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We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label feet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label feet. Show all posts

August 8, 2011

It's A Bird. It's A Plane. Oh, Wait, It's SuperVet!

That's right, it's Episode 59 of Dr. Bob Presents.

It was time for fall shots (a perennial favourite of Mr. Orange Wimpy Pants) which is code for time where I stockpile all my equine questions in a marathon Dr. Bob Inquisition. Only there is no torture. Unless you consider me asking questions torture. Which he might. But I pay him. So too bad.

Question 1: I've noticed Solo's heels tend to underrun. Should I be concerned? Should I try to fix this? Can it be fixed?

Dr. Bob's Treatise On Feet (may be cropped to fit this screen and typing energy level): When a horse's heels get crushed by bad farrier work, they cannot always be fixed. Which is why I freak out when I see this happening. The heels will, over time, continue to grow at the new, undesired angle and you can cause more damage and spend a horse's whole life trying to fix it. What is important is that the heels are fully supported, the toes are kept short, the angles of the whole foot and leg are balanced, and the horse is comfortable.

Question 2: My massage fingers are paranoid. Is this part of his butt supposed to feel this tight and is this part suppose to twitch when I press on it and does his ass feel better?

Dr. Bob's Treatise On Equine Musculature (definitely abbreviated to allow for approaching bedtime): This muscle group goes this way and this muscle group goes this way (lecture on muscles and fascia commences which is fascinating, but too long to type). Yes, this part is supposed to feel tight and yes, that is supposed to twitch, and yes, he feels much better. Your massage work is excellent! (here I throw a self-congratulatory internal party)

Question 3:  I would like to bring Solo back to competition at Novice level in early October.  We will not go Training again until at least late November; I will not rush him.

Dr. Bob: Sweet. Sounds good. Thumbs up. (Hey, it's not all treatises.)

Question 4:  My friend's horse is a chunky, black, PerchieX and he has terrible anhydrosis.  He's been on OneAC for months and they are both miserable.  I heard a rumour about accupuncture helping -- can you fix him?

Dr. Bob's Treatise On Anhydrosis (I've already heard the accupuncture treatise): Sure, I can staple his ears; this commonly is very successful. I've had a horse start sweating within 15 minutes of staples going in. I've never had much luck with OneAC. Thyroid supplements also often help, but take about a month to start working.

From here, we launched into a discussion of the equine glandular system and feedback pathways throughout. I don't think it's good for business to let science geeks talk to each other, we have notoriously poor time management skills. In fact, Dr. Bob's lucky I don't have any money or else I would schedule appointments just to peruse his seemingly boundless collection of horse knowledge.

Your summary: Solo's healing. His feet and muscle look good and a comeback looks hopeful. I can begin adding more jumps to our rides while keeping up the massage. Solo was a week overdue on worming and his fecal was at a 2 for worms, so we obviously have undead zombie worms on the farm and I shot that wormer in as soon as we got home. Of course, he spit it out, so I scraped it off the floor and shoved it back in. He swallowed that time. PerchieX needs some ear staples and my bank account needs CPR. But it was worth it.

May 8, 2011

The Studs Are Here!

Sadly, no, not that kind.

Friday was a busy day. Solo and I met with P to review the Training Level dressage test we'll be doing in Virginia. It started ugly, with Solo insisting on being a redhead, throwing himself around and whining in protest. I stopped, took a deep breath, replaced the rage with zen and we started over.

The test is far more complex than we've done before -- which turned out to be a good thing! Figures and transitions fire in rapid succession, which means Solo never had time to get all stiff and brace-y, which means all of a sudden, I had a supple horse on my hands!

In bigger news, though, Friday was Stud Hole Installation Day. And I don't mean a pit filled with cabana boys. Although that would have been exciting too.

Having never seen the process of drilling and tapping shoes, I of course had to whip out the camera to capture Stud Master Johnathan (aka Hoof Shaper Extraordinaire and Fixer Of All Solo Foot Problems) as he single-handedly wrestled uncooperative steel shoes into submission. It looked strikingly similar to convincing Solo to do dressage.

First you drill the holes.
Then you use the tap to cut threads in the steel.
Solo supervises.
Then you install the shoe while the dogs mug you for hoof bits.

