Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Life With One Opposable Thumb

Izzy has gotten dramatically better under saddle, which I'm crediting to the gastroshield we're giving her. She still lacks turnout, but we're working on that.

This morning, I groomed her, put her boots on, and started leading her to the arena to turn her out to play for a while. All was well until she saw something scary, barged into me, and bent my thumb backwards. It hurt so bad I almost cried. (Ok, I did later.) Despite my injured thumb, I still had to get my obnoxious stupid horse out into the arena with all her dancing and barging an everything. It was excruciatingly painful, but we made it. I turned her loose and off she went.

I turned one of our OTTBs out with her to give her someone to play with. That gave me enough time to realize that my thumb wasn't broken, but it still hurt like crazy. It also allowed me to handle a total gentleman of a gelding who is fabulously athletic. Let me tell you, if his owner ever offered to trade, I would take her up on it RIGHT NOW and I don't even like geldings.

Anyways. We have an obvious problem. I am a stickler for good ground manners, and I have worked with Izzy on them since day 1. I use a rope halter with her, though she is also respectful of a flat halter usually. She is good about walking behind me, stopping when I stop, and going when I go. She backs up pretty well and I can do pretty much all of this in a round pen with no halter at all.

That said, when she decides she wants to pay attention to something else, she's just gone. That's when she barges into me, rears up, acts crazy, whatever. What do I do? Today I wanted to beat the snot out of her, but since that would just give her psychological problems on top of what I'm already dealing with (and my thumb hurt a lot), I abstained. I don't know where to go from here. Most of my experience is with sensitive horses who may spook and act stupid but would NEVER run in to something (why I love TBs so very, very much).

So. My options are A) continue what I'm doing and get killed B) invest in a stud chain C) keep doing what I'm doing and hope the problem goes away before I get killed D) ?

Any ideas?

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Have My Horse Back!

The past 4 rides have been lovely. It looks like we were dealing with an ulcer issue and it's cleared up. Yay!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Here's to Improvement!

I did get Izzy turned out to play with another mare this morning. Cathy was turning the other horse out, so I grabbed Izzy and scooted in there, too. I hope that helped... anyways, after letting them run a while, I took Izzy back to her breakfast and finished up my work. (Yay working off board!)

By the time we tacked up to ride, Izzy and I were the only ones there. I like that. I really enjoy riding by myself and just worrying about Izzy and I without having to make sure I'm staying out of other people's way. I lunged Izzy and really just let her do her thing. I didn't ask her to focus and do transitions or anything. She was fine and pretty quiet.

She was reasonable about mounting, and off we went... I'm really trying to mentally relax. Maybe I should take up yoga or something. ;-) Basically, I read an excellent article in Practical Horseman yesterday about using the forward energy of a "naughty" horse and just going with it. So I did. We walked, trotted and cantered. We did lots of transitions. In the canter especially, I worked on doing a small, semi-collected circle, then letting her go forward on a much larger circle, then bringing her back again.

I think that one of our biggest problems is that I really like to ride sensitive horses and Izzy is only just so-so on the sensitive scale. I'm used to just shifting my weight to get a response instead of actually making a move and if something goes wrong, I'm used to just waiting for the horse to come back to me mentally rather than proactively forcing the horse to focus. Since Izzy needs the proactive ride, that's where I'm working on improving.

At least for today, it worked. We had out first good ride since last weekend. Was it the calm atmosphere? My fabulous riding? The ulcer medication? The heat of the day? I have no idea. Probably all of the above, except the fabulousness. It was an ok ride.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 2

That's right. Izzy got her second dose of gastro shield today. It's not a product I'm familiar with yet, but the other two horses at the barn who deal with ulcer issues are on it and doing very well. I'm going to do some more research and evaluate it later, but it's at least a stop gap for now. I feel woefully behind. I've barely been online and I'm not riding much. My grandma is not doing very well (she's still on hospice care), so my priorities have been away from the barn.

I did ride Izzy briefly today. We only had time for a half hour lesson, which was about enough for the both of us. She didn't repeat any of her antics from Sunday, but she was far from calm. We just did some walk, trot, canter each way and then called it good. She was quiet(ish), and relatively willing, so I let good enough be good enough and hopped off. I did turn her loose in the arena for a few minutes to let her run when we were done and I won't be able to get out to see her tomorrow.

