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.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

what's next?!

Ever feel completely defeated?
What next?! is all I can say sometimes.

I thought things were going really well for us back in early June - Prophecy was willing and happy, moving nicely without tension or bucking.  Then it fell apart again.  Things have not improved with the hoof growth later in the cycle, so I'm not convinced the trim was the culprit - just the happenstance of timing, or maybe the catalyst?

Something is NQR...and I don't think it is all training related. Don't get me wrong, he IS green and needs more miles and confidence building, but I am also re-questioning if his issues over the right hind for trims is something actually physical (vs. trust), leading us down a path of scheduling a lameness evaluation.

Google is not your friend when you are researching the various possibilities!  I can only hope it is something "simple" like corrective shoeing needed... but the words kissing spine, fibrotic myopathy, stifle or hock arthritis, Degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD), various ligament and tendon tears, have come up too.  Things to set your mind spinning...

We have still been riding, but I am not pushing him; pretty much walk only with a few trot spurts when he feels good.  His weight is looking great, his body is just needing more muscle tone, but I can't ask much of him in my opinion till I know he is doing it without pain.  Saturday morning's ride was not one of our better ones.  First half started out pretty well, until I asked him to trot where he normally loves to move out - his answer was ears pinned, tucked under rear end, threatening to buck... He became head tossy again, prancing and bucking on the latter half of our 2.5mile stroll with barn buddies, but we held it together. He also seemed to trip a bit more - going downhill especially.  I lunged him upon our return a few circles and confirmed his was tripping without me on and I couldn't see why, but he had a little head bob.  He is now overdue for a trim at 6weeks due to scheduling changes, and has flared pretty strongly upfront so that could be the reason for tripping  - though that has not been an issue before.

I hope the next two weeks gives us answers between Sandy's visit for CST work on him, farrier, and finally the lameness eval if needed to investigate more if the previous two items don't find a culprit.

Where this will take us next, I don't know.  We will keep on keeping on and find it together.

Ears up leading the way Saturday am
I "published" the above post Sunday, but decided not to share on FB, just with a few close friends to bounce around ideas...So I pulled it back to update with our findings from today/Wednesday between the farrier and Sandy - It just so happened they ended up on the same day, so I took a day off to be fully involved this as my thoughts have been a mess of questions and considerations.

Sandy was first up this morning.  I had her work on him & me this time - my right ankle the mess that it is, and my crummy sleep lately has left me with lots of headaches and some TMJ issues, I could use some relief. Plus if we are trying to overcome his emotional hangups riding, we need to get me straight in that equation too.

Overall Prophecy was in much better shape than Sandy's last/first visit.  Right away she pin-pointed this issue that was causing the buck at the canter - psoas muscle - deep down tweak. It took quite a while to get it released, and just a few other minor spots and then we saged him.  I had heard of doing this to houses, but never tried it, nor heard of it being used on horses!  It worked its magic around his withers, shoulders and girth area, and apparently a few spots related to the breast collar too - so I'll have to check the settings of that.  She did not note anything on his hocks or stifles, so that is at least good news.

I enjoyed my CST work after putting him out in the round lower back was out and my neck and shoulder tension was strong.  No more TMJ issues and I don't feel locked up on the right hip! I almost fell asleep in my epsom soak this evening...hoping my mind slows down and I can sleep a little easier now.

Next up with the farrier - a new one today.  Despite the huge chip he took out of his front left somewhere Sat afternoon to Monday eve when I found it, and other than being long and flared again up front, he thought he had good growth, no WLD, good concavity, and his soles are sloughing off on their own well.  Prophecy is still ouchy on rocks, so he suggested a hoof hardener for the soles and using boots when we ride.  If I feel he is not improving, we will go to front shoes next time (or sooner if needed).  Prophecy was extremely chill for his trim...except the RH, which Sandy said he would still be a little sore in the rear, but he was definitely better than he had done previously - and if the psoas muscle is an ongoing issue it would explain why he didn't want to have hinds done in general.

Watching Rich work on his back foot 

So, the question still exists, what do I do next?

24hrs rest then see how he I guess I will try and hop on Thursday night if it isn't storming. I also must make sure to use his scoots so he isn't worried about or feeling the rocks so much. After a nice long talk with a good horsey friend to say out loud all my questions and answers we've gotten so far, I am going to go ahead with his lameness eval on 7/31. I need to make sure there is nothing underlying causing the recurrent SI area pain and RH stiffness. It will give me the piece of mind I need, and hopefully answers, to keep planning on how we move forward.

