Monday, October 16, 2017

4 to Go

Before we got to the work side of things last Tuesday Prophecy was his silly self exploring all aspects of my helmet with his mouth while I sat on the block ... Yawning upon his satisfaction it was not a toy or something to worry about.

He's got my camera mount!

and now yanking on the visor!
Sometimes life moves fast! I went from having no saddles to work with, to one brand and 2 styles of it, to 4 rather quickly!

The trial of four saddles...

1. The Boz - We started earlier this month with an all leather 1994 model for a week that gave me hope it was what Prophecy could use, so we borrowed a 2010 fleece seat version that I could hold onto longer.  One good short trial of that and then we steadily went downhill in his comfort in each subsequent ride. The last attempt, Tuesday eve, I adjusted the panels wider instead of touching at the center, and moved the saddle back off his shoulders (against Boz's 'design' but per other users with wide horses recommendations). Result: a very unhappy Prophecy still (saddle now looked borderline too long for his back and still felt tight at the tree points). I hopped off, removed the saddle, told him I heard him and put it up on the top rail of the pen, and decided to play with him on mounting for bareback from the block. We made a good bit of progress on that ; he started out leery of me just draping an arm over his back from above. Eventually we ended with him allowing my right leg to be resting on him behind his withers while the left leg was still on the block.  This is something we will continue to work on.

The Boz was returned to its owner (today in fact) - but I must say that it is a comfortable saddle (especially fleece seated version) and the forward stirrup position isn't that odd a feeling, nor did it tweak my knees or feel too wide a twist. As for other folks I think it is a saddle worth trying if you can, just didn't work for us in the end. Every horse, and rider, is different!

When I brought him in to start with I noticed he was crusty with sweat in spots from how humid it was out during the day and his thicker coat starting to grow in already, so I gave him a much enjoyed hose down after ; which I admit was also an attempt to "wash away" the bad saddle feelings.

I guess because I see him so often I don't see the change as much, but I've been told he is looking fitter 👍  I'm sure the pasture he's living in now is helping with that. He still has a grazing muzzle on since our weather is bouncing a bit and I don't want to take any chances with a reaction to the grass after being muzzled so long.  I am really hoping to remove it soon!

2. Leon Liversage Enduro Light - Wide tree: arrived Tuesday. I have to say it is gorgeous, and light!  I had to take it home to work on setting up the stirrups - which had me confused and reaching out to Lori (USA saddle rep) to help!

I finally got it figured out and brought it out to try on him Friday evening. First, we had our first experience ponying in from the field using the gator with Jeff. Prophecy did pretty good and kept himself out of trouble while we drove back to the barn.  He came in with a bit of a boo-boo on a hind heel bulb so I just worked on fitting the saddle to him in the barn and doctored him a bit (the round pen being muddy I just didn't fell like subjecting his hoof to that in a raw state).  I must say that I was really skeptical of the wide being 'enough' for him, but I think this is the first saddle I have put on him that without a pad there is AIR between it and his shoulders!  And when I add the pad I can still easily slide my hand under the front edges with minimal pressure felt.

Pad wise I don't have what I would want to use long term, but do have a fleece barrel pad from Traveler that rarely got used.  He really liked and did well in the HAF pad under his Bandos treeless, this was just an extra for under the treed barrel saddle I had for him. So of course that means complete clash of colors on Prophecy!

Color mismatch! and a bit too long a pad lol
Sunday we got a chance to test it out further - lunging and then some riding in the round pen, his heel bulb looking much better. I made sure not to grab my summer tights to ride in as this seat seemed slick itself and I don't want to have to worry about sliding about.  I thought I might need to invest in something other than my knee patch riding pants but it really wasn't all that slick when riding!

I would totally count Sunday's ride as a win and +1 point for the Enduro.  He was not short striding when lunging, he even cantered in it which I was not able to accomplish well in the Boz lunging. He was not balled up and never once went to buck in 30min of riding in the round pen. He didn't flinch when I would stand in the stirrups, and he put up with me dismounting and starting over a few times to get my stirrup length just right, and once I did we had our "best trot" in a long time. Oh, and I was also really comfy in the saddle too. I switched to my Reflex stirrups tho, instead of the caged ones shown, as I like them for lightweight support.  Next, I'm planning to borrow a shorter coolback pad, and change out my reins back to my rope set with a popper, as he needs a little extra "push" to get into the trot when in the ring!

I'll keep at riding in this saddle this week and seeing if we maintain his approval, or if this was just "better enough" than the saddle before it per say.

Still remaining to try out:

3. Thorowgood T4 Cob:  from a semi-local endurance rider being sent to me through our team mentor that I can grab when we figure a good time to meet.

4. Balance Felix GPD: this is similar to what I am seeking (GPJ) just a different leg angle, in the right tree and seat size, from a fellow SET implementer who is needs to move to another size.

