Sunday, September 25, 2016

tweaks and adjustments

This past week Prophecy had a check in with the Chiro - finally got our schedules to mesh!
And, I got a few answers:
- Dr. did not see any signs of ulcers during his exam. I still have a mass of data that collected and put into a file in case I need it for treating ulcers or adding a good gut supplement to his regime.
- Prophecy was out at the withers mainly, then some in the low back and working its way into the left hip. His head tossing was likely due to the wither issue.  And that was likely due to using poor fitting saddles on him.  At least 3 used this year have not fit correctly. 2 between the first trainer and previous owner, and 1 that I used on him for July which we thought was wide enough but still left pressure marks on either side of the withers.  
- The Phoenix saddle fits.  Once I can get him past his girthyness I should be able to use my shorter 22" cinch as well, but the 24" mohair with ring covers works.

Just over 24hrs later I could see a big difference in his body.  Thursday night I pulled him out and noticed right away he was holding himself in a much more proper posturing now and using his muscles!  It gave me great hope towards getting back to riding without pain for the weekend.

just a few days prior to his adjustment

day after chiro adjustment

So now what?
He got a few days rest after the adjustment, with just a night of hoof treatment and massage while he soaked on Thursday, and then Sunday was the first time to ride and see how he felt compared to before.
Unfortunately, I found this fun wound...I imagine he wacked it in the round pen where he has been spending much of his time lately (main field is on rest, so the horses are all getting jostled around and he an the minis trade time in one lot and the round pen). I felt no heat from it, and he wasn't at all lame so cleaned it off and put some ointment on it before and after we rode.

His back end still looked nice, and his overall presence happy.

Tacking up:  This went better than it has been lately.  I tried something to make it quicker and easier on myself by putting the saddle on the pad and having it "centered" and pulled into the gullet before putting it on him.  This cut down the amount of time I am fumbling and trying to get it right.  He didn't evade as much, and just had him stand with it on a few before I tried to girth up, and then did that very loosely at first.  I was happy with the progress compared to my saddle hitting the ground last weekend.  I went back to using a bit, since him grabbing the reins of the S-hack is not something I want to deal with while sorting this out, and he had done well with the Myler before.

Lunge: I have gotten into the habit of lunging him before trying to ride. This helps me assess the saddle position (if it bounces a bunch I know the girth is still loose) as well as if we have any "off" moments. He moved well, so that back foot was not bothering him.

Ride:  Well, that unfortunately did not go as well as I hoped.  Any time I asked for more than a walk he flipped/twisted his head around at me.  He even tossed quite a bit at the walk.  So, tomorrow I am enlisting the help of the trainer that gave him his refresher in July to see if we can figure out WHY it is happening. I have tried ignoring him and pushing through, and that sometimes works.  So now we see if it is a training/button pushing thing with me.

So my frustration level is high as I really want to get back out on trail and enjoy riding him, but I am not going to take him out to have a major malfunction out there.  Might get him out on trails with a friend and see if it is an arena sour thing....  Still enjoying him, just wanting to do more.  It will come in time.

After I came home this afternoon we took the kids up to the school to ride their bikes (we have a gravel driveway, and no roads to ride on safely).  Asher decided he wanted to ditch the training wheels, and he did!

I leave tonight on this note shared with me by a teammate -
I ride:

Saturday, September 17, 2016


Still playing the guessing game and trouble-shooting.

How do you know when you have a real problem vs a "brat" /greenie issue? (OK, the latter is still a problem, but a training one vs. physical)

Today I did some more pressure point checking with back end of a spoon down his length of his back, checking loins and withers – not much there.  I saw some flinching with lifting of the back when used around his girth area, more so on his right where he’d also turn to look at me.

After that I started with some bare saddle fitting and taking new pictures for the saddle maker to make sure I can rule out that as an issue.