Friday, July 14, 2017

100 miles

So I realized Prophecy & I hit a milestone while updating our conditioning log...Of the mileage I have tracked while riding, we have hit 100 miles together in a year :)  He actually didn't have a saddle to work with until July 2016 and I don't always track our workouts, so really it is more  🐎

Proof I ride thanks to Jen!

Before leaving for FL I helped Doug lay the first quarter of the deck planks and upon my return we finished another quarter.  Seems to take way longer than we expect it too! 😝 This coming weekend I get to start staining (weather permitting) while Doug & Asher keep moving on installing planks.

Dogs while we worked the first weekend

Even Asher wanted to help screw in planks

1st bit complete

2nd bit
This past Sunday I met Jen & Suzette at the barn to ride again, we did almost 3miles this time wandering about (we had ourselves stuck at 2 on our "normal" path).  The humidity was lower, but the sun still strong and bugs still annoying.  The boys were all very good; Prophecy pretty relaxed and cooperative leading and following (learning he can't be on someone's rump!) and listening to not being allowed to stop and eat all the time. We had one big spook over a baby deer running off, he bolted forward a few steps but quickly came back to a stop and I had him face the woods, to which he let out a nice deep sigh after.  It definitely helped that the other 2 boys barely reacted so he didn't feel he should.   We did a lot of walking, a few trots, and nice hose down after of course.  He is averaging a ~3-3.5 mph walk without dawdling, but still totally out walking the other two!  The Matrix stayed where it needed to since going back to twine.  He was hardly fussy, and we are just coming on 4w post trim so maybe the was the culprit for the attitude change?  More rides to confirm that suspicion needed!

He keeps getting better about saddling :)

This week began our crazy camp schedule for Asher combined with Skyler taking swim lessons for 2 weeks after work, which means I get to the barn at 8pm!  Kind of nice that isn't as brutally hot then at least...

Monday night I went out and had the intent of either riding in the empty pasture or lunging.  I decided when I caught him to do some "dancing" on our way back and it only took one time of him not keeping with me to get it.  It engaged his mind a bit as we made our way back across the field.  As I started to groom my plans changed and I decided to do hands on body work instead.  He really loves his hamstrings worked on and had a few neck and shoulder spots too.  I also went after his back some to see if he was sore at all.  I kept a close eye and avoided being stepped on as he adjusted this time! (see further explanation below).  In following Dee and the SET method I make a very a conscious choice to be aware of his responses/reactions any time we are together.  While he greatly enjoyed the body work, once I moved on to fixing the wind knots in his mane and then looking to do a few braids for the heat, he said he was "done" and did not want the braids.  It was very clear when he barely moved for 45min, and now was backing himself and blocking me from standing in the right spot to braid that he did not want that.  So, instead of forcing a stand still, I let it go.  He helped me put his muzzle back on when got into the field and then went off to graze contently while I visited the rest of the herd for a few scratches.

Skyler working on kicking using a float

She was intent on catching minnows after class

Prophecy wondering why I've stopped Monday night
Unfortunately I can't seem to catch a break on my right foot/ankle.  PT ended officially mid June, just doing it on my own now. I can still feel knots at the base of some calf muscles which is causing heel pain (per the PT) so stretching and massaging a lot.  The ankle itself can still get tender on the ligaments too. Knowing that I might have to run a bit in the airport and that I would be wearing heels at the funeral, I traveled to FL in my brace to give it extra support and rest.  First thing that did me in was opening my parent's freezer drawer and found out there isn't much clearance to the floor, therefore nailing the top of my right foot = bruise and of course in the spot where the brace edge sits too, so there went wearing that!  Next, upon returning home and carrying wood to work on the porch my ankle rolled, the opposite direction of the last sprain in April, no idea why (no hole in the ground).  OK, so when I went riding Sunday I played it safe wearing the brace in case it was weak.  That was all fine and dandy until the 3rd offense, when Prophecy took a huge step over while I was grooming and working on his hamstrings to land right on top of my foot. I was not quick enough to get out of the way and had to shove him off. That smarted!  I guess he came down pretty square on me & now have a bruise that is going along the base of my toes and the arch with some swelling.  I can walk and ride fine, the only pain is in boots as it feels a bit rubbed by them on the top.

Thursday was another late night. Suzette & I poked and prodded at Prophecy as we discussed some of my thoughts on him, and found a concerning reaction to palpation on the inner hamstring of his right hind, on the back side of the stifle. I've had suspicions of something not being right on the hind as the culprit of his bucking under saddle; the saddle fit checks out good and the head tossing pretty much stopped with a bit that has greater tongue relief.   So, I think an exam with a lameness vet is next on our list to make sure his body can handle the demands I will be placing on it for endurance, or if he needs to be an LD horse, or a pleasure horse only. I likely will have him tested (titer count) for Lyme as well to be sure since it is so common now.

