Monday, January 30, 2017

Poll Of A Problem

My favorite dressage judge finally got to the root of the spazzy behavior this weekend.  It wasn't quite all mental like I thought it was.  Stinker was not releasing his poll correctly (I don't know why it was so tight but it was).  The result was anytime I asked for more than a slight slight flexion he would try and then spaz because it was hard/sore/whatever he was feeling.  Obviously, I wasn't feeling anything in his back/shoulder/hind end and the poll never occurred to me.

It's about time you figured out how to ride

Friday night we spent the entire lesson trying to get him to release and offer a little flexion in the walk.  He finally gave a bit so we called it a night.  Saturday morning he came out feeling great and was still tight but not as bad.  It was another lesson of walking.  At the very end I popped him on the lunge line and played with a new toy that she brought me (more on that later when I have media).

My hat has been reduced to a chew toy while I stretch his shoulders

Sunday, Stinker came out a little short in his right hind, but quickly worked out of it.  The lesson was quite similar to what we had been working on previously.  It was all about improving his ridability, connection, and keeping him supple.  He actually had a slow walk and wasn't trucking all over the place.  Sadly, I don't have any media from the weekend.

Such a sexy look

Overall, while we didn't get to work on the trot at all I do think I gained more tools to help him keep improving.  She really liked what I have been doing with him on the lunge line and loaned me some equipment that will really help him build up his top line.  She also said that his hind end looks great (muscling wise), which made me really happy since he lost all of his muscle due to the EPM.  Now I just need to get his top line going more.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Will Voodoo Work?

Back in December I decided to try acupuncture for Stinker.  At his first appointment he was quite reactive.  He wasn't great the first time he got a massage either, so I decided to give it another shot and three weeks later he had his second appointment.  For the second one he was sedated and was still quite reactive.  I hadn't felt a difference, but it is really hard to tell with him since there are so many variables to consider.  The vet that does the acupuncture was pleased with the changes in his shoulders.  To be honest, I couldn't tell a difference but I stare at him daily and I decided to take her word for it.

I can't seem to remember to take pictures of the acupuncture so here is the dental instead...

He had his third appointment on Wednesday.  I had decided that if he wasn't more settled this time that I would write acupuncture off as not for him.  Luckily she had attended another course between the second and third visit and had asked the instructor what the hell to do with him.  The instructor suggested that maybe his front was just too sensitive and to start on his hind end specifically around the feet.  There are specific terms, but I don't trust myself not to mess things up in my explanation.

The vet was a little unsure because typically when a horse is overreacting to things the hind end is the last thing you want to be messing around with, but she decided to give it a shot.  Surprisingly, he was relatively well behaved.  There was his typical "I'm nervous and unsure about this situation" behavior, but there wasn't the attempts to push through the handlers.  Nor the I really want to bust out of these cross ties behavior.

I really really really want to buy this but have managed not to do it (yet)

After she got the needles in his leg and one in his back, she wanted to try moxa (moxibustion) and this is where things got a little weird.  Moxa is dried mugwort and it smells a bit like pot when it is burned.  It is used to warm certain spots and stimulate circulation.  It can be held to the needles to warm them or just held over the spot.

I was pretty skeptical but figured since I was paying for the session I may as well roll with it.  It wasn't like it could harm anything.  It was really interesting to see him relax and start chewing.  He actually looked a little sleepy (which is pretty unheard of for him).  I am curious to see how he will feel.  In addition, he got two shots of B12 behind his ears to see if that will help his little hamster brain.  I am really excited to see how he does today.

Hopefully he will have his fancy pants on and a brain in his head

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Pony Ride

My parents are in town for a visit and of course I drug them out to the barn with me.  They saw Stinker for the first time last year and I don't think they were very impressed.  Obviously we have made some progress since them.

They watched me ride and it was a decent ride so I think we are on the upswing with his brain.  After I got done I asked my mom if she wanted to get on.  I was very impressed she didn't even fuss when I gave her my helmet to wear.  She was a little hesitant, but I assured her that I would keep him on the lunge line and we would just walk around.

Feed the pony

Poor Stinker wasn't sure what to make of the situation.  No one besides me has been on him in about 5 months and he has strong opinions about who rides him.  Anything that is different makes him go OMG!!  He was a very good boy.  You could tell he was a little nervous but he kept checking in with me and only side stepped a couple of times.

