Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wrapping Up 2014

OK - So I've been far removed from this blog for reasons such as a lame horse, no riding, grad school, and the holidays. I can't even think to look at my 2014 goal list because I'm sure nothing really happened. I'll update on how that all went...

On my list...
  • Get off the farm with the trailer... a truck would help.
  • Canter straight. Stupid, but I can't even think of where to start
  • Do a CTR or the like - there is a trail riding group in the area that should be helpful with this
  • More trails - need to explore around the farm
  • De-spooking - he doesn't spook much, often, but what fun it'll be to play with pool noodles and plastic bags
  • Clinic - do one, do something
  • Look into endurance - ask questions, network, decide if it's a fit
  • Another hunter pace - pony club is scheduled to do another in April, I'm in

OK, so I got a truck, but the trailer needs work so it hasn't gone anywhere except to the welder. I did the CTR and learned about endurance. Sure, I did the hunter pace, too, but that's when everything went down hill. It's been that way with Spyder since May... great. So all of what I thought we could work on is still on hold, and it's been a TBD since May.

I left off with we'll talk about my lessons and how the 25 mile competitive trail ride went, but then I got lost. I haven't been riding, and I haven't even had the desire really. Spyder's showing no improvement (they said a maybe on fibers coming back in last they checked), and he's been a jerk about it. He's miserable (and lashing out about it) and his leg is puffy again. He had colic on December 14th when I wasn't even in the country, and he got an emergency tube. He's been miserable ever since, and that leaves me plain miserable. YAY 2014!

I'm hoping to work on my trailer floor (have everything to do it, just need to make time) so that I can get him back to the hospital to re-ultrasound him and see what's going on. Let's hope they see improvement this time around or I'll have to come up with a Plan B for what to do with him. I know if I give him back, he doesn't stand a chance of a life like he has with me, and certainly that's not an option before I know for sure if he'll be sound again or not. If he won't be sound, I will be heart broken because keeping him isn't really an option. Spyder, get well soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spyder's Checkup

On October 8, which would be 2 months since the initial diagnosis and 5 months from the suspected injury, we went back to New Bolton. I was worried about the news I would get because I haven't seen Spyder do more than walk, and his lameness isn't apparent in that gait. I was both excited and nervous to see him trot, but he was so much better than the first time around, even to the left. There was no head bobbing, but he was still having trouble bringing that leg up to speed. Sure, it was better than last time, but it was still apparent.The discharge papers say, "A mild, less than 1 out of 5 degree, right front lameness is evident most pronounced when circling to the left. This is significantly improved from his last visit."

On to the ultrasound. They were already happy with the lameness exam and seeing that most of the fluid dissipated. It was a quick move to get the ultrasound completed because they knew exactly what to look for when poking around. More good news! It looked like there were fiber patterns in the previous areas that were torn. They were black spaces the first time with no fibers seen, and now,  the area was turning gray because of the rebuilding. Whoo! The old injury which I forgot to talk about before (because I forgot what it was) remained the same. It says, "The old superficial digital flexor lesion is unchanged." Hmm, wonder if he had that before I got him or if that was part of this same injury

Now what?  We're still hand walking and waiting for more fibers to regrow. The progress is headed in the right direction so we'll go back once we get up to 45 minutes of walk. The suggestion is another 2-3 months. If that appointment brings more good news, some of the walk will turn into trot and we'll go from there. I can get on him to do the exercise, but for now, we're keeping it on the ground to work on his manners. I'm glad it's been good news and hope for even better news next visit.

I did have a lesson that went over heels again, and I did a full jump course which was a blast. There was a lot of cantering and sinking into my heels as well as two-point... and even an attempt at posting the canter. Yes, it seems impossible, and I did try, but I failed. I'll talk about that and my ride this coming weekend next post.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Get Your Heels Down

I had another lesson a few weeks back on a much different horse/pony (? he's kind of in between). He was hard to get moving and you had to push, push push, but he was a DREAM for cantering once you got him going. Perfect for getting my damn heels down, right? I did a lot of of going around in two-point and a lot of sitting back in the saddle as far as possible and stepping into my heel for so many strides at a time. 5 steps of trot in the left heel, 5 steps of trot in the right heel and feeling them bounce and take impact vs. lock and be a swinging mess. I did the same at the canter and man did I feel the burn. It was a GREAT change to fix my heels, and I'm a bit confused how the left is worse now instead of the right, but either way, they both need help.

I kept my stirrups long since I was getting used to my dressage saddle and the endurance one, but they had to go up after the first jump I did. Yeah, those damn heels. I also had to work on my thumbs. Thumbs on top? Ha, yeah right. My thumbs always turn in towards each other and look bad. I had to trot and canter around with a crop in my hands to keep them straight. Funny thing is that the crop kept getting more and more vertical as I went. Sure it kept my hands together and my thumbs closed, but both of my hands would turn together, and I'd be reminded to keep the crop horizontal. If only I had a horse to practice this on more than once or twice a week and sometimes a month.

Little arab
I didn't just throw what I learned here away, rather, I used it when riding the arab that weekend following the lesson of good habit creation. Riding on trails is obviously a lot more lenient than the ring, but your heels should always be down for those moments when you might die (aka fall out of the saddle into sand - ha). The owner of the arab realized I was really working on my heels, posture, and balance. He let me know that I was a lot more balanced in the saddle and looked great compared to prior ride. Thinking about what I learned was just something I needed to be told because it wasn't coming to my mind on my own. Sure, I knew it, but I never tried to fix it. Soon, it will become second nature again. We did like 10-15 miles in a few hours with some controlled canter for a change. There was one episode, but we didn't get the scoot. He was falling into the bit and getting sloppy in the sand and had a nice trip, but problem solved - heels were down!

Campsite on the lake.
I didn't ride the arab the first weekend in October because I was camping with my friends in a state park nearby, but he was ridden for me to keep him in work. I am not riding him this weekend because the owner is away, but next weekend, we're riding both days because the 25 mile CTR is the following weekend - 25th!! We're going to go over the pattern that you need to do for vetting and hook up a heart rate monitor so I know how the horse is. Next post, I will talk about Spyder and his follow-up appointment as well as my last lesson which was the day after his ultrasound. Trying to keep up to speed, but all of the hand walking keeps me busy.




Spyder looks like a slob - no muscle and ungroomed everything
Fall is starting to come to the farm

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gaited Horse Fun

A woman that lives near me that has ties to people I ride with asked if I wanted to help her bathe on a nice day when Chris was away last weekend. Of course I wanted to... I love the sun! It was such a nice day and we chatted about how we were connected, who we knew, and what we knew. I got the run down of both of her horses and she wanted me to come back to ride one while she rode. Horse 1: Paso Fino Horse 2: Saddlebred Cross (potentially). Both are beautiful horses, nearing their 20's and in great shape for their age.

I was riding the saddlebred cross when I went back, and her daughter was on the paso. From bathing the paso before, I knew how pushy he was, and he was a bit pushy being ridden. I mean, it was to be expected after not being ridden in a year, but he was rude nonetheless. The saddlebred cross thing was good once he calmed down. You can tell he has nervous energy when you get on, but he's a dream on the ground. You could ground tie him and he'd stand all day.  He had also been off a year after going through bits upon bits to determine that no bit is the solution! I rode in a hackamore that still cause him to flip his head a bunch, but he listened well. I almost want to see what Spyder would do bit-less, but I'm afraid to try. I guess it will be worth a try when we start out in the round pen, if he can be ridden again. Oh Spyder, I miss you.

I stuck to walk and trot, and I was surprised that from his looks, we didn't get a running walk or another type of gait. He's SOOOOOO comfy, and I rode in the owner's austrailian saddle for added comfort. Gosh, I need a comfy saddle! I rode him until he relaxed and kept it on good terms, good horse. He could use some "you will do what I tell you to do when I tell you, not when you feel like it" fixing, but he's a great horse. Of course we stayed in the paddock because trail riding was not in the near future for these guys having been off so long, but we hope to get them out and ride together again soon. Trails this fall.. maybe?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Arab Ride x3!