This process was HARD work. I suspect that Johnathan may have chased me off with the hoof nippers if I had asked him to do all four feet. Luckily for his shoulders, I did not want to stud the front shoes -- I do not want to slow down Solo's front feet while galloping and jumping as that would seem to court disaster for over-reaches and blown out tendons.

The end result: four nice neat holes, shown here with plugs intact.  And of course, four lovely reshod feet, which is a typical result when Johnathan applies his awesomeness to the Shiny Red Beast.

Yesterday, I screwed in four road studs for our jump school just to see how everything worked. Lesson: screwing in studs is a meticulous process that takes a long time. Will not be doing that unless I have to!

I am now off to read even more about studs while hoping that I don't manage to make any giant mistakes and hurt my horse. No pressure or anything.

April 16, 2011

Tranformation To Real Event Horse: 95% Complete

Protective body armour for rider: Check

Air-cooled, carbon-fiber-lined tendon protection for horse: Check

Colour-coordinated cross country outfits: Check

Helmet cam: Check

Ability to leap ditches in a single bound: Check

USEA member cards for horse AND rider: Check

Two trainer, two saddles, two bridles, two girths, two shirts, two...: Check

And now...

Why yes, now that you ask, that IS a perfectly organized stud kit.  In a blue box.  With blue duct tape for holding boot straps in place.  And a blue hoofpick.

Solo gets drilled and tapped behind on his next visit from Johnathan the Wonder Farrier in early May. I have decided to make the commitment since I already know that VA in May can equal wet grass on very hilly terrain. With the added challenge of the move-up to Training Level, I want Solo to have as many tools as I can give him. I'm not drilling the front shoes; I do not want to do anything that slows down his front feet even a tiny bit while jumping or galloping. The last thing we need is a blown tendon or cut up pastern.

I have a lot to learn about studs but I've been reading till my eyes cross. But I'll save that for another post...

March 5, 2011

Take The Time

It is so important to do the little things to keep your horse sound and mentally and physically fit no matter what his job is. Far too easy is it to get lost in the rushing and scheduling and riding that consumes us on a daily basis. But it's those tiny tasks, many that take only seconds, that collectively add up to a well-managed horse. This is what makes a horse(wo)man, not just a rider.

Take the time to palpate your horse's neck, back and haunches before and after a ride to look for tender spots. Just running your fingers down the big muscles with medium pressure can tell you a lot.

Take the time to run your hands down each leg so you know if that knot is new or old.

Take the time to lay a palm on each hoof as you pick them to check the temperature.

Take the time to wiggle each shoe to check for tightness when you lift his feet.

Take the time to really notice the colour, shape and texture of his frog and sole so you know if they change.

Take the time to run your fingers up the back of his pasterns to check for fungus like scratches.

Take the time to take him out on a hack to condition him on hills and uneven ground at the walk and trot, getting him fit the RIGHT way. Don't get trapped in the sandbox.

Take the time to watch him walk away from you as you turn him back out to watch for any stiffness or unevenness.

Take the time to give him a day or two off for a grooming spa or some quiet handgrazing so his body and mind can rest each week.

Take the time to dip his bit in a bucket of water after your ride so there are no sharp-edged crusties next time you tack up (and you don't have to scrub later!).

Take the time to lay out your girth and saddle pad after riding so it can dry and stay mildew and fungus free.

Take the time to glance into his feed bucket -- is he cleaning it up? Sorting out the supplements he doesn't like?

Take the time to watch him eat hay or grass. Is he chewing easily and evenly or does he just mash it and let it fall out of his mouth?

Take the time after you pull his saddle off to curry the matted, sweaty hair, letting air reach the skin and re-fluffing his coat.

Take the time to inspect his manure and watch him pee. Is everything normal coloured? Is the flow and consistency of all his waste the same every day?

I am sure there are others; the take-home message is that these seemingly miniscule things can catch a problem early, saving you potential headaches, vet bills, and missed competitions. They also help make your horse's job more pleasant so he doesn't resent what you ask him to do. Keeping his body and mind fit is 100% vital to keeping him going year after year, not to mention it goes a long way to keeping your maintenance costs down. Fight the urge to rush, be a horse(wo)man, and train yourself to a routine that incorporates getting to know your horse's body and habits so that when something does change (oh yes, we know it will), you will be the first to know. The faster you notice, the faster you can fix it and get Dobbin back on track, which only gives you both more time to enjoy the good stuff!

