Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shell Shocked Autopilot

I did say a positive came out of all the sadness last week. Saturday, I was so shell shocked I could not get up the urge to ride my horses. DaVinci looked at me like "Hey it is a great day. Why am I still not being ridden?" I just could not do it. Mentally I was not all there. Plus ride time was a time that Kayla absolutely loved. During the day, I did my normal chores and even trimmed Winston and Roscoe's feet. Then it was time to go ride Comrade.
In between all the drama of the week, I had made the decision that Comrade would go to the show. Of course on Friday Peggy called me to say she bought another truck, so all the ponies could go. This means that even though I really did not feel like riding, I had to ride Comrade. I just planned on working the steps for Ridden Cob: trot, extended trot, canter circle then a gallop. Gallop is tough in the small arena, but he had some response. Honestly, my brain was not engaged. My body was on autopilot.
Gradually, during the ride something started to break through my shock. Comrade was doing everything I asked, correctly without exaggerated motions from me. That realization made me engage a bit more in the ride. We did leg yields to the fence, trot the short end and extend across the diagonal both ways. Then we did the canter circles with a push forward on the straights preparing for the gallop. With all that great forward, I decided to try canter leg yields. Comrade acted like he did them all the time. He did not even cheat. A major achievement for him. I ended the ride on that note.
I told Peggy being shell shocked let my body do the right moves without my mind making them more complicated. Bless Comrade for giving me the ride I needed and not taking advantage of my autopilot.
Today I had to cut my ride short because the horse flies were attacking. Every time Comrade heard the buzz, he started hopping. He must have been getting attacked all week because he has not reacted that way before. We did get to do some backing up an incline. That earned me Cob grunts. Got his back up though. Some days we have to take what we can get.
And now for a body picture. Comrade was not cooperative, so neither picture turned out well. You can see he is less cresty already and his shoulder is more defined.

Haunches out

Haunches in...sigh

Monday, August 26, 2013

Better to Have Loved and Lost...

Then to never love at all.
When it comes to animals, no truer words could be spoken. Our black cloud grew darker last week. Soon after my last post we lost our Sun Conor Kiwi. She laid so many eggs, she caused paralysis in one of her legs. My sister nursed her through a few times, but this time Dad found her stuck on her back in the bottom of her cage. Kiwi could not recover. So we have no more bird chatter or prison rapping on her bars. Our house is much too quiet.

Little did  we know the worst was yet to come.

Friday I had an early mandatory class for work. Since my sister was off, she took Mom and the dogs to the barn before dropping Mom off at work. Later Mom called and told me my sister was bringing Kayla, our corgi, to the vet. She had been vomiting, followed by really bad diarrhea in the car. Over the last nine months, Kayla has had bouts of nausea. Blood tests and a vet visit did not reveal any causes. Last month she came down with a urinary tract infection, but a round of antibiotics helped turn her around. This time was more violent and rapid than anything she had before.
Soon I received a text saying Kayla was taken in and put on oxygen. I passed the message on to my Dad, who ended up calling the vet to find out what was happening. Unfortunately Kayla was in shock and they were trying to stabilize her. She would have to stay the night and possibly the next if she was not better. They were to call with an update later in the evening.
My sister took the call. The news was devastating. Kayla needed to be transferred to another vet in order to go through a blood transfusion. Her diarrhea continued and grew bloody. Plus she was still in shock and it was possible she was septic. Again Dad called to talk to the vet. The vet said she had Hemorrhagic Gastric Enteritis, which the cause is unknown. He asked the hard questions about her chances of recovery with further treatment. After telling Dad she did not even have a 50/50 chance, he knew we had to let her go. He called me and told me to come to the vets right away. Mom and I hurried over, but 5 minutes away Dad called to say she was gone. He had just made it in time for her to have a familiar face with her.
After 10 years our beautiful corgi princess was gone. It just did not seem real. The loss rocked our family and friends. Poor Griffyn is so lost being alone for the first time in his life. Even Shadow, Peggy's dog, kept looking for her. Now she can meet up with our other corgi, Ivan to herd Sherman and Barry around.

June 19, 2002- August 23, 2013

Kayla and Ivan with Mom and Sherman

Puppies with Lily

Supervising was her favorite job

And if all that was not enough, over the weekend one of Peggy's cute grey chickens was killed. Argh!! I am ready for good news and days.
A bit of good came indirectly from this, but that is for a later post.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shit Happens...

