Friday, April 2, 2021

Lessons I didn't know we needed

Yesterday I planned on working on some of the exercises from Equine Fitness by Jec Aristotle Ballou. I bought the book while rehabbing Leila and have been working on some of the ground exercises with Yoshi. However, Yoshi had other plans. Fairly early on we had addressed whether or not I could touch his stifles. After a few sessions of alternating reprimands and praise depending on his reaction, he's pretty solid on that one. He's also gotten so much better about grooming and has started leaning into me currying in areas on his hindquarters and soft brushing his face. But I casually laid a hand on his barrel while I was talking to my friend while grooming him and got pinned ears, swishing tail, and a raised leg. Excuse me, sir? We spent the next 20 minutes with me running my hands all over his body, palms flat. He's growing some rain rot on his hindquarters and back and it was hard to resist the urge to pick at it while doing this. He definitely finds that unpleasant though, so I managed (and ordered some lime sulfur dip). He actually really enjoyed the touching with lots of big yawns and a relaxed sleepy eye. I guess we'll start incorporating some massage into his daily grooming sessions as well. He's so funny. Initial reaction was very much pissed, but when I went back and gently introduced the idea to him, he accepted it was actually a pleasant thing. 

He's started to shed out really beautifully on his neck and shoulder. He's also growing hair back on his bites and only accumulating 1-2 new ones a week now that he's settled in with his pasture mates. We've been slowly working on the weight gain:
  • 1 month of Smart Pak's "Smartgain" 
  • 1 month of a full scoop of alfalfa cubes soaked and fed with 1/4 scoop of Cadence Ultra when I'm out there (5-6 days a week usually)
He also has free choice coastal hay and gets 1 scoop of Cadence Ultra twice daily. In February when he was still on stall board he got 1 flake of coastal and 1 flake of alfalfa during the day and free choice coastal at night. When I went to buy alfalfa at the start of February the feed store was out so I switched to cubes which are much more convenient and cheaper. Thus far he seems to be handling the coastal okay. We may have a pasture rearrangement coming soon which may end up putting him with another thoroughbred who could use some weight. If that happens, that horse's owner and I are planning on getting a large alfalfa bale for the pasture instead of or maybe in addition to the coastal. I'd love to decrease his grain, but he's barely gaining weight as it is. See, yet another silver lining to not being able to ride, he's much easier to put weight on now! 

Initially he lost some weight, I think coming off a free choice block of alfalfa is responsible for that one, but now we're definitely on the gaining track. 

Day he came home

Where we're at now. Definitely need to stand him up for a better comparison picture

As I look at these pictures I am also realizing that this horse grows mane insanely fast. It was so short the day I brought him home and I've already cut it twice! 

About a week ago. So much mane. 

He really really hates having it pulled, even combing it up to use the solo comb makes him unhappy. I've been using scissors on it since we're definitely not going out in public anywhere fancy anytime soon, but I'm going to have to come up with something better if we ever get to the point of a show. It is so thick, especially in the top half, that scissoring is going to not work soon. 

We've made some progress in not kicking out when I pick up the hind feet. He doesn't do it badly, but typically will pick it up, pull it forward and then kick back a little bit. Sometimes ends with a little kick back when I let go. I'm not sure how to make this one better other than making him bored. So that's what we've been doing, every grooming session I pick up his hind feet about 5-10 times, ignoring the bad ones and praising the heck out of the good ones.

We have taken a pause on the clicker training. He'd figured out that straight and relaxed got a reward, but the moments after the click, pre-treat, he'd starting snaking his neck at me to grab the treat from my hand. Time off from treats while I figure out how to fix it/what I screwed up.

So that's the "I still can't ride my horse" update for the week. 


  1. this time of year is so hard... i feel like my horse can smell the grass growing and is SO TIRED of hay... but that's what he's got, sigh. Yoshi really looks great tho. lmk if you figure out a more elegant mane solution than the scissors LOL (tho i swear, you almost can't even tell what i hack job i did back in february, it's already grown so much!

    1. Haha, I did go read your scissoring post because I think it is what we're stuck with. My concern is he grows hair so dang fast I'd have to repeat partway through and then it would be obvious what I had done!