We also marveled on how good his weight is looking now... His neck does react to the change in grass so it is something an eye on; he still has some fat pockets, but you can see where ribs are! Not hugely defined, but his body is shaping up nicely again, just needs the long miles to muscle up and get rid of the fat - but first to make sure he is doing it pain free.  After we thoroughly annoyed him, I ended up just lunging him a bit in the open pasture.  A few discussions on NOT eating the grass and he did his work nicely.  I got him into a canter going CW, but not CCW. He sure looked pretty moving, other than the pinned ears. I was hot and sticky after only about 10min out there at 8+ at night so we didn't do much. It was more a mental day and I played with some again dancing - run, stop, back, turn - keep your eyes on me while leading - then back to the pasture he went.  I walked off about 10' when he was just standing and the gate and squatted down to watch the rest of  the herd. He walked up, placed his muzzled nose on me, on my head, into my back, breathed deep and then started grazing right next to me.  A sweet end to the night.

Trying out some new colors from Two Horse Tack - full review to come!
Friday morning I got a blog update from one of the blogs Jaime turned me on to, a few quotes that hit home from Anna Blake.

"If you are looking for a better relationship with horses then listen more. Strive to understand them more for who they are rather than who we want them to be. 

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let the rest go. It’s the opportunity your horse is waiting for. He might need a while to trust it but then he’ll tell you his side of things. It will make perfect sense."

Monday, July 3, 2017


This post was started at one point and paused.... it remains untitled because I cannot figure out a good one.  What is fact:  Life is full up and and downs, and the certainty of death one day.
Not an hour of finally being home on the 28th from my trip (below), I learned of my Grandmother's sudden decline in health, and later that day she was moved to hospice care.  Her COPD and Congestive Heart Failure finally taking hold just after her 97th birthday.  On Sunday at 2:28am her fight ended, she is now at peace and with my grandpa.  I'm glad for the good times we had in my younger years, though we drifted apart later, she was still my grandmother...the last grandparent of mine, and therefore the only one to meet Asher (and many pictures of Skyler).  She was a strong determined lady who bounced back from numerous health issues, and as many have experienced, her memory failed her the past few years.  I used to call, but it became difficult to carry on a conversation. I visited last summer and found she did not remember me...It is so hard to on everyone else to watch someone slowly slip away.  

Cherish the good memories always

My dad took this picture of us June 2016. My last with her.

The original start of the post
As is always, things change...while I thought I had the perfect tack combo, I might not... It is a process of elimination and why I keep such detailed notes to figure out "what changed" (if anything) or if it is an attitude/training thing.

I rode last Friday & Saturday (alone) before heading out on my work trip the 25th.  Friday's ride had a fun little 180 while cantering up a hill due to the big leaf/tree pile catching his eye.  We continued on and had a small discussion (waiting him out to move my direction) on continuing to walk down the other hill rather than the shortcut back to the barn.  Saturday was a bolt stint after a deer (I think) spooked him in the bushes on the straight away early in our ride.  I ended up dropping my stirrups and had to hold on tight till he came back under control but I refused to be unseated!  It was really a short issue, but definitely got our hearts pumping! Most of the ride after was fine, with another discussion when asked to head down a trail head instead of towards his buddies, but we got through that (with just waiting him out again) and finished up the ride with little trouble.

Discussion point Friday on the hill

Finished up on Saturday

Getting ready to go Thurs eve

Fast forward past a crazy work trip...really good training class (on ISO 13485:2016 changes if anyone is interested in what I was doing!), but horrible traveling experience.  It ended up taking me an extra 14 hours to get home due to a shutdown and pile up of planes at LaGuardia airport.  Fortunately my corporate travel app was able to find me a hotel that night, but I wound up flying into Richmond and renting a car to get back to Charlottesville the next day. 3 nights of crappy sleep and I slept through the alarm Thursday morning!

Basically he got another round of a week off until my return to the barn the 29th.  I went out with Suzette on Willie and boy was he just 'fussy,' to use her words.  Head fussy (but not the tossing we had before, and more that just bugs); he also attempted, and completed, bucks several times (but never to where I came off).  The last one being going up the hill as we headed back to the barn.  Craziness that I could not find a tack reason for.  So what changed?  The 'fresh'and fussy attitude resurfaced after his last trim, as well as his visit with Sandy ... I'll be watching to see if it improves as he gets further into the trim cycle or not, and I know Sandy plans to return later July too.  The pad placement for that ride was not "perfect".  I noticed into it that the matrix was not perfectly centered in the gullet, my bad for not catching that pre-ride but it wasn't horribly out of place either.  I have trimmed down the Dixie Midnight to better match the saddle pad contour now, I just think it looks "cleaner" too with the matching shape... not a perfect match but pretty good.

