Tuesday 30 June 2020

I Got To Break In My Unused Tools

As I was driving down the highway to the barn on Monday evening, I saw a car ahead of me going the opposite direction that was driving really fast down a service road. "What an idiot" I thought. My next thought was "I didn't know there was a service road there". Then I saw the fence boards go flying through the air. 

Yep, he went through the ditch and the fence at a pretty high speed. As I drove past the little car had a whole bunch of smoke coming from somewhere on it, but it was white smoke so I figured nothing was on fire. This is the same highway that two people were killed on less than three weeks ago. People are idiots.

This ditch is at the barn - full of water. Maybe the ditch he drove through had a similar amount of water and that was why his car was smoking. 

My plan for the night was to ride Phantom. It was going to be an easy ride as I was expecting to be pretty sore. 

We toodled around at a walk for 10 minutes before I picked up a trot. Phantom has been starting pretty shuffly at the trot but she started to move a bit more forward maybe a half lap around. Then she coughed, so I said whoa so that she could come back to walk in case there was going to be more coughs. She did a weird little stumble behind but kept walking.I thought to myself, "she didn't grab a shoe with that stumble, did she? Nah, it was a nothing stumble." So we changed direction and picked up a trot again.

About 5 steps in she started head bobbing. I hopped off and picked up her left front. 

Yeah. She had grabbed her shoe. And it was hanging on by one nail.

I twisted it back into position so that she wouldn't stand on a clip and enlisted someone to hold her so I could run to my trailer and grab my tools.

I bought an inexpensive set of shoe pulls and a rasp about five years ago after having to pull Phantom's very twisted shoe off with a claw hammer and fencing pliers on Canada Day (while wearing shorts). I rushed out the very next day to grab tools in case it ever happened again. I've never had to use them so far.

After pulling that shoe off with the wrong tools, I watched a Youtube video to see how you are actually supposed to do it. 

I remembered that I had to rasp off the clinch before trying to pull the shoe off. I don't know how good a job I did of it because the last nail was above the clip and I kept rasping the clip instead of the clinch. But the shoe came off without too much work and thankfully Phantom put up with my awkward efforts.

 So Phantom got herself out of work yet again.

Farrier day is next Wednesday so she'll have to wait until then to get it put back on. I have hoof boots that I can slap on that foot but I don't think that they fit her as well as they used to so we'll probably be stuck with just walking. It's going to be pretty wet for the next week (woke up to pouring rain this morning, wasn't supposed to start raining until tonight) so hopefully her foot doesn't break apart too much.

Then, to top off my night, when I was throwing out some extra hay I stepped in a hidden puddle of muck water and got a soaker in my running shoe.

I should've stayed home.

Monday 29 June 2020

Weekend Update

I had a couple of good rides this weekend.

Phantom had her first ride on Friday evening since her abscess popped up a couple of weeks earlier. She felt surprisingly even at the trot and was pretty bendy through her body. I wasn't happy with how the first left lead canter felt - I don't know if she's ever felt like that before. Kind of pulling her body forward instead of getting the rear motor activated. It got better, so I'll try not to dwell on it. 

My leg feels a bit sorer when riding her versus Cisco (Phantom's saddle has a wider twist I think) so I kept the ride short and sweet. Like most of her rides these days.
Cisco decided to hang out with me after I turned him back out. Thus there were a bunch of snoot pics.

Cisco was my victim for my ride on Sunday. It took me a bit of time to set the Pixio up in a different location than I normally do - too bad I didn't check to see how much space there was on the memory card. It ran out about 5 minutes into the ride before I picked up a trot. Oh well, another lesson learned.

This was the fourth ride in his new Turtle Top bit. When we picked up the trot he was immediately round and bendy. It usually takes a few minutes (or a bunch of minutes) to get to this point. I've got to make sure to keep him going forward so that he doesn't curl a bit too much behind the vertical though. I can't quite figure out if he's wanting to curl or he's just figuring out his balance and strength.

