Monday 30 April 2018

My Day at Mane Event

On Friday I went with a couple of friends to Mane Event in Red Deer, Alberta.

It's an annual weekend of horse stuff - clinics to watch, lectures to listen to, and most importantly, a trade show to shop at (and hopefully snag some free stuff).

The clinics are a mix of disciplines - there's always a jumping person, a dressage person, barrel racing person, a driving person, a couple of horsemanship people, and then a couple of other people that show something different. They are usually Big Name Trainers (George Morris was out a few years ago) and you can generally pick up some useful information by sitting on the sidelines.
First time I've seen a European style horse van out here. It cost a mere $129,000. It wasn't that fancy.
Since I was only going down for one day, I had to pick the sessions that I was most interested in. It was pretty slim pickings on Friday - most of the sessions that sounded good were on Saturday or Sunday. I watched a bit of dressage (boring), a lecture on an introduction to Working Equitation, and a demonstration by the driving guy on teaching your horse to stand. I found that session useful and will apply it to Cisco and report on it later.

The seating at the side of the rings is horribly uncomfortable - one ring has metal bench bleachers, and the other has wooden bleachers that have a low back. After about 45 minutes of sitting my back, butt and neck hurt. If I find the session boring, the seating gives me little incentive to stay and watch it all.
My next trailer must have a flip-around TV and fireplace in it. (This one was something like $20K cheaper than the horse van)
So instead I shop!

Well, sort of shop. I need very little so most years I just end up picking up something small. This year I spent my money at the first booth I went to - the booth of the English Tack Shop was mostly 50% off. I looked at breeches - nothing I liked. I'm keeping an eye out for a new girth with elastic for Cisco - didn't have any. I didn't need another bridle. What I did need want that they had was reins - rubber lined with tabs. I've wanted a set of reins like this for years, long before I ever saw them in a store. They were Schockmoehle brand, regular $100, and on sale for $50.
Someone was selling DIY kits to make your own fold-up haynet. I took a picture in case I ever want to make one.
The only other thing I picked up was a container of Urad leather cleaner. I wanted some to use on my poor neglected paddock boots, and this stuff has pigment in it to hopefully make the scuffed areas look a bit better. It wasn't cheap at $30 for the container although it will probably last for a few years. And I'm happy to say it works - my paddock boots look much better. I actually forgot that they have fancy stitching on the toe cap.
The one on the right has been cleaned, the one on the left is how it looked before.
I sat in a few Zaldi saddles and talked with the rep. When I'm ready to get a jumping saddle for Cisco that will likely be where I start my search. They were reasonably priced at around $2700 and are designed to fit PRE horses.

I also tried on the New Back on Track MIPS helmet. Sadly, it won't be a good fit for me. I had a pressure spot on top of my head, and when I took it off after wearing it for only a few minutes it felt like my skull expanded. They looked good though - the brown one was very pretty. And they were flying off the shelf. The price isn't too bad at $350. One of my friends that I went down with picked one up for herself.
The brown helmet was very pretty - it had sparkly copper coloured piping.
I entered a bunch of contests that I didn't win.  Just like every other year.

Freebies are getting scarcer every year. A few years ago we scored two or three rolls of Vetrap a day, and were down for the full three days. Every year I've gotten a chunk of Himalayan rock salt. Not this year - this year they were giving out samples of loose salt or a new product Daily Gold (I think he said it was a month supply).

Most of the other freebies were feed related. A big score was a coupon for a free bag of Purina Equilizer (and a feed scoop cup). Now I just hope that I can manage to find a bag of it before the coupon expires at the end of May.

All in all, it was a good day. Long, tiring, and I was sore by the end of it. One day was enough for me.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Think Up

For the first time in over 200 days, we finally hit 20 degrees Celsius. I went out to the barn in a tank top. Which kind of backfired when I groomed and ended up with shedded hair all over my arms. But worth it.

