Monday, January 4, 2016

Oh Stinker...

So, I have been struggling to get this post written.  I really don't know what to say and I am trying to keep things positive.  I have written this a million times it feels like, so here it goes.  When I was in Florida, the saddle fitter (who also does body work, works closely with a vet, and knows a lot about bio I don't think she is a total quack is the point) was very concerned about Stinker's feet and hind end.

The dip behind the saddle needs to go.

I will admit, I don't know much about feet.  Growing up my dad (who is a vet) did the trims on our ranch horses.  We never had shod horses, and they were all pretty basic quarter horses with good feet.  Plus we were out west where things are wet and sandy.  This year has been rough on the horses feet, we have been drowning in rain.  I know that his hind is still weak from the EMP, but it has been getting stronger and I think I am on the right track with his training.  That being said, I was basically told that I am running the risk of permanent damage if I don't do something quickly.

Stinker's heels have gotten low and the lady said that this is causing his fetlocks to over flex and is putting too much strain on his hind.  He is too weak to support me and this is causing him to pull from the front since he can't push from his hind.  She said I need to get him put in wedges ASAP and that I should only walk him for a month.

Over flexed hind fetlock

There are multiple reasons I don't agree with her.  One, I think that his confirmation is such that the wedges would create other problems.  He is a saddlebred not a warmblood.  Two he is building strength and improving in the current program.  We started doing the video lessons at the beginning of August.  Since then, we have been steadily progressing.  I monitor him closely and he has not been lame at all and I think he has been getting stronger.

I feel like I have him more put together and it would be
better for building strength than the walk picture above.

My problem is S is firmly on board, and the dressage judge also agreed with the lady's plan.  D agrees with me, but she only sees video and there is a lot you can miss in video.  The farrier agrees with me on both the wedges being bad (thankfully) and the walking isn't the best way to build the strength.  I am getting the vet's opinion, but it is all making me crazy.

I don't know if I am in denial as to where my horse is at or if other people are over reacting.  He is not a warmblood and will never move like a warmblood, so I don't know if they are misunderstanding things.  I trust my gut and I don't think I am in total denial (if I am please tell me...maybe if I hear it enough I will believe it).  But it stresses me out not to agree with educated people who I trust and makes me question my judgement.  The last thing I want to do is hurt my horse.

New shoes (he was hot shod and didn't even blink!!!)

In other news, Stinker got shoes.  I put bell boots on, but they have velcro, so he ditched them in the pasture and then stepped on his heel.  He isn't off, but yeah... I am trying to duct tape the boots until I can get pull on bell boots (arriving Tuesday).  My first attempt didn't work well...

I put the #%$#$ Bell Boots on for a reason Stinker!!!!

That lasted well...Fricken mouthy horse LEAVE them ON!!!


  1. I very much prefer the walk pictures and the lower neck setting it shows- he is very relaxed looking... not that tense work you normally have. The muscle groups in the neck are engaging all the way down to the base of the neck, where in the trot picture, he's almost cranked in and short-necked because of the draw reins and is only working the topline muscles by the poll. A month of walking in that longer and lower frame will do him a lot of good for his throughness (I did that while rehabbing my 3rd level horse to incredible results) and strength. I'm not on board with that being all you do, but devote a day or to a week to it. Right now the walk still looks worse because he doesn't have muscle right in front of the saddle or behind it (and he's disengaged in the top picture). I also agree that he's pulling himself forward with his front end- check out where his muscles are built- if it's all up front and in the shoulder, those are the muscles he's using to move forward.

    Get on and walk him around- check that those muscles right in front of the saddle at the base of the neck are crunching and bulging as you work. If they're not, he's faking the connection or you're pulling his nose in. Yes he's a saddlebred and will never move or be built like a WB, but he still needs to use that muscle. He'll be well on his way to a better connection and muscle building if you do that I think. I know you're using the draw reins because he can be bolty and naughty, but if you can ditch them, I would, even if it's just for days you walk. The couple times I've seen him stretch down in videos, he curls into his chest because the draw reins won't let him put his nose down and out. Just my two cents.

    1. I agree that the draw reins are very limiting. I'm planning on ditching them for awhile if I can get him on board with the plan. Honestly I think he will get bored (bored Stinker is a handful) if I just try to walk. Some days I wish I had a more normal horse...
      I see what you mean with the pictures. And I really appreciate your input :)

  2. UGH I feel your pain and was told the same thing about needing wedges behind...It was a fiasco and totally messed with my brain just as you are struggling as well.

