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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Setting Goals

As the weather starts to change and the summer hair begins to shed off, I started to think about prepping for the upcoming cold months. Personally, I hate winter up here in the freezing north and I despise going to the barn at 5pm and already having it be pitch black out and below freezing. This is also the time of year when my trainer heads south for the Florida circuit so I'm left completely high and dry, unless there is a clinic set up or something (not that I can afford/take that many lessons in the first place, but its more than zero.)

So, I was thinking about setting some goals for myself and for Fire to try to get to by the end of the winter. This might help me to stay motivated and to actually keep creeping toward things, even when I'm stuck in the indoor and I feel like I'm not going anywhere all winter.

I find having short term goals to be very beneficial. Obviously the long term goal is to get up back into the FEI ring, but when that is your goal you can sometimes feel like you'll never get there and become discouraged, or feel like you're moving at a snails pace and lose your footing.

I also think its good to realize it's not the end of the world if you don't reach your goals by your set time too. I think that goals should be lofty and out there so if you were to reach them it would be a big feat. So, once you do get to that time.... say... early March, you reevaluate what you set up for goals at the time and then you see where you actually are at, what portions of those goals you did meet, which you did not and then figure out why you fell short and reassess things. This at least keeps you moving forward on your training continuum and keeps you motivated and you can actually see your process.

Though I wish I had a fun little app for my smartphone to *click*click* on and keep track of goals and things, I do find that this blog itself is a rolling "goal check" for me. I write and try to keep a very realistic outlook and open mind to things.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Genius Moment

This photo doesn't show the moment I'm speaking about, I just loved the power it shows. Look at that tail flip! Woosh!!! Anyway...

I wasn't able to ride for a few days in a row because I was out of town. Because of this, I thought I would come back to a horse who was stiff and just needed some good long, low and super stretchy work. This isn't uncommon and how we usually have to work many of our "first day back" days. I think this is a good frame of mind and body to have for restarting work when you've had time off (for both horse and rider). So we stared our ride and I thought it was going to be the usual first ride because he was fighting the bit some and was way above the bit. I began our work with a few large figure eights with hands wide asking for a low frame and he gave in right away, telling me that he was more ready and willing that I first thought. He actually then came up and moved into the bridle very nicely and with some very even back movement. I thought "okkkk", and just went with it.

Since my own back wasn't in a good place to be doing some "tough" work for the day, and Fire seemed to be in a really good upward place in his bridle, I thought we could work on some mediums and lengthenings in the trot. He did the mediums quite nicely but needed some more sit down for his lengthenings to really be engaged properly. This is where the genius moment began because I thought I'd ask him for some 1/4 turn on the haunches. If you've read before, you know that Fire can get a little nervous with the "slower" movements of collection, so in the past when I've tried to even think about this movement it's just been a disaster. IE... I think last time I tried he kicked a hole in the indoor wall and he tried to toss me out the open door in the side of the arena. No joke.

We began by walking to the left against the wall in a collected walk with the whip to the outside near the shoulder. I put both reins in my inside hand and brought my outside leg very far forward near his shoulder to let him know that I really wanted him to move his shoulders away from the wall in this movement. I spoke to him this entire time to keep him quiet and in a forward motion. It is very important to keep the motion forward while turning and keep the horse into the bridle without sucking back, and without "spinning" around. And low and behold... Fire did it like a champ. It wasn't the tiny pivot, but I'd say it was very very very close to it, like he barely came off of the wall and he did not get nervous and he stayed forward and into the bridle and he then did not get nervous when I asked him to do it again, which is wonderful.

I think this shows that he is beginning to grow up some. He is accepting work in his life and that things that were once hard are not always difficult and can be overcome without a fuss. Which makes my life just that much easier. This ride was one of those rides for the books. One of those rides that you want to keep in your head to recall when you want to crumple up in a ball. It was a great day of clear communication where I didn't have on any spurs, where we "spoke" mostly through the saddle and accomplished a lot.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Giddy Up!!????

Are you guys ready to be sitting in a saddle not only when you ride your horse, but when you're flying with American Airlines or Delta? Aviointeriors’ SkyRider seats are more like a saddles with armrests than like the traditional flat-cushion seating that fliers are accustomed to. The seats make our room on the plane even snugger than it is already, from the 28'' that we get now, to a snug 23''. To be fair, the Italian comapny is proposing that the planes equipped with these seats only be used for flights that are 3 hours or less in length, because hey, cowboys ride in their saddles all day with no issue! But I'm not seeing a comfy cowboy in that photo, are you? I see a lady who looks like she's got a stick up her ass with a plastered smile on her face. And what happens when you get the "horse" sitting next to you, as what is common in many flights in the US? there won't be any "buy two seats" for these thin saddles... what then?

I wonder what happens when the plane hits turbulence. Should all of the men be warned to wear cups now when they fly? And will it look like an English class with the entire plane posting trot in unison?

Why not do away with seats entirely, and utilize a system of closely-spaced poles? Why, a move to the “recto-pole” system could even do away with the need for seat belts. Even cheaper yet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Scratches/ Mud Fever

F?or us, it's the time of year where scratches/mud fever pops up. Since Fire has those super pink legs with the pink skin (since he's pinto), he is susceptible to things like this. Tie that to the fact that he just can't go without going outside with his buddies almost every night into the pasture, and you get this horrid fungus foot issue. "Scratches" is a term that refers to a skin problem on the lower legs of horses, caused by a fungus (and sometimes complicated by bacteria). The affected area becomes crusted, scabby and thickened, creating bumps and sometimes open sores. In severe cases the affected skin may ooze or the whole lower leg may swell, and the horse may become lame.

