Monday, May 2, 2016

4/30 Lesson + The Plan

Sorry for the sappy post guys. The hugs mean a lot. I still miss my red head quite a bit, and I still get a bad case of the sniffles when I reminisce about him... or when Facebook memories show me the happy birthday picture I took of him last year captioned, "Happy sweet 16 Mikey! So glad to have you happy and healthy!" I want to go visit his grave, but I don't think I can do it without being an emotional wreck.

Taking a rest on top of our hill walking hill on Sunday.

I had a lesson on Saturday with Trainer... I had previously whined/cried about how Penn's hind end doesn't feel right etc. Penn looked fine on Saturday- of course. We messed around with leg yields, and then varying between sitting and posting trot within them. She thinks it's a back strength issue and we developed a plan to handle him for the next month or so (treating him extra well since I just sent in his first recognized show entry for 5/21-22!).

Farm panorama from on top of said hill.


  • Keep all his joints feeling good with multi-doses of Adequan. I'm currently trying to get the 10 dose vial, so counting backwards from the show (with the last dose being Friday morning), he'll get 5 doses of adequan (4 day intervals). Assuming I can get it before Wednesday this week, he'll get injections on 5/4, 5/8, 5/12, 5/16, 5/20.
  • I doubled his OCD supplement for bone health. Several people have commented now that he's looking both broader (ribs more sprung, not just muscle) and taller. Doc's OCD will support his body's growth, so I'm giving him the problem dose.
  • Megan suggested having his SI joint looked at, which I am trying to do. Right now, the vet who does most of the chiropractic work at the barn can't come out until 5/17. She's very popular and booked solid, and is going to be away at a conference. I've heard good to great things about her, and she's coming during the day when I can't be there, so it's good that my BO loves her... and will have one of her horses done too, so I can split the farm call.
  • In the meantime, I'm trying to set up a time for a massage person to come out and work on Penn's muscles. She should be able to come this week. Hopefully that will keep him happy until the chiropractor can come out.
  • I started doing the "carrot stretches" that I got from the chiropractor I used 10+ years ago. Keeping the horse's feet planted, have them stretch their nose back to their hip on each side and then down between their legs. I do 3 reps of them before riding, and have already noticed a difference. Penn usually pins his ears and gets nippy when I start to saddle him (I never ever toss things up there, I always gently set them), but the last time I tacked him up, he was noticeably less angry. Hopefully that's helping.
  • Things I'm on the fence about: acupuncture (I've never had the effects last very long) and shockwave therapy (never used it). Trainer also suggested trying the new versions of gel pads if I really wanted to- the ones the look like swiss cheese. I priced them, and it's just out of reach right now.
  • Posting trot for 90% of the work. No problem, I'm on board. If I do sit the trot, don't fully sit on him... don't perch either, but do more supporting of myself.
  • Work him in the ring 1-2x per week. Make the other 3-4 rides in the week very light work or hill walking or trail rides. He knows all the first level work very well. He retains information and doesn't need to drill it. Do the other stuff to keep from abusing his body and to build strength. My goal is to hill walk 3x per week, ride seriously once or twice, and put a trail ride into the mix too.

The hill we're using for walking. Long and with a gentle, consistent slope.
We've been doing 2-3 uphill/downhill circuits. 2 if we worked in the ring or are trail riding after, 3 if that's all we're doing.

So anyway, we had a 1/2 hour lesson, so I'll hit the main points of it:
  • Keep the head and neck straighter in the leg yield.
  • Into the canter: sit the trot, push for more trot, then a very lifting half halt to get a very uphill balance and bring it back, immediately into canter. Practice getting it done so it's not hurried in 1-2 and 1-3 (where you have single letter distances to get walk to trot the trot to canter done).
  • Practice moving the haunches back and forth in the canter on straight lines. If I find he's getting rushy or heavy, bring his haunches in a little.
  • His canter lengthenings were quite good- very forward and bold. Keeping to the same lighter seat all the time, when I applied the lifting half halt idea, he was very prompt in coming back.
  • In the 1-3 simple change: He never really gets straight across the diagonal. Trainer said to think about leg yielding him into the new outside rein (right rein) in the last steps of canter and in the trot so he's better balanced to pick up the new lead. Absolutely DO NOT let him move sideways. It's the same leg yield to the outside rein that Stephen had us do- the point is to move to the outside rein, not the leg yield. He does those just fine. The point is also to straighten him.
Basically, in my 1-2x per week ring work, practice these points. Do not drill! It's all about keeping him happy before the recognized show while he builds more strength.

Penn and friends turned out Saturday.

Now, how am I supposed to practice my tests without riding the horse in the ring? Eek! Perhaps we can have "working walk" days where I run through the whole thing in walk. It can be warm up for hill walking or a short trail ride. I'll use the test patterns in my working days to go through the trot and canterwork... But still! Eek. We have one more schooling show on 5/8 that I'll use as practice too.

But seriously, check out his quarterhorse-looking ass!


  1. If we were closer we could walk our horses on the hills together! Because your schedule sounds just like what I have been doing with Stinker.

    1. It's such a good schedule to keep to! Winter always makes me forget about conditioning work... if only because I wouldn't take Penn hill walking in winter. (ice, snow). Mikey got hillwork as well, but in the form of trot/canter sets through Trainer's gently sloping hay fields. Penn would probably keel over if we did that, so we're starting with walking up and down hills, and eventually we'll get to trot sets. I just have to figure out where to do them at this farm!

  2. I always mean to do more carrot stretches (or bagel stretches bc princess is weird) but always forget. Must remember! Also idk about the effects of acupuncture lasting longer or shorter than chiro or not but the mare certainly seems to enjoy it and I know a few people who swear by it for themselves

    1. The carrot stretches have made a big difference in Penn's tacking up personality. He was good last night too! No angry faces!

      I haven't had acupuncture myself, but Mikey used to get it monthly for his cold back symptoms... And I felt a difference riding for a day or two and then he was right back to where he was. He was a horse that if you ran your fingers down his spine, he'd flinch to the ground. It didn't matter if he was not being ridden or if he was ridden everyday, he still flinched badly. Acupuncture never got rid of that, or even made a dent in it. Acculife patches got rid of it in two treatments. I'm kind of like, there's other things out there that I've found work better... But if Penn is still ouchy, you bet I'll give it a try too. He might respond differently!

  3. I wish I had hills at our farm so that I could use those. I'm going to have to get creative with the small outdoor space we have.

    1. It's definitely though without hills. You could try low cavaletti walk or trot poles.