Before getting into the ride story, I did want to mention that I rode in my English saddle for the lesson. What I used to love and have known my whole life, I'm questioning. My dressage saddle and the endurance saddle with the long stirrups I've been riding in made my lesson painful and left me wondering if I should get rid of the thing. I never in a million years thought I'd say that, but man, I've been missing out. Yes, my English saddle is comfy, and yes, I should have gotten off to increase the length of the stirrup, but I'll have to wait until next time. I hope I end up liking it again because I've had such a hard time getting rid of it when I know I need to upgrade.

Another arab ride, and man was it fun! When I got to the barn, we had planned on doing a quick ride to beat the rain. That quick ride quickly turned into 16-18 miles and 3 hours later. We went right out and started with a bunch of trotting. We turned off of one trail and did a little bit of walking before a REALLY long canter... then asked for a gallop. We had one episode of the horse I was on scooting out and grabbing the reins like he did before, and I finally figured out that the more you give him, the more he slows. Putting him "on the bit" means he grabs the bit and goes much like a racehorse would. Why I figured this out ride 3, I have no idea, but I'm glad I did.

In the gallop phase, we just WENT! It was SO much fun and the other horse caught up to us eventually. The owner kept saying sit back, sit back to get him under control, and when I did, two-point, two-point. I did also get a, "don't hold back, he's not going anywhere. Look at this long road!" While reassuring, it was also nerve wracking because "real horses" canter/gallop and I haven't done that in quite some time. Breathe, Jess, just breathe. I had to keep reminding myself. I did lose a stirrup during all of this excitement so I yelled over to the owner and we came back down before picking up a more controlled canter.

CANTERING!!! I forgot what it was like! It's fun when you're not getting run off with, and the horse calmed down about 10 miles in! HA! We found some water stops along the way to have them drink, came across the state park police, and even went through a campground to find some people out there in the middle of no where. We took it easier on the way back. Both horses were pretty beat as we pushed pretty hard through some deep sand. I love my back yard and I love the pine barrens!

Monday, September 15, 2014

First Lesson Back

My lesson Friday went well. I left work early since I didn't take a lunch so I could walk Spyder and get the horse I was riding tacked up. When I got to the barn, I was told to grab Barbie, a palomino which I would swear is a pony, but she just made being a horse. The little girl that was leasing her had fallen off and broken her arm so I'm sure she needed to be worked. I know from when I rode her one other time that she's not the best for kids in the canter because she's a quick little thing. She's improved so much since last time, though. Her trot is so slow (she was probably an ex-western horse of the sorts), and her canter transition was better. I did have trouble getting her to relax because I wasn't relaxing, and she feeds off of rider energy. She hates when people are in her mouth and you basically have to give her her face to get her to lower her head and you can't play with the bit or her neck goes right back up in the air - the EXACT opposite as Spyder. It was good to get on something so different.

After controlling the trot, I tried to control the canter, but it's tough when you feel like you're being whipped around the ring! The trainer kept saying, "she's not going anywhere." I was just nervous from knowing how she was before and thinking about how I didn't eventighten up her girth myself before getting on. She's cold backed so she needs to be walked before tightening and would sometimes rear or buck if she wasn't happy so the owner did that for me. That made me feel great before I even got on! Since her transitions stink, we trotted a bunch and since we both couldn't relax, we had to come back down a lot before trying to get it again. It was work and it was different, but it was a "real horse." It felt nice to canter even though it was not the most comfortable of situations.

We then moved to jumping. It was just one jump which was a cross rail that moved up to a vertical (maybe 18"). Nothing big, but the horse had lost confidence in jumping, and I can't say I have much anymore, either. While I did have fun and we jumped a good 10-15 times working on rhythm and calming down, I couldn't help but think I was schooling the horse. Sure, I haven't ridden in forever so who am I to say that, but it crossed my mind. Heck, the horse schooled me, too.

I reconfirmed the 8th with the owner/trainer so that I didn't have to think about that, and I'm not sure I'm riding this Friday because of the Chesapeake. I'm still not sure if I'm going to watch or volunteer, but it should be a nice weekend for the ride either way. Details on Saturday's ride next. To throw in another thought, Spyder's injury and the trailer situation have been stressing me out a ton. I'm left to think about what happens if he doesn't heal. I regret this trailer and I'm not sure if I should fix it to get rid of it or keep it in hopes of a future with Spyder and traveling. Do I even want it at this point? I feel like I need to fix it either way to get anything for it, but what if it's bad news. This whole horse everything in my life just feels so wrong lately.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Lesson and Weekend Fun

I have a lesson scheduled for tonight at 6, a possible arab ride on Saturday morning (to make up for the 18 miler last weekend that got derailed to another horse - I'll be riding the same one again), and then the Paulinskill Valley Trail forever away (almost 3 hours) on Sunday morning. Could this be 3 days in a row of riding???

I was saying last night that I wish I could have another horse although the expense would be unreasonable, I know. My husband reminded me that I could take 12 lessons a month and it'd be cheaper than having another. Yeah, he's right... 12 LESSONS?! That is crazy, and I should enjoy all of the riding on other horses while I can. It's just not the same as having your own horse to ride/show/compete. Maybe when I retire? HA!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saturday Ride

Sunny, hot, and humid! Of course because I was going to ride, it'd be one of the hottest days of summer. It was close to 80 when I got on at 9:30 and it got hotter from there. Thank goodness for the woods, creek, and little bit of breeze! When I woke up, I knew I better put the water down if I was going to make it so I drank a half gallon before I set out. When I got to the farm, the guy's horse I was going to be riding with was a bit puffy and had a little bit of heat. He trotted him out on the lead, and he was a bit off. The nice part about having 3 horses and 2 riders is that he could take his other horse. The problem with that is he was planning to take his horse to a ride down in Fair Hill in 2 weeks. He'll have to take one of the others if he still wants to go, but what a bummer. I know all about swollen legs, ugh.

I still got to ride the horse I did last time, the cute and fun arab gelding. Instead of doing the 16 miles, we took an easier ride because horse #3 hasn't been conditioned and has been hanging out. Both horses were great, and we rode for about 2.5 hours, w/t/c over a bridge and into a creek which was fun. Horse #3 is super playful so his tack got taken off so he could play in the water. He was SOOOO funny splashing the whole ride out there in every puddle and even layed down in the creek to get extra wet. Taking the tack off was a smart idea. The horse I rode just stood in there to cool off with his tack on and used #3 as a scratching post while he got a break...

...and he needed one to clear his head. He's got plenty of endurance miles on him and he knows his job. He also knows that when another horse goes, he wants to go. Horse #3 was cantering quickly and the horse I rode tripped, caught himself, then tried to catch up. He's a lot like Spyder in that you know he's thinking about being bad. He doesn't hide it well. He cocked his head to the side and flicked his head then went. I sat back, enjoyed the ride, and then he calmed down. He couldn't have done it just once so he did it again, but I knew to expect it this time around. His water break was a good one! Good horse, clear your head.

The ride back he was a lot better in terms of the excitement (it wore off) and horse #3 wanted to catch a break in the back. I went forward and had the horse taking looks at everything. He doesn't spook, but he's a lot more cautious and still just as fun. He was better in the deep puddles on the way back, and was much better this time around getting hosed off. I felt a lot more confident in the saddle I had ridden in before and it was a lot more fun for that reason. Yay for riding!!! I'm not as sore as I thought I would be, and that is a great thing!

I am taking a lesson on Friday, and I may be riding up north to take another spin on a different arab. If I like him, the owner that I met at another ride ( through FB, but we talk all the time since we met at her first ride last year) is going to trailer him to the Chesapeake (the ride at Fair Hill) and we'll probably do the CDR together for fun and seeing if they can make it (or if we can which is probably more likely). They have a 30 mile endurance ride, but we're both not up for that challenge having not been able to ride much so we'll shoot for the 15 - to finish is all that is important if it happens. I know we'll have a blast if we go, and we need to decide very soon since it's so close!