Upcoming we have another Magna Wave session with Sarah, his fall shots, and dental appointment as well to get scheduled.  He will be getting a trim with the barn farrier again in the next few weeks, and hoping he will keep him balanced so we don't have the lameness right after trim.  Sometimes I think I ought to just learn how to do it myself, but finding the time and funds to go take the courses I would want to is tough!

Friday, October 6, 2017


That is what I am doing... mentally struggling with things that I can't control or feel like I can't get a handle on.  Struggling with jealousy of my friends out riding, enjoying the beautiful fall weather, while I scour for a unicorn of a saddle.

I know I have plenty of friends/acquaintances who are saying shut up and ride, make him deal, etc. but this is our path to walk and I want to do right by him. So many times it hasn't been and I want a decade partner out of this journey ; and the way I do that is by listening to him, giving him the answers he needs, and having him trust me as his leader. Am I frustrated, yes - I admit I'm dying to be out there reaching goals and milestones, but I know sorting this out now will be the best for us long term, however long that takes.

I love being with him, and work on his leg circles and TTouch when I see him (which I have noticed he tends to stand more square in the hind after), I just miss the riding part with enjoying the trails (arena and round pen work get old fast unless I'm taking a lesson - but that also requires a saddle that works).

I've been lucky and found 2 different Boz saddles to try out. Now I'm trying to perfect my learning curve with set-up, and make sure he feels right, before committing to buying my own (used or new).  Still we have had issues with the cinch pushing forward (someone needs work to lose his gut and trim down/muscle up), but Boz has ideas to fix that. I tried my breast collar on it one day (as seen in the pic) and think I messed myself up fiddling ; he was not nearly as thrilled about riding with that - straps seem to sit right on top of his shoulder, but not impinging enough that he can't put his head to the ground.  I have a few more adjustments I can make to it, but I'm going to go without it and take it out of the equation for a bit.

I did manage to get his curb strap all figured out on the snaffle, and now he can't as easily grab the reins, nor do the D-rings become "winged out" to the side.  The rein thing is just his way of expressing himself when we aren't doing much it seems, as he will only try that when we are at a halt. My full review of the curb strap is HERE.  Next item will be the breast collar, once I know exactly what I need size wise, and finally the crupper.  Eventually he will match in all his gear! (maybe minus the reins, as I still find I like rope over beta in my hands)

Since that string cinch can grab his now starting to fuzz hair, and really just a cheapo thing I had around in the right length, I borrowed the same length woolback cinch from a friend to see if it makes any difference.  I've found wool to be rather slippery on him in the past so I didn't have high expectations for it when it comes to it wanting to creep forward. Wednesday eve I got to give it a shot and ... well that didn't go so well!  He was really ready to rodeo immediately and I was literally on for just a few minutes at a walk before I could tell he was NOT having it! I loosened the cinch a notch to see if that was the issue but any time I placed weight in the saddle he'd turn to bite.  No go.  So we just did a bit of lunging work with it on and called it a day.
One may say that he was just being a jerk - but this was very uncharacteristic of him in the Boz to date, so I believe it was a legitimate pain/uncomfortable reaction somewhere.

So, back a few steps we went on Thursday night to the string cinch, no breast collar and to tack up on more level ground inside. I have spent on average an hour+ a week on the phone with Boz, asking questions and getting more insight into the design of the saddle and how it might best work for us (plus he gives lots of training tidbits in our convos).  I do like the feeling of being able to make contact with his sides, as it has been very difficult to do so on other saddles due to his wide barrel. Thursday evening I slowed things down tacking up and pushed Wednesday as much out of my mind as I could. This was a new day, not a continuation of what was - Move forward. He gave a few releases during his TTouch work and more willingly did his leg circles as we groomed.  He had a few new teeth marks on his rump overnight so I guess the boys are starting to play rough in the cooler nights/mornings!  We started out with lunging and he stood yawning for a minute or so right off the bat. Mounted up and set off, not so ready to explode. Mentally I said - Ok that is good!  However as soon as I stood in the saddle to check gullet clearance we were back to what was - definitely objecting to the pressure the tree was placing on his withers.  We continued to walk to see if warming up and getting the saddle to flex more would help. Slight improvements, but a few crow hops and head slings... We called it a day and I will give him a break from the saddle for a bit.  I do have a Leon Liversage Wide coming to try and hoping to find that unicorn Balance Felix 8XC saddle yet!

Just about ready to mount up

This weekend will be just chill time with him and starting to work on the trailer again :)  Doug & I took everything out that I needed to last weekend so I can finish the last 2 areas I want to insulate and lay down the 'wood' foam floor. Sometime in the near future Amanda & I will get together and clean the outside & inside of the horse area before the winter freezing temps arrive!  I've got lots of ideas now to work on over the winter and I get to help Amanda with her new BP 'conversion' too :)

I'll leave you with the contented looks of dinner mash face!

Monday, September 25, 2017

And the beat goes on

I admit it, sometimes I struggle for good post titles!

