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Discussion Starter #101
He likes to move it move it

Pony’s attitude toward cantering has done a complete 180. It’s gotten to where he really seems to like to canter. In fact, I’m now having to work on getting him to come back down to a trot afterwards.

In my lesson today, he cantered when he was supposed to be trotting. I didn’t entirely mind it, but the instructor said he was being a brat and needed disciplining (typical of the kind of things she says). I don’t think that’s the case – I think the trainer has been cantering him a lot through this same set of poles, so he thought that was what he was supposed to do. That plus he likes cantering now. She wanted one of her teen riders to get on him and “teach him a lesson” or some such, but I refused. I ended up having to do some pretty tiny circles (turns out he can canter a ten-meter circle no problem), and get him really focused on what I wanted, but then he calmed back down and by the end he was really relaxed again. I guess the next thing is to work on that.

I’m surprised that not only does cantering seem like it’s turning out to be his best / favorite gait, it might also be turning out to be mine! His canter is just improving dramatically every time I ride him. It’s so smooth! We’re also getting a lot more precision steering as well, as evidenced by my tiny circles.

I can’t believe I used to think he was a poky pony. I can’t believe this is the guy I had to ride with a crop every time. Having the correct fitting saddle has made just so much difference. I was talking to the trainer about him and she said she liked that he was pretty calm on the ground, but if he’s ever not sure what you want he tends to slow down or stop to try to figure it out, but once he understands that you want him to go, he’s happy to go. I’m sure there will be some setbacks soon, but we’re in one of those stretches where every ride is just better than the one before it.

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The barn owner got some ducks for some reason. When I saw them, I put Pony in the tiny paddock that borders the pond for his feeding. He was alert and gave one snort, but then he was mostly content to watch them while he ate. I guess he figured it was more important to eat than to worry about them. I’m happy that he just keeps getting more relaxed about stuff like this.


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@carshon and @knightrider thank you so much. I didn't respond at first because I was honestly overwhelmed that you would both say that. I try so hard to be a good horse person.
 

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In my lesson today, he cantered when he was supposed to be trotting. I didn’t entirely mind it, but the instructor said he was being a brat and needed disciplining (typical of the kind of things she says). I don’t think that’s the case – I think the trainer has been cantering him a lot through this same set of poles, so he thought that was what he was supposed to do. That plus he likes cantering now.
This reminds me of a similar story with a similar ending so I will share it. When I was doing joust shows at Renaissance Festivals, part of the show involved having my horse rear. So, all my horses had to learn to rear. Some learned it quickly, others took a lot of time.

When I got Shadow, she was a dream to break and train. But she had no interest in learning to rear. I worked with her every day, sometimes twice a day, trying to get her to rear. We made very limited slow progress.

One day I had a friend from PA visiting me, and she was helping me do the evening chores. As usual, I asked Shadow to do her rear . . . and SHE SUDDENLY REARED UP HIGH AND PERFECTLY!!!!! I was so excited. I had been working on this trick every single day for a year and a half, and finally she got it!

And then, she reared and reared and reared and reared, over and over. My PA friend got all upset (she trained all her horses to rear long before I started) and said that I needed to discipline her or she would become a bad rearer.

I said, "No, I think she's just excited that she finally figured out what I was asking her to do." I refused to correct her. I was right. She never reared repeatedly again. But she did rear when I asked her to, just like I needed her to do. Sometimes people don't give horses the credit for intelligence that they deserve. But I think you do!
 

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Discussion Starter #103
On our lesson this weekend, the instructor wanted to work on getting Pony to drop his nose down, and we got him going pretty well with that. She said I wasn't doing too good of a job with my hands to release the pressure when he did it, though, which would make it hard for him to know that he was doing the right thing. But I've done a lot of groundwork with him where I pair "good boy!" with treats, so he knows that "good boy" means something good. So I used a lot of verbal praise, and he really picked it up very quickly. Of course, I want my hands to be better, but at least I'm able to compensate for not having the best hands by giving him verbal praise.

We rode in Arena #1, which is usually the jumping arena, but it was mostly clear at that time. I had never ridden in there, and I had never wanted to ride in there, because the sand is mixed with rubber (apparently) and it's black and just reflects the heat back up at you. It was terrible. I hated it and Pony hated it. My daughter and Moonshine also rode, but they didn't seem to mind as much. I told her I wouldn't want to ride in there again until the weather cools off.

Today was with a different instructor, and it was a lot of pole work. I wasn't asking Pony to drop his head down this time, but he volunteered it a lot, since that was the right answer from last time. I really appreciated the attempt, though, and I did tell him "good boy" for it.

