Thursday, March 31, 2011


Still miserable and sick yesterday, but I had to go out to see how the Wondermare was adjusting to her new situation. Also to see if she'd killed any of her pasture mates yet. Or been grounded. Or any number of possibilities that would not have surprised me.

As I drove up, I noticed that she was still out in the pasture and things looked peaceful, which at least meant that no one had caught her doing anything to awful yet. The barn owner told me that Izzy had instigated a massive and intense play session last night, complete with galloping and bucking like crazy. Hooray! I knew she needed that.

I got her out and was pleasantly surprised that she came up to meet me. Good. I gave her a treat, then took her off to the barn to feed her grain. Her self-appointed boyfriend was heartbroken that she was leaving him, complete with trotting the fence line and whinnying for her. She didn't even flick an ear. It was just, "Really? That guy? So not my type. Clingy, needy, not real attractive. Can't believe he's trying to embarrass me by talking to me in public."

I felt her pain. Poor thing. ;-) I was too sick and achy and un-energetic to ride, so I just gave her a thorough grooming (no surprise--there isn't a new mark on her) and then took her to the indoor to lunge. This whole winter we've struggled with the walk, whether on the lead, on the lunge, or under saddle. Magically, we had a lovely walk yesterday. I suspect it's a combination of "hooray new environments are exciting!" and the constant motion she's allowed in the pasture. She did have a run on her stall, but it wasn't very big.

Anyways. She was loose, fluid, free, and forward on the lunge. I love it. If I hadn't been so miserable, I'd have ridden for sure. She looked amazing. After a final grooming, I took her back to the pasture. As soon as Duke (the wanna-be boyfriend) saw her, he started screaming for her again, despite the fact that he'd been fed dinner in her absence. He came running up to her when I opened the gate and tried to crowd up to see us. She promptly spun around and started double barreling him until he had the sense to back away and give her space.

Sigh. Mare. She caught me totally by surprise, so I did not really react at all. The next few times, I think I'll carry a dressage whip, both to keep other horses away and to remind her that I'm the boss, not her.

Also, I sold my dressage saddle last night to someone local. For the first time in years, I actually only own one saddle at the moment.

Unless, of course, you count the one that's coming to me in the mail to try. Very exciting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sort Of Win

Yesterday was the big day--we were going to find out if Izzy could be a pasture pony.

Answer: Yes.

The first thing she did was pin her ears and move each boy away from her. Ok. Queenship established.

Next, she galloped the whole length of the field, which is about a quarter mile, complete with some very acrobatic bucks.

Then, she had a good solid roll in the mud.

Finally, she marched out to the grass part of the field and munched away. In the picture with her is Duke, her new boyfriend who is allowed to graze at a respectful distance from her. He's an 8 year old palomino paint gelding.
This is Spot, her other pasture mate. He's a leopard Appy who doesn't get what the big deal is about grass, but thinks it's great that the other two are skipping their dinner. More for him!

Both the boys are super laid back and I have a feeling that they're just going to ignore any of Ms. Mare's antics, so hopefully it works out well. It's just a trial for now, but as long as the three of them can live harmoniously, it will become permanent.

So far, so good. I'm looking at getting Izzy a rain sheet to keep her relatively dry and clean for the rest of spring. The boys don't seem too mouthy, so hopefully it will go well.

Oh, and I have a nasty bug right now. Ick.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Case of the Mondays

All was going swimmingly yesterday. The sun was up, the sky was semi-clear, I was looking forward to a hopefully good ride...

And then my husband called me. Usually, this is a good thing. I'm crazy about the guy. ;-)

"Hi," he says, "someone hit me."

"Are you ok? What happened?"

Basically, he was driving our lovely paid-off car to work and some idiot girl ran a red light and t-boned him. The car is pretty well ruined. He is ok, but definitely feeling the effects of that level of impact. I spent the rest of the day doing insurance and doctor related stuff with him, and yes, the first day in March that it did not rain, I didn't get a chance to go see my pony.

Boo. About the wreck, the car, insurance in general, and doctors. Also the weather. It's cloudy and overcast again today.

I'm emailing about a couple of saddles, but I can't move on anything until we know more about the stupid insurance today. At least Brent is ok--it could have been a lot worse.

Izzy is supposed to start trying out pasture board today or tomorrow. Cross your fingers for us. I hope this works.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Long Post

Proof that we still have and use our jumping tack. We only did one trot pole, but it was a nice switch.

She is so freaking amazing. I love this mare.

Anyways, Izzy was forward and happy in her work. We figured out some stuff regarding the right lead, which she still didn't want to take. I had to keep her forward and stretching down and then quietly ask with my seat and then about 30% of the time, she would take it.