But, it is exactly what is going on. The beat goes on, so we keep marching forward.

We had a bobble with the farrier and his last trim, but I was able to have him fixed up within with a week by the farrier that takes care of many of the horses at Wild Air (enough that he comes three weeks in a row to get through everyone).  I also managed to pick up a Boz saddle for the weekend from Amy, therefore getting to catch up with my teammate and her husband Ricky in the process :)

I had a few fitting issues with it on our first try, but likely some is related to how thick the sponge pads are that are currently on it (apparently older ones and have a lot of wear).  So I called Boz and we chatted for a good hour on it all.  This is an older one, 1994 date, in really good condition otherwise and been through Tevis.  Prophecy gave it one half-hearted buck on the initial trot off (free lunging) and then turned, stopped and faced me and started to lick. I think he was processing how different it felt.  I sent him off several more times with no issues and then hopped on for a walk about the round pen.  Realizing I needed some more insight on fitting, I did not push to do much on our first time (plus he was still taking off steps on occasion as this was before 2nd farrier came). I did not find the seat feeling overly wide like I had found some reviews saying, and that was definitely a concern for me having such a wide barrel underneath me already!

We've done some more work with fitting the new bit, and I was able to add a matching Curb Strap
from Two Horse Tack to his bridle. I got a cob size because he does have a cob size nose - but is a little big.  Its only purpose on the snaffle is to prevent the bit from being pulled through, so not meant to be tight or engage the chin, just could be a little tighter for less flop. This is an easy enough fix to poke another hole. It is well made, easy to set up and of course looks smashing on him all matched up!  I also specifically chose this type as it has very little metal, something else learned at the clinic in Aug; As much as I 'hate to do it' because it takes away from the ease of use per say, I will also remove the metal scissor clips on his reins as now I understand how annoying that dinging around could become.

Sunday was the long awaited TTouch & Bemer day for him! 

First, I had some time beforehand to ride in the Boz Saddle again and set it up with Boz's first set of tweaks.  We did get some long low head stretching, but the pads are definitely not the right ones for Prophecy.  I will be returning this one back to Amy this week and borrowing a different one that has pads in better shape and a fleece seat to try. If I can get a few good rides in then I can work on finding used or deciding on a new one while still waiting for a Balance to pop-up.  No bucks when free lunging, and no off steps :)

After that bit of playing around, we finally got to meet Pam Woolley for a working session.  She brought her whole arsenal so we could play with whatever was needed.  We did a quick history dump about him and decided to focus in on the back and that right hind awkwardness that you can see from time to time.  First, just basic TTouch body focusing, then some leg circles where he presented stiffer in the RF and LH for ROM.  Next we played with the Sure Foot Pads giving him time on all four (individually and in pairs) with firm pads and the wedges. His hips freed up and ribs started to swing more with the walk, as well as his back legs really reaching under better. We finished up with an 8 min session of the Bemer pad, which he was practically asleep for.

Our homework: Do the TTouch intro and leg circles every time I mess with him and should start to see some major changes in how he feels/moves.  Overall his back was in pretty good shape, just need to free up the shoulders and hips.  Also, get a firm sure foot pad set if I can! (I'll be stalking for sales if anyone happens to notice one!).

Lastly his dinner after spending over 3 hours with me, and then headed out to the field calmly.

I could really sit for hours and enjoy watching the horses and the amazing views we have...  I always find it funny to watch Prophecy search for his herd when I turn him back out. He ran nearly the whole 22 acres one day going to the wrong hill first and having to come back down to the other hillside.   He seems very happy overall, greets me in the field, is never really worried about leaving, goes back and finds his buds and doesn't turn up with lots of marks on him, so I think he gets along just fine!

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Norms

I thought finally having both kids "school age" would make things easier, but so far that is not true! We spent the first 3 weeks having to shift our work schedules around to pick them up after school until Skyler was officially 5 and could start the after school program.  Top that off with soccer starting up for both of them, Karate, band practices and barn time... we have little in the way of calm evenings!

Prophecy's been adjusting to the new place nicely, we turned him out with 5 other boys on the 9th and it was completely uneventful and drama free.  He is such a pretty mover with that Arab tail flagging. The trim had to be rescheduled a week off, and then I did another (now 3rd) application of hoof armor. Only one front had started to flair a little, so we will try 5week trim cycle here on out. I feel like the hoof armor has been doing him good. He can walk on the driveway gravel and is definitely happy and sound in the pasture, feet are staying tough and soles looking nice.

grazing before meeting the new herd

A new friend, Rio
So far I haven't had much time with him past grooming... We did manage to try out and set up his new bit, a French link, on his bridle.  He is definitely one who tells you what he wants, and I think I discovered how he wants to be bridled and offered the bit to take.  Many yawns after the 3rd on/off and ready to go do something.

