Saturday, June 30, 2012

A.M. on the Farm

Walked up to Joey in his paddock this morning and put a fly mask on him for the first time. He isn't head shy, no big deal. 

You just never know what the egg will look like when it hits the pan...we have 8 hens that lay religiously.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Spook, Amble, Stop, Amble, Drink

That about sums up our 14 mile ride at the lake with N and Willow today. It was enjoyable and N and I just cruised along chatting (because really, what else can you do but Cruise on Blaze?). The trotting we did, I practiced "hovering" and 2 pt, and it really was MUCH better than trying to post his lofty trot. Some different muscles but I've been practicing it on Desire recently too so I should be able to get my hover on pretty well for Gold Country 30 miler in 2 weeks.

 I mailed our entry yesterday, it will be good to be at a ride on my little Blazer again. I think I'm going to skip doing a 50 with Desire for the month of July, give her plenty of time off, experiment with Renegades, and do some shorter rides working on ponying Sheza out since they rate well together--I do NOT want Blaze encouraging Sheza to develop a Zombie walk. Anyway, Blaze deserves a chance back at it and I don't want to push my girl D, she is tough as nails but is 16 this year and there is no need to get greedy. 

Blaze perked up when Willow arrived, Oooooo a laaddyyyy!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Joey in Training: Session 4

I've been waiting for Tractor Supply to have enough Arab sized fly masks in to outfit the rest of the herd, and they finally had them in today. I gave up on the color coding with the masks that have fur around the ears and nose, they just attract Local Jewelry (the 10 million kinds of stickers we have here) too much. So we tried color coding and names with Sharpies, we'll see how long they last. Blaze is wearing the first Cashel mask I bought like this, that's why he doesn't have a special new one, poor soul.

Joey had a shorter, more focused training session today. B spent quite a bit of time with him in the long lines etc last week and felt that she had pushed him pretty far as far as being behind him with the lines etc. Today she wanted to touch on the same stuff in a shorter time and call it a day. With a super sensitive horse like Joey I think it's a great strategy and I really appreciate learning all the subtleties and how to deal with them. B knows how to point out and explain things that I am grasping at in my brain but can't quite wrap my head around yet, and that's a great skill for a trainer to have!

First time tacking up in the cross ties:

Off to work he goes:

 Joey took to the long lines quite well today and is getting the "whoa" with light rein pressure from the long lines, and even got it with just a Whoa and no touch of the reins by mid session. He is great at following the pressure and switching directions on the long lines, too. She will Whoa him, feather the outside long line and he yields to the pressure and switches directions neat as can be.

After about 25 minutes Joey started to get jammed up. She was asking him to switch directions and he just sort of hit a wall. He got stuck on thinking she was trying to get behind him and just stopped, stood, and wouldn't go forward for anything. It's a delicate balance at this juncture because the last thing Joey needs is pressure/scaring/much encouragement behind him, since Behind is his scary area. But you have to get him to move. By going to his head and leading him a step forward B got him unstuck but then he tried to just follow at her shoulder instead of heading out on the circle like he had been. It was fascinating because while he had taken to the long lines and walking and Whoa'ing in them quite quickly at the start of the session, he suddenly wasn't getting it or moving forward mentally or  physically. I could feel how "jammed up" he was from across the round pen and was so interested to see how B handled it. I figured she would look for a some small correct thing and call it, but wanted to see the exact moment she did.

thinking, stopped, confused, jammed up..

Sure enough, B got him to do one more nice walk off , only 5 or 6 steps, with his head held nicely and she said "There, that's it, done." She felt the same thing from him that I did and called it on a small triumph, again something I believe is so important for a sensitive guy like Joey. He gets incrementally better at things every single time he is handled and there is just no need to push him beyond his limits. He came to me in March only halter broke, first time in a trailer, first time off the place he was born, at 6 years old-- it's really quite amazing how far he has come in a few short months! I really appreciate B and her teachings.

5 or 6 steps of a nice walk and DONE

Well he was done with the long lines, anyway!

