Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Finally!

 Guess what this is?



This is a horse who, for the first time ever, came off the trailer totally dry! No sweat at all!

The car rides are working!

Cisco was still a bit sticky about getting on. I schooled the loading before putting his travel buddy on, and that was definitely a good idea. Once he's been fully on once he's pretty good about being loaded and unloaded, the tricky part is just getting him to get past the half-way point.

I think this was also the first time that he partook of the hay net. Phantom is hit or miss as to if she eats from it. Tonight she started munching on it while I was loading Cisco. For whatever reason he decided to join in on chowing down, so I let them sit there for a few minutes before closing everything up and heading out. I was happy to see an empty net when we returned home and dropped hay on the floor in front of Cisco.

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!

I truly didn't think he would get this much better this quickly. As of four car rides ago he came off soaked with sweat. To come off dry and happily munching hay is a huge improvement. 

We still need to work towards traveling solo but I'll probably leave that until next year. I want to do a few more trips this year, maybe some longer drives, and try to get him getting into the trailer a little smoother. Hopefully his reduced stress will help with that.


Friday, 10 September 2021

The Canter Struggle Bus

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 would like his neck a wee bit longer here, but I was starting to ask for some right flexion. Also - as evidenced by these pictures - I can't sit up straight anymore.




Thursday, 9 September 2021

Car Ride Breakthrough!

 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!)

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Construction

I'm on vacation this week with a whole bunch of stuff to do. Instead, thanks to my mother, I was inspired to drag out my 30-year old Lego sets and put them together.

I got this stable set when I was 11 or 12 years old. Somehow, I still have all the pieces!

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Say No to Big Worm!

This whole ivermectin to cure your Covid thing is nuts. 

I won't deny that in my many years of horse ownership I've probably ingested some. Totally unintentionally though - I've had a couple of horses who weren't great about getting a syringe stuck in their mouth.

But voluntarily ingesting a drug that's formulated for a different species that is on average probably 5 times your body weight? And that is used to kill off internal parasites - which are not a virus? Just ridiculous. 

Thankfully I already have my dewormers for the year. Since it's so cold up here we don't really need to deworm between when it freezes and thaws - November to March or so. I've got my Quest Plus ready to go. (Just wait until they discover that moxidectin is basically the same class of drugs as ivermectin!)

Anyhoo, these comments on Reddit made me laugh. 

Monday, 30 August 2021

A Lack of Pics

 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!

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Catching Up

 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! 



Monday, 2 August 2021

It's Sweater Weather

 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.

Day 2 - the big question was would he get on relatively easily or would we have to go back to the beginning? 

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.

Granted, it was close to 30 degrees, and I had left the back canopy down, and there were two horses in there. This was the only time that Phantom has come off the trailer sweaty (just around her elbows) - was it hot in there due to the temperature, or did Cisco turn it into a sauna?

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. 


Thursday, 29 July 2021

Some Improvement Noted

 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 Pivo did manage to catch Cisco's spook. It felt much bigger than it looked

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.

Monday, 26 July 2021

It's Summer

 Well, it's been a hot minute since I've blogged!

Here's what has happened over the last three or so weeks.

  • It was hot. Too hot to ride. 
  • It was smokey. Too smokey to ride. 
So yeah, I have barely ridden over the last three or so weeks.

We went from about 10 days of temperatures that were over 30 (or at least felt like it) to dangerous air quality due to the forest fires in BC. The good thing was that it significantly dropped the temperature - you know, since the sun couldn't actually shine through the smoke. I don't think we saw clouds or the sky for four or five days in a row and it looked like it was about 8 pm all day long - it was kind of weird to finally see the sun when the smoke finally disappeared!

I had managed one ride between the heat and smoke on Cisco. Unfortunately, he was coughing for some reason that day. I timed my ride poorly and ended up in the arena with about three other people and the footing was extremely dry and dusty - I'm sure that didn't help Cisco. I did a short ride, mainly at walk, that day. 

Except for this:



I have used a flag a couple of times for desensitization stuff with him on the ground - he was never overly concerned about it. (For a spooky horse he's actually quite sensible about a lot of things.) One day this spring I was doing some groundwork in the round pen and was using a "flag" (handkerchief sized) on a whip - you know the kind that people usually use to get their horse all riled up and snorty? Well, with my spooky horse, the last thing I want to teach him is to run with his head and tail straight up in the air away from flappy things. He already knows how to do that. 

So on that day, I taught him to chase the flag. He figured it out right away and thought it was a fantastic game. Head down, nose stretched out reaching for the flag as I ran in front of him.
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!


So I figured I'd bring out my schooling flag again and see how that went, with the goal of riding him with it. 

The chase the flag transferred over very quickly, and after one groundwork session with me holding the flag over his back and having him trot around running next to him, I thought I'd give it a try under saddle. 

He had no concerns. The biggest issue was trying to steer with one hand - those left turns were a little sticky!

The ride from the video was his second time with me riding with the flag. We haven't cantered yet - I should probably practice the one-handed steer without the flag first - pretty sure that's going to be a gong show. 
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!

