Friday, August 29, 2008

A Weekend Off

Labor Day Weekend, a long weekend, every other person in the equine world is using each extra day to ride and train. Not me though! Ugh - I had the last of the three surgeries/procedures today and I'm not cleared by the doctor to ride until Tuesday. Oh well, Coaster will get a few days off, but we will do flatwork on Tuesday, grid work on Wednesday, flatwork again on Thursday and then coursework on Friday. The show is next weekend - I will probably just walk him on Saturday and then go jump around Sunday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Temper Tantrums!

Today I knocked the dust off my dressage saddle to see if the past couple rides in draw reins have done us any good. Sans-draw reins we head towards the big arena out in front of the barn. After a lengthy walk warm up focusing on leg yields and shoulder/haunches-ins we pick up an okay trot focusing on bending. I am a huge supporter of using true/counter bend and the use of shoulder-fore on a circle to loosen up a horse in the poll and teach him to move his body around.

After a bit I decided to work on our walk-halt transitions and our rein back. Coaster was not amused at the idea of halting and backing while staying round and soft to the bit. He threw a temper tantrum that many two year old children would envy. Front feet start flying, back feet are stomping and he is nearly sitting on his tail. Not rearing - just throwing his legs around like the equine version of pounding fists and kicking legs on the floor. By this time we have a bit of an audience of several neighboring horses in paddocks and a couple of the barn staff standing outside the barn for a cigarette break. All I could do was laugh, which seemed to piss Coaster off more. He would start striking with his front feet (this used to intimidate me, but I learned a couple years ago to just ignore it) and it's like a switch was thrown and he completely understood what I was asking. For about five seconds post-tantrum Coaster became a friggin' Grand Prix dressage horse!

I can't be upset about the tantrums he throws because I truly believe he isn't being disrespectful, he just doesn't know what I am asking. I just quietly keep applying the aids until he gets through the tantrum and becomes that wonderful inner dressage horse that is sometimes hidden. The tantrums are really funny though, just because he is large and grey and starts looking like a Lippizanner (spelling?!) doing airs above the ground.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Freight Train

Today I decided to pop over a couple of low jumps (no higher than 2'3") at a trot. Coaster was feeling good, he was listening and it is kind of hot so I figured he wouldn't try anything stupid. Let's just say we will be trotting fences and doing gridwork until the day before the jumper show! He was a freaking freight train!!

I guess I can't be disappointed because he was great on the front side of the fences, he just would stick his nose out and down and pull on the the backside! I set up a grid (trot in x-rail, one stride to vertical) and this helped a little bit. I also did the stop and back up about ten strides after the jumps. Other than the pulling after the jumps he was good - I was very proud of him. These are all issues we've had before and it wouldn't be fair for me to expect him to be perfect on his first day back jumping since May.

Tomorrow I will set up cavellettis (I'm thinking raised trot poles set at 9' apart) and then maybe a line of low canter bounces to get him rocked back on his hind end again. He is really coming along with his lateral movements at the walk though. On the right rein he is very good at the shoulder in, but he is so stiff on the left - he really just doesn't want to give me his left jaw/poll. Just means more strengthening and stretching work to the left I guess...and I'm going to make a huge effort not to let him train me to hang onto that rein and completely let the right rein flop - which is exactly how he would LOVE to go around. He is such a weird horse.

I'm off to look through my jumping exercise books to find some fun grids to set up over the next two weeks!

If I'm This Sore What Does He Feel Like?!

Oh dear! This whole getting back into shape thing is nothing short of painful!!! I'm trying to remember to not push too hard, for both me and Coaster. I'm trying a two days on, one day off regimen. He gets turned out everyday so he is still moving around everyday. Last week I actually started working him versus straight conditioning work and he has bounced back with a great mindset - which he should considering he had the whole summer off!!! I can't wait until I can start doing gridwork and jumping again! My goal is a local Hunter/Jumper show on September 7th - I think we should have no problem with the low jumper classes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cheap Alternatives

Okay so I sort of poached this topic from Fugly Horse of the Day blog, but with me being from Pony Club I have several cost/labor saving suggestions. Please comment and add on any ones you have!!!

