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Discussion Starter · #1,521 ·
I have also volunteered at therapeutic riding events, and I am very interested in doing more. However, I don't know what the certification entails in the US, but here you have to be a physical therapist first. I don't mind and would actually enjoy taking some courses, but I can't see myself going to college just to wind up working as a volunteer.
Here most certifications are done through the organization Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH, Intl). If you are certified as a therapeutic riding instructor (which is the cert I have) you don't have to be a physical therapist because as an instructor your role is actually to teach basic riding skills while accommodating the disability of the rider. To do hippotherapy- actual physical therapy with the horse as a therapeutic aid- you DO have to be a certified physical or occupational therapist. When I lived in North Carolina, I volunteered at a program that primarily did hippotherapy because their director was a physical therapist. So it just sort of depends on how a program is staffed and what they are able to focus on.

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Had another good ride with Fizz yesterday. I think a lightbulb really clicked for us Friday. We rode in the arena to warm up, and I set my camera up in a corner to record. Captured a bit of the pole work:




And then had our first canter in the new saddle. The balance point is definitely different so I'm still finding my position, but there were at least some moments where my butt is in the saddle:

But then there's this, oy :eek_color:


She's been such a good girl this weekend though, she seems happy to be back into riding.


We waited around for another boarder who wanted to ride out a little, so we did a couple of miles outside with them, which was nice


The ground was finally soft yet solid enough (e.g., not frozen but no sucking mud) that we could actually trot some. It's funny to remember how much different it is to balance over uneven outdoor ground vs. in the arena. But Fizz loves being out, she was tired by the end of our ride but in good spirits.


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I'm excited but a little nervous- I just got an invitation to go up to VT to a limited distance ride with my mentor and another new-to-endurance rider the last weekend of April. We definitely haven't been doing serious conditioning, and I don't want to be unfair to Fizz. But still, it's a 15 mile ride, and the chance to go with a mentor and someone else who's just getting started is really tempting. I'm thinking we should do it, but it's also slightly terrifying to commit to it! What to do?!
 

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I encourage you to go! A vet at a competitive trail ride told me that just about any horse that is ridden some can complete a 25 mile ride without hurting them. According to that vet, you don't have to condition your horse to complete, just ride some. . . and you certainly do! Complete is not a typo . . . not win, just complete without harming your horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,524 ·
I talked to BO about the ride earlier today and was surprised at how enthusiastic her "YES, DO IT" response was! I have every confidence she would tell me if she thought it was a bad idea, but she said there couldn't be a better introduction to endurance than going on a ride at that distance with my mentor there to look out for us (BO is the person who connected me with mentor a few months ago when I was horse shopping). So...I think I am going to do it! :grin:

When I went out to get Fizz to ride this morning, I saw the girls had roped their boyfriend into standing guard so they could sunbathe...


They both just groaned when I walked up to them, neither had any intention of getting up.




Poor Fizz though, she was getting ridden first so she had to peel herself off the ground. After a few rolls, she was up. We started warming up in the indoor, where the footing was being watered. Good desentization to ride around with the hose going, but she barely flicked an ear at it. From there, we headed out for a road ride to the gnome cave, which is about 3 miles round trip. It's the first time we've been out on the roads since mid-February given how awful the footing has been! She was more nervous than she typically is, snorting at the wind, but I just sat deep and sang "100 bottles of beer on the wall" to her...for a couple of miles :wink: She tried to do the annoying "I don't want to go so I'm backing up" thing once, but I just waited her out, which didn't really take long. She put on the brakes, backed up, I asked her to go forward, she backed up again, so we just stood there with her butt in some bushes for about a minute. Then I asked her to go forward again, she sighed, and went. That felt like a small victory in itself! The dirt roads were clear, but since it had been below freezing last night they were still concrete-hard. So we mostly walked, and trotted in a few places where the shoulder was a little softer.


I was there too early to ride with any of my sometimes-riding buddies, but I made plans with one of them to meet next Sunday morning and do a longer ride, which will be nice.

Then I got Izzy out and took her for a nice walk down the road. Fizz had pooped in the road near a house, so Izzy and I walked down there to kick it off into the woods :wink: She has such a pretty face.


 

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egrogan,
Thanks for the PATH info. I will have to check it out and see if it's accepted here. It sounds like it is something I could work towards during summers in the US.

As for the distance ride, I say go for it! Plus, it's the perfect situation: you'll be riding with another newbie, AND a mentor. I can't think of a better way to get into it. As for being ready or not, I recently went on a 2-hour, 10 mile trail ride with a bunch of teens, college students and my BO, who is early 30's. In other words, I doubled and even tripled the age of everyone on the ride, and I was afraid that my age or lack of training was going to make a difference. But, I did fine! I could have even done more, and was sorry that we didn't do any cantering. My ONLY complaint was that I was starting to get sore in my seat bone and groin, but that is typical of my bony butt and dermatitis, and I probably should have worn other breeches. Believe me, if I can do 10 miles with no problem, you can do 15!
 

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i'm excited but a little nervous- i just got an invitation to go up to vt to a limited distance ride with my mentor and another new-to-endurance rider the last weekend of april.. It's a 15 mile ride.. What to do?!
YES!! Do it!!!!
 

