Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rosemary Eye Update

My shadow :)

One more day of inventory obligations and then I start my new daytime schedule. Let the night time rides begin and hopefully I don't freeze my butt off.
Anyway, as Rosemary was following me around today trying to convince me my "one treat per pony" did not apply to her, I realized I have not updated you all about her eye. After two years of treatment it is looking so great. I am glad we could avoid surgery. Now that we are at Peggy's she is able to get her medicines consistently, which always shows changes.
For those new to my blog, here is the short and sweet of Rosemary's eye. In Jan 2012 she developed a raised bump on what we thought was a scar. Minor surgery and a biopsy showed it was a sarcoid. We consulted with our holistic vet after finding out surgery was the only conventional option. Both vets did not want to use a topical due to the closeness to the eye. Trial and error with familiar remedies did not yield results and the sarcoid came back even bigger in Nov. The holistic vet recommended a Chinese Remedy and Mum powder. Though not cheap, we did see results pretty quick. The bump grew and seemed to open. It was uprooting. In April 2013 a big chunk finally fell off and it continued to shrink from there. Barn drama caused her to have inconsistent times getting her medicine, so the changes slowed, but still happened.
Now the area on her eye that had no hair, is now covered and the sarcoid is just a small raised area. At the start I would never have believed that ugly spot would ever look normal even with the Holistic vet's assurance, but it does. The wonders of medicine never cease to amaze me.
Jan 2012
Jan 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Magic Box

Finally we had decent riding weather. It was too wet for trails, so Peggy and I rode in the arena. We rode the girls first, both bareback. After warming up we decided to set the poles into a exercise. I showed Peggy the picture of different 4 pole exercises and she picked the Magic Box. It is suppose to be done at canter and help with lead changes, but it worked for walking and trotting too.
Rosoce showing his handy work in the Magic Box
The box is a 12x12 square with 3 sides raised on the lowest cavaletti setting. I left one side down so we had a place to start. With the girls, just having to pick their feet up was perfect for giving them a work out. Dottie immediately perked up and was thrilled. Of course Peggy, who now had a goal and focus, was just as happy. Peggy at one point told me she was worried she would bounce off Dottie. To say that about her means Dottie found some bounce. They started off doing a figure 8, low to raised and around to the double raised. Though Dottie hit the poles, she did not knock them off. I told Peggy to try a turn in the box. She did it at walk first. Dottie actually did well giving Peggy a nice corner while reaching for the pole. Peggy was having fun and Dottie was being good. I told Peggy to try doing the same thing at the trot. She needed to angle Dottie a little coming into the box to help her make the turn. Again Dottie was a star and made the effort to do the exercise. She trotted in on a bend, trot one stride and then reach for the next pole while stepping under with her hind end. For a big girl she is surprisingly maneuverable. I played with her the next day on the same exercise. I trotted her and even got a great canter out of her. We ended with raising two poles to the next setting. Dottie just picked her feet up even better over those.
As excited as Dottie was, Rosemary was not. She said she is a driving pony and should be going around the box not over it. Despite her dislike, I did make her at least do the figure 8 exercise. At the trot she felt sound, which is a change since her chiro. I think Rosemary herself feels weird. She is a bit unsure of how to deal with her movement now. Almost like she is expecting pain. Once I convinced her she was okay, she handled the poles well. We will keep at building her muscles and see what happens.
Next up were the Red boys. Roscoe was having a distracted 3yr old day. He was more interested in watching Comrade. I used the poles to get his attention with a little success. At one point he was thinking about catching up to Comrade, he picked up trot and went over the two raised poles perfectly. Then the next time he decided to jump one, scare himself and knock down the next. We walked a bit then to regain his confidence and brain. I made him halt in the box, do a quarter turn on the forehand and walk on over a raised pole. That got his brain engaged. The next day I rode him by himself and though he tried to watch Peggy fix a fence board, he was in a better work mode. We worked on him trotting for the amount of time I wanted, tossing in the poles. They were no problem now. Roscoe got a trail ride for his reward. He surprised me by walking right to the baby coop and going over. He tried to go to the hay bale oxer, but I told him "not this time."
Comrade did the exercise in a lazy fashion trying to take advantage of Peggy. After watching him hit poles and barely make the distance, I could not watch anymore. I gave Peggy my whip. Like magic, he began to easily make the distance and pick his feet up. I guess he figured Peggy meant business now. She put him through the same exercises she used with Dottie. This ride allowed them both to have fun with each other. I hope to get to play with him on this exercise soon and maybe even try the canter.
Not to be left out, the Grey boys had their turn too. DaVinci, who normally can never find his distances and hops over poles, was doing them like a pro. He took care of Peggy during it too. Winston was having a jittery day and Mom was not sure she should try. She flatted him a bit before directing him to the poles. Winston did great. I had to tell Mom to relax and carry her hands, but there was no blow ups. Peggy laughed because I told her the same exact thing yesterday when she was on Comrade.
Overall the magic box was a great exercise for gaining focus, bending joints, promoting reaching with forelegs and pushing with hind legs. It highlighted gaps in flexibility or straightness. Best of all it was challenging enough for horse and rider without over exerting out of shape muscles.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pony Play

