Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mikey Got Felt Up For His Birthday

Today is Mikey's birthday (4/30). Happy 16th birthday Mikey!

His present? Getting felt up while I checked him for ticks.

Because that's what happens when you come out of your stall looking like this:

He has swollen thyroids already, so now there's extra swelling and it's swollen down the length of his jaw to his lips. 

And your throat looks like this after I pull two deer ticks out of you.


I do believe he'll be getting a series of doxy as a late birthday present. I don't normally do that because he's bitten so often I'd be broke.  I usually don't worry about it, but he has such strong reactions to tick bites and these were tiny deer ticks instead of the bigger black ones I'm used to. So I'll talk to the vet and my trainer tomorrow.

After pulling those out, I reached up in every nook and cranny checking for more. At least he's not ticklish!

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Know Someone Famous!

Ok, so my trainer may not be famous, but she completed Rolex this weekend!

A collage of pictures from the photographers, put together by one of our students.

She had a run out at the b element of The Mounds (keyhole to an angled brush) which I'm sure she'll say was her fault and a glance off (I can't seem to find video). She really took her time on xc to make sure she and Cody came home safe and sound. From the videos my group took (we were everywhere), it looks like 4* xc courses are enough to back Cody off and make him listen to his rider! He was still looking for the next jump and raring to go though!

"Roar!! Feed me the next jump!!"
I know she didn't finish in the style she would have liked- a run out and a lot of time on xc and a lot of rails in show jumping, but she was thrilled to finish and complete. Out of 88 entries, 75 started the event, and 40 finished. I think she'll be back for next year! He did catch himself on cross country- he had a heel grab somewhere in the deep footing, but was sound for Sunday. I think that made her ride a bit conservatively in show jumping, so they didn't perform at their best.

I'll have a bigger update later, for now, I'm going out to the barn to hug Cody and ride (and hug) Mikey!

Cody is enjoying a well earned vacation!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rolex Craziness

I've walked the cross country course, watched a day of dressage, spent a lot of money, so here's a pic of my trainer and I'll update later! It's crazy here!

She rides dressage Friday.

By the way, I did fan girl a bit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happy Anniversary!

Monday was my husband's and my 2 year wedding anniversary. He surprised me with tickets to see Mythbusters Unleashed!

We saw the show a couple years ago, and it was just as fun!

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Weekend (In Pictures)

My trainer asked me to take care of the horses for PM feed this past Saturday and Sunday, so I spent a bit of time at the barn. Nothing ground breaking happened, Mikey was awesome and the weekend was great! He's still doing very well.

I got Aluspray from the vet Friday night.

Saturday was my sweet Penny's 2nd birthday.

Mikey got patched again Saturday morning.

In different places than before.

With a lot of focus on the butt cheeks apparently.

The hock still got patched, just in a new way. It looked awesome!

Some neck patches.

Some butt patches.
His back is usually flinchy, with the patches he's no longer flinching.
I've tried massage, acupuncture, and drugs. Nothing compares to these patches.

How the patches work.
A first work outside since the fall on Saturday.

He certainly didn't act like he hadn't been worked outside in the last 6 months.

The right hind flexes well, even if he has no engagement behind. Lazy boy.

Saturday, 7pm at 70 some degrees and sunny, 2-3 hours past normal feed time. Where are my 20+ horses?

After dragging in all but two horses who refused to be caught and then it got dark so they stayed out, I went to the drag strip for the first time. Husband enjoys taking his Camaro on street drag nights. I think I know how my mom felt when I would do any kind of jump course. I worried about him even though a chance of an accident was low.

On Sunday I fetched this handsome boy from his field and we had a great ride. Lazy, super solid feeling, and good!

Took him down to the creek in his field after our ride to make sure he knows where it is.
He dragged me in as soon as he saw it.

Thirsty thirsty! I don't think he'll be coming in and guzzling his bucket down anymore!
I brought the horses in, and the same two mares ran from me, in the rain. So they're spending the night in the rain. Maybe that will change their tune and let us catch them!

