The tale of the missing right lead (and brotherly bickering)


“What? You FOUND it?” says Nay Nay.

Welp, that missing right lead. It’s a bugger and really doesn’t want to be found.

BUT, we did find it so I know it DOES exist!

For more details, please read on.


“I would NEVER lose my right lead,” says Subi.

I was scheduled to ride yesterday in the late afternoon. After all, when I signed up for a lesson last week, I picked a day when it was cooler. Except, the “cold front’ never happened and the end of the week brought temps in the 90s with high humidity vs the low 80s that we were promised. Fail. So, early that morning, I was asked if I could ride earlier and I jumped through hoops to make it work with my schedule.

Due to the heat and a very hard ride the night before (someone had way too much energy), I had a pretty quiet pony in hand. We skipped the longeing and just tried to make it work. Walk and trot? SUCH a good boy. We actually had some bending to the right so the in hand work (both at home and pre-rides) is starting to pay off. And, I think Nay Nay is also starting to accept his d-ring bit.


“So much work, so little food. You’re telling me I have to share?”

After chatting a little about the canter (sans advice, just me saying it’s been missing since before the 4th of July), I was told to trot a really large circle and ask for it in the corner so that my trainer could watch both of us. Yep, fail. Then the advice started. Lots of inside rein, inside leg, shortening my inside rein, not asking until his nose was turned in… Still not happening. So out came the crop. Using the crop and inside rein and inside leg, and a whole hell of a lot of persistence and circles (and falls starts), I finally got the canter. The trick was truly getting him off that inside shoulder, getting (and keeping!) the bend, and picking up the canter while his weight was in the right place. It was tough but doable. We cantered on the right lead a good 3+ times around the ring for good measure at a nice, forward pace. Once he had the canter? It felt good. But, right now picking it up is HARD so why bother? — Nay Nay.


“Yes, how else am I going to keep my new figure? My belly sways when I walk.”

We moved on to the left lead and did a little work there. That lead is easy and we were able to do some circle work. Even with my crappy late steering, we still were able to hold the canter for a nice tight circle. Nay Nay is just that much stronger right now.

To end, we returned to the right lead, now with a tired horse. This time it was both harder and easier. Nay Nay said NO several times. It’s hard, but he knew what I wanted. The problem? He was tired. The time he tried some rein snatching from my hand. We had better bend from the start, but the new ploy was bend, slow way down, snatch, and drop. So, I got a bit angry. A little crop behind the leg (he decided that leg/kicks no longer mean go when he’s tired) and suddenly (well, after a couple instances)? We had a right lead canter. It did help that he rocked back onto his hind end which stopped the drop/drop, but nonetheless…


“This sharing thing sucks! And why do we have to wear these ridiculous looking fly masks anyway? They’re not much fun for me! I liked the other ones that I got to put in my mouth and pull until I could hear that velcro go…”


“Get over it Nay Nay! I was here first! I LIKE wearing a fly mask (and you seem to as well since your stays on most of the time… We have to wear these bug masks because these are the only ones you haven’t learned how to take off me yet!”

So, we have our work cut out for us. Each time he picked up the lead correctly, Nay Nay got all the praise in the world. After the first right lead canter, suddenly Nay Nay moved right off my leg, so with some consistency, I think we’ll be there. It may just take a little time.

On the line

Following up on yesterday’s post, I’m continuing my investigation on what’s up (if anything) with Nay Nay. I’m struggling with the heat and some newfound sun sensitivity. It turns out, I now turn into a tomato in the sun thanks to some medication…even when wearing SPF 70. So, I’ve been playing around with different sunscreens and seem to be doing better with mineral-based sunscreen (zinc oxide). But, if I walk outside, I need sunscreen. And I need to remember sunglasses because now my eyes burn too (new discovery–even in 5 minutes).

img_4043Anyway, it’s a struggle to haul out all the time to ride (I really should ask my neighbor behind me if I can use his ring across the street, but that’s a conversation for another time (I probably would need a gate at the bottom of the field for that to work anyway). But, regardless, Nay Nay could use more work than 3 days a week. I just hate hauling out 5 days. So, I’m thinking I could ride 3 times and put him to work on the longe line 2x week.

Nay Nay was…less than thrilled with this plan. It turns out he “knows” how to longe but he doesn’t know how to longe. See, longing has been used to expel energy. He goes on the line, trots and/or canters around and when he’s done/had enough, he stops. This is not how I use the line, but it’s very common for a lot of people. Nay Nay was NEVER taught to walk on the line or trot on command and as a result canter on command. He just does what he wants. He’s OK with moving forward on command which is OK because sometimes that’s what I’m asking, but I want him to walk when asked too.

We had some fireworks to the left. I’m realizing that I really need some actually footing in my round pen vs grass, but we’ll see. I have to figure out how much that would cost. While Nay Nay was “galloping” around, I realized how little he knew and developed my plan for the right.

To the right? We were going to walk. Nay Nay was NOT on board. But, we walked. For 15 minutes, we worked on commands. Slowing increasing the amount of line Nay Nay had access to. And I think we got somewhere.

