Sunday, October 28, 2012

I love Bre and fall trail rides.......

........ Especially when I get both at the same time.

Last week my friend (Romeos mom) and I had hoped to haul out for a trail ride. We have been making plans literally for years to go to mission park. Between nursing school and her kid's sports schedule it never seems to happen. This week yet again w just couldn't be gone for a full day. The only day we had time was going to be pouring buckets so we opted for a little ride around the block a day early. It was sunny and crisp withcolorful leaves falling

I am waiting for a part only saddle and western kills my back so I opted for bareback. This is usually fine but bre has a trampoline trot so I was hoping the horses would be mellow. Romeo was all fired up so she schooled in the arena. It ended up being a lovely ride. We went through the Xmas tree farm the across the mini creek. When we arrived at the mini creek it dawned on me that I'm not very balance with my back flare up and bre rounds up so much when jumping she will launch u. She was all snorty at dramatic at the sight of this miniscule creek so I suspected she might jump.  I got off and she clopped quietly through the creek without a hint of jumping, figures.

Turns out the days excitement occurred because of my poor coordination rather than equine antics.  The remounting had to be funny from my friends view. The bench I mounted from was slippery with moss so I couldn't hop on it. I also realized I have zero flexibility when my backs like this. Who thought bareback was smart?  Bre was a saint. At one point I was hanging on by the point of my elbow in her wither and was kicking her in the side. I could feel her try to take my elbow stab then she hit the reverse like she was trying to help me up. Speed reverse was in fact not helpful but most horses would have put me on the ground with all the flank and wither poking

I just love my horse. By nature she hates standing still and thinks a pebble in her shoe is torture. However, when she's asked to bre will tolerate just about any stupid situation I get us into. Young horses are fun but nothing compares to a dead broke horse that you've spent so many hours riding it feels like you were born there.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Human Clothing

So often I am posting about saddles and what my horses are going to wear. A few weeks ago it really sunk in that if I want to get into showing again I will need something to wear. It seems that my show clothing shrunk over the last few years (or maybe my waistline grew). That means I will need to get myself quite a bit of apparel and on a budget. Fortunately I still have my effingham field boots and a velvet helmet. It isn't one of the crazy spendy ones that are trendy now but I wouldn't buy one of those even if I didn't have a show helmet.

Here is what I need:

Show shirt: My old show shirt kind sorta would go over my waist but the girls won't even pretend it will button. I will do the occasional dressage school show and combined training even so I think a white one should be my first pick. I have never shown hunters but will be doing some halter and walk trot shows with the baby boy next year so I am thinking it would be fun to have a shirt with some color too. I love the blue ones or even pink. I am pretty sure I have a stock tie around here somewhere for dressage but am hoping since I am only doing schooling dressage that I can get away without it.

Coat: I plan on doing more than just dressage so I want a hunt coat. I really LOVE all the subtle plaids and pin stripes. There were Ariat coats on closeout in great colors but I missed the ball on that (if you are looking and in the size 16 and smaller range check Dover out). My mom decided to get me a coat early for xmas and I was thrilled when a Riding Sport coat came up on clearance (50 bucks baby). I will probably need to have a tailor work on it because my rack is bigger than my shoulders so I need to go up a size. I ordered in in black so it is more versatile.

Here is my new coat (isn't the blue shirt pretty):

Breeches: I have a white pair for the upcoming show in December. I will need some tan breeches for the shows I plan on doing next year. I do dread squeezing myself into breeches and figuring out which are the lease offensive. I need to be able to run in them since we will be doing halter to start. Can't I start a new trend of a black coat and BLACK breeches. 

Helmet: I have a show helmet that actually doesn't give me a headache. However, my friend is moving her horse to Dickie's stable so I need two schooling helmets. I really hate carrying them back and forth. Then I end up without a helmet where I need it. And I have a big old head and chin so it's hard to borrow a helmet. There are three extra's at Bre's barn but they are all tiny headed skinny asses there. The helmet I have currently is pretty nerdy. I got in in silver when I was going on five hour trail rides in the hot sun. It is comfortable and I still love it but I decided to get something slightly cuter for the new barn. It is a Lami-cell and a knock off of the fancy styles but seems to get good reviews. It has a dial a fit system which is great for me because I get headaches easy and my head seems to change sizes from day to day. 