Cisco was slightly less zoomy than the day before. Thankfully the lesson about slowing down the trot seemed to stick so at least I had some control over the pace. Which meant that I needed to work on straightness - rather our lack of it. Going right he was bulging his right shoulder to the inside and just barging wherever he wanted. Aargh. There was lots of halting into the wall and turning the other direction when he really wanted to drop everything to the inside and cut corners.
A couple of weeks ago I said to someone that I hadn't seen a moose in a few years. I've now seen 7 in the last week. This one was on the side of the road on my way to the barn, probably about 60 feet away from my car.
We did some canter going both directions. To the left we couldn't quite make the turn back onto the rail because of bulging to the outside and losing balance. But we got the canter three times, each time he picked it up faster. To the right we just did it the once since he picked it up quickly.

We are still very much at the chase him into the canter type of transition. I was asking for it in the same spot so that anticipation would help us. Which meant that he knew it was coming and was super fussy with his head. Flipping up, curling, rooting. After we were done with the canter I schooled that area to let him know that we don't always canter there. We used our newly installed slow the f down aids as we trotted around the short end and he totally listened.
5 hours later on my way home, there was still a moose in the same spot.
Phantom wasn't quite so grumpy as the previous day when getting groomed. But she was in slowpoke mode once I got on. She felt pretty good despite only scoring 7.1 for symmetry on the Equisense. I was working on me and trying to remember how to use my core and at one point I was doing a bunch of quick walk/trot transitions at sitting trot and focusing on my hips moving independently with the horse, and this part had a really low scoring section for some reason.

My right shoulder seems to have been stuck forward the last couple of days - it is actually a bit sore where my neck connects to my shoulder. No idea why. Just age probably. So at a canter I put my reins in my right hand and let my left hand fall next to my thigh. It's amazing how well I can sit up when I do this.

Then I realized that I was riding my canter down.

I have always struggled with Phantom's canter. She is quite happy to shorten her neck, which means that her back is tight, and go along in a tense manner. She is so sensitive and unforgiving that if I am at all tight in my back she won't relax hers. So I have this tendency to try to just get her to relax, and drop her head and just slow down. As we canter I just think about keeping it small, contained and basically, down.
Cisco decided that since his big sister had a hematoma, he wanted one too.
When I was taking some lessons a couple of years ago with a lady who teaches biomechanics, we did a lot of thinking "up" to create energy. The analogy she used was to think that there is an elevator in your core area, and you want to be able to lift the elevator to create energy and lower the elevator to decrease the energy. It's not really done by stretching or shortening your torso, it's more of an internal feeling.

This was mind-blowing to me.

Since Phantom is so sensitive, all it takes to do an upwards transition is think "up". When she wants to jog at a walk, I think "down" and she comes back to walk without pulling on the reins. I don't need to swipe my leg back to get canter from a trot and it's a much quieter transition just by thinking "up".
That top bump isn't supposed to be there.
Unfortunately, this is not automatic for me. I have to still think about this, especially in the canter and canter transitions. And I usually have 2058 other things that I'm trying to remember.

When I do remember to do it at a canter, the difference is amazing.

So after my initial canter today, I realized that I was riding it down again. I picked up canter again, thinking "up" with every stride.

Holy crap, it was an amazing canter.

Forward and relaxed. Withers up, poll up, reaching out. I felt super tall and around my horse and that she was coming up to me.

We couldn't quite steer straight, but hey, baby steps.

I've got to find a way to change my mindset when cantering. Do you think I can stick a post-it note to Phantom's mane?

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Zoom Zoom

When I arrived at the barn on Monday, Cisco was enjoying a nap in the sun.

Neither of the ponies has been ridden in the last week. So there wasn't specific goals for today, other than getting them doing something under saddle.

I've done at least one thing right in training Cisco - he stands great at the mounting block. Actually, I've done two things right. He also knows that walking is chill time. At the beginning of the ride he walked around on a mostly loose rein.
So awkward getting up.

Of course, the downside to walking around all chill-like, is that they sucker you into thinking that they'll have no energy when you ask them to go faster than a walk.

Our trot was very zoomy.

Zoomy trot, by itself, isn't much of a problem. Zoomy trot with drunken steering is a bit more annoying. After I had to steer into a jump standard to stop him I decided I was going to fix the problem.