Unfortunately, although he had had no hesitation about going to work, once he got going he just seemed a little off. I had to get off and go get the dressage whip to ride him, which I rarely have to do now. He was more forward then, but he still didn't feel quite right. And although he was OK to canter, he wasn't as excited about it as he usually is, and he was really happy to stop cantering. He was really balky too, which again is pretty unusual for him. I finally put two and two together that he just got trimmed yesterday afternoon, and this new trimmer I have trims really short. I'm pretty sure he was sore from the trim.

Which is too bad, because I personally felt really good about cantering today. As a matter of fact, we cantered over poles, in patterns, and in circles, in both directions. I felt like he was really close to picking up a flying lead change. But it got to the point where he just felt so unwilling that I had to get off him early. I did some brief walking over poles just to end on a good note, but I wasn't able to do as much as I had hoped.

The trainer is supposed to ride him on Thursday, but I texted her about it and she will skip this Thursday and then just ride him twice next week. I think it's better for him to have a little more time off, so he's hopefully feeling better and happy to be ridden next time (in four days). My instructor today did recommend putting Keratex on his soles, which I did (I haven't used THAT in over a year!).

Moonshine did a great job in the same lesson, cantering over many more poles and doing many more patterns, AND getting the flying lead change. But she also seemed pretty grumpy (although with Moonshine it's a little hard to tell, sometimes, her general mare grumpiness from extra grumpiness).

Next time the trimmer comes, I will ask her to leave them a little longer. I did that last time she trimmed, but I didn't think to ask her this time as well. I really miss my old trimmer, but she got pregnant and moved back to her home country.

After the lesson, I was feeding Pony some mesquite pods and I gave him one that was sort of a strange shape, so when he tried to eat it he just ended up pushing it out of my hand and eating my fingers instead -- he just sort of sucked them right up into his mouth. Fortunately, I think he realized it was fingers because he just lipped me really good (no teeth) and then let go. Moonshine is generally great on the ground, but her take on being fed treats is that if you (hooman) don't do it right, it's your fault if she eats your hand. She just lunges for the hand, and if you don't have your hand perfectly flat with that treat exactly in the middle, you will be sorry. Pony is pretty greedy too, and I have always been afraid that he might eat someone's hand one day, so it was good to know that he seemed to realize something was "off" and not just clamp down.

Teddy, of course, is extremely polite and careful about treats, and although he loves them he never gets pushy about them. He just drops hints. Like today, he went to his "tying" spot and stood there waiting and giving me significant looks, hoping for something. I'm working on his tying skills, and to make it easier for him I always tie him in the same place. I also give him some treats while he's tied, so he's come to not mind it so much. Basically today he just "self tied" and stood there waiting to see if I would bring him something. I guess maybe I should have (I do sometimes) but I didn't today.
 
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Discussion Starter #104
Pony has been doing really well, but he’s been sore since his last trim so I haven’t been able to do as much with him.

He was trimmed on Monday and I had a lesson on Tuesday. He felt off – balky, not forward, not really wanting to move. We were doing some good cantering work and I felt like he was almost ready to get a flying lead change, but then I just had to stop riding him. I can’t ride him when he feels like that.

The trainer is supposed to ride him on Thursdays, but I asked her to skip it this week, so he didn’t get ridden until my lesson yesterday (Saturday). He was still sore. Not as much. But still. I couldn’t believe it. Fortunately I had already asked the instructor to have a low-key bareback lesson today, where we’d concentrate on our form and using our bodies correctly, so I didn’t have to ask too much of him. He didn’t really want to walk, but he trotted really nicely. The instructor said she thought he was maybe sore in his back legs, as he was moving them differently (apparently he was really getting them under himself, so that was good I guess).

One thing he did really nicely was to pick up a working walk when I picked up the reins and used minimal body cues. Usually he really has to be pushed up into a working walk, and you have to keep pushing to get him to keep it up. He’s fine trotting and cantering, but he does not want to do that walk. But today he did it really nicely.

Afterwards, the girl who rode him that time a month or two ago came out to ride him. She has been riding one of the lesson ponies twice a week, and she wanted to try on him again.

She definitely needed to do some work to get adjusted to Pony. For one thing, Pony is not a lesson pony so he doesn’t have the lessons memorized. You could tell that she was used to sort of letting the pony do its thing. Pony is fine with that, mind you, but his “thing” is wobbling from one random spot in the arena to another, ducking out from the rail here and there, changing pace randomly, etc. He isn’t a bad pony, and he doesn’t need to be dominated, but if his rider isn’t clear about what she wants him to do, he’s happy to improvise and come up with his own plan.