As for Spyder, he's still being himself. His leg is still looking great as far as swelling goes, and most of the fluid is gone. He's got a bit behind the pastern still, and his hair is coming back in. October 8th will be exciting and is making me anxious to see how the healing is going.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weekend Ride

Looks like I'll be doing 18 miles at a CTR pace this weekend on the same Arabian I rode before. If I never blog again, it's because I died. Haha. I've been running and have noticed that my legs are horribly out of shape since I haven't been riding consistently since May. I hope to start lessons up again this month so that should help out these legs. If I'm alive, I shall post the details.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Round Pen Blah's

He's still bored, still calling when I get there, and still running away from the fly spray like it's going to kill him. OK, not running, but walking quickly. I don't even have to put a lead on him to walk him as he just follows me around the pen which is cute. If I wasn't going on my lunch breaks, I almost wish I could just hop on bareback with a lead. Hand walking is similar, right? haha.

His swelling is a lot better and it's not as hot as it's been which is a plus. The hair that was shaved for the ultrasound is starting to come back in nicely, but I'm sure it'll get shaved again come October.  Sitting on a horse is going to cause all kinds of aches and pains the next time that happens. Here's to waiting and hoping for the best.

Oh, and I got my grade back for my last grad course before I can transfer into the full program. I got an A soooooo NO GMAT FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Past, Present, and Future

We've gotten to the 15 minute hand walking period which resumes until the end of the month before going up to 20 whole minutes. It'll be a month the first of June, wow. Where did summer go? Did it even come? I am reflecting on riding, and I regret not making arrangements to be back in the saddle sooner. I wasted summer.

I have yet to schedule the next appointment, and it's because I've been coping with this whole situation in the worst way. Getting to the barn, I get excited that Spyder is happy to see me. It's just because he's bored out of his mind and looks forward to his daily treats and little bit of doing something. He wants a job, and I want him to have a job. What if he can't get a "real" job back? The thoughts of what might happen leaves me unsure, upset, and teary eyed. I've cried about it enough prior to the diagnosis, and I thought that would end once I got an answer. Now that I have a "probably" on the diagnosis, I'm still not sure what to think and it upsets me every day. It makes it really hard to stay positive, but I realize it is also not the only thing keeping me down lately. It's one piece to this puzzle of this emotions I've been mixed up in.

Did you ever look back or in the present and think to yourself ... What the heck am I doing? What have I become? Who are my friends? What could I have done to prevent this or that from happening? What can I change? What do I even like to do any more? I'm usually not much of a thinker or a worrier. I don't stress often, but something has been provoking these thoughts, and I think it's this bad attitude that I've been displaying in every aspect of my life. I don't like how I've been acting one bit. Obviously, living in the present and taking each day as it comes is the most important thing to do, but I have to stop and think about those questions. From there, I need to reevaluate where I am and what I'm thinking and turn that into something good. I'm insanely lucky and have worked hard to get where I am, and I can't let these first world hassles in life bring me down. Chin up, move forward.

I have a short break in grad school (if my transfer goes through) so I am hoping to get in more me time to relax and bring back some old goals that I've put aside and set new ones. Not having that release from doing what I love most, riding, has put such a hurt on my attitude. I need to make new and different attempts at finding something else that will keep me focused and remember to have fun. I need to expect less of people, lighten up, and go back to caring less. Is this what happens when you turn 27?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Catching Up

So this is the little arab I rode. Little means a normal sized horse when it comes to owning one like Spyder. We did 7.5 miles the weekend before last - 5 miles on the trail and a few laps around the ring to feel out the horse and get used to the awesome endurance saddle I rode in. Yes, endurance saddle. Talk about learning how much an english saddle puts you forward and a dressage saddle puts you upright - this thing did a whole different angle. It made sure I post UP instead of forward (bad habit) or I'd feel the pain from not cooperating. I figured it out quickly to spare the skin on my legs and stomach. The horse I rode has been all over the trails in endurance rides, and it's quite an ironic story how I ended up riding the horse. I met a guy at the ride I volunteered for in the spring (the endurance ride I trained for and had trailer issues then crappy weather and a mess of other crap - yea, I'm on the life is crap kick). We later "friended" (is that a word?) each other on Facebook and I realized he had the same last name as someone that was in the equestrian club with my at college. I asked some questions, and yes, he's his dad... and the kid I went to college with... well, it was his horse! He no longer lives at home so the horse is for sale and he is SO much fun to ride. ...if only I could afford two.

Back to Spyder... he's busy being bored. The round pen has a jolly ball which he doesn't fool with, and it is down to sand again (because he ate all of the grass in and around the outside of the pen). His paddock of friends went back into their normal field which has amazing grass right now. He still gets to watch them, but I feel so guilty he can't socialize with them. I feel bad that he's not getting out on grass like he did and a lot less grain since he's not working. I'm going to be keeping an eye on his weight, and he's sure getting one big fat hay belly. He looks so different since he stopped working, and I just hope I can bring him back in work. I am really worried about him healing, and the thought of it not makes me so upset. I plan on calling to make our early-mid October appointment next week, and hope to find a way there for the date that gets picked since it's a trip. I did follow up to find out it's a 30% tear, but only in the location of the injury which is far from the entire ligament. Is that good or bad? I have no idea. I hear of a lot of great recovery stories then you get one thrown in there that led to retirement, sigh.

Dead after the bike run.
Fishing it out because it's awful at swimming.
As for the pup, he's been keeping us busy. I am not at the farm after work because I go at lunch to keep Spyder company so I get to spend a lot more time with him. We taught him how to run next to the bikes on the leash and he's been doing great off the leash back in the woods. This time of year is tough for anything involving the woods or grass because of chiggers - the worst little creatures of all time. The dog keeps an eye out for our resident swimming ground hog, and I hope I don't find it in the pool AGAIN. It's gone for a swim twice now and eaten my garden so it might be relocated if it happens again. Our 55 lb dog hound mix? is loving tracking the ground hog's path down, and I can't even believe the little sucker still comes in the yard. Kaiden is no puppy any more, and I submitted a DNA swab to see if we can get back anything other than "mixed breed" for his history.

In riding news, I still haven't heard about lessons. I might be riding the arab again, and I have a friend that has a 1/2 arab I might be able to ride. We've made a list of the fall rides, and hopefully we can meet up for at least one to take both of her horses out for a spin together. She's so far up north, and there is permitted riding in the middle of us so we're still sorting out how to make it work. It might end up being a meeting at a ride and just going for it without practice. Hey, that could be fun, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Recovery - Less than 2 Weeks

Back at the barn, stall rest lasted 2.5 days. Yes, you read it right two and one half days! Spyder was just plain miserable being confined to a stall even with other horses on reverse turnout in with him. He was pacing, ramming into his gate, using the walls to try to rub off his leg wraps, chewing wood, licking metal, and rearing when people would go by to say, "hey, get me out of here!" Day 2, I saw that his door was closed instead of the gate allowing him to reach out, and those are the reasons why. Oh, and he would go down/lay down/roll after rearing to get attention. So now what? This jail sentence was going to causes Spyder to get more hurt, colic, and potentially go crazy (more than he already was).


The first day of hand walking went just fine, but he could not stand still on the cross ties to get wrapped. He couldn't stand in his stall to get wrapped, even with hay. He decided not to eat hay and instead, just pace in his stall until someone did something making a mess of his hay. He was becoming a danger to himself and others that have to deal with him. Day 2 of hand walking, he decided to rear in the barn while on the lead. Well, that was a first! I decided to pretend like it didn't happen after punishment with the chain (yes, I resorted to the chain) so I wouldn't get myself worked up or scared that he'd do it again. It was day 2.5 (my lunch break) that I decided this was it. He wouldn't stop acting up, and it was time to put him out.

He hates me. Haha
He went out to the round pen, and don't you know, there were ponies in for weekly board while the owner was on vacation. They were all worked up and galloping in the field which got Spyder going. Rearing, squealing, trotting, tail up, fire breathing, STOP! He was going to hurt himself even more, but I thought maybe he just needed to get that out of his system. Since then, things have been a lot better. There haven't been stories of "your horse did this bad thing... or that..." I'm glad I haven't been hearing anything because I couldn't watch him let loose in the round pen or drive himself up a wall, literally. Sure, stall rest and hand walking are important, but his sanity, health, and safety of others is more important. I'll sacrifice a few extra months of board payments while not riding if he will keep his cool.

