Ugh, no media for this lesson either(last week so I’m behind again lol), but it was still a good one. I was originally supposed to ride Georgio again – which yay for canter and dear god for trot lol – but he ended up being needed for someone else. He was really affectionate this time around just like Rocky, so I hadn’t gotten very far in getting him ready in favor of face rubs. Since he was needed, I grabbed Lit instead and he was very interested in face rubs too. Maybe they pick up on the fact that I like giving face rubs? haha I don’t know! But I know lesson horses probably don’t get much “love” in that sense, so I usually try to give extra face rubs and extra loves, so maybe they just really like that lol.
Anyway, I got Lit ready – all excited to use my 5 point, aaaaand it was too small. So I had to run back to my truck and grab my 3 point PS of Sweden, which seems to fit all manner of horses really well. It was already set for him anyway from the last time I used it, so I finished girthing him up and off we went. He hadn’t been out yet, so I got a fresh horse. He was pretty in tune to me, but he was also a bit creaky, so I started him off with some good stretchy walk. We moved into a nice trot, and it felt really great! I felt like I could actually ride his trot, and felt a glimmer of how he used to be and how we probably could be if I rode him a lot more. It was really cool to feel that, and then after about 5-10 minutes I lost it haha. So I’m definitely developing muscle, it’s just going to take a while and doing more than I’m doing. (Please no, I hate gyms)
We did more no stirrup work, which was actually not so bad lol. It is needed though, because my tendency as I ride to help “soften” a trot, is to roll my spine and pelvis. Very western. But western horses don’t have giant, buoyant trots, so we worked on me sitting that. While it was difficult to replicate, I tried remembering some of the Mary Wanless tips about position I’d watched sometime last year when I started a bit of dressage with Amber, and it really clicked when Trainer M had me tilt my hips just so. It was just the smallest straightening of my spine from rolled to level, and suddenly, Lit’s trot was really easy to sit. I could feel his back lift under me, and his steps became a little more suspended. I know it was a much smaller change than it felt like, but the lightbulb went off in my brain. His trot was very slow, and I really had to work on keeping my fingers closed and getting the elasticity from my elbows and not my hand, but I could really feel the change.
Trainer M asked me if I had done any dressage at all, or if I liked it, so I explained about starting out a bit with Amber. She really likes dressage too, so I think it’d actually be super fun to stick my dressage saddle on him sometime and do some dressage. That probably won’t happen, but hey maybe someday. (I do want to take dressage lessons at some point too but jumping is a bit more exciting for right now lol)
Lit was a very good boy, and we had frequent breaks to help the both of us catch our breath, but he was much better at the canter this time. I sat on his back this time, keeping his shoulders up. I was trying to figure out what parts of my legs he responded best to (Rocky responds very well – as does Amber – to a lengthened leg and pressing with the side of your calf and a firm upper leg – but no pinching knees) and I think I figured it out. I just don’t have the leg strength yet for the amount of pressure he responds to, and in doing this at the canter my right leg was just like….useless. Lit was leaking out of his right shoulder just as Rocky had done that last lesson. My leg just felt floppy, like it was telling me “thank you for calling on your right leg. I am sorry, but we are unable to take any demands at the moment. Have a nice day.”
Ha. Well, thank you, leg.
Even still, I managed to get the exercise done – cantering over 2 ground poles set one stride apart with a modicum of success. I was much better to the right than to the left. Huh. Sound familiar? lol Exact repeat of Saturday. Soooooo I should probably do something about that lol.
Lit did have a spook – 21 years old and still a young man at heart lol. I was completely not expecting it, so I was actually pretty relaxed as he whirled sideways a bit. I stayed with him before he made an extra hop sideways. That unseated me, but thank goodness my right leg decided that self-preservation was important and this was a good time to actually work so I managed to stay on and not fall off haha. Lit immediately jumped back into the canter, which actually helped me regain my position a little better. I thought about regrouping and making a circle before cantering the poles again (the spook was on the opposite side of the circle), but Lit was forward, I’d regained my stirrups, so I just shrugged and pointed him at them and it worked fine. We cantered the poles a few more times with me successfully cantering a steady line and keeping those shoulders straight before calling it a day.
I had hoped we would jump, but before I could say anything Trainer M expressed that, while I looked confident and comfortable jumping, she wanted to revisit the basics a bit more to help me develop a better position so that when I did start going over jumps it would feel easy. Which is great – it’s what I want out of lessons and why I’m taking them anyway!
This lesson I certainly didn’t have as many mental blocks – it was all muscle blocks this time haha! It was a relatively simple lesson, but the little details are what really stuck in my mind. Now I just have to get stronger so that I can do more little details lol. I’m in a better swing now of 2 lessons with Trainer G and 2 lessons with Trainer M, and I’m liking it so far. Trainer G tends to be a little more intricate in her lessons, and she has a knack for setting simple exercises that still really test your brain and help you improve a lot of things at once. With Trainer M, the barn has a lot of seasoned lesson horses, so all of the energy of the lesson is focused on my position and fine tuning my arms, my back, my legs when they get tired, and anything else.. So a perfect mix for me so far.
It was pretty busy by the time I was done, but I took my time with Lit and rubbed him down before sticking him back in his stall. And then I was promptly beat for the rest of the afternoon haha.
Saturday was an absolutely perfect day for a lesson. It got a bit warm, probably about 85 or so (I know it’s not that hot and it wasn’t haha), but was absolutely wonderful for an outdoor ride. I was on Rocky, and boy was he a LOVE on Saturday. He kept nuzzling me with his nose and his lip, so I completely indulged him with lots of face rubs and he was very happy. While Trainer G still said no spurs, I did get to change to a dressage whip, which made the lesson infinitely better, but Rocky was also a super guy and felt like he really liked me that day so that made it better too haha. Also, I figured we were only flatting, so I didn’t bring my helmet camera and what do you know, we jumped. And I really wish I’d had it because it was great!
Rocky and I warmed up, and while it took a few turns, a few taps of the dressage whip and he was moving out nicely in front of my leg. After being launched out of the saddle by the bouncy warmbloods, I needed a reminder to let myself only post to the movement, and Rocky and I settled better after that. It was certainly different riding him with his little trot steps, but I did feel more comfortable on him. He was also a lot more respectful this ride – when I’d put my leg on he’d actually listen and push into my outside rein. Then of course he’d attempt to bulge, so we flatted for a bit to work on that. We did a few turns down center line to control the body, switch directions and do it again.
She had an exercise set up – three angled poles and two jumps. It was an exercise that she did in the clinic the previous weekend, and it was really challenging but basically taught you itself. So if you missed it, you could tell. If you nailed it, you could tell. Initially, the jumps were just poles on the ground, but we worked for a while on track and pace in a circle for the 3 poles. When I got him slightly to the inside of the middle stripe, we’d nail the two steps in between the poles. The right was better than the left – to the left we’d get over the first two, then I’d let his shoulder bulge and we’d miss the striding to hit an off 3. But, once we had relative success with that circle, we moved on. So I started with my trot circle at a good pace, through the 3 poles, trotting over the “jump” pole, then picking up a canter, establishing a good canter with a good rhythm in a circle, then cantering down to the other “jump” pole. I worried less about striding this lesson, more about a good forward pace, and what do you know the poles came up pretty easily. We did that both directions before she made one jump a crossrail and another a small vertical.
The first time we attempted it Rocky was super asleep. He just about crashed over the crossrail and was completely out of it for the canter. So I gave him a good thwack, and he launched quite opinionatedly into a canter. I laughed, let him settle a bit before walking and we attempted it again. He thankfully didn’t hold a grudge, because I don’t want to make him mad when we’re jumping, but he did need a bit of a wake-up lol. So we tried it again, and he got into a very forward trot to the right. We nailed the 3 poles, and actually had a great trot jump over the crossrail. I wasn’t behind the movement and I wasn’t ahead of it this time either. A quick half halt, into the canter, and Rocky was very forward this time. We did our circle, with me getting him a little more bendy and supple, and then headed straight down the line to the yellow vertical. It came up very nicely, and Rocky is still a little green at jumping so I could feel him edge back just a little. But I actually saw a stride with him, knew with just a teensy bit of push we’d hit it super, so I closed my legs and kissed, and Rocky listened and picked it up just enough so we hit the vertical really well. My upper body felt pretty solid too – I didn’t throw my body forward to jump for him, and I didn’t overcompensate by sitting too far back. It just felt really successful. A quick simple lead change before preparing to keep him up and forward for a downward transition to a trot and then walk. He got lots of pats for that!
We had a quick walk break before attempting it to the left. I botched the 3 poles but quickly put that behind me and had a good shot to the yellow jump which had become a crossrail. It felt very successful again, and by this time I was understanding what parts of my leg Rocky responded to best, so we got a good, bendy circle before heading to the blue jump, which was now a vertical. Again, I felt that I could actually see a stride, kissed and tapped him up to it, and over we sailed. It felt really good, again like I just stayed right with him. It REALLY helped that when I encouraged him forward he responded well – he hadn’t last time I rode him, so it helped me feel confident this lesson that I could see it, ride it, he responded, and it felt super.
We did that exercise both ways a few more times, with the option to leave out the circle in between jumps. I did, and everything really just flowed super well with the jumps. Rocky got many many pats and “good boys”. With him I had to sit a little closer to the saddle, so that was a good lesson in holding myself above the saddle but not the forward 2 pt I’m used to. Our canter felt very good, and I really had no idea what time it was or how long we’d been riding, but I expressed to Trainer G that if we stopped there I’d be really happy. The exercises really worked and I felt really good about all of the jumping attempts, and there was no need to continue doing them when Rocky and I were doing so well. I get worse the more I drill, and Rocky didn’t need that either. Trainer G was in agreement, but wanted to do the 3 pole exercise to the left once more to get a really good one before we quit since that was my bad side haha. So we tried once more, and I totally botched it, so laughed and told G that hold up, one more time. She laughed too, but I got a good forward trot, really focused on blocking his right shoulder from poles 2-3, and we almost got 3, but he gave a big effort to correct mid-stride and we got the 2 from 1-2 and 2 from 2-3. It wasn’t smooth, but I was more concerned that we’d had a good pace, and we did complete the exercise correctly so I ended it there.
So it ended up being a really good lesson! I had a lot of good fun, and then had some time to relax before heading to a Halloween party later that night (which is where the pictures are from lol). All in all, a great Saturday!