Things he learned?

  • Walk and one cluck does not mean trot or fly forward
  • Easy does NOT mean woah (this was hard, but he got there pretty quickly — he wants to be good)
  • Commands to move out
  • The whip doesn’t necessarily mean speed
  • Woah (turns out, he didn’t know this one and I didn’t realize that)

Things I learned?

  • Walking is hard. Especially on a slight incline (my property is NOT flat). When it gets hard, Nay Nay will trot because trotting is easier.
  • Nay Nay is a quick study and wants to please
  • Holes in training make things harder but explain a lot (I never realized he didn’t have a woah)
  • Time at the walk will be really, really important
    • Nay Nay was flexed to the outside when we started. After a while, he started to relax his neck and looked really good. That said, this really showed off how weak he is to the right (especially in his hind end) as he couldn’t hold this for long before he’d either flex to the outside, break into the trot, or stumble behind. If we can work consistently at the walk WITHOUT me on his back to build up strength? I think we might get somewhere…

Anyway, I’m going to play around with some walk work for awhile at home. Hopefully, if we can cut the fireworks in the beginning we can do a little more at the walk in both directions.


What kind of day has it been?

It seems like all I do lately is try to get back into work. Between time off for ulcers followed by coming back and being lovely before time off due to random puffiness near Nay’s fetlock followed by crazy heat, we’ve had more off time than on.


doesn’t everyone adjust tack while working?

And things have been a little rocky lately. Honestly? I feel like I’ve made a few too many changes in terms of bits and I’m tempted to go back to my copper mouth loose ring, but I don’t think the bit is the issue (though HATE is a word I’d use to describe the full cheeks we’ve tried). Something is going on…I’m not sure what. For now, bit wise, we’re just sticking with a double jointed d ring. No one is offended so that’s progress?

I rode Friday and Saturday and while I considered Sunday, thought 3 days might be a little hard given that I was sore and tired. Today (Monday) would be perfect but I’m iffy as to if the barn is actually open on Mondays…

Friday was… interesting. We longed first in the indoor in 100% humidity. The left was OK but immediately Nay said nope, I can’t do this to the right. It’s hard, I don’t know how, I just CANNOT be asked and did the stupid longe evasion tricks (thankfully not Subi’s turn and bolt of yester-year—story for another post—but turn and stop and face me crap). Unlike last time, I got angry. Maybe he’s sore, maybe longing hurts, but I’m literally asking him to move forward at any gate so he CAN walk he just nope out of it. I became mean mom and suddenly? We longe again… I think all the time off in leading to some boundary testing (but also some other stuff). We halted and moved off at all gates 4 or 5 times without issue before I ended that session and hopped on.


So lucky he’s cute…

I got on and? Power keg. Despite the energy on the line (no bucking, just energy), trotting was like this forward moving thing? He was forward vs up/down at the trot and my arms hurt from reminding him pace every x number of strides. After a million circles, eventually we trotted without as much enthusiasm… despite thunder in the background.

Yet to the right? he’s just not there. So weak. So, I don’t know if there is something bigger going on or if the time off just exacerbated his weakness to the right? We worked and tried staying straight but it’s so damn hard!!

Then the canter. The left was… electric until he realized that being stupid meant circles which are hard and tiring. Then the right? Didn’t exist. I let him canter wrong at first then eventually did get the correct lead and as able to hold it once around with a circle. It’s weak and slow but it feels physically ok.


There’s a reason Nay Nay’s top stall door stays closed 90% of the time

Saturday? We restarted on the line where in the first minute Nay thought about trying ‘nope I can’t’ but a quick reminder to the left shut him up for good. Then we were fine.

We finished up our ride outside where he decided to react to everyone who came near us. So we trotted and trotted and trotted. It wasn’t the forward trot of yesterday but rather a more up and down one that required leg and focus. Eventually the popping when horses came near (all 3 of them…) ended and we trotted more for good measure.

I found the outdoor exacerbates his right side weakness as there is no fence so I push out with inside leg and don’t have and outside rail/wall to help. Plus the deeper footing… either way, we made it through the trot.

The left lead canter was lovely, some of our best in a long time. Right lead? Gone. Couldn’t find it. I gave up before we both got frustrated. He picks it up on the line without issue I’m struggling so much riding. I’ve come up with the following possibilities:

  • hocks
  • stifles
  • saddle fit (he’s changed a lot physcially since I bought this saddle–I did notice on Saturday that the THIN memoray foam half pad I was using does seem to be causing some tightness so I’ll pull that for our next ride. The pad was necessary, now it’s not)
  • weakess
  • poor riding
  • combination of several issues

Nay Nay this weekend

So that’s where we’re at. I’m not sure if more is going on than just weakness or something listed above… I’m seeing my trainer Thursday and we’ll talk more then.

Nay Nay this winter… NOT the same body shape… Wouldn’t surprise me it saddle fit is starting to come into play. There’s a reason I didn’t spend much, but bought an OLD well made saddle… Granted issues are one sided. 

Where we’ve been…

Nay Nay and I had an unexpected little break.


