Tag: Horses

Clinic and Riding Lesson

The Bay Wonder Mare Senior did well in the clinic and in our lesson on Sunday. We did the in-hand work and also the under-saddle work. It is easy for me to forget how bright Isis is. One of the exercises in the clinic was to encourage the horse to lower his/her head by massaging and applying a little pressure behind the ears. When the horse lowers the head a little, you remove the pressure and praise them. While other horses were gradually understanding, Isis got the concept and idea within 2-3 tries. I started laughing — it is so amazing how smart she is. She just gets things.

She was excited when I first got on Isis on Saturday (even after 2 hours of in-hand work she still had to look for her boyfriend-stablemate, Max). She calmed down when she saw him enter the ring.

We learned some great stuff for helping a forward horse relax. Sylvana, the clinician, had us do an exercise she called “ribboning”: you make tight, switch-back turns, like a piece of ribbon candy that is folded back upon itself. You make the turns and straight-aways on a very loose rein. Each turn you carefully take up contact to turn and apply pressure with the inside leg to have the horse turn tightly around your leg. The rein work flow from rein to rein so it’s very smooth. It worked like a charm! Isis calmed down immediately.

On Sunday, Tish, my riding instructor, came over for a our first lesson at the new facility. Isis had been out and running around a little. Isis was so quiet: I had to actually encourage her to move out and have more energy. She was great– and out-lasted me. I barely lasted 30 minutes because of all of the riding the day before. I felt like my legs were going to fall off.

I brought Kasane in so Tish could see her after the lesson. I let the Bay Wonder Mare Junior loose in the round pen and free lunged her a little. Tish seemed to like her a lot. She said that she has excellent movement and should make a good dressage prospect — provided her front left hoof with the upright inside wall remains sound. I’ll be working with the farrier closely to make sure Kasane’s feet are monitored. I don’t think we’ll have any problem with her staying sound.

What a great weekend!

Happy Valentine’s Day — and catchup

No, not the red stuff. That’s spelled differently. (Don’t ask the English major to spell. Most of us can’t.)

Happy Valentine’s Day! I spent a wonderful day at a natural horsemanship clinic with Isis at her new barn (more on that later). Five hours with the Bay Wonder Mare Senior™. She was amazing. She did all of the ground work “textbook perfect,” as the instructor called it. I was most pleased.

The drywall guys finally fixed the storage closet. They did the absolute worst job I have ever seen. I could do better, and that’s saying something. The leak in the kitchen sprinkler doesn’t look like it was fixed. Instead the hole was patched with drywall putty. Pisses me off because if that thing leaks during the next cold spell, it will spray all of my computer equipment. The sprinkler was already leaking water on the floor. The ceiling is brown, even where the new patch was placed. (I really hate when things are not done properly or — even worse — half assed.)

I’m currently cleaning like mad. Stephanie will be here in a few hours and I have horse stuff strewn all over the place. Because I moved Isis’ barn this weekend, I have been sorting through her horse equipment in the apartment all week. It has looked like a small bomb went off. It doesn’t any more, but it takes a while to sort things. You never realize how much horse stuff you have until you have to move it — three car loads for one horse! She has more clothes than I do. She seems to have settled into her new stable pretty well. I’ll see how she is tomorrow.

I didn’t play with Kasane today. I was too tired after riding for two hours. With another riding lesson tomorrow, I’m going to be beat Monday evening.

Work has been crazy for the past two weeks. I was given a new web site to create based upon a template supplied by the designer. The challenge is that this new site has to work with in the framework of an existing complicated site that relies heavily on DreamWeaver templates and PHP to process pages and languages. This project has kept me late at work most nights. When I’ve gotten home, I’ve killed things on Guild Wars and then gone to bed. I haven’t had much energy for posting here. Hopefully I’ll be back to normal this coming week as the new site is ready to go live.

Today I have felt really blessed. I have an incredible horse and amazing horsey friends with whom I can spend time. Yeah, life’s good.

Only horse people…

A friend of mine sent me this. I couldn’t stop laughing, and realized that if you don’t have horses, you’ll miss out on most of the jokes. Horses come with a specialized vocabulary that can be rather opaque.