Ahhh, I was probably supposed to have this out by now haha. It has been a whirlwind of appointments and me covering hours for one of my coworkers so the less important things have fallen by the wayside. Plus, we really just flatted in this lesson. It was a nice ride, I just feel like commenting on how out of shape and sack of potato-ey I am is getting a little old haha. And there really wasn’t much to work on – mostly just keeping my shoulders up since I tend to hunch and break at my back instead of engaging my core for that. So big notes to self of shoulders rounded and down and ABS all day, every day haha.
Georgio had a day off so I got to ride another old man – Vittorio aka Lit. He’s….21 I believe they said haha. He was a downright sweetheart, and was a complete gentleman. It’s still so strange to pick out feet that are giant dinner plates, and wrap my hands around thick, sturdy legs, but personally, I prefer that. I’m just totally not used to seeing it haha. But I got ready quickly, and off we went. While Georgio was “holy crap how much leg do I NEED because they will FALL OFF from pushing so hard”, Lit was more “Oh, hey you have leg – got it.” Lit’s trot was infinitely easier for me to settle into a rhythm. He actually listened when I’d use my leg, so I was able to post, 2 pt and sit his trot. Georgio’s pace was faster-slow-sorta fast-slow-super slow-faster-slow like every 2 or 3 trot steps that I could barely get myself situated, even with a whip. So I felt much better with Lit’s trot and felt pretty accomplished.
Aaaaaaaand then we cantered. Now Lit really isn’t built downhill. But oh my god that has got to be one of the most downhill travelling, large-strided, laziest 4-beat canters I have ever felt – and that is INCLUDING riding actual lazy, downhill-built quarter horses lol. Granted, Lit is 21. And he’s not quite in shape. And he’s a lesson horse. So, I get it. But where Georgio was like “oh CANTER YAY” and travelled so uphill on his own that, even as tall and big-strided as he was, I felt ridiculously solid while cantering him – even in 2 pt and puffing like mad lol. Lit was like “oh god lady, you SERIOUSLY want me to do that…let’s just….uh….not.” LOL So his canter was really really difficult to 2 pt, stay up and actually lift him up. We didn’t do too much cantering though, so that was okay haha.
We didn’t jump – Lit had another lesson after mine and since he was out of shape and Trainer M told me I was having him work harder than most people, we decided to end it light. We did posting lengthenings on the long side and collected sitting on the short sides before going into a stretchy trot. He had a really nice stretchy trot, and I could feel him let out a breath and relax as we went around the ring a few times.
While we only flatted, I still felt pretty good about this lesson. Most of my very old English habits have resurfaced, and they’re mostly mental blocks. Namely, if trainer says do it now, DEAR GOD DO IT NOW OMG THEY WILL YELL AT ME and then everyone is in a rush and it’s quite unattractive. Which….well. It’s a habit I have in lessons that I never knew I did until I was teaching my mom on Whisper, helping her repeat and mimic what I did with her. And I’d tell her to do something, and my mom would rush rush rush to do it, and I suddenly realized that’s what I did. So now I always make sure to tell her “whenever you’re ready” or “take a breath, prepare and ask” and go from there. So with my lessons I’ve made a conscious effort to wait. It’s been extremely difficult – it’s not a habit you get over easily – but I’ve been making progress. If I feel I can’t at the moment, I’ll shout “hold on” so she knows that I heard and will do, just not yet. And it works just fine. (Because don’t get me wrong, Trainer M doesn’t yell at me – it’s all from my past lessons and instructors)
It may not seem different, but to me it’s quite different to work alongside a trainer, getting occasional input as you’re training your string of horses – which takes a lot of thought to plan a ride, feel everything, respond by yourself since no one is expressly telling you – versus having a trainer teach you the whole lesson. Their eyes are always on you, and they’re providing input every step of the way. So that lesson part of my brain is blocked, and it truly feels like there’s a wall smack dab in the middle of it – on one side there’s the me that has grown confident in myself and trusts my decision-making fully; and on the other side there’s the me that does not have confidence and feels like she knows nothing when a teacher is instructing me. It’s quite strange; I won’t lie. But I feel the wall weakening the more lessons I have, and this one felt good.
She told me to turn, and I looked, realized Lit’s height, pace, preparation required, and the set up of jumps would not allow a turn until halfway around the arena, and told Trainer M to hold on. Immediately she said, “Yup, when you’re able!” and that helped cement the thought with the action. She told me to canter, and instead of fumbling I calmly asked from which gait and then prepared, even though she said he didn’t need much preparation. He didn’t, but the little I did let Lit know we were cantering, so it was actually quite a smooth transition from walk to canter. While in the stretchy trot, Trainer M did want me to go faster, but both of us worked best a little slower and I kept it there. He is old and was getting tired, I was for sure tired, but we were both trying to work with each other to find success. I completed the exercise – two stretchy trot laps each direction, and Lit and I were steady and stretchy with some pretty good consistency. Plus, we’re new to each other. He knows that while I’m unfit I do know things, and I knew, especially at the end, that if I gave him a little bit of leeway to help him relax he’d gladly meet me half way.
It’s going to be slow going, getting through this mental block to find that yes, I do know what I’m doing (as far as basics go haha). Things may be different in the way you ask or how you prepare or what cues you give from western to English, but honestly the principles are the same. And as I’m used to doing, I just need to also assess the horse underneath me, and be prepared to see past the “lesson” aspect of the horse and figure out what works best with them for now. I’m a new person for them, and as Trainer M even said – most of these horses are used to being ridden by teenagers and younger kids just starting out. It’s going to take more than a few rides for us to gain a rapport with each other, and that of course depends on how often I’m riding them.
I got to ride Rocky with Trainer G on Saturday, so that was definitely super different, going from these big, rangy 16.3+ hh warmbloods to the 14.2 hh QH with very choppy strides haha. I asked Trainer G if I could wear spurs this time and got this:
But I’m enjoying it at the moment. I actually have another lesson with Trainer M today (which means it’s been 2 weeks since my last lesson and probably since I posted sooooo….I’m behind lol) so we’ll see who I get to ride today. Maybe it’ll even be a different pony! Who knows. I’ve been bringing my tack and breastplates along with me, so I’m hoping that I can finally use my Lund 5 point breastplate since, while these big 17 hand guys have some well-sprung ribcages, their shoulders are nowhere near as wide as Amber’s, and my saddle does slip back on them. I’m really considering getting it adjusted soon since it’ll fit a lot more horses a lot better once I do. Plus, I am infinitely more comfortable in my saddle than most others, so I’m really glad that both Trainers G and M let me bring my saddle. Come the new year I may only have time for one or two lessons a month, but I’m hoping I can stick with 4. Hopefully that’ll work!
Well, nothing remotely interesting has been happening at all, except perhaps the amazing weather. Vegas is usually 7-8 months of summer, 3-4 months of winter, and 2 weeks each of fall and spring. We’re actually seeming to get a taste of fall this year! It’s been 50-60 degrees at night and a lovely 70-80 during the day. We’ve had amazing sunsets and it’s just been very pleasant. I had a lesson Wednesday but I may not get around to that recap until after the weekend because I’m pooped haha. And I have another one planned for the 27th with Trainer G. Other than that, pictures are the only thing that’s been marking the passing time over here in Las Vegas. Here’s to fall, Halloween, Hocus Pocus, and FINALLY being able to curl up in fleece blankets with a dachshund and hot chocolate reading a good book.
I think I may be on a roll here with the lessons. After my last lesson, I chatted with Trainer G about a few other places I might go. It’s a bit of a far drive for me to get to Trainer G, so I was asking her thoughts on some places closer to me. One such place was only a 10 minute drive from me. I’d heard about it some years back, but I’d never met anyone or gone to check it out. I did know that they had a good lesson program, with quite a few lesson horses. This meant more horses for me to try as well, so I gave them a call, set up an appointment to tour the place, and had my first lesson Wednesday.
I got to ride Georgio, a Warmblood gelding (not sure what kind; I didn’t ask further lol) who used to jump 1.40 meters (4’5″ in case anyone is like me and has no idea how to convert this stuff; thank you Google). Don’t think I’ve ever ridden a horse who could jump that high, and he certainly had a different feeling than other horses I’ve ridden – which that’s exactly why I’m doing this! He’s about 14-ish, and certainly a big lug of a lesson horse. My lesson was an hour, with the first 20 or so minutes making sure I knew my way around horses. When I’d first seen Georgio, he was munching on hay and I was outside of his stall so I hadn’t thought of him as super big. Well, I hadn’t been standing next to him, and his withers are over my head even in a helmet. Been a LONG time since I’ve ridden a horse that tall! He had to be around 16.3 ish – maybe taller (I’m also not good with estimating horse height lol).
Again, the stupid crazy thing? For how big he was, all of my tack fit him. And it was on higher holes than Amber and she’s only at best 15.1. WTF how in the world….. You know what? I should really stop being so surprised by how wide she is. Girlfriend is STOUT.
Once I hopped on we had about a half hour left of our ride, so most of that was spent me getting to know him as well as Trainer M and I getting to know each other. I started out spur-less, and thank god that within about 5-10 minutes she was letting me put some on. My poor noodle legs couldn’t get him really going without them and his trot felt like he was going to launch me out of the saddle. I certainly felt like a flailing mess haha. We even tried a bit of sitting trot. Haha haha ha. HA. That was atrocious. Replacing me with a sack of potatoes would’ve worked better. But I was able to get him going okay, though even posting my elbows were flailing and my left hand had gone rogue again and my lower leg was sliding all over the place. Thank god I was wearing my full seat sticky breeches because I’m sure I would have come off otherwise lol.
To canter, I took Trainer G’s words to heart and attempted that with Georgio. He didn’t do it the first time, so I brought him to a walk and tried again – this time doing a bit of guesswork but trying to set him up anyway. It was behind the leg but we got it. Once we got cantering it felt like we were communicating a bit better. I felt very stable once cantering – his stride is huge, but very rocking, so I could better get my feel and position. I’m sure he felt the difference too since he was better after that, but what can you do haha. Trainer M considered ending the ride there, but I told her I could still do more. (I was actually dead but I wanted to jump a bit since I knew I could, trusted Georgio, and figured it would set a better starting point for my next lesson)
So Trainer M lowered a jump to a crossrail, and had me pop over it a few times. The first one I was a bit behind, which I’m actually okay with since I tend to throw myself forward, so uh….progress? lol These were easy enough for him to step over, and the second time I felt I was a bit too forward, but looking at the video it actually looks okay. The third felt good too albeit we landed on the wrong lead. I tried doing what I had with Sox, transitioning to get the correct lead before the turn but his trot had me so discombobulated that I just walked. I decided I’d save that for another day, when he and I had a few more rides and I wasn’t dying lol. For the fourth attempt, Trainer M had me canter the little crossrail, and that was our best one. He’d been drifting a bit left so just like Sox I tightened my left arm and tried to think of my left leg as solid, and we landed on the same lead as we took off. Georgio was certainly happy jumping had come into the equation, but I think by then we’d also gotten used to each other, so when I asked him to canter for that last jump I got a prompt transition and he was forward from the get-go. We hopped over it successfully, and were done.