The silver one is my old helmet:

This is my new helmet:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fence Stringing and Blanketing

I spent a few hours stringing hot wire today. I wasn't sure when we would be moving because I didn't want to take him until he had buddies to hang out with. My friend decided to move her horse with me so we had to get the fences in order. That means we are now in a mad rush to get things in order before the 1st. I work the next four days so I wanted to help out with that and get all of my tack moved today. That way I can just focus on getting the herd settled in next week. 

He was out with two other horses yesterday and it made me so happy. One of the horses will be in his new herd. She is this cute little arab who was telling him who was boss. I drove up and got to watch him for a little while before he saw me. He was having a blast getting the other horses to play. Geldings are hilarious when they fake bite each other and whack their necks together. When he saw me he gave a huge whinny and ran up and down the fence line until I could get there. I was glad that he remembered me even though he was having fun with his buddies. 

Today I knew I was going to be around shuttling tack to the new place so I decided to see how he handles a blanket. I figured I could intervene before he got caught up in the straps if he hated it. I tried one on him before and suspected blanketing might not be an option this winter due to his oral fixation. I put it on today and crossed my fingers he wouldn't eat it. As soon as he saw it his little face lit up. He thought I put a full body toy on. At first he was so into what I was going in the tack locker than he left it alone. Pretty soon I hear an awful ripping sound. I looked into his stall and he was walking in circles like a dog chasing his tail trying so hard to rip the blanket. I told him no and his little face perked up like "Hey mom this is fun" then he went right back to destruction mode. Luckily the sound came from his teeth running along the blanket and not an actual tear. I took it off. He was two seconds from shredding it. I could hardly get it off of him. He grabbed it and he made me play tug of way with it like a dog. I have decided he isn't a horse. He is a giant Labrador retriever. I hope he doesn't get cold this winter!!! 

This was taken in the very far corner of the pasture. The oak trees are part of the pasture and make a great place to get out of the rain. 

This is taken from the same spot as above. The roof you see if where he lives currently. You can see the top rim of the round pen to the left. I can't believe we get to have pasture board in a herd AND fancy facilities!!

This is our adorable barn. There are five stalls. Four for horses (one for chickens). And we have our own tack room. It will be so great to have a place without distractions to tack him up in. Then I can head over to the main barn to get him used to chaos. 

Miss Breedle Dee having some yummy grass. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Saddle Day

I haven't had a saddle on the goofball yet and decided it was about time to change that. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to it. He has been lunged in a surcingle with side reins jingling on his side. I have had saddle blankets over his head and a tarp over him. I wanted to make sure he was really mellow with new things before I got the saddle out. I figured he wouldn't care but I didn't want to take any chance that he would have a bad experience with something that will be such a big part of his life.  

He was out all day with the horses he will soon bunk with at his new pasture running and playing so I figured he would be in a good mental space to listen. I don't ride western but all I had was the western saddle I use for beginners on Bre. I recently picked up a great little dressage saddle but I have been using it at Bre's barn. 

I started out by setting the western saddle down in the round pen. I let him sniff everything and he decided the saddle pad tasted really good. He gave it a full on tongue bath. Mmmmm, Bre and Romeo sweat. Sounds yummy. I then put the saddle pad on his back, over his neck, and covered his face with it. His favorite part was when I covered his face because he got to smell the sweaty pad up close. 

I decided to put the saddle right on without the pad for several reasons. One is that he wanted to eat the pad and which made the process of putting the saddle up complicated. The other is the fact that I wanted getting the saddle up to be a really smooth motion. I figured that would be harder if I was trying to straighten a pad. I am not very coordinated with western saddles. He was very excited about the saddle. Western saddles have delicious stirrups and I allowed him to mess with them. It was pretty funny watching him try (and quite successfully) to walk forward with the stirrup in his mouth. 

We went for a little walk with some in hand trot. I held the stirrups out and let them fall on his sides. He didn't seem the least bit concerned about the whole process. Then I tied him up in his stall and left the saddle on while I picked his feet out. Happy mellow horse!!!

"Mmmmm this pad smells so yummy. "

"Something to chew on that goes everywhere with me!!"

"Look at me stand quietly in my stall like a grown up horse." 

"Wait, can't be too grown up. Must eat stirrup first. "

"Hi!! I'm a baby!!"

Update on the Silly Boy

Well we haven't had any earth shattering moments. That really isn't the norm with a young horse. I think that is why starting a horse isn't for everyone. It isn't like you go out and every day make progress. You don't have the weekly lesson where you get to try out new tricks or things start to click as a rider. 

