Saturday, July 30, 2011

Amber is going to the vet!

I got an e-mail back from the vet - they do accept CareCredit, which I think is the card I want to use, and I will be making her an appointment on Monday!

The vet said they will use acupuncture and chiro. I've heard some amazing things about acupuncture, so I'm down for that definitely.

I am honestly excited about it. Not because Amber is hurt, of course, but because finally answers and ultimately, healing.

I would have done this sooner, but I honestly thought we had found and fixed the problem each time, and none of them lasted more than a week really. The time she had off was just me being careful.

So I'm going to have Bob hold off on the shoes until further notice. She may need shoes, she may not, but I think it will complicate the vet's assessment of her if we add a new factor. He needs to examine her just as she is, because just as she is is how she's lame.

Furthermore, if what the vet finds and fixes (or puts us on track to fix) will stop her toe dragging, there is no need, and if a horse can be sound and healthy barefoot, why shoe them, unless the riding you do creates a need for them?

And I have pretty much concluded that she may have been toe-dragging due to improper self-carriage and her hind end not being engaged previously, but now that she isn't dragging the right hind at all, and we are seeing specific problems in the left...that are obviously significantly painful to her...well, the dragging has simply changed causes.

At this point though, I'm behind. I had planned to start her showing this year. Didn't happen because she is:

a) Off and on lame.
b) Behind in where I should have her in her training because of the time off.
c) Out of shape due to time off.

I had wanted her to be jumping and showing 18" courses by now, and schooling 2'. I had hoped we'd be killing Intro Level at shows and schooling Training. I wanted get her really fit.

But I haven't been able to get in more than a month, sometimes 2 months, of real training, because she goes lame and then is off work for a month. Because she's fairly green still, and she was basically walk/trot/canter/stop/turn-by-rein-pulling when I got her, in other words, as green as a w/t/c horse comes, the inconsistency means we always went back to square one.

I can't complain, because we HAVE accomplished some things that seem to have stuck...

-Circles. Remember when she couldn't work consistently on a circle? She would just lean on your leg and make a weird egg shape while counterbent, trying to run out through her shoulder? She does pretty well now.
-Leg yields and responding to leg pressure besides "forward". Remember when she didn't understand that my leg on her meant something besides "GO"? No sideways motion at all. No bending when I pushed her into the outside rein. Very responsive now!
-Contact. Our most recent success. Remember when she was super mouthy-chompy and not truly soft? She didn't understand why I was touching her mouth, and she didn't want to move forward into it. Now she puts herself on the bit in the walk like some old schoolmaster. The chomping is now a content, gentle chew, and she gets super foamy from good salivation. Trot was coming along before she went lame! Her canter is always better than her trot, so that will come even faster.

Amber is the first horse I've really "trained". Jack was not truly "green". He'd been there done that, he was just learning a new discipline. Plus Patricia put a lot of training on him herself.

But Amber's training up from w/t/c has been entirely my work. What she's learned past the basics of gas/brakes/direct steering has been what I have taught her. I can't help but be SO proud of her and myself. In 5 years, when she's 12, in her prime, hopefully excelling in her discipline, I can look back and say that *I* made her what she is. If I get a compliment on her, I can say I trained her.

I rode a lot of green horses when I was a young teen. But there is a difference in riding a green horse and training them. Teaching them. I've never really trained a green horse until now. Never started at a point, then looked back later and realized that new things they know I taught them.

And I was musing myself earlier today, and realized that I, too, have come very far.

In February 2009, I was scared to even trot. It made me nervous and all I could think about was "what if".

And here, in July 2011, my fears are minimal. They only flare when Amber has "out of control" moments - like the bucking spree a while back when we were cantering in the open. But here I am, training a green horse, cantering, jumping (well, we will be doing it again when she's sound and fit), and dreaming of eventing my green horse. I was terrified and didn't believe I was capable of doing ANY of those things 2 and a half years ago.