I do lunge her every time I get her out. At the old place, I only lunged if I felt like I needed it, but I haven't gained that level of confidence with her here yet. Besides, we do not currently have turn out and I think it's vital for her brain to have some exercise that isn't strictly controlled. I'm trying to turn her out in the arena more often, but that's hard to do when other people are riding, obviously.

For feed, Izzy was getting about 3 big meaty flakes of grass alfalfa mix morning and evening, which meant she pretty much had food all the time. She got about 2 cups of grain (mixed corn and something) with a small scoop of vitamins in the morning. We've changed that (starting tomorrow) to a small amount of senior with vitamins, two scoops of gastro shield, and a small scoop of vitamins. I'm thinking the senior might be easier on her stomach than the grain... here's to hope.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back to the Beginning

So, after a stunning day yesterday, Izzy put in an equally impressive performance today.

Unfortunately, it was impressive in the opposite manner. She spooked. She bolted. She reared. She spun circles. She was awful. Sigh.

At least I stayed on, right? If I had money and ambition, I might look in to getting a western saddle that would make it easier to ride through all this garbage. At least, I keep thinking that. The truth is, I haven't even sat in a western saddle in years, so who even knows if it would be easier?

U gard, here we come.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Mysteriously Good Day

We rode in a dressage clinic this morning. (Lest you think I have come into money--I worked off the cost with the barn owner, so I'm still broke, just in a good situation.)

Izzy was amazing. I couldn't believe it. We really haven't done "dressage" in a dressage saddle in weeks, maybe since the last clinic. I've been working her and we've had a few good days, but my expectations weren't high. We're starting to ask her for a whole new level of performance and teaching her a new skill set and she did really, really well.

It's not that we're at a really high level; all I'm asking her to do is step up underneath herself, go forward into contact, and actively stretch down. Oh, and steer. And focus. Is that so very much? ;-)

We had moments of excellence and moments of less excellence, but nothing terrible.

The only bad news is that Izzy is ever so slightly off in her right front which is not the one she banged up a couple weeks ago. It's not serious, but it does affect (effect? Jean, help!) how she's working. We focused more on going left so we weren't weighting the right fore too much... Sigh. Always something.

I'm thinking that we might be looking at front shoes after her next trim. The footing at the new place is a lot of sand and road mix, so it's exfoliating her sole really nicely and her feet are developing well and becoming concave (all good), but since she works 6ish days a week on sand, she may just be wearing her feet down. I dunno. That would be a nice, easy fix, so I'm crossing my fingers. I'll consult with my farrier when she comes out next week.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Again a Mixed Message

Izzy was amazing today. Back to her usual, happy, willing, and fun self. I had a blast. When we finished, I turned her out in the arena to run around like a crazy pony. Then she had a blast. It was good.

The sad news is that we won't get to be in the event derby we've been gearing up for because I'm poor. That pretty much sums it up. The entry fee is out of my league and that doesn't begin to count gas, hotel, food, etc. Sigh. I really, really wanted to do it.

Oh well. That just means we'll be more prepared than ever for whatever comes next, right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Tuesday and Wednesday were much better for us. I focused and kept Izzy focused by doing lots and lots of transitions and direction changes. The weather has been miserable (cold, windy and rainy. wtf? this is Idaho) so I haven't ridden a whole lot. Wednesday was our lesson, which went really, really well. We have Izzy jumping the barrel jump pretty reliably. I'm still thinking that for our first upcoming event derby that we'll just stick to the crossrail division, though. I think she's capable of doing the 2'3", but I'm going to keep things low stress.

Sound good? I hope all is well with the rest of you. I've barely been on the internet, so I'm behind again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thinking Thoughts

A couple of you have mentioned giving Izzy some U-gard to see if she has ulcers. I've mostly ignored that advice because I've always been able to pinpoint another reason for her acting up. I've been away thinking about her this whole weekend though, and I think it's time I actually looked into it. She has been a bit odd lately. Part of it I'm sure is moving and part is a lack of turnout (grrr), but I think both those things could easily contribute to a stressful situation for her. Tomrrow, I'll begin the hunt for the U gard.

Wish me luck.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today was a turnout day. I rode another horse who tends to be challenging before Izzy because Cathy asked me to give her a bit of a tune up. It was fun and went really well, but the wind is super gusty today, and gusty winds make me cranky. I don't know why. Izzy and the other mare I rode are totally fine in the wind. I just hate my hair blowing all over and feeling like I'm going to blow away.