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So less fun update today. Izzy had her visit with the equine dentist this morning, and we got bad news- her problem is an infected tooth, with root involvement, so it is going to have to come out. :sad: The one directly behind it is loose too, so TBD on that one. Fortunately for us, the vet who came to see us is one of the best equine dentists in our region, and she lives only 4 miles away from our new house. We talked it over, and we decided that it will be the least stressful on Izzy to book the extraction for June, once we've moved the horses up to the new house in VT. That way, Izzy will just have the one long trailer ride to her new home, rather than going up there to the vet's office, back here to the NH barn, and then back up again. We'll watch for signs of a sinus infection like a hawk, because that's the risk of waiting. But vet felt like it was an ok trade off to make. I don't feel great knowing she'll go another two months like this, and have that pain in her mouth, but she is eating normally and not showing other outward signs of struggling with it so I guess that's something...

Eyeing the torture equipment


Knocked out for the procedure
(side note: I really hate seeing them swaying around while sedated, it makes me so nervous!)


She had to stay in for 3 hours after the sedation, so during that time I brought Fizz in and measured her feet for her boots. I shared the measurements from the trimmer with a rep from Scoot Boots yesterday, but she asked me to also send pictures of the feet with a measuring tape across them to ensure we have the right size.

Fizz was a little skeptical about providing moral support to the patient :wink:


I will check in with BO later just to make sure Izzy is feeling ok once she's been back outside for a bit.

I'll end with a little comic relief...

Interrupting sun bathing...
...I mean, do you think she will make it if she doesn't get these last few bites of grass???
 

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Go for the ride! I'm doing a 12 mile novice the first week of May that we've barely been able to get ready for due to the snow! We haven't gone more than 5 miles and that was all at a walk. I'm hoping the next few weeks get a little better and we can get some more work in but if not I figure they can just kick us out if we're too slow and I'll try again later in the summer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,533 ·
We are booked for the mud ride!



Hoping to go out with my mentor in the next week or so to let the horses meet each other. Her horse Flower is a superstar and we will be in great hands!

Heading up to VT this afternoon for house inspections. Cross all your fingers and toes for us! :grin:
 

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We do like cider- and it's going through an explosion of popularity here. I'm not sure exactly how many trees, nor which varieties, we'd have, but can't wait to find out more. In our area, there's something called "ice cider" which is fairly popular and unique:
Thanks for that clip, we really enjoyed watching that. :) Lovely stonework on the house and those apple orchards... Will you be having a shot at making cider for your own consumption, fingers crossed, all the house etc inspections AOK?

Tell you what though, that alcohol concentration is about twice as high as what we usually drink; they up the sugar and therefore the alcohol by concentrating the juice... I think that would strip the lining off my stomach (sensitive stomach here) unless I had the right amount of bread and cheese at the same time... You've tried ice cider, right, how does it taste? I'm sure it's a good flavour...

All this talk of cider and apples...I'm now compelled to go down the garden and pick some of our ripening Sundowner eating apples for immediate consumption. (Granny Smiths, Jonathans and Cox' Orange Pippins have been and gone; just Sundowners and Lady Williams still ripening as we get further into autumn.) :apple:

I really hope the paperwork all works out! You're going to love living like this.


It's very easy to grow blueberries and raspberries in our climate too, so at some point I'm sure we'll add those- if we don't find them growing wild somewhere on the property first.
Yes, great idea! That's going to be our project over here for this upcoming winter. Last winter we added mulberries, boysenberries and youngberries. Before that it was pome fruit, stone fruit, citrus, etc. Avocados are touch and go here because of winter frosts. I've got one that looks like it's going to survive...

Having your own cherries is amazing. Cherries should grow well in your area too! It's all very exciting.


Cherry Harvest I – Red Moon Sanctuary, Redmond, Western Australia
by Brett and Sue Coulstock, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,537 ·
Hooray! I see GMHA on the header - does that mean the ride is near the new property?!
Yes, it likely will be! I don't know the exact route for this ride- they said it will be almost exclusively on the dirt roads instead of on the trails because footing is still so awful, so not sure if we will go right past the house or not. But a lot of the longer rides do go literally through our front yard, apparently our front pasture has been a hold for the VT100 in the past :grin:

Fingers toes and appendages crossed. How exciting! and sending healing vibes for Izzy!
Will you be having a shot at making cider for your own consumption, fingers crossed, all the house etc inspections AOK?
Thank you, yes, inspections all went well and we are charging ahead! Like any old house, there are some things that will need attention quickly, and others that will need attention "soonish" but everything is manageable. The closing date is just a little over a month away, it's starting to feel real!!

Tell you what though, that alcohol concentration is about twice as high as what we usually drink; they up the sugar and therefore the alcohol by concentrating the juice... I think that would strip the lining off my stomach (sensitive stomach here) unless I had the right amount of bread and cheese at the same time... You've tried ice cider, right, how does it taste? I'm sure it's a good flavour...
Yes, the ciders are emerging as real competitors to craft beers, which are also booming here in New England (Vermont and Maine specifically). We love both, to be honest (not lushes, I swear :wink:). The ice cider, at least the varieties I've tried, is actually a little sweeter than I like. I like a drier, more effervescent cider, which can almost be champagne-like. But, no doubt that the concentrated flavor of the ice cider is all apple, which is really neat.

