Friday, May 31, 2024

(Unrelated) Photo Friday

Llama or horse? 

Leaning towards llama

Oh! A horse! 

Could go either way 

This doll got herself a UTI. NBD, right? Except when you have a fake ureter. Who knows if we'll be able to get the infection cleared, so I'm treasuring every moment with her. 

Like during my cats first near death experience in Sept 2022 when she got the ureter (SUB) placed, I find it easier to turn over the reins and play owner while I'm emotional about her. Here is AT popping Goggles around the XC jumps at JTs. 

He cantered three jumps in a row in a lovely rhythm. AND did the ditch on the first go. Good boy!!

Meanwhile Ben was in a stall so his wraps could set on his feet (more on that later). He had hay but still flung everything he could reach. He's such a goofball. 


Exploring this of his own free will, I was just letting him graze nearby. Ben is so good at giving confidence about the tarp, coming over to sniff it while I move it around and such, good older brother. 

Introducing barn kitty Sapphire. There are three (or four) barn cats. Sapphire doesn't think she should work for a living and consequently doesn't. She leaves the hunting pocket gophers to her brothers. She is always up for pets or more food. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

All the Therapy and a Ben Update

At Goggles last chiro adjustment, his vet noted some consistent soreness in his caudal thoracic/cranial lumbar area. Her feeling was that he is a big and long horse and gravity is doing its work there. She recommended the Equiband. However, he also wants to very much tilt his pelvis under and immobilize it, so just the belly band, not the hindquarters band. This seemed like it would be safer for me too, given his proclivity to kick first and ask questions later. I had bought this for Yoshi way back when, so I dug it out of the tack trunk to try on him.

His first reaction, as suspected, was to kick at the band, but it was only once. He's starting to put a little more trust in me it seems. The second time I grabbed it from the underside he put his ears at odd angles but then accepted it. 

We just did 10 minutes on the line with the rope halter. I haven't lunged him since this time last year at the GY's. He did a lot of long lining at JT's though. It's probably a good hole to fill in anyways, so after letting him eat some we did some walk-halt-walk and then added in a bit of trot. The trot was instantly rushed and anxious, but after several circles he came back down to earth. I've got some trot poles set on the lunge circle and he politely aimed himself at those. He did them in two ways: the slow, articulating the joints more way, or the rushed almost fall on the face way. After a couple repetitions of the correct version we called it quits. It will definitely be several sessions before I even dare to ask for a canter. I want that anxiety waaaayyyy down before we go there. Since I haven't lunged him since last year I don't actually have a comparison for with equiband vs. without, so that will be something to experiment with over the next few weeks.

He also has a tarp living in his field now. The first day we introduced it I had my husband lead Ben over it several times and then had Ben stand on it while Goggles watched. Then I left it in Goggles field in a 3 foot x 12 foot section with landscaping timbers to hold it. The next day I rolled it into a 8-12" section (still 12' long) and had him go over it in hand. There was a LOT of angst and going backwards and at one point he pulled away from me and galloped around the field trailing the rope. I tried to bring my own energy level very far down and eventually he got over it. We went back and forth until it was kind of casual and then called it good. 

The next day we started off better even. He went right over in hand with some rushing still, but more willingly than the day before. We repeated, slowing each step down, to make sure he was truly thinking about it. Then I rode and had a good, productive ride. I finished the ride back in his field going over it on as loose a rein as I could. He launched the first few times but got more relaxed about it pretty quickly.

The next day I made it slightly larger and took him over it in hand again. That's the plan going forward, increase the size very gradually every few days until he's chill with a normal sized liver pool and then with a tarp in general. It's probably good for his pasture grass too, I set it in the fence line where he likes to run next to Ben, and I'm pretty sure he's still avoiding it when I'm not there, giving the trough he created a minute to fill in. We're in the rainy, sunny, grass growing time of year right now. 