So. Izzy was a total love when I tacked her up. She was sweet and cuddly and her swollen leg actually looked much better. I took her to the arena and she started spooking at random things on the lunge line. I thought, "Huh. I do not want to deal with this in the mood that I'm in." So I untacked her and let her have a merry time running around the arena in nothing but her boots. Then I caught her and took her lovey-dovey self back to her pen. I'm hoping to squeeze a ride in tomorrow instead... we'll see how it goes.

Like my new layout? I'm still playing with it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Confidence Building

We had our first lesson in a about a month and a half this morning. It went surprisingly well. Izzy came out pretty quietly, lunged nicely, and even stood for me to mount. (That's something I want to work on, but I'd far rather she walk off when I try to mount than rear because she feels trapped. Really. We've been there.)

We did some basic dressage work and got Izzy listening. I was quite pleased and would have been ready to quit there. Let's just say my confidence is not quite what it used to be. ;-) However, we had the jumping saddle on, so Cathy sent us off to hop over a couple crossrails. Izzy took one look at the crossrails, hopped over it, and CHARGED off. Cathy's comment, "Well, I guess jumping isn't a problem." Ha. Yeah. she really seems to enjoy it.

We worked on me staying with or behind the motion and half halting with my body for speed control. As Cathy pointed out, whenever I go to my hands, she starts to fuss with me and things don't go well. I was really impressed at how responsive she was to my weight/body aids. All that dressage is paying off! She came in to a 2' vertical (big for us) and wanted to rush. I pushed my body back, she stayed with me, and we made the perfect spot. Yay! Go Aimee and Izzy.

We even made it over the barrel jump a few times. Sweet! I'm hoping to take my next lesson (whenever that happens) on Cassie, my old girl, so I can get some concentrated input on the mechanics of jumping without worrying about my horse.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Some Improvement

Yesterday, I got Izzy out and lunged her. I decided it was bad for our corporate mental gealth to try to ride. She did ok. Still an idiot, but better.

Today, I got her out and lunged her. She was ok. I ran the lunge line through the inside bit ring and back to the girth and lunged her, which asked her to step up from behind and reach down and she was good. I got on her and rode.

It was ok. I focused on keeping her forward and straight was a secondary consideration. Yeah, we ran around on the forehand. Yeah, she kept bulging out towards her friends. However, she didn't buck or freak out and I was happy with her when I got off. That's what mattered today.

Her leg is still massive, so I hosed it for like 10 minutes, until the swelling went down. The good news is that we've done enough with water lately that she actually feel asleep while I was doing it. (Note that in her mock sale ad, I didn't say she bathed. She doesn't. She hates water very much.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Frustrated Emo Rant

I have had a really, really crappy week. Tuesday my car broke and my horse tried to buck me off. Wednesday we found a suspicious lump on my beloved corgi. Thursday was tense, waiting to get to the vet. Friday my horse was an idiot and the vet bill for my corgi was $300, probably with more to come and we're not even sure what's going on yet. Oh, and the cows got out.

Saturday I find out that Izzy apparently screwed herself up pretty badly running around like an idiot and her right front knee is grapefruit sized. She's sound, but it's not pretty. Cathy recommended light riding as the best thing to do since exercise should help the swelling go down.

Riiiight. Of course, Izzy had another total idiot day. I just can't catch a break this week. I'm angry and frustrated and just want to throw in the towel. I know that Izzy's probably still upset about the cow incident, but I'm just having a bit of a rough time right now and she's making it worse.

For sale: 16.0 hh black bay 2003 mare, Oldenburg x TB. Does basic dressage, started over jumps, trail rides and has jumped around on a cross country course. Intelligent, athletic, and drop dead gorgeous. Clips, loads, and stands for farrier.

I think I'm kidding, although it is tempting. Part of me says that I could easily sell her to someone who wants to use her to her full potential and buy something easier to ride and slightly less athletic. The other part of me knows that the first part is an idiot and I really do like her, most of the time. Are all relationships like this? I'm looking at an extreme love/hate dichotomy right now.

So I don't know what to do tomorrow. Part of me hopes it rains so I don't have to ride her, but the other part knows that I just need to keep getting on and working at it, or things will never get better.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Still Not Riding

I've been away from the computer and sadly, away from the pony, too. My car broke down, so I wasn't able to get out Wednesday. Thankfully, it was an easy and pretty cheap fix.

