Thursday, February 27, 2014

Crazy Progress

In a few ways the last week has been about progress. First of all, I have a dressage lesson!!! It is on a 4th level schoolmaster which will be incredible and it is at a barn that I would love to move Katai to. I set the lesson up partly so that I can figure out if I would like to take lessons with this instructor in the future and partially so that I can ask questions about boarding there. It seriously seems too good to be true with WAY nicer facilities than I am at now, closer to home, and although at a higher cost it is still reasonable. I am concerned that they may not have any openings or have a wait list so I am anxious to talk to the instructor at my lesson on Monday.



The other progress has been with Katai. We are having another nasty cold streak so I decided to just do ground work on Monday as well as treating hooves and feeding supplements. With my concerns about Katai’s heavy coat and my ability to ride her even lightly if it gets around freezing I’ve made clipper desensitization a priority. Since I seem to have misplaced my other trimmer I picked up one of those noisy little Wahl clippers at the feed store to use instead.


Mostly I have been able to desensitize Katai to everything but there have been two things that are so far that she wants nothing to do with and those are/were clippers and fly spray. NOTHING else has given me anywhere near the trouble as those have but for whatever reason on Monday she was extremely calm. I was able to rub them all over her while on and even trimmed a bit of her long mane hair since I needed to get her used to that other sound.  I was extremely impressed and gave her a break during our time tonight so that I don’t push too hard and burn her out.

 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Burried

This is me trying to get to work yesterday.


On Thursday afternoon it started snowing here and didn't stop until early Friday morning. In all we got almost 12" but the bonus was the frozen rain (ice) under the pile of snow. I had a rough enough time getting home on Thursday and to work and back home on Friday without adding a trip to the barn. Today though, I couldn't take it any more and decided to brave the drive.
 
 
That's not snow on the road, that's a solid inch of glare ice. The drive that normally takes about 30 minutes took over an hour today and they really weren't any better on the way home. It was really good to see Katai though since I was having serious pony withdrawals.
 
I got some great work done with her today. I had to dig out the gate and none of the paths were plowed which meant wading through 12-15" of snow with drifting. I hadn't really planned on riding and after that I really didn't feel any more encouraged to tack her up. She was covered in ice crystals on all of her long hair and had a few that were hitting her right in the eye. I got her all groomed up and did some snow removal and then turned her loose to do some free lunging.
 
OMG pony is seriously uphill all of a sudden! It looks like she had another mini growth spurt and added more height to her withers but she was enjoying the freedom to move out without snow and ice so I was getting some beautiful extensions out of her too.
 
Finally, to add to everything else wonderful about seeing her today, her hooves look gads better!!! I've seriously made more progress on getting rid of this thrush in the last four applications than in two months of the other treatments. It was so encouraging!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Speaking of Sweater Weather

 
I think I’m going to need to do a trace clip at some point. Pony has four inch long icky hair and her eyeballs were sweating after a short amount of trotting. I had to walk her for about half an hour alternating cooler and bare to cool her to the point where I was comfortable putting her out and that was only because it wasn’t windy since she was still a bit wet. I’ve never clipped a horse before but I’ve clipped a lot of goats for dairy shows and 4-H so I get the concept however I don’t have a clipper.

I did have a trimmer but it mysteriously disappeared and it wouldn’t have done the job anyway. I was mainly using it for desensitization since it was useless for anything I wanted to do including trimming her bridle path. That means that I am in the market for a clipper. No one at the barn has them so there aren’t any that I can borrow. As mostly casual trail riders my fellow boarders don’t have the need since they mainly stay at the walk and don’t ride unless it is nice out with only a couple of exceptions.

I’m hoping to stay in the $90-$150 range and it doesn’t need to be extremely high powered since I’m mainly planning on doing a light trace clip on a very small horse as needed during this time of the year. I’m willing to take my time but I want them to last and not be toooo noisy since it will already take a lot of desensitization. Do any of you have any suggestions of what works well or what to stay away from?

I've be looking at these and these.

In other news I was at the barn again tonight but I didn’t have a lot of time since I was going to hang out with EJ (my new boyfriend?) so I just did some stuff on the ground and medicated Katai’s hooves. Her new bridle came in the mail yesterday so I spent some time getting that set up and isn’t it cute!! I also worked with her on how to properly respond to pressure on one side. She’s been getting pretty frazzled when I ask her to yield her hindquarters and has been backing up and throwing her head around so I wanted to take it back a couple of steps and work from the ground. She figured it out fairly quickly and was much more relaxed with me on the ground.
 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sweater Weather

It has been insanely warm here lately. Yesterday it almost made it above freezing and today it was all the way up to 40. I was literally in a sweater tonight when I worked with Katai and it was wonderful.

She was pretty keyed up when I started. It seems she's suddenly developed an attachment with one of the geldings in her field. The funny part is that the guy she chose happens to be the only other horse at the barn that is ridden dressage and he's about 17 hands of brown and white paint. They make an interesting couple.