Thinking about the positive things helps the negative things going on seem not so horrid and final after all. I realized that I am looking at this like the vet is going to tell me she's never going to be ridden again, or I will have limited use of her. Yes, there's a problem, and it COULD be very serious, but more than likely, it's not - if it were, would she be able to buck and play with the mares out in the pasture? Unlikely! It may be a simple one-stop fix, or it may take a few months to recover from. But she's 7 years old. We have time. This isn't going to be a detrimental thing. We will get through it!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Excellent news!

Emma and I looked at Amber again today. Now she's crow hopping in the canter. She was just a mess. I really don't think she's faking it, but it's a mystery how the saddle makes it so much worse. It doesn't make sense. And then she's almost sound without it? But she looks fine out in the pasture?

Also, we checked saddle fit. It IS a little small actually, we determined, but we still don't think that's causing her problems in one specific leg. But still I'm ordering her a new gullet. Looks like she'll be going up to a medium wide. We tried a wide on her, and it's a little low, might be okay with a half-pad, but I don't want to HAVE to need a half pad. Then again, I always use one anyway...on the other hand, if we ever get back to work, she's going to get lean. I'm just going to get over the lameness before I order her a new gullet.

Anyway, Emma told me about a credit card that's for vet bills. I looked it up, and if I can get a decent interest rate, I believe I'm going to apply for one and use that to take Amber to Neuse River Equine, where the chiro vet is.

I think I'll be trailering her in to avoid a farm call. Lisa offered to let me borrow the barn's trailer anytime I need it. Time to work on Amber's loading again, no? After the last two irritating, tiresome times. I think treats will do it. That's terrible training, but seriously...if she gets treats one time on that trailer, she'll just associate it with the trailer as a positive thing. She won't even beg until we get home likely. I'm pretty sure that's how it'll go.

Oh, adding this, I also mentioned to Lisa about cutting her grain down even more. Amber needs to shed a few pounds bad. I think, at least while she's out of work, that a 1/8th scoop (yes, 1/8!) will be what she needs. Basically, that's just a sprinkle to doctor her feelings she she won't stress herself because everyone else gets food and she doesn't. Lisa talked me into waiting a couple of weeks, to see how the smaller/less lush pasture she's in affects the weight...and I agreed to this, although I still insisted on a small cut.

Ultimately, I think the smaller pasture and 1/4 scoop will be almost ideal for her - when she goes back to work - but right now, she's not doing anything to burn calories.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Three Words: What The HELL?!

I got out earlyyyy this morning. I popped Amber out in the round pen, naked, and guess what? You probably wouldn't know anything was wrong unless you knew she had had issues - there was barely ANY stiffness in that left hind.

Okay, maybe she's doing better I think.

I ended up tacking up just to walk around. I got less than halfway around the arena, and she was limping and pinning her ears and just PISSED.

Could it be the saddle? Could it possibly be? It makes no sense, but maybe it IS, and maybe it's putting pressure on a nerve, and that's causing pain in the left hind? It just doesn't add up.

Yeah, if she was only moving like cramp with the saddle, but not in a specific leg, I'd say "Oh, time to look into getting her refitted for a saddle."

But it's only the left hind? And seemingly only with the saddle. What about the saddle could cause such a reaction? Apparently, even without my added weight it bothers her.

Emma didn't think it was her stifle locking up, and there's no heat, no swelling, and I can flex the leg all around and she doesn't care.

I really want to hear what Bob thinks, but in the end, I think I just need to "upgrade" my job ASAP and get some x-rays done and have a vet look. I still cringe at the thought that I'll probably go way into the hole, but the more this goes on, the more I start to see more than a chiropractic issue...and I'm not going to take my cheapest option here. Her health and well-being is too important. I'll let her rest, keep a check on it, and get myself in a position to be able to afford to get this taken care of. Simple as that.

