Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Blankets, Clipping, and Training

First off, I am selling this beautiful Smart Pak Ultimate Turnout. Size 78", heavy weight (360g). Still waterproof, freshly cleaned (it doesn't even smell horsey). $100 negotiable (money vs no money is great, so make me an offer), email codexdressage at gmail if you're interested. I even have the right size shipping box available right now!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the blanket. It is really super tough and has seen 2 winters with zero exterior damage from a pair of unforgiving baby horses. There is some staining on the outer shell- I promise when it's rinsed, the water runs off clear. There are some rips in the lining, but they're small things as you can see. New, this blanket is $209. Take advantage of my loss!

I wanted the combo version of the blanket because Penn seems to have trouble staying warm when it's truly cold. You all know the lengths I went to to try to fix the shoulder gap issue (plus chewy friends). This one won't gap at the shoulder, and won't drive my BO crazy switching the medium weight hood back and forth between med and heavy blankets. I'll admit, the second reason was a large part of getting it... because it made me crazy too. I did price buying a heavy hood (which seems to be available now!), except for a hair more money, I could buy the combo blanket and not deal with the detachable hood. With the recent sale, (20% + USEF 5%), I was able to nab the blanket for much less than list price, so I jumped on it.

"Mama, why did you wrap me up in a heavy weight blanket when it's 65 degrees out?"
He's so thrilled that he basically has a turtleneck sweater.

Penn got full body clipped this past weekend. With the unseasonably warm fall we're having, I was hosing him down after every ride. He would sweat everywhere like he does an 80 degree day, except it's been in the 60s (with some 70s). I promise I am not working him for hours- that's after 45 min of walk/halt/walk/trot/walk hell. Minimal cantering because we just can't do more or we don't get to it.

Being bathed is exhausting.

I ordered new blades then shaved him last Saturday. I kept him in after breakfast, bathed him (like scrubbed him squeaky clean- I have NEVER done this to clip before), then kept him in while I cleaned stalls. By the time I was done working, he was dry, and I got straight to work on his legs and face, finishing with the body.

It's a mini Penn, made from his own hair!

I was so proud of him! He was antsy about his legs (resulting in me having to touch them up the next day when I saw the wide swaths of hair I missed), but he stood without freaking out about the clippers! I couldn't cross tie him, but he stood ground tied. I was able to cross tie him the next day to do touch ups, which is VERY exciting!

I've always clipped my horse "dirty." Mostly because it's time consuming to wash them and then wait for winter hair to dry, and because I'm not used to having hot water to bathe with, or a warm barn to keep him in while he dries. It worked out perfectly for me to help feed and turnout, bathe, clean stalls while he's drying, then clip. I think I'll be scrubbing Penn down every time from now on to clip. It was soooo easy to clip him. I shampooed and conditioned him with suave that I got on sale from the grocery store, and then sprayed him with an old coat spray that I don't like much anymore. It was a shame to shave off all his beautiful fluffy brown hair- I really love his coat.

His shaved coat turned out MUCH better this year!
Plus fewer lines since he was clean when I shaved him.

It seems the feed combination plus vitamin supplement is really working for him, because his shaved coat this year isn't an ugly mousy color like previous years. We took some new coggins pictures while he was spiffy clean (hence the pretty shot above).

Since I had to clip him so early this year, I'll probably have to touch him up in mid-Dec and then again sometime in early Feb. I won't do his legs or face again, I got most of the hair off those, so they'll grow in more controlled now. Plus I hate shaving the face and legs, it's annoying to get in all the crevices!

We continue to plug away at Megan's homework. We're nearing the end of the 3rd week of walk/halt/walk/trot/walk hell, 3-6 weeks to go before we can start adding in normal work? There were some pretty frustrating days in there, that's for sure. But, we're nearing the end of the first 3 weeks, which according to GP Trainer, is when changes start to settle and things get better... I sure hope so!

Let's ogle the pretty bling on the bright orange hunter safety bonnet, haha.

Things actually are looking up- we've had a couple really good days, and they're starting to happen more than the bad.

