Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Lesson Well Learned

     Yesterday, Cadence and I had our first lesson since her injury back at the start of December.  Now, almost two months later, we're finally really getting back into the swing of things.  Our ride started off with her trotting away from the mounting block, and me not being able to stop her for a full lap of the ring.  Pathetic, I know.  She had Sunday off, and it was showing.
     The lesson was going to be more of a see where we're at and where we need to go kind of thing.  Assess her muscling, fittness, and rehab schedule.  The rigorous part of the rehab schedule is over, and for the past few days I've just been riding to her fitness level & cough.  The cold appeared to be on its way out, but yesterday kicked that assumption to the curb; she was coughing and sneezing worse than ever before.
     Anywho, so Cadence was energetic.  After a quick attempt at a walk stretch, I gave up.  A key part of the walk stretch is actually walking, and it didn't look like we were going to be able to handle that.  Thus, I conceded to pick her up and soften her up in the walk.  She was pretty good, but quite grabby, slightly unresponsive, and HEAVY in the halts.  Not too impressive.  She improved a wee bit though, and we moved into the trot.  We were immediately faced with the rusheyness (rusheyness? rushiness... so hard to determine the correct spelling of imaginary words) I've been attempting to work through, and after some trotting around (my coach was quick to inform me that that behaviour needs to be nipped in the bud; my hyper mare should never be given the impression that speed is okay or an appropriate response to anything.) trying rather unsuccessfully to steady her rhythm, we entered into the actual learning portion of the lesson.
     To help you visualize the behaviour Cadence was exhibiting, she likes to go fast.  Big, long, open, powerful strides are her preference.  While she's been coming back I've been encouraging her to find her own rhythm... which works alright sometimes.  When she settled into her own rhythm it was lovely, but when she didn't(19 times out of 20), it was a nightmare.  Most of the time, she needs her rider to show her the slower, more relaxed tempo they're looking for.  The hot TB event horse blood in her just won't go there by herself.  She can be content when she gets there, but while some horses are happy to trot along slowly... she's happiest and most relaxed while running.  The issue we've been encountering is that when I half halt, she comes back... then goes back out stronger than before.  Even if I half halt every stride, its like taking a car down a hill.  To avoid riding your breaks, you apply the break, then start to release.  As you release, the car starts to surge forward... so you apply the break... rinse, & repeat.
     What my coach had me do was put her on a left circle and while keeping her slightly counter bent (actually, it's more NOT having a left bend and staying straight) leg yield in on the circle.  Once on a small circle with her at the center, I had to make sure the circle was totally even and I didn't lose her shoulder for even a millisecond as we went around the circle.  As we were doing this, I kept rating her tempo & wonder of all wonders, it improved.  We walked, and leg yielded slowly out.  We did this in the walk and trot, focusing very carefully on the shoulders.  Then, we switched directions and did it to the right, walk and trot.
     What I learned is that she wasn't running away by grabbing the bit and havin' a good ole time like she used to (subtlety level: low) but instead she was ever so subtly evading me by losing her outside (most of the time) shoulder.  When we tried this in the canter, starting on her rushy left lead, the results were outstanding!  Her canter improved dramatically.  Its still pretty flat and down hill, but she needs to build more muscle before we can fix that.  Plus, there are a few more training blocks we need to re-install as well.
     Before we cantered to the right, my coach had me pick her up and ride her in a bit of a more advanced frame.  Just focusing on a nice round right circle, I barely asked and she came through into a gorgeous trot.  Light up in front, pushing a wee bit more from behind, but maintaining the relaxed rhythm.  I've never ridden anything so glorious.  The best part? She kept it without even the tiniest bit of hesitation.  We did a few more circles that way, and were perscribed a few minutes of trot like that for the next few weeks to get her muscles working a bit more, & rebuild that hind end!  At the end of the lesson we agreed to meet next Saturday for a little flat school, followed by a reintroduction to jumping.  Assuming all goes well in the next two weeks, that is.
     Nothing beats the feeling of a lesson that leaves you thinking 'wow, I really learned a lot today'.  They're the ones that you live for; the ones that give you puzzle pieces with which to build the picture of the equestrian you are and hope to become.  At least that's the way it is for me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's Been Happenin'