Part of me, after dealing with Gulliver, still thinks maybe she's learned that it's a way out of work, but although Amber is certainly clever and I believe intelligent to an extent, I don't think her mind is working that high up. Then again, I jump off immediately when she starts kicking/limping/ear pinning, because I don't want to further injure her, and maybe she's picked up on that and thinks she's either intimidating me or just says "Oh, I can stop working if I do this."

But she drags that leg stiffly even after I get off, so I don't think it's a case of that...and she's got a good work ethic, at least, when she isn't hurting.

If things work out, Emma is going to ride her tomorrow so I can see what it looks like from a ground perspective. Possibly try a different saddle on her to see if it makes a difference. It's all I can do for now, and I think it wise to explore that possibility before I have the vet see her.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A little more understanding, but a little confusion too.

I went out to check Amber today.

First, I looked at her back. For all accounts, it LOOKS even, and there are no bumps or depressions. I felt around, and there was no serious reactions to pressure in various places. I flexed her leg around, no reaction at all. She flexed out okay, at least, from my inexperienced POV.

I saddled her up, took her out to the round pen and threw the side reins on...She started to walk fine, immediately stretched down and got nice and round. Great. Then, I asked for trot after walking her both ways...she pinned her ears and went along, grudgingly. It was obvious that the left hind is NOT flexing, seeingly up near the stifle joint...hmmm. Stifle injury was looking spot-on to me after watching her a few minutes. When she tracked right, she fell in on the circle BAD. She was not going to put her weight on that outside left hind no matter what.

I took the side reins off, to see how she'd do if she could put her head where she pleased, and same results.

I don't know why I decided to do it, but I took her saddle off and tossed it over the rail and asked her to trot again. Still a little stiff, but there was more range of motion AND no ear pinning. What in the HELL?

I checked my saddle fit today. It fits fine, which is why her moving more comfortably without it is weird. If it's a stifle issue, or any issue specifically in that leg, the saddle should not effect it - especially if there isn't even a rider in it. Even if it didn't fit, if there were no rider, it might not feel great, but it wouldn't cause a noticeable, specific lack of flexibility in one leg.

I'm just going to have Emma put a fresh pair of eyes on the situation and give me her opinion tomorrow.

Obviously, the toe dragging is now related to this lack of flexibility. At this point, I'm going to get Bob's opinion, but probably not opt for the shoes, unless Bob thinks it will be necessary just to stop the wear on the toe until we figure out and cure this lameness.

I don't have a ton of money to spend, so I have to be wise in what professional help I seek. I want to see what Bob and Emma's opinions are about what it might be and where I should take her.

I think she knew that I was trying to figure out how to help her. I just wish she could tell me "this hurts here". But...she can't. I've considered an animal communicator, but it's so iffy...and I feel like a lunatic for considering such.

At the same time, I feel like I've failed Amber, letting this continue so long. I've tried to reason with myself that this is an entirely different issue we have here. She was doing so good, I thought maybe we had finally found the problem and worked through it. But then I think that I should have simply taken her to the vet soon as the toe dragging started. Soon as the weird lamenesses started.

And...then I tell myself again, she recovered in a relatively short period of time, and seemed to make even more progress forward each time, and each time that happened, I though "Finally, we fixed it."

To make matters worse, my saving for vet bills was depleted when I was suspended from work - again, a stupid, stupid thing I did. At this point, I feel like I should have never bought Amber, because I've failed her all around. I've made all the wrong choices, and maybe buying her was a selfish choice. I knew she had some issues with soundness when I bought her - even though the vet checked her out fine. I knew my measly job couldn't cover what was going to come inevitably.

But what can I do now, I have to ask myself. Sit here and fault myself, slapping myself on the wrist for bad decisions? No. That damn sure won't help me get $ to cover the coming vet bills, and it definitely won't help Amber get better. I love her more than anything, there is no question that she's worth anything I have to spend.