Second width, pausing to make sure we're using all the brain, not just rushing it to get it over with 

As noted above, Ben now lives at the same farm as Goggles. This spring I was seriously thinking about listing him for sale - I don't really have time for two horses in full work and maybe his dainty feet would be better suited to a career on footing such as local HJ or dressage (with someone who doesn't care about his tongue). But then he came up bilaterally sore up front after a trot set on decent pasture footing. And I threw in the towel. I talked to his vet and farrier and we pulled all four shoes. His farrier offered glue on composite shoes as an alternative, but I don't need him to be sound right now, so yanking all the shoes was the final decision. He came down from the mid-Atlantic region two years ago barefoot, so maybe he is a horse who needs his vacation time barefoot to stimulate sole growth? The more we tried to protect him, the easier his feet bruised. 

Through some changing circumstances, he also needed to be out of the GY's about two weeks after his shoes got pulled. Goggles' farm owner offered to keep them separate if I wanted and was delightfully accommodating with moving Ben in on relatively short notice.


Other than a complete inability to keep a fly mask on Ben (thanks Goggles), it's going shockingly well. I thought they would get soooo herd bound that taking one out to work the other would cause a scene. But it hasn't. The barn owner let me throw Ben in a stall Saturday when I took Goggles away and then she put Ben back out a few minutes after we left. I also gave him trazodone. It was only his second day there so I wanted to set him up for success. I guess he was completely fine while I was gone with Goggles. 

When Ben and I walked up to the road up front, Goggles did a bit of pacing the fence line, but no screaming. And he was pacing at a walk, so really not that bad. 

They do really love each other, but I'm happy enough with them separate but able to talk over the fence line. Ben is probably grateful he's got a defense against Goggles' hind feet. Knock on wood (that is still standing), they haven't taken down boards yet, so that's nice too. 

Ben is... surprisingly sound without shoes. The first two weeks he was definitely a bit sore up front, but then he adjusted? His feet look like absolute trash right now, chipping all to pieces, but he is looking pretty good on them. I'm not riding him partially because I'm not sure if my visual of him looking pretty good is going to translate to him feeling pretty good under saddle, but also partly because I'm questioning his saddle fit again. 

Freshly pulled shoes, doing some in hand work in the GY's arena before moving

Braining so hard 

Since I dug the equiband out for Goggles, I figured why not throw it on Ben. I haven't been happy with his topline in a while (hence my questions about saddle fit), so it would do him some good. Goggles' saddle isn't a bad fit on him so that's what I put on to anchor the equiband in place. I have a surcingle but I don't love it and I'm really trying to avoid pinching his withers and trapezius which I think the saddle does a better job avoiding than the surcingle. 

Excuse me? I thought I was retired

I don't think I'm just tricking myself that there have been some positive changes in his topline since the photo at the GY's 2 weeks prior 

"Ermagerd, MOOS!" - Ben. He was definitely sore on the road, but we just walked onto it then turned around and walked back home. Gradual exposure to grow those soles (I hope). 

He was cracking me up, he spooked at the cows and tried to eat grass while walking all within the same ten seconds while he was supposed to be lunging. I don't think I've ever lunged him on grass and we keep having to have a conversation about working vs. eating. 

We've got some walk poles set up raised at one end that he's doing multiple times every time he "works" and then also have the trot poles on our lunging circle. We're doing backing in hand with good posture and working on ToF in hand too. I'm hoping this will all help his topline and then after 2-3 cycles without shoes we can consider putting him back in some up front. 

I don't have goals for him right now. He's given me so much. I flipped back through a few of our show summaries the other day. For a horse who is a chicken at heart, he sure has tried his heart out for me over the past two years. He's also a pleasant dude to be around, he's tolerating pasture board quite well (knock on wood again!), and I'm conducting my own barefoot vs. shod experiment with him. I don't think he'll ever be able to gallop XC without shoes on, but I'm hoping in some way we can create feet that can tolerate trotting around for 20 minutes without ending up bruised. I'm not ruling out him someday finding a home with someone else who will love and appreciate him for everything he is, see above about time and money, but for the foreseeable future we'll be hanging out. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Getting Recognized: Part 3 saving the best for last

Some emotional decisions got made when I purchased 5 of the 7 pictures from Lisa Madren from last weekend. He's just so freaking cute I couldn't make rational choices. 

