Friday, June 28, 2013

Wednesday and Thursday Fun

[I updated last post with pictures for further opinions!]

Wednesday was another hot one, and when I say hot, I mean hotter than usual. Usually it's much warmer this time of year. We've been getting so much rain which has really screwed up my riding schedule as well as my mood! We did w/t/c, but he didn't want to go to the right at the canter. UGH, Spyder. I know it's hot, but it was my goal to get him to canter to the right even if it was just for a few steps. We finally got it after a lot of fussing!

Since it was so hot, we worked on our square which was walking to a halt on the corner and pushing his hind end over to turn in the next direction. We worked on the track by the ring so we could see the lines, and I was happy he behaved. He thought he was going back to his paddock or stall to eat, but we worked for a bit longer on those "buttons". I hosed him down after the ride, and you could tell he appreciated it!

Thursday it cooled off a lot because there was a storm coming (surprise, surprise) and tornado warnings. The wind was AWESOME for a ride considering it's been so hot. He was a lot happier to work with than the day prior!

We did some w/t/c canter in field, and used a much larger area than usual. Again, we had a hard time to the right, but it was easier than last time. Even with the commotion in the woods (mowing of the trails), he was such a well behaved horse! The wind was blowing like crazy, and nothing seemed to phase him. I finally feel like we're both more trusting as things are getting easier.

I went out on track and trotted because they were feeding so we took a few laps up and down the area we've walked on for a while. I have yet to turn the corner where you can't see the barn, but hopefully we'll get there soon. I went over to his stall area and worked on moving his front end without the hind end. How fun! It took him just 2 days of working on it, and we can do a full circle like we're some sort of western reining team. OK, it's not that fast, but it's still exciting.

He ate and I hosed him down since he worked up quite a sweat from our lovely canter out in the open! :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Split in the Heel

I have Googled a lot, but you know how that goes... everyone has a different story or suggestion. Spyder has a split in between his heel bulbs (front only, and one is worse than the other). Thrush? I know I need to get a picture for the proper analysis, but initial thoughts? He's not bothered by it at all, and his frogs are good and there is no sign of thrush anywhere else. Do I just keep treating for thrush or is there some hidden secret I'm not aware of. I'm sure the mud and riding in the wet grass don't help, but I do clean it every ride.


Snapped a few quick shots. Ignore the blur as he was moving and the dirt.. he was eating and didn't want to be bothered.

Circles the area, the arrow points to where the heel bulb is funky and you can see "funk"
Crack up the middle, and the two small circles show the bulb areas that are worn away
Picture without markups
Close up

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stop and Smell the Manure

I had a nice ride Friday where I got to work on moving over, getting on the bit, and getting Spyder over the fear of the folding chair... AHH! When I walked into the ring, he noticed the only thing that changed, and that was a folding chair at the end of the dressage ring. We rode off like it was nothing and did our circles to work on bending getting closer and closer to the scary chair. Eventually. he got over it, and I was happy we worked through it. We got to canter past it, and he was so well behaved that I did one whole jump! Oh, the joys of having a horse that you have to train. He jumped the small vertical like it was 2'3", but he cantered off like it was nothing so we ended the ride with cooling down and riding quietly down the track.

Oh, I almost forgot to point out the reason for the title. On the way out to the ride, Spyder pooped along the track. Pushing and prodding to get him to move (keep walking). He continued to walk as he went to the bathroom which always used to be on the cross ties, but now, I feel like it's a "stop" tactic. He acts like he can't walk and do it at the same time to get out of work (we're working on it). Well, on the way back in to the barn, he kept putting his head lower and lower as we got closer to his pile of manure. He just HAD to stop and smell it. What is he, a dog? This happens fairly often with his own mess. Is it another "I can't walk any further" trick?

Sunday I rode early as it was going to get hotter than it has been. We had to work on excitement for this ride. Spyder didn't want to move or do anything (even though he had eaten breakfast). I did a brain exercise that was walk, trot, halt, trot, halt, trot... just to get him thinking. This made him angry at first because I went from asking to telling with my spurs, but it made his reaction time a lot better working through the pattern. Next, we worked on moving over the hind end. This was so easy! We did a few circles in which he didn't even move his front feet much. We worked on a square which was walk to halt at the corner, then pushing the hind end to continue walking down the next side of the square. This is something we'll move to the trot with, but for now, the walk is going to have to be the speed where we practice because he chose to ignore me a few times. I did try it at the walk (rather than halting at the corner) to push the hind over to turn while moving, but it wasn't all that graceful. We'll get there.

