Starting to click.

I’m very behind on blogging. I think I got tired and then decided I didn’t care? I had some good rides and then took most of last week off because work tried to kill me and I gave up and then had a bunch more fabulous rides this past weekend and a lesson this morning. So I guess it’s time I blog? Or not?

The Best Thoroughbreds

A couple of weeks ago, Nay Nay decided that he no longer wanted to jump this one jump he loved. He didn’t want to walk over it or anything. Other stuff? Fine. His favorite jump? Nope. So I just hopped off and walked him over it. He followed me like a puppy. Since then, everything has changed. Before I get on, I decide what jumps I want to work on and we set them to our chosen height and fill (we started by removing flowers, now? we don’t care about the damn flowers) and we just walk over them before I get on. I walk, Nay follows me and all stress is completely gone. It’s like he saw he walk over it and suddenly something clicked and BAM! He realizes that we go over jumps? I don’t know but it’s working. Nerves and hesitation are gone. We’ve added several (5-6 difference fences) difference jumps with boxes and gates to our repertoire now. They’re tiny. Like under 2′, but who cares?

This weekend we strung together several into a mini trot course and mostly I had to work on keeping him trotting in between. He has enthusiasm for the jumps and often will canter out nicely, but the rest of the time? Nay thinks sleep is good. He also gets bored easily and while he’ll put out a good effort once or twice, he’s learned that he can also land in the trot and save calories.

Our right lead is hit and miss. Today we worked less on picking it up (there was a giant truck removing the barn’s manure pile and I was just thrilled that Nay wasn’t bothered by the that) and rather focus on landing the lead from our end jump. He had other ideas… We eventually got there. The thing with the right lead? Once we get it? His right lead canter is SO MUCH NICER AND MORE BALANCED AND EVEN than his left lead. It’s just picking it up that’s an issue. And then he gets stressed out. So… We’re still working on it. I’m going to see about getting some body work done and seeing if that helps.

But we’re getting places. Hopefully I’ll have some folks to ride with this weekend and I’ll have some updated videos. These are from a couple weekends ago and I feel like we’ve progressed so much already. But, media is media. LOL.

He’s turning into something pretty darn special

Bring on the vet bills!

Seriously 2020? Go to hell.

Actually, the last 12 months have been hell with the horses. And my emergency budget is gone.

I mean, there was Batt and his heaves. Then Batt and the colic with the multiple emergency visits followed by the clinic and the end. Let’s not go there.

Then Subi losing his mind.

Then Subi tried to die on me.

Then Subi’s ulcer treatment.

Then Nay Nay decided that he was missing out and got ulcers (in his defense, he probably already had them) and developed an allergy to soy.

3 months of ulcergard, 1 scope, lots of alfalfa, and a diet overhaul later, Nay Nay was healed.

Then Subi decided that it was a good time to grow grapefruits for hind legs.

And Nay Nay’s back hurt and he started acting like a fool requiring a saddle fitter and new saddle.

Then the farrier came out and asked how things were. Saturday at 12pm things were good. No REAL disasters. My husband said the famous last words. “No major vet bills lately.”

An hour later? I was on the phone with the emergency vet on call.

Guess who felt left out?

JIMINY. Jiminy decided it was a good time to CHOKE.

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Emergency vet call for this guy…

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ON GRASS.

Scariest thing every.

With more sedatives in him then any miniature ever should have, the vet and I wrangled him the best we could and tried to tube him. Pony shook and reared and fought with every bone in his 300lbs body. Many attempts later? We succeeded and thought we resolved the choke.

Then he started coughing. Then retching. Then green started flowing out his nose again.

So, we tried AGAIN to tube. More sedatives. More fighting. His nose was too small to twitch. We tried. At one point? He gave himself a bloody nose and blood was flowing everywhere. While supporting the entire body weight of a mini, I was also coated in mini blood. It worked for a while until he fought so hard I almost fell and the vet pretty much twisted her wrist. We got a little more fluid in him before calling it an afternoon…while he was still choked.