4 yrs ago in Indiana

A little over 4 years ago we went to pick up Rosemary from Indiana. She was not interested in being caught for her vet check. When it came time to catch her to load on the trailer, Mom and I used cookies to gradually draw her to us and get the halter on. Rosemary had a very vanilla personality for the first few months we owned her. She definitely had her "company" face on. Thankfully her personality started to come out. Even our vet saw the change in her.
Rosemary is very much a "people" pony now. She loves to mingle and check out what is happening. So in between rain showers we took the dogs for a walk on trail and I took Rosemary too. She would change who she walked by depending on who was talking to her. Partway through Mom said to go ahead and put the lead line over her neck. I did and she followed right by us. At the top of a hill, she stopped to search for acorns.

Contemplating on the hill

She had to decide whether to come down to us or not. Eventually she did, following me over a little jump. We walked back up the hill and she was again looking for acorns. We called her, but kept walking. I looked back to see her trotting up the hill to catch up. After that she was a little quicker to stay with us knowing we would just keep walking. You could see how happy she was to be out with us. We loved the fact that we could give her that freedom. How many people can say they can walk their horse "off leash?"
Larry walked her today, but did not believe Mom and Peggy when they said she could walk without being held. I'm sure Rosemary was okay with it since she would do anything for Larry.

Still have a ways to go
Of course we did not try the same with Roscoe later that day. I was going to ride, but it decided to rain. So Mom and I started to pull his very, very long mane. He cooperated which is a miracle. We worked until his patience was worn out, then took him for a walk on trail. Okay, a walk is an understatement. I trotted him in hand and went over the jumps with him. That pony is so cool. I led him up to the hay bale oxer and at first he was like "Hey food." Then when he saw me climb over and wait for him, he literally climbed over after me. Then we jumped over the log jumps, even the big log. As we came up to the barrel jump, I figured we might as well try that one too. He went around it the first time and then nicely jumped it from the other direction. He tuck his knees so neatly and really does it easily. We ended with the hay bale oxer again. This time he actually jumped it. I even made him do it the other direction. He was so awesome during the whole process. Oh and I have to mention that his reward for all these jumps were peanut butter suet chicken treats. A treat that the chickens, dogs and Roscoe all love. I did not get to ride, but the pony got to play out on trail and we got some of that mane pulled. The only downside was that my hand said mane pulling is not an approved activity and gave me hell for the next day. I may have to do shorter sessions, but his mane is going to get shorter too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

4 Hooves + 4 Poles = Focus

It has been a rough week between inventory and finding out my schedule will be changed come February. That change will cost me 7 1/2% of my pay, which will hurt. On the other hand I am hoping to get more ride time, though it may be at dusk until the days get longer.