The reality of a young horse is that they just need you there. They don't need you to have this agenda and plan for what you will do every week. They need someone who will be steady, who will show them the world isn't scary, and to have patience. From the outside he still likes like one wild pony. He likes to carry his head up in the air, rears sometimes if he gets mad, and tries to steal anything and everything within reach of his neck. 

This means victory for us is the fact that we go for walks and he doesn't step on my feet any more. He knows what "Whoa" means so he will stop when I stop on a walk. He understands that as soon as he starts to get in front of me we have to stop and he needs to back up. These days my shoulder isn't quite so sore after a walk but it's getting cold and windy so there are some exciting days. 

When I go in his stall he still wants to be pushy but it takes way less to clue him in to the fact that humans needs some space. You can wave your hands kind of like you are air pushing him back and he will step back. He is also way more aware of me in his stall. I brushed him lose in his stall with thunder, lighting, and hail going on today. He had to keep checking out his door  to make sure the world wasn't ending and was great about walking around me instead of over me. 

He knows when something is scary and I point at it he is supposed to touch it with his nose. If he touches the scary thing he gets a treat. I don't even have the point a the scary thing all the time. I will just start to walk up to it then he walks up snorting and spooking himself until he touches it. Then his cute little baby face looks right at me like "I did good, right? Treat now please." 

And he continues to be a total people horse. He nickers when I get there and nickers as he watches me leave. He comes running to me to the end of his paddock. He is more distracted when people walk by the round pen than when horses walk by. He can seem like he's totally unaware I am in the round pen but if I leave for a second he cries and throws a fit until I get back. 

He's still a goofy silly baby and probably less emotionally mature than other two year olds. However, he is smart as a whip and moving more gorgeous by the day. I couldn't be more happy with where he is at in his training. I didn't want calm ho de dum personality. I don't think that makes the best sport horse long term. I want him to think for himself, to question things, and to be curious. If he needs longer to settle and just be a horse I am more than happy to wait. I feel like if I give him time to grow up I will have a much bigger payoff than if I forced him grow up. I have horses to ride and I have a blast with him just the way he is. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tack Sale Bonanza

In light of my last super intense post I thought it would be great to get something more fun out there (not that I regret the rant in the least).

Tomorrow is the semi-annual 4h tack sale. I have missed it for two  years due to nursing school. It always seemed like I had clinical or work. Tomorrow I have worked it out that I can briefly attend. I can't even put into words how amazing this even is. The 4h clubs and various vendors take over the county fair grounds. Pig sheds, arenas, cow barns, everywhere you can see is filled with used tack. You might find a perfect leather halter for ten bucks in one shed. Then again you might find someone overcharging for a moth eaten blanket but who cares!! It is all fun. Two years ago my friend bought a Schleese for $175 bucks. I have no idea how we got it. The people had other high end saddles so they had to know!! The air bladders were broken (and easily fixed) so maybe they thought it was ruined. I know I will never find that deal again but the elusive call of a good deal will always bring me back.

I do actually need a few things. I should list them so that I won't get stuff I don't need.
1) Stirrup Irons
2) Dressage girth with roller buckles.
3) Show breeches
4) Show shirt
5) Show coat (doubt I will find any show stuff in my size from the 4hers though)
6) Apple flavored happy mouth bit

I would REALLY like to bring home a helmet if there are any new dealers there. I have one but need one for Dickie's barn. I am not riding him yet but Feb isn't far off. Plus I have a horse I am ridng until he gets under saddle and it would be nice to use it there. I don't want to use my show helmet. I don't want to haul the schooling helmet I have back and forth because I will invariably leave it somewhere. I have a HUGE head so I can't just borrow a helmet. And I have to admit my schooling helmet is pretty nerdy. I got silver because I bought it when Bre and I were going on 5 hour trail rides in the sun. In my mind silver reflected the rays. I have my eye on a few helmets that I think will look stylish and won't break my budget. One can hope right?

The trick is I don't have much money so I can only get one or two things on the list. The problem with that is if you find your dream show coat right off the bat and blow your wad. Then you find the most amazing helmet for triple half off around the corner and your brain goes AHHHHHHH!!!

I will take pictures.

