy on the forehand and wouldn’t relax and drop her nose that the bodyworker said she was going to get an inverted shape, that Moonshine is a stubborn grumpy old mare who took to arena work like a cat takes to water, that the two of them just worked so hard. It doesn’t make sense logically, but neither does her winning. Every other rider, and every other horse, has been doing this longer than either of them. There were really good riders (and one trainer!) and very expensive horses who had previously competed at high levels of dressage!

Horse Halter Bridle Mammal Horse tack

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Of course, Moonshine will never let the other horses here the end of it, we’re sure (“Did YOU get a blue ribbon? I didn’t think so…”). But that’s OK.


Yesterday was a horse first-aid clinic at our barn. I learned a lot, and I now feel comfortable dressing a wound or treating an abscess, which is great. Poor Pony, however, got the worst of it.

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Actually it seemed even worse at one point. None of us who were working on him could find a pulse, so we were afraid he might be dead, LOL. The instructor was also jokingly concerned, but she eventually found a heartbeat with her stethoscope. It was very very faint, and very hard to hear over the very loud and consistent digestion sounds. That’s a Pony for you!

My daughter and two other people worked on Moonshine, and my husband and I (yes he agreed to participate!) and one other person worked on Pony. I was a little unsure of how Pony would do, since unlike Teddy he hasn’t had any injuries since I’ve had him, and unlike Moonshine he can be a little unpredictable. He was great, though, except for getting his temperature taken. He didn’t try to kick anyone or anything like that, but he kept trying to scoot forward away from the thermometer. The barn owner happened to be there, and she suggested picking up one his front legs so he couldn’t move, and that worked.

My husband doesn’t like Pony at all. He was holding him at first, but Pony wanted to investigate all of the medical supplies. Husband didn’t think he should, so he kept scolding him. I told him Pony was just curious and liked to investigate stuff, and if he let him do it he’d only do it for a minute. But husband was like, “He needs to control himself.” So I ended up holding Pony. Husband also couldn’t get Pony to pick his feet up. He actually said “Pick up your feet,” and then got upset because Pony wouldn’t do it. Well, not really upset, I guess annoyed would be a better word. The instructor came over and pointed out that Pony could tell that husband doesn’t like him, and that’s part of why he was acting up a little. Husband kept telling Pony to "calm down" (Pony was actually very calm) and asking “Why can’t we work on Teddy? I like Teddy. He’s calm. Just look at him!” (I had put Teddy in the paddock next to where we were working so he could see his buddies and also maybe learn to deal with things like this going on. I also put a pile of alfalfa hay in there, so he spent most of his time just happily eating away, with occasional trips to the fence to check out what we were doing).

Despite that apparent calmness, I think this was one of those times where I think if Teddy were actually having to have the work done on him, he would have just HAD ENOUGH at some point (maybe at the eye donut, maybe sooner) and started freaking out. Husband and Teddy get along pretty well, because Husband wants a horse that will just do what you tell it, and Teddy wants to do whatever someone tells him to do, but Husband has no idea (even though I’ve told him) about how Teddy can just totally lose it sometimes. The two of them are good for each other, though. I wish Teddy were a little bigger – I think he’d be OK with my husband riding him.

Speaking of Teddy, he had a little bit of a perspective shift during the horse show. It was a very small and low-key show, with maybe half a dozen people trailering in from outside the barn. But it was too much for him. I took him out and walked him around twice, to try to sort of get him used to commotion, but while he tolerated it, he didn’t like it. The third time I came to get him out of his stall to walk him around, he didn’t want to come out. And I didn’t make him. It’s like he has gone from seeing the stall as a scary place that traps him, to a safe place that protects him and where he can just eat yummy hay and be left alone in peace. Maybe it helps that there is a little sign there with his name on it now, LOL.