I've put off putting in my app for that job at Caswell, but I have to do it, and I WILL do it before the week is out. It's $14 an hour. Double my current salary. I'd easily have enough to pay Amber's vet bills. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. At the same time, I'm going to be looking for jobs of equal pay to apply to. I think I have a good shot at Caswell. I hope so.

Right now, I'm wishing I had taken out an insurance policy on Amber soon as she passed that PPE...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

So. The plan...I think.

I'm not going back out until Monday. There really is nothing I can do for Amber right now that would be better than just time for her to rest her body, whatever is the issue with it.

I've got a hunch now that it's a vertebrae/hip issue. That could cause nerves to send pains down the leg, thus, making her want to kick up back there. And, for a while, apparently fooling us into thinking it was the leg. But with no heat, swelling, or sensitivity in the leg from our look overs...well, it adds to my hunch.

I'm sure the shoes will help her stress with the toe length. So I will tentatively see if she can handle trot work after she gets those, and just check in for now to see if she's doing better on it, but not actually work her too hard.

I honestly think maybe working correctly, thus hard work on her back muscles, is what's actually doing her harm. It always seems like after I have a great ride/lesson, where we are making breakthroughs and she's working so nice and round...she goes "Oh man, I HURT!"

After the shoes, I'll see where my $$s are and give the chiro Katie recommended a call and see if he can travel to us and do some work on Amber. If that seems to do her good, and if the chiro recommends, we may schedule some more sessions until we get her back on track.

I mean, she's been off and on "lame", even though not always dead-hopping lame, in fact most of the time not, since I've known her. The vet saw nothing wrong in the PPE. I felt confident it was just one of those mystery lamenesses.

And then it all just started to go nuts. And of course, when she was a little weird back when she got her shots, the vet looked and saw nothing. So at this point, having the vet involved...while it may sound moronic on my not part of the plan. I'm definitely not rich, there is a limit on the budget, and I have to decide where I think the money would best be spent. I think it's the chiro. The chiro, actually, is a vet too, so that's where we are going to take this. I just can't blow thousands on repeat vet visits on a wild goose chase. It's more than likely going to turn out that way if I do, let's face it, and I'm fairly sure, will end up with a chiro anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Yeah, it's freaking hot today.

I got out and Amber was turned out in one of the smaller pastures with one of the mares. The barn cut back on almost all the horses, and the schedule is kind of wonky right now.

I took her out to the round pen and she was feeling pretty fresh. She actually kicked out at me at one point and I got after her good. So she's looking totally sound.

Well, it was boiling already outside, so I decided to do a little walking on the bit and just see if she was sound under saddle at a trot yet. Well, she was great walking. Nice and on the bit, steady and consistent. She was holding head and neck "in position" for 99% of the ride. She was all foamy around the mouth.

I asked for a little trot, and she started off nice, and then she scuffed her toe on the harder ground and pinned her ears and kicked out with the left hind. And by the way, I'm retarded, I told you all it was the right hind, its actually the left. Uh-durrr.

No wonder she's wonky, her owner can't even tell left from right. ANYWAY, I have a lot on my mind.

It seems to be a physical issue, but it's so weird how she's sound enough to gallop around in the round pen, without any sign of pain or limp, and she is perfectly sound at the walk under saddle, but soon as we trot she tenses up and I know that she's going to throw a tantrum if I push her. Part of me has a thought that she just doesn't feel like working and she thinks she's found a way to get out of it. But I really don't want to push her through it if it's pain, because I don't want her to become sour to work.

So. My list of possibilities:

-Saddle fit. I am going to recheck this asap, and maybe get Bob to give me his opinion.
-Too close to the sensitive tissue on the toe? She was closer before, it makes no sense, but at the same time, it seems to happen after she scuffs the toe.
-The wonky toe lengths.
-Something muscular or perhaps hip pain. If the shoes don't make her 100% sound, I'm going to have a chiropractor have a session with her.

