Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Feelin' Groovy

Licorice got his back adjusted and my farrier changed his back feet up a little bit.  I gave him a day off and then did a light work out and he is all better.

We're working now on keeping him from curling under and contorting his neck.  Want to know what the fix is?  Of course...it's forward!  I swear one of these days I'm going to get a tattoo of that word.  Horse is crooked?  Forward!  Horse feels a little off?  Forward!  Behind the bit?  Forward!  Everything must start with forward.  You would think I would know this by now.  Really, I'm starting to wonder if I have a learning disability with forward.  It's almost embarrassing.

In other news, we went back down the driveway and down the trail with Licorice's best buddy, Fallon.  Fallon is a young thoroughbred who hadn't been worked in a few days, so he was very up and dancy.  His rider, Katie is fantastic though.  She rides and rehabilitates race horses so nothing phases her.  And Licorice, though a little high headed a few times, just moseyed along.

Barking dogs running at us from the yard?  Licorice turned and looked but kept walking.  Man with wheelbarrow behind a tree?  Licorice looked a little harder and was a little tense, but kept walking.

I chattered the entire time, hoping that would keep me breathing.  This was only my second time on this trail and I'm hoping that I can get out to do it often enough that eventually it will be (drumroll, please) fun!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Horse Hypochondriac

I'm a bit of a horse hypochondriac.  I worry so much about 'reading' my horse that I tend to always think he's got something wrong.

Yesterday while I was brushing him, I noticed some bumps on his back.  Could be bug bites or could be from the nibbling/grooming he's been getting from his pasture mate.  She's currently in season and spends her time nibbling on Licorice and hoping he'll nibble her back.  Mares.  :)

Then, while I was riding his back legs gave out.  This normally happens at least once while we're warming up and sometimes after we have cantered.  He's still figuring out how to use his rear end and I'm still figuring out how to help him.  However, this time it happened twice in a row at the trot and kind of freaked me out.  And his contact was inconsistent, so I worried that he was lame.  I cut my ride short since I didn't want to make things worse if he was off and I couldn't tell.

Then, while he's hanging out in the crossties he had one nostril flared and it was just stuck there.  Like he had a horsey stroke.  It stayed there for a good five minutes, completely flared and wrinkled.  Then it went back to normal.

What I want to do is figure out how to get an education on these things.  Sure, I can go ask my trainer if he looks okay.  I will have her check him over on Wednesday.  When I put him back in turn out, he drank some water and ate some hay and looked happy enough so I wasn't concerned about him right then.  But what about my education?

I want to know how to tell if a horse is lame.  I get it in theory, but I can't actually tell.  How do you tell when a horse is sick?  Can horses have strokes?  How do you tell if it's bug bites or love bites?

Does anyone know where you can get an education on this?  I know my trainers will answer my questions when they can, but I also know they don't have time to go over all of this with me and they're usually teaching lessons.  I wonder if anyone has come up with an online course about this.  Like an online Pony Club course.

I'm off to Google it now.

Also, though I was pondering what life would be like at this barn five minutes from my house, I'm not looking to make a change yet.  I think instead I want to focus on my goals of 1. getting off the farm  2. getting outside  3. getting more confident and to do those I don't need to switch homes.  And don't tell anyone because I don't want the pressure, but we've started practicing Training Level 2 and might consider showing next year... Streeeeetchy circle!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hand Holding and the Magic Feather

Sorry for the lack of posting.  There has also been a distinct lack of riding.  Licorice now has a summer cold, which has him coughing and wheezing.  Our canter is improving rapidly.  Our walk....well, our walk still sucks.  In fact, our rides still start off sluggish and shaky with me doing too much and Licorice doing too little.  It's a work in progress.

I met a woman at the barn where my daughter is taking riding lessons (yes, my child is finally showing some interest in horses!  And yes, she's not riding at my barn yet.) and we were talking about the Oh Crap strap on our saddles.  I jokingly referred to it as my Magic Feather.  In case you haven't seen Dumbo recently, Dumbo was convinced he could fly because he held a Magic Feather in his trunk.  As long as he had that Magic Feather, he was fine.  Then when he dropped the Magic Feather, he thought he could no longer fly.  Thankfully, his little mouse buddy yelled at him that he didn't need the Magic Feather and that he could fly all along.  And so he did.

My Magic Feather is my Oh Crap strap (also known as a bucking strap and other names).  How many times have I needed it to actually stay on?  Zero.  But how many times have I just touched it or put a hand over it...just because.  Lots and lots.  I'm not ready to give up my strap, but it just got me thinking about how my riding isn't nearly as bad as I think it is.  Also, I was explaining to someone about what a chicken I was and she said "Do you ever canter?".  I realized then that what I tell people and how I ride are pretty different.  I walk, trot, canter at every ride and without major fear issues.  Apparently the way I talk about myself is as if I'm too scared to do much besides walk.  Ha!

The other thing on my mind is hand holding.  The barn I'm at is fantastic but they hold my hand a lot.  They schedule vet visits, farrier visits.  They cut back on my pony's food if it's too much and increase it if it's not enough.  Everyone is in the riding program, so there isn't any different disciplines.  If it's hot out, they take off blankets.  Raining?  They put on rain sheets.  If your horse looks funny, they notice right away.  If your horse is being a spaz in turnout, they check on him.  There is always someone there to answer all my questions and if I'm having a hard time with my horse, there's almost always someone there to assist me or offer advice.

So, what I'm wondering is if any of you have been (or are at) a barn like this and if you moved to one where you had to take more responsibility, was it challenging?  When I was in my 20s and had a horse it was easier because I didn't have a husband and a house and a child and everything that comes along with it.  Now that I'm older, I appreciate that I don't have to be involved, but there's a part of me that thinks I'm not growing my relationship with my horse as deeply because there's always someone else who knows better.  It almost feels like I can't make a mistake.  Does that make sense?

I have a whole other post that I would love to get advice on, but the last time I tried to do a private post it totally didn't work.  Sigh.  Internets.  Here are some pictures of Licorice.  His body is changing!  Yeah for muscles!