Speaking of riding, I have be able to get on in between odd work hours. Peggy and I went for a ride on the girls out on trail. When we came back, Roscoe was at the gate saying "My turn?" I tried to pacify him by doing a little ground work and tricks with him. It did not do much, but he did give up a while after. The next day he came and haunted the gate again. I knew when we put the mares out in the field next to him and he did not follow, he would not be overlooked. Of course it was a freaking cold day. I took a chance by putting the quarter sheet and bareback pad on him.
That became interesting as he flipped his head, forelock flying and hopped with his back end. And while he is broader than my last bareback ride, it was still a iffy situation. I had Mom walk by him, until I could get him listening. Soon we were moving, but it became apparent he was not happy we were staying in the arena. He wanted to go out on trail and that was all he was thinking about. Solved that by closing the gate. I was still getting forelock flips as we walked around the arena. We revisited moving his hindquarters by working corners.

Then I saw his ears prick and felt his walk get energized. I looked over to see Mom carrying a pole. Roscoe locked his focus onto that pole and bee lined for it. His attention was officially off of going out on trails. Mom added 3 more poles, placing them on a circle. Roscoe and I began walking over them, center point to center point. Or at least we tried. Our lines were a bit drunk. I was happy that the 4 poles brought focus. We kept at it and he found his bend to the right. To the left he kept cutting in, so I made him do a square instead. Roscoe did corners and went over the center of the poles. It nicely combined the poles and our earlier hindquarter movements. I wish we could have trotted, but the arena was crunchy in areas. I had to be satisfied by ending with round lines between poles going both directions and a mentally focused pony.
I found a bunch of 4 pole exercises that I can't wait to play with and even make jumps for Comrade. Two more weeks of inventory and maybe that can happen.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Free Day/ Catch Up

I have worked enough hours recently that I had to take today off. Oh, darn I got more time with the ponies :) That means I have time to share recent pony escapades.

Roscoe took the next step in his driving training by pulling the PVC drag. At first he was a bit nervous, nipping at me, but soon he settled and his big walk kicked in. Once he decided the drag was not going to do anything to him, he acted like the drag was not even there. We did wide turns and tight turns where he had o push against the shafts. Even that did not phase him. I asked him to trot and he tried to just go fast. Then he went into work mode. Amazingly, I was able to ask him to trot and he did so on a circle. That means he constantly had to push the drag on the inside. For him he only cared about doing what I asked. The challenge of the drag did not supersede his purpose of following my instructions. All of us were impressed with his reaction. He needs to do the drag on the road for desensitization, but I think we can hook him to the cart pretty soon. The next day he was so satisfied mentally that I took Comrade for a ride and did not get glared at once.

Comrade's ride was one that developed as we went along. I put him in the 3 pc snaffle to see if the boucher really had an effect. It definitely did. Comrade was heavy in the front. I added some rein backs to put him on his hind end. He did them well, but in typical Comrade fashion he started to anticipate. I asked for a halt and he would immediately back. So I gave him what he wanted, we backed. Not just a few steps. We kept backing and I threw in some curves. Heck, he was moving better backwards than forward. That evil plan came from Clinton Anderson. It paid off by lightening his front end and getting him to listen. Now that he was at that point I took a page from George Morris by doing walk to canter transitions at varied number of strides. The rein back work made his transitions much cleaner with less trot steps needed. 'They only improved after doing a few. Asking at different stride counts kept him from anticipating. Knowing he probably could not do it, I went ahead and tried a counter canter. As I made the turn Comrade said "Nope, not happening" and did a lovely simple change. He repeated the action when I went the other way. I just laughed and enjoyed his correctly done evasion.

