Guess what this is?
|Cisco (on the right) looks taller than Phantom - but I think it's just because he's totally got his butt squished into the butt bar. Though I might measure him to be sure!|
Guess what this is?
|Cisco (on the right) looks taller than Phantom - but I think it's just because he's totally got his butt squished into the butt bar. Though I might measure him to be sure!|
Cisco's canter has been on the struggle bus as of late. He's been picking up his leads with no issue, and in general the transitions have been prompt and without drama.
|I got some usable Pixio footage (lots of non-usable footage). It's taken forever to be able to get on this horse and walk around on the buckle at the start of the ride.|
But once we get into the canter, he's a llama. A left-bending llama.
|It's a little dark, but this moment totally shows our struggle with dropping the right shoulder tracking right.|
I've been wondering if it's a physical issue, a tack issue, a training issue, or an idiot rider issue.
One training hole that I know we have is not being able to get flexion at the poll without following with his shoulders. I spent so much time trying to get this horse to go on a straight line forward that I kind of neglected to work on getting flexion at anything other than a walk. We've been working on it, and I'm pretty sure that this will help our canter immensely.
On a ride last Friday I decided to tackle the canter. I only wanted him to give me some bend, and not carry his head straight up in the air. Was a decent ride lead canter something he couldn't do, in which case I'd have to look into getting a vet workup done, or he didn't want to do (because it's hard)?
|I like the uphill moment, but would like the neck a bit longer and my butt to stay in the saddle.|
We went back to doing lots of transitions on a circle. The first couple of canters were ugly, but it slowly started getting better. He started softening his back and allowed me to influence and ride the canter, rather than just sit on top and steer.
|Magic colour change pony - he's now a palomino!|
We made some progress in being able to ask for some flexion and have him reach down into contact. There were also some lovely, soft transitions into canter.
And then we had an amazing trot around the arena! Forward, straight, even contact in both my reins - it felt fantastic!
I think we are finally making progress on Cisco's trailering stress level!
I hooked up the trailer last night and parked it towards the front of the field. By the time I returned with both horses, I had trailers parked on either side of me with haul-in lesson students. An excellent training opportunity!
|Full-on sweat after a trailer ride on July 31.|
When I first approached with Cisco to the trailer there was something about him that made me think this was going to be a good night.
And then he wouldn't get on.
He initially put his front feet into the trailer pretty quickly. But then would only tap dance in place and wouldn't take another step that actually moved him forward. Lots of foot movement going nowhere.
I ended up pulling Phantom off the trailer and sent her to go graze out of sight and went back to the beginning with Cisco. With the divider moved over, on our first approach he took that extra step in that I hadn't been able to get. But not much more.
We faffed about and after a few minutes got a couple more steps, so I backed him off and reapproached.
And he marched right on, right to the front.
And continued to do so another 4 or 5 times in a row, with me gradually moving the divider back over.
|Still super sweaty on August 4.|
I then had to decide if I wanted to leave it there or put both horses back on and go for a drive. I figured I might as well, we were there and ready to go.
He still loaded without issue after Phantom was on. So off we went!
We just did the loop around the side roads - it's not far, but they are all dirt roads so I drive like a grandma to try to keep the ride more comfortable for the ponies. We were probably gone for about 25 minutes.
Upon arrival, I lifted the rear curtain and for the first time, didn't smell the steaming, sweaty horse aroma.
Sure enough, Cisco had barely broken a sweat!
|Sweat patches on his elbow and a bit on his neck - so much better!|
Yes, it was much cooler than the last few times we trailered, but that hasn't stopped him in the past from breaking out into an all-over body sweat. There was still some sweat present, maybe about 10% of what it usually is. I'd be okay arriving somewhere and tacking up this horse instead of the other sweaty horse that would need a bath first.
I'm hoping that this was the breakthrough trailer ride and it will only get better from here! (Probably just a fluke though!)
I really need to get some media of my rides. I keep expecting that the arena is going to be busy when I ride so I don't take the recording equipment out with me, and then the barn turns out to be empty and I have the arena to myself. I've had the Pivo in my car for a few days but it struggles when the overhead doors are open and loses me with the change of light, so there's really not much point in setting it up if I'm riding inside at this time of year. I need to charge up the Pixio, but I don't like to leave it in my car while I'm at work and this week I went straight out to the barn from work.
Thus, no media.
Not that my rides have been fantastic and I'm missing capturing amazing moments. Far from it.