I'm still on the great saddle hunt... No luck finding the Balance I'm searching for, so still exploring some options.  Buying one new even has some difficulties associated with it as there are no trained fitters closer than 200miles.  I'm planning to trial a few different style Boz saddles in the next few weeks (thanks so wonderful local endurance friends!) and see if that flexible tree is all it is cracked up to be and makes him happy.  I can tell a lot from the ground at this point, then we can try it out in the arena or round pen.   One step at a time...

In other news, the deck is done and usable - with a new grill added and our cleaned up patio furniture!  Fire-pit is next on the build list so we can do Smores with the kids this fall :)  We even had dinner out there this past weekend!

The trailer is home now so I got to do a bunch of re-organizing, and then had a bolt shear that makes the hand crank work!  Fortunately I was not hooking or unhooking, just adjusting the height.  New bolt and nut (and spares) bought after consulting with one of our machinists who used to work at Blue Ridge Trailers.  If it keeps happening I will need to see if there is something wrong in the jack.  Right now the thought is that the bolt type in there was way too soft and I just got lucky on when it happened! I also replaced the LQ door handle - which the previous owner had given me a new one when I bought the trailer two years ago... Now the door actually stays shut and locks! (should have done this sooner!) Next will be having Doug help me move some stuff out of it so I can finish up insulating the walls.  I still need to get a 'new' spare tire (though the trailer place told me not to worry, it is a spare and will get us to where we need to go regardless of a mismatch from the other tires) and replace the battery so I can run inside lights, etc.  I need to take a count and type of all the lights so I can replace with LED bulbs.... and hopefully before it gets freezing out pull it up to wash it and the awning. No shortage of things to do!

Before & afters of fixes:


Prophecy is enjoying the big field and he and Rio seem to be BFFs.  I had to stop Rio from following us out on Sunday eve and then he stood over the gate softly calling to us a few moments before heading back.  Prophecy & I played a bit in the round pen and seem to have our Left/Right sends nailed down again (it was all my issues as I learned at the clinic). The weather is bouncing around, we had 3 "cool" weeks so the horses are starting to get winter fuzz, but now it is back to low 80s.

I've gotten to meet a few of the other boarders now and look forward to getting to ride with them sometime!

Monday, September 4, 2017

A long weekend of fun

Since returning from the clinic, I have just been digesting all I saw and experienced, including sending 2 emails to Dee this past week. lol

The Ghost saddle, my matrix pad, along with the custom cantle bag and cinch I had made, are to be shipped out this week to a fellow endurance rider in TX.  So now I am on the desperate hunt for a Balance Saddle GPJ 8XC for us to get back to working under saddle.  My Myler combo is also up for sale, and the new French Link is ready to be picked up across town at Dover.

We have had an absolutely crazy schedule going on due to having to pick up kids from school until the 14th, Doug & I taking turns on who has to leave work early to do it... Both kids are really enjoying school so far and Skyler seems to have warmed up to the teachers quickly. I managed to get out to see Prophecy for a quick visit on Thursday... but only enough time to check up on his muzzle and say hello in the field.

Friday was Asher's birthday and we got to bring cupcakes in to school and then celebrated at home as well.

Saturday was a rainy day so we took the kids to Toys R Us to spend some birthday money. Asher got Legos and a dragon toy, Skyler a pony stick and stuffed "Boomerang" horse from the show Spirit - all her choices. She will be my riding buddy one day

Sunday I moved Prophecy to a new barn that has more trails and an enclosed outdoor arena and horse sized round pen to work in. He is becoming more and more a pro at traveling. After just having done a 3hr haul last weekend the 20min trip was nothing for him, and as usual very drama free with loading.

Hanging out right before loading up to leave

He is currently in a "quarantine paddock" by himself, but should be moved later this week into his new herd.
Here he is doing a bit of running around the place... He did settle down and I saw him roll for the first time in months! I can't wait till fall hits fully and we can remove the muzzle for a few months :P

With this move my trailer is now at home for storage, so maybe I can get back to working on the living area again! I'm very close to being done insulating, then I can start putting up more storage the way I think I want it.

Hopefully he does well for his few days alone and I plan to get out and check on him Wed & Friday after work.  This weekend he is due for a trim; which I am hoping to keep our current farrier on board even-though we are little far for him... Things have just been going so well since his re-balance I hate to switch it all up again! 

Monday we spent the day as a family at Massanutten Water Park as the birthday celebration for both kids.  Skyler has 10 days to go, but we wanted to get a chance and experience the outdoor park too, which closes on Labor Day...  We spent a good 5 of the 6 hours we were there in the water. Skyler is big enough to do just about everything, and love riding the tubes with one of us.  The lazy river was also a favorite, and the pool area to practice swimming. They both surprisingly didn't fall asleep on the drive home and conked out nicely for bed time!

Finishing up the day

Sunday, August 27, 2017


This past week was the 3rd anniversary since losing Traveler, and this past weekend was Iron Mountain Jubilee where we took our final ride together.

