Thursday, October 29, 2009

Studying Again

There are some really nice horses available locally that I wish I was in a position to snatch up some days... Once in a while, it just sounds really nice to have a trained, going horse to ride and show instead of constantly doing the green thing and doing all the training on my own. I dunno. I keep telling myself that I'll be happy I did it myself in a couple years.

Oh well. I can't afford to buy another horse, much less board and keep it.

Other random thoughts:
1) A local trainer/dealer rides and shows Dutch Harness Horses. I think that's fabulous. They're beautiful animals, well behaved, well taken care of, and quite talented. I do not know this trainer personally at all. Like many in the horse industry, she's having trouble making ends meet apparently, so she's selling off a bunch of horses, including one DHH. However, she's marketing the DHH as a Dutch Warmblood, which is not the same thing at all. I doubt that anyone looking for a Dutch Warmblood would fall for that, especially upon seeing the horse in person, but it seems really dishonest to me. Sad.

2) I'm graduating (assuming I don't fail any important classes) in less than two months. I'll most likely be getting a job of some sort, which involves making more money than my current wonderful and very part time position. Most of the money will go to savings and paying off the house and being responsible, but it would allow for me to make a few more decisions about my horse. Izzy is boarded where she is because I've worked at that particular barn for years and I love the people. I don't love the facility. Yes, it's supposed to be moving, but the things I don't love about the facility are human caused (junk lying around, incomplete projects that sit there for years). In addition, I've heard some rumors from a rather unreliable source that there might be some people or a person at the new place that beats horses around the head or something. (We're merging with another facility that I'm unfamiliar with.) I will address that rumor with the barn owner/manager and see if there's any truth to it, but it brings up an important point: what will I do?

If there's someone beating horses, I'm not going. I know there is no reason for anyone to touch my horse other than me, especially because I'm out nearly every day, but that isn't good enough. I will not take this risk for my horse. Again though, I don't trust the source of the rumor, and I need to get to the bottom of this before making a decision based on this.

On the other count though, I'm curious. If I'm making an income and can afford to move to a different stable and at the same time can seemlessly merge in to something else, that interests me. I'm doing a bit of research on what's available. I think I'd like a primarily dressage- or eventing-related barn, but not an intense everyone shows type facility. I would like to have an actual barn, but those are pretty rare in Idaho. Smaller facilities aren't terribly practicable because I do not have a truck and trailer, so getting out to shows would be hard.

Hm. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trail Ride!

We took a break from arena work today and went on a trail ride with Iree the Haflinger and a new friend whose name I didn't catch. He was a cute little paint/QH that Izzy towered over.

Overall, it was good. It was freezing outside and windy, but the mountains are beautiful. Izzy did much better about walking down hills instead of trying to trot all the time. Both the other horses spooked twice while Izzy, who brought up the rear, just looked at them. Not to be outdone, though, she had one major spook on the way back. I have no idea what she thought she saw, and I don't think she knew either. After nearly having a heart attack, she just snorted and walked on like it was nothing.

Good pony.



Apparently, you can now look up OTTBs race records online for free. Here's the link to Cassie, Izzy's mom.

How fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back the the Beginning... Again.

We had a massive windstorm with some rain last night.

Apparently, it wasn't Izzy's favorite thing ever. She came out pretty well this morning; let me wrap her legs while standing nicely, didn't fuss much about anything, whatever, until we started lunging. I had actually contemplated not lunging her today because she's been working hard lately, but I figured it is good to get her going forward before I got on.

I'm pretty glad I did. We had some pretty massive fireworks in the form of bucking and galloping and swapping ends and then bucking the other way. I probably ended up lunging her for half an hour, just to get her settled and going forward. Then I got on and did some big trot figure eights, focusing on rhythm and relaxation, and when she did that, I got off.

Everyone has days, I guess.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clinic Notes

After three days of being Miss Perfect, Izzy had clearly had enough. She wouldn't even walk into the arena on Saturday, which is kind of embarrassing because I was just coming in to lunge her before my lesson and Donna had to stop teaching and wave a whip at Izzy's butt to get her to go in. Ugh. That's the sort of day it was.

