Monday, April 12, 2021

Plans Change

If you follow me on social media, you already know the news. My plans got a little messed up between when I posted last and this past weekend, but it all worked out for the best!


We did go horse showing and it was GREAT, we just didn't go to the show I originally planned on. 


I need some time to process videos and pictures and wait for the official show photographer to send me a few images, but there will be an official show post later this week I hope! (I also need to do mega updates of the various pages on here)




Until a little bit later!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

End of Winter Status

I'm not sure who is still here and reading. If you are, I appreciate it! Writing about the day to day issues just isn't going to happen for me, and it would be boring I think, so I'll do these periodic write ups that will have video and other things we're up to. Partly for anyone who is still interested, and partly so I can look back at what we were doing, what worked, what didn't, and to keep track of our progress.

3/20/2021

Eli's joints, tack, and hooves have always been a work in progress.

Early in Jan 2021, he became VERY spooky. Like, get on, strap in, trot off because you can't trust him to walk around the indoor without spooking hard.... and he'd even spook hard from the trot. I decided to have the vet look at his hocks/stifles at the beginning of February because we had turned up the dial on his work at the end of December and he had been working very well but the spooking was getting unmanageable. Turns out his hocks were super ouchy. The left was pretty dry and the fluid in the right was not the correct texture. Hock injections made Eli a very happy horse; the spooking stopped almost immediately. I also got him started on Adequan and we'll alternate Adequan and Legend every three months.

I had the saddle fitter bring some bits for me in February. Eli was going really well in his nathe, but he chewed through two of them and I can't keep buying them from the UK. We tried the NS Turtle Top Loose Ring first and never tried anything else. He met the bit right away and was very happy to keep the contact and was delightful to ride, with the added bonus of brakes and steering. We also added a wee bit of flocking to the front of his saddle because it was tipped down slightly... and I completely misread his objections to riding after flocking was added. I thought he was still sore from injections (we hadn't done too much at that point) and I thought he was objecting to working again after being unsaddled and such... nope. He progressed to threatening to rear. I spent the next week trying to determine if it was the saddle or a sudden behavioral issue. Apparently you can tack and untack him a dozen times and he gives zero shits about going back to work, even if he didn't like the previous saddle. He cares about how the saddle feels in the shoulder and under the twist. The fitter came back out (I had called her the day after she was here with an SOS) and she stripped all of the flocking from the front and reflocked it with completely new flocking since this saddle was used when I bought it. Eli was happy, and not trying to rear, haha. It still needs a little more flocking, but we're going to add it slowly as the brand new flocking compresses. She said if we ever get him another used saddle, she's going to strip all of the flocking from the everywhere and we're going to start from scratch since he's apparently very sensitive to it.

We had a new to us chiro come out last week for adjustments and acupuncture. Our old favorite stopped coming to our area and it took us 6+ months to find a replacement who was both a vet and did a good job. She was GREAT and is our new favorite and we've got her on a 6 week cycle. Eli is a lot more comfortable and the other horses she saw had super improvements too.

As for his hooves, we've had a few change ups.

Front hooves: Last year we tried removing his pads and packing, tried easy care shoes, and then went back to pads, packing and a 2 degree wedge after the vet xrayed his fronts because he was so sore. Those made him happy, but he still wasn't landing heel first. Penn's owner suggested flip flops (steel toe on vulcanized rubber shoes), and on 3/2/2021, my farrier and another local farrier were able to match up their schedules and she taught him how to apply the shoes. Eli LOVES them. He lands heel first, is more free in his shoulder, and is super happy. We have a couple issues to work out still (his feet suddenly started falling apart this past week when winter suddenly dried out), but I've got everything crossed that we can figure it out.

Flip flops are super cool. They're supposed to provide the best of both rubber and steel, but the rubber is flexible enough for the shoe to stay on if the horse steps on it... we'll see about that. Eli did manage to pull the right one off last week.