Sunday was much better. She took it every time I asked. I'm thinking her resistance was just because she remembered that it hurt before and anticipated that it would hurt again, even though it didn't.

Her massive injuries:
Left shoulder.

Right shoulder. She just took the hair off and it didn't even bleed, but she thought it was very dramatic.

The saddle hunt continues... well, actually, it begins today. I am mostly internetless at home, so I didn't get to do much over the weekend aside from obsess about it and drive my husband nuts. My local tack store did not have any Passiers in stock and they do not plan to carry them at all. Thanks, guys.

Here's what I'm looking for: 17.5" or 18" Passier with a wide gullet (or bought from a tack store that will adjust it for me with the purchase). I think I want to spend $750-1000 so that I can resell it for the same I paid for it if it doesn't work out... I'm currently following up with listings that interest me. It's kind of bizarre to be looking at saddles with a budget and there are actual listings.

My advantage is that Izzy is just not super hard to fit. She has withers and big shoulders and she likes a generous amount of room around them, but other than that, there aren't any big issues. She has a normal back and no particular hollows or bumps to be concerned about.

And, for good measure, here's a picture of how adorable my dogs are.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quick Weekend Update

In no particular order:

1) I rode Thursday and Izzy was great--forward and relaxed. Hmm. That makes me very, very suspicious of a hormonal problem. I'll be watching to see if it reoccurs in roughly a month.

2) There is an opening for a pasture board horse, so Izzy is going to give it a go. I love having her in a stall with a run because she stays clean and dry, but then I feel guilty if I don't get her out every single day. This might be a good compromise. Of course, it will be a pasture with two other geldings, so we'll see how that goes.

3) My friend tried out my saddle yesterday. It fit her horse perfectly and she totally loved it. It remains in my possession until Friday, at which point we make the happy switch.

4) In an odd twist of fate, I am now looking at various saddles online and actually enjoying the search. Something about actually having a budget just makes my inner miser very, very happy. Plus, since I'm starting with a budget, I can actually look at nicer saddles than before, which makes my inner tack-whore happy.

5) I'm actually very interested in Passiers. About to skip off to my local tack store to see if they have anything in that brand available to try on Izzy.

6) Speaking of the problem child, she somehow magically skinned up both of her shoulders. I'll post pictures on Monday. I think she lunged over the fence at someone, but regardless, when I turned her out in the indoor, she was far too gimpy to ride. Then, when I led her over to the turnouts, she had this big, gorgeous walk. Uh huh, Mare. I'm not convinced.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saddle Advice

So... let's talk more saddles.

I have a Collegiate Convertible Dressage Saddle. It fits Izzy ok, it fits me ok. I like it, don't love it.

I have a friend who wants to buy it for a little more than I paid for it.

Conundrum: do I sell the saddle that mostly works and look for something I like better or do I just put up with it and let her do the looking?

Hm... wither tracings and Trumbull Mountain are calling my name.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

We had insane winds here Sunday, followed by a ridiculous rain storm on Monday, so I didn't even go out to the barn.

Yesterday I was so exhausted that I just went out and lunged the mare. She looked good, happy, and forward, which made me wish I was riding. Then I realized I'd have to change into breeches, fight with my stupid dead boots, and saddle up, and I decided I would just turn her out instead.

I don't know what to think. I'm looking into cheaper ways to get omeprazole for her to treat for ulcers, but if she maintains her current behavior, then I'm pretty sure that we're dealing with a hormone issue. If it's hormones, then I've heard very good things about raspberry leaves, which are relatively inexpensive but I still don't want to spend money on anything until I have a better idea of what's going on.

Oh, and it's supposed to rain the rest of the week. Ugh.

I'm looking forward to riding tomorrow and maybe even doing a photoseries for It's In The Bag. (If you haven't heard of them, go there and buy away! I'm a tightwad poor person and I got a gorgeous three tube tail bag. Love the quality, love the product, love the cause.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Step Forward?

Again, thank you all for your comments. I went out to ride Friday, thinking that I would try the western tack to see if that made a difference, then up her ulcer medication if she behaved the same way she had been. Before tacking up, I turned her out in the indoor where she proceeded to gallop like a maniac and take the right lead at will.


I tacked up and off we went. She was really, really good. I had the most impulsion at the trot that I've had in months. She happily and willingly took the right lead without any of the head-flipping fuss she'd been giving me. So. Weird. Was it the saddle change? Was it the emergence of spring grass that is somehow supplementing her diet? No clue. I decided against upping the medication and went home.