The good news was that her total naughtiness meant we got to work on a lot of things we would have glossed over otherwise.

Donna talked about how Izzy is (obviously) still pretty green and the most important thing for us right now is going forward. We got to work on the rhythm, regularity, and relaxation on the training scale. She also pointed out that Izzy isn't accepting contact with the bit, and when I use it, she backs off behind my leg, which is something she's prone to doing anyways. Also she didn't like my bit (full cheek single jointed snaffle). She took the keepers off and shortened up the cheekstraps because she pointed out that Izzy doesn't carry it herself at this point, and Izzy likes it fairly high in her mouth.

Because Izzy's green, her balance is still pretty all-over-the-place, which keeps her from responding to my legs much. As such, Donna had me using my weight to counteract when Izzy was leaning one way or the other. Basically, she needs to learn to move over underneath me, and to keep her balance centered. To do that, I need to throw her off balance when she leans into corners and such.

I also have a tendency to hold her with my right rein, which has created a constant and undesirable right bend in her neck. I noticed this when we were trail riding, but I didn't know the cause. To prevent this, Donna had me pretty much drop my right rein and ride with my fingers open on my right hand to remind me to not block her on that side. I did use a little contact on the left rein and some counterbend to the right to get Izzy moving straight instead of bent right. Because Izzy's isn't a fan of rein contact right now, Donna had me only take contact with one rein at a time, usually the left, so that Izzy always had a place to go forward to.

Speaking of forward, that was most of our lesson. I tend to let Izzy poop around at walk (especially) and trot. Conversely, I don't let her go forward enough in canter. Donna said that walk is our weakest gait because I haven't been developing it. We worked on getting Izzy to walk forward, then leaving her alone, so I'm not nagging constantly. I need to keep asking (and insisting) until she goes forward, so she understands what I want.

In trot, I need to develop her forward gear. Instead of worrying about contact, I had to pretty much throw the reins away (so she wouldn't back off) and just focus on riding forward. It felt amazing when we got it right. Again, in canter, I need to not black her motion and ride a little more forward.

When we got done, I knew we'd made progress, but I felt like I couldn't ride and I was just hindering my horse. I thought that if I just had enough money to ride in clinics and take lessons all the time, she'd be so much further along. Yeah, kind of insecure there I guess.

I gave Izzy Sunday off because she worked really hard on Saturday, and then rode this morning. It was wonderful. She was having another good day, so the things we struggled to get in the clinic came so much more easily. We started out more forward. It only took a couple circles to develop that big, forward, wonderful trot. It did take a while to get the right lead, but left lead was lovely. I'm starting to figure out when to lean which direction (well, not really lean, but that idea) to get Izzy's balance where we need it, and I think she's learning too. I did switch back to the french link eggbutt I have and I adjusted it higher in her mouth than I did before. She seemed quite happy with it, and even on the few occasions that I had to use it, she returned to going forward and reaching down within half a circle.

Fabulous. I'm really glad we rode in the clinic. It was definitely worth the money.

Also, I had to replace my half chaps beforehand. While at the tack store, I was looking at saddle pads, which I shouldn't have done. I ended up buying this in navy and light blue and loving it. I didn't get pictures of us because there wasn't really anyone around to run the camera. :-(

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Pre-Clinic Madness

Ok, it's not really madness. It's just fun and exciting. Izzy had her feet done earlier this week (I'm still loving our new trimmer), and the new white polos are sitting in my dining room, waiting to be re-rolled and used tomorrow. My half chaps finally crapped out for the last time, so I'm going to get new ones this afternoon, then come home and wash saddle pads and take the poor puppies for a walk.

We had a really, really good ride today. All nice, comfortable, and relaxed with no fussing or spooking. I'm crossing my fingers for tomorrow... Is it too much to want three good days in a row? Maybe.