If you have a question, ask. I’ll be happy to explain a term.

Only horse people…

  • Believe in the 11th Commandment: Inside leg to outside rein.
  • Know that all topical medications come in either indelible blue or neon yellow.
  • Think nothing of eating a sandwich after mucking out stables.
  • Know why a thermometer has a yard of yarn attached to one end of it.
  • Are banned from Laundromats.
  • Fail to associate whips, chains and leather with sexual deviancy.
  • Can magically lower their voices five octaves to bellow at a pawing horse.
  • Have a language all their own (“If he pops his shoulder, I have to close that hand and keep pushing with my seat in case he sucks back”.)
  • Will end relationships over their hobby.
  • Cluck to their cars to help them up hills.
  • Insure their horses for more than their cars.
  • Will give you 20 names and reasons for that bump on your horse.
  • Know more about their horse’s nutrition than their own.
  • Have neatsfoot oil stains on the carpet right next to the TV.
  • Have a vocabulary that can make a sailor blush.
  • Have less wardrobe than their horse.
  • Engage in a hobby that is more work than their day job.
  • Know that mucking stalls is better then Zoloft any day.

Sunday with the kids

isis_head.jpgSunday morning was the weekly riding lesson. My last riding lesson was last Sunday and it went well. Unfortunately, my back hurt so much the morning after I had to stay home from work.

Last night, I went to the company holiday party. Three hours of walking around in heels plus moving boxes out of my storage unit meant my back was a mess this morning. I took 400 mg of ibuprofen and rubbed my back down with sports cream before going out to the barn.

I warned my instructor that I might not be up to much riding before my lesson. We decided to focus just on walking and getting Isis to whoa.

Well, Isis had other ideas. I don’t know if it was the drop in temperature, because she is coming into heat, or what. I walked Isis once around the dressage arena and Isis immediately started her bouncy I-wanna-go-fast trot. I corrected her a few times by circling. Unfortunately, Isis was not calming down. I couldn’t ride like that today because of my back.

Read More Sunday with the kids

Kasane’s Feet

The vet saw Kasane today at lunch. The good news is that the way we were treating her foot let her actually heal more. She may have had some thrush, but that appears to be mostly gone.

The vet ended up cutting away a good part of Kasane’s frog on her front left foot. We need to wash the crevasse between her hoof and frog every evening and keep an eye on it. We’ll use an anti-thrust treatment once or twice per week as a preventive. It may take up to 4 months to completely heal and regrow the tissue on the frog.

The foot soreness may have been caused by an abscess that broke through on her heal or it might have been something she stepped on. (The vet leaned towards the idea of an abscess.) The healing process was exacerbated by the shape of her front left hoof: her left leg is offset when it comes into her hoof. This causes the inside wall of her hoof to be more upright. Her conformation may change (or potentially get worse) as she grows. Right now we have to keep her trimmed on a pretty tight schedule and see what happens. The farrier has already said that she’ll need to be shod before I can start riding her.

Kasane's foot after treatment
Kasane's foot after treatment

Here’s an interesting thing: the vet said she thought Kasane was getting ready to have a pretty big growth spurt. Yikes! She’s already taller than Isis!

Vet fee was $125. Ouch.

Catching up

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I’ll write some posts to catch up. Here’s the brief list:

  • New horse: Kasane is the primary reason why I have not been posting much on here. I’ll write a long post about here with pictures.
  • Stella: She has been fighting a urinary tract infection and appears to finally be over it. She’s also getting one pill per day for her high blood pressure. She isn’t happy about that.
  • Riding lessons: Isis and I have been working on whoa and dressage. We went on a trail ride and she didn’t want to stop.

Work has been busy, but good.

That’s it, in brief.

Seleukid coin with mare and foal

My friend Nantonos owns a coin (shown below) from the Ekbatana region in the Seleukid Kingdom, reign of Antiochos III (223-187 BC).

Seleukid coin, with suckling foal

This is probably my favorite coins of the one that Nantonos owns. See how the mare is nuzzling the foal’s rump? Mares do that to encourage a foal to suckle. Who ever struck this coin really knew horses.