September 29, 2010

A Brief Update

I will interject again with a brief Solo update!  Because this is the Solo blog!  So I must talk about Solo!

Hmmm, I think my blood sugar is too low and it makes me crazy(er than normal).

So, since we have a ton of stuff coming up in October, including big horse trial, our dressage saddle decided to enter the phase of catastrophic-failure-to-fit-at-all. Fitter (#4) tried valiantly for a total of about five hours. Bless her. It is now to the phase of adequate-but-still-kinda-sucky (these are scientifically verified phases, I swear). To my dismay and horror, we must (a) replace saddle or (b) not ride.

Since (b) will result in descent into never-ending despair that terminates only with inability to keep breathing, I am forced to choose (a).

Now I must find the perfect dressage saddle before October 28th. And in all, likelihood, I will have to ride in the sucky one at our clinic coming up next weekend. Argh. The timing on these things...

Other than that, Operation Belly Burner has been 95% completed with success. Our hemoglobin problem is under construction, Dr. Bob has declared our supplement choice an excellent one after reading the ingredients and we are due to check blood count in late October. Solo's feet are hanging in there, surviving a dry Carolina late summer by the grace of Keratex.

I still think we are going to need fairy dust to get October to go off the way I'd like it to!

May 24, 2010

We Have Finally Achieved Normalcy!!

It only took four years.

You can read about our struggles to conquer Solo's abusive longeing past here. If you are not familiar with the story, it will help you understand why I led my horse back to the barn with a huge grin on my face today.

We have received an ungodly amount of thunderstorms over the past few days, everything is wet and I have two long days at work ahead of me, so I decided to just put Solo in the vienna reins and give him a longe workout. There was a ground pole up in the arena, so I just incorporated that into our circle to let Solo work out how to fit it into his stride on his own at the trot and canter, which he did.

And why is this so exciting? Because MY HORSE CANTERED CALMLY IN MULTIPLE CIRCLES IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. This is a BIG BIG BIG deal. Even when he was thrown off balance the first few times cantering over the pole -- he didn't get the distance right and ended up in a lopsided cross canter -- he broke to trot, I gave a quiet kiss and he stepped right back up into a rhythmic canter.

No bug eyes. No flinging self about. He had one nervous moment where he stopped, but I put him back in a trot and he calmly picked up the canter shortly thereafter.

And after cantering, no racing about in crazy trot, anticipating the terror of yet more canter! We calmly resumed a metronome of a trot, spiraling in and out from 5-20 m circles and I'll be damned if he didn't keep a perfect rhythm the entire time.

I try to be a good horsey, mom!

Modeled here (besides, of course, Mr. Shiny Pants' big fat cute nose) are also Solo's brand new fly boots! I had an old pair, the cheapie four pack that I think I got from or somewhere, they were HORRIBLE and I threw them away. They sagged down around his ankles like worthless slouch socks (ah, 1986, how I remember your glory). I picked these up from Dover, they are "The Original Fly Wraps" and they are so far (ok, days used = 0, but we'll go with initial impression) soo much better! They do have plastic stays so they do not sag, nice velcro with stretchy bits for give, lovely fleece binding, and you can pick lots of fun colours! The set of four is still only around $40. These will go along way to reducing summer hoof cracking!

I am going to confess a little secret, I was, ahem, almost irresistibly tempted to buy purple ones (or blue, OMG, how am I supposed to resist our official colour!), but I had to give in to sensibility and stick with the nice, heat dispersing white.

May 1, 2010

My Vet Has Mystical Powers

Not too long ago, I took Solo in to Dr. Bob to have his Coggins pulled.  Dr. Bob LOVES to talk, so inevitably we end up chatting about 14 different things at each appointment, as he throws out his rather impressive depth of knowledge on all things equine.  On this particular day, he displayed his uncanny ability to read a horse's body like a newspaper without laying a hand on it.  Just standing there, eyeing Solo as he was tied to the trailer, this is what Dr. Psychic shared with me as my mouth was hanging open in awe.  Apologies if it's a little disjointed, I came home afterward and frantically wrote down everything I could remember, he threw a LOT of information at me!!

It appears that I have been riding him much more round (here he points at a muscle at the base of the neck in front of the withers that apparently gave us away) and we have moved up a level over the winter (OMG, um, yes, yes we have).