I think my mom enjoyed herself and she might actually like him after this year instead of thinking I am totally insane.

Good boy Stinker!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Balancing The Frustration

If you have been following for awhile, I think it is pretty apparent that Stinker can be quite frustrating.  For the most part I think I am fairly good at maintaining my cool and not letting the frustrating parts get to me.  I have a fondness for hot horses and I know that jigging and general anxiety antics are kind of par for the course.

Stinker's thoughts about my opinions

Since he had his meltdown things have slowly been improving, but some of his old habits are sneaking back in and that frustrates me.  I thought that we were past some of these things, like a snorting dancing dragon at the mounting block.  Really dude it is the same freaking mounting block that has been there for the last year and half.  A sudden in ability to just walk in the general direction of the barn.  Trying to convince me that he can't bend left.  Jokes on you bud, I've seen you scratch your ear with your hind hoof.  You can bend left.

I don't think I am quite a ghostly white as my hand appears...

There isn't anything physically wrong with him.  Trust me we have done down every dark rabbit hole path there is when it comes to physical issues.  I really think that his little mental hamster decided to take a break for awhile and I don't know what I can do to bring him back.  Sunday, I was lunging him and I set up some short trot poles.  Someone decided it was necessary to canter through them.  Surprise surprise it was a lot of work and to express his displeasure he tried to buck after them and almost wiped out.

I am quite sad that I am unable to manage my flying dragon and film, because it was quite humorous. I wanted to hand walk him over some of the small XC logs and he decided that they were 4* fences and launched over them from a walk.  I mostly just rolled my eyes at that one and he kept repeating it until he would calmly walk over it from both directions.

Just for giggles

Hopefully, this phase will pass soon and I will be able to oh I don't know walk my horse again.  In the meantime I will keep trying to find the humor in his antics and hope that it will balance out all of the frustrations that I am feeling.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lesson Not Learned: Fence 4 Stinker 0

Well Stinker thought it would be fun to play in the fence yet again...  Just to rewind he has been living down here for under two years.  On average he has gotten himself stuck in the fence about every six months.  The first time was within days of arriving.  The next time was when he was going to see a sort of local saddle fitter.  The third time was last year when we were going to see my actual saddle fitter.  Shockingly this time around I didn't have anything planned.

Such a sulky face

The fences are the white coated wire that can be hot, but only the top wire is ever hot.  So guess who tries to play over the fence (insert serious eye rolling here).  This is the first time there have actually been witnesses to his shenanigans, every other time they happened over night and he was free but banged up in the morning.

I'm dying can't put any weight on it

S was teaching a lesson and saw him messing around with the horses in the other pasture.  He kicked then started running forward.  When he started running forward the wire was caught on his hind leg and started pulling and popping off posts.  Luckily he realized he was stuck and didn't panic.  Instead he laid down.  She ran over to him and tried to get him up so she could get the wire off his leg, but he refused to move.  They ended up having to cut the wire to get him free.  Once he was free he hopped up flexed it a few times and went back to being his typical self.

Oh wait I can stand on it never mind

A couple hours later S saw him standing at the fence line where he got stuck snorting and giving it the hairy eyeball.  He didn't seem worse for the wear last night.  I couldn't decide if there was any heat or not (I thought I could feel a tiny bit but I am also extremely paranoid so that could go either way).  He has a little scrape, but nothing major.  I am hoping that he won't be any worse after spending the night in his stall.  I am just thankful that he was smart enough not to panic even if he isn't smart enough to stay of the damn fence.

Luckily, he looks cute!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Year's Resolutions: Sinker Addition

I don't do resolutions, but Stinker had a few he wanted to share, so without further ado I give you Stinker's list.

New Year's Resolutions
By Stinker
  • To remodel my stall some more.  They keep putting up mats on the walls, but Charlie has been helping me so we have half a wall down now.
  • To practice my dressage more by following people around during their lesson.  I am so awesome I don't need a rider!
  • To figure out what is in the tractor bucket.  I was almost there, but then the driver stopped and I walked into to the bucket.  I was highly offended, because I didn't tell him he could stop.  He laughed.
  • To use my friends as chew toys more often.  This really helps improve my agility.  I am really good at spinning away from the kicks and dodging the bites.
  • To use my human as a chew toy more often.  She is always telling me to respect her bubble, but she never respects mine!  If she can make me snuggle with her, she can donate some hats for me to chew on (she has enough).
Just a little nibble on the hat...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lazy Weekend

I had an incredibly lazy weekend pony wise.  Stinker got Friday and Saturday off.  My latest thought as to why he had the meltdown was that he had gotten a little sore.  Either way I figured a couple days off wouldn't hurt anything.