Jealous of your fresh apples- our food co-op still has local apples from last fall, but you can tell we're now getting what was way in the back of the storage house. They are still good, but not the same as fall fresh!

Cherries do grow here, but they are not as common as other fruits. We actually lived in Michigan before we moved to New Hampshire, and cherries (and apples) are huge in Michigan. Some of the best in the country come from there. I do miss them. We actually had a beautiful mulberry tree in our backyard in Michigan. It was only one tree, and we had to fight off the birds for the ripe berries, but we usually got at least one pie out of it every year. I do enjoy growing fruit more than anything else I think. Maybe with the exception of perennial herbs, I love watching a kitchen herb garden take hold and then start to thrive. I will be sad to leave the one I have now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,538 · (Edited)
Fizz and I had a great lesson with BO last night. It was an almost summer like day- up to 60*F- so it would have been silly not to ride in the outdoor. We mounted up in the indoor, and Fizz was very excited to get to go outside. Too excited actually, so we used that as a "teachable moment" and practiced our turns on the forehand next to the open arena doors. At first she just wanted to charge ahead outside, but she listened well and we got a few nice turns before riding outside.

It was a great set-up for a lesson because there was a lot of activity outside- other people riding, BO's mom gardening in her yard alongside the arena with her dog outside, etc. Fizz was at first very distracted, and we did some basic exercises to get her mind back on me- circle, baby leg yields, transitions, etc. Because Fizz feeds so much off of energy and activity around her, BO and I talked through how I need to have a plan to get her mind on me once we get to a ride with all it's excitement. It worked pretty well, I feel that I do have some strategies I can use. Of course, strategy number 1 is keeping myself calm and loose and not responding to Fizz's tension! Easier said than done though, right?! :wink:

Her trot was not as fluid and relaxed as it was when we rode in the outdoor mid-week, but it was actually probably good that happened in a lesson as it allowed BO to talk to me about my body position and how I can control my own tension when Fizz is a little tenser. We discovered that, regardless of gait, she is SO responsive to a slight firming up/lack of give through my elbows, probably because that also has the effect of helping me sit down deeper in the saddle.

She had us doing lots of canter circles, which provide more than ample opportunity to work on my own tension. But it was good for me to see that Fizz will still come back down easily from the canter, and that she's not going to go bolting off even when we're not in the indoor. BO gave me permission to not worry about how "pretty" the riding was- yes, we know that I have a ways to go with having a truly balanced seat on Fizz with her bigger canter, but it's just going to come with time. She teased me a little and said I need to stop avoiding cantering this much when I'm on my own, and I just need to practice, practice, practice. Of course, she's right. So that is my main homework this week. I may not have a perfect, balanced trot to canter from, but that's not an excuse. I just have to do it!

We were both tired after we finished!




And Fizz is still in the midst of shedding out, so she was soaking with sweat by the end of the lesson. We went for a short walk in the woods- and survived a massive spook when a squirrel jumped from branch to branch right over our heads!- and she had a lovely, relaxed walk. She was very brave when we went down a different trail and saw a big tractor tire laying along the side. At first she shied away from it a little, but we circled it once and then she wanted to walk up to it and sniff it all over. I like that her reaction to "scary" things is to want to investigate, not get away fast.

She was still really wet when we got back to the barn so I untacked and handwalked her out for awhile. It was the first time this spring I could hear the peepers! I love when they come back. (Less helpfully, the blackflies were out too! :evil:)
 

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Regarding ciders, growing up in New England our ciders were thick, full of pulp, and brownish-red. My grandmother would always get a couple of gallon jugs from the local apple farms for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners: soft cider for the kids, and hard cider for the adults. We usually drank it at room temperature. After moving to Spain, I discovered a different interpretation of cider: the clear, pulpless, bubbly, champagne-like sidra, which is what I now serve, chilled, on Thanksgiving. They follow traditional recipes, with no sugar added, and the alcohol content is a mere 4%. I am now interested in trying ice cider - will have to check it out this summer. SOunds yummy, as I am not a grain person.

Regarding strategies for concentration, sometimes the simplest things work best. My favorites are singing and "tickling" the horse's mouth with the bit, with a back and forth motion from right to left (not sawing, mind you; just a tickle).

As for cantering alone, would you be doing this on the trail? When I canter on the trail, it is always heading away from home, never towards, and on a mild incline or through a softish field; both things help keep me in the saddle. Funny, but I have also been working on elbow position and more/firmer/constant contact this week. Coming from a hunter background, I am not accustomed to so much contact, but once my horse gets "locked in" where I want him and rounded, he just finds his groove and goes and goes, even when I relax and loosen the contact. It's a new concept for me.

Now that you mention it, I miss squirrels! We don't have any here. Oh, and can I just say that something went terribly wrong with my childhood? I had never heard the word "peepers" for frogs before, and had always thought that that sound was just bugs!
 
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