Naptime after a rough day eating a ton of grass outside and working for 20 minutes.
Resting his face in the sawdust. He snored.

He loves his fresh deep bedding!

I had a last snuggle with Cody before he leaves for KY on Monday.
All the cool Rolex horses dunk their hay.
4 days until Rolex!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Settling In

Mikey and I are settling into our new routine.

I'm aiming for 4-5 times a week to go out to ride him: tack up, ride at the walk and trot for 15-30 min depending on how he feels, ice or ice/heat/ice depending on how the hock looks/feels and time available, feed Mikey cookies and give him love, put him away.

The goal is to spend 2-3 months getting his fitness back and slowly working up to 3rd level work. I'm using the time to fill in some of the holes in his training that we really should have filled already, but with my other goals, we just glossed over them. I am also trying to fill in the neck muscle right in front of the saddle. He's very weak and hollow there. Long and low is his happy place, and it also works that muscle, so we're spending several weeks getting that muscle into the fitness program before pushing his frame up and asking him to sit.

Work those top of the neck muscles!
Not that I'm going to continue this counting, but as of today at lunchtime....

Ride Counter:
     Bad: 1 (the very first)
     Average: 1 (on the second day of turnout after 5 days in due to weather)
     Good: 5

I'm hoping the trend continues! Every good ride has come with those wonderful floppy relaxed ears. You know, the ones where you trot and they wiggle back and forth in rhythm with the trot? He rarely had them before surgery, so I'm thrilled that he's starting to develop them as we get back to work.

We rode Tuesday, another good feeling ride. Light, through, happy. There is a young woman (around my age) who is new to our trainer's program. A long story short, she's trying to undo her steering and riding training from hunter/jumper land (pull the rein for the direction you want, little to no leg directional cues, perching, no connection). She had a lesson on a tough horse that she's looking to buy. The horse is also back in our program after spending a couple years being ruined in hunter/jumper land (pulling the nose in has made the mare very stiff, sensitive and nervous). She stuck around to watch Mikey go since she'd seen me tending to him but never seen him move. About ten minutes in, she asked how often I have to correct him to keep him in the long and low frame. I told her very rarely, I mostly have to keep leg on and half halt every now and then to keep him from laying on my hand, and continue to ride from inside leg to outside hand, but otherwise he maintains the connection himself. She was like, 'what?!', so I asked her if she wanted to sit on him to get a feel of what it should be like, no reason he can't walk around with another person on him. She was thrilled. She got on and just walked him and I gave her a little coaching to help her out. Mikey connected and come through for her, and stayed there. She was blown away that he could be so sensitive to tiny movements and so quiet. She was impressed that he was so available to her. It made me proud! Good boy!

After untacking and icing his leg, I dealt with his first turnout boo-boos:

I think King finally told him to piss off. I'm guessing it's teeth marks because King is under 13 hands, old, fat, lazy, and it would take too much energy to kick Mikey that high on his hip.
Mikey was not happy about me cleaning his cuts. I had to wash them and gently rub the dirt off. The big one bled out a bit more as I was washing it. At least they weren't too deep. I'm hoping the hair grows back in (preferably chestnut!)- I'm concerned the bottom one is going to end up as a black skin patch like he has on his other flank from a similar wound about 10 yrs ago. My trainer wasn't happy that her help missed it when the help brought the horses in.

A side note, the help will no longer be the help after today, 4/17 (numerous infractions in just leading the horses to bring them in for dinner, among other things, not just missing these bigger boo-boos). The help gives a bad name to the B/HA/A pony clubbers in my eyes and is the reason I'm not impressed with the Pony Club system. The fact that she got through and is barely competent working by herself is not a good sign. Even correction from my trainer didn't get through to her. I hate seeing my trainer lose valuable help right before Rolex since that's a strain on her and her resources, but I'm glad the help will not be taking care of the horses while the entire barn is at Rolex. I don't want to bash people in a public forum, so I'm sorry. I'm just glad. I know from personal experience that barns are tough places to work, and I completely understand that bad days, mistakes and accidents happen because horses are horses and shit happens. But if you've been corrected with anything that has to do with handling the horses, you had best NOT make the same mistake again. Anyway, back to the point. Boo-boos!