Teddy and I worked on getting into the trailer again today, and he got halfway in before I ran out of cookies and decided to call it a day. He stood there until asked to back out, then backed out very calmly and nice and straight. One thing I learned from out last time trailering was that the pressure on his halter makes him feel trapped and then he reacts. So I worked on being a lot better with my pressure and release, and I think that helped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 · (Edited)
We had a new instructor come out last week. She had been recommended to me before as someone who prefers to foster a cooperative relationship between horse and rider, as opposed to the barn owner who tends to see things as a zero sum game that the human has to win. This lady also, I learned from our lessons, has a sort of contrarian approach. We had some interesting lessons.

I rode Pony first, so that Teddy could hang out nearby and watch, so he hopefully would be OK when it was his turn for a lesson (he historically doesn't look change too much). Basically with Pony she just had me working on getting him to drop his nose. This is something that the barn owner had worked on with me, but I think at that time I wasn't ready for it so it didn't go too well. It went pretty well this time, though. One thing that I did find sort of interesting: I know that everyone says horses are two-sided, and just because they learn something on one side or one direction doesn't mean they will understand it on the other side or direction. But I had never really seen this in action. I definitely got it with Pony this session. We had a pretty easy time getting him to drop his nose going to the right, and got him really going around nicely. But it took like five minutes for him to do it when going to the left. It really was as though it were a completely new skill for him ("I have no idea what you are asking me to do"), even though he had done well in the other direction.

Moonshine doesn't like staying on the rails. I don't know why she did it so well at the dressage show -- I almost want to imagine that she knew how much it meant to my daughter. But she was back to her old diving in tricks in the lesson. So the instructor, who was the person who had scribed for the judge at the dressage show, and had therefore seen Moonshine, said basically, "That's enough of you trying to keep her on the rail. We're going to make it HER job to stay on the rail. She knows how to do it, and she knows what to do, so you're going to stop fighting her over it." So what they did was ride Moonshine on a loose rein along the rail, and every time Moonshine tried to dive in, just pull her head hard to the rail side. It sounds bad writing it down, maybe, but her point was that Moonshine knew what to do, but didn't want to do it and was just overpowering my daughter and not doing it. That actually worked really well.

Her solution to Teddy's problem of speeding up was to make him speed up. I was like, "Umm, are you sure about that? Because, speeding up is his problem..." But I tried it and it worked! The idea was to make him worker faster and longer than he wanted, so that slowing down became a release, as opposed to now where speeding up is his release. It really worked pretty well. I also cantered him a little and she noticed that I was gripping with my legs and that was speeding him up, so I'm working on that.

I gave her Teddy's whole history, and she had a comment that I think was fairly insightful. She said that based on what I was saying and what she was seeing, he's come a long way with his anxiety and that I needed to stop looking at him with those old eyes and give him a fresh look. In other words, I think she was saying that it's time to stop babying him and to expect him to be able to handle a little more. That's a little hard to hear, because in a way he is like the baby who always needs help, or at least so I thought. He still needs help with some things, but maybe not as much as I thought. She also said she would be interested in riding him. She didn't ask to ride Pony, though. Somehow, no one ever does...
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Sounds like a very good useful interesting lesson! By the way, when are we going to see more of Moonshine's journal? I look for it. I love kids and love seeing what they write.
I will pass that along. She will be happy to hear it. She sometimes feels like no one is reading it.

Anyway, Moonshine's hooman was out of town for Thanksgiving and now has finals coming up. She actually asked to skip her lesson yesterday because she had too much homework. We had a discussion about time management and overloading afterschool activities yesterday, actually. I bet she will post a lot over Christmas break!
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Usually I write more about the horses themselves and how they are doing, rather than my riding, but I feel like I'm making progress with my canter and want to note that for posterity.

I posted this in another spot, but wanted to note it here as well. I started noticing that on days when I would canter, even a little, then that night as I was falling asleep I would sort of feel the canter rhythm in my body. Not only that, but I could feel the footfalls as well, and when I thought about it I could understand how the horse's body was moving with them. This was a great feeling, because when I was actually cantering them I had no idea about anything except trying to not fall off. So obviously something is creeping into my subconscious! Today when I cantered Teddy I could feel the rhythm! So, barring me falling off (again) this will hopefully really be the winter where I learn how to canter.

