Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year! 2012 Edition

I'm going to be away, and I probably won't have access to the internet, so here's my New Years Eve blog post just a wee bit early.
Hello, and welcome to the end of the universe.  Well, not yet I suppose.  I was extremely disappointed to learn that the end of the universe wouldn't be until NEXT December.  Wholly unfair, if you ask me.  I had my hopes up thinking it'd come sooner than that... I never have been the patient sort.
Alas I digress; the intent of this post was not to discuss the end of life, the universe, and everything (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, anyone?) but to discuss goals and resolutions.  Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, in the world of Kate, a goal is something to be completed, and a resolution is something to do continuously throughout the year.

2011 Resolutions:
My 2011 new years resolution: Drink more water
Success? Sort of... it's hard thing to quantify/qualify.  I did put in a concerted effort to drink more water.  However, it was more of a here & there kind of thing.

2011 Goals:
1)Ride in at least one sanctioned horse trial: Success, I rode in 2!  However, Miss Cadence and I didn't OFFICIALLY complete any.  Ah well.
2)Ride in one Dressage show: Check.  Cadence and I got first and third, with scores of 59% in Walk/trot test A (she would NOT go near the end of the arena; there was a scary car there) and 69% in w/t test B.
3)Get 4/10 rider levels: Fail.  I didn't get any of my rider levels...  I was never too serious about this one, but I think I'd still like to get them.  Eventually.
4) I had an 'unofficial goal' to get a horse.  Horse goal? Major success!
5)Keep RFTGU going until 2012: Success!

I've been putting a lot of thought into my goals and resolutions for 2012.  More so my goals than my resolutions.  Its not something I generally put a lot of validity into, but I found that looking back on my 2011 year, and the goals I created for it, was a lot of fun and quite helpful.  With that in mind, here's what I've come up with:

2012 Resolutions:
1)I'd like to continue on with the 'drink more water' resolution from 2011, but this time make it more quantifiable.  I'd like to drink two glasses of water/day.  Yeulch.
2)Work out 2x per week.  I think I can manage this one, and I think it'll be helpful in regards to both my riding and my overall health.  This may sound odd coming from a 5'9 105lb girl, but health isn't just about weight, and while I may be thin I also eat awfully which brings me to my 3rd resolution
3)Stop being such a mooch.  I'm an awful mooch; I jus see food and have this uncontrolable desire to eat it!!! It doesn't really matter whose it is, so long as it ends up in my mouth.  I have poor impulse control; this is my attempt to correct it and do something for society as a whole simultaneously.
4)Eat healthier.  Another one of those unquantifiable/unqualifiable resolutions.  MAYBE I can make it quantifiable by 2013 ;)  I seem to have a penchant for goals that area easy to say 'yeah, I totally did that' without REALLY doing it...

2012 Goals:
1) Compete at 1st level.  A challenge? Yes.  Doable? I think so.
2) COMPLETE an event, and hopefully pick up some ribbons.  I'd like to be successfully going Entry by the end of the season, and MAYBE try a PT.  Maybe.  That's not a goal, just an 'outline'.
3) Go camping with Cadence, or go on a fox hunt (or training hunt) with Cadence
4) Get a car... it would make my life oh so much easier.
4) Keep RFTGU going until 2013!  What an odd thought... 2013.  How time flies when you're having a good time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful new year, and I'll see you all on the other side.  Cheers!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dressage Clinic Video: Part 1

Here's the first part of the clinic back in November.  This was Cadence's second ride of the day, as we'd participated in a demonstration earlier on.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Culprit & Vet Photos

I was going to post a video from the Belinda Trussell clinic back in November (way back when I stil lhad a ridable horse) but I think this'll be far more interesting.