Friday, October 19, 2012

And I am Riding (Even Breedle Dee)

I have been in horse heaven all summer with more horses than I have time to ride. For the last three years I have hardly ridden. I was taking prerequisites for nursing school then I actually got into nursing school. Before nursing school I moved her to a wonderful private home without trails. They put in an outdoor arena but it is fairly small so it his hard to do much in it with her big stride. And  frankly I just didn't have time. We could have had a huge private indoor with someone to tack my horse up for me and I wouldn't have been able to ride. I was worried that once I was done with school I wouldn't have a horse to ride to get in shape for Dickie. Boy I was wrong. 

Romeo's teenager has been busy with school and sports so I have been tuning him up. He has also needed a little retraining due to some misguided teaching. It has been super fun to ride him, come up with a solution, then teach it to his rider. I could teach her fine without me riding him but it has made the process go even quicker. I am so very impressed with her by the way. She learns quickly and is doing great things even when she doesn't realize it. What a relief that both of them are coming together. I can't wait to see them bring home some blue ribbons!!! 

My friend has the most adorable draft cross. She is draft/appy cross. She is half draft but not too bulky. Any of the bulk she has right now is actually fat (don't tell her that, we tell her she's sexy). She is arena green but has been ridden into the mountains and is so calm. She is just a joy to be around. However, she needs miles in the arena. She gets a little pissy when asked to trot, and wants to run into the canter. I think she has a ton of potential for dressage. Once she gets going she holds a lovely tempo. She just needs regular riding. I offered to ride her until she gets a good lease. It has been so fun!!! It has my creative riding juices going. I look forward to riding her and am sad when my ride is done. I can't wait to see how she progresses. 

 "I can smell the treats in your pocket. Mind sharing?"

"Oh s*$% my mom is getting tack out."

Last but not least, yesterday I got out to the barn early and the sun was shining. It was a wonderful warm fall day. I still had two horses to work with but I was running ahead of time. I looked at Bre and said "Why don't we go for a ride?" I just got a new(used) saddle that fits her like a glove. I have been dying to ride her since she got her Legend shot and acupuncture work. It was so fun!! I forgot how extra bouncy she gets when she has been adjusted. I think she loves the saddle. It was like I have been riding her all along. She was trotting around all stretchy and through her back. She wanted to get behind the bit a couple of times but this mare hasn't been ridden in a bit in at least a year. We had a better canter than I have had in years!! Yay for the Breedle. I really need to get someone to ride her regularly. She did great and seemed very happy about it. 

 "Um, there are apples back in the barn."

 "Am I cute? Can I have an apple?"

 "I didn't notice there was grass to eat in front of me"

"She won't let me go back and get apples, or get the grass in front of me. I guess I will pout." 

And Dickie didn't want me to forget about him. I had to put a picture in. How cute is he? He was trying to give me kisses where we were standing on a tarp. 
"I am just a little tiny baby. Cuddle me please."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He's moving again (but kind of not really)

Dickie has been doing great at the new stable. The barn manager is fantastic. While they don't need to handle the horses much she does a great job with him. She has been great about getting him out of her space when cleaning stall or feeding without going overboard. He loves her and the other person who cleans stalls. I love the facilities. Having a round pen and big arena has made a huge difference. I have seen a big difference in his coordination and stamina. I love having a huge arena that lets us lunge straight lines. There are always poles and jumps out so we can walk over them. There is just enough chaos that he gets used to activity without overloading his brain.

My ONLY problem with the situation is that he isn't out with other horses and there isn't much grass in his paddock. When it comes to boarding with a nice big area it is next to impossible to get a big pasture too. If you do run into a place like that your horse often doesn't get turned out for the whole day. Well....... I was doing my usual random craigslist searching and lo and behold I see the barn manager is leasing out the pasture directly behind Dickie's pen. I can't believe I just ran into the ad searching for saddles. It is a few acres and there will be at most four horses. It's still full care!! I hand graze him in the pasture often. She would lead them in at night to a cute little barn. It isn't as fancy but there isn't a lot of places as fancy as his current digs. He doesn't need fancy, he needs pasture and other horses to play with. I know we wouldn't run into the problem of her turning them in late and bringing them in early. We have a few stalls at the main barn that require hand turnout. Those horses are always out early and in late. She really gets how important turnout is. Coming in at night won't kill him.