Georgio was certainly a good boy, and definitely a different feel. While tall he wasn’t gangly – his neck was much longer than I’m used to tho – but he didn’t feel differently than most horses I rode because he wasn’t super long. He didn’t really feel too tall either while I was riding him which I suppose is good. He made the jumps look REALLY tiny haha. But he is certainly a nice horse. I just have to be a lot more disciplined next time riding him – a lot of beginners ride him so he wants to get away with things, and once my brain got working and was all “hey remember your outside leg and your outside hand to keep the shoulder from bulging instead of using your inside hand like your riding a 2 yr old that doesn’t steer? Yeah. You should do that”, we worked better. I just really need to be disciplined in getting back to the gym too. But I did notice that Georgio had a left drift and Sox had a left drift. Amber can have a left drift too. Hmm. Coincidence? Nah, it’s all the horses (heavy sarcasm lol). It’s all me, so how about I remember that next lesson and don’t flail my elbows and forget about my left leg lol.
I have another lesson scheduled the same time in 2 weeks, and in between that I’m planning on another lesson with Trainer G. Hopefully I’ll have 4 lessons a month, so I’m going to give that a try and see if I can keep it at that or if I have to go down to 3 a month. It was certainly nostalgic being there that’s for sure. It was similar to the barn in Virginia where I first started riding at 6 years old. Talk about flashback lol. My muscles certainly sore after all that kicking, but I’m determined to keep up with my PT exercises, the gym and lots of sore-no-more lol. Hopefully what I’ll be able to do at the gym will be enough to help me be relatively better at riding these horses haha!
Yes you read that right! We’ve got some good news! Or at least better news, but I’m going to take it.
It’s been very hard for me to watch Amber being unhappy, and simply for her sanity as well as how much that RH seemed to really bother her, I was very prepared to hear not-so-good-news upon her appointment on Tuesday. But the new farrier came (early even!) to meet with the vet, and we walked Amber just a teensy bit to see how she was doing. The vet asked for a few trot steps, so when they did Amber went into a full on dolphin leap (thankfully no kicking back tho haha!) and shook her head like the wild thang she was before walking again 2 seconds later lol. She was extremely lame – pretty much three legged at the jog – but I wasn’t really expecting much else. It still wasn’t what we were hoping to see, but it seemed like the little fun leap was just enough to help her feel better. Her ears were forward and her eye was happier.
She got some happy juice to make sure she stood on the wood for the x-rays and we took one of her RH and LH. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the x-ray for her RH to find that it looked just fine. I’d been seeing her foot change over the past few weeks, but I haven’t ever kept so close of an eye on growing bare feet before, so what I was seeing was just normal growth and a too-long toe. Thank god. Pretty simple for that foot – knock the toe back a bit, take of a teensy bit of foot, and good to go.
When the x-ray came in of her LH I couldn’t believe my eyes. SO MUCH BETTER. I just about deflated onto the ground lol. She’d grown a little more than a centimeter of sole, and while the rotation looked worse, it actually wasn’t. It was just how things were growing that made it look that way. So just a bit more shaving of the toe to help that angle. The new hoof growth is making the foot look a bit weird, but you can see that it’s starting to grow straighter – parallel to the coffin bone rotation. So, Doc tasked us with another check up about 4 months from now. He was encouraged by the amount of sole growth in the last 8 weeks, so it’s now a matter of letting the hoof grow out and seeing if perhaps the foot may be okay depending on new hoof growth and all of the variables around it. But, that 1.1 centimeters of growth also made sense as to why she was actually able to put so much weight on that foot despite it still being laminitic.
The only immediate worry that remains is her right stifle. She was dead lame on it, and I had considered that maybe a steroid injection would help. Doc answered before I could ask, but he didn’t want to do a steroid injection to help that inflammation since there was a small possibility that it may negatively affect the laminitic foot. Which I’m totally okay with. It’s still saddening to watch her be so uncomfortable with her leg, but I’m relieved that her foot is looking a bit promising. I’m going to be honest that while I think we’re out of the immediate woods, I’m not letting my hopes get up too high. She’s more comfortable now for sure, but that stifle is still a point of a lot of pain for her and we can’t do much about it right now. So I’m relieved, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open and watching to make sure it doesn’t get to be too much for her.
With some last instructions from the vet, the new farrier proceeded to work on her feet. He did her fronts first, and I was pointing out to him what I wanted done. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet but I’ve been thinking for the past few months (since about April) that Amber’s RF problems with that tendon and her tripping were due to improper shoeing of that foot. About 2 months ago I noticed her LF beginning to show the exact same signs, so I tried being proactive about it but I was brushed off. So yay for farrier woes (and of course me feeling terrible since the inflammation and tripping started November of last year and I didn’t notice it/put it all together). Right away the new farrier agreed with me on Amber’s front feet, and I love how her feet look!
He was super kind with Amber, letting her nuzzle him as she likes to do to poor farriers, and he’d pet her nose and her face and pat her. She was extremely relaxed with him, and I’m very glad! When my curiosity got the best of me and I just started asking all sorts of questions, he very happily answered every single one. And so many of the answers were things I’d never heard before or even thought of, and it was really cool. Like why he uses copper nails instead of the nails most other farriers use, or why he was putting the nail holes in different places, or the type of shoe he was going to use so that Amber would have an easier time breaking over where she needed to. He loved her feet tho, and said she had some of the best, hardest feet he’d ever done and that I could keep doing what I’m already doing for them – which is nothing haha. I was definitely super happy when he said Amber was one of the best-mannered horses he’d ever done. Phew! We may have to split her trim times – 8 wks per vet instructions for the hind feet and whenever her fronts are starting to look long or need a trim which is generally around 6 weeks, but I think it’ll work out.
Along with that, now that we’re on a slightly positive trajectory, I can step back and assess some things a little more objectively. Namely, I honestly can’t keep pouring money into Amber like the stifle injection. It makes me sad, but I know at this point that it just wouldn’t really make that much sense. It feels a bit like I’m giving up on her, but logically I know I’m not. I know she isn’t going to be a riding horse anymore, and while I want her as comfortable as she can be, she’s going to have as spoiled a retirement as I can give her for as long as she’s with me and I think that’s fair. I also honestly don’t think that stifle will ever stay good enough no matter what I do. There were just so many issues surrounding it at the time of surgery that I don’t think it got the best shot at healing 100% and it’s okay for a little but even the slightest bit puts it out of whack. So, it would be better to start pouring that money into other things, namely lessons and a future horse whenever that may be. She of course will still get the royal treatment – she would never accept anything less lol – but you know, no supplements or that sort of thing. Just the bare minimum, since let’s be honest she still looks like a tank and she’s not even remotely fit haha! A difficult keeper she is not lol.
I’m just….really relieved to finally hear something positive. I feel that ever since her surgery we haven’t had one positive vet visit, but things are a little better now. A good farrier, finally some good news, and a happier horse. I can’t ask for anything else at the moment.
I had TWO lessons in one month. Whaaaaaaat even is this haha. But there’s quite a few reasons why I am still really really thinking about my lesson, and why I can’t wait to get back to it (especially if I get to ride the same horse again). But I’ll go over those a little later, and focus on what I did during the lesson because I had an absolute blast. Also, I have practically no media of course since go figure I forgot my helmet cam lol.
So my last lesson, immediately after me was another lady who had her lesson, and in the crossties was this absolutely gorgeous horse that caught my eye immediately. Yes, she was my favorite color chestnut and had 4 socks and a cute stripe and a tail dragging on the floor, but what really made me look at her was the way she was chilling, absolutely bored with a leg cocked, and her super sweet eyes. I mean, granted she was a mare, and well, I AM a mare person, but for some reason just everything about her caught my eye. I told the lady how gorgeous she was, and looked so sweet. Inner child me desperately wanted to go and OMG PET THE PRETTY PONY but adulting me held back lol, and I left and talked my mom’s ear off on how much I adored her.
Trainer G told me to bring all my girths to the lesson since she might have me ride a different horse, so I loaded up my stuff. Low and behold, she was having me ride the chestnut mare – aptly named Sox. Cue a whole ton of inner happy squealing haha. Turns out Sox is Trainer G’s horse, for sale, and the lady was leasing her. Sox is probably 16 hands, maybe up to 16.2. I’m not a good judge of height. But I haven’t ridden a horse that tall since I was about 15 probably, but she immediately put me at ease and really didn’t feel too big when I hopped on her. Her temperament was just wonderful. She’s a Canadian Warmblood with Hanoverian on her sire’s side and German Warmblood on her dam’s side (at least I’m pretty sure it was German Warmblood – I was still cheering loudly on the inside as Trainer G was telling me this haha).
I actually didn’t realize that there was a small track on the farm – it looped around 2 pastures but was absolutely great for warm up. Most of our ride was spent out there unintentionally but I thought it was great. Sox warmed up a bit tight and lazy as Trainer G said she would (I would say slow tho because Sox is NOT lazy haha), and just gave me a heads up on Sox’s way of going and her tendency to giraffe with too much hand. Perfect since I prefer a lot more of a seat and leg ride anyway, So I just held on to the end of the laces as we walked around. And man, I LOVED her walk. So fluid and easy. As we went into the trot and I started to get used to her, I was pretty much in horsey heaven. Her trot was so lovely, and I was really able to focus on my position. My ankles have a tendency to over-flex, so Trainer G was instructing me to relax the ankles, sit up just a bit, round the shoulders back. Small things that I can’t see or feel, but it helped so much. I worked very hard on keeping my hands still per Sox’s preference, and she rewarded me by blowing out a few times and reaching into the contact. English contact is still new to me since I’m used to “western contact” if you will, so as she trusted me and pushed into the contact, I closed my fingers and firmed up my arms just enough to match her push. And it felt really really good.