Hind hooves: When the vet came for spring shots, I had her take new farrier films of his front hooves, and for shits and giggles, take films of his hind hooves since we've had hind end issues in the last 3-6 months and I've never x-rayed the hinds. Umm. Yea, it's a good thing we did because the angles are a disaster. The vet and farriers agreed that we need to ditch his easy care hind shoes and put steel shoes, pads, packing, and 2 degree wedges on the hinds. Those went on on Sunday (3/21/2021), and wow does his hind end feel better. I could feel his hind feet, the left hind didn't trail, he didn't catch his toes and wrench his stifles, I told him to sit down in the canter and he did, and was super comfortable on a short trail ride (he usually struggle busses it downhill). Makes sense that anything that involved sitting down would suck for him when both hinds that are supposed to support his weight are at a negative palmer angle, stretching the back of his leg already. I'm super happy that he's happy, so fingers crossed he stays that way.

Left hind

Right hind

As for riding, knock on wood, things are going well. The mental coach I worked with last year and I had a call in January about new goals and where I want to go from here. She helped me come up with a plan, and we brainstormed how to make it happen and how I can hold myself accountable.

This lead to me trying lessons with a trainer local to me, partly because she was recommended for the in hand work, partly because she's a judge, and partly because I could haul to her farm and she was willing to ride Eli if he was being a fool.

Eli hauled delightfully well, came off the trailer calmly, settled in a stall, and munched hay like a champ. I felt comfortable just lunging and hopping on. The trainer had a ton of good tips that mesh well with what we've been working on, and didn't involve pulling his head down or anything like that. It was ride the hind legs and forward into the bridle. She had me up Eli's "safe" trot to a real working trot, then we did a neat exercise in suppling Eli's longitudinal balance (see below videos). Basically, trot big (from the seat with big full posts, not the leg) on half of a 20m circle, then half halt and sit the trot and engage the core even more to shorten the stride and ask him to sit down.





We moved on to fixing the canter (which acquired a head toss, especially to the right). It's my fault because I have panic induced habits that make me pull, which he hates. We built the trot up to the big trot on a 20m circle at E/B, leg yield out (not actually out, just changing the balance on the shoulders) and press the trot until he naturally breaks to canter, aiming to have the transition coming into the wall at B or E. It's how she teaches her young horses to canter. It worked really well for getting us into canter with no head tossing. Then she had me sit on the outside hind in the canter to anchor myself.

I went back two Saturdays in a row, and plan to go back again. Those lessons were really helpful, and at home I worked on reattaching my elbows to my core since they wandered in my lessons, which made my hands jump up and down.

We set up the small dressage arena in the outdoor this past weekend because... we're going to a horse show this weekend! We're going to the schooling show winter series that I used to take Penn to, and riding T-1 and T-2. Here's some iffy video of T-2 from this past weekend... my riding friend T held a phone on a wiggly horse on Saturday, and Pivo just struggle bussed it on Sunday because the zoom was too much for it to see clearly and we had predictive follow on. Poor quality video of a high quality horse?






Anyway, hopefully I have good news about the show next week!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and better new year. ❤

The year was strange and hard, but man, I'm really loving Eli. This year forced me to keep him home and take the work slowly. 2020 wasn't all bad!


Monday, December 21, 2020

Gait Updates & Holiday Wishes

Poor sad blog, it's been pushed to the side this year. I haven't made many updates, especially around the one year mark when I wanted to. I got some great video from this weekend, so I'm doing the one year gait review today, instead of back in August/September when I wanted to. Enjoy some video I made a few months ago, and then the one from this past Saturday!

Eli's canter from my first ride on him. This may not be a fair comparison because it was my first ride on him, but it's pretty accurate. I was being taken for a ride, and that continued through winter 2019-2020 and spring 2020.