"One last thing."

 B turned him loose in the round pen, turned her back to him, and started bunny hopping:

Bye bye Joey!
 Joey was as snorty terrified as he was last time, but because he wasn't trapped in any way by a line, he did about 4 spooks back and forth dramatically and then stopped and stared.

That bunny hopping lady is CRAZY!
As soon as he stopped moving his feet in panic and just was attentive, she stopped hopping and he really was done.
He walked right back over to her after the bunny hopping, and followed her politely around the round pen loose.

 Wilbur's imput:

Striking a pose after his bath:

Adapt to survive..

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hoof Care Day for the Herd

First though, a dorky collage I made, to show off my red yearling beast! My, how she's grown. 

Desire: Turns out, as lumpy as it all looked, there wasn't a whole lot of sole to get out...D used the dremel to smooth out any imperfections. Desire really doesn't have much concavity and her hooves are sort of looking  like they were when D first took over. As in, her feet looked better in the winter and after the spring grass are showing the dishing and thin soled flatness in the fronts...You can see her collateral sulcus grooves don't reach all the way down the frog at all, either, the full reality of which didn't quite hit me until I'd looked at all 4 of my horse's hooves in a row today..I feel like such a dunce on these hoof trimming days but I'm learning slowly but surely--right?!
Left front:

Desire, right front:

Comfort Pads in the Gloves..still may not be enough protection for her thing soles? Going to give her a week and then ride her in thick pads in Epics so I can try to isolate the lameness issue if it reoccurs. There is a distinct possibility that I'll be taking Blaze on the LD at Gold Country instead of Desire on the 50. Unless the next few weeks go perfectly, I'm not comfortable jumping into another 50 that fast. Blaze worked all last year and has been under light work this spring, I don't doubt he could cruise through an LD nicely and that way we wouldn't be totally out of a ride for July...we'll see.

 Playing the boot game..

Sheza: Sheza was quite good today, she came right up to be haltered, walked politely and investigated some scary objects instead of just losing her shit, and after one warm-up spazz for D she was quite good with her hooves. She grew a LOT of hoof in 4 weeks and her hinds are still growing out like point baby feet which is funny looking and kinda cute (but I prefer them well manicured!).

Left front, look at that depth and the grooves! A nice round hoof :)

Being a helpful baby for the itching post trimmer:

Love the blonde summer highlights. She could go all flaxen, I wouldn't mind!

The yearling is a bit too close to mom in size for my comfort...

 Hahaha sniper photo by D, and I looked really tall and Blaze looks tiny! shutuphe'snotpregant!!!

Blaze: his hooves are looking great! His heels have come down so incredibly much since we pulled the shoes. Getting a Glove on him when he first went barefoot was laughable, his heels were so high and contracted, there was no way. He is now going really well in taped (2 wraps), Power-strapped size 1 Easyboot Gloves on the fronts. He goes barefoot in the hinds, even in the LDs. THIS is how booting is supposed to be. He is good with his feet for booting, they go on well, stay on, and are HARD to get off. Hallelujah. Maybe I'll get there with Desire some day.

Left front:

Now look at Desire's Left front again:

Joey being gorgeous. It comes naturally:

 Joey: Joey was great today! While D worked on Blaze I groomed and fly sprayed him and ran my hands, the brush, and the spray all down his hind legs, even his precious right hind. I scooped poop behind his right hind--2 no nos, the right side and the behind, in 1 move!--and he snorted and watched but didn't move.

AND, today he had his first hooves-between-the-knees moments and first work with the nippers. Up until now D just got a few swipes of the rasp on each front, but today both fronts were up and nipped and rasped a little. When he started to get shuffley we backed off, happy with his progress. She also got a little nipping done on his left hind but she did't want to take too much to unbalance him since we knew she couldn't do much to his right hind. Sure enough when she went to his right hind his head went up and he tried to scoot away. We didn't push it much beyond handling the leg itself and called it a day. Much better than when he arrived and we could barely run hands down *any* of his legs!

