Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Young Mares and Old Women

Miss Sassafras looking a little wild and sexy in the wind.
Sometimes I wish she was ugly and mean so I could feel ok
about just letting her go.  She must know that I am considering it too
She has suddenly quit being hard to catch, or any of the other
general bitchy little tricks she used to pull. 
I have come to the conclusion that I was, in some ways, much better off when I thought I knew stuff about horses.  Now that I know the cold hard truth (that I don't know jack squat) I find that I seriously lack confidence and it shows in how easily I am swayed by the power of suggestion.

For example, when we took Sassy down for her second visit, the farrier, Steve, says to me, "Yep she is moving much better again."  I was the one on the end of the lead rope so I never saw for sure how she was moving.  I trusted his assessment, and left it at that.

A few days later my vet came and had a peek while he was doing shots and stuff on the boys.  He says, "She is grade 2 lame on the right, her toes are too long and I don't think she looks comfortable at all." his parting words were, "I am not impressed, but the important thing is that you think she is doing better."

No! What is most important is that she really is more comfortable and doing better. Not that I just think she is.

2 days of those words stewing in my feeble brain is down right toxic and all sorts of thoughts start circling.   "This vet has never been happy with my choice in treatment with her, so is he just being overly critical, or is she actually uncomfortable?"  "Am I wasting my time on this mare?"  "Am I hoping for miracles too soon?" "Did I want to believe in the ELPO solution so badly that I saw what I wanted to see instead of what was there?"  Back and forth, front and back, round and round and round it goes. I'll be honest, it is times like this that make me feel like a foolish old woman who has no business owning horses.  Especially since I'm starting to wonder who I am supposed to beleive. The vet says one thing, the farrier says another, and the other farrier doesn't say anything at all. But then I go back and I look at that first after video we took and she was better, so that speaks for itself. One thing is for sure, the horse doesn't lie. Which isn't to say I think that the humans do, I think they just see things differently based on their own training.

So on Saturday I decide to actually work her and watch with my own eyes.  I put her in the round pen, and too me she looked really lame. Seriously head bobbing and if she turns, there is a serious short step. It also seems to me that she is intentionally rolling those clogs forward so she is standing on her toes more.  So I start answering my own questions.  She is uncomfortable, the vet was right, there is no help for her, its time to put her down...blah blah blah.

Still I am self aware enough to know that rash decisions are never a good option so I decided the smart thing to do is to call Steve and see what he says, gather as much info as I can, and then decide what I need to do. I am willing to admit that the power of suggestion is strong in me and by the vet saying that he saw something, I am prone to "seeing things" as well.

We talked yesterday. He wondered if perhaps there is a nail too close, as he feels she has very thin hoof walls. He asked me to take some pictures and videos on my iphone and send them to him. Then he would call me back.  He did say that if the nail is too close we could put a hoof tester on and she will react immediately.  I don't have a hoof tester but I did take the clip from the lead rope and tapped on each nail pretty hard to see if I got any reaction. There was none. Not sure if that counts though.

I am still waiting to hear back from him, hopefully that will be today.  Now the second time, as I was getting his videos it seemed to me that although it is obvious that she is exhibiting some lameness, it didn't seem as bad.  So what was different.  Well first off I did not have in the round pen the second time. The footing in the round pen sucks right now. So I was working her in the old pen which has nice flat ground. The round pen is very uneven and hard, from all the mud, and ponies being in there when it was muddy (the gate is usually open)  The old pen has been shut so no one can go in.  So with that in mind, I suspect the crappy terrain could have made her appear to be more lame than what she was.

I hope this link works, it is one of the videos I took last night  What I see when I watch it is that although she isn't really worse than when we started all of this. She doesn't appear to be much better (if at all) and I feel like the whole point of all of this is to give her some relief from the pain. I don't see where she is getting that right now. Her first set of clogs lasted about 4 or 5 weeks before she started exhibiting pain again. Now as I sit here and organize my thoughts I realize that all he did for this visit was trim her down a little and then put new clogs on with the exact same angles underneath.  He did not do a new diagnosis with the boot. He says that will be the next visit. I am guessing that his theory is that as she wore the clogs down her lameness returned, so going back to the original design should have given her relief. It sounds logical, but if she only had relief a few days, obviously the theory is wrong. I do not feel it was his fault though.  What I really want to know is why didn't I ask more question while I was there?

Do her toes look long to any of you?
I'll tell you why, because I am a silly old woman who lacks confidence and trusts the professionals.  Well that and I was busy trying to keep my 2 very naughty ponies from tearing up those nice folks' yard and driveway with all their pawing and other naughtiness. (especially when they mentioned how they do not allow their horses on the grass of the front yard because it is so fragile)  I was very distracted this time around and TC was not much help.

Is it wrong of me to wish I had just one horse that didn't have any medical issues,  personality issues, or riding issues?  Is there even such a thing?  Probably, but I suspect a horse like that is waaaaaay out of my price range.

I seriously long for the days when I was young and I "knew everything".  In my youth I thought that as I got older I would be wiser.  Instead I'm just fatter, slower, less confident,  and require more sleep! I also thought, when I was young, that I would never cut my hair short, I would never let myself gain weight, I would never ever ever wear stretchy clothes, or granny panties, and I would always be okay with high heels.  Now I find that stretchy clothes are nice, granny panties are a must, high heels are only ok for a very short time, and short no maintenance hair is freaking awesome!   Oh and I am gaining weight at an amazing rate. THAT I do have to do something about. I bought new jeans in Feb, and they are already uncomfortable. I had to buy more this weekend and they are a full size larger.  Not cool!

Oh, Steve just sent me a text, said he couldn't really see much in the videos due to the poor quality, but he does not think it is a nail. He said to watch her closely for the next week and if she is worse by the weekend we will make a plan. In the mean time I will do better video's with the good camera so that he can get a better look.  I guess it is the best we can do for now.

Old woman signing off for now.  Has anyone seen my walker?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Clippers Baaaaaad!

Click on the picture to Bigify it.

Any Questions?

Building a Bridge to No Where

Bridging the communication gap
"Like a Bridge over troubled waters..."

I could go on like this for days...But truthfully I just wanted to tell you about the training bridge we built.  As you can see we used old lumber laying around the yard, so we killed 2 birds with one stone. Cleaned up some of the yard and made a new training tool. There are 3 4x4's underneath, which just happened to be treated with truck bed lining (I dunno why). Then the planks are made mostly out of old water bed sides, and then some left over wood from the barn finished it up. It is heavy as all hell, but sturdy.

I had planned on doing it myself but the minute I mentioned it to TC, he took over the project.  Somehow or another while I was watching him I managed to mess up the back of my knee. Every time I took a step it felt like something was pulling too tight.  Hurt like hell for about an hour. Who knew that supervising could be so dangerous!

