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!

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