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You guys seem to be making some amazing progress, I'm happy for you! Love reading along your journey with Minnie. How exciting finding out all these new things that she seems to have done before!
 

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Discussion Starter #22
4/28/2019

This past Sunday was shots & Coggins day, which honestly, I was a bit worried about. I was finally making steady progress with Minnie, and I was really hoping that poking her with a couple of needles wouldn't set anything back. I made sure to arrive at the barn with plenty of time to spare, just in case she decided that it was a day that she did not want to be caught. After catching my other horse first, I went to catch Minnie...surprise, surprise, she behaved like a seasoned haltering pro and let me put her halter on as any other horse would. Sunday was the first day that I decided to take her out of the pen immediately and bring her to be tied, as I would with any other horse. I figured this would be a day of teaching her how to tie, but instead, it was rather testing how much she knew about tying.


Once again, Minnie surprises me with her knowledge.

Minnie stood absolutely perfect while I groomed Toofine, patiently waiting her turn. Eventually my BO got home with her two dogs, and the once quiet yard turned into quite the ruckus with three loud dogs romping around. As I was brushing Minnie, I heard the thundering of the dogs running our way, only to crash into Minnie’s back legs and roll under her belly. What’d Minnie do? Of course defy my expectations and just look at them, unconcerned.


Toofine and Minnie, slowly starting to spend time together.

Eventually, the vet arrived and immediately walked up to Minnie, and begin rubbing all over her face. I stood and watched, wondering where my once fearful, head-shy mare had gone in such a short time. Once it came time to pull blood for the Coggins test, Minnie stood wonderfully for the vet, only flinching during the initial poke. Afterwards, I tied Minnie back up and grabbed her four-way vaccine that I would be administering myself. Minnie didn’t do quite as well with the shot, as she shot backwards a couple of feet, but I’m willing to attribute that to my lack of finesse. Next time I head out to see the horses I will be giving them both their rabies vaccines, so we will see if there is any improvement!


Saddle pad? No problem.

After all the bad was finished for the day, I began to mess with my half-pad and saddle pad with Minnie. She was not bothered whatsoever by the saddle pads being put on as if she were any other horse, but wasn’t a huge fan of me flapping them against her sides. Minnie had no problem lunging both directions at a walk and trot with the pads on her. My BO has sat out a beaten up synthetic Wintec for me to break her out with, when the time comes. Don’t tell Minnie, but in two weeks I will be picking up her very own saddle, a Thorowgood dressage saddle.


You were seriously concerned about THIS?

To end the no-good needle day on a good note, I decided to take Minnie around my BO’s property on foot. I am very lucky to have a couple of water crossings, fallen logs, and hills walking distance from the barn, so we ended up exploring those. The pond on my BO’s property runs into a small stream that crosses the property, that creates a very suspicious puddle that has infamously been a problem for a lot of horses. Minnie? Unamused, who cares. The stream that most horses huff and puff about? Easy-peasy.


Thinking about it...


No problem!

After our mini adventure around the property, I put Minnie back in her pen and decided to help my BO out a bit by taking a few wheelbarrow loads of poo out of her pen. I undoubtedly missed the quality time that is spent with your horses during chore time, and loved having Minnie supervise my clean-up efforts.


Why’d you stop? I’m not paying you to stand around!

The next update will bring a “big” update, along with a small setback…
To be continued…
:gallop:

 

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Discussion Starter #23
5/3/2019


A few days after Coggins day, my BO and I decided that it was Minnie’s time to step up into a slightly bigger turnout in order to free up the round pen for another hard-to-catch horse. I was supposed to make it down to the barn to be the one to move Minnie, but had to instead be pretty much immobilized in bed until I could make it to the chiropractor later in the day. Later on in the day, I got a message from my BO telling me that Minnie was easy to catch, and made the move into her new pen with ease. However, Minnie is still very wary of going through electric fence gates, as she was when I picked her up in February. This was the first time that someone other than me has haltered Minnie, and lead her. Progress.


Minnie’s new pen, excuse the mud!

The day following Minnie’s big move was Dentist day, and I had no idea as to how Minnie would be. I was just hoping for my wallet’s sake that her wolf teeth had been removed at some point in her life. In order to hopefully start the day out well, and give her a positive experience with getting caught and taken out of her pen, I decided to make a goal of ponying her off of Toofine in the round pen after a rigorous grooming session, of course.

