Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Wordless Wednesday - New (Bad) Habits


Cisco's newest thing that he's been doing for the last couple of weeks whenever I tie him up.

Monday, 5 September 2022

The Waning Days of Summer

As promised, there wasn't much happening on the horse front last week. It was just too hot to do much that involved movement.

Cisco got started on his nebulised Dex to help get rid of the mucous in his lungs from his earlier asthma episode. He's only had two treatments so far, so no clue as to if it is working yet. C-dog is feeling good though! I popped him on the lunge to see how he looked on Friday. It's kind of hard to tell how sound your horse is when all they're doing is bucking and leaping on the end of the line. I took that as a good sign since when I had last lunged him he looked pretty sorry for himself.

I hopped on him on Sunday for a very quick ride. The plan was to mostly walk with a short trot to evaluate now he felt. I want to give the Dex a few more days to clean up his lungs before doing much with him. Also, because we can't seem to get through a summer with clean air, the air quality was getting up to concerning levels due to some forest fire smoke that had blown in over the weekend.

He felt pretty even at the trot, and was far less sarcastic about his pace than I expected. He was, of course,  waiting for his moment to try to unseat me, which came as a horse that was being lunged picked up a canter as we were trotting towards it. I was ready for the spin and mostly stayed with him.

Thursday had been a bit cooler and was my day off, so I hoped to hop on Phantom. As I groomed her in the barn and watched the wind send clouds of sand across the driveway, I changed my mind.

She got to go for a play in the outdoor arena though, and she totally took full advantage of it. I don't know if I've ever seen her gallop so fast! She paid for that by not being able to turn very well when she hit the end of the ring - fast with steering has always been her weakness.

Phantom has been getting nebulized with saline, and I'm cautiously optimistic that it made a difference. She recovered very quickly from her zoomies, usually it takes her longer.

The air quality seems to have significantly improved overnight, and the stupid-hot weather looks like it has changed to typical fall weather so hopefully this week I'll get some more riding in. It will be slow riding but that's still better than no riding!

Monday, 29 August 2022

A Quick Ride

Since we had a two-day repreive from the stupid hot weather over the weekend (fear not, it's coming back all week) I was really hoping to get on each of the ponies for an easy ride. For Cisco it would be a see how he felt evaluative kind of ride, and on Phantom I would be more concerned about how well I could walk post-ride. It's only been a few days since I stopped having any back/thigh related pain and I don't feel the need to overdo it on my first ride back.

I decided Cisco still looks a bit too off for my liking to hop on him. The swelling in his leg has come down, but at a trot he definitely looks uncomfortable somewhere in his body. He's not super lame but he's not right. It's only been a week since he stuck his leg through the fence, I'm not overly surprised that he needs some more time off. We'll aim for a walk ride next weekend when it cools down again.

I put him on the hard slanted pads behind and he didn't move for almost 10 minutes. I actually went out and brought Phantom in and walked her past him and I still had to peelhimoff the pads to turn him out. He obviously found some comfort from standing on them.

Phantom hasn't been ridden in at least three weeks. She's been giving me sad, old pony vibes lately, not in a hurry to go anywhere and always ready to take a nap, so I wasn't sure how she was going to feel.

She really wants to nap while being nebulized, but then she doesn't breathe deep enough, so I rudely have to make her go for a walk.

The plan for the ride was a 20 minute spin, mostly at walk, so that I could test out how my leg would feel afterwards. She initially toodled around on a long rein, taking slow, careful steps. I thought that when we picked up the trot she would do a shuffly jog, but nope - that released the Kracken.

I think we made it about half a lap around the ring before she attempted the first bolt. 

We had a total of three bolt attempts over the whole four minutes of trot that we did. It was partly just her being dramatic about the flies touching her face (I had forgotten to put on her riding fly mask) and partly because that's just what she does when she has excess energy. But we survived our 20 minutes and so far, so good for my leg.

It's going to be a quiet week as we all try to stay cool, but it looks like fall weather starts next weekend - my favourite riding weather.

Friday, 26 August 2022

Thursday Things

 Cisco's leg continues to be on the mend. The farrier was out on Thursday and said she didn't feel any issues from him on having to keep his leg held up so that bodes well.

After three days out for delivery on the courier truck, my Flexineb was finally delivered. It was shipped to my parents house since I am never home, and for some reason couriers have a hard time finding their street. It's on a dead-end cul-de-sac that can only be accessed from the main road, not from the subdivision behind them. I don't know how many times I've had to call to give them directions, but it's been a lot.

Since I wasn't going to be able togo out to the barn on Friday, I had to go back out on Thursday evening just so I could try it out.

I was not surprised to discover that both horses had little concern about the thing stuck to the end of their nose. Well, Phantom had a small one - she couldn't scratch her leg when a fly touched her with it on. Must remember to fly spray her well first!

In typical boy fashion, Casco made his best Darth Vader impressions as we walked up and down the barn aisle. He is always rather expressive with his breathing, so I couldn't tell if his noisy breathing was because he wasn't sure about the mask or because we were walking into the sketchy area of the barn.

Phantom just wanted to close her eyes and have a nap. I had to keep her walking just to keep her awake.