Cadnce and I have been busy.  All my exams (save Psyche) are done, and I have...three days after exams to relax before starting into another semester of work.  A whole three days... Its like a long weekend in the middle of the week.  I'm torn between being excited, and disappointed.  3 whole days really isn't very long.  Anywho, It's largely irrelevant to my pony life, so who cares?
Little Miss Mare has been doing quite well.  She's back cantering (for maybe 5 or 6 circles) and we have our first lesson Monday.  Unfortunately, she's still got her cold (though it SEEMS to be getting better) and she's got some major thrush going on in all 4 feet.  Like her whole frog has rotted out.  I pick her feet every time I ride, and carefully maintain them since she's prone to it, but being turned out after a month of dryness in this wet gross cold weather seems to have taken a toll on her feet.
I rode Z again today (who also has this cold) and riding her always proves to be so educational.  MY coach asked me to ride her again tomorrow, so mehaps I can steal a few pictures.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick Morning Update:

Cadence has been doing well.  My last day of classes is today, so yesterday my BO graciously lunged her for me.  Excited to see how that went.  She's been going gorgeously, and in spite of her cough that starts up every time we trot, I've actually gotten some unbelievably nice trot work out of her.  When we first trot, she's rushy and tense.  She knows she's supposed to bend, so she bends beautifully in the corners, on circles, and on serpentines.  She's not truly supple though, and if you ask for a big bend anywhere random she gets frustrated.  However, if you just give her some time to sort herself out, she gets a beautiful trot on her.  The only issue is that its pretty big... and quite forward.  Still, I think its more of an 'appropriate' trot for her.  She's not light or extremely supple, or perfectly straight but she's good.
We also had a bit of... fun the other day.  Her bandage came of Sat, so her leg was up to balloon size on Sunday.  So much so that I wanted to lunge her just to make sure everything was fine, and she wasn't sore/stiff/anything else.  Her lunge work started off quite well, aside from three little canter strides she popped in before I could stop her.  Everything was looking pretty good, so I decided to pop a few canter transitions in so I could watch her push off her leg.  We started off to the left and things looked fine, so I turned her around to ask for the right so I could get an idea of 'normal' to compare it to.  She was slightly wobbly off it, but I attribute that more to her lack of muscle/balance ATM as she had some good ones too, and her stride overall looked perfect.
So anywho, I popped her around to the right, asked for a trot, and got... insane.  She bolted, doing her cow-hop canter (where they 'canter' but its really just a hop from the hind end to the front end... if that makes sense) for a few strides before bucking, squealing, and bolting.  Full out nose to the ground all four legs up gallop... on a 20m circle.  I tried to stop her by pulling her off balance, and she just kicked out and galloped faster.  She honestly just flipped a switch, and went totally bat shit crazy.  I tried speaking calmly and quietly, I tried shouting jumping up and down and waving my arms, I tried letting her 'go' (as a last resort) and I tried yanking her off balance.  She practically dragged me around that arena, and I may be small but I have a decent set of muscles when I need them.  She was so insane that she actually fall onto her LH hip 3 times, (once because I yanked her so hard in a wild attempt to get her to stop) which led to her hopping back up, squealing, kicking, and running harder.  
I have no idea what finally made her stop. It felt like it went on for hours, but in reality her little trip to cukoo land probably only lasted about 5 minutes. Either way, I was even more convinced she'd be lame after that little escapade.  She wasn't though, thank god, and everything looked good; not even any tenderness.  
I've never seen a horse loose it like she did though... it was like all the excess energy she'd been holding inside her from her month and a bit of stall rest snapped- she just broke and had to let it all out.  Just so long as she didn't hurt herself, I'd rather that happened with me there, in the arena, and while I wasn't on her back.  Things could have turned out a lot worse.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


EHV-1 case confirmed in Ontario.  I live in Ontario.  Cadence got a cough last week from my coach's mare, Z.  After panicking and researching all possible symptoms, I've come to the conclusion that she cannot have EHV-1, of any strain.  Still... that's scary stuff.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Awesomeness in Mare Form