Even Pony is making less of a fuss about it, so either I'm getting better or he's getting better, or most likely we're both getting better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
@Showmanshiplover thank you, sometimes (just like my daughter) I wonder if anyone is ever reading it. I guess it's mostly for me, but still nice to know that other people care.

Teddy (the anxious one) is a Welsh/QH cross, Pony is a pony of unknown ancestry, and Moonshine is (I would say) a grade quarterhorse.

I just need to remember to be patient with Teddy. We worked through so many of his issues in just a few months that sometimes I forget that he still needs to take things slowly sometimes. We had another new instructor come yesterday, and she said that in her experience it takes two years to undo one bad year of training. She definitely thought he had been trained harshly. In addition to what I told her about his issues, she noticed that he had a strong indention in his muzzle where it looks like someone repeatedly tightened his noseband to where it actually changed the shape of his face (I took the noseband off his bridle a long time ago because he seemed sensitive about it, so I guess it's interesting to know that I was right to do that). But it just made me sick to think about that. IDK, maybe he is so anxious and eager to please now because he was trained roughly, and maybe he was different when he was young, but I can't imagine someone wanting to treat this sweet guy harshly. He just tries so very hard.

One other thing that she said, and this one made me happy, is that Teddy seems really relaxed and contented when he is around me. Other people have said the same, but it's always nice to have someone new, who knows horses, say it. I am so happy he feels that way!

:mylittlepony:
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Goats? GOATS???? GOATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a cold morning, but it should have been a normal lesson morning: get there, pick everyone’s hooves and look everything over, groom the boys, ride Teddy, and then ride Pony in my lesson.

Maybe the cold was making me pokey, but everything took longer than normal. I had put turnout sheets on everyone the day before, so luckily they were overall clean. But Teddy and Pony both seemed to have gone out of their way to get every other part of their body covered with dry mud.

Anyway, I got on Teddy. I thought maybe we’d just walk today, and we did spend most of the time walking. But he seemed pretty relaxed so I added in trotting as well. That’s when I saw … the GOATS! Apparently the property next to my boarding barn brought in a herd (a BIG herd) of brush clearing goats. I saw them before Teddy did, and I wasn’t quite sure what he’d think, so I stopped him and had him look at them. He was a little worried, but overall OK about it. Then MOONSHINE saw them. She is usually the calm one, but she took off in a snorting, heads-up trot. Teddy was like, “Um, Moonshine is really worried. Maybe I should run over there with her?” I told him no, and that was that. Moonshine wouldn’t even graze from that point on, though, just stood there staring at them. I ended up cantering for one lap, and it was a nice easy canter, and neither of us got worried about it! I stopped him after that and just got off.

I put him in his stall to take off his tack and then went to find Moonshine. She had wandered off, and was still looking worried. I wanted to put her back into the pasture before she did anything dumb. I can’t remember ever leading her when her head was that high, LOL, and I had a hard time getting her halter off her once we got into the pasture. She walked away from me, trotted, then cantered to the far end of the field, then back to the gate, then back again. Moonshine is one who does not normally voluntarily canter unless she thinks you’re going to feed her.

Then I got to the gate (about to close it) and saw Teddy standing about 50 feet away, watching Moonshine, with a look on his face that very clearly said “Moonshine is worried about something, I think maybe I should get worried too? Maybe I should start cantering around? I don’t want to get all upset, but Moonshine is worried!” (Teddy is the boss, but Moonshine is the leader, and he pretty much does what she does). “Oh ****,” I thought to myself and quickly closed the gate before Moonshine could run out. Then I called to him. He looked at me. I called to him again, to keep his focus on me. I walked to my car, which was between us, and I asked him if he wanted some “Yummy yummy cookies” in my special “yummy yummy cookies” voice (I keep cookies in the trunk, of course). He seemed to struggle with it for a minute, then he walked over, and I popped the trunk and fed him cookies and told him what a good boy he was. I am not above bribing them! Then we walked very calmly back to the pasture and I let him loose. He just stood there, occasionally looking nervously at where the goats had been.

