Sunday, October 30, 2016

New Saddle Fun

Our new Wide Tree Phoenix saddle arrived!

First chance I got I was out there trying it on Prophecy.

I decided to use his love of food/treats to my advantage and hand out peppermint bites while tacking up to make it a more pleasurable experience rather than him dancing around for it.  Definitely took the drama out!

I took new conformation shots, some bare saddle fit pictures, and of course tacked up and post-ride.

While he was still not thrilled to trot, he'd quickly get to ears forward moving rather than pinned and head tossing.  In fact, he really would only pop his head at the upward transition so maybe we've got that under control for the moment. I used the Myler bit, with the nose piece tied into position and on the first ring per the maker's suggestion.  He was much better about turning the direction *I* was asking for rather than fighting and throwing his head around.  Overall seemed to be a good experience in the new saddle working for about 45min out in the arena between lunging, fiddling with the tightness of the girth,my stirrup length and walk/trotting around.  He still leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to standing still at the mounting block, but we will work on that more.  Difficult to focus on that part when daylight is short and I was excited to ride, so that is something we will hit up more this weekend when I'm not fighting loss of light!

It is really easy to see how different the shoulders are with a new fluffy saddle... I think this accounts for some of our issues, might be looking into some shims.

The saddle was comfortable to me...even the stirrups, which I really haven't liked riding in anything but my EZ Ride stirrups in years!  Now it is a lot to get used to with tie straps in so many spots and few rings that bounce and make noise (you can see them on the pommel)...

Friday - unfortunately a very short ride as I couldn't get out there until almost 6, then had to catch him and saddle up, so we lost daylight quickly.  The arena has some light, but once the deer started making us feel like their are boogie men out there I decided to call it quits.  Another successful ride as I'm concerned, no head tossing with a bit of trotting. Saddled up nicely using his treats.
No pictures, too dark!

Blazing hot day for horses with winter coats! 77 and sunny. Poor guy was sweating just walking in from the pasture and then add another 30min in the arena - he ended the day with a cool down hosing, to which of course he went out and rolled upon turnout.
I decided to try the woolback and see if it helped fill in at all on the lesser shoulder, as it did well for Tesla with that under the stonewall.  Unfortunately, I think it ended up being "too much pad" under.  It was difficult to set up, and we had yet another major rolling event trying to mount even using a block... I don't think this pad will work for him, so I will likely clean it and sell it.


Another hot one... Changed it up again, went back to the matrix but changed cinches to Tesla's old neoprene.  Much less rolling, but I think it is a tad too short for Prophecy.  Another good short set of riding, but he was less than thrilled the flies returned with the heat!

I'm learning to trust him and not assume he wants to buck. He likes to put his head fairly low as we move and if I can get over myself and stick with it, he keeps going - not getting balled up to buck like I assume.

Now because of my crazy schedule he will get a few days rest until I head back out on Friday!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Change of seasons

So it has been a few weeks, mainly because there isn't much going on.  I've back-tracked a little with Prophecy as we wait on the new saddle.

I did try one ride in the current saddle with my Happy Mouth Mullen bit, but he really was not thrilled - lacked all responsiveness to it, even from the ground asking him for simple flexing and backing.  Back to the combo bit we go...I contacted Myler and he suggested trying it with different ring connections than just at the bit ring and see how he reacts.

Otherwise we've been focused on ground work and desensitizing. I've mainly been following Carson James for dealing with his sensitivity over anything approaching his back and continued girthyness.

The fall came for a week or so, then we were back in the upper 80s this past week setting records!  Now it's Friday and the weather changed again for rain and cooler temps.  Poor horses are all getting fuzzy for the fall and were sweating just in the pasture all week.

Apparently the ground work and such is boring to him, as on Thursday night he decided to suck his tongue and play with the lead rope... He was also just generally grumpy attitude with me, so an "off day" I guess.

I got close to hopping on bareback while we were in the round pen but didn't have my helmet at that moment and I'm still not 100% sure he would respond kindly to the idea :P

I got word the new saddle is shipping out!  Delivery looks to be late next week... Oh the days will drag on! lol  Hoping to get to test ride it when I go out there next Thursday night and try to get a bunch of time in it over that weekend.  I was really hoping to be at Fort Valley as a drag rider, but obviously those plans changed.  Not only for him in terms of riding, but also that my trailer is not in optimum condition to go long distances so no sleeping spot unless I grab the tent (which I am not keen on doing with cold nights).

I did manage with the help of a friend to get the new roof vent installed that broke back in August.  We haven't wired it yet, but it will have ability to exhaust air and move air in when done! :)  Now that is all caulked inside as well I can put my insulation back up around it and re-tape.  Maybe next spring I will get around to finishing up the inside insulation of the walls!

Prophecy's winter coat is a much richer liver chestnut color, and he is even getting hair around the muzzle (which was all gray, as you can see above & below starting to fill in).

He is also starting his magnesium supplement this weekend, so we shall see if that has any attitude adjustment affect at all, but really I'm using it to help the cresty neck.

Other October fun so far has been doing the Corn Maze with some friends.  Two years in a row makes it a tradition now! lol
Sunset at the Maze

Full moon rising

Friday, October 7, 2016

Putting the pieces together

Horses can definitely be like a puzzle...So many little pieces to have connected to keep a good working relationship and maintain a big picture together.