As I saw it, there were actually two problems. The first - the rocket launch transition from walk to trot. He started with way too much enthusiasm. The second - we don't really have any adjustability in our trot. We mostly have one speed. What speed it is depends on the day.

We started doing a whole bunch of walk trot walk transitions. If he used the rocket boosters through the transition, it was right back to walk and start again. We progressed to staying at a decent pace for the first few strides before the booster power kicked in and having to do another walk transition.

And then it happened - I closed my thighs, said walk, and he slowed his trot down. I gave with the reins and gave a cluck and he stayed at a slow trot. Once we got it, we could keep getting it. The beginnings of a half halt!
First hack outside!

That was progress. So I decided to end the indoor portion of our ride and head outside. It's pretty sad that this was our first ride outside, but I didn't get many rides in last summer before the winter that never ended arrived. We just did a short walk down the driveway, and he was very good. Very looky, but not reacty.

Phantom came in to the barn in a crabby mood. She wasn't happy to be touched. Anywhere. Total Miss Crabbypants. I'm wondering if she is in heat.

Too bad. I was riding.

This was the first ride since her vaccinations a week ago. The lump on her boob is mostly gone, but it's hard, so she's obviously not back to normal. My goal for the ride was to just get her moving around a bit and see how she felt.
Looking better on Sunday.

The first few strides of walk she definitely felt off on the left front. But then it disappeared and didn't come back when we trotted. She still wasn't quite right to the left - not wanting to bend. So again I took advantage of the nice weather and headed out for a walk outside.

I took three bridles home and cleaned them while watching British comedy shows on Youtube. I finally cracked open and used the container of Stubben glycerine soap I bought ages ago - man, that's great stuff. I haven't used proper glycerine soap in years but I think I'll be going back to it. My bridles looked great, felt great, and that soap smelled wonderful. Lovely saddle soap smell. Perfume for equestrians.

Monday 23 April 2018

Start of Vacation

I started a week of vacation on Sunday. It's mostly a staycation - I'm going a whole 1.5 hours out of town on Friday to Mane Event (our version of Equine Affaire). Otherwise, I plan to spend a whole bunch of time at the barn this week.

Except for Sunday. That was my day of rest. I seem to always spend one day of my vacation doing nothing but eating and selecting my next viewing choice on Netflix. Sunday was my best bet for this week since the clinic at the barn meant that the arena was closed. And it was really windy. Or at least it sounded really windy from my couch.
My step counter for Sunday. No steps until I went to the barn at 6pm.
I actually did go out to the barn in the evening (after a nap). Phantom looked really good on Friday - she was moving almost normally, but the bump on her chest was still there. Not as big, but there. I hadn't made it out on Saturday, so I needed to make sure that it was still looking good.

It was. Her boobs are pretty well the same size, although the left one is hard. Gravity has pulled the fluid down. She looked really good on the lunge. I'm hoping that she will feel good under saddle on Monday.
Mostly uniform boobage.
Since I was there Cisco got a quick lunge as well. He was mostly pretty chill - he scooted a couple of times when the pigeons started flapping.
Yay! It's spring! - said no gray horse owner ever.
Although it took forever to arrive, spring is definitely here. The snow is almost melted everywhere, and we are hopefully out of the worst of the mud. This week is looking like it should be fantastic weather-wise - 20 degrees at the end of the week. That's tail washing weather - maybe even bathing weather. I also plan to clean a bunch of tack, and maybe even get my tack box reorganized. Somehow vacation time always seems to go too fast!

Friday 20 April 2018

More About the Boobage

Phantom seemed a bit worse on Wednesday.

I arrived at the barn in the afternoon and went out to get her. She was parked in front of the round bale, and was not happy to be pulled away from it. We walked very slowly back into the barn, kind of hobbling over her left front.

Her boob seemed a bit bigger than the day before. A solid E cup.

I put an ice pack on it and rigged up a couple of stable bandages to hold it in place.
I used a snow pack when I went back in the evening since my ice pack hadn't refrozen enough.

I decided to hand walk her for a bit to get her moving around. I know it's just muscle pain, and some gentle exercise will likely help her work it out a bit better. She was moving so slowly, and seemed so sore, that I was doubting that walking would be the right decision. Until I brought out her food dish - suddenly she was perfectly capable of walking quickly towards her dinner!