You can see by his expression he is not entirely thrilled by his hoof disappearing between her knees, but he stood for it!

Up on the stand, good boy

So. Rest for Desire. Miles for Blaze. Sheza is giant and has great feet, and Joey is a good boy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gettin' Shimmy With It

 Yep, patting myself on the back for that "punny" title, extra points for a Will Smith reference (not linking to the video because there's some booty shaking and I do try to keep some decorum about the place...*snort*)

Yes, it's true, we're mostly self employed and generally have the luxury of creating our own schedules, so I had some time this morning to play with the shimming set up on my Specialized Eurolight saddle. My focus has been on Desire this season of course and Blaze has been doing some low trail mileage, nothing much. When I rode him with N at the lake last Friday I could tell my shim set up for him on the Eurolight was a No Go. At 15 yrs old he has a pronounced wither followed by a dip in behind the shoulder and a slight sway to his back, so needless to say fitting a saddle to him is not the simplest.

This is sweaty post-ride, you can see his pronounced wither and then "dip n sway" effect behind the shoulder..can't tell in this how narrow his wither really is though, oy vey

 I could feel on last Friday's ride that there wasn't enough support at the dip and sway, so that I was sort of sitting "down" in the middle of his back, if you know what I mean. It gave me a weird chair seat and I was more butt sore after those 6 miles than after the 90 miles on Desire the weekend before! And no doubt not a comfortable set up for him in the long run, either.

So this morning I broke out the shim pile and scissors and went to it. I ended up with wedge shims at the front and rear and the long flat supporting shims running down the middle of the saddle on each side to help with the "sway" area. 

Okay new to taking saddle pics clearly, but you can see the wedge shim at the front right and the long flat shims running down the length. There are wedge shims at the back, too.

Blaze is very patient fortunately, aside from perking up and looking cute for treats every time I come and go from the cross ties he generally just hangs out and falls asleep in the cross tie stall (unlike the Great Tap Dancing White Wonder). I had the saddle on and off his back probably 10 times screwing with things and then rigged him all up and headed down to the arena for a warm up lunge.

Blaze tends to dog me on rides from home--as in, walks out at 1 mph and is constantly looking behind him like hmm, maybe we should turn and go back?--so I decided to start with Arena Torture (how he views it) so maybe heading out on the trail would be a Good Thing.

Warming up in the arena, the footing is NICE and fluffy since I rototilled it, but kinda deep,a good workout to slowly increase time spent working in that footing as a change from the rock hard ground everywhere else..

He still dogged me heading out, oh yes, he was meandering along the dirt road above the house so slowly (and ignoring my cues) that I broke off a twig for a crop to snap him out of it! This little guy can trot and canter out, tears through LDs no problem, but to ride his walk you would think he was an old, possibly ill, farm plug. I've been having trouble really wanting to *ride* him when I can blast around on Desire without that frustration, but I've also been whining to myself mentally about making sure Blaze has a job/isn't ignored. 
Cool, quiet day in the neighborhood

With this intermittent lameness/hoof issue with Desire in the last week or two I've decided re: Blaze: Suck it Up and Ride Him. As in, it is my dearest hope and intent that Desire will be 100% reliably sound and good to go for more 50s this season, but if for whatever reason she isn't, I might as well have my little LD horse ready  to go so we aren't totally out of going to rides, and then he is also kept busy (and my guilt is under control!). His slow walk drives me crazy, so when it's time to walk I'll just dismount and spend some time walking/jogging next to him like I did today. He is a perfect jogging partner as he doesn't rush (or step on you) like the White Wonder.

Emerging from under their shade tree when they heard us coming back down the road...

Wait, isn't that supposed to be my yearling filly, not a giant horse???

With a much better saddle fit and the Power Strapped, taped, size 1 Easyboot Gloves staying on his fronts at speed and over terrain remarkably well (he rocks the bare hinds even in LDs), Blaze is Back In Business, whether he likes it or not ;-)

Oh thank god she stopped fussing over me and just let me ROLL

I always wish our Lab mix, Tady, was a horse because he would be a HECK of an endurance mount. Here he is lobbying to come to the next ride: "Look, I'll help mark trail!"  

