Just as a HUGE note before anyone gets too far in this – this is a video on preparing to show your horse for Reining.
With that out of the way, it’s still just a super cool, fantastic video about what a trainer does to get his horse ready for the show pen. This video was a clinic put on at a show in Arizona (I believe) with reining trainer Andrea Fappani. There are a few concepts that I’ve taken and used when I was still working with reining horses, and it really is fascinating (to me at least lol) to get into the head of a trainer and hear what he expects and how he corrects the behavior he doesn’t want. Personally, I don’t think it matters whether you ride jumpers or trail ride – the information is just really cool to see some of the facets of training for reining. Re-watching it again really makes me miss reining. It IS an exciting sport!
Be prepared – the video is an hour and a half long. Not sure if anyone is wanting to tune in to the video that long, but the riding/teaching really starts more around 5:30 to 6 minutes. Even 4 years after initially watching it, I STILL go back and watch it lol. So if you’re interested, please have fun watching! Plus, that Arabian stallion is TO DIE FOR. SO PRETTY. Also, I’m totally running out of content to post haha!
So I’ve officially ridden in the new dressage saddle for a few weeks now, and I have to say – I never thought I’d see the day I’d not only have a dressage saddle on Amber, but that I’d also ever even OWN a dressage saddle. Then again, I never thought I’d really be into eventing so I suppose the never-thought-I’d-see-the-day point is moot? haha
But just a little fun backstory: it has been no secret for those people that have been around us for more than a few years that my mom and I dislike dressage. At one point it was a very intense dislike that you could really equate to hate. We swore we would never ever ever ever…..EVER ride dressage (ha ha, oops. sorry, mom). Interestingly enough, the dislike began with the popularity of Rolkur, and we hadn’t known what it was at the time and just agreed we disliked that way of going.
It has been amusing though on this journey of jumping into eventing because my poor mom is trying to be supportive but every time we talk about dressage her nose wrinkles a bit. (And then she gets really worried about me going on cross country lol) Except when I was showing her a few clips of good dressage stuff. She likes it then. But she sort of sighs every time dressage is brought up. It’s really been funny because she wants to be supportive – she really does – she is just not a fan of it. Which I totally understand and is perfectly okay, and still makes me chuckle. So that makes it even more amusing to me that she actually advised me to get this saddle since it was a killer price and everything I was looking for for Amber.
Can you believe that?! I couldn’t at first haha.
Also, I’ve come to find I actually like dressage.
I know. BLASPHEMY haha. When it comes to training horses though, I’m very cerebral, and I like to look at all moving parts and figure out what works best for which horse and why. So dressage training correctly makes a whole lot of sense to me. It’s helped me formulate a better idea of the concepts I’ve been working on with Whisper and transferring that knowledge in a way that makes sense to my mom.
But that’s something that I love doing and why I’ve loved learning so many different horse riding disciplines. After riding reiners there are some training concepts that help exponentially as I’ve been moving to dressage. Western pleasure concepts have helped create awesome, sharp slow downs on reiners. Learning the bit of dressage I have on Amber has helped me better communicate the lope to Whisper. You never know what concept from what discipline will aid you and your horse in the learning process, so I love learning all the things. As fascinating as dressage is for me, I couldn’t do it as the only discipline I rode, which is why I think eventing will be for me. You’re constantly improving at 3 completely separate disciplines, and that is even better to me because you get to learn all the things of three different things all at the same time lol.
So, back on topic of the dressage saddle I never thought I’d have. I was wanting a brown saddle, but I am not even upset. I thought I would be, but I’m sure it’s because I really like everything about this saddle so far. I maaaayyyyybbbee could use a half size bigger since it’s only a 17″ (but supposed to also cover to 17.5″) but I think the true 18″ would be too big. I love the way my western saddle hugs me in the seat, and I wanted to find a dressage saddle with that exact feel since I can sit Amber well in my western saddle. I also feel so much better in this saddle. When Amber was giving me little trots here and there on our way back to the barn during our walks for a bit, it was ridiculous how easy it helped me just sit there and be in the perfect spot. The trot that was SO HARD to sit in the jump saddle was so much easier in this saddle. It really lets my leg hang down, and I’d find that no matter how hard I tried to sit up and let my legs drop, my jump saddle would push me back a little and let my thighs come up. Which, well, it’s supposed to because it’s an eventing saddle. It’s perfect for that, but I feel like I can actually sit WITH Amber in this, like I could go back to riding with the Master Dressage videos I followed and be able to do all of this. I have noticed that I have a tendency to tip forward though, and I know that’s from compensating for my jump saddle and then just my natural tendency from riding hunters as a kid. So I’ve been working hard on sitting straight and making that a habit as Amber and I walk. The thigh blocks aren’t too big either which I’ve worried about that since it’s always been hard for me to sit like you need to in a dressage saddle (working on my hip flexors has helped immensely tho).
