|The year was strange and hard, but man, I'm really loving Eli. This year forced me to keep him home and take the work slowly. 2020 wasn't all bad!
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Monday, December 21, 2020
Eli's canter from my first ride on him. This may not be a fair comparison because it was my first ride on him, but it's pretty accurate. I was being taken for a ride, and that continued through winter 2019-2020 and spring 2020.
This is almost a month after the 1 year mark, but he didn't come home until 8/13/2019, so it's pretty close to 1 year:
And then finally, from this past weekend. I spent a long time this past year with a grounded, slow trot because Eli struggled to keep his balance with his poll up and his nose out. I've been able to establish better straightness recently, so I've been experimenting with adding power back to the trot... and suddenly this horse appeared! There's still some work to go: better reach, better suspension, eliminating the bit of BTV that's going on here, and steadying the poll. It's just so much better!
If you're in the same boat, don't despair. The horse will get there when he gets there, and not a moment sooner. (Also, lessons with A Enter Spooking help a lot!)
Since I'm not sure what's going on in my life or when the next update will be: I hope everyone is having a healthy and safe holiday season. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
I need to talk about the hind hooves first, because they influenced recent changes we made to the fronts. Forgive me, there's some history to go through before we get to the comparisons!
At the beginning of summer, Eli was struggling with his stifles. He has struggled with toe catching behind ever since we put hind shoes on him last fall, but it started getting a lot worse once we started working outside on the harder outdoor arena. He started catching the toe more often and harder, wrenching the stifle in the process. I know his stifles turn out and he'd prefer not to track straight, but it's been getting better. I did my due diligence and had the vet out for a lameness exam even though he's not really lame, and to take xrays of the stifles.
|Long blocks of text need pictures of good boys who walked (under saddle) by themselves on the trail for the first time... after happily leaving the main group to head home alone! This was a few weeks ago.
|From Easy Care's Website
I was a schmuck and realized something the next morning: I should have packed Eli's hinds with magic cushion when Farrier was done the night before. I went out after work that day and packed his feet. He was still a bit sore when I brought him in, but post-MC and about 30 min later, he was already tracking better and bigger behind.
|6 weeks of toe wear.
Eli wears size 138mm, but might have to go to 140mm in the next few cycles because his hind feet have started to widen! We can always grind off some of the length if needed when the time comes.
With the polyurethane hind shoe experiment being a success, this past week we put on these front shoes:
|EasyShoe Performance N/G
I originally wanted to put on Versas, but the shape of the front shoes wasn't correct for Eli's fronts. I also wanted to keep the bar shoe shape with frog support. After a lot of discussion with Penn's owner, I added supporting the bony column of the hoof and leg with a frog support wedge. If you recall, Penn's owner is a corrective farrier who leans towards barefoot and alternative shoeing. She dislikes the impact of steel shoes, and won't put steel shoes on unless she's doing pads and packing under them for shock absorption and frog/sole support.
The Performance N/G fit the bill. Definitely click the link to see the shoe flex independently. Eli wears a size 4, which is snug in width and JUST long enough.
These went on just as nicely as the hinds. They fit very snugly before they were glued and nailed on, so fingers crossed they stay on as well as the hinds have!
While I don't have a verdict about these as far as function, they appear to be doing the trick. Eli seems happy in them, and he's using his shoulder well and seems happier. I thought I had video, but my Galaxy s10 fell victim to the most recent Pivo app update and I had an error happen while recording Eli going in his new shoes... so no video.
In the last year, the quality of hoof has gotten a lot better all around. Eli's hooves were crack free until summer started, then all of a sudden got a bunch of small, minor cracks. The quarter crack in his left hind is gone though!
|Of course I didn't do proper pictures of the quarter crack, so this was the best I could find. The small cracks are all remnants of his time barefoot, plus a dry summer. But it's almost gone in this pic!
|A reminder of where we started with the fronts. These are at least 4 weeks into their trim cycle since his fronts were pulled at his vetting in early Aug 2019.
|Almost exactly a year later. Still more to go (come on hooves, PLEASE GROW HEEL), but they're still so much better. We're still chipping away at the toe, a bit more to go there too.
And without further ado, a video of the last 12 months of front shoeing!
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Today is Eli's gotcha day!
I wanted to have comparisons and such to put on here, but alas, work and life combined with Blogger's dumb new format makes it super difficult to post from my phone. I'll hopefully have some 1 year comparisons next week!
I rode this morning before work with a plan to be at the barn extra early to be down at the outdoor with 10 minutes or so extra time so I could use the selfie feature on my Pivo... Eli was not down with that plan.
|I arrived at 5:55 and went to get him after pulling out brushes and tack. Found him napping. Note how dark it is.
|So tired! Face smushed into the grass, snoring.
|Getting a wee bit dramatic, snoring and groaning while sleeping.
|Wait there was a noise!
|Don't care, I'm exhausted.
|He started getting up and stopped. He also started grazing and stopped. And stayed like this. Note how light it is.
|When you kill almost a half hour trying to fetch the horse on Gotcha Day, this is the kind of selfie you have to settle for!
