Wednesday, December 5, 2018

11/17/2018 - Diagnosing Penn, Part 2

We didn’t have any luck finding Penn’s feed at Tractor Supply Friday night and had resolved to go to one of the big feed stores after my lesson.

In his own dry lot.

We had a lovely ride with GP Trainer’s second assistant trainer (GP Trainer was off teaching a clinic). Penn felt great! He did take some NQR steps tracking right at the trot, but settled right into sound trot steps to the left.

The assistant trainer addressed some of the issues we’d been having: I didn’t want to touch the inside rein because that’s “not correct” but I’d lost the lateral flexion at the poll and Penn just wanted to put his nose to the outside, despite all of my inside leg being on and his neck being shifted in:

Using both the inside rein and inside leg, she had me think about flexion and bend as two different things (because they are) and overdo the lateral flexion and bend in a “bend, more, most” 3 step process. At that point I’d also use a bit more inside leg in a ‘lift the belly’ type motion to encourage him to bring his back up. I'd hold the "most" for a few steps, then release the inside rein. Repeat as often as needed. Doing this will cause him to fall out the outside shoulder, but that doesn't matter too much. He wanted to fall out more tracking right, so I kept enough outside aids on to keep him on the circle. Even though we're using an awful lot of inside rein, I still can't just pull or hang on it- she had me rolling my inside hand and being super sloppy with it to encourage him to bring his nose in.

As he became more flexible with that and started losing the outside shoulder on the circle, she had me keep him straighter by blocking the outside shoulder. It was really nice, he suppled and eventually I didn’t need my inside rein to remind him anymore. We did that in both walk and trot, and she carefully timed my 2 minutes of trot each direction (she is currently doing the same drill with her horse and also wears an event watch to keep track!).

The next two videos are just bend, more, most on the circle at the trot. The one to the right has some general NQR steps, but the left looks a little better with a weird step every now and then.

We finished with some leg yields from the wall to some distance in, to back to the wall. They started out as straight, fly sideways, fly the other way, straight. She had me keep careful control over the shoulders and force him to take straight ahead steps before SLOWLY going back to the wall. If we didn’t make it back to the wall, so be it. The shoulder control was the important part. They were allowed to be a bit sloppy (not straight nose to tail) because this is building on the bend, more most idea and just keeping control of the shoulder.

The second two are leg yield exercises in the walk and trot from the wall to the quarterline. Sorry they aren't more edited down, I just didn't have time to pick them apart and do the edits!

It was a really great lesson and was very productive. I fear it’s the last lesson I’ll ever have on him. :( I’m sure most of you know where that’s going. But that’s another post that's coming.

We went to GP Trainer's massive local feed store- it's more like a mega feed store that's also a tack shop to rival Dover in available products plus sells expensive hunt club home decor. Mom and I paroozed the entire place, but of course I didn't take pictures! What the heck, I'm not good at this.

They were having a sale on Charles Owen helmets, and I've never tried one on, so I grabbed a very sparkly one (gray/black sparkles I think), and I loved it. It fit great and looked great. Then I looked at the price tag. Over $400! I can't even figure out which one it was by looking online. But I do know that they fit my head well, and also have the right profile for my head. Good to know for when I need to replace my OneK!

We ended up not finding his exact grain (Purina Impact Performance) in the product list, and the staff was wonderful in helping me find something similar based on an online label. I was afraid to buy him a brand new feed for only 4 feedings, so I got him a bag of alfalfa pellets thinking he’d like them. Uhhh, you can guess how that worked out!

Safely tucked into GP Trainer's!

So thank all the lucky stars that we opted to do an MRI, and GP Trainer was willing to keep Penn and my trailer… As mom and I were headed home on Saturday, the truck gave a “CHECK BRAKE SYSTEM” error message.

You might be thinking, “But wait? Didn’t you already lose your brakes in this truck and have them replaced on the fly in Ohio when Mikey was having hock surgery to try and save his soundness?”



We got ourselves stopped right away on the side of the PA Turnpike. I tried the Torque phone app with the computer/Bluetooth plug in with no results, though I can’t say I tried very hard when I was panicking on the side of the highway. I called Husband to let him know there was a problem, and we would need rescuing at some point. Luckily (if there is something lucky about this besides we didn’t have the trailer and horse with us), we had stopped right in front of a sign that said “Rest Stop 2 Miles”. Wonderful. I figured I had enough brakes left to go 45 mph with my flashers on and limp to the rest stop where I felt safe popping the hood and looking at my brake fluid.

Did you know when you go 45 mph in a 70 zone with your flashers on, people and 18 wheelers avoid you like the plague? It’s my new favorite way of traveling!

Anywho, I used 3rd, 2nd and low gears to get myself slowed down on the exit ramp, and used the brakes to fully stop in an empty part of the parking lot. Sure enough, I had no brake fluid going to the rear brakes anymore, we only had some going to the front.

Front bucket is for the rear brakes. No fluid!
Rear bucket is for the front brakes. Found what's left of my fluid!

Did you know you have to call *11 for the Emergency Services on the Turnpike, who will then tow you to the next exit, unload you, then you can call AAA to save the day? I didn't. I do now!

Luckily, the rest stop was 2 miles from the next exit, there was a good parking lot nearby to drop us off, and the tow was free because it was under 3 miles. The driver was also there in record time- 30 min! Mom and I barely had time to use the bathroom, get something for dinner, and make our calls before he showed up.

The driver tried to get his dispatcher to let him take us all the way to our proper exit (since AAA was going to call them anyway to tow me there), but the company was short staffed and couldn’t send him 60 miles out of his service area. He would have charged us his company’s rate for towing, instead of the $4 a mile that AAA would charge.

Getting picked up at the Turnpike rest stop.

Husband met mom and me at the Turnpike exit and reviewed the brake lines while we waited for the AAA tow to arrive. The lines that were replaced in Feb 2015 were still solid, albeit rusty (they shouldn’t be since the lines were supposed to be stainless…). The problem was, the shop that did my original line replacement only replaced the main lines that had been previously spliced. They did not replace the lines that go to each wheel. Husband found that out a few months ago and was going to replace them himself in the spring with some new tools he got for his tractor project… whups, not doing that! The passenger rear line developed a hole and was streaming brake fluid all over the parking lot.

The AAA tow truck showed up fairly quickly, and we followed it to the shop where we decided to drop the truck off at… without telling the shop of course! They’re only open M-F, and there’s no emergency number. Husband left them an envelope with a laundry list of things: Brakes (doh), wheel bearing check (we think the passenger front is bad), speedometer (Who needs this to work properly? I don’t. I always end up pulling the trailer at whatever speed feels comfortable… which is usually 5-15mph below the posted limit), and then do an inspection because that’s due in December.

Oh, that’s not the end of course! Stay tuned for more…


  1. Ugh what an ordeal I am so sorry :(

  2. I'm glad you had a good lesson, but I'm sorry about the truck and the whole circumstances around it :(

  3. oh man, I'm sorry you are going through that!

    Also you can get those CO sparkle helmets on EBay for under $200 Canadian ;) I have bought two from there hahaha

  4. Really sorry about all of this. :( We're thinking of y'all!

  5. ARGH. So glad you had a beacon of light in the way of a good lesson throughout all of this hell.

  6. Ugh GEEZ TRUCK! At least it warned you before things went really south and you weren't hauling. Sometimes it's the small things.