Occasional back soreness is due to that fact that while the front end has developed muscle brilliantly, the back end needs to catch up; this is probably why back toes are dragging so much too. But he shows no sign of stifle issues (fighting farrier, refusal to pick up canter leads, extreme handedness, strong toeing out), which I had asked about just to make sure that any resistance I was feeling wasn't coming from this.  His body at this point plateaued until his hind end can catch up to the front and middle.

There may still be a little scar tissue inside the foot from the low heel problem we've spent the last many moons fixing.  The outside looks great, but the internal structures take much longer to heal.  This tissue will eventually break up and heal completely and is probably pretty close to complete already since his angles have been looking great.

We should do a blood panel this summer to check cell counts, etc. This will also show any parasite loads since stuff encysted in intestines will not show up on a fecal. Horses generally have a drop in cell levels in summer due to heat stress. For older horses a steroid shot can help boost these cell levels so they thrive under a workload better.  (me back in:  I intend to do some research on this one.  I don't want to be shooting steroids into my horse on a whim, but I want to know for the future if this could be a useful tool.)

These days, we can help our horses stay more active and be healthier longer.  Medical advances have allowed us to provide better living through chemistry.

Use different exercises to help build a more balanced body (me again:  Dr. Bob has evented his own horses, which I love as it means that he understands the needs and development of the eventing horse).  Extended gaits work the gaskin and forearm. Collected work works the butt and abs. Use lots of hillwork always.

After your last spring competition, give Solo a two-three week break in summer to just bum around. Let any internal stress injuries which have not presented settle and heal. Do occassional light walking hacks only, no effort. After such a break, it takes about 4 weeks to bring back into condition.

Whew, I think that was it!!

February 11, 2010

Hoof And Mouth II

Since Dr. Bob was already at the farm to do Solo's hock injections last week, I had him take a look at our ongoing foot rehab and took the opportunity to ask a few questions. Because I ALWAYS have questions. And I am trying not to drive my wonderful farrier completely insane by asking 40,000 questions. So Dr. Bob = new victim.

Dr. Bob was the one who helped us get the feet back on track so he has seen their progression over time. Overall, he gave the farrier's work a thumbs up and said things were looking good (woohoo!). I need to get some new pictures...

I had several questions about the hind feet though. I freely admit I hate (HATE HATE HATE) having Solo in shoes, but as I told Dr. Bob, they are working and he is so obviously more comfortable, I have a hard time arguing with their usefulness for the time being. He still has some sensitivity in his rear heels. I wasn't sure if that was residual from the removal of heel by ex-farrier or if it could be caused by something else, even the shoe itself. I wanted to pull the hind shoes but couldn't in good conscience do so KNOWING those heels were still sore to the poking. I also had been staring cross-eyed at his hind frogs. Barefoot, his frogs had gotten VERY wide behind and since reapplication of a shoe, had narrowed back up some. Not so much that they looked cramped or smooshed, though. So was this bad, good, indifferent??? I had to know...and fortunately, Dr. Bob's most favouritest thing is talking to people so he was happy to answer as follows:

The heel issue: residual soreness can last for six months to a year after the heels are compressed in constant contact with the ground. Don't pull the shoes until that bulb sensitivity is no longer there. (Which seems like a big duh, but ya know, sometimes you just need to hear from someone qualified that yes, you are doing what you need to be doing.)

The frog issue: yes, all the barefoot literature constantly talks about the frog being wide. But much more important is the fact that frog have depth/height to it so it can actually function as the pump it needs to be. When it gets super wide and flattened and smooshed down as you see with barefoot horses who are low heeled, it can't do anything. So, no, I do not need to worry about the width as it is nowhere near constricted at this point.

So I guess now, I get to find something new to worry about, hmmmm....

February 10, 2010

Hoof and Mouth Lessons

If I have learned anything about horse ownership, it's that we can try our damndest to do everything right, to give our charges the bestest, perfectest life...but we'll still screw up somehow. Blessedly, most of the time, our horses patiently hang in there till we figure it out.

As you've probably figured out by now, I pretty much bust my ass to educate myself on every issue I can related to horse care and training. I try to keep an open mind, think critically and research via every venue I can get my dirty little paws on. So, frankly, it just plain pisses me off when I still get it wrong! But I guess life is a series of lessons learned via experience and if you never have the experience you never learn.