Before I/he started this project I went to the clubs tack swap meet.  I didn't buy anything, there just wasn't anything I needed.  I did spend some time talking with RC about Trax's tongue and the show. What I found out is that if I want to enter I have to use some sort of shanked bit.  My Mylar does count as one so that is what we will have to use.  We talked about the classes I want to enter, and she agreed with my choices, plus told me to throw in the western pleasure class. She says, "you won't win it, but it will be good training before you get to the classes where you really want to compete."  The only thing that concerns me about that is how he will react to the on, then off, then on again aspect of it.  But there is only one way to find out I guess.

Then she said to enter the adult and the open trail class. She says again, use your first one to get him used to the course and then in the second one you go in and beat the pants off of everyone!   Then she also told me that if I want to get a real good idea of what to expect (as I have never even seen a live horse show before) to go to the AQHA show the second week of May.  I think that is great idea.  I told her I was still undecided on the halter class. She said do it, It is a flat fee for club members to enter as many classes as we want, and he is nice looking horse. Just wash him up, and take him in.

As we were talking, another girl I met at the clinic I went to last year (she has a cool horse named Czar who jumps) joined in and was telling us a hilarious story about her and her former boss. Then I needed to get going so I said, "Well I'd better run, I've got to go and build a bridge today." The other gal comes back with, "Oh, so you can get over it?"  (badumpbom)   I laughed all the way to the parking lot!

So we got the bridge built, I threw it and some more poles in the back of my truck and went out and set up the rest of my course.  Then I came back and got the horse and trailer.  By time I got him trailered the wind started picking up. By time I got to the arena, it was blowing. Grrrr! But I rode anyway.

Now, there is something I wanted to elaborate on yesterday but boys were harassing me, so I didn't get too.  The reason that just letting Trax run and run was the wrong thing to do is because he is like a long distance marathon runner. If you run you know what I mean, if you don't I will explain it to you. Runners reach a point where they get "in the zone". (hence the term "runners high")  They are able to tune everything else out and just focus inward on their breathing, their heartbeat, and their feet moving. Nothing else exists.   I could actually feel it yesterday when Trax went into his zone, and at that point I knew he had forgotten I was even there. It is like the faster he goes the more he relaxes.  If I had let him, he would have stayed there for hours.  He loves it there in the zone, it is his happy place. So although I think that letting him do that can be a good thing at times, it is not the right way to warm him up. Actually what I think is that maybe it is the right way to warm him up, the day before.  (*disclaimer- I personally have never experienced a runners high, I avoid running at all costs.  But my ex was a runner so that is how I know about it)

I am going to test my theory next week.  I will take him one day and just let him run to his hearts content and not make him do anything else. Then the next day we will go back and train.  The reason I think that this might be good for him was because of how he good he was on Sunday.

We started our usual ground work, only this time I really focused on our downward transitions.  I was very clear in my verbal cues of "easy" and then would give just a slight tug on the lead line.  I was very clear in my upward cues as well. A smooch means step it up, and we played with slow trots, faster trots, slow canters and faster lopes.  We did this a lot in both directions and I could see the wheels turning in his head as he was figuring it out.  I'm here to tell ya, the boy is smart, and he wants to get it right.

Then I stepped up on him and we went right into the exact same thing. I wanted to do it while it was still fresh in his mind, so he could make the connection. It felt like he did too. We spent a good hour just on transitions and reiterating what the cues mean.  Yes his downward transitions still need some work, but they were so much better than the day before. I kind of feel like because he had the day before to move as fast as he wanted, this time he wasn't near as interested in doing so. He was perfectly happy to listen to me, and attempt to understand my cues.  It could just be that since we started out with "you will pay attention to me", it stayed that way, but he really did seem more ok with being tuned into me. I guess more will be revealed in that respect.  I spent most of my time practicing riding one handed, which is easy at everything except for the fast lope.  I actually have to hook my thumb in my belt loop to keep my arm from flying all over the place.  I experimented with his extended trot, and have decided that posting doesn't work for me, I can sit his extended trot pretty easily as long as I move my hips from side to side a little.  Its funny because as I am riding I can hear Marks voice telling me to stop leaning into my circles, or to get my leg off of him because he is leaning on me.

One of the things I worked on was when I say "easy" to get him to slow down, of course I also drop my seat, but he still requires a little bit of help from the rein, so in order to keep from just pulling straight back, which just throws his head straight up in the air, I worked on just using my fingers of the one hand to bump bump bump from one side to the other. This gets him to drop his head (a little) and tells him with as little contact as possible that I'm asking for a little less speed. It seemed to work pretty well. My arm stays in place, but my hand pivots just a little and my fingers do the work.  I would like him to respond a little quicker than what he is, but it is better than before and so I am happy with the progress we made.

Oh, the other thing he is doing is picking up the correct leads on his own. That is new too. Before it was always a left lead. Now it is the correct lead if we are circling.  I still have some work to do on getting him to give me the lead I ask for in a straight line. I think the problem is more me than him.

Next came the trail work. for some reason his side passes to the right have fallen apart. That is why he will not do the rope gate from the right side. So we spent some time back on the fence side passing over.  Then we went to the poles and he didn't want to side pass to the right over them either. So we moved to the middle and tried again. He did better.  Then we just side passed to the right in the middle of the arena.  After that we tried the gate again, still a no go. I finally asked him to just stand next to it on the right, and he did that, so we left it at that. We did do the gate several times from the left, he likes it from the left. He is an odd horse!    The very last time we did it I parked him next to it, and rested. I picked up the rope, and he says, "Oh wait Lady, I can show you!"  and proceeded to almost complete the exercise on his own. He backed up, stepped through, turned his hip all on his own.  He forgot the last step but just the slightest little reminder and he finished it off.  He loves to get it right!   I know I should make him wait, but I figured what the heck, nothing wrong with letting him show off once in a while.

He did great on the box,  but I need to work on trotting over poles.  He clips them every time.  It might be that I don't have them spaced right, so I will need to talk to Mark about that.  We did some slow spins. I don't care if he can do it fast, but I like that he is getting to where his hind stays in place.  He is better to one side than the other, and he doesn't always cross with the correct leg, but again, some serious progress.

It is crazy how he is learning to recognize the obstacles and remembers what to do.  He sees the cones and automatically picks up his pace to trot through them. Very little guidance is needed from me. He snorted at our new bridge once and then went right over it.  After that it was nothing. We also pulled the log which I have got to cut down a little. TC made it way to big and heavy. Not for him but for me.  He still gets a little bothered at this task, but he is getting much better. I think it is just a matter of practice practice practice.

We ended on a positive (although I can't recall what it was now, he had so many) and I gave him some much deserved grazing time. It offered me a great time to rest as well, and of course take some pictures.

"Heaven, I'm in heaven"
Trax, I didn't know you could sing!

"Did you hear that?"
Hear what?

"Yup definitely heard something!"
I heard it too.

"It's coming from over there, they are some sort of flying horse eating monsters"
Trax, those are geese."Oh...do geese eat horses?"