In case the title didn't clue you in, Cadence has been doing wonderfully.  Her walk is consistent, she's carrying herself, bending beautifully, and being relatively good (not rearing/bucking/galloping) about the spooky corner.  Her trot work is coming too.  She's pretty stiff, and has a tendency to get heavy & rush (aka trot like a STB) a fair bit, but overall I have my half halts (80% of the time), when I sit (which is a TON of work... her trot's pretty dang active) I'm able to use my seat and she's responding quite well to it, which unlocks some bend for us.  Last night we even got some lovely lightness.  Plus, her trot-walk transitions have been awesome!  Balanced, light, carrying, and not sticking her nose in the air... for the most part.  It's far from perfect, but considering she's trotted 3 times for a total of maybe 30 minutes all together (spooks included) I'm incredibly impressed.  Oddly enough, her right trot is much better than left... her right bend more consistent, her trot more balanced, her pace more regular.  Her trot to the left feels... crooked and her bend is a little stiffer and grabbier.  Its like I have the same mare I started with last winter... just she knows what I'm asking now.  Does that make sense?  She's sort of in the same place, but instead of 'fixing' and 'training' her at the same time, now I just have to 'fix' her.  Terrible explanation, but I hope it gets my point across.

I can tell my writing's awful.  However, I'm writing this while attempting to take in a lesson about magnetic fields & preparing for a test on thermodynamics.  So my sincere apologies for the awful quality.  I may be MIA for the next week an a half, as I have end of term exams and a couple final projects to finish up.  Sorry in advance for the absence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In Loving Memorium

Of my dear old kitten who passed away yesterday morning at the ripe old age of 19 years old.  She's been with me since the day I was born, and it'll be hard adjusting to life without her.  However, her death wasn't expected... far from it.  Most of us were wondering how on earth she was still alive.  In the last year or two of her life, she started to drop weight considerably, and our once mildly plump cat was reduced to a 2lb bag of skin and bones.   So though her death is sad, she's in a better healthier place now.  Goodbye old girl, we love you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Slowly Coming Back

Friday- I managed to coerce a family member into going out and walking miss Cadence for me as I was volunteering at the equine hospital and didn't know when I'd be done.  The Mare had been relatively good, so I felt fairly confident in leaving her in the hands of someone non-horsey, since I knew there would be other people at the barn.  BAD idea.  Miss Cadence TOTALLY took advantage and spent the whole time rearing, flipping out, spooking, and all that fun stuff.  Thank god they had a firm grip!
Saturday- Cadence started off pretty well, and aside from one little spook was being pretty good.  Then, someone inquired as to why she wasn't doing more.  After this point, she did 180's on her hind legs only, rearing leaps into the canter, bucks, head tosses, wild sideways scoots, and everything else under the sun.  None of it was full blown panic attack spooks, but more I am an insane 6 y/o mare who has been on stall rest for 1 month and I feel pretty damn good kind of spooks.  Relatively sittable & controllable for me; I only had to call heads up once.  At the end of the ride, I informed the onlooker that we had in fact walked, trotted, cantered and jumped!  How's that for back to work?
Sunday- Our first scheduled day of trotting, & t went pretty damn well if you ask me.  I had the distinct pleasure of coming down hard with a cold (seriously, yesteday morning I felt fine save for a bit of a sore throat.  Yesterday afternoon I felt like somebody had knocked me over the head with a bag of bricks, and lit my throat on fire.  Add one hell of a runny nose and some allergies into the mix?  One bag of roaring fun for me.) so I only managed to stick it out for 25 minutes of the ride.  Still, we did 4 or 5 little segments (like a few circles or the length o the ring) of trot and not a single stride of canter found its way into the mix!  There was lots of head shaking, prancing, and running through my half halts... and her trot was extremely exuberant (she'll have beautiful extensions once they're trained into her properly) with some pretty flashy high stepping knee action, but remained controllable if not sittable.  There were a few near canter incidents, but she kept it in check surprisingly well considering this was her first time trotting in... well, since x-mas when she had limited arena turnout.
That brings me to my final point- today Cadence starts back on limited arena turnout!  Hopefully my ride tonight will be slightly more... relaxed as a result.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Leg Update

2 weeks post surgery, 2 days after stitches come out.  Looks pretty good, eh?  Yesterday there was a wee bit of puss & drainage, but I popped some polysporin on it and I think it'll be fine.  It's the first time there's been ANY drainage since the surgery, and I think that only happened because it got a bit irritated.  The vet bandaged it, not me, and the bandage had slipped so that it was no longer covering the wound.  Additionally, she'd managed to get some shavings inside her wrap, and some dust/debris made its way into the exposed cut.  Either way, I cleaned it with clorhex on Wed, added polysporin yesterday, and today I'll re-bandage again.