Each year has brought on different events, and while I still remember every detail, every emotion of that weekend, I am able to get through the days easier.

2015 - Tesla and I hung back at home due to saddle issues. I was really not ready emotionally to go back anyway.
2016 - I took Prophecy to learn about ride camp and volunteer at IMJ for the weekend. He did great and took his first time ever in stride, learning about flashlights/headlamps, the vet checks, and the river. It felt good to be there again, someday I will ride it again.
2017 - I saved up for the last several months to be able to attend a Simple Equine Teaching clinic with Prophecy at a beautiful location, The Big Lonely, about 3hrs away.  After auditing a clinic for a day in April, I knew I had to get us both there to work with her.  I have been doing her virtual classrooms and couldn't wait to experience her in full force.

Such a pretty place - dusk arrival.

Morning hello

The view from his paddock spot looking out

All the questions I went into this past weekend with - are answered.  

Don't get me wrong, I have a ton more questions for Dee. There is never enough time to "finish" and so much more to learn! I cannot even begin to explain the experience and the amount of information learned from our group of 5 horses who were at such different points in life and human/horse relationships.  Working from sun-up to sundown, and late into some nights, and totally immersed...mentally exhausted from taking it all in but wanting to do more.  

I knew I needed to go.  I was on the brink of deciding to keep him or not and I needed Dee's honest assessment of us together to see if I was 'outmatched' or if there was a mental, emotional, or physical reason for the hindrance to our progress. I was afraid, and half expecting she was going to say he was all wrong for me, but little did I know how WRONG I was about that!

To sum it up - HE IS HERE TO STAY.  

He is my partner, my 'once in a lifetime' horse if I do right by him.  He is not lame. He has no physical issues in the hind end.
We found some things that needed addressing on him and me.  We found a saddle that doesn't hurt. We fixed my issues with sending him to the right. We will replace the bit that he has now informed me he hates.  

And we will move forward, together.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Step 2 continued

So we have addressed the hooves and are working on the saddle....

First, we had a short ride in the Duett Companion saddle to see how it felt to both of us... Friday eve it wasn't storming as I expected so we grabbed the saddle and headed to the round pen. No bridle, just a halter. I let him move a bit in the round pen without me, then he stood well for mounting from the block.  We had a few good steps, then ears went back, nose came around, crow hopping started.  Ok, then - no go.  I put it a little too forward, my bad.
We tried again on Sunday afternoon, Jen met us to ride with Silver and offer outside insight of the saddle fit (centering, etc).  He was none too thrilled about the whole idea, and I can't really say what we think about saddle fit yet. He was overall fussy and tense, and not appreciative of it riding down his neck on any type of downhill incline. The girth was too long, but the saddle replaced itself nicely as soon as we moved slightly uphill.  We stayed away from steep inclines and did just under 2 miles walking.  Twist was OK for me, didn't feel too wide at least, but that seat is way slicker than anything I am used to! lol  I'm going to take it with me to our SET clinic and see what more experienced saddle fitting folks think.  I've still got a Specialized Wide to try, and have an email sent to Desoto on a used Extra Wide that might work :P

post ride snap shot

Right Front

An update to the hooves, he was walking tons better on the gravel this weekend, and I used his Scoot Boots for riding to keep him comfy.  I have measured his hinds and know we will be keeping an eye out for Size 2 for when we get back into the swing of things.

In addition to the Murdoch Method videos (and hopefully getting a firm Sure Foot pad set in the future for both of us to use) I have been doing a ton of research and digging into other ways to address his pain, and my own questions/concerns.  I signed up for CRK Training Blog updates and have been watching a few of her series to help myself on balance and fear. Plus of course still doing our SET virtual classes and getting excited for our clinic this weekend! I will be totally out of range for a few days immersing myself in Dee's knowledge in the company of some good friends with green and long time horses in different stages of relationship and learning.

I obtained some new reading material from Dr. Renee Tucker to help me try and narrow down his pain and correct next steps, in addition to what I already have in process.  Some of the checks seem simple enough to see what I learn!  (aside from the book there are videos available to view on "how to" as well).

Scheduling conflicts are forcing the TTouch and Bemer appointment to be delayed, but I will definitely still be doing that with him!

All these things are complimentary and only can help me to understand him (and myself) more.

In other news... Saturday morning Asher & Doug graduated to their Black w/ White belts :)  There were 28 students getting their 1st degree Black Belt too....crazy!

Then Doug & I worked Saturday afternoon and finished the deck staining!  That is it for wood work this year.  Now we look for a new grill and clean up our outdoor table to put up there, and finally start the fire pit building for use this fall.  Next spring we will be adding the railing around it (the far side is a 3'+ drop to the ground where the slope goes!)