I haven't heard back from the vet yet regarding the drugs she was going to order for me, so at this point they are just getting saline in the nebulizer. I will check in with her next week if I don't hear from her by the end of the weekend. I would like Cisco to have some treatments with the steroids before putting him back to work.

I also succumbed to a sale at LeMieux this morning. They're having a "not quite perfect" blanket sale this weekend, with factory seconds 50% off. That sounds like the perfect price for horses who need a new blanket every couple of years - I'm looking at you Cisco! I ordered a 200g turnout and two liners that came to $280 CDN after shipping.  I like the look of the blanket and have been very happy with the Lemieux products I currently own, so fingers crossed on these items.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

The Day After (and the day after that)

Well, Cisco's leg looked like how I expected a leg that got stuck in a fence the day before would look when I went out on Monday.

It was a little fatter around the hock than I hoped it would be, and less fatter in the rest of the leg than I thought it would be.

When I arrived around dinner time Cisco's bute from the day before would have worn off, and I think he was feeling a bit sad and sorry for himself. He got handwalked for about 25 minutes in the outdoor arena with some short in-hand trots. I think some of the fill came out of his legs especially around the hock.

Monday's leg. Honestly, not as bad as I thought it would be.

He's definitely a litle sore on it - not easily noticed at a walk unless he was turned tightly to the right - and even then a lot of people wouldn't notice his discomfort.

I didn't think he looked too bad at the trot while we were on the soft sand in the outdoor, but when I trotted him on the concrete surface in the bam he was definitely ouchy.

I'm not sharing the trot in the barn aisle - it was bad.

We will see what the next few days brings!

Hey there! Since I was too tired on Monday night to deal with adding video to this post, I am happy to say that Tuesday brought a much sassier and feeling far less sorry for himself Cisco, who's leg started off slightly less fat than the day before, but after our walk it was almost back to normal. Cisco happily took me for a walk as he normally does, and although I was leading him and couldn't really tell, his trot was much more forward and sounded much more even in the barn. When I threw some extra hay to him outside he trotted a few steps and wasn't obviously lame. 

Tuesday's leg.

I'm cautiously feeling a bit better about being able to ride my horse again!


Sunday, 21 August 2022

You Try To Do Something Nice For Someone...

 I was scheduled to teach a lesson on Sunday morning. Alas, the storm that merely threatened in my area of the city overnight apparently hit full force at the barn. They had pouring rain for at least two hours, leaving everything very soggy in the morning. 

Phantom has been using mud-based hair styling products again.

No worries. I was up and ready to go so I went out early anyways. I mean, I was already in the car when I found out, but was still in the garage, so there wasn't much point in heading back into the house (although I was tempted for a moment).

Since the road wasn't going to be dusty, I decided that I would put Cisco back out with Phantom and his recently returned from summer camp BFF Pete. He'd have a couple of hours to socialize and move around a bit more than he will in the individual paddock he's been in for a few weeks. 

It all started well. Cisco and Pete immediately sniffed each other with no squeals or strikes, and Phantom emitted huge fuck off vibes so Cisco smartly stayed out of her bubble.

They had gone down to the far end to look for the few blades of grass that might have been previously missed. Cisco was trying really hard to encourage one of the others to play with him, but not being overly rude about it. 

Phantom got down to have a roll, and I got the video ready thinking that when she got up she would take off and hijinks would ensue. Wrong. She got up, shook herself off, and went back to searching for that elusive blade of grass.

They were being boring so I was just about to leave the gate and head back to the barn to find something to keep me occupied for a couple of hours when somebody made a break for it and they all galloped towards me. There was some leaping around, mostly by Cisco, and then I don't know if Cisco got a bit possessive of Phantom, but he kicked out at Pete - and one hind leg went right through the fence, and got stuck on the other side. 

Just the good bit in slo-mo.

I was still at the gate and realized right away that he was stuck. Thankfully, Cisco also realized right away that he was stuck, and he stood perfectly still and waited for a responsible adult to help him out.

The bar that he got his leg over was pretty well at the same height as the front of his leg extended behind him. His leg was in a flexed position, so the bar was resting on the flexed front of his hock. 

Think this, but the bar was higher, more level with the bottom of his stomach, so the leg was flexed more and higher. (Hind legs at odd angles are really hard to draw.)

I tried to grab him by his hoof and lift the leg up, but that did absolutely nothing. I had yelled "help" a few times as I knew there were a couple of people around, but no one came running. I frantically called the BO's SO, who I had chatted with a few minutes earlier, and told him my horse was stuck on the fence. He had just gotten to the gate when Cisco shuffled his front legs just a bit which put him at a different angle to the fence, and his leg mostly slipped free, with just a bit of assistance needed from me to get the rest of his hoof clear. Phew.

He was probably only stuck for 2-3 minutes, and thank God, he barely moved. I was behind him, and he knew I was there, but I'm honestly surprised that he didn't try harder to escape, although I'm not complaining! In the video you can hear me saying "stay there, stay there" to him as I was running towards him, and had a moment of panic wondering if me running at him would cause him to panic. That might be something useful to teach your horse - not to run away if you run at them!