Sunday, he was alright for our ride.  Nothing terrible nothing fantastic.  I think he is starting to settle back down.  Afterwards I gave him a bath.  There is nothing more satisfying than clean white socks, although I am sure they are already filthy again.  He is pro at getting dirty.

Alyssa's amazing portrait arrived!

In more humorous news there has been the saga of the traveling feed bucket.  He stopped eating his pelleted feed because of the supplements, so I started trying to hide his joint supplement in his timothy.  It did not go unnoticed and he has been expressing his displeasure by tossing his pan around.

First we have "toss pan out of the stall"

Next it was stack the pans

Friday, January 13, 2017

Putting It Back Together

Since Stinker's meltdown on Tuesday I have been trying to put things back together.  He still starts off totally convinced that he can't possibly bend or move off my leg.  He is much more up than he has been, mentally and in all actuality.  Seriously this horse has a very long neck but he can tuck his nose and either curl or shove it straight up in the air and make the neck disappear.  Another fun thing is whenever he gets anxious or nervous like this he gets a lot more front end action.  So. much. front. end. action.

Horse is a nut, so I hop on him bareback with a halter...

Despite the rough starts, he is still trying for me and Wednesday and Thursday I got some decent work from him.  Wednesday actually started off fairly well.  I walked him up and down one hill for about ten minutes and he settled nicely and was working fairly well.  I walked him further away from the barn and he started getting more and more antsy.  I walked him up to the dressage ring and he settled.  I got off and lunged him and he was really good minus when the outbacks (pasture boarded horses) were being chased because they had gotten out.  I really couldn't blame him for that, he couldn't see what was going on but there was lots of yelling and galloping.

He was surveying his kingdom

After lunging him I got back on and walked him for another ten or so minutes.  He was fairly distracted because horses were still running, but he was stretching and bending so I called it a win.  Thursday, I had a lesson with S, but decided to follow the same warmup of walking on the hills followed by lunging and then riding.

Of course I woke up late on Thursday so I was pretty frazzled when I got on.  Of course it immediately transferred to Stinker and he lost it at the mounting block.  I was on, but he wouldn't stand and was doing his lovely inverted piaffe.  I never really got him truly settled but I kind of gave up at good enough.  On the lunge he was great again (maybe in another three years he will look like that under saddle).  I thought I saw some funny steps, but S said I was being nuts.  She totally right, but it still makes me anxious.

At least his transitions are uphill...

Once I got back on him he was pretty good.  We did some pole work and for the most part he stayed with me and didn't launch over the poles.  It was still a struggle to get him straight, but when I did he went nicely.  Of course those moments were few and far between.  I didn't do a ton of work with him because he was pretty hot.  I hosed him off and of course he went and found the sandiest spot and rolled (both sides too).  Good job Stinker.  He is getting today off and then I will reassess his mental state.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Houston We Have A Meltdown

Apparently poor Stinker could not life yesterday.  Everything started out fine, he was a bit resistant to my leg but that isn't uncommon at the beginning of a ride.  Typically lateral work gets him to soften and relax.  That was not the case.

This guy was not here

Instead we had an epic meltdown.  It was like time had rewound to last year.  Couldn't walk, couldn't halt, couldn't trot, couldn't bend... There was spinning attempts at bucking and bolting.  So much tail sass.  I got slapped in the face multiple times...

Can't. Handle. Life.

It didn't feel like he was being an asshole, it felt like he was legitimately panicked about something.  What that something was I don't have the faintest ides.  I got off him twice and did ground work both times he seemed to settle and then promptly went back to having a meltdown.  I checked to make sure everything was fitting correctly and he wasn't getting pinched or anything (it was all fine).

Back off bitch!