Once I mounted up she was all business just like normal. I've been lunging her beforehand working on trot/canter transitions and today I tried walk/canter transitions. I've been using a very specific cue to get her to move up to a canter for the reason that I knew it would help under saddle. With her workman like attitude tonight I decided to go for it and asked for a canter after we had done a bit of trot work. She sprang right into it and it was a great smooth, balanced canter. I was so proud of her!

 I have been struggling a little on getting any type of consistent contact. She is young and green so it's not something I'm worried about, it will just take some consistency but she is the toughest horse I've worked with in that regard and loves to go around inverted with her head in the air so I've enlisted help. D and I spent some time chatting tonight so I have some ideas and we are going to set up a lesson as soon as we have an idea of what the weather will be like.

I put more mastitis drug in her frogs but this time my phone had died from the cold so I still don't have pictures. Tomorrow I'm going out again to take advantage of the warm weather. I'm hoping that in these next couple of applications I'll start to see some type of change.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Splurge

I finally have a pair of nice riding boots! I ended up with a little "extra" money this weekend because surprisingly I sold my broken down car. A couple of boys bought it to part out and I got more for it than if I had salvaged it like I thought I was going to have to do. Most if it is going to my credit cards but I've been sorely needing some real riding boots so I finally caved and went shopping.

I've honestly never had a nice pair of boots that really fit. The best I've done was a pair of wonderful Mountain Horse riding boots but because I had fat calves at that point I had to go with two foot sizes too large to try to make the calf fit and I still ended up killing the zipper because they were too tight.

The tack shop near me was having a sale on "winter" boots so I bought a pair of these.

I <3 them.

I've been wanting something like them for a really long time but thought I would go with a different style. When I tried them on though these were clearly the most comfortable and my favorites.

I also finally ordered a bridle that will fit her. I was trying to make do with the one I have which I got for $25 from Horze. Although I like it I never meant for it to be more than a schooling bridle and with her long winter hair the noseband isn't fitting at all and I need it to be. The new one should be here in a couple of weeks.

In other updates the new Thrush medication got to me on Saturday but I didn't pick it up until today. I brought it to the barn with me when I went today and put it in her hooves for the first time. I meant to get pictures to compare with how they'll look in a few days but she was upset about her boyfriend screaming to her and wouldn't stand still. I'm hoping to get out there tomorrow and will take pictures then.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Thrush Saga

I’ve mentioned before that Katai has had awful, deep Suclosis Thrush for awhile and that I found out what it was and started treating in late October of last year. Well I’m still treating for it L

I’ve tried three different treatments for at least a month each and nothing has really worked. The best was when I could scrub out all four with a diluted Clorox solution, rinse, and then squeeze Pete Ramey Goo into the cracks in her frogs but with our temperature consistently in the single digits to double negative digits I just can’t do this right now. I was hoping that the frozen ground and snow would help me out and reduce the need for scrubbing but it doesn’t seem to be the case and I suppose that her interest in standing in poop isn’t helpful.

I’ve been doing research for awhile trying to figure out a solution that would work with the cold. I really don’t mind soaking and scrubbing and all but it is completely impossible in these temperatures and whatever I do needs to be consistent. Finally last night I randomly ran into a new option in the comments on a blog I was reading. The drug is called Tomorrow, which sounds to me like a song in a musical, and is used to treat Mastitis in cattle. However, from all of my following research last night reading hundreds of posts on forums, and blogs it looks like it is a wonder cure. I ordered 5 tubes, which sounds like it will be overkill from what I found and hopefully will take care of this nasty Thrush once and for all.

I am so hopeful that this will finally work since this whole thing has been driving me nuts. I can see how treatment could be lasting this long if I were being lazy, missing treatments, not doing what I’m supposed to be etc. but I’ve been squirting goo into her feet, picking them out extremely well and scrubbing them out with soap and water whenever possible and there is still literally no change. I’ve also changed her diet to include almost no sugars, added supplements that were supposed to help and increased her work to hopefully load her hooves/frogs and increase blood supply to help healing. Finally I’ve got a new farrier who is aware of the issue and did a GREAT trim on her last time which is a few weeks ago now. She is clearly less uncomfortable than she was before but I feel like I’m maintaining and really not gaining on ground on this thing.

I should mention that she is not and has not been lame but she is more sensitive to things like gravel than she should be and she doesn't love having me clean her feet. She was more uncomfortable in October which is what led me to figure out the issue and start treating in the first place and she is loads better now just not completely fixed and that's what is bothering me.

Fingers crossed…

In other news I had a WONDERFUL ride tonight. We are really starting to have some communication and even though she was actually a little naughty I was able to get her to lay off and keep working and we made real progress.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Breakdown

 
 
To accomplish the big goals I need to lay out smaller items to fix, improve and correct. The following are my goals for the rest of February.

1. Lots of Miles – Both of us need time together mostly riding. She is weak, I’m still weak and I’m getting used to her movement and figuring out the communication between us. My goal is to ride her 4 times per week through the end of February.

