Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gravel in my hand and saddle fun Saturday

So today was Tesla's saddle fitting appointment.  I met my barn owner for a ride early in the am, trying to get our ride in before the heat returned, and our appointment slot!

It was one of THOSE days... I knew during tacking him up that it was going to be "FUN"...not!  We got out and were walking around for warm up, then we started trotting to his "bad" direction and all was good.  So we went the other way, but apparently when I asked him to continue and turn again and we had major objections! Big bucks that I decided not to try and ride out and bailed... Unfortunately not gracefully and realized later I had gravel from the arena in my hand.  Oh well.  I regrouped, remounted and worked him more at a walk until we calmed down and could trot again.  All in all, he got a 1.5mile workout in the arena today!  Gravel is now out of my hand, my ego is a bit bruised, but I now have some answers too... 

Things have been getting progressively worse for us with the bucking, and now back to head tossing too.  I had scheduled his saddle fitting to get an idea of what size/type saddle he needs to look for a 2nd in the future earlier this month.  Melissa is a Reactor Panel saddle fitter and also does equine body work.  We did the measurements & pictures, she did a body eval on him, as well as an impression pad workout of my current set up.

Things I learned:
1. Tesla has uneven shoulders.  Right is more developed and forward.  Based on his tight areas for body eval, she had suspicions on how it was affecting our riding and later proved it to me.
2. He was very tight and goosey in the lumbar-sacral region.  A typical issue with indication of bucking trying to get into a canter.
3. My Bandos and HAF pad combo do a great job with weight distribution and the saddle is not too long for him. *Win for Treeless*
4.  Due to said left shoulder issue, the saddle moves laterally and is causing wither pressure/pain on the right side = head tossing horse, and the reason I feel "kicked" to one side sometimes during a ride and with certain padding combos (Equipedic)

So what is a girl to do?  Thankfully, we have marching orders! lol
1.  Add some padding on the left side to even him out and *hopefully* stop the lateral slip and wither pressure. Try it on the right side if that doesn't work.
2.  Research barefoot pommel inserts and see if one might match his tracing and then figure out if they can be put in my saddle.
3. Ground work him backing in a straight line till we get to 60 steps, then backing up hills to help the L/S joint and build up the booty muscles.  Work him 1.5-2x more on the 'bad side' than the good when doing arena circles (already knew that one).
4. Get equine chiro to adjust L/S joint.
5. More body work sessions...need to figure out if I am going to use Melissa or the girl I have had working on him 2x previously.
6.  Try a girth like the Mattes...
7.  Seek out another saddle at a good price.  RP Heraldic being the #1 choice.  If I want to stay treeless find one with more structured design. Try out Specialized Saddles.  Try out the minimalist styles - Pandora, Holmbros, McClellan S.

And so it goes... the saddle hunt begins! (along with knocking down the list of stuff above)

Back picture showing how the left shoulder "falls off"

Sweet eye while hanging in his stall together

Such a handsome innocent face...Post morning ride in his stall

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

mental health day

So after 7 months (almost 8) and having not used a single sick day, I decided it was time to take a mental health break from the stress of QSUP at work and enjoy an absolutely beautiful July day (80s, low humidity) on horseback for a bit :)

So I ran around dropping off kids and dealing with the detour for bridge work to get over to the barn.  Started out great! lol. Hooked up first try!  I had pre-loaded everything yesterday while vet was out so all I had to do was grab Tesla and load up.  I found the missing fly mask even!  Only about a 5min argument over getting all the way without backing off and we were off.  I was about 15min later than I wanted to be but my friends knew that might be the case. 

We tacked up quickly - put on all 4 vipers and tried out the Matrix pad on a longer ride (have only used it around the barn so far).  We had a good ride overall. Only a few naughty moments of bucking. He has a *tell* though - he twists/tosses his head first so I can usually anticipate and correct him.  After a few tries he realized he would be allowed to canter nicely if he didn't buck.  However nice his canter is, I'm having a hard time trusting him not to bolt once in it yet... so I was keeping it a slow easy canter.  He did well, until he got tangled up in the fire-rope I.  Doesn't seem any worse for wear other than some missing hair...hope he stays that way!

Of course we still had a 20min or so battle to get ON the trailer to leave.  Why does he fight it 10x more going home than going out!? lol.  But, in the end he realized it was more work outside the trailer doing tight circles on his "bad" side and got on.  Unloaded and did a quick massage to check that back on the right side where he was tight on Sunday.  Still tighter than the left but not horrible.

The Matrix pad feels pretty good overall, but in combo with the Toklat girth they get super slick with sweat and rolls if I need to mount from the ground, despite being at a good setting.  I will guess I'll stick with my HAF unless I need to switch during a ride.  The vipers held up well in the rocks, not much mud around to test out the latest adjustments.

