Sunday, November 20, 2011

Productive day and leg improvement.

I actually accomplished a lot today.

I did two of three bulletin boards (well, technically two of four) at the barn - the update was quite needed. Not sure I'm happy with one of them, on which I had to use like, 4 different colors of construction paper. Light pink, light blue, white and black. I think I'm going to cover the black with orange or just doesn't mix. The letters are hot pink and bright blue. It looks like this, minus the dots.


Pretty freakin' cool I think. I plan on taking pictures of everyone riding and posting them up there around it, and I hope it will make the wonky colors look a little better.

That's on the outside bulletin board that's right in front of the outdoor arena. The one on the inside where the drink machine area is I did in purple and yellow with a neon yellow and green boarder. It actually looks good. I made that the announcements board. Stuck some cute little shapes I bought up there.

The other side is going to have a foam board on which I made a map of the barn and all the pastures, including numbering the pastures and stalls. Then I have tags with all the horses and little velcro strips on them so they can be moved from pasture to pasture. Casey does a lot of resales, so there are always new horses coming and old horses leaving, which makes the velcro strips rather convenient.

That will be on the bulletin board right beside the announcements board. I actually think I may have misspelled announcements which makes me very unhappy, but I was rushing because it was getting late and for some reason, my ability to spell is lost when I'm trying to staple brightly colored letters to a piece of cork-board.

Anyway...the map will take half of the other board, and the other half will be a nice little place to post show related things - mainly the schedule for 2012 when that comes up.

The last one is in the observatory area at the covered arena. Not sure if I'm going to do anything with it or not. Nobody ever goes over there. Probably because it was disgusting before I cleaned it up, but nobody ever really rides in the covered except in extended periods of gross weather. It's only the size of a small dressage arena. I'm pretty sure it used to be a full size dressage arena back in the day, before it became a covered arena.

I was thinking of just posting emergency information? But then again, that would probably be better suited for the board at the front. It's like, who's even going to look at this board, why bother?

I took a break from that and rode. I punched new holes in my leathers. It felt weird but they're actually a correct length for hunter/jumpers now. It really helped steady my leg and get my heels down. I let her hop over the xrail a couple of times, and it was all pretty consistent and balanced. I think I could have had more release. One time we just didn't have enough impulsion up to it, and her hind end got a little left behind.

She's trying the canter steps in her trot again, but it isn't bad. A half-halt usually gets her steady again.

She's just doing well. I think my back soreness may just be sore muscles because I'm starting to use different muscles in my back. Hopefully that's all it is. I noticed my legs are sore and usually, unless I've been off for a couple of weeks plus, they don't get sore no matter how long I ride.

It was warm today so after I rode I gave Amber a well needed bath. She's been in heat and she had stains from gunk running down her legs where she peed and acted like a strumpet. You know you love your horse when you are washing dried pee and vaginal discharge from between and on their legs. Sigh...

I also washed her tail and her mane. Put some of my oil sheen stuff on them, as well as her body to make her soft and shiny. Her tail was absolutely gleaming it was so clean. The MTG is really making it grow!

I also clipped her ears/bridlepath/muzzle/leg fuzzies. Her legs look kind of retarded because she kept fidgeting because the kids were throwing hay into the empty stalls before feeding time. Felt very satisfied to have her sparkling clean again. I can't stand it to have her looking like crap. She also got the last of the liniment rubbed on her back, which also reminds me the chiropractor is coming in about a week!

On yet another note...I feel totally spacey in this post...Friday I went out. I had her double blanketed because it got in the 20s the previous night. I knew she'd done something even from a distance because her sheet was askew. About the time I got to her, Zeus started to harass her and she galloped off. He kept trying to mount her, uhg! I so wish she could be out with all mares sometimes. I ran him off and caught her, and it was then my heart stopped. The butt straps were wrapped several times around her right hind leg in a knot. Tight. I just knew her leg was toast. I put the pieces together and decided that Zeus had probably been harassing her for a while, either that and/or she rolled and did something - they were adjusted tight as they could go though. They were ripped off the sheet and the blanket entirely on the left side. One of the belly straps had come undone. I carefully untangled her and she walked and jogged out perfectly sound, no heat or swelling. And she has been fine. It's really a miracle.

I fixed the blanket with some twine and just made an under the tail strap in the back. That held up well that night, since it was also in the 20s again, although I didn't throw the sheet on out of paranoia. Eesh. Way to give me a heart attack, horsies.

