Monday, February 28, 2022

XC Schooling!

LH and I had our first cross country school together. The first jump he was a bit in disbelief and tried to stop at an entry log. I surprised myself by being able to go to my crop fairly quickly when I realized leg wasn't working and he acquiesced by going forward. We then circled around to the BN log stack and house and then took a bit of a gallop around to pick up #1 and 2 BN fences from the recent schooling show. On the long gallops he wanted to sight see and spook at things a bit. JT had me doing a lot of moving forward into a gallop then compressing a bit, then moving forward again. When I focused on that he seemed much happier to not have to find something else to occupy his mind. He does flying changes SO easily that it was kinda fun as I compressed him to figure out the right amount of leg, seat, and hand to compress and maintain our current bend so he didn't skip right into a lovely change. After doing that loop of fences twice and establishing that we were going forward and doing the dang thing, we moved on to the banks.

Banks were NBD to him, as expected. We still hopped up and down on a loose rein first a few times. He was happy to follow JT's school of loose rein easy gait to the bank. We added the novice log after the bank and he was game on, getting his eye on it right away as we headed up. We then moved on to the coffin combo. Again JT had me start with loose rein trot over the ditch, assuming nothing since he had already told us he hadn't been out cross country in a while. He popped right over though and again after the first two times realized the loose rein relaxed trot way of doing it is actually pretty cool. We took a long gallop away to pick up the BN cut out table that tends to be a bit spooky. We popped up over a hill and spooked two horses there, which then spooked LH. Even though I felt like a jerk, it seemed best to carry on because that actually turned me away from the horses we had surprised. I wasn't completely focused on the table so he stuttered a bit over it. He likes the deeper spot much more than Yoshi, so if I don't have enough leg on or he is a bit looky at the fence, that's what happens. We galloped back up towards the group and did the coffin pretty smoothly. 

Then we headed down to the water and schooled the novice table to water to BN painted table. We then did a u-turn to the N corner. The theme of the day was me not adding enough leg, so the second time through JT was yelling at me to gallop him forward in the water. She was also telling me to push my hands forward and those gallop stills show how well I was listening to that one...

The first two times over the corner, the combo of not enough leg and him not reading the question right lead to some pretty ugly jumps. I got very ahead of him the second time and found myself staring down at the jump, thinking about how if he stopped I was going to be on the jump with no one but myself to blame. Fortunately he is an honest fellow and popped over. The third time we finally got it right, so we ended on that one! 

My friend came along and rode on the golf cart and videoed almost all of our fences. However, JT likes to send us out for loops of 3-5 jumps at a time so most of the video is from far, far away. I wish she'd consider how these nice loops would affect my media ;) Actually I love it, I have ridden with trainers before who school one jump at a time. Then you get to a show and have to put a bunch together, which makes for a completely different ride. So her schooling method is fantastic even if it doesn't make for great videos/pictures. 

LH is a very different ride from Yosh. In spite of being the same size, he feels BIG to me. He's got incredible gaits and just moves so nicely over his back. I was tricked into feeling like I was going VERY forward and then watched videos where it looks like we are barely in a forward canter. We're going to school again before making our show debut at the Majestic Oaks schooling show on March 9th. I'm going to focus on hands forward and horse forward. 

Yoshi update: he's moving to a different farm, further away, but with the ability to have him out with one other horse who hopefully won't beat him up. He is just not happy by himself and he's started to do totally uncharacteristic things like actually spook at things. The GY's understand, and I do plan on moving whatever horse is in my future to their barn. He's still left front lame, but still goes pretty darn sound when I ride and ask him to move forward. Since the new barn is further from my house, I'm going to try the complete pasture rest plan for an indefinite amount of time. I have started looking for the perfect husband horse trail home for him in the mean time, since that is approved by my vet. We'll see what happens. If the perfect home comes along, great. If he chills out in a set up where he is emotionally happy and then becomes sound, great. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Two bay boys

Lease horse (LH) and I had our first jump lesson on Monday. He is FUN!!! We kept it short and simple because he still needs more fitness, but true to good event horse fashion, he rocked right over the liver pool he had been spooking at for the past couple of weeks. We're working on (re)establishing forward. He has expressed that he would rather poke along at a pleasant but not really moving gait and when I ask for more with leg or a light tap he shakes his head and prances a bit; it's a really cute response. But as he gets more fitness and we figure each other out, he is more and more willing to give me his truly lovely forward gaits from a light leg. He also does flying changes, I asked VERY dramatically in the middle of our little course Monday and he obliged and then bucked a bit to express that I definitely did NOT need to SHOUT at him. 

Yoshi has been back in work for 2 rides. The first on Monday, I was not sure how he felt. It is hard coming from LH and going to him. LH is a LOT more supple and so it was a tough comparison. Yosh definitely felt short in both front feet at times, but seemed to be moving better and better as we went, so I kept at it and sent a report to his vet. She wanted him worked every other day and will be out to do chiro and recheck him a week from Friday. 