This is almost a month after the 1 year mark, but he didn't come home until 8/13/2019, so it's pretty close to 1 year:



And then finally, from this past weekend. I spent a long time this past year with a grounded, slow trot because Eli struggled to keep his balance with his poll up and his nose out. I've been able to establish better straightness recently, so I've been experimenting with adding power back to the trot... and suddenly this horse appeared! There's still some work to go: better reach, better suspension, eliminating the bit of BTV that's going on here, and steadying the poll. It's just so much better!



If you're in the same boat, don't despair. The horse will get there when he gets there, and not a moment sooner. (Also, lessons with A Enter Spooking help a lot!)

Since I'm not sure what's going on in my life or when the next update will be: I hope everyone is having a healthy and safe holiday season. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

One Year Comparisons: Hooves

I diligently took pictures of Eli's front hooves after every trim and reset. I didn't do the same for the hinds since they weren't as drastically bad... but they've both evolved so much.

I need to talk about the hind hooves first, because they influenced recent changes we made to the fronts. Forgive me, there's some history to go through before we get to the comparisons!

Hinds

At the beginning of summer, Eli was struggling with his stifles. He has struggled with toe catching behind ever since we put hind shoes on him last fall, but it started getting a lot worse once we started working outside on the harder outdoor arena. He started catching the toe more often and harder, wrenching the stifle in the process. I know his stifles turn out and he'd prefer not to track straight, but it's been getting better. I did my due diligence and had the vet out for a lameness exam even though he's not really lame, and to take xrays of the stifles.

He was due to have his hind shoes reset 2 days before the vet came, so I had the farrier pull his shoes so the vet could take whatever xrays she wanted. He did a slight trim so Eli wouldn't chew up his feet  but left enough hoof to put shoes back on. In those two days, he didn't catch his toes once.

The vet did a thorough look over and we xrayed the stifles to check them for bone malformation. Everything looked good on that front- no hooks! He did have some inflammation, which considering the struggle bus his hind end has been on, didn't surprise me. She recommended alternating rounds of Adequan and Legend every 3 months (which I'll do once I sort out a few things), and keep doing what I'm doing.

Long blocks of text need pictures of good boys who walked (under saddle) by themselves on the trail for the first time... after happily leaving the main group to head home alone! This was a few weeks ago.

That's all well and good, but I didn't have a content feeling on why shoes caused Eli to catch his toes. Farrier and I agreed that if he'll stay comfortable, we'll leave him barefoot behind since he's not wrenching the stifle. Eli got a proper barefoot trim and was happy.

That lasted about 3 weeks before I noticed some significant issues: footsore behind led to footsore on all 4 feet, despite pads and packing in his front hooves. He stopped walking comfortably out on the trail, even on soft dirt footing. He stopped pushing from behind to go up hills, not that he pushed much anyway, but he was clearly uncomfortable and pulling himself forward with his chest. He was standing more square on the concrete aisle, but everything else seemed touchy.

I had been talking to Penn's owner about hoof boots, but I was struggling to find a boot that was long enough for Eli's hooves, but narrow too. Eli's hind hooves are quite narrow, and more than one company told me their products wouldn't work for him. I was paroozing Easy Care's website when I saw they have a shoe specifically for hind hooves in their EasyShoe range. We measured Eli's hoof, and the shape of the shoe was right for his hoof, so I ordered Eli's first pair of EasyShoe Versa shoes!

From Easy Care's Website

The day finally came to put them on (we had to wait for enough hoof growth), and getting them on was an absolute shitshow. My farrier has put similar shoes on several horses over the years, so none of what happened was his fault. Eli was in serious pain. Farrier did a normal trim, and we found bruising arching with the white line for several inches along both hind toes.

Farrier thoroughly dried the hoof using a heat gun, slathered glue, then nailed the shoes on... one f-ing nail at a time. Eli would snatch the hoof out of his hand at every single nail. Funny part was, the nail going in didn't bother him as much as the hammer pounding near the hoof. Eli caught him once and the whole process had to stop while Farrier bandaged his hand up because he was bleeding everywhere (no good horse discount, I went and bought Farrier beer).