Back to the vet thing. The local vet seems to think something is missed. What if his shoulder is really hurt? What if I didn't ask enough questions or have them look into things more? Could it just be the check ligament?  What if he doesn't heal? What happens if I can't ride him? I'm trying to take things day by day, and the next ultrasound can't come soon enough. I want to see progress because I don't want to think about the worst. I feel awful, terrible. I haven't been dealing with this well, and I regret not doing right by him. But did I? I didn't know any better because I didn't have a diagnosis, and he wasn't always inflamed. I feel guilty, I feel sorry for myself (and Spyder, of course), and I feel scared. I did send everything over to another vet to take a look, but I haven't heard back from them. The local vet hasn't told me what to do otherwise, and I haven't heard from her since the questioning (which is 2 weeks today). I'm assuming no phone call was put in, and I'll continue down the path of rest and slowly work up exercise as I've been told.

In the mean time, I need to find saddle time. I have thought of lessons again just to keep moving and keep in the spirit since I'm out at the farm every day as it is. I did have the chance to do a trail ride on an Arabian with endurance experience, and that was a blast! If anyone has ideas/suggestions for staying in shape that doesn't involve riding (since the opportunities seem limited), let me know!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hospital Visit

I found a hauler that met me at the farm early in the morning. The appointment was set for 10am, and the place in PA was about 2 hours away without traffic... Well, Philly is guaranteed traffic on a week day so we hoped for the best. I loaded Spyder into his HUGE box stall (1/3 of the whole trailer) where he had a chunk of hay and could move freely. He was super spoiled on the way up with all of the space.

I beat the trailer up there and checked in at the office upon arrival. I was told to wait by the trailer while they paged "the crew" because Spyder had arrived. A whole team came out to greet us and unloaded him for me. A resident vet was part of the mix, and she let me know that the vet we would be seeing was on her way. We went through an automatic garage door to the evaluation room. It looked a lot like a science lab, and had 2 stalls in each front corner of the room. The vet student did all of the vitals, his hoof test (in which he has incredible feet), and put Spyder in his holding stall. A volunteer was also there getting hours for vet applications and another employee that led him around all day. All of "the crew" was very, very nice!

They took Spyder out of the stall when the doctor arrived, and I got to tell his story. The doctor couldn't believe how great his feet were - yay standardbred feet! From there, they palpitated his fluid filled area to get an idea of what might be going on. They thought for sure that it was tendon or ligament, and wanted to get him over to the ultrasound department after doing the lameness evaluation. They took him outside, and Spyder saw his first cow! It was super scary and he acted like a fire breathing dragon for that and the huge garage door he was going in and out of all day. Even the 5th time (and sedated), the door was still scary. I didn't have to touch him for any of the evaluations, as they did everything! An employee trotted him up and down the driveway as well as on a circle to see his head bobbing madness. They were all puzzled because there was a lot of weird movement going on. From there, I was asked to get on...

I tacked up and we walked to the riding ring (but not before seeing the cow again). The indoor was BEAUTIFUL. There is all natural lighting and the best footing I have ever seen in a ring. I would trailer my horse to work to ride in there if that's where I worked! I rode, and they were baffled by his movement to the left. We got in some circus moves and funky steps, and they weren't quite sure if the area that was swollen would be causing that. My audience of 5 people made me nervous! They did mention he's not a bad mover when they could see him move without pain which was reassuring (for a standardbred... as everyone likes to add). I untacked and we went to ultrasound. I was so nervous for what they might find.

Spyder was a bit impatient for getting his leg shaved and standing in the standing stall for his ultrasound. He didn't like the gel they were putting on the instrument so sedatives eased his mood. He was right back to falling asleep while standing after some drugs. He behaved quite well for what I thought would be a total embarrassment. The ultrasound took a good hour and a half as they looked at everything! They could see all of the fluid, some thickening of ligaments, and a very, very small tear/area that had something going on. The fluid was a result of this area, and they couldn't believe the spot where the check ligament was injured. I ended up writing an e-mail to the vet to ask about this because I forgot to ask about the severity when I was there. It's a 30% injury to a small area that isn't common. This is where the "this area usually heals, but due to the nature of this injury, recovery is unknown." YIKES!

We went back to the prep area from the beginning of the day in between each move around the property, and this is where they did the block. After the block, they did some more w/t in hand and in the circles from earlier. Again, it was better, but not 100%. I got on, and it was a much better ride than earlier (and now I had a crew of 8 people because other students rotated in), but he still had issues to the left and resisted turning that way (weird side note: earlier he was tripping with the right front, with the block, he tripped on the left front). I had the option to get x-rays, but the doctor felt bad since I had already racked up quite the bill. I figured I was there, do it. I wanted to make sure there wasn't more in the area than the ultrasound could see, and his knee looked good once they got the images. There are no signs of arthritis, but they did see some kind of old injury. Interesting. I am glad that now I have a before on that knee in the event anything ever happens to that leg (for who knows how many times it's been a problem).

The solution? Stall rest and hand walking for controlled exercise for a minimum of 6 months. It usually takes up to a year to heal, but depending on the rest and exercise, it can take even longer. Ha, that'll happen with a horse that has a ton of muscle from training for long distance rides, one that just turned 7, and one that is out 24/7 because he loves to socialize and play. So is this good or bad news? I'm still not really sure. I'm going to schedule the follow-up ultrasound for mid-October to get an idea of the healing and go from there...

... to add another twist, the local vet isn't so sure of the diagnosis and thinks something was missed. Now, I'm lead to believe: 1) Is this what it really is? 2) Is there something else wrong? 3) What other vet can check it out? 4) What care instructions do I follow? Next post, I'll talk about how it's going so far.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Diagnosis

Inferior check ligament injury. Yeah, maybe we can do something next year. I've been sucking at posting because I've been so stressed and had a lot going on, but I promise to update with my experience at New Bolton's amazing facility as soon as I can.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Next Week

We're going to New Bolton on July 31st at 10am. We'll have to leave early to get there in time for the appointment as it's a good 2 hours without traffic. I will be packing my car so I can ride to show them the lameness as they evaluate the situation. I hope he doesn't have to end up staying (as the shipper will wait for us if he doesn't), and let's hope we get a diagnosis... and one that isn't too detrimental for either of us.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More News

And so it's not the knee or below either...

The walk was great, to the right was great, and to the left is still a mess at the trot (2/5 on the scale). The slower he goes, the better his dragging leg can catch up, but he still hops up to burst into the canter or trips to make himself right again. The swelling is still there, and his week off  will hopefully bring that down. He got an injection of bute to decrease his swelling from the strain as well as the nerve blocking from the day before.

Next steps? New Bolton Center Hospital. They are a HUGE facility that is part of the University of Pennsylvania's network for veterinary care. They have many facilities, and New Bolton is the spot for large animals. They have everything that Spyder would ever need to be diasnosed in one place. First, they are going to block the shoulder/elbow. If they find something, more tests will be done to get to the bottom of his lameness. If they don't find anything in that area, they will move into diagnosing the problem with all of the equipment at their disposal.

I have contacted a company that will do the shipping, and Spyder will get his very own box stall in the trailer for the ride there and back. I am hoping that he doesn't need to stay and that the results will bring us news of recovery, but time will tell. Of course, I have a work trip that got scheduled yesterday, so we'll have to wait another week before the appointment. The referral is getting called in today so I'll be able to set it up for the week of the 28th. I am nervous, anxious, and excited to get to the bottom of this which all leads to excitement and stress. I know that we'll find out something, and I just hope it's good news.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Still Nothing - But Happy 3 Years!

As of yesterday, Spyder and I have been a team for 3 years! Although we haven't always been the best team, the past year has made such a difference in our partnership and things were finally coming together...

So I had a bad ride that I talked about in my last post, but a better ride the time after. What the heck? Can anything ever stay stable so I can really get into what may be causing this lameness? This time, swelling. The fetlock is puffy like a windpuff might be, but the pastern has some swelling just above the back of the hoof. So I'm thinking: 1)Is this the problem and I'm finally seeing it? 2) Is this associated swelling? The answer? #2. GREAT.