The first time catching Minnie in her new pen was relatively easy, after she hightailed it across the pen of course. As I approached her, I used the same methods as before, approaching her towards her shoulder while keeping my body angled away from her. When she would try to move past me, I would step in front of her shoulder to keep her from getting past me. As soon as she realized that I still had her number in this larger pen, she was easily caught and rewarded with carrots.


Her cocked leg has changed from being nervous to being relaxed.

After a very thorough brushing of both horses, I saddled Toofine up and brought both into the round pen. By this time, the dentist had arrived and there was many horses being shuffled through the yard. I expected at least one of my horses to be distracted by the ruckus, but both were on their best behavior. I spent maybe fifteen minutes riding around the round pen, going over poles and around obstacles, and both horses were perfect. As Minnie grew in confidence with being ponied, soon she was walking alongside Toofine rather than behind him. She hesitated at none of the obstacles, with exception to going around the bridge rather than over it. I took both of them out of the arena and did a short walk around the property, until it was dentist time.


Exploring the saddle. Foreshadowing, maybe?

When I adopted Minnie, there was never any mention of dentistry work being done and I had no idea how she was going to be for the vet previously. As the dentist began his exam, my fingers were crossed that at some point her wolf teeth had been removed, at the very least. Because we were still working to overcome some general head shyness, I was really hoping that she could wait until fall for her teeth to be fully done, as to not have any big progress setbacks. Unfortunately for Minnie, her teeth were pretty bad and needed to be done, but alas, no wolf teeth!


Minnie, after two servings of good ole feel good juice.

Minnie was not great for the dentist, and it was quickly decided that she would get some feel good juice to get through the process. Well, she has gotten worse with needles, and has resorted to doing little mini-rears whenever poked with needles, so needless to say it was a challenge getting her sedated. After the first dose, she appeared to be content enough to let the dentist continue his work, but as soon as the tools were turned on, she woke right back up and needed another dose of sedation. That did it for her, and the rest of her dentist work went on without a hitch.

To be continued...
:gallop:

 

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Discussion Starter #25
5/12/2019


I ran into a bit of a roadblock on my way to visit Minnie...there was a mini horse on the side of a decently busy road for our area. I was the first and only person to stop, and waited on the side of the road with her until her owner stumbled upon us.



After Minnie's appointment with the farrier, I officially saddled her for the first time. This time I used a very light, beaten up saddle just in case of any bucking fits...which Minnie did not do. She clearly enjoys defying my expectations!



After saddling Minnie up, I ponied her alongside Toofine once again, around the property. She crossed the water better than Toofine usually does, and overall was very polite once again.



One of the most beautiful places on the farm. The frogs have been very busy croaking in the evenings lately.



After our very strenuous ride, Minnie was comfortable enough being tied up to take a little snooze.


 

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Discussion Starter #26
Yikes, I got a bit behind on posting...not sure where those 3 months went. :lol: Summer is flying by, and the horses are starting to shed their summer coats. I can feel autumn approaching as the nights get cooler, and with it, I know that my daylight is also quickly disappearing. I've been trying to get out to visit and work with my horses as much as possible, and many great things have been accomplished in the last 3 months!

In the middle of June, perhaps one of the best/worst things happened with Minnie and I's relationship. I got a message from BO that Minnie had a decent wound on her shoulder. Well, it sure appeared like Minnie had run into a tree branch and fortunately backed off of it, rather than just tearing her entire forearm open. The two weeks of regularly rinsing out her wound, cleaning off the dried gunk, and medicating it, I would say that Minnie really began lowering her walls to me and trusting me. She stood perfectly still while I felt around the inch and a half deep puncture (ICK!), making sure there was nothing left behind. Even though we hadn't worked with the hose, she only backed a few steps away before standing still for washing.


After the swelling began to go down...before it was down to her knee and up her shoulder!


A close up of the wound.

After her injury, I gave her a break in order to let the swelling go down and we just spent time together, either grooming or grazing. When I came out to the barn, it didn't automatically mean that we would be doing work anymore.


She's great at ignoring the ruckus that the 'vicious' dogs create.


Chickens have become a regular occurrence in her space, and she couldn't care one bit.