Poor Cisco was a bit shaken up by this. He wouldn't let me catch him right away, though I had him within a minute or so. We went into the barn, he had some bute, and I hosed off the leg. The scrapes all seem to be superficial, so I'm not too worried about them. I'm much more concerned that something will have happened to his stifle, not that there is currently any evidence of it. He was maybe a bit off at the trot within about 15 minutes of the incident, but I was trotting in hand and trying to evaluate, so I'm not quite sure. 

Hosed off and waiting to dry.

Emma - this coating of Blu-Kote is for you!

I won't be surprised if his leg blows up by the morning. One of the ladies who rides with me is going to have a look at him in the AM and give him some bute if it got big or seems sore, and I'll be out in the evening after work, armed with wraps and maybe ice packs. Fingers crossed that he won't be worse than a bit stiff for a few days.

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Vet Day

 The vet was out today and I managed to get Cisco added to her roster. I've not been happy with his respiratory rate when riding since his asthma flare-up at the end of July and I wanted him looked at and options discussed. 

When she listened to his lungs she did hear some mucous still in there.  She said that when they have a flare-up it takes three months for the lungs to heal, and steroids were going to be the best option to help this clear up.

I also had her have a peek at Phantom - I was still worried about that lump under her jaw. Good news - she said it wasn't a melanoma. Phew. I'll still keep an eye on it and if it does grow I'll get it looked at again, mostly because if it gets big it could be in an uncomfortable spot for her, but I don't have to be super paranoid about it. 

She then listened to Phantom's lungs and said they sounded clear. Another bit of relief as she is still in the paddock alongside the road. I didn't think that road dust was a trigger for her like it is for Cisco, although I'm still thinking of moving her to a different paddock for a few weeks. 

After discussing options about treating the pony's asthma, I decided to just bite the bullet and pay the bucks and order a Flexineb nebulizer. Cisco will be getting some dex in it once it arrives, and we're going to try Phantom on just saline and see how she does. Hopefully, it will arrive next week, and so will the medication that the vet is ordering for me. 

Thus, I'll be giving Cisco a few more days off. Also, it will be because it's going to be really hot again, and if I wanted to ride it will have to be in the hottest part of the day - not gonna happen. But really, he's getting time off because I need to see a vet.

I don't know what I've done to myself, but I've been having some pain and aches in my left thigh. I think it stemmed from when I initially twinged my back two weeks ago, which then bothered me a week later after a ride, but was again fine the next day, and then I felt something pop in it over the weekend - and not in a good way. Since then, I've been pretty consistently either sore or very achy somewhere in either my groin or thigh on that side - it keeps moving. It's kind of weird. But really uncomfortable. I've been foam rolling and massage gunning it, and maybe I've overdone it? I'll give it the weekend, and if it doesn't seem to be improving I might have to find time to go to physio.

Monday, 15 August 2022

What Happened Last Week

 Although I had last week off, I didn't get a ton of riding in. It was just too hot for most of the week, and I don't do heat very well.

I did a few easy rides on Cisco, including one bareback. I forgot that riding bareback in the heat means you end up with very sweaty girly bits. Thankfully, I had a pair of shorts to change into as soon as I hopped off, although I wish I had had a spare set of undies in my bag too. 

I'm still not sure how he's doing with his breathing. I've had some rides under saddle that he seems fine, and others where I'm not happy with his recovery and ended up giving him some Ventipulmin post-ride. One of my vets is coming out to the barn on Thursday and I've added Cisco to her appointments, so we'll see what she says.

Lighting not due to the golden hour of sunset. Just a dirty horse.

We also did another car ride last week. I think Cisco has figured out that if Phantom is in the trailer with him, he's going to get locked up and the murder box will start moving. He was not very good about getting on. But I stuck with it, and he got better, and away we went. He was about half as sweaty as the previous ride upon arrival back home, with no dripped sweat marks on the floor of the trailer, so that's progress over the previous ride. 

Phantom's look of "can we please get this show on the road?".

A sweaty Cisco releasing his tension from the car ride. 

What else has happened? 

I was bad and bought a new saddle pad at the Greenhawk summer sale this weekend. It was black, and I have more than enough black saddle pads - but I don't have a snakeskin print one!

I'm a sucker for reptile prints (hence my crocodile patterned boots), add patent leather piping to it and I'm gonna have to buy it. It was 40% off, so that made it totally affordable. 

Phantom's Rambo fly sheet was repaired by yours truly. I picked up some sewing machine needles more suited to horsewear as I have a few blankets that need minor repairs before winter and I'm going to try to do them myself. I can sew straight lines, but not a whole lot more, but the ponies won't complain if the seams aren't straight. 

For the tears on the fly sheet I used a strip of Rambo binding that had come off the neck piece and didn't really need to be put back on. It got cut up into smaller pieces to patch all the holes, but I didn't think to check that the pieces made actual words. Seeing this patch on her side makes me giggle. 

And, just today, I finally got my car back! It was a full six weeks since I dropped it off. The extra week was because something happened to it while in their care (relatively minor) so they had to fix that as well, at their expense. But I'm back to driving it. Please - no one hit me again!

It looks like we are going to be stuck in this heat wave for another 10 days or so, and since I'm back at work and will have to ride in the evenings, there probably won't be much riding happening. We'll try to get another car ride or two in though - maybe we will be ready for a field trip in September when I'm off.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Sorry - More Horse D!ck Pics

Cisco's swollen sheath went down a little overnight. It still looked like he had a pair of saggy testicles in the wrong spot though. Gravity has kicked in, and the remaining fluid has settled in the bottom front part of his sheath.