For reasons we will never know sometimes.
I had one of those times where bad things just seem to happen. It started with Peggy's hay supplier, then it moved to our new hay. What should have been our last load till next year, ended up being wet and some was even moldy. We thought we got at least 30 bales, but after opening two that number is highly questionable. This is a big hit. Hopefully we have enough to get us through winter and into the first cutting. Now we need the grass to die, so they can graze a little more.

Around the same time as all this hay drama, I received a message from Roscoe's breeder. Unfortunately, neither mare she bred took so no Roscoe foals next year. I am more upset for the breeder, because her ponies are awesome. The amount of thought she puts into her breeding program should be commended. She truly loves the Cobs and breeds the best. Just look at Jen's recent post to see Roscoe's niece/aunt and nephew who are really nice partbreds. If it was not for the fact I want a Roscoe baby, I would take the colt in a heartbeat. This year has seriously tested her with a lost foal and several breeding mishaps. I wish she was located closer, then Roscoe would be easier to utilize. After this year, we are more comfortable with the thought of allowing live cover. I think in Roscoe's mind it is all the same anyways. With two of the mares she wanted to breed to Roscoe pregnant it made live cover this year tough.
Next year I will post him as able to do AI and limited live cover. His breeder can handle him for any mares she would like to breed, but anyone else will have to use ERC for both services. No way am I going to try to manage him during a breeding. That boy is strong!

And, it looks like Comrade may have to miss the Welsh show next month. Peggy's truck is still out of commission, which means we only have two spots in the trailer. I am torn. Rosemary's eye looks great and she looks great overall, so Mom wants to bring her to the show. She just shines in the show ring. On the other hand Comrade has a chance for year end awards since he has been to one show already. So do I take my pony just to show off, but really am not competitive in year end results or do we take Comrade, who has a points that also benefit the breeder. It is a quandary. Entry forms have to be in by the first. At this point the only thing I know for sure is that Roscoe will be showing. The mane pulling has already begun for Roscoe and Rosemary.

Finally, the worst news for me:
I have a dentist appointment this week :(  Blegh!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Trot Pole Trials

After a crappy start to a weekend (a load of hay that ended up being wet,moldy) things started to turn around.
Saturday I put the spurs on and made Comrade work on his lateral movements. I got lots of Cob grunts, but he did the task. Without the stress of a new instructor, I was able to find my timing. He eventually needed less of the step to the outside portion of the process. I ended by coming down the center of the ring, leg yielding to the fence and turning to a vertical on the short end. Not only did he jump well to the left, he jumped well to the right and stayed out after the fence too. It goes to show how far eyes on the ground can help.

Sunday I was determined to get Peggy into the saddle. I told her to show me what she learned. The two verticals I had been jumping, were lowered to ground poles for her to use. Right away I noticed her bury her hands, which in Comrade's mind  means she is not ready to work. I told her to carry her hands. Her hands raised and the change in him was amazing. They worked on trotting straight over the poles and not cutting corners. Once she had her lines, she moved into canter for the same exercise. At left lead canter he cut the corner before the pole on the short end causing him to break over the pole. I showed Peggy the 3ft difference between where her trot lines were and her canter ones. The visual aids help her a lot. To the left the dogs decided to act as corner cutting deterers. They laid like jump standards about a stride out of the pole. The first time Peggy made the turn then stopped. I told her to keep going and use the line they provide. The next time she made the pole with a great stride. Something as simple as a single pole can do so much.

Then at my barn I rode DaVinci and Rosemary. DaVinci was protesting being asked to ride and maintain a firmer contact than he has had to in years. Bobby worked with him and Mom eariler in the week. Eventually, grudgingly he remembered that I was not torturing him and went to work. Mom had set up some alternating raised trot poles, so I pointed him at them and said figure it out. Well his answer was to go really fast through them and jump the last one, then take off cantering. He has not done much with poles. A few more exciting times finally led to him breathing and waiting. Yes DaVinci you can survive pole work. Rosemary was in go go mode, but she was also working well surprisingly. I made her keep her canter for a longer period and go through the long grass. Still need to work on picking up the lead I want, but not too bad. I showed her the poles, to which she said "Let's go around." Ah no. Once I got her straight, she was very handy. DaVinci had moved some of the poles causing the distances to differ. She adjusted well and just thought it out. Good Pony.