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
On Saturday, I noticed he has some flaking skin on one of his stifles, so I'm going to town on it with a stiff brush and he drops. Mikey was always easy to clean, Penn would try to kick me when I tried, so I was curious what Eli would do.
He had some peeling skin, and I was gently peeling/rolling it off to make sure I didn't get overzealous and pull too hard. He didn't snatch his "eggplant" away from me, so I kept on going because it was good training for sheath cleaning. For whatever reason I looked forward at his face.
He was liking it. A lot. Not in a slap the belly kind of way, in an "OMG that's the spot, KEEP SCRATCHING IT'S SO ITCHY." He really enjoyed it, some of his best "that's the spot" faces.
Umm. I've never met a horse with an itchy eggplant. Belly? Sure. The actual eggplant? Nope.
Sunday rolls around. What does a normal horse owner do? Not what I did I'm sure! I scratched his stifles again to see if I could make him drop to try and itch his eggplant again. The answer is yes, he dropped faster and more relaxed and enjoyed a good umm, scratch?
Eli is weird AF y'all. He kept his eggplant out, apparently wanting more scratches. This horse is going to be rated R if I'm not careful! He also wanted a snuggle when I walked past his face to wash my hands. 🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️ Despite all the weird, I'm filing this under "good training" even though it's sort of gross and slightly awkward. But it's good to know he doesn't need to be sedated for sheath cleaning.
In all seriousness, I got a good reach up in his sheath Sunday to see of he'd kick me. Nope, he won't kick, but he was even more itchy up there and it was super gross. I ended up doing a poor cleaning after a trail ride. I didn't have anything on hand to clean him with other than water, so I did what I could. I pulled out enough smegma to make a ball the size of my fist, and I know there's more in there. For the 5-10 min I dug around hand deep in his sheath, he was making the best itchy faces! He won't drop with water around, so I'll have to look for a bean another day.
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
I hope you and yours are safe and well in this pandemic, and your life hasn't been turned upside down to an unmanageable point. I'm one of the lucky ones- my husband and I are both working at home 100% since mid March (expected through at least September, if not the end of the year) and it's BAU for us. I fall into a few of the health risk categories, so I'm extremely grateful to be able to work from home.
Our barn didn't close, but we did excessive cleaning with social distancing rules. Social distancing is getting easier as the weather warms up. I still feel safe going out there because of all the precautions I take personally and the precautions the staff takes. I wipe down my trunk, locker, and stall front when I arrive and before I leave. I keep a halter and lead rope for my personal use and leave Eli's regular halter and lead for staff to use. I tack up in my stall using a personal set of cross ties so that I don't have to share community cross ties. I wash my hands when I get there, at least once while I'm there, and before I leave. I use paper towels to open doors. Most of the other boarders do something similar.
|This set up actually did a fabulous job of teaching him he's ok alone in the barn. I found he was a lot less worried about things when he was in his "safe space." It also taught him to stay in his freaking stall instead of running out!
As a barn, we've been using the TeamUp app to note when each of us will be at the barn so we can spread out throughout the day. There were some minor tweaks I had to make to my barn schedule, but I'm still getting out there 4 to 5 days a week.
I'm also on staff at the barn, so I participate in cleaning high traffic surfaces as well as the gator, pitch forks, wheelbarrows, brooms, and dust pans. The barn lounge was closed almost immediately to discourage loitering, and was staff only up until recently. Knock on wood, staff and boarders have all been healthy so far and we're going out of our way to protect ourselves and everyone else.
I took GP trainer's advice back in March and got in contact with the sports psychologist she used several years ago. The program I was using got me in the saddle and going with Eli, but wasn't enough. I'm still in the early phases of the new program, it's hard but it's working.
|It took an obscene number of pictures to get one with his ears semi-forward. He was gorging himself on grass and looked unhappy about it. 🤣
I got to have a great virtual lesson with Megan at the end of March! She really helped me to start bringing Eli's hind legs closer together so he engages better, but we also went over the cues for shoulder fore, and teaching a young horse how to respond properly. Breaking it down into attainable steps really helped in other aspects of riding too.
|First or second ride with a new-to-us saddle!
|From the tack shop's website
|Monty Robert's Dually Halter over the bridle with a second set of reins hooked to the rope nose as a sort of emergency brake.
Monday, February 3, 2020
|I mean, this totally looks like Sophie is going to kill me in my sleep. But alas no, she is simply tolerating my shenanigans.
Around the time we switched to day time turnout, I started getting reports about my horse being an asshole because he was pooping in his water bucket. Then it was his feed bin, NIGHTLY. I was racking my brain to figure out what was wrong.
