Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mikey's First Turnout in 2 Months! (Video/Picture Heavy Post)

I spent the weekend getting Mikey ready to be turned out for the first time since 1/31/2015. You already heard about our antics Friday and Saturday. This post is for Sunday and Monday!

My husband and I went to his parent's for Easter, and the barn happens to be on the way to their house, so he picked me up from the barn on Saturday, and we stopped back on our way home Sunday so I could work Mikey on the long lines again (and pick up my car). My husband took some video for me, and I grabbed a couple screenshots:

Two months of stall rest doing nothing but eating certainly helped him fill out!

Asking for canter = Ok to buck. What do you mean it doesn't?
I can't blame him for bucking when I asked him to canter. He's a TB that's been locked up. All I can do is manage it and try to contain him and wear him down with over his back work.

His starting trot work to the right was uneven behind, with the right hind lagging/stiff etc. I wasn't really sure, it looked like his hindquarters had extra wiggle. I'm trying to dig up a video that shows it. He worked out of it within a few minutes, so I'm thinking it's just a stiffness from being in a stall and it just needs some physical therapy.

I took a half vacation day Monday so I could come out to the barn before feed time to long line Mikey again and be there when he went out for the first time. He was super. Quiet, a bit tired behind (go figure- 2 months of stall rest does nothing for the hind end supporting muscles), but is good spirits and happy to work. A few bucks in canter, but nothing bad. He even had a stunning transition to the right from canter to trot where he used that right hind leg perfectly for support.

We turned out all the horses before turning out Mikey and King (the fat lazy pony), so we could spend time watching the two of them. We walked them over to a small field that they'll share for a couple weeks and hand grazed them for a few minutes. Then my trainer took off King's halter, and I took Mikey's chain off, then reached down and unclipped him entirely (halter stays on for now). He grazed for a few minutes then realized he was free.

He trotted off, then took to galloping, and trying to get King to play and run with him. He tried everything: running right next to him, biting him, kicking out at him. Everything. That pony is awesome, he just stood there and grazed and pinned his ears when Mikey got close. Poor King Pony. Mikey wasn't nice to him!

I took this video near the end of Mikey's antics. Change the setting to 1080p HD! For some reason Youtube won't default it to the setting it was recorded in!

Some screenshots from the video:

Ignore the dirt pile. There's a small construction zone below this field that is going to be trailer parking. They're leveling the hillside and graveling the lot.
I love the thoroughbred stretch. He never found his gallop at the track though!

Start of a bigger buck.
Please stop kicking out with your bad hock.
Getting his Arab look on.
Where can I find this trot in the dressage ring? Without locking him in a stall for 2 months beforehand?
"No one will play with me. I want to play!"
He quieted down after a few minutes of galloping. We were happy he wasn't bucking and jumping too much. I know none of it is easy on the joints, but it's the jumping around that bothers me. He's made to gallop though!

I hung around the barn and went up to check on the two of them every now and then. Mikey seemed to be agitated about being outside. He got used to being in his stall, and didn't seem to know what to do when he was on his own outside. He likes his routine! I know King was never his best buddy either, so he barely counts as a friend to be turned out with.

When I left Mikey had managed to split his lip open. Sigh. Probably did some more jumping around and bit it. At least it's not the hock!

On Wednesday, we ride! Or I try to sit on him without getting bucked off.


  1. Oh my god! That TROT! I AM DROOLING! How DO you get that in the ring? If you did... look out fancy horses! :)

    So glad he's feeling better and a little freedom isn't setting him back. It's good to play a little!

    1. I wish I could get it in the ring!!! He tortures me by doing that out when he's free and dragging his toes when we're riding. Sounds like I need to be an invisible rider! But he clearly doesn't have a lack of ability, I just need to figure out how to make it show up at appropriate times! A lot of my trot trouble with him comes from it being very up and down and jackhammer-ish. Working through the sucky trot to a big bold trot is hard enough, then keeping our acts together long enough to do something with it is harder yet. I think if I was better skilled at sitting that trot, I'd have a better shot at finding that trot in the ring. I can sit the big warmblood trot that the 3* horse has, but my own horse's is rough. In his defense, my trainer has sat on so many horses and she said his is one of the hardest she's had to sit. A lot of motion to absorb, but the better connected he is, it's obviously easier to absorb it. He still gets 7's on his gaits when we're out, but if each movement had that expression... now we'd be talking!

      I'm glad he's feeling better too. He was thrilled to be out and really stretch his legs. He's in today because everything is mucky/rainy and my trainer didn't want to chance him hurting himself.

    2. Pig gets 6-7 on gaits every time, too. I really struggle to get him all the way through over his back. When he is, omg, so fancy. Pig isn't hard to sit, though. He's like riding a couch.

