Tuesday, May 30, 2017

fun times

Our new bit arrived over last weekend and I was able to test it out on that Sunday late.  Prophecy took a few minutes to settle it in his mouth and then seemed content.  This Myler Combo has much more tongue relief than the previous. I am looking forward to testing it out further this upcoming week.

This rump will look good all muscled up one day!  His back is starting to look better with the changes in diet and muzzling the past few weeks.  His neck is still a little cresty, and he still has some fat buildup, but hopefully re-starting the straight MagOx will help with that soon.  I actually noticed a change between last Monday & Thursday evening (pics from the Sun prior) of the softness of it all.

We took the round pen that Sunday with my camera running so I could maybe see signals I'm missing from him about our issues under saddle.  Of course, since it was for some reason stuck on looping and only taking 1 minutes videos at a time, it missed the one thing I wanted to see when he copped an attitude and bounced. A gentle reminder that I did not appreciate such antics and all was good after.  In fact, I don't think he flipped his nose once while we were riding or tossed his head about.  I did a lot of loose rein walking in there, changing directions asking for shoulder movements and such.  I didn't ride long, we did more ground work after as I also had in him Scoot Boots to start using them again and I was purposely wanting to get into the canter in the pen to see him move, which is just too tight a space to ask under saddle.

And his new Safety Halter came from Beta Tack too :)  We fitted that on Monday night, expecting the Greenguard Muzzle to arrive ... but USPS lost it!  Thankfully the company is great to work with and shipped a new one overnight UPS for us and we will just wait and see if the other shows up to return to them.

And the muzzle did arrive Thursday after they switched carriers with overnight shipping. So hopefully now he can be a bit more comfortable overall as it he developed a "Not going over my ears" attitude with the Tough1 muzzle.

Looks like a monster, but he can yawn and move his mouth around better now!

Memorial Day weekend was a busy one!

The cousins 
Saturday my brother and his family visited on their way to DC.  We haven't seen them since Asher was just over a 2 ....  The kids had fun, as they have only Skyped any time recently.  We even got his girls to like dogs ;)  Gypsy and Obi are great breed ambassadors - not jumpy or barky and loved all the attention.

Ziggy at a our break/turn around spot -
Frills using a tree to scratch in the background
Sunday I got the opportunity to ride at Graves, but didn't take Prophecy - I was on my teammate Ricky's 50mile horse Ziggy while his wife Amy was doing her final prep rides on her mare Frills for the their 100 at Old Dominion in a few weeks!  Amy and I talked a lot about Prophecy when I was just thinking about pursuing him last year, and have chatted many times since. She is also a wealth of endurance knowledge and another who was telling me Tesla & I could do a 50 and to just get over myself lol.  I wish we had had the chance to do so...
We had a wet start, middle, and end!  But it was fun anyways :) 60s and rain is a lot more comfortable than 40s with rain that we have done at real rides.  Plus I got to really test out an Outback jacket I bought almost 3 years ago now and use it more at home than on rides! Ziggy was a saint for me, dealing with my struggle to keep my right foot in the stirrup and figuring out what feels good for posting, etc in a saddle I had never ridden in before. It was great to get out and ride with Amy and have a relatively uncomplicated time (2 sideways spooks) and chat about life.  Amy told me I did good, as Ziggy's back wasn't sore after our 18+ miles lol.  I told Ricky I might be swayed to catch ride her sometime...

Monday we spent the day in the Natural Bridge area with the kids.  We started at the zoo and then took them to the park to see the actual bridge.  Doug & I last visited 11yrs ago!

And the lowdown on my ankle... I'm a month from the initial injury date and 2 weeks of PT is complete, and while I can ride it is definitely still healing and they suggested finding a brace that works in the stirrups for added support.  The ability to balance on that foot alone is limited and something they are working on. My main therapist feels through palpation that one of the ligaments is likely torn, so she is building up the other 2 and the surrounding muscles to try and take over for it.