I was a schmuck and realized something the next morning: I should have packed Eli's hinds with magic cushion when Farrier was done the night before. I went out after work that day and packed his feet. He was still a bit sore when I brought him in, but post-MC and about 30 min later, he was already tracking better and bigger behind.


Since then, Eli has felt great! We're in our second cycle of Versa shoes, and I'm happy to say the second set went on a lot easier. Farrier has devised a great process for getting them on, and it's so great that he struggled briefly to pull them off. They were still adhered VERY tightly after 6 weeks in dry summer.

6 weeks of toe wear.

Eli wears size 138mm, but might have to go to 140mm in the next few cycles because his hind feet have started to widen! We can always grind off some of the length if needed when the time comes.

Fronts

With the polyurethane hind shoe experiment being a success, this past week we put on these front shoes:

EasyShoe Performance N/G

I originally wanted to put on Versas, but the shape of the front shoes wasn't correct for Eli's fronts. I also wanted to keep the bar shoe shape with frog support. After a lot of discussion with Penn's owner, I added supporting the bony column of the hoof and leg with a frog support wedge. If you recall, Penn's owner is a corrective farrier who leans towards barefoot and alternative shoeing. She dislikes the impact of steel shoes, and won't put steel shoes on unless she's doing pads and packing under them for shock absorption and frog/sole support.


The Performance N/G fit the bill. Definitely click the link to see the shoe flex independently. Eli wears a size 4, which is snug in width and JUST long enough.

These went on just as nicely as the hinds. They fit very snugly before they were glued and nailed on, so fingers crossed they stay on as well as the hinds have!

While I don't have a verdict about these as far as function, they appear to be doing the trick. Eli seems happy in them, and he's using his shoulder well and seems happier. I thought I had video, but my Galaxy s10 fell victim to the most recent Pivo app update and I had an error happen while recording Eli going in his new shoes... so no video.

Hoof Condition

In the last year, the quality of hoof has gotten a lot better all around. Eli's hooves were crack free until summer started, then all of a sudden got a bunch of small, minor cracks. The quarter crack in his left hind is gone though!

Eli kindly ripped his shoe off in turnout, pulling a chip out in front of the crack in this pic. Farrier trimmed a wedge into the bottom of the quarter crack to discourage it from continuing up the hoof. We packed it with keratex hoof wax after the shoe was back on. I couldn't find a real before pic of the crack, but it was another cm or so higher when he came home. 

Of course I didn't do proper pictures of the quarter crack, so this was the best I could find. The small cracks are all remnants of his time barefoot, plus a dry summer. But it's almost gone in this pic!

A reminder of where we started with the fronts. These are at least 4 weeks into their trim cycle since his fronts were pulled at his vetting in early Aug 2019.

Almost exactly a year later. Still more to go (come on hooves, PLEASE GROW HEEL), but they're still so much better. We're still chipping away at the toe, a bit more to go there too.

And without further ado, a video of the last 12 months of front shoeing!


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Gotcha Day, Year 1!

Today is Eli's gotcha day!

I wanted to have comparisons and such to put on here, but alas, work and life combined with Blogger's dumb new format makes it super difficult to post from my phone. I'll hopefully have some 1 year comparisons next week!

I rode this morning before work with a plan to be at the barn extra early to be down at the outdoor with 10 minutes or so extra time so I could use the selfie feature on my Pivo... Eli was not down with that plan.


I arrived at 5:55 and went to get him after pulling out brushes and tack. Found him napping. Note how dark it is.

So tired! Face smushed into the grass, snoring.

Getting a wee bit dramatic, snoring and groaning while sleeping.

Wait there was a noise!

Don't care, I'm exhausted.

He started getting up and stopped. He also started grazing and stopped. And stayed like this. Note how light it is.


When you kill almost a half hour trying to fetch the horse on Gotcha Day, this is the kind of selfie you have to settle for!