Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bill picks her own treatment protocol.

Yesterday Bill had her stitches out and she was pretty good. I had to tie up her bck leg to get the last one cut and then to pull them all out, but she didn't kick my head in so I'm stoked about that. As soon as I let her leg down and started bandaging she was as good as gold.

I wasn't sure what was going to be the plan from here. I was thinking outside in a limited arena. Rascal jumped out of the stables this morning, though jumped is an exaggeration really, it was more of a near fall and scramble. Then Connie was being a maniac and had to go out and then when Bill went out into her limited area and jumped out and spent 20 minutes charging around like a maniac. So thats, that then she can go out in that big clean paddock where she can see the others and I'll leave it open. I'm a little gutted because the hock part has bled some from the galloping, but I'll never keep a bandage on it anyway now she is galloping around. Now though the big priority is to get control of the granulating tissue and prevent proud flesh.

The treatment, though gross is effective and noninvasive. Horse fat smeared over the wound twice a day. It also helps keep the wound moist and clean. I got the horse fat off my farrier and as it doesn't seem to go off, the fact that it's eight years old doesn't matter. It does have an odd smell which I can't wash off, but as a treatment for proud flesh it's awesome.

I have built some little spars and today Kim and I spent the afternoon on Rascal and Kate jumping them. rascal took to it straight away and so I looks like Mum will be hunting her next Monday. Good times. Can't wait for Monday because then I get to turn out Connie for a couple of months now that the weather has packed up and focus on Kate. Hopefully, Bill wont be too far away from coming back into work but who knows really. One thing that is nice is that though she severed the tendon that flicks the foot forward before it lands, I haven't seen any failing in this regard. She is moving mostly normally and I haven't seen her fail to get her foot forward at all, which is strange but very very good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New photo of Bill's leg

This is a week in. It smells healthy and seems to be granulating. I keep reminding myself if will look worse before it gets better.

Prestige Arrived

Well in the middle of all my dramas with Bill horse, the good news was my new saddle arrived. It's unreal how much I have learned about saddle fitting in such a short time and I'm kicking myself for not being more onto it. Especially with the Kate who is such a nice horse. Anyway, I have ridden in it twice and it's auh-mazing. So comfortable. It's the Prestige event saddle so it will be awesome for hunting in.

What was also very interesting is Kate, because Kate is a big grump and she definitely was a lot freer in front and more relaxed and just moving out more. One thing I do find strange is that she is a long necked mare anyway, and now I'm sitting in a saddle that sits close to her back, she feels even longer, there is a lot of horse in front of me and that is very reassuring. It's also nice to not have so much padding so I can feel her back moving underneath me.

It's an 18 inch saddle and I love the extra room, Kim said it feels too roomy but I love it. I feel freer to move. I guess when you have only ridden in lower end saddles, a nicely balanced saddle makes for a change. Stoked as.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day five of my incarceration

I'm tapping this message out by horse code so that I can get word out. If it wasn't demeaning enough to cart my person around on my back for no discernible reason, now I'm on some sort of lockdown. I know i have injured my leg because every time my person comes and fiddles with it, it hurts so I gently try to push her away. She is persistent though. It doesn't even hurt much though I'm not even lame. I tell you what though, it's a torture chamber in here! Needles, and dressing changes and stable wrapping and all sorts of bother. I'm not that happy with this at all, in fact it wasn't until today when I heard my person go to work that I even lay down for the first time. I didn't feel that comfortable though, the walls are awfully close. I probably wouldn't have if that lazy fat Rascal hadn't done it first.

You know what was even worse? They were trying to poison me, putting yucky stuff in my food, so I stopped eating it. I tried to hide it by tipping it out in my bedding, but she was onto me pretty sharp and now she squirts it down my throat twice a day. Blerk! Though the apple sauce she mixes it in is nice.

It's not all bad though, my person keeps up an ample supply of nice hay, and water and even picks up my poops! I'm pooping heaps more now haha! That will show her for the needles. I even get hand grazed on lots of lush grass for 20 minutes a day which is nice. I try not to lift my head for that whole time and cram as much in as I can. And now she doesn't put any poisons in my foods, I'm starting to pick at a bit of lurcerne again. And she isn't giving me the Bute anymore because she thought it might be too hard on my tummy, I'm just getting devils claw and yucca, which is still a bit yuccy! Ha see what I did there?

And she has a rotation policy for the other horses so that they get plenty of time out, and I get to hang out with a different horse every day. Connie was the worst companion, man she was obsessed with getting out. All she did was dig holes and try and knock the gate down. That made my person pretty cross! She says she shouldn't have spoiled Connie so much and then she pretty much ignored her antics and Connie sort of gave it up, unless she could see the other horses getting foods and then she started trying to knock down the gates again! I was a lot happier having a buddy though, I'm not making bedding soup in stable anymore.