I was considering moving her up to one of the front pastures, just because at least someone would know she was in trouble if it ever happened again. She is so far out in the back pasture, even when someone goes back there they can't really see what she's doing if she's not near the gate. I decided not to in the end, and just try to do something different with her blankets. I feel her constantly moving out there is extremely beneficial for her joints and muscles. I just wish certain horses could be removed from that pasture!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I liiiieeeed.

Yeah. I definitely jumped a little xrail today...a few times. She seemed pleased but bored with it. I discovered what's killing me over xrails, and why they've become so mysteriously hard for me all of a sudden. I'm bracing on my hands and looking at the jump. I look at the jump trying to insure I'm pointing Amber at the center.

So I focused on throwing my hands forward and not getting to forward and we had some nice little jumps. Much improved.

She was really getting on the bit today. She really started to hang on me when she got tired but she is always like that when she's tired. When she gets tired she's like "Blahh, I don't care!" and she starts to play and be silly and not pay attention. So I worked her longer than I intended because I made the mistake of working her until she was to that point and then couldn't find a good note to end on. We had a good walk-canter transition and a good jump before we ended though!

I actually changed her bit. Pulled out an old bit that I had from when I thought I was going to use it for Jack in the hunters. It's just a hunter D, single joint. I actually think she prefers single joint bits. She's got a really fat tongue and I think the french link was putting too much pressure on it so that any pressure I had on her, even just 1/2 pound in my hands, was irritating.

So I think I'll stick with the change. Definitely have to watch myself so I don't work her until she starts being silly anymore. :p

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Status Quo

We're still pretty much were we have been the past few rides. Kind of plateauing and I'm trying to put together my next move so that we can move forward.

Thinking of adding some very light lunging in side reins to warm her up.

I've decided not to work on our jumping until she's seen a vet and/or chiropractor and whatever is going on in her back is accessed. Her back soreness is getting better, but the hip area remains the same and I'm not sure if it's joints or a misalignment. If it's joints, I will have to find a way to get her on Cosequin. Not exactly feasible in her turnout situation. Still having no luck getting a chiropractor out.

She's by all means sound for moderate flat work. The ear laying is gone, except in transitions (which are prompt and eager, so I don't get it). So I think I'll just keep doing this, trying to improve her consistency and quality in her gaits and her contact. Add in more lateral work. Going to try to work her 3 days a week over the winter, and I think when I get my tax return in spring, I'll just see if I can bum a ride to a chiro. I've thought about using that to take her to another vet for a second opinion. Something isn't 100% still. I think it would be worse if she WASN'T being ridden, because her back soreness is improved since she has been coming back into shape. But I think there's a limit right now and I feel like I need to be cautious about the "how" in keeping her in shape.

So. That's the plan. Since it's becoming seemingly impossible to get a chiropractor to make a farm call as far as our barn is from the nearest ones...or nearest reputable ones...we'll just keep things simple and light for the winter and go it alone in the spring.

Gotta love the Princess Mare.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretty decent ride!

I had a pretty decent ride today, especially considering the weather was weird and some jerk on a motorbike kept flying up and down the road.

It's a good thing Amber usually keeps her head about such things.

She was a little rushy in canter, but she was adjustable, I just had to make sure I kept her steady. She got the wrong lead tracking left AGAIN! What's up with this? This used to be the preferred direction, and it really makes me worry that something is up with the other hock...but I check for heat/swelling and pain after every ride and they're cool, tight and she doesn't react as though there's pain.

She did get one good walk-canter transition, going left. Weird, isn't it? She's pretty consistent both ways...there isn't either one that I go "Oh that's her bad direction!", because she doesn't have a bad direction, just a direction I usually have to be more on my toes about keeping her together. It's not like it's hard to get her to take the lead. It's more like "Oh, oopsie, wrong one!" and then off we go.

Still working on getting her soft through her neck and back. About the same place we were last time, and I think we will be here for a few weeks before I really start getting consistency.

She is getting some muscle up in her shoulders and hindquarters!

I'm still not sure what we're doing 100% yet. I know next year we're going to putt around at the local hunter/jumper shows doing flat classes, unless by some miracle we progress drastically in jumping. She has some cute suspension going on when she gets collected, so I'm still thinking about dressage. It's always going to be a part of me, and it's always going to be at the core of my riding, competing or not. I don't exactly have any rides to dressage shows though, and I doubt I'm going to be buying a trailer any time soon though...again, not that I don't want to do hunters, because I do. There's just something different about dressage to me.