When I took this one I did not realize I was copying
Karen C's Header shot.
(Sorry about that Karen)

"Lady? Did you fall down?"
Nope, just resting down here enjoying how handsome you are.

"Aw shucks"

"Are you going to eat that?"
Um, don't you have grass to graze on?

"If I give you my starving pony face will you share?"
I'm pretty sure you don't like trail mix

Does anyone else think that he looks just a little on the thin side?   It is hard for me to tell because he is usually a tad chunky.  The vet rated him at a 5 on the weight scale.
 But then he said Killian was also a 5 and he isn't.

Okay, blogger is not letting me type where I want to any more, }:-(

The last thing I want to say is that with each lesson Mark asks me what I want to work on and I never really know. But now I do. The trail stuff I have down as far as what to do and how to teach him. What I really need help with is my reining patterns and even more important...
It occurred to me yesterday that we haven't taught him how to stop yet.  I still have to slow him way down to get him to stop.  I don't expect sliding stops, but he needs to at least stop.  So now I know where Mark and I really need to focus.  It is good to have a plan I guess.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Sunburned.

My friend Jamie never made it up here.  She is having a terrible trip.  She ended up having to put one of her beloved dogs down in the middle of the trip due to seziures and the other one broke a tooth the next day and so she had to take her to a vet in Colorado. They gave her antibiotics and pain meds, but she needs to get little Sammie to Oregon so she can get that tooth pulled. We will go ahead and clasify that part of the story in the "Bad" section.

Since she didn't make it here, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. The weather was spectacular so I did some chores, and then got to some horse "work".  Its not really work if you love, right?

I started with Sassy, but didn't get much done with her.  I got her saddled, first time in a year at least. She didn't look pleased about it, but she wasn't bad either.  I took her to the round pen with my bag on a stick (although you have to say it like Jeff Dunham- on a schteek)  She pretty much freaked out, rearing and acting like a fool.  So we did the parade deal, where I walked around waving my flag and she followed with wide eyes and big snorts.  I didn't stop messing with my 'flag" until she relaxed which she did finally do. I was eventually able to rub her with it, and fling around her and she was ok. 

Then I unclipped the lead rope and free lunged her, she walked, and I frowned. She did not look comfortable.  I asked her to trot and I really frowned. She is limping as much as she ever has, and is not comfortable AT ALL.   That means that her clogs gave her relief for about 3 days.  Not cool!  I will call Steve on Monday and see what he says, but I am seriously ready to give up on this horse. I don't know, I kind of flip flop every 5 minutes. I'm torn between, is it really worth it to put any more money into her when she is just going steadily down hill?  On the other hand, in a few months I will be in Arizona and have close access to an MRI, which might be how we can get a true diagnosis.  Then I wonder about what happens if I get her down there and find that there is nothing to be done. How much is it going to cost me to have her body disposed of down there?  Up here I can just dig a hole in the back hill of the side pasture and bury her.
Anyway, I am not going to make a decision until I talk to Steve and see what he says.  Then I will pray on it and hope that God can send me a sign of what the right answer is. (actually doing the praying first)

I didn't ever get on her yesterday, I just leaned over the saddle some. I am pretty sure I could have easily rode her around the round pen, but by then I was so "over it"  I just took the saddle off and put her away. We will put this under the "Bad" section too.

Ok, officially depressed again, so lets move on to the good, because I need a pick me up! LOL

I took Killian and Trax to the outdoor arena.  I also took my rope gate back down there. This time I will leave it there. I'm tired of having to carry that thing back and forth too the truck.  My hands are full of splinters and my back is killing me now.  (duh, why didn't I wear gloves?)

I started with Killian and I will say that I can see a marked improvement on him.  It was so much easier to get a canter out of him. Now granted he is still lazy as all heck, and not much fun to ride (I admit Trax has spoiled me)  But he did well for a guy who is fat and out of shape.  I used the Mylar bit on him and he spent a lot of time gapping his mouth, so clearly he doesn't care for it.  I was going to take him over to the trailer and switch bridles, but decided to just move on to Trax.  I truly think that Killian does some of his best work in a halter. There are tons of pictures on FB of him and Chris, his former owner, roping and working cows with him just in a halter.  I have ridden him in just a halter a million times, and he does great.  He also does fine in a simple snaffle.  Not sure why I brought that up, I guess it was just something I was thinking about.  Anyway Big K, falls into the good catagory, because it was definitely better than it has been with him.

Then it was Trax's turn.  Trax always gets a ton of ground work first, if we are doing training. On a trail ride, I can usually just leg up and go.  I am really starring to like the difference in him when I lunge him.  It is a lot less wild movement of feet and more relaxed.  He still goes for a long time, but he is paying more attention the person at the end of the lead, so that is good.  We did some on the ground spins, and he didn't excel but he did ok.

I mounted up and we did the usual lateral flex until he would stand still.  It didn't take much to get him to that point.  There used to be a boat anchor attached to his face, especially on the left.  It is gone gone gone.

I went decided to try a different tactic this time for warming him up.  I have decided it probably is not the right tactic, but I tried it and now I know.  We started out just walking and trotting, and that part was fine. When I kicked him to canter, of course he really wanted to go go go, so I let him.  We switched from smaller circles in half the arena, to using the full arena and I did not ask him to slow down at all, I just rode him out. The problem with this, is that he seriously is like the freaking energizer bunny!  Eventually his speed was more than I was comfortable with, and trust me, he had lots more to offer.  I started bring my circle in to slow him down, but he didn't really slow down. The smaller the circle the faster he went.  Well that probably isn't true, but it sure seemed faster.  I think it just wasn't any slower, but the smaller circle made it a little scarier.  I kept on asking him to drop it down a notch, but I was real proud of myself for never pulling on his face. Not once.  I would give the inside rein a bump, do the butt scoot, and say "Easy" .  Our circle got smaller and smaller till finally he slowed down then I opened it back up again and we started working on bigger fast lope circles, smaller slower lope circles.  We did them both directions, and eventually he started to let down and relax.  Then we went to the transitions from canter, trot, walk and back up again, then back down.  I think we literally cantered for a full hour and my body is feeling that today.

Then we went to out trail obstacles.  What a good boy!  Rope Gate??? NAILED IT!  Side pass over the poles, was no issue. Pulled the log all over the place, trotted nicely through the cones.  It is funny because he is understanding the obstacles and I can actually feel him setting himself up to perform each one perfectly.  Or try anyways. Its the try that I love. 

Now I have to be honest.  We nailed that rope gate from the left, but we still really struggle with it from the right.  I am not sure why yet, but we can get past that. It is just going to take a tad bit more training is all.

Also we worked on our spins.  Textbook? No.  But he did do a nice pivot on the hind when I asked for it to the left.  He still is only crossing over withe the correct front foot about half the time, but still huge improvement.  To the right we had to work a little harder at it, but he finally was able to pivot, and so I called it good.