I used the weight tape on him after our ride Thurs and it shows ~980lbs, which is down from last Aug's, and probably this spring's, weight of 1015 (Aug was done on an actual scale).  He is looking pretty good, and we keep a close eye on his neck to ensure his crest isn't getting hard or bigger. You still can't see ribs, but the extra fat around the shoulders and tail are disappearing and you don't have too dig too much to find them.

Continue on today's update
So I made my flight arrangements to travel to FL for the funeral. I will unfortunately have to miss the 4th at home with the kids, but we will get to enjoy some celebrating at home Monday night and Tuesday morning before catching a flight mid afternoon.

Before my emotions go awry I grabbed another ride with Suzette & Willie this morning (Monday).  Prophecy came in stiff today, so I spent some extra time on his lower back and hamstrings.  He was flinchy on his left side lower back, not normal for him.  I learned they were all a bit riled up last night, so maybe he took a spill.  We tacked up, but not without him attempting to bite me to which he got a swift reminder about the unacceptability of that action.  I decided to press on, and if he felt off or acted out I would just hand walk to keep him moving and stretched out.  Once mounted he relaxed and perked up.  We kept things mainly to a walk, only a little trotting at the end. He loosened up and was not nearly as "fussy" as the last ride, just a little bit of buck but nothing as big as before.  His back stopped flinching after our ride and he got a nice hose down before turn out.  Hopefully the riding and hill walking helped loosen that tight spot.

I did notice the matrix again not staying nicely pulled up into the center again, so I changed back to bailing twine to keep it in place, where I had been trying a velcro strap to make it easier to pull the saddle and pad apart for cleaning.  Have to see how next ride goes...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday triumphs

I've concluded that in buying a horse you enter in an unknown, and somehow, all 3 of mine have had some pretty rough patches to work through from previous lives.  I guess if it was easy it wouldn't be "my style."  I mean really, we have a Golden from rescue that many people gave up on (and on occasion drives us nuts!), and Rotti that was rescued found wandering the streets of TX, who still even after 4years with us thinks food is going to disappear.
More on this thought later...

This past Friday after work I had planned to grab Prophecy, take some hoof/conformation photos, and fix up the Frankenstein muzzle to be less clunky (barn manager added metal clips because a pasture-mate was undoing the straps even with duck-tape).  Of course, it started a complete downpour with flash-flooding as I pull in.  I ended up doing a bunch of organizing between my stuff in the tack room and the trailer. Unfortunately, the heavier rain has shown there is still a leak in one window of the GN, so now I'm trying to figure out where the track is letting the water in.  It isn't huge, but I do have insulation up and hoping to get to adding wall coverings this year so need to fix that!  Plus, once I switch my mattress around the leak would end up on my head!

Saturday morning I met Jen to ride with her & Silver again, before the rain and heat of the day.  Prophecy and I had a few discussions about staying IN the barn when single tied in the aisle.  He was a little more "full of himself" on the ride compared to the previous ones, but not anything like the issues we had before, just more "yeehaw" attitude ... I figure it is because he had a full week+ off with our vacation timing, probably still adjusting from the recent trim, and I had thrown his front boots on to start using them again so we can hit rocky stuff soon.  A short 2 miles (as we are now dodging the flies on the trails harassing us), then hoof pics, a nice hose down and a few min to graze, and then I got to fixing the muzzle.

Almost ready to head out, sporting his Scoot Boots

I could actually take a picture,
 without fear of needing both hands
Monday night I went out to another set of storms rolling through...So, I decided to just hang in the pasture and see what happens. I hopped on the fence rail and eventually he came over for some scratching, nearly knocking me off trying to get his rump in the right spot for me.  I hopped down and did his belly and chest to his delight too.

Ooo that feels good
(he is nuzzling his muzzle while I scratch too)

Right there!
It was so peaceful hanging out listening to horses munch grass, birds in the trees, and the distant thunder rumbling as rain continued to lightly fall.

