Thursday, August 20, 2015

Whirlwind Weekend... Picking up Penn, Riding, Vet Checks

So everyone gathered from my last post that I bought a horse. His show name is Illusion, barn name is Penn (like the illusionists Penn and Teller. I think they're hilarious.) I'm still getting used to calling him Penn since I've always known him as Illusion.

He was broke to ride at 5, apparently has a year of dressage training (yet he still really doesn't know anything), and spent the 6 weeks before I saw him turned out in a field. His hooves are good, but the shoeing is a mess and that'll be fixed Friday. Riding-wise, he'd only been ridden in an indoor, he enjoys curling instead of meeting the bridle and shoving his head between his knees. He's soft and willing, but just doesn't know anything, and wears out quickly because he has zero muscle/topline. His second ride outside was my test ride.

Adorable and he knows it.
Last Saturday:
My trainer went with me to pick him up last Saturday, and good thing because he's been on the trailer only a handful of times and had no qualms about telling us what he thought about getting on. I would not have been able to get him loaded.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" *insert rearing here*

So we finally got him on (it took 3 of us). No drugs, but also no butt bar- we finally got him to stand very nicely in the trailer, but my divider swings (two horse straight load), and so it would bump him and then he'd panic about the butt bar before we could get it hooked up, then he'd just blow through everything and fly backwards. I can rig up the divider to hug the wall of the passenger side of the trailer, so I did that, we loaded him, then hurried up and lifted the ramp and locked it in place before he figured out he was trapped. He didn't like that. He stood like a perfect gentleman as soon as he realized he couldn't get out. No whinnying, no pawing, no dancing, no flinging. Stone still. He even went to sleep.

After we got him loaded and we were driving, I asked Trainer if we still liked him, and she was like, "Ohhh yea, we still LOVE him." She thought that in the past, he probably got away with not loading by threatening to rear or actually rearing. She said he went too quickly to it and everything else she had seen about him said he was probably one of the most agreeable horses on the planet.

He stood like this for the 6 hours home. I love trailer cams. Thank you Husband!
He settled in just fine Saturday afternoon, met a few of the other boarders and became an instant love bug.

He got to go out for a couple hours Sunday morning while stalls were being cleaned and before horses came in. Trainer said he went out and immediately ate grass, no problems, no running.

Penn went for his first trail ride ever Sunday! So we're at ride 3 (or so) in the great outdoors, trail riding. It was like a trail ride from Babies R Us. The horses that went:

  1. Trainer on one of her babies who events at Novice but has been under saddle for about 8 months.
  2. Trainer's mom and her New Vocations OTTB (Son of Dixie) who has been at the farm for less than a week and his last race was the end of June
  3. Me and Penn, less than 24 hours on the farm, first trail ride, and 3rd ride outside, my 2nd ride on him.
  4. Boarder and her baby horse, a Dutch Warmblood who has been on one other trail ride and has been under saddle for 3 months.

Baby horse galore! Everyone was super awesome. Penn is an excellent follower. He figured out that he doesn't need to step over every tree shadow, but is very unsure about wet footing. Poor indoor ridden baby horse. You'll learn because we have no indoor! He was awesome, but I was not. I forgot my phone in the barn so I couldn't take an ears picture!

By the way, he doesn't like carrots. WTH?

Monday was his vet check. I came out to the farm early to ride Shea and long line another baby horse (Trainer tweaked her hip and so riding/walking was tough for her).

Riding Shea:
Shea gave me quite the lesson. I haven't actually worked her in months, I've just hacked her around. She goes the bit and uses herself very willingly now. She's the type who doesn't like being wrong, wants to please VERY BADLY, and when it's not working for her, she gets tense, shortens her neck and runs off. It took me a little while to get the trot work down, but we finally got to a stage where I could soften, she would soften and stretch her neck to meet the bit, I could soften some more, she'd relax so much more, then one of us would do something to set the other off and we'd have to start over as she speeds off.

Canter was interesting- Mikey had a large, rocking horse stride canter. Easy to sit and follow. Shea's is not like that. My timing in the canter was BAD. I was working off Mikey's tempo, Shea was like, "That's not my tempo!" and we fought, she shoved her haunches in, head up and inverted, running off. Back to walk. Trainer told me to quiet my shoulder and get my seat back in the saddle and following by putting my shoulders up and back like I'm trying to push back a recliner. Back to quality trot, back to canter. I made that one change, found Shea's rythym, and she answered by immediately coming round, softening, relaxing, and using herself. It lasted like 4 steps because she's just not strong enough to hold it together, but it was there.

We swapped to the left lead, and she picked up the wrong lead and promptly lost her marbles. As I said, she doesn't like being wrong. Then I goosed her in the transition because she dropped the right side of her back to pick up the left lead, and I effectively shot her out from under me. We did one more transition where I spent more time paying attention to me and not goosing her, and we did very well. I look forward to riding her more so I can get used to that kind of thing so I don't mess up my baby horse.

I came back from riding Shea to see this. All curled up, sleeping quite soundly!
Eventually he flopped down and slept like this for a while.

Long Lining: (aka starting a snot-face b*tch on the lines)
So my trainer has a mare in for breaking/general riding training that absolutely refuses to move under saddle if she feels any pressure at all. She plants herself and won't move. She very much thinks she knows what she should be doing and refuses to listen to the rider. This isn't a, "ohh she's not ready, let's go back to the very beginning, blah blah blah." I promise. The mare has been under saddle off and on for almost a year and is just difficult (she's like that to lead on the ground too). She doesn't take direction well. Lunging, kicking, and praying don't work.