Next step: front movement. At first, Spyder thought that the pressure in front of the girth meant move over the hind end, but he got a few front steps. His hind still moves, and he did back up a few times, but this is where we were when we started the hind end exercise. I worked through it until we got a full circle, but he does still move his hind end a lot. We took breaks with trot circles to get his mind clear in between the frustration of learning something new. To end the ride, I worked on the canter a little and we cooled out for a while. We even got about 10 feet away from the scary chair where he spooked before. Oh, horses.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting it Back

Sunday I rode which was WONDERFUL because I've been slaving away to the new house. I got the pool open so after riding I went for a swim. I HATED the pool the first week because I never had one (and couldn't get it right), but now I find it nice and relaxing after hard work around the house or a challenging ride.

I thought Sunday would be more challenging since I didn't ride since Tuesday, but I am very lucky to have a horse that can sit for any amount of time. He was super attentive, and moving his hindquarters over has become much easier. He's such a great horse for listening and understanding, but he still has days where he "forgets" everything we've worked on. Those are the days he doesn't want to go! We did the w/t and moving into the bit thing a bunch as well as cantering. He got in one nice kick out and a HUGE squeal! We just kept going like it didn't happen, and that was the end of it. He's quite the talker. If he doesn't want to go, he'll moan and groan the whole ride. When he's excited or being naughty, he'll squeal, and when he sees you get to the farm, he'll knicker. It's cute, but the squeals and moaning and groaning are a bit annoying. Is your life really that hard?

I got to ride yesterday, as well. It's been nice and cool because we've had way too much rain! I read that 16/18 days of June had rain. Last time we got this much (over 7" so far) was 1958. Also, we had a much cooler summer other years we got a lot of rain. I think one summer had 8 days over 90 and the other, 13. I can take that...especially because my wedding ceremony is set to be outside! He's much happier when it's cooler, but that doesn't mean he's any more willing to work!

I didn't get any moaning and groaning yesterday, but got a bit of excitement from the deer. Our ride went well, and we got to canter a bunch. I kept the ride to 30-40 minutes between warm up and getting out the the ring, but my main goal was ending on a good note. We trotted around a jump, and he had a bit of attitude towards the end of the ride (which should have been the end of the ride) so we did circles until he wanted to relax. Sorry that it's feeding time and you're sooooo starved Spyder, but listen. He didn't want to calm down so I just kept pushing him into a canter. We're still trying to get straighter lines down so I probably look like an idiot cantering around with an outside open rein, but I have to pull him over and push him to get him on a "bigger circle" since straight doesn't work.

After we cantered and he seemed as if he was calmer, we did a halt. Mr. anxious still didn't want to listen so he just had to stand quietly for the ride to be over. I should have ended the ride at 20 minutes while things were going good, but this was great for both of us. He had to listen and I had to be the boss. Our halt took a lot of fighting, head tossing, muscle power, and backing, but he finally stood still for a reasonable amount of time.

Heading back to the barn, I was mean and made him THINK we were headed out of the gate... then turned him. He needed just one more test of being a good listener before the reward of his grain. I put him in his stall and brushed him while he was eating, and he wasn't even angry about it. I found out that treats > feed because I pulled out the container during his indulgence. Normally his face doesn't come up or away from the bucket more then 2" to guard his ration of feed, but the sound of the treats got his attention away from the bucket.

Lately, I've been super happy with where we are, and I feel like things are finally coming together with our riding, understanding, and learning curve. Hopefully this wedding I have in a month and a week goes as smoothly. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wall of Fame

Spyder's breeder sent me a message asking for some photos for their "wall of fame". I'm guessing they keep in touch with many of their past horses, and I'm excited he gets to be on their wall under saddle. I was going to ask them if any of their other past horses are riding horses now, but I'm not sure if they would be insulted. They were surprised that he was being ridden when I initially got in touch with them as his bloodlines call for racing. Glad to know he was a little slow and a little too smart for the cart. It's nice knowing they try follow up with all of them!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not Even a Flinch

Tuesday I didn't feed before I rode because I figured I would see how my horse would act since I hadn't done it in a while. The BO was dragging the track since the dust level was down due to the rain so I didn't want to ride out to the large field where we usually ride for lack of wanting a spooky ride. It was bright and sunny, and there was a schooling dressage show at Barn 1 (the "kids barn"). I didn't go because I have yet to even do a dressage test, and it looked like it was going to rain. I did want to see others do their test, but I didn't want to chance my tack getting wet. I'm a baby about it, I know!

