Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Long Lining Penn... a Non-Event

"Are we done yet?"

When I bought Penn, I was told he had a year of dressage training (I love the lady that sold him to me- she was an agent for Penn's breeder and only knew what the breeder told her, let me be clear here). I sat on him and in my head, I thought, "If this horse has a year of dressage training, his breeder needs to get her money back." He knew how to w/t/c, but he fell on his forehand all the time and curled.

I finally know what the heck they were doing all that time- long lining. If they didn't long line him extensively, then I have an amazing unflappable horse with a million dollar price tag!

A lady I used to board with met me out at the barn because she wanted to see long lining taught and give it a try. I had pestered her about it during the day yesterday because I wanted someone to lead Penn to get him started.

I tacked him up in the crossties, then rubbed the lines all over him and tested to see how he would react to the lines running the length of his body. Mikey had a huge issue with this- twine, tape, anything long and skinny- it would cause him to scoot and he'd try to get away. Penn? Not a care in the world. He mostly looked at me like, "What are you doing?"

I took a picture of him at this point, all ready to go, and my phone apparently didn't save it, boo.

We took him to the indoor, I hooked up the lines, and she led him forward as I cued him to walk on. He settled immediately and wasn't confused in the slightest. The issues we had stemmed from my own rusty skills!

We both agreed that this was not his first time long lining. He could be just that easy, but it really came to him too easily. I worked behind him in walk and trot, steered on circles and diagonals, then stuck him on a circle with me in the middle to see how he handled from the side.

I found I'm able to regulate his tempo very nicely and I can half halt quite effectively and make him carry himself more uphill, however what became abundantly clear is his tendency to travel on the forehand with head between his knees. I don't know if this is from his first education or how he naturally carried himself originally (when he's free in the field, he's uphill so I'm going to guess he was taught this), but it was his go-to position when I wasn't keeping after him.

He's a disaster in the canter to the right on the lines. I'm weaker lunging that direction- I don't carry myself the same way as I do to the left. He was able to canter several circles left, but I really need a whip to help make my point. To the right, he couldn't hold the canter more than a half circle and it was horrible and leaning in badly.

I long lined him through 4 trot poles both directions, which I think was super good for him. It made him think about where his feet need to go.

I let him quit after 15-20 min of play time, he was working hard and we wanted to try it with my friend's elderly morgan mare. The mare was completely unimpressed and responded in a more confused fashion that I expected from Penn. We only worked her for about 5 minutes. I got her started then handed her over to her owner to try driving (her owner thought it was hilarious and very difficult).

I think we'll add long lining to our weekly work- I'll use poles and cavalettis with it too. He really needs more strength in his right hind and all over.

Over all, a non-event for baby horse!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Weekend

I hope everyone had a good holiday! I enjoyed staying home (for once) and over indulging in tasty holiday food (a holiday requirement).

We have a ton of stockings, and none of them match. A couple weeks ago, Husband and I bought new stockings at Walmart, along with a way to label them all. Husband's sister has stockings with everyone's first letter (2 humans, 3 cats) and they looked so nice that we wanted to do something similar.

Here's what I opted to make: different color stockings with charms and bells and wood beads with the animal's name (the humans got big stockings with the first letter of our name)

Matching stockings!

And then I stuck them up on the fireplace with the other holiday decorations. We can't wait to redo our fireplace- change the painted white brick and hearth to stone and then since we don't have an actual mantle, put up a distressed wood mantle. And get a more modern/rustic looking screen that doesn't need Plexiglas behind it in order to keep the cats out.

Our mixed religion fireplace. Menorah and stockings!
I was a bad Jew- I totally missed the last night of Hanukkah lights so I opted to light the last set after we fully decorated for Christmas so that I would have an extra pretty picture.

Penn is settling well into his new herd. Fiction is his new BFF and security blanket (sorry Hawk!). Whenever I've come out during the day, they're usually next to or near each other.

Must sniff noses and stand next to each other.

My rides on Saturday and Sunday mostly revolved around me trying to fix my position (what we worked on in last lesson- tuck butt, pelvis tilts up, shoulders up and back). When I ride properly like that, Penn gets instantly lighter, frees up his shoulder, and his steps get big and suspended feeling in trot, and he's able to get more jump in the canter. I found that feeling last week and I asked for some trot lengthenings down the long sides and holy crap, the extended gaits are going to be big gaits to sit!