Even more awesome is the fact that I still get to use all the fancy parts of the main barn. It is even $100 cheaper a month. Doesn't sound like a ton but that adds up to $1,200 a year. That is half a vacation for my partner and I. Or it would cover show season next year. He gets to have an amazing turnout with other horses, I get to keep my dream arena/roundpen, I get to pay less money, and I won't have to feel guilty that he wasn't out playing with horses all day.

There are a few cons.

1) The fences need a little work. I would need to spend a day stringing hot wire. It has been started and she has everything she needs so we can work on it anytime. I am ok with that. If it helps my horse then I am not above a little work. I have also worked out a trade for lessons with my student so I plan on seeing if I can steal her for a day.

2) There are a few rocks in the pasture that I need to pick up. There's also a burn pile that the manager planned on getting rid of a long time ago but we have had a uncharacteristically dry summer. It hasn't had horse on it in while so it is just the usual pasture clean up you go through when getting set up for livestock again. The great thing is that I am not having to give 30 days notice because it's not a real move. I can just plan on going once we get done.

3) Another trick is that I will be trudging over to the arena in the dark and rain. I should be fine though. I lived in Alaska and anywhere you went was in the dark. I'll just get another headlamp. Bre and I rode all the time in the dark. I know it might be hard to motivate myself but he is a great motivator. I know he NEEDS me to get myself in gear so I will do it. I walked a similar distance when Bre was out on pasture. Plus looking at show clothes has motivated me to lose weight. Maybe this will help me fit into a smaller size.

4) The last issue is getting more horses over there. I am not going to move him over by himself. I think my friend will go with me but she has a few people leasing her horse so it depends on if they mind the walk. If my friend isn't up for the move the BM said she would move a lesson horse over there.

I think I have made up my mind. I am going to let her know what my schedule is so we can plan a pasture repair day. Below are pasture pictures:

This was taken from the end of the pasture closest to Dickie's current pen. If you go to the end of his current paddock, take a left, and walk 30 feet BAM here you are.

There are pretty oak trees to get out of the rain under. 

Isn't the barn cute? 

This is a shop that has a run in shed. I think the shed might be too small for multiple horses so I might as that we block it off. A little rain during the day doesn't hurt. There are trees. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guilt Making

I arrived at the barn after a long hiatus because of work and was greeted by a loud nicker. When he actually laid eyes on me he started rearing and bucking in the stall. My heart melted. It wasn't meal time so I know he wasn't just all excited over a pending dinner. He was actually happy to see me and go get into some trouble with me. I also felt super guilty. I wish I could be out there every day giving him love. However, I know I am doing the best I can by him. He has a 24 hour turnout, plenty of hay, toys, and people who are kind to him during stall cleaning time. There is enough activity in the barn that he has things to keep his mind busy when they come and go. 

When I got to his stall he was filled with energy and I thought he might jump on my head before I could get a halter on him and take him to the round pen. We have had a break from the round pen because when we lunge in the arena we can avoid always being on a circle. With those big growing legs/joints I want to make sure he gets a chance to mature without endless circles. 

It was the first day of rain in months and was also fairly windy. This, added with lack of work, made for a wild young pony. He decided that it would be fun to look for things to spook at. A pile of wooden pallets with a blanket on top was the perfect excuse. He was full of big snorts and sideways scoots. I walked up to to the blanket to show him I wasn't afraid. For the most part he will follow me everywhere even if he thinks I am taking him into dangerous territory. Whenever he seems scared of something I have been pointing at it and either giving him a treat after he touches it with his nose or putting a treat on the item. He now has the process down and carefully crept up on the blanket and touched it despite his better judgement then immediately turned to me, pricked his ears cute as could be, and waited by the blanket for his reward.

We had an eventful round pen session in more ways than one. First of all he really knows the drill now. When I tell him to get moving he gets the idea and will stay out on the rail. Occasionally he stops to see horses or people walking by but it is much easier now to get his attention back on me and to the job at hand. I love seeing the improvement in his attention span and how well he remembers previous lessons. He is still doesn't have a long attention span so I try to set him up for success and only expect so much out of him but I can see improvement. The other eventful part was his areal exhibitions. For all of his legs, high butt, and immaturity he is unbelievablely coordinated. He can rear, leap, buck, and still keep pace and keep on his feet. This isn't the usual crazy leap followed by a trip that you usually see in a young horse. He look solid and coordinated. He naturally wants to be on the correct lead and gets mad if he bucks and lands on the wrong lead. He does lovely flying lead changes all on his own. 

