Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Feet and Teeth

The farrier was out to do Stinker and Cowboy, which was good because Cowboy pulled two shoes between Saturday morning and Monday morning.  I pushed his cycle longer than I would have liked so that he and Stinker would be on the same schedule and simplify things.  I had the farrier start with Cowboy, because I was unsure how he would do.

He is a little fussy about his feet as in he will yank them away if you hold them for what he deems as too long.  I have been working on it, but his manners are not to where I like them.  Apparently I have high standards because the farrier was quite pleased with Cowboy.  Not to mention he was hot shod and since I have minimal history on him, I wasn't sure how he would do.  He was really good and only got a little jumpy when he smelled the smoke.

I had to laugh a little when the farrier looked at Stinker.  Initially when I told him Stinker needed a five week cycle he thought I was wrong, but went ahead and scheduled it since I was a new client.  He was very surprised to see that Stinker had long toes and not much heel in the back.  The farrier thought that he would see more heel growth, but unfortunately we have been unable to get much heel growth.  He changed things up a bit, so hopefully next cycle there will be a bit more progress.

Nope still no heel

The vet also came to give shots and it was the first time I met her.  I also wanted her to check Cowboy's teeth because he has strong opinions about bits.  Right now I have my mom riding him in a pieced together hackamore.  It is black and brown and looks terrible and my tack ho self cringes every time I look at it, but Cowboy is quite happy in it so I turn the other way and don't take pictures.

Cowboy is a terrible drunk

Part of me was hoping it was a teeth issue and not a behavioral issue, because the teeth would be easier to fix.  Unfortunately, after very heavy sedation the vet determined that the teeth were not the problem.  It is a behavioral problem that I am going to have to tackle if I want him to go in a bit.  I think that will be on the back burner for the winter, and I will probably just invest in a better hackamore because I really really want a purple hackamore.  The vet also really liked Cowboy, which was nice to hear since I picked him with zero input from anyone.

Monday, August 21, 2017


This weekend we covered just over 20 miles on the trails and climbed over 2,000 feet (split between two days).  Much to my dismay I still haven't figured out how to make a loop like I want to.  I know it can be done because I have found orange markers on both ends from an endurance ride.

Saturday, we were really close, but ran into some private property and the only options were more up without a decent trail in sight or turn around.  We turned around and went back since we had a time limit for how long we could screw around.

Elevation from the Saturday ride

Sunday, I decided to try and go further into the hills, but I ran into more wild horses and decided to head back.  I don't know the area well enough to try and sneak around them, and I really don't want to get too close to them when I am riding.  Plus there was a lot of squealing going on and possibly a fight (I am super blind and was trying to see from quite a distance).

Such a pretty sunset

I wasn't quite ready to head back, so I decided to try another road.  When I was heading out I had seen a truck drive along it, so I thought it might connect around.  After I rode for a little bit I found the truck.  It was very stuck.  The road had washed out (it was super narrow to start with) and they had tried to go across.  They made it barely, but there was another washed out spot.  So they were stuck between the spots and from the looks of the tracks they almost slid off the hill trying to cross the second washed out spot.  They had a second vehicle there so I didn't say anything beyond "Hi."

I kept going for a little further, but once I got around the side of the hill I realized it was going to be quite a ways before I knew for sure that we could loop around.  Since we had already been 8 miles, I didn't want to push him too hard and decided to turn around and explore more next weekend.  When, I came back by the people with the trucks it looked like they had the second vehicle in a not so great position.  So, I asked if they needed anything.  They said "I have a couple more buddies coming."  I rode off giggling to myself and wondering if in an hour they were going to have four vehicles stuck.