Hi Mom! I'm feeling better today!

Anyway, Saturday we rode outside and I decided to mess with haunches in a bit. Not my brightest idea. He's just not strong enough to work it more than a couple times, and I overdid it and made him nervous. I spent the rest of the ride working on finding quiet forward (he kept getting jumpy in the contact and irregular in rhythm). Once I found our happy place again, I stuck to things we can do: 15-20m circles.

In canter, a large factor in how good your canter ends up is based on how good the trot was before the canter. To the right, he was fairly good, not spectacular, so the right lead was quiet and flat. We were having bend right issues that day. To the left, I made the trot super and then asked for canter and I ended up with several very strong left lead canters. They were quiet and purposeful, on the hairy edge of flat so that's no good, but I liked quiet and purposeful. Penn has a tendency to go into turbo mode to the left, so I'll take quiet first and then add the jump back.

At the end of our canter work, I brought him back to trot and let him stretch. He's quite an impressive stretcher- he put his nose on the ground without pulling the reins out of my hand and without losing any contact. It was incredible! On the forehand a little, but I like the stretch anyway.

Displeased to have been put back outside in the rain on Sunday.

Sunday it was pouring down rain, so we rode in the indoor (indoor arenas, for the win!).

Penn finally didn't have diarrhea in the crossties when I was tacking him up to ride! So of course I panicked that he was going to colic. Nah, he's fine. Barn Owner had said the day before that the poop in his stall was looking pretty normal again. She also mentioned that he might be a good candidate for field board (based on how much he churns and stall walks). I have a feeling that he's never really been stabled- his breeder sent him for training then he lived in a field for 6 weeks after he came home. I bet he's always lived outside. Doesn't mean I want him living outside 24/7 though. It's an option at winter barn, but not at Trainer's. I know some horses do super well on it, but with how cold, wet, and windy our winters get and how the summer is hot and buggy, I don't want him out at night in the winter and during the day in the summer. I just don't. I know he'd be fine because I have all the clothes for him to be out in extreme weather. I'm not sold that he'd be happy outside in his small herd when every other horse on the farm goes in for stretches of the day. He wants to be where the other horses are.

Anyway, Fiction had already come in, and it was raining, so I think Penn was good with leaving the other horses in the field and his routine. Between how clingy he got with the other horses I rode with on Saturday and this chill day in the cross ties, I think he's just insecure about the world around him. When he came home in August, he didn't have as extreme reactions to things. He pooped a lot in crossties out of nerves, but I never had him in the barn alone or riding alone (I always made arrangements to ride with his turnout buddy or another person because I was afraid of getting dumped by my new green baby horse and being alone when it happened). I don't like that he's clingy now, but I'm willing to let him be clingy because he is a baby and he doesn't understand yet that everything is going to be OK. That and his clingy doesn't come with any really bad behavior (he just gets worried when he gets left behind).

The horses congregating at the shelter. You can kind of see Penn's white star.

Sunday we did more of the same work, but I started my trot work in posting trot with 2 trot poles to keep it interesting (I forced myself to post since I normally sit so I can better regulate our tempo). The trot poles are coming along, but he doesn't quite get how to adjust his stride before the poles so he doesn't hit a long spot. He tends to just keep trotting on the same stride without making an adjustment for the pole. He started to get better about that, so he just needs more practice!

The biggest improvement was the left lead canter- it felt very much like the right lead and I was able to pick at it a little bit for some more jump!

I also tried a simple change through trot. I've tried them before where I let him trot 5-6 steps in between and it all just goes to hell when I ask for the new lead. This time, I found my jumpy canter to the left, went across the diagonal, half halted and asked for trot, then swapped my leg (I need to work on swapping my seat!) and asked for the new lead after a step of trot (before he could fall on his face). At first, I felt him go to pick up the left lead again, but then he made a huge effort to change his mind when he realized what I wanted and he really came up with his shoulders and jumped into the right lead. He got lots of praise and was done for the day. I know it's not much, but it was complicated work for him! I was very pleased. I think the flying changes will come easier to him than they did to Mikey, and I think they're going to be nice and expressive!