Monday was really warm. Mom rode DaVinci, my sister rode Dottie and I was on Rosemary. I was pleased with how supple Rosemary felt for the second ride. I did a few serpentine and used the poles to get her stepping out. She handled the poles even better this time. My sister got a kick out of her high stepping. I told her to take Dottie over the poles. As long as Dottie was straight, she would go right through. My sister was a little nervous since she has never done poles before. Her first time she trotted two poles before Dottie walked and messed up the poles. I hopped off and reset the poles. While I did that, she rode over a single pole. Then she lined up Dottie for the multi line, asked for more trot and got into a two point. Bless Dottie she went right through, really reaching nicely. Both enjoyed themselves immensely. On a whim, Mom put DaVinci through. He was so much better, if a bit up. I love seeing the horses meet the challenge of raised trot poles.

DaVinci attempt

Dottie owning it

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Up In Flames

Tragedy strikes!!!

I opened my email to find a call for help from Peggy. Last night Peggy's long serving Hay supplier's hay barn was stuck by lightning and burned to the ground.

Even with his barn burning, he called Peggy to let her know her hay was safe, but he would not be able to deliver it the next day.
So Peggy's 220 bales were good, but he watched 7,000 bales burn. This is high quality, fair winning, people could eat hay. At $7 a bale, he lost $49,000 to Mother Nature because his insurance only covered the building.
If  you own your own horse, you know hay has been hard to come by this year. The rain in our area has cut down the amount cut and baled by nearly half for most Hay suppliers. This is a major blow.

barn fire internet
Actual picture of the fire

Peggy has decided to try an help him recoup the loss with an appeal to horse people, in the following email:
Friends and Friends of Friends,
Many of the people who get this will be horse people and you’ll appreciate the value of a good hay guy. Those of you who are not horse people will appreciate the value of knowing that a person you do long-term business with is an honest, hard-working man. This is about one of those people.
My hay guy, who is awesome, was supposed to deliver hay to me this morning. I got a phone call from him at about 9:30 last night saying he probably wouldn’t be here this morning… his hay barn had been struck by lightning and was burning down. But he said for me not to worry, my hay had been loaded and was on his truck. Little did I know that while he was reassuring me that my 220 bales were safe, he was watching his 7,000 bales of hay in flames.
I knew things were bad, I could hear it in his voice. But when I called this morning to check on him and heard the extent of his loss I was dumbfounded. Was it insured, I asked? The barn is, but not the hay. Hay that goes for at least $7.00 a bale. That’s $49,000.00 worth of hay. Gone up in smoke.
I’ve been just sick for this guy all day. He’s one of the good guys. If something’s not right, he makes it right. He goes out of his way to get you what you need. He remembers you’re the customer and he wants you to be happy with his product. He’s proud of what he produces and takes it to the State Fair. It’s business the old fashioned way. It’s good with a capital G.
I don’t know whether this will work or not, but I’ve wracked my brain and can’t come up with anything else to help him. I thought maybe the internet could work a miracle for Tristan. Nobody deserves it more.
What if everyone who reads this (or those who are moved to do so) bought one of those burnt bales of hay? My plan is to put a five and two ones wrapped in a note that says “For one bale -- from the state of Virginia” in an envelope and send it to him. You could include your first name(s) if you wanted to but I won’t because he would know it was me. I’d like to think that he’ll get bales replaced from all over the U.S.
Here’s his address: Tanner Farms, P.O. Box 146, Green Spring, WV 26722
We just need 7,000 people to do it. That seems possible to me.
Please, pass this on if you think it’s a good thing to do. Or don’t if you don’t. That’s OK too. Regardless of what you decide to do, I appreciate the time you took to read this.
Peggy Pence
Fredericksburg, VA
I figured I would put this out there. If anyone wants to help and can spare $7, please send to the address listed in the email. Social Media has allowed the horse world to shrink, so more of us are touched when tragedies happen.
I will definitely appreciate my full hay loft this weekend when we finish our last load.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hannibal Lecter Club

Comrade's weight have improved since the show in May, but he still has that cresty neck. Wetting his hay helped a lot. The problem was that not all his hay was soaked. So dry, rich hay and grass actually put some weight back on.
His feet have not been growing well either, which is unusual for a Cob. My farrier said it has been a bad year for feet. Roscoe and Rosemary both busted up their feet, but when I trimmed away the rough stuff they still had a good amount of hoof wall. Not so with Comrade.
So when we put all the factors together, we decided to bring in the big guns to attack his weight. Bring on the muzzle.

I did not realize Peggy had another muzzle like the one we have been using on Winston.