Yesterday Comrade had another chiropractic visit. She was pleased at how he is maintaining. He had a bit of stiffness on the left side base of his neck that she worked out. The chiro work has made a big difference. Mom had her also look at Rosemary since she has had that on again, off again lameness. Surprisingly, she did not find anything major. No inflammation around the stifle, no back soreness or anything else. She did realign her pelvis though and work on her neck. They took her down to the arena so she could watch her move. Rosemary is very flashy and big in her movement, especially at liberty. After watching her move the chiropractor believes her big movement combined with the slippery mud causes her to slightly injure herself. She told us to work her, walk out on trail for the most part and do belly lifts. So today, I bundled up and put her quarter sheet on and went for a trail ride in our 20 degree weather. The ground was a bit hard causing her to be on the cautious side, but she seemed straighter and not all over the place. I look forward to warmer weather to really get a good read on her movement.

And that is the pony highlights. Time for bed, have to get up early for inventory prep at my normal store. Stay warm everyone!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Risk Never Taken, Is One Never Rewarded

I got a break giving me time to share the big news. Four years ago Roscoe's breeder made me an offer I could not refuse, Rosemary in foal and already backed for the price of weanling. The price was more than all our other horses put together and it would be our first green pony. Not to mention first time dealing with a pregnancy. By taking that risk we were rewarded not only with everything Rosemary has given us, but by Roscoe.

Before he was born we told Lisa a colt would be gelded. Of course during the months following we decided to give him a chance as a stallion. He showed quality movement and a quick mind. BUT, if he ever became unruly or if we felt his quality of life was decreased by being a stallion we would geld him. 3 years later Roscoe has not given us a reason. Instead he has showed us a new side to the horse world. Our opinion of him has only grown with everything he learns and how he matures.
The downside is that he is a stallion with out mares. No mares means no foals. No foals means no one wants to use him and take a chance on the results. Early on Lisa asked to have him come to her farm so he could breed her mares. We could not let him go though. That time of his life was such a time of learning, he would have missed too much. That left mares coming to him or using AI. One year we tried AI, but the timing was never right. The next year plans for the mares to come to VA fell through. At this point it is about time to geld him. He will become unnecessary to Lisa in a couple years when his nephew is old enough to breed. The interest I have had from other breeders has not been shown in contracts, so maybe it is time to focus on making him my future event horse.
His bloodlines, super movement and amazing mind don't pass on if stuck in his balls.

Out of the blue a month ago, Lisa sent me a message. She wanted me to consider sending Roscoe for two months to her farm. In addition she put another one of her too tempting offers up as payment, a Roscoe foal. We have already said the next horse would be one of his foals, this is just a bit sooner than expected.
Immediately, I had to think about the accommodations he would have, the food he would need, the need to transition him onto grass, the loss of ridden training and on and on. Lisa could satisfy our accommodation questions. I know breeding is hard work, but I did not think it was enough to keep him satisfied. And when he is unsatisfied, he can get into trouble. I swear he knows if he is a pain, he will get work. So the only person who popped into my head that could help with this issue, Jen from Cob Jockey. I contacted her and asked if she would be willing. She agreed! My workaholic pony would have someone who knows Cobs, has ridden a green pony and has an awesome trainer. Any work she would do with him could only benefit his training. Plus she is much closer than I am.
After talking and considering, I sent Lisa a message on Christmas. In it a picture of Roscoe says "See you in Indiana in May."

It's time to get some foals on the ground. Now we have to plan, pack and settle our nerves. Poor Dad is really worried. It was hard to send him away for two weeks phantom training, so this will be even tougher. Most likely we will make a trip to visit him in between.

So that is the big news, Roscoe gets to play sheik to a harem of mares for two months. Then in 2016 we will see Roscoe babies and hopefully one will join our herd.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Recap and Wrap Up

It is amazing to me that I am finishing my 3rd year writing this blog. Where has time gone? This year was fairly quiet for us with some exciting points.