The absolute cutest

Trit trotting with the cutest ears

Doing it! 

Good boy, so casual about the ditch! 


Bonus shot that Lisa shared as one of the multiple photos in her Facebook post about the event, popping over fence 2 like the best baby horse ❤️❤️

Also, I completely forgot to include the actual video in the previous post, so here ya go: 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Getting Recognized: Part 2

The maps are behind a plastic board to weather protect them, so excuse the blurriness

Stadium looked pretty straight forward. AT said it was easy to get bogged down in the corners a bit, so to keep coming forward. The outside line was a 6, the bending line of 5-6 was an 8-10. 

Goggles warmed up really pretty civilized. We were the first to go post break. They were dragging the warm up until 7 minutes before my scheduled ride time but that was actually just fine. We trotted the cross rail a few times then did a small oxer off both canter leads. He was being super pleasant so in we went. 

Overall I was very, very pleased by the round. He was rideable and responsive. One to two rode well but then he wanted to drag down a bit in the canter after two so I made him trot three. I didn't really get him going in that line so it was a slightly short seven strides, but I'm not too fussed about that. 

#1, good boy! Sorry for the incredibly blurry video stills. I'm waiting on pro pics hopefully. 


The bending line from five to six rode really nicely too. He landed on the left lead so I brought him back to trot and kept him there since the tulip standards at seven can be spooky. He didn't think they were at all spooky though. We kept landing on the wrong lead so we trotted the last three fences. NBD, he needs to trot things, picking the canter back up will come soon enough. 

I couldn't be any happier with that round. He was so civilized and game, and I felt like I did my part and rode positively and (mostly) didn't jump up his neck. 

We had an hour before XC, so he got the girth loosened and bridle off then got sponged off and got a drink. I got back on about 15 minutes before our ride time. They only had one warm up XC jump available for starter. I wished they'd left the BN house as well because it's always a nice feel to jump something bigger before starting. Oh well though. 

We'll do a photo tour of XC: 

He trotted nicely out of the box and was pretty game for 1. There was a little wiggle, but positive riding fixed it. 

No problem to #2

Ditto for #3 this cute rolltop

It was a bit downhill to this, so we came back to the trot because balancing while cantering downhill is hard when you're a giant baby horse.

#5 was an option- the tiny right hand ditch or the coop off to the left. He's done these ditches a bunch, so we chose that option. I backed him down to a trot and over he went! 

Good boy over this one too

There was a little wiggle here, but we trotted it and he was steady enough when I pushed him forward

We cantered this out of stride

And this as well

#10 was an option, through the water or to the left and over a somewhat spooky log

They had put new sand around the water and while he's been better and better each time we school, I still wasn't sure he'd go in on the first try

So we opted for this log. But he got overwhelmed by the amount of stuff around the water and was barely focused on the log. A pro would've whacked him 20 strides earlier and told him to quit sight seeing and do his job. But I'm an adult ammy. So I kicked him and kinda begged him to do his job, but he petered to a stop a few strides before the jump. I kept him square to it, wacked him once since he was miles behind my leg. Then we circled and popped over it with a big jump, but no problem. 

No problem over this one

This is spooky and while he has jumped it before, he still thought carefully about it as we approached. But this time he responded when I closed my leg and popped over it to finish the course!! 

Overall I'm super happy with both of us. He was a good honest egg the whole time and while we did get a 20, I'm mostly proud of my riding. I mostly succeeded in hands to the jump, shoulders up, and kicking him straight instead of pulling him straight. I felt him gain confidence as we were out there by ourselves. I think he had a good time, which is exactly what I'm hoping to develop! 

Between a few time faults, our 20, and our objectively abysmal dressage score, we stayed in 10th, but I'm still very very happy with this as our first outing. I'm hoping to get him out again in June at the POP show before taking July off of showing since it's so bloody hot.