Anyways, I got on for the vet yesterday before we did the blocking. I wanted to get a good idea of his level of soundness for that day (since like I said, it's always so different, but always the same area at this point). He got cut off in the fetlock area to determine if that swelling was the problem... negative. I think he felt more peppy for the ride (of course, he couldn't feel the swelling/pain in that area), but his movement is still restricted and the hop/jump into canter is still there. I got off, but a thunder storm rolled in so we didn't block the knee area. We plan on doing that today, weather dependent.

So what now? Well, we need to block the knee to see if that has anything to do with it. If that's not the case, his shoulder needs to be blocked to rule out or discover that as the source of the issue. The vet wants him to go to a specialist since it's a tough area. Depending on today's findings, a hospital trip may be in the future. I'm excited to get to the bottom of this and to find out what is bothering him because stress and anxiety are going strong. From there, I'll be able to decide on our future together and what's fair for each of us (worst case).

The vet asked, "do you just love riding or is this the horse you need to ride?" It got me choked up because to keep him where he is, he'd have to be able to be ridden to some extent. He's only 7, and I don't even think I can argue that 20 years (or more) of hanging out is justifiable for board like I have. Other options? I could take him to my parents backyard like I used to have when I was younger and at home. Fair? No. It's not fair to him because I wouldn't see him much, and it's not fair to my parents because they want to sell their house at some point in the next 5 years or so to downsize. He wouldn't have companionship, and he wouldn't have anyone to keep his active mind and personality busy. Find him a companion type home where I can visit - option. Give him back? ...don't think I can do it, but it's come up. Yes, I know, I'm thinking ahead, but so much is going through my mind. I just hope we get some answers soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Ride Tonight

It started off OK. Spyder was happy to see me since it's been a while. He was peppy, excitable, and didn't display any sign of pain. Once I got on, that was another story. We went to the right as we can't make sharp left turns. I did a ton of walk warm up before going to the left, but staying on a wide, open circle. We turned back around to trot tracking right which went well. I decided to make a HUGE loop to go back to trot left, MISTAKE! He was a tripping mess and couldn't bring his leg up so he kept lurching and skipping into a canter to correct his movement.

Going back to the right, I could tell he was a bit uneasy. I decided to end it there with lots of stretching and walking around the barn. We stayed in the shade the whole ride since it was close to 90, and I spent time with him after. We went to the wash stall to cool off, Spyder drank from the hose, and I took him to some taller grass to graze. I took him back to the barn for a ton of fly spray and put him back in his field (which is still the alternate field). His field he'll be going back into soon looks great with so much grass. I'm sure he'll be happy to get back in there.

I put in a call for the vet to let her know that he was off with the DMSO/Cortisone, but it wasn't off like 10 days of being off/untreated. I am hoping that I get a call back soon with the steps we need to take to get to the bottom of this. I do have the "suspect" information written on my last invoice, and we can try to block the suspensory or inject the bicipital bursa. Either way, I hope something works. The stress levels are high and I can only hope that a miracle will happen at this point. I have no idea if he'll ever be sound considering we don't know the issue after weeks/months of treatments. While I'm glad the hind end sorted out, I'm not so sure I'll have the same luck with the front end.

Back from Vacation

I am back from vacation in Alaska (will post some pics to Facebook soon), and I did ride twice now with the shoes on (before I left). They didn't seem to do anything nor did the week of DMSO/Cortisone. I warmed up with a lot of walk and can only trot - no turning to the left, either. The trot was still a mess both days, but his attitude has been better from not getting ridden much/at all in the past few months.

Spyder's sat for about 10 days now with no treatment since my last "ride" so I plan on getting in a light ride (in the shade) because it'll be so hot. I am worried to see if it's the same or better, but if anything, it hasn't gotten worse. I really hope I am able to get on whatever this may be and move forward as these past months have been so boring and have been worrying me like crazy.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

TBT

TBT -

I miss this. I miss riding. I miss him being sound.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Spyder's New Shoes

Hoping that this gets us somewhere with the DMSO/cortisone. I am trying to ride twice this week before I leave for vacation to test out his movement. He'll then have another 10 days of rest before I'm back.

 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spyder

He got a bath yesterday and he gets his shoes today! Let's hope it helps!
Last night after his bath.

Hoping this is a sign that Spyder and I will have better luck!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Updates

I'm a bad blogger, I know. Anyways, I rode last week on bute and he was good for a second time on trial 2. I gave him off a week while I was away to come home to no bute. The ride was good, and he did have a few trips here and there with the stifle lock, but no fussing or visible anger. Weird? The hind end seemed fine, but the front end still had something going on.

The vet came the next day (Monday... yesterday), and was pleased with the hind end. How does it just fix itself? I got on to ride for another lameness examination and he didn't even have the stifle lock. To the right and left, he was good on a circle. He had a few buckling issues, and I let the vet know about the cracking I'd been hearing (from what I thought seemed to be his shoulder). We worked on tighter turns to find that he's sound going straight and to the right, but to the left, he buckles because his shoulder is prohibiting him from movement which is why we were getting the breaking into the canter. He uses the canter to pick himself up and correct his movement until it happens again on the next turn.

So now what? 1) What the heck? How'd the hind end manage to catch up? 2) Keep riding lightly - we need the hind end to keep moving so it doesn't have any further issues. 3) DMSO/Cortisone on the area that might be prohibiting the movement. 4) Front shoes with a roller so I can get moving on the riding/getting fit/rehab

The vet suspects bicipital bursitis, but test #3 will be the judge of that. The shoes should help him get his movement going better and the cortisone should get him moving better. Time will tell, but it's ever changing. Let's hope he doesn't have a switch back to the hind end again. Sheesh!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ride 1 During Trial 2

I started the bute on Monday night (because who wants to get up early on a Monday?). I didn't ride until last night, Thursday, and I am still stuck thinking if it worked because of a few factors. 1) It's hot! 2) He had a week off. His overall attitude seemed a lot better. His shoulder is still clicking, but he didn't argue with me when I asked him to do things. He didn't trip in the front (for just a 20 minute ride), but he was still dragging his toes and not reaching as forward as he usually does. Asking him for the canter transition in the sand, he did have the stifle lock, but it was to be expected since he didn't have it during warm up, at walk, or at trot (and the sand is pretty deep).

There was no kicking out and no fussing, but in the morning before work, it's always a fiasco to get Spyder his bute. He's normally very good, but he's smart to pick up on situations and he knows it's coming. He HATES the taste and won't eat/drink after it for quite some time. He likes apples but not apple sauce and he doesn't trust me enough after bute to even take a mint or cookie which he loves (poor horse, hard life!). He's been picking through his grain and skipping hay which isn't like him so I've been keeping a close eye on his behaviors. I have seen him munching grass in his new field (they moved them to the swampy one to give the other field rest) with his new friend (a horse that was out with him, but is now on turnout 24/7 like Spyder).

He's fat and happy, and I plan to ride 1-2 more times before I am going to NC for a week on Sunday for work. BOO! So is the bute helping? Is it's short term/long term of a week's use upsetting his stomach? I feel bad because he doesn't want it, but I feel like it's at least doing something. Where do I go from here? Does the vet check out his shoulder? Do I get a chiropractor out? I have a week to give him off of bute while I'm gone to ride again when I get back. I hope there is a difference, and hopefully something is figured out soon.

...and happy birthday Spyder... he turned 7 on the 4th! Sorry about the bute that you hated for "your day" and get well soon!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Trial #2

Trial #2  - Does bute help over the course of a week? Give 1 dose in the morning and 1 in the evening. You can ride 24 hours after giving the first dose.

Let's see what we get here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Updates - the Trial

The trial of 3 days of riding in a row with one day of bute weren't the best. Each day he still tripped, still wasn't putting his hind legs under him, and he still wasn't extending his front legs. The toes in the front were still dragging, and he did have the stifle lock each day, but at different points in the ride.

Day 1 was just bad. He didn't want to move out, he didn't want to back up, he was having trouble on incline/decline, and he was a shuffling, tripping mess. He kicked out while being tacked up and was just an irritated mess.