The doctor's notes I have tell me more detail on the "old injuries" she noted on the x-rays.  I did break this foot in several places in 6th grade, but hard to tell if that is when these things she sees happened!  More interesting to note is that I am keep my eye on things to see if I have Os Trigonum Syndrome on this foot.  I had it in high school on my left ankle, which is when I found I was one of the lucky 5-10%  born with this bone - in both ankles!  I broke this little bone on the left when my ankle gave out, and after a year of trying to figure out the pain, in & out of casts and having a steroid shot, they finally found it on MRI/Bone Scan and opted to remove the bone.  Apparently I have at some point broken it on the right too, as well as evidence of an avulsion fracture distal the lateral malleoulus.  This trauma to the ankle has probably irritated everything back there.  I am hopeful PT will do the trick, but I know the next steps to take if not.

I used the brace (and ice) a lot over this Memorial Day weekend, between the ride and the hiking.  It actually feels pretty decent this morning, but PT later may say otherwise!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More saddles!

So Sunday I was able to ride Prophecy without much pain!  My ankle felt tight, but did not hurt to mount 😌  My first PT session was Monday afternoon and I swear I was walking better going IN than out! 😵 but, I know my ankle needs it.

I decided to ride in his S-hack and one of his new rope halters made to fit that head of his!  I like how the halter now stays where it should behind his jaw. He gave me some of the head tossing nose flips as he would with a bit, and the lip flapping he does when annoyed, but took well to it again in the round pen (been a while since we used it!) and then we walked up and down the driveway a few times.

Chilling with the BOT pad before riding
I have been working with Badlands Equine to dial in on his saddle and decided to add inserts back into the matrix and remove the pommel bolster to see how it feels, while leaving his shim on the right shoulder.  Well, that 1.5" extra made me have to shorten my stirrups all the way to account for the extra width on him 😏  I might need to get a shorter set!  I'll have to ride longer and see if we do in-fact still need that bolster so I don't feel tipped forward or have an arched back (the pictures show a slight arch, but I am still dealing with the ankle feeling off so not sure how valid it is yet).

I love the Ghost - very comfy saddle and the panels do adjust well for fitting his shoulders.  I am now just trying to find the right pad combo (including cinch) for both of us to keep it from rolling on him or scooting around due to lack of wither!  I have a cool pressure pad to try out and I plan to soon to see how this all checks out for him and try different combos with and without inserts in the pad.  Then when I add the Dixie Midnight pad back under I know it won't scoot around as much... If the matrix stays our main pad, I think we will have to go down in thickness from the ortho-impact for him.  I've got the SPH to try out too when it arrives (only a few more weeks we hope) and might try out a few others from friends again.

I do still want to find a treed saddle - I think it will help get us through some of the current issues we are working on as a tree should feel more secure with less movement on him - I can sit spinning spooks and bucks in the Ghost, but that seriously fast movement does move the saddle and force a re-adjustment after.  On that note, I had Crest Ridge Saddlery come out to do a fitting for him on her route through VA - with many trees to check fit on him and just as many saddles for me to sit in find my seat size and preferred style, it was worth a very reasonable fee for gas to do!  Of course she commented on how overweight he is at the moment, but his shoulder angle won't change once that weight it removed.  And guess what he fitted to be - EWX = Their Draft bar/angle. It did fit his shoulder profile nicely which has been a struggle in every treed saddle I've tried on him.  Turns out my different attempts at doing wither tracings and not believing the measurements I was seeing were actually right!  So I have a few saddles I'm searching for a steal of a price to have as our back-up saddle in the right size tree and short back... Either that or I need an unexpected bonus/money tree so I can buy a new one made for him! 😉 🙏

He is now on 24/7 grazing muzzle other than meals (as we had 2 more weeks of rain) and back on MagOx added with his other supplements hoping to keep him in check.  Unfortunately, his Tough1 muzzle is already rubbing, but thankfully Greengaurd got their horse size back in stock, gave me a discount for contacting them, and his new one is on it's way as well as a new padded safety halter made to fit him by Beta Tack!  I should be able to set up him this weekend for his new pasture wardrobe until Oct...poor guy, but it is for his own good.

Hoping to ride a bit further this weekend than the driveway with Jen & Ruby!

