Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Change of plans.

(Can I apologize for the massive walls of text I've been posting?)

As I laid there trying to fall asleep last night, the choice I made did not sit well with me. It just did not feel right. Having learned my lesson, I decided not to throw in the towel so fast.

As fate would have it, Emma texted me this morning and said she was at the barn and asked if Amber was still lame.

So I rushed out and Emma hopped on bareback so I could see what Amber is doing from the ground.

She isn't limping, she was freaking popping up on the front end doing nothing but throwing a tantrum. My suspision from the beginning. Behavioral. Emma verbally reprimanded her and that was all it took. She went off fine. I got on, she tried it with me. I verbally reprimanded her and drove her with my seat, and she moved even BETTER. What I have is a horse who learned that I jumped off every time she acted like she couldn't walk.

Now, I am fairly annoyed with myself. I don't let that horse get away with rude manners on the ground, and I definitely don't take that crap under saddle. But I was so worried that by pushing her through it I'd further injure her...and nobody seemed to be around when I was testing her out so I couldn't see it from another perspective.

She is still stiff in that leg, and now I'm thinking two things: Possible stifle issues, and perhaps a contributing factor is a noticable muscle imbalance. When I was sitting on her when I finished, and I turned around and looked at her hindquarters and it's very obvious she's undermuscled on the troubled side. I think fitness will help combat this.

So here is the new plan. Friday we are moving to ***. Plans are already in place, and I'm going ahead and moving my equipment tomorrow so there is less to do Friday (since I'll be in *** anyway for work). Amber is going to have a huuuuugeeeee pasture. Being on 24/7 turnout is going to be beneficial mentally and physically.

Through September, I will lunge her a few minutes several times a week, and if she seems to be comfortable enough, walk/trot her lightly for 10-20 minutes at a time under saddle a couple of those days. She obviously has an issue, it's just not as bad as she is making it out to be. If it were, she wouldn't calm right down and move like she has some sense when we get after her.

In October, we will see where we are, and if she isn't doing better, we will take her to a vet Casey has recommended, that's been recommended to be more than once, who solved an issue that one of her boarders had that no other vet could figure out. I will have a lameness exam done, with x-rays/ultrasounds if need be.

I should also mention pasture board at Casey's is almost $100 less than I thought. Holyyyyy cow. So this means that I will well be able to afford what Amber needs. AND I'm about to get a raise at work, probably about a $1 by hopefully the end of the year. HECK YES!

She's also started to run off in the pasture again, although she thought better of it today and let me catch her pretty easily. This usually happens when I fail to give her treats. Treats = motivation. Amber is easy to correct and she does have a sweet personality, but she definitely has a devious side to her...she definitely wants to avoid having to go out of her way to do ANY work right now. But, can I blame her? She was in pain, she still is in at least slight discomfort, and she's out of shape. That's no fun. I think being positive, even if it takes a few treats for hard work, will give her a better work ethic. I wouldn't want to haul someone around if I was out of shape and uncomfortable either...

At the end of the day, you have to take a step back, look at it and laugh. She's a mare. A clever mare at that. Her mentality is, you treat, I treat. Days like today are good to send the message that she has to obey, treats or not, but if edible rewards motivate her, I'm down for that. She's easy enough to correct that I'm not worried about it going out the window when there are no treats to give.

I feel like this is the right thing. It just doesn't feel right to let her go so fast. Clever little schemes she's been carrying out and all. I'm a little amazed at my sense of humor on this...I'm actually still amazed this horse was smart enough to pull that off. Somehow I knew it was behavioral. I just doubted myself because I thought that was crazy. Even though we still have a small issue, she isn't dead hopping lame.

I'm just freaking proud of myself for finally growing a pair and going with my gut when something didn't feel right. It felt like the right choice at first, but the more I thought about I going to let ONE vet tell me after ONE failed treatment that a 7 year old otherwise healthy horse with fairly good conformation should go to waste? Absolutely not. That's under the same mentality that horses are nothing but tools for us to use. I vehemently disagree with that, as I have said in a recent blog.

Also - for the record, Emma trotted her and she was moving FINE. I trotted her, she felt fine. There was no obvious lameness, and the stiffness in her leg was not even nearly as severe as it was a few weeks ago. I think the hock did have a problem, maybe coming from her compensating for a stifle issue? And now we are back to the original problem...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The end of the road.

I'm forcing myself not to cry while I write this blog.

I haven't posted in the past few days because due to hurricane Irene, the internet was out until today.

I rode on Sunday. I hopped on bareback. We walked, she was fine. She even trotted a few strides and felt fine. But when we changed direction, she was back the same way she was before the hock injection.

I tried again on Monday, and she couldn't even walk a hundred yards to the arena (again, bareback) without feeling like she was in pain.

But she lunged fine except for right lead canter, which all she did was make a nasty face.