My tracker says 8.4miles in 2.5hrs, Jerry's said 9  Who knows which is correct... lol

This was Tesla's fun on Tuesday...drugged from a sheath cleaning

Monday, July 20, 2015

Starting anew

So, Sunday afternoon was our day to ride/work, and Tesla's long standing appointment with an equine massage therapist.  She saw him back in May when he came up sore and have had this appointment set for a while to be ready for RBTR.  I chatted with her about his recent take to bucking and while she found a tense spot, there was nothing of note that would point to him doing it out of pain.

Sunday was a brutal hot day with a high heat index for the area.... 94 + humidity.  I decided to restart our plans with a lunge session before his massage. I threw a bareback pad on him to have something on his back (new to us, have always wanted one and caught a great deal on a FB page).
Checking out the pad

one sweaty horse post workout!
Am I done now?
Walk/trot both directions, no issues.  Very responsive and anticipating my cues to switch directions.  So we moved onto our problem area...canter.  Lots of start-stops and switching directions.  I did discover something funny that he does. When he frustrated he stops, stomps and snorts at me.  I saw that often each time I correct him for bucking!  Eventually he got what I was asking him to do going to the Left and made a few circles with no bucks or bolts into a run. Good Boy was said often :)  Going to Right however, he seems to have much more of a balance issue.  That direction took quite a bit more work to get into!  We got a few good circles, but definitely still needs some work.  We called it good and cooled off when he made it past one with no buck or bolt.  No pictures, as my hands were a little busy!  But I know for my birthday I am getting a helmet mountable camera so then I'll be able to a little easier :)

Post shower "AHHH"
While it was only 30min of work, we were both dripping with sweat.  Tesla got a nice bath and time to relax in the stall before Sarah arrived. Then he really got to enjoy himself with an hour long massage!  Oh, I guess we should mention we have concurred the dancing try to escape the hose thing in the cross ties too.  I think he rather enjoyed the rinse this time!

Relaxed and cooled off
Next up is a vet appointment on Tuesday, and then probably some more lunge work before we ride this weekend and have a saddle fitting to see what he needs in a treed saddle so I can keep a lookout :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

slight change in direction

So after my post from last weekend I have done a lot "soul searching" and have reached the conclusion that my goal/task orientated personality is pushing too hard towards the goal of getting to the rides I had on my plan and completing, over developing the relationship and skills that Tesla and I need together.

I still fully intend to compete this year, I just think I was starting to overlook the journey of having a new horse, and the fun side of riding and horse ownership. Not to say I'm not having fun riding him, but I was feeling very stressed and worried about the lack of miles we are obtaining, issues at the canter, etc., and I bet my frustration and lack of consistency is just hindering us overall.

So I've decided to take a step back and slow down. Sort of.  Instead of going for our Triple Crown this year with an LD at RBTR on August 1, I'm going to go on a training and camping ride that is only an hour away with mentors and friends.  My mentor and I have developed a "plan" to get us to doing a slow 50 with her at Iron Mountain Aug 29, and my wonderful husband has jumped on board for me to devote August to training for it on the weekends.  My weekday rides will be focused on the arena type skills and getting more control and sync going. I may have to do some juggling around of other evening commitments to work around the weather, but it is what it is.
If we don't make it to IMJ, we don't make it...or maybe it will be another LD.  Now I have "training plan" instead of just an end goal and it will help me focus on the bigger picture.

After IMJ will come our family vacation (first in over 3 years!), and a move from his current boarding barn to land down the street, so I've decided it is best to pass on Biltmore as it will all happen too close together.    
We might 'end' our competing season at that point, or head to Mustang Memorial in November for another 50. Time will tell!

I certainly look forward to having him "home" and taking care of him daily.  I might even be able to squeeze in more ground work sessions or quick rides in he arena this way!  More schedule tweaking will be needed of course, but well worth it.

A note I found on a friend's page

 A Quick Message From Your Horse
Please allow me to introduce myself… I am your horse…
I was put on this earth to show you grace and beauty without arrogance. Power, strength, and speed without ego. Kindness, forgiveness, and compassions without bias. Unconditional love and loyalty without expectation. I am a creature capable of great physical feats but gentle enough to look after even the weakest of beings. I will love you, I will respect you, I will work for you, I will give you forgiveness if you don’t do the same for me. I will be your friend when you feel alone. Your strength when you feel weak. Your rock when your life is in turmoil. I will let you dry your tears in my mane and never judge. I will carry you through good times and bad. I will guide you when you feel lost. I will give you courage when you feel scared. Through my strength, speed, power, grace, beauty, and heart I will help you discover all these things within yourself. Love me and you will always be loved. Respect me and you will always be respected in return. Care for me and I will always take care of you. I have a heart and body capable of greatness but I only strive to be great in your eyes.
Now that you know who I am, who will you be to me…….?