All clean!
I really need to order Aluspray. I wish I had some to put on that. Human spray on bandage (New Skin I think?) just isn't the same. I don't usually put anything except neosporin on horsey cuts, but those were big and bad enough that I didn't want them open to dirt. I just called the vet office, they sell it, so I'm going to go pick it up on the way to the barn. I'm sure I overpaid, but I figure I didn't have to pay shipping or wait to get it.

Poor Mikey, he is out of shape. We worked for a half hour on Wednesday (he felt and looked awesome!), and when we were done his girth was sweaty! Poor guy. A half hour of walk and trot with a temperature in the 60's made him sweat! I'm trying to slowly do more and more to the right, and I did quite a few proper bending 20m circles in trot to the right to gently load the right hind. He's still getting away with a lot to the right. I'm not forcing the bend through his body like I should. I just do not want to damage the right hind by overloading it, so I'm letting him be crooked on the short sides of the arena. I know this is going to come back and bite me in the butt. I just talked about fixing gaps in his training, and here I am letting him ignore my inside leg and be crooked! To the left I'm going to run into trouble with getting his right hind to keep up, I know I'm not after it like I should be.

"No more work, ok?"
I'm just unsure about how much work is too much. I've been going by how he feels and when he feels tired. At some point I am going to have to push onward and work the canter and force him to bend and load the right hind. Today is day 74 post-surgery. I think I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing until I come back from Rolex. It'll be day 84 on 4/27. I'll add the canter back in and expect him to maintain his right bend at that time. That's 3 weeks plus a few days after he started back to work, which I think is a reasonable time frame. If it goes to hell, we'll go back to walk and trot.

I had to halt him so I could get one non-blurry pic.
Our barn is holding a dressage show at the end of June. I think I'm going to ride him in it at whatever level he's comfortable at, even if that's just training level. It's an at home show without a grounds or stabling fee since I board there. How can I pass on that? Sorry to the other people who are showing whatever level we end up at! Maybe I'll have one of the younger riders take him in at training level, I won't feel so bad then!

Rolex Countdown: 6 days!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Road Rally and Ride 4

Sunday I was a good wife and did a local 200 mile road rally with Husband. He drove, I was the navigator.

I can read a dressage test and cross country map.
But I couldn't work out what that darn stopwatch meant in the some of the boxes.
We figured out that the top number was a pause/gain time in hundredths (of what, who knows), the bottom number was a distance, again in hundredths of what we figured had to be a mile.

It was tough, but fun, but the other people in the race were way too serious. Husband and I figured that we could get pretty good at it, if we only knew what some of the stuff meant, and had the computers everyone else had. These computers kept track of distance out to the 3rd decimal place and did the right calculations to deal with the gain loss and CAST information, and put that information out to the navigator who then told the driver what speed to drive at. Crazy! My husband has a new electronics project since we priced the computers for shits and giggles and it's easy to spend $10,000 on a computer setup. We wish the people planning the race had been a bit more helpful since they knew it was our first rally and had no idea what we were doing. We also wish it had been a little better executed.

We want to find a Riddle Rally next, where your directions are given to you in riddles and to make your next turn you have to figure out a riddle. More our style!

The race finished close to the barn, so I talked Husband into taking a nap in the barn parking lot while I rode. The day was so nice, it was nice to be able to go out and sit on my horse and not just in a car. He was average feeling, not bad like our first ride, but not lovely like the two rides before. I'm not worrying about it. Sunday was his first day out on turnout since the previous Monday due to the huge amounts of rain and thunderstorms we were getting. My trainer said he went out quietly, but an entire day outside is more than he's used to.