Much sass post rainstorm

I am absolutely loving having these trails and the ability to get Stinker out and just let him go.  The best part was on the way home we got swarmed with some kind of bug (not the fun part).  I decided to trot to get out of them, because there was a lot of buzzing and he was getting agitated.  He rolled right into the canter, so I let him canter.  He felt great.  I didn't feel his hind end slipping, he didn't spook himself into a bolt, and he promptly came back and went right into the walk when I asked.  Go Stinker!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Work The Booty

I am totally in love with having these hills for trail riding.  Last weekend I utilized them both days. On Saturday we went 9.4 miles and on Sunday we only went 5.5 miles, but both days involved lots of climbing.  It is nice to get out have the space to just go and see what we find.  I am slowly figuring out the trails, and hopefully I will be able to start building loops that have a set mileage/time.

The other valleys around still have a lot of smoke hanging in them

Eventually, I would like to be able to utilize this time to do some trot/canter sets, but that is a ways off.  Right now the goal is to keep him walking (slowly for him) and really using his hind to build up his hind end.  He likes to power along and pull with the front instead of pushing from behind, but he is starting to figure out how to use his hind going up the hills.  Coming down is still a bit of a challenge, especially on the rockier trails.  If he starts to slip he thinks going faster is the answer.

Yep he is a majestic beast

It doesn't hurt that the views are amazing no matter what direction I go.  I do have to be careful not to over do the uphill (I almost did on Sunday) and make him too sore.  I wanted to try to get up to a road and see where it went, but things just kept going up and up and up.  He told me he was done with the up.  I was hand walking him and he just stopped and said no thank you, I am tired.

Lots and lots of up

I wish I had a way to measure how high we are climbing.  My best guess is we are easily doing 600-700 feet, but I don't have a way to confirm it.  Are there any good apps (preferably free because I am cheap unless it is tack) that measure altitude changes?  I have been using MapMyRun to measure distance and pace, and I thought it did altitude changes but I can't seem to find it (It is also quite possible that I am just unfamiliar with the layout because it has been a little bit since I actually was running).

Listen lady I am done with this (for the record he is just pathetic and jigged most of way home)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why Boots? Why?

My boots are dying a sad and slow death after two years.  I think it was last fall when I got the zippers replaced.  Now neither zipper is zipping reliably (I can get them with several tries but it is frustrating) and since I have moved I don't have the super cheap place to redo the zippers.  The only places here charge more than the boot cost new, plus the leather is starting to rip on the right boot.

I was so sad to see the rip

Right now I am riding in field boots, but it is highly unlikely that I am going to be doing any jumping in the future so I am considering the option of dress boots.  This is where I am running into trouble.  Stinker has had very strong opinions about my footwear choices in the past (total meltdown over switching to half chaps and paddock boots) and obviously he has gotten much better about life in general in the past year, but I am still hesitant to start switching things up on him.

I might have gotten annoyed and ridden with it like that the one day

The other is is with the move and everything my budget is a little tighter than I would like.  I had an idea in the back of my mind that I would limp through another year to year and half with my current boots and hoard money so I could get a higher quality pair the next time around.  I have a fairly average calf size (38 cm/15 inches), but my feet are on the larger end of the scale (9.5-10/41) and I do need a tall height.

So what would you do?  Dress boots or field boots?  Cheap or say to hell with it what is a little more money?  What are your favorite boots and why?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Working Weekend

My to do list is getting much longer than my done list.  I am struggling to juggle everything (especially since work has pretty normal hours which is very abnormal) and it makes me terrified to think of what my life is going to look like once work ramps back up to the normal workload.  Either way, I was able to check a few things off my to do list this weekend.

No grass, but weeds grow well

First up was mowing.  The paddocks had been over run by weeds and they needed to be cut before they went to seed.  So most of Saturday evening and part of Sunday afternoon were spent knocking that out.

Boomer and the non matching groomer

Then someone thought it would be fun to poop in the water trough, so that had to be dumped scrubbed and refilled.  I am betting that lasts all of two days before they do it again.  I also managed to overflow the trough when I was refilling.  Hopefully that will dry up.

