Sunday, January 31, 2010

Still too Wet

I went out yesterday and today just to breathe in the horsey smells and maybe see if the arena was in any shape to have horses turned out in. Well, the only smells I got were of wet horses, mud, mud and too much mud to turn out in.

I couldn't stand it any longer, so I decided I'd take Bijou the one place on earth where she wouldn't sink 6"+ into the ground, which was down the dirt road. I had envisioned us taking a few balking steps as she realized she was getting further away from her other horsey friends and then taking a few uneventful walks up and down the road, maybe trotting a few times just to do something. Well, she was not very worried about getting back to the other ponies until we hit the section of the fence where the big bad booming barking pitbul lives. He picked up his refrain and Bijou tried to wheel around and head for home, all but forgetting that she had me attached to her. We sat there for a while until she could take a few nervous bites of grass without another attempt at tally-ing ho toward home. Then I turned her around and tried to make my way back. The whole way back she shoved her shoulder into me, to the point that snatching down on the halter did nothing but pull her closer, so I had to resort to whapping her on the shoulder with her (very heavy and wet) leadrope. The first few times she was so offended that I had treated her with such brutality that she full on reared and somehow simultaneously ended up about 6' away from me (my secret goal).

I couldn't get her blanket off even after we'd gotten home because the clay and mud has infiltrated the buckles to the point that they no longer open. So I didn't even get a chance to brush her, and fluffy shedding pony she would remain. I made up more rice bran (got a new bag yesterday) baggies and fed her an extra flake as it got dark.

Today was slightly more successful, I got the blanket (that she tore a huge hole in the shoulder of) off after about 15 minutes of painful struggling so I at least got to pull big hunks of winter coat off of her. I'm really hoping that I didn't clip off the top of her summer coat when I clipped her earlier this month, but it's going to make shedding her out so much easier. I didn't attempt to take her down the road again but she ended up running from the imagined monsters when I turned her out to eat some grass. She's got quite the headset to her when she wants it (and is high as a kite). Another few flakes of hay and some beetpulp and we called it a day.

Here's to hoping next time I can run her around a bit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No news is bad news

Lack of posts due to lack of an arena that isn't one giant puddle. I'm working on getting the pics from my phone cus they will eventually be hilarious. Now I'm just super bummed because all the training I want to do for this summer is not getting done.

Bijou did get a few little weensy bone fragments pulled from her head recently, she should be ready to have stitches out by the 6th, and then be all healed up by the 20th. That is unless she has MORE weensy bone fragments floating around in her oh so lovely Frankenstein-ian wound. She's officially started shedding, and with a vengeance. All that fluff will be gone soon enough, and it looks like she won't be just a bag of bones underneath it any more! I pulled her blanket off and this time had the 'voila!!' moment I had been waiting for. She's been on about a scoop of rice bran a day, with big flakes of alfalfa and oat morning and night, and then I sneak out there and feed her from her own personal supply at least 4 times a week. Usually those days she gets about 2 extra flakes. It's finally started to pay off.

She definitely seems a little hotter lately. I tried to put her blanket back on after aforementioned voila moment and she drug me about 15 ft just playing really. I am thinking I might try jogging down the road and back with her, it's the only place that is dry enough that she won't slip and fall, and it will mean that she has to spend some time getting used to being away from the other horses that she loves so dearly.

Goals: meh, I'll start this up when I have an arena again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Could these be called puddles?

It's begun another bout of serious raining. I didn't think we got that much, but after going out to the barn today I re-evaluated. Our 2' coop was only about 4" tall because it was in that much water. This is INSIDE the arena where we are supposed to ride eventually. Once again, I was all ready to rock and roll with my new training schedule, and the weather had to go and ruin it. I'm guessing it will take until next monday before we can hope to ride in the arena :(

On that vein, S and I went around to the local barns inquiring about prices and taking a look at the facilities on what we've agreed was the wettest day ever. Buckley may be an option if pasture is available, but they charge extra for trailer parking :( There was this other place full of arabians that had a covered arena with no arena under the cover, just a bull pen and a hot-walker! They had a nice big outdoor arena, but why would you choose to put the arena outside?! I'm hoping we sell Lady so I can afford to board somewhere with a covered arena for the rest of the winter. We shall see.