I've been riding much better this week though. It appears that the problem was what I suspected - my new boots that haven't broken in yet. They have been feeling much more comfortable in the calf this week - in fact, one almost felt loose. Not to worry - there's still lots of adjustability due to the laces.
Cisco has been a VGB (very good boy) and has been trying really hard. At the end of Thursday's ride we had some deep corners at a trot that felt amazing.
|Cooling off and enjoying the sunset.|
Our canter, however, has been not so amazing. Head up, nose stuck out. I'm not sure if it's me, if he's uncomfortable somewhere, or just a training issue. I'm trying to just ignore it and keep riding the movements (lots of transitions, 15m circles, a bit of leg yield).
He also feels a bit locked in bending to the right. At the end of a ride I can get some right flexion, but it's a struggle until he's done a bunch of work. When he had chiro work done earlier in the year she had found him out in his poll and her work seemed to help. I'd like to get him looked at again but would really like to take him to a vet I've used in the past who does chiro. She's about an hour away so we'd have to trailer. My goal is to get a few more trailer practice sessions in and get him over sometime in September.
Phantom had two back-to-back rides this week. She was pretty sassy! We weren't at the point of not being able to walk, but not far off. She felt pretty good, provided I didn't let her get too fast (not that I had an option much of the time). Then she gets a bit too much on her forehand.
She also had an issue with bugs. Because she has to wear a flymask all summer to protect her nose and eyes, Phantom gets very sensitive about bugs. As in, she can't stand them touching her face. If I ride her outside I just put a light fly mask on over her bridle and it keeps everyone happy. When I ride inside, I don't bother as the bugs aren't much of a problem.
Apparently, after the rain we had at the beginning of the week a bunch of bugs came out and Phantom had issues with that. There was much drama and head flinging happening, although I didn't see or feel any of them.
This weekend I was bad and ordered not one, but two pairs of breeches from Decathlon. I really like the warm (well, warmish) pair that I had bought last winter and I've been eyeing these summer-weight ones. Well, they're now on sale for $50.
|The sale colours are turquoise and navy.|
I wasn't planning on getting two pairs, but I was having problems finding something else to add to get free shipping, so I said screw it and added the other colour to my cart. There are many things that I'm interested in getting, but they didn't have the size I needed or I didn't like the colour. Plus, they're opening a store this fall in the province so I'm hoping to take a road trip and would rather try things on before buying.
Hopefully these breeches are as comfortable as the other ones I bought from them!
You know when you're like "I've been sooo busy" but then you look back and can't think of anything that's happened that's out of the ordinary? That's kind of been my last three weeks.
Let's catch up.
I did another car ride with the kids a few days after the previous one. Cisco was a wee bit stickier about getting on - he went backwards a couple of times, and tiptoed his way to the front of the trailer, but it still wasn't too horrible. We did the same drive under mostly the same conditions as I had for the first drive, and he stepped off the trailer about half as sweaty as he has been. Hopefully that's progress! I need to get a few more days in over the next few weeks - once winter hits I don't want to trailer unless I really have to.
|A much less sweaty boy.|
We had quite a few days of poor air quality, but it has been much better for the last 10 days or so. I had to work a week of overnights through the last of it, so I didn't have any inclination to ride anyway.
I intended to ride Cisco this past Monday after I was back to days. I started getting him ready and noticed the twinkle in his eye and thought he might appreciate a chance to run in the arena instead. Oh yeah, he was a wee bit spicy. He did three laps of the arena at a gallop on his least favourite lead, which he never does, so that was a good decision.
It held over until Thursday when I was able to ride and he was pretty chill for a horse who hadn't been ridden in almost two weeks. Sadly, I'm riding terribly at the moment. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't been riding much, or because I've been dealing with some body soreness (wondering if it's due to a medication change), but I'm leaning towards it being because my new boots are still not broken in. I can't get my heel down as much as I would like to, and thus my base doesn't feel as balanced as it should and everything else suffers. Thankfully, the boots are quite sticky and my leg isn't swinging in the breeze, it just hurts my shins to push weight into my heels. They feel better as I get further into my ride (maybe because I have lost the feeling in my legs at that point).
|Very chill post-ride, even after all his friends left him alone in the arena.|
Because he hasn't been ridden much and I'm riding crappily, Cisco's stickier bits have popped up again - namely a lack of right bend and pushing into his right shoulder. It got a little bit better at the end of Friday's ride so I'm not too worried about it. I also wasn't happy with the quality of his canter so on both rides we did a bunch of canter-trot-canter transitions and it made a huge difference very quickly.