Couldn't forget to visit the scary pigs during her break!

Soon after I thought her injury was healing well enough, we got back to work with saddling and getting her first ride in... Her first ride happened to be at the end of June, and I kept the expectations very low. All I wanted to do is lay across her back and have her move around, sit on her back and move around, and begin to follow my cues with the reins. I kept it easy, and she had a great first ride. No silliness, no hitting the ground, nothing more I could ask for.


First time on Minnie.

During the first week of July, the time came to have Minnie's second ride. This was after visiting home for the holidays, and we hadn't done much up to this point. My SO came out to have his first ride on Toofine, and I decided that it would be a great time to bring Minnie on a short trail ride. I want to really focus on building her confidence outside of the arena, so hopefully as things progress, we can have a lot of fun off property. We started out having Minnie following Toofine and my SO, but soon enough, she was walking next to Toofine, and eventually in front of him. Nothing fazed her on her first trail ride on a dirt road and down a snowmobile trail.


Minnie's second ride.


Toofine being a great babysitter for my SO.


Toofine has proven to be a great example for Minnie!

In addition to continuing to increase the length and depth of our rides together, I have also begun asking others to lead her around and interact with her. Even though she has become comfortable with me, anyone other than my BO and I that approach her, she will retreat quickly. My SO has been leading her back to her pasture after our rides together, and my BO even caught and held her for the farrier last week.


My SO leading Minnie back to her pen; she was even willing to walk beside him.

Another small thing we have been working on is getting Minnie comfortable with eating treats and grazing while I am interacting with her. When I first began grazing her, she would absolutely not graze if I was touching her in anyway. One of her common things to do is hold treats in her mouth until I am a comfortable distance away from her. Since, I started giving her treats and offering her to graze, and immediately begin grooming her until she relaxes enough to eat. As soon as she eats, I groom for a bit longer and then retreat back to sitting away from her.


Notice the lump in her mouth: the carrot that she is 'chipmunking'.

And finally, after six months of owning Minnie, we have finally taken a family picture together of Toofine, Minnie, and I.
:love:


Toofine, myself, and Minnie.

 

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Discussion Starter #27
Since getting Minnie, I've wondered which direction we would head together in terms of discipline... In the beginning, I mostly considered sticking to trail riding and eventually endurance, as I am a soon-to-be college graduate, and I likely won't be able to afford much in terms of entry fees and what not. Then, as Minnie began to show off her lofty gaits and animation, I considered going back into the pleasure ring, and potentially doing huntseat or saddleseat. After going to my first and only horse show this year with Toofine, I decided that I was kind of over the whole 'walk, trot, canter, reverse, repeat' thing. I've shown 4-h, middle and high school equestrian, open shows, and Arabian breed circuit shows with Toofine almost every single year for the past twelve years, and I think my passion for pleasure has met it's expiration date.

And then, it happened, while Minnie was still insistent on not being caught; she jumped the water tank...and it was not a one time occurrence. And it isn't any water tank, it is a big water tank, on a platform, on top of a hill. And she jumped it length-wise. It's not like she had to jump it either, there was plenty of room to avoid me without jumping it, yet she pinged over it, again and again.

And then it happened again, but this time over a big manure pile, while I was across the pasture from her. She ran, she veered away from her pasture mate and towards me, and she launched herself over the pile. I would guess that she was jumping at least 3 foot with ease.

So, what better discipline for a horse that has naturally lofty gaits, is a quick learner, and has an aptitude to jump? Looks like I'm headed back towards the eventing world.
:loveshower:

And with this, Minnie has officially been gifted her very own saddle, a Rembrandt dressage saddle with a wide tree. She is even graduating out of the training bridle that any horse I've started has been started in, to a beautiful new-to-me Vespucci dressage bridle. Her new half-pad is on it's way from Premium Equine in England, finally replacing my very well-used Mattes half-pad. Christmas has come early, to say the least!


Rembrant Dressage Saddle.


Vespucci Dressage Bridle


Premium Equine Half-Pad


Mattes Half-Pad

 

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Discussion Starter #28
Last night was the first time that I got to try Minnie's new bridle on with her new saddle, and I'll just say, it was an unflattering night for pictures! The bridle was too big, and desperately needed holes punched. The flash attachment couldn't even be attached because it would just slip out from under her chin and flap on her nose. The noseband was ridiculously loose, and the throatlatch may need to be professionally shortened in order to work for her. But for a $35 Vespucci bridle? Why not!


