Monday, February 29, 2016

Ride plans?

So as we already know, my ride plans for this spring got tossed like a salad and still hanging waiting to fall into bowls!  I hate it...I am such a 'task/goal' orientated person I have to see a plan in mind!!

So here's how I see it shake down at the moment:
Tonight - I was hoping to get a little saddle time; lunged first to see how he stands.  As he kept working in a trot and moved into a canter I could tell he was still NQR on his left rear end.  Sigh... So he got to lunge and loading practice. Monday's will be like this for the month...Fingers crossed for good weather and favorable horse :)
3-5/6: Hope to ride Saturday eve after work  - if so, just would be arena work.
3-12/13:  Hope to ride after work Saturday, likely just arena time.
3-19/20:  Planning on a day ride a few hours away on Sunday 10-15 mile loop.
3-26/27:  Tesla moves to a new barn.  This begins a new chapter of figuring out when to ride!  I will not have to do barn chores so that will free me up a little to do more arena work or on-site trails (once I'm shown them) after work in the evenings and I can flex my days around the weather (and our other schedules).  I will probably give him the week to adjust and just play in the round pen that following week.
4- 2/3: Ride at least 12 mile conditioning
4-9/10: Either I will run up to Foxcatcher to volunteer, or stick around for another 12mi+ conditioning.
4-16/17: Ride at least 12 mile conditioning
4-32/24: No Frills LD (30miles)
From here it gets fuzzy....the bulk of what I want to do next is just keep him fit and working towards a 50 later.  As to when that "later" is I have no idea! Possible trip to Ohio again for end of June 50? Wait till WVa ride early Aug for the 50?  Continue on LDs and try the 50 at Biltmore fall ride?

Too much time on my hands thinking about what comes next...Ultimately, I just need him sound and healthy and we'll get to what rides we can.

Tried on his S-hack snap on bridle finally... but his attitude before we even made it to the arena
 showed me there wouldn't be any riding using it tonight!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

lessons of the day

Today I had a horse filled day.

Started out with Tesla getting a trim, then off we went to a local trainer to spend the day working on his trailer loading. And lastly barn chores this eve with time to groom and massage him :)

I had help loading leaving the barn, which he was surprisingly calm about doing. He actually seemed upset I put him away after the trim for a few as he knew the trailer was right outside his window and was waiting to go somewhere.

I went with ability to be there ALL day, and we worked from 11-2 on this!

We started out with a few arena games after unloading to give him a break from the ride over . Easy stuff for him - over bridges, over a teeter-totter, then stop and back up off both. No issues there...asked him to get back on the trailer, his brakes went on like usual for me.
ON went the brakes
a few rearing attempts
 The trainers stepped in, and the good news for me was that he was pulling all the same tricks on them he did to me so I didn't feel like it was a "just me" issue!  After several attempts to move him to put a foot up, and talking about what we've done previously, what's worked and not, we figured out his problem wasn't getting ON the trailer, or being in it, but backing OFF!   Lately he's been more apt to rush off, and he reaches a point when backing in hand that he tries to turn and see around - which he can't do coming off a slant load.  So the 'work' continued - now knowing he's a bit claustrophobic - it started with a second person helping to ask him to load, but the leader stopping him at front feet - letting him have just two feet on and back off at his speed for a while, then have him to wait till he's asked to back off. Then all the way up and off at his speed and then ours with only person loading.  3 of us worked on the load/unload - he would let all of us, then balk for one of us, and we'd start again.  Once we got that down, we moved the rig to another location and began again, and moved on to also working on him standing there for me to close the divider, get out and tie him from the escape door.  He stopped rushing off the trailer and trying to constantly look over the divider when standing. All throughout the process he got breaks. Sometimes of grass, lunging indoors, a chance to play with giant ball, and watch a not yet gentled mustang be worked with.

Lunge work

Barrels to simulate tight spot

both directions

Two feet on and off

Even got a few "self loads" from him!

Checking out the ball

I feel like I know the root of the issue now, and can continue to work him on it - and also discovered I was missing a key point where he literally could not take a step forward due to his positioning so our 'give to pressure' battles could never be won when he locks up.  Now I know the signals and when I need to back him a few steps or take him away from the trailer and regroup.  I also found my "mean mommy" attitude which he needs to be reminded of on occasion that I am in charge and his antics can't be tolerated.

So I feel freer to 'move about the cabin' and take him out alone. I will have to plan for extra loading time but hopefully not have to rely on a second hand to be around. The key is to be willing to have the mindset of missing a meet up or being late and not feeling rushed and let that convey to him.  Easier said than done of course...hopefully we will be early to things due to "easy" loading! :)

The final result...Calmly following me up and
then stood quiet for 20min before we left.

Hoping to go back after we get some more trailer time under out belts and work on a 'self load' next.  But, I'm happy to just be able to walk him on so that will come in due time :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ready for action

So what has happened these past ~2 weeks?

First, Tesla had his massage and we tried a new tool with him - Magnawave.  For those who do sports and massage yourself, it feels like a Tens Unit for muscle stimulation but doesn't need to be attached to you. Tesla had no fear of it, grabbing it several times to play of course!  He also learned during that session to zip and unzip my jacket.  What a goof.