I just wish I knew why this is happening. It's very frustrating. But at least we can keep walking and looking gorgeous with our new consistent contact? She's a little behind the vertical, but overflexing her might be a good thing right now. Build up the topline muscles and really stretch those top muscles.


Katie is giving me the number of a chiro that's only about an hour away from us. I'm definitely going to let Bob shoe her and do what he needs to with the feet. I agree with him that that's mainly what's restricting her stride is the lack of toe on that one side, and it's going to be an ongoing effort for a while. But definitely going to have to chiro out soon as I can. I'm thinking this might be up in her hips...I mean, there is NO heat or swelling in the leg at all. No sensitivity. She can stretch it, that's for sure. Actually, come to think of, I seriously just realized this as I typed that. She stretched the CRAP out of that leg when I was cleaning her feet the other day. I usually encourage her to do it because it loosens her up for the ride, but perhaps she stretched a little too hard? I know I've stretched too hard before and pulled muscles. Hmmm...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random mystery lameness strikes again.


This time in RH, not LH. It was really weird, and I'm not sure what to make of it, but Bob's pretty confident a new trim might help. He also wants to shoe her on the trim after this, just to stop the bit of toe dragging we are still having.

Mainly because, she's a 1/2inch shorter on the toe on the RH, and Bob thinks that's adding to her being so uneven. She's got a way better stride on the LH, which is now fully grown out and looks great.

She was doing great when I got on. We warmed up on a loose rein. She felt a little funny, but I figure that was because I was rushing because it was getting dark, thanks to me forgetting my boots and having to go back to the house, and I had put her saddle a little far up.

But she always feels short-strided when I first get on, then she warms up and gets loose. She was great...she walks almost all the time perfectly on the bit, nice and consistent. Trot is improving. We started to trot to the right, and she was doing good, and we got halfway around and she tripped, or something wonky, and after that, she just looked PISSED. Her ears were pinned, she felt funny. I called Bob over to tell me what he was seeing, if it was just her being a witch because it was almost dinner time, or if something was really off.

I asked her to trot and she tensed up and ALMOST thew a tantrum. Definitely pain. Bob said he saw it in the RH right off.

So I got off and we trotted her down the barn on the concrete...and she was perfectly sound. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!?!

Bob looked at her feet, measured her angles, and concluded that her angles are almost perfect right now, but the 1/2 inch of toe is probably making her strides wonky, and the stumble she had might have made something sore too.

I guess we'll see. It's not like last time. I'm hoping it's just her being wonky because of her feet being due for a trim. She also has a huge chip out, although I tested it to see if it was sensitive and it wasn't. But I looked at the RH and there's a lot of weight on the outside hoof wall...basically none on the sole right there, thanks to some chipping. Despite my frequent oiling of her feet, the dry summer is hard on them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Belated, but excellent ride!

I had an excellent ride on Monday. Victoria came to visit! Yay!

First off, when I drove up, I said "Ohhh $h!+"...all the geldings were loose.

I was the only one there, and I immediately concluded the very clever pony in that pasture opened the gate. I decided to start out methodically. I caught the oldest, calmest gelding first - Peppy, the schoolmaster that packs all the very inexperienced or young kids around. He couldn't have cared less, he was like "Eh, whatever, breakfast soon anyway..."

Then, Cody, one of the little girl's ponies, put himself in a stall, so I put him in his own stall. Then the pony behind the escape and the BO's walker gelding came in and stalled themselves. Cool. Two more. Grasshopper, the fat paint pony, was easy. Although his god awful ground manners could use work, he launched into his stall and almost knocked me down.