I hopped on him yesterday for the first time since the flag ride and he was a very good boy and there were no coughs. The smoke broke up on about Thursday last week so I'll be taking it easy for the next little bit still. I'm trying to figure out what I can sell so that I can buy a nebulizer - why do they have to be $1500 CDN? Ugh. I also have to do some more research into the various treatments and what they treat before buying one, but with Phantom's asthma, and Cisco is apparently sensitive to something, I have a feeling that it would get used. Not to mention that smokey summers are apparently now a thing. 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

I'm Melting

 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).



Friday, 2 July 2021

Clears Throat Loudly

 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. 

I can't think of why he might choke...

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!


Just Trying to Stay Chill

 I don't know how people in warm climates get anything done in the summer.

I've been camping out at my parent's house after work all this week to get relief from this heat dome that has settled over much of the western part of North America. They put in central air conditioning a couple of years ago and my mom likes to keep the house ridiculously cold. I'm currently sitting on their couch, wearing a hoody and a blanket over my legs because it's about 13 degrees Celsius downstairs. No complaints because it's 36 outside, and despite my portable air conditioner being on since 7:30 this morning, my house is still 27 degrees downstairs and over 30 upstairs.

Even barn cats are finding this weather too hot to do anything but lay around. 

I mean, when one walks into the house and gets offered a Fudgsicle, then gets served crab-stuffed salmon for dinner, who would be stupid enough to complain?

I've been heading out to the barn late in the evenings, getting there at about 9 pm. The sun doesn't set until well after 10 pm at this time of year, but when I arrive it's low enough in the sky that it's not burny and the temperature out in the country is actually quite pleasant. 

There hasn't been a cloud in the sky all week.

The ponies have been happy enough to see me and just get fed. I've had to work every morning after I've been out to the barn so I haven't been spending too much time out there. Gotta get home and try to get my house to cool off a wee bit before trying to fall asleep!

The pony popsicles were very much enjoyed.




The heat is supposed to break on Sunday, which is the first day of my vacation. Fingers crossed the weatherman gets it right for once!





Sunday, 27 June 2021

Hot Hot Heat

 It's gonna get sweaty.

Up here in the prairies of the Great White North we tend to average only 4 days a year over 30 degrees Celsius. We're not used to really hot weather.

We currently have a forecast for 8 days in a row of 30 + temperatures. We might even break a heat record this week. The record high temperature for my city is 37.2. Wednesday's forecast is 40. That will be the hottest temperature I've ever experienced.

The temperatures get higher every time I look at the forecast.

The horses are not getting ridden this week.

I rode on Friday night, when it was only 28 degrees, so that I wouldn't feel too guilty about not riding for the next 7 or 8 days. I don't do well in high temperatures, Phantom doesn't do well in high temperatures with her asthma, and I'm pretty sure Cisco is not a fan either. 

It was still hot enough that I really didn't want to do much. But I had something simple we could work on - walk/halt transitions. 

So simple. 

I realized recently that Cisco sucks at them. I mean, he stops easily. He just doesn't stop straight. He always has to put in one last step sideways before parking. 

We kept to the rail so that he could only wiggle one direction. My goal for myself was to use less hand and have him halt using my thighs and my core. 

After the first couple, when I realized that I might be partially responsible for the step out with the right front leg by using more left thigh than right thigh. Oops. Once I got that sorted out the halts got much straighter. 

Greenhawk had an amazing sale on these Textilene fly sheets - they were only $43! I ordered two for Cisco for when he trashes his Kensington suits of armor. The brown plaid looks better than I thought it would, although I think Cisco is not a fan.

Then it was time for some lateral work - some leg yields down the wall - which he was pretty good about - and some haunches in - which I am not very good about. Ugh. Total pretzel on my part. 

I'm not anticipating getting back in the saddle until next week, when I have the week off. Hopefully, it's much cooler than this week or I won't get anything done that involves leaving air conditioning!

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Fancy New Boots Are Here!

 My boots from Celeris finally arrived!

They were ordered at the beginning February, but they screwed up the first pair that they made (full sheepskin-lined legs instead of just the foot), so it took an extra month for the new pair to be made. They got it right on the second attempt and the boots showed up last week.

And I'm really happy with them!

They're airforce blue crocodile, with a light grey stripe and piping, and a stingray stripe. There's also stingray spur straps and protectors to go with them.

Thankfully, I got the Bia's with the laces up the front because I don't know if I would have managed to zip them up otherwise! They were snug! But they seem to have relaxed a bit and I don't feel the pulse in my lower leg anymore when they're on.

You can't really see them here - too much dark on dark. But trust me - they look fantastic!

These are solid boots. The leg is fully lined with a thick leather that is fairly soft. I was surprised by the weight when I first picked up the box. The boots feel like they are built to last. 



I think that the Bia's are more of a dressage style versus a jumper style as they have the boning down the back seam. 



I chose Phantom for their premiere ride. I barely managed a half-hour of easy riding - I couldn't feel my right leg in relation to the horse or stirrup and my left ankle was aching. But about half-way through the second ride on Cisco, I forgot that I was wearing new boots. They were already starting to feel much more broken-in.

