Monday, February 28, 2011

Horse Related England Pics

And a random window picture, because I'm obsessed with window pictures.
I'm sorry I've been such a bad blogger, I've just been way too busy.

Random Window Pic

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stretch... or Don't

Cadence is extremely smart, and combine that with a good natural temperament and great instincts, you get a very trainable horse.  It took her two lunge sessions to master w/t/c, and three to add stand to that list.  Even when she halts on the lunge line, she always stands square, and if she knocks a fence down, she's unlikely to make the same mistake twice in a row.  Her ground manners have been nearly totally reformed, and she not only stands nicely while I groom her, but she backs up into the cross ties on command now too.  In addition, a lot of her original 'baby issues' that she had when I first started riding are either gone, or nearly there.  For example, she doesn't do that stopping thing when she's frustrated, she just sucks back a little now.  Also, her gaits have evened out, she comes onto the bit, is learning to bend, and the head throwing has totally stopped under saddle (except for occasionally after a jump).  In addition, she'll now follow my contact down, and do a beautiful stretch (and free walk) in the walk.  However, attempt that in the trot, and you get a head-in-the-air, rushing, unsteady mess.  We've been working for probably two weeks on this, and I feel like we aren't making any progress.  Generally the best time to attempt this is right after we've come back from a good, challenging canter.  However, we've only been able to hold a stretch for three strides at most, and that's pushing it.  It's a little frustrating, because she picks up everything so quickly... except this.  Also, I feel like its something that I don't really know how to teach her.  Aside from this, we're concentrating on getting her to bend and give, and keeping her straight and even.  Both of these are easier for me, as I have a clear idea of how to achieve this.  Also, the two are closely related and an exercise for one will benefit the other.  However, I feel like I'm at a total loss in regards to the stretching.
                                                               Any recommendations?
Sorry for the stream of complaints.  I feel like I'm going from gloating to poor me mode, so I apologize for it.

And We're Back

How time flies when you're having a good time!  I feel like I haven't updated in forever.  Well, it has been a week... so close enough.  England was wonderfully fantastically amazing.  So much so, that I apparently feel the need to make up new and exciting words.  I toured the Tower of London, the various universities in Oxford, visited Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey, and managed to incorporate a certain horsey element (almost entirely by accident) into the trip.  We stayed at the Royal Horseguards, visited the Royal Muse (the Queen's stables at Buckingham Palace), and visited the Household Cavalry Museum, which is at the same place where the Cavalry are housed.  One of the highlights of the trip was getting to look in on the stabling area, and seeing that all of the horses were decked out in Horsewear Ireland stable blankets, with Horsewear Ireland turnouts slung over their stalls.

(A not very flattering picture of me and one of the horses, who was attempting to eat my coat)
Before I left on Thursday, Cadence had her teeth floated in the AM, and I had a lesson in the afternoon.  She was fantastic for my lesson.  No head-trowing in the canter, and much calmer all together.  I originally attributed this to the fact that she could still be slightly drugged (despite the fact that her teeth were done at 10, and my lesson was at 4) but I wasn't going to complain ;) Her canter was much nicer, and she was very even all around.  Still not totally straight, but at least she was even.  We borrowed a set of standards from a friends barn, so when we jumped we had our stool jump and then a real jump!  The stool jump probably stood around 2'6, maybe 2'9 and the actual jump was about 3'.  Not too high, but the challenge came when my coach shortened the distances between the jumps by nearly three feet.  Cadence, miss extend (never rush) through my fences was forced to really collect her stride, and use her haunches for the second fence!  She really strugled with it, and threw me for a bit of a loop when she kicked out over the second fence, after lightly rapping the first one.  That mare's got a temper!  Eventually after three or four tries, we got it and called it quits.  Oh, the other great thing about the lesson is that when we were lunging, another horse came into the arena.  Then when I was getting on, a third horse entered.  Cadence warmed up with one horse being ridden, and one horse being lunged.  Then, she was perfectly quiet when both horses left!  Yay mare! 