Pre-walk. My phone chose to be prudish and not focus on the manbits.

Due to the dump of rain we'd had in the morning, riding in the outdoor arena was a no-go. I considered toodling around on Cisco bareback to get him his needed exercise , but I hadn't taken a change of pants with me and was driving a rental vehicle, so we just stuck to hand-walking. I think his sheath looked better again after the exercise, but he still got some bute to help the process along.


So looks like droopy testicles.

I apparently had the moose filter on when I took this pic.

Why was I in a rental car? Well, back in mid -June, someone did a hit-and-run on my four month old car while it was parked at work and caused $3500 worth of damage to my rear bumper and taillight. I dropped it off for repairs on July 4th for what was supposed to be a 7 working days job. Once they took the bumper off they realized they needed a piece that I don't think they knew about when they did the estimate,and, surprise surprise in the current world order, that part wasn't available and had no ETA.

The light alone was something like $850. It doesn't look like much, but it was just under $3500 worth of damage.

So I've been stressing the last couple weeks over how long it would take and if my insurance was going to stop paying for the rental once I hit my cap. I got a call yesterday from the repair place, not to say that it was ready for pickup, but that they'd somehow managed to lock the keys in the car while it was in the paint booth. I had to zip over with my other key to unlock it. Hopefully, the car will be done today, and I can go back to not having to gas up every week again, or worry about riding bareback.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Attack of the Flies

 Poor Cisco. This summer has been a bit hard on him.

Apparently, the flies have been attacking him. There were enough bug bites on his neck when I took his blanket off that I was initially worried that he had hives, but under the blanket he was fine.

Taking the blanket off revealed something else however - a very swollen sheath.

It looked like his balls were trying to grow back in the wrong spot.

I'm assuming that it's due to the bugs, and maybe not moving around as much as he is still in the individual paddock. There was also some evidence of some edema having been on his chest, with just some saggy skin left over. 

Some weird saggy bits.

None of that was there on Monday when I was out, so it had all just happened in the last couple of days. 

I hadn't planned on riding, but needed to get that swelling down. I dug around in the car and found a pair of fleece-lined leggings that would have to do (it wasn't hot enough that I would die with them on, but it would be warm) and didn't plan to do enough that my lack of a sports bra would be an issue.

I'm pretty sure that I felt a waddle in his step. The footing in the outdoor was a bit damper than ideal so we tried to keep it to a quiet trot in the half of the ring that was usable, and by the end he felt better than he did at the beginning.

He had some bute before the ride, and I think the swelling close to his body came down a bit after exercise. It was still pretty fat though.

Post-ride old man saggy faux balls.

I've got to pick up some Swat today and will apply it liberally to his bottom bits and see if that helps the bug situation. I'm still trying to decide on where he stands regarding his asthma, and if the swelling stays up over the weekend I guess we'll have to see the vet next week for an all-over check-up.. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

More Car Rides

 We are apparently back at square one with Cisco's confidence about trailering. 

Last summer, we were going on weekly car rides, and managed to get to the point where he finally came off the trailer dry and not a stressed sweaty mess.

However, he hasn't been on a car ride since whenever we last did it last year (it would have been in September or October). We did one practice loading session a few weeks ago, for which he was great, but he hasn't been fully loaded and locked in. 

Since I haven't been riding with the heat, I took the truck out last Thursday with the intent of a quick car ride to get him familiar with it again. I'm having vague thoughts about wanting to do something, anything, with Cisco away from home before the end of the summer, and I want to make sure that he can at least arrive relaxed (pretty sure he won't be when we unload) and that he will reliably get back on to go home. I fully accept that he might need an emotional support animal, ie. Phantom, for the first couple of times away from home, especially if he needs to go inside somewhere like the vet clinic. Strange buildings are still very concerning for him.

I hoped that since the last loading session went so well that he would hop on pretty quickly next to Phantom. That was a big fat nope. 

He was very sticky and I could see the concern in his eyes. I don't know if he remembered that if there is another horse next to him that means he'll be shut up inside or not, but he was just not getting fully on to the point that we could put up the butt bar.

After about 20 minutes, I pulled Phantom off, and went back to schooling the getting on for Cisco. I moved the divider aside to give him a bit more space, and he hopped right on the first time. Of course. 

I gradually moved the divider back, and every time he went right on up to the front and stood quietly. I don't know why he wouldn't with Phantom on. 

In the end, we got both horses on and had a leisurely drive around the neighbourhood. 

Which resulted in a soaking wet Cisco upon unloading. 

One gross, sweaty mess of a pony. Who was not at all happy to have a cool shower afterwards.

Not pee marks - sweat that dripped to the floor marks.

Looks like we are going to have to go back to weekly car rides again. 

Monday, 1 August 2022

Forgot His Inhaler

 Our summer went from rain almost every day for 3 or 4 weeks in a row, to pretty well no rain since the first week of July. And it got hot. Pretty well as hot as we get.

Cisco reacted by picking up a cough. Which turned into a bit of an asthma episode.