Saturday, I took Izzy out for a nice long hand walk down the road. Anytime she got nervous, we would just stop and look at stuff until she relaxed, then continue. It was great. Western tack again. We started riding over to the indoor. She would not go forward AT ALL. (Oh, and did I mention it was snowing? Yay.) Then, as we crossed the road, she stopped. With a car coming. Would not move. Grrr.

I finally got her off the road, but she was distracted and hard to deal with for the next 10 minutes. I got off after she gave me something decent and called it a day.

She went from magically fixed to magically unfixed in the space of a day, which again makes me think ulcers. That sporadic behavior is very characteristic of her last bout with them.

A couple of notes:
1) Izzy gets fed two large meals a day. She is a pretty moderate eater, so that works out to her constantly having hay in front of her to dispose of at her leisure. She doesn't tend to bolt her food, so nibble nets etc are not a huge deal for us.
2) She has been on Ugard this entire time. Just the maintenance dose, though. I will up it to the loading dose for now, but we can't do Ulcerguard until my budgeting improves. It's looking up right now, but we're talking next month at the earliest. I can increase her turnout time and have more alfalfa added to her diet, though. That should help her out.

An old picture, but the problem pony is just as cute as ever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Short Term Plan

Thank you for all your comments. You've certainly given me a lot to think about. The general ideas presented are here:

1) Some sort of internal infection
2) Hoof problem
3) Hock problem
4) Cycle/hormone problem
5) Ulcers


Based on my knowledge of Izzy, I would say that I think #4 or #5 is most likely. An infection is possible, but I would expect other symptoms, maybe general droopiness, dull eyes, more discomfort. Her feet look good. It's not just me saying that--every farrier I've ever had work on her feet (4 different ones) thought she was pretty ok, especially in the back. She's sounds and moves relatively well, which is also why I doubt it's a hock problem. She's sound and even. She is genetically predisposed to be sound (yay!), she didn't work hard as a young horse, and I've brought her on slowly. Those options are possible, but I'm not thinking they are most likely.

Which brings us to hormones and ulcers.


Izzy never gave me any trouble in her cycle until her last one last fall, which I mentioned in the appropriately named post, PMS Pony. She is also 7, almost 8, so she is in a prime time of life to be having these problems. Since her last cycle was rough, it's definitely possible that her first one this year is correspondingly rough.

The other obvious possibility which I had overlooked is that her ulcers are acting up again. Hm... this one strikes a chord with me. Specifically, Izzy's ulcer problem started last summer when she was confined to her run except for a few minutes a day when I was able to turn her out in the arena. We're at a much better place now, but all the rain and snow and yuckiness has seriously cut in to available turn out time. It could easily be that this nasty lil' problem is cropping it's head up again.


Ok, our current short term plan is as follows:

1) switch to the loading dose on her ulcer medication
2) try to maximize turnout as weather allows
3) tack change: ride in the western saddle outside the arena at a walk to see if there's an element of being arena sour going on--maybe she just needs out
4) continue to monitor for any signs of cycling. Her back legs were a little messy two weeks ago, but I haven't noticed it since and she hasn't been presenting herself to geldings that I've noticed.
5) I'm considering having a massage therapist out to work on her. That would maybe indicate any more specific pains and would rule out a serious personality conflict, which I don't think is the problem, but would cover my bases.

Any other thoughts? I'm thinking we'll stick to this for about a week and look for improvement. If she's still acting weird, the next step will be to call a vet, but that's expensive and my faith in conventional medicine is only so-so.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Frustrated Again

I am not going to recap the Jimmy Wofford clinic today. I had every intention of doing so, but something else came up. To prove I was actually there, here is a picture from it.

Jimmy is the guy in the foreground, obviously.

Sorry. I will do it this week, but I'm just really frustrated right now. Izzy's follow-up chiro/acupressure appointment was yesterday morning. She reacted so poorly to the last one that we added a magnesium supplement and a vitamin/mineral supplement, let her take it pretty easy for two weeks, and decided to try again.


Izzy was WAY worse yesterday than she was the first time. We got less reactions as far as rearing and leaping just because she was even easier to read. She normally stands quietly. Not so yesterday--as soon as Toni would touch her, Izzy would start pawing and shaking her head and stress-biting the lead rope. She was fussy about everything and wouldn't let Toni get anywhere near her rear end. Period. Forget it.

Izzy didn't even want to stand still. If Toni moved, Izzy moved away from her. So weird.

I just want to scream. Something is obviously wrong. Izzy doesn't even like to take her right lead when she's loose and she fusses about either lead under saddle. She doesn't want to go forward under saddle. At all. The saddle is fine--I'm pretty in tune with her 'I hate this saddle' reaction and that's not what she's giving me. Instead, it's a total reluctance to push off her hind end at all. Something is wonky and she doesn't want to aggravate it.