(Also apologies for the suuuuuper pixilated video. Trainer G actually took these for me on her phone and of course quality doesn’t transfer lol But it was the only video I did get so here you go haha)
I completely biffed our first canter transition – I had a complete sudden mental blank of how to ask for the canter for English. Like, which leg is it that I ask with? haha. These are the things my brain decides to get stuck on lol. But to elaborate on my brain’s confusion – as I learned when riding western, the outside leg cues for the canter and the inside leg is only there to keep the shoulders from falling in. As Trainer G explained to me for Sox, the outside leg is there to keep the haunches from going out, and the inside leg is technically cueing for the canter. Granted, every person/trainer is different for sure, and really, the two ways to cue are pretty interchangeable I think, as Trainer G also mentioned (which like seriously is why I love Trainer G because pretty much down to these small details we’re both on the same page). So once we got that out of the way, I was able to think a little more clearly and also tell Sox more succinctly of no hip drift, inside leg to outside rein, left hand NOT being out of control and holding steady, and we were able to nail the canter transitions both directions every time.
As Sox opened through her back and pushed into the contact at the canter, she had a very honest spook. There’s a solid cement block wall at one curve of the track with an open gate there, and there were horses riding past. I didn’t see them, but Sox caught a glimpse and had a quick squirt forward. The ever-instinctual pull reflex took over, but after a quick moment my brain kicked in again and I just let the reins go, and she immediately put her head back into the contact and breathed. She was still too fast, but I gave her a second before we came back to the walk. Back in the trot she was very choppy and a bit giraffe-necked. I’m not versed really at all in half-halts, so I’m sure part of it was me, but Trainer G and I worked on that for a few minutes. Going past that curve after that she was very responsive and even at the canter, when I’d sit just a touch closer to her back and firm my arms just a little more than usual, Sox would half halt wonderfully, come back to me and relax back into the contact. Success! It also made me feel very good that Trainer G said Sox really liked my hands, since she pretty much never went full giraffe on me the entire lesson.
After that we moved to the outside arena full of jumps. We actually only ended up trotting one jump twice, but both times were really good. Sox has been jumping up to about 1.20 meters, but we only went over probably a 2′ flower box haha. But as we trotted to it the first time, her left shoulder spilled out a bit, so we landed on the left lead, but a simple lead change and we were good. I made a mental note of that for the next time, and since Sox had been responsive to my leg the whole ride, as we approached again I closed my left leg, made sure my left rein was firm and my fingers tight without being restrictive or moving all over the place and we popped over and landed on the right lead. Yay! Small victories right? haha. But we decided to keep it at that – we’d been riding a good 45 minutes and I was super pleased with the whole ride and 2 successful trot jumps considering I’ve had such issues with trot jumps in the past. Sox was such a great ride, and if you couldn’t tell, I was totally taken with her even more by the end of the ride. Had she been up for a lease I wouldn’t have cared what I said before, I would’ve signed my life away haha. I can’t wait to ride her again, and I sincerely hope I do get to hop on her some more.
Even a few days later, I’m STILL thinking of how awesome that lesson was, and we hardly even did much. But I’ve been realizing that it isn’t just the fact that Sox was a different horse and breed from my other 2 lesson horses and had been trained exclusively by Trainer G while the other 2 hadn’t. It was for the exact reasons that I wanted to lesson on as many horses as possible in the first place, so I can test ride all sorts of gaits and types of horses and what I like.
And just as I was sure it would be, attitude is 90% of everything. I do prefer mares, and I’ve ridden some wonderful geldings and stallions, but Sox really wanted to jump the jump. Trainer G told me this, but even still, I could actually feel it as well. Everything was “okay sure”, even if Sox had a bit of sass to add. On the flat Rocky was so looky and has probably been the most difficult horse for me to ride. I’m still sore from riding Sox, but not like Rocky. After riding Rocky, I was a bit down. It’d been so hard for me to do anything with him that I felt discouraged – like I couldn’t ride. And he knew I was out of breath and it certainly felt like he wanted to take advantage of that. I had thought it was just me – I’m not in shape, I’m a new ride for him, and I don’t know what kind of leg he needed for me to be successful. It’s what I wrote in my last lesson recap. But with Sox, every time I’d put my leg on she’d try. If I didn’t get enough I’d push a little harder, and boom she responded. It wasn’t easy mind you, and I am still out of shape. But Sox wanted to respond. It was all small things – when I’d talk to her and ear would flick back and she’d listen. When I’d try hard to meet her, she’d meet me. She was just such an honest, sweet mare.
It makes sense to me. Amber is that way and so is Whisper. All my favorite horses have been that way. It’s still just really nice to feel that on a very forward thinking horse, one I was riding for the first time, and a size/breed/feel of horse that I am absolutely not used to. And since I could tell Sox wanted to jump, and was responsive to my desire to correct the drift, I was able to focus on pushing my knuckles into her neck, keeping my body soft. She had one canter stride and jumped wonderfully, and I finally felt I could just lift myself out of the saddle only as much as I needed and I felt it’s the best jump I’ve ever had since starting to venture back into English. So, maybe I’m not as horrible at this as I was worrying haha. I’m just super over compensating and not confident the horse will carry me over the jump so I try to jump for them. It’s given me a lot to think about, and a lot of knowledge to carry forward no matter if I ride Rocky next or Sox again. However, it also reaffirms my decision to stick with lessoning for a while and really flesh out the type of horse I want to feel when I ride for the future.
While this ride, like my last one was mostly flat, I felt like I was able to get a lot more out of this lesson than the last time. Which the back and forth will always happen I know! haha But I’m looking forward to scheduling another lesson with Trainer G soon!
Lately, it feels that everything has just been….difficult. Piling on. Now that I’m not riding consistently, I’m REALLY trying to get any doctor visits I need out of the way so I can keep staying healthy and fix as well as I can any previous injuries that need it while I’m still young enough. And it sucks because I usually get the “come back when you’re more broken/can’t walk/move” or “this requires this first that you must schedule but there’s no openings for 2 weeks and then don’t bother making a follow-up appointment with us early because no one bothered to tell you that this requires 3 appointments” and basically me trying to get things moving but you know, it takes months to actually get something done so that’s doubly frustrating. So with all this that I’m trying to do, possibly considering more school next year, and worry for Amber and just adulting in general, I needed a bit of a lift-up. And it came in the most unlikely way.
When my parents bought this property, it was discovered that around the same time that someone bought the lot behind ours. Over the past year we’ve gotten to be good friends with them, especially when they came out (their house isn’t built yet) and the son and daughter absolutely fell in love with the horses. The son in particular absolutely adored Amber, and the horses could tell that the kids were head over heels for them. My mom had ended up telling them about Amber’s diagnosis and that she may not be with us for as long as we had thought before we’d found the laminitis. And while we are not the best of friends with them, their kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness was so welcome and appreciated and really lifted my spirits.
Not only did they stop by a store to grab a GINORMOUS bag of carrots and apples, but they did this after the daughter had been in the hospital on Tuesday (I won’t go into detail on account I’d like to keep that private for them, but she healed very quickly and was running around just fine). Apparently, not a day went by that the kids didn’t talk about our horses, so they came by on Saturday armed with their treats, and proceeded to dote on Amber to the fullest. She was in absolute heaven. She had 2 and 1/2 apples and goodness knows how many carrots haha. But we stood there talking the son and I, petting and scratching Amber. He’s only 9, but that kid is so smart. He pet her and pet her, laughed and had a blast. And as we stood there, he said, “I don’t want her to go. I wish she would last forever.”
And I choked up, just managed to keep it together, and said, “You and me both buddy. You and me both.” Kids understand way more than we give them credit for, and since his dad had already told them that Amber’s time was limited, I wasn’t going to treat him like he didn’t know and didn’t understand. Because this kid really really understood.
I’ve been worried about Amber, a lot more than I’ve let on. Her RH hasn’t shown any signs of improvement and she’s resting it more than looks good. I’m also starting to worry about how the underside of that RH hoof looks. I’ve wrapped her hind legs to hopefully give her some extra support, but I’m not sure it’s helping. She’s hurting, uncomfortable, and it’s seriously the hardest and most painful thing in the world to see this little mare so unhappy. But as he and I shoved carrots her way, and I showed him how to get her to follow him and he proceeded to have a blast with that for the next 10 minutes, Amber looked happier than she had in a while. It isn’t like I haven’t been hanging out with her or loving on her, but perhaps I have been loving on her with a bit of a cloud over us, and this was experiencing the pure happiness of kids who just adore horses. But she followed him around like a little puppy, and it was absolutely the cutest thing to see.
The family also knew someone who painted portraits, and told me to grab on of my favorite pictures of me and Amber and he would gift it to me so I had something of her. His son also gave me a little model horse, one that his dad had bought for him on one of his trips but the son thought it looked just like Amber so even though it was his only model horse, he wanted me to have it. This little boy is just so sweet and has such a big big, kind heart, as does his whole family. The daughter drew a picture for me and grabbed me a few flowers and hell I’m keeping these things forever. The kindness of this family for us and me and Amber was just so uplifting, so precious. I don’t ever want to forget it. The feels, you guys.
I don’t care what people say – kindness and thoughtfulness are everything.
So, since we still have that giant bag of carrots that hardly had a dent in it even from 2 horses, I have brought carrots out every night with me when I go to feed. I hop in Amber’s stall and love on her and stuff her with carrots – since she’s hungry, hugs and kisses are not on her priority list haha. But stuff her with carrots and she’s been looking like she’s feeling at least a little better. So I’ve continued to stuff her face. Whisper of course gets carrots as well – that’d be totally unfair lol – and has really been coming leaps and bounds in the “trusting us to help her out when she’s scared in her stall” department. Plus, I think she knows. She’s one of the most sensitive horses I know, and I think she knows Amber doesn’t feel well. And I think she knows I’ve been sad as well, because for the past few weeks she’s been gently moving her head towards me to love on her face, something she usually doesn’t do. She lets me smooch her nose and hold her head like she’s offering support. Such a sweet mare.
So while I feel like I’m muddling through a lot and continuously hitting roadblocks with appointments and such (which most will hopefully be resolved within 2 weeks), our future neighbor’s kindness was just the lift that I needed.
This blog hop originated from Cathryn at Two and a Half Horses. It’s been a lot of fun seeing flashbacks of people’s horses where they first started and where they are now. Before and after stories are some of favorites. I’m a little late to the party, but it’s never too late to hop on the train!