Yesterday after my ride, we fit the muzzle to Comrade. He was so not impressed. This muzzle will slow done his hay eating and limit his grass intake. We left him to figure out how to eat with it on.
Well with help from Sonny, Comrade got the muzzle off last night. Peggy may have to wrap his mane around the crown piece and make a pony tail.
He greeted me looking pathetic. I don't know why he is not happy about joining the Hannibal Lecter Club with Winston, he he :)


I took a picture of Comrade today to track his weight loss. Peggy will be changing his food to a mineral pellet. My horses are on the same pellet with good results, so I have high hopes it will help Comrade.

May 2013

Aug 2013


Friday, August 2, 2013

Rub Your Belly and Pat Your Head

Despite walking out the front door to pouring rain and a high chance of thunderstorms, Comrade and I were able to have our lesson with Robert Meyerhoff. The clouds start to clear a bit as I pulled out with the trailer to head to Peggy's. Good practice for me hauling the trailer with out a horse inside. I swear it gets wider for me though. Anyway once I got past the mean dog holding me hostage, I was set.
As I pulled up to Peggy's I realized my spurs were still in my car back at the barn. Just great! Too late now to worry. We loaded tack, hay and the pony and started the hour drive. I made sure to chew on some Rescue Remedy gum because my nerves were starting to come out.
His farm is about 40 acres with a cross country course and a huge sand arena. What I really liked was the fact that the arena was not fenced. They used landscaping timbers to establish a perimeter, but you could easily keep riding into the grass if needed. I think horses feel freer to move on in open rings too. Fences sometimes cause unintended limitations to movement.
When Comrade was ready we headed out. Bobby gave a set of spurs to borrow as the lesson may call for them. At the beginning he had me walk, trot and canter Comrade both ways. Comrade had more energy and his canter was so much more forward. Such a difference from riding in Peggy's little arena. Then it was time for the tough stuff.
As I mentioned before, Bobby rode him and felt his falls onto his right shoulder during right lead canter. I definitely concur. So he had me canter, but with in the rhythm of the gait I would squeeze with my inside leg at the girth. For additional help my left rein was opened to the outside creating a leading rein opening the outside shoulder encouraging him to stay out. When I found the pattern, I could feel him lift that inside shoulder giving him a rounder gait. Then Bobby increased the challenge by having us come down the center and leg yield out. Comrade said it was too hard and broke to a trot. I had to find a balance between keeping him moving, but not losing him out the front end. We had some success, but it was a butt kicker. The change in his canter was worth it though.
From there we moved on to trot leg yields which verbally I understood what he wanted me to do. But actually completing the task was like rubbing your belly while patting your head. Thinking about it made it harder to naturally find the timing. Plus what he wanted was opposite of how I was taught many years ago about when to apply pressure.
So here is what I had to do:
1. Trot rising around the outside
2. Come down center of ring
3. When I sat in the saddle during the post, I was to squeeze with the leg at the girth
4. When I rose during the post, I was to weight the opposite leg/seat bone
5. and repeat

That does not sound so bad, Right?
Well I was taught to ask for sideways movement in the upper part of the post. That was hard for me to learn but I did. Now I have to retrain years of muscle memory to this new way. My timing for lateral work sucks on a normal day. So add nerves and a new way of asking, oh yeah, it was tough.
We did occasionally put it all together and get some leg yields. Comrade was still trailing his butt some, but at least the shoulder was up.
To the left Comrade is better and I have more issues. I had to watch my outside rein because he would try to rush causing him to bulge his shoulder. Bobby had me really shorten my reins, I mean I was on the last nub of the web reins. His reasoning was sound though. Comrade was hit the end of the reins quicker and receive correction faster than with a longer rein. He stopped running out his shoulder once I blocked it. When I had my timing right I could feel how the squeeze cued him and the weight change helped show him the way to move. Once he moves just off the leg, we will where we need to be.
Bobby is all about riding effectively. If exaggerated directions are needed to help the horse learn, you do it. This is a concept I have heard before and agree with whole heartily. So much of what he said and worked on is similar to how my Mom teaches. I can't afford to take a lot of lessons, but I am going to try to take at least one a month or so. Next week Peggy will be back in the tack and Mom may haul one of ours out for a lesson too.
Comrade can only do short sessions of this kind of work because he does not have the muscling. We are really just starting canter work now that the joint medicine has done it's job. Can't wait to play with some of this on my own. Let's hope the rain cooperates.