See? There is a limit to the amount of sedatives a 300 lbs pony can get. And we reached that. So, with a muzzle on, we left him to try and resolve it himself. Jiminy got some banamine, Ace, and Excede. 7:30 I checked back in with the vet and the direction? Hand graze and if he starts coughing, call her back and more tubing. Thankfully he did OK.

The next morning, he had mucus discharge and coughed a bit at 5am, but did ok at 7am for his grazing. Then later on? Found peppermints in wrappers and ate those… WTF pony… But, other than an initial freak out and coughing spell, seemed iffy-ish OK. That afternoon, he got a soupy bowl of hay pellets and some more grazing.

Yesterday? He still seemed iffy. We continued more of the same. Stall rest but without the muzzle. Grazing. And lost of tantrums without his brothers. Last night he finally looked like himself and got some hay. This morning he finally had dry nostrils and got turned out with his brothers.

At this point? I’m HOPING we’re through the woods, but seriously? WHO CHOKES ON GRASS????

Going through the motions

Nay Nay and I have had some pretty fantastic rides as of late. I just haven’t really felt like blogging about them. What can I say? I’m lacking media and work is picking up so…blogging is taking a backseat. But, I do want to capture some of what we’ve been doing.

To be honest? It’s not very exciting. We’re in green horse mode. So there is a lot of rinse and repeat going on, and that’s just OK with me. But guys? This horse is quiet these days. The quick and forward and up and down trot I was dealing with a month or 2 ago until we worked through that crap? Completely gone. It’s sort of like he realized this saddle doesn’t hurt and he’s back to being quiet and light and not draggy Nay Nay.

Lawn mower

That’s not to say that things are perfect. That right lead is a work in progress. Bending to the right is looking really nice at the trot and we hold the bend nicely at the canter once we get the lead. It’s just picking it up. Building muscle is hard and Nay Nay has some muscle imbalance going on in his back. We’re going to test a few things to make sure that pain isn’t an issue, but, we’re suspect that if pain is involved, it’s pain from weakness vs pain from injury. So, once he builds that muscle? Picking up that canter shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not so much that he can’t, but rather some anxiety that it could be hard or might hurt. Once he gets it? Ears go forward and he’s 100% on board and OK, just significantly weaker.

We’ve played around with a little jumping work too. He’s a couple of lessons ago he jumped a gate for the first time. We practiced that for a few rides in which he then decided said gate did not need to be trotted but instead should be galloped. But, despite some enthusiasm, we maintained an acceptable pace without pulling. He also jumped a cross rail with a flower box this weekend just because. He didn’t care for it one direction (we took it as a 3ft fence), but happily trotted in the other way because???

In our lesson today, we worked on a circle over a tiny plank. We’ve worked on this on our own several times, but it was nice to tackle it in a lesson. The the left, we just trotted it several times as I stayed out of Nay’s way. To the right? Same thing until he landed on the right lead. At that point? We let him hold the canter and canter into the jump. I think we held the right lead 2 or 3 times before landing wrong. Our homework? Continue this exercise as the circle will help him build the muscle. If he lands wrong, start back at the trot.

I did have a chat with my trainer as sometimes I feel completely out of place among the $$$ warmbloods and all that. But, she reminded me that everyone has different goals and this used to be what she did all day every day. Green horses and ponies. It was only recently that she ended up with a barn full of AA hunters. I’m having fun, enjoying the journey, learning each ride (as is Nay right now), and it’s OK to have different goals. And, riding and training isn’t linear. We have good days and bad days. We improve and improve and then suddenly everything goes wrong and you suck as a rider, but then you progress faster and improve more before you plummet again. Regardless, right now, I’m happy where I’m at. Of course, I’ll be happier when that right lead is consistent!

New Saddle Time!

