Friday, June 30, 2023

Welcome back Ben

Ben is finally right again. It only took a change in shoeing, stifle injections, and SI injections. I hope that it was all triggered by his unhappy feet that we have now remedied. I would like to not have a repeat of pouring this much money into my horse's joints. Retrospectively he might not have needed the stifle injections because they didn't change much in his way of going. But, regardless, now he is back to work. This is the second summer in a row where he has come back to work RIGHT at the hottest time of the year. By 10 AM my weather app says "unfavorable - conditions are not ideal, consider modifying activities to limit outdoor exposure". Oof. But since he's been mostly off since March/April, he gets to go back to work. 

Our plan is JT riding him for the first two weeks post-SI injection to keep him really freaking straight through his pelvis. I'm taking him for walk hacks in between his training rides with her. The second week of July, I'll get back in the saddle for more than walking and start doing some dressage rides and more heavy duty conditioning. The last part of July, we'll put him back over fences. 

As part of his conditioning, he is aqua tredding. I am delighted by this. He is not and my wallet is not, but I think it is really, really good for him. Plus it isn't 5 million degrees on the underwater treadmill, so that's a perk too. 

Why tho??? 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

WW: Goggles goes for a lunge

The day I set up my pivo last week was definitely a two steps back kinda day after a week of steps forward. 

Really wanted to fight the side reins tracking right

And couldn't find a level balance in them 

Much better without them

Balance aided by some walk-trot transitions

Weeeeee leaning in on that inside shoulder like WOAH 

Afterwards we hung out in block one in the arena. Given his shenanigans while lunging I thought he'd be more up, but he actually settled right down. 

Dogs were barking in the distance 

He wanted to keep hanging out after I turned him out

If you've made it this far... what are your thoughts on lunging green horses? Side reins? Pessoa? Nothing? 

I think we might have reached a point where the side reins have stopped being helpful for the time being. He is much more willing to accept contact now and be consistent in it, but he's starting to hang on that contact quite a bit. Looking at the 30 minute video I took, I think the side reins might now be encouraging him to lean into them too much. His balance was better without them for the most part. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

(Not so) WW: Trickster Pony

Shiny boy enjoying lunch

Sunday I went to visit my dad. I stopped by the barn about 11 and Googles GALLOPED from the back of the pasture to see me. Then he got lunch, fly spray, and kicked back out.

I shared his cute greeting with Ms. GY on Monday and she said "Wait, you fed him lunch Sunday? Around 1 I was out there and he trotted up to me so I fed him lunch." 

Well played sir, well played. 

Where I found him on Monday. He's got all this gorgeous grass to eat and instead he's snooping around the trailer

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Thinking in millimeters

Another tidbit from our cowboy session was that horses think in millimeters and humans think in meters (well, he said feet, but I have a distaste for the imperial system and mixing imperial and metric in one sentence). I applied that to my ride with Goggles on Wednesday, and WOW! That idea made it SO much easier to reward the tiniest movement off his inside shoulder. I also managed to quit before we had done too much. So we did 25 minutes of walk and trot and it was GREAT! I felt like I managed to leave him at the end feeling like he was brilliant, which I should do every ride, but I am human and fail and push too much sometimes. The goal is not to have him bending through his barrel and up off his inside shoulder. The goal is to have him ever-so-slightly closer to that position than the stride before. 

He came back from JT's very undeweight. Not her fault at all, but I think he arrived and stressed and travelled to and from while stressing. And in the 17 hand TB way immediately dropped any of the weight we had finally gotten onto him. 

I shot these pictures post-ride Wednesday, trying to get the least flattering angle I could to make sure we were going in the right direction. He is in the middle of his lunch of two scoops of TC and one scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes. Remind me why I have two thoroughbreds? 

We did some work on block one (aka relax somewhere not at the end of the rope and not in my space) outside the trailer on Tuesday. He was very good and checked it out some on his own. I didn't ask anything, he could be way outside of it if he wanted (22 foot rope). I just wanted him to be confident near the trailer. 

I was confused by this one. He came in on his own and then immediately looked stressed. But he backed out slowly, so I was still pleased. 

In other news, it is now that time of year in Florida where you walk out the door and get slammed in the face by a wall of heat and humidity. Delights. Please take me back to the chilly evenings and mornings of NC when I was there in May. Not going to get back up until August, but my brother and I are going to NY in July, which is not as reliably chilly, but is at least always cooler than Florida. 