Phantom has been enjoying her semi-retired life. I think she's been ridden once in the last month. She definitely gets a pass when the air quality is bad. I need to make sure I hop on her this week.
|Awaiting the farrier after her pre-farrier bath to clean her poopy back legs and tail.|
To top everything off, I have to find a new farrier. Our longtime farriers (they work together as a team) told us at our appointment last week that they would no longer be able to service the barn. I don't know the reason but I suspect that they have just gotten too busy (this last time they had to adjust their schedule and give us a different day than usual as our barn was taking them most of the day) and since they only come to our area once per cycle, we had to be cut.
They gave us a suggestion on someone to contact so I think I'll try her. There are a couple of other farriers that come to our barn, but I know that I don't want to use one of them (she has a history of being unreliable). The barn owner has already contacted the suggested farrier and she has said that she can do our barn so I'm going to try to set up an appointment and let the other owners know.
|The Friday night crew were not overly enthusiastic.|
So, that's what's been happening. Not too much on the horse side of life, but I have been getting some saddle time. Work has quieted down a bit, I have another week of vacation in September, and the temperatures seem to be much more moderate for the near future, so I need to try to make the best of it for the next little bit. Winter is coming all too soon!
It got hot again this weekend. It doesn't feel as bad as it could because there is a haze in the air again so the sun isn't as strong as it can be, but that haze has trapped in the humidity at ground level.
I decided that this weekend would be better spent with life lessons for Cisco instead of riding. Namely, more trailering experience.
Every time that he's been on a car ride, Cisco has come off the trailer soaking wet with sweat. I totally admit that I've neglected getting this sorted out. Although I've had a 2-horse trailer for a few years, up until last fall, I didn't have confidence in my dad's truck that I used to pull it. One horse it had no problems with, but I didn't like how it felt with two horses on board.
|I do not want to arrive somewhere and have to tack up this sweaty creature!|
Last fall my dad got a new, bigger truck, with more than enough power for my little trailer (also with a backup cam which is awesome for hooking up!). The issue has been finding a time that I can get the truck - my dad is a busy guy.
It worked out this weekend that I could do two days in a row. Cisco is going to need a whole lot more than that.
As per usual, I loaded Phantom first to be Cisco's emotional support animal. He'll follow her anywhere and she's a pretty good traveller.
I had a couple of loading sessions earlier this summer with Cisco and they went pretty good, so I was hoping that I wasn't going to have to start from the beginning again.
Day 1 - he was slow getting on, but it was always forward. Probably 5-7 minutes with me not making a huge fuss about it - I only cared that he continued to step forward. Once on they chilled for a few minutes before we went for a drive of a loop along the local roads. All of the roads in that area are dirt roads, so I drove quite slowly - there are some washboard sections near the intersections.
Upon return to the barn, sure enough, I could smell the sweat emanating from Cisco before I dropped the ramp. He was soaking wet. (When I cleaned the trailer afterward, I thought he had peed in the middle of the stall - nope, it was sweat marks from where it had dripped down his legs.)
|The wet marks are from the sweat that dripped off of him.|
It took a few more minutes, but it was mostly forward steps again (he went backwards once on his own and once when he nose-butted me in my nose - while I was holding a whip - not his best decision). There was a period where his forward steps were literally an inch at a time, but they were still forward, so I would give him a short release before asking for another step. Once he is fully on he's pretty good about staying put, and sure enough, we were able to lock him in and head out. I'm sure he was on within 10 minutes, which to be honest kind of surprised me. I expected it to be much more of an issue.
This time we went out to the highway. I hoped that the smoother road would help, although we had a stretch on the dirt roads at the beginning and end. I also put Cisco's sound-proof ear covers on him. He's quite noise sensitive, so maybe reducing the noises would help?
Yeah, no. He arrived a sweaty mess yet again.
|Sweaty muzzle, sweat under his eyes, super sweaty body.|
The ear coverings didn't make an obvious difference, so I don't think I'll bother with them again.
I had set up my old phone as a video camera so that I could see what he's doing in case he has a hard time standing, causing him concern. I didn't see any reasons - he didn't seem to lose his balance and scramble at any point (I drive like a grandma with the trailer) so it appears to be all mental.