Friday, May 12, 2017

For a reason

Simply put, and has been said to me by a few of my friends lately as I navigate my plans with Prophecy:

Despite my struggles, I know this is true;  Prophecy and I have been put together for a reason.

Traveler was a difficult horse upon arrival - he had trust issues and had previously walked all over
one owner.  At the time, Parelli was big.  We learned some games and built a good ground relationship and respect and then continued in the saddle.  He was a 1 person horse. He "tolerated" other people, - he was never mean, always respectful, but I had a different side of him than anyone else when we were together.  He had some bad training that took a lot of work to teach him otherwise with help from a few trainers, but we got there and got him carrying himself more naturally (had been tied down and was tough mouthed due to harsh bits).  He hated the arena, would run me into fences in there, but loved to go down the trail.  Some herd bound issues, but we rarely rode alone so it didn't matter too much. He gave me his all. What a first horse to own and learn with...

Tesla had physical issues we had to find - his lower back and saddle fit.  Once that was straightened out, we really took off together.  Ok, trailer loading was a whole 'nother story, but we got through that eventually too! He was goofy and loved everyone, despite the near starvation rescue of him a few years prior to me. We rode alone and in groups...I will cherish our last LD ride at Gobble together as we rode a lot of that alone, starting 15min or so late and just powering down the trails together.

Now here I am...struggling to make it/do it all right with Prophecy, but I'm learning.  I think there are physical issues, but have yet to nail down exactly what.  We have gotten his hooves back in line and working towards balance and proper growth (as in up instead of flare). I continue to work on saddle fit and managing his weight. I am also continuing to learn how to communicate more like a horse via the SET classes and will be bringing him in August to a clinic to work with Dee. I have explored 'alternative'  methods and learned more about his past and how he feels now.  I am starting to understand why he does what he does and I'm working to 'restart' him, to teach him that it isn't about Go fast, hard, and painfully through life. He is almost a combination of my two before, but different enough to really put me to the test! I know it will be worth it in the end, and we will be that much stronger of a team together in anything we do.

Right now we are in the midst of "May showers", especially on weekends!  Which makes it really hard to get time to ride, give Doug yard work time, and help him with the deck building (aside from Soccer and normal chores).  I tried to grab a ride last Sunday when the weather cleared, but unfortunately my ankle was not so thrilled about the idea so we just hung in the round pen. Monday I made an appointment for PT and went on Wednesday - learned a bit more about myself, as I sprained ankles a lot when younger and have had other injuries and surgeries to fix the ramifications of 'loose joints' throughout my body.  There is quite a bit of instability in that right ankle right now, so I start next week with 2x a week for 4+ weeks of therapy to reduce inflammation and improve movement first, then start strengthening it.  The PT knows how important the ankles are in riding  :)

My visit Thursday night was in the rain of course, and considering my ankle I didn't attempt to ride.  I did play a little bit with saddle set up (removing the pommel bolster and adding inserts back into the matrix)...I really want to try out our impression pad and see if there any areas of concern with the Ghost set-up in various configurations of pads/shims.  He is still showing a little back sore behind the cantle; but his head carriage may be the cause as opposed to the saddle itself.  Argh -  I must wait until I can actually walk and trot+ comfortably to use it!

Grazing in the misty rain

We shall see what this upcoming weekend has in store, hoping to squeak in a ride if my ankle, and weather, lets me - at least around the driveway or something! Next week we have a fitting with Crestridge Saddlery while she makes her way through the area to see what size tree he would need in their saddle, if any will fit him properly (she has something like 22 trees to work with).

And I found someone to trade bits with to get him the Myler Combo with greater tongue relief which should happen next week, so maybe the following weekend we can test it out.  I may just go for it and try the S-hack if I am bit-less at any point when I can grab a ride.

We have not used the Scoot Boots much lately as I'm working to toughen up the hooves some and he isn't being as ouchy on the rocks. He has also started his new supplement regime which treats him like an IR horse so we can hopefully make some headway to reduce his weight quicker than last year. (which includes wearing a muzzle during the day; when I can get a Greenguard for him he will probably wear it all the time except during meals through to Oct!)