So, two recent lessons:

Lesson 1 -- Tooth maintenance. Last time I had Solo's teeth floated was about a year and a half ago. He had all kinds of pointy bits on there. My vet at the time (no longer my vet) had one of those fancy power units and lots of sedation and filed them down over the course of an hour. It looked pretty cool and efficient to me. It cost me over $300. Turns out there is actually no relation between price and quality.

New dentist came out yesterday. Supposedly he is the best. He travels up and down the east cost from FL to Canada and he just does horse teeth. He has told me that Solo drops food all over the place because his teeth are screwed up and don't even meet. He walked into Solo's stall with his little metal file and just went to work. No sedation. Done in about ten minutes. Solo just stood in the corner and was like, oh, ok, you are scratching my teeth, have at it, dude. That kind of calm is kind of shocking if you've ever seen tooth floating in action -- giant long metal rasp stuck in horse's mouth and loudly scraping at the molars while moving the whole head after which crazy looking Midieval Torture-Device-Resembling Speculum is strapped on to their head to hold their mouth open.

I figure he knows what he is doing because by this point I have figured out who he was discussing with BO as he is telling client stories. He keeps talking about "Mike and Charlie" who live about two hours south of me. Slowly, after a comment from BO, it dawns on me that he is talking about Michael and Charlie Plumb. Yeah, the Michael Plumb who has, oh, six or so Olympic medals in eventing. (This happens a lot when you live in Area II, where if you forget to set the parking brake on your truck, you will run over a member of USET, they are that prolific) So I guess if the top guys hire Dentist Man, he must be the best!

New dentist has a little teaching tool: a bag of horse teeth. Digging around, he pulls one out of the bag and says, "This is what happens when you use power tools on horse teeth; the tooth heats up almost instantaneously and then the roots burn and a hole blows out of the tooth in some random spot."

Awesome. I had no idea. So, I write him a check (this one's only $90) after he shows me how nicely Solo's teeth meet up now and I promise never to let a power tool touch my horse's mouth again.

Stay tuned for Lesson 2 -- Hoof biomechanics.

January 15, 2010

My New Best Friend

Maybe it's premature to rank them so highly, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Solo's new shoes! Farrier was out yesterday -- we've been experimenting, trying to find a set of shoes that will fit Mr. Goldilocks "just right" and stop his forging ways.

My apologies, it's not the best picture, but it's the best you get from a phone with no flash in a stall at night! But up front he now has Natural Balance shoes with a wedge heel and we also put a slightly shorter shoe on the back -- he was having issues with the longer trailers we tried in the back, so those came off, yay!

End result, rode him lightly last night and he did GREAT! Not a single clinky forge to be had. And we incorporated our homework of adding a few 15 m canter circles -- and on the right lead (easy one) coming out of that circle, he sat down in the prettiest little uphill canter you ever saw.

Me = satisfied again. Anal hoof staring abated for the time being. Ok, you're right, I probably will still stare, but my eyes will be slightly less narrow now.

January 1, 2010

I Am A Sheep

I'm not much for "New Year's Resolutions" but in this instance, for the record, I am going to follow the flock and bleat out some goals for 2010.

We will:

-Complete at least two recognized events at the Novice level, one being the Adult Team Challenge this August at Waredaca.

-Get through a dressage test at a competition in such a way that the judge is not left with an obvious impression that both my horse and I have our teeth clenched in distaste.

-Figure out what the heck is going on with Solo's back feet so we can move back to barefoot land back there.

-Gallop and jump through the woods with the wind in our hair and bugs stuck in our respective grins.

-Give thanks every day for the amazing partnership we share (well, I will, Solo probably just gives thanks for carrots and hay) and the incredible gift of Solo and his huge, kind, generous, brave, red heart.

What are YOUR hopes for your 2010 journey??

December 21, 2009

Foot Fanatical

As you can see, Solo is spending his days like any smart horse in winter -- curled up snug, basking in the sun! Complete with neon blue Lycra club-tail, always an "in" look for the colder seasons.

Me, on the other hand, I am busy being over-the-top-OCD (as usual) about Solo's feet. In short, I'm not satisfied. Ok, he is moving great. BUT. But, over the last couple trims, he has begun to forge so much he tears up the front of his back feet and I have to keep four bell boots on him (he is prone to a little forging, but usually just light and occasional). Plus the back shoes are squooshing his back heels back together again, narrowing the frog and narrowing my eyes.

