Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rubbed the Wrong Way.

Time warp...from Tuesday morning...
And focus...focus...

Okay, focus lost.

I get one ride tonight before our first lesson in over a month. Did I make things better or worse? We'll see. I'm sure W will have us cantering lots, and I hope we see wild improvement. : P

I'm also ordering my brakes. Finally. Just need to confirm my bolt spacing on the existing rims. Plus a set of replacement reflectors and an interior light. The BF hooked me up with trailer wire so no worries there.

Friday, pizza with horse friends. Saturday, club meeting and horse first aid demo. Two more Saturdays until I'm confirmed to audit the Valkenborg Dressage Clinic, my first clinic!


I should say, that I can feel the effects of yoga. Boy do my legs hurt. In strange spots. And in the back between my shoulders. It's gonna be a long 10 weeks...

Jump poles. What color should I paint them?

Guess what's slated to arrive on Thursday?! Surcingle! Yes, that means we're on our way to start ground driving. Honestly, some days I think I try to tackle too many things at once, but I also know I have a horse that accepts my training ADHD willingly. Which means I feel fine throwing long lines on him this weekend and getting him used to them. Why not? Not that I ever really plan on driving him or anything. Do I? Who knows.

Tonight. What to work on tonight? I'm thinking I'm gonna pull out those cavelleti poles and do them and canter departs. Lots of bum strengthening work. Doesn't help that I'm poop'd.

Even my blog post follows no logical order. I'm just focused on getting home to make homemade ginger beef stirfry and compel myself to get out to the barn. It's cold again here. Brrr. I want to be riding in my sweatshirt again.

Anyone looking for a good horse-game? The Equestrian, the only USEF approved computer game. It's difficult but enjoyable. We'll ignore that the reins are sometimes slack in our international competitions and for some reason I'm showing dressage in bright orange and dark green. Oh and sometimes I'm not facing the judges when I salute. But as far as horse games go, this one is adult-friendly and a lot of fun. I can't jump in the game for the life of me (yup, it even emulates real life!), but we're almost at International level dressage and only not gotten 1st place twice. Imagine "Rock Band" or "Guitar Hero" in horse-format. Instead of rocking to "I Love Rock and Roll" by the Blackheads, you're Piaffing and Passaging down the dressage ring. Love it. Get myself a little fix every night before bed. Leads to wonderful little dreams about rocking PSG freestyle with Moon someday... ; )
I found myself tempted by a new bit today, but can't seem to justify the expense. Plus, it seems that it may not necessarily help our contact. The Herm Sprenger Duo bit. Love it's super soft fine mouthpiece which they claim is perfect for large tongued-low palate horses like mine. Of course, it could also be something he ignores or it could offer us nothing at all. Who knows. The double jointed has been working, so why change a decent thing? Because Mr. Rabbit Face won't be winning any marks in the dressage ring. Under 100 days to go...


Time Wednesday morning...


Let me start by saying that I'm glad I went out to the barn last night. I pulled off Moon's blanket, which he's been wearing every day all winter, and I found this:

Isn't that pretty? And painful looking? Blood on his blanket, ouchy pony-to-boot. 

Zoom out. What I don't understand is why yesterday? I visited him on Monday and he didn't have any rubs. Then 24 hours later, he has this ugly mark?? A part of me wonders if he was bit right at the collar and then it was aggravated by the blanket trim. Who knows. I do know he has a lovely row of bite marks across his back (bald patches where he can't rub) plus another scrape on the side of his right foreleg. Which was nice and warm to touch, though thankfully not swollen or fluid filled. I suspect this was the result of a glancing kick.

What to do? Well, I blue-wound sprayed it, and unfortunately didn't have time to run home and get his rain sheet to try over his blanket liner. W suggested he wear his blanket liner but I see two big problems: 1. There's no straps or bands on it since it uses the bands on the over-sheet (hence, dangerous) and 2. It's like 350 denier (since it goes under a real sheet) which the other horses will destroy in a matter of minutes. I didn't buy a brand new blanket to have other horses destroy it because I'm not using it properly.  

In the end he spent the night in his stall and I told W to put his rubbing blanket back on if he needs to go out and it's too cold. As much as it sucks, he'll survive a couple hours in it. Kinda like the times I survived my shoes rubbing because they were the only ones I had. Sucked, but we survive. I really had no more options.

Which means today I try to solve the problem. Thought #1 was to get him a shoulder guard to wear. There was a moment when I wish I had just added on to my HorseLoverz order that's arriving tomorrow. Curses. Instead, I'm going to have to suffer with some over-priced local product, which 9 times out of 10, is low quality and not worth the crazy price they charge. Which sucks. But I have to save him the pain and get this healed up, so I'll do it anyway.

Then I thought some more about it. We're planning on showing which means braiding his mane and keeping him clean. A lot of folks use hooded slickers for this reason. Hmmmm...

Instead of buying him just a shoulder guard, why don't I buy him a full hood? He can use it for shows, it might help protect his neck from the multitude of bites (there was 4 saliva spots when I showed up yesterday!) and will also save his shoulder.