Oh, and I remodeled the blog a bit.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Launa Video!

For those of you who've been reading for a while, you'll remember Launa.  For those who haven't, Launa is a 17y/o Arab mare (that was backed last winter) that I spent some time riding for her owner this past summer and fall.  Right now one of my friends is leasing her, and the other day we decided to free jump her... or rather teach her about what a jump chute is and what to do with it.  She's a little high strung (after 16 years of sitting in a field, being started under saddle and all the crazy things riding horses do can be a little overwhelming) so we took things nice n slow.  Next time (providing she remembers her 'training') mehaps we can actually do some jumping.
Note my lovely blue sweater... it's fuzzy, AND matches my fuzzy blue socks.  I know- I'm cool.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Self- Carriage

I lied- I didn't post the pictures.  I didn't even have a chance to upload them till this morning, so I figured I'd just post them with today's post.
 Cadence looking toward the forest raring to go

Anyhow, Cadence got her stitches out yesterday.  The vet said her leg was looking great, so over the next 2 weeks we'll be gradually increasing her work while letting the top part of the wound heal.  Our ride yesterday was awesome too.  20 min (5 in hand, 15 under saddle) of walk, with lots of focus on straightness, suppleness, and self-carriage. She was truly carrying herself, and I was able to correct her when she started to lean on me (which was always on a turn) by lifting her with my outside aids.  I was very pleased.  Her halts on the other hand... need some work.  She locks up her neck, leans, barges, and grabs.  Eventually, once I get some semblance of lightness and bend, we continue on.  Once she was supple and carrying herself, her halts improved (or rather her transitions into the halt improved) but once halted we were back to square 1.  Tonight is more of the same, but with 20 minutes under saddle and 5 of hand walking.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What I like to call a bad idea

Pictures to come... I'll be sure to have them up ASAP

Guilt is an amazing thing.  It does crazy things to your mind, and impairs your decision making skills in (upon occasion) disaster-inducing ways.  At least that's what happens with me.  Guilt is really the only reason I can find to explain why I decided to take my high strung, hot headed, 6 y/o mare out on a hack... on her 3rd ride back after a month of stall rest.  Yes, not my brightest idea.  It wasn't until I'd hopped off her after having just sat one of the most terrifying bronc rides of my life (something touched her while we were walking through the forest, and she... exploded) that the fact I could have just hand walked her occurred to me.
I should have known that, no matter how amazing my girl is, that her pre-ride piaffing was not a good sign.  Nor was her attempt to hide behind me at the sight of... a truck that is not normally parked in the parking lot.  Yep, both of those should have set the warning light a flashing, but I soldiered on.  For the first part of the ride, things went quite well.  It was frosty, and in spite of the blue cloudless sky that had dominated the horizon for the majority of the day, dusk brought with it grey clouds that hung low in the sky.  Though only 4:30, the sun had already sunk behind the horizon when we started our hack, & pinkish-orange light cast long shadows over the slowly dimming land.
Though tense, the mare was pretty good.  Her brief bit of trot that she snuck in as I hopped on sent me into a panic; she had only 1 day left to survive her stitches!  If she did something now... but (not without considerable effort on my part) I slowed her back to a walk, and we headed toward the entrance to the forest.  She seemed to relax a bit as we walked into the forest.  Cadence power-walked on, and all seemed to go pretty well, until... she stepped on a stick.  This led her to brush into a tree branch, and set her into a full on bronc spree.  She spun around to face the way we came, and leaped forward before launching herself straight up in the air, rearing, and then bucking.  I landed on her neck, managing to almost stay in the saddle, and grabbed a hold of her neck thinking 'I must not fall off!' Fearing that if I fall, she would continue on with her antics and mess up something on her leg.  She was still spinning around and hopping up and down at this point in time, and I knew we were seconds away from taking off again.  No can do, Mare. As carefully as I could, I hopped off/emergency dismounted, while taking care to maintain a grip on my reins without catching her in the mouth. Once off, she trotted around a tree a few times (???) before I finally got her to settle.
Generally, I would have hopped back on at this point in time. However, my paranoia of her being injured was strong enough that I hand walked her for the rest of our hack.  Aside from a minor incident that involved her kicking out & bucking as we walked down the barn's drive (I have absolutely no clue what prompted this...) everything went pretty well.
Do I regret our little 'walk'?  Yes.  I REALLY REALLY want this whole episode to be over, and if she's somehow hurt herself with her little 'episodes' then I don't think I'll be able to forgive myself.  Howeve, I'm just trying to think positive; she'll be fine.  Stitches are coming out today.  It'll all be fine... it has to be.