This post details the events of our second visit to Milton Equine, but beware: I took pictures. Like, pictures of blood, puss, and other fun stuff running down Cadence's leg... It doesn't bother me, but I thought I'd at least give people the option to not loose their lunch if they aren't much for blood and such.  It's nothing to terrible, honest.  Some just don't like that stuff though, so I figured I should give the option
Here's a sneak preview to entice you into reading further:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas & Cadence Update

I hope everyone had a safe and happy christmas, and for those who don`t celebrate the holiday rest assured it`ll soon be over!
I was away for a few days (getting home late Christmas eve) so yesterday was the first time I saw my pony since her  vet appointment & the change up in her bandaging routine.  She`s been on a few hours of arena turnout, and has had her bandages off for a few hours each day too.  Her leg looked... big.  And she was dead hopping lame on it too when I trotted her out.  Oh mare.  Later when I cleaned the wound, the lameness made sense.  I scrubbed it with chlorhexadine as per the vet`s orders, and it began oozing puss.  Oozing isn`t intense enough... it was like somebody had turned on the faucet and puss was running from the wound.  The buildup in pressure would (I`d imagine) be responsible for quite a bit of pain, so at least her lameness made sense.  Unfortunately though this means that the pocket hasn`t been draining as we`d hoped so Cadence is back up to Milton tomorrow for another appointment with them. (the previous 2 have been with our local vet clinic)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Return of the Vet

First off, my sincere apologies for not being diligent about my updates.  Until the end of Janruary, I'm not quite sure how this blog will fare in terms of update frequency.  Ah, to be in school.  Those days of whipping out two essays, studying for two tests, memorizing lines for a dramatization, and popping together a quick project all in a day's work.
In regards to the pony, the vet's coming out today to do a follow up.  Hopefully the bandages can come off, and MAYBE she can even get some turnout.  Poor girl; she's handling it so well

Monday, December 19, 2011

On The Weekend...

... I had a lesson on Z, discovered that Cadence is freakishly balanced, and pulled a muscle in my back.
The lesson went well.  Z was amazing, and (in spite of my difficulty adjusting to her) I think it was really helpful for me to ride her.  She's gotten to the point where she carries herself perfectly now, and riding a horse who had absolutely nothing in your hand was a wonderful feeling.  Totally weightless, carrying herself perfectly, a light and elastic contact, and working back to front.  It showed me where Cadence will need to go once she's truly straightened out.  We did some medium and extended trots, leg yield and shoulder in, and had some fun with that  beautiful canter of hers.  I wish my riding had been a bit better, but Z was fantastic about putting up with me.
On the Cadence front, she's been absolutely wonderful.  Yesterday, I knotted her lead around her neck and she followed me around the arena for 10 minutes, walking circles, serpentines, shallow loops, and over a small cavaletti.  Unfortunately, she's still SO Sensitive about anything touching her leg.  To change the bandage, it takes one person holding up her front right leg, one person changing the bandage on her right hind and attempting to not be kicked (thankfully, she always kicks straihgt back & away from us... but it's amazing how well she can kick her RH with her RF being held up!), and one person holding her head with a lip chain.  We've tried just about everything else, but you CAN NOT keep a hold of her without the lip chain.  What a mare.  I had no idea a horse could stand on two legs on the SAME side of their body for that long.  She defies physics.
After riding Z, I was sore.  Like 'ouch, I can't walk!' sore.  However, today I woke up in twice as much pain. It apepars I've pulled some weird obscure muscle in my back that hurts like the dickens when I move in a certain way, pick up certain things, or push in certain spots.  Add that to my still aching muscles, and I'm a bit of a mess.
Oh, and Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year.  I swear it wasn't there last week, but now it's looming just around the corner and I'm not prepared in the least.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cadence Update