Once I sit correctly, the saddle feels like this wonderful glove that just holds me there, and I really like the way I sit in it. The best thing? It’s already broken in. It feels wonderful and is starting to feel like home to me. The good thing is that it fits Amber pretty damn perfectly. I found it interesting that the day I was trying on the Lund breastplate she ground her teeth when I put the jump saddle on. Dressage saddle got no such reaction. Pretty sure she likes it. The only sad thing is that I’ve been keeping my black stirrup leathers I bought originally for my jump saddle – holding out JUST in case the dressage saddle I bought was black. Sure enough it is, it’s just that….well….I underestimated that dressage wants a REALLY LONG leg haha. I have those leathers on holes 3 and 2 1/2 and here I was thinking I had short legs and the 53″ would work lol. Turns out I have very normal legs when it comes to nylon lined stirrups – I’m used to the unlined ones so they’ve always really stretched out. Which means I’ll HAVE to get new stirrup leathers sometime in the future and Lund has some great ones so….twist my arm for that, right? Haha!
It’s been difficult to keep a healthy mentality through Amber’s surgery and recovery. As positive as I am in a lot of my posts, it’s been very tough not to get down by the whole thing, especially since the vet and I agreed that she wasn’t where we were hoping. I worry a lot about her and how well she’ll recover.
I’ve been super lucky with the people around me, supporting me in hoping for the best possible outcome, but also being realistic with me that it may come down to where she can’t do much anymore. At this point though, I don’t know what else to do to help her. I guess slogging through for a month doing stretches and continuing to walk until her next check up is what we have to do, but…..it’s been difficult to be positive. And I know I don’t have to be on here, and that we all understand that negativity that seeps into your gut like acid and you start second guessing everything.
But I dislike being negative in my posts. I feel this blog is one of my only avenues where I don’t feel I have to focus on negative things because I don’t really want to. As much as I am usually a positive person, it’s also because I can be very cynical and negative. I have a huge tendency to be way too hard on myself and focus on what went wrong instead of what went right and giving myself a break for being human. I don’t want to be that person who always says it’s sunshine and rainbows when it’s not, because it’s never always sunshine and rainbows. Most of the time, it’s not Amber or Whisper that made the ride bad but me. Not necessarily what I could/couldn’t do or did/didn’t do through the ride but my mentality. My own speed bumps that I have to get over. Sometimes, it’s absolutely not me and I can recognize that. So if it’s my fault, I won’t say much about it because my brain is already trying to spiral it down. But I also feel such joy whenever I’m around horses that I also can’t not be happy for just riding. I know if Amber and I can kick this thing and be able to do a bit of eventing, we’re going to have speed bumps. Those certainly won’t be sugarcoated, but I’m still going to try my hardest to recognize and focus on the positives because we’re all human – we make mistakes and we learn and progress through those mistakes. I want to try to acknowledge those and be determined to fix them, but at the same time I want to move on from them and focus on what was good.
These past 7 weeks after surgery have been trying on me mentally, wondering and not knowing and taking it day by day. I am sad and disappointed and most days at a loss, but I’m also grateful to be able to ride her, grateful that nothing that could’ve gone wrong happened to her. It’s a weird place to be in mentally but day by day, hour by hour right? The blogger community has been great in its support for me and Amber, and I love you guys for that. It’s been wonderful to be able to live vicariously through everyone, even if I do feel a pang of envy every now and then because I want to be out there with you guys sharing the experiences. I am truly happy for everyone, and your posts help keep me going and connected, and so many of you have come so far in even just the short time I’ve been following everyone that I love it. I love so much that the eventer community is focused on building people up and being supportive. It’s one of the biggest reasons I was drawn to eventing besides the promise of galloping (okay Amber and I would be cantering VERY FAST lol) cross country.
I don’t know how college me did this with Amber’s initial knee surgery. I knew I was a mess and I did what I could every day, but as far as the emotional struggle of watching Amber recover I just don’t remember that as much. But I have a feeling it’s worse this time not only because it’s a stifle, but also because at that point, she’d only been officially mine for 3 months and I’d only worked with her just short of a year. She’s now been mine for 6 years, and we’ve been through training struggles, tears and frustration, saddle issues and bit issues and sooooo much stubbornness from the both of us learning together and me dragging the poor thing wherever I went and lots of personal growth that she forced me through. I certainly love this lazy pocket rocket a lot more now than I did then. She is my heart and soul.