Also, apparently the lesson pony she is riding is fairly lazy. So this girl unintentionally got Pony into a canter a couple of times by using too much leg. She actually volunteered that to me afterwards: “He just needs a little bit of leg and he goes, whereas with Leo you have to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze and even then he doesn’t want to go.” I do have to admit to being a little disappointed that he cantered with her. I had sort of hoped he would be one of those ponies who can tell when there is an inexperienced rider on them and refuses to canter.

It turned out this was her first time riding bareback, and she seemed like she really enjoyed it. And watching him with her, he didn’t seem as balky as he had been with me. Maybe her weighing half as much as I do has something to do with it, although the instructor thought it was just that I had gotten him “warmed up” for her. I still didn’t let her ride as long as she probably would have liked, because I didn’t want him getting any more sore. I put Keratex on his soles afterwards. I have another lesson on Tuesday. Surely he will be feeling better by then.

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t have ridden him. Maybe I shouldn’t have let her ride him. He was OK once he got going. If I had thought he was going to still be sore, maybe I would have ridden Teddy instead. I guess for our Tuesday lesson I will try to get on him before the lesson starts and see how he feels. If he doesn’t feel good, I’ll ride Teddy instead. But surely – I mean, that would be over a week – surely he couldn’t still be sore then. The barn owner says that several horses are having problems now because the ground is so hard, but the ground was hard last year too, and our horses were never sore after a trim. I may have to find a new trimmer.
 
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I may have to find a new trimmer.
And that new trimmer is quite possibly YOU. You seem to be a resourceful clever hand working person who doesn't mind getting dirty and a little tired. It was my friend @LoriF, who said, "Why should I pay someone to do a lousy job on my horse's feet when I can do a lousy job myself! " Actually Lori does a fine job trimming her horses' feet and taught me a lot. So did two other people that I asked. I got some lessons, and I went at it. My riding friend showed me that I don't have to work like a farrier. She would go at it for a bit, then set the hoof down, straighten her back, do an odd job or two around the barn, and take it back up. When you are doing it yourself, you can do two feet and come back the next day to do the other two feet. You can trim one day and file the next. I've even been known to do one foot, and do the other foot a few hours later. I got some nice farrier tools now, and I have managed so far one whole year. Also, I do the feet every 2 1/2 weeks so they never get any chips or cracks because I get after them so often. I probably am not very good. But, like you said, are the people who you are paying any good? Not really. I've learned a whole whole lot doing my own horses' feet, and I expect I will continue to learn. Plus, it gets easier, which I didn't realize.
 

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Discussion Starter #106
And that new trimmer is quite possibly YOU. You seem to be a resourceful clever hand working person who doesn't mind getting dirty and a little tired. It was my friend @LoriF, who said, "Why should I pay someone to do a lousy job on my horse's feet when I can do a lousy job myself! "
LOL

I am definitely heading in that direction. I already do some maintenance in between trims. I think once the weather cools off, even a little, I will get out the rasp and start experimenting with rasping. I'm one or two steps away from looking up online farrier courses. I know that wouldn't teach me everything I need to know, but it would be good for me where I am now. I mean, I understand the basics of trimming, hoof anatomy, and hoof dynamics, but whenever, for instance, @loosie gets out her red marker and marks up hooves with where the breakover should be and 1/3 of the sole goes here, and all of that, I start getting a little muddled.

I'm still afraid to do the big trims. What if I mess up something? What if I really screw up someone's hoof and then they go lame?

But, especially given our upcoming move to a rural area, I'm very much aware that I may need to step up more myself. I think I will go ahead and order a farrier stand so I don't have to break my back working on them. All of my horses are better for me than they are for the farrier anyways, so at least that's a plus.

And I guess if I trimmed a little every week or so, I wouldn't have to do a big trim, so I would be less likely to lame them.

I really appreciate the encouragement, and honestly I do think I am going to end up doing most of their work at some point. I am just a person who really needs to be sure about what I'm doing, and I need to consider everything from multiple angles before I start. Ah, yes, I'm an overthinker. But I do at least usually move from overthinking to underacting, so I will probably get there eventually...
 
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I'm still afraid to do the big trims. What if I mess up something? What if I really screw up someone's hoof and then they go lame?
I still think that, and I've been doing my horses for a year now. Luckily, I have 2 competent friends who already know how to trim that check my hoof trim jobs regularly and give me a grade. Recently, I've been getting A's. I used to get C's. I also do my horses every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks just in case I've done something bad, it won't be so bad. It's getting easier and faster too. Even though it doesn't feel like I'm getting more skillful, I think I am.
 

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LOL
I really appreciate the encouragement, and honestly I do think I am going to end up doing most of their work at some point. I am just a person who really needs to be sure about what I'm doing, and I need to consider everything from multiple angles before I start. Ah, yes, I'm an overthinker. But I do at least usually move from overthinking to underacting, so I will probably get there eventually...
Lol, this is me, it annoys my husband no end because he is a just jump in and do something and figure out the issues along the way person.