I'd say she's just being pushy except, as I mentioned, she's the same when she's loose. She doesn't want to go forward, doesn't engage her hind end, and she's a horse that's pretty happy in her work most of the time.

She isn't lame. She isn't off. She isn't even short. All legs are functioning well. She's not really an arthritis candidate, and even if she were, she's not acting like an arthritic horse. Her back under the saddle is fine--the problem is in her lower back somewhere. Over the kidneys, basically. Her hips are fine. She likes a good, hard curry.

Every time I groom her, she scootches over to the left, pushes her right hind leg as far forward as possible and reaches back with her nose to indicate it. I've tried undoing the crossties to let her scratch something--no. She just wanders off to eat. She wants me to fix something and I don't even know what it is.

We tried cross tying her to see what would happen. She showed the same response she's been giving me (something's wrong, mom. fix it), but still didn't want Toni anywhere close to her. Toni stepped back and handed me a soft brush out of my grooming kit. Under her instructions, I worked up and down Izzy whole leg, which she really seemed to like, complete with licking and chewing. Then Toni tried to have me set my hand on Izzy's lower back with my other hand on her stifle. Izzy tried to cow kick me. We tried just using the soft brush. Same response. I stepped back and looked at Toni. We just stood there for a couple minutes, trying to give Izzy a break.

Finally, Toni looked at Izzy and said, "If you want to be done, you need to start licking and chewing."

Izzy started licking and chewing almost as if on cue. I swear that horse understands english. We decided to be done. I stood by Izzy's head and was talking to Toni, who patted Izzy on the neck. That was fine--Izzy doesn't mind Toni touching her as long as she isn't doing anything. We Toni started to rub her neck, Izzy pinned her ears and started pawing.

So. What now? Toni is just as confused as I am. She's never hurt Izzy in any way. Izzy does not usually act like this AT ALL. I can curry pretty much her entire body and get no negative reaction. She likes it. I guess now I can brush her right hind leg more and see if that does anything but otherwise I'm totally baffled.

I could call the vet out and say, "Hey, my horse is totally sound and in fabulous condition. I have no reason to suspect anything is wrong but something isn't right. Will you please charge me several thousand dollars to tell me that she's fine?"

Seriously. No heat, no pain, no swelling, no unsoundness. She doesn't even stock up in her stall. A fellow boarder mentioned that she's a mare in spring and maybe it's hormonal and she needs more magnesium. I could go for that, except that she's been on magnesium for two weeks and nothing has changed.

So... any ideas for the completely clueless owner? Really. If you have ever owned a mare, please contribute an idea. Even a dumb one--it's more than I've got right now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I am so tired. I was an hour late to work this morning because I fell asleep at home and obviously didn't wake up on time.


So. First I went to the tack store sale. I had a whole list of things to look for, and in true form, they had literally none of the things I needed in a useful size. Fail. HOWEVER, they did have a kerritts coat that was wind resistant and water-proof in my size, 35% off. The initial price was almost $200, so I wasn't too sure even though I desperately needed a new coat.

Hm... I did find wormer for $3, a nice new body brush, and exchanged my gullet plate for the correct size. (Pony mare likes Wide, for the record. No other sizes than wide.) I finally decided to get the coat and a flaming blue lunge whip. Once at the counter, they figured in discounts from the sale, plus some more stuff I had on consignment, and I walked out having spent $99 to get well over $200 worth of stuff. That is always a win in my book.

Oh, and when I checked email when I got to work, I found out that Tack of the Day had $200 paddock boots in the size and color I wanted half price. They are ordered. Yay for the horrid dead boots getting retired soon!!

My Jimmy Wofford notes are at home... will recap later this week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Storm Pony

By the time I made it out to the barn yesterday, it was blowing about 40mph sideways. Also raining. Yay!

Izzy and I bundled up and trundled over to the indoor.

She is amazing. I almost can't stand how amazing she is.

She was super quiet on the lunge, but still sticky about her right lead. Chiro will be back out on Tuesday to address that.

We focused on incorporating variety instead of pandering to my desires for routine. As we walk away from the mounting block, Izzy was very much behind my leg and protesting forward motion in the walk, which she usually does. Instead of fighting with her about it, I asked for trot. Off we went. I'd set a trot pole, so we're trot down the long side in shoulder-in, then straighten just in time to go over the pole, then halt, then go into a 3 loop serpentine at the trot. Then canter.

It's pretty fun, really. She was very engaged in what we were doing and was even trying to guess what would come next, which means she's very interested in getting it right. We had some of the nicest forward, soft trot I've ever had on her, and then we stopped.