So I try to be positive on the blog. And I suppose it’s not a “sunshine and rainbows” positive, but really much more of a tenaciously positive drive. Amber did it once, and completely blew away the vets. So we can do it again. And it was so helpful to get encouragement not only from all of you bloggers (also big thanks to you Olivia for your comment about Eugene and his stifle!) but also from a good friend of mine who works in my tack shop. She’s so knowledgeable about horses, and was so caring and understanding even though I chatted with her past the time the store was supposed to be closing. Her horse somehow got a leg over the divider in a trailer and damaged his stifle very badly so she had such a long haul rehabbing him, but they were able to get back to their jumper competitions. It was really just the long back and forth chat I really needed to get myself to buck up and get my tenacity back. Care that Amber is hurting – yes. Even when she wrinkles her nose at me and gives me a spectacular glare and teeth grind. Because what hurts me the most is she never tells me no. She just lets me know it hurts, but this mare pretty much does anything I ask her. It’d be easier if she lashed out. But she doesn’t. So I stuff her face with treats. She gets stretched 4 times a day, and that will soon increase as each stretch will earn a treat instead of each part of the stretch. She REALLY looks forward to that now thank goodness. I can feel the leg getting better too, so that helps my hopeful tenacity to keep going, even if Amber gimps and gimps and I throw my hands up in frustration. Sometimes tho, I honestly think she exaggerates or does it on purpose to get my sympathy. It’s her face that gives her away. I read it pretty well now. HORSE YOU CANNOT LIE TO ME. Okay so she totally still outsmarts me – like she started offering a bit of trot and I thought “wow! she’s feeling better!” and goodness no she just wanted to get back to the freaking barn. womp womp lol
I know once I get over this hump it’ll be fine and I’ll probably look back and think “what was I worried about?” but it is certainly not any easier. It’s just going to be a long process. There are a few things I have in mind that I’ll try for the next week and see how it goes. I know I’ve said this a lot recently, but I just want to reiterate it and say thanks. Thanks everyone for listening. Thank you everyone for understanding. Thank you for supporting me from afar. I really love our blogger community.
It feels like I got a heap of stuff around the same time. Which is pretty true and absolutely awesome. My tack ho heart is happy. It’s like Christmas in the middle of July…….or end of June, but close enough lol. Most of it is coincidence that it all arrived at the same time, and one was an actual buy recently. Tack ho win, right?! So, shall we get on with it? Because things!
As you guys know, I received my Cambox Isi3 last week. So far, it’s been a lot of fun to mess around with. New gadgets are always fun for me to play with and figure out new things, but after working on the helmet cam for about 30 or so minutes (this included interruptions at work since I took it to work with me lol) it was…..really simple. I was done figuring it out. It was really quite easy. Then of course, it just took a while to REMEMBER what every button activated and how long I had to hold the button down for to activate those different things. Still, pretty simple. (The video is sped up so hopefully it’s not too boring with us just walking lol)
I’m loving being able to test things out on my phone and download the videos straight to my phone. It’s not really a needed feature for me personally, so perhaps the 2 would’ve been fine for me. What I really love is the 720p at 60 fps. Higher than the 2 and better video quality. Which I prefer. So there we go. I DEFINITELY have to get a bigger SD card tho if I want more/longer videos. I got three 3 minute videos, and that took up about all of the space on the 16gb SD card it came with. But, since I’m not doing anything really NEEDING video footage at the moment, it can wait.
The only thing that is a little disappointing about it for now is that my Ovation helmet’s brim is too small to fit the whole Velcro sticky thing on it. It hangs off a little bit, but not in any danger of the camera coming off. It still works, but since my brim also sort of points down, the camera doesn’t quite get any horizon for right now. Which is all fixable. I’ve been going back and forth between the new EQ3 MIPS helmet and the IRH navy helmet I tried a while ago that fit my head perfectly. But omg no more things for right now. That’ll either be a Black Friday purchase or a helmet awareness purchase. Now I at least also know to compare the brims to make sure my Cambox will fit haha.
Second, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that I received my Lund Saddlery pledge items.
I had only pledged reins for the Kickstarter in December 2017, but due to orders being late they threw in a freebie which was absolutely amazing of them to do (one of the reasons they’re one of my fav companies now – their customer service is top notch!). One of the options was a 5pt breastplate, and I chose that one since I’ve been wanting to try that out and see not only how it would fit Amber, but also how it would work with all of our stuff – especially now since her jump saddle is a little big for her and needs help staying forward. I am absolutely in love with it so far. I am super stoked about this deal haha. Also just realized I don’t have a close-up of the reins, but I will do a review of the tack for sure once I’ve had it/used it for a longer period of time.
But the tack pieces made it to me on Monday! I was very excited to see how it fit and how it looked on the horses. I think I had way too much fun trying that 5 point on Amber. I even put it on Whisper and she was not pleased with me haha. But just with all of Lund’s other products, it’s beautifully made and the leather is top-notch Sedgewick. Plus, it looks good on both girls. If I can pad up my jump saddle enough the breastplate will be perfect to help it stay forward but also just to have it for funsies as Amber and I start riding on our outside walks. Ohhh maybe I can try it on Liam whenever I next have a lesson….