The canter is a different story though. He kind of turns into a bit of a llama. He's bent around the circle and turning off my outside aids. But his head is up in the air.

I mean, I'd rather his head be up in the air than curled up and his nose towards his chest. I can work with that. Fixing the curling is way harder. 
After riding Cisco has been offering to just stand and chill in the barn without being tied up. I think this is something I'm going to actively try to develop with him.

We did some work on getting the canter transitions with some simple changes on tear drops along a long side. They were much more prompt than they have been - I still need to drop the amount that I ask by like 50%. I've had some nice ones by just swiping my leg back, but more often than not I forget and dig in my heel. I've also realized that I do a chicken arm with my right elbow as he picks up the left lead canter that I need to sort out.

I'm not convinced that this is going to be his bit. I'm not giving up on it yet, and maybe I'll alternate between both bauchers. He doesn't hate this one - yet.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

I haven't been blogging much about my rides as of late. Partly because I've been so busy/tired, that I haven't had the energy to spend an hour typing up something interesting. But mostly because not much interesting has been happening. 
Well, cool skies are interesting.

I've been riding - well, Cisco at least. Phantom has seemingly recovered from her hoof abscess and I'm planning to hop on her tomorrow to see how she feels. She looked a little bit uncomfortable still at the canter on Sunday, but looked pretty good last night. 

My rides on Cisco haven't really been overly exciting. We've popped over some tiny little crosspoles a couple of times, and he's gone over them all on the first approach. He's still a bit wiggly to them and sucks back when we're jumping towards the scary end, but we're getting from one side to the other.

I decided that I would try one more bit for Mr. Fussy Mouth and ordered a Neue Schule Turtle Top Baucher. These bits are a ridiculous price in Canada (around $400!!!) so I ordered it from the UK. After I paid customs it was closer to $240. Still, a stupid price for a bit that I don't know will be liked.
So shiny!

Does he like it? I still haven't decided. Last night's ride was the third ride with this bit, and the best so far. He was trying really hard to keep his neck long at a trot instead of wanting to get a bit behind the bit. The connection at the canter hasn't been as good as it was in the other baucher, but the left lead canter has been stronger, so I don't know. 

He doesn't hate the bit, so we're going to keep using it for now. I thought his mouth was being a bit quieter, but once we popped over a couple of jumps last night he started clacking his teeth together. His mouth is definitely his stress indicator. 

I also finally broke down and put spurs on. Cisco knows how to move off my leg, he just thinks that it's a suggestion rather than a command. The spurs have definitely helped so they will continue to be used. I've just been using my very small nubby baby spurs and might need to go up to slightly bigger ones for a couple of rides on occasion but so far the baby ones have been enough to get my point across.

I've only been riding every second day because my groin is still quite sore after riding. I applied some kinesiology tape and I think it's helped a wee bit. I will need to see my doctor in a couple of weeks so maybe I'll mention it and see what she says - I'm sure it will be go to physio and stop riding, neither of which I want to hear!

Since we had so much rain over the last few weeks, the mosquitos have now come out in force. We tried a short ride down the road last night, thinking that the road would be safer than the grass to not get eaten. They didn't care. The poor horses were covered in mosquitos. Thus our outdoor evening rides will be no more for a while!

So, yeah. Nothing exciting. Just plugging away at the same things with some slight improvement. But riding is happening!

Wednesday 17 June 2020

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday - Pony Squeals

I finally caught Cisco's adorable little whinny on video. This is the whinny he uses when he's calling to someone outside of the arena. It can be even more adorable when he does the same little squeal but under his breath and I'm the only one that can hear him. Makes me giggle every time. 

Make sure the volume is turned up!

Monday 15 June 2020

There's a Hole in Her Heel

On Thursday, Phantom, my drama queen of a horse, was pretty sure her leg was going to fall off.

I fed her when I brought her in before an intended ride. She's a right foot forward when eating horse, so her left hind needs to stay underneath her to keep her balance. She wouldn't keep that foot weighted on the floor. I found a strongish digital pulse but nothing else so I suspected an abscess might be brewing.