I went into the cross country field where Spyder used to spook, and I am very surprised that the frog sounds coming from the water didn't spook him. When they would jump in as we got close, he would spook at the sound of splashing water. The cross country jumps didn't even make him flinch even though the wind had blown one of the railroad tie jumps. Last time Spyder saw this jump, he freaked! He was even great during feeding time. He kept looking towards the commotion, but he listened to everything I asked.

We worked again on w/t with pressure on the bit until he wanted to give and moving over his hind off of my leg. We even got to canter while feeding, and this was for the first time [intentionally] in this field. It was somewhat controlled, and we kept going through the rain. It was a light sprinkle before it became a quick downpour, and I felt like I was in a movie or a dream because it felt awesome. I was sitting in my saddle, looking up, and we were steering! The sun came back out and we saw a coyote in the field headed towards the water/lake/frog area. Again, not even a flinch! :) The coyote wasn't even scared as it just paused and started at us before it crossed the water into the woods. It was a small one. It was just bigger than a fox but the color of a deer. I am used to seeing them much darker so I was confused as to what it was at first. Excuse the blurry picture, Spyder didn't want to stand still because it was feeding time!
Blurry, but it was about 200 ft. from us
It started raining again, but since my tack was already wet, we rode around group of trees near the track. We usually walk around it/by it, but we've never trotted the circle. Spyder was looking, but again, not even a flinch! We cooled out with the rain and the sun mix, and there was such a beautiful rainbow! about all kinds of sights at the farm today. Once I hopped off, I put Spyder in his stall to eat when I heard a yipe from the coyote. I was thinking it found food, but it must have found another coyote because it sounded like a brawl. After Spyder was fed, he got a mint since he was so great. Spyder loves any kind of candy (food for that matter), but I always make sure I grab him a peppermint if I see them when I go out to eat. I need to find a place to buy a huge container of them. I'll have to check out Sam's Club!

It was a sad day at the farm for two of the horses in Spyder's paddock. Both are in the elderly category, but the one in his 30's had to get put down. He seemed to be suffering for quite some time because he could never hold weight from losing teeth with age, and I had never known the horse without rain rot. I always felt so bad for him moping around the field, and I would want to pet him, but his sores were disgusting. I touched him once because I didn't know any better, and it was the worst feeling in the world. Yuck! His owner would come see him a few days a week, and his best paddock mate's owner (a horse he'd been with for years... even at different farms) would bring him in with her horse since they were inseparable.

This other horse was so upset that the horse put down wasn't being put back out with him at night. He would never leave his side. If the 30 y.o. horse was laying sick in the field, his buddy would stand there and wait for someone to get them. If you put one out, the other would wait by the gate for the other to come. They were never too far from each other in the field. If one was in the run in, the other was, too. Some people feeding would bring them in together just because they were so attached it was easiest that way. It was the first night that his friend was gone, and he just stood in the field screaming for him. My heart goes out to this horse because they are such social animals, and he wasn't aware of what happened. The owners must be devastated, one because she lost her horse, and the other because her horse was now going to be hurting from his loss. I just hope that they all find peace in knowing that life goes on and things will only get better. Leave it to Spyder to be the heartless animal that puts his ears back at him while he's calling for his friend because he was standing too close to where the hay was. I felt so bad!

Right before leaving the farm, I saw the coyote again while I was talking to the BO about them! Again, he just lurked and stared at us like we were invading his space.
He's just on the other side of this paddock

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's Love

Looking back on my horse decision, I didn't always think it was always the best choice, but I have come to realize my horse tries harder than any I have ever known. Sunday I got to ride after a long weekend of working on the house, and it was such a dream. I felt good, Spyder was happy, and we worked as a team through our ride.