And would you believe schools starts Wednesday and I will have one in Third grade and one in Kindergarten?  They are both really excited for the start of school :)  Tonight is the open house to drop off all their supplies and see the classrooms.  Skyler has the same teacher Asher did.  The first month is going to be a bit nuts, as she cannot be in the after school program until she turns 5, so Doug & I will be shifting around schedules to pick them up and work from home the last few hours.
So, my horse schedule will be all wonky for a while longer it seems!  Eventually we will find a new routine between school, soccer and karate!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Step 2

Step 1 was hooves, Step 2 is moving on to saddle fit ...

Actually, we did a small repeat of step 1 and the farrier came back out to re-balance Prophecy's hooves on Saturday. We had some good discussions and we are still holding off on shoes for now (he really does not feel this is the way we need to go at this point).  Prophecy was more comfortable walking on the rocks (and is pasture sound for sure with his running about), though I have noticed he has been more difficult about his right front being handled and cleaned since just before the vet visit. This time he tested reactive to the farrier's hoof testers on the RF just forward of his "separation" but that sensitivity ended by the toe.  Still may have a bruise or abscess to be watching for.
 On Sunday I cleaned them again, and for which he was much more willing on the RF now...amazes me sometimes to see that quick a change.  Then I measured his back hooves and re-applied his Hoof Armor on all 4 - easy peasey this time!
We have a plan to keep him at 4 week trim cycles max, and see where we end up in regards to shoes.  The good thing being that his hooves are very healthy, so pulling shoes for winter should give him time to recover nicely if we end up there.

Then we moved on to Step 2... Back mapping (again) and a trial fit of a friend's Duett Companion she has for sale to see if it is wide enough (36cm). I sent all the info to Duett for suggestions -which they said looked good and to give it a test ride. I may also be building myself a 'gauge' of sorts to see about checking other saddles against it.  He has definitely trimmed down since the last time I measured, but doesn't change that broad shoulder of his!

Duet 36cm...lightly girthed.
I'm pretty resigned to the fact he needs an anatomical shaped girth due to the foward groove!

The Ghost is for sale, with a possible trade for which I am going to try out her saddle soon. We will get this figured out one day right?!

Waiting to hear on his TTouch & Bemer appointment, and now have back hoof measurements to send off for review to see what size might work there.

Traveling once again this week, so won't see him till Fri!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Step 1

While my last blog post started some very heated discussions, it has not deterred me from sharing!  People are entitled to their opinions, but folks need to understand: what works for one person may or may not work for another.  I got plenty of suggestions (and some reprimands/demands) as well as some interesting things to consider shared with me on FB and privately.

As we work our way through, I know that no improvement means move on to the next thing, but also don't change too many things at once.  He has been barefoot his entire life that I know of...He is not always ouchy on rocks (summer seems to be doing it with the change in wet/dry grass) so he gets the chance to be like a 'mustang' and condition his foot with a little help.
I am aware and accept the fact he still may not make an endurance horse.  He has a love to go and be on trail, but we will have to see what his body does.  I owe him the work and time to strengthen his back and find the best fitting saddle we can within budget, rather than toss him to next person. Not only that, I want to. I have invested so much in him <not talking $ here> and we have come so far to just let it go...
I am on the great saddle hunt again, but already have several prospects and suggestions to look into...without going completely custom.
My ghost is up for sale, tho not advertised online yet as I have a few interested in it that privately contacted me.

Step 1, the Hoof Armor came in and I put it on 8/3.  Not too bad a learning curve on the trigger (comes out fast) and Prophecy while not happy about his right front being handled at all, relaxed when he felt the armor warm up as I spread it around.

I find this snip-it in one of the articles I read hits home on horse soles and human feet - good comparison to what they feel.

Imagine walking across the kind of sharp stones commonly found in
driveways with thick soled boots. Now, imagine walking (or actually try it)
with only your socks on. I guess what you would do in the latter case is try
not to put your weight on your tender feet. If you did come down hard it
might hurt and it may damage the sole of your foot.

While I was doing the application on the hooves he got to stand with the BOT back pad... of course we also took time for scratches before & after.  He really didn't want me to put away the pad and got an extra 5min by nosing it when I was trying to fold it up.

A 2nd trim is scheduled for end of this week to work on the balance. I'll have to reapply the hoof armor afterward, and then when the farrier returns for the normal cycle we will see if shoes are the next step.

Other tools to be implemented and in the works:
TTouch & Bemer Therapy (Bobbie Jo found me a rep!) - Already working on a date for us to get him started.
Murdoch Method - been watching videos and tips. Attended a webinar on Sure Foot pads (which can also help me and this darn ankle!).  She is also kind of local and is doing various lessons and clinics nearby throughout the fall I will check into.
Backing practice (uphills and along fence-lines - we were kind of already doing it but not consistently).

Take off!

I visited on Sunday morning and cleaned his feet, took a few hoof pictures and somehow forgot to measure his hind feet for boots again!  He got lots of scratches with grooming and time with the BOT pad.  As soon as I put it on, he started yawning and licking and chewing, I'm sure it feels good! He got a little antsy at the end, when I turned him out discovered the why  - he had to pee!  Then he took off through the field, and came trotting back to me after a drink.  So I decided to play and took off jogging and he came right along behind.
He was the only one out in the field, so he called a few times to his buddies but in general doesn't get too riled up and goes back to grazing after quickly. His buddy Willi is on the dry lot next to him until the evening when they are together.