Day 2 was better, he didn't trip coming out of the paddock, but he did kick out after moving away from me while tacking up. He had a stifle lock issue as soon as I got on at the walk, and he had two significant trips in the front. His front toes were still dragging, but he was WAY more willing to move out and back up. Incline/decline was better than the first day, too. He was moving into the bit on his own free will and listening to leg. Backing up was decent, too.

Day 3 was different in that it was hot and that it was feeding time. I wish I got consistent weather (and times) for the test, but you can't help that. He tripped coming out of the field, but he didn't kick out when being tacked up. He didn't have a stifle lock until I tried to canter because he had a good attitude. He was dragging his toes in the front more than the day before, but there were no significant trips while moving. He was willing to back up, too.

So which day was bute day? Well obviously day 2 or 3. I guessed day 3 only because he seemed to have a better attitude about being tacked up. So did the bute help? Was it just a lucky day? We have behavior issues mixed with something else? ...but what is the something else? I called the vet to update her, but I forgot to let her know that he has a clicking shoulder (oh great, add that to the list). I'm looking forward to a call back to see what I'm supposed to do next. Why can't they just talk and tell us what's wrong? *Lost and upset*

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vet Update

The vet came out yesterday! Spyder is healthy and fit, but his confirmation has given him some of the issues he's been experiencing. The only back pain that he has is from his hind end weakness. He is not uncomfortable with the saddle, mounting, or being ridden w/t/c on my end (or the tack's end). The vet checked out his back and that led her to his hind legs. I've known something has been going on there because of the stifle lock, but his shuffle and evading trot has been a clear sign of pain to me (along with the tripping, kicking out, ears back, dancing on the cross ties, etc.). I tacked up, and the vet watched his every move from then until mounting up. He didn't flinch when I got on him.

I did some w/t around the vet in both directions. Before he really got going, he has his ankle roll/buckle. WHOO! I mean it's not a great thing, but I'm glad it happened for the vet. It's the locking stifle that I thought it was. We'd talked about it before the hunter pace. As he continues work, he should get better, and we need to work in a frame more as his hind end is extending too far. He's strung out in the back and heavy on his front end so we need to lift and push that hind end forward. He wasn't as trippy as he's been for the vet, either. He did throw his attitude and kicked out once. He also showed signs of not wanting to move forward. Of course it wasn't as bad as it's been because someone was there to evaluate him, but it was apparent. He had a really nice canter transition in both directions, too!

So now what? Well, he's fit and healthy otherwise. I need to continue the frame and engaging the hind end. I have bute to do a trial of anti inflammatory relief on him. If that work in the short run when I ride (which I was told to test for 3 days straight), then we know that is the solution. If something more is needed, injections may be the answer. His ligaments in the back are not very tight and he twists his legs in all sorts of odd directions when standing and moving. Spyder, why isn't your hind end working? All of this obviously makes me upset because I got him as a baby, but it's nothing that is uncommon with the breed. The vet said if it were any other breed, she'd have questions as to his gaits, but the standardbreds have all kinds of movement going on.

It's nothing that is not manageable, and it's a matter of finding the proper treatment. The next step will be to take a look at any potential secondary issues that are found while on bute (if that helps). I think it's 1/2 attitude and 1/2 pain, but taking part of that equation out is going to do a lot of good. The vet said I'm a tough one for putting up with him as he's a tough horse and that makes me feel good about the effort this far. If we can get through this and find a solution, I think that we can get so much further. Time will tell, and I hope to get in my 3 days of riding Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to provide the results. It's always something, right?

Oh, and I forgot to add that I got the farm early to get Spyder cleaned up. I put a flake of hay in his stall to keep him busy while I brushed him and he GAGGED... yes, gagged on hay. I've had horses my entire life and I have never seen a horse gag on hay. Now I know they say they can't throw up, but they can certainly gag/cough up hay. I thought I was going to watch him pass out in front of me, and all that I could think as, "thank goodness the vet is on her way!" He coughed up some chewed up hay, and then he was back to normal. Anyone ever give the himelick to a horse? HA!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Something's Up

Spyder is getting increasingly worse in areas that I can't figure out the root of the problem. I'm not sure if he did something in his field or if it's from his trip/fall after the hunter pace, but regardless, something's up. He is himself - Mr. Personality as always - so it doesn't seem to be something he could be "sick" with. His hip area is still bothering him, but it's progressed to tripping in the front. On the lead, he's perfectly good for trotting. In the round pen when asked to move out, he's sore in the circle and doesn't want to trot. He turns to canter (and squealing/kicking out towards me... awesome).

Saturday, he was OK for a quick ride, but I got off and checked him out after 15 minutes of fighting with him - no inflammation or hot spots, but he was irritated when I kept poking him. When you run your hands over his back, he gets uncomfortable by his spine where the saddle doesn't sit... by his hips. He's very twitchy and starts to move on the cross ties to get away from your hands. He's uncomfortable and it makes me so upset. I'm getting stressed, and the vet is backed up for 8 - 10 days. How much time do I give him off? What muscles do I need to build? Is it something more than just soreness? Is it temporary? Is he able to be ridden? Will he always have a bad taste in his mouth when I come out thinking he'll get poked and prodded? I know horses always cycle and it's nothing we can't figure out (I think?), but it's still stressful.

He doesn't want to move forward when there is pressure on his back, and he makes it very clear he's hurting. He's going to have off for as long as he needs to get better, but I need to know what things to work on while he's recovering from this "thing." In the meantime, how do I keep my muscles up? Do I take lessons at the farm? Do I work on cantering since I never really get to do that? ...jumping? I feel like I have no plan - no objectives. What the heck am I doing? I have no idea. *feeling lost* Waiting on vet callbacks and hoping it's from him tumble at the pace.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tuesday Ride

Before the 4-H meeting, I decided to ride. I fed Spyder a little bit of grain before we headed out, and the ride started OK... He was peppy. The air was cooler than it has been, and it was breezy. As I said, it started off OK, and then, he wouldn't move. I pushed him a bit which got him irritated, and he wouldn't listen. I finally got him moving out on the track and he kept tripping in the front (even with his feet done that day). We worked on transitions and listening since it's been an option lately.

I decided to take it easy as I was worried about him tripping and just trotted up and down the long side of the track. He took off with head down towards barn after he pulled the reins out of my hands. He did a bucky/reary thing yet again, and I kept on him until he calmed down. Once we walked towards barn, listening was over so we headed back to the track. I worked on his turn on haunches... that went bad AGAIN. He was kicking out and doing the opposite of what I asked him to do. I got him to give in and then I got off to end on that "good note." Are we going to have any overall good rides in the near future? It's getting old.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gah!

And so Spyder went back to the grump on Sunday. Stubborn and annoyed as ever, it was a frustrating ride which involved not listening towards the end, doing the opposite of what was asked, and kicking out like he was trying to murder something. COOL! We went out to the big ring and worked on the canter transitions after turning on the haunches. It went OK, but he was mad... the whole ride was a bit ehh until we headed towards the barn. Spyder was Mr. Pep again (near feeding time) and didn't want to stop or back. On the track, we did a ton of backing up and moving off leg which made things WORSE. He kept pushing into my leg and wouldn't give up. I pushed and pushed until he kicked out and then he finally gave in. What a jerk horse sometimes, blah! I fed him and left him in for the feeder to turn out. He's lucky I left the carrots in his bucket.

Let's hope that this week and coming weekend change his mind/attitude if I even get to ride. I plan on switching it up to see if that helps, but time will tell. Anyways, spring is here along with the pollen! The heat is kicking up and the pool time is so close. I can't wait to get in more rides and jump in the pool after a crap ride to relax. It'll help my nerves, for sure! The sun has been doing a lot for that, and I'm hoping it brings motivation to ride.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hooray!

Monday, I worked on the track with Spyder. We did a ton of transitions, backing up to work on the hind end, and lots of leg yields with some turning on the haunches. I decided to try to canter straight, and it was AMAZING going towards the barn. It was a little harder away from the barn, but we got it! :) There was one small bucky/reary issue (which I believe was excitement), but I rode through it like a champ. It was a GREAT ride, but I feel like I get more out of a ride with a challenge (yet I complain about them... ha!). It was such an easy ride, I was so happy. It instantly turned my Monday around.