My apologies for the lack of posts; things have been busy.  My semester is drawing to a close with but 3 weeks of school left.  Naturally, this means lots of projects, tests, and then once all that's over and done with... exams!  I can hardly wait.
Cadence had her drain out on Wednesday, and while she did fuss about quite a bit (she continued to kick out behind her... graciously kicking away from all of us humans... for well over 5 minutes after they'd removed the drain) she showed less hesitancy to put weight on her leg than before.  She's sound walking on it, and most of the time she'll put weight on it. She's been off any pain medication since Sunday.  As of Wednesday, she's on 10 - 15 minutes of hand walking / day, and bandage changes once every other day.  In about a week, she'll have a follow up appointment with the veterinary assistant to ensure she's still on the right track, and recovering properly.
In regards to my riding, I'll be taking two or three lesson's on my coach's mare Z.  Miss Z is now working on shoulder and haunches in, as well as counter canter, walk-canters, and all sorts of fun stuff.  So different form the mare who couldn't walk straight down the long wall last winter!  It'll be lovely to ride her again, and to brush up on my dressage skills.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back Home

Yesterday the vet finally gave the OK to bring Cadence home.  She made the trip safe and sound, and is now enjoying chilling in her stall.... for the next two weeks.  You heard me right, two weeks. She'll have the drain taken out Friday, and until then her bandages have to be changed daily.  After Friday, they need to be done every other day.  She's on 15 minutes of hand walking/day, and stall rest until the wound heals.  Additionally, she gets 38cc of antibiotics 1x/day.
Last time we were in a similar situation (when we put her on stall rest till the vet could check out her leg) she managed to break out of her stall and gallop into the arena, tear a metal ring out of its concrete base, kick another horse in the chest (although he DID stick his nose in her butt) and just be a general pain in the arse.  I love her dearly, but if she was that bonkers after  4 days, I have no idea how we're going to get through 15 :(  The poor thing, she's going to be bored to tears.  Anyone have good suggestions for mental stimulation whilst on stall rest?
Oh, and while at the vets they noticed her manure was dry, so they gave her 2L of oil via a gastronasal tube to prevent colic.  Yet another thing to worry about.  Please send the Mare your love and positive thoughts... and perhaps send me some of those positive vibes while your at it. I think I may need it more than her if either of us want to make it to christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

They've haad to put a tube in to help Cadence's wound drain (there's some fancy medical name, but I can't remember it...) and are going to be keeping her at least until tomorrow.  I know she's in good hands and its the right place for her to be, but I want my baby back.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Updates on Miss Cadence

First off, thank you all for your lovely comments; it means a lot.  Now onto Miss Mare:
Cadence appears to be doing well.  Unfortunately, tey had to do a small I and D (incision and drain) just below her wound, but the vet says she'll probably still be able to go home tomorrow.  Cross your fingers and hope for the best please!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mare Emergencies

Cadence somehow got a nice puncture wound in her RH, and at first was fine but within a few minutes was rolling on the ground in pain.  Had the vet out, she said to take her to the OVC or Milton, so we went to milton.  X-ray & ultrasound came back good, tendon and sheath both fine and all bones are clean.  Keeping her till Sunday am to monitor infection; she'll get injection antibiotics then wean her onto oral Sun.  Longer post once I have time.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Contact, Frame, Collection, and Bend

First off, to understand this post it would probably be helpful to read horsemom's post from Of horses and boys... and everytihng in between.