Best pony ever. I'm going to miss her this weekend, but I gues seeing J-Wo will make up for it. ;-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Equine Fun-ness

To clear up any confusion from the comments:

1) JIMMY WAS ROBBED!! I agree with Frizzle, Solo, and the rest of the smurfs.

2) It would be really funny to meet up with a blogger friend.
"Hi, I'm SprinklerBandit."
"I'm ManyMisadventures."
"Sup, yo."
I kid. I have met Denali's Mom (who is AWESOME) and that was a total blast. So, PNW peeps, you need to actually go to stuff. ;-)

3) Kennewick is not as dumpy as Pasco but it is more dumpy than Richland. None of the three are particularly desirable. That is the extent of my knowledge of the tri cities area.

On to the main topic for today. In my other life (the one where I actually am forced to talk about things not horse-related), I am a total book nerd. At a used book store, I ran across a copy of Solo Schooling by Wendy Jago. It ended up coming home with me, and I'll be honest: I'm intrigued by it. Ms. Jago is an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practitioner who focuses on coaching.

What I really want to talk about is the section of the book on motivation--both human and equine. She lists a continuum for each trait and says that horses may fall anywhere on the continuum. Here are some examples:

Preferred Information Chunk Size
Small ______________________Large

Likely characteristics of a small chunk horse
May get anxious when a lot is going on -- can become overwhelmed. May seem more secure when he can grasp or do things step by step.

Likely characteristics of a large chunk horse
Gets the idea quickly. Anticipates routines from slight indicators (whether in the stable or the school). May over-anticipate and not 'listen'. May 'guess'.

Yeah, Izzy falls hard on the large chunk side of the equation.

Direction of Motivation
Towards_____________________Away From

Likely characteristics of a 'towards' horse
Will 'have a go'. Tends to be bold in approach, forward going, and enthusiastic. May be overbold or careless. May enjoy new experiences or situations and be curious about them rather than alarmed. Will like praise and may not respond well to being corrected.

Likely characteristics of an 'away from' horse
When in doubt, will flee. May be easily distracted or intimidated by new or unknown things and experiences. Becomes anxious when he 'gets things wrong'. Responds to disapproval and is fearful of punishment. May be easily cowed, by bossy humans or other horses. May need reassurance. Careful.

Ask yourself if your horse is drawn towards carrots or driven by sticks.

Izzy is well in the left-hand side of this column. She loves trying new stuff. She is intensely motivated by food and praise and isn't super worried about me being upset with her.

Method of Approach

Likely Characteristics of an Options Horse
Tolerates new experiences, new situations, new tasks well. Is curious about new things. Not bothered by changes of routine. May get bored easily and when bored, may get stroppy or switch off. May be rather 'gung ho'.

Likely characteristics of a Procedures Horse
Dislikes change in routines. Learns routines easily and repeats them, sometimes without being asked. Has a good memory for something once learned. May be anxious about change. Accurate and precise.

Options is definitely Izzy's style. It's not that she falls 'somewhere on the continuum'; that is her. All the way.

Source of Reference

Likely characteristics of an internally (self-) referenced horse
Can be bold, courageous, and fun. May not always listen to his rider. Not easily influenced by praise or correction. Can be willful or stubborn. Wants to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. May tend to argue with his rider. Can be cheeky or pushy. May be dominant in the field among herd of friends. Has clear likes and dislikes.<--This is my horse in a nutshell.

Likely characteristics of an externally (others-) referenced horse
Likes to please. Hates being told off. May be less dominant or even bullied in the herd and tends to regard his rider as though he or she were a superior horse. Can be passive and will switch off rather than rebelling. Needs a lead from his rider. Likes to know what's wanted so he can get things right.

Anyone else seeing Izzy as a firmly self-referenced creature? Haha, yeah, me too.

There is a ton more in this book and lots about interpreting the rider, but it's basically pointing out one main thing: Izzy and I are complete polar opposites on pretty much every element of the scale. It's incredibly useful for me to be able to read through this and see us so clearly. This week, I've been riding her with that in mind, and I think it's really helping. I knew she wasn't stuck on routines and got bored easily, but now I have a framework in which to put that information.

Instead of working on something over and over with her, which I tend to do, because I like small chunks of information and methodical progress, I'm switching things up. Walk. Halt. Turn on the forehand. Trot. Halt. Back. Trot. Shoulder-in. Circle. Halt. Haunch turn. She's so much more engaged and interested and it's good for me to stretch my comfort zones.