January: Ah, this was my hell month of inventory at work. Lack of sleep and cold weather did not bring about much riding. What this month brought was the revelation that Comrade was Born Crooked. He received his first chiropractic visit and we finally got answers to past training issues. Some barn drama started during this month too. Who knew how big that snow ball would get in the end?

February: This month I found an emu egg in the field with the girls and even better, I found new confidence dealing with Roscoe. Clinton Anderson methods helped deal with his 3yr old moments and stallion stunts. Plus we got enough snow for me to take Rosemary out for a ride. Snow can be a pain, but it does make for a fun ride. Then my parents made the choice to start looking for a place to buy where we could bring he horses to.

March: This month started off with Rosemary showing off her Amish roots by helping us pull a wheelbarrow shell full of manure or hay through the snow. Then it was time for the blog hops: 7  deadly, name, bucket. Comrade and I worked on our shoulder in which came easier after his chiropractic visits.

April: I tried my hand at a blog hop about pony personality. Comrade turned 9 yrs old and I learned to let him go under saddle. We also we frustrated by people's reaction to Roscoe's weight loss. His hormones just burned away calories faster than we could feed them. The month ended on a high when Rosemary pulled our lawn mower out of the mud. She did something extreme because we asked it, our super star pony.

May: This month brought about the infamous "Good Boarder" comment and increased tension at the barn. Winston turned 18 yrs old and showed great recovery from his laminitis. Dottie completed her Mud Fever trial and I shared my observations. We dealt with stallion and cob antics, fun and annoying.

June: Well, this was a hard month starting with the unexpected death of Addie. Her loss cast a pall over us all and made our first show of the year rough.The Red boys showed well though. Comrade and I jumped at the show despite our lack of preparation. We discovered Comrade's need for ground poles. My baby turned 3yrs old, starting to look more mature. Then I started my memorial series: A Trail of Painted Ponies.

July: My show souvenir from last month was identified this month. It was probably my worst injury to date. This caused me to get creative in order to keep riding. During my healing came the decision to move the horses to Peggy's on a trial basis. 7 horses all in one small farm, let the adventure begin. DaVinci started it with a colic scare from stressing.

August: Quickly the decision to stay at Peggy's was made. It was more emotional for me than I expected, but the benefits were vast. We definitely enjoyed the trails.

September: We benefited from a foreign exchange. I got a lesson on Rosemary and we learned about a therapeutic riding program in Israel's connection to CPEAP in Virginia. The Red Boys ran me around the Welsh show and then became turn out buddies. Then came my red letter day of firsts where I drove Rosemary solo by myself and I rode Roscoe. Finally compliments of CPEAP, I hosted a trivia contest.

October: Roscoe's rides continue and we find he enjoys trails. Comrade gets back between the shafts, prepping for a red boy pair in the future. Everyone gets trivia answers and prizes. Then I shared an article about vaccinations. At a bonus show, the boys were Welsh ambassadors to some tourists. Roscoe showed he could strut his stuff in the arena and then let kids pet him.

November: This month brought more firsts. I did some clip art on Rosemary's butt, felt an awesome trot from Roscoe and ended the month with him cantering. We winterized the barn and I did the second Painted Pony memorial. Rain and holidays slowed everything down.

December: More rain, more mud and later hours at work all kept riding at a minimum. We had to change up turn out patterns to keep horses off muddy spots and the studly boys separate. I shared our observations about various slow feed bags and we got a ton of rock to help with the mud. Christmas brought the gift exchange, presents and pictures. We had a great holiday which included me getting back on some horses. My parents gave me a really fancy camera with zoom lenses that I need to learn to use. Hopefully I will get even better pictures in the future.

The new year will bring news about a big decision we made. I really want to get Roscoe to some ridden shows and possibly get Rosemary and Comrade to driven shows. And speaking of driving, I hope we get Roscoe hooked to the cart this year. One step closer to having a Red Boy pair. Friday starts my hell month again doing inventory. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates and I am awake enough to keep riding consistently.

Happy New Year!!!