Will you guide but not rule over me, understand me and forgive me, discipline but not abuse me, reward me but not spoil me? Will you strive to understand me as an animal and not lose your temper or become frustrated with me, give up one me, or neglect me? Will you be there for me when I need you the most? When I am scared, frustrated, sick, injured, lame and old, when my body can no longer carry yours, will you take care of me? Will you do all these things for me in exchange for my presence in your life? In exchange for the love, loyalty, heart, and companionship that I will give, will you honor our bond and never betray my faith and trust in you?
If you can do these things for me, we will be capable of weathering any storm, taking on life in all its glory and disappointments. Together we will be strong and you will know a love that cannot be measured, a love that only a devoted horse lover can know……this I promise you.
If you cannot do these things please do not keep me in your life as you have become my whole life and that is an honor that should be cherished and a treasure that needs to be given in return. Allow me to find someone that is able to accept my gifts with an open heart and give me their heart and devotion in return. This I ask of you… out of respect for my spirit I beg you to let me find someone who will complete me and help me achieve the greatness I am capable of.
Your Devoted Horse


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

jealous horse!

So in my ramblings this last post I completely forgot to share a cute story - Tesla got jealous!

Sunday I was meeting the other boarder to ride at 4 so I arrived early to be able to feed the other 4 horses and turn them back out before then (barn sitting while owner on vacation).  Normally I pull Tesla out of their field of 3 to feed as he is slow eater, the other 2 are fine to eat together with enough distance between buckets.    This time, after 10min of searching for them and finding their wooded cool spot, I pulled Valentine.  I got his halter on and started to lead him down to the barn.  Well here comes Mr. Tesla running up to me and staying at my left shoulder looking at me like "What the heck mom?!"  He continued to follow me down and tried to push in between Valentine and me on my right side (the side he is normally led on) as we went down.  Too cute and made me smile :)

Ok, you might say he was just expecting food, but the look I got was much more than food related!

Monday, July 13, 2015

weather woes

I know I'm not the only one who deals with this, but man is it frustrating... I get limited time to work with Tesla and then weather messes up my plans! I had worked it out to go for a mountain training ride with friends all day Saturday, and then a back up plan to the local park to at least get mileage...but everything was cancelled due to rain :(  So I got 2 miles in Sun afternoon...
I know he is fit, but we need more humid weather training for RBTR on Aug 1 and I'm just worried we won't be ready.  We finished OD in extremely hot/humid weather, but just barely and probably only because we caught a break with rain on the loop home.

I love the sport, but trying to find a way to condition and get through all the commitments of life?  How do you do it all?!  And how do I move up to 50s if I can't get 10-15mi in a weekend on a semi regular basis?  If he wasn't so green so I'd just go up to PG every Sunday afternoon alone since everyone meets earlier than I can.  But we are battling so much "naughtiness" right now I can't, which probably stems from the fact that I can't get out to ride enough to keep things consistent.


Maybe I set my expectations too high for what I could get to this year. I have 3 more rides "planned" with hopefully at least one moving up to a 50, but not sure it is realistic anymore.  Tesla is not dangerous (just the bucking canter issue), but I realize he's just too young/green to expect that we won't have our issues to work through. He isn't Traveler, who could sit for months and still be the same horse.  But we had years together to get to that point and I need to remember that, right?!  Tesla and I have many years ahead of us to compete. I was just hoping to start our decade team goal this year... 

Plus we have a barn move coming up that I am trying to time and figure out to where.  I have the option of leasing a pasture down the street, which is really ideal for me to keep him close, but she has a lot of 'rules' that I am trying to work through. It has trail access and an outdoor too.  There is another close by self-care, but not anyone to speak of to ride with or places to ride, so that is out.  Then there is a full barn, indoor, outdoor, and trails, so no excuses not to ride - but can't do any supplements for his feeding.   Which means pre-ride week and the few days after I will have to go over and make sure he gets what he needs 1x a day...not a big deal as it is close to work/home that I can squeeze it in somewhere. And the last place being a beautiful spot, a bit further away, more expensive but tons of trails and even a mountain you can get to from the property.  But, it would be quite a hike to meet up with my local training gang...

Ok, on to the stuff that isn't whining...

I've been working on my trailer a bit :)  I laid down insulation in my GN bed area under the mattress!  And, I've ripped out the old plastic shelving that was there (falling apart) and put in a tall drawer storage unit instead.  My awesome hubby is building me a boot box for my birthday so it will be easier to hop into bed next trip!  Once that is in I will make some final decisions on a 'cover' shelf I have in mind for over the water heater and placement of the storage shelves.  I've got some ideas for the rear tack area...I keep managing to need more and more buckets so have to figure out a good method of storage!

Oh, and my pasture dreams have started to become a reality!  We had a friend with better equipment than us start working on clearing the front area that I want to make into pasture for Tesla (+1 or 2 later lol).  He made major headway in just 1 8hr day of working.  I know it is still a year or two away, but nice to see things progress! We hadn't planned to start for a few years, but we needed to clean up that area of all the over growth so why not work towards the ultimate goal right?

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