I called Kim, but due to the hurricane, her phone was dead. Today she was able to call me back, and I talked with her about this.

She said that she will gladly do xrays, but she said based on what we know, this may be something that isn't fixable, and even if it is fixable, she is almost certain that Amber won't be fit as a competitive show horse. She said she thinks Amber, with time, may be sound as an easy trail horse, and she thinks she is a suitable prospect for a broodmare. We discussed the fact that what I want to do isn't what Amber is capable of doing physically. I've been talking to Victoria as well, and we both agreed that when I am brutally honest with myself, Amber wouldn't enjoy being a show horse. I think I was trying to convince myself that all the training she was enjoying, but she was merely too good a horse to say no to what I was asking.

She would have rather been on a trail somewhere. I like to trail ride, but I would rather be working on my position, getting my horse round, and moving out nicely. And of course I want to jump. Amber wouldn't enjoy that even if she were sound. She WOULD do it, but that's not kind to her. And sometimes, you can take a trail horse and start training them for shows, and they will just get it and love it, like Jack. But the enthusiasm Jack had is not there with Amber.

I've said Amber is a forever horse, even if she isn't rideable. Like many silly things I've said in the past few months, that's not rational. She's 7 years old. She's got the potential to live another 15-20 years. I may at some point be able to afford two horses, but is it sensible to wait 5+ years to have something of my own again that I can ride with full control of it's training and lifestyle? No.

It would be different if I had owned Amber for a few years and had already trained/competed with her. But I haven't really done much of anything with Amber. I've had her for 8 months. Not years.

After hearing the vet's opinion today, I've decided to sell Amber. I'm a little worried about marketing her as a broodmare, because I don't want her to go in the hands of some back yard breeder who will treat her like a foal factory. But honestly, that's the only thing she really has going for her right now. The vet and I both agreed it wouldn't be smart for me to put the money into the xrays when I will probably get about the same amount of money out of her, and the fact that I'm going to need money to put towards finding a more suitable mount.

I'm going to make a note that she MAY be a sound trail horse that would be good for an intermediate child/teenager at a later point in time with vet care.

I'm trying not to analyze this, because I still feel like it's my fault for listening to Bob and not calling the vet sooner. I know that I'm not the entire reason for her lameness, because that started when she was still at Casey's. But I think I greatly contributed to the fact that she's seriously screwed up now.

I'm trying to be reasonable with my own self and remind myself that everyone makes mistakes, and I was trying to do the best for her with what I knew at the time. But the point is, I KNEW BETTER, but I put my trust in other people's advice. And now she's the one who suffers. What an ass I am. The unreasonable part of me wants to just quit right here and now, because I don't feel that I deserve a new horse. But that's not really reasonable, because why would I even sell her if the goal wasn't to find a more suitable equine for myself? I plan on asking for first right of refusal, of course.

But, if I remove the emotional fog, and stop trying to humanize Amber, this is what needs to be done. Taking all care to find good owners, obviously, and doing all I can to make sure I can keep track of her. I'm posting ads for her after I post this blog. It's been on my mind for days, and talking with the vet today really confirmed things for me.

In all this I've learned some valuable lessons. If we look at the transitions blog, we will see that I plainly SAID I was unsure about Amber because she clearly had some soundness issues. I ignored the red flags and proceeded. Do I think Casey sold me a lame horse on purpose? Hell no. Because I did have a PPE done, at which Casey was present. We believed the vet, what more could we do? Looking back, I can see the vet didn't do the flexion tests quite right. But it's also possible it was a fluke that day and she wasn't showing signs of her issues. Or, that they were still not full-blown and couldn't be noticed yet. But what I have learned is to go with my gut. Things got screwed up this bad because I listened to other people because I doubted my own opinions.

I feel guilty, and undeserving of a new horse. Yay, I'm the moron who just ruined a nice QH who could have been happy doing trails. But this was all in vain if I don't learn from my colossal screw up and ALWAYS go with my gut and good sense with the next horse.

I'm closing this blog in the next few days. As with Jack, this is the end of an era. I'm leaving this blog in tribute to Amber. I'm moving back over to Transitions, and those of you who didn't follow me at that time can find it here:


Edited to add:

I broke down and cried after I wrote this. It's so confusing. And after I broke down and cried, I started to just get the feeling I want to quit. I just feel like a complete and total failure here. I also feel like I'm moving too fast here, maybe I should get second opinions that I can't afford, or maybe I should have Dr. Ipock do the xrays and we will see some miracle that's an easy fix...that I equally can't afford. And that leads me to want to quit, yet again, because this obviously proves I can't afford to properly care for the horse I already have. I feel incredibly irresponsible right now, because I feel that I should lay in the bed I've made, accept light trail riding if it ever becomes possible and support my pasture puff as best I can. But if I'm not happy doing that, wouldn't it be better for me to find somebody, some miracle person, who does want that? But let's face it - who would want that uncertainty?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The proof that I am correct.