The (not-so) problem pony will get wormed and have her teeth done in the next week it sounds like. This is new ground for me. I've never owned a horse before her, so I never had to bother with things like horse dentists. I assume her previous owner took good care of her in this regard, but I know for sure that no one has looked at her teeth since I got her in February. IT's a good thing to do, and I don't want her to start having problems in that area. Also, I'm going to have Cathy teach me how to do the worming. I've sort of watched before, but I'm trying to do everything right.

Someday, I think I want to be a barn manager. That's my current career aspiration, but don't tell my husband. He thinks I need a job that, you know, earns money. ;-) Oh well. I'll just enjoy horse care in the mean time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Really Shouldn't Be Here

I have a massive paper due tonight. I haven't even started reading for it yet.

So of course, I went out to ride this morning and rode both girls. Sounds like a good plan, right?

It worked well from a horsey perspective; I rode Cassie first, and she was really good. The poor girl's been neglected lately because between work, school, a house, two dogs, a cat, a husband, I only have just so much time for riding. I comfort myself by remembering that I only have two months left, but that doesn't really help Cassie. At any rate, we went w/t/c and it was nice to ride a horse who knew what she was doing, even though she's rusty. Plus, she has an amazing, beautiful, rocking-horse canter. That was lovely.

Izzy was also good today. We did lots of irregular serpentines and figure eights with changes of gait and direction in walk and trot. She was pretty good. She worried a bit much about the far side of the arena (monsters!!), but managed to focus most of the time. I tried to work on my position a bit and keep from being defensive, but I had pretty limited time at that point, so I didn't try to canter.

Sigh... I wish I had more time...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lesson Day Again

To get ready for the upcoming clinic, Izzy and I did a lesson with our "usual" trainer today. It's hard to day usual when I think I've had five lessons this year, but who's counting? ;-) Basically, I wanted to be sure our issues from our last lesson came completely from the saddle pad issue and not from having someone in the arena with us.

Thankfully, the lesson went really, really well. Cathy actually did a little with my position to prep us for the clinic and because we're getting to the point where I can work on me again. Yay! I know that sounds selfish, but I think most horse people understand what I mean. We're to the point (at least today) where we can work on refining the aids instead of just going forward and stopping.

Our walk/trot work was really nice. I spent out warmup time just doing little serpentines and figure eights with frequent gaits changes to get Izzy relaxed and listening. Cathy liked our trot and had us do some lengthen/shortens. We're only supposed to shorten for just a couple strides right now because Izzy likes to stop and we don't want her too confused about what I'm asking for. The lengthen isn't a true dressage lengthening yet, but we're working on making her stride adjustable.

We actually did (gasp!) canter on the left lead. Izzy tends to get very up and tense and start pushing through her right shoulder when I ask for this lead, so we hadn't even tried in a couple weeks. I thought we needed to work on other issues before pushing this one. Cathy had me work on pushing my hands forward when her head came up instead of shortening the reins to keep the contact. This and keeping her evenly between my calves while not getting tight in my thighs... It worked! We had a nice upward transition into the left lead.

While in the canter, I had to work on keeping my body "swinging" with Izzy's motion instead of tightening up. Again, I had to push my hands forward and even a bit up (sounds weird, but I tend to carry my hands very low). It was remarkable how much even these little changes helped Izzy. He canter was nice, not chargy, and fairly soft.

The right lead was pretty good as well. I have done a bit on the right lead lately, but I knew our canter wasn't good, so we hadn't done much with it. Our last downward transition (to trot) from the right lead was really nice--balanced and forward.

I do need to work on keeping my shoulders loose. I'm pretty good about having them back and down, but I get tight. I need to push my lower legs a little farther back--I've been riding in a defensive position which is ok for a green horse, but it's time to move on. And, as always, I need to keep my thumbs up. I forever ride with flat hands.

I guess this is pretty involved for a lesson summary, but I don't take many, so I like to remember what I learned. Tomorrow, I'll practice wrapping Izzy's legs one more time before the clinic. We'll be riding with Donna Longacre, the director of region 6 and quite an accomplished judge. I hope I can get someone to take pictures. I plan to have Izzy all suited up in white polos with white bell boots and a white saddle pad. Her tack is clean, and I'll try to wear a white polo as well. So classy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dressage Clinic!

