Monday, February 27, 2023

Baby horse things

There's no media related to the things Gogs has been doing because I don't have three hands. We have started baby lunging. This means a roughly 20 foot circle at the walk and halt only. We've been working on what woah means and also working on woah without inverting the whole neck and sticking the head straight up in the air. 

There's a whole lotta muscle to add to that neck

Saturday morning I introduced a "leg" aid to start moving laterally a tiny bit. He half-heartedly kicked at it. I scolded and then asked again and he moved over. Clever clever boy! Lots of praise for that.

He got his feet done Friday and got a stellar review from the farrier. AND he got to stay BAREFOOT!!! I am SO EXCITED to not pay for 6 shoes right now. He walked out just fine on the rocky driveway the next day, no mincing steps. He also is tripping sooo much less now that his toes are a bit shorter. 

I don't really know what I'm doing with restarting him. But so far he and the people who trained him have made it super easy. He's very open to letting me move his body and other than a few bursts of baby here and there, he's been sooooo sensible. 

JT and I did a long lining and ground work lesson on Sunday. It became even more obvious then that whoever trained him spent a lot of time getting correct basics installed. He changes direction in the round pen very easily free lunging, and when we hooked him up to the long lines he was quite amenable to contact on the bit. He worried about the line behind his hind legs for maybe half a circle and then adjusted. And by worried I mean trotted a bit with extra hock action. Nothing dramatic. 

After long lining we played a bit with staying out of personal space using a parelli type stick, and he picked up on that very quickly too. It's a lot more pleasant than correcting him with the chain shank over his nose when he steps into my space. And it seemed to stick a lot longer. He had an attention ear on whoever was handling him while leading. The babies in the fields were putting on a whole show and he was still such a good boy. 

Which is good because he is SO TALL

He's really such a pleasant, sweet, thoughtful horse. So far I could not be any happier with this sight unseen, semi impulsive purchase. 

He seems to be growing, so we're taking things super slow. For the next few weeks, he'll long line a couple of times a week, and he and I will do a few more adventure walks with our new found personal space bubble installed. Eventually we'll get on him, but there's zero rush. That is also the really nice part about him being horse #2. I have no burning desire to go out and do things NOW since I have one who is out there doing plenty. This means it's a lot easier to just go at a relaxed pace that I'm sure is beneficial to him. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Free tongues!

Ben and I went to a Majestic Oaks schooling show on Wednesday. We were testing out our studs and getting some confidence back on a very familiar course. I worked until 2 the night before, so very much appreciated that I rode dressage at 2:15, stadium at 4:30 and XC at 5. I've sprinkled more Rocking Horse pics in here because I don't have any from this show. There is a video of dressage, stadium, and part of cross country, but I uploaded it at my dad's and didn't think to divide the phases, so it is a whole lot to watch unless you're super interested. 

Dressage: They were running ahead and offered to let us go in early, so I trotted a few serpentines, cantered once each way, took a walk break, and then went in after about 10 minutes of warm up. Usually I add in one more set of trot and canter with one more walk break, but it was bloody hot and we were here for the XC, not for a tired horse after dressage. With the goal of keeping it low key, I let Ben fly his tongue his whole dressage test with no flash and no sugar cubes. The dressage judge was less than thrilled and gave us a 33. To be fair, there was some good, useful feedback in there in addition to the remarks about his tongue, and I gained some insights from riding the test (training B) at a show. Our stretch circle correctly earned us a 5. I've been slacking at home and we usually do about 2 stretch circles to get a really nice stretch. I need to make this more prompt. Also I have been working the canter-trot transitions, but really managed to still slam him down into one of them with no prep. 

Stadium: The warm up ring went from empty to packed in a span of about two minutes, and I hate warm up rings anyways. So we jumped a smaller oxer once, chipped to the base of the bigger oxer, then took the long spot. I got left when he took the long one, but he was trying and I was fried, so we went on that. He spooked in the ring a decent amount, but I now expect it so it didn't really throw me off. I did have to ride fairly assertively to a few of the jumps, but if I was asserting, he was stepping up. We did 1 in the 1 stride, 5 strides to the next after it, like it walked, and then 2 in the 2 stride. I hadn't walked the course on foot and was a tad bit surprised by the turn to 9, kinda turning and going "la la la la OH SHIT there's the jump" but I put it in my head to still ride it like I had to sit up and turn again after and he jumped it well. We ticked about 4 rails, but managed to knock NONE of them. 

Cross country: Ben was a GOOD BOY. He did not run and spook heavy into my hand, he listened to half halts up, and he TRIED so hard the whole time. I rode like an idiot to a couple of them, but he still went and was trustworthy. 