Trainer decided to try long lining her, because nothing was working under saddle and it was just frustrating. She needed a helper to get the horse started, but since she couldn't walk well enough to keep up, she was the helper and I was the driver.

A perk of long lining is that the horse can't lean on the rider, they have to carry themselves and go forward. Disclaimer: Please find a trainer to teach you how to long line your horse. Things can go wrong quickly. You have to have a feel of what's going on in front of you and an eye for it too. You have to know when to push and when to let the horse decompress.

This is the first time I've long lined a horse where I know more than said horse (horse has never long lined), yet it was still as much of an education for me as it was the horse. Trainer walked the horse to a level field, I "drove" behind her, then locked us in. She led on for a little bit before walking away and letting me take over the steering. The mare tried to follow Trainer (fine) and we encouraged her to keep moving forward. That wench threw a major temper tantrum. She reared, flew backwards, spun. She backed herself into the split rail, broke it, spooked herself and bolted. I had to let go of the lines. I wasn't going to get run down/backed over/kicked/dragged and I didn't want to wrap her in the lines. She galloped around the field like a crazy thing before she quieted enough that we could catch her. She didn't step on the lines once, by the way.

Reset, Trainer walking, me driving. We got a bit further, until I used some right rein to ask for a turn right. Temper tantrum number 2. Pressure. Any pressure and she melts down. She wrapped the line around the base of her neck a couple times as I attempted to stop her spinning, I let go so she wouldn't keep wrapping, but she stayed still and let us unwrap her and reset. I don't like letting go of horses when lunging or long lining. I feel like it teaches them to break away. But this was a case where the horse doesn't have much self preservation instincts and so I had to have them for her.

Things got better from there. Each tantrum was less, but anytime I applied pressure (left rein, right rein to turn left) her first answer was to stop, rear, spin. Eventually we got to a point where I would give her a direction (very gentle) and clucking (hell no on carrying a driving whip), she would plant herself and start threatening. As she was planting herself and getting ready to rear or spin, I would take one rein at a time and pull her head back and forth until she stood. Yes, it sounds crude. I promise it wasn't. I had to break the rear (it's the same thing you'd do if you were under saddle!). I'd give her a minute of no pressure and just standing when she stopped threatening me to decompress, then cluck and see if she moved forward. If she went to threaten again, we started over. If she moved forward, there was lots of "Good girl" and praise. Then I'd ask for whatever it was the set her off (aka, let's turn right!).

After about 20 min of walking in a field, she was finally agreeable to walking and turning right or left as I asked, and moving forward with clucks or when I flapped the lines on her side. That's not to say she was happy. She wasn't. She was still ready to threaten me, but she wasn't sure how to accomplish it in a way that she would win.

She got a bath and put away, and I needed a shoulder rub after working Shea and this mare!

Vet Check:
Penn's pre-purchase was that afternoon, and was much less exciting than my morning adventures.

The vet commented on his whole left front being slightly turned out. She noted a broken rib that had healed with some callous on the left side, and one tiny splint on each of the front legs, on the inside of the cannon bone. She noted on how adorable he was and how well behaved he was.

He passed his flex tests with ease, and she was happy that the rib didn't seem to stop him from bending or stretching, so it became a non-concern. She noted how flexible he was, and how he essentially sat on her when she was testing his hocks, haha.

His xrays found a small bone issue in the left pastern joint- a section wasn't smooth like it should be, but it wasn't at risk of chipping, and it's not OCD. We took 4 veiws of the joint and could only see it on the one view. All his other xrays came up clean, and he stood perfectly for all of them to be taken. I was going to keep him on Mikey's OCD Pellets as a general joint health supplement, but now we'll keep him on it and xray that view again in a year to see if it's worse or better or the same. The pellets did wonders on Mikey's hock (we were going to xray in Feb as a check on how well it worked), and it promises to clear up little blemishes like this (in addition to OCD, DJD, etc, just click the link above for more info), so we'll give it a go. It wasn't enough to make us concerned about his future soundness.

Obviously I've been out to see him every day, but if I keep talking in this post, it's just going to get longer and longer... so I'll write some new posts instead!


  1. You sure have a lot going on. Glad you're enjoying the new guy. :-)

    1. Life is insane! It usually gets more insane when I take vacation days and the couple hours at the barn becomes an entire day of working.

      But yes, I have a lot to say about him, but this post would have ended up three times as long, and I wanted to make some notes about Shea and the other horse just for my own reference later!

  2. Those OCD pellets sound amazing. I need more details on how they worked for you... There's a post for you. ;)

    Love Shea. She reminds me SO MUCH of bay baby OTTB mare I worked last year. That drive to get it right and the tension and explosions that result from being uncertain. Loved her, she's gonna go far. Ended up being bought by a friend with upper level eventing dreams. If she fails there, I'll take her back to go GP dressage. Love that brain.

    A broken rib? Well that's a first in a green horse... What did you do, baby warmblood?

  3. You all sound super brave for taking out all those babies on the trail ride haha! Penn is so sweet, glad he passed the check!

  4. The most common joint in which to diagnose osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in the horse is the tarsus. The most common location for OCD is the cranial distal aspect of the intermediate ridge of the tibia. This type of OCD appears as a bony fragment in the area of the intermediate ridge of the tibia.