Thanks Young Equestrian for posting that.

(This is going to be lengthy again, but nobody miss the ending - I have news from Avalon that's sad and hilarious at the same time!)

Hmm...a Grand Prix dressage horse. Chestnut Quarter Horse mare, started at 7 and was fat. That sounds super familiar. If she had a star, she'd probably be Amber's twin, actually, in physical appearance.

That proves that, while they might not move like Warmbloods, there is no doubt they CAN reach high levels in dressage and be very successful if you have the motivation. That's just it: The motivation. Why don't we see a lot of Quarter Horses in upper level dressage? Because most people who have the time and money to show at that level will just go out and get the "classic" breed for it - a Warmblood. Can't blame them, really, if they have the money. But people just don't go out and try with Quarter Horses, but that doesn't mean it's not very possible.

I realize also that when Amber "got" the idea of contact, she immediately went in a "dressage" frame. I really hate using the word frame, but in this case, it's what' I'm referring to. I gave her plenty of room, and she wasn't avoiding me by tucking up. She has a naturally higher set neck anyway, and she just immediately a dressage horse. I do ride like a dressage rider, but I don't believe that was everything to do with it - I think she naturally carries herself like that when she gets on the bit, not like a freaking hunter. She COULD get lower, I'm sure, but I think that would cause too much strain on her back muscles and spine stretching down like that when her neck is obviously set high.

Now, I divagate to another subject:

I have done something I feel most horrible about. First of all, I hate to lie to anyone. I had to lie to Andrea to leave her barn, and I didn't feel one bit bad about that, only because she was pretty much psychotic. I also have some news on her in a moment, that I have failed to post in my long, ridiculous blogs where I attempted to justify my decisions with my horse...

I have had to lie to be able to leave Halcyon ASAP. My excuse was that my hours at work were cut and I need to move back to Casey's so I can work off board. This way I could also avoid the $300 fee of leaving before a year. I would have had to lie anyway though. I really don't want to hurt Lisa's feelings, and nothing I say is going to convince her to fire Bob, because I'm pretty positive she's had more than one complaint, and she highly respects his opinions. I also don't want to hear more absurd, unsolicited advice from Bob, and I know he would either talk crap to me, and tell me how horrid I will fail, or try to convince me to stay. I don't want to leave on a bad note, and if I am honest and say I'm leaving because I think Bob is full of crap and has a rude personality...well, I'd be leaving on a rather bad note!

I feel horrible for lying to Lisa, because she's such a nice lady. But at the same time, its the only trying I can do to insure that I make the right choice for Amber, without hurting any feelings in the process. It would be unnecessary to do that, when my opinion amounts to a hill of beans anyway.

Now, the news on Andrea I have NOT posted yet.

I like to creep on her various facebook pages for entertainment, and sheer relief I'm not a part of THAT circus anymore.

First, remember that poor OTTB of hers that she insisted was a Grand Prix dressage horse, who in reality hadn't received proper training and was skinny and out of shape? The things she thought were his "experience" were only misinterpretation of some training issues.

Right. She changed his facebook fan page to "An Olympic Journey". Yes. Indeed. Apparently, she seriously wants to train her circus for the Olympics...I'm not sure if it's the riders or the horses, or both, but she can train neither!

Next, her hurricane evacuation plan is to ride the horses to safety. REALLY? The majority aren't rideable, and are definitely not well-trained enough for her kids to be riding in the dangers after a hurricane. Not to mention they are not conditioned to be ridden as far as she'd likely need to ride.

She claims that Pumpkin didn't run off with a rider at a show before, but in fact she DID run off with Bob's step daughter. She also claims Pumpkin is a training level dressage horse. Pumpkin has dressage potential, but Pumpkin is HEAVY in your hands last time I rode her, does not get on the bit, and I know she hasn't been trained further since I last rode her, thus, she is not training level. The end. Unless Andrea has decided to use her beloved Kimberwicke on her to force her to tuck up. Yeah...I'm not necessarily bashing the use of Kimerwickes, but they aren't the solution to a horse that runs through the bit and doesn't soften! That's training. Bit does not = training!

Also, this nut is trying to run for mayor. LAWL! She's full of conspiracy theories. She acts like that weird kid in middle school who was always trying to get attention.

I must shake my head. I will still never forget that picture of her in the blue nylon halter-bridle combo, riding amidst a sea of traditionally dressed hunters. Proof that that show is corrupt beyond belief: She is apparently in first place for the season. Riding the poorly groomed, blue-bridle wearing Haflinger gelding that is forced to tuck himself up to avoid her insensitive hands on that Kimberwicke. Why is a horse who is about a notch above rolkur winning a hunter class? I hate most of the local NC circuits. The dressage ones are the only ones that are decent, the majority of the hunter ones are pathetic.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Let the lunging begin. And continue henceforth.