It's been really muddy for most of the last week. We keep getting pelted with bursts of rain. On that day it had poured rain for about an hour just before I arrived. 
A farmer's field a mile or so from the barn. Supposed to be a crop field.

The barn would be visible behind the trees. I hope bees can swim!

The roads to the barn have been atrocious this year. This is on the good road.

Yep - it washed out. I had to go through in my rental car (mine was in for repairs).

I had forgotten to put my boots on when I went out for Phantom. Thankfully, she likes me, so she came to me and I didn't have to walk through the mud (though it took some convincing). Also, note that she is fully standing on her left hind and might even be resting her right hind yet would not put weight on that left foot 5 minutes later in the barn.

I buted her and threw her back out. Despite not wanting to stand in the barn with weight on her left hind, she was walking perfectly fine on it. 

The next morning I went out early so that I could have a look at her and if I needed to call the vet hopefully avoid a weekend fee. 

As I walked towards her paddock, she was picking at the grass, walking and standing on all four legs. When I got to the gate, she saw me, lifted her left hind to leave it resting kind of awkwardly, and gave me a nicker. As I said earlier - she's a total drama queen.

Otherwise, she was about the same. Walking without issue, resting it in the barn. Still a strong digital pulse.

Saturday I found a hole in her heel.

I'm still thinking that's it's an abscess. The cleft in the center of her heel has been pushed to the side and the hole is close to the center. I'm thinking that the pressure of the abscess pushed that cleft over.

It was already wet from being outside in the mud. Ugh. Thus I didn't soak it. I flushed it with some betadine as best I could and wrapped it with some Animalintex. Not my best wrapping job as Phantom refused to unflex her fetlock. I tried to wrap up a bit higher than I might normally wrap to keep the mud out, but I'm not sure how well that will work.
I have no recollection of buying fluorescent orange vetrap.

Hopefully, it was indeed an abscess and she should be more comfortable in a few days. I'm also hoping that it stops raining. But that isn't looking so good.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

52 TB Camels

At least once a year, the 52 free thoroughbred Facebook post shows up on my feed. This year it was updated to say that the owner of the TB's had died due to Coronavirus. Somebody obviously put some effort into updating the post and sending it around the internet once again.

However, somebody else put even more effort into this Facebook post that popped up yesterday.

Pretty sure my non-horse friends on Facebook didn't get the joke. But the horse people thought it was hilarious!

We'll see if this one shows up on the regular!

Thursday 4 June 2020

Walking Under Saddle For Rehab

I'm going to spend this week walking under saddle for rehab. For me, not the horses.

About three weeks ago I somehow strained the adductor muscles (aka. my groin) in my left thigh. No idea how - my ride the night before had been a laid back toodle, and I didn't feel anything until I got up in the morning.

It doesn't bother me through my everyday activity other than being a bit sore when I wake up. And it mostly hasn't bothered me while I've been in the saddle.

Unless I ride both horses.

The last two Sundays I rode Cisco, then Phantom. Everything felt fine on the first horse. When I settled into the tack on the second horse, I felt a bit of pain in my thigh. On the first Sunday, I didn't feel it through the rest of the ride. On the second Sunday, I definitely did. It was painful enough that when I first picked up the trot I did about 3 strides before coming back to walk because it hurt. Of course, being a horse person, I stayed on and completed my ride (thankfully Phantom was feeling perky and I didn't have to use much leg).

I paid for riding two horses on both Sundays by being quite sore through the rest of the evening. Ice packs were applied and Advil was ingested.

Thankfully I was no more sore than normal the next morning. But I don't want this to linger and take months to heal. 

So this week I'm going to be smart(ish) and take it easy. When I ride I'm going to stick to walking. Mostly walking on a loose rein type of walking so that I don't have to use my leg. Squeezing in with my thigh hurts, so I probably shouldn't do that.
The only bottle of Sore No More I've ever bought lives on my dresser and has never seen a horse.
I'm hoping that taking it easy this week will mean that I can do something more next week when I'm off. I'll probably still avoid riding two horses on the same day, but hopefully I'll be able to do stuff faster than a walk.