*facepalm* Apparently even though Penn is fitting in well now, he's still not allowed under the shelter. At least he's got a hood and blanket on, and his head was under the overhang, and the way the wind was blowing the rain meant it was blowing against the back of the shelter.

I'll be going back out tonight to ride. Or maybe I'll teach him to long line. Trainer taught Mikey, then me, but after teaching demon mare (who was ready to flip over or break her neck instead of go forward or turn right) back in August to long line, I think I can teach Penn. He's very willing. I think he'll catch on quickly, but hopefully there's someone out there tonight so I can have a helper stand up by his head to get him moving forward and then I can take over. I want to make sure it's a quiet, positive experience.

I am terrified to long line him, but I really need to for myself. I have a complex about it since Mikey died while working on the lines. I know it was a freak thing, but I'm still uncomfortable. I long lined demon mare after Mikey's death, so it won't be the first time, but I'm terrified something bad will happen again, especially since Penn had a rearing problem and the lines can sometimes make green horses feel trapped and then they rear and flip over. Long lining is a useful skill that I really want Penn to learn so we can work on finding more jump in the canter and eventually do cavaletti exercises so he has to work his footwork out for himself without me in the way.

We will see what I do... I have my car packed with my long lining stuff (I never brought it back to the barn after taking it home to wash) and my riding stuff (tall boots) so I can do either.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

When I was younger and new to riding (and my parents were trying to use a very hyper border collie mix as a horse substitute), I used to build horse jumps out of Knex and then jump my dog over them repeatedly for hours. Bless him, that dog loved it and just kept jumping. I like to think the hours of jumping and running circles around the house pretending he was a driving horse contributed to him living to be 18. I kept him well exercised!

I told Husband this story at some point this year and he immediately decided to get me a set of Knex as a fun present for the holidays.

I picked up right where 10 yr old me left off - making my current non-horse pets jump.

Sophie was a willing victim.
Hope everyone else is enjoying their holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gut Update

Thank you everyone for the suggestions for gut products!

I decided to go with U-Gard Pellets and powdered Bio Sponge from Platinum. The Platinum products are super expensive, but he's already taking the tube version of Bio Sponge and it's doing an OK job (more on that below). I liked the cost of the MagOx- however I'm concerned that Mr-I'm-a-Picky-Eater won't eat it, and since it'll need to be wet down, I feel bad making our temporary barn do that (he's already their neediest horse I think). Obviously if what I've picked doesn't work, I'll be revisiting the list and reevaluating what I'll ask people to do.

This is not the face of a nervous horse. Except for Penn, it is :-(

I do wish Platinum would make pelleted products. I hate powders. I feel like the chance of them making it into the horse is minuscule. Powders get stuck to anything wet or with static cling. Since I'm going to be giving him Doc's OCD, U-Gard, and Bio-Sponge, I'm going to start making him supplement baggies. Winter barn will do one scoop-able supplement, or else they ask that it be put in daily baggies or SmartPaks. Which is totally fine! I buy in such bulk anyway (except this first round of supplements) that it's not cool for them to have to keep huge buckets of stuff around the feed room. Anyway, moving a powder from bucket to baggie to feed bucket means some is lost every time. Even if I was willing to pay for SmartPaks (unless you buy their Smart Products, it's usually a ton cheaper per day to scoop yourself- do the math!), putting them all into Paks for a couple months isn't an option because the OCD and Bio-Sponge can only be purchased from their manufacturers. Bleh.

Penn's stall.

Anyway, Penn's diarrhea is still hanging around, despite the Bio Sponge. It's no where near as bad as it was over the weekend, which is good. It's been more solid and almost turd-like, but there's still liquid with some of the poops I've seen. BO let me know there were some actual turds in his stall yesterday morning, so yay!

I think a lot of it is nerve related - any change to the routine brings it on. I rode Tuesday evening while all the horses were in the barn, and he only pooped once in the aisle and there wasn't any liquid with it. Wednesday, I brought him in from the field and rode during the day and he spewed several times. I seem to remember him being a little nervous about being in the barn by himself when we brought him home in August, but it wasn't like this.

I need to spend some time just watching him in the field. I want to know if he spews when he poops out there. I'm leaning towards no, because he's out with the other horses.

I do want to stay away from calming supplements- mostly because they're illegal for USEF/USDF shows and that's really the time I'm going to need to support Penn.