What I must have looked like trying to stay on Cadence: (Just not NEARLY as pro...)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And We're Back

It seems I start my posts like this more often than not, but once again I feel the need to apologize for my absence.  Life has been crazy, and its only about to get crazier.  My exams start on the 25, and before that I have loads of end of semester work to complete.  I'll try my best to keep my blog posts to (at least) 3 a week... but (as I'm so often reminded) school is my priority here.
Okay, onto the pony.  Miss Cadence's leg looks fantastic.  Like unbeleivably fantastic.  Since her bout of colitis, all's been well with the mare, and on Friday I hopped on her back for the first time in nearly a month.  As of tomorrow, it will have been 1 month since she was first injured back in December.  On Tuesday or Wednesday, she'll have her stitches removed, and then we'll be just about back to regular work!  Well, we'll have about a month of rebuilding muscle and doing lots of straightening & suppleness work.  However, in her 2 'rides' (15 minutes at a walk) she's been bending and carrying herself pretty dang well if I do say so myself.
I'm going to attempt some pictures (and maybe a video) when I go out to the barn today, so If I'm successful hopefully I'll have something exciting to post tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Home Again

So the verdict after the last visit (our 3rd) to the vet was that Cadence had antibiotic induced colitis.  This means that the antibiotics she'd been on for her leg had killed off some of the good bacteria in her gut, causing her to have a fever, stomach pain, reduced white count, etc.  They redid her blood work and checked her fecal before sending her home, and her white count was back up and the fecal came back clear.
It was freezing cold when we trailered her home, and we had to load on questionable surfaces.  Cadence wasn't all too thrilled about this, and was shaking like a leaf.  When we go home, she started stretching, then lay down in her stall, and was rolling around and kicking.  I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like colic.  She had pretty normal sounding gut noises (they were down a titch) but I still got her up & walked her around the arena for a while.  When she returned to her stall, she drank, ate some hay, and looked pretty good, so I kept an eye on her for another 15 minutes or so and then headed home.  When I went back to check on her yesterday evening, she looked much better.  I took her out and we walked around the arena for 10 minutes or so and walked over a cavaletti a few times.
The vet has said that she'll be able to have her stitches out some time around the 10 or 11 of Jan, and in the mean time she needs to be hand walked for 10-15 minutes 2-3x/day.  I don't know about you, but I can't make it out to the barn 3x/day... anyhow, the other thing he said is that we can do  the 10-15 minutes of walking under saddle.  While this is wonderful news, I'll admit- it makes me a wee bit nervous.  Here's why: Yesterday while I was walking Cadence, one of the lights in the arena made a bit of a noise when it came on. Cadence did a full on up in the air, scooting sideways, and pulling to the end of her lead.  Because a light popped on.  So I'm going to go about starting her back under saddle like I would backing a 3 y/o... slowly and carefully.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

When it rains, it pours.

Honestly, I'd love to be able to catch a break... but that just doesn't appear to be in the cards.  Generally I'm a pretty firm believer in things like taking responsibility for your choices and actions, and not BLAMINg things on anybody.  However, I honestly don't think the whole Cadence situation (regarding her injury and subsequent month of torture and careful nursing back to semi-health) could have been handled any better.  However, when I got home from my 32 hour holiday to visit my family for New Years, Cadence was back at the equine hospital.  Thank god I have the most wonderful group of support staff (inc. our amazing barn manager, my extremely committed coach, and a group of friends that I owe my horse's life to.  Not many barn owners will drive repeatedly to and from the barn to check on a boarders horse with a slightly elevated temperature, on a HOLIDAY!  And not many friends would be so considerate as to haul your horse to the vet clinic for you [ALSO ON A HOLIDAY] in bad weather when they should be spending time with their family, organizing their wedding, or doing any number of equally important things) back home to watch over Cadence for me.  I'll give details when I'm awake.