Last one was Tommy, the allegedly deadbroke, senior citizen saddlebred. Well, at this point, Deuce, one of the mares in Amber's pasture, was being "flirty" with him. Definitely in heat. And he was acting like a serious stud. Well, I went and haltered him fine. He started to walk fine. I was like, okay, he's good, he realizes the party is over. When we get near the barn, he starts to flip. Running around me, threatening to rear...hmm. I was alone, plus him not being my horse...I didn't want to have to wrestle with him. So I let him go again and he became even more wild. Victoria got there and we captured him. He lead a little better for her, mainly out of exhaust I think, and when we put him in his stall, he started to sweat buckets, screaming, and just having a freak out in his stall. So we went ahead and brought in all the mares so he'd chill. Then, as there were only 3 more horses, we put them in too.

What a morning.

I was going to ride Amber in Victoria's new CC Courbette, but I didn't think about the fact that the billets on my AP are lower down due to the dressage saddle-ish flaps. She definitely can't do a 44 on a CC. We couldn't find a girth big enough. So I rode in my saddle.

We had a GREAT ride. She's really starting to get on the bit. We trotted and cantered poles for just a few minutes, then I let Victoria have a ride before she got too low on energy. She was actually pretty sluggish for me. I figured it was the fact that we were riding later than planned thanks to the gelding escape.

Well, Victoria got on, and Amber was like a ROCKET. I think Victoria took up a little too much contact right away, and Amber takes this as a message that the rider wants to FLY. It took Victoria 3 laps to slow her. Then they went over a ground pole and Amber JUMPED it huge. Took off sooo early, but her strides were off. Victoria said admittedly she should have been counting. Amber doesn't know how to time her own strides yet...I'm still doing that for her.

I'd love for Victoria to ride her more in the future. Victoria is a good rider and she and I are pretty much on the same page about training greenies. She, without me telling her, did exactly what I do. Use the ground pole as a reward, because Amber enjoys obstacles so much, and only letting her go over it after she softens and engages herself. Victoria also got Amber on the bit for 90% of their ride.

Bob saw a little of the ride I think and he seemed pretty impressed with the progress.

I finally sat down and made a serious plan for training though. For the rest of July, she will be ridden 2x a week, working on softeness, ground poles at trot with a little canter, and balancing. Lots of serpantines, circles and figure 8s.

Then, in August, for 3 weeks I will ride 3x a week, we will work lightly on intro dressage, with lots of the same things from "phase 1" as I call it. Starting to focus more on lateral work and more consistency in tempo.

And finally, after that, we will add in a little more dressage, and working on *my* position over the ground poles, as well as timing strides more. Treating them as jumps, but obviously lesser so, so that I can focus more on us if they "were" jumps, without the complication of take of and landing yet.

After that, it'll be just improving, and we will see where we're at in October. Hopefully some small Xrails.

I'm kind of toying with the idea of taking her to a fun show Andrea is having, but I kind of don't want to have our name associated with going to that joke. It's really hilarious, even for a fun show. The class list is ridiculous. "Creative dress" is encouraged. My first thought was, fine line between creative and tacky. Andrea always has had a bit of a warped sense of horse shows. When someone says "fun show", I think of a relaxed atmosphere that's basically a casual-dress practice day for bigger shows. Still with distinct disciplines and such. Which she doesn't have. It's just jump the fences and walk/trot/canter or whatever. In what style? Hunters? Equitation? I mean, sounds more like a gaming event than a show.

So I probably won't take her, but I kind of did want to, just to go beat the pants off Andrea's riders. But that's not a good attitude, so I really do doubt I'll end up going.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Didn't see THAT coming.

Sooo. I had a crazy work week. Plus tons of general stress.

I didn't ride for almost a week. I felt horrible. I'm supposed to be getting her back into shape here!

So I got on Thursday. Not expecting the awesome response I got from her! She was really starting to learn to give and stretch down. Lots more in trot. Still toe dragging on one side, BUT that's just one side, compared to both a couple of months ago. She just needs to get her muscle balanced. She's definitely off balance tracking right. That's the only side she gets rushy and leany on.