Bucket Cleaning:
  • Use a toilet wand purchased at the Dollar Store
  • Use baking soda twice a week when scrubbing (it is safe if you don't rinse it all out)
  • In big stock tanks scrub once a week with a capful of Clorox Bleach to prevent algae growth - make sure you rinse.
  • When the horse is on a rotating schedule (in during the day/out at night or vise versa) empty the buckets while the horse isn't in the stall - this keeps scum to a minimum.
  • Recycle old supplement containers (usually the larger ones work) to use for hauling feed to shows, clinics, etc.
  • The large plastic cat litter pails work for the same purpose.
  • Cheap toolboxes or tackle boxes purchased at Wal-Mart are great for keeping stud kits, grooming/braiding kits, fence repairing kits, first aid kits...the list can go on forever!
In the Arena:
  • For flowerbox fillers go visit the local cemetery - most of them clean up all floral decorations once a month - now I don't recommend the obvious grave markers, but as far as the plastic flowers go they work great in flower boxes and are free!
  • Old Christmas trees or garland works great as well.
  • Landscaping timbers work great for trot poles or ground lines - they may not be a full 12' long, but they are lighter and cheaper than purchasing or making extra poles. *They also work well when practicing narrows!*
First Aid:
  • Buy your first aid stuff (gauze, adhesive wrap - aka VetRap, Ace Bandages, etc) from either the Dollar Store or Wal-Mart - it is much cheaper at these places than at vet supply stores!
  • Triple Antibiotic Cream works just as well on cuts as the horsey dressings
  • Use Desitin (baby butt cream!) for scratches/mud fever and for foal heat scours (around the foal's anus and hindquarters).
  • Make your own Betadine Scrub by adding Betadine Solution and regular Dawn dish soap together.
  • Feminine sanitary pads are great for wound dressings or girth galls - they are absorbent and cheap. If your horse has a girth gall or sore under the saddle/girth area apply the pad sticky side to girth/saddle pad during riding.
  • Sterile saline solution for contact wearers are great to use for cleansing/flushing wounds - also if you have outdated lactated ringer fluid can be used to to clean/flush wounds.
  • Purchase a digital thermometers from Wal-Mart -- much cheaper!
  • For skin fungus or dandruff use Listerine or a similar mouth wash -- I don't recommend the Mint flavored kind b/c the flies like it as well!
  • Frozen peas work great for icing legs, etc - I just don't recommend eating them after they have been thawed and refrozen several times!
  • Panty hose work great on keeping bandages over eyes/legs/etc
Thrush/Hoof Care
  • To kill thrush use a syringe and Clorox bleach to kill the fungus - just make sure you don't get it on the coronet band!
  • For a clear hoof polish use a furniture/dust spray found at Wal-Mart - I have heard that Pam (the cooking spray) works, but I have never used it personally.
  • Diapers or sanitary pads work to pack abscesses or protect a horse on turnout who lost a shoe. Just use duct tape and vet wrap to keep it in place! (funny note on this - my father just about died when I was 16 and came home from Wal-Mart with a thing of diapers b/c my horse had lost a shoe!)
  • Buy human shampoo/conditioner - it works the same and is cheaper!
  • Brushes and sponges can be purchased at Wal-Mart and Dollar Store for cheaper!
  • Tide for whites can be used to get white markings shiny clean
  • Tube socks make great tail bags
  • Tampons can be inserted into horses ears for clipping - it minimizes noise and hair falling into ear canal.
  • Go to the sewing section of Wal-mart or a local fabric store to stock up on braiding supplies
  • Loofahs purchased at Wal-Mart/Dollar Store for bathing!
  • Baby wipes for quick clean ups at shows: noses/muzzles, etc!
Around the Barn/Misc
  • Use pool noodles to cover butt chains/etc on trailers
  • Use the rubber truck bed liners as floor mats for grooming areas
  • Small sections of PVC pipes can be used as blanket bars when a rope or chain is run through them - same concept can be used for creep feeders (b/c they roll as the foal passes through) or stall guards.
  • Homemade fly sprays (there are sooo many "recipes" I'm not even going to start naming them)
  • Use febreeze in your helmet to keep it smelling nice - especially if you are in a hot/humid climate!
  • If you have to take water w/ you to places (your horse is picky about drinking water) buy your water storage tanks from wal-mart
I will add to these as I remember them, but please help the list out and add any suggestions you may have!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All's Well