I took him to the dressage ring because that is where he is the calmest and the meltdown continued.  I finally got him to give slightly to the left.  It was quite ugly and he was totally convinced that he could not possibly do that.  And then it was like his brain clicked back into gear.  It wasn't great work, but he would at least walk and bend both directions.  So I called it good enough and got off.

At least he looks cute while being an asshole

Hopefully, it won't pick back up tomorrow.  It is really bothering me that I don't know what caused it. I am taking a lunge line with me tomorrow just in case.  If he wants to canter so badly he can do trot canter transitions on the lunge line and actually work correctly.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ice Ice Baby

For the first time in the three winters I have lived here we had actual ice!  It was even thick enough on the water trough that the girls could stand on it.  It was raining all day Friday and most of Friday night and the prediction was that the rain would freeze and everything would be a sheet of ice Saturday morning.

I had to steal a cuddle buddy since I don't have one.

Thankfully, that was incorrect there must have been enough of a break between when the rain stopped and when it actually froze that most of the water was off the roads or absorbed into the ground.  I lived outside of Atlanta in 2014 when they got a few inches of snow and everything was a mess for about two weeks after that.  I did not want to experience the even further south version of that.

I seriously want to steal this dog

Saturday, I spent most of the day helping at the barn and for once in my life made a smart life decision.  I did not ride Stinker.  He had Friday off plus they were in all day on Friday (~36 hours without turnout) so riding seemed like it was going to be a mess until he ran off some of that pent up energy.

Proof of ice

Sunday morning I was in a total panic.  I turned on the shower to warm up and then when I walked back into the bathroom the water was barely dripping out of the tap.  I promptly started freaking out that my pipes had froze.  I turned off the shower and tested the sink.  Cold water was coming out just fine but there was nothing from the hot water.  I convinced myself that it was a hot water heater problem.

Sunday morning it was about 1.5" thick

I should mention that I am not a handy person.  Whenever my dad started getting out tools to fix things I booked it.  My animal first aid skills are stellar, my handiness is basically I know my basic tools.  I felt all the parts of the hot water heater and everything was cold.  I checked the temperature in the garage and it was 45 so I was pretty sure nothing was frozen unless it froze outside the house and I was also fairly sure that I wouldn't have cold water if that was the case.

Bad bad bad water heater which is super awkwardly placed

I proceeded to start flipping breakers because that is my solution to anything electronic.  When in doubt flip the switch.  I couldn't tell anything so I tried to wait awhile.  Of course my patience was minimal, so I started texting my east coast friends from grad school.  Thank god they are in a different time zone so I wasn't too obscenely early for a Sunday morning (honestly I think they have just given up on me with that one tho).

At least I have this guy to keep me happy

After discussing with them, we flipped more breakers and found a reset button on the hot water heater.  I decided to wait awhile and see what happened.  Finally about 6 hours after I discovered the problem I had hot water again.  My totally rational conclusion is my water heater is a baby and turns itself off when it gets too cold.  My mom reminded me later that it had happened the first year I lived here.  Thanks for the adventures water heater.  Of course we are back in the 70s/60 by Wednesday.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Getting Straight

I haven't talked a lot about what I am actually doing with Stinker lately, mostly because I am not creative enough to make our rides interesting.  All of our rides are spent getting him to work over his top line and stretching to the contact.  I spend a lot of time working on his maneuverability too.  It is all very riveting...kind of like watching paint dry.

Walking forever and always

We finally had a lesson with S again and I talked to her about some of the things I have been struggling with.  Number one is the shoulder in on the circle followed by my inability to keep him straight for more than a few strides in the trot.  My favorite dressage judge was having us do shoulder in and haunches in on a circle to help break up the tension.  It was working really well, then he figured out some new evasions and I forgot how to ride a shoulder in.

Riding not Stinker approved

I have always struggled with the shoulder in.  I don't know why it doesn't make sense to my poor little brain, but I always get terribly discombobulated.  As things fall apart, I tense and lock everything and try to shove parts around.  It comes as a terrible shock that the lock up and shove method doesn't work.  Stinker has discovered that it is far easier to let his haunches swing out and for the life of me I can't ride a circle, keep the haunches on the circle, and move the shoulder inward.  I am 99% sure if I stop trying so damn hard and just ride everything will fall back into place, but I keep trying harder and harder and the wheels keep falling off more and more.