The goats had disappeared by this point. Which was bad, because they had obviously turned from normal (somewhat worrisome) goats into ultra scary invisible goats, the kind that might sneak up behind you and eat your tail. Moonshine and Teddy stood vigil.

I went back to get Pony for my lesson. He was super spooky. I guess he was also now worried about the invisible goats. He was literally jumping around in his stall. I couldn’t get him tacked up, and I was afraid he was going to run over me. I put him in another stall, where he could see where the goats had been, then tried yet another stall, where he couldn’t see. But he was super nervous. I thought about just leaving him in the stall (a double stall) to sort of pace around, but then I thought, “I need to be able to deal with this.” So I thought about it, then put on his halter and lead rope and took him out. He was really spooky still. I walked him around for a couple of minutes, then let him graze for a minute. Then I asked him to make really easy (walking) circles around me, yielding his hindquarters the whole way. We did this in one direction, he got to graze, then the other direction, he got to graze, then again. I was thinking having to work might help him forget about the goats. He seemed better, so I got his tack and tacked him up while I let him graze. The lesson overall went OK, with only one spook. Once I got on him, I had him doing a lot of let yields and little circles, which really seemed to help him focus.

Ultimately, I was pretty happy with how things went. Teddy stayed with me when I asked him to, even though Moonshine was visibly worried. Pony calmed down eventually. Moonshine… well, Moonshine got some much-needed exercise. I just really wouldn’t have thought that the goats would have bothered her that much – normally nothing fazes her.

Also, for the sake of posterity, I forgot to mention last time that last week was the first time I had posted the trot with no stirrups. I couldn't even understand how to do it before, but I guess I've finally developed my special horse-riding muscles!
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Poor Pony...

I had a good lesson on Pony and Teddy on Saturday. On Sunday I came out to see them because we were supposed to be travelling on Monday. Teddy and Moonshine came in quickly but Pony sort of hung back, looking unhappy. Once he started to come in, I realized he was lame.

I wasn't sure how bad it was, though, even though I could tell something was wrong just with him walking. I put him in his stall and went to check him over and pick his hooves. I couldn't find any heat, swelling, or tenderness anywhere, but he wouldn't / couldn't pick up his right front. He tried, but almost fell over on me when he did. So I went to groom Teddy then came back and tried again, same result. That's when I called the barn owner. Long story short, the vet couldn't come out until Monday, so we gave him bute and put him in another stall (a bigger one than the one he usually goes in, plus there's another horse on stall rest in there so he'd have company).

Then it turned out my daughter had the flu, so we weren't going to be travelling after all. Which was good, because it meant I could be out there for the vet. And also to clean out his stall, water him, and try to make him feel better. There is someone who works out there and cleans stalls and such, but he doesn't get around to it until mid-afternoon, and I hate to think of Pony in a dirty stall.

Anyway, the vet came out and examined him. His stifles seemed tender. And his back hurt. And maybe he had soreness in his right front hoof. Also maybe he has ulcers. Quite the diagnosis. So, he's on stall rest and bute until she comes back on Saturday. I guess the good thing there is that since I had just seen him the day before, and he was fine then, we know it must have been that something happened out in the pasture. His pasture is muddy but also still full of giant drought cracks, so maybe he slipped and fell.

Pony does not like being on stall rest. He calls out to me the whole time I'm there if I'm not with him. Then when I go and see him he looks all droopy and sad. The barn owner asked me how he was doing today and I said "depressed." I don't think it's pain, or at least I hope it isn't. I think he's just bored and lonely sitting in a stall all day (except for the few hours I come out, put him in a pen that adjoins one of the pastures, clean out his stall, and then hand graze him). He's usually just such a happy guy, I hate seeing him like this.

I thought about it, and I think we're going to do some work in that stall, to hopefully get him interested in doing something. He can be a little hard to bridle, so I think we're going to do some treat training and bridling sessions. Just bridle on, "good boy," bridle off, treat. Repeat. I think he'll enjoy exercising his mind, and of course TREATS! I really hope that she will let him back out in the pasture, or at least let him be in one of the pens, after she sees him on Saturday. If not, I will probably need to figure out something else to teach him.