Monday, May 1, 2017

BRHTR Take 3

This past weekend was the Bull Run Hunt Trail Ride Weekend - a fundraiser event about an hour away, offering 3 days of trail riding. This is my third time at the event, and was the first time on my own horse! I had not been since the Spring 2015 ride and figured if it didn't work out this year it was a 3 strikes and out deal for me!

Last week Prophecy was not ridden due to weather and schedule issues.  We did manage to get his trim in on Wednesday, which was 6 weeks, due to Paige having hurt her shoulder the week prior and needing to reschedule.  His hooves are really coming along nicely and had just finally begun to flare - whereas before you could notice it at 3 weeks post trim. He was much better for her for the whole ordeal - except on the right hind.  He was having a bit of difficulty keeping it on the hoof stand in front of him and only easily allowed it to be held up to the rear of him.  This made us a wonder a bit about his hip again or something else that could be causing him the discomfort.  I went to Bull Run with no intention of pushing him beyond what he could handle, physically and mentally, heat or hoof related.

He has gained a bunch of weight rather quickly with the spring grass coming in, so he now has a grazing muzzle and I had a vet consult to make a few other supplement changes, including the addition of Thryo-L to address any insulin issues.  I think that weight change did not help our saddle fit on the previous ride and may have caused some discomfort.

Hanging out in camp Friday
Friday I took a half day, as camp didn't open till noon anyway.  Got to the barn to hook up and finish grabbing the last of our stuff and then headed over with Jen & Brian and their two horses to camp.  We got ourselves set up and then relaxed for a bit. It was already hot & humid...

Post ride Friday
Around 4 or so Lynne came by with her horse Mercuric. They had already done a faster moving loop of the 5.5mile offered that day and she thought he was in good mental form to take Prophecy & I out. I was so hot I hadn't planned on taking him out, but I got changed and went out with them, I knew we needed to, and I really wanted to get her input on him.  Leaving camp was a sight to be seen of prancing and bouncing, a huge spook (which apparently left one ab muscle a bit sore I found out later!), and then we were off.  He acted like he had never seen ride ribbons or pie plates before giving them evil eyes and snorts - which come to think of it, he hadn't seen many!  But, he was happy to lead and once settled into the wooded areas seemed to relax.  He mentally got tired on the way back and was just over the muddy hill descents, so we kept pushing him more into the leaves and slightly off trail to keep him moving.  I hadn't put on his crupper for the short ride so the saddle slid a little on the hills and we used a 'turn up hill and shimmy trick' to help re-settle it that Lynne taught me (and she learned it from Jeannie).  I took him out without his front Scoot Boots knowing we weren't hitting the rocky section of trail and he was just fine even on the gravel road spots, which surprised me a little as he has been sensitive to them before. It was a nice
Finding greener grass
temperature in the woods and upon our return we stripped tack and then went over to the horse water tank to dunk buckets for cooling & sponging.  The saddle seemed to be situated better with the shim and the right panel set slightly wider than the previous ride; no soreness noted during his cool down.  We went back to Lynne's trailer to test out a few saddles of hers and the fit on him and then I put him back in his pen to rest for the evening with a dose of electrolytes in dinner, plenty of water and hay. We took a few walks for grass too once it started to cool off some.  He kept me up a bunch Friday night rubbing his face on the panels, but not really pushing much.  Occasionally he would pace the side closest to his buddy Silver, I'm not really sure why.
That picture is about the worst he was, other than grabbing a string of bailing twine that was tied to one panel and lifting straight up! I went over and took it off after that -  I think I need to bring him a toy next camping trip.