Amber was actually a really good looking 2yr old by the time I bought her:
But when I first saw her, and was assigned to her as my young horse to train from the ground up she looked like this:
Definitely the awkward long yearling. But it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. She didn’t want anything to do with me, and I in turn was very frustrated by her not wanting to work with me so I didn’t want anything to do with her either lol. Considering neither one of us knew what we were doing, there was a pretty big learning curve for the both of us. But she was a really sensible baby, and pretty chill with a lot of things I threw at her.
A year later and she was mine, and she decided after 2 months of ownership that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and got out at night. After suffering what vets thought was a career-ending injury, and even after discovering over a dozen bone chips in the back of her knee and subsequent surgery to remove as many as were possible, she came back amazingly sound. And we’ve been on tons of adventures ever since. She’s been a constant in my life when a lot of other things were unknown, and she’s one of the most forgiving horses I’ve ever known. She’s such a sweetheart, and would rather spend hours and hours with people than other horses. She’s certainly fond of attention!
Now, 6 years after ownership I have been able to ride reining, western pleasure, ranch riding, western dressage, trail, horsemanship, dressage, hunter under saddle and start getting into jumping again with her. I’ve been able to do more with her than any other horse. I didn’t know it at first, but this little mare that can do just about a little bit of everything was exactly what I needed. She’s been the best first horse, and even though she’s been recently forced into retirement, we’re still enjoying spending lots of time together.
For Whisper, she came into our lives in 2006 at 4 years old. My mom and I had no idea how to ride such a well-trained pleasure horse (thank god we’re a bit better now – sorry Whisper!) but she was just the horse my mom needed after her previous horse bolted a lot. Whisper was the epitome of “whoa” and would stop pretty much dead in her tracks. She was instrumental in helping me develop my love for training horses, and for my mom to conquer her fears. I showed Whisper for a while in high school, and we learned so much together.
Now Whisper is looking better than ever, and at 16 years old, she’s living a pretty cushy life with us on our property. After a lot of trial and error with various trainers we’ve finally been able to get Whisper reacquainted with her previous training, and she’s looking really fit and fabulous. I still have all of my ribbons, plaques and saddle bags and portable tables and everything else that Whisper helped me win. Her sweet nature and giving soul have caused all who meet her to fall in love with her (seriously tho lol she has just about one of the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen on a horse) and she even started a buying spree at one of our old barns when we got her. After meeting her, no less than 3 other people bought new horses haha.
Both horses are a huge part of our lives. We’ve been lucky to have 2 chestnut mares who are pretty much perfect in every way as far as mares go. Both are so sweet and loving and willing and I’ve been very lucky to have two such wonderful horses.
For the past 2 years, I have managed to evade the Plague of sicknesses. It could also be because whenever sick people are at work I Clorox every single thing I’m going to touch. Well, I didn’t this time. I blame my coworker who came in on Thursday when he was sick. So now I have it. Yippee.
This is so awesome of course – said no one ever. Now I really can’t sleep, breathe or move my head. I should probably be staying home from work, but what can you do. I just need to rest as much as I can and take a crap ton of Nyquil and other meds. At least being sick helped me finish my middle painting. It’s actually going to go in my parent’s guest room, so that’s pretty cool.
Amber is bored, but okay. She’s been ouchie on her right hind and resting it more than usual, so of course I’m worried about her again. At least it’s only 2 more weeks until her check up so we can see how her sole is developing. Crossing my fingers!
Also, here’s a funny video of what Whisper does when she’s really hungry and I haven’t fed dinner yet. She looks a bit rabid LOL.
Saturday was my first lesson in a long time!
Good news: I didn’t fall off!
Bad news: I somehow managed to minorly sprain my left ankle while in two point.
Yeah I don’t know how. One second I was in two point and went to canter a circle, and the next it felt like my ankle rolled in the stirrup. It was pretty weird. It was sore for the rest of the day, along with some blisters on my heels so that was a very interesting day lol. Thankfully, it’s feeling okay now after a lot of icing. So not a bad sprain just super weird. Anyone else have this happen to them?
Trainer G moved to a new place, a lovely barn that is full of gorgeous Morgan horses. Among those lovely Morgans is the only QH – Rocky, the horse that I rode. He’s shorter than Amber, and narrower (then again most horses are narrower LOL) but he still had quite a bit of get up and go. He used to be a reiner too, which I found nicely familiar. He’d slow down if I sat too far back or too far forward, and had very abrupt downward transitions. Just like Amber and all other reiners I’ve ridden lol.
It actually worked out really well that I haven’t ridden in a while because Trainer G has been starting to teach Rocky how to jump. We worked a lot on flatwork, and oh man my legs were dying from being so out of shape haha. Rocky doesn’t need spurs because he does have a good amount of go, but he still needs quite a bit more leg than I’m used to. I managed to feel it just once, but I still haven’t figured out how exactly to get the amount of leg and in what position it needs to be for the horses that Trainer G has ridden. Rocky isn’t spooky, he’s just very looky and gets distracted easily. He’s a bit older and creaky, but a good boy and he does like to jump. Once I got more comfortable I was able to get his attention a little better. We worked on 20 meter circles and controlling the shoulder while still getting him to bend around my inside legs. It was tough and not very successful with me being out of shape, but thankfully Trainer G was super encouraging and I was able to get our circles at least moderately even haha.
We started off with some poles and small crossrails, and only jumped a little bit. We’d only managed to go over the crossrail twice before my ill-timed sprain, and only got one more shot at it. It was actually the only time I managed to get my Cambox recording correctly unfortunately, so I only have one good video. Still, Rocky was fun to jump. He’s still figuring it out for sure, but while he’s unsure, he’s certainly a different ride than Liam.
So, it wasn’t a groundbreaking lesson, although everything along with my 4th and pinky fingers is sore! I’m certainly planning to try fitting in working out more with my schedule, but it’ll take some time. Either way, I’m hoping I can schedule another lesson soon!
Even though Olivia probably never meant for this to be a blog hop, this is too good not to. I’m also going to go with the premise that even though it says “millionaire” that I have an unlimited amount of funds. Because this is fantasy land so why not?!
First, I’d buy a wonderful horse property. I haven’t looked overmuch for a horse property so unfortunately I have no dream farm link, but I know it would be much closer to the east coast. A bit inland, but NC or SC since it’s further south and I happen to have a lot of family in that area so that’d be cool. I’d want it to be a bit out in the country, already have barns, arenas, a bit of cross country courses built and over 100 acres with a few fenced pastures. Perfect for eventing.
Amber’s life wouldn’t change too much but with this, I would get Amber a buddy – an aged gelding in need of a good retirement home. Amber gets along well with older geldings, so she could live out in a pasture with him and they’d have a blast out there. With a grazing muzzle and only Bermuda grass because girl is special haha. There would also be a few other pastures to rotate other horses.
I’d grab myself a Prelim packer to begin showing me the ropes of eventing. I may go for a 1* or 2* packer, but hey, if money is no option then I can always get one later, right?! haha I’d also like to buy around 4-5 ammy friendly 1*, 2* or below horses to keep as “extras”. Why? Well, because what I would ultimately LOVE is to have adult summer camps from spring to fall. Yup! For 1-2 weeks Adult Ammies would bring their horses (if they had one) to my place for an adult summer camp. If they didn’t have horses, that’s where my 4-5 packers would come in handy. It’d be a week or two of wine and other drinks, camping, and hanging out for fun days with horses. However, since money isn’t an issue here, there’d also be clinics during that time – dressage, SJ and XC specific clinics with 4* riders as well as pure SJ and Dressage trainers. It’d be lots of things packed into only a few days, but I personally think would be awesome.
I’d make sure it was AA friendly in terms of price too, so that probably would make me absolutely no money and really drain me dry, but we’re talking a zillion dollars in fantasy land so I can dream haha. In the off time of summer camps I’d probably let a few trainers/people winter down there. The packers would probably have leases or something, who knows haha. But of course I’d have custom tack for all of my animals, and perhaps some fanceh stuff for me. Probably just custom boots really since I’m pretty okay with everything else. Okay maybe some custom pants since most pants don’t fit me. Okay, fine. I’ll have fanceh schmancy stuff too! lol
I would of course go to as many shows as I could, even though I get a little burned out with a lot of showing, but then I’d try to volunteer as much as I could as well since I’ll have a zillion dollars and won’t need to work. That’s about it for me because after that I’d be waaaaay past a zillion dollars in just a year LOL.
What about you? What would you do with a zillion, unlimited dollars?
Amber seems to be doing okay. I think she’s finally settling a bit. It could be a number of things, but she’s seemed more content these days than before. Perhaps she’s realizing that it’s “the life” to just eat all day and get loved on and get tons of scratches? Probably lol. Her big nickers for scratches have increased in volume and intensity lol, and she’s gotten very smart about it. She gives me 2-3 minutes to finish scooping poop before she leaves her alfalfa to beg for scratches. Silly girl haha. We’ve gotten into a bit of a routine now, though it’s a small routine and we’ve changed a few things for her.
First off, I’ve switched her from bute to Equioxx. I think she’s doing better on that – she just looks a little happier in general, so I’m going to say that it’s helping her feel better and isn’t as harsh on her stomach even though I’m totally not 100% sure lol. The sore on her left side has been slowly but steadily healing, so that tells me that she isn’t laying down as much and the soft rides are really helping her be more comfortable standing.
Diet. Ahh, poor girl lolol. She is NOT a fan of her new diet and the fact that her human bought a fish scale to precisely measure her hay has her pretty upset. Okay, so some days she get a half pound extra haha. But most days her diet is strict. It’s almost easy actually, because she’s a lot more comfortable if I put her hay in a net so it makes for a perfect opportunity to weigh it. She’s on 18 lbs now to start so she can get used to it before I take her down to the vet’s desired amount of 16lbs. She does not like this haha. She gets quite hangry and I don’t blame her. I usually try to at least eat less and get fitter and then what happens? It’s international doughnut day, or my friend buys pizza and wine and coconut dream cookies for an impromptu tv show binge night, or I get offered tacos and say yes because of course I want tacos. So, I feel Amber for wanting more food and not being able to eat any lol.
I have trimmed her mane shorter, and leave her tail out of its bag. I brush both every other day, and she loves the attention. I took about 2 inches off of her mane to not only even it up but she gets so hot in this weather that I’m still debating whether or not to really trim it short. I can’t bring myself to do that yet, since I just love her longer mane, so that gets brushed whenever her tail does. They get washed every week, and she’s been less itchy with that. And every weekend, she gets a break from her annoying socks and boots. She’s gotten pretty good at leaving that left hind foot where I place it so the towel can help it dry before it goes back into the boot. She tries to tell me otherwise but I think she secretly LOVES it when I bathe her and pamper her haha. And she deserves it too!