I felt horrible when I got to the barn because Bob had just turned Amber out and I had come to make her go to work. I know she hasn't been able to go out much the past couple of days due to some monster storms.

She was, however, very agreeable today.

I realized though, I don't work her on the lunge as much as I should. For a soundness check, sure, but as part of her training? No. I haven't, and I should have been. She's a young horse and I know she needs time on the lunge, but I've neglected to do so. I always say "Today, I'm going to start out by warming her up for 10 minutes on the lunge!", but it never happens. Because I say it's going to take too much time to drag out the side reins and the equipment, or I may as well just warm her up on her back with some leg yields and bending, ect ect. Or the classic, "Well, she isn't a hot horse and she learns and performs fine without lunging, so why waste the time?"

Basically, I've been super lazy making excuses for not lunging her. It's not a matter of if she needs it because she's hot, it's not a matter of performance with/without or's a valuable piece of our training that my laziness has excluded.

And I realized I've been neglecting this because she basically only knows that if she's spacing and I flick at her with the whip, she better get moving. The full whoa, downward transition commands...not really there. And she makes the most crooked circle around me ever. It's not even that she's running out through her shoulder, she's just making her own circle and I'm not dead center.

Obviously, that wasn't an issue in the round pen, but I took her out into the field so I could let her make a larger circle to canter on, and she was trying to figure out what I wanted, but she kept going off center.

I did get her to do some okay transitions, although some took a minute. I have a feeling she was more willing to transition down because she was hoping she could stop and have grass, but she didn't try to pick at it or break gait, so maybe she actually learned something. I need to make myself include it more.

At least she's pretty chill about being handled and touched. I doubt anyone has ever done much clipping with her, other than perhaps the bridle path. But she pretty much fell asleep today while I trimmed her muzzle, EYES, EARS and underjaw. Yes, she stood like a stone the entire time. Did not move when I clipped out her ears. Have I ever mentioned how AWESOME I think my horse is?

In fact, she even enjoyed it because after I finished she got the insides of her ears scratched. What a ham.

I spoke to Bob and he, yet again, expressed his opinion on what I should do with Amber. Perhaps I've misunderstood what everyone is saying, perhaps they're just realizing the error of their ways...I don't know. But I got a different message today.

He basically said I could take Amber and do anything with her. Agreed, I know. He still said he thinks she's do wonderful in hunters. Agreed, I know that too. But I still don't feel I will be challenged enough, although I will probably do it for fun. Easy ribbons...

He said in his opinion, he thinks I need to continue my basic work with her and just figure out what she's good at based on how she moves and what she seems to enjoy doing. I agree. I think, secretly, he is hoping I'll magically see the QH hunter in her and want to do that...because I think he sees that and hopes I would at least do some hunters with her, because he likes the QH hunters.

Part of me does want to, even though I'm fully aware that it's not challenging in the least. Although sometimes I think I may just be scared I'll feel like a failure if I do something so easy. Almost like I feel I "have" to do dressage, or else I'm wasting opportunities and giving in to what everyone else seems to think Amber should be doing. For some reason, I am hell bent on defying the advice I have been given from the vet and Bob...I don't know why, because they're both experienced and I know their advice isn't necessarily bad.

Also, I, incorrectly, in the back of my mind feel dressage is the only correct form in which to ride. It's not, I know that, but I don't feel "correct" in a hunter form. It's too-freaking-easy. It's not "wrong", the horse isn't working poorly or anything...just different. Apples and oranges. But I can't get that through my head. I can't have fun doing it because I don't feel like I'm having to try hard enough - which is really stupid. In a way, I want to just do something that would be very easy for her to excel at, that I could just go out and have fun with. Meet new friends, hang out with old friends. Most of my friends do hunters at the local shows. But there the guilt comes in to play. I feel I should be pushing Amber more competitively, but if we don't have the heart to be that competitive, why?

I shouldn't feel like I can't decide to just do something fun and easy. If I want to take the seriousness down a notch and ride a little more for fun, going out to hunter shows just to show off how cute my mare I wrong for that? I feel like it. Even though I know she will be trained right and with a dressage foundation no matter what, I feel like I'm a failure if I don't compete in dressage with her.

He also made the statement "The training is the same no matter what you do." Meaning, basic dressage is the foundation any way you go. He also advised me not to go from A to C and forget B. He is sooo right on that too. And I do that big time, and if nothing else, I did need to be reminded of that.

So maybe I've just been misunderstanding him and everyone else. Nobody's saying she wouldn't do well in dressage, but all I've been asking is "What would she do well in, based on the basic things we know of her now?"

Well, they've been giving me honest, and correct answers. She would do well in hunters based on what we know of her right now. She hasn't been truly sound enough for us to really know yet. Dr. Ipock and Bob aren't going to tell me "You would TOTALLY do great in dressage/eventing/jumpers/clown pony/yadayda!"...because they really don't have much to go on to decide, and neither do I.

