Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My one-person horse.

Victoria has mentioned more than once that she thinks Amber is a one-person horse. I laughed and somewhat didn't believe it. After all, it's Amber. Amber was the beginners' packer before I bought her. She's extremely easy to ride (at least, I think so). She's not spooky, goes wherever with or without other horses. Has insanely good brakes.

But lately, I'm starting to realize that Victoria might be right. After Melissa's ride the other day, it made me think.

Amber has advanced tenfold from when I bought her. Not only have I been her primary rider, but we have worked towards perfecting a lot of things, and maybe I just haven't realized what a "precision necessary" ride I've made her. Melissa and Victoria are both good riders, albeit at different levels of experience, neither are beginners. Amber does the same with both...braces with the undermuscle on her neck, sticks her nose in the air, and trots as fast as she can, occasionally breaking into a canter.

She did this with Katie as well (although Katie made her collect, it was head down, fling it up, head down, fling it up). She sticks her head up higher than any horse I've ever seen when she doesn't like how you're riding. Lately, with me, I've been getting her to go beautifully, the long and low, nose-dragging (not literally) hunter under saddle type. She does this on a loose rein, and eventually stretches down to find my contact on her own. It's not traditional softening, but it's perfect for a hunter class, and if she goes so happily like that, not avoiding the bit, I'm not compelled to collect her any more. But even on a loose rein with Melissa, she did the brace-and-run thing. At first, I thought she was like that for Victoria because Victoria rode her in full contact. So I had instructed Melissa not to immediately take up contact, and just give her someone to stretch into - which she did. It wasn't anything I saw that Melissa was necessarily doing wrong.

I can't understand why she won't do it for everyone else, unless she really is a one-person horse. Victoria also said she thinks Amber is the hardest horse in the barn to ride...I wouldn't go that far, because I'm not THAT good of a rider, and couldn't ever pretend to be.

I also figured out why Amber sometimes doesn't like to be caught. I notice if I spent more time speaking "baby-talk" to her - hugging, snuggling, and generally making a fuss over her...she enjoys being caught. If I have a week where I get in a hurry, and take her out, do what I need to, and put her away...well, refusal to be caught. High maintenance, much?

In other news, I made a 100 on my first "real" exam for my Vet Tech course. :) I had a math and reading accessment before that, and like, 2 or 3 exams on how to study and the legal aspects of being a vet tech as well as general info about a vet office, my relationship with the clients, ect. Made 88, 100, 93 and 95.

Still intend to work in a small animal clinic, but I'm not totally shutting out the idea of working for an equine vet. Either way, I'll have a lot of options for a career as a licensed veterinary technician - super excited! :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventure day.

I rode Amber down the road a little way to the little church. She was extremely well behaved! About half-way to the church, we encountered about 5 beagles/hunting dog mixes in a kennel in a front yard who freaked out and made some serious noise. Then I look to my right and there is a dog at a screen door flipping out at the sight of us. Dogs yapping at us on both sides, and Amber plodded along quietly. We unfortunately didn't have very long to adventure, because I was feeding tonight. I did scope out the neighborhood I posted about a few weeks ago, and it looks decent enough. Kind of wondering what my plan is, should any dogs decided they don't like horses riding around in there. I didn't see any loose dogs, but you never know. If the dogs are scared to approach Amber, I think I'd choose to stay on if she's keeping her cool. If she's losing it, depending on the intensity of her losing it, I'd either guide her as she prances away, or bail as she rears and spins and attempt to make her get a grip. If they are not afraid to get up in her business...I think an emergency dismount is the call to make. It opens me up for an attack, but if the dogs are going to chase her/attack her, I'm even more vulnerable mounted. I don't think there are any people to worry about. But I just intend to run them over unless they have any serious weapons. Definitely need to do it more often though, it was a lot of fun. She wanted to get quick on the way home, so I made her walk past the property a few times before she went back. The only thing she got slightly upset about, was a man getting into his car...and I'm like, really? You march merrily past the dogs that sound like they want to eat you for a snack, and you fear some guy in khakis and a tie getting in his little red car? I had her cross the road, since we were coming up on some tall grass at that time, and I'm wary of tall grass in the summer. She skittered across the road, away from the terrifying man and his car. She pranced and attempted to trot when she saw the barn. A boot with my leg, a little pop the rein (I don't know if I can have an inside or an outide out of the arena?) and she settled down and kept walking. Casey happened to drive by...she said I looked like I was going to crap myself. I probably did, because I wasn't sure how she'd feel about me riding on the roads. Haha. I'm going to try to do it again tomorrow, and ride down the neighborhood. Should be fun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

R.I.P. Grammy...We love you!