He was a bit squirrely to 9, the one he ran out at when we schooled the first time without studs. But looking at the event entries results, two people had a stop or run out at that. I think the surprise wedge after a looooong gallop up from the water threw horses off a little. 

Rocking Horse wedge because I loooooove this picture

If you watch the video to the end you can see a bit of XC. You can also see me pull the distance away from us to a rolltop and the first wedge. Dumb. So I could be riding better out there too. 

We ended up tied for 6th after dressage then tied for 2nd after stadium, then winning our division after XC. Good boy Ben! As JT said, it wasn't the win we needed to qualify for AECs, but it still felt nice to come out and put all 3 phases together again. Next up is Rocking Horse the first weekend in March.  

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Ben ❤️s studs!

Ben and I schooled at Majestic Oaks on Friday. I put his calming acupuncture points in when we arrived. And he zenned out by the trailer by himself on a windy day. 

Points in! Hiding under his forelock
Five minutes later 

He also got studs. We went with the left sided one medial and lateral behind

And he was fantastic!!

I could feel him get his confidence back as we went. He was squirrelly to the first few fences but became much more game as he realized he felt more secure in his hind end. We didn't do a ton since we're doing the schooling show next week, but we ran through the combinations in the course. JT was encouraging me to take a breath, soften, and regroup after each fence. Make it through one part of the combo before moving the focus to the next. Then steady leg on and hand forward to the fence. 

He did launch into the water off the down bank after the roll top, and I nearly fell into the water. Not something he typically does, but y'know, why not try something different? The next time through the 3 strides from the roll top to the down bank were right there but he conservatively squeezed in another stride then very gently dropped in. I could almost feel him go "oops, almost lost mom last time, gotta be careful". Good boy, Ben. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

WW: When the routine is exciting

Monday after my lesson, I loaded Ben back up and led Gogs into Ms. GY's horse's spot on the trailer while she had her lesson

He paused for a second at the base and looked and then walked right on

He was content to meet Ben (and then try to bite Ben) and eat hay, not looking very stressed at all

Went into the puddle for some hand picked grass, he doesn't understand treats (yet)

Brave bebe

Tuesday, February 14, 2023


Alternate titles: Bebe horse, Ben gets a little brother, Welcoming chaos into my life, Goggles, and Ben 2.0

While Emma was baby horse shopping, I did some shopping of my own. Actually, I didn't, really. I had been not really looking for a second horse for a few months. Ie if one fell into my lap (or Facebook messenger inbox) that felt right, I was open to it, but I was not actively searching. And in fact had removed myself from most horse sale groups on Facebook. Apparently others had not though. And Amanda, like Presto, lives to bring chaos into people's lives. She sent JT a link to Ben 2.0, a just turned 4 yo OTTB with TRRAC in Pennsylvania. She had clicked on him because of his pedigree, then realized he was very similar in appearance to Ben. JT then sent him to me with a "if you're serious about a second horse this might be one to jump on." 

If you recall my fall post whining about the time commitment for training level and wonder what the heck I'm doing, you are not alone. I am right there with you. He is living at JT's barn though which means he'll be getting training rides and could potentially have some rides under other people there looking for some extra saddle time. 

But practical concerns aside, something felt right. I could provide all kinds of backwards rationalizations for the why, but we'll leave it at that. So, I made my first sight unseen horse purchase. Bebe horse arrived after a 24 hour trailer ride looking understandably tired. But he was easy to handle and sweet. He eyed the mini a bit and was unsure on the field waterer, but did nothing more than give them the side eye and then cautiously approach. 

Meet Sense a Giant, a 2019 thoroughbred gelding. He is out of a Giant's Causeway mare and by Street Sense. In very non horse breeding terms, he is Ben's cousin; his dam sire is Ben's sire's sire. Sense a Giant raced 5 times, last in December. He placed second once and had a lifetime earnings of $10,898. JT and I toyed with several barn names, but settled on Gogmagog, the giant from Jack and the beanstalk. It's a whole mouthful of a name, but has a delightful number of nicknames. 
Goggins, Gogs, Magog, Goggles for the right eye that always has a bit of sclera exposed

One of JT's working students helpfully commented that he looked bigger than 16.3. Oof. When TRRAC called to let me know he had loaded with the shipper, she also added he looked like he'd grown. Might be 17 hands then. 

