Sunday, April 23, 2017

Taking it all in

Wednesday I visited Prophecy at lunch to take some quick saddle pics, insert a shim into the right panel of the saddle, and do his worming.  This week has not left much time for him in the physical sense, so I wanted to get out and connect with him... I really needed to, as this week also marked a year since losing Tesla to colic - I needed to feel that connection with a horse to help with the emotions raging under the surface.
Traveler & Tesla's intertwined tail hair bracelet

Thursday I took the day off of work to head a few hours west of here to audit a clinic of Simple Equine Teaching  and all I have to say is WOW; even-though I was only able to make it for one of the two days (they started Wed), I came away with a ton of new tools in my box. Jaime introduced me to the SET group last year, and I more recently have been doing the online Facebook classrooms to further my relationship with Prophecy (highly recommend!).
I have so much running around in my head I don't even know where to start...  I watched her work with 4 other horse & rider pairs and she willingly took questions from us from sun-up to past dark, going down to the very foundation of the 'issues' we were asking about, giving us more information that I think we can process!

I got the answer I really needed and have been searching for the past few months - though it is not the one I really wanted to hear, but had felt was the real issue anyway - the issues with Prophecy feeling "balled up" are due to my reaction when he first balled up that day riding with another horse.  It was our first outing with that horse, who happened to spook badly and I in turn tensed up...something I had not done when riding Prophecy alone for so many rides before that.  Since then, he has likely felt my anxiety and not forgotten that moment and it created some "distrust" in my ability to be a leader for him (especially since he is the Alpha in his pasture).  She recommended I do something (non horse related) that truly scares the crap out of me to help me through that anxiety 😲 Half the stuff she mentioned carries a risk of death!  And of course, do what it takes (arena work, etc) to gain more confidence on him.  I think a lot of my confidence issue to ride out what he throws comes from knowing the saddle will not necessarily stay in place for all those movements, despite all my efforts to get it solid (and this has been an issue in every saddle we try that doesn't later prove to be too narrow and pinch him).  Hopefully the addition of the shim will help even it out more so we won't be tipped right, the Dixie midnight pad will continue to be used as well, and a new saddle pad to try is on order that I have gotten testimonials about from other treeless users with wide low withered horses to really help with the rolling (which it also carries a 30day guarantee on it so gives me time to really test it).

I knew most of this, but Prophecy has a great personality to work with, and is very willing, he is just apparently trying to take me to the next level of GO all the time so I just have to rein him in some to work where I am at.  Lots of tools learned at the clinic.  He is very curious and confident, and I need to use that to my advantage.

We are hoping to get her back to VA again, and if I so I am definitely planning to bring Prophecy out to work with!
The beautiful views from the pastures at The Big Lonely as the mist rises Thursday morning

The sun was out quite a bit more and stronger than the weather predicted, so I got a little burnt!  Afternoon storms blew in about 3:15 but we were prepared to get wet.
Afternoon view

I took some of the tools I learned and went out to see Prophecy.  Catching was easy, he came walking up to me happy to see me. I took a ton of time grooming - boy he is shedding out to his nice liver -chestnut shade.
Tacking up was very relaxed as well. He didn't get antsy until the cinching up part.  He didn't even dance for seeing the saddle pad or saddle itself. Normally he can get a little worried as soon as he sees everything on the ramp.

So much hair!
This ride we tried a shimmed right shoulder, with the Dixie Midnight pad under the Matrix.  Neither he, nor Ruby who we were riding with, allowed us to tighten their girths as much as normal.  Jen & I both went with it, but that choice did not really work for us!  The Dixie seemed to slip itself and I ended up with an all 4 hooves in the air rodeo style buck - that I stayed on for! We fixed tack when he refused to go down a hill without bucking and tossing his head around, then I remounted.  We rode a little further, and then he attempted to rear (small, but both fronts left the ground) when we are at the home stretch along the pastures.  I hopped off, realizing he was screaming at me at this point as Dee would say...and walked him back the rest little bit.  I found the Dixie completely off center upon our return.  Not sure if it had to do with the looser set up, or the shim... It did not shift like this when we rode last weekend at Preddy Creek, and this was 2.5 miles compared to 5 ...