I like reading your journal, you write really well.

Good luck with your horse's feet. I hope you figure it out. I have no advice to offer as I only lesson and don't own.
 

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Discussion Starter #109
Good luck with your horse's feet. I hope you figure it out. I have no advice to offer as I only lesson and don't own.
Well, I appreciate the moral support LOL!
:smile:
 
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the the ABC hoofcare group on Facebook. So much info.


And I would try Hoof Armor it is much healthier for the foot than Keratex. I have been trimming my own for a few years now and find it has forced me to be more aware of their feet and to understand each horses needs a little better
 

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Discussion Starter #111 (Edited)
Horses do NOT like hammocks

I’ve been waiting for Pony to take a step back, and today was that day.

The barn owner got a hammock and put it out next to the pond. It’s a great idea, and a very comfortable hammock, but the horses hated it! It was big, it was new, and it moved in unpredictable ways. As soon as Teddy saw it, he took off trotting and snorting. Moonshine, who is not usually bothered by anything, kept a close eye on it (“You’re not going to get the jump on ME!”). Pony didn’t seem that bothered at first, but after the lesson he spooked (mostly in place) at it, then stood there (at a safe distance, obviously) watching intently and trying his best to smell it.

I said Pony took a step back, but Moonshine had a bad day, too. She can be grumpy, but she never acts up. Today she crow-hopped with my daughter on her, several times.

Pony was doing well for most of the lesson, but that fell apart when we cantered. I guess, first of all, I should have started off with his good side, but he’s been so good to the left lately that I didn’t think it mattered. Second… why? Why???? WHY?????? Do I always ask for the canter in that one spot of the arena where he likes to jump sideways? And, no doubt, I asked for it too suddenly again. Usually when he ducks off to the side I can stay on, but this time I fell. I apparently landed on my butt first (per the fifty-cent-sized hole in the seat of my pants) but I really felt it on my back. I fixed his saddle and got back on and then cantered to his good direction. He did really well. But I could already feel my back hurting, so after a lap I stopped and got off.

After I got him into his little paddock, he spooked at the hammock. Then he walked over to the fence and stood there staring at it intently and trying to smell it. So I decided to take him over there and make him deal with it. Usually I just let them get used to new things slowly, but I guess I was feeling a little annoyed at him, so I made him go over there. I brought some alfalfa pellets, though. When we first approached it, he stood there and then jumped back pretty good when it moved. But after that he was mostly OK, especially once he realized I had the pellets. The barn owner was like, “Why are you feeding him when he dumped you?” From the tone of the question, I don’t think there was really any point in responding. But, my answer would have been, because the dumping occurred 20 minutes ago, and if I punished him for it now (or even just declined to offer him pellets) he would have no idea why. There’s no point bearing a grudge against a horse, in my opinion.

My daughter dragged Moonshine over there, too. Benn-There-Done-That Moonshine really did not like that hammock. She jumped back several times. But she got over it pretty quickly.

I don’t know if I can blame the hammock for everything, but from paying a little opinion to the lesson after mine I could see that several of the more reliable lesson ponies were also acting up. Someone even had to get on good ole’ Cherry and school her. So SOMETHING was going on…

I’m OK but my back hurts. I hope I can make my lesson on Saturday.

For posterity, here are some pictures of Pony’s hooves that I took today:
https://www.horseforum.com/hoof-care/critique-trim-817507/

I’ve accepted that I’m going to start doing some of their hoof care, at some point. I’m starting to watch videos about hoof mapping and trimming. I’ll watch all of the reputable videos I can find, then at some point hopefully I will find an in-person training I can take. I do think I’m starting to understand hoof mapping, or at least the ELPO hoof mapping protocol. I still can’t quite envision being confident enough to trim them myself.
 

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Once you get someone standing over you, "Do this, not that," your confidence will grow by leaps and bounds. I cannot imagine me ever being able to trim without a live person saying, "That was good. That was right. No, don't do that." Watching videos doesn't really connect you in the same way. At least, not for me.

Now that I am on my own, I still have my instructors check my work regularly. "This is good. This is not so good." Every evaluation seems to hone my skill a little bit.

One thing I have learned from having 3 people instruct me: they disagree quite a lot about what I should and shouldn't do. Which kind of tells me that you can mess up quite a bit and still get it right. Or, at least as right as your farrier who also seems to mess up quite a bit.

Oh, and I truly hope you feel better soon! That fall was sad.
 