We're going to have a chill couple of weeks exploring on the ground while we figure out a saddle and get some shoes and weight on him. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Feeling Zen

Ben and I went to the Chi institute again on Thursday. This was the first time we'd been on the first day of the course. I requested the same TA as last time and Ben immediately cuddled up to her. I shared that it was partially her scan of him that made me get him scoped. She was pleased to hear that things lined up from the eastern diagnostics to western. It was also an equine only group, so the students had a more whole horse approach with lots of practical questions. The other groups we've demoed for have been closer to their exam and therefore more focused on nailing down the points they were going to be tested on. This group included an equine surgeon, a sports medicine specialist, a vet student, and a few others. Ben was a bit more up and distracted to start the day. He was staring at cows in the distance and generally just a bit fussier than he has been. Totally manageable and he still was being a ham, but kind of reflective of how I've been perceiving his mental state since Rocking Horse. 

Helping out

Going with the ulcers and his reported spooky behavior (reported by me lol), he was diagnosed with a heart blood deficiency and stomach yin deficiency. This meant he got some new points including several calming points on his face. Things along midline pointing caudally are supposed to be calming. They used the 1/2" needles for it and like last time, those needles were allowed to stay in for the trailer ride home. 

The next day, napping in the cross ties. Before I told her anything, Ms. GY asked what he had had done because he was standing around the field with a dopey, relaxed look on his face. COOL!!

He was really pretty sensitive to the points on his back this time, possibly local soreness, so definitely something I need to keep an eye on in the future. 

In other "keeping Ben feeling Zen" news, I took the noseband off his bridle to see if it made him less insanely itchy at the end of rides. It hasn't, but the noseband isn't needed and with his jewel browband, I think he looks a bit like a western pony and I find it adorable!

We also did another trail ride with him as the ponied horse. He did get a bit more uppity with his saintly pasture mate at certain points, so I think next time we'll venture off our safe loop and out into the spookier areas of the neighborhood to broaden his horizons and keep him focused on more than harassing his friend. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Ben tries his nose at abstract art

Alternate title: Ulcer and saddle update

Ben will finish his 28d course of GastroGard today. His vet was coming out to chiro him on Friday and make sure he wasn't too out of whack from his trip into a jump, so we decided to combine the two and recheck his scope after he got adjusted. I gotta hand it to him, as usual he was the perfect patient. He hadn't eaten since 8 PM the night before and his buddies were all in munching on hay, but he was very compliant for his adjustment.

His adjustment went well. Way more out in his neck than usual, but not surprising. She said she was happy we sedated him right after, she feels like sometimes when there is a lot of muscle soreness the sedation lets the muscles relax and not immediately pull the vertebrae back. 

His back was unhappy too, but that is the fault of my dressage saddle. It was sent away at not insubstantial cost to get THE SAME panels as the jump saddle. But it came back not with those panels. Well, I thought, maybe they know what they're doing, but it is making him sore in the exact same spot as before. The fitter picked it up today and offered me a free saddle pad to make up for the inconvenience. No offer of refunding part of the cost of panels or shipping (to be clear, I am not paying for anything this time they are taking it). Definitely will be the last time I ever use Forestier, this has not been a great experience. I think if their saddles fit initially that would've been fine and great, but the experience of trying to get it to fit... not great AT ALL. And they DO NOT seem made for "typical" TB backs. I know every horse is different, but these saddles are WIDE with WIDE panels and a WIDE gullet channel, made for WIDE WBs IMO. 

To summarize: First I bought a dressage saddle and a jump saddle in May, and then pretty promptly paid to change the jump saddle panels. The rep then never rechecked after the saddle was returned from NJ. Second rep looks a few months later, agrees completely with me that the saddle DOES NOT FIT AT ALL and is making him sore. Ships it off for free and gets it right, YAY! I ride solely in the jump saddle for a month, we make sure it does not make him sore over time, and then I pay to ship off the dressage saddle to get the same panels. Lo and behold, it returns a month later without the same panels as the jump saddle, and here we are. Roughly eight months after buying two saddles from them, and I still do not have two saddles that fit him. They've also had three different reps since May when I first bought the saddles. I'm sure that has not helped. Any time we make changes, the saddles get shipped to NJ and are gone for 4-6 weeks which does not help my satisfaction levels, especially since I previously used wool saddles where adjustments were made on the farm the same day.

Anyways, small saddle rant aside, back to ulcers. To summarize our current protocol: 

Full tube of gastrogard 1x/day since scope. Trying my best to get it on an empty stomach, but not killing myself if that doesn't happen.