Pretty mane clip with bells to ride with

After we were done I headed to Amanda's to grab a few hay bales for our trip to Bull Run next weekend. She has some good stuff he likes :)   I stuck around a while to chat (and whine about saddle fit), and was there when Jeannie Waldron came out to vet one of her horses for sale being looked at by a fellow endurance rider.  We chatted and she remembers seeing him in Dec (Osteopath visit) - showed her some pics of today's saddle fit check and she went "Oh, I see your problem...bummer, that's a tough one to work with"... Just what I wanted to hear! NOT!  She suggested booking him for his next adjustment and LOTS of time to play with saddles and find him a good fit, and tweak the one I've got. He definitely needs a wide in any treed type, she even said not to be afraid of one advertised as an 'extra-wide'.

When I had him back at the barn I made a few little tweaks to the saddle on the right side, since it now seemed to need to be set slightly wider with the shim in the panel.  I'm hoping maybe someone will have some saddles we can play with at Bull Run too. Someday I'll get this guy figured out!

Monday I pick up the trailer from it's yearly inspection/maintenance and begin to pack up for Bull Run. Should be a hot weekend, mostly dry forecast at this point.  We will see how he does and go forward from there. I will say that on Sunday's ride he was not "balled up" as before, even with all the head tossing and bucking, etc - he was legitimately voicing his displeasure to me, not just being in that emotional state I saw before, so I know we are making progress and I managed to keep my own emotions in check with him.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Going somewhere

So this past week we didn't ride, but I was able to swing a ride with Jen & Brian again - this time we hauled out Saturday morning.  Preddy Creek is right around the corner from our house basically, but I have never ridden there...We've taken the kids several times to hike tho!

I arrived to hook up and grab tack on schedule, and Prophecy loaded like a champ.  He got a little antsy waiting on Ruby & Silver to get loaded up and then we hit the road.  Unloaded well and tacked up fairly calmly too. I got to try out the Dixie Midnight pad too.  I think it did help with the slipping, now I just have to get it "right" for the pad. I don't want to cut it down until I nail down what pad we are using tho.

It was the first ride in a long time I have had where he did NOT get all balled up at some point! What a great feeling!   He was a little antsy when first mounting having to wait on Ruby, but I walked him around a little and that seemed to help.  We started out last/3rd, and that helped some, though he was a bit head tossy.  The only dismount came due to a downed tree as we decided to walk Ruby & Prophecy around it. Silver is much taller and could step over it easier.  Then Prophecy moved to being the 2nd horse behind Ruby.

We came up on a trio of bikers, who politely yielded to us, and while Prophecy wasn't so sure, we did walk past fairly calmly behind Ruby.  I am not sure how much bike exposure he has had before, so I was prepared for much worse!  We passed other people hiking, to which Prophecy happily got a pet on the nose by one lady in the group and eventually we took the lead.  Our pace drastically slowed some, as every tree stump or overturned root ball was something to spook at, and the wood benches along the trails were definitely a scary thing!  A few rocks required in depth investigation...another group of bikers (actually I think same from the first round?!) coming toward us to go past - and he did while in the lead!  A few more bikers to come up behind us to stop and let pass, a couple walking with their 3 legged dog pulling them along, and a group of horses going the other direction to let by. He led for quite a while, but as we came down by the creek there was a upturned tree with a root ball on the side of the trail taller than us, he stopped and spun sideways when asked to walk past.  So, Ruby took the lead for us and we finished our ~5mile ride with more gas in the tank and being a little grumpy about not leading 😏

The only picture I took was at the end...But Jen did grab a few of us to prove we were out there! I'm hoping to sort out the bouncing on my Uvex helmet and the camera so that I can take some videos soon :)

I used one of my portable water tanks to clean him off, as he definitely worked up a sweat at almost 80 and still shedding out winter coat.  Now loading up to go home was a little tougher, as he got obstinate once he saw Ruby & Silver load up.  Another rider out there parked behind us offered some treats, but I had his peppermint favorites.  Jen walked over and just urged him forward a bit as I led and he went on without much fuss. He did however talk/call out a ton on the first part of the drive back.  He was happy to run back out with Ransom when back at the barn, and then I ran the trailer up to the shop to leave it for the week/as long as needed to have the state inspection and yearly maintenance done.