My consideration though, was if it'd be too cold. The lycra flattens down the hair and if you've ever worn spandex on a cold day (haven't we all?!), you know it's REALLY cold. BUT...

I've got that hood I bought Moon this winter that he hasn't even worn!! Which will protect the slinky AND his neck AND keep him warm!! And is just $20 more then a shoulder guard. Score (in a terrible, I'd rather not have to do this sort of way!). But I'll do it for this upset fellow:

So tonight now includes a rush to the local tack store, a fast dinner and a quick drive out to the barn. Plus a lesson and me hand-sewing together Moon's new "outdoor wear", since my hood has a hook in the wrong spot. Oh, and I should add a loop to the lycra hood that his neck cover can clip too to stay up. That's a lot of hand-sewing in the barn tonight : P
Now, what about my ride with this fellow?

He started out great. Reaching and stretching and flexing at a walk. Trot wasn't as awesome, but not bad at all. Some of his leg yielding was downright impressive and we worked a touch at the start of turn-on-the-haunches again.
So where did it start going downhill? Canter.

I'm not sure if my soreness from yoga (yes, soreness...I think my shoulder is ready to dislocate!) had a negative effect, but it wasn't good. Oh, it started out fine. W who was teaching another lesson caught some really nice transitions on the correct lead. Yippee.

But then it went downhill.

Someone is Mr. Rushy-rushpants once he's gotten to canter. I spent more time working on getting him to resume his soft contact after a canter transition then I did working on my transitions. He would grab the bit in his mouth and just YANK! When I'd ask for softness, he'd try contorting his neck in every direction or throwing his arse out of the circle to fight having to slow down and bend.

Oh, and of course, he now thinks that bending in on a circle and being asked to leg-yield out means "Canter". So rather then listen and do what I'm asking, he just tries to throw himself into the canter. I mean, why wait for a cue you know is coming?!

So we'd spiral, change directions, transition walk-trot-walk-trot and serpentine. He never did get back to 100%, but we did continue to get half-decent canter departs when I asked for them. W stopped to chat after awhile when I confessed that I'm struggling to not brace against my grabby-pants pony.

She suggested shoulder-in as a means of getting him to re-balance himself and slow down. Except I hardly remember how to do shoulder-in anymore! Guess what today will include?!

I did try a couple times after she left to at least think about "lifting the shoulder" as we would do with shoulder-in. I remembered that much. Well, surprise, surprise, my falling over sideways pony suddenly righted himself and made the corner upright. Then started to fall again, but my righting was too slow. We reduced back to trot, but it was a lot cleaner then before.

I called it a night. He was getting to the point where I needed more leg to keep him going and I was noticing he was getting sore on some of the rock-hard clumps of arena sand that had accumulated with the recent harrowing. He's still got some nice sole bruising going on and I wanted him at least sound for today's lesson.

But I wasn't ready to call it a night. With our surcingle arriving on Thursday, I wanted to get an idea of his mental aptitude for ground driving. I'd read some books and put them to the test. For starters, I grabbed a lunge line and threw it out behind him. He stood still though appeared rather nervous that I was going to smoke him in the head. Poor bugger.

After throwing it out behind him on both sides and having a pony that stood stalk still (just moved his head out of the way), I lead him forward and dragged the line behind him. It was brushing his hocks and legs but he didn't care at all. So I clipped it to his bit and made him drag it himself. Didn't care. He showed mild uncertainty on his right side (with everything) but never once showed fear towards the line (just my throwing hand near his face). 

So I picked up the line and clucked to him.

Guess who walked off? And made a nice right hand turn for me based on my guidance with the line? (I only had a right-hand rein!). Even whoa'd really well. What a wonderfully awesome boy!!! We struggle so much with some things, and just saunter on through others. Horses are mind-boggling.

Friday I hope to take the new surcingle out and try to line drive him with two lines. See if we can do some loops and circles at a walk. I'm thrilled at the training opportunities this opens, as there's a great deal a horse can learn under line that they don't need to worry about their rider's weight or balance.


Lastly, I leave you with pictures of Mr. Moon in his stall for the night and his best buddy cat. His cat climbed right into his stall and then leaped onto the sill...
Moon felt he shouldn't be in his stall and nudged him off. They're quite the pair (this is the face-leaping cat of last week).
And unrelated, my first 100% homemade Key Lime pie! I squeezed a lot of tiny limes to make this one!!!


  1. I was going to suggest you skip the slinky until I read that you'll be putting a hood over top of it. I swear those things are actually made out of tissue paper because they tear super easy!! The shoulder guard would be good if you didn't have a hood to put over the slinky hood. Hopefully it works out!

    I remember the days with Lilly where once she cantered that's all she would think about. Any little nudge on her side and she thought it meant canter. Have no fear... the more you canter, the better he'll get about it. Lilly is proof of that! Sounds like he's excited about cantering now, though!

  2. I second in2paints on the tissue paper thing. My last shoulder guard ripped the first week Dee wore it. Darn things are way more expensive than they should be! Anyway, that is an odd spot for a blanket rub so I think you are probably correct that the cause is something other than the blanket. Still leaves you with the challenge of getting it healed up. Hopefully you find the right combination.