Today was the first day I was able to get out. I turned Izzy and Cassie out in the arena as soon as they finished their grain. They ran around like maniacs, so I left them out while I cleaned pens. Right about when that was done, the dairy cows across the street staged a massive escape and charged onto the property. Of course, Izzy and Cassie found this to be very exciting, so there was much galloping back and forth and pretending to be scared.

It probably took half an hour to help get the cows rounded up, during which time the girls continued to run. After that, they took fifteen minutes to settle down.

Did I mention that it's been pouring rain the past week? The arena is not really good for riding.

Anyways. The girls were totally soaked with sweat from all their frolicking, so I put them away to finish breakfast and no one got ridden. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Not The Blog I Wanted to Write

I wanted to write today about the nice dressage ride Izzy and I had yesterday; about how she's learning to step under herself and we're really making progress; and how the only mystery at the moment is why she stocked up last night after a light walk/trot workout yesterday. Yes, that was the blog I was going to write.

Instead, I went for a ride this morning. It started well--Izzy was responding and I was prepared to build on yesterday. She was just tense in one corner for no particular reason. As I rode her through it to see why, she leaped into the air and bucked, then plunged forward and bucked again. I'm pretty sure I didn't sit up like I should have, but I yelled at her and managed to get her head up and turned in a circle, so we stopped. I regained my stirrups and asked her to go forward gently. I was immediately glad that I had only asked gently, because I could tell in that instant that she was ready to buck again.


It didn't help at this point that there was a massive freaking out draft horse in the arena with us and another one in the round pen. Not their fault, but it wasn't helping my mood.

I decided the best course of action was to hop off and put Izzy on the lunge line. She galloped around like a maniac. My usually-lazy warmblood took off running around me. I didn't even need the whip I was carrying. She ran at least five minutes one way, then we switched directions and she ran the other way. I got back on after that and we tried to work again. Just when I was starting to get her attention, the lady got off the one freaking out draft horse, tied him up in the arena, and brought the other one in to ride.

Instantly, I lost Izzy's focus. I tried asking her to canter, and she tore off. Since she very nearly fell over when bucking, I took my time turning her in a circle so we didn't have a catastrophic wreck. I got her back under control, did two walk/trot transitions, and got off just as one of the draft horses tried to take the arena fence down. (To all the good drafts and draft owners out there: I'm not hating on you. It's just that these two are extremely destructive and strong willed and I can't stand them most of the time. Especially when I'm cranky.)

As I led Izzy out of the arena, she nearly ran over the top of me. Just because. That made me madder than I already was, so I took her to the round pen instead of her pen, took her tack off, and turned her loose. She galloped around like a maniac. I even pulled the (empty) water trough off the rail because she was acting dumb and my cousin had an accident with a horse, a water trough, and a round pen.

I put my tack away. I wandered around. She finally more or less settled down, so I went and caught her. She was completely soaked in sweat, so I tied her up and thought, "Huh. Here we have a teachable moment." I mean, she's hot, sweaty, and tired. She stocked up last night, so cold hosing is in order regardless. Besides, I was sure she was tired enough to stand still.

Again, I was wrong. She had a royal fit when I started spraying her (lightly) with the hose. However, she was securely tied, she knows better than to pull back, and I was in a mood. I sprayed her until she stood still and gave up. When she was thoroughly rinsed and hosed, I left her tied (good practice!) while I went to find a sweat scraper. (Apparently, mine has wandered off.) She more or less stood, but by the time I found one, the arena was empty of riders.

I know an opportunity when I see it. I had already figured out that this mess was most likely caused by having a weekend off, followed by light work and no turnout. Someone's mare is in good shape, has engaged the TB side of her brain, and she had no way to express it. Sigh. The trials of horses.

Anyways. I seized my opportunity and turned Izzy loose in the arena. She galloped off. I watched her run around like a maniac for five or ten minutes, then thought, "Well, I might as well get the other girl." I put my old TB mare out with her, thinking that she'd just run Izzy into the ground like she normally does. Instead, Cassie (the TB) galloped merrily around for a while, but apparently wasn't in a hard running mood. They played for at least 20 minutes, but Cassie decided she wanted to be done, so I caught her and tied her outside the arena. That lured Izzy over long enough to catch her, and then I was able to take them both home.

Leave it to Izzy to turn a 40 minute ride into a two and a half hour meltdown.

Lesson learned: when turnout is scarce, institute an arena turnout schedule for Izzy so she has some time to relax and be a horse. I'll have to work out something more concrete for her.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...