Done, still ready for more
5 miles through the park

Later in the afternoon we went to one of Skyler's friends places for a quiet egg hunt. Kids had a fun (Doug included)  😛

Next week I'm auditing a clinic a few hours away for Simple Equine Teaching on Thursday. I'm hoping to get a ride in next weekend around the crazy schedule that seems to never end right now too. most of my friends will be at No Frills, but just not in cards for us this year. I did register us for Bull Run the last weekend of April - should be fun!

I have high hopes for us being on our way to more rides! 🐴

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bits and pieces

Last week I did not get to ride at all, just as I expected - Spring break had our schedule for drop off and pick up of kids all out of wack and we had lots of rain.  Friday I did manage to run out and do a quick field grooming session with him and then hit TSC to pick up our chicken-coop to be used as part of Loki's outdoor oasis in nice weather :)
Silver is now out in the field with Ransom & Prophecy - he seems to keep to himself and avoid the other two so far.

The little herd of 3 boys on Friday
 We built the coop Saturday, but the night was expected to be pretty cold, so waited till Sunday to move him outside. We added some solar lights from Lowes to illuminate the path - $12 for a pack and they are pretty bright!

Night check - Loki's glaring eyes from inside

Loki seems to be adjusting just fine to the new house now. We will wait a bit yet until we let him loose all day long. Right now we just let him run around in the evenings and put away when it is dinner time for him/bed time for kids.  It has been interesting to get into a new groove of feeding and giving him the insulin with him outside instead of in the basement bathroom.

On Sunday I met up with Jen and her mare Ruby to ride again.  We had an issue right off the bat even with a crupper and the first incline.  So, I hopped off and back on at the bottom. Not sure if he was objecting to the crupper engaging or the saddle sliding, no bucks but not happy and moving sideways.  Our new mohair cinch is in process (first one ended up being too short so she is remaking it longer) and the Dixie Midnight pad arrived Monday of course - so I won't get to test it till the weekend. His build is just killing me with saddle fit!  Skito doesn't think he needs shims based on pics, and when I have added them anyway to test it out it feels like too much and throws me off balance.  Might have to keep trying thinner versions to see if I can even him out... just been going without any so far, and I already know wool fleece is super slick on his coat, so not getting much improvement (DM pad should help if that is the real issue).  Next is the SPH wool pad we are waiting on...

The ride went pretty well - the two of them were pretty darn peppy so we did a bunch of 'repeat loops' to keep the barn sour attitudes in check.  And despite the fact that Prophecy has never competed, he certainly gets an attitude about having another horse coming up behind him that he can hear.  He will be wearing red & green ribbons on trails to be safe, tho the worst he did was pin his ears and body shift before I'd correct him.  I need to get my helmet cam situated again since I can't seem to take pics on horseback lately!  It bounced a lot on the Uvex the last few videos I took, so I need to try and lock it down better.
We got ~3.5 miles in and the horses enjoyed a bath after in the 80 degree weather.  Turn out of course then equaled roll time :)  And Ransom must copy!

Monday morning was Spring Vet time... Poor Prophecy had to stand quite a while waiting in cross ties as the vet was late, but he was very good overall for his shots & coggins (and teeth checked out good, no float). Thankful for a horse that takes needles easily! (I have heard many a horror stories of ones who don't, but haven't owned one myself)  So, no riding planned this week either due to outside influences, but hoping to get something in Saturday morning, then I have to drop the trailer off for its yearly inspection & service next week.