My current plan is to ignore it for a few days and then come back when I don't have myself in as many knots over it.  Solid life solutions...ignore it and maybe it will magically fix itself.

One of our major problems with the trot, is I am not getting him straight enough and when he isn't straight he can't utilize his top line and then he hollows inverts and giraffes around.  When I do manage to get him straight he is happy to stretch down.  The problem is that is hard for him so he promptly finds new evasions.  I swear I need about four extra legs to keep him straight.  S thinks that with time and consistency it will get easier.

I went through similar phases in the walk, but for some reason it felt much easier to fix things in the walk.  Oh wait maybe it is because everything is slower in the walk... I just need to keep plugging along and working on getting him to access his top line with me in the saddle.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Why I Shouldn't Memorize My CC Number

The period between Black Friday and the post Christmas sales was very very very bad for me.  So much shopping.  It was a terrible combination of stress shopping, poor impulse control, and the ability to justify anything to myself.

First up was an order that was placed almost immediately after Amanda posted her sales list (thank you so much for doing that!) to One Horse Threads.  Ever since I saw this T-shirt for the first time, I have wanted it.  Of course I threw in a few other things, but really the star was the "Oh Crop" t-shirt (which is totally amazing!).

I took advantage of the sales that If The Bonnet Fits and Dark Jewel Designs had, because both of them are amazing and I would happily hand them all my money.  To be quite honest, I have handed them a fair amount since I am up to six strands from Dark Jewel Designs and once I get the order from If the Bonnet Fits I will have four of her bonnets.  Can we just say I have a problem and leave it at that?

I also impulsed purchased a FitBit.  I have zero regrets about it and absolutely love it.

This picture doesn't begin to do the brow band justice,
and it will look even better with the navy bonnet

I won't even touch the majority of the metric crap ton that I purchased from Riding Warehouse.  For the most part it was either presents or boring everyday stuff, but I did get a few fun things.  I got one of the Riding Warehouse hoodies.  It is the best thing ever!  So warm and snuggly plus it cost $15.  If you love big hoodies get one in every color.

In preparation for the winter in the South, I stocked up on rain gear.  I got RockFish Wellies (rain boots), because I wore out my leather Dover ones in just over a year and these came with a year guarantee.  I am probably going to do a review on them, once I have worn them more, but so far it is two thumbs up (plus you can get them in fun colors even though I just did boring black).  I also got a Kerrits Outsider Waterproof Jacket.  Riding Warehouse was super nice and gave me a discount after the fact since I purchased it the day before they went on sale.  Go Riding Warehouse!

Post Christmas I totally lost my willpower and bought the new Majyk Equipe Dressage Boots in purple.  These things are just as amazing as I hoped.  Plus with the multiple pair discount and the sale I was able to get a full set for just over $100.  I am so glad I waited on these, because Stinker needed the smalls for the front, plus they are purple!

Now to finish collecting all the other purple...

What was your damage?  I sincerely hope it was less than mine, because I am currently running around my house trying to find things to sell to make up for all the purchases...

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year In The South

The new year rolled in with thunderstorms and lots of rain and of course humidity.  It wouldn't be the South without the humidity.  There was a small get together at the barn for New Year's Eve, which I attended and left at ten because I am old and lame.  It was pouring down the rain, but we did what any good rednecks would do and shot fireworks off the front porch.  Only a few hit the window.  Of course I tried to die because asthma+smoke=dead me.

All of the marks are from Stinker and that goes up to 3'+

Yesterday, I got out to the barn early, because I was worried about Stinker.  He handled the fireworks on the 4th of July and the fireworks that were going off while I was riding him just fine, but when he was in his stall he was not handling them well.  I think that being trapped was just too much for him to handle.  He had churned his shavings to nothing, he was sweaty, and here were new marks on his stall door from him pawing at it by 8 pm the night before.

Good thing he is cute

He was still pretty wound up, but I cleaned his stall and tried to get him to eat more hay.  Luckily, it stopped raining so they got to go out.  I even managed to sneak in a New Year's Day ride which was nice.  I think he had partied too hard the night before, because he was actually dozing in the cross ties.  I have only seen him this sleepy when he was sedated.  Of course by late afternoon it started raining again and is supposed to rain all day today.  Between Saturday and Sunday we have gotten almost six inches.

So sleepy