I haven't posted in a couple of days... On Tuesday, I got off work and got out to the barn around 2:30. Grammy, our resident senior citizen, was laying down. I thought she was just being an old retired fart sunning herself, and she got up when I drove by and meandered off in the pasture.
Nobody was at the barn yet, and the new girl Alissa was supposed to come out, so I decided to sit down and wait for her so we could ride together.
I sat down with my tea in the chair at the front of the barn. I could see the part of the pasture Grammy and a couple of others were in. She grazed a few minutes and then she just came to stand by the fence, not grazing, just standing.
After a few minutes, she started to spin. Sometimes on the forehand, sometimes she was actually executing a decent walk pirouette. I though, well, the poor old girl is just stiff and having a hard time laying back down. After 2 or 3 minutes of this, it was getting more frantic and I texted Casey to see if she wanted me to bring her inside. No sooner had I finished sending my text, Grammy goes FLYING sideways. A very unbalanced sidepass. She spun a couple of times here and there, bumped into the fence trying to get through the gate that leads into the dry lot connected to the grass.
I jumped up and ran out to get her. When I got to the gate, she was spinning towards the end of the lot still, but she saw me and sidepassed over frantically. I grabbed a halter and ran in, but I quickly became aware that she had lost control of her legs and after she nearly knocked me down, I had to get out before she knocked me down. Her erratic movement had spooked the three ponies that were turned out with her, and they actually began attacking her.
I'm not sure if they were really trying to hurt her, more than likely they thought she was trying to theaten them, but eventually one knocked her down. I ran in and chased them off, and walked over to her. She got up as soon as I approached. She stood still, so I put the halter on and lead her out...she seemed to have regained control.
I was able to get her out of the gate, and when we were almost to the doorway in the middle of the barn, she started to lose control again. She bumped and stumbled through the narrow passage and I somehow was able to get her in a stall. Not the most ideal place, but there was no way I could get her to the roundpen - she would have crashed all through the barn aisle and could have potentially fell on me. She was extremely hot and breathing heavy, so I grabbed the hose and started hosing her. She was able to stand still a minute or two, then she'd spin again. I eventually just stood at the door hosing her to avoid a potential squishing.
At this point, every single horse in the barn was turned just staring in our direction. The horses outside were FREAKING. Eventually she collapsed, and I let her lie. She tried to get up every time I got near her, and it was better for her to be still and not thrash around in the stall. In a few minutes, which seemed like hours, the vet and a couple of boarders arrived. By this time her breathing had returned to normal. Dr. Smith was able to get her up and we got her into the roundpen outside. She ate a little soaked grain and drank some water. Dr. Smith advised that we hose her again in about 30 minutes, keep her in the roundpen, and call her if anything changed.
She was filthy from laying in the soaking wet stall I hosed her in, so we gave her a little bath. She was seemingly fine.
I put her back in the roundpen and it was then I noticed her skin wasn't looking quite right on her neck. I did a pinch test and she was VERY dehydrated. We encouraged her to drink more, but she wasn't really interested. She munched on hay for a couple of hours and seemed to be doing fine, moving normal again.
Then, about 5, she started to spin again. She eventually went down again for a few minutes. Then got up, ate and drank again, and had another spell very close to the last. When she fell that time, she really fell hard.
We decided to let her be in the roundpen for the night, because euthanizing her that night would mean she would potentially have to sit for some time until someone could come dig a hole, or remove her body.
She survived the night, apparently well, because the next morning she was nickering her very distinctive neighs for her breakfast at the gate. As the heat got greater, she started to have spinning and falls again I was told. They euthanized her early that afternoon, and she was buried a couple of hours later. We planted some little pink flowers on her grave today.
We're all still pretty sad about her death. She did live a long life - she was 30. She didn't always have an easy life, and she was starved before she came to our barn. That's somewhat comforting. Her retirement with us was a good one. She was actually healthy and sound enough to be ridden a couple of years ago.
We will miss the Gram! :( I had a picture I was going to post, but this computer refuses to let me for whatever reason.
I let Melissa ride Amber yesterday, and Amber was okay. She did a lot of bracing, speeding around and running through her. She cantered off a couple of times. She wasn't being bad persay, just trotting around like "I DEFY THEE, STRANGE RIDER!"
It was similar to what she did with Victoria, and everyone else who has tried to ride her. I got on a few minutes and worked her very collected and on the bit for the first time in a long time. Today, I was working her on a loose rein as usual, but she decided she wanted to speed around and ignore my seat, so I collected her a few minutes, and then when she decided to half-heartedly listen to that, I did transitions and made her back when she did those rather unresponsively. A few times of that, and she gave me some really nice trotting.
Waiting for the vet to give us a call and let us know when the chiro can do her at the clinic. Can't's disgustingly boring and Amber is literally dragging me at jumps, even ground poles. She's displeased and bored with her walk-trot lifestyle.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Only Amber...