Her temperature was back down in the normal range, at 37.8. Higher than normal, but not high enough to stress about.

I also debated about whether I should turn her back out into her paddock with her buddies or into an individual pen for the night. In the end I decided to leave her where she normally lives. She gets along very well with her friends, so I'm not worried about her having to move out of the way quickly. She will move around out there more than she would in a small pen (unless she got really pissy because she was cooped up). My only concern is whether she would walk across the field to take a drink from the water trough - a justified concern since the two times that I brought her in on Wednesday she had to stop for a drink on the way in.

On Thursday I had to go out to the barn in the morning since I had the late shift at work.
Cisco & Tsunami - synchronized sleeping.

Until I rudely woke him up.
Phantom walked into the barn a bit better than she had the day before. Her breast implant is leaking so gravity is pulling the fluid down, and she now has a bit of a saggy boob.
Should have worn a bra.
I threw the ice pack on it again and shared a muffin with her while we waited for the cold to work its magic. (She would have very much preferred not to share. Apple muffins from Costco are delicious.) We then walked up and down the driveway a couple of times before heading back out to the field. She walked very forward back to her field. 
I took Cisco's blankets off while he was in the field. He didn't undress himself!

She may have been happier to walk back out because I was finally able to turn her out naked. Spring has finally arrived!
New shades. A wee bit stiff at the moment.

Thursday 19 April 2018

In Which Phantom Gets a (Temporary) Boob Job

I currently have a very sad, feeling sorry for herself, delicate flower of a pony.

Monday was vaccination day. Which means Phantom gets a week off of work. Because she gets lumps.
The left boob is a D cup, the right one only an A.

Well, these days just one lump. The last few years I've had her done with the intranasal flu/rhino, then the rest is given as a 4-way injection (WEE, EEE, tetanus, WNV). I have the injection given into her pectoral muscle in her chest.

She has reacted every year without fail. I haven't done the give everything separately to figure out what she reacts to method, because I honestly think she will probably react to everything. At one point we gave the west nile shot separately, which was suspected to be the one that she would react more to, but the two lumps she had from the two shots that day were pretty equal.

So bute, ice packs and DMSO for a week it is.
My attempt to strap an ice pack to her chest. 

I'm a bit more worried this year than previous years though. Vaccinations were given Monday morning. I gave her bute as soon as I got out that morning, about an hour before the vet arrived. On Tuesday I didn't get out to the barn until close to 8pm and the bute from the morning before had obviously worn off. The lump was quite large, Phantom wasn't comfortable walking forward, and most worrisome - she had a bit of a temperature. She doesn't usually have an increased temperature with her vaccination. It was just a bit on the high side at 38.5 (high normal is 38.3) so hopefully the bute that I gave her Tuesday night will take care of it. She was happily eating so I was only panicking a little on the inside.

The lump is about the size of a softball.

For some reason Phantom didn't seem to have the same sympathy towards me and my pain.

After the vet was out I had a massage scheduled for me. I get very tight in my lower back (probably from riding) and carry tension in my shoulders. My massages are not of the feel great variety, but more of the omfg that hurts and you feel like you got run over by a truck for the rest of the day type.  But they work and things feel looser and I feel straighter the next day.

This time my massage therapist wanted to try cupping to get some areas to release that just weren't releasing with her manipulation. I said sure, I'd never had it done to me before.

It wasn't overly unpleasant. A couple of times the pain was a bit too sharp and I had to have her back the suction off. But it definitely worked to get those areas to release.

But it left bruises.

Not really bad, but I'm glad it's not swimsuit season. Not that I would be posting a picture of me in a swimsuit on the interweb. It only hurts when I throw myself into a chair and lean against the back.

I'd get the cupping done again, as long as I knew what my wardrobe choices for the next week would be.

Wednesday 18 April 2018


The weather on Sunday was beautiful. It was actually nicer in the sun outside than it was in the barn. So I groomed the horses outside. Which meant I didn't have to sweep the hair after grooming. Wins all around!
Cisco's first time at the hitching post. He was fantastic (until I walked back to the barn).
I had another fairly short and easy ride on Phantom. Nothing exciting to write about.