It appears that Cisco is going to need a whole lotta miles before he comes off the trailer dry.
If anyone has any ideas to try let me know! I'm not concerned about it taking a few minutes to get him on, I would just like him to arrive cool and relaxed. I don't want to use a sedative as I don't want him groggy and not able to balance, but I might have some Chill I can maybe try. I have a feeling though that it's just going to take time and experience.
I managed to get both horses ridden on the same day on Tuesday! And didn't I feel it on Wednesday!
I think this was Phantom's first ride in something like a month. The old gray mare was feeling good - both in her body and in her brain. By the second lap of trot, she let me know that she was ready to do this. Since it was late and she was the second ride, we didn't really do much, just tried to keep the level of her forward under ridiculous.
|Ready to do more.|
I had set up the Pivo for my ride on Cisco. Unfortunately, I had my first fail with it. The conditions in the arena just weren't optimal to be able to get the camera to stay with me as the overhead doors at each end of the arena were open and it was super bright outside, so after I passed the open door the camera got dark and lost me. Also, partway through my ride a couple of other horses came into the arena - I think I got more usable footage of them than me.
At the beginning of the ride, Cisco was having some feels about being alone in the ring, which he felt the need to vocalize to others. Thankfully, bitching and moaning was really all that he did.
|You'll notice that my expression does not match Cisco's.|
We've been working on asking for flexion and not having it affect steering. I'm pretty sure that if I went up the center line and asked for right and left flexion that our straight line would very much resemble a zigzag. It's a bit of a big hole that I admit should have been sorted out ages ago, but he's just been such a wiggly horse that going straight seemed to be the priority.
It's coming. Flexing left but steering to the right is tougher, probably because he doesn't fill my right rein and our half halts on that side are less effective. By which I mean I hang on my left rein and let go with the right. We're having moments when it comes together, generally later in the ride, and we're starting to get them on every ride, so that's progress.
The other bit of progress that we've made is in our canter transitions to the left. Cisco's preferred way of flinging out his shoulders is to the right, and in the canter transition we would completely lose the shape of the circle during the transition.
The arena that I ride in is about 30m wide, so I have to remember to use smaller sections to get some benefit from circles - 30m is just too easy. Earlier this spring we worked on picking up the canter from a walk on a circle about 15m. To the right was easy. To the left - it was pick up the canter and go straight instead of maintaining the 15m circle shape.
We've been working on it. On this ride, it was so much better - in fact, the left ones may have been better than the right!
Now we need to figure out turns on the haunches. The exercise I was doing was canter a 15m circle, walk, turn on the haunches, canter the new lead 15m circle, and repeat. I thought we could get a decent turn on the haunches, but it very much didn't happen and we changed it up to turn on the forehand. We've got new homework.
Well, it's been a hot minute since I've blogged!
Here's what has happened over the last three or so weeks.
|Other things that happened - I tried archery for the second time ever and actually started to figure it out! This was my final attempt - 5 out of 6 arrows in a nice grouping (the stray one was because I tried to move my aim towards the center and totally missed it). Don't ask how far away the target was though! And no - I have no intention in trying this from horseback!|
|My dad was presented with the Governor General's Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, the highest award for volunteers in Canada, for his work with Scouts Canada. I thought it was kind of big deal, I don't know that he does!|
There hasn't been much happening on the horse front over the last couple of weeks. This heat wave is kicking my butt.
I was actually off this week for another staycation (no plans to go anywhere this summer). I got my second Covid vaccination on Monday afternoon, rode Cisco on Monday evening, felt pretty body sore by the time I let the barn, and woke up at 5am the next morning with a wicked headache that I had to keep taking Tylenol and Advil for all day to keep it manageable.
I felt pretty good on Wednesday, which was farrier day. When someone had asked on the barn Facebook page if she could go first with her horse there was a comment from the barn owner that there were a bunch of people who wanted to go early so you would just have to show up and see if your horse could be done. Thus, I guess no one showed up early.
I wasn't in a rush so I did some errands in the morning and then arrived around noon. By that time it was already feeling like 30 degrees, so by the time the pedicures were done at 3:30 I had no desire to ride.
|9 pm feedings with the sun going down.|
Ever since that day, it's felt like 30 by about 10:30 in the morning and been over 30 for the afternoons.
I'm slowly wilting in my house. I don't do heat very well. The ponies are enjoying some extra time off. There's not much relief in sight for these warm temperatures over the next couple of weeks. And we desperately need rain. I'm honestly surprised that the forest fire situation in my province isn't much worse(like the neighboring province is).