I worked in the dressage ring on my position, our speed, and with wide hands/pressure on the bit until he wanted to cooperate. From there, we worked on our stopping and moving off of leg with just the hind end like we did earlier in the week. He's starting to really get it, but he's still not 100% on what I'm asking. Like everything else, we'll get there.

I went out into the field and worked on our trot around the perimeter of the entire field. The jumps were tempting, but most of them were much too high for what I'd feel comfortable doing (on Spyder). We did one "skinny jump" and Spyder jumped it so well that I left it at that (and a few ground poles). For never doing a course or anything "extreme", he tries so hard to make me happy! Steering and responsiveness are so much better; therefore, I feel like I'm more willing to try new things. We worked on our canter, and it was perfect. We rode and rode and rode (for a 40 minute total ride time.. haha) like we'd been cantering all along. I was sitting up, sitting back, and I wasn't hanging on his mouth like I usually do. We still need to work on getting straight, but the bigger loops seem to be helping.

On the way back, the BO called because she had his wormer. He's always expecting food or treats when I get off so it was the perfect time to sneak up on him with the paste. He was so mad at me for giving it to him that he turned his butt towards me and stared into the corner of this stall! I'm such a terrible owner, I know. I did give him treats after because I felt bad (and he was happy again). I decided to hose him off since it was nice out and I had a bit of time to spare... aka wanted to relax and be outside. <3 this horse. His personality and heart are worth more than anything.
Oh, treats? I like you again.

Now I remember what you did.

Wormer mouth, but still begging.

Side note, my new house is coming along well and the riding breaks from working on it are what keeps me sane. I opened our pool this weekend, and it's getting there. I wish that Spyder could come swimming, but I'll have to settle for a dog at home. The wait is killing me... UGH!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Little Things

I was beyond tired yesterday at work after returning from San Fran, but I missed Spyder so much (and his birthday! :( June 4th and he's 6!). I knew I had to get to the barn, but I was so unmotivated. On my turn out of the work parking lot, it started raining. GREAT! I went anyway... got changed in my car while I watched it shower, and then I watched it stop. It was off an on the whole time I was getting things together, but it stayed dry for my ride.

Getting Spyder out of the field, I noticed the two newer geldings have figured out the paddock. The one is mean! He assumed it was feeding time, and was lunging at the others coming near the gate - ears back, teeth out, and ready for the kill. He even got his feet off the ground if they were getting too close. This made me so sad because Spyder knows me and gets so excited to come up to me. Since I was never around this new horse, he kept Spyder away and he was so upset he couldn't get over to me. Poor guy - at least now he's getting a taste of his control over the herd. Spyder is to the point where he's just got to put his ears back and they back away, but this horse is just plain sour and nasty!

Next up, the mustang. He came over from the barn next door and always escaped over there. He hadn't that I am aware of at this barn... until I got near the gate when he was close. I did see him following Spyder and I, but I didn't think he'd just bust through the gate! This is his "thing", apparently. He waits for you to close it, and then he puts all of his weight on it and runs. Of course this would be on a day where I was rushing to get on before the rain. Spyder is good with grass so I just let go of his lead since I knew he wouldn't go anywhere. I had to grab this horse quick, and he kept trying to kick Spyder who was near the gate eating. UGH! I was hoping this wasn't how my ride would go.

Spyder was more aware then usual which I expected for 6 days off, but he was back to lazy Spyder in 3 minutes. We rode out in the big field where we worked on "the little things." We would walk then stop, and try to move his hind end over. I slid my foot back, and it took a bit, but he got it. His biggest issue is which part to move. First he wants to move the front so I stop him, then he wants to back because he's like, "OK, next best thing", then he finally moves his butt over. This is fun, frustrating, and the biggest workout ever (not only for his butt, but mine... feel the burn). I find I have more leverage and power without my stirrup so I get to work on getting those back without reaching down to put my feet in them (a bad habit of mine). We worked on moving the hind end over a few times in each direction with a loose trot circle in between for some mind clearing.

Mind clearing was a must because my leg was hurting and Spyder was furstrated. Whenever we try something new, he takes a little bit to figure out what you want, and once he figures it out, he's good to go. Soon we'll have those "buttons", but for now, we have moving somewhere on command. The one time he was backing he decided to rear on command (so it seemed) and another time, he moved into my leg. Oh wow, Spyder... get it together! It was just a few inches off the ground, but let's hope that was his kicking out habit that will come to an end. He only did it once so I think we're good, and I didn't ride long because he was listening and doing so well after that incident.