Goofy one stuck his nose IN my jacket when I tried to snap
a picture of him holding the Magnawave (tube you can see on the floor)
2 days post ride he was showing swelling in his front left "ankle" with very mild heat.  We didn't feel anything specific, but later that week it showed that he was irritated by something - possibly the new boots we tried out, or skin issue.  More and more I am seeing us going to shoes for this season, keeping boots as a backup.  Hoping to get him into EasyShoe N/Gs.  Granted he could do many rides barefoot and I like to keep him that way, but a lot of our closer rides require foot protection as they are in the mountains.

So he's been resting. Swelling went away, and he is just still a little stiff in the rear when first getting out of his stall.

In between we had an snow/ice/rain storm here, and will be bouncing to 60s this coming weekend (with another winter storm threat for next week!)

I am not looking at you mom.
Yesterday was spring vet check!  Now he's ready to roll :)  Of course, I put him through the ringer.. Normal shots and Coggins time, then he had a power float and while he was 'out' she did his sheath again.  Even heavily drugged to the point of almost falling down he managed to kick at her and knock a towel out of her hands.  I don't see me ever doing this one myself!   I also went ahead to get a baseline set of blood levels on him. We battle dry skin on and off, and of course his weight here and there.  I had the vet take a look at his rub, which she agreed wasn't scratches or the like, but something irritated it so now just letting it heal.  Once I have his results we can discuss further changes to his feeding program and then sometime this year I hope to have a set run at a ride pre, during, and post to see how his metabolics shift around for electrolyting and/or adding supplements specifically for the rides.

I can't lift my head

So pitiful looking trying to wake up

Up and coming - Trailer loading!  Saturday is a hoof trim and then off to work with a trainer on loading in my trailer and hers.  Maybe some riding while there as we simulate the come & go aspects since he can be good for one direction and not the other!

He is ready to roll for spring rides and a barn move. Still working on the latter as to where/when, but he will be returning to 24/7 pasture kept in the next month or two.
We had a few quotes done our land and will be moving forward in the next few weeks (once everything stays snow free and dry enough) with getting rid of the rest of the brush and some trees out front for the pasture!  Then we can start marking fence lines and size up the run-in barn. Can't wait!

Not much riding going to be happening unfortunately... We have been asked to work extra weekend hours to finish up some items by the end of March. They are making it worth our while to do at least, but definitely changes my ride plans for this year...  Hoping the longer days will let me get some ride time in somewhere, but as far as full day training rides, not likely for a while :(

Sunday, February 7, 2016

and so it begins

Finally got in a conditioning ride in the mountains on Saturday.

watching those cows!
Tesla did pretty well getting up on the trailer with Amanda's help as usual.  I even tried doing it with the escape door open to feel less cramped but didn't make much difference.   We got there quite a bit earlier than everyone else but that was OK. He needs some 'think' time tied to the trailer out alone. He mostly stood staring down the cows he could see down the road in the pasture.  Tacking up went pretty well, not too much dancing. We tried out some Easy Boot Back Country for this ride and they seemed to fit well and stayed on.  Easy to get on too!

He started out very full of himself!  I think all the horses were feeling a bit fresh, and a large group definitely put him in race brain mode.  He was pushing himself and I kind of let him teach himself a lesson trying to keep up with "the big dogs" on the 4 mile climb.  He finally went to a walk with little trot and canter spurts.

Things were going OK and we got back to riding with 2 others on the climb, and then we came across an icy part of the fire road. The tire areas were ice, but the center was "safe".  The horse on our right went down to her knees on the ice, and her rider Melissa off onto the ground (nice slow roll). They both recovered and in the process Tesla side stepped and hit ice. I felt him scramble and start to go down and I bailed un-gracefully going straight onto my hip.  We both got back up, he got his feet under him and slowly made it over to the center safe zone. We walked a bit before mounting up again.  Talk about an adrenaline rush from
nerves!  We finished the climb nice and slow and then started down the other side slowly all together as a group to Hoover camp and our lunch break.  I worked on his hips and rump muscles at the break which he enjoyed.  I had mild concerns he may have stretched himself a bit on that scramble, but he was rearing to go as we headed out of lunch.  I ended up fighting up him to rate down and not race down the hills the whole way back.  I finally put enough distance between us and then fast group but then came to an intersection I didn't know where to go!  Knowing I had 3 riders behind me went back a ways and met up with Natalie and her daughter Maria and found our way back on trail...sort of!  We did make one mistake but caught it fairly quickly (see map).  We caught up with Melissa again on the way back from our bobble and headed back together keeping horses more level headed.  Tesla led great across water and all, still feeling good and looking perky as we got to the trailers & dove into his hay.  Took a little convincing to get back on the trailer - thanks to Natalie and Maria for their help with that!

Unfortunately it appears he is a bit sore on the hind after all, and I've called Sarah (equine massage) to work on him sometime this week to fix him up!

I haven't been this sore since April after No Frills. Part of it my own doing, I had water with me but I didn't drink enough. Didn't prep myself like I would for a competition ride and my body is feeling it. My legs really hurt and my arms hurt from the fiery dragon charge under me.  Good thing I'm due for a massage this week myself!

Our next big plan is for the 20th and a trailer loading lesson with a local trainer, so he'll have some rest too. Hopefully we get our issues sorted out and can be mobile on our own after that.

Ride summary...even with a lunch break & walking a bunch