Freshly mowed paddock

I also finally got around to dragging the ring.  It was rather nerve wracking because it isn't totally level and I did dig in to the base in the one corner a little.  I was really excited to get a picture of the freshly drug ring, then I realized it look like a drunk monkey had been driving.  Maybe next time I will drink and see if that straightens out my lines any.

Drunk monkey lines don't look quite as bad from the ground

I did some other boring chores like laundry and cleaning.  I didn't get my tacked clean, but hopefully I will do that this week on Stinker's day off.  I also got in a couple of good trail rides, which will probably get their own post.  Overall, we are settling into a routine.  I just need to figure out how to get things into a more efficient routine.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Finally Friday

I was so disappointed yesterday when I realized it wasn't Friday yet.  This week has been dragging on and on and needs to be over.  Stinker had yesterday off so I stole Cowboy and took him out for a trail ride to see how he was doing with things.  My mom has primarily been riding him 4-5 days a week and I haven't had much of a chance to do anything with him.

He has gotten so pokey leaving the barn.  I was a little concerned that there was something wrong, but nope she has just been letting him get away with being pokey.  He only got a little spooky as an avoidance because work is hard.  Overall it was a pretty good ride.

I realized it was getting dark more quickly than anticipated and I had to cross a road (I didn't want to be doing that in the dark on a dark horse with no reflective gear).  So instead of looping around like I had intended, we took a deer trail to try to get back down off the hill.  It got a little steeper than I anticipated and at one point I accidentally got him in some wire.  Luckily it was smooth wire and he didn't get freaked out by it.  Good boy Cowboy.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pushing the Envelope

While I have been successful in training Stinker, he has also been very successful in training me.  I got so used to frazzled Stinker that just needed me to sit there while he worked things out that I forget to ride.  And I am very hesitant to push and ask for more since I have been there and done that and needed a month to put his brain back in his head and get him to where I could touch his mouth again without a meltdown.

It was almost a super cute picture, but someone can't put his ears up

The new trainer has totally fresh eyes.  She has never seen him lose his brain and just go to panicking and flailing.  So I am trying to trust her (my favorite dressage judge told me numerous times that I needed to forget the past and ride the horse I have) and really push and ask for more.  So far it has been working well for us.  The work isn't ground breaking, but he is steadily improving.

I actually took video of my second lesson since it had been so long since I had watched us go.  And true to form he feels better than he looks, but we don't look terrible.  It is still very inconsistent and the transitions are terrible (aka giraffe mode engaged), but he settles more quickly and I think with time and consistent aids he will figure out the transitions.

Tiny crappy GIF but his walk is improving

I am trying really hard to carry over the push into our rides at home.  I didn't have the greatest ride last night.  He was very reluctant to relax and work over his back and it took me way too long to get him to the place that he needed to be.  But in the end I got him where I wanted him to be and he stayed there.  He wasn't bouncing off the contact because I let my hands get too dead.  I have a tendency to go totally still, which makes him insecure.  He does much better when I have very steady minute movements of my fingers.

Slightly larger with a few nice trot strides

Hopefully we will be able to keep improving over the next couple of weeks and trainer will be able to give us another push forward in the next lesson.  I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't work on the exact same things in the two lessons.  They were only a week apart and I felt like I was struggling to recreate the work at home.  Either way, I am very happy with new trainer and I feel very fortunate to have picked her for my first choice.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

Sunday, Stinker and I went for a trail ride on some trails I had been wanting to explore.  It wasn't quite as long as I had originally planned, but the climbs were steeper than I had anticipated and I didn't want to wear out his hind too much.  The goal is to build muscle not make him so tired he starts compensating.

We started down on the level of the lake

I always think it is fun when I have him out on the trails because I regularly get asked what breed he is.  Yesterday, I got asked if he was a racehorse.  It made me giggle, but I just smiled and said, "No, he is a saddlebred."  And people no longer look terrified they are going to get run over because he is flailing.