I don't know if I told you all this or not, but not too long ago I bought a tripod for my camera, which  means I have the ability to video myself when I am alone.  So here is a video of us doing the rope gate.  If you open it and see me wave to the camera, that means my edits did not take effect yet so close your eyes when I go to mount, there is a brief moment as I am mounting where my butt crack shows. Gross!  I HATE THAT!   Note to self, go buy some longer shirts!  The one thing I hate about this video is it shows me clearly how much weight I have gained in the last few months.  UGH!


So Trax definitely falls in the good stack.  Now I am sunburned and sore, I am loving it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Nice Ride and More On Trax's Mouth

Trax's typical after ride pose
where he is urging me to quit taking pictures
and get him some  dinner
I started trying to respond to each persons comment on my last post, but found myself running short of time, so I am going to talk a little more about it here.  First off I want to say that you all had some really good thoughts and comments and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the information you all share with me. I appreciate the reassuring comments that I didn't do this, and I know that I didn't do it, but I also know of specific times when I darn sure didn't help.  One ride in particular with some instruction from some one else had me doing a lot of backing him up really hard and I clearly remember that after we were done, I offered him some treats, he took one and that was it, after that he refused them.  This horse never turns down treats. So looking back I can honestly say that I probably hurt him on that night.  I know better now though, and will follow my better judgement over what someone else says, even if they have been riding longer or training, or what ever.  The one thing you all said that is correct, is that I know my horse better than anyone, and if something is not right for him, I have the right an the responsibility to speak up.

When the vet showed me what was going on his mouth, one of the things he said is that sometimes these things happen from a situation where the horses is running away (without a rider) and steps on the reins and slams the bit down into his tongue. And then of course it also comes from really heavy hands with a bit that is too thin.  He also said that for a cut that deep it might very possibly have been a series of injuries over and over again.  We will never know exactly how it happened. What we do know is that it is there and I must always have it in mind when riding.

So now I have a new mission. I will be doing a ton of research on "bitless" and even bits that will be comfortable for him, yet still keep me safe.  I do have an old mechanical hackamore which I have used on him.  He likes the hackamore, and is pretty responsive if all I want is forward and stop.  For training it was more of a hindrance than anything, which is why I went back to the snaffle.  But I suspect I might be able to accomplish a lot with some sort of sidepull.  The bad news, as Louisa knows, is that for most shows and competitions you have to use some sort of actual bit, even a snaffle is not considered a bit. Stupid.

One thing the vet told me is I will most likely spend a fortune trying various bits before I find the one that is right for him. (He knows me too well)  But when I asked what he recommended the best he could tell me was avoid harsh (duh) and avoid thin.  (the twisted snaffle is pretty thin and will never be used on him again)  Surprisingly enough he said that sometimes the D-ring snaffle is good because it has that nice curve which rests on the bars of the mouth and gives relief off of that scar.  He said, "I can tell you what I think should work, but experience has taught me that it is different for each horse."

One thing that Louisa mentioned in her comment that I know is true, is that there are so many different opinions out there, and they all conflict and half the time I don't know what is right and what is wrong. I guess it is different for every horse and every rider.  But I have some ideas of where to go for some good information, and I will be getting lots of different opinions and then applying what seems to fit with my horse. That is my plan. We will see how it goes. :-)

So after I posted that I had my lesson with Mark. I showed him the video, and he agreed that the twisted snaffle could certainly aggravate the injury, so it stays in the spare tack box for now. We went with the Mylar knock off this time.  We started the lesson with just working on our transitions, which seems to be a good way to warm my boy up.  He actually did really really well and only once or twice did I have to really close my circle down to get him to slow down from his canter.  But I was using more rein than I wanted so I kept trying to use my seat.

Mark was coaching me on my riding position, reminding me to not lean into my circles, and to really sit down with my seat when asking for that drop in speed. There was one time when I was asking him to drop back down to the trot and he wasn't "getting it".  I kept trying to figure out how to cue him without pulling on his face.  I finally did an actual butt scoot (almost like a dog does)  in the saddle and he instantly dropped his gait to a trot.  I did it again and got the walk, and then said ,"Whoa" and did it again and he stopped.  We ended that lesson right there.    Now I just have to remember how I did that! LOL

Then we went to the log pull, and he was a little bothered, but not too bad and pretty soon we were dragging that log around like pros.

Mark made a make shift rope gate and we tried to work on that.  It was in a very awkward position though without much room to move around it, so we struggled with it terribly. My main goal went from trying to do it perfect, to just trying to get him to respond to my leg cues. He really fought me at first so I pulled him away and did some side passes and then went back to it. It made the difference and we sort of were able to complete it. It was just so awkward, doing it text book was not an option.

We ended the lesson there, and when I got off we took a few minutes to look at the Mylar in his mouth to see how it looked.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  The Mylar actually hits his tongue below the cut.  I am surprised at how good Trax is about letting me put my fingers in his mouth. I was actually able to stick my fingers up in there and feel where the bit was and where the groove of the cut is. Now I don't know if that changes when you start pulling on it, or putting pressure on it, but I will be looking into that more as well.  I will actually be checking this with both the snaffle and the Mylar to see what hits where.

When I got home I spent some time watching the video again and pausing it during different frames. What I noticed is that it seems like the groove is way up there almost right at where the frenulum is.  That is pretty high up.  That brought to mind a gag-bit. When I think of the term "gag-bit" I think of something that sits way up in the mouth like that. But the truth is I don't know anything about gag-bits, so that is something else I will be reading up on.  What I do know is that some barrel racers like gag bits, and he was used on barrels at one time by the same family that roped on him. Is there a connection?  I'll never know.

So that is where I am at with Trax and this new development. I will of course be updating my blog on what I find out, what works and what doesn't.   Thank you again everyone for your helpful comments.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Words Fail Me

I couldn't figure out what to title this post.  I started with "Why Trax hates bits", and then wanted to go with "Trax's Former Owners Suck"  then I thought about just going with OMG.

I'll let you folks decide.

The vet just left after doing vaccinations and teeth checks. None of my horses need their teeth done which amazes me. He said the closest one to needing it is Sassy, but even she isn't bad at all. So we opted to wait.

BUT when he was doing Trax he showed me something that made me ill.  I mean literally fighting mad, gut wrenching sad, ready to cry and puke all at the same time ill.

Here is a short video of what he found.


His tongue is literally cut almost in half.
The vet said from the looks of it, it has been this way for a long while. 
(yes I asked just to make sure that I didn't do it and not realize it)

Now that I realize that he has this, I'm going to talk with Mark and we are going to rethink our approach on the right bit for him. I think he prefers the Mylar. I know he doesn't care for the snaffles all that much. Now I know why.

You would think when someone does something like this it would bleed alot, but he says it doesn't. He said that because it is a pressure cut in closes off the blood vessels so it bleeds very little.