I have been working to fit all the pieces of Prophecy's puzzle together since his arrival.  Each time, we get a step closer to having the big picture.

Steps to putting the puzzle together:
Step 1: The saddle - I thought I had it figured out in July.  The Phoenix standard tree fit him wonderfully and he moved so nicely and it was very comfortable for me.  However, we have struggled to get our rhythm since late August under saddle, especially at a trot.  I noticed him being more balled up, head tossing, and just outright refusing to maintain a trot.
Step 2: Had the chiro out - that did make a huge difference for him, but still had head tossing. Chiro did not feel ulcers were an issue.
Step 3: Training/behavioral.  I got help from the resident trainer, he was being stubborn of moving where you asked him to.  She gave us some ways to work on it, and we agreed he needed to get out of the arena.
Step 4: Get out on trail and see what he does.  Well, this is where we ended last update...the saddle just felt all sorts of wonky for me, in addition to the creep issue on him, so I consulted with Jamie at Phoenix Saddles and we agreed that he should try the Wide tree.  Now I wait a few weeks for that to arrive and see if our fit issues resolve.
Step 5: Move him back to the big field.  This is in process, as we don't want to toss him out too quickly with the fall grass. He is out at night with everyone, and they all come in (him and a buddy to the dry lot, the rest stalled) during the day.  He has seemed much calmer and less grass snatchy during work after that started.
Step 6: Fall shots, dental, and sheath cleaning.  I put this on the books for today back in Sept.  He was a month "early" for shots, but really wanted to have his teeth looked at and get a chance to talk with the vet about his weight, etc.  He was great for his shots, and did really well for the float and sheath cleaning.  She did find some issues - hooks in the back and few sharp points, but the thing she noticed that may explain why he tosses is head is that he has very sensitive teeth.  Particularly with the canine and the first pre-molar he was reactive despite the sedative. She believes that it is just how he is, and might need to try a different bit (like a happy-mouth) to make him more comfortable.  Ultimately I see him going fine in an S-Hack, but we just aren't there yet.  We also talked about his weight, and while it is coming along a Magnesium supplement will be added. Quiessence didn't seem to do much before, so I am looking at MagRestore.

Now the pieces are slowing fitting together and sure hope to have a full picture of a healthy and happy Prophecy soon!

When I went to bring him in this morning, the boys were running off to beat me up there - thinking I would feed breakfast when I got up there ;)  little did he know what he was in for:

Snoozey post dental

Fun on the way in

I'm actually rather amazed how much he's changed in just a short time of being back in work!

June 1 2016 on top, Oct 2 2016 on bottom

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The good, bad, and the ugly

This week has been a rough one.  Raining from Monday night through Saturday morning for one, and trying to figure out Prophecy for #2.

Starting with the good:
I met up with the trainer at the barn today and we took Prophecy out on trail again - first time since early August.
Tacking up went extremely well, to the point of worrisome - lol.  He only had to be told once to stand still for saddling and wasn't nearly as grumpy about the whole thing.  Ears not all that happy, but no evasion, no dancing, no turn and nip.

He stood and snoozed, rather silly like as you can see, once saddled and I let him relax as I waited him out to keep tightening the girth. Usually our issue, but not today.

not really sure what he was up to here!

Ready to go
 The ride itself went well, he was controllable and responsive. I think he needed to get out of the arena. I don't blame him, I just hadn't wanted to take him out much alone as he was doing so much head tossing and goofiness in the ring.  I think he maybe tossed his head around once while we were out? Never a thought of it while we were on trail asking for at trot, and he could have very well had reason too with the saddle faux-pas we were having!

End of the ride, hanging out in a field for a few

Now for the bad, and the ugly too...
I'm struggling with his saddle creeping forward and onto his neck.  It is causing issues for him, goosyness, as well as issue for me trying to move with his trot and getting thrown around because I am now on his shoulders...makes me completely off balance and struggling to keep a rhythm.  I actually opted to walk him back in as we came down the steep hill and it kept inching on down his neck.  I have one more rigging idea to try, other than trying to find a pad that won't slip as much as wool, and/or using a crupper ALL the time.

The ugly part...well that was Monday night.  I went out to work with him and the trainer and found some holes in his response to the bit and going the direction asked.  This was not an issue in July/August, but that switch that flipped for us with being balled up and such that started it with the head tossing at an asking for a trot and just kept getting worse.  She was willing to push him further than I could, which resulted in some bucking and a saddle roll and well, you get the idea.  She then spent the next 20-30 min working him and then had me hop back on to work too.    We have some things to work on in the arena to make things right.  Now, if I can get the saddle to stay where I want it, should be a lot easier!   This saddle does fit him and his big shoulders well, just his barrel shape is making it hard to keep in place!

4 miles and a bath later... 
So what has changed?
Prophecy has gone back out to his original pasture this week. Up with a buddy during the day in the dirt area and out at night with the whole gang. This is something I've wondered if it has been part of our issue. That switch flipped one night the week I moved his pasture over to be with the pony & minis.  Could his reentry to his old pasture be helping his attitude?  I guess time will tell on that one.