Poor Penn. I really hope he adjusts to winter barn. I want to keep riding all winter, but if he's going to spew, I'm going to have to take him back home so he doesn't risk colitis.

Riding in the outdoor yesterday.

Despite his tummy problems, he's been a very nice ride. He may be nervous in the barn or in cross ties, but you sit on him and he immediately relaxes. Maybe he just needs a job all the time? Or he knows what's expected of him so he can relax?

Everyone have a good holiday! I'm off to go see Penn!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Year of Major Events

I decided to do a year wrap up since this has been quite the year.

Shiny horse.

In January, we had just picked up and moved from my winter boarding situation that didn't work, back to my trainer's operation which had moved to a different barn with an indoor. We spent most of the month battling hock swelling with on and off lameness. The flying changes were continuing to come along, and I learned how to long line.

This view gave us both a good work out.

At the end of January I learned that the swelling was due to a hock chip that had to be removed. Surgery was scheduled for the first week of February. OSU corrected the diagnosis by pointing out a fracture bed and that the single chip was actually at least 8 individual chips. They also did an ultrasound of the tendon on the inside of the joint and found it was torn.

See fracture bed.
See more chips that have floated down the joint.
Here are 16+ chips, now outside the horse.

Mikey had surgery to remove the chips in February. Surgery went well, but one chip couldn't be removed because they couldn't find it. Mikey's 3 day trip became a week long trip when Mikey was in too much pain to drive him home and we opted to do stem cell injections and my truck's brakes gave out.

Mikey's prognosis at this point was 70% chance of him being able to return to full work and competition sound. It was soul crushing news. I'd still have my friend, but we might have to rework our plans.

Using the scope to hunt for chips. It didn't work, they ended up having to make more incisions and flush the joint.

February and March were spent in freezing cold, riding training horses as available, and a couple rides on then 3* horse Cody. Mikey continued to heal nicely. He tried to colic mid-February and so we started walking him for five minutes every other day to help him settle on stall rest.

At the beginning of March, Mikey went back to OSU for an APS treatment and checkup. The surgeon was very pleased at his progress and soundness. He was mostly stiff instead of outright lame, but still lame. March was spent healing more.

Back at OSU.

He was cleared for walking 15 min a day on day 30. Yay!

Completely adorable face.

April had some big events- Mikey was cleared to return gently to work and for turnout! Riding was very depressing at first- he didn't feel like my old Mikey. He eventually started to feel better under saddle and I used long lining to help him learn to carry himself better.

Long lining in prep for turnout. Cause I wasn't sitting on something that's been locked in a stall for 2 months.
Screenshot from his "freedom gallop" where he showed he was most definitely NOT lame.

The next big thing? Trainer and Cody went to Rolex and finished their first 4*!

18 sets of tickets because her students are obnoxious.
A collage made by one of her students.

May brought a change of venue- we went back to the original home farm.  Our winter home didn't work out for us to stay long term. I spent a lot of time working Mikey very through and improving our connection to the bridle. It was good solid work for him.

Back trail riding in the Christmas Tree farm next door.

We had a lot of fun in June. I built some cavaletti's to help build Mikey's butt strength.

Not thrilled by the idea of cavaletti.
All ready to work!

And one of the ponds on the property overflowed when we got a crapton of rain. Mikey learned to be a water baby long ago, so we had an incredible time scrapping our dressage work and having fun cantering through a pond.


July was a big deal for us. Mikey was still sound and working 3rd level again. I rode with German Riding Master, who was very pleased with Mikey's progress since last December, even if the changes hadn't worked out yet. I sent in the entry for our first recognized show back in action! We also competed in a schooling show, riding 3-1 and 3-2. We had our two best tests to date, yet they were both still 59%. It was depressing, but I cried anyway because Mikey had beaten the odds and come back and competed at 3rd level. Even better than he did before.

Rocking an extended canter.
Riding up our final centerline in 3-2. Which turned out to be the last time I'd ride him up centerline.

August. August was... bad. Mikey died suddenly on August 4th from an aortic aneurysm, right in front of me. I lost my friend and partner. I was crushed.

The last picture I ever took of him.

August also sent me Penn. Quickly too. For that, I am forever grateful. Looking back, without him, I would have been... in a bad place. He gave me something to focus on besides Mikey's loss.