Has anyone tried kinesiology tape and found that it helped with injuries? 

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Practice Hopefully Makes Perfect (Someday, I Hope)

Cisco has decided that he wants to be a trail horse and schooling is for chumps. 
Not a chump.


On Sunday I took him over to the arena to use the mounting block to get on. From there I was going to ride outside, so I left the gate open. I got on (the block is right next to the gate) and turned Cisco away from the gate so I could get myself organized before heading out. He threatened a crowhop, which I growled at him for. Then we had to stay inside for a bit so that he realized that I got to steer him and decide when we would leave.

We went for a walk around the yard for our warm-up. He was a little high headed, but he usually is for the first bit of every ride. We then returned to the field where I planned to do the rest of the ride. 

But I ran into an issue. Damn gopher holes. There were a whole bunch of new ones, big ones, and because the grass was recently mown, I couldn't see them until we were right in front of them. I don't like that. 

We headed into the dressage court. In the summer they set up a simple dressage ring on the grass. There might still be gopher holes to dodge, but it's easy to remember where they are. 

At the moment there are only a couple of holes, and they aren't big or on the track, so I decided to stay in there. And got my ass handed to me to show me all our problems. 
So many problems.

Despite it being the first actual hot day of the year, Cisco had far more go than I was hoping. And at this point in his riding career, more go means all the old problems that we might have mostly eliminated come right back.

Our corners sucked. Our straightness sucked. Our bending sucked. Our pace sucked. Our right lead canter was decent, but the steering sucked.

Everything got slightly better after 30 minutes of work. But very, very slightly.

Oh well. The only way you get better at things is practice. Over and over and over again.

Monday 1 June 2020

Friday Night Rides

A couple of Friday's ago I went out for an evening toodle ride around the yard with a couple of barnmates. Nothing was really planned, it just worked out and was a lovely evening ride. After the ride I said we should plan this again and put something up on the barn's Facebook page to invite whoever wanted to join us to which the others immediately agreed.

The next Friday didn't work out as it had rained for 36 hours and the roads to the barn were crap. But last week the weather was just perfect for riding, with no bugs. No bugs was important as it's hard to swat them away with reins in one hand and wine in the other. 
I added my cantle bags and seat saver to my saddle. I didn't really need the cantle bags but definitely needed the seat saver.

Four of went out for a trek down the road. We don't have a lot of options on places to ride out from the barn - we are surrounded by farmers fields, and it's crop planting season so no riding on the fields. The road that the barn is on is a relatively quiet dirt road. But it's full of gravel, so it's not my favourite place to ride. Especially with Cisco, who is barefoot and a bit thin soled.
The hoodie was needed because it had a pocket to put her drink, not because it was cold.

So this was the first time that I had really taken him down the road. And other than a momentary loss of brain at the end of the driveway (there was a horse in a paddock where there wasn't usually a horse, and it was running around but behind the trees so it was terrifying), Cisco was super.

When I head out with my friend T her horse is usually way ahead of us. But on this night Cisco was walking quite forward so we were just behind her and the other two riders were the slowpokes. Well, until we turned around to go home. Then Cisco decided to poke along way behind everyone.
Intentional physical distancing or just slow?

Cisco kept wanting to go into every driveway and access point into every field. Maybe he's going to turn into a trail horse - I wasn't sure if we would ever get there!

He definitely felt the gravel at times, so I wasn't going to make him do anything other than walk, and it's not something we'll do regularly. I had hoped that the shape of his feet had changed enough that I could find hoof boots to fit him, but after his trim his feet are still wider than long, and other than going custom, hoof boots don't come in that shape.
There's a place that breeds Belgians further down the road from the barn. The babies aren't usually very close to the road but on my way home that night they were! Look at that chonky baby body!

We're going to try a fun ride every second Friday. I think that next time we're going to stay in and set up some pole challenges to play over. Hopefully a few more people decide to join us.