I remember one of the other horses that had to be on stall rest for a long time. He was a hot horse, and being stalled made it worse. His owner would try to hand walk him and he would buck and rear and try to run around. That was dangerous and not good, of course, but to be seeing my happy-go-lucky Pony dejected and down is also very bad.

One sort of good thing did happen today. I went to pull out Teddy and Moonshine, and then I brought Pony over to his usual stall so I could feed them all and pick hooves and whatnot. I was picking Pony's hooves when there was a really sudden and very loud noise, like a herd of elephants had just been dropped on the ground and taken off running. Pony spooked, badly. Of course, I lost the hoof I was working on, but the good thing is I could sort of see him start to spook into me, and then suddenly change direction and spook the other way, then he ran around and stopped before he ran me over. You might be thinking, well, duh, of course he should do that, but in the past he has spooked into me. Not badly, but still. So it was good that he spooked the other way this time. Also, apparently I scream like a little girl ("EEEEEEEE") when something like that happens. Great to know.

I couldn't figure out what it was. I went out to look afterwards and couldn't see anything. But Moonshine and Teddy were also upset, and that's rare, so it was definitely something big.

Since Pony is out and my daughter is sick, I rode Moonshine in my lesson yesterday. I hadn't ridden her in a LONG time. Boy, that horse is HARD to ride! OMG. She's actually doing a lot better with staying on the rail, at least at a walk, but getting her to do patterns and poles is a total body workout. Ouch. But... I would like to ride her more. Riding her is a challenge, in a good way. I guess I'm too used to riding my easy boys. And she's a good horse, not mean or anxious or any sort of crazy. Just needs to be convinced that you mean it before she will do it.

That's it. I just feel bad thinking about Pony being lonely and droopy in his stall. If only we had a more horse-friendly backyard. And a truck and trailer. I think he would enjoy eating everything in our backyard and walking around the neighborhood examining stuff. Plus I could stake him out in the front yard to keep people from letting their dogs poop in my yard. Just kidding. Sort of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Teddy is having trouble picking up his left lead (no doubt NOT being helped by having me a his rider), so my instructor suggested that I lunge him (left only) to help him work on it without having someone on his back.

OK, I’m going to back up a step. She was interested in riding him, and I was having problems getting him on the bit at anything other than a standstill (he does not like bit pressure, possibly because of his bad teeth or possibly because of bad training) so I suggested that she ride him a little in our lesson. He tried really hard, but it was amazing to me to see how nervous he was. He even scooted away from her at the mounting block, which he hasn’t done with me since the very beginning. All of his nervous ticks were back on clear display. She did get him somewhat settled, and I finally got to see him trot. He has a beautiful trot! It looks as good as Moonshine’s trot, but whereas Moonshine’s trot is like riding a jackhammer, his is like being on a pogo stick with the softest spring in the world. So I was never sure if it would look nice or not, but it does. It’s really too bad he will probably never be able to be a show horse.

The instructor is obviously a better rider than I am, so it was interesting to see her struggle with him. It shows how much effort he puts into trying for me. Also, as an aside, she just volunteered the information after our previous lesson that he obviously loved me and depended on me. We can argue about anthropomorphizing, but I would say that yes, he loves me (not as much as he loves Moonshine, but that’s OK seeing as how she’s a horse and I’m just a hooman), and there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that he depends on me.

OK, so back to lunging. Things the barn owner says have to be taken with a grain of salt, but she is Teddy’s previous owner so I asked her if he knew how to lunge. She answered that he does, then paused, and added, “But I would make sure the circles are really big, like 20 meters at least.” So, that was interesting.

I got all my stuff together and we went out to the round pen. He’s never been in there, and of course he is Teddy the worrier, so first thing I just let him explore a bit. Then I gave him some alfalfa pellets. Yes, we were going to tackle this just like everything we’ve tackled together – with patience, praise, and lots and lots of treats.