So yeah. I don't know. Maybe you guys can tell me if it sounds like I'm just avoiding a challenge if I don't do dressage, or if I've just changed my mind about what I want to do, how competitive I want to be...and is it wrong that I don't want to be so serious about the shows anymore? That I just want to do easy stuff? She's only 7, so obviously I could change my mind later and get more competitive. I don't even know why I'm making such a big deal of this.

I also spoke to Dr. Ipock as she was dropping off a pressure washer she borrowed from Bob. I told her Amber was moving a little better, but was still a little off looking in the right hind. Of course, I didn't have any equipment to use on her today either, so she was playing brontosaurus with her head, and all the weight was thrown on the hind instead of evenly. Of course, it's only 4 days out of the injections. But Dr. Ipock, of course, said it could take a couple of weeks to see the full effect. She also said that sometimes it's a hit and miss thing the first time a horse gets hock injections - she may respond great, or she may not respond as well as we want. Only time will tell, and we will go from there.

I really, really hope this helps her though. The real test will be when I saddle her up and put on the side reins to lunge her - which, hopefully, if I can borrow a girth and bridle, will be tomorrow. I ordered a girth for her for the new saddle, and I'm picking up the new bridle/reins/stirrup leathers on Thursday. Hopefully, all that will be here by my first ride on her since the injection, which will be Friday.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The deed is done.

The injections, that is. It was rather uneventful. Amber was so out of it that we twitched her for caution, and her lip just hung limp. A little bob of the head when she got injected, but was otherwise pretty doped up.

24 hours stall rest, after 2-3 days she can go into light work, i.e. lunging. After a week we can start her off on some light exercise under saddle. I plan on keeping it walk trot for a week. Kim said it will probably take about 2 weeks to see the full effect. She said to let her know if we start to see improvement after the first week.

What she does will depend on how she responds to the injection, according to Dr. Ipock.

She did say that she probably won't make the best dressage horse. I guess she's assuming I want to compete at higher levels, because up to about first level the stress on the hocks would be just as well as her working correctly as a hunter/jumper. I suspect she might have been indicating that Amber is the "wrong breed" for it...I just personally don't agree with the point of view that only Warmbloods can be successful in dressage. Perhaps this is more true at higher levels, although it becomes more just a preference to use them because they have more natural ability for the movements, and those competing so high can afford to use the best breed possible.

You can't say that she is prejudice against Quarter Horses, considering she shows them herself.

I think the reason I keep analyzing this is I don't want to let go of competitive dressage. It was easier to let go of the idea of jumping, even though in reality that will be less stressful on her hocks for jumps under 3' than putting her in a "true" dressage frame competitively.

Perhaps it's me who is prejudice against QH looks ridiculously easy, but I may be judging too quickly, because dressage looks ridiculously easy to the untrained eye.

Right now, we can't know anything for sure until we see if this is going to work a miracle. But I'm seriously considering just being blatant with myself, and assuming she's looking good after two weeks, really be honest with myself about what she's really suited for. I refuse to do western anything, because the rodeo "disciplines" are not only stupid and pointless to the horse's training, in my opinion, but they are hock killers. Trail and western pleasure are boring and I *know* there is nothing to those but posing. So besides dressage, we have equitation, jumpers, hunters. Equitation...I don't think that will be for us. Jumpers, perhaps, lower levels. Hunters...may be for us. It's one of those "quarter horse" things, and maybe I just need to suck it up, realize I have a QH who is so deeply QH bred that I can't even find the TBs and Arabians in her pedigree...and do something that people do with QHs. Instead of trying to defy the sterotypes of the horse world and treat her like a shape shifter that can be a Warmblood one minute and a TB the next.

And for your amusement, Amber rather doped up after her injection. She was absolutely drunk. Dr. Ipock twitches all horses for the procedure as a precaution, and Amber was so out of it her lip was just limp. When we released it it held it's shape. Her bottom lip just hung there sadly, a little drool stringing down, while we had it on her.

Poor mare. Hopefully it's going to make her feel much, much better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

News, pictures, decisions.

First, I'm done with the AM shift for a while, so YAY!

Alright, first thing I want to touch on in this blog is Amber's past life.

As I've already said before, the hock problems at only 7 make things very clear about her home as a filly. She was sold as a yearling, owned by those people until she was 5.

After some fairly easy digging, I discovered that the foal she had, she had when she was THREE. That means she was bred at 2. Personally, I believe it was no accident: They did it intentionally.

Well, what does this mean? It means first off, that they're a bunch of irresponsible, ignorant asshats.

But it also means she may have been started at 2, but they couldn't have ridden her too hard for more than a few months, or the foal would have likely had some serious complications. What this indicates is one of two things: They either, like a bunch of asshats that would breed a 2 year old, broke her at 1 and rode the crap out of her for a year before breeding her, or they bred her and broke her at the same time, then picked up again after she had her foal and continued to ride the crap out of her until the vet told them that she was breaking and was going to need hock injections.

