Thursday, August 18, 2011

Working itself out.

To follow up from last night's post, I went out to ride Moon for the first time in nearly two weeks. Yes, TWO weeks.

The last time we had this long of a break (Ottawa Trip), he really didn't show any change. Perhaps a bit more forward and fresh, but that's about all.


He started out fine. We walked and trotted the circle. We did figure 8's (W threatened to make me a t-shirt that read "I love figure 8's" if I didn't stop whining about how much I hate them!). While it wasn't perfect, we were improving. I thought "We're doing awesome". Then W told me to leg yield down the quarter line.

...Moon threw his head up, balked, resisted, pulled and braced. We had Mr. Ugly-Rabbit-Face all over again. It was like in 2 weeks, he had regressed back to the horse he was in May when I first brought him to W. It was awful. I got frustrated. I fell forward. I stiffened. I pulled. I braced back.

W asked if I minded getting off.

I didn't. I was irritated and I know Moon felt. Which made him irritated. We're an awesome pair.

She put some laps on him, walk, trot, halt. Just working to get him to soften his poll. It was ugly.

One of the ladies who boards at W's was watching the lesson and said "Wow, does he ever brace". I smiled and let her know this was the 'ware-rabbit' face. : ) She was kind enough to try to make me feel better, saying I don't know how harshly he was ridden previously, she's new to lessons herself, it's great that I'm working him through it...

After 10 or 15 minutes, W had him reaching and holding contact and flexing. So she told me to get back up on him. I have to say, I was still stiff and frustrated, mainly with myself for not being able to bring him back there myself. I need to learn to be more patient, as I can't expect him to release in just 1 lap of the ring.

Back on him, he was much improved, and after a couple of minutes had begun holding contact for me at the trot as well as the walk. We didn't really get to do much (this is when he started being sore), though I see the benefit in the lesson we did have. But still, no canter!! : P

W said that while he braces and you can see him try to get his tongue over the bit, a lot of it seems to be his stiffness in his poll. He gets assured the bit is going to be harsh (or the hands more truthfully), and braces with his neck. He walks around constantly all tight and stiff, and when asked to something like leg yield, is too tight to accomplish it. So he resists more, instead of loosening.

It was amazing as by the end of the lesson, he was grunting as he started flexing and carrying himself properly on the circle. I had felt his poll after his 'episode' and it was ROCK solid, but at the end of the lesson is was a lot softer and he seemed more comfortable bending.

Even weirder? He had a snotty nose afterwards. I was concerned he was getting ill, but W told me that a similar thing happened with a boarder in the past. When they got the vet out, he explained that the horse carried SO MUCH tension in his poll and neck, that his nasal passages never had a chance to drain (even when out grazing, which is when it normally happens). So when the rider had finally gotten the horse to relax and release all that tension, BAM, all the fluid trapped up there was able to flow out...right through his nose!

Gross. But great to know that this is helping Moon, despite how upset he looks when he's bracing.

W and I both agreed that the time off was not good for him, though she believes in any opportunity to improve, only makes you better : P Still, I feel like I kept him from his weekly massage (or bi-weekly) by not riding him. To think that my riding has such a positive impact on his physical well-being.

That being said, W also said he looked chunkier then last week. He's the kind of kid that gets fat off a smartie : P

Now I've come to realize I type WAY too much, so I'll try to condense the last of this post. If you happen to still be reading... ; )

First, W thinks his soreness relates to A. The sand packing in his hooves when the contract at the trot, and walking removes the soreness b/c the sand falls out. to fix?

Second, he's getting a belly injury from kicking. I'm going home tonight to try to rig up a temporary belly cover until I can get him a new flysheet. HorseLoverz has a sale on with free shipping right now...I also coated it in blue wound spray, and have a purple elbow now by accident. Whops.

Third, no trail ride tonight. There's an extreme drought in this part of the province (the other half is flooded), and they've apparently shut down all of the trails to prevent the possibility of fires. T is also working (sad face), so I likely won't get to visit with her either. Boo-urns. But Moon'er needs a ride, so I should get that.

Fourth, T emailed me back to say that she understands moving Moon for the winter. She knows how much I love him, and it means a lot to me that she gets it.

Fifth, I'm going out tonight to look at S Stables...might drag the BF along and hopefully the camera.

Sixth...I'm going to post that in a separate one, since it's super exciting and this post is WAY too long already! At least I have some pics!!!! : )

Anyone have any good flysheet w/belly band suggestions??!


  1. My friend bought a Kensington sheet for her mare. Quality and durability wise, I have never seen anything come even close to it. It is by far the most well-made sheet on the market. It costs at least $100 new, though, and you have to buy the neck piece and belly band separate.

    The problem with most belly bands that come with fly sheets is that they are too small. They cover less than half of horse's belly. I think manufacturers want to be sure a horse won't get a foot caught in one, so as a result, it leaves the most sensitive skin unprotected.

    Cashel makes a product called "Quiet-ride belly guard" that is supposed to be pretty good. It covers the full stomach and fits quite snug - so a horse can't put a foot in it. Not sure how it will stand-up to turn out. You could email Cashel and see:

  2. Oh, and I was going to suggest something else. My friend is currently retraining a neck-reining western horse for jumping. He is super keen to jump and has a super cute form over fences, but he's never ridden with contact before. He sticks his nose in the air and its only once he's tuckered out that he considers giving to the pressure. Sheryl suggested lunging him on side reins to supplement his under-saddle flatwork. Maybe that would help Moon too.

  3. Thanks Kiirsten; I'm going to try and make a belly band to fit his current sheet while I try to hunt a new sheet down in the US. I'm thinking Kensington or Weatherbeeta. I'd love a Rambo but it'd probably break the bank! Never mind summer's nearly over... : (

    As for side reins, can you explain how that works? I'm not really familiar with how they function (I know what they look like, and have seen people use them, but that's about it). They don't *hold* the horse's head in position, right? Is it more so the bit is there and they can learn to hold it without rider hand interference?? I'm clueless here! Guess there google too! I should probably ask W what her thoughts are for us to give it a go. : )