He was really worried about the whip, which did not surprise me at all, so we worked on desensitizing him to it first. Didn’t take too long. Then I hooked up the lunge line to his cavesson. More pellets. Then I backed away, raised the whip, and asked him to move out. Well, of course his eyes got big and his head went super up. So I lowered it and just moved it a little and asked again. He was a little rusty, wanting to come in to me rather than walk out on a circle, but he obviously did know how to do it, and he got into the swing of it pretty quickly. He was still nervous, but I used my “good boy Teddy” voice a lot, plus stopped him a lot and fed him treats, and he quickly settled down. We did his easy side first, then his hard side, but he picked it up even quicker on the hard side, which was great. Just walking both ways.

Then I decided to see if he could free lunge. I was thinking, I don’t just want to run him around in the round pen, I want him to lunge but just without the lunge line (which, to be honest, kept getting tangled up no matter how many times I refolded it. Also to be honest, I was not very good at using the whip, AND the lunge line, AND trying to remember where my body was supposed to be pointing relative to him and direction I wanted him to go). So I took the lunge line off, told him he was a good boy, stepped back, and asked him to lunge the same way as before. And he did! Just walked nice 10-meter circles around me. Stopped on voice command. We did it both ways.

He seemed like he was starting to get a little distracted, so I decided to end the session. But he didn’t want to leave the round pen, which was a little confusing. I took him out anyway. So that went well.

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Poor Pony is on stall rest for two weeks. He seems to have perked up a little. Not sure if it’s because I’ve been putting him out in a small pen in the daytime (it adjoins a paddock that has some of his buddies in it, so they can hang out together at the fence), or because of the treat training work I’ve done with bridling (I learned that he can basically put the bit in his mouth himself, with those prehensile lips of his), or because I put a treats ball in with him, or because I’ve come every morning so he has someone there.

He’s on bute for those two weeks, plus gastro guard for the bute, plus muscle relaxers. Luckily he will eat pretty much anything as long as it’s mixed in with senior feed (unlike picky Teddy) and he does sort of OK with oral paste medicine. I gave him the muscle relaxers this morning for the first time, then hung out for a few hours to make sure they didn’t make him too loopy. He seemed fine. I hope he feels better soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
@knightrider she had finals then she spent the first week of winter break with the flu. She literally came down with it the day school got out. She's just now recovering. Moonshine is actually doing really well. Daughter is trying to teach her a trick where she walks with her legs on either side of a pole, but Moonshine's back legs don't leg to open up very much, so they're getting stuck. I'm actually supposed to help with that today, so we'll see. I think she doesn't like to update the journal unless she has some "progress" to document.
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 · (Edited)
I am proud of Teddy

We are now lunging both directions, on and off line, trotting and walking (in the roundpen). Yesterday I added in cantering (off the line, because honestly I’m not ready for cantering him on the lunge line, and I also wasn’t sure what to expect after barn owner’s comment of “make sure it’s a really big circle.”) I asked for the left canter first, but he just trotted faster and faster, so I stopped him, calmed him down, then asked for the right canter. He picked it up fairly quickly. The lunge whip I’m using doesn’t actually have the string part, because I didn’t want to create too much pressure for him, so getting him to canter was a bit of work. I let him do a lap, stopped and rewarded, then asked for the left. He picked it up that time.

He also picked up the left lead no problem. I’m going to ask the instructor about that. I thought, after her comments last time, plus my experience riding him, plus seeing him tip his nose to the right, when lunging to the left, that he would pick up the wrong lead. But he didn’t. When riding him, I had been trying to encourage him to get that left lead by tilting his head in, but now I’m not sure if that’s what he needs. I wonder if the next step would be to ride him at the canter in the roundpen. It’s a pretty big roundpen.

