After my last lesson, Amber seemed to take the “conserve all energy” way too close to heart lol. Usually she’s got a good swinging walk when we first mosey on out there for our 10 minute warm-up, but boy she was PLODDING along haha! She was determined not to expend any energy in that beginning warm-up lol! It took a few times around to get her more forward at the trot, but she gave me some good work once I really got her warmed up. As it’s gotten colder, she starts off pretty stiff on that RH stifle, so I haven’t enforced a frame during our first few times trotting. Just letting her stretch, warm up, and work out of it. This has actually been good for me. I set a 10 minute timer for our walk warm-up. A good 2 or 3 times around the arena to get some of that stiffness out. I am one that just hops on and goes. Not that I never did warm-ups for horses before, but I don’t have the best sense of time, so I’m positive more time has passed than it really has. I started to do a few more serpentines since those really encourage balance, and I can tell the faster change of rein amps Amber up a bit. Doing that left turn really gets her tense – I know it has to do with the balance needed for that turn. When we turned tho, she practically threw herself out by hollowing and dropping and speeding up – something she really hasn’t done in a while. So we had a short discussion about how she knows better, and she tried very hard the next time. I was also super pleased that after I cantered her to the right, Amber really listened and didn’t even try to offer me another canter – in either direction. Reining is all in the canter, so she’s used to “once we canter, we canter until we’re done.” I’ve been switching it up for her – cantering is easier for her than trotting, so if I am going to canter, I’ve cantered first and then done the rest of my trot work. It’s definitely given her a lot to think about, so I was very pleased when after cantering, she just settled back down and was content to trot. So I scrapped my previous decision for more cantering, and just let her trot. One more round of serpentines up the long side, and if she tried hard to the left and we were semi-successful then she was done. And she got a little fast, but she tried, so she got many pats and was done.
Leading up to my lesson I didn’t get to ride Amber as much as I wanted. I had completely forgotten about her equioxx in lieu of homework, so I had to order that and I took it way easy on her since I could tell she was trying, but her heart wasn’t completely in it since she didn’t feel so good. Thankfully, between the company and my awesome vet, I had a quick turnover to get them, and she was back on equioxx and feeling a lot better.
Then that Tuesday Amber had her routine check-up. We’ve had success with doing a radio-graph every few months just to make sure that LH hoof is growing right. Also, even though it warmed up after my lesson, cooler weather was on the forecast and we were slated to get some sub-30 degree nights. Amber’s been doing well, but just as a preventative, feel-good measure, I decided to get her stifle injected while the vet was out for her LH. I know it won’t “fix” anything, but it was more for Amber’s comfort than anything else. The winter after her surgery while we were battling her laminitis it was really clear that she was super uncomfortable on that RH stifle. So this winter, especially with me riding her more now, I wanted to inject it to give it a bit of cushion.
She was a very good girl for it all, but pretty sore the day after since she moved a lot during the injection. She usually stands pretty still, even without drugs, but I’m thinking that perhaps it was more tender than we thought.
I didn’t get a picture this time of her x-ray. It looked about the same as the last one (thank god) – she just still needed a lot of toe off. She tends to grow a lot more toe on her hind feet anyway, so I think that’ll always be a battle with that foot. But I am still ecstatic that while I’ve been riding her a lot more, the foot really doesn’t look any different. That’s so promising! I am warily giddy with excitement if that makes sense lol.
Whisper has had a bit of a mystery lameness ongoing now for over a year, so my mom hasn’t been able to get any ride time in. I’ve convinced her to hop on Amber and ride her around for a bit on my long days. That way, Amber gets out with a bit of forced work instead of doing nothing if turned out, and my mom has a chance to play around on a horse again. Its good for both of them!
The day after her injection, she got trimmed and I took her out for a good 15 minute walk. This cold weather isn’t helping (it got into the high twenties one night and Kahlua’s water froze!), so since I hadn’t really been able to work on serpentines under saddle, I did them during our 15 minute walk. It was cold and breezy and it may have been 55, but the “feels-like” said 45 so I am not ashamed to say that I wore my fleece breeches lol. I only had my sneakers on and a halter on Amber, but she knows what to do when I put my feet and hands in certain places. She got tense (as expected) and walked faster, but just a few encouraging words had her ears flicking back to me, then she took a deep breath and relaxed, and our next one was much better. Even if we weren’t “working,” it’s still a good reminder as we’re walking.
My mom rode her lightly on Friday to see how she felt. She said she felt very good – a lot more forward, more comfortable switching directions too, which I was very happy to hear. I want her to be as comfortable as I can get her, and spend good time together while I have the opportunities. My mom said she even did a little cantering – which is huge for my mom! She used to own a horse that bolted with her, and sometimes Amber’s speed unnerves her. But Amber has quite a few stop or slow-down buttons, so I was very proud of my mom for cantering, and very proud of my pony for taking care of my mom.
Thankfully, my lesson was on Sunday and pushed back to noon, so it’d be nice and warm (70!) for my lesson and I could get a good ride in on Saturday as prep. And Amber started out way more up than I was expecting. She felt really good, had a lovely swinging walk, and after one circle at the trot realized she felt really good. I did a little cantering – both ways! – and she felt a lot better. Still difficult, but as always, these things take time and muscle strength. I was very happy with the preliminary results! After cantering, I went back to our serpentines down the long side, and she tried really really hard. She knew she was good, and asked to stop, so I let her and ended the ride. She didn’t offer cantering again, really tried to do the thing and relax and what we’d had trouble on before, so I felt it was a good day and left it there.
Next up: our lesson! I finally remembered my helmet cam, too lol.