Poor Trax....I hate those people!  Hates Them!  No wonder he bucked them off all the time!

On the bright side, all the horses were so good for their shots and having their teeth looked at. Danny is the only one who didn't like having his mouth messed with. The rest of them were fantastic. I was so proud of all my ponies.  

UPDATE:  I'm going to totally honest here, even though the vet spent a good amount of time assuring me that I didn't do this, I think I must have aggravated the issue.  There were times, especially early on where he was so hard headed and seriously ran off with me and I'm sure I had a death grip on his mouth.  I am seriously just sick about it.  He told me that it is bothering me way more than it is him, but I'm not sure I believe him.

critique this horse please

A friend of my mom's is offering me a horse.  She sent me some pictures, and I would like to see what you guys think of her.  I am not that good a judge of equine conformation.

She is an AQHA mare 1998 model.  Her registered name is Showtime No HBO. You can see her pedigree on allbreedpedigree.com  if you are curious. What I can tell you is that she has Impressive on both sides.  She is HYPP negative.

 The pros for her is that she is fairly well broke, she can side pass and back up nicely,(but does not neck rein) is calm on the trails, she loads easily, stands for farrier, utd on shots.    Her owner says that although she has never offered to buck or kick, she still would not consider her for a novice rider. (fair enough)

The cons is that she can be rude and bossy.  She says that when she lunges her she does a lot of ear pinning, and head shaking. But a when put in her place by a strong leader she settles right down. That is why she says she wouldn't put her with a novice.  This horse will take over in a heart beat if she thinks she can.

She said that she got her as a rescue who was terribly thin. She has had her since Jan and has been working on getting some weight back on her.  I have pictures of what she looks like now and what she looked like as a young horse. I guess she has a few halter points, not that it matters.

This is when she was younger, I'm not sure what age. 

This is what she looks like now.
It seems to me like her feet could use some work
but can't tell for sure and don't have any close ups.
Owner says she is sound though. 

She kind of looks like she has a grumpy face to me
But it could just be the pic itself. 

I assure you that I am not bringing this horse home to my house. But as it turns out my very good friend Jamie is moving to Oregon, which is where this mare is. For the first time in years she will be living in a place where she can have a horse again. She is not a novice rider, by any means so this girl might be a good fit for her.

Again, I am asking for honest opinions on what you guys see, or don't see.  I look at her and think that she isn't too bad.  Not drop dead gorgeous, but not bad.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Makes A "Responsible" Pet Owner?

Before I start in on this post I want to clarify that this train of thought comes about as I try to examine my own level of responsibility, and what I can do to raise my own awareness of what is right and what is wrong. I also accept that the terms "right" and "wrong" are subject to personal perspective, and there is no black and white answer, in most cases.  I will be bringing up specific cases I have seen for reference, but I am not standing on a soapbox today to point fingers, or to even say that I know more than anyone else. This is personal reflection, while asking to hear the opinions of others.  Also this is a really long one today which kind of jumps around in thought process. Sorry that is just how my brain works.

So here we go....

Naturally a person who abuses animals, starves them, neglects their basic needs for survival, those types of people are in the wrong. I think that is pretty much black and white. But for most of us there is so much more to being a pet owner than just making sure our pets (dogs, cats, horses, or what ever) have food and water.

I think that partially this post comes about after a discussion I had about why I have three intact male dogs at my house.  These dogs are not of breeding quality and from responsible breeders point of view, they should be neutered. I find myself trying to examine if I an irresponsible owner for not getting them cut?  The answer is a definitive yes...and no.

Clear as mud, right?

Here is my train of thought.  Yes, these dogs should be fixed. I totally agree with that statement.  But I have not had it done yet.  Yes it is on my "things to do" list, but it is low on my list. Because it is so low, I am being less than responsible with my dogs. I agree with that statement.  The main reason it has fallen so low is due to the many other emergency vet bills, and farrier bills, wrecked trucks, teenagers, and my own personal hospital bills, that keep coming up.  But still, there are things I could have done with out in the past which would have afforded to have the procedures done. But because it has never been an issue for me (more importantly, anyone else) it gets forgotten.

On the other hand, because I absolutely do not want my dogs out tying on to every (or any) bitch in the neighborhood, I go to great lengths to make sure that it never happens.  I used some left over materials from my horses hot fence to put up a hot fence for my dogs. I make sure all gates remained chained and locked, and my fence is 6 ft tall. My dogs do not go out off lead. EVER!  So in that respect I am a very responsible owner. My dogs are well cared for and as healthy as any dogs I have ever known. They either have manners or are learning them, through obedience lessons.   So I feel like I am being responsible, even though I have not had them fixed yet.

Moving on...What about my horses?

Another reason I question my level of responsibility is the nail left in Sassy's hoof which was folded over into her sole.  Luckily it did no damage, but it never even occurred to me to look. I feel like I should have known to look, but I didn't. I could have easily allowed for serious damaged and not even realized it because she was already limping.  With that in mind I have to question, "If I don't know what to look for in those situations, why do I have 4 horses?"  Hey, it is a valid question.  I guess I am learning as I go.  In reality isn't that what we all do?  None of us come into the wonderful world of equine ownership knowing it all.  It is constantly an on going process.

My thoughts turn to my post a while back about Rosie who ended up dying from complications of a leg wound.  She was impossible to treat, due to lack of handling or training, the infection spread through her body and she finally just laid down and died. Although the gal did try to have her treated. She spent a ton of money on vet bills trying to save this horse. She just was not able to get the consistent care needed because she could not be trailered, she could not be given regular antibiotics, and even getting pain meds into her was almost impossible.   Rose was, in every other way, well cared for, and the poor gal loved her dearly.  She really thought that she was being a responsible owner, she just didn't know any better. She learned a hard lesson. Whether or not she is doing better with her other horse, I do not know.  I suspect not, because the mutual friend mentioned to me recently that the gal still has not sought out a trainer for help. Although I recall them saying that the other horse would stand quietly for shots, or worming or Bute or what ever, so perhaps she is working with her on her own. I don't know.  Would she be classified as being irresponsible?

Remember the Stud Pony?  Well that lady never came and got any fencing to give him a bigger pen. She did move him to where his pen is next to a shed so he had some wind break, but I do not think that is why she moved him. I suspect she moved him so he would be out of sight from passers by.  He stays in his little tiny pen which is half the size of the pen she has for her 2 dogs who also live out there. It bothers me, but he has food and he has water and by law that is all she is required to give him.  Then of course there are the mares that roam the rest of the "pasture". One of them just foaled about a month ago. There was no one keeping vigil to make sure the mare foaled without complications, there is no one out there handling the foal to make sure it grows up knowing and trusting humans.  About once a week, I see that the lady has thrown a bale of hay out there,  It usually runs out a day or 2 before the next bale arrives. But these mares are not starving my any means, and I believe that she checks their water daily. But I don't know it for a fact.  My point here is this; I feel like this lady is being less responsible than she should be. I feel like she is failing that stud pony and that foal.  If she isn't using him for breeding then she needs to have him gelded.

