Thursday, October 31, 2013

Handles like a Sports Car

I am such a lucky person to own more than one horse. Every time I can choose which horse suits my mood on that day, I am reminded of that fact.
Sometimes who I ride is a process of elimination. Such was the case the day Peggy and I went for a ride. Peggy chose Dottie to ride and since Rosemary had already worked I chose DaVinci. We could not have had a better ride. DaVinci was set on taking a walk around the corn fields. I decided to let me go with the thought of turning around if need be. I have not been out that way since Rosemary and I had our run in with the coyotes. We never did have to back track. Both horses handled the super tall, dried corn stalks blowing in the wind really well. The only bad part was that DaVinci was acting like a tourist, head up looking around. Anything that makes him hollow his back I am not a fan of. After the ride I had him trot around the arena to stretch and raise his back.
The "DaVinci Model" Sports Car

So the following Sunday, I decided to toss aside the barn chores and go for a ride. Although Dottie could use work, I decided on DaVinci. At first I was thinking about doing intervals, but when I got out to the arena a different ride emerged. DaVinci felt a little stiff so I added some should in to our walk warm up. Then a leg yield to change direction and repeat. He started to relax and stretch into his walk. With his background he can do lateral work in his sleep. Once we picked up trot, he tried to get me to hold his front end for him. Not happening! I dropped the reins to the buckle and left him to pick himself up. To help I kept him on bendy lines. Tear drops, bell curves and figure eights all helped him to step under in the back and lift in the front.
As I worked him through the patterns and even some 10m circles, I realized I only had to think about turning and he responded. He handles like a sports car. Considering that the other horses need to be set up well before a turn and helped through the turn, DaVinci is refreshingly advanced. Not having to focus on turns, leaves time to finesse him as a whole. Horses like him show the value of nuance in riding.
I almost feel bad for the other horses. DaVinci raises the standard. It may not be anytime soon, but I want the others more responsive. They do not all need to be sports cars. Not everyone can handle that level of performance, but I want something just as maneuverable.
How would you describe your horse?
Dottie would be a stretch limousine: Super comfortable, but have to plan for wide turns. If you know how to handle, a lot can be achieved.
Rosemary would be an old style manual sedan: She needs helping shifting gears, but is still dependable.
Comrade would be a small SUV: Dependable, wide base, with maneuverability

And a nod to Halloween, the barn owner's wife got this for Griffyn :) Deliah was thrilled it was way too big for her.

Look he matches the bun

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shifty Semi-Solution

In addition to Comrade's back being uneven, his saddles are too. Not surprising his saddle reflects him. I need to start looking at my saddle panels more often.When I had this issue with Barry, my Mom made a pocket in my saddle pad to hold shims. Unfortunately, Comrade's weak spot is more in the middle so using a pad is not as helpful. Plus since the jumping saddle is tight he has no room to take extra padding. So for both saddles, we used a small cloth and inserted it under the panel which rounded the flat area. Not a perfect fix, but it allows for changes without going through adjusting stuffing.
Wintec Isabel before


Black Country after
After riding in both, we found Comrade moved better in the dressage saddle. The BC is a tad tight causing Comrade to move less forward. If Peggy gets the stuffing worked on it should help. Our temporary solution to the shifting did help. The Isabel did not move at all and the BC only shifted during canter.
The pony is not liking the concentrated effort to strengthen his back. He tries to personify molasses to get out of work. That's when I really love my dressage whip. We did shoulder in on the circle, left and right, then forward for a short while until he started to lose the lift and then into a volt. Towards the end he was able to do volt figure eights and move forward maintaining his form. Super happy with his work today.
For cool down we went out on trail to enjoy the fall foliage and watch the dogs romp in the leaves. I love this time of year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shifty Revelations

First, let me say "YIPPEE" the run in shed is here. Whew no more Jenna worries. At least for now.
Jenna's little red home

So onto to today. Mom returned form Florida and we went to Peggy's to ride Comrade. I took advantage of Mom being there to check out Comrade's semi custom Black Country saddle fit. Back when Peggy originally got it, it was too small. By time it was made in England and then shipped to her, he had grown in width. With his recent weight loss, we decided to try it again. Peggy rode in it a few times with no negative feedback from Comrade.
Well just looking at it sitting on his back, everything looked good. Further observations and tests showed it was not perfect. On his left side, when you run your hand under the panels there was a tight spot under the stirrup bars and a little bridging just beyond that point. Nothing horrible though. Then you do the same on the right. Big difference. There was some tightness under the bars, but then it was like the pressure disappeared and my hand slipped too easily under. That raised a red flag. Mom put a step stool behind Comrade and looked down his back. What she saw explains a lot.

Can you see what we see?