Monday, June 25, 2012

In Which I Have a Good Ride, and Then Am Mind Boggled

Really though. Is there anything as disorienting/frustrating/panic-inducing than an "issue" with your horse? Okay yeah, there's plenty, but you know what I mean.

 I met J and her Mustang Sedona at Lake Oroville today for her first ride on the lake trails since moving away a few years ago. She is the first person who ever showed me the lake trails and my oldest friend since starting my new life in the area, so it was good to be back on those trails with her again.

I rode Desire, as she has been chilling in her pasture for the last week, has been trotting out sound, and I wanted to see what, if any issue there still might be. I did one last trot out/on the circle this morning to make sure she really looked good to go, and she did. I put the Gloves on with tape on all 4, (2 wraps on the hind, 3 on the right front, 4 on the left front as it has the dish..oy vey) and--they stayed on! Through terrain and some trotting and powering up a short hill or two. We walked through a little muck but they never got submerged.

I tried some Easycare size Medium ankle boots borrowed from N and there were only 2 short episodes of Kicky Leg and she didn't goose step with them on at first either. Overall seemed capable of (mostly) ignoring them. So, ankle boots over splint boots it is.

Are we friends? Let's see..

So anyhoo. Desire and Sedona decided they were friends and moved out quite well together, Sedona is quite a bit shorter but she has a big walk and a nice endurance-y trot, she is quite an athletic little thing. Desire felt strong and good and we walked up over the ridge to the visitor center and wound back down the other side. When we got to the flat forested trails we did some nice working trots, and all felt good. We got off and walked for a bit, Sedona was getting tired and we decided to hook a right at the next fork and head back towards the trailers.

Arab Obstacles:

Following Sedona butt:

Trail obstacles are fun:

What in the Sam Hell is that ruckus?!  Just children.

We climbed the long hill back to the visitor center at a walk and the horses both tanked up at the troughs. After we went to pick up a trot on the good footing before the descent--THERE, there it was, that faint little Off in the Front Left feeling again. I stopped her, asked J to watch, she saw it, and yeahhhh, great, frustration/panic all came flooding back. She was chipper and sound as a dime at the walk, and I dismounted and walked with her down the hill back to the trailers. I trotted her a few experimental steps and again she was significantly lamer than she had been a few minutes before, just like Hat Creek Day 2.

Back at the trailer I pulled off all of her boots while she dove into her hay net. What hadn't caught my eye in the morning putting the boots on now suddenly lept out at me in her left front. On the left side of her left front hoof there was a big sort of *lump* of old/false sole, which stuck out almost 1/4" off the flat of her sole, where on the other side it looked like the sole had shed out. This whole lameness/barefoot hoof madness stuff is still new to me, so I might be totally crazy here, but does going distance on a big old lump of old sole in half your hoof a sore horse make? My trimmer left a lot of sole before the gluing on a week and a half ago, for the most padding she said, and all that junk hasn't been trimmed out yet...btw Desire didn't rest that front leg at all either, in fact she was standing on it (and the 2 others, of course) and resting a hind back at the trailer, and overall was just so NOT behaving like a lame/injured horse...

I decided to chip away at that chunk of sole a little with my hoof knife when I got home, just to see if some big ole bruise or answer would spring out at me...well turns out a freshly sharpened hoof knife is freshly sharp indeed. I cut a big ole chunk out of the top edge of my thumb and the blood about put a stop to my hoof care attempt. I did get the thickest end of it pared down so it wasn't so raised, and my trimmer will be out Wednesday to take a real look at things and trim the rest of the herd.

Okay, scientific Paint editing time...pre hoof knife fun...So see the ridge circled in blue, the arrows are pointing at the really raised part of it, which in reality was almost 1/4" higher than anything else in the hoof..

Oh, by the way, when I trotted her out barefoot back to her pasture? She was sound.