Today was my day "off" after 2 overnights, so I typically wouldn't have ridden, but I'm trying to be uber scheduled and regimented and manage my time right to balance two horses in two different places. So yesterday I flatted LH and today it was Yoshi's turn. The weather warmed up today but came with a LOT of wind. And Mr. GY got a new tractor that Yosh is uncharacteristically tres suspicious of. So he came out of his pasture wanting to be high as a kite and stare at the tractor. 

But I walked him in to the ring to work on the pillars from the balance through movement method and he settled right away. I feel like we get pillar one (soften the under neck muscles) and pillar two (shift the center of gravity back) but pillar three (abduction) is still an amorphous mess for us. However, regardless of how well we are executing them, he seems to really really enjoy the work. He went from wide-eyed 8 YO TB on a windy day to mellow and focused in the ring. We worked our 15 minutes there and then I tossed him in the cross ties to groom. For the first time EVER he did not once grump at me while grooming. It was amazing. He also stood square and under himself with his hind legs for the majority of the time. I don't know if it is his hock injections or the balance through movement work we're doing, but I was amazed. 

He also has become VERY in tune while in hand in general. Ms. GY, without knowing much about the work we've been doing, commented that he was very, very well behaved and pleasant to walk over the weekend. She walked him some while he was on stall rest post-injections (side note, I adore her and the care they give him) and picked up branches in the pasture one day during their walk. She said he was so polite and stopped and started easily, just following her body and voice cues. This has not at all been a focus of our in hand work, so it is really, really cool to see how attentive and cued in he has become without any reprimanding or "yelling" with lead or voice cues. 

Very cute and very relaxed

Standing under himself, relaxed, and square... COOL! 

Under saddle I started with a LOT of walk work bending and counter bending. Monday I think I wanted to just see how he felt so I rushed through our usual bendy warm up and suffered for it. And compared to LH, Yosh is a stiff, stiff pony. But he really benefited from the walk work today. He had a few goofy moments, but overall felt really good and again felt better as he worked. 

Ms. GY asked if we wanted to go hack around the neighborhood and since Yosh had politely asked to go out on a walk instead of into the ring when we started, I joined her. Our vet wanted him only worked in the ring since that is the softest footing, but he really does like the pasture or trails better. We went on the soft sandy roads and skipped the lime rock areas. Yosh had a fantastic time. He was full of himself and looking for excuses to spook the whole time. At one point, Ms. GY said she wanted to canter her horse. I knew Yoshi was not going to accept being left behind, so I figured leading the way would work better. He bucked and carried on and tried to grab the bit and run and generally had a grand old time. I held him to a fairly polite canter though since we're not really supposed to work too hard at this point.

Fingers crossed his feeling good continues over the next week and that his vet is pleased with his recheck next Friday. LH is getting some vet work done Thursday and then will have a light week and then we'll take him out schooling XC in prep for our first event together in March!  

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Fighting the good fight

In spite of his best efforts to just not, Yoshi got his hocks done on Friday. Before his vet got there, I turned him out with the herd. He harassed two of the horses while they were rolling. Seriously has no social graces. But he did succeed in getting everyone to play with him and was so happy about it. He looked SOUND and fancy while he was out there rearing and prancing around.

Once his vet got there, we watched him go on the lunge. He looked notably less sound than he had on the dirt 20 minutes prior. He couldn't decide which front leg he was lame on, but he was much better in the ring than on the fairly hard grass, so probably feet, a hold over from the 3 weeks without pads. We decided to go ahead with the hock injection, thinking a problem there may have also made his feet feel worse. 

We got him scrubbed up no problem, then sedated him. He then decided he was MAD about the tail wrap and set to trying to fling it out. Between that and my warning about injections anywhere caudal to his withers, he then got more drugs. And a twitch. We went for the uppers in his right side first. Got that done okay. Went to inject the lower and he said no thank you! Ms. GY held up his front leg on that side and we got that done. 

Moved to the left side. Started with leg held up on the front left and he managed to take aim at the vet without falling down. Props for your balance sir, but really?? More drugs and we got the upper and lower injected on the left. In 40-50% of horses the lower two joints of the hock communicate. Hopefully he's in that percentage. Even if not, we at least got the uppers done, specifically that right side. 

I got directions to work him on Monday. This vet has been privy to my "he feels terrible, even though they told me to work him, I don't want to". She asked if I thought I could manage working him. I told her I would. Fingers crossed.

Bad behavior during injections aside, he's been really well behaved on stall rest again. The in hand work has made him really pleasant walking trails even. I'm avoiding the lime rock areas like the plague, but we've walked the sandy ones and he politely stays on his side and waits to graze until I've told him okay.  

In the mean time, lease horse is just a joy. So far we've been building some baseline fitness and getting to know each other. He goes to get some medical things done on Thursday and then we'll get to work with a bit more focus after that. We took a lovely long walk trail ride a few days ago and he just took it all in. He's got a Yoshi attitude minus the defensiveness on the ground. Also, his ears are much longer than Yoshi's. Their faces are almost identical in size (yay for sharing bridles, cob sized heads on 16.2 hand horses), but every time I'm looking through his ears I just giggle because they look a bit like mule ears compared to Yoshi's dainty ones. 