Some of Prophecy's antics under saddle have led me to questioning the bit I use.  He will go behind it often when 'upset;' not much head throwing UP (for which a martingale would help teach not to do), but down.  I've been emailing with Myler as I have an MB-04 3-ring on him, and they suggest the MB-33 instead to give more tongue relief. Hoping I can trade someone!  He has done this head thing in every bit I have used or seen him used with, so the idea to try more relief makes sense.  If we can get past some other items, I'd really like to try the S-hack or a Indian Hackamore/Squeeze Bosal instead of a bit as our norm.

And while trying to figure the bit out, I have found that he has an interesting head structure  -   I have to go with a horse size browband to keep the snap on bridle away from his eyes, and yet the curb strap on the combo bit (adjustable) is way too big for him as tight as it will go, but fit Tesla fine - who took the arab size everything and had what seemed to be a more refined head structure. Go figure.
So, not only do I need to do the different bit mouthpiece, but I will need to make a shorter strap for him as well if I stick with a combo.

Prophecy & Ransom, the two peas in a pod grazing together

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A New Week

Monday I returned to work Prophecy - this time my plan was simple:  Groom thoroughly, work in round pen on changing directions per my cues, saddle pad desensitizing, and finish groom with the BOT pad.

He was shedding like crazy, so I took my time trying to get as much off him as I could with our "Original SleekEZ" blade (I have had this one since Traveler!). Sent him on a few rounds of the pen and then worked with just his Matrix pad which he barely flinched after the first 2 toss ups.  Lastly some hanging in the round pen (and grazing) while Tessa was my sidekick for a bit as she really wanted dinner! Relatively "short and sweet" work day for him, but I just wanted to do all positives.

Enjoying the BOT pad time
Thursday I went out and tried a new cheapy 1/2" wool felt pad under the saddle and switched the browband of his Taylored Tack snap-on-bridle to a larger size brow made by Beta Tack.

My plan was a little more complex this time: groom with BOT pad while doing mane/tail/feet, round pen directional changes, then add the pad and saddle desensitizing, including a new cinch & "new" bridle set up, more round pen work with said new tack set up, riding working on shoulder and hip and speed control (walk only), and lastly finish grooming with BOT pad.

New reflective brow with Texas star
Most things on the list went according to plan .  He was more sensitive to this pad - maybe not being one he recognizes, or the fact it is square and hits him in a different way, but eventually I could toss it up from both sides without him reacting.  Adding the saddle and cinch was a bit more back to his 'not happy self' about tacking up, avoiding me and belly kicks.  He's been on the omeprazole paste a week now, along with the Excel supplement for almost 2.  I'll keep at it - we now have some Abler granules from a friend that didn't need them to be able to finish out a month of treatment.
I sent him on in the round pen and got him to trot & canter with the new set up without any reaction (wanted to make sure we didn't have a rodeo horse for any reason) and then got on.  We worked on our shoulder and hip control, and that seemed to help keep him at a walk though I could tell he really wanted to move more and was wondering why we didn't leave the pen this time!  Finished up with a nice brush out and time under the BOT pad while I put his stuff up.

On Saturday 2 boarding horses returned to the barn from a winter away.  We got connected and met up to ride Sunday after lunch. Prophecy and Ransom were snoozing in their shelter when I went to catch him.  Spent some time grooming and letting him hang under the BOT pad. He really seems to enjoy it and didn't flinch at all when I went to put it on this time (3rd use).  That carried over into tacking him up as he remained pretty calm for saddling too. He still kicked up with the cinch, I'm not sure we will ever get that one gone...  We rode about 2miles, Prophecy led and followed (as the 2nd horse) nicely.  Only had to use some shoulder work techniques at the end when Ruby in the lead got jiggy going back to the barn and he wanted to follow suite.  I bet he was cursing David for teaching me that stuff ;)  He got to hang out a while again under the BOT pad while Jen & I chatted getting her horses put up and he just snoozed away.

Pre-ride calmness...eyes closed
itchy face post ride

So now I'm contemplating going to Bull Run at the end of the month...I know I need to decide soon, as the ride is close to full.

This week is chalk full of rain possbily, so not sure what it will bring.  Plus, Asher is going to a spring break camp so that throws off our schedules a bit.  I might not get back out to him till Friday...we shall see.