Saturday, September 28, 2013

Where Do I Start?

I guess I will start with Bre. If you have been on my blog much you will know Bre has been plagued by soundness problems over the years. Dickie came into the picture because Bre just can't hold up to steady arena work. Over the years she had various vets look at her, xrays, creative shoeing, and even a pet psychic. Eventually we came to the conclusion she has really thin soles, an old shoulder injury. Her shoulder gets better with work and she responds well to chiropractic. She doesn't do well in soft arenas that pack in her feet but does great on hard ground/grass. Arena work mentally fries her so that was for the best anyway. If arena work is kept to a minimum Bre will happily gallop for miles and carry me for five hour trail rides (no, not exaggerating). 

This past winter/spring Bre went off. I wasn't too surprised because she gets an abscess every year like clockwork. One big whopping abscess when the weather starts going from wet/cold to wet/warm.When she gets an abscess she is three legged lame then it pops and she is back to normal. However, this year it seemed different. The lameness never really resolved and she seemed reluctance to go forward under saddle. She loves to canter and was refusing to take her left lead. 

Navicular had been ruled out during previous lameness but lately she has been acting like we needed to revisit those pesky QH feet. I decided to have her fronts x-rayed to figure out what we are working with. The farrier pulled her shoes just before the vet arrived and she was so sore she could barely stand up when we tried to get films. Oddly she didn't react when hoof tested over her navicular bone. However, the picture showed a different story. She has changes in both navicular bones with rough surfaces and flares at the tips of her coffin bones. She also has a cyst on her left navicular bone causing inflammation in the coffin joint. 

I felt sick when I saw the films. I have always known that Bre didn't going to be that horse who lives happily into her late 20s. I  just wasn't ready to start getting dire diagnosis yet. Fortunately my vet quickly gave me hope. She said she has seen horses much worse off than Bre (both symptoms and xrays) be showing sound after cortisone injections into the coffin joint. She said if the injections work they last six months to a year. They aren't cheap but spending $400 once or twice a year seems reasonable to have a happy and SOUND pony. 

Bre trying to fit a whole apple in her mouth. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

State Of Affairs

I was sick about moving Dickie because I really do hate moving. Bre lived at the same barn in Oregon after the move from Alaska for six years. We moved only because I needed her to get more attention while I was in nursing school and it was the best decision for Bre. This is the third barn in a year for Dickie. The first place was a move primarily for him. He wasn't turned out long enough and it was making him batty. This last move was more for me than for Dickie so it was harder. He was happy as could be messing around in the pasture all day but he was destined to be a pasture puff there. I already have one pasture ornament the last thing I needed was two. The new place has turnout (about an acre) but it isn't a huge field and there won't be grass. The turnout he had at the other place just doesn't exist in this area unless you want pasture board only. He also isn't out in a herd. He shares the fenceline with other geldings but for now is in his own pasture.

I quickly discovered my fears were unfounded. Dickie is such a trooper. As long as someone tells him he is a good boy he is happy to go anywhere. He hopped right in the trailer and started making friends the second he arrived. He hit it off right away with the stud colt next door and they played bitey face all day. He is right in the middle of a group of young delinquents. He finally isn't the only one who steals halters and throws them in the hall or bangs on the door at dinner time. He threw some tantrums the first few days when the owner was paying attention to her horses and not him but he quickly figured out he will get his turn. When they are in she dumps hay on them like it is going out of style and she gives them all carrots and treats. He is out 24/7 unless it is raining over night. Then he gets to come in at night. So far he does well with that. At his old barn he was in a private four stall area and I think it blew his mind to go from there to all the activity of the main barn and be expected to focus for a ride. Now he seems to eat up watching all the activity as we get out other horses. He can see the tack room and cross tie stalls from his stall and watches very intently.

Overall I am just amazed at how calm he is. He tested each person who led him in and out for the first week to make sure they knew how to be boss horse. After that he has been acting like a gentleman. He ambles along behind you with slack in the lead. And he does that for everyone. We have to lead two geldings through his field and he learned the rules really quickly. He stands back and does his best not to molest them as you walk through. It really helps that the owner has raised many big young, unruly horses from birth. She's a wisp of a thing but every one falls into line. He still has the fire and naughty that make him Dickie but he's so much better at focusing and getting a hold of himself these days.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday (New Barn Edition)

Dickie looking very concerned over the wild turkey's who have taken up residence in the barn. 