I got back to the barn, untacked, and gave him a little extra grain and hay because I missed him and he deserved it. I have no idea why Spyder does this (assuming his age and oral fixation issues?), but he licks the wall. He LOVES to taste everything that comes near his mouth, but when he is finished eating, he always licks one of two walls in his stall - this is, of course, after he licks his bucket for 5 minutes to make sure there is not even the flavor of grain. At this point, he probably licks the stall because it tastes like grain from the day prior! haha

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Friday Ride

Before heading to San Fran for work, I decided to get in another ride. It was again over 90 degrees, but this time, I was not going to let Spyder get away with not doing what was asked of him. The field is FINALLY mowed 100% except for a few straggling long pieces... all of which Spyder tries to grab while in action. I am hoping that the grass is not going to become a greater issue, but I make sure the signal is apparent as a NO!

Shiny with his feet trimmed
His lovely hair. He's standing REALLY weird.
Before I went out in the ring, I made sure that I got my dressage whip. Since it was hot, I was not going to put up with anything. Do what I ask, and it'll all be over soon. Before moving forward back at the barn, I made sure he was OK with it. I know that he knows what a crop/whip are, but I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to be jumpy or too forward since I have yet to ride him with one. His ears came back as soon as I picked it up, but it was more of a listening act vs. being angry. I rubbed it on his shoulder and back and moved towards his tail to make sure that he would be good with it. I moved it out extending my arm to see if he would spook with it far from his body. He was so good! I switched hands with it in front of the saddle to bring the whip up over his ears. Again, no spook. We were ready to ride, and Spyder was ready to go.

In the field, he was super attentive. He has been getting better with this, but his actions come sooner rather than later when asked to do something. All you have to do is hold the crop, and he knows it is there. He listens and waits, and it makes riding a lot easier. You don't have to kick, scream, push, and pull. You just have to ask while holding the crop. Well, that was easy, and he's also a bit more excitable with it in tow. At first, I thought he was nervous or anxious, but he's just more willing to listen for fear of punishment! Holding a whip in my hand is the new punishment, haha.

After I warmed up, the trainer at the farm came over with a pony to give someone a lesson. To get out of their way, I went into the dressage ring. From here, we did a bit of walking to make sure he wasn't going to spook or act up with other commotion going on. They were working on w/t/c and jumping (then cross country) so I wanted to make sure he would behave around a horse he has never seen. Usually he throws fits when horses are in the ring and he has to do something they aren't doing... he likes to follow or watch what they are doing. Asking him to pay attention and listen to me is too much to ask, but this was not the case today. Since he did so well, we worked on picking up the canter. With the crop, even on a hot day, it was just too easy. We cooled down after TRYING to do straight lines.

Walking back to the barn, we saw the vet on the track. She has kept a two of her standardbreds at the farm throughout their training to get in harness and out on the track for early training. The one two year old at the farm was racing, but I don't think she was doing too well, and her two year old gelding is out for training. She wants to bring the mare back for a new discipline, racing under saddle (or RUS). People are starting to learn about this because of the exhibitions at races in the area. She was pacing under saddle (prior to the cart training), but she will trot and pace with her new trainer (getting 60 days), and the vet said she would love to ride her in one of the races and try it out. How exciting! The vet joked and said she would race me under saddle on her pacer, but we don't pace much if at all (not consistently at least) AND Spyder is just not cut out for fast. Maybe that would be exciting for him to work a little harder?

I untacked and hosed Spyder off since it was going to be a warm night. I took him to the outside cross ties with my phone. I sacrificed it with the water thinking that I didn't want to miss such a scene that I had last blog... the drinking from the hose and sitting like a dog on the lead. I got one of the two acts that I wanted to see, but not 100%. For everyone's viewing pleasure, I got the hose performance on tape. The bad news, it wasn't even half as cute or skilled as it was days prior, but you get the point.

Annoying him with the hose because he won't do it!

Turned the hose down so he would remember what to do!

 Me giggling. He did it, but he usually drinks longer. Today, he just wanted to play.

P.S. I'm in San Fran still (until late Wednesday night) so I won't be riding until Thursday (if I'm awake enough after work because I get back late). It is BEYOND beautiful and warm here for the norm.