The moment of relief when I've decided my ride is done and I can let my sore ankles dangle.

The only thing that I don't like about them is that I found the footbed to be very hard and uncomfortable. I have crappy feet though, that need a high-cushioned footbed. I had a pair of Nike running shoe insoles kicking around that I put into the boots and that made a huge difference. The foot is a little snugger with them in but with thin socks it isn't uncomfortable. 

Spur straps and protectors match the stingray at the top of the boot. 

I'm only a couple of rides in, but so far I'm really happy with the boots. I'm determined to look after them and clean and polish them regularly so that they last a long time. I can't afford a second pair anytime soon!

Now I just need to figure out how to fit them in my tack box! I have a spot set up for tall boots that I used to use, but these boots won't fit in there while in a boot bag - they are just a wee bit wider than the space allows. I'm going to have to get creative with Pony Grandma's assistance and customize some sort of individual boot coverings. There's only one spot in the tack box that the boots can be made to fit so it going to have to work!

Friday, 4 June 2021

Vet Day

 Wednesday was vet day.

Cisco got his teeth floated. He had some sharp edges (more on the right than the left) but otherwise he was good and I was told he can stay on the every two year schedule he's been on. 

The corner feeder made a good nose-rest. He was probably dreaming of noms.

All gelding owners know to take advantage of sedation and go searching for beans! I removed a couple of pea-sized ones before I did a smegma transplant - his boy parts have been a bit stinky again.

I had hoped to hop on Phantom while Cisco was having his post-dental nap but it was far too hot. I worry about her breathing in this heat, and I don't think she's completely lost her winter coat, so I'm also worried about her overheating. The vet had also mentioned that she's had a whole lot of heaves cases this week due to the high pollen count. 

Thus, no one got ridden. But they both got their tails washed, before they got hand-grazed.

Always a bit of a gong show - Cisco eats super fast and won't lift his head. Phantom is much pickier and slower, and walks backwards as she eats. Trying to keep them somewhat together can be a challenge!

It looks like the heat should break on Friday, then it's back to perfect riding temperatures.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

The Return of the Drama Llama

 Although I was on vacation last week, I didn't get much riding done. It was a combination of a few things - super windy/rainy days, a three-day migraine, and minor car issues. I got a quick ride in on both horses on Tuesday, which was also farrier day, managed a ride on Friday with the migraine so I felt pretty weak and didn't do very much, and on Sunday when it was pretty warm so I didn't do much again.

I cut Cisco's head off, but there was a line of grey horses lined up for the farrier. Phantom had already been done and was back outside.

This week, we are experiencing a short-term heat wave, with temperatures around 30 celsius. That's just about as hot as we get in my area. 

Tuesday was the first hot day. I was at work a bit late so went straight out to the barn and arrived a little after 7 (it hadn't started to cool off yet). 

When I got out of the car a horse whinnied and I thought it kinda sounded like Phantom, but thought, nah, there's no reason for her to be yelling. 

I went out to grab Cisco and Phantom whinnied again - yes, it was her I had heard earlier. Odd, but I threw a halter on Cisco and left Phantom in the paddock and didn't think anything of it. 

Except she kept on screaming. 

Which meant that Cisco had to reply as I was getting him tacked up. Over and over and over. 

I peeked outside a few times to make sure she wasn't running around (way too hot for her to do that) and she was always standing still, usually eating, but constantly calling. I realized that the other two horses that live with them weren't in the paddock. Pete is Phantom's bff and he isn't ridden all that often, so I wasn't sure where he was, and Lucy was usually in a lesson at this time (but Phantom doesn't care about her!). I'm pretty sure she was mostly screaming for Pete and not Cisco, much to Cisco's dismay. 

A pic from this winter of BFF's Pete, Phantom and Cisco. Lucy isn't part of the cool club.

When I arrived in the arena with Cisco, Lucy and Pete were both being ridden. However, they were done, and walked out of the arena as we came in. Cisco kind of lost his brain about the fact that his friends were abandoning him. Some groundwork ended up being required, during which some cuss words may have been aimed towards his general direction.

All I had wanted for this ride was a quick w/t/c, then go for a hack outside. I was hot and tired, and hadn't even bothered to put my half-chaps on. It appeared that my drama llama hadn't read the memo.

However, he stood rock still when I got on, which was my first surprise. Didn't really expect that.

Our walk warmup was slightly better than I thought it might be - he was stretching down - when he wasn't screaming back at Phantom and whoever else had decided to get involved in the conversation. 

I eventually girded my loins to pick up the hot mess of a trot that was inevitable based on his mindset. But it didn't happen. 

He picked up a relaxed, soft trot - with a straight transition that didn't have flinging shoulders towards the gate. 

I totally didn't expect that!

He gets to stay a little bit longer...

So, after all that drama upon our entry to the arena, I ended up having the relaxed ride that I had been wanting. 

I don't know how much the heat had to do with Cisco's relaxation, but I think we are finally getting to the point where his training is able to supercede some of his outside worries. I mean, it's only taken four years!