I had hoped to ride Cisco. I anticipated that there would be lots of people out since it was a lesson day. Except it wasn't a lesson day. So there was no one around. And I'm still not comfortable riding him with no one around. I'm getting closer to trusting him, but I'm not there yet. 

No matter. I had a couple of things to work on. 

When I dewormed him last fall he was a bit of a twit. I got it done, but it took way more work than it should have to stick a syringe in his mouth. A taller person probably could have gotten it done pretty easily, but I'm not that person. So I had to teach him what the expectation was.

I loaded up a big syringe with apple sauce. And brought it up to his face. And he flipped his head everywhere. I could kind of sneak it against his cheek, but as soon as I changed the angle towards his mouth he moved his head all over the place.
Apple sauce muzzle.

But I stuck with it and eventually got the syringe into his mouth so that I could squirt some apple sauce in there. And he kind of went hmmmm and smacked his lips. It took another 10 or so times before I could get the syringe in on the first attempt. By which point the side of his face and my left hand were covered in apple sauce. We'll need a few more practice sessions before I spring the dewormer on him in the next short period.

The other thing that I needed to work on was one of those horse owner tasks that no one likes. 

Sheath cleaning. 

Well, more so "will he let me fondle his manbits without kicking me in the head so that I can clean them someday soon".

He had his sheath cleaned for the first time when he had his teeth done last spring. Since he was sedated I figured I might as well get the job done. The vet said something at the time about the smegma being kind of yucky, but I can't remember the specifics.

Over the winter, I have detected a certain aroma when I have been in the vicinity of Cisco's nether region. A distinctive aroma. Eau de smegma. (More like ew the smegma.)

I have been waiting for the weather to warm up a bit before attempting to de-smegma him. I wouldn't want to risk the manbits getting frostbite.
Your hand is going where?
The time has (almost) come. I needed to find out if he would let me do it, or if I was going to have to pay someone to administer some happy juice before fondling his private area.

I gloved up, grabbed the baby wipes, and assumed the position. I started off by just scratching around that area - he seemed to enjoy that. Then gingerly inserted a couple of fingers. My head didn't get bashed in. So I continued.

He lifted a leg at point when I scraped maybe a bit too hard. And there was one bonafide kick attempt which he got whacked for. Otherwise he was very good.
And because I know horse people like gross things - the smegma was quite black - is that normal?
I just used some baby wipes to get some of the gunk out, but it will need a better cleaning with actual water. I think I'm going to try to goop the sheath up with KY jelly, then use a squirty bottle of some sort with water to rinse it out the next day. I don't think he'll drop down, so I don't think I'll manage to find a bean.

Sheath cleaning is one of those things that I forgot comes with owning a gelding. Probably intentionally.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Theories and Opinions

I've only been managing to ride one horse in the evenings. Mostly due to the amount of time I have to spend scraping hair off the furry beasts.
Apparently the polar pony wants to get nekkid ASAP.

Saturday night was Phantom's turn to go for a spin. She hasn't been ridden since she had her mild tying up episode on Monday, so this ride was mostly a status check.
Still lots of hair to come off.
She felt nice and forward at a walk to start the ride. Trot started off a bit shuffly but it didn't take too long before she was trotting with some energy. Too much energy. But she felt good.

So I was surprised when I saw the symmetry that the Equisense showed. The overall score was only 7.1, and the scores through the ride were all over the place. At first, I thought that the scores were lower on the left rein than the right rein, so I did two laps in each direction at the end of the ride. And that theory proved to be false.
The bars on the right represent those laps - the first two would be the left rein, the last two the right rein.

And because I like to overthink things, based on the graph above, I wonder if there is some residual muscle soreness, and she starts off the trots feeling good and as she trots she starts getting sore.

I didn't have plans to do more than walk trot for this ride, so I finished up on those last trot laps.