Since it can be such a complicated issue, everyone seems to have their own method of trying to fix scratches, and there seems to be no one method that works with all horses, or works 100% of the time. So, since Fire is currently laid up with a nasty bout of scratches (pictures included are of random horses, not Fire) I thought that I would compile common methods to help "fix" what has now made my poor pony lame.

Before I do post the methods, it does seem to be most common that people are in agreement that the area should be kept first and foremost DRY. If you can keep the horse from being in wet areas, great. If the horse must get its legs wet, they then must be dried as soon as possible, and then kept in a dry clean stall. The majority also agree that the area needs to be kept clean with antibacterial soap, washed just about daily. There are a few people that say they don't wash the legs in their method, but the majority say it is pertinent to keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay. As far as removing the scabs, it seems as though the consensus is that once you can get them soft, if you can gently remove them that is preferred and the more common approach as well. However, again, some people believe in allowing the scabs to drop themselves. Alright.. now onto the methods:

- very common: 4oz of Desitin (40% zinc oxide), 2oz of Neosporin, and 2oz of cortizone cream, some say do scrub, some say do not scrub, all say keep the area clean with a antibacterial wash. (this is similar to Panalog creme, but a lot cheaper)

- also common: a mix of nitrofurazone, DMSO and thiabendazole (a cattle wormer that is also a good fungicide)

- the "old" common method: "Bluecoat" sprayed for a few days until it washes off (methylene blue mixture).

- some people use a product called "Shapley's Original M-T-G" the ingredients are not listed on the bottle, but have been determined to be: Petroleum distillates, sulfur 4%, zinc stearate, glycerin, cade oil rectified.

- Hibitane slathered over scratches, not washed off.

- put a bread bag on the horse's foot, pour a can of sauerkraut in it (with juice) and tape it up and leave it for 2-3 days.

- mix up Zink Creme (diaper rash) with sulfur powder and apply on cleaned and dry scratches.

- wash with antibacterial soap and then apply a spray of 50/50 bleach and water

- French recipe:1 part Imaverol 1 part corticosteroid creme 1 part baby creme 1 part vaseline.

- Soak in epson salt and water or providine and water and scrubbing. Then apply a 1:1:1 mixture of DMSO, fenbendazole, and furazone and wrap it with vet wrap. (many disagree with the wrap)

- 1) diaper rash ointment, 2) triple antibiotic ointment, 3) hydrocortisone cream

- In a container with a tightly sealing lid, mix: 1 tube 1% hydrocortisone cream, 1 tube 2% miconazole cream (found in a 7 day vaginal yeast infection treatment kit, just throw away the applicators), 1 tube 20% Zinc Oxide Ointment (like Original Desitin – NOT the creamy version), 1 teaspoon-ish of nitrofurazone ointment. Mix well, label the container. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Place on washed and dried legs, wipe off later and reapply, do not rewash.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I really an not fond of mares

My current side project is this stupid (okay, really really damn smart) bitch of a mare I'm trying to break now. She's this cute as a button mover, good work ethic bouncy, would make a great all around horse for someone, girl. That is, if we can ever safely get in the damn thing. She's SUCH a mare!! This breaking process has taken months longer than it should have, mostly because people have run out of time to be able to consistently work with her, but also because her brain just doesn't want to be there. Now that she is a bit older and wiser she's safer to get on and get working with.

As of now she's been backed twice. After much practice with putting weight on her, and leaning over her etc., we finally swung a leg over her and decided to go for a pony ride. On this one, I'm the person on the ground and the barn owner (her owner) is the "meat on a stick" or "dope on a rope" or... rider if you prefer. So, the first time she got a leg over the mare didn't protest and we walked off comfortably. the pony ride went well for almost an entire 20m circle before the mare decided she had had enough, and promptly tried to remove the owner. She did it completely without warning, and this is partially why I hate mares, because they pull shit like that. NO warning! And she did it not because she was scared, but just because she decided she was totally done. Fine... we dealt with that rodeo of bucks and rears, I kept her close to me on the ground so she couldn't get up any momentum, and she stopped. We took a few more steps forward with the rider and were done for the day.

Then we move to day two, yesterday. I pre-lunge her and get her nice and sweaty, more tired than the first time... and then line her up for the mount. As I turn to look at her before the rider mounts, I look into her eye and I can just see it... I can just see "oh we are SO not doing THIS" in the mare's eyes. I know that we're both going to be in for it this time, even before we've got a chance to start. Again, this is why I hate these stupid bitches. A gelding... nay...not even a stallion will pull crap on you like that. This premeditated "I'm going to burn you alive and trample your unborn children" bullshit of a mare. So... here we go. The rider barely gets her leg over the saddle and we were off on a bucking and rearing frenzy. At one point the mare came down with her head square on MY head (note to self, wear helmet during next go round) and I almost lost her because the sun was setting and I got turned around into the glare of the light. This time the "fit" lasted longer than the first one, but the rider still stayed on (by the hair of her teeth) and we were able to move on. This time, however, the mare didn't really relax much and still had the "trample your unborn children" look in her eye for almost the entire length of the bitchy pony ride. I think that if either myself or the rider gave and let go of her head at all she would have gone back into launch mode. No good.

So, I think its safe to say two things... one... I'm not looking forward to going back and doing pony ride number three with this horse. I'm sure as I'm alive she's going to be worse than she's been these past two times and it's just going to be ridiculous. I'm bringing thicker gloves on this next one, and a helmet, you can be sure. The second thing is that I hate mares. I owned one, and she drove me nuts. And I'm sure that with this one, once she's broken and moving, she'll make someone else a wonderful partner... but just not me. Personally I hate putting up with this moody crap that happens with them. I like the boys much better, the geldings and the stallions. I'll take a young stallion over an in-heat mare any day of the week.