Goals: Figure out an anti-rain dance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Photo updates!!

I thought with our two month anniversary approaching I should take a few quick snapshots to remember the moment.

Above: Bijou patiently drying looking really dark and scraggly

Above: After the clippers had done their magic.

This side turned out better. Still looks like a racing-fit TB to me, I hope she fills out to be a warmblood-typey TB instead!

Just as a reminder, I'll put up some of the 'before' pictures. I'd like to note the dark shadow behind where the saddle pad lays, that's because her rib cage actually stuck out that much from where her sunken in hips were. Also note the gaskin and forearm muscling (or lack thereof) I know she hasn't made huge progress in the last two months, but slow and steady wins the race right?

In other news, today went really well. We had our first w/t/c lunge session where she didn't try to duck around the other way even once. She's still having a tough time with the trot/walk transition, but she gets there eventually. That's something to work on. She followed me over some of the fences that were up (again just to get her thinking about that sort of thing) and I trotted her over some poles.

I lunged and rode yesterday, S had Wyatt turned out in the grassy area and was chasing him cracking the whip. The whip wasn't a problem, but when Wyatt went charging across the area Bijou couldn't quite help herself and just needed to take off a little bit with him. She ended up with her front feet in the air after I gave a pretty firm halt. We walked it off and ended on a good note, did a bunch of trotting poles between standards before that. She likes to break into a nice little canter every so often when we're trotting. I like it because it means she's thinking forward, and I try not to tug on her to slow back down, but I don't want her to think that she's picking the pace. We're also having a hard time staying stationary at the mounting block. She doesn't take off or anything, just a few steps, but I love love love having a horse that will stand stock still while you get on, makes everything so much easier. I think we'll just have to keep having serious conversations every time she moves away and hope that consistency will win the day. I'm going to miss her for the next few days plus it will be raining. I really want to be consistent, but it's next to impossible with an outdoor arena in the wet winter.

Goals: Wash and repair tail bag to re-do tail. Buy shampoo to re-do tail. Keep working on lunging so I can feel safe putting more gear on her to get rid of the slight ewe neck forming.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This weekend was full of mostly realized promise. I wanted to ride, check; Clip the beastly mongrel, check; Even jump the squirrely mongrel, check!

I lunged again yesterday, which was quite fun for Ms. Jou jou especially because she got to barrel around with her buddy Jack. Of course, after about 10 mintues of that she came up all in a lather, I'm talking rivulets of sweat between her eyes, down her nose, off her pointy shoulders, etc. So today I decided it was time for a clip. I did just a bare neck/most of shoulders clip and left her hind end all fluffy because both she and I were getting tired of dealing with the hair flying everywhere. S was kind enough to let me borrow her clippers, which tend to leave the coat quite long, but took off enough for Bijou to feel more comfortable for her lunge today.

She was feeling so comfortable in fact that I think she wanted to make today a challenge. She gets the whole go-around-in-a-circle thing, but every once and a while when I have to tug on her to get her to stay in a round circle she all of a sudden turns in and tries to flip the other way. Unacceptable. So I end up having to have this huge argument with her. She still got all sweaty, I popped a saddle on her (almost forgot the stirrups) and just rode around to cool her off, well except for the jumping part.

I had to poke and prod her to get her away from the other two spectating horses, and when she realized that something solid was coming her way (the red and white striped candy cane x-rail) she just wasn't having any of it, so I stopped her, and just walked her over it in the other direction. For some reason this was still very exciting, and we ended up doing a walk/canter transition over the fence and cantering/bucking around half the arena after the fence. That was enough for me, I just wanted to get her thinking about these things.

I am still at a loss on how to really get her to show some serious progress, or I guess the issue is really more about the pace. I have a hard time knowing if she's at the point where I should be just lunging her with tack/side reins, or if I should be riding her, or if I should be doing full sets of W/T/C every day, or if I should be taking her over our little 2' coops just for the heck of it. I don't know where the boundary lies between babying her and pushing her. I feel like if I take it slow I won't ever really know when she's ready to go from one to the next, and I don't like doing things sequentially, I like being able to switch it up a bit and master more things slower? I dunno.