Saturday he got more electrolytes in his breakfast (which was absurdly early for not being an endurance ride as all the horses were up asking!) and extra helping of a few soaked alfalfa cubes to coat his stomach before tacking up later in the am. It was going to be a hot one and I knew it. I had brought lots of water for me, but realized I could only carry one bottle and forgot the pommel pack to be able to carry our snacks, etc.  Lynne to the rescue! She had a fanny pack that I was able to fit 2 of my water bottles, phone, carrots, and a dose of electrolytes with a syringe if we chose to go the longer loop after the lunch stop. During the process of tacking up he stomped my left foot pretty good with a back foot, I can't even remember why (evading something most likely).  Ouch.  We got things situated and then he was all amped up and difficult to get to on.  His two buddies from our barn that I had been hoping to ride with became out of sight and well, many spins, backs, small bucks, pop-ups, etc were had trying to get out of the camping area.  The same spot he spooked at the night before became a huge issue, and after a good 5 minutes of trying to do something other than spin or buck/rear, I decided it was time to just hand walk out of camp on the trails until he could settle down and focus.  And that is how I spent the first hour+, hand walking him.  I used Dee's "i" method so if he got ahead of me, around in a circle he went. He did a lot of circles around me in that hour! I knew I couldn't walk the whole ride, but at least we were heading out this way.
Unfortunately for me, as I led him across a muddy spot that I underestimated, he ended up on top of my right foot when I got stuck. Not really sure if he came down on it or just that we banged into each-other as I got out of the mud and he stepped down.  If I had realized how bad that spot was I would have sent him first rather than try to lead. He was still pretty loony at that point and probably rushed the crossing too.  A while later when we reached a good fence I decided to get on.  A group of riders stopped and 1 rider dismounted to help me with keeping him at the fence and fixing the saddle (which the cinch was now pretty loose); she was very understanding of the green horse moments and telling me she had been in my shoes before. In fact, everyone who past us would ask if all was OK and many would the commiserate with the "amped up horse" moments.  Once I mounted again we went off at a controlled trot down the gravel road and ended up with a group of gaited horses that took us under their wing, only to find out that Janet knew several other local endurance riders already - small world sometimes :) Janet and her Search & Rescue horse Cali started blocking Prophecy to fall in with the group and try to settle him down.  He really never settled, occasionally he would relax some - so we spent a good portion of the ride in a decent jig - easily keeping pace with the gaited gang!  A few times I was able to let him move out, and he led and followed.  He really took to the mares of the group of course! We left the group a few times, always to end up back with them. Very thankful for them and taking us in to help us through this ride! And Janet got some great pictures of us too:   (I do have some video taken on my helmet cam that I need to edit yet too!)

At one point I hopped off to fix his curb strap and that is when I realized how much my right foot hurt.  Getting back up took a leg up and a ping of pain as I pushed off.  Ok, lunch stop a "few miles" later and really tough to walk.  We all opted to the take the short loop back (just over a mile) to camp. Talk about a long painful mile on a jigging horse...Keeping my foot in the stirrup was difficult to say the least, but his jigging made it hard to not be in.
He completely lost it again upon entering camp and I had to fight to keep him sane for a moment long enough for me to get down with my bad ankle.  It was a long slow walk back to the trailer, the rough ground making it even more difficult for me.  I removed his tack and washed him off at the trailer. It had become a bit difficult to wiggle my toes and I actually wondered if I'd be able to drive everything home Sunday, but some ice, Tylenol, snacks and Mango Rum drink made by Bonnie, and my makeshift ankle brace of vet-wrap helped a bunch!  I was walking better, albeit slow, later that evening.

Later Saturday, actually looking tired and resting in his pen

Sunset on Saturday
I slept pretty hard Saturday night, only hearing him rub the panels around 330am.  At 5am I was woken to loud hoof sounds from Prophecy and the horse on the other side of me that was generally quiet unless stomping at a fly.  I looked out my window to see a horse where it shouldn't be!   I climbed down from bed and slid my boots on. I took a look at the horses and knew which pen they came from. I was able to put a lead rope on one, the other followed.  Their electric pen looked like the may have had a spat with each other over the divider and was still on.  I knocked once on the trailer but no answer. I clipped one horse to the trailer and then went to clip the other who immediately took off, then the other slipped his off neck collar on the trailer.  OK, I'm done!  I knocked harder and the owners came out to catch them.  It was about 530, getting light and I notice a horse laying down on my way back. I went over and he acknowledged me, sitting up some and I could see he had been laying a while already.   I kept and eye on him and came back at more reasonable hour to check on him.  A camping and riding buddy of the group was out and we chatted, decided to get the horse up and assess. He was very shakey on the back end, drawn in at the hips and very sensitive to touch. Started to think he was having a metabolic issue like tying up... He pooped and peed shortly after rising and reluctantly moved around.  The owner came out and was appreciative of my concern, but I do not think they had him checked by the vet :(  This was a very hefty Paso with a cresty neck.  I had seen him riding and he was not being pushed hard, but he did say he felt "funny in the hind end after lunch" when we talked; he was probably starting to cramp.