My lovely lil' Corgi is making a trip to the vet this week, so the bridle has been put off for a while. Besides, I'm still waiting on my catalog. It will come, I'm sure. In the mean time, I have actually signed up for a dressage clinic this coming weekend. Woohoo!

I wasn't actually going to do a clinic until next year because I didn't think Izzy would be ready. I'm ok with taking a couple lessons from my trainer who's used to young horse problems, but I didn't want to pay clinic rates for someone to tell me that my horse wasn't trained. Obviously, I know that. The past few days, however, have been amazing. Izzy's been soft and responsive and forward and everything I want her to be. Canter is still a little stressful for her, but we cantered Saturday morning (right lead only) and she got a little excited, but when we went right back to stretching and bending, she settled right down again.

On Sunday morning, I didn't have time to canter, but we did do a little shorten/lengthen at the trot. I have to admit, I swooned a little at her lengthen. Realistically, it's probably just a good working trot that we lengthened out to, but it was so free and flowing and even smooth... beautiful. Izzy is really going to be a fun horse.

It's pretty cool what my girl can do when she's happy with her saddle. So... I'm on the list, and we'll get the schedule tomorrow or the next day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Since I Got a New Saddle...

Obviously, I need a new bridle. And of course, since I got the super fancy saddle (ok, just super expensive, but my pocketbook doesn't know the difference), I want a really nice bridle. The last two times I bought a bridle, it was just whatever was cheapest. I picked a price, then bought a bridle for that. Hence, my first bridle cost $40 (which is a lot when you're 12) and my second cost $60 (still not a small sum for a 16 year old).

No, this time around, I want something classy. I've spent the last several days researching bridles, bridle quality, bridle measurements, bridle brands, and as such, I haven't really posted here. My apologies. I think I've settled on a bridle, long at last.

I want the "Nunn Finer Event Bridle".
It's good quality leather with buckle closures and (get this) NO FLASH. It is incredibly difficult to buy a new bridle without a flash for some reason. I get that they're the fad, but isn't there anyone else out there who doesn't need their horse's mouth tied shut to ride? Seriously. It's called equitation, people. If you don't keep banging the pony in the mouth, he won't keep opening his mouth. Duh.

Also, I love the brass fittings. They're so pretty... I like pretty things, not that you'd know from how I dress. ;-)

Of course, I didn't simply want the browband that is shown with the bridle. That would be way too easy. I am in general a solid traditionalist who dislikes all things blingy (it's not pretty; it's tacky). However, I'm currently in love with this:

Yes, the Nunn Finer clincher browband in havana with brass. So very pretty.

Unfortunately, the bridle is $210 (cheapest I can find) and the browband is $55. The bridle comes with rubber reins, but I hate rubber reins. That probably means that I'll spend another $50 or so buying matching, non-rubber reins. Total so far: ~$315 for a bridle that I don't really -need-, but do want.

That's hard to justify in my ever-so-practical mind. It would be easier if the old bridle broke and I was buying a quality replacement. Fortunately, I found out about a little (?) place called "Bartville Harness Shop" which is somewhere in Pennsylvania. It's run by an Amish family that actually makes the bridles that Nunn Finer goes on and sells. According to what I've heard, they're 30-50% cheaper than Nunn Finer for the same thing without the label. I've never been label conscious and I'd never heard of Nunn Finer before a few days ago anyways, so I've called for a catalog. Here's hoping the rumors are true and I'll be able to get the dream bridle for a much more dreamy price.

In the mean time, I'm saving my pennies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Days

The weather was something between lovely and awful today--nice temperature, but lots of clouds and wind. Yet again, I'm so thankful that Izzy doesn't really care. She's not dumb about wind and trees, and only occasionally about weather changes.

We started with lunging again, and she did well, so I got right on and rode.

This lasted about ten minutes.