      Do you have a grab strap on your saddle? Does Mikey lunge well? Sometimes that's the best way to learn. A friend of mine has a TB with this HUGE trot that rides like a jackhammer. We would take turns practicing sitting it to get better. I can't imagine trying to sit that all the time, though. You'd have to be so loose and yet strong!

    3. Mikey does lunge well, but I don't have a grab strap. I've tried it all- lunge line, no stirrups, grab strap, relaxing, trying to keep up with the motion, etc. I did find staying relaxed but strong core muscles went the best. I'm not awful at sitting his trot, but the sitting looks worse when I don't have him completely through. Mikey is a cheater when it comes to that, but towards the end of last year I got him to be much more through with a lot more swing in his back, which gave me somewhere to sit, and then we spiraled upwards at that point. My biggest problem is sitting the medium and extended trots- I have trouble sitting that because I lose his throughness and have the bigger stride, so it's twice as bad and I can't stay relaxed- I end up squeezing too much with my seat/thighs. I almost think sitting that big lofty trot would be easier that sitting his regular connected trot. It's slower bigger steps. Maybe that's a clue! Sitting pole work maybe?

      I was thinking about getting a grab strap for those times and hook a finger under it. His lengthening trots in 1st level were always so good and through, and easier to sit. I have to figure out where that went. I'll reschool the movements as we start over. I'm starting him at the beginning for the first several weeks he's back into riding- long and low. Last fall where he got really good about throughness and swing, I did a long and low day, an ultra connected and through walk day (45 min of going through every movement in walk and doing it while ultra connected), a super collected trot day (almost working half steps), and a flying change day, and when the weather/darkness permitted, I hacked him after our rides. I think I was on the right track back in the fall, I'm hoping to take that throughness and be able to 'kick it up' into the big boy trot.

    4. I really like that schedule, and think I might steal parts of it. I usually do a lot of super connected walk at the beginning of every single ride. If I rush that -- everything is lost. Long and low usually gets forgotten completely in the effort of trying to get him through. It just doesn't often help with that, because of his reluctance to come into the bridle.

      Now I just have to figure out how to work on getting his changes correct. Every single one was late behind yesterday. Ugh. Why?!

    5. I always do super connected walk at the beginning of each ride too- get it right from the beginning and the whole ride goes better. Mikey's frame of choice is long and low. If you threw away your reins, he would go there. We spent a long time getting him to that point- teaching him that that is his happy place- soft like that. It bit me in the butt when it was time to push him up and sitting more behind, but I can fall back on it any time I want. Usually his long and low day may not be so long and low, but it's a quiet relaxed day where we do work that's through but isn't mentally or physically taxing. Of course if he picks that day to be uncooperative, we do the more taxing work.

      I hear you on late behinds. When I can manage to get him to NOT blow through me, it's 30/50/20 on a clean change, late behind, no change. If you figure it out, let me know! I haven't figured it out either.

    6. We spent so many years eventing and in jumpers that he never had to really progress beyond long and low for the dressage test. He really only needed a training level frame, so we made sure he knew it was his happy place!

    7. Somewhere I heard it suggested to go into a renver when you ask for the change, since that kind of forces the issue. That just makes Pig nervous. I'll ask my trainer when she's back if she has any ideas. At least now I feel like I have a change on my cue, and if I haven't schooled too many of them, they stay relatively quiet.

    8. Hmm, I've never tried it like that... the german riding master I worked with last year (and am dying to see again this year!) had me work on haunches in to haunches in in our first lesson together as prep for the change. If you can't make that change immediate and through on a straight line (shoulders stay on that line), your change will fail. We worked it in walk and trot because we could do that without pissing Mikey off or getting him worked up. Apply the same idea to the canter, and bam, change. On a side note, that's how he taught his grand prix horses tempi changes if they were having trouble getting the changes right.

    9. Huh. Interesting. We can totally do that (When I have contact! HA!). Maybe I need to apply more of that idea to the change. I've been trying to keep him super straight, but maybe I need to work more on engaging and changing bend and fix the straightness later. Maybe I also need to flip to the part on changes in Academic Equestrian. I really like General Decarpentry's approach to things, it seems to click with Pig's brain.

    10. Yea, maybe a little less straight (and perfect :-p) to begin with. The haunches in can be 3 track to 3 track instead of 4, the exercise only cares about the change in bend (the 'bigger' the bend, the harder it is to change anyway). The theory being the canter has a natural bend to it and rolls from the haunches first, so if you want to change the lead, you need to change the bend from the haunches. The shoulders still stay put and straight, but after he gets it, slowly tone down the haunches moving until they barely move. I know if I lose the straightness in the shoulder, it's all over and Mikey blows through me. If I get too much bend, he flings himself sideways. When I've had trouble with his changes, I always revisit haunches in to see if they're working. They usually aren't and I have to get them working again. I've never heard of Academic Equestrian. I will have to give that a Google, and then a try when Mikey feels up to it!

    11. Oops! Academic Equitation!