While I was away, my coach rode her once for me, and she was lunged twice, so when I rode yesterday she was quite good.  Our ride went well, with her right canter being fantastic.  She's still not quite even in any of her gaits, but she's nearly there.  I say that, but its almost impossible to see from the ground, and hard to notice unless you're paying really close attention, so really she's been coming along fantastically. I worry sometimes that I push her too hard.  She does learn very quickly, and likes to be doing something new, so I sometimes forget that a month ago, she wouldn't come onto the bit, wouldn't stay there when she did, and felt like she went from a trot to a pace when we changed from the left to the right reins.  Despite how wonderful our ride was, I couldn't help the feeling that something was missing.  We had a great ride, but it was lacking something.  We'll see how tonight goes.  My plan is to work on her not rushing away from fences (specifically small (and in her opinion) inconsequential ones)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Mare

Holy cow, the last few days have gone by in a blur.  I rode Sudnay, lunged Monday, rode Tuesday and today, and have a lesson tomorrow.  I leave school early, then leave from my lesson to go to the airport to catch my flight to England with my mum.  I'm stressed already.  I feel like I'm totally unprepared school wise despite the fact I've talked to all of my teachers, and know exactly what I need to be doing. 
On the Cadence front, our rides have been successful, but a lot of work.  Tuesday we encountered work with the walk and trot, but her canter was nicer.  She was doing her stopping thing again, so I think it may have somthing to do with her heat cycles, because she was worst last time she was in heat, then it got better and went away, but now that she's in heat again its back.  That of course does not mean its acceptable, or that she should get away with it, so I had to ride with a dressage whip.  Not good for lazy old me :P  Her trot was alright tempo wise, but she was resistant to bend so we put a lot of effort into that, and keeping her balanced.  I don't know why I say we... she wasn't really interested in balancing at all!  Lol.  Her canter however, was really nice.  She was falling out her right shoulder to the left as usual, but when I corrected it she felt wonderful!  Plus, she held the correction.  She threw her head three or so times throughout our canter work; a huge improvement from Saturday. 
Today, her trot work was phenomenal.  Calm, collected, correct.  She felt like a super star!  We did run into some issues in the canter though.  She was tired, and the idea of having to balance and support herself didn't seem like a good one to her, so she decided not to.  She threw her head up, she threw her head down, she trotted, she rushed.  I tried my hardest to correct every single thing, while still keeping her in the correct frame, and balanced (specifically not falling through that right side).  By the time we'd finished our canter in both directions, we were both absolutley drenched in sweat!  That's an impressive feat, considering I was wearing a t-shirt!  It was really quite warm today, it was 42 when I was riding so the t-shirt is somewhat justified.  And no, I'm not being sarcastic.  That's down right balmy for these parts.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's My Lucky Day

Technically, my birthday isn't until this weekend, but I did happen to get one  present early:

The only present I'll ever need.  The Mare is now officially mine.  Its sort of an odd thing to write, because I don't think any amount of writing could accurately express my excitement, joy, and happiness.  So instead, I'll fill you in on some other things:
Sunday Cadence and I happened to ride with the western pleasure ladies who do their cone patterns with the other horses.  This was the third time she'd been ridden with another horse.  She's only ever been with Bronx and Zeedle before, so four new horses was very exciting.  Not to mention there was a little snow sliding off the roof.  We ended up standing and waiting around with them, and we even rode two w/t patterns :P  I was very impressed with my girl; she was very level headed, even when all the other horses left the arena.  Her canter still needs some work (Specifically to the right) but its getting better.
Next weekend, I'm going to England!  I can't wait.  Its somewhere I've always wanted to go.  Hopefully my coach'll be able to ride Cadence once for me while I'm away.  I'll only be gone five days, but that's a rather long holiday for her.
Lastly, I don't know what it is but I always look so much younger in any pictures of me when I ride, tack up, groom, etc.  Seriously!  I look like I'm 13 or 14 years old!  Maybe when I'm 40 I'll appreciate this, but by then it'll probably be making me look older.  I don't know why I'm feeling the need to post this... I think I need to get some sleep.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What a goofball!

Sorry its so dark.  So much for my nice easy ride on Bailey.  I was so pissed with him.  I'm fine with bucking, fine with spooking, but I have ZERO tolerance for rearing. Its simply too dangerous for both the horse and the rider.  Imagine if he'd done that with his owner on him!  (for those of you that don'tk now, Bailey's mom is pregnant right n ow)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just When You Let Yourself Hope...