Once I’ve used them up I’m going to take her off of her supplements. She really doesn’t need them anymore, but she still gets ulcerguard pellets – the only thing I’ll probably keep her on. She’ll probably still get a few of her other things – flax and salt, but the other stuff is just money that I don’t need to spend anymore. I’ve been thinking of switching grain too, just to something perhaps more formulated to a laminitic horse. She really doesn’t need the ultium competition grain anymore even though both she and I love it haha.
Otherwise, it’s been quiet around here. We’re just plodding along day by day, waiting for Amber’s next appointment at the end of September. Since Amber will be due for a trim at the time of the appointment, I’ve got the vet and farrier scheduled so that they can chat about where to go from there and have a plan for her feet. Good to knock out 2 birds with one stone.
I’m super excited for my lesson Saturday; I’m just really hoping I’m not absolutely horrid since I honestly haven’t ridden in like…4-5 weeks or longer and am so out of shape lol. It feels shorter since time has really flown by recently, but I’m hoping I’ll have a little more opportunity to lesson in the following months. Also, I’m super excited because I FINALLY get to try my Cambox helmet camera for a lesson! Let’s just hope it doesn’t record me falling off haha!
I’m certainly one of those people that if presented with a problem that requires waiting (not patience because I have none lol), I have to have a gazillion different plans of action should the problem begin to resolve itself in a certain way. Then, I proceed to go back and forth between all gazillion options, and I change my mind every day – sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I know it’s hard for the people around me to keep up with me sometimes when I do things like that – hell it’s hard for me to keep up with me haha. For Amber, should her stifle have gone wrong, I came up with so many things I could do should it not work out. As it turns out, her stifle ended up not being the problem. Looking at things a little more closely, it looks like her stifle healed phenomenally – it’s just the laminitis that got to her. So now, I’m back to all of my previous options and oscillating back and forth. This is mostly just for me since it’s a good way to sort through my thoughts and actually get them down on paper. Or virtual paper as it will. It will also keep me a little steadier in the months to come I think – even if I want to change my mind it’ll help me stay settled on my ultimate decision.
First off, I’ll take you through the (most plausible) options I had settled on:
I could breed Amber. This of course, is a definite “no” now. There’s much to think about with this one, not only because Amber is laminitic – although now of course that’s a huge part of it. Because I’m breeding this horse, I also completely understand that I may not be able to keep it forever and always because sometimes life happens. So I have to make sure the horse is also marketable should I have to sell it. Vet bills for pregnancies are no joke either, plus knowing Amber and her injury-prone self, she’ll find some way to cause me grief her whole pregnancy. Pretty sure I can’t handle 11 months of that LOL. Knowing her she’ll also pass on her injury-prone-ness to her foal LOL. There’s also just a LOT of potential for things to go wrong just in pregnancy and birth. Plus, I’m not delusional enough to think I’ll “get another Amber” should I breed her. There of course will never be another Amber, and truthfully, I don’t want another one. She is one of a kind. It may be vain, but I do also worry about people talking about the foal as being “backyard bred” even if I did breed Amber to a nice TB since appendix QHs are marketable. As for care, there are really no good areas for me to put Amber, and should she even be able to have a foal, I would want her in a big pasture with other foaling mares so the foal can grow up and be social. I think that’s an integral part of a foal’s growth and I want to give it as best a start in life as I can. A foal is a lot of responsibility, one I don’t take lightly, so there’s much about this option that isn’t feasible for me at the present. But, the laminitis really shuts this decision down, though to be honest I really don’t think I would have ever gone this route no matter what happened.
So. What next? Well, I could lease a horse. This one is still in the air. It’s certainly an option and I’m still tossing it around in my head. I’m still a bit hesitant on this one tho, mostly because I won’t own the horse. Based on my past experiences this hasn’t always been the best thing, but there are just as many (and many more!) good leases too, so it all depends on what I find or happens down the road. Of course knowing my luck I’ll end up with a lease and the lease horse will teach me a whole bunch and we’ll be absolutely great together lol. At the moment though, I’m just probably still hesitant to go this route because I’m sad that Amber and I can no longer go on adventures, and I’m mourning the loss of our riding connection. It’s really hard to be open to something else – especially when it’s not mine – when Amber and I have such a good relationship. This for sure isn’t an option I’m discarding for those reasons, but because I need to sort a lot out with Amber, but I just don’t know if it is completely feasible for me to lease at the moment.
Which leads to I could buy a horse. This is the one that’s the 2nd most solid of my options. I know eventually, even if I lease, I will want another horse. I actually preferably would like to find one before I have to let Amber go. Whisper really helped my mom with her grief when she had to put down her previous horse, and I’m thinking I’ll be the same way. Plus needing to care for the horse will get me out to the barn even if I don’t want to, because time spent with horses is the best time. I won’t lie but I am really dreading the whole “let’s find a horse” process since my mom did most of the looking before we bought Whisper and Amber just kinda fell into my lap haha. So I’m….very very green at this lol. I’m not in a rush to buy a horse though because it’s also not quite feasible for me to purchase a horse right now. It’s even harder because there really aren’t any eventing prospect horses around the Vegas area. I considered buying another horse from the same program Amber came from (you know, school support and all that plus I know what care/training they get and know the types of horses), but I’ve since realized that if I’m buying a horse that I want to event on, I have to be able to ride them to try them (you can’t at LOR). I also have to know they like jumping and they enjoyed even the smallest of cross country schools. It’d be a project horse, not requiring a lot of jumping experience since I’m confident in myself and especially the pros around me to help me muddle through haha. Plus, after all the hard work I’ve done with Amber and bringing her up myself, I know that teaching a horse myself really helps to build a connection and relationship with the animal, and I really want another partnership.
My last option, which is the option I have decided right now to do, is to catch ride and lesson on as many different horses as I can. With Amber, I knew her inside and out, and I didn’t have any fears jumping her or taking her cross country or doing whatever it was with her. But now that a new horse is in my future, I need to start developing a feel for what type of ride I’d like. I’ve been excited about jumping and I’ve been excited about dressage – now I need to see if I can get out there on cross country and see if I’m excited about that (I really don’t doubt I will be, but I’m nothing if not a pretty practical person haha). I need to see if I really, truly want to event. Amber was easy – we’d done so many things in the past that if we evented for a bit and it wasn’t hers or my thing, then we’d pop over to something else. But I may be looking for a horse specifically for eventing, so I have to make sure that this is a discipline I really want to do. Again, pretty sure I do, because even though I have yet to do some of the things, I am still as hungrily following it now as I was when I first discovered it in 2016. But who the hell knows I may be frozen come cross country haha! But by riding so many different horses, I can hopefully start feeling what kind of ride I’d like and what type of horse and how their gaits feel. I cannot ride bouncy horses AT ALL, so I’d like to know the bounce limit I can ride. Jumping and cross country is the best and, well, most important part about eventing, so I need to make sure what personality and traits and aspects about a horse I like that I’d be confident to go cross country.
Lesson pony Liam actually helped me with this. Since I was a very timid rider growing up, I always thought I wanted a “push” horse instead of a “whoa” horse, but he made me really miss Amber when I’d ride him. He only stopped on me once, and even then he still crawled over the fence, but he never quite gave me the feeling of taking me to the jumps. Despite Amber’s and my greenness and the fact that I didn’t start her right, she felt like she was taking me to the crossrails. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly how it’s supposed to feel, but it was enough of a difference that I noticed. Because when I’d tell her to go, she’d always ask me “how fast?” and stay there until I told her otherwise. Liam would go for a few strides, then slow back down. I’ve just started to realize that riding reiners has made me much less of a “push” horse person, and more of “whoa” person. So now to figure out how much go for the horse haha. While they’ve all been QHs, I’ve worked with a fair number of “go” horses (every single Gunnatrashya offspring has their bolting phase), but all of these traits may mean I end up with a TB. Which, TBs are WAY different from QHs, sooooo it’s a toss-up haha. But I don’t know! It’s a lot of information, but I’m happy with trying to figure out all the angles. It also helps that many horse sale ads I’ve found have been in WA, and I have a great eventer friend who knows TBs (and just horses in general) inside and out and is willing to help me out should I head on up there to look. So I want to lesson on TBs and more athletic QHs (meaning less fat LOL) and maybe even a warmblood because why the hell not?! Let’s do it! I do admit that I sorta miss having 6-8 horses to ride a day. They were all so different in their own right, but all such nice horses and I learned SO MUCH from all of them. That is one of the reasons I do want to catch ride. I learn best when challenged with a few things at once, and riding different horses I feel will really help me out. Who knows? I may even be lessoning for a year or two before I find my next partner, and I feel right now that I’m not in a rush for that like I usually would be (this may change tomorrow. I may want to just get it over with NOW haha!)
Coincidentally, I was able to (finally!!) schedule another lesson with Trainer G. I feel bad – I went dark for so long she lost my number LOL! She’s coincidentally at a new place with a new lesson horse – QH Rocky – and I know nothing about him but I’m excited for another lesson. She’s still close to an old cross country field I believe, so I’m going to try getting in my very first cross country outing with her with Rocky here in the future. There’s also a dressage trainer I really like who I will hopefully start lessoning with soon (just gotta make sure timing and everything works out) and there’s an h/j barn really close to me – like 15 minutes away. They have some lesson horses too, and since I am hoping to ride a variety of horses, I’ve been looking into lessoning with them as well. Plus, this will give me more jumping/dressage experience that I can carry forward to my next ride – be it a lease horse or I buy one.
As sad as I am that the chapter of Amber and I riding and competing together has ended, I’m pretty excited for this next chapter. Even though I can’t ride her anymore, I am so relieved that I FINALLY know what’s wrong with Amber and why she’s been upset. I can now move forward with a treatment plan for her to keep her comfortable, and start forming a plan for me to move forward as well. I feel as if I’ve been a bit stuck in a stasis, as I was from fall of 2015 to 2016, and the waiting has certainly taken it’s toll on me. But I am excited to get back into it.
Not that the vet visit was bad mind you. Just that we’re seeing the vet A LOT lol.