Oops, wait a minute.

Crap, I just became a hypocrite.

Or did I?

My dogs live in a yard that is at least 3/4 of an acre. They have a ton of human interaction and go for walks and car rides and stuff.

 That pony lives in a 5x8 jail cell and never comes out. So I guess there is a huge difference in quality of life there.

As far as the foal, its quality of life is as good as any wild mustangs, minus the major predators, so perhaps even a tad better. So is she failing it really?  When I go over to Ride A Good Horse and read about what Shirley does with her foals, and I know that her horses grow up into trusting well socialized adult horses, then I have to say, "Yes, the lady has failed that foal."  Doesn't mean it can't still be a good horse, but it would have an easier time of it if she was around more to work with it.  What I do know about this lady is that she is doing the best she can with what she has to work with right now. Perhaps she is hanging on to the hope that eventually she will be back on her feet and able to go back to being "more responsible".  For her horses sake's I hope that day comes soon.

Speaking of foals, there are the folks who live on my street. Really nice people, they have about 5 or 6 horses.  I have never counted, but there are quite a few.  He hunts and likes to ride his horses in the mountains.  He also works at the mines and is gone for 2 weeks at a time before he gets 5 days off.  These horses are very well cared for in the sense that they are well fed, regular trims or shoes, when needed. They have good shelter, and some access to pasture when the owners decide they should have it. But not 24/7 as he does worry about founder. These are the people who called me at 6 am to tell me that my horses might be out. They are also the people who helped me catch Sassy and Gambler the one time they got out. Like I said, really nice people. When their mare was ready to foal, he was out of town and she was unsure of what to do if there was trouble and asked if I would be available for help if needed. Of course I gave her my number. I am not sure how much help I would have been, but was sure willing to lend a hand if needed.

But...(you knew it was coming, didn't you?) on the other hand most of their horses are only half broke. His favorite horse has put him face down in the dirt many times, and continue's to do so because he does not get ridden near enough. Okay, well he is the one who has to deal with that, not me, so I shall not point fingers over that, but there is a point behind this. His wife barely rides, he has more horses than he can ride, and yet they chose to go ahead and breed their mare and bring a sweet little filly into the world. (she is cute cute cute too)  That was about a year ago.  I have yet to see them ever do anything with that filly. Doesn't mean they don't, it just means that if they do, it isn't much, which means they now have one more hard to handle horse in their pasture.

Does that make them irresponsible? Again I come with the Yes and the No.  I know these people well enough to know that eventually they will send her to a trainer, or try to train her themselves. If they do it themselves they will get about as far as they have with the rest of their horses. Ridable but not really safe. I do question whether or not breeding their mare was the best plan for them, but it is not my cross to bear so I shall not sit here and say those folks are wrong. They are doing the best they can with what they have to work with, and the quality of life for their herd is very good.

Lets talk about my next door neighbor. She has 2 Arabian geldings. She hired Mark Keil to train them both, and at one time they were both very nice horses, safe for an intermediate rider.  She has since broken her back and has not ridden except for maybe 5 minutes in 2 years. After that it was shingles and then something else, she is in pain all of the time, so not much gets done with these horses.  In fact one could not even really consider them to be broke any more, and they are no longer willing to load in a trailer.  I know this, because I spent 3 hours one day trying help her get them to load. We tried everything, made them move their feet, round penned them for an hour, we tried bribing, we finally gave up.. They won and they know they won and it is going to take Mark coming back out and working with them to get them to load again.  These boys are over fed and under worked. Other than that they are very well cared for, the best vet care, regular trims, etc. But before they will be safe to ride they are going to have to have a serious tune up (and a serious weight loss plan- you seriously could not even get a saddle on these boys).

Does this make her irresponsible?  My first reaction is to say, no, because I know her situation.  But how is her situation different than the folks down the street?  It really isn't.  What I do know is that folks, who do not know her personally, speak poorly of her for having horses that she can't, or won't, do anything with.  The truth is, she sees what is going on and has just recently told me that the time has come to examine what she is going to do with these horses.  She has been holding on to the hope that she could get better and start riding again. But now she doesn't feel like it is ever going to happen.  I believe she is recognizing that it might be time to let them go.  She is torn though, because she will want them to go together, and not many people are going to be willing to do that. (these 2 are the most herd bound horses I have ever seen)  Also she is afraid that they may end up in homes where they are not cared for, on the other hand it is getting hard for her to care for them herself.  Because she sees the reality of things, I personally think she is a responsible owner. I suspect that as hard as it is for her, before too long she will have Mark take them both and tune them up and then she will put them up for sale hoping to send them to the same home.

So how does one know if they are being a responsible owner?  Is it enough to do the best you can with what you have to work with?   Is it having the ability to look at your animals and judge their quality of life and make changes accordingly?  Is it hanging on to the hope that things are going to get better and soon you will be able to give them a better quality of life? Is it seeking constantly seeking out information about better care? (What if the info you get is wrong?  It happens all the time)  Is it being prepared to deal with emergencies, and making sure that your animal can be handled in case of an emergency?  Is it putting the task of fixing your male dogs at the top of your priority list?  Is it making your kids go without so you can sink a ton of money into your horses to get them trained for the next big event?  What is the definition of being responsible?

For the most part I feel as though I am as responsible as I can be. I know I am more now than I was back in the days when I had Sunshine. The quality of life my horses enjoy now is 10 times better than she had.   I know that I do learn from my mistakes, and I do all I can to make sure that in the event my horses had to be sold due to finances, they would be safe for others to handle.   On the other hand, sometimes I miss things health wise, sometimes I let them get away with bad habits (like being hard to catch), or procrastinate on replacing the barbed wire on the back fence with un-barbed, or forget to latch the gate and let Danny get in and help himself to the grain, or occasionally have things around the barn that are less than safe (and not even realize it), or let my dogs go without being fixed.  I don't know near enough about what to do in case of colic (as I have not had to deal with it yet). I cannot tell the difference between a truly healthy hoof and not so healthy hoof, unless it is obvious.  So I know I still have a long ways to go in being the most responsible owner I can be, but I take comfort in my ability to seek out information and to keep an open mind about what the right answers are.

There are some blogs around that spend a good amount of time perusing horse sale ads and then pointing out everything that is wrong with them.  I'll be honest, I am bothered quite a bit by that sort of stuff.  Sometimes those blogs have some really valid points, in respects to horses listed for stud that shouldn't be, or mares that shouldn't be bred. But on the other hand, some of it is just plain mean, and comes off as making fun of people who just flat out do not have the experience that others have.  This post is not meant to come off as mean, as finger pointing, or even to put anyone down. It is simply me trying to organize my own thoughts of what MY definition of what a responsible owner is.