I wasn’t going to ride him, but then I saw that barn owner was going to give a lesson, so I changed my mind. She is his old owner, and she really worries him. Sorry to say, but it’s true. Whenever he hears her yelling, even in the next arena, he starts going through his anxiety behaviors, or he at least starts thinking about it. Last time, he started pawing the ground when we were standing there, and he just couldn’t stop. And he hardly ever paws any more. Obviously it’s something I think we need to work on, hence my decision to ride him in one arena while she was teaching in the next. It went really well. In retrospect, she wasn’t yelling a lot, so maybe that was at least part of it. I even got permission when they were stopped and rode him in and out of that arena while she was there. No problem.

He also seems to have figured out that I want him to drop his head into contact. We had spent several lessons working on that, with no progress. And it really stressed him out, I think because he knew we wanted something but he couldn’t figure out what. After last lesson, when the weather was pleasantly cool, and basically all we did was walk trot, he was sweaty (atypical for him). Anyway, yesterday he seemed to finally “get” it. I don’t know what happened since the last time I rode him, maybe he’s been thinking about it. But he not only did it, he did it with barn owner giving a lesson in the next arena. He also stayed nice and calm, even after trotting. I only rode him 15-20 minutes maybe, because he was just doing so well that I wanted him to end the lesson happy.

Pony is still on stall rest, no obvious change in his condition. We worked more on bitting (he can now target the bit wherever it is, put it in his mouth, and “eat” it up to the point where it’s supposed to sit) and then on taking his oral medication, which he was starting to fight. He enjoys those sessions. Maybe I will try to make two that are spread out over the 2-3 hours I should be out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 · (Edited)
Teddy’s lunging continued to go well, so I asked my instructor on Saturday what she thought about riding him in the round pen at the canter. She said sure, let’s do it now. So we went in there, and first I showed her how I lunged him. She approved, which was great, since I pretty much learned through watching videos and messing up, then trying to figure out how I had messed up (and then watching more videos). I told her that we had done everything except cantering with the line attached, because I wasn’t comfortable with that yet. She said she didn’t think he needed to be lunged on the line at all, so that’s good.

Then I got on. We trotted briefly, then cantered. He picked up the correct lead (at the left, mind you) immediately, and went into his signature smooth Teddy canter. Nice and easy, too. Then I decided that I didn’t want to imbalance him to the inside, so I shifted my weight to the outside. About four seconds later, I was on the ground. So… that was not a good idea. I fell to the outside, but luckily (or, who knows, maybe it was on purpose somehow) he swerved in as I fell so I didn’t hit the rail. I got back on and we tried again. But now he was really nervous and worried, and picked up his other signature Teddy canter: the “I’m really worried about something and now I need to speed up and up and up.” Poor Teddy. I hate it when I do something to make him uncomfortable.

So, I’m going to be doing more stirrupless work, and trying to really think about my seat. Honestly, I think part of what happened was that I just thought I should lean out, to counter-balance him. That was obviously not correct.

I rode him today. I was going to ride him with my daughter’s lesson on Moonshine, with the Barn Owner (his former owner, who makes him nervous; I'm trying to work him through that). So we warmed up, no problem. Teddy was happy because his two favorite people (Moonshine and me, in that order) were with him. So even when the Barn Owner came out and started giving instructions, he was fine. I brought him over to her to talk about something, and he was totally fine, no pawing, no head tossing, no general antsiness – just stood there for several minutes.

However, not too long after that, when I was trotting him with no stirrups, it turns out that there were some other kids in the lesson, and the first thing they did when getting into the arena was to start to canter. That sort of got Teddy worked up, so I stopped him and we went into the adjacent arena to work.

That is when I learned something wonderful and amazing about Teddy – he can do this amazing, butter-soft Western-type jog. It’s this smooth, smooth trot that’s about as fast as his fast walk. It was WONDERFUL and so easy to sit! I could really think about my seat bones staying on the saddle, and I could experiment with leaning back, which he seemed to like, and which I think was probably the correct position ( @mslady254 implied that I was probably leaning forward while thinking that I was sitting straight up, and thinking about how “leaning back” in this trot felt, compared to “sitting up straight,” I’m pretty sure she was right).