And third, there was a bigger reason I cleaned up the tack room other than it needed it: I did a thing (yes another one)(and tack ho’ed hard)(and this is why I can’t buy another helmet).
Yup, that’s what you think it is. It’s a dressage saddle. I was not going to buy a saddle for a while – like months a while. I had no plans as of yet to make the purchase. I’ve been going back and forth with what I want for Amber, even considering other brands and getting a full custom saddle because I worry a lot about how comfortable she is even though those are out of my budget. But I kept coming back to Prestige. I know the size and shape of their trees that fit Amber so I wouldn’t have so much guesswork as I would with another brand. Plus, Prestige trees are adjustable, and I need that as Amber recovers and starts developing more muscle. So I kept an “update me when things are posted with this tag” on Facebook so I could see what people were selling and get a good idea of price ranges and the saddles that were out there. And this one came up. This saddle was a killer deal, too. I’ve realized that most killer deals I find are when I’m not looking, and sure enough, this one popped up.
So I hemmed and I hawed even though the deal was spectacular. I really wasn’t planning on buying a dressage saddle yet. For a long time, I was still thinking I’d grab new because the price for Prestige was pretty reasonable and I’d get all the specs Amber and I needed and wanted. This saddle was the absolute opposite – an older model, used but definitely well-loved. I liked everything about it. It really looked perfect. I contacted my friend who knows a lot about the saddles as she owns Prestige jump and dressage saddles too, and asked her what she thought. She couldn’t find anything wrong with it either.
It’s going to sound super weird, but I dunno I just felt like this saddle called to me. The lady was really nice and I could really tell she loved the saddle and was disappointed to be selling it. She took absolutely immaculate care of it. (I contacted her after putting it on Amber and sitting in it and telling her I also loved it. She seemed very relieved) Also, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe this would be a good purchase. Amber is showing A LOT of improvement despite being a bit ouchie only the past few days. Her jump saddle doesn’t fit her anymore, and I haven’t wanted to get it adjusted smaller yet – I’m holding out on her being sound and fitter before starting jumping and it might fit again after that time. I’m okay with riding in my western saddle, but I still want to do English. I’ve been really missing it. And when Amber does start progressing further, I want to start with dressage. I want to start with that strength training. Even though I’m dedicated to rehabbing Amber slowly and methodically, she’s been healing consistently well, and I have had to start going outside the box to help her continue to improve.
Also, she knows the difference between her western and English tack, that smart girl. I want her to know that English is forward, and I want to help her stay forward to continue using that hind leg. So, I pulled the trigger. It is black, and I was hoping for brown, but I’m not upset by it. My PS of Sweden bridle is such a dark brown that it really all looks the same from farther away (although that Lund Bridle is AWFULLY tempting. Maybe Christmas present to me? lol). I’ll hopefully have a fitter out soon to have it looked at and make sure it fits her as well as I think it does. I mean, I shoved my hand down the channel and it seemed to flow along her back in every spot – no half pad even needed.
So far, I’ve only had a few rides in it, and it didn’t move on her back at ALL and the girth wasn’t even as tight as it could be. I’m mildly freaking out about adjusting things for this unexpected expense, but I’m also excited too. I mean who wouldn’t be – it’s a new saddle right? haha. But I think it’ll be good for the both of us and thankfully, my jump pads work well for now. Also, this may be a dressage saddle, but holy crap I haven’t realized how deep of a heartgirth this mare has. I don’t think she’ll ever be below a size 28″ in girths no matter how much weight she loses lol.
What do you guys think? How do you like it on Amber? Does she look like a proper dressage horse now? Probably not LOL. How about a proper event horse? Or maybe jumper since all I have are the open front boots? lol
Since I got off work early yesterday, it completely worked out since the vet showed up around 1 pm. Unfortunately, it’s not the verdict we were hoping for. Not the end of the world, but certainly not where she could be. As sad as I was that she still seemed to retain her soreness from the previous late afternoon, I thought it was good because Dr W could see her on a bad day. Personally, my mom and I think she tweaked something getting up from a nap or maybe something startled her (it is 4th of July and people do set off fireworks before that but she’s usually fine with them so….? Basically we have no idea LOL)
But it seems that there was more soft tissue damage than we originally thought. Which is not the end of the world by any means, but we were all hoping she’d look better at almost 8 weeks post surgery. It was heartening to know that other horses looked as bad as she did at this time, but progressed very well by 6-9 months. So that’s our new recovery time.
Thankfully, he also likes that I’ve been riding her outside, going up and down small inclines and increasing her time to 25 minutes. But, we’re going to keep it at 25 minutes and perhaps ease up just a tiny bit. In this she may be a slow healer, or just needs more time initially than others. We have options to inject her stifle to get some more fluid in there, consider IRAP some more, but as of right now we’re sticking to what we’ve been doing and another check up will be in a month to see where we are with that.