Back to beginning of this post...
I know I certainly do my due-diligence, but I also know there has to be a line drawn for exploring pain being the reason for under saddle responses vs. a training issue.  Tuesday morning was one of the final pieces of that exploration for me; A visit with an energy and body worker recommended by Dee as she felt from my descriptions of him in April that there was something missing in his physical assessments to get to the root of the issues. Bonus for us that she was able to come to me instead of hauling out several hours to have him worked on in a few weeks since she was coming through the area for other clinics/appointments.  What Sandy confirmed in her work this morning on him - He has an extreme amount of emotional baggage that he has been carrying around for years ... The "performance anxiety" that David pointed out - it is that.  He is holding on to expectations that aren't his own, or even mine right now, and it is causing him all sorts of distress physically.  His sternum and diaphragm were out again (which she explained how that is causing the saddle roll issue I have), his front end was not "talking to" his back end, there was tons of tension in the girth area.  He was actually playing tug of war with the me while holding his lead rope in his mouth as she worked to free him up when we reached a really tense spot (from previous stories you know he plays with just about anything in his mouth's reach normally, but this was definitely a tension thing).  It was really amazing to see as his body changed before us.

There is more yet to do to get him to release all the old memories (like I must find some sage this week), but I'm sure he will get through it and come out so much happier!  I "endured" many horse kisses & hugs from him during her work, along with impatient moments, but overall he did great and was much more relaxed in posture when she was done.  His tack is checking out good at this point - just have to see how he develops muscle wise if we will need to tweak things later!

Fingers crossed for no rain Friday night when I head out next!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


I think I have my horse back :)  And me...  We had another great ride last Thursday evening with the barn manager and her big guy Willie.  Both boys need to work off some weight and gain some muscle tone.  It was their first time out together and had no issues.

Prophecy again was very happy to take off leading down the trails, once I pointed him in the direction of which trail.  We did big hills, had a jump spook for a deer running off in front of us, but no major discussions on speed or direction.  He seems to be back to his happy self, walking out, trotting and cantering willingly without the hint of a buck.  Saddle is staying in place on the steeper hills we have at the barn, and only shifting on the spooks a little - or, in our case when I went to mount and didn't have the cinch that extra 1/2 hole on one side tighter! oops.

I guess it is about time to trim down the Dixie Midnight to match the pad contour better (as well as make sure it won't be in the way on the longer cinch we are waiting on). My only issue tacking up at the moment is when I set that on first, evenly, it gets shifted when I put the saddle & pad on and have to fiddle a bit.  Prophecy doesn't appreciate that, but has gotten better about it.

Over the last month Prophecy has undergone diet changes, pasture changes, and human emotional interaction changes lol.  I have learned to keep myself calmer, to let go of my assumptions and hidden expectations (like of him misbehaving for tacking), and it has changed things for the better.  He has even decided being in the barn aisle cross-tied is preferred to standing in the sun single tied and has become quite relaxed for it all compared to before.  This is the time of year he really loves belly and chest scratches so I make sure to spend plenty of time doing that before and after working!

The diet and muzzle are working well. His body is slowly changing and he will continue to stay on the ThyroL.  He seems to feel better all around, so I don't want to rock the boat!  Our pasture analysis came back good and our current regime is balanced on minerals.

Another big milestone...

I now have a 3rd Grader and Kindergartener!  Yikes!

Last day of school - June 9

Skyler graduated from her Preschool
After the end of school we took a family trip to Williamsburg.  Particularly to hit Busch Gardens and Water Country.  This was Skyler's first experience at any type of amusement park, and Asher was not even 3 the last time we were at one.

They loved it :) Both had their first roller-coaster rides and water slides.  Asher even did one that went upside down (twice! once with each of us), though he didn't like the free-fall and hid his head he loved the rest.  I hadn't been on any in years, so it was fun to be a kid again!

Entering Busch Gardens
First stop was the stables!

Now we start the full swing of several different summer camps for Asher; Skyler will stay at her current school for their summer program.  He certainly is not going to be lacking for experiences in new places! :P

The first weeks/rest of June won't result in much changing of my barn time.  But after that we switch to places that are further away and I'll move to heading out late eve, most times after dinner through dark.  I'm hoping to get him trailering out on occasion too, in small riding groups, a few weekends.
I certainly have desires for the fall and getting him to a few AERC rides, but I've also made myself put those aside and see how the summer goes and how I can get him built up mentally to handle ride camp AND being asked to ride in/out of camp!

He was so good for his trim with Paige today. He loved his belly and chest scratches from me while she worked. He is looking pretty good too! Not so much belly from behind :P

Heading back out to graze

Other news on the home front is my decision NOT to continue with our home barn building plans.  It is just too much up front expense for a small acreage set up.  Sooo... on to other home improvement projects!

This past weekend was the OD... I have now missed that ride for two years.  I really hope to be back next year.

Tesla & me at the OD LD  in 2015 - leaving the VC I believe...It was HOT! and humid. We lucked out and had a light rain the last few miles and could fly into the finish in time with my now greenbean teammate Kristen & Flash.