Then Rascal came in, and she was all like it's about time I got the service I deserve. All that hay! Two meals a day! Well that's the life for me! She evn got down and a big sleep! What a lazy mare. Rascal sounds like a pig when she whickers and thats pretty funny. I'm staying with Kate tonight. She pretty much isn't interested in me, because she is the alpha and she is aloof. Still it's better than being here alone. Its only for two weeks apparently and then my stitches can come out. That sounds painful too! And another dressing change tomorrow. I try make it difficult by picking my leg up and down, but like I said she is persistent.

Anyways, I need to eat more hays.
Please get me out of here

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hunter trials

I have to say I was pretty nervous about the hunter trials because it was my first show since I started getting treated for my depression and I wasn't sure I wouldn't flake out again. It wasn't really a show as such it was more of a fun day really so it was a good starting point. I had initially thought I would ride Connie but then they started calling the 65cm jump so I got on Rascal instead. She hasn't been jumped since January when she got turned out with a pressure crack in her front foot.

She started off initially a little bit sticky because she had a few frights with Kim, but once she realised I wasn't going to kill her speed in front of the fences, and just leave her alone she jumped really well. In fact to the last fence I just had to sit there and give leg on take of instead of riding the last few strides really strongly. It was a closest to the optimum time class and incidently, Rascal was third.

Now I did suspect that Connie might struggle with the whole hunter trial concept for two main reasons. One: we both haven't done anything like it and two: Connie has never done anything were she has to travel away from the group. Hunting, you follow the group, showjumping you never leave the group and the most cross country Connie has ever done was a practice day a year ago where I followed Kim on Rascal around. And i was right. in my nerves I didn't give her a strong enough ride and in the maiden hunter class she hit the first fence really hard, then turned towards the second fence and starting jacking up and had a stop. Then I gave her a towel up and she jumped super especially once she got going. She had another stop when she wouldn't jump the lowered wire next to the scary cross country jump but still it was a solid start I thought and she jumped so well once she got going.

Then we showjumped. It was supposed to be 95cm but it was smaller. Still nevermind, she jumped super as expected though gave the first few a lot of air.

Then it was time for the ladies hunter and I was more aggressive to the first and even though she wanted to go crooked at the second I wouldn't allow it and off we went. She jumped super. Not a placing round because she isn't that super but still I was pleased with the progress she had made up.

First fence (spar)

Second fence (lowered wire)

Third fence (another lowered wire)

Yeehaa into the water.

Then we had the Hickstead, which is a combination of showjumps and cross country fences to be ridden at a good hunter pace which turns out to be very fast. Again my expectations were fairly low because neither horse has ever really cross countried and Rascal hasn't been back in work long. Still she started well.

She got a little sticky as we went around the course, mostly at the cross country fences and I had a stop at the little palisade mostly because she was looking at the miniature ponies next door and because she hasn't jumped a lot of solid fences. Still she jumped it on re-approach and finished really strongly so I was very happy.

I was more worried about Connie and I was right to be. She was more sticky than Rascal, jumping confidently over the showjumps but wiggling like a real greenie into the cross country fences. I can't really fault her though, because of her lack of cross country experience. Mostly she struggled with the really solid fences and the banks.

Again I had a stop at the palisade and again I made it over on the second try after letting her have a look/ horrified snort at it. She also finished strongly.

It was most definitely a fun day, I had lots of fun. I had forgotten how much fun cross country type riding could be. I have done so much showjumping the last few years. I may do a little bit of eventing next year for giggles. It was definitely good to get out of my comfort zone and do the hunter trial over wire and just to do things I don't normally do. Connie seemed to enjoy it, once she got used to the idea she needed to keep travelling, even though we were going away from the other horses. Still I was pretty tired by the end of it!

Bill is doing ok. the wound looked good when I changed her dressing today and she tried really hard to be good, even though I know she wanted to kick me really. I have Connie in next to her because she was quite unsettled today and moving more than I wanted. Bill is happy as, Connie is less than impressed. Also Kates new saddle is in the country! Yesss!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clipping and a big oops

The older girls are all clipped now. Connie was done a few weeks ago and Kate and Rascal were done on Friday. I'm getting much better at clipping I have to say. Connie is starting to grow her clip out already but as she will be turned out when I get sick of hunting, there isn't much point doing her again.