Either way, wow, what a bunch of morons. So I'm hoping I can find her daughter. I'd love to at least see pictures, and perhaps even meet her - although I don't want to seem intrusive to anyone. The filly was sold to someone who lives in Goldsboro, assuming she hasn't changed hands since that time and just not had her papers transferred. Which I still need to do for Amber, I just keep forgetting!

Saturday I went out and messed with her for a while. Groomed her, did some "glamour shots", and played some of those silly natural horsemanship games with her because I was bored.

Turns out she is violently afraid of chains. Or was, not now. We were walking by the horse walker, and I jingled one of the chains. I'm not sure if it was just the weird sound, or she actually thought I might hit her with it. I can't bring myself to think those owners, however rough, actually beat her, but she was pretty afraid. It was more than just a momentary spook. We spent some time getting used to the chain and learning the chains don't hurt her, and soon she was very relaxed about them.

She was pretty freaked out though for a minute.

Took those hoping to get something presentable to put up on her all breed pedigree page.

Kind of miffed that someone actually removed the old photo I had even before I went to take it off? It kind of sucks that anyone can just go edit a horse. It would be neat if you could e-mail a copy of the papers and an ID and make it so that only the owner could edit the pedigree.

Anyway, that was Saturday.

I went out today and hand-grazed Amber while I sat on the fence and watched Hannah and Emma ride. Also did some grooming, including trimming her dock a little better. I wet it and wrapped it in vetwrap and hopefully that will train it down a little. It will more than likely end up coming off in the night, or when she gets turned out. She's only going out 3 hours in the morning now.

It kind of sucks and I hate that she's got such limited turnout, but she is fairly fat and apparently all the 1/4 scoop horses have been getting a ridiculously small sprinkle for a while anyway, so my asking them to reduce it was a moot point. Plus she's going to be blanketed this winter, so she doesn't need to go into the winter being super fat. The sprinkle of grain she gets really doesn't amount to *anything* in her diet, nor the flake of hay she gets in the evening. It's the lush grass.

When she finally gets back to work, I'm just going to have them turn her out for her full 12 hours again, rather than up her grain. Forage=best.

Also, I'm not sure if my horse is 15h or 14.3hh. Every time I measure her, it's different. It's not hoof growth related, because she seems to measure smaller when she has MORE hoof. What???

Her all breed said 15h when I found it. Oh well, It's a mystery. Maybe it's how she stands at different times. I don't know.

What I *do* know is, I'm not going to treat her like a china cup for the rest of her life. Not only would she be unhappy (as would I), but she wouldn't be healthy. If I restrict her to hunters or dressage, no jumping, because I feel it will be too stressful, that can only lead to me letting her work lightly on the flat. Constantly cutting her a break, never pushing her THERE either. If I don't push her to a reasonably hard level under saddle, she'll never build up a good muscle mass. If she doesn't build muscle, she's at way more risk of having the hock issues recur sooner.

And Amber likes to jump. Perhaps a little too much...I plan on taking it slow and not rushing things on that. She needs to learn not to rush the fences and I need to learn to not hold her back over them. We need to find a happy medium - she doesn't need to jump them as fast as she does, but I need to allow her to be a little more forward going towards them.

But I don't think I want to hold her back from that. And being able to do it without pain after her injection is going to make it doubly enjoyable for her.

Hunter jumpers and hunter under saddle will be our playground. That's going to be what we do just for fun. Dressage and combined training is what we are going to put serious focus on.

And this is the grand plan. I sat down and thought about it...dressage is my passion, always has been. I can't abandon that. I wouldn't want to ride without using it as my foundation, and competitively, I think Amber could do very well once we get her training back on track.

I'm a little nervous about showing, even though that's months away. I've never taken a young horse to a show, and I feel like she's going to go into young-mare-space-out mode and be acting completely silly and freak out over things. I know this is unreasonable. When her training under saddle finally progresses, riding her at a show should be no trouble. And she isn't hard to reprimand at all. But she has these "young mare" moments occasionally out of the blue, and it reminds me, as it should, that she's still green and not only that but ALL horses are unpredictable.

Of course, I make these young mare moments worse than they are in my head. I plan on just having her ride along to check out the atmosphere for the first few. Maybe ride if she's pretty chill. But then again I have *always* worried about how my horses will react at shows. Gulliver and Jack were fine, and my nervousness was ridiculous in the end.

I also think I will have her put on a joint supplement. No matter how fit I keep her, there is the chance she will need hock injections later on. Of course, there is the chance she may not, but the fact is, I refuse to hold her back and give her a half-quality life. This is not the sort of injury that should prevent her from exploring her full potential. And because I plan on putting her into full work, this will increase the likelihood that she will need future injections. But if she doesn't get fit by being in full work, the likelihood is still increased. So basically, it may be a miracle and never be a problem again, but if it is, that's okay. We'll be keeping a check on it and doing all we can to make sure that the hocks never become a "problem", just something to PREVENT from becoming a problem ever again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pondering the direction to take.