Did a lot of this during his time off

I noticed some puffiness in his right hind a couple of weeks ago and decided to sit and try and see if it resolved itself. He wasn’t lame, it wasn’t hot, but there was definitely about a half an inch of puffiness in a tendon/ligament near his fetlock. He also decided to mysteriously lose his right lead for the 2-3 rides leading up to this time…



Anyway, I tried a bunch of stuff and in the end, the swelling stayed and Nay Nay continued to feel just fine and had no issues with his 2-week vacation. He was sound, happy, and didn’t seem to care what I did to that leg.


New bit sucks

I finally touched base with the vet and it’s been diagnosed as fluid in the tendon sheath/ a windpuff. The prescription? Ride the damn horse. Right now we’re trying to see if fluid disappears at all when riding. It doesn’t during turnout and it certainly doesn’t get better standing in his stall. But, the thought is it’s probably just chronic and stems back from his racing days. He wasn’t heavily raced (14 starts), but his legs are a mess (osselets in his front right and he’s been pin fired in both fronts). Despite that, he flexes fine and is sound (my farrier is shocked at his range of movement in his ugly leg… it’s just that, ugly). Down the line he will likely need maintenance, but for now? The vet feels 3 days a week of riding is perfectly acceptable and he can w/t/c and pop over jumps without restriction. The fact is, he hasn’t taken a lame step during this episode, I was the paranoid one.


So do ear bonnets

So, yesterday after 2 weeks or so off, we headed over to the barn to ride. Nay Nay was a bit… up. My trainer asked me to change my bit my last lesson. I did and Nay Nay hasn’t been a fan. We first switched into a single jointed full cheek (thanks Michele). Nay Nay HATED that thing. I could not steer at all. I’ve never felt this horse heavy in my hands either (he was in a double-jointed loose ring copper mouth snaffle). After 2 rides of pure hell on the flat (fences weren’t as bad in that I could keep him IN the arena), I decided to give up and purchased a double-jointed full cheek for yesterday’s ride. He still dislikes the full cheek, but he doesn’t object to the mouthpiece. I’m actually wondering if our missing right lead may relate to the damn bit?


Lots of feelings

Anyway, he was a bit… spicy on the ground and blowing me off so, against my better judgement, I tossed him on the lunge line. And, he’s lost the ability to lunge. Especially to the right. Mostly it is avoidance, partially it is extreme weakness. But, I don’t think it’s injury. Injury wouldn’t prevent him from walking. If I had thought more clearly, I’d have brought my halter out and lunged in that, but… hindsight. I think it’s all the damn bit.

However, once I got his brain installed? (really, it was hot, I wasn’t lunging for energy, it was a training thing… Donkey Kong decided that listening wasn’t part of his vocab… Success was walking in a small circle around me to the right because listening is necessary) I got on to a dead quiet horse. Steering at the walk was MUCH improved as was everything to the left. The right still worked, but significantly better. We didn’t leave the arena once!

img_3993We ended with a lovely but brief canter to the left just so I could see where he was.

And Nay Nay picked up the quietest, loveliest canter ever. Recently he’s been scooting past the viewing deck because that’s a great place to speed up. If I stay closer to the jumps, he’s better, but… This ride? Quiet, lovely, relaxed. After he cantered quietly by the viewing deck, I finished the canter across the center of the ring and called it a day even though we barely cantered half the ring. Sometimes you just end on a perfect note.

Let’s talk about Subi…

img_3912This blog is still called Three Chestnuts… And while I’m down to one, Subi is the original chestnut.

And he scared me big time on Friday night.

We were bringing the horses in and I got Nay Nay in his stall and went back for Subi. Erik had his halter on but Jiminy was still in the shed eating hay. “Just leave the gate open,” he said.

Subi and I got back to his stall, I had taken his halter off and he was starting in on the peppermints and chopped carrots in his dinner when Jiminy zooms by.

2 minutes later, Jiminy is back in his stall.

img_3900But Subi? He is standing facing Nay Nay’s stall, licking the wall. He stood like that for nearly 2 hours, licking the damn wall.

He ate a carrot, but wouldn’t turn around on his own. And he was breathing super hard. But NOT hot or overheated. Cool to the touch.

I texted a friend who asked, “Heart attack? Stroke? Can he walk? How is his balance?” So I grabbed a carrot and a halter and walked him out to the round pen and back. Nothing wrong with his balance. Or his ability to attack me for the carrot.

img_3911Back in the stall? Wall licking resumed and? Drooling. So much drool.

Next guess, minor choke on either a tiny piece of carrot or a mini panic attack when he lifted his head up to see Jiminy running loose. He never seemed upset, just…startled. He had barely eaten anything (1-3 tiny pieces of carrot smaller than a peppermint and 2 peppermints but choke is possible) but he definitely looked post-panic attack too.

img_3897Throughout the night I checked on him. At 11:45 he was munching his alfalfa and had eaten some grain though his stall wall was soaked. By morning his alfalfa was gone as was breakfast.

Since then? He’s been fine.

WTH horse?