I’m happy to report, my hunt for a saddle was short lived. I’m pretty sure I searched 24/7 for about 4 days until I found 5 saddles (including 2 in the UK and one that Michele sent over to me). I sent the list over to the saddle fitter and she reduced it down to 3 and told me the choice was mine.

I eliminated a forward flap Albion and was between an Albion Kontrol in the UK and an Albion K2 in the US. Neither had a trial available so I was taking a risk that the tree shape would work. In the end? The K2 won out despite being a little more expensive (it looked in better shape and I’d get it faster). Thanks Michele for finding me my saddle. I bought it Monday, it shipped Tuesday, and arrived on Thursday. And I didn’t get to sit into it until… Wednesday because? Our truck was having surgery.

And the saddle? It’s glorious.

Nay Nay seems VERY happy. In the short bit between seeing the saddle fitter and finding this saddle I tried to ride and it was apparent that Nay was uncomfortable. He’s gotten increasingly heavy and the last couple of rides I could tell his back was hurting. In the end, I just stopped riding because it wasn’t worth it.

So when I got on Wednesday I wasn’t sure what to expect. He’d had time off (almost 2 weeks). He’s been cranky from being sore. And I’m still working on shimming (we’re using the mattes pad for rear right shims as he’s uneven in his back). So I had no idea what I’d get.

Instead? I had a quiet light in my hand, kick ride. We trotted around on the buckle and never once did he try to pull or drag me around. Old Bay Nay was back. Now, the right lead will take a lot of time to get back, but we’ll get there. We got it eventually and with consistency we’ll have it.

As for me? It’s not perfect. This is a LOT of saddle. Basically, it’s a seat belt saddle with huge front blocks and rear blocks (I’ve never actually ridden with rear blocks).I feel a little awkward at the trot, but I’ll get there. The canter though? AMAZING. I can sit and it’s lovely. He felt so good we took a spin over the little plank jump at the end of the ring (Nay Nay’s favorite fence) and the saddle is even more amazing over jumps. To the point that I felt comfortable enough to canter over the jump a few times. I forgot what it was like to feel secure in a saddle.

If I could change anything? I’d probably have looked for a 17″ seat vs the 17.5″ as it feel just a touch big. But, the saddle fitter felt that in the deeper seat the 17.5 would be good. I’m swimming a touch, but it’s not terrible.

Overall? I’m pretty happy and Nay felt great!

Well, crap.

That sinking suspicion that my saddle didn’t fit? 100% true.

Nay Nay and I met with the saddle fitter yesterday afternoon and the bad news was delivered. The fit is bad (though the saddle is nicely balanced and fits me well) and Nay Nay is a hard fit.

So, it’s time to begin saddle shopping. And, a quick search tells me? It’s not going to be easy. What’s out? Anything A or U shaped, anything foam, anything french, anything wide, anything easy to find…

Basically, we’re looking for: a keyhole medium-narrow wool-flocked saddle. Semi-deep 17-17.5″ (17.5 preferred in a deeper seat) – no long flaps.

Possibilities include:

  • Albion M-M/N K2 or Kontrol
  • Kent & Masters M/N
  • Stubben 27cm
  • Passier Wellington M/N

In the interim, it’s mattes pad time and post-new saddle, it’ll likely still be a mattes pad, but with shims only on the right rear.

Send help.

Down for the count

2020 is starting to get to me! But I’m down for the count and who knows for how long!

It’s no fault of any 4-legged thing either!

Yesterday I got stung by a stinging thing. I currently can’t really walk and my leg is super swollen and growing. I don’t have an ankle or an an arch to my foot.

Last time this happened? It took 2 weeks before I could get a shoe on… this is the reason I own crocs.

So I sit with ice and Benadryl and am thankful in Covid times I only needed a rescue inhaler and not the epi-pen. Unfortunately, with this “increasingly severe allergic reaction,” I worry I might need the epi-pen one of these days!

Send help. Or (dairy-free and gluten free) chocolate. I’ll be the one trying to get up the hill while bringing in the horses tonight.

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

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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…

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“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…”

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“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.