Now that the days are getting longer, and despite the non-ending cold, the sun is out. And ponies with pink skin around their eyes find that those eyes are getting irritated.
A bit of sunburn and goop.
Thus it's sunglass season for Phantom. She'll wear a fly mask from now until September, except on some days in the spring when the weather is going to be crap. In the summer she prefers a Cashel mask (long nose, no ears) - that is the only kind that she'll keep on for more than a day. In the spring I'm not as worried about her nose burning, so I'll usually use a Farnam Supermask. And I'll have to tell people why my horse is wearing a fly mask when there is still snow on the ground.

Of course I forgot to bring one from home. I had an old Supermask in my tack trunk, but it was partially shredded under the jaw, so I didn't really want to use it. I remembered that I had the fly mask that came with Cisco's Weatherbeeta Duramesh fly sheet in my mobile tack room car, so I grabbed that one. 

Phantom is usually really good about her fly mask being put on - I usually carry it when I take her out, take her halter off inside the gate and then put the mask on. At the beginning of the season she's a bit silly about me putting it on (head up a little bit, drunk walk once it's on), but by the time summer comes around she seems to know that it keeps the bugs and sun off her face and appreciates it. 

Since it's the first time this year that she's worn a mask, and the Weatherbeeta mask was unknown as to fit, I figured I would put in on in the barn. So I lifted the mask up to her face just like I do every time in the summer, and she put her head up in the air, backed up, and said, "nope nope nope". I reorganized and tried again. Head way up, backed up more, and a definite "nope nope nope". Grrrr.

Fine. I didn't want to fight about it. I grabbed the crappy Supermask, and a couple of treats just to be safe. I walked up to her, lifted that fly mask the exact same way I had the Weatherbeeta one, and popped it right onto her head. 

Apparently, opinionated princess ponies don't appreciate lime green. Yet again she was only too happy to tell me her opinion. Silly mare.

Monday 16 April 2018

No Distractions

Fun fact - my city (as of Friday) is on it's 167th consecutive day of having temperatures below 0 C at some point during the day.  The last day that the temperature stayed above 0 all day was October 28th. (For those that don't understand Celsius - 0 = 32 F.) It currently looks like we'll be adding at least another 10 days to this record. I feel quite justified in all of my whining about the cold this winter. (Edited to add that we actually managed to stay at 1 degree overnight on Saturday so the new record is 168 days.)

At least the daytime highs are starting to get a bit better. Which means - say it together, boys and girls - mud. Mud and water everywhere.
I have to go around the poo lake to get to the ponies at their hay island.

This is the first spring that the BO has had this property. It looks like she'll have some grading work to do this summer.

Thankfully the arena wasn't flooded enough that I couldn't ride Cisco on Friday night. He was super chill in the barn while I tacked up. He lunged quite well despite the sounds coming from the scary vent due to the wind.

For the first time in a while, I was going to have the arena to myself. I set up some trot poles of various styles - single, double at 9', and sets of 3. I wanted to try my theory that giving him something to keep his brain busy would settle him a bit and reduce his fussiness.

I think we've done poles only 2 or 3 times, and only one of those times did we try the three poles together. Going over the poles isn't a problem (other than the first time through the three when he brought himself back to walk over them) - it's the steering and lack of straightness that are the issues. But his fussiness definitely got better as we worked our way through them.

So we did our first itty bitty trot pole course. There's lots of room for improvement, but we got to where we wanted to go with minimal fuss.

Since the ride was going so well, I thought I might as well screw it up and try a canter again. It took about 4 attempts in the same place to chase him into it, but once he got it, it was nice and forward (with his head up in the air) and mostly steerable. We cantered about 2/3 of a 30m circle before I had to bring him back to trot because it was only mostly steerable and there was a jump in our way.

We did one more identical canter and I figured I should hop off before I really did screw up the ride.
I guess he can stay for another day.
It was nice to have a ride by ourselves to remember that he is much better without distractions. His steering into the corners took only one reminder to fix, and he could actually go straight-ish down the long sides. So is it time to put a bit more pressure on him when riding with other people? I think so, but I will have to pick my battles depending on what is going on around me. During a munchkin jumping lesson will not be a good time.

Friday 13 April 2018


This week is attempt # 42 at trying to get Cisco going consistently so that he gets broke before he's 20.