    I tried wedges and wasnt there when the farrier put them on...when I came out the next day I GASPED in horror and made a new one come out immediately and remove them. In these situations, I try to advise people to trust your gut. Trust your knowledge you have of your horse. You know him better then anyone else and using the knowledge youve gotten from these various professionals on what his weaknesses are, you can use what you know (because you know more then you think!) and get creative and fine a solution you DO feel comfortable with.

    Let it all marinate a bit before jumping too quickly. Who knows maybe after some time the wedges will settle and seem like it will be fine, or as I said about youll think of another solution.

    I think with the riding you are doing with trying to train him to use himself properly will help, it just takes time. Tillie had the same problem of pulling herself around from the front end and it took my the last 2 years to train that out of her and it STILL isnt all gone. If it makes you feel better, she had hind end issues too because of it and I was give the suggestion of wedges too.

    If you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen, send me an email :) its kaitlyndzn at yahoo dot com.

    1. It really does mess with your head. It doesn't help that I'm wound tightly to begin with...
      I appreciate your support and you will probably be getting an email in the near future. Thanks :)

  3. Yah I'm not a fan of wedges, they may change the angle in the short term, but they put more pressure on the heel, which causes it not to grow, making your original problem worse. It happened to Rico in wedges- when we removed them, put even more pressure on his tendons/ligaments (and one by one they snapped!). What we did for him was frog support pads- taking the weight off the heels, which would allow them to grow. I also shortened the time between shoeings, eventually down to 3 weeks instead of 6. Just to make sure that his toes stayed short.

    I totally agree with you that he isn't a warmblood and should not be expected (at least not right now, when he is still green) to move/be like one. It's easy to point out the small flaws on your still pictures, but pictures lie. Seeing him in video shows what a good job you're doing with him. You're starting at a different point than a warmblood, since he needs to learn to slow his tempo and relax his topline FIRST before starting to learn to use those muscles properly.

    You're training his brain right now, not his body. Once as you have the brain, the body will follow. But it's hard to not see the changes in the body that you want, I totally understand, the first several months with TC were like that, he almost looked worse after a few months of training. I think you're doing a great job with him and you shouldn't beat yourself up about it at all. Keep focusing on getting his brain to a point where you can train his body, then you'll see the changes.

    1. This makes me feel a lot better. It's so easy for someone to come in and say X Y and Z need to be done. But it is another thing to actually accomplish said things.

      Thank you for the shoeing advice. It fits right in with what my farrier thought. :)

  4. I don't know anything about shoeing but it sounds like you got some great advice! It's so challenging when everyone on your "team" isn't on the same page.

    1. It really is. And because they are all spread out I can't bribe them with food and beer and sit everyone down to express their opinion and come to an agreement...
      But I do think we are coming to an agreement but I want to run everything by the vet before I write more.

  5. ugh i'm the worst when it comes to professionals coming in and saying "omg you have to do this or else the sky will fall!" bc i really don't have a huge depth of experience and will believe whatever i'm told... that is, right up until i talk it over with other trusted professionals and remember that in the horse world there are a zillion different (and very strong) opinions out there.

    i only know what you post, but it's pretty clear that you're trying to do the best you can for Stinker, and it's showing in his work. good luck figuring it all out!!

    1. I am the same way, I promptly go all the way to the deep end. And thank you I do try but this whole performance horse thing is all new to me and I am smart enough to know I don't know anything and I don't like that feeling. I try to educate myself but he keeps finding new areas to give me worries...

  6. oh my goodness, what a tough position to be put in. Sometimes people do give questionable advice, and there are good reasons it makes us uncomfortable, especially if it seems to go against what we know about our horses. If it was my horse, I would also feel uncomfortable with the advice to put wedges on.
    You know your horse best, and sometimes people do say weird things that don't apply. My horse twists her hocks at the walk, and I had one judge tell me she needs full body work to evaluate, but my dressage and hunter trainers both said it was from weakness and wasn't an issue.
    Good luck with him! I also love the name Stinker!

    1. It's always hard position. I feel like this lady had good intentions but didn't consider Stinker's breed.

      Thanks, he has a "normal" name but Stinker stuck :)