I've found something to keep me a bit active though. Earlier this week I downloaded Coin Hunt World, a geo-location game much like Pokemon Go, but for adults as it pays cryptocurrency. Now, I'm always skeptical about anything that gives out free money, but this appears to be legit. It's pretty new and is technically still in beta mode. It is available in the US and Canada (planned release for Europe is August) for Android users in the Google Play Store. iOS users have to wait - they just hit their limit on beta users so new users will have to wait until it is approved by Apple (hopefully August).
The premise is pretty simple - with the app open you look for keys that you put into vaults, at which time you will have to answer a multiple-choice trivia question correctly to be awarded some Satoshi's (units of Bitcoin), Gwei (units of Ethereum), or building materials to use in the game. Different coloured vaults have different payouts (ie. the yellow vaults pay out $10 of crypto) but also have harder questions to answer.
|I saw a pelican on my walk this morning. They always amuse me!|
There's no cost to the game other than the energy you want to put into it. There are some people competing for leaderboard points that are cycling 50+ km per day hitting up keys and vaults, and thus reaping rewards of $30-50 per day. I'm at about $7 after 5 days of a 40 minute walk in my neighbourhood and checking out any shopping areas when I do errands - this will increase when I can add vaults in my own neighbourhood that I can hit daily.
If you have a dog that you walk regularly, bike a bunch, or work in a downtown core, you might want to have a look. It's a good way to start learning about cryptocurrency. Also - who wouldn't like to get paid to exercise? (Does that make you a pro athlete?)
If you are interested, here is the link to the wiki page, and here is a map you can check to see if there are keys and vaults already in your area (it's user-submitted so there are lots of spots that aren't mapped yet though). And if you decide to try it out, here is a referral link you can use which will give you some extra building material (click on the referral link after downloading the game but before setting up your HQ).
You know how whenever you think you can do a quick visit to the barn it never works out that way?
Yeah, that was my trip out on Thursday night.
As I have been doing all week, I went out at about 8:30pm to avoid the worst of the heat, so I arrived at the barn around 9pm.
The plan was to bring both horses in together to eat their grain and throw them some more hay. I wanted to keep my visit to no more than 45 minutes as I had a doctor's appointment at 8:15 the next morning on the other side of the city so I wanted to get home to air out the house before trying to fall asleep.
I had pre-soaked their food so when I arrived I set up their food dishes in the barn aisle before heading out to grab the ponies from their paddock.
At the gate, I was met by Cisco. Who was coughing. A lot.
My immediate thought was that he had some degree of choke. It wouldn't be the first time.
But there was also a concern that it could be some type of respiratory distress brought on by the heat.
I brought Phantom in so that she could start eating and removed Cisco's dish from the aisle. He wasn't going to be allowed to eat it. Then I went back out and brought him in.
The good news is that he wasn't feeling very sorry for himself - he was quite perky as we walked to the barn, and then he was quite pissy about the fact that Phantom was getting to eat and he wasn't. That's good because when he has choked in the past he has had no interest in eating.
He was still coughing quite a bit, and was breathing a little heavier than I liked, so I was still concerned about a respiratory issue. I also took his temperature as he had a bit of sweat in his elbow area, and he came in at 38.1.
I squirted a couple of small syringes of water into Cisco's mouth to see if that helped the choke issue, and then hosed him off to try to cool him off a bit. I don't know if he was holding his breath while I was spraying him with water, but he didn't cough the whole time, and I only heard a couple more afterward.
It seemed to resolve itself about 25 minutes after I first saw him. Nevertheless, he didn't get his soaked grain that night (Phantom got a second serving.)
The paddock that they live in is fed with hay forked off a round bale and I usually give them a bunch before I leave at night, but I didn't want Cisco to be able to gobble a bunch up. I had a small hole hay net in my trailer so I set that up on the fenceline. I thought that either Phantom and Pete wouldn't let Cisco eat with them or that they would all share and thus Cisco wouldn't get very much of it and everyone would be able to have some. Unfortunately, Cisco seems to have been asserting his dominance as of late and when I left he was eating from the net by himself. I had put down very small piles for the other horses so they didn't get left out.
I alerted the barn owner in case he starts coughing again in the morning, in which case I'll have to get him looked at. Fingers crossed he decides to chew his food!