He lunged very quietly in the scary end to start with. Then stood super well while I got on (at least I've gotten that part right).

He was really good about walking at the scary end, probably because there were a couple of other people riding and they were also down there. He was highly suspicious of that area, but kept his brain in his head.

Other than the few bits of spooking that he's done (which really hasn't been all that much now that I think of it, just lots of looking and holding his breath), he really hasn't done anything naughty. But I have a feeling something might be coming.

There was a moment in this ride as we were walking when he had a little hop behind. It was one stride, with one leg, but definitely felt like it had upward movement to it rather than a trip. Not sure why or what to think of it.

Just after we started trotting, he slammed on the brakes when I was mean and made him trot away from where the other horses were. A couple of whacks with the crop and he was on his way again.

This happened a couple of other times as well. Trot trot trot urp stop. Tap tap and off we go again.

I think it's just a phase of seeing what he can get away with. He hasn't overreacted at all to the crop - yet. But it won't surprise me if it happens.

Otherwise, the ride was about trying to get into the corners, stay straight(ish) down the long sides, and trying to do a few leg-yield steps on both sides of the arena. There might be a magnetic force on one side of the arena that pulls him that way and that's why he can only leg-yield in that direction on both sides of the ring. I mean, I'm asking for the easier leg-yield to the track on both sides, but I guess he thinks the harder leg-yield to the center is more fun.

I might play with bits during my week of vacation and see if he gets a bit less fussy with his mouth. I think I've tried all the ones I currently have so I'm not optimistic that he'll suddenly like one he didn't like before. He's currently in a low-port Myler - I'm open to ideas on what to try next. Single joints he put his tongue over, lozenge bits (NS Verbindend, NS Tranz-Angled Baucher, HS Dynamic KK) he rooted down, both of these types he got an overly wet mouth which led me to think that he didn't think he could swallow and move his tongue. He doesn't do any of this with the Myler, but is just unsteady with his head, which I think is more due to being a bit nervous. I'd like to try a Sprenger Duo and a NS Turtle Top bit, but I don't have the $300-$400 to try a couple of bits that I have no idea as to if they would work. Not many options for bit rental here either. So no idea where to go next.
This is what he's in at the moment. 

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Trying to Make Sense of the Equisense

One of the things that I am hoping the Equisense will show is signs of lameness. The first ride that I used it on Phantom had a symmetry score of only 6.9, which correlated with the slight not quite right on her left front that I had been feeling.

The next ride she felt much more even. This was reflected in an increase of the symmetry score to 7.4.

The rides after that have increased again to between 7.7 and 7.9, often with a high point in the high 8's somewhere in the ride. She has been feeling pretty good in her body and the higher score reflects that.
The overall score for this ride was 7.9, with a high of 8.7.
So I was curious to see what her scores showed on the last ride when she had that bit of a tying up episode.

First, in my haste to get her over to the barn and get bute into her ASAP when I detected what was happening I failed to turn off the tracking. I think I pushed the button twice, so stopped it and restarted it. My actual ride was only about 34 minutes long, but the tracker ran for another hour sitting on my saddle stand before I figured out that it hadn't stopped.

Second, as soon as I realized what was happening I hopped off of her. So there really wasn't much time for the data to accumulate.

Here is her symmetry from that ride.

She hadn't been ridden for about 2 weeks, so that could account for the slightly lower scores throughout the ride.
All the blank time on the right was because I didn't turn the sensor off when I thought I did.
The low point was 6.1. This was before we cantered and before I felt any issues. I think that at this point of the ride I was giggling at sitting trot attempting to do a shoulder-in to lengthened trot on a ping pong ball of a very good feeling horse. It was not overly successful. Lateral work supposedly reduces your symmetry score so I think that ping pong ball lateral work = low symmetry.

The last trot symmetry score was 7.7. This was after canter, which often has a higher score, and was mainly just trying to just slow the f down. Then she slowed down to the icky poky trot, and within about a 1/4 of a circle I had dropped down to walk. I think that the symmetry score didn't register for that icky trot because it probably wasn't long enough, and it wasn't on the straight line that is required to calculate the score.