She was fairly soft, she was listening, and she was reaching for contact. As I'd promised her before the ride, I immediately got off. All I wanted was a repeat of yesterday, and when I had that, she was done. We did use the spiral in/out a little, and she seemed to do well with it. I'll try it again tomorrow and do a longer ride.

Any other ideas for what to do to keep a horse engaged and interested? We're starting to do some lateral stuff, but she's pretty green, so we can't really do extreme movements.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Step

Today was a perfect day to ride. Not too hot, not too cold, and no huge gusts of wind. I'm not a wind person.

I decided to lunge Izzy today because I want to see her work on both sides and make sure she's going forward before I get on her. I used to lunge pretty much all horses as a matter of course, but this year I've realized that there was no particular reason to do that, so I'm using lunging now as a tool that can be picked up and put down at will. I'm really glad that I did so much lunge with with Izzy when we started though, because she lunges quite nicely off of voice commands. We haven't really mastered the trot-halt, but I'd rather she learn to go forward than stop quickly at this point.

Anyways, today was good. I kept Izzy going forward, and we did several trot/canter/trot transitions to the left. She does them just fine on her own, so hopefully we'll get to start working on them under saddle in the next week or so.

As for the actual riding, it was interesting. It took nearly two full circuits of the arena to get her to trot without throwing a fuss or shoving her way through one shoulder or another. I decided to keep things low key today, so we just did figure eights on a 20 meter circle, walking the change of bend in the middle. It took about two circles before Izzy relaxed, reached for the bit, and really started using herself.

I was thrilled. I haven't had this kind of softness in weeks. We didn't even try to canter. After a few more circles, I took her out around the arena once, and then let her be done after a nice, fairly square halt.

I wonder what this says... she liked the routine of the figure eights. Her transitions were softer, her body was relaxed. I'm thinking that she's like her mother enough that she gets bored with just going around. She needs something to think about. If that's true, we should probably do more lateral type work to get her thinking as she goes around. Maybe if we start with figure eights, then move off a circle? I don't know. It's something more to file away, I guess.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I Like About My Horse

1) She's really pretty.

She's my first horse, and she's absolutely gorgeous. Need I say more? I love seeing her out in the pasture and thinking, "Wow, that's my girl."

2) She's not spooky

I'm not saying that she's spook-free, but I can ride her on cold windy days like today and she doesn't get all hot and bothered. So she's opinionated, but she's sensible about it.

3) She has a princess complex

As well as adding character to her already complex personality, this ensures that my constant striving to be better and nitpicking at what I know actually does help. Despite my frustration, I actually do like rising to the challenge of figuring out what's going on. I'm getting a little tired of saddle problems, but I think it's finally worked out.

4) She's Cassie's daughter.

It's fun to have the daughter of a horse that meant (and means) so much to me. She's not just the one I happened to end up with, she's something special.

5) I dunno, she's just plain cute?


We made more progress on going forward today. I used the new padding arrangement, and she seemed quite happy. I still haven't attempted to ask her for the left lead (a tough one for us right now), but she's more willing about the right lead and her trot has definitely improved.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Forget You Ever Knew That

Due to being stuck in a long boring class last night, I spent about an hour doodling horses. Then I moved on to drawing specific diagrams of Izzy's back and how the saddle sat on it, what pads I was using, and why I was using them. I remembered that she again (sigh) had funny sweat marks yesterday after another frustrating ride. I should probably scan those drawings, if only for amusement's sake.

Anyways, the sweat mark made me think that it must be a saddle problem. She is exhibiting similar behavior to the last time we had saddle trouble. When I drew the diagram, I realized that the funny marks appeared the be under the stirrup bars, and I remembered reading in a tack book that treeless saddles had trouble in pressure reading with pressure in that area. It's a good thing that I didn't have Jean's phone number handy, because I wanted to call someone who knew what I was talking about and ask if that was the problem. (It was 9 here, so probably almost midnight there.)