He loves just standing in his stall watching the activity.

Begging for just one more treat before mom leaves. 

Please don't go!! I want to play. 

He's looking all grown up!!!

If he looks greasy it's because he is. I've been oiling him up with Calm Coat because his highness hates bug bites. 

So bored with you. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Training Progress this Summer

I was pretty proud of Dickie even before we moved. We were stuck due to arena constraints but he was where I wanted him to be. Progress since the new barn has been icing on the cake.

The first week we stuck to short lunge sessions and walking up the road (did I mention the road is dirt and goes for miles!) Our first lunge session was pretty spectacular. He was looking for any excuse to be insane. The acted like he had never seen a dog before and bolted and bucked every time he went past the dog (who was lying quietly outside the arena). Then he decided the wild turkey momma and her three babies were a good reason to spin and turn the other way. His favorite evasion is to sit and spin on the lunge. At this point I can see it coming a mile away so I caught in mid spin. Every so often he likes to show how bad ass he is by rearing. When I stopped the spin he looked at me with that appy stink eye and went straight up keeping my eye the whole time. He said "I swear I will flip over if you don't let me spin the other way!!! I will do it I am not kidding." So I said fine rear like a dumb ass and flip, they have chiropractors for that. He got straight up I swear I saw it click in his brain "Fuck, she's really not going to let me have my way. Bitch is going to let me die rather than let me win" Quick like a cat he threw himself to the side (he was past 90 degrees at this point) got all four feet under him and trotted on like nothing ever happened. He's such an appy sometimes. The people watching wanted to make sure that I never ride him alone, lol. After that session he decided that mom is a worthy leader and I am happy to say there hasn't been more airs above the ground.

I have been out every day I haven't worked this month. And every day we have had some arena time. It has made a huge difference. He stands in the cross ties like a normal horse. He still likes to wiggle and throw things within his reach but he doesn't make me want to pull my hair out these days. He will trot figure eights and diagonals with a long rein. He hops right up into the trot and will hold the trot until I ask for a walk. He's even getting the concept of giving a bigger walk or bigger trot. On our last right we even had both arena doors open without exiting the building. He does think the wild turkeys are a bit scary but I reminded him that the turkeys live in his field and he doesn't seem to mind them then.

I am sooo excited about where we are in in training. He is so smart and now that I can do more with him my rides are less terrifying. He tends to make things exciting when his mind wanders. Now that he actually knows a few basic commands I can keep his pea brain busy. Can't wait to ride him again!!!

Yet another move....

My first ride on Dickie was back in Jan. Then I didn't do much other than just sit on him and try to help him understand the concept of not losing his mind with mom on his back instead of at his head. Three months ago I decided it was time to actually teach him go and ho. We had a great first real ride but it quickly became apparent we were going nowhere fast at the old barn. It had wonderful turnout, an amazing round pen, and a big gorgeous zero dust arena. However, I hadn't factored in how hard it would be to coexist with the hunter crew that moved in around the same time I did. They decided the round pen was too deep so they took out some sand. This resulted in an uneven round pen filled with large gravel pieces from the drainage layers. They kept jumps out five days a week and started leaving them on both rails. There were usually canter poles on the quarter line and there wasn't even a 20 meter circle. Some weeks they even left a few jumps up when the arena was supposed to be clear. It was impossible to do flat work on the broke horses I was riding let alone on a squirrely unbroke horse with the propensity to get a tad light on the front end.

I know how to work a greenie through tantrums but it was dangerous for me with all those jumps. One day I rode him and he wasn't even very bad. I needed to be able to get him moving but with all the jumps every time I did anything we almost hit one. At one point he went to rear a few feet from a jump and I was scared. It was the only day I have been white knuckle scared on this horse. I resorted to riding in the round pen but the footing was shitty and you can only ride a youngster in the round pen for so long. So with sadness I found another barn. I was sad because he had three acres and buddies. It was the perfect set up for him. So many times barns say they "daily turnout" but that ends up being only for a few hours. Either that or horses don't get turned out in the rain but it RAINS ALL THE TIME HERE!!

I found a quiet little barn not terrible far from Bre. It is a bit of a drive but so far it has been worth it. I have been able to work him every day I make it out. He has turnout and loves all the young geldings. There aren't a bunch of little out of a control kids under foot and the only obstacles in the arena are cavalettis I put there. I really miss my barn friends at the old barn but this place has been a great fit from day one. Super happy!!