Thursday, August 29, 2013

Catch-Up Post, Part I (Or, Attack of the Emus)

I am long overdue for an update on all of our rides this week!! I'll try to keep it short and sweet, and now that I am getting back on track with blogging I will try to make sure I do it on more of a regular basis, for my sake as much as anyone else's! Writing things down every few days makes it easier for me to track progress, and to keep memories fresh and alive, since my horses tend to like to, you know, die on me and stuff.

Saturday was our first ride back after O's two week long vacation! I'm glad I did her little mini-break, and I'll continue to do them more often than I have in the past - it's nice to let them have a little down time to relax mentally and physically. (Me too, although admittedly I was getting a little too much sleep and not enough saddle time!) Our first ride back was *supposed* to be nice and relaxing, just an hour long walk hack, but we all know how the best laid plans fall apart in the face of a very fresh mare just back to work. She held it together well for the first 45 minutes of the walk, although it took a bit of encouragement to get her going forward away from the barn. She was on the tail end of her heat cycle, so she felt more or less glued to the barn and not really willing to leave her boyfriends, but after a a few wake up bumps with my spur, she quit walking like a drunken noodle and starting moving properly forward. Halfway through our ride, we were accosted by a very angry pit bull who was guarding his property (and of course, Monster Dog Queen of Dumb Dogs decided to ignore me and run over to make friends... thankfully nobody got hurt in the process!), but we managed to make it safely around and made our turn back for home. On the route we normally take down the road, there is a pair of emus that roam one of the fenced in ranch properties. I have no idea why these people have emus, but they do, and the horses do NOT like them. When they are just walking around, O gives them the stink eye but doesn't do anything more, and we can pass on without incident. We passed them on the way out with no problems, but on the way back, they had become separated by a corner of fence and couldn't figure out how to get back around to one another. Seriously though, how stupid are emus? They literally could NOT figure out how to walk 5 feet around a corner and get back to one another, so instead they ran frantically back and forth against the piece of fence that separated them, leaping up into the air and kicking out at the fence, wings waving and feathers flying. Poor O took one look at this chaos and froze, absolutely immobilized with fear. I could literally feel her heart hammering through my saddle. They were admittedly terrifying, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and dismounted, leading her over to them so that she could get a better look. The stupid things finally figured out at that point how to get around the corner back to each other again, and everything settled down momentarily... until the neighbor's horses decided to all come galloping across their field right at us. We were obviously on the other side of the fence, but O at this point more or less short-circuited, and we spent a good 15 minutes re-learning how to back up in hand (she had conveniently forgotten how to do this in the midst of all the chaos). When I got back on, she was a little bit fried, so after working on some failed walk-trot-halt-holdfreakingstill transitions, we just trotted off down the road to blow off some steam. Wouldn't you know it, she stretched out over her back, took a contact, and worked like a wonderful little angel. We trotted for quite a distance down the road, and when I finally halted at the end of it, she came to a smart stop and held perfectly still. Fantastic note to end on, if I do say so myself! Unfortunately at this point, it was already almost dark (what happened to just riding for an hour!?), so we called it a day and made our way home.

Since our Saturday "light hack" turned more into a dressage school than anything else, I decided to hack out in the late afternoon with S and do our nice little hack then instead. We admittedly had a few drinks as we were tacking up... ok, several drinks.... and by the time we got on we were feeling pretty good. (NOT CONDONING THIS.) S's little hotrod was acting up on our way out down the road, so we bumped it up a notch and trotted off. O, once again, totally surprised me by stretching out, relaxing over her back, keeping a perfect tempo, and taking a good contact. At the halfway mark (it was getting dark!) I let her stand quietly and relax while S worked her horse a bit more, and then we trotted/cantered back, O acting just as perfectly as she had on the way out. At the tail end of it, things got very interesting - S decided that the best thing to do for her horse was to breeze him up the hill past us, just to let off a little steam. As soon as he zoomed by, O lit up and exploded after him. Being slightly intoxicated, I just hung on for the ride and let her go.... probably not the best idea I've ever had, but it felt good to just let her rip. We walked down the next hill and let them go again on the way back up, and I can say with certainty that I can't remember ever having gone that fast on horseback ever before in my life. She blew right back S's extremely speedy barrel horse and kept on going until we reached the top of the hill. It was GREAT.