Not the answers we were hoping for, but I’m not too disheartened. She’d been doing so well previously that we do think she strained something somehow, so I only walked her once yesterday. She was pretty sore after the vet visited and showed me some more stretches for her, so I decided to take it easy. She was certainly not herself and meandered VERY slowly outside with a few bobbles. But she still had her ears up and was happy to be out.
So, another month and we’ll see. Thank you so much everyone for all the good thoughts you’ve sent our way! We appreciate them!
Happy 4th everyone!
It’s no question – Amber walks so much better outside of the arena than she does inside. Mostly I think that has to do with the fact that in the arena she has to actually lift her leg higher than she wants to or thinks she can at this point in time. It’s just so much easier outside walking on the pavement – she’ll walk herself and she really just enjoys it out there. I really have to push her so much in the arena, and I’m honestly afraid that if I have to do that too much she’ll start grinding her teeth and feeling like a sack of potatoes and not wanting to walk forward again. I REALLY don’t like doing that. Occasionally I’ve had to push her forward, and most of the time she’ll go, but if she doesn’t think she can it’s like she’s stubbing her toe constantly until I REALLY make her go and then she picks it up for a few strides. When I praise her, she collapses back to a “I can’t do this” walk.
Yesterday evening’s ride was not good. Not in the sense that she was bad in any way, but her stifle was either hurting her a lot or just super stiff. She was extremely short and off in the little time we spent in the arena, and then even still just not really herself when we were out on the pavement. I am very disheartened that she suddenly seemed to go back yesterday. She was also really sore on it – not wanting to put a lot of weight on it. I’m hoping it was just a bad day type thing.
So, short of stretching her leg myself and walking outside, I’m at a bit of a loss of how else to help her. Thankfully, Dr. W will be coming by this afternoon to give her her post-surgery eval. Hopefully we can come up with some other things to do and where we need to go.
But I’ve started riding her again. We’ve gone outside on the pavement all of those days, and I was a little worried we’d revert back to her worried attitude before. She was very uncomfortable the first day I rode her outside, really listening to Whisper calling, but when we made it to the end of one street I hopped off and had her stretch for treats. That seemed to be just what she needed to help her reset and understand that things were okay and treats were to be had away from Whisper. I found a hump to get back on but it was certainly awkward managing that.
We proceeded to walk back to the property and she breathed deeply and walked nicely. I gave her many pats and I breathed a sigh of relief. The second time outside was definitely better, but she was still a bit unsure. We stopped a bit, let her breathe, and then continued. We still stuck to just the street and a little bit past it just like I did in the beginning so it becomes routine for her. The next time I rode was Sunday night after my trip, and this was by far our most challenging outside ride but also most rewarding. She was a little unsure but willing to go just a bit farther again on the end streets. When we turned down the scary corridor (goats, big oleanders) the wind picked up a lot. It was causing something in our neighbor’s yard to make noise, and Amber REALLY didn’t like that she couldn’t see what was making the noise. Plus, another neighbor was walking their dog (it’s blind, and mostly deaf) and I didn’t want Amber to get near the dog and the dog to start barking wondering what Amber was, not to mention Whisper was calling frantically and it just looked like it could turn into something much worse. So I turned Amber as quietly as I could and honestly it felt a bit dicey for a few seconds. I already dislike walking a horse with shoes on pavement because of slipping. Amber was ready to bolt, and even hunkered down for a second. Even though I was nervous and she was too, she was a superstar. She walked out, being very careful until we were out of the corridor and back on the main street. I praised her a lot, and she was quickly back to her old self. We went again to the end of the street, a little farther onto the connecting street, and then still had 5 minutes. So, I figured we’d try the scary street again.
She was still very uncertain, but willing. Yet a quick stop/chat with the owners of said neighbor house really helped her settle. The other neighbor and her dog were gone, and so Amber carefully made her way over to the goats. We stopped and sniffed them (she really seems to love them) then calmly turned around and walked back out without issue. I was super pleased with how she handled it – especially that there was no accident on the pavement and that she kept her head and that no treats were needed during the ride! She got LOTS of face loves though. I’m still going to take it slow, but it looks like we’re well on our way to doing just as well riding outside as we were hand-walking. She doesn’t seem to see these rides separated from Whisper as being very bad anymore, so we’re going to keep plugging away at them. I’m just really hoping that yesterday evening’s ride won’t be normal. The only good thing was that when I was stretching that leg after the ride, her lip was going in her usual “this feels so amazing” camel lip. So uh….?
Hopefully, the vet has good things to say about her recovery and we’re on our way to keep going. Keep your fingers crossed for us!