I didn't have time to go to the tack store this morning, but one of my other diagrams made me think it might be a padding problem. A couple days ago I screwed around with different pads without actually tightening the girth, so I had a pretty good idea of what was available and how it fit Izzy. This morning, then, I pulled out a new pad. I had been using a wedge pad to lift the pommel up off her withers. Today, I tried just a simple foam pad that was even all the way through. It's completely counter intuitive, because we all know that if a treed saddle camps on a horse's wither, it's like the bad news bears moved in to your house and threw a party.

The new pad obviously didn't lift the front as much, so the saddle looked a little different. I was concerned because it gave her back VERY little clearance over the spine, and I thought that once we'd been riding a while, it would sit on her and make her hurt. And of course, you know her reaction to hurt is rear. That's not really my favorite thing about her. I lunged her before I rode (she was wearing blue polos with a matching blue lunge line. So cute!) and she was kind of looky, but really good.

Our ride started out kind of bumpy. She fussed, she didn't want to go forward, and then... she did. I like the new pad better because due to the nature of treeless saddle, I could feel that I was sitting on the wedge, and it interfered with actually feeling Izzy underneath me. The new pad didn't cause that at all. It was almost like riding the gulletless Classic again. I could feel Izzy's back again and she was much better.

Progress is good. She was much happier, and we were back to having the problems we had before she decided not to be happy again. I think we took a couple training steps backwards this past week, but we're ready to go forward again. Of course, now she has a couple days off while I go out of town.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Plan to Move Forward

First off, I finally have some Izzy pictures. I'm sorry it's been so long without them. It's just hard to take pictures of oneself while riding and she's hard to photograph because she won't just stand still and let me walk away. She wants to be in the middle of what's going on.

See? She's so darn cute. Also, what would you call the marking on her face? It's not in any horse book I own. It's too long to be a star, too short to be a stripe... You can't see it, but she has a tiny snip on her upper lip, too.

Here's another picture from the same day:
This was as close as she would come to posing. In this picture, she's wearing a collegiate plain raised snaffle bridle with a full cheek single jointed bit. That's an Ansur KonKlusion saddle with a random girth I borrowed, and a neckstrap in case I feel insecure. She is such a good looking horse.

Here's today. (The previous shots were from a couple weeks ago.) I successfully put on wraps without making her legs look like potatoes, so I left them on. I had just been putting them on and taking them off the past few weeks to get the hang of it. I'm not a fan of nontradition colors in general for dressage/jumping, but my dad got me these years ago as a Christmas present. I figured I should at least learn how to put wraps on properly before I branch out and get some in a more conservative color.

As you can see, I obviously needed conservatively colored wraps for all the formal work we had to do today. Yes, it was bareback day #2. Day #1 was yesterday. It's rained so much that the arena is a total mess. I like to use weather like this to just muck around and work on little things.

And here's Klasi Renee', Izzy's mother and my beloved old OTTB. She's 17, had three gorgeous babies, won just about everything there is to win, and still going strong. She doesn't like having her mane pulled, and at her age, I don't mess with it. She's done enough.
Izzy was Cassie's (her barn name) first baby, then Tristan's Fortune, the gorgeous holsteiner gelding whose video I posted her a month or so ago was the second. Her latest was by an awesome Friesian stallion, a little filly named Natasya. I'll have to take more pictures of all the babies while they're still around.

As for the rest of our problems... I think I'm going to rearrange how I address them. The U Gard that someone (Kate?) recommended is the least expensive, so I figure I'll buy that and give see how it goes. Worst case senario, I'm out $25. I will continue to play with padding once we start riding with a saddle again... probably next week, since I'll be out of town again this weekend visitng my inlaws. The chiro is going to have to wait until next time, which will be much easier on my bank account. Hopefully, it will be more fully recovered from the saddle purchase by then. Still, winter's coming on quickly if the weather's any gauge, so we may be done with any serious riding until spring anyways.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Major Issues?

I just typed out an excellent (in my mind) post on possible causes of Izzy's issues. Then my browser somehow magically closed out the tab and ate it. I'll summarize what I said.

There are 6 possible categories of problems that could be causes our complete lack of forward problem, listed in the order that they occurred to me.