Toofine and Minnie showing off their Gucci of horse bridles.

My half-pad is coming from England, and I just happened to ship my Mattes half-pad to it's new home just before heading out to try everything out on Minnie...so that left us with my western pad. I have a small arsenal of english all-purpose pads, but after being spoiled with my Mattes half-pad for the past several years, I always use a half-pad under my saddles. I've worked at a barn that would regularly use it's western pads under every english and cutback saddle, and I always thought it looked goofy, but until the new pad comes it's what I'm left with.


Minnie's new saddle with a silly western pad.

And to top off this post with more unflattering pictures of Minnie, last night was the first time she was relaxed enough to pee around me at all. I've never seen her pee, so I will consider it a victory; a weird victory, but a victory.


What are you looking at?
 

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Discussion Starter #29
8/21/2019

Last night was Minnie's third ride in her full cheek french link, and it seems to be the bit that she is choosing for the time being. I'd like to eventually transfer her over to one of my latex wrapped bits when she is ready to graduate from the full cheek style. We are still waiting on our new half-pad to arrive, so the odd dressage saddle and western pad combo is still happening.


Still doing the photo thing?


How about we take a nap instead?

Yesterday I decided to focus purely on steering, stopping, and overcoming obstacles. Before we could get onto that, I had to work on mounting with Minnie. I have began to work on lateral work on the ground, which she is starting to transfer to when I'm mounting, which isn't too helpful! She is very sensitive to the pressure that my presence alone has, so Minnie can sometimes interpret me approaching her to mount as me asking her to move away. The way I began to combat that is when she starts moving away without me asking, I had the cue of her to yield her hindquarters away, have her yield away for a few seconds, and then rub her sides until she stops, and continue to rub to reward.

On Monday when I rode her, I also discovered that if I am to move my arms out away from my body while on her back, she shies away until I bring them back to myself. Before I began the video, I worked quite a bit with her just walking around while I was on her back, with one arm extended at a time. After she became alright with that, I started to bring my hand back towards her body and immediately rubbing until she stopped reacting to the movement. By the end of our ride, she was totally fine with my arms moving in all sorts of ways.


Once I was mounted, we started working on the obstacles we have already conquered (the bridge and poles), and began to conquer the new obstacles (a kiddy pool filled with plastic bottles and bags, a mattress, and a cross rail). I never increase pressure when introducing new obstacles, as I believe that if you scare a horse over or through something, they aren't actually learning anything other than to be nervous. My goal was to keep her shoulders lined up with the obstacle, and encourage her over it. She confidently walked over the cross rail and through the kiddy pool, but the mattress was a different story. Her first step onto the mattress when the springs shifted, she snorted and immediately backed off of it. After encouraging her once again, she trusted me enough to cross the mattress horizontally. The third time we crossed it, we went across vertically, and she was as confident as can be.


In Minnie and I's other rides that I didn't actively post about, we began trotting under saddle. After three rides, she has become a lot more confident with trotting, rather than stepping up into the trot and then almost shying into herself. I did discover that if Minnie is uncomfortable, rather it be because of the tack or if I'm asking too much, she will stop and kick out with her hind legs. She did this first when the saddle I was using on her at the time had scooted forward to far, and she slammed the brakes when I asked for a trot, and bronco kicked out. Once I adjusted the saddle, and lunged her to reinforce my vocal cues, she went into the trot just fine.

Last night was the first night I asked for a canter, and my suspicions of Minnie being crazy good at bucking turned out to be true. The only video I saw of her before purchasing her was of her bucking around the pasture, and not doing much else besides bucking! When I kissed her into the canter, with my reins purposefully shortened in order to keep her head up, she still managed to bronco buck her hind end up HIGH. I'm thankful that we have switched into a deep-seated dressage saddle with large thigh blocks, because I have never had an easier time sitting a buck. Since my BO had just left on a trail ride with a client, I no longer had anyone to scrape me off of the ground if I happened to fall, so I asked her to trot around the ring once more and called it a day.


The heart on her forehead makes my heart so warm.