Ok, that's my ramble on the goofball for now. Tomorrow I have a few horses to ride. I am looking forward to it :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Last Week: Eat this not that.....

I had some really great sessions with the handsome devil last week but was so focused on getting Bre well that I didn't post about them. Then I went into a four day stretch of work. I ended up picking up some overtime so I worked two 12s (my normal shift) and two 16s over the course of four days. Those extra hours earned me overtime and doubleback time (time and a half if you work within 8 hours of your last shift). This means I get to work on less shift during the pay period. However, it also meant that I was dead tired when it all finished Weds. I got off work at 11am and passed out until about 8pm. I was awake for a few hours before crashing again. I ended up sleeping a good portion of Thurs as well with no energy for horses or blogging. Today I am still turned around because I've been up and busy during my normal sleeping hours but I am feeling somewhat normal so I can share more pictures from last week. 

Last Friday I went out at about midnight to play with my boy. He was very cute and mostly obedient. I lunged him in the big arena a little but the main focus was getting him to stand tied in the aisle without throwing everything on the floor. I first started the process by telling him what not to eat. Since he wants to put everythign in his mouth this is a never ending list. I could feel myself becoming increasingly annoyed every time he threw a new item on my head.  There isn't anywhere to tie him without tasty items in his reach so there is no way around temptation. And even more annoying is the fact that he isn't throwing his own stuff, he is throwing things from the high end hunter group that boards with us. He either throws the expensive item at me or plays tug of war when I try to get the item out of his mouth.

I know from all my psychology schooling and teaching riding lessons that it is much easier to tell someone what we want rather than list all the things we don't want. If we keep saying "Don't do behavior A" then all the person will think about is behavior A. This is something I was careful to keep in mind back when I was training Bre. For some reason I just forgot all of this and let myself get sucked into the trap of nagging him constantly with "No!". 

I decided to go at the problem by giving him an area that he was allowed to mess with whatever he wanted. If he moved out of that area I would quickly move him right back where he was allowed. I cleared everything off his stall door and made that his area. This left only his lead rope to chew on. I started by brushing him on the tempting side so I could correctly redirect his behavior before he even snatched an unapproved item. From there I slowly started walking away from him and correcting him with "Ahh ahh" if I saw his little brain heading in the wrong direction. Rather than wait until he had something in his mouth to correct I just woudln't allow him to stand near the tasty items and would correct any steps in that direction. I was amazed that he was perfectly happy to chew his lead rope thoughtfully and my annoyance level went down to zero. He stood tied for at least a half hour and didn't dance or swing his rear all over. 

Here is a little taste  (haha, taste get it?) of my angel boy tied in the aisle. I took this before I started my new tactic. Just before I started filming I had to reach half my arm in his mouth to retrieve my car keys. Just after the video ended he threw all the blankets on the floor then grabbed a sleezy in his teeth and held on like a pit bull. 

 He had been standing calmly so I went around the corner to my tack locker. I suddenly heard silence instead of his usual jingle of the lead rope and I knew he had to be up to no good. I came back to find his butt pushed in Ryan's face and the two of them quite enjoying a strange love session. 

I'm just a cute little baby. I would never do anything naughty. 

Um, the other horse made me pick up this halter. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't Fence Me In (Legend Follow Up)

Bre received her adjustment and vet visit just before I had a long stretch of work. I had decided in some stroke of insanity to work four 12hr shifts in a row so there was no way to get out and see how she is moving. All reports from the barn owner (her second mom) are that she looks great. Then Monday I recieved a text that she JUMPED OUT OF THE PASTURE!!! The teen leasing Romeo came to ride him and left her in the lower pasture. She usually just hollers for him and keeps eating until he comes back. They have done this many times over the summer. I think she was more offended that Romeo might be getting goodies in the barn than upset by him leaving her.

The fence in the back pasture is just under boob hieght for me (I'm 5'6") but there is a spot they have been leaning on so it is a little lower and wider. It is on a hill though without much of a runway. I decided that this means Bre is feeling much better and needs someone to ride her. I can't wait to play with her on Thursday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Today was the big vet/acupuncture visit for Bre and Romeo. To recap for those just tuning in Bre is my 14 yo quarter horse with a variety of difficult to pinpoint soundness issues. She has been solid for years now as long as I don't do consistent arena work. A little over a  month ago I noticed she was really off but the angle on her right front was wacky and I just assumed having the farrier out would fix it. As he was working on her I noticed how sore she looked behind when he was working on her front legs. 