Back at the barn, we enjoyed a nice session on S's new favorite toy, the Theraplate...

If you've never experienced the awesomeness of vibration therapy (and get your mind out of the gutter, you pervert!), it's WONDERFUL. Check out more info on it here

On Sunday night, S and I got a text from the guy leasing the pasture behind her house asking if we would come help push his cattle in the morning so that he could separate calves for that day's sale. We were planning on heading to WD in the morning, but of course agreed to help him, so at the crack of dawn we were saddled and out riding to meet him. Neither O nor I have ever helped move cattle, so it was brand new for the both of us, although it wasn't hard to figure out. Most of the cows followed the feed truck over to the holding pens, but it was left up to us to get the ones who weren't interested in following. O was a very good girl, more than happy to run at the stubborn little bull calves who are all getting old enough to be getting ornery, and even chased down a Longhorn and her calf who were trying to break away (there is one Longhorn out there with the rest of them, apparently owned by somebody else who wasn't smart enough to consider the fact that you can't run Longhorns through a chute!) On the way back to the barn, I gave her another brief flatwork session, and she was just as perfect as the two preceding days.... awesome!! Interestingly, she was in a western saddle with the blue bit in... I haven't been able to decide if she loves the blue bit or if she loves the other loose ring snaffle, but I think I will do more work in the blue bit... and who says you can't school dressage in western tack anyway? ;)

Back at the barn, we had a nice little surprise when a giant tent from the neighbor's house came blowing in the wind over to O's pen.... it must have been one heck of a gust to send that thing flying our way! O, true to form, looked at it with mild interest when it came crashing into the fence, but went right back to eating her hay. Giant tent monsters = 0, O = 1.

Tuesday was a somewhat un-anticipated day off! I had intended to give her Thursday off instead of Tuesday, but S wanted to go to a local barrel race on Thursday and asked if I wanted to join. Well, of course I did, so I decided that since she had been so very good for each of our previous rides, I could let her have a nice relaxing day off instead of a workout. I groomed her, fussed over her feet and tail, and gave her some extra cookies, just because she is awfully cute when she's finally not in heat anymore.

I also got a few quick shots of the changes in her feet!

Note: She has NOT been trimmed in this interim save for knocking a few edges off here and there! This has ALL been done through movement and diet!

Left: when I first got her. Center: 2.5 months of change. Right: 4 months of change. You can see how crappy, thin-soled and thin-walled she was in the first photo - weak, underdeveloped frog, long toe, quarters broken out with some WLD problems. I could depress her sole with my thumb!! Center photo showed massive frog improvement, a thicker sole, better development at the back of the foot and a shortened toe with a better breakover (you can see where she creates hers, off to the side, since she is slightly toed in). Her bars are long, but they have filled in in place of the weak wall in the quarters that was still being treated for WLD. The most recent photo is slightly deceiving, since the morning light makes it had to see the back of the foot and she had a flap of extra frog hanging over her central sulcus that makes it look like a big crack (it isn't a crack at all, just is being covered by the extra flap a little). Sole and extra bar material is starting to crack up a bit as it prepares for exfoliation, but just LOOK at how much thicker that wall is!!! New research has shown that new wall growth not only grows down from the coronary band, but also generates outwards from the laminae as well, which shows quite clearly in this photo. In the bottom photo, you can see just how different her new growth is from the old crappy stuff, which was thin, shelly, weak, and prone to cracking and chipping. She is getting increasingly surefooted every day - it wasn't long ago that she couldn't even walk on pavement without being crippled. Now she is starting to walk over gravel and rocks with increasing confidence - she isn't totally "rock crunching" yet at this point, but loves her boots and rides great in them. We ride without boots as much as we ride with them, whereas before I couldn't do anything at all without the boots. Progress!

I'll have a Wednesday-Friday report shortly! 


  1. Gosh I've missed your horsey updates, lovely to see you back. What fun it must have been to have let her roar up those hills; I hope you compete on Thursday, she's so sparky and game I bet she'll nail those barrels!

  2. Emus scare the heck out of me...

  3. I'm still floored by the hoof photos. Damn. ps. our new barn has emus! AHHHHHHH!

  4. Emus, wow. And I though llamas were unnerving!

  5. "drunken noodle "...Hilarious. I do enjoy your posts! Sounds like some fun riding. (obviously I'm catching up here) Glad she's giving you a hormonal break.