Personally, I agree with everything she's said, but I've found that when a rider has contact (Note: contact does not mean pressure; the rider should be able to give both reins and have the horse maintain the same position.  Otherwise they don't have contact and but are simply holding.  Contact is simply referring to not having loops in your reins) and asks a horse to bend, the horse will (at least many of the horses that I've ridden... not all, but many) bend and end up in frame.  There are two key points to this:
1) The bend I'm referring to does not mean that the horse can turn their head and neck to the inside, or to whichever direction you're asking them to bend, though that is a part of it. Instead, bend is referring to suppleness through the jaw, poll, neck, and body, and allowing the rider to direct/manipulate this into straightness.  After all, bend really isn't about bending, so much as staying straight.
2)This 'frame' (at least in a young/green horse) will (and should not) be poll high.  A young horse will not naturally come with the muscle to carry that.  As time goes on and the horse learns to carry him/herself, the neck should naturally come up as the horse begins to transfer weight from their forehand onto their haunches, thus beginning collection.
I personally don't believe that you can say something is right or wrong based on where the highest point in the horses neck is.  I may very well be wrong, and if someone would like to educate me on the physiology behind this, I'd really appreciate it.  (Personally, I'd like to learn more about it from a structural musculoskeletal perspective.  What allows a horse to engage their haunches and lift their back?  When a horse is engaged, (sans rider) where is their natural headset?  How loose is the horse's neck during this time?) However, I've found that many people seem to focus largely on the high point in the neck (yes, other things do come with this , but I'm saying overall, not specifically... if that makes any sense) and forget about the rest of it.  They're just as focused on the 'look' as the rest of the world, their reasoning behind it is just a bit different.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jump, Whoa, Wait, Repeat

For any of you that have ever endured the torture that is the 'circle exercise' (4 jumps dividing the four quadrants of the circle) then you understand the dread I felt when I was informed of this lesson's jumping exercise.  Two jumps is bad enough, four is... just not fun.  It's a wonderful exercise, especially in training the forward or hard to turn horse.
For those that haven't done it, the goal is to jump the jump, rock the horse back (or bring them back to trot to start), turn a nice square turn (effectively spinning them on their haunches when they balance back), release, and jump the next jump.  Rinse, repeat.
Cadence and my last jumping experience didn't go too well (mostly due to bad planning on my part) but her warm up was good and she was nice and responsive, especially considering the two other horses in the ring (one of which is a very green horse/rider combination)  She had a nice long canter warm up in which we concentrated on maintaining her nice calm canter, without too much fuss.  I was especially proud of the fact that she maintained that nice bannana bend to the right!
Anywho, we started the jumping exercise with one jump and three poles.  After trotting this a few times each direction, we popped up two cross rails.  Starting with just the two jumps allowed me to instill the immediate 'back' after the fences (coming right back to a WAITING trot before going to each pole/fence) and then when we added the other two fences, it wasn't all that difficult.  It took her a few tries to find her legs, but she remembered enough that we were able to jump, come back to trot, and then head to the fence with her rocked back and waiting, not galloping like a bulldozer.  There were one or two 'oopsies' each direction, but I just corrected her, (not heading for the next jump) and then continued on with the exercise.  When we tried it in the canter, I was surprized with how amazing she was!  So good and calm.  Better to the right than the left; it was easier to get her to bend right than it was to keep her fromgoing through that right shoulder.  However, she picked up on a very difficult exercise perfectly her first try.  I was so pleased.  Her jumping and dressage are now both at or above the level of Bailey's when I stopped riding him, they far surpass Arty's, and well none of the other horses I ride/have ridden really compare.
On an interesting note, we tried her in a 5" loose ring (no hooks or anything harsh like that) myler and she seemed to do pretty well with it.  I think the action's good (especially to help with her right side bend issues) but I think they're a little too thin for her... she was still a wee bit fussy with it.  I'll either ride in the myler or her regular snaffle tonight; still not sure.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Attention Shoppers....

... we now carry a right bend!  Yes, yoou heard me correctly.  Not only can we actually get a true right bend, but we can carry ourselves too.
To start at the beginning, Cadence was better last night but not perfect.  I could get some bend/give to the right, but she never totally gave it.  Its like she wasn't really moving through that right side.  Make sense?  I hope so... it's a little difficult to put into words.  Today my lesson started off in much the same manner, except that we had a little more give to the right than previously.  Then, about a third of the way through the lesson, she was grabbign and laying so we halted and rattled her off it, then asked for the bend.  Bam!  We had a right bend.  Like a true I will give and bend my nose to your stirrup if you want me to right bend. Even better?  We were able to keep it through the rest of the ride without much fuss (there was a little resistance after the canter) AND she was now carrying herself and not laying on me.  What an awesome mare :)
We'd started off the ride with the clammer in (wrapped in vetwrap to make it softer for her!  The things people come up with...) and took it off at the end of the ride to make sure we still had the bend.  She was totally loose and jiggly in a way that I've never seen her before.  We also were able to get a little more push from behind once that neck (and subsequently back) unlocked for me.  I could truly get her working back to front!  Honestly, I don't think she's ever been so free and bendable as she was today.  It was a lovely feeling.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Well, it's not the saddle...