With that in mind, I am going to start putting in a little more focus on her now that I feel like she's taking in the necessary calories to deal with a significant workload. Plan is as follows:

Since I can't get out to the barn from Wednesday-Friday my 'week' will start on Saturday

Saturday: Turn out in the arena, work on transitions, voice cues, have her follow me over obstacles. If she starts to mellow out, long lunge sessions on these days, lots of trot work, maybe adding in side reins

Sunday: Lunge to warm up, Ride with lots of stretches, neck bending exercises, free walking, long and low, over poles, between standards (which means I WILL take down jumps even if it's a pain) do some walk/trot pole courses. Work on slowing down and controlling the canter. Lots of transitions using my seat. Attempts at lateral work.

Monday: Work on an under saddle issue that was frustrating/puzzling/difficult from Sunday or do more transitions, bending, circles.

Tuesday: Do at least 1 trust building exercise, desensitize to something, whatever. I'll have to keep thinking up new things for this, baggies, balloons (I could even POP them!), tarps, buckets, etc. Go down the road away from the other horses and graze or some other trick I hope to find to get a horse to give up their buddy-sourness. Re-do tail with MTG and tail bag. I'll need to buy some shampoo.

Goals: stick to the program!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

more to post on

I turned Bijou out in the arena today, and after she got done being stuck on the gate she ran herself silly for about 10 minutes. I had her piaffing at the gate because she didn't understand what I wanted when I wanted her to go run around and play. I thought "how COOL!!! but I better stop before she decides to jump the gate." Good to know if I ever want to pursue that again...

She's looking better, still dirty and mucky and now all dried-sweat-y but better in the weight department. Extra hay has really seemed to be helping. I'm hoping I can get her weight to he acceptable range before the end of this month in order to put her out in pasture (with the hungry feed hogs that will steal all her food) by next month to save on board costs. I still have to figure out a budget for this year to know if I can afford a membership (with free access to X-country, Dressage AND jumping arenas) to Twin Rivers Ranch which would be REALLY cool to go to all the time. We shall see...

Goals: Clip the Mongrel so she doesn't get drenched.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Bijou finally got hay!!! Two big bales of decent alfalfa all for her to have her lunches. She's getting double what she used to. Now hopefully I'll start to see some of that ribbyness go away. She's also still on tons of beetpulp, almost a whole bucket full after it's soaked. I made up more baggies of rice bran plus her vitamins/flax seed/MSM so that they get fed every day. Every day I go out there she gets to be out in the grassy area for the whole time (up to 5 hrs on weekends) while I work other horses. She usually exercises herself by spurting across the row of stalls and kicking up her heels a few times. I'll have to see if I can get a picture of it soon.

I'm still really concerned about how thin she is (weight tape still comes in at 1080lbs). I want to take a bunch of pictures to catalogue this time with her, but I am embarrassed to have people see her like this. I feel like I'm doing everything in my power to get her fatter. I will go price out some corn oil at Costco and after that I think I will just have to sit back and let all the calories work their magic. She's definitely showing that she has more energy to burn, which is good because I think she used to be so skinny that she was lethargic to an extent :( I think it doesn't help to see her all wet and mucky from the rain all the time either, and she was allowed to grow a HUGE winter coat that will be tons of fun trying to get off her for shedding time but which makes her seem more scraggly than she probably really is. I'm going to post pictures of her anyway and that way I'll have a reference when I look back and say "wow, she's come so far!"

Goals: Corn oil, Riding now that the arena isn't soaked, Bath (maybe after tuesday when it's supposed to rain again anyway.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yesterday we did our first real lunging lesson. The arena was kinda mucky, and I just wanted to goof around a bit. I took Bijou out with just a halter and tried to instill in her the move forward cue. Eventually we got it going pretty good with her walking and trotting on the end of her lead rope around me. Then I added in a small jump to see what she would do. She was cautious at first, but once I walked over it with her she popped right over it, sometimes getting too forward and dragging me away from it rather than stay on a circle.

That's all we've really been able to do since the weather continues to be disgusting. I can't wait to get her all cleaned up and have her STAY that way. Right now there's a considerable amount of mud stuck to her belly, neck, and face that won't come off without water and it's been too cold for that.

Goals: none... doesn't make sense with no arenas to work in, no truck to get hay, no one to deliver hay, feeding as per usual, etc.