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Discussion Starter #113 (Edited)
One thing I have learned from having 3 people instruct me: they disagree quite a lot about what I should and shouldn't do. Which kind of tells me that you can mess up quite a bit and still get it right. Or, at least as right as your farrier who also seems to mess up quite a bit.
You know, I really like that you said that. Because all of those different opinions have been bothering me, but what **I** have gotten out of it is that there are just more ways to mess up, and me being just a new-ish owner, I have no way of sorting out which is the one right way to do it. I'm so afraid of getting it wrong and hurting them. I like the idea that most mainstream opinions are probably valid in most situations.

I guess I'd been looking at it as, this means there are more ways for me to fail. But you're saying there are more ways to possibly succeed. Wow. Optimist I am not!

Having watched only a few videos and read a few things at this point, one thing I'm starting to believe is that sometimes different horses need different trim protocols. I'm thinking that probably 80 - 90% of horses could be trimmed following one protocol, and they'd probably be more or less fine. But some horses need something different. I'm not sure where mine are -- before this lady, I had only had one trimmer who trimmed in such a way that one of them was sore. And I remember that that guy absolutely scalped them.
 
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One time, both of my "instructors" were riding with me. Both of these people do a fine job on their horses' hooves. Their horses move well and are sound. After the ride, I asked them to critique my latest trim job. "It's OK, but you left too much on the heels, " one said. The other one said, "No, she should leave that on the heels. That is just about right." So, I stopped worrying so much about how much to take off on the heels, as my horses have all been sound, nice smooth gaits, no stumbling--and I've now been trimming myself for a year. Their horses also do fine and look good, so more heel or less heel--not sure it matters all that much.

PS: It's almost the end of the day. Are you feeling better? I have been extremely interested in reading about NOT using ice on an injury. In the past, I found it to be like night and day, the occasions when I could stop what I was doing and ice the injury as opposed to soldiering on. For example, when badly stepped on, if I was teaching at a camp, there was no opportunity to ice the foot, and it would swell, be purple, and hurt quite a lot. If it was my day off, and I got stepped on at the end of the ride, and I immediately iced it, I noticed it hurt much much less, barely swelled, and only a little bruising. Now, I am learning that ice is actually BAD for an injury. Wow! I've always found it to help quite a lot. Could it really be a placebo effect? Or maybe just the rest and elevating are more important than the ice?
 

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Discussion Starter #115
PS: it's almost the end of the day. Are you feeling better?
My neck is still a little stiff. My back is slightly tweak-y. But it's not too bad. I still need to go stretch, I guess I'll do that right now. This was the first fall I've taken where it hurt within minutes of getting up. I guess that sort of surprised me. But now it pretty much feels like the last time I fell off.

The weather guy changed the forecast for the next few days -- highs are supposed to be 107, 107, and 106. And that's actual temperatures, not heat index. But of course, it will still be humid. So, I'm not going to be pushing myself to ride right now, LOL.
 
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Discussion Starter #116 (Edited)
I wrote most of the below yesterday but didn’t post it. I’m glad I waited – I have an "exciting milestone" to mention that is topically related. I will put it at the very end.

We went out the other day just to see them, not to ride. I trimmed Pony’s frogs. I was just trying to get the flaps off. They were like rocks! I guess that’s what excessive heat and no rain will do for you. He was overall pretty good about holding still while I took forever, but he did try to reclaim his right front foot a couple of times. Not really snatching so much as telling me he wanted to have it back. But I told him he had to keep it there and he agreed.

It seems like now that it’s getting super hot they are spending a lot of time in the shady part of their pasture, and Teddy’s sunburn has gotten better. I still treat it every time I’m out there, but there was a point last month where it was actually blistering. I felt terrible. I’m still working on his hoof crack, and now he’s starting to get some rain rot. I need to give him a bath with the antibacterial shampoo, but it’s too hot right now to want to do it. Yes, too hot for a bath!

When we bring them into the “inside” area, they come into their stalls to eat a little hay and their small amount of feed, then they graze the grass. Their pasture is pretty much all weeds. They get hay, but I guess the grass tastes better. We usually let them have an hour or two of grazing, then we put them back. Once they get back in their pasture, they head to the shady spot and just hang out. Which tells me that the grass is much better in the inside area, since when they’re in their pasture they’d rather stand around in the shade not eating than graze.

I’ve tried, many times, to scratch Pony’s withers, but he’s never really been into it, or I haven’t done it in a way he likes. This last time, though, I tried a strong, slow scratch, and he seemed to like it. He then suggested that I work my way up his neck, and when I got to his head he wanted me to stick my fingers in his ears and sort of rub them. It’s funny – he doesn’t generally like his ears being touched, but he apparently likes me to itch them. I wonder if it’s because I spent some time trying to desensitize his ears. He also likes it when I scratch his eyeball. I have to cup my hand around it and then rub it really hard – eek.