Romeo is Bre's boyfriend where she lives. He is a 6yo breed stock paint who has been rock solid on the soundness front. Unlike Bre, Romeo walks carefully places and takes care of himself when he gets the inevitable bumps and bruises of pasture horses. He has had a wonderful young lady leasing him and doing 4-H. Unfortunately, she was riding with an older teen who was teaching her some bad habits. She was learning how to slow him down to WP jog/lope by pulling from the front end and was keeping him in a tiny little stride without taking time to let him stretch and extend. When I got on him after show season I was disappointed with how stiff and choppy his stride was. I could tell he was uncomfortable in his back and hind. We decided to get his back worked on and I took over lessons for his girl. She is doing wonderful with him and riding him correctly actually seems more natural to her than all the crazy business. About a week ago his left hind started swelling and we finally found a day when we could both be there for a vet appt. 

The vet arrived today. I was thrilled that my equine vet has been trained for acupuncture. It always seemed like a disconnect to get body work from someone other than my vet. As part of the first visit she did a full once over on each horse. Romeo was first and she started by palpating the swollen tendon, his back, hips, etc. Then she had her assistant walk him to and from us on the pavement, then trotting. She was great about pointing out how his hips were moving unevenly so Erin could really understand what was going on with her horse. From there her assistant lunged him and we could see how short he was striding in the back. He was clearly more stiff on the right then the left. She felt that there was something going on in the hock. When she flexed his hocks he was clearly more off on the right. She thinks he is young for it to be arthritis but perhaps the mix of a sore back, incorrect work, and an acute injury to his hock all added up to a sore boy. She suggested a shot of Adequan to help him heal, in addition to the acupuncture. He clearly had sore areas in his hips and back. After the treatment his muscles were more relaxed just standing. He naturally stood square like our old Romeo. And he was moving way better even on pavement. 

Sunday was the last time I took Bre above a walk and she looked terrible. It wasn't the usual slight stiffness in her right shoulder when she has had time off. She was stiff and out of whack everywhere in the back end. It was difficult to pinpoint because she just seemed so uncomfortable. I got really serious about her massages and started back up on the Cosequin. This was a new vet to Bre and she zeroed right in on her problem areas. She found a tight spot in her right shoulder and her hips were very uneven. These are the problems every other chiro/acupuncturist find so Bre is predictable if nothing else. When we lunged her I was actually shocked that she was also 90% better than Sunday just with massage. The vet was even surprised that she looked as good as she did considering how asymmetrical her pelvis was. By the end of her session Bre was trotting out 100% sound on pavement. It was kind of amazing to see her be that much better after once session. 

Injectable Joint Medications
In the process of giving Bre's long medical history I brought up the fact that she is on Cosequin. The vet suggested using Adequan or Legend instead. I have great things about these medications but had always thoughs these options were cost prohibitive on my budget. The vet pointed out that it just seems more expensive because you put the money out all at once for a one time treatment. She said that the treatment lasts two months so the cost difference is fairly small. Because the medication is going right into the horse nothing is lost in the feed bin or through the digestive process. These were really good points. I am usually pretty logical but it really helped to have her break down the costs/benefits for me. I have been doing some riding lessons so I feel like I can justify the cost so soon after purchasing the Cosequin. The vet said I could see response as early as tomorrow. She was already looking back to normal today so it will be interested to see if she is moving even bouncier tomorrow. 

If anyone out there is feeding oral joint supplements I would suggest looking into Legend or Adequan. If you can handle doing them yourself it really cuts down the cost. Adequan is a little cheaper at about $47 a dose and Legend is $99 a dose (if you can split a large vial with someone the cost goes down to $77). If you are using Adequan for maint you will need to do several doses to get it loaded in their system you wont need to that with Legend. I will probably only need the legend every two months. The adequan would be every 6-8 weeks. Legend is a little hard to go because it is into a vein. Adequan is into a muscle and super easy to administer. 

I am excited about trying the Legend. The more I think about the idea the more I like it. It will be nice to know all the medication is getting into her and to get an immediate result. Bagging up the Cosequin to put on her feed is crazy making. I will have to do more research but this is a well respected clinic in the sport horse world so I trust them. Maybe Bre and I will make it to a show next year :)