So I would have to say that in this particular instance, the Equisense did not pick up on the upcoming issue through the ride.

If it did, the scores were minimally lower than what they would be on a normal ride so it didn't set off sirens. To be fair to the Equisense, Phantom might not have displayed any symptoms until I felt it and then I didn't give the sensor enough time to track it, or she may have been symmetrically stiff. Unfortunately, under these circumstances I'm not willing to let things go long enough just to see what score she gets.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Tie One On

Because of cold weather and having to be social over Easter and my birthday it's been almost 2 weeks since I rode last.  The weather is finally on the upswing - by which I mean a few degrees above freezing, let's not get too excited here - so I'm hoping to get the kids going again.
There's still a wee bit of snow on the ground. (Saturday on my way out to the barn)
I know that after Phantom gets her vaccinations next week she will need 7-10 days off. Princesses are sensitive and get big lumps after jabs. So I want to concentrate on her a bit this week.

Monday night I scraped another pillow's worth of hair from the polar pony. Now that she's decided to start shedding she apparently wants to lose it as soon as possible. Still so much to come off.
How I spent my Saturday night. Scraping hair off of horses. 
I tacked her up and hopped on. Since she hadn't been ridden for a couple of weeks I decided to drop the intervals that we are doing back down to the 3 minutes instead of the 4 minutes that we had done at our last ride. Sort of to break her back into work again, and also to end the ride earlier in the hope that I would be able to take Cisco for a spin.

Despite Phantom having had a good play in the arena on Saturday night with lots of zoomies, she was quite full of herself. Not in a bad way - mostly a very happy to go forward way. She felt good though. This was also only the second time I had ridden her since she got that hematoma on her butt, so I was a bit worried about her feeling a bit off, but it wasn't a concern. 

She was looking for an excuse to canter and once she cantered I knew the remainder of the ride would be a gong show. (No walking. Only canter.) I didn't have any expectations for this ride other than trying not to hang on her mouth and give her an excuse to get short and tight. 
Here's a pic of her hematoma.
My plan at a canter was to do a huge figure 8 on the one lead (thus counter canter through half of it) and then deal with the overly silly trot that would follow, before taking a break and doing the same on the other lead. 

We started on the left lead quite nicely, which shifted to thinking about scooting, then relaxed again, before joyfully swapping the lead in front. Back to walk like 20 strides later than planned, and we picked up the left lead to finish the figure 8. And yes, a very silly trot to deal with. 

We did a couple of half-circle reverses (quick changes of bend usually helps to set her back a bit), and then I said screw it, threw the reins at her and used my body to slow her down. I closed my thighs and sat heavier and she slowed herself down. Right down. Like super slow poky trot. And wouldn't really pick the pace up again. Ruh roh. Bells and sirens start screaming in my brain.
I'll get the vet to have a peek at it next week when she gets jabbed.
Back to walk and she stretched her head down to the ground. Fack. She's thinking of tying up again. (Not that she consciously thinks about it, it's her bodies reaction to whatever causes it and she likely has no control over it.)

I immediately hopped off and led her over to the barn. She was walking quite forward, but I wasn't taking any chances. Pony Grandma was with me so she took over walking duties while I loaded up a syringe of bute. We continued to walk her up and down the barn aisle. For an hour.

This wasn't a full out not wanting to move tying up episode. More of a somewhat stiff behind but still good to walk episode. She was happy to walk, so we kept her walking. In my experience with her if she stands still she stiffens up. If I asked her to back up she kind of dragged her toes and didn't take very big steps behind. 

After an hour, most of which was walked by Pony Grandma, Phantom was walking pretty good. Tracking up for the most part. She hadn't made any noises about stopping for that hour (except to give me a major mare glare when Pony Grandma was turning her back down the aisle for yet another lap) so I turned her back out. She's not a happy camper in a stall, and the more she moves around the better. 

Why did it happen this time? I had only been out to the barn 2 or 3 times over the last two weeks, so that would have been the only times she got her chaste tree berries. There was a relatively quick change in weather. She had too much silly energy to expend (not that she really did). It was a Monday. Who knows.

I guess for the next couple of rides I'll keep it super easy and see what happens.