Test ride.

Penn had a big month- he moved to PA from VA, went for his first trail ride and to his first horse show. He did Intro A and B to 59% and 62%.

After test riding love.

But August decided it wasn't done with me yet. It threw a kitten into my life who joined our family. August netted our family +1 family member.

Sophie tucking in for bed in the sink on her gotcha day- when I grabbed her from the yellow line of a highway.

September continued Penn's education. He learned more about riding in the ring and riding on trails. He learned about puddles. He learned about trains. He learned all the things. I dealt with rearing fits. I started looking for a new saddle- the Jaguar was not going to cut it anymore.


Penn learned to jump in October! He showed that he was not going to be a jumper. He got a fancy new halter for shows with his name. He went to a hunter show and then a hunter pace. He was so tired- he spent the next few days resting.

Fancy halter!
Yea, he's not a hunter. That be a dressage horse.

In October we also were able to pick a saddle- the Stubben 1894. It was ordered! We just spent more time in October schooling and working on tempo and steadyness.

November brought yet another schooling show! Penn and I went off and did Training 1 and 2, to a tune of 59% and 62% again for a tough judge.

Nomming at the horse show.

Penn and I also had a "coming to Jesus" over the clippers and rearing and bolting. I won because Penn got his first clip job ever! Penn retaliated by being obnoxious in his field and getting the other horses to rip my blankets to shreds. He'd been doing that since October, however I finally broke down and bought the SmartPak Ultimate Turnouts for him. I was off Thanksgiving week and opted to clean up Penn's clip job that week. This time we used drugs to make him quiet so I could clip him properly.

Clip 1 at the beginning of November! No drugs, just chain.

His new saddle also arrived in November, right before Thanksgiving!

New saddle!

December saw us go to another schooling dressage show, where we completely rocked and scored a 63%, 69%, and 68% in Training 1, 2, and 3 respectively. We won everything. Penn just keeps getting better and better. Penn saw the German Riding Master who wholeheartedly approved of him.

Winner, winner!

We traveled to a new barn for a lesson with Trainer and ended up making winter boarding plans for January to March. Penn ended up moving early! He continues to make leaps and bounds in his work. We have a show schedule planned for next year and goals for next year!

Winter barn!

This year saw Mikey's surgery, recovery, comeback, and then untimely death.
Penn arrived in my life. So did Sophie. Both have become part of the family.
Please 2015, let the last few days go by quietly. It's been an overly exciting year with major events. No more please, for a long time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gut Supplements

Since Penn is going to be a stoic, internalizing his worries type horse, I want to try to do right by his gut/digestive tract and help him not get ulcers or colic.

By the way, he started a 4 day course of Bio Sponge for his diarrhea. It was still loose when I went out to see him last night to drop off his meds, but he didn't spew in the cross ties, so it looks like it's getting better slowly on it's own. The medication should help. I'll have to ask if I can give it to him in a preventative manner before hauling, or if there's a different drug (it has to be USEF legal).

I put links to each product in the table:

Product Pounds Number of Scoops Price Cost Per Day Cost Per Year
Chia (2oz serving) 12 96 $39.98 $0.42 $152.01
Chia (4oz serving) 12 48 $39.98 $0.83 $304.01
SmartGut Pellets Paks 28 39.85 $1.42 $519.47
SmartGI Pellets Paks 28 $46.50 $1.66 $606.16
Progressive Nutrition Soothing Pink 15 60 $129.95 $2.17 $790.53
SmartGut Ultra Pellets Paks 28 $63.60 $2.27 $829.07
SmartGI Ultra Pellets Paks 28 $89.25 $3.19 $1,163.44
Doc's OCD 15 240 $309.00 $1.29 $469.94

Doc's OCD isn't for the gut, it's for general bone and joint health (and Penn gets it already so I included it's cost in my table). I will stand by that product ALL DAY LONG as the best joint health supplement (I've used several). I wish I had x-rays of Mikey's hock after surgery, and then 5 months later so I would have proof of its abilities. We were planning on taking a set a year out from surgery... but well now we can't. Penn had a slight bone inconsistency in one angle of one of his fetlock joints, so we're going to take the same shot next August to see what it looks like.