Comrade's back muscles are not even. His right side is slightly atrophied compared to the left. The good news is that when we did a belly lift, he responded without showing pain. So the back just needs work to rebuild that muscle. His musculature explains why his saddle's shift to the right all the time. I faced the same issue with Barry, though his weak spot was more in the lumbar area and we could use an insert in the pad to help. Not sure how we are going to help Comrade's.
Once we saw his weak spot, Mom talked me through my ride.  In the beginning, he resisted and the saddle slipped like crazy. Then he realized resistance was harder than doing what I asked. She had me do leg yields to the right and shoulder fores, left and right, on a circle to get him using those back muscles. After that he smoothed out. I did not feel like I was falling to the right and the saddle stabilized.
Amazing how Comrade's weight loss brought about this revelations. His fat pockets were hiding these issues. Now we can focus on building the muscles. Stretches will become his friend.
As for the saddle, it is okay. It could use some stuffing work and the balance is a little behind Comrade's, but it is usable. Yay, he has a dressage and jumping saddle.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Multi Tasking

So, I have been on vacation for a week now. There has been rain. More rain and then more rain. We finally got some sunshine over the last couple of days. I took advantage of the good days to get some rides in. Monday, I rode Comrade who was very energetic after his time off and no longer bumpy. I just brought the bareback pad since I was not sure how the footing would be. Well, I got a workout riding the go go pony. I would do lateral work, but as soon as I straightened him off he would go again. I finally added the jumps that were still set up from the gymnastic. That got him thinking especially since we had to come at an angle. That boy figured it out and handled it great. I only did two in a row after he was in the working frame of mind. I love when they can take a break and pick back up like they had worked the day before.
At my barn I was itching to ride, but did not want to risk my older horses checking the footing. By default, Rosemary was up. This was also my first solo ride with both dogs. I put them on the buddy leash and counted on Griffyn to keep Deliah away from the horse. That went well. Plus the footing was great. Rosemary got a chance to walk out after days of mincing through mud. Even that short ride refreshed me. It is amazing what days of dreary clouds can do.

Sunshine finally
 Today brought clouds, but I was determined to ride again. I had hoped Peggy could come ride with me. She ended up getting my message too late. Oh well, at least Comrade would get worked by her. My plans to ride more than one of my horses was shot to hell when I went to do Jenna's feet. I let her eat her food while I worked on her hind feet. That kept her occupied and cooperative. Unfortunately by the time I got to rounding her toes, she was not standing still any more. When I corrected her, she overreacted. Lately that is her normal response. I guess the girls did more than we knew. So I told her if she wanted to move, then she would move. I backed her, lunged her and waited for her to figure out standing was a good idea. It took a couple of sessions, but I was finally able to finish her feet. During all this, I saw where the abscess blew out. Talk about ugly.

Well after Jenna killed my time, I decided to ride Dottie. Mostly because she was the least muddy. Then as I groomed her I thought about Rosemary. And to continue my multi tasking, I decided to pony Rosemary. The logistics of getting on Dottie while holding Rosemary... complicated. The actuality of it... a near failure. Even with a big mounting block I have to hop to get on Dottie bareback which combined with Rosemary pushing her, freaked Dottie a bit. After a "you will be okay" patting session we were able to start walking. Then came the "you are suppose to follow" conversation with Rosemary. Super tough for Miss Giant Stride to adjust to Dottie's lesser stride, but she did it. My girls were even able to trot together. I found using the driving directions helped me lead Rosemary. We did circles, went over poles and changed directions.
The biggest problem I ran it to: NOT ENOUGH SUGAR CUBES
I only pocketed enough for one horse. They each got a carrot when we got back to the barn.
At least my vacation has not been a total lost cause. Let's hope the rest keeps getting better.

My Super Girls

Friday, October 11, 2013

New Clothes

I seem to be following the blog theme, Blankets. I admit we are are the crazy owners who have tons of blankets. Mostly we blanket for our sake, a cleaner horse is easier to tack, but over the years the horses have come to appreciate the practice.
With the rain that has been a persistent part of the last days, it was time for the turn out sheets. Earlier this year I found Weatherbeeta on sale. So the girls got new sheets. Only fair since last year the boys all got new ones.

Dottie's was damaged after five years of use and was not my favorite because it had a mesh liner. I hate those mesh liners especially on a size 81 blanket. Rosemary's was a hand me down from Barry and bore little bite marks compliments of Winston.
I have reached the point where I only buy Weatherbeeta and just deal with what it looks like. I lucked out with getting the boys navy blue. The girls on the other hand ended up with blue bubbles. Not horrible, but it definitely stands out against their dark coats.