Doc was headed out to take a look at Whisper, and did a 2 week check up on Amber as well. I had grabbed a few things for Amber before the visit – mostly a weight measure and some Equioxx. With her being laminitic, she can’t have too much alfalfa, but I don’t know exactly how much food a day we give her, and I wanted to weigh it, tell the doc, and form a plan. So, we’re good on the amount of alfalfa she’s getting ( ~3.5 lbs 2x a day), but overall she was getting too much especially with her being out of work. So, our aim is to cut back to 16 lbs ideally, so I’ll be cutting her back slowly. Now that her metabolism has slowed and she’s finally lost all the muscle she tenaciously hung on to, she’s not voraciously eating everything in sight. She’s leaving some, which is a good sign to us. So, I’ll be cutting down her food, but everything else I’m feeding her is okay.
Even though she’s in soft rides, I’m liking how the barefoot is helping her hind feet. Her sole is getting harder, and the spot is less spongy, which I take as a good thing. He wants to see her in 8 weeks tho – I’m thinking to see if her sole has thickened a bit more or how it’s growing in those 8 weeks. I questioned him about her being barefoot in the front, but he didn’t seem to think that was a good idea. Which I’m completely fine with, I was just putting it out there for curiosity’s sake. I’m just asking tons of questions since this is all new to me, but my vet has been taking this all in stride and has been more than willing to tell me the whys and his reasons for suggesting/doing certain things. So she stays in front shoes and we have some more waiting before figuring out her hind feet. The good news is that there’s no more bad news right now, soooooo….??? Ha I’ll take it.
Unfortunately our little ride we did was a big no-no. Poor Amber can’t get out of her stall at all (I mean, aside from going to the crossties for baths or grooming) in the next 8 weeks. Poor thing is going to go crazy. I could feel how happy she was even for the 5 minutes we walked. Her ears were pricked, and she was back to her “let’s go do stuff ma!” attitude. She keeps nosing her gate, wanting to be out and pestering me when I don’t get her out. She doesn’t understand why we can’t go out, especially since she’s now feeling better with the soft rides. That’s certainly been difficult.
It does feel a bit like “injury central” here tho haha. Whisper is doing very well since her hock injections but now has soreness in her LF so we have a couple things going on that’ll help weed out whether it’s not enough support for shoeing or something else in her leg. We’re hoping that she’ll be back in contention to start the next 3-show series come September, but it’s getting a bit close. So if she can’t show then we’ll probably still trailer her there just to get her off property, see the sights and promptly go home. Choco too has been pretty limpy lately. Her left shoulder is bothering her (what is it with our animals and their left sides at the moment? lol), so we have her on some anti-inflammatories which have seemed to help a lot. We’re also looking into canine adequan. Our biggest worry is that she’s still so full of life even at 14 that if we don’t help her feel better as best we can she may not really recover from it. We’d like to keep her as happy and active as we possibly can for as long as we can. Since Amber AND Whisper have been a bit out of commission, I really haven’t ridden at all (and yes I’m dying haha). But I’ve supplemented that with finally starting PT, this time with a doctor and physical therapist that actually care about my health concerns and are really trying to help me with preventative measures instead of “come back when you’re more broken and can’t walk”. Thanks. Real helpful guys. Right now I’m working on my right leg where I got kicked, and it’s pretty hard, but I’m keeping up with it. It needs to get stronger and function as best as it can, and I want to break up that scar tissue. Hopefully soon, I’ll get back to lessons. I also just….really need to work out since I have no fitness left at all since I haven’t ridden in a while lol. I have been pretty much a lump, so there’s that haha.
I do want to start up lessons again soon, dressage and jumping if it all works out, so hopefully I can get my butt in gear and work out some more!
I didn’t realize my mom had actually gotten pictures of the x-rays, so I am able to share them with you guys. Just so everyone can see, last week I posted this video of her on Insta, which was taken on July 25, only 1 week prior to her vet visit.
You can certainly see some shortness in her RH, but there’s practically nothing to see in her LH, which is why we were all pretty shocked to see that this was what her foot actually looked like.
That is…..not minor. I am pretty sure most horses would be 3-legged at this point. Thankfully, her right hind foot (and front feet) all looked good.
Bute hasn’t seemed to help as much anymore, and I worry about her since she’s been on it for a while. She’s on an ulcerguard at the same time, but bute long term isn’t the best which is why I want to switch her to Equioxx. She hasn’t been pigging out as much as she usually has either, so my mom and I were worried for a bit. It seems like all the food on the ground was just pretty painful for her, even with the boots and how much she loves to eat. Putting her hay in a net and getting it up off the floor has helped – she’s back to eating her usual amount.
She is certainly not the biggest fan of her boots lol. Every now and then she kind of kicks out hoping to get them off but they’re staying on. I was able to grab some old socks to prevent rubbing, but the boots have certainly helped her feel better. The few times she got excited about something over the weekend and trotted I could see a sliver of how well her stifle has actually been healing. She DID love her shavings and laid down immediately. Then proceeded to try to scratch the boot off.
So I figured I’d help her out. And she loved it. Such an itchy girl haha.
It has been a whirlwind week. Over the last week or two, Whisper has been odd. I was REALLY having to remind her to get back on her hindquarters, she was a lot more unwilling to work, and she’d start biting at the air whenever my mom would saddle her or I would put my spurs on her – even if they were the small little English nubby spurs I use on Amber. This was absolutely not like her. At first I thought perhaps she’d lost fitness or was giving us a few of her very rare “no” moments. But after a bit of a tough ride, and still a not-too-productive next ride, she still wasn’t better after a week and I rode her again. That ride, to the right she felt a bit wiggly, and it felt harder than usual. To the left though, if felt as if she’d lost all of her rhythm and cadence and that’s her good side. That piqued my interest, and I started a deep tissue massage on her a few nights later after I’d gotten to thinking. I really worked over her SI and Psoas around 3 nights in a row, and she was certainly improved by the weekend. No biting the air when I’d use spurs or when she’d be saddled. She still was just NQR though, so my mom made a Monday appointment for the vet to look at her. Since the vet was coming out, we figured he could check Amber over as well since it was time for her 1 month post-first-vet-visit visit.
He did a flex test on Whisper, and noted that she flexed a bit positively on her hocks. While her SI could certainly be the culprit, Whisper IS 16. We don’t believe she had any injections when she was younger before we got her when she was 4, and she’s been in consistent 4-6 day works (although those may not have been extremely HARD rides haha) for a good 12 years. Over the past 2-3 years, we’ve really worked on rocking her back and utilizing her hind end. This year alone we’ve upped her fitness since the Feb show, and have had increasingly intense – though short – rides so we can prepare for the Sept-Nov show series. I’m honestly not too surprised that it was probably time for a hock injection. Since she’s a sensitive horse, I think the injections will last her a long while – hopefully longer than a year, but I’m not too worried. Compared to Amber at the moment, Whisper is EASY-PEASY.
After Whisper’s flex test I grabbed Amber for him, and his immediate answer was “I still really don’t like this.” Well, damn. I thought she’d been doing pretty well actually. Over the month I’d actually taken down her walk time to 15 minutes, but increased to a bit of trotting for 10 seconds 2-3 times in one ride. The second walk of the day would be outside on pavement for 20 minutes. She did pretty well with this – ahhh or so I thought. So far, it seems the stifle is actually fine and all well and good pretty much, but he’s puzzled about why she doesn’t want to bring that RH forward. She walks really well on the street and stumbles a lot more in the arena with that RH. So we decided to inject her stifle with a steroid to help in case there was some build up of arthritis or tenacious inflammation that’s hindering her from wanting to bring that leg forward.
His words were “You’re (Amber) going to drag this out all the way to the end, aren’t you?” and “You’re lucky your mom loves you so much.” Truer words have never been spoken. If that doesn’t describe the both of us to a T I don’t know what does haha.
After walking her Tuesday she looked more comfortable. The steroid helped with the inflammation I think, and she was actually quite willing to bring the leg forward and only had a few bobbles in the arena. I was ready to just go ahead and start the IRAP process if that’d help her feel a lot better. However, the farrier came out Wednesday, and after he pulled her shoes told me to come look at her LH asap.
Amber has a new diagnosis – she has laminitis in her left hind foot. And pretty progressive laminitis at that.
Looking at that foot on Wednesday, and after hearing the farrier say that it looked a lot like a laminitic foot, I knew they were right. I knew it wasn’t anything good. So I scrambled my schedule around and got her in to the clinic on Thursday. I wish I had the x-rays to show you guys (they will hopefully be emailed to me and I’ll post them) but I don’t think she really has more than 5 or so millimeters of sole between the coffin bone and outer sole. At first, after just watching her walk the vet wasn’t convinced. He seemed quite surprised and shocked after seeing the x-rays. (After finding that, all 4 feet were radiographed to make sure they were okay and to get a baseline) I don’t blame him. We both discussed how she doesn’t walk AT ALL like a laminitic horse and unfortunately, her symptoms were believed to be and clouded by the recent surgery to the RH stifle. Because honestly out of most of the symptoms, she really only noticeably did the “reluctant to walk forward” one, and we both just figured it was due to the stifle.
But she wasn’t bringing the RH forward because that would cause her to put weight on her LH toe, and that hurt. For it to be so progressed though means that it’s been building for a while – not just post-surgery. I’m thinking it’s back to when she really injured it – during the show in November. Over the past 8-9 months she’s just been consistently weight bearing on that LH. Either way, as all of you know, this isn’t a good development at all.
So Amber has been taken off of everything – no stretches, no walks, no riding. Just stall rest. She is now wearing some soft ride boots, and by evening, it actually looked like she felt better. She was walking quite a lot more than she has for a while, so I think she’s more comfortable. I sure hope so. I suppose it’s pretty obvious to say that Amber is officially retired. Nothing more for her. The only silver lining I can find at the moment is that it’s a hind foot and not a front foot. Ironically, both the vet and I mentioned how it looks a bit like Barbaro. I only hope it doesn’t develop in any other foot and that we caught it at an okay time.
I’m still going to be following everyone and commenting, but unless there’s an update I’ll probably not blog more than once a week. I still want to get my reviews out and am planning to go back to lessoning hopefully within a few weeks, but it’ll just take time for me to fully process everything and really get a solid outlook on where I want to go from here – be it buying a horse, leasing, or continuing to lesson for a while. Buying is certainly not in the cards yet, but leasing or lessoning are certainly options that I’ll fully decide in the future. Mostly though, I’m just focused on getting Amber as comfortable as we can get her, and hopefully manage this now that we know what it is.
Heat stress or exhaustion or stroke is no joke. As a sufferer of heat stroke myself, I completely understand people’s intolerance of the heat. Especially now that monsoon season came early for Las Vegas (it usually hits around late August/early September), the heat index hasn’t lessened one bit, but the humidity certainly has been on the rise. Usually when it’s 110 outside, the humidity is around 10-12%. Now, it’s 110 outside with 20% humidity and a time of day that usually brings the winds now has practically no breeze. It won’t even get below 100* until about 9 or 10 at night. Mornings are the best time to ride as is usual for most places.