THEN I rode past the Barn Owner and pointed this out, and she was like, “Oh, yes, he was trained Western before he was trained English.” This absolutely floored me – she gave him to me, as I’ve said before, but it wasn’t just that, she really really pushed me to take him. You think she might have mentioned this as an extra incentive, but she never did. Then a helicopter flew low overhead and she started yelling and it and making Teddy worried, so we went back to practice our nice slow jog / sitting trot. Well, it turned out that he was worried now, so we had to spend some more time doing some easy stuff first. But we got back to it.

Another thing he’s started to get better at is not being on the rail. Teddy likes the rail. He likes rules, and he likes things that are black and white. The rail is a clear rule: you stay on it, and then no one will yell at you. Just like poles: when you see a pole, you go over it, and no one will yell at you. So, trying to ride Teddy in a straight line down the middle of the arena, or even a short diagonal, tends to result in an unhappy Teddy (“I don’t understand where you want me to go, and I’m afraid I will do the wrong thing and you will yell at me”). But he did a decent job today. We also worked, a little more, on lowering his head at the stop (this is actually what we did to calm him back down; I think he likes this because now he understands the question and knows the answer) and he’s getting better about not just dropping his head, but about doing it softly and bending at the poll.

So, Teddy’s doing great. I think all the extra rides I’m putting on him, now that I’m at the barn every day (someone has to clean Pony’s stall), are really helping.

Speaking of Pony, he’s still on stall rest, technically, but Barn Owner and I both agreed that he needed some more space, so we put him in a medium-sized pen that is right in the middle of the property. I think he will also enjoy being right in the middle of everything – he’s a very curious and intelligent Pony and likes to know what’s going on. The vet said we can cut the Bute, and she will come out on Friday to take a look at him. The chiropractor is coming next Monday. I will wait and see what she says, but I may end up having the bodyworker look at him too.

The “trick training” I’ve been doing with him is bitting (but I think we’re done with that now), taking oral medication (about halfway there) and being rubbed all over with a “racket sack,” which we’re in the beginning stages of. The first things we did with that were having him touch the racket sack, then touch it while it was being crinkled, then touch it while it was being crinkled and shaken. He really gets the idea of touching things with his nose. But he’s sensitive to physical pressure, and this thing was still weird, so it took a couple of days before he understood that what I want now is for him to hold still while I rub and shake it on his shoulders and back. He gets it now, but he’s still making that “I don’t know what that thing is and I don’t really trust it” face.

I need to spend more time teaching him tricks. He really enjoys it. I think he likes having something to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
In the past couple of days, Pony has threatened to kick two people who were poking and prodding (henceforth to be referred to as P&P) his back. He's normally a fairly laid-back little guy, so this was unusual for him. It also made me worry that he might actually try to kick the chiropractor when he sees her on Monday.

I decided to try to train him to not do this, and I figured I could segue the "racket sack" above into P&P-ing him. I started with the racket sack on his back again. He's gotten really good about this. He now understands that the point is to stand absolutely still while this happens, then he gets a reward. He doesn't even make that "this is weird" face any more. We went over both sides. Then I started not only shaking and crunching the racket sack, but also pushing down on his back with it. No problems.

So I got rid of the racket sack and just P&P'd him. At first he was a little confused about this, but he understood pretty quickly. He stood absolutely still, not even flicking an ear back, while I P&P'd him, all over, with increasing pressure. Now, I didn't P&P him like the chiropractor would, but the fact that he just stood stock still while I did it ("Must get treats!!!!") was surprising. Now I'm starting to wonder if his reactions to people P&P-ing him are because he remembers that it hurt before, and he thinks it's going to hurt this time? Or does it still hurt, but now he's so focused on TREATS that he doesn't care?

Regardless, I'm hopeful now that he won't kick the chiropractor. Although I'm now sort of worried about the opposite problem -- what if he refuses to react at all? How will she know what's wrong?

LOL Ponies.
 

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@ACinATX, do you read @SteadyOn's journal? She posted some really interesting information about horses that get wound up and then I posted on how to unwind them. I never heard about "the rabbits" before and I really liked the analogy. It made my day. You might already know all this stuff, but it was new to me.
 
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