She's just so responsive to my seat and leg. And it's just something about her when she gets focused, that I just KNOW if I really got serious about it, I could get her probably even farther than Jack. She's a thousand times farther than Jack with her collection and leg yields as it stands already. Of course, Jack was a weird horse. Jack could walk pirouette and shoulder-in, but it was like pushing a brick wall if you asked for a leg yield. I am so tempted to try teaching her, but I'm scared of frustrating her with too much too soon - she's still young and so sensitive.

But for now, we'll hang out with the hunters. :) We do love them too. And dressage isn't necessarily about competing. I could get my fix just doing tests at home. I just think I'd get to the point where I'd realize how much work I'd put in, and how much I'd taught her, and feel like the majority of work perfecting it, not just using it as a training aid, would be wasted.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grouchy mare is grouchy.

I could tell it was going to be one of those days, when she saw me and walked in the other direction. This passive-aggressive evasiveness usually only happens when she's in heat.

And she's usually not bad or stupid, she's just "not feeling it" if you get my drift.

She was definitely in a less than happy mood at first. Super wiggly under me and was back to her "canter canter canter nothing but canter" mindset. Wiggled some more. And then finally decided after I had to boot her with my inside leg a couple of times and give her a sharp squeeze in the mouth that she needed to stop playing and focus. And she did wonderful. I'd say 80-90% of our trot work was super round and on the bit. She's a little behind the vertical, but that's normal - she's still trying to figure out where she needs to be. She will stretch out a little more as she learns.

Canter was interesting. Right side was nice, left was kind of crappy. Opposite of what you'd think She got the wrong lead TWICE. WHAT?! That never happens. She got it the third time but she was kind of running through me. We did a little more trotting, working on keeping her really forward and working when she softened instead of losing the impulsion, and then tried one walk-canter transition. Could have been better but I find she learns best when I don't keep trying to get perfection until she's frustrated and confused, and she can get there easily.

When I turned her out it confirmed she's in heat because there was much peeing and squealing and bucking and farting with the geldings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Walk to canter success!

So I didn't ride over the weekend because it was gross and cold and wet. But I did go out for Sunday Funday at the barn...the designated day where everyone comes out and just rides and has fun on their horses or whatever Casey needs to get ridden.

Amber was a little grumpy at first, possibly because it's the first time she's worn the fork in a couple of weeks. I didn't even have contact, but I think she just knows what the fork means and what CAN happen with it.

After she was just a complete crab over the warmup, I took it off and she was a thousand times less grouchy, and she softened a lot better. She is getting to the point of holding the contact, instead of down and immediately up, I'm getting a good 4-5 strides where she will hold it. I really have to keep reminding her 'forward forward forward' with my seat or she loses her impulsion, because I also use softening to get her back together if she starts running out and I need to differentiate between that so she won't think I want her to get slower.

We did get one GORGEOUS walk-canter transition that was perfect. I was super happy about that. I let her be done on that note.

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and it's become very apparent to me again that this is my last horse. After knowing her, owning her, I honestly don't think I'll ever be happy with anything else. She's just one in a million.

We've got such a close bond. She's so good, so laid-back. She's got so much heart, spirit and personality - you never have to guess what she's thinking. But at the same time, she's so well-behaved. Within reason I don't worry about that opinionated personality causing her to do stupid things.

I think I get used to her being so well behaved. She's just okay with whatever. I do funny things to her all the time for laughs. Stuff that other horses wouldn't tolorate for a second - like the time I stuck my gloves on her ears. Or the time I made her carry my back pack around her neck. She's just like, whatever...I don't know why you like to make me look so silly!

I forget how really wonderful her manners and respect are. When I was turning her out, one of the riders was riding her horse around the back, and for whatever reason, it got all the horses excited and everyone started galloping and bucking and farting like a bunch of morons. Amber's strap on her sheet came undone. Oh crap. Don't need her tripping on that! So I grabbed her halter, and soon as she saw me, in the midst of all the galloping horses, she just came over and waiting patiently for me to do what I was going to do.

Something else that's really touching that she does, that really shows how close we've gotten, is that in the pasture, if something scares her, or if she's getting bullied, she will immediately run over to me for protection if I'm around. I've had to sting more than one butt with a leadrope before when I was leading her in the pasture and some other horse decided they were going to cause trouble.

Before I forget while I ramble - I'm not overly proud of my horse or anything, you know (ha) - her back soreness is a lot better. Hoof-pick test is getting less reaction. Still hoping to have her done by a chiro, but I think fitness is helping a lot.