Moonshine, when you find her itchy spot (and she has many), she will let you know. She drops her lower lip down, turns her head completely sideways, flops her ears, rolls her eyes, and sticks her neck out as far to the side as she can. There have been times when I was afraid she would fall on me or my daughter. Pony is a lot more subtle about being scratched. I don’t know, maybe he liked it when I scratched him before, but I just couldn’t tell.

I tried Teddy’s withers, too. He isn’t one who likes too much petting, or any sort of attention for that matter, and in fact when I started scratching him he turned around to look at me like, “What are you doing? Why are you doing that? I am not sure how to react and it makes me feel worried!” Also, unlike Pony, who put his head down a little and sort of sighed, Teddy’s head went up and his ears went up. Teddy’s preference is for someone to hang out with him, but not look at him or really pay attention to him at all – just to be there. Pony wants all of the attention, and Moonshine wants you to protect her while she makes ugly faces at the others, since she knows they aren’t allowed to physically retaliate when a person is around. She’s like a little kid hiding behind her mother’s legs and sticking her tongue out. She’s the lowest on the pecking order so she takes her victories wherever she can get them.

Oh, and I ordered my trimming supplies! I'm looking into a new trimmer, but even if he is a good trimmer I'm hoping to transition to maintaining them longer between trims, and then to trimming them myself. I ordered the Pete Ramey DVD set, too.

On a completely unrelated-to-horses note, I finally used some of the mint I dried in the early spring. I planted a mint patch and it was just getting super overgrown, so I cut a lot of it and dried it. I had never dried herbs before. I just hung them upside down in small batches. Some of them got moldy, but most of them did well. My husband got a little impatient because I left them hanging for several weeks, but I was going to put them in a jar, so they had to be drier than dry or they would spoil. Anyways, I used some a few days ago and I was really happy with it – very flavorful and completely dry with no spoilage.

EXCITING MILESTONE Today, I found an itchy spot on Teddy, and he really seemed to enjoy having it itched! I almost want to say he had this body language that suggested he had never considered that a person might want to scratch him, or that it might feel so good. He clearly enjoyed it! Of course, then Moonshine tried to edge in to get scratched. I know she is terribly itchy, but you could scratch her all day and it wouldn’t be enough. She has bloody spots where she has itched her skin off (we’re treating her with something the vet prescribed and it does seem to be helping). I gave her a token scratch, but then of course she just wanted more. I had to keep pushing her away. (My daughter is out of town today, so she was not around to do itching duty.) Anyways, yes, that's what passes for an exciting milestone around here.
 

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I mentioned in another thread that Moonshine bucked during her last lesson! In the 2.5 years we’ve had heard, she’s never bucked, and the previous owner said the same thing. She had been pinning her ears when asked to trot, which we thought might be because of the new horse in the lesson (she hates all other horses), so we took him and Pony out of the lesson and had Moonshine in there by herself, but that’s when she bucked. Thinking back, she had also slightly crow-hopped the last lesson, and she had seen grumpy then as well. It’s sort of a case of, hmm, “The Horse who Pinned Ears,” because Moonshine is generally pretty grumpy, and her pinning her ears isn’t really out of the ordinary, especially if there are other horses around. So it’s sometimes a little hard to say, Oh she must be in pain since she’s pinning her ears.

But we got the bodyworker to come out. She had my daughter ride Moonshine a little, but there wasn’t as much drama as in the lesson (which was only the day before). She did think Moonshine looked a bit off in the hind end. Once she brought her in to adjust her, she found that she was REALLY off. She thinks something must have happened to her, either out in the pasture or maybe it IS because of her poor trim last time (the new farrier is coming on Monday). I don’t think it was the pasture, even though it is currently full of horse-eating holes (really), because, again, when I thought about it I realized it had started a couple of weeks ago and was slowly getting worse. The bodyworker says it’s possible that a bad trim could change the way Moonshine uses her body, and since she already has a bad stifle it may be more possible to exacerbate it. My daughter will skip our weekend lesson and we won’t ride Moonshine again until after the farrier sees her.

The bodyworker had an opening the day after our lesson, which was great, but in the afternoon, which was not so great (August in Texas in the afternoon). In the summer we typically only go to see them in the morning. So I guess the horses were pretty surprised to see us two days in a row, and in the afternoon at that. When we came over to the gate, Moonshine walked right over since she had been hanging out in the “cool” shady spot near the gate. Teddy popped his head up and sort of had this look like he wasn’t sure it was really us, but I waved at him (I’m trying to get him to respond to that in addition to being called) and he trotted over. Pony was farther away. He looked up when he noticed that other two coming in, then he let out a massive whinny when he saw us (“You guys are HERE???”) and came running over. Actually, he took a few steps, then decided to poop, then took off running from a standstill. His canter looks good!