I've got a boatload of stuff to do before I go to bed at 9:30 (Work at 5am, woo. Not)

But I wanted to pause for a minute to blog.

Amber will be getting her injection next week. The vet said she will be good to go back into work, lightly at first of course, in a few days after that.

I've just kind of decided subconsciously that we won't be jumping though. I'm not a good jumper myself in the first place. I probably could be, but right now I don't have a horse to learn on. And I just don't think I want to put the extra stress on Amber's hocks by doing any "serious" jumping with her. Maybe we will do x-rails now and again for fun, but if I've decided not to jump her, then I'm not even going to play around at 18" when I know we probably won't get over 2' competitively and staying sound. Or at least saying sound and encouraging the longevity of her hocks.

So that leaves us with a few things.

1. Retire her and make her a trail horse again. Yeah, that's just way too boring. Trails are fun, but I'm the kind of person who is only content when my horse and I are improving together towards a real goal.
2. Instead of pleasure trails, do endurance. And again, I'm not so sure that any serious endurance competitions are going to be healthy for her hocks either!
3. Do hunter under saddle. This may work, except it seems incredibly repetitive. It's not going to take me long to teach her how to carry herself for that, and when she gets there, all we have to do is pose for the judge for 5 minutes w/t/c. No offense to any hunters! Well, I guess there's no way not to offend hunters with that's just not enough of a life-long challenge for us. Maybe if I was bringing several horses to a high level, but I have one horse...hunter under saddle is NOT going to be a life goal!
4. Do dressage and just keep going as far as she can learn. This sounds most appealing. While hunters appeals to me, because it is laid back and we wouldn't have to do much...we wouldn't have to do much. This was my original hope for her. Now we are back to it. Honestly, I think dressage is my calling as well as Amber's calling, given how quickly she learns and enjoys technical work. Yes, she does like to gallop around, and XC would have been a blast for her, but it would have been a real blast on those hocks. I think it's our calling though, because it's what we started out wanting to do, and now because of her hocks it seems to be one of the only things we can do (at least, if I want the injection to last and her hocks to be sound for life) and it's the only one of those things that really seems appealing.

So yeah. That's pretty much it. I was told that she won't be limited whatsoever, and I know that that's true, but when I think about it, my whole basis for wanting to event and jump was, a) she got super excited about jumping, and b) she loves to go fast. Neither are truly valid reasons to have her do it competitively. She's got that classic, foundation QH conformation (except for her head, which is more Appendix-y). She really isn't built to succeed in jumping.

I do, however, think she is built to fair pretty well in lower-mid level dressage...

Friday, August 5, 2011

The verdict: Hock injection

This is going to be quick, because there's really not much more to day. The vet watched her, felt her, applied acupressure, and determined that she needs hock injections.

She offered me the option of xrays, but forewarned me that she was 99% positive we would end up coming to the same treatment. All it would really do is give me more insight to what specifically is going on in there.

At this point, I opted to just go ahead with the injections. Hopefully this will "fix" Amber. Part of me kind of cringes that it's a "for now" thing.

I suppose this was to be expected. No doubt, from what I've heard of her previous owners, she was started way too early, and ridden way too hard. At least I know this has nothing to do with my training or my riding. She's had extremely light work since she's been with me. Being started too early is the only thing that really seems logical.

The vet seemed pretty confident that this is going to do wonders for her, so I hope she's right.

Amber was, as I expected, quite well behaved for her exam. Although when I brought her in, she refused to walk in the wash pit. I suspect it had something to do with the broom that was propped up against the wall, but either way, I asked her to do it, she should have done it. But she planted her feet. I gave her a couple of quick snaps, scolded her and she went right in.

Amber, I swear, knows when you're trying to help her. I know it's not a reasonable thought, but really...the vet kept saying "she might kick when I do this", or "she might start when I do this"...alas, no. Amber stood, patient and calm, looking bewildered as to why the vet had her leg lifted up in the air. Amber's response when the vet hit a sensitive spot was to simply move away, rather than threaten her.

Also, I can NEVER get that horse to trot in hand. I need a "chaser" to accomplish it. Nope, today, she was good as gold, trotted right off...

I'll keep you guys posted. For now, she's going to get more rest and some injections.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If the horse is clean, the human is filthy.

Words of wisdom.

I spent 3 hours polishing the Princess Mare to a shine.

I started with banging her tail and putting oil in it. I then moved on to her mane. Now, at this time, Bob had the tractor parked just in the entrance of the barn aisle on that side of the barn doing work. Banging, welding, sawing...all kinds of loud noises. Amber just shook her head when the noises got too loud, merely because it hurt her ears. She couldn't have cared less.