Oh and I finished my Sunday with a black eye. I don't really want to share the details, it was just a silly accident. I've got a small shiner that I can just barely cover up with makeup. Accident prone/it-always-happens-to-me Jan strikes again! I might go to the doctor to make sure my eye is ok. I've had some pain behind it and I'd like to know I'm not going to detach a retina or something. Always something! Sunday was such a great day, and then bam, black eye!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dressage Clinic and Ride 3

First of all, no I didn't ride Mikey in a clinic! I rode him during the lunch break.

The clinic was last Saturday, and there was a half hour lunch break, during which I tried to squeeze in a ride. I made sure I was ready to go in as soon as the prior lesson was done. That got messed up because that lesson went 5 min late, and the next lesson came in 15 minutes early, which left me with ten minutes to get my 20 min of walk and trot work in!

The clinician knew Mikey was just getting back into work (we chatted while he did his walk work), and was gracious enough to let me ride for another five or ten minutes while she chatted with her next lesson and had the lesson warm up a little.

Mikey felt awesome again, and was quiet even though he had spent his time in the crossties being a butthead. I went to great lengths in his early years to teach him to stand still, in the middle of the aisle, until I take him out of the crossties. He was being a fidgety, naughty horse Saturday! He quieted down as soon as I asked him to come through and walk, and his trot felt light and lovely. I wish I could have kept riding, but I had to get out of the arena.

I took him outside for some hand grazing after, and iced his hock and then put his back on track wraps on.
"No, I won't look at you."
Nom nom nom

More nom nom nomming.
My trainer worked outside in the big outdoor arena that has the dressage arena for her lesson because she needed to work on her 4* test. The day had started with a lot of rain, but cleared up nicely, so she was the only one to work out there.

During warm up.
I didn't get many pictures of her because she had me video with her phone, so I couldn't get more with mine. I caught one of her early trot half passes before switching to her phone.

They never got to ride through the whole test, but they focused on the five loop canter serpentine. So that move has 5 loops, which means they cross the centerline 4 times (not counting the short sides). For the first two times she goes across the centerline, she's to hold the counter canter, and the next two, she's to ride a single flying change.

Cody was having none of it. He's a jumping machine, and dressage is his worst phase. Go figure since I want to steal him to finish my bronze.

XC at The Fork CIC***
Show Jumping at The Fork CIC***

He's a fit boy, his gallop sets are 3-10 minute gallops in prep for Rolex (not at Advanced speed 570mpm- he does them at Training/Prelim speed, 470-520mpm). Take that super fit horse, put him in a package and expect him to relax in a dressage ring, while working hard on his weakest phase? He had a few rearing tantrums as his head exploded. There's no getting through to him when he's like that, you do what you can and put him away, and bring him back out a couple hours later. He didn't go back out that day, but he had a hell of a session planned for the next day!

One week til they ship off to Rolex!

Acculife Patches

Last Friday, Mikey got full body patched. I mentioned them before in a post, but neglected to get pictures. Last time he only got his hock done. This time, he had a set on the poll, back, hip, croup, butt, and the bad hock. They're supposed to relieve pain and tension, and placed correctly, calm the horse. They also contain zero medication, so they are completely legal to use any time.

One horse in the barn absolutely adores them. He is a nervous, jittery, difficult thing. I brought him in from the field after he was patched and he was completely zen. He's a different horse after he gets patched.

His topline really looks bad in this pic! Ugh!

Best of all is this view (please ignore all my crap on the floor!! The barn was neat before I got there!)

The right hock is only slightly bigger than the left!

The patch lady also took thermal images of his body for me:

Mikey's front half and right sides are the worst part for him (so the left hind is awesome haha). The bad hock looked better this time around, less bright yellow! And perhaps some of the weirdness I feel behind has more to do with his lack of shoes than I thought- his hind feet have a bit of yellow in them (warm feet) as opposed to his fronts that are red and completely cool. You can see in the bottom picture a couple round red circles on his hind quarters- those are patches. It looks like there's a set just before his flank. Perhaps he rolled those off by the time I saw him!

He really liked his patches, and I'm thrilled that they helped the lingering swelling in the hock. It's always going to be a big joint, but the smaller the better!