Okay, let's try making a journal post with the new forum update...fingers crossed!
11/6/2020 Minnie's Under-Saddle Evaluation Post-Fall
I rode Minnie for the first time since our fall and pretty much confirmed my concerns of something being "off" about her since. Pre-fall, Minnie was pretty good about getting her leads, and was well on her way to relaxing undersaddle. Well, I kept this ride as a low-stress, conditioning, feeling-it-out ride, and Minnie could no longer hold her left lead at all. The video below is actually the only time she was able to pick up her left lead at all, the first time I asked, and every time after that it was an automatic lead-swapping mess.
Fortunately for Minnie and I, a body worker would be out soon.
11/8/2020Minnie's Ground Tying Session
Minnie remained out-of-commission after her fall, with exception to the previous ride, so on my usual every-other day riding schedule I ended up riding my other horse, Toofine. My SO usually rides Toofine, because SO is a beginner and Toofine is beginner safe (under supervision). I noticed the jump blocks set up in a cloverleaf pattern in the arena, so I gave SO a mini barrel racing lesson while I held Minnie. Once SO finished up, I hopped on to see if Toofine still remembered how to go fast...he sure did! And while Toofine and I were running the pattern and schooling through his silliness, Minnie worked on ground tying (never taught, she's just content (or lazy!) standing in one place).
11/9/2020 Minnie's Celebrity Treatment
Fortunately, the body worker was able to fit us in on a short notice to hopefully have Minnie feeling a bit more comfortable. Since our fall, she has been pretty "meh" and just hasn't been acting like herself. She LOVED the MagnaWave, especially on her neck and shoulders. When we got to her chiropractic adjustment, the chiropractor was able to point out how uneven her pelvis was - I'm honestly surprised I hadn't noticed when I had groomed her. Minnie was a little out of wack all over, in her poll, neck, shoulders, and hips. Once her hips were adjusted, there was almost an immediate difference in her demeanor and movement. Next time the body worker is out again, I figure I will have Minnie done again, just in case there is any remaining off-ness in her body, but she is truly acting and moving the best she ever has since I have owned her.
11/11/2020 Minnie's First Partial Clip and New Blankie
I gave Minnie some additional time off, just in case she was sore in her body from being adjusted. I finally received new clipper blades in the mail and realized that I had ordered the wrong blades, which was a perfect excuse to go to Tractor Supply and buy shiny new clippers that fit my shiny new blades. 😅 I've already sold my old set of clippers so I consider my decision acceptable! Since Minnie had been sweating regularly, no matter the temperature, I knew this would be the year that my horses would be partially clipped over winter.
This is also one of those times where I will preach my relationship > practice. Minnie has never been twitched, tied up, cornered, etc etc for clipping. Ever. Nor will she ever be. Because I value a good foundation of training and relationship over working on every single little thing a horse may be scared of. I believe once a horse trusts you and you have worked through a couple of scary things together, everything else that is scary will be manageable with the foundation you've built. The first time I roached her mane, I did so in the arena so she could move around a bit and listen to the clippers, while not feeling trapped. When she knew it was time to stand still, she stood still, and trusted. This was her first time having her body clipped, and my SO's first time body clipping as well. There were no dramatic moments whatsoever, because her foundation was built strong.
Once finished, Minnie then had the itty bitty clipped hairs washed off of her, and then dried off underneath of my soft, curl-up-on-the-couch blanket and her new turnout blanket! I think she looks absolutely dashing in red, even though I think it violates the color wheel rules since she is a red-based bay? Oh well! I'm still trying to figure out what our colors will be when we start competing (fingers crossed on eventing!), so if anyone has any recommendations I'm all ears! I especially love neutrals, blacks, whites, mustard, olive greens, earthy tones...but I have a feeling that most of those don't go with bay.
11/15/2020 Minnie's Beginning with Lateral Work
Now that Minnie was feeling good once again, we began dipping our toes into lateral work. Minnie has a tendency to arch her body away from the wall, bringing her nose and neck tipped towards the wall, needless to say, it's not very comfortable to ride like this nor is she using her body correctly and effectively. I have been waiting to begin more "advanced" stuff with her, hoping to let her body strengthen a bit more before asking for more undersaddle. I currently keep the more "advanced" work to a minimum (asking her to lower her head and push forward), just because she is out of shape and tends to get winded quickly still.
After introducing Minnie to yielding away from my leg at the walk for a bit, she quickly caught on to what I was asking and WOW does she feel great when she is really utilizing her entire body. Unfortunately, the yielding at the walk hasn't quite yet translated to the trot, but I know we will get there eventually. The video below shows her tendency to look towards the wall and resist, and then TWO!!! correct steps of yielding away from my leg at the trot.
11/20/2020 Minnie's Second Ride Post-Chiropractic Adjustment
Since Minnie's chiropractic adjustment, I hadn't asked for a canter yet, just in case she had any lingering soreness from her fall or adjustment. I typically start her out on the lunge before I ride lately, to work on her fitness without adding the straining of carrying me around and to also help her continue to find her feet during the canter. I started out with a 6 minute walk warm-up, over poles, with a lot of changes of direction to help break up the monotony of lunging. Once we began working at the trot, I created an exercise with three poles down the centerline of the arena. My goal with this exercise is to work on her bringing herself together for the smaller circles, and then pushing herself forward down the wall of the arena, and coming back once again for the smaller circle. The biggest thing with this exercise for Minnie is having her remain relaxed and forward while I run alongside her, because she has a tendency to get nervous with me running and want to stiffen up and stop.
Here is another rough drawing of what we worked on, but better this time (thank you updated forum, the improved picture sizing really helps!!!). We would start at one end, at trot over the pole on the outside, the pole in the middle, and then the pole on the outside once again. Then, I would send her along the wall, while I jogged alongside her, encouraging her to remain forward. Once we reached the other end, she would trot the outside pole, the middle pole, the outside once again, and be sent down the wall again. Rinse and repeat, both directions. By the end of it, she was really getting the exercise.
Here is a visualization of it actually being done, at the trot. Eventually, once Minnie gains muscle and control of her body at a canter, I'd really like to challenge her and myself to do the entire thing at the canter. Eventually, I think we will swap ground poles out for crossrails, and even further in the future, doing this exercise undersaddle (once she figures out how to properly carry herself in circles undersaddle). And once we have access to having an even larger arena, I could see this exercise being expanded to four or five ground poles or jumps, to help prevent her from just going through the motions.
After we did a thorough trot warm-up through out exercise, I briefing had her canter on each side, doing walk-trot-canter-trot-walk transitions, three times each direction (as long as she chose the correct lead). Since her fall, she has been a bit sticky picking up the canter, but I'd imagine there is a bit of resistance due to any pain she had, in addition to having a couple of weeks off of real undersaddle or on-the-lunge work. But, fortunately, she was able to canter and hold her leads (especially on the left! Yippee!).
I didn't get any video/pictures of our undersaddle work, but I continued to work on the yielding and lateral work, mostly at the walk and a bit at the trot. We had one really good trot where Minnie went into the short side using her entire body and arcing with the turn, and when we exited the arc down the long wall, I felt her really push of her hind end down the wall, remaining straight! It might not be much compared to other horses, but it's a start for Minnie. Have I mentioned I love this mare?