So, all in all, very useful book. Along with the character traits, it lists training recommendations, personal stories to illustrate information, and lots more I've just barely gotten into yet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Let's just be clear. I am not a crazy slap-happy person. I am a generally cheerful and optimistic person, but like all other people, I have my moments.

Some moments are inexplicable. Some are easily explained by this:

Yeah. Back zip paddock boots=HATE.

Specifically, I bought these boots about a year and a half ago. They never fit right, but they cost $25 online, and that was all I really had to spend anyways. For the first few months, they were even waterproof, which was nice.

They are not any more. Also, my toes about get rubbed raw because the front doesn't fit. Also, the ankles are too narrow for me, so it's nearly impossible to zip them over winter breeches. Or any breeches. Or even zip them at all, since the zippers are ripping out. Grrr. You might notice that I have also worn the heels down a tich. I didn't take a picture of the fronts, but they're worse. The stitching is gone and the leather is cracking and separating.

In fact, last night the left boot decided it would only zip halfway up even after the requisite 5 or 10 minutes of struggling with it. "Fine," I thought. I just snapped the top and put my half chap over it.

Every time my foot moved, the dumb boot unzipped a little bit more. GRRRR. HATE. BAD STUPID BOOT.

Anyways... I'm very much looking forward to Friday. I have pilates in the morning, then I'm going straight to the tack store. They are having a big huge sale and I have a $10 off coupon. I really, really hope they have something in my size to replace the bad stupid boots with. Also, I want a nice body brush for Izzy. Maybe a pair of reins. And we'll see what else is there.

Ahem. After the sale, I probably have to go to work (booo), then off to the barn to ride, then (get this) I AM GOING TO A JIMMY WOFFORD CLINIC!!! YAY!!

It's in Kennewick, WA. Dump of a town, but Tulip Springs is worth checking out.

ETA: I am auditing Jimmy's clinic. No way I have the $$ to ride in it. There's a reason I waited for a tack sale to buy new paddock boots.

Also, hooray new blog header made by one of my lovely readers. She is one of four people who have ridden Izzy since I got her. (Does that make her a little foolhardy? Probably.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Brag Time

We got 3" of snow at the barn yesterday. It was ridiculous. I turned Izzy out in the indoor and she ran and bucked like a maniac. Plus, there was snow on the roof.

"Ok," my adult re-rider self said, "we will tack up and lunge. If she's really, really good, then MAYBE I will get on and walk for like 5 minutes."

Izzy was lovely, calm and forward on the lunge. On for a walk it was. I decided that I would really work on my form--I have a nasty tendency to brace my right ankle up against Izzy, which is just plain weird. Why? Well, aside from the obvious aesthetic complaints, It means that 1) my leg is constantly applied to her side, which is a recipe for her to learn to ignore it and 2) because my heel is up, there is no tone in my calf which means my leg is ineffective and sloppy at best.

As you can see, my right leg is not being super attractive here. Grr. Heel down, dammit. How hard can it be?

Oh, and here I'm also tipped forward. Dumb things I do... the pictures allow me to see my faults and improve. Now I've also posted them on the internet so a whole mix of people can see them and think, "Oh, well at least I ride better than her."

Hey, it's a service I provide. I ride poorly so you feel better about yourself. ;-)

Here is me riding Izzy Saturday:
I would just like to point out that my ear/shoulder/hip/heel alignment is not that bad and my hands are finally not in my lap. Yes, my reins should be shorter which would correct the screwy wrist thing I'm doing, but overall, it's progress.

Anyways. Monday's ride was promising. One of my goals is to ride Izzy w/t/c without having to constantly use the whip, which was basically what we'd devolved to this winter. Amazingly enough, Izzy is fabulous. She's feeling better every day, now that we're sorting out the vast maze of teeth, chiro, and feed issues, and when I asked for a trot, we went forward into a soft, willing cadenced gait that about dropped my jaw.

It wasn't so much that we had the magical passage of a few weeks ago--it was just her willing forwardness. Yes, she's not quite reaching for the contact and I know she's a little curled behind the bit, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a week or so ago.

I'm very happy with the progress we're both making. We still have zero trot to right lead canter transitions, which means there is a deeper issue for Toni to attack soon, but in all other aspects, she's doing much, much better.

So much to look forward to this week...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy Monday!

Hello blogger world. I have so much to talk about this week that it's almost ridiculous. I will try to break it up throughout the week so you don't get stuck reading huge massive monster posts.

As you maybe recall, my Micklem competition bridle came on Thursday and I was excited to try it out. I'd never touched one before, so I'll give you a brief review.

LOVE. That is it.

The leather quality is nicer than I expected for the MSRP. The bridle with reins is available at Dover for $176, I believe. While I'd hardly group it with my nunn finer bridle in terms of leather quality, it's definitely nicer than I expected and should hold up well.