We did some poles. I found out why she "jumps" the poles at the canter. She's switching leads over them when I do a figure 8, although I didn't ask for it. So she really DOES do automatic changes. Fan-freakin-tastic! When I realized what she was doing I just squealed and hugged her and let her be done.

Riding tomorrow morning. Should be pretty good. Things are really starting to click!

After my ride, which was done by 11, I went to the beach with Jessie and the dogs. Had a blast! It was great weather, not too hot, plenty of breeze.

Allie did NOT want anything to do with the water. I got her in it, but she kept trying to pull us out. She's such a good dog, she hung her head and drooped her ears and walked in when I called her, but it was just a little too much for her I think. She used to like water, I have no idea what changed. Thinking of taking her to a dog-friendly pond to swim and maybe if she sees Matilda and me swimming, she'll get a little more brave.

Matilda, on the other hand, was a little scared at first, and then, after a few minutes, she was like "'s water, I can swim in it! It's kind of noisy, but WEEE!" She would run into the water and swim a moment when the water pulled out and flattened, then she'd run away from the waves. So cute. I didn't want to let her go too far though, because it was pretty strong current and I definitely didn't want she and I getting caught in a rip-tide. She was leashed, so if she got caught, the weight of her being pulled would take me too - and it's not like I'd let go of my sweet girl!

Ended up having pizza for dinner on the way home. Just a great day. I was thinking, could it get any better? A great ride, the beach, my dogs, and pizza.

Hoping to report another great ride tomorrow!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Poles, poles, poles.

Today I was reminded how much easier it is to soften Amber and get her working by throwing in random ground poles in our work.

We utilized them in full. I used the training fork today, loosely, but it was obvious it was a mere aid to keep her head from going so inverted that I can't get her back. It was all she and I. First, it came loose when the twine I had tied (my girth has no clips) came undone...and I didn't even notice she was being so responsive. Thank God Emma told me!

I tied a more secure knot and after making sure it was good to go, we tried again and got some GREAT work. She's in heat and I was expecting no attention, but she was fannnntastic. Even with construction going on beside the arena. The window and door company was installing garage doors on the storage shed and obviously making quite a bit of noise with power tools and such.

There were two ground poles sitting at a V angle, perfect for figure 8s. And three on the long side set at trot length.

So I decided, a few minutes in, to take her over them. We did some 8s, a few times with canter transitions. She jumped them a couple of times, then started to remember how to time her strides. We even cantered over a few times.

She loves obstacles. Even ground poles. She's going to jump, whatever we do. Hunters, eventing, jumping, equitation - I'm sure the more we advance, it will be clear which she's best at. But I get so much attention and effort when I add poles.

She was dripping when I cooled her out, but she was STILL full of energy. I didn't want to work her any longer though, even if she thought we should trot over poles all day.

I gave her a bath and threw her in her stall. Gave her some pepsi, treats and a piece of taffy. Not spoiled at all, like I've said before.

A couple of hours later, I rode her bareback on a short trail ride, which we enjoyed very much. She's a much better trail horse than I imagined. Ever since I got after her that one time, she's awesome. As I mentioned before, Christopher bit her on the butt during the last ride, and she did nothing but jump in surprise. Even though he had his nose up her rear end, she didn't make a nasty face.

Today, Star bit her on the butt as well and stayed perpetually stuck to her rear. Not a nasty face, only a jump when she was bitten. I mean, really. You gotta give a horse props for putting up with that BS on the trail. I can't even really expect her to behave as well as she does. I wouldn't have scolded her for kicking when another horse does that, but she's just golden about it.

It was a great day. She's not perfect by any means. But she's so smart and willing, I have a lot of faith in her. Even if something happened, God forbid, and she could never be ridden again, she'd stay with me until she was an old, old mare. There will be bad days, just like the good, but I feel so strongly connected with her. More so than any other horse, and I mean no exceptions. Not even Gulliver.

Got tomorrow off and I plan on washing my wraps and pads. They are *gross*.