Naturally something's got to come around and crush that hope.  That just appears to be the way life works.  On Tuesday, I finally let myself believe and get excited over the fact that Cadence's sale was actually going to go through.  Up until this point, I'd tried to stay as emotionally detached as possible because I knew that there was a good chance the sale wouldn't go through.  When the vet check went reasonably well, I finally let myself hope and really get excited about everything.  Bad decision.  While she wasn't perfect, my plan was to have the farrier work on Cadence's feet over the winter, then get a natural barefoot trimmer to take care of her feet from there.  I've been a fan of barefoot trimming since I saw how much healthier Artie's feet were than a lot of shod horses.  The angle of Cadence's hoof (As seen from the outside) is different than that of her pastern.  That's the main reason I believe that her bone alignment could be fixed with some good farrier work.  That said, there's no guarantee to that.  In addition, she has a little inflammation where a tendon or something connects to the small pastern bone.  That is probably just caused by the poor farrier work, but you can never be 100% sure.  What if we find out in five months or 10 months that proper hoof care can't in fact fixed her bone alignment?  Then we're stuck with a horse that at any point in time could go lame.  However, what if I don't get her, and a couple good trims fixes the whole issue?  I don't want to wind up with a horse that'll be lame forever, but at the same time I don't want to pass up an amazing opportunity.  She's a talented jumper, and even the vet agrees that she's a very nice mover.  I don't know... I suppose its a gamble either way. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vet Check Results

Brrrrr.  It was five degrees yesterday, and I got to spend the entire day (10:00-2:45) in the freezing cold barn.  I do have to admit that as freezing cold as it was, and as hungry as I was by the end of it (poor mare, I ate most of her brand new mints!) I really enjoyed myself.  Our vet was very interesting, and extremely knowledgeable.  She was fantastic about explaining things in a way that I could understand.  My medical terms are somewhat lacking ;)  I’ll give a brief summary of what the vet said:
1)       Her teeth need to be done.  We’d assumed as much, and had blamed some of her head throwing antics on her teeth.  Good to know we were right.
2)       Her feet are in terrible disarray, and the vet was surprised she wasn’t lame because of it.  We knew that as well, but the x-rays revealed just how bad it was.  Cadence’s only had shoes on since November.  She was reshod just before she came, and while she really didn’t need anything taken off of her feet, the farrier took a lot off of her toe.  The studs in her shoes don’t help, nor does the fact she’s had almost zero hoof growth since they were trimmed.  Thankfully, one of the other horses at the barn lost one of his back shoes, so the farrier had to come out today.  My hope is to apply some borium to her shoes, thus allowing us to remove the studs.  Yay!  That and a little corrective shoeing should solve that problem, and correct her bone angles.
3)       Being half warmblood, she has some navicular.  The vet essentially said that it’s not perfect, and a little outside of her acceptable zone, but not enough for it to be a problem.  This is the only thing that really worries me.
4)       She has a small round chip in one of her front legs.  The vet said its very small, and well rounded, so she’s probably had it since birth or shortly thereafter.
5)       She has a very small spur in one hock.  Again, vet said this is a non-issue.
The naviclar does worry me, because while most horses with that level of navicular never have issues, there’s no 100% guarantee that it won’t worsen with time.  Either way, she was essentially given a clean bill of health, with the exception of her teeth and feet, both of which we knew beforehand.  
 Pre vet-check mare
 Just drugged mare
 Drugged Mare
(She's never this well behaved in the crossties!)
 Mare waking up
 Mare waking up
Mare getting angry that we're looking at x-rays, and not her!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vet Check

Cadence has her vet check tomorrow morning.  Cross your fingers for her!  I feel like I have so much invested in this little mare already; it'd be heart breaking if this doesn't end well.  Ah well, better to know now than in five or six months I suppose.  Unfortunately for me, the vet check isn't till 10:30, so I don't really have a valid reason to not go into school. Something tells me I won't be sleeping tonight...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It May Possibly Almost Be Official...