I did Chia before. I didn't really notice anything with Mikey (maybe it did work and I just didn't know?), and we decided to take Penn off of it. The 2 oz serving is a maintenance serving, the 4oz is a problem serving. I always did the problem serving because well, it was cheap enough to do it! I'd be interested in making cookies out of it because the seeds are so small and prone to static cling, but I'm having trouble coming up with a binding agent that will hold 2/3 of a cup of the stuff together (that's 4oz). Suggestions?

I'm neutral to the SmartPak supplements. To be honest, after seeing the price tags I'd really only be willing to give SmartGut or SmartGI a try since they're cheapest. SmartGI Ultra Pellets comes with the $7,500 in colic care, which is great, except Penn is already insured and for an additional $1,163.44 per year, I'll triple his value on his policy as soon as he's worth it and then he'll have more than $7,500 in surgery care.

A friend with a neurotic OTTB tried Soothing Pink to great results. Except that $130 tub lasted one month for her, making her horse's dose cost $4.33 per day and $1,581.06 per year. Not happening for Penn, sorry! We think Penn can get away with that bucket lasting two months since he weighs less and doesn't have the nervous issues that her horse has.

So I'm in sticker shock here- I'm game to try things, however the end cost of $600-$1,500 a year is not happening. So blogosphere, do you have a favorite gut supplement that you swear by?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Change of Plans

Trainer sent me a message Friday and asked if I'd like to move Penn a bit early since I was going to be shuffling him around a bit at the end of December... and I was hauling him over to the winter barn for a lesson on Saturday anyway- she offered me a partial refund on board if I wanted to move him early. I messaged the winter barn owner, who said she had a stall available. I made plans with the farrier to make sure it worked for him, and everything was set!

I think Trainer is working to get all her ducks in a row well before she leaves to go south, and she was possibly bringing another client's horse back to the farm over the weekend and would have been short a stall... but it works out well for everyone that Penn could move Saturday when I brought him for my lesson!

Goodbye outdoor arena... I will not miss trying to ride on you in the snow!
Picture from when I picked up my cavaletti blocks Saturday morning.

I had an uneventful morning packing and hauling Penn by himself. We had a slight discussion about the trailer (I had a trunk next to the back and I don't think he liked that... too bad), and he eventually walked right on and stayed there so I could get the butt bar up. Then he spewed some diarrhea. Great. I cleaned it out of the trailer before putting the ramp up. I strapped in my second trunk, cleaned more diarrhea out of the trailer, ramp up, and off we went! Unloading was good too- I had flipped the lead rope over Penn's neck so he could back himself off when I got the butt bar down. I have a swinging divider, except when I have more than one trunk stacked in the second stall, I can't really swing it to get up to his head to encourage him off. Well the whole, "no flying backwards off the trailer and no moving until I say you can" finally stuck in his head because he wouldn't budge. I had to squeeze up next to him and give his lead rope a little tug to make him back off. Which he did, very quietly and like he's been hauling around for a long time.

I got the bigger stuff out of my trailer and in the barn before my lesson, and the trailer parked in it's space. I got a little confused with ride times, so I had some time to kill, so I did a bit more unpacking and got Penn's feed all worked out with the barn owner. She feeds Nutrena feeds as well, but not the variety Penn was getting. She did a quick look up on her phone of Proforce Fuel, decided that she wanted to try it on a couple of her harder keepers, ordered it, and the feed guy brought it during my lesson! So Penn doesn't even have to change feeds! Yay! I priced getting enough feed for him for the 3 months and with the increase in board, there was no way I could pay board and buy him his own feed. It was very nice of her to stock his usual feed.

I got Penn ready for lesson, with diarrhea still spewing. He did that last time I brought him for lesson... I don't quite get it- I've hauled him all over and while he's pooped a lot in the trailer (not very solid), it's always been solid while we're at wherever we are. The only thing I could come up with is that I've never hauled him alone except for when he came home and for our two lessons in December, and it's never continued because he always came back home (I swear, there is something about that farm- all the horses love it. Mikey never liked leaving either!).