In fact, I know it holds up well because I facebook stalked the girl I bought it from and there are pictures from several years ago of her competing in it. Creepy, but effective.

Anyways. All stalking aside, I loff loff loff the contoured comfort crown that's all one piece. It's easy to handle and just fits her head. Like it was made to be there.

Here is the lovely mare herself modeling it. It's super easy to put on--just slip it in to place, buckle the throatlatch (jawlatch?) and the noseband (chinstrap?).

A couple thoughts: I absolutely love the jawstrap/throatlatch thing. It makes so much more sense to me than a traditional throatlatch. It in no way interferes with her breathing and actually serves to stabilize the bridle on her head and keep it out of her eyes. Perfect!

I also really like the noseband section. I've been contemplating a flash bridle because I do like the bit stability added by the flash, but I'm just not wild about attempting to tie a horse's mouth shut. (Oh, and she doesn't react well to artificial restrictions, so it was not a happy picture in my head when I considered trying it out.) This gives me the bit stability option without the flash option and it's fabulous. It can also be used bitless, which we'll probably tackle eventually.

You might have noticed that I didn't talk about performance improvements. There are a few reasons for that.
1) I have used it a total of three times, which is hardly enough for a decent analysis.
2) It was a long shot that it would actually fix our headshaking problem anyways--I think that's got more to do with attitude and back pain.
3) Izzy is used to me putting all kinds of crazy contraptions on her anyways, so I don't really think we're looking at a tack problem.

Anyways. Gushing aside, the Micklem bridle is a definite keeper.

Saturday was awesome, too. We had a photoshoot with one of my super talented friends.

It was raining, but we got some lovely shots.

I love this one. We are adorable.

Izzy is not so sure that the photographer is in an acceptable location. I love her expression.

Throughout the whole shoot, she was being ridiculously adorable. Very personable, cute, and curious.

I love this mare.

Cute mare in the pouring rain.

So dramatic. I'll post more throughout the week, I think.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Between Izzy's odd physical mystery issue and the crappy weather lately, I was not in a super good mood to ride yesterday. However, I did want to see if she'd be any better after a couple days of her new supplements. Premature maybe, but you know how that goes.

We had construction on the neighbor's property right next to the outdoor arena, complete with a crane and trusses going up. Yay! A boarder had turned both of her horses out in the indoor and wandered off, so that was off the table unless I felt like hunting her down and acting bitchy, which I didn't. Oh well. Izzy can just deal with the construction, right?

Then a car pulled up. And another. Oh look! A meeting of the scary-riding-boarders, and they're all riding in the outdoor together. I don't mind riding with other people, but I was really wanting to ride alone so I cold just concentrate on Izzy and see what's effecting her. However, these people are truly terrifying to ride with (they have little-to-no control of their horses and no concept of horses needing some personal space).

I made a grumpy face. I very nearly put Izzy away. Then, I realized that at least the round pen with it's nice sandy footing is on my side of the road. I would have gone to the track, but there was also construction on the bridge to the track. Boo construction.

Anyways. Izzy actually did really well, considering. Her walk was somewhat better--a touch more forward and less sticky. She picked up the trot easily both ways and didn't fling her head. We were actually having a decent ride right up until she had a head-flinging fit going to the right. I just stayed still and rode through it, then asked for canter. She cantered with minimal fuss, but was not at all forward to the right.

In other news, my much-anticipated Micklem bridle showed up yesterday. I'm looking forward to trying it out today to see if it does anything for her general itchiness and head-flipping-ness.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Goals

Ok, time to wrap up our February goals and move into March.

My stated goals were:

1) Ride at least four days a week, even if it's cold. Do two days of dressage, one day jumping/cavaletti, and one day western. Any extra days can be used for whatever. (Hacking and trot/canter sets will commence when the weather is better and the track isn't covered in ice. Probably late Feb/Early March).
Massive fail. It wasn't really our fault. Between the teeth (about 8 days off) and her current chiropractic issues, I did not get a ton of riding in. We only jumped like once and the dressage was sporadic. However, I'm going to drop this as a goal for now. I mostly needed it for the early part of the year when it was way too cold for a reasonable person to ride. I'll still keep the format, but it's no longer an 'official' goal.

2) Sitting trot! We will practice EVERY SINGLE TIME I RIDE. English, western, bareback, I will sit the trot. Not excessively and not a lot, but enough to start getting my body used to the motion.
Success!! Only in the sense that I did it every time we rode, unfortunately. Due to the sporadic riding, I can't say I made a lot of progress, but at least it's starting to become a habit.