The paddock that the ponies live in is alongside the road - a dirt road. When it's been as dry as it's been of late, passing cars kick up quite a bit of dust. 

I've wondered in the past if that dust could be causing problems. Cisco has had a bit of a cough other summers for short periods, but I was never sure if it was the dust, the heat, or some years, the air quality that caused the cough, and it never seemed to last for more than a few days.

This year, he coughed a couple of times through a couple of rides, and then on one ride he was coughing so much when I tried to trot that all we did was walk for half an hour. When I went back out two days later, his respiratory rate was noticeably up and he was coughing at rest.

I put him on Ventipulmin for about 4 days and talked to the barn owner about moving him to another pen further away from the road to see if that made a difference. It's a single horse pen, and I prefer my horses to be turned out with buddies, but breathing is kind of necessary, so we'd both have to suck it up. 

I think it has made a difference. I haven't heard him cough at rest since that one night. The only ride that I've done (it's been too hot to ride after work most of this week) was much better, though he still had one coughing episode after about 20 minutes of trotting. I hadn't intended to do much on that ride as it was only a few days since the night his respiration was up, though Cisco had other plans and was a wee bit sassy about everything. 

Although he was very good the night before our ride when we did some TRT groundwork, and for once he didn't feel the need to be in my pocket the whole time. 

At one point about 10 days ago I almost said fuck it and ordered a Flexineb nebulizer, but I didn't, although I'm still thinking of it. I'm just trying to figure out if using it with just saline is of benefit or not. Since Phantom also has asthma and gets Ventipulmin before rides, the nebulizer could get enough use to justify the $1500 price point. We'll see. If this continues with Cisco and he sees a vet I'll have a discussion with them about it, as it will work best with prescription drugs. 

We'll see how it goes this week. The temperatures are forecasted to be much cooler and we will hopefully get some rain. I also want to see if there's somewhere where I can put both ponies away from the road for the rest of the summer. There are paddocks next to where the arena was/will be that are empty, but I don't know if there is access to put water out due to the arena work.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Cisco Gives Lessons

I picked up a pair of sisters as riding students at the beginning of the summer. They are at a similar riding level - solidifying their position at all gaits and getting more comfortable with riding a canter - but are completely opposite in their confidence. One is very brave and willing to try anything, the other worries and has a hard time releasing tension. She's actually made some great progress since she started with me - the first couple of rides were all about how it's actually easier to ride when the horse is going forward, and now she's a speed demon who I have had to tell to slow down the last two rides.

One of the other instructors at the barn goes away to do a summer camp every year and as she owns most of the lesson horses, they also go to camp. Usually, the barn owned horses don't go, but this year I was told only one would be staying. (That instructor runs most of the beginner lesson program, with her gone for the summer there is very little need for lesson horses.) 

One advantage to riding outside is that you get to see the rainbows!

This left me with the issue of coming up with two horses so that the sisters could ride at the same time. It was just going to be for three lessons as they were going away for the full month of August.

I voluntold Cisco to be a lesson horse for a couple of weeks.

The view from within the outdoor ring we are using.

The more confident sister rode him, and the less confident one rode the horse usually ridden by the other sister. It was actually a good change for her and she did well on him.

Cisco wasn't really sure about his situation. There were definitely some strong side-eye glares aimed my way, and I had to try to keep my distance from whatever exercise they were doing because he really wanted to gravitate to me. But overall, he was a pretty good boy.

I had told her at the beginning of the ride that he was a very wiggly horse and when it came to wanting to bulge towards the gate, he wouldn't give up. She definitely agreed with me by the end of the ride!

She loved his canter - we've been working on sitting the canter instead of perching tipped forward for it - and Cisco has a very easy to sit canter. 

The only thing that he was sticky about was, oddly, the halt walk transitions. Not really sure why, as she is pretty light in her contact, but that will be something I'll play with a bit in my rides.

The resident ravens are a little put out by the removal of their arena roof perch that they loved to hang out on. Now they have to sit on a fence or horse shelter roof to shriek their someone's being murdered screams.

I'm not convinced that she loved riding him overall though (which I'm only slightly offended by).  Maybe it was the wiggliness, or it might have been my saddle. It doesn't matter though because hopefully I won't have to subject the poor pony with that misery again (his words, not mine).

I was very happy with how Cisco went for a different rider. He hasn't had many other people on him (I don't really like to share my ponies) but whenever he has he has been very well mannered. It's a good life skill for horses to have.

Friday, 8 July 2022

Working Long

 For what I think was the first time ever, I set the Pivo up last week and nailed the setup on the first try.  Which totally makes sense as the arena is now closed and the process of taking it down has begun. When the new arena goes up I'm sure it will take me forever again to find the sweet spots. 

This was a couple of rides after the ride in which we used the Sure Foot pads. I'm still working on trying to encourage Cisco to lengthen his neck in a forward and out way. It's kind of been a little hit and miss since we used the pads as to if he will give it to me, but I keep encouraging him to do so. It's much easier for him to lock the base of his neck and tighten it than he thinks it is to keep it soft and long, so this will be an ongoing way of thinking. 

Here are a selection of carefully selected screenshots. Sorry that they aren't super clear - my video camera is about 12 years old and the lighting in the arena isn't super bright, so it struggles a bit on having a clear image with the lighting and movement. As much as I would like to upgrade to a 4K camera I can't justify the cost at this point, so blurry screenshots it is. 