It is needed. We are all so tired and sore haha. But it was so worth it!
We went out on the Colorado River and had a great time with the jet skis, the river was perfectly cold for the crazy hot day; and while we were there we ate twice our weight in food and drank just as much lol. Overall, it was a fabulous weekend.
But really, as fun as the trip was it still doesn’t compare to being home and seeing the world through this pair of ears ❤ . Even though I didn’t have much time for anything else other than what we were doing, I still missed her. Also, if you listen hard enough, you can hear how even her steps are sounding!
Amber has them. I love that about her. It makes training her much easier than a few other horses I’ve worked with. Plus, she wants to do things for you, so that makes it even better. But there’s no doubt this girl is smart. And unfortunately, TOO SMART at times.
Like being lame just because she doesn’t want to actually walk. And freaking us out in the process.
Because she has been walking phenomenally this whole week with morning and evening walks being outside.
We stop to smell the roses (or goats in this instance).
And half of the time I have to still make her walk because she’s also smart enough to try to put in only THIS MUCH EFFORT if more isn’t needed.
She’s overdue for her post-surgery check-up, but my poor vet was injured in something horse-related, so he’s been out for a little bit and can hopefully see her within the next week or so.
As unfortunate as surgery was the first time she was injured, it’s helped me a lot with this one. With the heat, the majority of her time is spent standing, which allows the leg to get very stiff. The past few days she’s been on 1 gram of bute a day so that she feels okay when walking (she was pinning her ears back and just generally looking really uncomfortable and has since been a lot more willing to walk once we did this).
So Tuesday night I started raising her walk time. She now walks 25 minutes in the evening but keeps the 20 in the morning. Part of that is just that there’s only so early I can go out and walk around outside when I need to be at work at 6 am. Mostly though, when she started walking, I’d up one time, leave that for 4 days to a week, then up the next one. With her walk improving and my vet not being able to assess her yet, I figured more walking certainly couldn’t hurt. The stifle improves with more walking anyway, so now I have her out in an area where she’ll actually walk and walk for a fair amount. So her evening walks will probably be 25 minutes until the weekend or so and then her morning walk time will increase as well. Hopefully by the weekend or the start of next week I can take her down to 1 gram of bute every other day.
She also is smart enough to know when 20 minutes is over. So yeah let’s start making that longer lol.
She got her feet done yesterday and did really well! I was relieved that she was actually able to put a fair amount of weight on that right hind! I was also super pleased that the new farrier was very understanding and careful with Amber due to her recent surgery. Plus, I think her feet look great. So far, I’m liking the new farrier!
Today I’ll be heading down to Laughlin for a mini-staycation with my sis, so my mom has kindly agreed to walk Amber for me for the 2 days I’m gone. It’s a break well-needed but I am disappointed to leave Amber for a bit since she’s been walking so well. I’m really enjoying the morning and evening walks – just peaceful time spent with the pony. I think she enjoys it too, though she really wonders why we couldn’t just be eating.
Happy Weekend everyone!
Usually, I am not into bribery. I dislike always giving horses cookies for things. I would like a horse to go into the trailer, stand still tied, do the work they were asked, or mostly anything else because I asked them to do so. I think those expectations make for a solid equine citizen. But lately, that has certainly been changing. Since moving the horses to the barn at the house, I’ve been using treats for a lot of things – stretches, Whisper getting nervous and the treats helping her, giving them to Amber in her grain because she was a good girl or lately – giving them to Amber when she is a good, calm girl.
Which, yes she is a good, calm girl 99% of the time. But the other day as we were walking outside, the horses (a neighbor close by has 3-4 horses) started calling and calling and people were unpacking their car and the oleander bushes were waving in the breeze and looked like a solid wall and Amber just COULD NOT. She was snorting, jigging, letting her butt off the ground but thankfully not kicking, and would not settle. All of this stuff individually usually doesn’t bother her. But together, on that night, it just wasn’t happening. So I walked her a few circles, and once we were past that street she was fine.
That ride a while back where we were doing okay and then Whisper called and it all went downhill has still been firmly in my mind. While Amber used to be marvelous on the trail, Whisper hasn’t ever called before either. It was one of my biggest reasons for starting her walks outside. I can have a controlled outing, make it a lot more routine and hopefully have these outings be fun again for Amber instead of her worrying where Whisper is and not focusing on me at all. I didn’t want another day like that, so I let go of the jigging and Amber being upset, and wracked my brain for something when I came up with treats. When Amber can’t see Whisper is also when she gets very upset, so that’s why for the first few days I kept her walking with Whisper in sight. Then she seemed to get bored fast, so we went down that new street and she was not happy. So I packed a baggy full of apple slices, and first thing we walked down that street until it met the next one. OF COURSE she was fine, but at the end, I still gave her a piece of apple. I made her stretch for it, and then at the scariest part of the street near our neighbor’s goats she got another treat to stretch for. When she tried to really push up the slight incline of the street, I gave her another treat.