Once I had her un-tacked, a friend at the barn arrived with her horse trailer and I asked to quick see where Minnie was at with loading. I hadn't asked Minnie to even look at a trailer since I brought her home in February, and if you have kept up with these posts, you know that her first loading with me didn't go amazing. She used to have a trick up her sleeve to do a 180 spin and bolt away, dragging me along, so I was ready to correct her if she tried pulling that move again. Instead, she just followed me up into an unknown trailer and stood for scratches.

All in all, the transformation that her and I have had over the past six or seven months makes me so incredibly proud. Seven months ago she would tremble against the panels of her pen if I got too close, and now when I approach her in the pasture, she walks right up to me. Seven months ago she was unable to lead, and now we are conquering all sorts of obstacles and trails under saddle. My Minnie is one in a million.
:loveshower:
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I've been pretty quiet on here for the last few months; I spent September through December completing my final semester of college and graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Statistics. I was not the best student throughout my four and a half years of college, so I spent my final semester pushing to achieve a spot on the Dean's list (GPA of 3.50 and above) despite having a full course load of 18 credits, including a large Safe Routes to School project as one of my courses. After 14 weeks of many hours studying and way too many late nights, I achieved a 3.58 GPA, and landed myself on the Dean's list.
:happydance:

I attribute a lot of this success to the addition of Minnie into my life. Her world was full of fear and she lacked much of the ability to trust when I first brought her home. My college experience was unfortunately poisoned by an experience with a man that wouldn't hear my "no's", and my world was filled with pain and fear. I experienced intense anxiety, even in what should be the safety of my own home. Outside of my house, I felt constantly on edge, ready to flee in the case of running into my attacker. Soon after Minnie came home, I spoke to my counselor about how afraid Minnie is of everything, and how I think Minnie and I both have a lot to learn from each other. One of the things I mostly commonly said to Minnie was, "I know, the world if scary, I'm afraid too, but we can do this". And we did it. A year since Minnie came home and over a year since I was assaulted, Minnie and I are on the path of healing. I wouldn't be where I am now without the addition to this wonderful mare into my life.




 

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Discussion Starter #31
Hi everyone, it's Minnie here. My Mom has really let this journal get behind, despite it being about her princess.
:mylittlepony:
Anyways, a lot has changed since February. Mom looked so tired when I saw her before she disappeared for a while, and I wondered if her stall wasn't being bedded deep enough, or if her blankets weren't warm enough. She came out to say hello much earlier than she usually would and gave us apples, with no worries of spoiling our breakfast. Then, she started hugging Toofine and I wondered what was up, as she always saved hugs for the end of our visits. Toofine was trying to make her laugh with his silly faces, when I noticed she was crying. She hadn't cried a long time around me.



I wasn't too comfortable when it was time for my hug, I'm still not the biggest fan of affection, but I knew Mom needed it. And I let her cry into my mane. And then she said she loved us, and said goodbye.





And then she was gone for a while, and Toofine couldn't tell me where she went. The person who feeds us would occasionally snap pictures of us, and tell us she was sending them to Mom. We made sure to look happy, but we did miss our Mom.


And then one day, Mom returned, after the snow had melted and the sun was staying around much longer. I think I heard it was May, and I heard it was Toofine's birthday, he turned 22. She hugged us, and brushed us until our now-shedding coats shone. And the next day, a trailer arrived to our barn with Mom. Before I knew it, Toofine was loaded inside the trailer, and it was my turn. I hadn't been full loaded into a trailer since my Mom brought me home with her the prior year, but I trusted her. I stepped in, next to Toofine, and Mom closed me in with this weird swinging wall thing. And then we were on our way. It was a very long trip, it took nearly all day. At one point, we were on a weird road above this huge pond and when we finally stopped, I heard many new voices. I was at a new home.

The other horses here say that we are Spartans - I'm not sure what that means, but they have a weird indoor arena with fun things to stand on. Also, there are a lot of little humans around, sometimes with fingerpaint. I'm not totally sure why they paint the grey horse in the pasture next to me. She doesn't seem to mind though.



And there are many little baby meow'ing things here, I don't remember seeing these before. I hope they don't expect me to raise these little babies, I've already raised one foal.



I started being ridden again, and Mom told me many times how fancy I looked, and how great I look all tacked up. I can't help but agree, and compared to all of these tall horses that drag their noses on the ground here, I do look really fancy with my flashy legs and high head.