I thought I was going to miss Dr. Wheeler, because in my brilliance I forgot I had to work until 2. Fortunately, she was still there. I hurried to get Amber. She decided that she didn't want to be captured today.

Amber goes through her moods. Some day she's happy to be caught, some days she pins her ears and speeds away from you. I usually rip her a new one when she does that, and she flails and acts like a moron and then comes quietly. This only happens when she is on stall board. She will come to you when she's on 24/7, and I hate it for her, but that just can't happen. There's no dry lots for her to be on for 12 hours.

She's usually not THAT hard to catch even when she does run. She usually sees me coming to retrieve her, pins her ears and walks/trots away like she doesn't see me. I'll say "STAND" and she knows I mean it, so she stops somewhere and waits. Today, she started to walk off, and it was seemingly her usual "hard" to catch. Then she proceeded to canter rather quickly away. Then Victoria's horse Dylan canters after her. Thanks for offering to help Dyl, but it's probably just going to hinder me.

That stirred her up a bit, and then I tried to corner her up. Usually if I can use my body to pin her in somewhere, she will give in. No. She gallops away and kicks out at me. OH HELL NO!

I eventually had to go get grain to catch her, and even then she was wise to it and almost didn't stand. Man...I let her know something.

By then she had gotten the majority of the horses in her pasture galloping, bucking, farting, generally acting foolish.

I hurried her into the barn and she was, as always good for the vet, other than being lazy and rather disinterested in cooperating with the trotting out part of her check up. She isn't dragging as heavily and she has more flexibility in her hocks, Dr. Wheeler said.

We are to continue doing light walk/trot. She recommended keeping her on the same diet and turnout she currently has. As I suspected, she too thought that gaining weight would be worse than stalling her 12 hours.

I'll be getting a call about our appointment with the chiro and for her stifles. I have a good feeling about this, so let's cross our fingers!

Remember Bob, from Halcyon? He did a drive by today...kind of weird. It was very obvious that he specifically wanted to drive by, since he circled back to the other road. Haha.

I started pulling her mane. Cheater pulling looks great on every horse I do...but her. She has a mohawk every time.

She has probably never had it done. I tried and gave up a long time ago just because I didn't want to deal with it. Well, today she just had to get over it...

She was a WITCH at first. I thought a couple of flakes of hay would keep her busy enough. Nope. She swung around and turned her butt. OH HELL NO. Yet again today. This occurred a few more times, resulting in the same firm whack on her hiney. Finally, she stood for me to do one piece. I praised her and got the halter to save me from further pains. Should have had it all along, but perhaps I was being wishful.

She stood a lot better. She tried to slip away a couple more times, but ultimately didn't spaz and wasn't too hard to keep still. I gave lots of pats and cookies for her standing so nicely - at least compared to the other attempts we've made. I don't think she was threatening me by turning her butt. She's a smart mare and she was careful to keep me from getting on the right side (thus having access to her mane). All she was doing was trying to avoid me. Still disrespectful, but not aggressive. We did about 2/3 of it. Looks better. I'd rather have a pulled mohawk than a cheater pulled mohawk...maybe it will grow out and be normal.

Despite it all, she's in a better mood lately. She's a mare, she's opinionated - it's just part of her being one! And I love mares. They're smart, they're sneaky, and they will let you know exactly how they feel about everything. But that's exactly why she's so quick to learn new things, under saddle and on the ground.