Eye Catching :)

Love the freestyle shoulder

Depth that covers Dottie's belly, plus a close up of that pattern
The best part is these have the slicker liner instead of mesh. Too bad they will never look this good again.
Roscoe has also graduated to a bigger sheet, though his is a hand me down. He is longer, but still narrow which makes fitting him difficult. Luckily we found a Schneider's adjust-a-neck sheet in our spares box. The adjustable neck allows us to make it work for his narrow frame. Mom has had to insert darts into blanket necks in the past so having one ready to go is a Bonus. The down side, it needs to be rewaterproofed. A few cans of waterproofing from the camping area will help that problem. In the mean time I had to open up his old sheet and hope that it would work. His butt shows just a bit, but otherwise it is good.
Next on the blanket hunt will be a new Mid-weight for Winston. His slimmer figure will be swimming in his old clothes.
As for other news, Comrade is down to small hives after getting the holistic treatment of Apis Mellifica (?). Peggy will probably do a consult to see about getting him on a personalized treatment, since he has worsened each year.
Jenna's situation is still a pain in the ass. With the rain her owner is leaving her in the stall over night. That mare is the nastiest horse ever in a stall. Let me say that I do not even volunteer to help her clean. There is an end in sight though. The barn manager found a little run in, but we have to wait for the paddock to dry out from all this rain before it can be delivered.
And due to the damn rain, no riding. Peggy and I did do a mini road trip to Farnely Farms to drop off a saddle. We pulled up and saw tons of ponies and cows and even a friendly barn cat, but no people. Other than one sign showing parking, we could not see a main barn or anything. In the rain the old buildings gave it a creepy, spooky movie feel. So we went door knocking. If you can believe it, Peggy said the door opened on its own as she knocked. She quickly moved back to wait for an answer. Surprise, the lady was someone we knew from the Welsh shows answered. Of course, she was like "Did you look in the Barn?" So no real help. We went back to the parking area and eventually the guy showed up. Then to add to the spookiness, he poofed after we gave him the saddle. We did not see where he went. So not what we expected of Farnely Farms, but worth the trip to see.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Archaic Feeding Methods and Contest

After a heatwave of a weekend the last thing I want to think about it jackets, but for a contest I will. She Moved to Texas is having a Horze Jacket giveaway and the deadline is Wed 9am Central, so check it out if you have not already.
I have not been riding mostly due to keeping track of Deliah, but also because Comrade is totally covered in hives. He is the worst I have ever seen him. Hopefully when the heat breaks, it will help.

Poor Pony :(

Now to the main part of my post. I had to take a day or so to cool down before writing this, so fair warning a bit of a rant follows. Since the lady with the Appies lost her gelding last November we have had to take her mare into our herd. Not so bad, right? Well 9 out of 10 days everything is cool, but over the months she has had some pretty bad kicks. The last one caused her to throw her head up and hit a beam resulting in lovely gash.