But anyways, one day Mom got carried away trimming my mane. She wanted me to look a bit more fancy, and tried just making my mane shorter. Well, she's awful with a pair of scissors and before I knew it, this weird buzzy thing was brought out. I trusted Mom, and stood as still as I could, but before I knew it... I WAS BALD!



It grew on me though, and I will admit, I look BANGIN'. The boys here seem to like it too, I am a big hit, but Toofine never lets anyone look at me for too long.





Anyway, Mom said she would be back to updating this journal more often now, that we have settled in our new home. Also, someone should tell her to re-do my mane, because it is starting to look like a wack-job mo-hawk.





Toodles for now! Must get back to my hay.
:gallop:
 

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Discussion Starter #32
I'm horrible at keeping up on this, especially with how quickly Minnie is progressing now. In May, both Minnie and Toofine moved from the upper peninsula of Michigan to the lower, after two months of being away from me (9 hours away!). Their move was supposed to happen much sooner, but less than a week after we moved, the state shut down and so did the boarding board they were moving to. I figured it wasn't worth spending the $$$ on the new barn, while their old barn was cheaper (and had access to our regular vet and farrier). I knew they were in good hands, but I definitely missed them.

When my parents, SO, and I went to bring the Minnie and Toofine downstate, my biggest worry was loading. I thought my parents had borrowed an open 4-horse stock trailer with a divider, so that each horse could have a mini-stall and have room to position themselves, however they had actually borrowed an enclosed 3-horse slant. The only time I had hauled Minnie was in an open 2-horse, and I had only practiced once or twice with an open stock trailer - I had no idea how she would react to a tighter, enclosed trailer, and dividers squeezing her. Well, Minnie is a one-in-a-million mare, and hopped right on with no fuss or worry (and this is why I argue trust & time > practicing constantly with trailer loading).

And finally, having my horses near once again, it was time to get back to business and get more under-saddle time with Minnie. We worked on water crossing after some wicked storms...




We started doing trotting poles...and some small fences...


We worked on in-hand relaxation and stretching...


That then translated under-saddle!




And we even started cantering!




I'm over the moon with Minnie - she is truly transforming into an unrecognizable horse compared to the horse I had brought home nearly two years ago. We still have our bobbles, but as long as we both keep trying and being patient, I think we can truly do anything as a team. I love this mare!
:loveshower:
 

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Discussion Starter #37
10/10/2020 thru 10/25/2020


I gave Minnie bad news recently, that an intervention was coming...an intervention that meant regular lunging and riding to promote some, uh, how do I say this, weight loss.
:music019:

She's always been a bit round since I've had her, but I feel like lately it's become a bit excessive. Now that I have unlimited access to an indoor arena, there is no reason why I shouldn't spend the next few months helping her look less like a pregnant mare (in addition to building stamina and topline!). I know it isn't what she wanted to hear, but it needs to be done. Sorry Minnie.



10/10/2020
Before regular work began, I needed to get her thrush-invested foot sorted out. I have never had to deal with thrush this bad, and Minnie hadn't had the slightest thrushiness up until this point, but for whatever reason, this foot went wild. Picking her hoof was a slow, careful process, as she was quite tender in her heel, and despite using Thrush Buster regularly it just wasn't clearing up. Somehow in my ~15 years of horse ownership, I have avoided ever needing to soak a hoof, so in my days waiting for the White Lightning to arrive, I studied up on the best way to get a good result.

But I did not have a hoof soak boot, so I went with a $2 clearance rack cast protector from the drug store, and it worked for the 45 minutes of soaking and 45 minutes of fumigating (despite two small holes). Also, side note, I've never had a horse that poops so much as Minnie, ever (I'm talking 6 piles with-in the time it takes to groom, tack, lunge, ride, un-tack, groom).



10/12/2020
Two days after soaking Minnie's hoof, her heel was noticeably better, and there was little thrushy odor coming from her foot. Once the farrier comes out, I plan to do a secondary soak once more to rid any remaining bad stuff, and hopefully she will be good to go (or at least manageable with Thrush Buster).

Also, after checking her foot, lunging, riding, and then hosing off her sweaty neck, I tried to get her to roll in the arena (with new footing!!!). I was unsuccessful.