I like the look of softness in his body here.

Lengthen that neck Cisco!

Any time that Cisco has his ears below his withers that's a good thing.

It looks like we are practicing some cutting moves, but this was a splat spook at the bird that flew up over the gate. You can see the black speck in the top right corner that is the bird.

Cisco has a really fun canter. He has these moments where he really feels like he is jumping through his stride - which feels super fun and makes me laugh. I'm always saddened that it never seems to look like a fancier canter though. I was laughing in the video at this moment.

Lifting up a bit on our stronger right side, but not quite there yet...

and with the softer neck. 

The riding on a longer rein to encourage him to lengthen his neck out is tough for me as I keep wanting to bring my hands back, especially at canter. He tries pretty hard to reach out to the contact, I just have to keep letting him have the extra rein to do so.

We are now stuck outside for the summer. The arena was closed as of yesterday. It still keeps raining - we have another thunderstorm watch pop up as I started writing this. The ground is pretty saturated at this point so nothing is drying quickly. Oh -and the mosquitos have come out in full force. I walked Phantom out after a ride on Wednesday on the grass and she was quickly covered in them. I'm pretty sure that our first few rides in the outdoor arena will not be conducive to Cisco having a long neck, especially if it takes a few more days before things are dry enough to get on him. I'll give it a few rides and try the pads again to see if we can get back to it again. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

This Summer in the Sun

 It's been a few years since I haven't had an indoor arena to ride in. For the first few years that I rode Phantom she went back to her previous owner's place in the summer (she still owned her at that point) and I rode at her acreage from July through September. That meant that riding was somewhat at the whims of the weather - when it rained it took at least a couple of days for the footing to dry out, and when it was hot I had to ride early or late to stay out of the sun and the ground got hard. Not to mention trying to stay away from the mosquitos.

I still try to get outside quite a bit in the summer, but sometimes when it's hot I like to stay inside, under cover, and keep the sun from scorching my pale Irish skin. The arena I've been at for the last five years is a big Cover-All and the temperature stays pretty moderate in summer.

But this summer, the arena is coming down. And until the new one that is going to be built is completed, I'm going to have to ride out in the elements.

Luckily, we're going to be able to ride in the neighbours outdoor arena, which is just on the other side of a row of paddocks from our indoor, so we won't have to travel to do so. And they just put in new sand footing a few weeks ago. That could be good or bad - it shouldn't bake as hard as it used to in the hot sun, but, since it's new footing that hasn't had time to really settle yet, when it rains, it might not drain very well. And it's been raining a lot.

Let's hope we got all the rain in June and that July is much drier (it usually isn't).

The bad thing is that there will be riders from two locations trying to share the space. Last year there were many evenings where there were a whole bunch of riders in that ring at the same time, and they always seemed to working on western gymkhana events. It might turn into a bit of a gong show, especially if the weather isn't going to co-operate and everyone tries to get rides in when things dry out.

I'm planning to purchase a couple more sunshirts to prepare for this summer. And stock up on mosquito spray. Because of all the rain we've had, we're expecting to start seeing swarms of them in about two weeks. I should probably stock up on After Bite too - I get big, itchy welts when I get bit these days.

I must dig this out again, and yes, it does fit over a helmet.

Things should start happening in the next couple of weeks. The old arena comes down and the steel frame is being sold, and then the metal-framed pole barn style arena will be going up. I don't know if the barn owner already has a company hired to start the construction or not, and who knows how long things will take with the delays that seem inevitable these days. I don't think these types of arenas take long to put up though.

It won't be as big as the current arena either, which I will mourn. It's going to be hard to go back to a smaller arena. Especially on lesson nights, which seem to be almost every night these days. Because of the current arena's size it's not uncommon for two different instructors to be teaching at the same time. In the smaller ring, it'll be a little tougher, so maybe we'll have to do a better job of scheduling, so as to avoid nights like the one this week when three lessons were going on at the same time (which was apparently a zoo and thankfully I arrived after it was all done).

The new arena is also going to be heated and insulated. I will happily put up with a couple of months of annoyances if I get to be warm this winter!

I'm kind of looking forward to spending more time outside this summer, I'm just hoping I can find pockets of either time or locations that will allow me to have some decent rides. I'm also very much hoping that we have an indoor location to ride in by mid-September - it gets too dark after work to be able to ride outside by that point. There are so many delays on seemingly everything these days, I don't know if anyone guarantees completion dates anymore.

Hopefully, Cisco will find the new arena not as scary as the old one. Here's hoping there are fewer hiding spots for the horse murderers.

Friday, 24 June 2022

The Pad Experiment

 For the first time in a very long time, Cisco was ridden five days in a row this week. We are still BFF's, as on day four he galloped across the paddock to meet me at the gate when I called him. Mind you, he didn't even look at me on day five when I went out to catch him, but I'm pretty sure that was because it was pouring rain and he wasn't inclined to leave the shelter.

On Wednesday night, I had called Pony Grandma (aka my mom) to see if she would be able to come out with me on Thursday and help me with something. I have been wanting to try using the Surefoot Pads with Cisco while under saddle, but there never seems to be anyone around to put the pads under his feet for me while I'm riding. 