Tuesday, I had a lesson with the BO. All of the horses were calling because they saw me and thought they were getting fed. Spyder was so far out in the field grazing by himself, and he looked up because they were making so much noise. He took off towards me with he most beautiful and graceful canter/gallop-ish gait all the way to the gate. How nice of him to warm up for me! I did give him some grain while I groomed and tacked up so he wasn't disappointed. We worked in the ring since we hadn't in a while, and we did a lot of keeping round, bending, and turning on the haunches with transitions. The 180 degree turn on the haunches then pushing into the canter was the best thing I think we've ever done as far as the transition goes. The difference in how he takes off is AMAZING, and I can't wait to try it on my own. I wonder if I can get some of that in with us being straight on the track.

There was (again) ONE instance of him throwing a fit in which he kicked out because he didn't like what I was asking. He'll go off the left leg all day long, but with the right, he was fighting me. He kept backing up instead of moving over even though he KNOWS what it means. I kept kicking and kicking until I got a little bit of a rear and then more backing up. I kicked and kicked and he kicked back! He kicked out, but I kept on him and we finally got it. The right is obviously so much worse, but we'll work on it. I felt like we got somewhere and there was a huge hurdle to overcome. I stayed with him, and we got there. Let's hope there are more days like this!

So far, I've ridden more than half the days in May! I can't wait for what this season will bring. I know it won't be as much riding because my next course started yesterday, but if we stay focused and work on things, we'll get far this year.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hunter Pace x2

The second one I've done has come and gone! Friday I went out to make sure that Spyder was groomed and worked on him for a while to help with the shedding. Since it would be 60-70 for the pace, I wanted to make sure that he would be comfortable. I got on to ride on the track, and he was a dream. He did have one weak hind end moment, but we worked on a lot of trotting and backing up to help with that. We did lots of leg yields, and there was no arguing. I had a great feeling about Saturday!

Saturday, I was being picked up by the BO so I got there early to get the grooming/shedding help going. When I got to the ride, I wanted to be able to tack up, warm up, and go. There were 3 trailers from the farm, and that was 9 horses in total. The vet and her assistant came to ride, as well. I let her know that I was worried about Spyder's hind end and she let me know she'd keep an eye out for his movement. She never said anything to me about it, but did give me some things to help with his hind end strength and assured me that her standardbreds are just the same in how they are built which creates the common problem.

We warmed up and had one tripping/locking issue with one fit prior to heading out. Spyder is always looking at folding chairs like they will kill him, but I have no idea what his fit was for. It was by the check-in table so maybe he saw something he didn't like as he was fine with the chair while warming up. We headed out and had a great ride with a few fits on the trails. He gets upset when horses pull ahead and I hold him back yet he hates being in the front. In the back, he's hurry, hurry, hurry, and in the front, he's, "ahh, this is going to kill me" as he looks at everything. Running water gave him a spook, but he did go through all of the water that was left from the rain we had during the week.

At the end of the ride, we had a grand finale of a fall/trip/laying down moment. Spyder was down on all four and I hopped off with a nice, calm dismount. He didn't want to get up at first, but I made sure I checked him out and walked him to see if anything was up. He was perfectly sound, and happy as ever. He hardly had a sweat the whole ride, and I think it was just a fluke. I was happy the vet was there as I mentioned it to her once she finished her ride, but she didn't say much about it and didn't seem worried at all. He didn't drink when I offered him water which made me nervous, but he went right to grazing when I took him to grass. We went back to the water and he drank a decent amount so I sponged him to cool him down and got him on the trailer with hay (which he didn't eat at first - another weird thing). He was back to his happy self stuffing his face after eating carrots and apples that the ride supplied.

I found out today that we won for the regular pace (we skipped the obstacle/game breaks) to enjoy the ride, and I did forget to mention we took a jump over a nice size log. Spyder jumped HUGE and he didn't throw a fit after it (surprise, surprise). Good horse. All in all, it was a really fun day, and we get our ribbons/prize basket from the pony club when they are at the farm tomorrow. I have no idea what's in it, but I do remember seeing treats which Spyder is so well deserving of. I'm off to ride later tonight and hope we can work on strength in the hind end since he got a nice day off yesterday. My finger is STILL hurting from when I broke it (and I still have no intentions on giving up riding for it to heal). Class starts again tomorrow. Meh.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekend of Sun

Just what we needed. Sunshine and happiness! Friday night last week was all paper writing, Saturday morning, I worked on my paper then rode. I forced myself to do more of my paper after so that Sunday I could worry less and try to ride again. Don't worry, I got an A! :) I rode both days, too!

Saturday I decided to start on the lunge line. Umm, why? I figured if I was going to ever do a CTR, I should see how the circle on the line goes vs. the circle in the round pen. Both circles are quite the same... WHIP!? RUN, HOP, SKIP, JUMP, SQUEAL, TRIP, SKID OUT... "Look what I can do!" It was just awful. I kept my cool and he didn't pull on the line much, but it was obviously not working out. We do need to work on it, but I think we'll keep going with trotting in hand because it's been so nice (and controlled).

We did have one issue where Spyder's back leg appeared to give out. In research and watching videos, it "may" be a locking stifle. It's common and not something to get worked up about, but of course, I want him to be comfortable. For now, I'm going to monitor it (as it happens only at the canter, in a tighter circle, and very infrequently) and see if we can strengthen his hind end to make it better. I got on, and Spyder was an angel. I did bring the crop with me because I had a feeling he would be a bit testy, but he did great. We worked in circles and did a lot of stop go and cantering. There was no tripping or losing the hind end, and we worked in a frame often.

Sunday I just remember getting there later in the day (more paper writing) and him listening without the crop. No kicking or grunting - great! We did do a lot of leg yields and practiced neck reining (ha, what a joke). The hunter pace is TOMORROW, and I'm excited. My cold sore and pimple infested face is ready for some stress relief. Class starts again Tuesday, and I am looking forward to spending this weekend at the barn for as long as I can to calm my nerves with everything going on in my hectic life. Que the sunny and relaxing weekend. I do plan on getting out to the barn to get on Spyder tonight so tomorrow will be less of a hassle.

March was 68 miles, and April only 18.5... meh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teleporting

Can I just teleport to the farm so I can get home and get to my school work? I completed my final, and now it's just my final project, BUT courses start for the summer session start right after this. I get no break for riding in any sort of pattern, but I do have the hunter pace coming up. Remind me why I signed up for school again? I've been enjoying pushing through, but I find it hard to get everything I need to get done and what I want to get accomplished taken care of. The reward has certainly been the farm time I've had.

I'm certainly no where near reaching my March mileage due to the lack of motivation and Spyder's bad attitude. Honestly, there has been nothing to rave about. I rode 2 days last week which were OK. I can't even remember what I did because it was that uneventful. I remember being frustrated and making my broken finger ache again due to Spyder deciding it was a good idea to rear/spook for no reason other than seeing another horse. Ok, maybe there was something eventful now that I'm recalling last week.

I rode out to the big ring and started in the dressage area when the trainer at the farm rode by on the track with a TWH. She ended up coming around the track by us and going up a small hill by the cross country jumps and Spyder spazzed! He stood up on his back feet with a nice rear, and she shouted. "Oh, wow! Are you OK?" and came in the ring so I could settle Spyder. Yes, the horse gaits different and it's a "different" color, but it's similar to a horse in his field and I am sick of the spook/excitement over NOTHING! This is exactly the reason I broke my finger from the "scary" deer that we see all the time. Once I got him calmed down, 30 minutes was more than enough fun for me.

The other day I rode I went out to the same ring to make sure I could tackle the attitude he gave me before. I could tell he was bored since he was listening for w/t/c so we jumped a bit. There were deer all over the place and he was jumping a higher placed cross rail like it was 3 feet so I hopped over the jump until he calmed down and jumped it like the size it was. It's been feeding time after work when I get to the farm so I'm sure we'll begin to get those issues back. JOY! He always gets a little more pumped when he hears the grain bins going so I have been feeding him a little before we ride so he thinks he's had his grain.