Momma ain't happy.

My farrier, bless his heart, has been wonderful answering all of my questions and being open to anything and is working with my vet. But he sucks at returning phone calls. I have a call in to him now asking about the forging, if there is anything we can do before the next reset.

I just HATE HAVING STUPID SHOES ON MY HORSE. There. I said it. It's true. They are always a fuss (if you pay attention to them) and it seems no matter what, his foot will never look as good as it does bare. Ignorance was bliss, before I began learning all about feet when Solo was barefoot.

His heels are looking a TINY bit better on the front and he is definitely more comfortable up there, that is undeniable, and we are keeping his toes nice and short and the angles are good. And he's not parking out when standing still to take weight off the back heels. So I guess that is a good thing too.

But I still don't like the trend and am just tapping my foot for farrier to call me back! I am wondering if we can pull his back shoes, if there is enough heel yet for that? But I don't want to make him uncomfortable. But now is the time to do it as we have some breathing space away from any big comps coming up.

Ah, universe, why must you torment my foot obsessed mind with so many variables???

November 12, 2009

An Update About Nothing

It's wet. It's cold. It's windy. It's raining. We've gotten somewhere around 5 or 6 inches of rain at least in the last 24 hours. Perfect riding weather. :-\

In good news, since yesterday was a holiday, I got to meet the farrier around lunchtime and we got Solo's fancy new shoes on. So now, pads are gone and he has shiny aluminum wedges up front (pictures to come). I quite like the look of them, and best of all, no frog covering! Solo was a bit surprised walking back to his stall and about tripped over himself, not quite expecting his feet to be so light. I told the farrier that I now expect a guarantee that my horse will jump higher and snap his knees up like a Grand Prix stallion. We are counting down to our big Horse Trial coming up on the 22nd.

I pondered riding across the road to the indoor arena tonight. I am not entirely feeling the motivation though. But I've used up most of my busy work--I put Solo's tail up in its winter tail wrap of eye-burningly bright royal blue Lycra (because all horses need metrosexual accessories!). His mohawk is trimmed, wounds are dressed. I suppose I could clean my tack. Or not.

November 9, 2009

Taking Stock

So, I'm pretty much caught up to the present. Finally! I've glossed over a lot, much of it I'm sure I'll come back to, what with my talent for repeating myself and all. Here's where we stand:

Yup, that's my little red speck to the left of the tree.
(1) Home: Solo is mostly settled in at the new farm. To my delight, he is back on pasture board, but with a big safe stall of his own for eating and severe weather. The rest of the time, he is out and about, keeping joints and intestines healthy and mobile.

To my not-so-delight, he is in mad crazy love with a little grey pony mare who is in insane heat. Praise be to the heavens, they will be forced to break up in two days when we rearrange the pastures and Solo will be back in an all-boy group, having proved his untrustworthiness around mares. I can't even catch him now and my sane, lovely horse is now a maddening wild stallion, herding "his" mare carefully away from all other people and horses. I might stab him with a blunt object.  Must...have... restraint...till...Wednesday. But the facility is lovely and BO and co-boarders are gems.


Left Front(2) Feet: I talked a little bit about foot problems here. Solo did great barefoot for a while, but EX-farrier managed to completely get rid of his poor heels, at which point farrier was fired. So we had to go back to shoes. They are on all four for now. The fronts are in wedge pads too, til the heels grow back, but the pads are trapping too much moisture and causing frog sensitivity so this week, we are switching to aluminum wedges and pads BE GONE, hurrah!


(3) Tack: Saddles fit, I am trying ANOTHER new bit for dressage -- he liked the happy mouth double-jointed Boucher, but I still felt like things could be better. Am borrowing a KK ultra French mouth loose ring (so happy I found one in BO's bit collection because I can't afford to buy that!) and so far, like it even more. He is STAYING on the bit at the trot and that's a REALLY big deal!

It's been a bit journey -- started with a full cheek snaffle, went to D-ring French link, then D-ring Myler, which worked well for a long time, I now look much more favourably upon the low level Mylers, then to this happy mouth Boucher we picked up at a consignment sale, which Solo quite liked. I have to stay with double jointed bits as Solo has a low palate and big tongue, so single jointed bits jab him in the roof of the mouth. I think we'll stick with the KK though, I really like this new feel.

