Monday, April 18, 2011

Back in business

I don't want to jinx it, but I'm pretty sure the weekend off made my horse better :D

I tossed her in the round pen to get out all the bucks and squigglies... and she didn't have any. The more miraculous thing is that she didn't have any head bobbing either! We did a bunch of transition work, and then called it good. I still had an hour or so to ride so I tacked her up and hopped on in boots and jeans (still can't decide if I think its tacky to ride in jeans?) since I had left my breeches at home. The BO finally decided to put the grass dressage arena back together so I figured I'd ride out there to get her used to something new, and I've been meaning to work on our 20m circles. I warmed her up in the long and uneven grass, and she was very uneven, but I like working on 'fifth leg' training on uneven ground. We went into the arena and worked on bending into the corners, which really worked when I lifted my inside hand and kept my outside giving but steady. I've also been avoiding cantering a lot lately since every time I ask for it I have to hold on pretty good for the inevitable buck or two that I'll get... except this time! She still has a really hard time picking up the right lead unless I have her really collected and springy and bent correctly in the trot but we got it.

Now I'm tired but ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trim failure

Bijou got trimmed two days ago, and went off again two days ago...

She doesn't have huge feet, and they do like to chip and crack, but I asked my farrier and he said that her chipping etc was all normal. He barely clipped anything off, and only rasped enough to get the edges clean and she hadn't been trimmed yet this year (!!!!) I kept putting it off waiting for her to look long and she just never did, so I just did it anyway and now I guess I regret it.

She's mostly sore to the left which is funny because her 'clubby' foot is on the right. I've still been getting her out for short rides because she isn't that sore and I do REALLY want to build on the momentum I've gained in the last couple of weeks. We've had many wet saddle pads (with perfect sweat marks, might I add) and she's finally starting to get the hang of good walk/trot transitions and we've even had our first balanced canter transitions that don't involve rushing. I'd hate to lose all that progress because I got her trimmed, so I might do what I thought I might have to do at this point this year, and just put shoes on her. This happened later in the year last time... she got sore around May/June and I put two sets of shoes on her and then took them off for winter again.

I might see how it pans out and see if she'll grow enough foot while I'm riding to make her happy again, but riding wears feet down so the less I ride the faster she'll theoretically get better... and then have lost some of the fitness etc that we've worked on.

Monday, April 4, 2011

busy day

Yesterday the vet came out to float teeth and do spring vaccinations. I figured I'd take the sedated time to do some mane pulling and grooming. This is after said tail banging and mane pulling, tres chic no?

And this is before, but with the new saddle:
Very forward flap and the seat is super comfy. I feel really sticky again like I did in my Bates Event, but without the huge knee rolls etc. And, my legs finally feel like they fit! I'm not hanging over the knee rolls in this one, but rather quite far behind them which makes the fit really secure.

Oh I love that cutie face! I always loved snips and never wanted to buy a horse just because of that, so when she was a good fit and had it I was secretly pleased :P.

Close up of how the panels fit her. I was a little worried at first, but so far the sweat marks (when I can ride long enough to get them) are immaculate and perfectly even. No more dry spots. I even groomed her extra hard today and before the new saddle she always flinched pretty good when I scrubbed on her mid-back with the curry, now with a few days of the new saddle (and a day or two off in there for good measure) she's no longer flinching at all, no matter how hard I rub.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saddle experiments

I just submitted my application for Graduate School. A little surreal that I'm preparing to move on to the next step.

Now I can't wait to move on and "graduate" from having an unsound horse! I feel like it's been forever since I've really been able to ride. I'm still waiting on my packages to get here to make me really want to ride all the time, but by then I'll have an inescapable urge to be at the barn all the time since that's already where I want to be.

I did a few interesting experiments recently. So, I got her adjusted by a chiropractor. I also got a saddle on trial. The first time after I had ridden her was when I tried the new saddle. This is not the best way to see if a saddle or the adjustment is really making a difference. Sooo... then it rained for a week, the arena washed away, and just now are we able to start working consistently again. I've also set aside a few hours each day to be just barn time. So far this has been working to get me out to the barn, but not to get my homework done... oops... we'll have to keep working on that.

I rode in my old saddle a few days ago and Bijou was back to bucking and generally being REALLY unhappy. So I borrowed a longer girth from a good friend so I could try my new-saddle-to-be again. She was sore at first, almost to the point that I didn't want to get on. She even nipped at me with her ears pinned when I tightened her girth which she has NEVER done. I was worried about riding her but I figured I'd just get on and keep it slow and not ask her for anything that didn't feel right. Once she had the saddle on she was fine. We only walked and trotted but she was bendable and generally ok, MUCH better than she had been in the other saddle. Today her back was still tender so I just lunged.

I'm a little conflicted about how I'm going to handle her soreness. I want to give her time off to let anything heal, since pain is usually due to inflammation etc... but I want to strengthen her to make her better. I think I'm just going to go painfully slow but be consistent, like how I would need things to be in order to get stronger if I were making new muscles in the gym.

Today I decided to use the new saddle again to see if things would get better. I lunged first to hopefully get some willies out since I want riding to be a calm and work-filled experience... boy am I glad I did! She was still silly in the arena after lunging at mostly a walk and trot for about 10 minutes. I decided since the saddle was fitting, and her adjustment should have had time to set, that she was probably just spazzing out. I started out trying to make things to complicated and asking too much, my bad. I was asking for real bends in the walk and trot and I think those things are still hard for her to keep up for any length of time. Every time I'd try to get a good bend out of her in the trot she'd go into a leaping/bucking fit. So I took a step back... time to pick my battles. I just wanted a quiet posting trot for a few times around the arena in both directions. I changed my tactics and made it black and white. If she was quiet and soft she got to go around with very little input from me, all she had to do was stay straight and quit the bucking thing. If she decided to go nuts on me, she got to run/walk around with her nose on my boot until she quit tossing her head and fighting me. Surprisingly (NOT) this made her want to cooperate for longer periods of time. So after 30 minutes of warm up and fart around, we finally got about 20 minutes of good walk/trot work. Phew!

Now I just have to stay on it for this week. By the way, the sweat marks under the saddle were immaculate again, so I'm really happy that this one might actually fit her (for a little while at least). I'm also going to have her teeth floated and give her spring vacs this week! Yay for getting things done!