At some point on Thursday, this video link popped up somewhere on the interweb for me, and it seemed fate that I had already planned something similar for that night. There's some really good info in this video.

Pony Grandma (PG) hasn't been out to the barn since last summer. This wasn't the best ride to show her the progress that we've made - I wasn't riding my best, and thus Cisco wasn't really going his best - but she saw a huge difference in his relaxation as we warmed up. 

Cisco was inclined to go in a long, low frame on this day, something that we've often struggled with. The challenge is always keeping his nose out. He was doing pretty good with it though.

After some w/t/c, we started with the pads.

Cisco has done them many times before, so he is very familiar with them, and generally made it very easy for PG to place them under his feet. However, he wasn't as inclined to stand on them as long as he normally would, which I assume is because this time he had the extra weight and balance of his rider. Still, I was able to feel him do some twitches, sways, and little body adjustments while standing on the pads.

Did I notice a difference in him after standing on the pads? An assured yes!

Cisco has always been a high-headed horse. Getting him to stretch his nose down has always been a challenge. 

It didn't take long for him to do so at a walk. And after a while, he let me know that he wasn't wanting to let me bring his head up as when I tried to shorten my reins a bit before picking up a trot he kind of snatched them out of my hand to continue stretching down. 

The trot took a little bit longer for him to relax into, and surprisingly he was more inclined to do it on the left rein versus the right rein. I tried really hard to let him have a loose rein, and then we couldn't seem to steer at all, and when I would have to take a bit of contact to guide him in the direction we needed to go he went behind the bit, but popped his nose out again when I released. He felt soft in his body and light in his step.

Also of interest, was that in the beginning he really tried to take me back to the middle of the circle where the pads were lying on the ground, and where PG was standing. This didn't help our steering issues!

All in all, it was an excellent experiment that I will for sure be repeating. Cisco has been working really well lately but he has a tendency to get a bit stuck and short in his neck. He also still needs to develop the muscles along the top of his neck, especially in front of the withers. They're coming, but slowly.

I just need a person ready to pop the pads under his feet at different times of my ride so that I can use them to release tension through the ride. That should be easy, right?

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Those Pesky Wabbits

 I had an interesting ride on Cisco last night. Not bad, just interesting. 

The quick set-up - one of the trainers at the barn has a working student for the summer who is living in a camper trailer that is set up behind the arena. Of course, behind the scary end of the arena. It hasn't caused any problems for the last couple of weeks, but this evening when we entered the arena, there was a bit of a party going on (not really, I'm sure they were doing something useful). There were lots of voices and noises emanating from the other side of the wall in the scary end. 

Cisco is always wary of that end of the arena when he is in there by himself, but as of late he has a good look on our first lap in each direction and after that is pretty good about it. 

Last night, he was a bit more concerned because of the odd noises, but was going into the end without too much issue. 

And then the rabbits showed up.

Not literally. There are far too many dogs running around this place for rabbits to think it would be a good idea to hop on in. 

Have you ever heard Warwick Schiller's 13 Rabbits story regarding stacking stress?

“I was at a clinic and had a participant say to me, “My horse is completely stupid!”  When I asked why, she said:

‘Well, I went for a ride on my horse the other day and a rabbit jumped out of the grass and it didn’t really bother my horse.  I rode a little farther and another rabbit jumped out of the grass and he looked at it but he didn’t appear bothered.  A little while later, another rabbit jumped out of the grass and again it didn’t bother him.  After about an hour, there must have been a total of 12 rabbits that had jumped out of the bushes and he really didn’t get too excited about them.  THEN!  The 13th rabbit jumped out of the bushes and when it did, my horse exploded!  He freaked out, bucked me off and ran home! He’d seen 12 rabbits already that day, so, he must just be stupid!’

After reassuring the person that her horse was not stupid, Warwick explained it to her this way: What happened was that when the horse saw the 1st rabbit, it caused a little bit of worry and the horse held onto that worry.  When he saw the 2nd rabbit, it caused a little bit more worry and he held on to that as well and so on and so forth.  After the 12th rabbit, the horse had accumulated a lot of worry.  Once that 13th rabbit came out, the horse could handle no more worry and the horse freaked out.  So, this horse could not handle more than 12 rabbits worth of worry!

Cisco started seeing a whole bunch of rabbits. And not the soft, fluffy kind. More the Monty Python killer rabbit kind.

He handled the voices and sounds at the beginning of the ride quite well. Then, while we were still walking in our warm-up, as we were heading into the scary end down the center line, there was a different sound - kind of like someone had shaken a blanket and it made that thunky snapping sound. Cisco was very concerned about that sound. He stopped dead, and we had to turn to the right away from that sound to get going again. He was good though, he didn't try to spin or gtfo from that end.

Then one of the trainer's bulldogs came into the arena from that end. Cisco usually doesn't worry about the dogs, but again, he had a bit of extra concern. 

Next, he spooked a bit at the jump blocks that live on the other side of the fence, nowhere near the scary end. This was very out of character for him. 

Throughout this, we kept walking through the scary end, without putting additional pressure on him. And he was very good and kept going without stopping, but would have a good look into the end every time. 