OMG MAGIC. This, by the way, for timeline’s sake, was Saturday evening.
So then my mom and I noticed that Amber continuously shortened her stride, and almost refused to go forward when I’d walk her in the morning around the arena or when we’d turn her out. She was pretty much limping, and just felt very apathetic. Then in the evening, she walked happily outside. I was on the verge of calling the vet before I thought to maybe walk her outside of the arena morning AND evening. So Sunday morning, I immediately took her out of her stall and straight to the street. She really labored at first like we were going to the arena, and I had to get after her a bit because really, horse can walk on her own 4 feet and I know she’s not dead lame right now because she walks fine when on the pavement.
And what do you know? She walked just fine in the morning. I took her to the arena for the last few minutes and we walked over poles and she was great at that. She then walked better in turnout as we give her hay in piles strewn about the arena to make her walk to each of them since we don’t have grass. Then she walked well in the evening too and I tried some more treat magic. She was WAY more focused on me – she could smell her apple treats and kept her nose near my pockets and consistently touched and breathed on my hand in her way of saying TREATS NOW MA. A quick poke to the nose and she walked politely next to me after that. (Not that she wasn’t initially polite but I really do not want a nippy horse so it’s preventive).
Monday morning before work, I got her out again with a few treats in a baggy. I wasn’t planning on walking farther, but we managed to visit another area that had been scary and was only a little bit further than before, and she got a treat for remaining calm and keeping it together – which there really was nothing to keep together. She just walked, was super chill, and looked very happy to be out and have her brain stimulated. I almost gave her another cookie in the “scary” part of the street with the trees and goats because horses started calling, but her only response was her head lifted a fraction and she breathed deeper. So I gave her many pets but we kept going. By that time our 20 minutes was almost up, so we walked back to the barn. She walked better over the bit of rocks, and really tried to push up the small incline going up to her stall. So she got a cookie for trying hard up the hill, and then the last cookie I’d brought once she was in her stall. Last night, we even managed to go all the way around in one of our previous walk routes and she was foot perfect.
So. Cookies. Magic. Especially for a horse that is food-motivated the cookies were perfect. I just didn’t want her to have a bad experience like that last time. Plus, if cookies can help give us really positive experiences when scratches and pets aren’t enough – that standing still and stretching in a “scary spot” or “away from Whisper” is wanted behavior instead of us potentially having a fight we shouldn’t have – then I am all for it. Slowly, I’m hoping to wean her back off of the treats, but I’m not in any hurry. If I have to continue them when we finally manage to ride outside, then that’s okay. I know she won’t always need treats because the walk yesterday was great and she only got 1 treat on the actual walk portion. It does help that we’re making things routine. When I go off routine and introduce something new (which it really isn’t, she’s seen it all before but time away makes it new, right? lol) she tends to get very unsure, especially if Whisper is calling, so being armed with treats should really help.
I also find it funny because she’s realizing when she tries hard up inclines or over poles (I’ll start the over poles rewards soon) she gets a cookie. Because hey, if mare won’t do it for herself and I’m not about to force her to do it so she hates it, and treats make it a lot better then I’m going to be buying treats and stuffing her face with them to give her more incentive to work harder haha.
What about you guys? Do you use treats to help you start something or do you prefer not to treat at all?
Amber and Whisper are pretty broke. Whisper is a bit la-la-la on trail and saunters and moseys along, and Amber is more like “OMG this is SOOOOO exciting” and kind of powerwalks and looks at everything. She’s such a curious soul, but it’s one of the things I love most about her because it makes her brave. (Plus if she looks too scared, I’ll back her away from it and then she’s like “I do not back away from things; now I MUST see what this is!”) She also knows that if something confuses her, I will let her look for as long she wants to figure it out but sanity must be retained.
This happened the other day. The neighbors had a little road racer (no freaking idea if that’s what it was – some cart-racing-box-looking-thingy that looks like the Mario Kart carts lol) at the same time that Amber spotted something different across the way.
She’s fine with carts, but I started to get cautious. Girl hasn’t done more than a walk in weeks, been on alfalfa (granted only a flake a day but still), and I’m on her with only a bareback pad strap and mane to hold should she decide to be silly. She was just staring at the doors and tires across the street, and I could just feel that happy reserve start to head to the top. This is another thing I love about Amber. She’s not spooky, has hardly ever spooked badly when I’m on, and when she does spook it’s the whole body jolt and all four legs plant type of spook. Also, if she isn’t startle-spooked you know when the spook is coming. You can feel it. She stares and blows and you know if something else comes up that just maybe we have a spook on our hands. Which is like, head shake, grunts and a teensy leap. Very tame lol.