After that, I didn't get to the barn again until last Friday, as I went on a 5-day girl's road-trip with two of my best friends. I'll be honest, I've been struggling with my mental health pretty much since March due to being in a new city and largely stuck inside due to COVID, so a break was absolutely needed. We spent two nights near Traverse City in an AirBnB (a camper in someone's backyard with a HOTTUB!!!), camped one night near the Mackinaw Bridge (on the day where water spouts were spotted in Lake Huron), and were supposed to camp at Taquemenon Falls, but the rain pushed us home a day early.



On our way north, we passed a HUGE horse farm in Petoskey, that has been vacant and on the market for over five years. It features a 36 stall barn, 8 grooming stalls, an elevator, a bar and pool table, multiple outdoor arenas, and an 80x200 HEATED indoor arena...Does anyone have 5.9 million laying around? :lol: I linked the listing in case anyone wants to drool at this beautiful property.

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5251-Charlevoix-Rd-Bay-Harbor-MI-49770/2102963648_zpid/



Anyway, back to the actual subject of this journal, Minnie, which brings us to

10/23/2020 The Start of Weight-Loss Bootcamp
On the first day truly working on Minnie's weight-loss and conditioning, we began on the lunge with a long walk warm-up, followed by 10 walk-trot-walk transition on each side, and then 5 large, long, stretchy trot circles on each side. After finishing trotting, we did 3 trot-canter-trot transitions on each side, really focusing on getting her left lead (the one she struggles with). After, I mounted up and let her walk for a bit, before working on some trotting undersaddle, followed by 3 canter laps around the arena each direction. After this seemingly short workout, Minnie was sweating and breathing hard, so we cooled out.

Because of how much Minnie sweat and how chilly it is getting now (high of 50's during the day, 30's at night), I have ordered a lightweight and medium weight blanket for Minnie, and am getting my clipper blades sharpened - a high trace clip is in Minnie's future.

10/26/2020
Yesterday I had planned on giving Minnie a small clip job to provide some relief, but my clipper blades were just way to dull after roaching her mane all summer. We got right into lunging, doing 5 minutes of walk each way, half of which included going over walking poles. We then increased the speed up to a trot, and did 3 trot spirals each direction, where we started on a large circle and I slowly reeled Minnie into the smallest circle she could go while still trotting, and then let her return to the big circle. We then did 3 large, long, stretchy trot circles on each side, followed by going over trot poles 5 times on each side. Sorry the video is sideways, I forgot to crop and rotate it before posting.


Afterwards, I mounted up to walk Minnie around for a few minutes to allow her to catch her breath, and began trot work, occasionally popping over a cross rail. After working up a small sweat, I began to walk her out, and jokingly asked my SO if Minnie wanted to canter at all today, as I was planning on calling it a day. Well, SO said 'well yes of course Minnie wants to canter."
:twisted:

I decided to do one canter circle each direction, and call it a day. I started going clockwise, picked up a trot, did a quick canter circle, and brought her back down - it was the least dramatic her canter has been so far under-saddle. I reversed, asked SO to video it so I could see how her canter is progressing on her weaker side and then this happened:




I haven't fallen off at all since the summer months of 2018, where I was breaking horses out for a local vet, and I fell a lot then. I've managed to stay on Minnie's shenanigans up until this point, and probably could've stayed on if I had tried, but I had no idea if Minnie was going to be able to stop falling before we were to hit the line of chairs and the wall. I went to jump off pretty much as soon as my SO dropped his filming phone. I got my right leg over, and I remember feeling my left foot going deep into the stirrup, so I kicked off of Minnie's side with my loose leg, throwing myself away from her, and getting my other foot free from the stirrup. Luckily Minnie just stopped instead of bolting off, and really, the whole thing wasn't too serious.

I've very, very happy with Minnie, especially since she didn't panic with her leg through the reins, and I couldn't ask for a better reaction to the 'big' fall. I got a pretty gnarly scrape on my knee that I landed on, that bled and glued my leggings into the raw skin (and tore my last pair of leggings without holes!), but really, things could've been much worse. This was also the first time SO saw me fall off of a horse, much less watch a horse fall with me, so he was pretty worried...up until I asked "Did ya get it on video?". Horse girls, am'i'right?