Check out his photostream on Flickr to see other coins and photos.

Amazing Lesson Last Saturday

Last Saturday, Horsemasters sponsored a clinic at Rivendell Farm for rating for a Bronze or Silver Mounted and Unmounted tests (specific to Pony Club). Isis and I went to the clinic with Max (horse) and Ro (owner).

Isis loaded beautifully. She walked on without any trouble and stood next to Max in the trailer quietly. Isis and Max got along well. Isis even let Max eat out of her hay bag (first time that has happened!).

The lesson turned out to be just Ro and I so we did just flat work. Our instructored help get me to relax — which of course helped Isis relax. We worked on gathering the reins and then letting the horse stretch out and relax.

Isis didn’t trip once. She was relaxed and easy going the entire time. I was also able to get her attention more and keep her focused. I learned that when Isis drops her shoulder on the inside, if I sit up and pull my inside shoulder back, then Isis shifts her balance and weight. Simple solution.

Ro and Max did figure eights at the canter. His canter departs were exquisite. Ro was thrilled. He did so well.

While Ro was working on cantering, I took Isis to the opposite end of the ring. Ro and I were a little concerned that Isis and Max might be herd bound (and therefore a challenge) like Isis and Sierra were at Fossils Over Fences. We got lucky: Isis and Max turned out to be real buddies. Max knickered a little when Isis went to the opposite end of the ring, but nothing major. Isis didn’t even seem to notice.

Isis and I trotted figure eights (we’re going to tackle a canter in a private lesson) and worked on keeping her attention and focus on me. We succeeded at a walk and then moved up to a trot. She was excellent. Nice little bouncy trot, with her neck arched, and collected. gorgeous. And then Tish said let’s add some impulsion without adding speed. So I squeezed with my calves — and Isis did it! Her trot became rolling and rounded. Instead of feeling her push off so much I could feel her push *up*.

My instructor was amazed at how much better Isis and Max were doing.

You know what else we did? We rode the cross country course at a walk and went over a few of the obstacles. Isis was calm and happy, so was Max. I almost didn’t want to go down to the cross country course because of how difficult it was last time. I went any way and it was fine.

And then you know what she did to make the day absolutely perfect? Isis loaded on the trailer by herself!! That’s a huge improvement

When Isis and I were in the lesson with Max and Ro, Ro told me that Isis and I seem to work really well together and have a good relatinship. That’s my kid. =)

Blanket Woes

I ordered a new blanket from Dover Saddlery for Isis in case the weather in NC turns nasty (think winter ice storms). I wanted something that was water proof and could adjust to different temperatures. After reading through a bunch of pages from the regular catalog and from the clearance pages, I ordered a Tuff Rider Stretch Manager Turnout Blanket. According to the catalog page, this clearance item has a stretchy layer so it moves with the horse and the thermal liner adjusts and breathes so the horse won’t get too hot. Sounded perfect.

Susan, the barn owner, ordered a blanket at the same time I did. She ordered a Riders International Stretch blanket.

When my order arrived, the blanket turned out to be a sheet. The product numbers on the Dover web site indicated a turnout blanket, the number on the order form had the same product number, but the product tag on the sheet itself said turnout sheet (and listed the same product number as the blanket). The sheet is really nice and fits Isis well. I’m quite happy with it, but it’s not what I ordered.

I contacted Dover today to ask about correcting this mess. I’d like to keep the sheet and have a blanket shipped to me — but only if they correct the $30+ price difference for the sheet versus blanket.

Arg. What a mess.

Isis and Sierra

I got out of work later than I wanted and went to the barn. First time I was able to ride this week. (First week after daylight savings time.) Something about working hard to leave at 4:30 and then getting out and realizing it’s actually 6:00 pm… and I only had 30 minutes to tack up and ride before it was dark.

The ride started off pretty well. Until Isis’ barn buddy came out to be grazed. Isis could see Sierra and wanted to go be with the buddy instead of paying attention. Every time we came around the word area, Isis would speed up towards her buddy and would strain her neck to look at Sierra.