Penn started to not want to be on the bit, and I absolutely could not figure out why. "He doesn't want to be on the bit." "Let me get more handsy." "Wait, I'm doing to much. I shouldn't be doing this much." "Wait a second, I'm letting him go from halt to walk by coming off the bit. I'm teaching him that that's acceptable." "Fffffffffffff."

I spent some time redoing the halt/walks. As soon as I set the tone of, "No, coming off the bit is not acceptable" and "No, I will not be helping you stay on the bit," he started being on the bit extremely reliably, and holding it when I released in the walk and trot.

I also started giving him antacid before riding. 5000mg of calcium carbonate. $0.31 a dose
Not pictured: the vitamin E pills I also started giving him (2000 IU to go with the 500 IU in his vitamin)
$0.19 a dose vs $1.07 in Smartpak's vit e supplement.
I just feed him a handful of minty pills with the two vit e pills, and everything gets gobbled down!

Something else Megan helped me with was getting him bendy again- sometimes he comes out one direction like a 2x4 and no amount of inside leg helps move his ribcage. She had me put the outside leg on enough to hold his haunches from stepping out, but then use the inside leg to activate the inside hind. The rib cage has to swing out to allow the stifle to come up. Voila, it's magic. This idea has been particularly helpful when he comes out like a 2x4 or when he wants to look to the outside or when he wants to throw his haunches in. I vary the outside leg with the situation (umm we don't need more when the hips are in, it just needs watched), but thinking about making the inside hind step up instead of moving him around has been soooo helpful.

Last night's ride was great, I never got to the canter, and it took a half hour to get the trot I wanted, but we got there. And I was able to leave my circle and keep my trot! I started with a long slow torturous walk/halt/walk warm up. It sets the tone for the ride. By the end of the half hour, I had a horse who was absolutely through, light in the hand with elastic contact, and was pushing through his whole topline- I watched the muscles from his poll to his shoulder all bulging evenly. I do a lot of staring at his neck these days. It's really helpful when I don't have mirrors or eyes on the ground to double check me- if I can get the muscle right in front of the shoulder working, I know I'm on the right track.

Overall, super super happy, now to just put the time in to cement that feeling as Penn's default setting. Megan was hopeful on 2-3 months of work, so I'm hoping for that! But if he needs more, then oh well. Plus we'll be constantly revisiting this for the rest of his dressage life anyway. I'm so excited to see what he's like next year, after 6 or more months of building on this base!

Look! Cute floofs in their natural habitat.

This weekend we're going to a clinic at DT's barn. Everyone likes the clinician coming in, so I figured I'd give her a whirl. I signed up at the end of September, before lessons with Megan. I almost wish I hadn't now, because I don't want to mess up the work I've done, but apparently the clinician had M do something similar in her last lesson, so I'm hopeful that it'll mesh well.


  1. I always found clipping a clean horse coated in show sheen makes things much easier!

  2. I'm wondering if clipping so early means we're clipping off less of the winter coat growing in, meaning they're all a little more colorful? Who knows.

    Can't wait to see Penn in 6mos either. He's gonna be fabulous :)

    1. I guess we'll all find out at round 2 in mid winter?

      I am so excited for 6 months from now. I am so excited for NOW. Must get some video!

  3. Yay! I'm glad things are going better, it's definitely a tough thing to go through. At least it's winter and not in the middle of show season? Can't wait to see how he looks in November!!

    1. I would have cried if I had to do this during show season. I would not feel free to let it happen on its own schedule! I'm feeling really good about this because the first show I'm planning to do in 2018 isn't until March! I cannot wait to show you in November!!!! Hopefully you think he's made half as much progress as I think he has, bahaha!

  4. I've also always clipped without bathing first but maybe I should try it out next year

  5. Love that the new riding routine is helping you so much! And I am also awful about washing before clipping...definitely need to be better, but it's hard when I don't have warm water!

    1. No warm water would (and did) stop me!!! By the time we need to clip, that cold water is EXTRA cold!!!