These blackberries should be ripe berries in August

And a little recommendation for JVN hair products... as a curly haired person in FL, I struggle with massive amounts of frizz. My hair also likes to eat product. So I can have gelled looking curls, which I don't love, or frizz. I almost always resort to just wadding it up in a bun on my head. But I've been using the JVN shampoo, conditioner, and complete air dry cream for a week now and I loooooove it. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Cowboy time

Goggles and I had a lesson with the cowboy JT uses for ground work. It was great! I learned a ton and had a ton of fun watching the cute baby horse learn things too. His actual techniques are not supposed to be shared online for free, so I'll share some general take aways: 
  • MANY horses are used to only finding relaxation in movement. We want them to be able to find relaxation in stillness as well. Finding that will help with square halts too. Why do we focus so much on a square halt? It shows relaxation and stillness. 
  • If you push past the fear line, they will often go with you. But then when they realize they're past it, they will panic. This came up because we were discussing trailer loading. I certainly pushed Goggles past that line and then did see the panic that occurred. This also makes sense with his original trailer loading behavior - flying in and out. He was responding to the ask, then realizing he was actually scared, and then reversing at warp speed. I certainly saw the parallel to horses that rush jumps. When you actually break it down, they're doing this because they're terrified not because they are eager. 
  • Horses can learn in several ways: finding the answer on their own, being helped to find the answer, being told the answer, and being forced into the answer. We don't do enough of letting them find the answer on their own. 
  • Horses think in millimeters, we think in inches and feet. This applies to being in your space, loading on the trailer, etc etc 
  • We're pretty bad at charades most of the time. If we ask consistently (consistently to them, not just us), they give us the right answer almost all the time. 
  • You want the four C's in everything you do: calm, confident, communicating, and connected
  • The posture and relaxation they learn to adopt the majority of the day will do more for their topline than an hour of riding each day
I'm excited to keep playing with these things, especially while we try to get the weight onto him and it is bloody hot. 

Our lunging session the next day was the most relaxed and confident he's ever been. **Coincidence? I doubt it. 

**(just re-read after writing this post by swyping on my phone and realized I had confidence in here... which is the exact opposite of what I wanted to question)

Hanging out, relaxed, post hosing 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

May 2023 Wrap Up


Ben has been through the ringer a bit since the start of March. We FINALLY have his feet happy. He's not shifting his weight back and forth on hard ground, and he is off of the Equioxx. He is jogging sound on the hard, uneven driveway. He got his neck and withers shockwaved a week ago and got his stifles injected yesterday. When we jogged him before the stifles yesterday morning he was sound and flexed sound, but we went ahead with the injections because he was resistant to half-halts under saddles and wanting to go wide behind. In a few days we get to start rebuilding fitness. He has been in low level work this month when he's been sound, a few flat sessions and hacks (4 hacks, 1 dressage lesson, 3 training rides). And he's still been turned out the whole time, so we are not starting from ground zero at least. But again, we get to spend the hottest part of the summer rebuilding rather than taking some time off since he had the pleasant spring weather off. 

Throwing it back to when we were doing things

He's just gorgeous and the magic hour light is quite nice too 

  • 6 lunging sessions - 3 at home with me, 3 at JT's in the pessoa
  • 10 rides including 
    • His FIRST cross country schooling! He was a super good boy and so brave!! 
    • 2 lessons - his first under saddle canter and hundreds of walk-trot transitions
    • 1 ride at home where NEW horses were in his field 
    • 3 short ventures off property 
  • 5 groundwork sessions - 2 trailer loading, 2 emotional regulating off property, and 1 in hand trotting over some jumps with me, he's so cute with that 
  • Scope and his first chiro session - we're almost done with his month of 1/2 tubes of gastrogard and then it will be time to schedule his recheck scope 
Overall it was a very interesting month for him and me. We upped the ante in a few ways of expectations and activities, and while he stepped up to meet the challenge in a lot of areas, I think I pushed a bit too far too fast with the trailering. He was more anxious on the drive to and from Majestic than he had been; going without a friend was too much for him at this point. Noted. He's a smart, sweet baby though, and we continue to learn together. 

We're still learning on the weight front too. I bought him his own alfalfa to have in the stall instead of the coastal or orchard. He's still somewhat disinterested and does a lot more spreading it around than eating it. Thanks buddy, that stuff is super cheap. He's on TC complete - 2 scoops AM and PM and 1.5 scoops with a full scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes for lunch. He is an ACTIVE baby though. The field at the GY's is 7-8 acres and he bops around that pretty much constantly. Not that he doesn't settle and eat some, but he loves to go harass the other horses. At least the pasture is really good quality right now given his lack of interest in hay. But I really would love if he gained enough weight to have a shot at building a topline. 

Cutie pie