This was a (not fun) opportunity to see if the things we’d been working on in lessons would work. I focused on getting Isis to pay attention by riding in circles and pressing my inner leg to ask her to bend around my leg. Gradually she paid more attention. Susan, Sierra’s mommy, suggested doing transitions to help Isis focus on me a little more. Probably is, when Isis is like that it is difficult to slow her down. You let her go faster and she’ll keep getting faster.

Read More Isis and Sierra

Saddle fitting

After the riding lesson on Tuesday, I scheduled an extra lesson to fit the dressage saddles I’d located. I want to make sure whichever saddle I choose fits not only me, but also Isis. A new (or used) saddle is a big investment (“cheap” means under $500).

Arabians are notoriously hard to fit in saddles because they tend to have broad shoulders and round backs. Isis’ hunt saddle (made by Zaldi) is a wide saddle with a 32 cm tree. I found three saddles to try: an Albion Comfort (owned by one of the ladies at the barn), a Collegiate Jessica Dressage (brand new, at an excellent price), and a Courbette Magic Dressage. Of these, the Albion is probably the highest quality saddle. It’s beautifully made and comfortable to sit in on the saddle rack. The saddle has a wide twist, which I’m not crazy about (feels like you’re sitting on a log).

Read More Saddle fitting

Horse Show Report

Back from the show and man was I tired! I had been worried the show would be cancelled because of the rain we’ve had (plus the forecast). The show was on, luckily. I felt really good about our preparation for the dressage portion of the test. I was very nervous about the cross country part. We had only ridden on a cross country course once during the practise clinic a few weeks back. That was the first and only time we had been on a course.

The next morning I was up and at the barn early. (Early for me means before 11:00 AM on a Saturday.) Luckily the rain had stopped and Isis had not rolled when she had been outside. Susan and I groomed the horses and pretty soon we were on the way to the Fossils over Fences show.

Read More Horse Show Report

Horse Show!

Well it poured last night. As far as I know, the horse show (Fossils over Fences) has not been cancelled. This is Isis’ and my first combined training show: dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country. We’re showing in the lowest level class, which means the jumps are options, the stadium course can be more like a trail class with obstacles instead of jumps, and the dressage test is done at a walk trot.

It is a low enough level that I’m very confident that we can do it.

Riding lesson

I had a riding lesson today with Isis that went surprisingly well. We rode her first dressage test today (Introductory Test B, a simple walk-trot test). Last time I had ridden something like that was in college (been a looong time). We rode the test three times. The first time was just trying to get through the different movements. She tripped four times during the first run-through. She also pulled against me a lot. Frustrating.

The second time we rode the test, I was more focused and relaxed: we were going to “ride” instead of meander. Her tripping lessened. We still didn’t get the test down, but at least we could maintain the same speed for the trot and (mostly) keep the 20 meter circles round instead of square.

The third time we rode the test she was much better. Whenenver we went from the straight side of the ring into a corner, my instructor pointed out that I should bend Isis into the corners. What a difference that made! Down the last straight side towards the centerline, I pushed her into the corner. As we rounded the corner, she reached underneath herself at the trot as we moved. Amazing to feel her reaching underneath herself. Read More Riding lesson

White line bruises. Arg.

I met the farrier at the barn this morning. Overall, Isis’ feet look good: reasonable growth and plenty of sole and hoof wall. However, she has some bruising in the white line and the white line appears to be thicker.

The white line is actually the growth of the lamina, the part of the hoof that holds the hoof wall to the hoof interior. If the white line is wider (stretching in the lamina: some separation between the hoof wall and the interior hoof structure) or has bruises, then it indicates that some factor has been impacting the lamina. Stressors can include food-related issues (inability to process something in grass, too much food, colic), stressful situations, etc.

The farrier said that he is seeing quite a few horses with the same things showing in their white lines. He thinks it is caused by the lush pastures we have right now. He said to keep an eye on her for a while and monitor the amount of grass or sugars she eats.

Even though the farrier said we should just monitor her white lines, it is still hard to hear that there might be something wrong with her feet. After two boughts with laminitis and losing at least two years worth of riding time because of it, anything abnormal makes me rather twitchy.