Can you tell me what your definition of being a responsible pet owner is?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Got Sumthin! No It Isn't Contagious

I just got an email with some pictures of the new place now that it is vacant and all ours. 
My kids do not live far from here so they will be going there everyday, to check on things and to water the grass.  Plus our contractor will be there alot during the days working on TC's Shop. 

Shall we ooh and aah a little? 

Kitchen, living room, dining area, and you can see
the walk in pantry
This is a den of sorts- they were sports fans.
This may end up being Simons room
Or it might be a den
Or a game room
But that paint has got to go!

Living room area and front door

doo doo doo looking out my back door


Bar and breakfast "nook"
Love those counter tops

Spare room or Simons  (tee hee)
That paint has got to go too!
I don't do girly

Master bedroom
Kind of blah right now, but some nice colors
will make it better

Master Bath custom shower

Looking into the back yard
Ignore the paint colors please.
We are either going to paint the outside or
put on new siding. 

Nice front porch and fence around the front yard
as well as the back.
Can't wait to sit out there with my coffee in the mornings

Big big horse pens (3 total this size)
Ponies are gonna love it

View of tack and wash area
That green stuff is the irrigated pasture.
Ponies are really gonna love that! 

To the left is where TC's shop will go

Cattle run- not sure what we are going to do with this
Maybe get a cow?
(or 2)

The "chute" into the arena

Close up of the tack and wash area
(claps hands and jumps around)
"Iv'e got a tack room!"

Did you know that these are rubber mats?

I can't wait to do some riding in this puppy!
I keep asking myself
"Is it really that big or is the picture deceiving?"
I think it is big enough to set up my trail course in one end
and do my reining practice in the other. 

Back of the house.  I wonder if I can teach my dogs
to only go potty in the sand pit?
(yeah right)

smaller horse pens- 3 of these also

Bigger horse pens again.
The stuff behind is the neighbors.
More on that later. 

Tack and wash area, plus the other container is just storage.

The driveway circles all the way through the back
and then a smaller circle drive in the front too.
I love the trees
OMG, I am in love all over again!

The house itself is smaller than what we live in now, but I am totally cool with that. Before too long it will just be TC and I anyway, plus less house means less house work!    I am so darn excited, just got to find me a job down there now. There are lots of Office Manager, or admin assist positions listed, but truthfully I'd rather find something that does not have me stuck behind a desk all day, or even worse, in front of a computer.  It is bad on my neck, and my eyes, and seriously bad on my butt! Not sure what I am looking for, but I will find something. I guess I need to sit down and put together a resume'.  I haven't done it in a long time, a little rusty. 

I am not looking forward to the actual packing and moving part, but a lot of stuff will get sold or donated.  TC has a lot of very heavy oak furniture, we have both decided it is time to get rid of it. It practically kills us to move it, and there is no sentimental value to it, so no sense in keeping it.  So a big yard sale is in order, only keeping the antiques, and the personal stuff, and of course my kitchen stuff.

The hardest part I think will be moving all the vehicles.  I have decided to sell my jeep to aide in the moving funds, plus it is one less thing with four wheels to move. Of course I will keep my pick up, can't have horses and not have a pick up. Luckily TC still has his shop up here where he can keep stuff until he is ready to bring it down.  Even with a semi, it is going to take a couple of loads between horses, hay cubes,  household and vehicles...and I am going to have to get a CDL so that we are both legal to drive the big rig.

Wheww! I just realized that it is time to get busy so we aren't trying to do everything at the last minute.
Lots to do! 

I Got Nuthin...Except a Song

It was 12 degree's when I went out to feed this morning.


Its almost May for crying out loud!

Other than that...I got nuthin news worthy at all.

How about a nice little love song by my favorite singer of all time?

Click here for a video of Jalan Crossland sing my favorite love song ever

If you have ever seen Bosler, WY you will understand what a great song this is.

I drove through it once, wanted to take a picture but couldn't even get my camera out in time....it was gone!

If you haven't seen Bosler, well its still a great little song.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Rode Up the Mountain

Saturday was a crazy busy day, it started with 2 different auctions going on at the the same time, both of which had things that TC wanted. So he put me at the police auction while he went to the consignment auction, and we communicated by phone. There were a few things that I wanted as well, like a go kart for Simon, a 1932 Gibson guitar for Colton, a Garmin, and a lap top computer.  TC wanted floor jacks, and bottle jacks, and an old broken down road blade for parts for his grader.

We ended up with all the jacks, the go kart, a bicycle, a brand new XBOX 360 (still in the box for half of what a new one would cost) 2 Garmins, a Fossil purse (brand new), oh and a darn near new portable DVD player, with all the chargers and stuff.  He did not get the road grader, they had sold it the day before.  The laptops went for more than I was willing to pay for a piece of used electronics that I couldn't even tell if they worked as they had no cords. The guitar did not even sell, as the owner wouldn't take less than 3 grand for it.  1932 or not, it was just an acoustic guitar, and didn't even have that great of a sound. If I am going to spend thousands on a guitar there is a 1970 Grestch hollow body electric model, sitting at the local music shop that has the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.  I could buy that for about 1500.00. But I don't have that much money to spend on ANYTHING, much less a guitar.  I don't even play, but my son does play very well, so I am always on the look out for a good deal on a nice guitar.

Anyway, back to my story.

We went home with our bounty and then I had just enough time to grab a samich and load up my paint.  We headed up to meet Mark.  The road were clear but everything was a muddy mess. He had texted me and told me we would ride outside since the weather was nice. The out door arena there is on a hill so I was hoping he meant that it was semi dry.  To get to the arena, you have to drive down between the house and the indoor, around the back of the barn and then back up a hill to the outdoor. So in that low spot, it was pretty icky. I put the old gray girl into 4WD and plowed right through it.  Mark had also texted and told me that we couldn't do a full 2 hours this time as he had someplace to be, so he decided we would just go for a trail ride up the BLM land and see how Trax did.

Okay by me, I tacked him up, did a few circles on the ground just to remind him that I am the boss and then stepped up on him. The first thing I had to do was ride through a huge water puddle. It was maybe 8" deep, he balked for a minute but then went through. Mark asked if he was ok with crossing streams, I have never had an issue before with him, so I assumed we wouldn't this time. I was wrong.

We headed up the drive, out the road and then through a gate to the BLM.  There was still quite a bit of snow but the ground was kind of soft and squishy. Where there wasn't mud there was rock.  Not my favorite terrain but I trust Mark, so I pretended not to care. Mark was riding a 3 year old colt, that he is starting for someone else. I decided that if this 3 year old could handle it so can my seasoned trail horse, and truthfully Trax can handle it, he just didn't want to.