Some day I'll get a flattering picture of him, but look at that adorable long ear! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

WW: Weight Progress

Yoshi's hock injections got postponed till Friday because yesterday was 50 degrees and raining the whole day, gross. 

These were from one of our sessions working on the pillars. This horse never offers a square halt in hand. But for the past two weeks he's offered them a few times. Progress, I think? Although he is a bit camped out behind. 

September 2021

Between not working and lots of alfalfa to keep him from missing his friends, I'm finally happy with where his weight is. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

We have a plan! (maybe for the millionth time)

Yoshi's chiro vet was out last Monday. I had planned to ask her to look at him again because when I sat on him at the end of 30 days he felt right hind off. LF was better, not there in straight lines, mild on 20m circles. But the right hind felt the same as it did right after his bone scan.  

So I got him out to show her on the lunge and he was DEAD lame on his right front. Like abscess or bruise lame. Back tracking... last farrier appointment we took him out of his comfy wedge pads and put him in a mild version of a suspensory shoe. Then Saturday my friend and I went on a walk trail ride around the neighborhood. Which has a lot of lime rock. So. There is the bruise or abscess. I actually started tearing up which both his vet and Mr. GY were kind enough to ignore. His vet reviewed his bone scan and his report from that day that included x-rays of his hock. The bone scan showed moderate to intense uptake in tibiotarsal and proximal intertarsal joints of his right hock. The x-rays showed an OCD lesion in one of those two joints. Simplest explanation is that what had been a "quiet" OCD lesion (small, round) while he was racing (pulling himself around on his forehand), is no longer a quiet lesion now that he is (trying) to be a sport horse (sitting back for collection and taking off over fences). She suggested we try injected both his upper and lower hock joints and see if he gets better. Her thought was that the suspensory ligament without a lesion on ultrasound is just from compensating for a sore RH. 

Play session with Mr. GY's older horse who wouldn't hurt a fly

Insert a shockingly short 3 days of wrapping his foot and he's now about 80% better on his right front. Which I think is about as much better as he'll get without a shoe on. No abscess blew out that I can see, but he went from dead lame at the walk even on Tuesday to sound at the walk and much much better at the trot on Wednesday. Weird, but I'm not going to question it. His vet recommended NOT soaking the foot and instead just applying animalintex pad to the spot where it was squishy and reactive to hoof testers. She said soaking the whole foot of TBs is asking for so much trouble and is a bit dated as a recommendation at this point. The first day of wrapping I pulled a dumb and put vet wrap on AFTER the duct tape boot. So that one didn't hold very well, but every other day has been fine. 

His farrier is coming out Monday morning to put him back in his pads. THAT was a failed experiment for sure. Then Tuesday morning his chiro vet will be out to inject him. 

I'm hoping this is the key. His insurance did end up covering his bone scan, thank goodness, so that recharged me a bit, not just financially, but also emotionally. I'm not sure how that worked, but the insurance company got all the same documents I did; I just deposited the check and didn't question that stroke of good luck. Small recharge aside though, I'm still SO close to being done with this. He's serviceably sound at this point, depending on your definition of that. Experienced people watched him go last week and said he looked almost perfect except for the mild intermittent left front. But he doesn't feel close to perfect to me. However he still runs and plays in turnout like an idiot (we're taking turns letting him out with the other horses who won't beat him up when he's a pest). He looked like a puppy dog begging to be chased this morning while he was harassing Mr. GY's horse. He would feign biting and then launch delightedly away when he was threated with a bite or kick. He'd prance a smallish circle and then come back to repeat the process. Clearly he feels good enough to run and play of his own volition.   

I have a friend who would probably take him to be her personal trail horse and lead walk/trot rides from (2-3 rides a week, 60 minutes at a time). He is quite a joy to trail ride and the things he doesn't like (getting clipped and getting groomed) are not things he would need to do much of (grooming) or at all (clipping) in that job. He trailers, ties, can go in front or behind very politely, has as little spook as I've ever seen in a horse, and has a lovely swinging walk that you don't have to nag him into. Trail riding Saturday it was 41 degrees and windy AF. He was absolutely perfect. And he's been out of work for 30 days. He is genuinely the same horse whether you ride him every day or once a month. Well, he's a bit more of a pest on the ground when he's not working consistently, but under saddle you cannot tell at all. 

His/my deadline to determine if he is going to find himself a new pasture and job is the end of 90 days from the suspensory diagnosis, March 28th. I had to draw a hard line somewhere. He has SO much going for him with his mind and willingness and even decent athleticism when sound, but I cannot keep this up emotionally or financially. He's been out of work for just as long as he has been in work over the past year and I have scratched more shows than I have competed (March - feet, August - cellulitis, December - whatever TF this is).