1. Saddle fit.

I absolutely cannot afford a new saddle again. I'd love to see how she'd go in one of the new ansur models, particularly the new konklusion. Alas, I don't know anyone who has one, and it's so far beyond my price range that I can't even see it. I can play around with creative padding options. The advantage to being at a boarding barn is there's lots of stuff around that people are fairly willing to lend to me to try. (Yes, I'm one of those who always asks first.) Ansur also makes a special pad that might help for about $80 and skito pads (which I have no experience with) run $110-$170 for what I want. I'll probably inquire of treeless people on this option. Ideas, Jean? I'll query the ansur group, too.

2) Chiropractic Issues

Another expensive but important option. Thanks to Nina for her updates on Sam's progress in this area. It would be easier for me to swallow if I knew Izzy had done something, tweaked something, or, you know, if she just came out and said, "I need to see a chiropractor." Cuz if she said that, she can have all the fancy crap she wants. You know how much money I'd make, exploiting a talking horse? Mooooove over Pat Parelli. Haha! Alas, her vocabulary is currently limited to horse, which makes this difficult. We'll give it a go and hope for improvement. A very expensive go. $120 for an adjustment. Oh well... Car gets an oil change, Izzy gets chiropractor, and I'll wear dog chewed shoes for another month or so. At least I bought my husband's birthday present a month ago.

3) Ulcers

Kate has some experience with ulcers in her own horses, so she's presented this as an option. We have a couple boss mares with ulcers. I don't really think this is it, but of course, it's possible. It's certainly something to keep in mind. If saddle and chiro work don't change anything, we'll try this next. I just don't want to do everything at once and then not know what worked. It's a bad research model. ;-) That's my inner nerd coming out. In the mean time, I'll do a little more research and see what I come up with for pasture-kept princesses with attitude.

4) Mental/issue or boredom

This is possible. I don't know about the likeliness. If this was it, Izzy would show improvement after going out on the trail, and since I haven't been able to ride, I haven't been able to evaluate this. I guess it's possible, but I don't think it's likely. Izzy not a hard keeper or hard to please. She's pretty happy doing what she does, until she's not, and then she lets you know in a big way.

5) Training problem

Again, this may be it. I don't want to rule it out, but I want to look at physical issues first. The rearing under saddle wasn't a training problem per se, it was her telling me that her saddle hurt and she was absolutely not going to work like that anymore. She hasn't even thought about rearing since we switched saddles. On the other hand, the rearing on the lune line was absolutely a training problem. We have worked through it and I doubt it will come up again, as she doesn't like to work that hard if it's not going to get her anything. So... this is a mixed bag. Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell.

6) Soundness/soreness problem

The problem pony is sound. She's been sound. Her feet are beautiful, or at least as beautiful as a warmblood's feet can be. She moves well on her own and on the lunge. Her back certainly isn't sore--her favorite thing in the world is a good back rub. I don't think this is an issue with us, although it would certainly explain a lack of forward, especially in a mare with a princess complex.

Any other ideas? Let me know. I'll certainly keep you updated on our progress.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

No riding today or yesterday. It started raining, and it's just not nice to take poor Izzy's blanket off and get her all wet. She's very happily wandering around the pasture. I got her out and groomed her yesterday, but I was just really cold and wet after cleaning pens today, so I gave her a good wither scratch and let her be.

The chiropractor will be out sometime next week. I'll have to see if I can muster up the money to get her on his list. I think it's $120 for him, but she's also getting her feet done and my car needs an oil change. Oh, and the beagle ate my shoes (that were already like 3 years old), so I need those. It's getting a mite chilly to wear flip flops everywhere that riding boots aren't supposed to go.

Oh well. I need to rule out physical issues, and this is one angle I haven't attacked yet, I guess. At least the problem pony is still sound. Here's a picture of her being cute from earlier this year.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Glimmer of Hope

The vaunted trail ride was today. Izzy was wonderful. We went with Star, a cute paint who wouldn't be fazed if a train came out of no where and was headed straight for him. He'd just calmly step out of the way. Also along was Iree, a darling little Haflinger pony who apparently doesn't mind when mares bounce off his rear end. Needless to say, their respective riders accompanied us.