lunch stop munch
We saw a horse in distress at the lunch stop as well on Saturday and stopped to help, and I heard there were a total of 5 horses that required help at some point due to the heat Saturday, one of which had collapsed on trail. I'm very thankful I have learned so much from endurance to see when a horse is in trouble and also how to prevent it.  Many of these horses were still sporting winter coats and/or amped up like Prophecy and not ready to deal with 90+ humid weather.  A lot of the ride was in the sun too. Prophecy recovered well at lunch eating grass; he pooped and peed on trail and drank from his choice of creeks, etc.  He was definitely breathing hard tho, so I was keeping a close eye on him. He turned up his nose at first to breakfast on Sunday with electrolytes, but eventually decided it was good enough when he dumped it out on the hay. Loading up to go home was easy, though I've noticed he seems to dance more on the trailer ride home than heading out. His buddy Ransom was running the fence after us as we pulled in, Marty was hanging in the shelter. I turned him out to chill in the pasture before Sarah came.

I had actually already scheduled him for a check in with Sarah from Hands Hooves & Hearts for Magna-wave and/or massage upon our return Sunday.  Well, I got to use the Magna-wave on my
He liked to peek in on me while getting his massage
ankle and he got a full body check up massage.  No sore back; Tension at the poll, but somewhat to be expected with all the head tossing and over-collected carriage he put himself in. Tight hamstring on the left (usually it is his right side) and more reluctance for range of motion on that side instead of the right hind.  So at least I know despite the jigging, the saddle fit seems to be good! Now, just tweaking padding to keep it from rolling.  The Dixie Midnight has helped a lot with that - now once I know what pad I'm keeping I'll trim it to match its contour better and be easier to set up on him (always seems to end up longer on one side instead of even looking).
And I still love the Ghost saddle for myself too! Very secure for his antics, comfy seat for me.  My inner thighs are sore, but because I was dealing with the jigging more than anything else.

So I learned a lot... He has major anxieties about leaving and returning to camp. He does great in small group riding, and in woods, but I'm not sure if the Go-Go-Go attitude on the trail is out of competitiveness or insecurity. He is strong and forward, but did not give me or himself blisters from pulling.  He is way more fit than I thought and could have done a Sunday ride if I hadn't been hurting.

My next step is to decide one of two things... 1) Cowgirl up and let him go full steam ahead until he figures out that is not how to take care of  himself, or 2) find someone who wants that forward of a partner. He has tons of potential as an endurance horse - definitely has more Go and forward drive than I was seeking - my goal is to complete, not necessarily race/top-10 mentality, and I think he is naturally pushing that latter button right now. I don't see myself doing #2, except maybe for a short term thing to have someone else take him on his first 50's or something.  We have a long time to work at things together yet; I'd love to get him to a ride again this fall, but we will see how it goes.

Other items learned for my fellow Greenbeans:
-Lady's Anti-monkey Butt Powder is your friend! I wore the wrong undergarments on Friday lol... did not make that mistake Saturday.
-Vet-wrap is a handy stickier version of an Ace bandage that you can use on yourself!
-Baby-wipes only go so far for us primitive campers. I need to get some "dry shampoo" to feel a bit more human! (and maybe a bag solar shower until I replace my battery and can get the cowboy shower working again in my trailer!)

Tuesday morning I am off to the Orthopedic Sports Medicine doc to have my ankle checked out... it is getting easier to walk, but I know I could have done something to it under the surface that might need more attention than ice and a brace.  Then I can figure out the next bit of my plan, which might include a ride on Mother's Day to teach him a bit about the mountains!