This week I rode once so far. I hope to get out again, but this project is stressing me out! I went out to the big ring after warming up on the track to get a feel for Spyder's attitude. There was no argument with my leg so we went out and did some trotting while giving the deer looks. Cantering was decent in a circle and he was moving off my leg, but he was gearing up for some bad behavior. He did throw some rocking horse squealy bucky/reary/whatever the heck he does moves in there so we came back to the trot until he decided to go nicely once again. On the way back to the barn, I practiced moving him off of my leg. We went all the way to each edge of the track using each leg to push him over then we worked on stop, walk, trot, walk, stop, trot, back type exercises. I kept turning back towards the ring then heading back to the barn with some spins (moving off leg with the front of his body and not the back) in either direction so he had to listen and take his focus off of feeding time.

It's really getting old having to dance around his buttons and moods, but I hope to get him under control and move forward. The hunter pace should go smoothly, and hopefully we'll get back to putting in miles.

Life updates in picture form:
We made a fire pit for the back yard Saturday

The grass is getting green and Spdyer has a big butt.

I swept and organized my tack area at the barn

Kaiden sun bathes in his fluffy mess of toy destruction.

Kaiden killed the Easter lamb.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quick Ride

I have words for this Wednesday ... and I haven't ridden since last Tuesday. I hope to ride tonight if it's dry enough after our April ice/hail/snow storm ordeal last night...

Last week I went to the farm for the 4-H meeting and had a little bit of time to ride before the meeting. It's been spring out (finally.. but not really after last night), and I was worried about Spyder listening since he's been so out of it lately. We went out to the big ring because there was another rider, and Spyder couldn't get over the other horse being out there the whole time. We worked on going towards them, away from them, and listening when that horse left. Oh, poor Spyder, he has to work when another horse is not. Before the other ride left, I decided to work on the canter transition. Since I haven't been riding much, I wanted to make sure that we were safe if something bad was to happen. He was SO GOOD except for the fact that he kept his ears back and kept pulling on the reins. He hasn't been wanting to work lately, but there was no buck. I can say that was an accomplishment? Ugh, what is the deal?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finally, a Nice Weekend

Sunny Saturday with the pup
Finally - the 50's! The temperature has been a little bit more consistent, but the nights still feel like winter at times. It's just so damp which makes things so much worse (and soggy). Saturday and Sunday were busy for me with running around and making plans so I didn't get in much riding time. The dryer decided to break right when I was going to leave so I had to hang everything which took up more of the time I had to ride. It's always something, right? For whatever reason, I found the motivation, and I'll say it was the sun. The goal was just to have Spyder cooperate and not give in to his fussiness. I'm not sure why he's been so sour, but I have been, too. It seems when you put in more riding time, that mood always turns around.

GREEN!
Both days, I worked on the track since I wanted to remind Spyder of our exercises. I started Saturday with a dressage whip, and he was already a better listener just holding it. Another boarder that hasn't been out in a while was riding her trail horse on the track, and she was having some listening and "up" issues. I wished I had time to ride with her, but I had to get home to get ready for beer fest - priorities. We did a lot of walk, halt, trot, halt, back, and I felt like I had to really lay into his mouth to get him going backwards. I feel bad having to go back to these basic commands, but it's best to "start over" until the baby horse's mind can catch up to his adolescent self once again. We also did a lot of open rein turns in both directions and some were even in a tight canter. He certainly kept his feet moving with the whip in hand! I find it funny because he acted like he couldn't do it in our lesson earlier in the week. He knew I meant business that ride. I had about 30 minutes of really testing him before I had to cool out and head back.

Smoke over blueberry fields
Sunday, I had a very short ride because I had breakfast with my parents, sister, and her boyfriend and was heading into Philly for lunch. The sun was shining, but like the day before, the wind made it feel cooler. Spyder wanted to buck SO bad, and so we turned and turned until he decided to chill out. I had 20 minutes in total so we worked on transitions again. I did get in some cantering with angry ears, but no buck! I wasn't feeling my finest since I was running off little sleep and even less hydration so I took it easy and ended it when he was nice and calm. We cooled out, and I snapped a photo of the green grass. It's finally starting to grow and makes life feel so much happier. On the way home from Philly, there was a HUGE fire which I found out burned what they think was 1,500 acres. They were working on controlling it through Monday. It was in a remote part of the forest which took 35 minutes for fire crews to get to, and they still don't know what caused the fire. It was back behind Batsto where there are no homes, but it is still devastating to the area.

In total, Saturday was just .75 miles because of all of the stopping and standing that was nearly 40 minutes of boring! Sunday was a bit more exciting with 1.5 miles in 20 minutes. I really want to surpass my March count for miles, but I feel like this month has so much going on that I won't be able to do as many long rides. I do need to keep conditioning for our hunter pace the first weekend in May but not nearly what I thought I had to do for the 30 that didn't happen. Hopefully in the fall, I can get back in gear and do a 15 or 25, but horse life will depend on the trailer status for the time being. The picture for miles is for both riding and a few shorter dog walks. We've been taking the dog to the lake by our house and to Bass River State Park so he can get some off-leash running time. It wears him out fast!

He watches TV
Few weeks ago at the lake by our house
Older shot of Kaiden being "free" in Bass River.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rabbit Run!

This was nothing on the way in
And so it didn't work out, but volunteering was so wonderful! I got up early on Saturday and put on my snow pants, yes, snow pants! It was on the chilly side, and I didn't have anything else to wear for pants that were waterproof. I had a wind breaker which did nothing for warmth, but it was going to get to 55. 55 degrees with rain wasn't very warm, and it was SO nice that the NJTRA group had lunch and SOUP! Soups galore and COFFEE and tea! Wow, what a treat! I had no idea that they did all of that for the riders. The drive up to the place was sketchy with the cranberry bogs, mud, and rain, and it was AWFUL coming out after the long day of constant rain that never let up. I was sliding all over the place with the real wheel drive truck - not fun!

I worked as a timer for the pulse down area. Everyone that was there to check pulses was super nice, and they all had a lot of great advice for me. I was happy that I wasn't riding in the bad weather, but I was also disappointed because it makes me want to do this SO BAD! It is a beautiful area to ride in, and a few of the volunteers want to ride with me. The vet gave me some great input on what she was looking for so I could plan ahead in any future rides. I can't wait to participate in my first ride, my horse or not. I have a feeling I'll like it and be exploring all new gear so the weather won't be an issue on the tack.

I didn't ride Sunday because of more rain, and I felt so bad for the Bunny Hop riders.Since it rained all day Saturday and trailers were in and out on the muddy road, I can only imagine what their day was like. I did get to the farm on April fool's day after work which hasn't happened in a while. It was a short ride, and I was in a bad mood. Spyder was a grump, and I ended being happy after the ride because we worked through a buck and him being a jerk until he was calm and would stop and stand still when I asked (especially by the gate headed back). As soon as he was listening, I decided to end it before I went back to having an even worse day. When I got to farm, the tack area was cleaned out from the other person's stuff. The woman I trail rode with a few times left so now I have a 3 stall area, tack room, and cross ties all to myself!

Mine, all mine!
On Thursday, April 3, the trainer at the farm sent me a text about a last minute lesson. She was on the track with a Tennessee walker that she rides for the owner and was available for a lesson if I wanted. I didn't plan it, but it's just been awful as far as motivation goes for riding so I committed. Spyder bucked because I handed it to him for not listening whatsoever so we worked on that. I had to turn him with an open rein every time he did something bad. It was a lot of putting his head down to get leverage, putting his head up to evade the bit, or trying to figure out a way he could kick or get his head back.

His signature move is cantering when he's angry because he thinks he's not allowed from on the track. It's hilarious that it's his defense, but we pushed and just kept going with it. Within a very short (but felt like FOREVER) five minutes or so, he was back to listening (soft of). In ten minutes or so he was responding to my leg and cooperating better. We stuck to w/t and canter when he felt like it until we got back to listening. I wish I packed my crop because my legs were on fire. Next ride, take the crop! I knew that I had to get out to the barn and work him on the weekend because he has some serious "I don't want to do what you say" issues so I made some time both days (next post).