Most of the time, if I’m bareback I just don’t want to slip off. This time I wasn’t worried about me coming off, and felt quite stable when the cart gunned up and Amber did a WEE and I was like please dear god no do NOT ruin your surgery! And it was over in 2 seconds. She had a hump, a sassy head shake, and I said whoa and then she kept walking at her saunter. I just chuckled after. She gave it the hairy eyeball for a few passes, so we stayed away from it and she didn’t even notice the doors or tires the next time I walked her. Wild and crazy this one lol.
I just love how broke these 2 horses are, but it’s been difficult to know what to do. I know she’s dead bored in the arena. There’s only so much you can do to stimulate a brain when you’re walking for 20 minutes trying to help a stifle. She’s always happy outside the arena, and really walks. She’s been definitely shortening that leg more the past few days, and I’ve been at a bit of a loss of what to do. It seems eerily similar to how she suddenly seemed to go downhill before she was good for access to her run a few days early. So we’ve started her on her mid-day turnout with hay piles scattered to help her walk so she doesn’t just stand in her stall all day. I also haven’t wanted to push her when we’re walking. I want rehab to be fun.
Also, it’d be better if SHE was the one making herself really walk, not me. So with that in mind, I put on her boots and her rope halter (she’s more respectful of that lol) and we proceeded to walk down the driveway. My plan was to just walk up and down our street in full view of Whisper and the barn the whole time. Since the last few times Amber has shown she greatly dislikes not being able to see Whisper, I figured this would help start the process of doing lovely trail rides again. Plus, the more she gets out the better she is outside. She got a little upset the first time we got to the end of the street and Whisper was calling for her (and running and bucking in the arena my goodness lol. Wish I had that on video lol). Once we made our second pass though she was much better about it (not that her protest was even on a bad scale in the first place. She’d just stop, be a little nervous and walk faster).
And boy was she walking. She was definitely excited to be out, and certainly ready to GO. She wanted to buck once, but gave the teensiest hop. It was the other reason I wanted to start doing this in rehab – she knows she’s hurting, and she’s been very careful with herself this whole time. And that same intelligence worked to my advantage while walking. She got happy, jigged a few steps, but mostly it was a very forward walk. We’d pause to sniff at the tires, or pause quickly for something else. We only walked 15 minutes before our neighbors popped over for a chat, but we all figured that was for the best. She had a good outing, then outside the arena got LOTS of attention to help the experience stay positive. (which is her fav).
She was sorer after the chat, so I mixed up a bit of extra grain with some bute in it. As sore as she did look, she was moving her leg better than she has in a few days. I think just like before, she was getting increasingly stiff, and we just have to get it moving and working. And I am really encouraged because she was moving SO NICELY. She only had 1 misstep with that right hind leg, when currently in the arena it’d be about 5 or so times. So that’ll be the plan for the next while – all of our evening walks will be outside. I want to hand walk her most of those times, get her more comfortable and have it be “routine” to get out there and be away from Whisper. It’ll stimulate her brain, and hopefully soon I can grab her some easy boots and we can start walking all around instead of just the street. It’s a process, but we’re getting through it!
How To Be a Bad Horse Owner
What You Shouldn’t Do – And Yet We Do It Anyway
Or At Least – How Equestrians Can Achieve A Shorts Tan
It’s Really All About How To Get A Leg Tan
#1. Have an injured horse. This is most helpful since you can’t do anything with the horse anyway; if you are unlucky enough to have a healthy, sound and uninjured horse, then that is okay.
#2. After a long day at work, it’s okay to be lazy. Were you wearing a dress with your shorts underneath? Wonderful. Just put on a new top that can get horsey (or if you’re a guy just go put on some shorts). Throw on your non-riding sneakers sans socks – if you’re one of those people that needs socks don’t worry.
#3. Despite all of those Young Rider and Pony Club magazines and horror stories you’ve read, still go out to the barn in your flip flops or non-horsey sneakers. No trust me, this comes in handy later.
#4. If your horse is injured and they’re in their 15-20 minute walking phase, this is perfect. Go walk them when it’s 106 outside and hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
#5. Once in the arena and on the mounting block, take off your sans-socks shoes. If you were in flip flops, you’re one step ahead. Now, commence the 15-20 minute walking in the blazing sun. Within a few weeks, you’ll start getting those tanned, summer legs back! Now, you may not look like a weirdly-portioned alien when you put on a swim suit! Which, you hardly ever put on or go to the pool because let’s be honest, 106 is too hot to be outside for any length of time.
#6. Always wear your helmet. You may scrape up your legs and lose a few toes if you get thrown, but at least your head is safe!
#7. Proceed to have fun as you walk your horse and get a tan at the same time.
#8. As always, be safe as you get that non-white-as-snow tan!
Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’re all getting in some good horsey hours!