I walked Minnie out for a bit, mounted back up and did a quick W/T/C the way she fell, and then called it a day. Minnie seemed a bit shooken up over the whole thing, and I'm sure she is a bit sore today, but all in all, the day ended on a good note and we were both okay.



 

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I had missed your last couple of updates, but have to agree that she's looking really amazing! Go Minnie. I can sympathize on how hard it is to get weight off the "air ferns"- no fun for us or them. I was laughing hysterically at the rolling picture, and held my breath to make sure you were both ok after the fall. Glad it ended well.



Traverse City is a beautiful vacation spot. Glad you enjoyed it. Does the "Grand Traverse Pie Company" still exist? I remember when they opened a location in East Lansing, which was directly across the street from a place I worked for awhile as a research assistant, and I became completely addicted to their raspberry turnovers. So good, yet so bad for you :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Traverse City is a beautiful vacation spot. Glad you enjoyed it. Does the "Grand Traverse Pie Company" still exist? I remember when they opened a location in East Lansing, which was directly across the street from a place I worked for awhile as a research assistant, and I became completely addicted to their raspberry turnovers. So good, yet so bad for you :wink:
It does still exist, in Traverse City and East Lansing too! It looks like there are 4 locations in Michigan now, and I don't think I've been to a single one of them. I'll have to add it to my list of places to visit in East Lansing once COVID gets back under control...East Lansing has been a hotspot with all of the college students returning and being dumb.

We did some winery-hopping will in Traverse City and had to sit on the patio of all but one of the places...had we known this would have been the case, we would have dressed A LOT warmer, as it was in the 30-40's all day, and rainy. I'm hoping to get back up there once more before the year ends, but this time with SO to celebrate 2 years.
 

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10/27/2020
Just dropping in for a quick update about my session with Minnie, two days after her fall. I went out to the barn today with no expectations or plans, as I figured we would be doing a pretty light day just in case she was sore. My SO went out and got her from the pasture with no fuss (which is a huge deal for Minnie) and groomed her while I was riding Toofine. She stood patiently tied up when my SO returned to the arena to keep watching me riding. My SO has started learning how to saddle using "my" saddle that has a monoflap girth, so a bit different from a traditional english girth, so he saddled Minnie up while I finished grooming Toofine. I left Minnie's bridle off today just in case her mouth was sore from hitting the ground, and began on the lunge.

We started with a long walking warm-up, following with the trot going counter-clockwise (the way she fell). This direction Minnie kept attempting to stretch down, whereas the opposite way she hardly relaxed down at all. I asked Minnie to canter going clockwise, and she had no issues doing trot-canter transitions this direction, and we did 10 in quick succession. When Minnie reversed the opposite direction (the way she fell) to do the trot-canter transitions, we only made it to 5 trot-canter transitions, before she slowed down to a halt and looked at me. I took this as a sign that her body wasn't ready for her 'normal' level of work, so we called it quits on lunging.

I decided to do a bit of slow, lateral-ish work to give Minnie some mental exercise instead. I did a crude-drawing in Paint to try and explain the exercise since I couldn't find the description online (a Parelli 'pro' taught me this one). What I typically do it stand next to the wall, and 'lunge' Minnie back and forth to each side of me to start. As she approaches the wall, I use my body and the lunge whip to suggest her to walk away from me, down the wall, almost like we are ground-driving. Then, once we successfully go down the wall a couple of times, and she is comfortable with me behind her, I gently put pressure on the lead, cluck, and use the lunge whip to ask her to yield diagonally down the wall, for just a few steps. This is really hard for her, as she is super, super, super sensitive on the ground, but we ended up getting a few good lateral steps down the wall each way.

Then, I began to teach her to accept me twirling the lunge whip over my head like a lasso, and then moved onto doing this over both of us. I got to the point of being able to do it three times on each side, and called it a good stopping point. I took off her saddle and let her wander around the arena (more like stand in one spot) while I laid in the sand, trying to convince her to roll - she gave me one half-hearted dig in the sand. Eventually I hopped on her bareback and just sat, eventually asking for a walk and then a trot, testing her response to my seat and voice saying 'whoa'. And like that, our pretty simple session was over, I fed her dinner, and turned her back out.

Thursday I'm going to try to ride her under-saddle, but will be keeping a close eye on how she is reacting to each thing just in case she has some lingering soreness.
:runninghorse2:
 

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