3) Dressage: continue to focus on my position, specifically long legs and erect upper body.
Huh. Frankly, I think I'm doing a little better, but I need more concentrated work.

4) Jumping: continue working through small grids. Add in crossrails and verticals as we feel comfortable. Focus on giving Izzy a release over the fence, staying in balance, and keeping my heels down and leg effective.
Semi-success here. We haven't jumped in several weeks (yeah, grrrr), but I was doing much better last time we did. We even some nice little 2' verticals and I didn't think I was going to die.

5) Legs: continue to work on getting Izzy forward from the leg in all three gaits. W/T/C transitions that are freely forward with no whip. <--This one will be super hard.
SUCCESS!! Well, sort of. I had one day where we could do this nicely. She is definitely getting better.

I'm trying hard not to feel like Feb was a wash. Between her teeth and her current issues and missed riding days, we did not progress much in the performance department. I'm starting to bring her back now, but it's driving me nuts. She isn't forward. Is that because something hurts or because she's lazy? She tosses her head a lot at our first few upward transitions (under saddle only, lunge is fine), but then not after that. Is something wrong or is she just testing me to see if that will make me get off?

I want to take a lesson or two to get some professional feedback, but at the same time, what is the point of paying for a lesson when I know we're still addressing some physical issues that will hamper her?

Ok, so with all that angst spelled out for you, let's set some March goals.

1) Sitting trot. Again, every time I ride. At least on circuit of the arena each way. Begin to work towards trot/canter/trot transitions in sitting trot.

2) Get Izzy FORWARD from the leg. For serious. Lots of transitions and study. Make this happen.

3) Completely re-evaluate Izzy's current feed and make changes as needed.
3b) Have Toni out again to work on Izzy and see what progress we can make.

4) Take a lesson. Probably dressage.

These goals feel somewhat less ambitious than last Months, but I think I need to back off a little and get whatever Izzy's current issues are figured out so that we can move forward. Cross your fingers for us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wondermare's Opinions, V 2.0

I made it out to the barn before Toni, our lovely chiro, showed up. I quickly turned Izzy out in the arena to get any silliness out and let her roll, then gave her a thorough grooming so Toni would get minimal mud-and-shed on her while she was working.

Izzy was pretty laid back and happy. No inclination of what was to come from either side.

All went well at first. Toni started at Izzy's head and worked back towards her tail. She had some issues with her head/face (anyone else not surprised?) and a little bit in her neck. So far, reasonably good. As Kate suggested, Izzy did have a rib out on her right side, which definitely contributed to her unwillingness to do anything to the right.

Then we hit Izzy's lower back.
The area marked by the red arrow.

Izzy took a flying cow kick at Toni, who scrambled back and commented, "I knew that was coming."

Now, here's a visual for you. Izzy is 16.0 hh. I am 5'8". Toni is not as tall as I am.

The red line indicates how tall Toni is.

Not tall.

Anyways, there are various challenges to working around large, athletic horses, as Izzy was demonstrating for us. Toni commented that if we weren't careful, Izzy would punt-kick us to Pluto.

"Actually," I informed her, "due to the size differential, you'd go slightly beyond Pluto."

We laughed, but we talked about the problem we were presented with. Izzy did not want us handling her lower back, period. Toni tried going very slowly and lightly, and Izzy gave us another big reaction.

Sigh. Mare.

This is directly above her kidneys, so Toni asked if I'd wormed lately. The wormer can cause pain in the kidneys. I hadn't. However, she did get her teeth done while sedated, so part of the problem is most likely the sedation working it's way out of her body. Oh, and also her hind legs have been a little messy the past two days, which means she's coming into her first heat of the year. Yay hormones!!

Ok, plan B. There is still something wrong up front. Maybe we can work on that while we think about how to address the back end. Toni goes to Izzy's side and we get ready to move sideways. First time--ok. Need to do it again.

Izzy rears up and plunges forward as we leap out of her way. She doesn't continue being upset after that. She let us know that it was definitely not ok to do that, then stood quietly.

At least she's honest, right? We turned her out to see if she had any issues to work out. Nope, just stood around eating. Hmmm. Toni doesn't want to push her anymore. We take her to the indoor. She does seem to be moving better--not so tight and slow as she has been. She also gets in a very thorough roll, going over several times.

While she wanders around, we decide to try a new approach. Izzy now has a vitamin/mineral supplement and a mare/hormonal one (with oodles of magnesium) to help sort her out. Oh, and Toni didn't think we made enough progress, so she didn't charge me for the session.

Izzy wandered over to us to demand that Toni scratch her. No hard feelings, apparently.
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