Lifestyle changes: 
  • Out with whole herd during the day, since we came back from Rocking Horse. I figured he needed emotional health more than all his hair. Knock on wood, he's not getting chewed on so far.
  • Alfalfa cubes mixed with his lunch daily. 
Supplement: KER Resolvin EQ

I did not do the KER ResolvinEQ  product justice when I described their research and the changes in Grade 1 or 2 horses. My initial interpretation was that there wasn't a change in the number of horses with grade 1 or 2 ulcers. While technically correct, the HORSES themselves changed grades, just not the total number of horses with grade 1 or 2. With one exception, the more severe horses (grade 3 or 4)  improved to grade 0, 1 or 2. The grade 1 or 2 horses resolved with the supplement. This chart from their paper does a better job showing what I'm trying to describe: 

Results: Ben is VASTLY improved. He still had one grade one, sitting conveniently right near a bot, potentially the causative agent for that one. So he got a tube of Quest Plus on Friday as well. The whole mucosa looked much healthier and there were fewer gobs of goo stuck to it. 

When his vet went to pull the tube he moved his head a tiny bit. Cue large nose bleed. 

And his abstract art on the stall wall, not even his stall, we'd swapped him to be closer to the electric and her truck

It had almost stopped and then he sneezed out this blood clot

She said if that was going to be the way she started her Friday, at least it was with another vet. Nose bleeds are annoying, but not life threatening (at least not when they come from gently bonking the ethmoids in an inconvenient spot with a tube on the way out), so I was more so amused at the range on his spray than concerned about the blood. She pretty quickly got the rag over his halter to minimize it, but even so he did a number on the wall. She hung out till it had completely stopped, and he was eating hay. Poor kid did make a few funny faces and spit out some hay because it was kinda bloody at first. But by 10 minutes later he was eating like a champ and super ready to go out with his friends. 

Going forward, we're going to do 1/4 tube of GG any day he travels. I'm messing with things that haven't been studied and I'm decreasing his ResolvinEQ to 30mL twice daily instead of the studied 60mL. It makes it much more palatable at $107 per month instead of $215. We're going to keep up the alfalfa cubes and if I remember it, we're going to pick up some Purina Outlast to use at shows or at other high stress times. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

January Wrap Up

Ben had: 
  • 23 rides
  • An appointment with his vet to recheck his mystery lameness that started after tearing around in the field on 12/31. But his lameness had resolved, so we scoped him and found grade 2 ulcers. 
  • Continued ground work with balance pads under his hind feet and belly lifts

Looking ahead: 
  • Weekly ponying off of his friend to improve his bravery on the trails around our neighborhood - Ben and I enjoyed this SO MUCH! His friend tolerated it LOL
  • Acupuncture at the Chi Institute next Thursday - I am curious to ask them their approach to ulcers, since in part it was their diagnosis that his stomach points were hot that made me get him scoped. 
  • Chiro appointment and recheck scope tomorrow
  • Several cross country schools and gymnastic type lessons to confirm that we are making a good shape over jumps and are safe to go back out at training level 
  • If things are ticking along well, then possibly Rocking Horse Winter III at the start of March. It is not actually my goal to ONLY compete at Rocking Horse, it is just what lines up with my work schedule for the time being. All things pending, we are going to TerraNova at the end of March and then the Ocala Eventing Festival in April, so we will in fact go to a few different venus. 

Also, I am going to continue to sprinkle the Rocking Horse pro pics, all from Xpress foto, throughout posts for the next several months... 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

WW (kinda): Ben and Friend, ponying adventures

I wanted Ben to stretch his legs Monday, but relax his brain. So we went for a hack with me on his incredibly comfy, saintly 25 yo pasture mate and Ben in tow. They were PERFECT for it. Really Ben is set up to be excellent at this - he's super agreeable and happy to go wherever, listen to whatever cues, he just needs someone to help with the bravery. And his pasture buddy is unspookable but could use some motivation to go into a big, swinging forward walk. Ben naturally strides out in that nice big forward walk, making them perfect. Ben occasionally rubbed his mouth/lips on his buddies shoulder and got some pinned ears to put him back in line. Good boys!! 

Honestly, one of the most fun/cutest things I've ever done. Good for both of them, I'm going to keep it up for sure. In other news of "things Ben loves", we're going back to the Chi Institute next week. 

I told Ms. GY if we couldn't navigate the gate at the end of the pasture then I shouldn't be out on the trails, but they did it like pros. The only hairy part was when we came back in and his buddy was totally sure we were done after entering the gate and started off pretty quick towards the barn while Ben was snatching grass. Ben caught up nicely and without a fuss, but I had to reel them both back in to circle back to the gate. 

Blogger inserted these pics backwards, so the end of the ride is first. 

Ben continues posing, pasture buddy is tired of the paparazzi trying to get his ears up

Happy ears from both of them

Ben was THE MOST PLEASED and RELAXED the whole time. My <3 was so happy. We met a new mini in a pasture at one point and Ben was totally chill with his buddy there to make it NBD. 

Start of the ride, pasture buddy wonders what he's gotten himself into