Then it was time to actually tack up. I went back to the pad and girth that worked for us initially and the spot for it. He was extremely difficult today for saddling. 
Riding, we had a lot of head tossing and grabbing of the reins. Not sure if his mouth is now bored without a bit or he is being naughty.

There are so many possible reasons for his reactions it is hard to narrow in on it…
-I am not discounting some type of ulcer upset… I can pin point the start of our issues back to when we switched fields, but I have not been able to get the saddle feeling right since then either (or maybe it has been but the reactions make me think otherwise?)
-He could need an adjustment…about the same time the above happened, he looked off in the hind end on a circle. That seems to have resolved now though.
-The head tossing could be a symptom of pain either from teeth or back. I moved to an S-hack, but now he tries to grab the reins when he is ‘upset’ at the trot.  His teeth will be floated on Oct 7 with his fall checkup/shots.
-He could be objecting to the arena work.
-He could be testing me. 
-Somehow related to the hoof issues? (ouchy on rocks, still has WLD)

I’m just disheartened today, as all I want to do is enjoy riding with him rather than battle over tacking up or moving faster than a walk. He loves attention,but was really grumpy about the saddle and disrespectful of my space today (which was beyond his normal).  I want to be out taking lessons together, learning new skills playing on obstacles, and enjoying the trails... I know it will come eventually.  First I have to get him to a comfortable point to ride, and then work on the trailer so we can go places.

And then we have these moments just hanging out while his feet soak (after the torment of all the tacking up and riding), where I caught him trying to untie himself and he makes me laugh it all away.

I  wasn't doing anything?!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Guessing games

Don't you just wish horses could talk?

They do...just deciphering it is a human issue.

Things with Prophecy have been stalled out lately and I'm left scratching my head trying to understand him. He is telling me something and I am struggling to figure out what.

After his bronco episode that I described the last time I've been trying to determine the why part of it.  First thing I tried was the the S-Hack - very successful there except for when trotting at the end of our arena time he threw his head at me - more to signal something was not right.   Reviewing pictures from that ride, I felt maybe the saddle was set too far forward on him.  I've also been researching the possibility of Ulcers - however his only other symptom is the girthy/cinchy attitude for tacking up.

So Monday night I set the saddle further back, went back to the matrix pad, and lunged him first. The saddle crept forward during the lunging, even with a mohair girth.  Ok, reset - needed to be tightened further, much to his dismay as he hates that part.  I felt the saddle was in a good spot so I hopped on and Success!  Ears forward, walk and trot nicely and willingly, working with the hack wonderfully.  Then came the halt, ears pinned and try to nip my right foot.  Sigh.  Saddle scooted forward? mind you this is all in the arena so it is flat. It seems that when his big shoulders start moving the trot the saddle scoots up - which it wasn't doing a few weeks ago.

On the Ulcer question, prior to getting on him Monday night I used Dr. Paolo's technique to check acupressure points for signs of ulcers (he had been checked in July with no response but worth a recheck). I got nothing, minus a slight back lift for CV17.  He did show me that further back along the sternum and ribs he was sensitive with a head turn and moving away from the pressure.  Strain along the abdomen/ribs? Rib out of place?

During this "halt" and pinned ears I explored his reactions.  I reached down to the cinch ring on the right, he quickly turned his head at my hand with ears pinned.  Repeated exercise on left, no reaction... Clue #1 - something on the right.  Next, I asked him to walk off with a slight squeeze on his right side, he nipped at my stirrup.  Stopped, repeated with a left leg cue, he walked off with no reaction.  Clue #2 - I can hear him saying it is on the right mom.  We walked a little more, I hopped off, and he immediately turned to bite at his right flank.  But only that one time... I poked and prodded some more, looking for indications of tenderness or ulcer point reactions. He is more reactive when coming from the right and along the sternum on the back half, not up near the cinch. I repeated the ulcer point check after tack was off, still nothing of note.