He put up a brave face, so I was a bit surprised when we picked up a trot at how much tension there was in him. He normally starts the trot as a bit of a llama, but this was much more of a drama llama than usual. 

We stayed in the "safe" zone until he started to relax, then started to work towards getting into the scary end. I kept it simple - trot down the long side until I felt him start to worry, then back to walk, walk through the short side, wait until he was settled coming out of the corner, and repeat. We were generally able to get a little further into the end before walking with every pass, but if we changed direction or did a bit of work in the safe end we kind of had to start over again. 

It was just that one corner. When we got out of that corner, he was quickly able to relax and didn't feel the need to gtfo. Out of that corner, he felt quite lovely and fairly relaxed and schooled really, really well. 

What I found really interesting about this ride was that I could really see the rabbits adding up. In the past, when he's been stressed about something he's mostly stayed at the same heightened level for a while and had a hard time letting go of it. On this ride, he didn't outwardly show the amount of concern that he obviously had and was trying really hard to just keep going forward into the corner, but would have a moment of "I'm really worried", gave it a try, and seemed to take that breath after the corner and think "it's okay".

I thought this was a pretty big deal for my very much not-brave horse. The amount of try was huge. Other than the one time when the blanket shaking sound was heard, every other time he took me into the scary end, he might have had a couple of wobbly steps, but he kept going. This is the kind of ride where I realize how far he's come from when I started him.

Hopefully, this ride eased some of his leporiphobia (look it up), and next time it happens he'll see mini lops instead of Giant Flemish's.

Not the kind of rabbit we want to see!

Monday, 20 June 2022

Teeth, Tails, and (Possible) Tumors

 What has Phantom been up to lately?

Well, she got her teeth done last month. Now that she's 19 I'll have to get it done every year. She typically was always good at her one-year check for "another 6 months", and then by the time I actually got it done it was usually closer to two years.

With the current price of gas, instead of hauling her over to the vet clinic to be done (which was always a half-day activity) I joined in on a barn appointment with a new-to-me vet who only does teeth. He is a bonafide horse vet, he decided many years ago to specialize in dental work so I believe that is all he does. 

He didn't quite heed my warning that Phantom was not a cheap drunk for this procedure, so before he actually managed to get a float to touch a tooth she required two top-ups from the initial dose of sedation. And even then, she fought through the sedative. He was actually quite impressed by her willpower. 

But, the job got done, and she's good for another year. There were no major issues, just a couple of sharp edges.

The "I've woken up from all my sedation and now I'm angry at being stuck in a stall" mare. If the door is shut she bangs the barn down; the stall guard is our compromise.

Also - did you know that after the age of 25 horses should get their teeth checked every 6 months? As they get older they get spaces between their teeth and food will get stuck in there and cause problems. 

The other issue that we've been dealing with is her fecal water syndrome problem. It wasn't too bad over the winter, but it's come back. I suspect that it's mostly due to a difference in the hay - the hay over the winter was much grassier, the stuff they are on now is a bit coarser.

FWS means regular hosing and cleaning of poop-stained tails and hind legs. Yuck.

The before and after. After lasted a whole two days.

It also means trying to get some psyllium into her. Which has been a bit more of a challenge than it was last year as she has not been eating her beet pulp/grain mixture very well. I've completely eliminated giving her the ration balancer she's been eating for the last 4 or 5 years as she was turning her nose up at that and have dropped her down to just some beet pulp. I suspect that it's due to being on Prascend for her Cushings - inappetence is a common side effect. She's eating hay like a champ so I'm not too stressed about it, and Cisco has been excited to keep getting second suppers when he gets to finish off whatever Phantom doesn't eat. I'm mostly concerned that should she lose weight I'll have a hard time getting some extra calories into her. 

At the moment, I've been adding some apple sauce into her beet pulp and psyllium to try to get her to eat it, to somewhat mixed success. She's like a girl with an eating disorder who always leaves something left on the plate - she always leaves something left in her bucket, no matter how much I give her. 

Under saddle, she's been feeling pretty good. I started her on a daily dose of Previcox and she seems to be more comfortable on her hocks. She's still on her forehand much more than she used to be, but she also doesn't get ridden enough to be strong enough to carry herself the way she used to. 

This is most definitely what Phantom would rather be doing these days.

I rode her on Tuesday and she felt amazing - especially her right lead canter. It was uphill and relaxed and I could have ridden it for miles. (Not really - I would have died after the first mile.) Thursday's ride - we couldn't get that feeling again. We just kind of do whatever she is feeling good about doing - some rides we canter, some we don't, and some we barely get out of walk. Since she's been given the regular Previcox dose, she's been feeling good pretty on the regular.

One other possibly not great thing has popped up - I might have found her first melanoma.

A couple of days before she had her teeth done I discovered a pea-sized and shaped lump in her chin groove. I asked the dental vet to have a feel of it and if it is something I need to get investigated. He didn't flat out say it was or it wasn't, more keep an eye on it, if it grows get it checked out, or have my regular vet have a look at it when Phantom sees them next. The good news is that it seems to not be attached to anything except skin. The vet was more at her age and as long as it doesn't start growing quickly, don't stress about it.

Of course, I'll totally stress about it!

(Sorry if the post title is a little click-baity - I was having a hard time thinking of a title and liked the alliteration.)