... its just mare-itude.

My coach rode lil miss Cadence yesterday, in her saddle, and had the same experience with her that I did.  Great w/c, NO right bend in the trot though.  The only difference is that when she couldn't get it, she got off and long lined her.  The fact that my coach couldn't get her to bend makes me both disappointed and happy.  It pleases me because if a former Canadian Olympic team member who's ridden at the FEI level in both dressage and eventing can't get her to give, then I shouldn't feel bad about not getting it. Its displeasing because, well, she won't bend!  After a 45 minute long line session, Cadence did give in and release that right side.
Apparemtly this 'new development' is solely attitude based.  My job is to be more firm and demanding.  I think I deal quite well with nervous horses, as I can keep my calm, but I know when to push.  The bossy ones however are a little bit of a new experience, and more of a challenge.  I'm not exactly submissive, but I am not 100% comfortable with asserting dominance.  However, the observations my coach made did strike a bit of a chord, so I guess I'm going to have to toughen up a bit.

On another note, I have a blog rec: If you want to have a laugh, go check out The Dressage Curmudgeon.  Read it from the start, and enjoy; you can thank me later.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Saddles & Hooves

First off, Cadence got her hind shoes off yesterday when she got her toes trimmed.  I put hind shoes on for the summer when her feet began to break up in the spring.  Ultimately I'd like to have her go barefoot, and am contemplating pulling her front shoes in another month.  We'll see... I really like the concepts of natural hoof care, I just worry that it won't work for Cadence.  Her comfort is my top priority here, and that brings me to my next point.
On Tuesday when I rode, Cadence was... interesting.  She wasn't interested in bending to the right at ALL in the trot; like throw her right shoulder in and swing her body all over when I asked for bend not interested.  I could get bend in the walk and canter, but he trot eluded us. I contemplated back soreness( which was a no) and saddle fit, or a non-pain related issue, like hse just didn't want to do the work.  Cadence is really willing though, and (from my experience) seems to enjoy what we do, so the lasto ne didn't really fit.  After talking with my coach, I learned that she'd ridden Cadence in her saddle, not in mine.  She agreed that saddle fit may be an issue, as Cadence has bulked up so much in recent months.  She's going to ride Cadence again today, and I'll ride her in my coach's saddle tomorrow.  Then Saturday, we'll reconvene and discuss what we've found.
There is one other possibility. On the second day of the clinic (which I WILL get around to writing about... I swear) I used a clammer (sp?) on Cadence.  I've been able to find out absolutely nothing about them through the interweb, other than a post that Pia's Mom wrote about it.  It works sort of like a double bridle, but without the two sets of reins.  Apparently (from what I've been told) they're good for horses who lay on the bit, as they bump into the clammer and come off it.  It also works a little like a copper roller, giving them something to play with/concentrate on.  My coach used it again on her when she rode her (while I was in NYC) and it was after that ride that she said Cadence was wonderful, so perhaps the clammer's working really well when its being used, but having negative repercussions when its not?    This seems unlikely, for several reasons, but is still worth noting. Reasons I'm doubtful:
1) I doubt she's being vengeful and laying on the bit when she doesn't ahve the clammer, as she doesn't really strike me as a vengeful character...
2) She's only been worked in it twice
3) That's a pretty major repercussion...