He never showed any outward signs of nervousness (no fidgeting) all weekend, ate all his grain, all his hay, drinking well, relaxed in the field- no pacing or other nervous activity, and wonderful to ride. His stall was a bit more churned than at home on Sunday morning, but the stall walking is normal for him. That's the only nervous habit I could tell. I have a feeling he is quite the stoic dude and definitely internalizes his feelings. I'm a bit concerned about the diarrhea. I called Trainer to find out what drugs I should ask the vet for because if I don't know what I'm asking for, I'll end up with a $200 vet bill of a barn call, ulcer testing, speculating, and then the drugs I need. Obviously if it carries on after the drugs, we'll have the vet out. She said to ask for Bio Sponge, Probios, or the corrective mix. I called the vet office, and the secretary said she'll ask the vet which drug to give me and she'll give me a call back. I think I'm going to start him on a daily ulcerguard or probiotics or one of SmartPak's Smart Digest products. If he's going to internalize his feelings, he's going to end up very cranky. Internalizing makes people sick, so I can only imagine what havoc it will cause in a delicate horse belly!

Arriving at the winter barn!

Lesson was good- Trainer picked at my position a bit - I tend to perch on Penn, especially in canter. Our canter work involved finding more jump in the canter on a 20m circle, keeping both hind legs engaged, and then taking that canter off the circle and into canter half way immediately- just for a couple strides before turning back to the direction we were going and coming back around to the circle to have another go. We worked the right lead pretty hard, then went left and Penn just got tired. I don't blame him- I was tired too. The left half pass only got one or two good strides before I made Penn bail and come back around. His right hind is slow to the left, and after drilling it to the right, it was extra slow. No worries, he will get stronger. We quit while the going was still good.

Trainer wants me to spend the winter getting that jump in the canter going a lot better, and the half pass working better so that when she comes back from the south we can teach him flying changes. She and I both agreed a couple weeks ago that he would learn them as soon as he was physically ready and I would have to rise to the occasion for the 2nd level counter canter work and hold the lead. She said that he already has more jump than Mikey ever did, but for him, it's not enough. We'll use that jump to get the lead change and we'll use half pass to get him thinking about it. He's already thinking in the right direction when I ride one loops in canter- we hit the top of the loop and he questions me about what he should be doing and I have to encourage the counter canter across X.

The biggest takeaway from lesson: in all gaits, I need to get rid of my tipping/perching forward. It's not helping anybody. Instead of perching, I need to tuck my butt more under me and keep my shoulders up, boobs out. Instead of sitting on him, I need to use the upwards tilt of my pelvis and a relaxed knee to sit around him. I also need to find a feeling in the rein where I'm treating the reins like they're made of paper. Basically, start giving a bit more. He's not going to lay on me, so use my leg to bring him up and relax the hand.

This is apparent somewhat at the trot - when I ride properly, he comes through nicely, goes very uphill, and then if I relax my hands and work on keeping his poll up with my leg, he stretches his neck to the bit and opens his throat latch. Add a wee bit more trot to it and he gets the start of a very suspended trot that he's not strong enough to hold... yet! Also, he got so settled into the big uphill trot that he was dumbfounded when I asked for canter. No biggie, I'm sure part of it is he's not strong enough to hold that much up and do a transition to canter without losing some of it.

It is so much more obvious at the canter where Penn is weakest in strength. Once I find that place (I dropped my stirrups to do it) where I'm following his back with my seat and not driving or hindering, the amount of jump in his canter doubles. Trainer had me think about keeping the second beat of canter on the ground longer because Penn is so quick to keep his feet moving. Another comment along those lines were about his lower legs- he's so loose and flexible in his joints that when he steps, the whole lower legs has some wiggle to it as it's going through the motion of picking up and putting down the hoof. It's a strength problem too- one that cavaletti work should help since that requires solid placement of the feet and good strong pushes.

Also, relax left hand!!!!

Penn (all the way on the right) and friends.

Turnout into his new group was mostly uneventful- just some squealing and a small amount of kicking and striking. No one in the herd has exceptional social skills, they're all bottom of the totem pole horses, and Penn is just slow to get out of the way. There was a lot of fancy prancing and about five minutes after Penn got into the field everyone had settled and was back to eating grass. All of the horses in the field have no concept of personal space with each other and love being touchy feely and poking other horses with their noses. I'm sad I didn't have my phone on me to video the fancy prancing! Because FANCY. Penn is turned out with Fiction, and the two of them are the young ones in the herd with two quiet older horses. They were quite fancy trotting around while the older horses just tried to keep up, haha.