A few videos of our fun:

When I realized he wanted to be with me so I started playing around

Sorry for bobble selfie-cam try at it!

So now I have a crazy schedule, as tonight was the first PTO meeting for the year (even though school starts the 23rd, we/the board have some things to discuss!); the normal weekday madness with camps, and me travelling to Charlotte down & back for a day for work ... I won't get to visit the goof till the weekend it appears!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A new path

I am really amazed by the support from friends - many I have never met in person!  Lots of suggestions to take in and sort through from those who have been there before, with same struggles or just slightly similar - tons of tidbits of information shared, and it not only could help me but maybe someone else as well who is struggling with that gut feeling something is NQR but can't put a finger on it.

There is a lot to consider for the future of Prophecy & me... that is just it, it isn't about the now. I want a decade horse, LD or endurance level doesn't matter really, just one that happily and healthily goes down the trail with me - granted I'd prefer we ditch the race brain part, but that may never happen! lol 
Don't get me wrong - I love to ride.  I will get my fix in somehow, but not on him before having a saddle that works again.

I don't give up easily.  While I know I may just keep peeling an onion, I will keep pressing forward with the simple fixes that I can until he tells me to do otherwise or we have resolution.  While I can't dole out endless funds in treatments and tools, I can give him time to heal; he has come such a long way in the year I've had him - physically and mentally.  We still have our challenges, but I'm hoping we can overcome them together. He knows I'm listening, that I'm looking out for his best interest. I cannot put my goals above his welfare.  It will only create resentment and pain for both of us.  

For now my plan is:
1. Try and toughen up his soles.  Shoes with pads may be the quick fix, and we may still end up there, but I can give him a month or two using Hoof Armor or the like to help him out.  He has good feet otherwise now that we have eliminated the WLD if we keep up the trims.
2. Look into hind hoof boots - they are not quite as round as the fronts, and generally don't flare which can be easier to fit.  Scoots may not be the answer yet until they release slims.  He definitely is not as ouchy on the back feet, but I can look into all around protection for when we ride again if we stay out of shoes. I'm lucky to have gotten the Scoots from Dave in AU and I love how easy they are to use.
3. Sell the Ghost ... try out other (more) treed saddles.  Gosh I hate to sell this saddle - so comfortable and secure even as a treeless...but I will do what I need to.  And the thought of the saddle hunt again on this horse, ack!
4. Get instructions/lessons on ground work exercises to help his back. And under saddle when we get back to that point.
5. Get him on a regular massage and magna wave schedule with Sarah.  
6. Keep hunting for a Bemer Blanket nearby to try - Thanks to Bobbie Jo L this may be figured out!  I also should use his BOT pad more often, despite the heat outside. He enjoys it, let it do its thing!
7. More Osteopath work?  

It's a start, and I have to start somewhere.  The whole thing is overwhelming at times as you could go an infinite number of directions. Everyone has an opinion on what I should do, and that is OK - I'm happy to hear them out and take them into consideration. In the end, it is up to me & Prophecy to figure out our path.

Thank you for reading along... I will continue to update our progress as we navigate our way through and see how things develop; hoping that 2018 will be our year!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Facing heartache, again.

The story of my hunt for answers on Prophecy continued...

I finally got out to see and ride Prophecy on Sunday to do a check-in and see how he was feeling after the trim & CST work.  I arrived to hear he had been playing hard with Marty that morning enjoying the cool weather start.  Initially I thought "uh-oh" as he can tweak his back out there, but was happy to find him feeling really good during grooming with no twitchy spots.  In fact, he was heavily into having his left ear and side of head scratched so I obliged and kept looking for spots to relieve the itch, but that was the "one" we kept going back to (aside from belly area).
We groomed and tacked up slowly doing body checks along the way, adding back his Scoot Boots on the front.  He gladly let me put on his LF, started dancing when I went to do the RF... Wonder what he is telling me there? Doesn't want to balance on left? Or doesn't think he needs it on the right?  I asked him to stand nicely and put it on as it was to see if he could feel better on the rocks and I needed both on.  When saddling I loosened his breast collar a few notches on the shoulder straps to make sure it wasn't causing undue pressure based on the CST findings last week.

We walked out on the rocks and I could see the "Rocks, ouch" look on his face slowly disappear as he realized the fronts were protected. He stood pretty well for mounting and off we went walking behind the empty pasture and then up the driveway to another trail entrance.  I had to hop off to do the gate, and he was good for me getting back on using the fence on his off side (which can be his preferred side many times!).  We had a few discussions over walking down inclines vs trot & rush - that was the only time I saw any head tossing.  He was generally ears forward and happy to be walking along with a few trot spurts that he threw in a few buck threats but then settled into a good pace. I didn't do too much of trotting but it was nice to see him stop pinning his ears and feeling tucked under in the rear immediately. He did ask to canter a few times and didn't try and toss me off with it. He still felt tense, which could be attributed to memory of expected pain, or training issues, or still lingering pain....I can definitely tell he felt better, but still need to check the box on the vet exam to have piece of mind.