Now what?
I've got plenty of photos looking at saddle placement that I sent along to the saddle maker.  Maybe a different pad is in order? Or a shim to adjust the fit and sliding? He is still in the very early stages of losing weight and getting fit so I'm sure we will keep having to tweak things as we go.

I've been in contact with our Equine Massage Therapist and looking at what the points of reaction might mean.  I'm still trying to get him set up with the chiro, who just isn't in our area often. He is scheduled for his fall vet check on Oct 7th.

There is always the thought of treating for ulcers and see if it makes a difference...

Top all this off with still treating his hooves for WLD and the funny shape they are in currently (does not fit ANY boot type), and my lack of trailering capability, this guy is definitely not going for any completion rides (or even doing drag riding) this year.

Regardless of my plans falling short again for the year, I enjoy my time with him. He tries hard, he is sensitive and sensible, and is only trying to tell me something in his recent antics.   I have learned is that he really loves the S-hack.  He is very good for me in the arena, turns, stops & backs. No more constant playing with the bit, throwing his nose, shaking his head.  Now, we may try the bit again after his float in October and see if teeth were the issue, but only if we need to go back to a bit. I'm perfectly happy if he turns out to be a s-hack only horse!

Maybe 2017 will be our year?

Still doing his diaper soaks for WLD

Relaxing after riding a bit and while he soaks

Monday, September 5, 2016


This past Monday night I went out after returning from IMJ to do a little riding and do his worming. We did about a mile tooling around the arena in a different girth set up (to which he was just "over it" with me trying to get it right).  He still felt a little off/funny to me in the rear, but only on the circle/turn.
Still a table top...

Friday I returned for hoof measuring, treatment night and massage.  I did his foot soak slightly differently, as I cut down some 'heavy duty' soaking vinyl I had gotten. They are supposed to go up to their knees, but he was having none of that the last time I tried! So, I cut them to a more reasonable height and used duct tape instead of vet wrap (which easily peeled off so I can re-use, but I have more of these too) and he did fine.  I massaged, found him maybe just a little tight in the hamstrings and neck. He enjoyed the pampering, but would have rather been grazing! Must buy more diapers to allow for that.
Sunset view Friday on the way home
tried it, didn't do it for him
I went back this morning (Monday), with the intent to go back to the woolback, try a borrowed bit, and try out some hoof boots on a trail ride. Success was only had on the first item!  Boots first, one fit, one didn't. Looks like his fronts aren't the same size :(  Back to the drawing board...He is still very reactive when you go to tighten the girth, so I move in baby steps, but the woolback length is much quicker for me to get even on his rigging.  He was otherwise very calm and easy to get saddle on, I think he was wanting to ride today.  The bit, well that was a huge non-success. I had him in the arena to try it first, and we left after a few to switch back to the Myler.  He was also very balled up and hollowed out anytime we moved to trot, I knew he was ready to buck.
After Dash left, he and I had a few moments of "Yes, you will be OK on your own in here".  Fortunately they got out of sight quickly, we walked a little more, still majorly tense... I turned him loose for some free lunging (to which I barely noted him being off in the rear) but instead I got to witness him as a Bucking Bronco! His bucks aren't big, but it was also the all four feet bunny hops off the ground in succession.  So glad he didn't do that with me on him!  The only thing I could figure was that his saddle had shifted too far forward.  That is a problem with the wool.  I have a mohair I found on a tack site cheap on the way to hopefully fix this!  I straightened out the saddle placement and hopped back on.  Finally, not nearly as tense in his back, but the head tossing and bit dismay continued, even though it is his 'normal' bit. We trotted a few times without too much incident with forward ears and could finally call it good.  Of course this time I didn't have my tracker on, but I'm sure it was over a mile of circles, up and down the arena, back and forth the tack shelter :P  Good mental workout for him too, as we kept stopping and starting, resetting, on and off at the mounting block, and leaving buddies.  I had really wanted to get him out on trail today, but it was not to be.