I’m glad they are my horses and I feel comfortable with them. While I was happy to see Pony so excited to see us, and running over, I also no longer let them run in through the gate. So as he got closer, I stood between him and the open gate with my hand up and body language telling him to slow down. Once he got near me, he slowed to a walk, then stopped, smelled my hand, and walked in nicely. I’m glad I have worked with them and known them long enough that I can use a minimum of body language to direct them, even when they are “up.”

I’ve decided to call it “turn in” when we bring them in. Because right now their pasture is just a dry weedy lot where they stand around waiting for their hay and then munching it. Whereas the “inside” area has some decent patches of grass, some of which (where horses get washed) are still green.

My farrier tools came today! I’m exciting to try some of them, but at the same time we’re two weeks into a string of temperatures over 100 degrees, with no signs of it ending any soon, and with no rain. So their hooves are super tough and I get sweaty just picking them. The new farrier is coming on Monday. He was recommended by the body worker. She warned me when she came out that he has strong opinions. I am sort of wondering about that. I mean, all horse people seem to have strong opinions – is this guy worse than most? Anyways, we’ll see how he does and go from there. I got contact info for one other farrier as well, one who is also an osteopath, so at least I have some choices right now.
 

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I have a farrier!

The new farrier came today. I was worried the moment I saw him. He’s one of those high-energy good ole’ boy types. I didn’t figure that would go over too well with Teddy. But I watched him work on another horse (shoes in front) and liked his approach, so I had him do my guys as well.

He did a really good job. He took off most of their flares and took their heels back. He took the bars down (he thinks the bars should be a little above the level of the sole, but not much). He found an old abscess on Teddy (I wonder if that could have been part of his problem) and resected his hoof crack really thoroughly, so we were able to see that it didn’t go that far up, and now I can really get in there with the treatment. Teddy wasn’t overly enthusiastic about him, but he (the farrier) really tried to make friends with him, and I think that helped. I was really worried that having a male trimmer might worry him, since his old trimmer (two trimmers ago) was male and that went really poorly. The last two trimmers have been women: one of them really helped him get over his fear of trimmers, and the other was always kind and gentle. Overall Teddy’s trim went better than I expected, and really not too bad.

This guy is also totally happy to help me transition into taking care of them myself. He showed me how to rasp them down in a couple of weeks if they needed it, and told me that next time he came he could do it or I could do it and he would watch. He does have a different approach to trimming – he basically looks entirely at the frog as his guide for where and what to trim, no other landmarks. And he doesn’t trim the frog at all. It seems that his thinking is that the frog position and health is tied directly to the positioning and health of the internal parts of the hoof (coffin bone and ligaments in particular), so if you use the frog as a guide it will tell you how to trim. This makes sense to me, although it’s not something I’ve ever heard anyone else say. I might have been a little skeptical, but I really do think he took off what needed to come off and left the rest. Plus his statement about how to get rid of a long toe meshed with what Pete Ramey said and also makes a ton of sense.

Now I just have to fire my current farrier :hide::frown:
 
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Oh, also one thing happened that was scary today. I had them all in their halters for "turn in" time and my daughter was watching them while I was watching the new farrier do the other horse. He took a long time getting the shoes to just the right configuration, so I went to check on my guys. I found Teddy in the little paddock with his halter half off but twisted around so the metal part was on his eye. When I first went to fix it, he jerked away really quickly and I thought he was hurt. But then I talked calmly to him and approached him from where he could see me (his eye was closed) and quickly took it off and fixed it. I looked him over and didn't see any damage.

It looks like someone had messed with his and Pony's halters and made them fit bigger last week. Whenever someone gets one of them for some reason they always seem to think the halters are too small and end up adjusting them. They fit really well when they are adjusted correctly, but you have to put them on carefully or they seem too small.

I think he's OK but I feel really bad about it. I don't think it will happen again now that I fixed the halters, but... still.... Maybe I will reconsider having them haltered when they are in. It's not like they are hard to catch or anything...
 

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Good pony

Today was a good pony day. I wasn’t feeling too great, and my daughter wasn’t going to ride today, and then this girl who wants to ride Pony showed up before our lesson. I guess her dad had texted my husband that they were coming, but the message didn’t get to me so I was somewhat surprised. But I had the idea to let her take half of my lesson and I’d take the other half. I could see how he did with her in a lesson, and also how he handled being ridden one person after the other. And I wouldn’t have to ride so much.