Way to sound sure of yourself.  I think that's just about as uncertain as I could get, while still hoping to employ some sense of credibility.  Anyhow, I digress.  The reason for the blog title is that if we can arrange a vet check, settle on a price, then as long as Cadence is cleared, she'll be mine!  Sort of a scary thought, to be honest.  While it is naturally very exciting, change is always a little scary.  I think (no, I know) my only hesitation in this whole ordeal has to do with Arty.  While Cadence would be the first horse I've ever had full ownership of, Arty was really my first horse.  Anyhow, no use in being a downer.  I'll still ride Arty a couple times a month... I could never give up my pony.  He means far too much to me.  Is that selfish?  Probably.  Will I do it anyways?  Definitely. 
Keep on topic, right.  So today Cadence and I had another lesson.  She hadn't been ridden since Monday, due to the fact I was starting my new semester.  On top of that, she got to watch all the other horses go out while I tacked her up.  Needless to say, she was wired and pissed when I finally got around to hopping on.  She wasn't interested in softening, and insisted on rushing forward a couple of steps before finally listening to my corrections.  Her canter work was nice (save some major head tosses), and is feeling more balanced.  Its still a bit off to the right.  I think popping a pair of draw reins on once a week could help balancing her.  I'm not a huge fan of draws or side reins.  I don't even really like martingales, but I prefer using them occasionally and correctly if it will really and truly benefit the horse.  I've also thought about putting a standing martingale on her when I lunge her.  My preferance is standing over runnign, because I don't want the correction to be on her mouth.  However, I'm a little wary because if she throws her head like she did today, then she's just going to snap it clean in half.  Ah well... atleast her jumping was fantastic.  Seriously, I mean fantastic.  We did another gymnastic today, except we popped the stool-jump up to a vertical.  Cadence was jumping neatly through it like they were trot poles.  Actually, better than if they were trot poles, she sucks at poles. 
Cadence'd jump the jumps nicely, but forget that there was a pole after the jump and that she didn't have enough room to get over it if she landed AT the pole.  On the positive side, we know she's got scope.  Lynda was going to see if she could pop the barrels up so they were standing, and then have her jump that, but I'll admit I wasn't really comfortable with that.  It would have been approx 3'6 at minimum, and having never jumped higher than 3', or maybe 3'3 if I'm lucky I wasn't totally comfortable doing that on her today.  2'9-3'9's a bit of a leap on a calm experienced horse.  On a young mare who you're trying to convince not to gallop around the arena, its a bit of a stretch.  I doubt Lynda would have had us do it, it was more curiosity on her part. In the end, we popped an x in between the barrels, with the end result only being marginally higher than before.  Oh well!  Hopefully we'll have standards soon. 

Oh my, I've written a lot!  If anyone actually reads through all this, I'll be really impressed :)

One quick note on Bailey, then I'm done.  I went out to ride yesterday, and noticed a small crack in his front right.  Got on, warmed up, started into some trot work.  Stopped for a break & to convince my mum to take some pictures.  She commented that his hoof looked bad, I checked again and it'd gotten a lot worse.  It looked like that chunk of hoof was going to break right off, so I took him back into the barn, cleaned him up, and sent an urgent email to his mum.  Poor boy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow in Toronto

I know its mean to make fun of people (or in this case, cities) but being an Ontarian (or a Canadian for that matter) that doesn't live in Toronto means that I, like the rest of the country, have a civil obligation to make fun of Toronto.  Okay, I may be exaggerating a smidgeon, and if there are any Torontonians out there, I mean no personal offense.  However, ever since 2000 when the mayor of Toronto (Mel Lastman) called in 400 troops (with 800 more on standby) to deal with 8cm of snow, which equals just over three inches, Toronto's credibility as a legitimate member of this great nation has been... well, somewhat decimated.  I mean, its not totally Toronto's fault.  Geographically speaking, they just don't get much snow.  But leaving out those details makes it a much better story, eh?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fun In The...Snow

It started to snow around 10 last night, and has just kept on blowing since then!  The nice thing is, its relatively warm out.  Its somewhere around 15, and while it isn't sunny the snow sure is beautiful.  I took my camera with me when I went to put the chickens in last night, but the wind was too high to really get many pictures, as I had to sort of shield my camera from the oncoming snow.  The fact that Rio (my 2y/o papillon) didn't understand why I wanted him to get away from me did not help either.  However, I did catch a couple I liked once Rio and I were back in side.  The lighting was terrible, but my little camera dealt with it pretty well.