The barn owner told me that Sunday morning's turnout was very uneventful- a squeal and they were done.

I rode Penn Sunday and we worked on me keeping my position where it needs to be. Holy crap, when I sit properly he just fills out and floats and is uphill and his back was so UP. There were some trot poles out from the previous day's lessons and I took him through those as his balance allowed. He was so good. I didn't work for more than a half hour because he worked so hard in lesson the day before. I can't wait for Jan 3's schooling dressage show. I have two full weeks of no weather-darkness-pressured practice before it, and he makes such great leaps forward in a couple rides!

He did not cooperate with me trying to take his picture.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Non-Riding Week (Picture Dump Again!)

So this week is a non-riding week for me- I don't have vacation to use to this week to ride. So here's what I've been up to instead.

I went to get the mail and several packages (Amazon, SmartPak, MeowBox) Wednesday from the front porch and the tree lights were on and the cats were watching me through our big picture window.

I had to wave my hands around to make them look in the same direction,

I read an article a while ago about how if house cats were lion sized they'd probably eat us.

The face of destruction.

Let's zoom in on that face.

Yupp. If that face was lion sized, she'd eat me.
Anywho, the exciting bit is that my truck parts got here and so did Penn's Hanukkah/Christmas present- Smart Pak's Ultimate Turnout Lightweight Hood! Penn now has the complete line because Jan = Blanket Hoarder. But first:

Husband does the work. I am the tool gopher.
The truck is about 2" too tall to make it through the garage opening, but putting just the bed in is effective too.
Husband added a ton of lights to the garage so it's actually brighter down there than any other room in the house.
First was replacing the exhaust hanger while the spare tire was out of the way. Note the large break in the original one.
New solid rubber exhaust hanger!
Look! It's the gooseneck trailer ball that came with the truck! Except the mechanism that releases it so you can pull it up through the bed and turn it around is broken. It's stuck in this non-useful position until we get around to fixing it.
New spare tire hoist and hanger.
All done! I learned a ton about how to fix the two issues Husband fixed Wednesday night, and I think I could do it myself next time. Let's hope there isn't a next time though!

Wednesday night, Husband also helped me with another project made from leftover Aluminum blanks.

Blanket tags!!!!!

I saw a set advertised on Facebook a month or so ago that were round dog tags with the horse's name in the middle and the blanket weight wrapped around the bottom curve of the tag. I could NOT for the life of me find them again on ether Facebook or Etsy (I found others though that I didn't like as much).

There is another horse in the barn who has the same set of blankets as Penn, and all the blankets get hung in a communal blanket hanging area. Awkward! The other horse's owner wrote her horse's name in her blankets, but I'm afraid to do that and somehow void the 10 year warranty. Another thing, it's hard to tell which weight blanket Penn is wearing at a glance. They're all EXACTLY THE SAME. Come on Smartpak, why no color choices?!

Enter these blanket tags! Husband had the aluminum blanks for some past project, and he offered them to me since he didn't need them. He punched a hole in each one, and then used letter stamps that he got from his Pap (who was a tinsmith) to stamp Penn's name and the blanket weight. We got some key rings and voila! Cheap blanket tags instead of the $5 per tag plus shipping that I was finding online!

I'll put the turnout tags on the metal chest clips, and the hood rings on the whither clip (that's the only metal on the hood!).

I felt the need to label turnouts and hoods. I don't know why, haha.
We had some fun first with the different sized letters. Cam + Penn = Campin'

Matt's sister sent us a Meow Box for the cats for the holidays. They loved it.

It was addressed to Nickels, but the girls quickly took over.
Everyone found things they liked. Penny got the box, Sophie the paper, Nickels the Smelt toy and the cat treats.

Love this shot. Penny had one of the "Pet Candy" toys and Sophie wanted to see it.
The girls play rough in our house. Plus they were high as fuck on all that catnip.

This weekend, I'm hauling to our winter barn for a lesson with Trainer, then I'll ride Sunday and go back to the winter barn for their Christmas party. Next week I have a half day on Wednesday to ride, an early out Christmas Eve, then Christmas to ride, and all Christmas weekend. Then it's only 4 short days until Penn moves to his winter barn for 3 months and I can ride during the week again!