I had a very enjoyable ride and the trails were nice.  Hopefully the next time I will be able to check out another way down.  There was a bunch of wild horses and I really don't want to see what happens if you get too close.  One ran quite aways up the hill when it saw us.  I was a little nervous we were going to get chased down, but luckily it stopped about half way up.  We also ran into a couple of bucks.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Growing Up

Sometimes I forget how much Stinker has matured in the time I have had him (nearly 2.5 years).  The reality is he is not that same horse (thank god).  And while we still have our issues, we have managed to build a very strong partnership and to me that is worth the most.

Baby Stinker couldn't stand still in the cross ties

I love knowing that he trusts me enough not to check out when he is scared.  Quite frankly I wouldn't have blamed him if he had high tailed it down the road the other evening with the Christmas lights.  But instead he trusted me and stayed and passed the bike in a reasonable manner.  I use the term reasonable manner because there was much snorting and prancing, but it was totally controllable.  He always dances when he is is nervous (all the better to high tail it out of there if necessary).

Grown up Stinker rides in rust bucket trailers

I feel comfortable taking him out on all the trails.  I used to worry about what would happen if we ran into something scary.  Now I know I can just talk to him, keep my legs on, and ask him to flex.  He will refocus and stay straight and I don't have to worry about him scooting into anything or taking anyone out.  I am not worried about crossing roads, because we can halt without having a total meltdown.

And happily eats in new places

This year Stinker has really found his brain and it has improved his rideability so much.  I can't quite believe that this is the same horse that would have a fit over legs touching him.  When I was riding with the new trainer she asked about our background and goals.  And I realized as I sat there on a loose rein talking to her that I didn't want to influence her opinion of him by telling her we spent 6 months trying to figure out how to walk.  Or that he used to panic and check out.  Instead I said he is quite sensitive and can get frazzled easily and I want to keep him sound for a long as possible.

And lets me text and ride

Instead of seeing a hot mess with me freezing and him flailing we had a very nice steady consistent lesson.  There was some flailing in the trot, but for the most part it was inconsistent but quiet.  A few zooms here and there, but nothing that was out of the ordinary or an intro level pair.  The trainer asked about the canter and I said I hadn't been cantering him under saddle because of his weakness, but I was doing transitions on the lunge to help build those muscles.  No pressure to do more, no pulling the "What the hell do I do with these two?" face.

But never stops being a goober (PC SB)

I am really excited to see what comes next for him.  It is still going to be a slow process, because the EPM horses typically take longer to build the muscle.  But I feel like we really have a shot at progressing.  He keeps getting stronger and more correct and despite his wonky hind his gaits are getting back to what they were pre EPM.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Christmas In July

Monday evening I took Sinker out for a trail ride and miscalculated how quickly it was getting dark.  I decided to bring him back on the road instead of through the state park, because the road doesn't have much traffic and it was going to be shorter.

I was slightly incorrect about the amount of traffic.  The street doesn't get much traffic on our end, but the end I started on had quite a bit more include ATVs and other loud vehicles.  Stinker was a little nervous, but he was quite steady.  The traffic thinned the closer I got to our end of the street.

Once I turned onto our street I pulled out my phone to check messages, because there is only one other house on the street and I wasn't expecting any traffic.  Plus he was eager to be home so I didn't need to worry about steering.  Except he hit the brakes, spun, and gave a half hearted attempt to bolt.

Thankfully, I have a well installed verbal cue for easy bud so he didn't actually go anywhere.  I was really confused what freaked him out so much until I got him turned back around.  Our neighbor was riding her bike and wearing Christmas light (so she could see and people could see her).  Poor Stinker thought it was the most terrifying thing ever.

I felt bad, because she kept apologizing.  It really wasn't a big deal, because I should have been paying attention.  And it wasn't her fault that my horse spooked.  I don't blame him for spooking, because I am sure it looked terrifying to him instead of amusing.  But now I know to watch out for cyclists wearing Christmas lights in July.