2. Strength – I need to specifically address her weaknesses which will require more than just time in the saddle. For the rest of February my goal is to do carrot stretches before and after each ride and to introduce more cavaletti work.

3. Communication – Katai is doing really well and figuring out some of the more refined cues at this point, at least refined for a green horse :P, but I need to do more to introduce lateral movements since everything is built on that. My goal is to introduce some lateral work to every ride as well as doing some work on the ground to help her figure this out and figure out how to move laterally without a rider on the days that I don’t ride.

4. Trail Riding – I would LOVE to have nice enough weather to get her out of the arena occasionally in February. If we have reasonable weather my goal is to get her out at least once a week for a quick ride down the road.

During my ride on Sunday I really felt like I’m starting to trust her. She still has spurts of naughty behavior but I know exactly how far they will go at this point and I’m comfortable with how to correct her and move on. I feel like we are starting to become a team and that she is becoming a riding horse rather than just a baby/green horse. I think the main difference for me is knowing that I can do what I need to when I need to rather than needing to change my routine or actions to accommodate a green baby horse and it is a wonderful feeling.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Progress

 
Pictures of a very tense, inverted pony mare. Yes there are sidereins but they are long enough that she was actually nibbling on grass at one point before pictures so they are not causing her to carry her head like this. Besides, you can see the tension in her legs and body as well.


Fast forward a few months of proper work, carrot stretches plus ground poles and you get this.
 

Plus, that's in the cold with very little warm up and she is pretty weak still from lack of any real consistent work. I am seriously getting excited about where we can go. Is there a bronze medal in our future?

Pony Withdrawl

I didn't get to see my pony tonight and I'm missing her badly. It's just too cold though. I blanketed her yesterday after our ride so she should be reasonably comfortable and it was going to be cold enough again that there wasn't a good reason for me take it off so she'll wear it until tomorrow or even Wednesday morning.

I did spend some time working on my goals for the year and although its nowhere near a complete list I think it's time for me to start writing them down for the world to see, or at least the world of horse bloggers :-)

 

Goals for 2014

 
1. Attend at least 3 dressage shows
 
2. Get out of the arena
 
3. Try an endurance ride (if I can find one that is local enough)
 
4. Take as many lessons as possible
 
 
I am seriously serious about accomplishing these things this year with my girl come hell or high water. I am already working on plans for transportation and figuring out who, where and when I can get lessons from. I see 2014 as a jumping off point for us and a way to get to bigger and better things. I think that a nice, fairly simple year of just accomplishing tons of miles and sweaty saddle pads together will leave us in the perfect place to get more serious about lessons and competing next year. This plan also runs concurrently with my career goals. I see myself at my current job for about two more years. I am hopeful that at that point I can find a new job with a higher wage as I am seriously underpaid now. Hopefully this new job will either be in or closer to the cities and at that point as I am looking for new boarding barns I will need to know more about my competition plans since the facility I move to will depend on where I want to take things.
 
 
All I know is that at this point the world is our oyster.
 
                 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Update

So its been way to long since I posted anything on my blog. This is due to a few reasons including this polar vortex thing and how busy my life seems all of a sudden. I swear, a few years ago I never would have believed that I would have a busy social life but suddenly that is exactly the way it seems to be. I am figuring out how to balance it all and starting to demand more horse time rather than just dealing with being busy and putting Katai last all of the time but it is a work in progress since I've never had to do anything like this before.


I have been working with her fairly consistently its just not as often as I would like, hasn't been as productive as I would like and I've had no time to blog on what has been happening. However, I decided that it is time to stop making excuses. I've had this thing that I've called a "100 Day Challenge" where basically I wrote out 100 days of things that I wanted to do I wanted to accomplish such as cantering Katai for the first time, eating healthier and making more time for myself. I've been doing fairly well meeting the challenges every day with the exception of missing a few riding days due to weather. One of the challenges is starting to blog more consistently again so that is what I'm working on now.

Today I was out at the barn for awhile despite the cold and rode not only Katai but another large draft cross named Durango. It is wonderful to ride a horse that has more experience and to have the chance to work on myself. His owner has asked me to ride once in awhile to do some dressage work and give her some tips. Today we worked on turns on the haunches to start to try to lighten his front end a bit.

Durango with his owner riding 
 

The real star of the show was Katai though. She is slowly getting better and better and our biggest hindrance right now is her lack of strength. Just like any young horse she is weak especially going to one side and that makes the work hard and her frustrated. It really doesn't help that with this extremely cold winter all of the horses are just standing around in the pen. Today she was clearly sore from our last workout a couple of days ago when we did a lot of trotting. While I don't like seeing her sore she did get more comfortable as she warmed up and got working again and I am glad that she is building muscle. I gave her easy work today and we did a lot of walking with just a small amount of trotting. Tomorrow she will get just a grooming and some grain. I may try to liniment her but honestly with how long her coat is right now I think it may be a lost cause. I will do some carrot stretches with her though and some walking to just help her stretch out.
Eating grain foods in a stall.