I felt bad for her though during our ride today. We stood in the middle for a few minutes at first while one of the kids jumped a pony around. I didn't think about it, but when we jump we always stand in the middle between the diagonal jumps and wait for the others to finish their rounds. She thought we were going to jump...she was not amused when I steered her away from the jumps.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trail Fail

Tried to ride in the arena. SUPER windy, big dust cloud in my face. Faithful Ambermare plodded into it like a champ. I didn't do that long, and rode back to the back pasture a minute instead. I tried to ride around as far as I could where the grass wasn't so tall and thick, but we didn't get far.

The Princess was NOT pleased. I have never before had a horse who balked at going BACK to the barn. She was seriously wanting to stay out longer. She took me on a detour around by another pasture of her own accord.

Still draggy, mostly the left hind. But not quite as bad. Still, we aren't finished though. So it's to be expected. Dr. Wheeler is coming out Thursday afternoon to give a pony hock injections, so I'll be sure to be out to have her watch Amber and hopefully schedule an appointment to finish her treatments. Not sure though, we're trying to coordinate with the chiropractor to adjust her at the clinic the same day she gets her stifle injections.

I'm truly hoping that her joint problems are the result of compensating for her pelvis being out. That would mean that if we keep her pelvis correct and balanced, she shouldn't have to compensate and thus her joints shouldn't experience that trauma again. I'm of course worried that it's her joints that caused her to throw her pelvis out.

But isn't it funny? It's back to what I said almost at the beginning: It starts high up. My suspicion was spot-on, but I can't fault myself for not taking action sooner because I did the best I knew working with the vets and 'professionals' I had available to me at the time.

Kind of considering trying the other farrier that comes out to the barn though. Her white line is still separating, and quite frankly I'm pretty positive it's the pressure on the hoof wall from the flare they're leaving on her. It's puzzling because they are pretty much the most highly reputed farriers in the area. But the white line separation is NOT cool...they told me to thrushbuster it. I have, and it's still doing it, which tells me, this is mechanical, and that makes sense. Seems like they leave more on her hinds than on the fronts?

Just a wait and see. But fortunately, it's not horrid flare, so the other farrier can probably take it right off the first trim and I should be able to see if the changes are positive within the first trim. I'm learning more and more about feet with time, I think. Always looking to further educate myself.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Upcoming treatments, and the future.

Amber's appointment for her second round of treatments is still pending. I am actually calling the vet in a few minutes to discuss things.

You can only hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

It's unlikely that she will turn into a pasture puff. But it's still possible she will have to retire from jumping. It's hard to say just yet.

I have decided that if she can't return to jumping, I will trail ride her exclusively. I looked into some prices, the value of my close contact alone would cover my ALL the tack I'd need for comfy trail riding. And then some. So tack swapping wouldn't be a huge deal.

Thing is, Amber is bored by flatwork for the most part. I could show her on the flat, but the time, effort, and expense would just not be worth it if she doesn't want to do it. The two things I am certain my horse is really interested by are trails and jumping.

So if she can return to jumping and the vet says we can compete lightly without issue or risk, we will do that. If it's risky, if it will call for a lot of work to keep her sound enough, or if she just can't at all...trails for us.

She keeps trying to drag me around the back pasture, but the grass around it is so tall I'm worried about snakes. And there is a lovely wet ditch around half of it, so it's a great place for them. I found a quiet neighborhood down the road I plan on riding her around, so that may be a good alternative for some out-of-the-arena riding for now. Hoping our buddies Melissa and Rufus will be able to go with us. Trail riding is so much more fun with friends. Melissa is still recovering from a bad fall though. She very nearly broke her arm, thanks to her project 4 y/o TB who tripped and fell on her.

Ultimately, if she becomes exclusively a trail horse, I will end up moving her closer to home. My dad has been looking at trailers. Ideally, I would like to find a good trail riding buddy that would go with me to different places that also wants to just do mostly walk/trot, a little cantering and generally just pleasure riding and taking in the scenery.

I'd really like to move her to my friend's barn down the road if all this happens. It's less than 5 minutes from my house and she just built a really nice little barn.

But who knows right now?

One thing I'm definitely going to ask the vet about is what she recommends for Amber's diet and turnout. Amber is stalled right now simply because she becomes a whale when she's out 24/7. Too much weight is no good for her joints, but a horse with joint issues would benefit from being out all the time.

I just wanted to update though. Not much has been going on to blog about. We've been walk/trotting lightly, and Amber is offended and annoyed with these workouts. But it's for her own good.