He did really really well for her. He didn’t try to canter this time. He had a beautiful trot and a good walk. He did everything she asked, at least when she was clear about it. I keep forgetting how wobbly he can be if you don’t make him go straight. He was calm and relaxed, even when she got a little tight with the reins.

And when I got on, it was like he was already nice and loose. He was super responsive. I wanted to work on him getting his head down, and he did it really nicely and consistently. I got some nice circles out of him and we did some of the same serpentines he had done with her. I also did a little canter work. For once I didn’t come out of a lesson super tired. He was kind of pooped, though. Even though we were in the covered arena in the morning, it was still really hot. And I think mentally it was a little difficult for him to switch gears in the middle of his lesson.

Apparently her dad’s plan was to just leave her (and her tiny sister) there and take his son to a soccer game. So we were kind of stuck there for a while. I did all of my post-ride stuff and then had nothing to do, so I decided to work on something I had been thinking about with Pony – getting him to pick up his feet when I point at them. I asked this girl if she’d like to see me try to train him, and she definitely did. My thought was to take it in these steps: (1) tap fetlock with whip to get him to lift up, reward, (2) point with whip to get him to lift up, reward, (3) point with hand to get him to lift up, reward. But step one was problematic. I just tapped and tapped and tapped, and you’d think eventually he’d lift up his feet, but no. So I decided to bridge something else he already knew, and I got down like I was going to pick his hooves, asked for his foot, and tapped with the whip. I did that a couple of times (I also made a little noise – “bip bip bip” – ) then went back to just tapping (and bipping) and he lifted up his foot, a little hesitantly, but of course he got the reward. A couple times of that, then I just tried pointing with the whip, and he got that, too. This girl wanted to try, so she did, and it took him a minute but then he did it for her also. I didn’t get to pointing with my finger this time, though. All in all, it took less than ten minutes. I had thought it would take a bit longer than that. But he’s a very smart Pony.

Then the little sister started getting bored. I sort of suspected she was feeling that way, but she soon confirmed it by announcing “I’m bored I’m bored I’m bored.” I suggested that they do what some of the other kids sometimes do and jump over the jumps themselves, but she just gave me a look. So I asked her if she wanted to ride Pony. She was really excited. I thought I’d get his bareback pad and just lead him around a bit. It was going to be his third ride of the day, but it wasn’t like it was going to be physically difficult. So we got her onto him (she’s pretty tiny, I don’t know maybe four or five years old) (with a helmet, don’t worry) and I told her to grab onto his mane. I only remember later that someone had suggested actually looping some of his mane into a handle, since it’s so thick. It was fine, though, she just held onto a good chunk of it.

Anyways, she LOVED it. I was focused on keeping Pony focused, but every time I looked up at her she had this giant grin on her face. And Pony had his Pony look. It was like a Thelwell cartoon, with the tiny kid with a huge grin sitting on the fat pony with her legs splayed apart, and the pony with that sort of blank-innocent-naughty look that Thelwell ponies have. Pony did super well. Even with it being his third ride of the day, and with this other girl walking alongside him and continuously “rewarding” him by getting in his face and patting him enthusiastically, he was calm and quiet. I will say that he walked with his head significantly notched toward me the whole time, like he was waiting for that treat that he knew must be coming. But he paid attention and did a good job. I walked her around for about ten minutes and then asked her to get off. I found some mesquite pods and fed them to him as a reward. I think he likes little kids.



Well, the lameness vet came for Moonshine yesterday. She’s now going to be getting injections in BOTH stifles AND in one fetlock. The vet said he’s surprised how well she moves given her problems, and no he isn’t able to guess how long she will continue to be rideable. He did mention some new therapy they are doing for this sort of thing – they take blood from the horse, then extract and concentrate the blood’s natural anti-inflammatories, and then re-inject it into what part of the horse needs it. The thing that sort of gave me pause is that he said these particles (or whatever, they are some kind of ----globin) are normally too small to get into the joints, which is why they take them and inject them. It seems like one of those things that Nature didn’t really intend. He said it’s been used in humans for quite some time, but only in horses for about a year or so. I am not a fan of being the first person to use some sort of experimental medical treatment. For now we’re going to continue with her normal injections, and if that stops being effective we will consider this other treatment.

The question I have right now, and that the vet can’t really answer, is, at what point is this too much? I think she’s getting a healthy amount of movement, and she’s only ridden two, sometimes three, times a week. Right now it’s good for her to get some movement in. But at what point do we say that being ridden is too much for her? IDK… maybe, given her bucking episodes last week, I can hope she will let us know pretty clearly when that time comes. My daughter has been pretty clear that she only wants to ride Moonshine, not Teddy or Pony.
 
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