(4) Dressage: Making good progress. Trot work is becoming much more enjoyable as Solo learns to reach for the contact and stay on it. Walk is good, but need more impulsion. W/T transitions feeling great, as is halt, although Solo has this new tendency to drift left into the halt, but only on centerline, grrr. Canter...well, it has single-stride moments, transitions are not great, it's our project. But Solo is becoming much more supple in all gaits, moves mostly readily off the leg and moves over his back.

(5) Jumping: We were going really well, but since moving to the new place, just haven't had any good schooling sessions as Solo has become a horse-shaped wrecking ball. Still jumping clean at comps as long as I don't mess him up, but we've lost the flow. I think I am not using enough impulsion... Our jumping coach is having surgery so can't travel up here for a bit and we haven't had a lesson with him in a while, sigh. I NEED one! you'll get some detailed progress and musings on our day-to-day crap, such as it is. I didn't get to ride this weekend, I don't want to work him until the stupid pads come off as we have our big competition coming up in two weeks and I don't want him going footsore on me. I spent some time ground driving him last night for a nice change of pace since he doesn't limp on the arena footing. He did well in the end, although it always makes him nervous. I am working on getting him comfortable with me driving him from directly behind where he can't see me, to build his confidence in himself.

If there are topical posts you'd like to see, feel free to submit requests as well and I will freely share my brain drivel on the topic at hand. But I like to read and explore riding theory and am always open to gathering new tools for the the toolbox, so I spend a lot of time thinking about all that -- now whether my thinking is useful or not remains deeply in question, but it amuses me. I also plan to do some product reviews, as I find them immensely helpful for my own purchases, I want to help out other horsepeople decide what is right for them.

PhotobucketI will keep our calender on here up to date with our various activities and hopefully will get some new videos soon as our routine at the new place settles a bit more. I hate winter because I have to ride in the dark during the week, but at least BO has good lights.

Long term goal: complete Training 3-Day Event at Waredaca. (3 years?)
Short term goal: get a nice canter transition. (10 years?)

SO, now you know the back story, let's see where it takes us...

Me and Solo on our birthday 2009 (my 30th, his 13th). Headgear courtesy of dear barn friends.

September 20, 2009

Winter Woebegone

So the Dark Times began.

I was convinced my saddle didn't fit. Solo was fighting me tooth and nail against lifting his back and it's just not in his nature to not do something like that "just because." It looked pinchy, it felt pinchy. I brought out Saddle Fitter #1 (ah yes, the fact that he has a number is indeed an indication of future insanity...). SF #1 bring a couple other saddles to try but says, "Oh no, yours fits fine, really." I try to go with it for a few weeks, but get ticked off and sell it because it's not cutting the mustard. It was a great saddle, the first I'd owned, an old Crosby event saddle that fit almost everything. Except the horse I owned of course.

I think I'll need an entire 'nother post to tell the SF Stories, I'll save that...

Because, oh there were lots of other woes.

It was WAY deeper than it looks
February 2008 -- I'd now resorted to riding bareback while training, but well, it's good for me right? (Maybe less good for my girl parts, but we all gotta cowgirl up, right?) A couple more winter shows were coming up and we were getting ready. And then our lovely farm "trainer" brought strangles back with her from a hunter show. One of our ponies came home with the sniffles. We begged to have pony quarantined because it looked like strangles, but the Powers That Be (PTB) were in staunch denial. Till about six other horses got sick. Then the whole barn was shut down in quarantine for several months. No horses in. Even worse, no horses out. We were in prison.

Solo happily escaped the strangles outbreak with nothing more than 1/2 day of fever, but we still couldn't go anywhere. As the quarantine was finally lifted after months of boredom, Mr. Genius, decided he still didn't want to go anywhere and attempted self-amputation of his foot in the pasture.

Oh let me just tell you how long it takes to heal a pastern cut on skin that is constantly stretching and moving, no matter how tight you wrap your standing wraps. Months.

Oh AND our farrier (now EX farrier) had managed to mash his poor feet into some unholy shape of crampedness to where the poor horse couldn't even walk properly, so we pulled his shoes and began foot transformation back to healthiness.


I'm sure there was some other crap going on too, but mostly I was throwing myself about my house moping and pouting because I couldn't go anywhere, I couldn't get the saddle just right, my horse was sucked!