I used my thinning razor for the first time. I didn't expect was $2, and I tested it on my hair and it didn't do so hot. But I was glad I tried it, because it was *amazing*. Amber's mane looks fantastic. And it didn't take me too long! Definitely buying more. Blade is replaceable, but when they're $2 a piece, I find it silly for me to go to the trouble of replacing the blade when I could get a whole new thinning comb!

I did that, trimmed her ears, bridle path and whiskers, very carefully with the scissors. My clippers were, much to my dismay, dead, and I had no batteries with me. The cordless mini-clippers are great when they have full power. So I didn't get quite the perfect-polished look I had wanted, but it's good enough. I also trimmed her dock.

Obviously, if I don't have the patience to pull my horse's mane (and let's face it, do I really want to have to deal with her freaking out if I've lost my patience from dealing with sore fingers and stiff, thick mane?), I don't pull I carefully used my scissors, and it looks neat. I cut a piece from the middle of her tail where it can't be seen to mail to Patricia. She's collecting hair from her friends' horses' tails...for some project. Sounds like she's trying to make switches to sell, she said she needed all colors 8'-18" from the thickness of a pencil to a fat sharpie. I gave about 15" at the thickness of a pencil. I left it at the barn though, so I hope nobody throws it away, I left Bob a message...but I can't bring myself to drive all the way back for that tonight. I hope it's still there in the AM.

I gave her a good scrubbing. I made her stand to have water sprayed near her head, which put her in a foul mood, but she's got to get over that. I usually just sponge her face off because I would rather not deal with the drama, but you know, that's just putting perfume on a dirty dog. I may as well make her stand there, eyes rolling, hopping around, until she realizes she's okay, and that acting like she's dying isn't going to bring relief. There's not much risk of her flipping herself in there, because there's a straight tie in addition to the rubber crossties, so she won't get up high enough to go over, and she's sooner slip out of her halter. I'd rather have a loose horse than a flipped horse! So yeah, I feel more comfortable doing something that I know could make her have an outburst in there, than in just crossties, where she can go up high as she can.

Anyhow, due to her already sour mood because she had to have her face washed, she thought she might lift a leg while I was washing her hindquarters...and well, I don't know if it was a kick threat or if the water just felt weird (I was spraying her, it wasn't bugs), but either way, it's unacceptable and I let her know that I was offended. And no problem after that.

I often wonder how she will do with the show atmosphere. She's pretty easy to reprimand on the norm, other times, she gets high strung and it takes a good deal of reprimanding to regain that attention, and she's still strung out but at least not being such a goon. It will be interesting, either way. I mean, she stands totally still, half asleep with rather loud noises going on with the tractor. But then, she had those two days where she absolutely flipped out over pretty much nothing that I could see around the arena? And when she got to Andrea's, she settled in like she'd always lived there, but the first week at Halcyon, she was about to lose her mind when I lead her around the first time.

I guess that's horses for you. But I really am interested to see if she handles it well. I'm sure if I get her on a regular riding schedule, she will handle it much better. Either way, that's a long way off. Definitely not doing anything until the spring. Training all winter...I'm gonna need a quarter sheet. I was hoping to take a break this winter. But...we lost training time over the spring/summer, so we will have to suffer.

After she dried I Put ointment on her fungus spots - which are still there, and I'm going to ask Kim if she knows what they are. Another mare at the barn has them too. I don't think the ones on her back are saddle sores, because the TREE fits her, it's the gullet that's too narrow. Pretty sure all of the spots are the same fungus, but I have been applying ointment, and it seems to help stop spreading but the spots are still hairless and crusty. I hope they don't grow back white. The ones on her barrel would look like she got scars from being spurred, ha!

I also conditioned her hooves. Then she got a granola bar and went back to sleep in her stall. She has a hard life, right?

Oh, and all this is for her vet appointment. I might be crazy. You'd think she was going to a show.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Change of plans, and vet on Friday.

So I called the vet that's in Wendell, and scheduled a "tentative" appointment.

Then I talked to Bob, and he said he thinks I should just let Amber's vet take a look before I spend time and money going an hour and a half away for chiro work that I may not need. That makes sense. If I get referred to a chiro, well, I would have spent the money on the lameness exam anyway before it got to that, so if chiro work is unnecessary in this instance, why go straight to it?

So I called the Wendell vet back and explained the situation, and he was very understanding. Then I called Dr. Ipock and made an appointment with them Friday at 9. They're going to make a farm call. I told them I would have whatever done that was needed to make her sound again, and if x-rays are needed, we will do that, but for now we would just see if that would be necessary. She agreed, so we're all set and I hope to God this is an "easy fix". I want her to be 100% healthy and happy first and foremost, but I miss riding and it's killing me to keep losing time on her training. There's so much potential and talent!

Anyway, I'll let you guys know how it goes. Cross your fingers.