It all started with Eli pooping in his water, and barn staff complaining they had to dump it every morning. It took me a couple weeks to work out that he was leaning on his buckets while he slept, and then horses are horses, so he pooped where he stood… which happened to be in the water bucket. The staff tried moving it all over his stall, and without fail, every night he’d find it and poop in it. We tried “poop training” him by putting another horse’s poop in the stall where we wanted him to poop (and his too). It worked for one night only.
When he switched stalls due to an unhealthy attachment to a turnout buddy who also lived next to him in the barn, he started pooping in his feed bin. This cause a bit of an uproar. Inexperienced staff wouldn’t check the feed bin before dumping grain (something ALL STAFF should do for EVERY HORSE anyway), he’d eat half his own poop, and I’d have a shit fit come evening when I found poop mashed around in his grain bin. I was not kind. Everyone said my horse was just being a dick. I kept saying he liked to lean on things while he slept and he was simply being a horse, pooping where he stood.
|One particularly bad night where he got all 3.
Horse people really like taking pictures of poop don't they?
The solution was a gate feeder (like for outside horses) for AM feed after the night in the stall. This worked well and my brains stayed in my head. Poop was removed when the stall was cleaned after breakfast, all was well other than Eli was annoying majority of the staff.
The other odd thing I’ve been fighting is a hock sore on the right hind that just wouldn’t go away. Eli was reopening it every day it seemed, and had been for months. Nothing I did got it to close. After the stall move, a new sore started on the back of his left hock, right on the point of the hock.
|Partially healed hock sore that no amount of bedding would stop from reoccurring.
On a completely different (but I promise related note), the Mary Wanless GP trainer I saw in December expressed some concerns about Eli’s hind end. I dutifully got the work ups for lyme and EPM (no spinal tap, just blood, I know it’s not the golden standard), and had a lameness exam and neuro exam. The most we got was he clear on EPM and lyme, was very tight in his lower back, and lazy behind. Both MWGP and my vet suggested chiro work. I had used “adjusters” in the last few months (they aren’t vets and basically did glorified massage and stretches), because I hadn’t heard from my favorite equine vet chiropractor in ages. He is older and travels from Michigan to Western PA to see us, and I assumed he wasn’t making the rounds anymore.
I called his office and got a, “Why yes he’s still coming around! He’ll be in your area next Wednesday!”
Brilliant. Adjustment day came. We joked with Dr W about Eli being a big horse, he’ll need a bigger step to do adjustments. Dr W said, nah he can’t be that big.
First thing Dr W says is, “That is a BIG horse.”
Second thing Dr W says, “This horse’s hind end is a mess.”
|Note higher right top of the hip up high in this poor photo.
Basically, Dr W thinks Eli fell at some point in his adult life, most likely before he came to live with me because he's been pretty much the same moving behind since he arrived. He said it wouldn’t take much, since Eli is just so big it’s a lot of mass coming down. His back wasn’t flexible and springy, and what I thought was a small misalignment of the hips (the right sits slightly higher) is actually a bad misalignment.
Eli did not enjoy his hind end adjustment. A friend held his head, I put hands on his left side to keep him from moving, and Dr W adjusted the right side from above (and yes, he thought a 4 step block would have helped!). Eli tried to bite and kick Dr W, all while hitting him with his tail. As soon as the adjustment was made, Eli switched gears and became a sleepy puppy that wanted to snuggle Dr W.
Dr W was super pleased with the adjustment, gave him B12 injections all over his SI and hip areas, as well as the left shoulder since that was also adjusted, and thought we could have it sorted after 3 or 4 more visits (every 8-9 weeks).
Guess what happened?
|No, he didn't magically love tarps because of his adjustment. But he doesn't care about tarps anyway.
Eli stopped pooping in his water buckets and feed bin. Sure, he still gets it wrong sometimes. But we have more good nights than bad (I get weekly report cards from the experienced staff and the barn owner). His hock sores are almost healed over, 3 weeks after his adjustment. He also swings better through his back under saddle, but that’s not the point here. Whatever is going on in his hind end meant he wasn’t comfortable sleeping standing up without leaning on something.
You know what else happened? Some of his more neurotic attachment tendencies inexplicably declined. He can be in the barn by himself without having a screaming meltdown. Is he 100% comfortable by himself? Of course not. But he's doing better. It could be that he's getting better quality sleep, which helps his brain function normally, and he doesn't stress as much (I don't see why it would be any different than when humans don't get enough sleep). He's not on any calming stuff anymore, by the way. I pulled that more than a month ago.
I expect it all to get worse again by the mid to end of February when he’s due for another adjustment, and then to be better than now after his next adjustment.
The lesson everyone? HORSES ARE NOT DICKS ON PURPOSE. It just takes some sleuthing to understand what’s wrong. I just happened upon on the correct solution, and you bet I won’t forget it.