First stream, he started snorting and blowing like it was a terrible thing.  I kicked him through it and he jumped it instead. I should have made him go back through, but decided to move on. We headed up, up, up, through snow banks down ravines through some brush, across more streams.He did great on the slopes, and odd angles. He was calm and sure footed, choosing his footfalls carefully. He was more than happy to match his pace to the colt (who Mark calls Tumbleweed, trust me it fits), to lead when we needed to, or to follow when I asked him too. The only time I wasn't so proud of him was at those stream crossings. He did everything he could to avoid crossing the streams, balking and jumping over them, but we came through unscathed, and I think once he even went through like a pro. On the last one, though,  he tried to just turn around and go back but I make him go anyways, so he ran me through a tree.  I could hear my horse saying, "Hey Lady, why don't you try wading through it and see if you  don't look for another route!"  It didn't hurt but it was annoying.

All in all it was actually a cool ride, and Mark and I just talked about different things, there wasn't a lot of training going on, as Trax never once tried to run off with me. I think I had to turn him around once for going to fast, so that part was good. We discussed if Trax will be ready for the open show at the end of May. He said that if we go in with the expectations of not winning but just completing the courses, then yes, he will be ready.  I appreciated his honesty on that, and truthfully that is all I am hoping for.  To prove to myself, and to my horse (and to maybe a couple of doubters) that we can do it.

I wish I had been able to get a few pictures to show off, it was truly gorgeous. Next time I promise.

When we got back I rode to my trailer and dismounted. I almost fell down when I hit the ground, my knees hurt so bad. We didn't even ride that long. The only time my knees hurt like that is if I have ridden for hours and hours or I am riding with my legs tensed.  I guess I was more nervous up there than I realized. So I had to examine that.

I trust my horse, I knew he wasn't going to blow up or anything.  I trust my trainer, I don't believe that he would put me in a dangerous situation. So I guess I was really just nervous about the terrain.  Truthfully, I never would have gone up there of my own accord. There were paths that he chose that I probably wouldn't have, but then he rides up there a lot so he knew what was safe and what wasn't. If I was unsure of what was in front of me, I followed him so that Trax and I could both see what we were headed into.  Even though we did very little training "per say", it was actually good for both of us.  I will be less nervous next time I ride where the footing isn't that great, and Trax learned that whether I am tense or not, I expect him to go forward.  I suppose my tension added to his apprehension just a little.

Once I got him untacked and trailered, I paid Mark.  He said I didn't really owe him since we didn't really do anything, but I paid him anyway. My theory is that he generally works with me for 2 hours and only charges me for one. So this sort of makes up for some of the money I should be paying him, but don't.

I made my way out the drive and promptly got my truck and trailer stuck. Even in 4wd I could not get out of the pit I was in. They ended up having to use the skid steer to get me out. I was so embarrassed  My truck is not supposed to get stuck! The owner of the property assured me that it was no big deal, and that he himself had gotten stuck the day before.

I can honestly say that except for the mud I really did enjoy the ride and am looking forward to a day when we can go there again when it isn't quite so mucky.  I want to see if we have the same problems crossing the little streams.  If so then we will cross as many as we can, until we are both totally okay with it.

Now it is snowing again....supposedly this is the last day.  Gosh I hope so, I am seriously ready for some real sunshine and some decent riding weather.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

When all else fails...go for simple.

We just got back from Cheyenne, where we met up with the farrier to check Sassy and have a look at at Killian. the weather was nice, we did not have to rush, and even had time for a little grooming this morning so that they didn't look like the "poor relations from the south".

We met him at another clients house, and she was so nice and warm and very chatty. I liked her quite a bit.  I wish I had gotten a picture of her horse that Steve was working on at the time. He was a Percheron, TB, QH cross, and he was massive!  she said she used to do dressage on him, and even won quite a bit.  I'll be that was spectacular to watch.

When he looked as Sassy, he had me move her before he pulled off the remaining clog. Even missing one clog she still moves better than she did before he started with her. So hopefully that means she is healing.  Then he looked at her "empty" foot.  I now feel like a total fool and terrible horse mom because it never even occurred to me to look to see if she had any nails left. She had one that had folded over and pushing into her sole. next time I know to look for that if she looses one and pull it out immediately. In my defense, I have never once owned a horse with shoes.  Mine have always been barefoot, so I just did know what to look for.   Anyway, it did not cause any damage, so that is good.

He gave her a quick trim and put a new set of clogs on, and she was so good for him this time. Never even gave him a second of trouble, even on the one foot she always fights on. I moved her out when he was done and she looks great!  Steve says that next time we will do another diagnostic to see what our next step is, but he feels that she is healing.

Can you say...YAY!

Next came Killian. He asked if he was lame, and I explained that he is not lame, but just feels so awkward when you ride him.  So he had me move him out.  We moved him in a circle and in a straight line and back in a circle again.

Steve said that his mis-step is so slight that he almost missed it.  When you move him to the right in a circle he takes shorter strides, but to the left he moves normal.  We attributed that to his shoulder issue.  So he looked at his feet then asked some more questions.

How long since he was trimmed? -8 weeks
Where do you ride him?  - On the road side, in an arena, in the pasture, on trails.
Does he avoid gravel?  Yes

Steve then explained that what he sees is that Killian is a horse with no hoof, or not enough anyways.  He isn't lame, but if you put weight up on him he is uncomfortable and so he is trying to lift his weight up off of his feet which makes him feel awkward.


He said he could test that theory very easily by having me ride him.  So I tacked him up and rode him down the gravel drive.  He trotted out pretty well as far as speed (he was a little wound up), but he was just as uncomfortable as always. Then Steve put just some plain old flat shoes on the front and had me ride him again.

I swear to you, I could feel the difference.  I could watch his shoulders and see that he was more comfortable.

He put two more on the back and I rode him out again.  He trotted out relaxed and with his head down.  I was amazed.    He is not as smooth as Trax, and it he probably never will be, but it wasn't uncomfortable to ride, so that is a major improvement.

Steve said, "Humans tend to over complicate things, sometimes it is just a simple fix."

It was pretty cool watching him too. I swear I thought Killian was going to go to sleep when he was getting the last shoe on.  I've never seen him act like that.  Steve did not trim anything off his hooves at all. All he did was file them down so the shoes would be flush. 

I asked if I should start giving him hoof supplement, but he said not yet. He feels that now that he has these shoes on, his feet will start to grow.  But we will revisit that again in July.

I asked him if he could refer me to an ELPO farrier in Arizona as July will be my last appt with him.  He said that not only does he have "a guy" , he has "the guy".  I guess Gene Ovenick has a place down there in Cave Creek and winters down there, so he will hook me up with him.  (yay!)

He told me it is time to start Sassy back on some light riding, so I need to set aside one day a week where I can work with her now.

I suspect that we will still pursue a chiro for Killian.  I am still pretty convinced that he has some back pain going on, simply because of the way he groans if I ride him for more than a few minutes.

All in all it was a pretty great day. We got home at a decent hour and right before the weather turned to crap again! 

Now it is time for me to go dye my hair, and get comfy and relax.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.