This heat has really been kicking my butt the longer this heat/humidity thing goes on. I know it’s especially unbearable for all of you guys with the temperatures up and the humidity being MUCH greater than 20%. But for me, I can’t ride in the mornings. Most of my work days start at 6 am, so my only option if I want to ride is in the afternoon – when it’s basically hell lol. While it is a question of whether we should even ride when it’s that hot, for me NOT riding isn’t an option. Even though my episode of heat stroke has really affected my heat tolerance now, I know that if I ever plan to show or even manage to just hack around in Vegas, my horse and I HAVE to be able to ride in these extreme temperatures.
So what can we do to beat the intolerable heat this summer seems to have plagued everywhere? I have seen a lot of helpful tips on keeping our equine partners safe and helping them tolerate the heat. But what about YOU – the rider? In my opinion, the rider is absolutely just as important than the horse. Why? Because if I’m not taking care of myself, how can I efficiently and effectively take care of my horse? If I am tired or too hot or dead on my feet I may miss something that I otherwise wouldn’t have had I been feeling better. This may or may not help those of you, but I’d like to share the things I do to help Amber feel as good as she can and how I take care of myself through the hot months.
For the horse:
These tips won’t be anything new than many other articles on helping your horse tolerate the heat, but these are the things I do for Amber (and Whisper too!). First, I always have a full bucket of cool water in the arena. Our bucket in the arena IS in direct sunlight, but we are lucky enough to have our water source come from a well, and the water is nice and cool from underground if we have to dump hot water and refill it. On days when Whisper is working hard, whenever we have a break in “work” I’ll take her over to the water bucket to drink. Even if she doesn’t, it’s still offered and available. Even though Amber and I are just walking, I did this for her last summer when we were in full work, and the girls have gotten very used to drinking water if they’re thirsty. At one point Amber almost dragged be to the bucket after a morning walk!
Second, sometimes I will sponge Amber off before a ride – especially if it’s nice and breezy since that will help her stay cooler. Otherwise I always hose her off afterwards and immediately have a fan on her. The water that runs to our barn is much hotter than the water that goes to the arena – we accidentally miscalculated how deep to dig the trench for the water pipes, so it’s shallower and the water is consequently much hotter. I’ll throw the hose on and let it run for as long as it’ll take me to untack, then hose Amber down. Even if the water is still hotter than I’d like, the fans help to cool off the water on her skin almost immediately (I also always put my hand against her to make sure it feels cool).
Third, both horses are usually fed their grain around noon-ish, and on those hotter than hot days I’ll throw in some electrolytes. They both love the cherry flavored crystal/powder, but some horses won’t eat it and the paste electrolytes are very easy to use as well. There are even ones you can put in their water to encourage them to drink. I personally don’t have a preference of which one works better or whatnot, but I do use the powder since it’s cheaper in the long run and my horse will eat it that way. Whisper does pretty well on the electrolytes that go in the water as well as the powder. As well as electrolytes, if the horses are working very hard I do supplement with magnesium. Amber is a HUGE sweater, and sometimes they can even sweat out magnesium if they sweat hard enough. Magnesium aids in muscle relaxation, and when the horses were in difficult work I noticed the magnesium helped them feel better. This summer, Amber has been in relatively no work, and Whisper light work, so we haven’t been using the magnesium hardly at all.
Fourth – they always have fans on. Our last barn had misters and I’d love to have some misters here AND fans but I don’t know if that’s feasible for us at the moment. Amber loved her misters, and she loves her fans. Always standing in front of at least one of them. Whisper is a funny horse and has 2 16 gallon water buckets – during the heat of the day she drinks the inside bucket and at night she drinks from the outside bucket in her run. Amber only has 1 bucket, but we fill that about 2x a day – that girl certainly drinks! Other than that the girls have been here for a while and are pretty accustomed to the oven-hell that is summer in the desert (altho thankfully it’s not AZ where it’s 123 and your tires blow just from driving over 40 on the road).
So now – on to the rider!
Unfortunately I am……way more high maintenance than Amber haha. But in order for me to stay cool and not have a heat stress headache and regular “blah” feeling, there’s a lot I have to do.
First my clothing. Cooling breeches and shirts are my go-to for summer. I will actually overheat even in a simple T-shirt so I’ve been slowly accruing more and more sunshirts haha. My 3 fav brands are Kerrits, Kastel and Ariat (although my new Noble Outfitters shirt is working its way to the top) – those shirts absolutely keep me the coolest. I wear cooling tech breeches – Ovation Aqua X are my usual go-tos with the Horze Grand Prix breeches coming in a close second. The fabric on those is very similar to the Aqua X and I love them. I even have tech undergarments – Champion c9 sport wicking undies and the Champion c9 sports bras. With my short sleeve tech shirts I wear the Kerrits sleeves and Roeckl chester summer gloves – the mesh on the back of the hand keeps them cool while still having that great Roeckl grip. I also wear the Ovation schooling helmet, which is light blue in color to help reflect the sun and has a LOT of vents to help keep my head cool.
One of the most difficult things about summer in the desert is that your sweat evaporates almost immediately. A lot of the cooling clothing uses your own sweat so that a breeze catches it and cools your skin. Because of this, I have to “make my own sweat” if you will. I will actually hose myself down – my arms, chest, upper back, neck and head. My head does sweat, but by adding the extra water and making it extra damp, it ensures that the breeze going through the vents of my helmet helps keep my brain cooler. I probably look like a wet rat but hey – I’m a lot cooler haha.
While the clothing helps, it’s what I put into my body that does the most. Dizziness is one of the first signs for me that my body is feeling the heat, so I try to keep an eye out on that. Gatorade-water or smart/electrolyte water works the best for me. I usually buy the mid-size G2s and grab a large water jug and pour it in with some ice. I’ll put one or two in there depending on the size. Once the Gatorade fills the jug half-way, I fill the rest with water. With the Gatorade this way, I am not suddenly throwing a high volume of electrolytes into my body and throwing it off. It replenishes my body slowly, and I am also getting water at the same time. It lessens the too-sweet taste as well but is still tasty enough for me to want to drink it to help myself drink. I usually do this even though I also really like the Smart/electrolyte water. The Gatorade is a bit cheaper and I can make “twice as much” when I’m mixing it.
Next is blood sugar. I get very dizzy, extremely lethargic and very cotton-mouthed when my blood sugar starts to dip down too much. This also makes me even more susceptible to heat stress, so I’m always bringing food with me. When I worked at a barn during the summer as a teenager in high school, I was pretty ignorant about the heat in terms of stress/exhaustion/stroke. However, I was out there usually from 5 in the morning to around noon-ish, and learned that packing myself food helped me a LOT. So I’d pack myself a giant jug of water, some type of fruit that was juicy but also had natural sugars (watermelon is my fav for that), an energy/protein shake and a Gatorade. The protein shake provided energy and calories, but wasn’t a heavy food in my stomach like a sandwich or even a salad. Not a lot of that has changed now haha. Watermelon is great because it’s very watery, not too sweet, but can help raise your blood sugar when you’re feeling faint. I don’t need the energy or protein shakes anymore since I am not outside for 7-ish hours – usually around 2-3 hours at the barn now. I’ve changed the shakes to a small gel pack that I’d throw in a cooler when we boarded elsewhere, and that I keep in the freezer now that we have the horses at the house. I will periodically grab the pack and place it on my head as I’m finishing up at the barn. Since my hair is still wet from water and sweat, the gel pack immediately cools it and REALLY cools off my brain to prevent the headaches and heat stress.
I’ve come to recognize the signs my body tries to tell me about how well I’m dealing with the heat. My head is a big factor for me – even just a little bit of overheating or not doing all of these steps sometimes and I get a horrible headache. Dizziness or being slightly faint clues me in that I’m not doing enough, and that if I don’t do something soon, I’ll have to go through cold showers and ice packs to get my body temperature down ASAP. Most of the time though I’ll just feel a bit out of breath because the heat is sapping my energy, but I’m usually doing what I need to so I don’t feel dizzy or faint.
All of this allows me to cope with the heat the best way I can, and to also feel as good as I can so I can take care of my horse. It’s a bit tough to keep track of it all, but I’ve gotten into a rhythm with it that it really doesn’t take me too long to prepare any of these things. Plus, if it helps me avoid the ER to get more fluids than I’m all for it haha!
I’m looking into grabbing one of these from RW too. It’ll probably dry out very quickly since the evaporation is so high here, but it might be just what I need to keep my core temperature even cooler! I’m usually pretty good for the majority of rides – it’s closer to when I’m done and finishing up that I need extra help in keeping my body temperature down. We’ll see how it goes!
What about you guys? How do you guys keep yourself cool in the dead of summer? What do you do to combat the heat stress for both you and your horse?
Happy Friday everyone! I’ve been pretty silent this week, but busy + not much to say = no posts haha. Amber and I continue to chug away at our walking and stretching and she’s looking promising again so I hope our vet appointment can coincide with her looking good instead of bad again haha. I’ve been hand walking her a lot due to the fact that I can get her to walk just that little bit faster with a lot less pressure or push than if I were riding. Plus, it gets me out and walking too and it’s a good way for me to see how she’s stepping. I’ve been having her walk over the uneven footing more, and power up and down a few more inclines every few days or so. I think it’s helping, but we’ll see.
The other day though I took her to an area near a house with the miniest ditch possible, just to step over it as something “different” to do and it may as well have been the Mariana Trench for Amber haha! It was seriously maybe 6 inches wide at most and 6 inches deep. The funny thing is she actually started out walking over it. Aaaaaand miscalculated where she put her foot so it slipped a bit. Well then the only other way was to LEAP SO DRAMATICALLY over the little thing. I probably shouldn’t have laughed, but I was about dying because she was also trying to leap on 3 legs. So we walked back and forth until she paid attention to where her feet were and walked over the thing. By the end we were walking over the smallest part possible which was still about 6 inches wide but 2 inches deep. I was just shaking my head laughing at her. The video above was taken the next day, after I’d determined that we’d walk over it again – calmly this time. She did but not without some snorts lol. I know she also desperately wants to run and play, and probably has quite a bit of energy which is why she was leaping the previous day. I can’t wait to see her happily run and play and buck once she’s really healing.
I hope everyone has a horsey-filled weekend!
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!