When that happened we threw around the idea of separating her, but it never went anywhere. This was a good thing since as Winston progressed we needed to have a place to put him by himself while the others were on grass.
Well that injury happened 3 months ago and they have been fine since. Then two weeks ago Mom and I noticed that Jenna took a funky step. We looked closer and decided she was lame. She is prone to abscesses so it was totally plausible. We left her owner a note saying she was a level two lameness. For the next week we watched her progressively get worse. Even my sister was appalled at the level of lameness Jenna reached. Again we left her a note saying she was now a level four. Still no action. Considering that the last time she abscessed was when Winston received the Laminil and our vet dug it out for free and the owner chewed us out, we were hesitant to do anything ourselves. Her owner comes out every night except Wednesday, so she should have seen what we saw. Saturday after our trip to PA, we noticed she was three legged lame and in pain. Finally on Sunday, she took action and soaked and wrapped her foot. She left Jenna in the stall for the day and told me to turn her out. Good grief!!! She could barely move, I left her in.
Fortunately she was putting weight on her foot the next day, but her owner still put her out. So Jenna had limited mobility, Problem #1.
Problem #2 Jenna suffers from UVistis and has very limited sight in her right eye. She has learned to adapt, but still can be an issue.
The final Problem deals with her owners archaic methods of feeding. This is a horse who has bad eyes, bad feet, and most likely a bad tummy. She has had a laminitic episode in the past. And her owner feeds her cheap SWEET FEED. Seriously! Who does that?
We have tried to tell her about low starch feeds available which would benefit her so much more. We might as well be talking to a brick wall. She continues to feed all that sugary crap. Her horse ends up in a crazy sugar high which makes her herd manners nonexistent and gets her into big trouble with my girls. Heck my sister walked up to her to give her a carrot and she jumped in the air. Her owner is so stuck in the seventies and the old ways of feeding, she cannot see she is killing her horse.
This last week all the problems came to a head when after increasing her grain and turning her out while lame she got kicked by Dottie. Dottie has a cut on her hock and Jenna has a kick right by the outside of her left hock and inside right leg. Her owner did not know about cold hosing, so Jenna's leg swelled up to twice the size before she asked for advice. We told her what to do and thankfully it opened up.
With all the drama, she again asked about separation. At the same time she was telling the other horse owners that my Mares were "picking on" Jenna. ARGH!! I hate that. I even told her she needed to watch National Geographic and learn about herd dynamics. What she calls "picking on," is Dottie and Rosemary moving Jenna away from a pile of hay or telling her to come in last. Now let me say that we put out over ten piles for the three horses, so she always has some where else to go. She said Jenna never moves them away. NO DUH! She is low man, of course she would not. I told her Winston moves the boys too. "But they don't get hurt." Yeah right, I told her Roscoe has little kicks and bites telling a different story. We just don't make the instances into major events announced to all around. That old saying "Put a horse in a padded room and they will still get hurt," is so Jenna. She came in with a long scrape after being out by herself.
We ended up tossing her out in the back field, which will leave us with two fields. Now she has to figure out how to get shelter, a dry lot and keep water from freezing. Until then we have to put her in with the girls during bad weather, like now compliments of Tropical Storm Karen. Otherwise her owner says, "No matter what happens, I want her kept separate." Fine with me, but then she tells me to put her with the girls yesterday. Again I disregarded her and left her by herself.
She sat there and told me she wanted to decrease Jenna's stress to prevent her from losing sight in the other eye. That all well and good, but when we had to watch her "Stress" for a week before she took care of her abcess, Pardon me for calling BS. I told her she needed to treat the whole horse not just her eye. Jenna in my opinion has an ulcer which the eye medicine aggravates as well as the sweet feed. If she fixed that, I bet Jenna would feel a lot better.
Her "I have fed horses this way for 30 years" comment just kills me. So many studies have been done showing how horses need good fiber and beneficial fats, like Omega 3 and the problems that grains can cause. I could not even count the number of changes we have made to our feeding program over the years. At this moment, not one of my horses get any kind of grain. With only light work, they get alfalfa cubes, Stay Strong Metabolic Mineral Pellets, Flax Seed (Omega3) and wheat bran. My old guys and Roscoe also get Healthy Glow which is a Rice Bran pellet and some beet pulp. Now I do spend money for better quality food and understand that not everyone can do that. But there are cheaper options that are still healthy too.
I really wish I had the hardworking Angel looking over Jenna because her owner has no clue what could happen. After Winston we have a hard time watching her archaic methods. Someday her luck is going to run out.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Did You Miss Me?

Eek, it has been over a week since I last wrote. And the reason for that, one 6 pound bundle of joy.
Meet Deliah (Deel-Ya) a 12 week old Corgi.
It's a Girl!!!

Just before the Welsh Show, Kayla's ashes came home. It seemed to kill Griffyn's last hope she would ever come back. He had a super bad, depressing day afterwards. Then gradually he started to figure out his new circumstances. We could see he was getting better, but he still seemed lonely. Mom and I began the search for a puppy.
We knew we preferred a female, since Griffyn and Shadow get into pissing contests all the time. Color wise we were open. Breed wise, after deep thinking, we stuck with Corgi. Unfortunately, VA Corgi's are so very expensive. I needed cheaper and that meant looking further away. Nothing new for us. Griffyn came from an Amish farm in Lancaster PA. So, when one female puppy was still available at a Mennonite farm in Ritchfield PA, we said yes and planned for a road trip.
Four hours brought us a new little girl. Griffyn ignored her, normal reaction, and she settled right into our family. She handled my niece like a champ, even after being dropped. She is smart and observant in an almost scary way. Griffyn loves to learn new tricks. One of them is ringing a strap of bells to say he needs to go out. We showed it to her ONCE and ever since she will ring the bells. She learned how to seat, somewhat lay down and even some "leave it" commands.

The tan hair on her butt makes a heart

The old saying of "it may not be what you want, but it is what you need" fits Deliah so well. The difference in Griffyn is night and day. Deliah even won over my Dad, who was really broken losing Kayla. Watching her play is enchanting and keeping her out of trouble is time consuming. Hence my lack of posts.

And speaking of trouble, Deliah went on an adventure causing Peggy and I to look for her for almost an hour. We could not believe she had disappeared. I was so close to a break down and minutes away from calling my Dad to say I had lost the puppy. Then I looked up to see a women and two kids walking up the driveway. I held my breath until I saw what she was carrying moved. Whew! We lost one Corgi to a hit and run on that same road so I needed to know she was alive. Turns out she took herself down to their house and lay down like she owned the place. Of course the kids wanted to keep her. Fortunately, the grandmother remembered we had similar dogs and brought her back. Peggy hugged them all and I held on to Deliah. That girls was not wandering again.

So tired after her jaunt

The rest of the day she got attached to Griffyn with a baling twine double sided leash Mom made years ago. This way I could count on Griffyn to babysit. Deliah just had to deal with being dragged, literally at times, around by him.

Baling Twine Buddy System
Now let's see if I can get some barn work done tomorrow...