After getting shod today, Coaster seemed much more even this afternoon. I'm also starting to slowly put him back together on a light contact, so I'm sure that has something to do with it.

We are both so out of shape and it is so hot/humid here that we can only really do trot sets in five minute intervals. I'm starting him out going around the entire arena on a loose rein and then by the end of the ride he is on a light contact and working on true and counter bending at the trot. Before I let him hack down the road, I asked him for a little bit of lateral work at the walk and we are both a bit rusty to stay the least!

I must say though, he is a complete super star! For the past two days I've cooled him out by walking him down the dirt road about a 1/4 of a mile and back. I literally just kick my feet out of the stirrups and use one hand on the buckle and he neck reins like a little western pony!

Can you tell I'm happy to be back in the saddle?!


Maybe it is because I have a soft spot for 17+ hand horses, or maybe it is just because I'm American, but either way I am so happy for Gina Miles for winning the silver! She isn't a novice to four star eventing, but she still isn't quite as seasoned as the O'Connors, Phillip Dutton or Mark Todd. I guess in my mind she is a "newcomer" only because I saw her at one of her first four-stars on this horse, so that is how she is in ingrained in my mind. Her "pony" didn't touch a single rail on the show jumping and kicked some major ass!

So happy for Gina, but a little sad for Mark Todd that he didn't medal - it would have been nice to see that for him and his rap star mount! Also sad for Karen. She finished 44th with Mandiba - a horse that is fairly green (ha!) to four star events. It is almost impossible to not wonder how pony would have done...I'm not overly emotional towards horses that I do not know personally, but for some reason that Theodorable found a special place in my heart - as well as many others!

PS - VERY VERY VERY POSITIVE NOTE!!!!! No horses or riders were injured on the cross country course!!!! YaY!!!! Another interesting note - nobody made time...hmmm...does this maybe show us that optimum times aren't necessarily made to be achieved by all....? LoL! Makes me giddy that Eventing when uneventful in the injury department for the Olympics - no bad press for us!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Home Again

Thank God! I made it through the horrible summer of no riding fairly unscathed: only two tonsils and four wisdom teeth lighter! And may I just say, my horse is the absolute gentleman, why can't guys be like that? (I'm sure the no balls thing has something to do with it, but still...) I got out to the barn and sped-walked (remember, I'm ex-Pony Club: no running) to the barn. As soon as I hit the door, I started calling his name and there he was. It was heavenly just to have him looking at me over his stall door!

I tacked him up as fast as I could, pulled him around to the mounting block (hey, remember, he IS 17.2 hands!) and threw a leg over. Normally, if he is going to misbehave this moment and the following three are those he will choose to use. But despite the super-cool and breezy weather, he was perfect.

I was home again.

Though I am a little worried. He is a tad off at the trot - you can't see it from the ground unless you really look for it, I can only feel it slightly. But since he is due for shoes and he is even on both sides I'm guessing/hoping/crossing my fingers that it will be fixed by Wednesday - which is the soonest the farrier could come out. If not, then I guess we get to have field trip to the vet - but I'm really thinking that it is a combination of his shoes and his lack of fitness. Once it decides to dry up around here - so probably next week - we will hit the conditioning trails. Nothing like trot sets in two-point! I'm already getting my ice packs ready! I can't wait for that first gallop in a couple of weeks!