Dinner with his BOT pad after our ride Sunday. 

So that is where we are at... Vet exam was today. I had planned to do front hoof X-rays to check sole thickness and SI area, but we didn't go that route...

I was very pleased with Dr. Santos from Blue Ridge - he took time to read the write up of everything I have experienced and tried with Prophecy in last year+ I've had him and discovered along the way. Some things have never changed about him, regardless of what therapy I try, and that is what led me here.  He understands endurance (has some experience with it in Brazil as well) and knows my goal was to get back into it.  Of course we laughed about how wide Prophecy is for an Arab, and his lack of withers, but he was happy to see he has good sized feet to support his structure. Not perfect in conformation overall, but not horrible.

He worked through (with his assistant handling Prophecy so we could talk together while watching Prophecy): walking on gravel and grass; Trot outs on gravel and grass; lunging in the round pen; flexion tests; back testing; hoof testers and finally saddle fit.  He was obviously head-bobbing on the RF, but it would change up on grass vs. gravel and depending on the out/back he'd show off on RH or LH.  Hind was positive, but not as much as I thought it would be...Prophecy's demeanor changed more than anything else, lashing out trying to nip the assistant when he was bothered by the trot out.

-RF is sore.  (we rode in boots yesterday, so it didn't show)
-His leg ligaments/tendons checked out with what he would expect of a working horse and all findings were bi-lateral.
-No heat.
-Soles were softer than he would like to see, but good sized hoof. Some imbalance in the trim on left side
-Not hugely lame or off in any particular flexion test but enough reaction to say something is up (RF was main issue showing up today).
-There is some short striding in the back end.
-Muscle atrophy on the right hamstring.
-His back is very tense, a few trigger spots 'bringing him to his knees' for lack of another term. He is not using the muscles as he should when asked to round up or against a tail pull. He not only got tense, but threatened to bite in many spots.
-The Ghost saddle does not work for him; despite being able to adjust it to match his width and having the ortho-impact inserts on the Matrix pad - because of his other back issues he needs more structured support at this point in time.

-Put 4 shoes on with leather pads and see if that relieves any of the stiffness and hind-end issues or if it lingers. Could inject hocks to see if it helps.
-Do not ride until I find a draft tree ("Fresian") saddle that has a short foot print small enough for his Arab back.  Do not go for a custom saddle as he will change.
-Lots of ground work to fix his back muscles. It could take 6months or more - this is a long standing issue and may not actually resolve.

And the last thing he discussed with me leaves me with such heartache: 
Consider placing him in another home, as the outcome is very unknown at this time (as far as endurance future). We may solve one issue only to find another (as the story has gone so far)...I could make the changes he recommends and be in the same boat a year from now.

What I expected to hear today: Put shoes on and get him to a trainer to break through the other issues. I was not prepared for the emotional impact of the possibility of the answer he might not be endurance worthy, though I knew I could have gotten a definite "Not" today, I didn't think about a "Maybe."

And then thoughts start spinning...
But how could I move him on?  He is a project horse not only mentally but now physically. I've invested so much time and energy in his well being, and bonding and enjoying that Saga-baby goofy personality.  I need to give it a chance, but for how long?  I said I would give him this summer to figure out if we need a go to a trainer - that may still be the case, but again not something I can do when he's legitimately got a reason for being a pill.  There is such emotion behind that choice and making sure he'd find the right landing spot if so...

I can't keep spending money on I guess I sell mine and hope to find something in the same price range in the right tree...until then??  Figure out some type of ground work that doesn't bore him.  Walk trails... I don't know, I'm not good at coming up with ideas there.  Ponying him would be great, but I have just 1 horse.

The first step would be shoes, and starting more ground work while I work to find a saddle. The fact he did not feel off or anything yesterday in boots further supports his need for shoes.  The back muscle rebuilding, this likely means a trip to a TTouch trainer a few hours away to learn how to apply the tapes, etc to help him re-learn to carry himself correctly.  She does take in training and rehab horses, but I doubt that is in the budget.  Turning him out to pasture won't fix this either as best I can tell and isn't my plan.  He has been avoiding pain for so long (even prior to me) that he has a lot to overcome when a saddle is placed on his back.

I want what is best for him. I want what is best for me... Right now I need to figure out what that is.  I'm not ready to give up. I will still take him at the end of Aug to our SET clinic with Dee, maybe I'll have a saddle that works and maybe I won't. I got so much out of just auditing her class I'm sure he and I will still get a lot out of it even if just working on the ground.