I was pretty happy with how Izzy did. She had never seen the foothills before to my knowledge, but while she was a little looky, she didn't get too worried. She was a bit strong (more on this later), but never bucked or spooked or did anything untoward. Because she's never lived in the mountains, her technique was kind of lacking. She thought it was just of good of an idea to trot down a steep hill as to sit back and walk. Fortunately, I just stuck her nose in Iree's tail, and we'd bounce off him all the way down. If I ever become a full time trail rider, I'm totally getting a bombproof gelding like the two boys we went with.

She was perhaps not surprisingly much more forward than she had been in the past few days. In one flat sandy spot, we all cantered. Izzy was trailing a little bit at that point, so she kicked her speed up a notch and we almost blew through the calm boys. That reassures me as to her ability to one day do cross country. I certainly didn't want to have to force every stride around a course, and today she showed that there is a forward gear. Good.

So... I don't know where that leaves us. She was forward today. I've at least temporarily ruled out ulcers because she doesn't get too upset about anything (feeding time or otherwise) and she hasn't really exhibited behavior change in anything other than not wanting to go forward under saddle. She also lives out 24.7 with a friend, so I think she's ok. She does go forward nicely on a lunge line and, obviously, on trails. There could be a chiropractic type problem that I aggravate by riding her. She could be cranky about the weather, since it's been dramatically colder the past few days. She was good today and she had her blanket on last night. Are the two related? I don't know.

Any other ideas?

I'm thinking she'll get tomorrow off, since the trail was pretty hilly and she's not used to that sort of exercise. Besides, I'm teaching a lesson and letting someone else try my saddle. It will be a full day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Who are you and what did you do with my pony?

In an ironic twist of fate, the weather went from mid nineties and sunny to mid fifties and blustery in the matter of a day. When lesson time rolled around yesterday, I wasn't even sure I wanted to ride because it was blowing so hard. Izzy seemed ok, though, so I went ahead and got ready. As far as spookiness goes, she was a superstar. She had one stumble/spook thing, but that was our only mishap. She wasn't even worried about the rest of it.

Unfortunately, nothing else about the lesson was superstar like. I was prepared to hear a lot about my position and how I needed to change to best help her. Unfortunately, she decided she absolutely could not under any circumstances go forward. So, instead of actually working on something that could help us out in general, we spent pretty much the entire lesson just getting her to trot either direction. When we wanted to canter, Cathy had to chase us around with a lunge whip for like three laps, just to get her started. It was frustrating.

I figured that she was probably tired, since I'd turned her loose in the arena to test the waters as far as spookiness, and then I'd lunged her after that to make sure the spectacular airshow she'd put on wasn't going to be repeated. Cathy mentioned that it might also be her reaction to the temperature change and wind; instead of being spooky, she just kind of locked up. I guess the lesson was moderately useful, but definitely not what I was looking for.

So today I go get her out... WE HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM. It's so frustrating. It's still cool, but no longer windy. I even got Cassie out first and lunged and groomed her, to make sure it was plenty warm when I got Izzy out. Still nothing. I got off, held the inside rein in one hand and my whip in the other hand. We practiced going forward when I cluck, even without the whip. When she seemed to understand, I got back on. Still nothing. I got off again, put the lunge line on, and repeated the lesson. What little trot I had gotten out of her before had been short and choppy, so I tried to keep her calm, and ask her to go forward. There's no sense in getting her tense, because then she won't understand what I want.

After lunging both ways with an emphasis on her going forward when I ask for it, I got back on for the third time. This seemed to go better. We didn't get stuck anywhere, but she still didn't want to go forward. I just pushed her through it, and made her trot and canter both ways. As soon as we finished our left lead canter, I got off, loosened the girth, and lead her out of the arena.

Why is this so hard?

We're going on a trail ride tomorrow with some calm horses. Maybe the change of scenery will do her good. I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't get me bucked off.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...