In much worse news Bill has gone and gotten herself quite badly injured putting a leg through the fence. She really opened up the front of the leg, severed the front tendon, and exposed the bone. The vet did an incredible job stitching her and getting the wound closed when she didn't think she would initially. Now Bill is on box rest for two weeks and bandage changes and I guess that all my work is going to go out the window with her back legs because thats going to hurt. Poor pony. I should have taken that fence down sooner, it's been on my to do list and I was so wild I tore it down while I waited for the vet.

Poor Bill is so sleepy, and of course it rains, of course it does.

Tomorrow I'll update on the hunter trials I had on the Saturday.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lessons learnt from Bill.

Sorry I have been thinking on this topic after I was asked about it. I don't want to go through a step by step of training her, but if anyone has a question about the specifics well thats fine, I'm happy to answer those. Instead I thought I would share the key lessons Bill has taught me, mostly by taking advantage of my monumental errors.

The most important thing that Bill taught me was that you have to let the horse dictate the pace. A couple of times I have been caught out when I have pushed Bill too fast. When I was breaking her in and on the third ride I asked for the trot. She started to buck but stopped and we left trot. On the seventh ride we revisited this issue and she was much better. Another time I got absolutely drilled when I rushed her backing and when she was asked to walk off with me hanging off of her back she just exploded and I was cannonballed. Rookie mistake. You want to extend everyday a little further on what you know the horse is solid with, but at the same time you need to keep the increments to what your horse can cope with. Connie wore her cover no worries, it took two weeks before I could put Bills cover on without having someone holding her.

You want to have appropriate facilities and use appropriate equipment. Don't use anything you are attached to because chances are it may get broken. My corral, with it's tape fences, isn't that great because Bill both walks out under the tapes, or on occasion just runs straight through them. When I knew Bill was going to have her legs roped up I took her over to the cattle yards because I knew she couldn't escape from those, and damage both herself or the facilities. At the same time you don't want to spend to long in the round pen because it's very mindless for the horses, an it's actually quite hard for the babies to balance on a 20m circle, especially at the canter. Once you have the aids for go turn and stop it's time to get out. When I was first trying to catch Bill, when she lived in town, she went straight over the fence and I had to go back and build up the yard and drive her into a cattle race before I could get a halter on her, and she was only a few months old.

You want to teach a horse in a way that makes them confident. It's not so much about teaching the horse to cope with what is happening at that time, but to teach them to cope with/accept other new things as well. Bill was an exploder. Everytime we did something new i.e. put a saddle on for the first time she would go ballistic and buck and buck and buck or just bolt around like a mad horse. She wanted to fight against everything. I don't think it was really until we roped up her legs, and hobble trained her that she really learnt to give in to pressure and thats helped her to cope with new things a lot better. She stops and thinks and the moves on with none of the theatrics.

Have a goal for every session you do with your young horse, be it a full lap of walk in the round pen, or the first trot on the lunge, or your first solo ride in a new area. When you have a goal you have a place to end your session. Yesterday, I wanted to consolidate the right canter lead and to do two trot poles together. She was instantly good with the trot poles, and after two good canters on the right lead (one of which was a full lap of my riding area) I called it a day. It's important to finish on a good note, even if it means you have to back track to where the horses is comfortable. In the same vein don't start anything you aren't prepared to finish. If you have to work for 3 hours to get her across a drain then thats what you have to do. Once you start something, if you give up, the fight next time will take you 6 hours.

Be consistent. Everytime you ride or work with any of your horses you are teaching them, albeit to walk all over you at feeding time, or to be nicely mannered citizens. If your horse cuts a corner and you don't go back and readdress the issue, ie walk through that corner, and ensure they follow the track you want them too, you can very quickly teach them to cut corners. Once they do several things repeatedly the neural pathway gets stronger, so it's important to reinforce the good. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice does. Horses respect consistent boundaries and so you have a much happier young horse if you can be consistent.

Riding a baby always makes people feel insecure because they tend to be fairly unpredictable. You need to fake the brave if you can't be brave in your own right. They pick up on your insecurities. One day riding Bill, I was hesitant and unsure and she wouldn't go around one end of the round pen. The next day, I was feeling better and she never had a problem with it. It also helps if you have an older horse to take the lead when you are doing new things, then the older horse can be brave.

Don't be afraid to try different methods
. Just because you hate someones method doesn't mean there isn't something you can learn from them.

When you are doing your training make sure you have someone horse savvy helping you. Mum as averted falls from bill for me with good timing and instincts. Dan on the other hand didn't not obey my command of keep her head up at all costs and so got to see me turned into a splatto.

When you are riding, go forward. It's so much safer. It may be scarier and you will have less control but a horse thats going forward properly can't play up. I like to trot a lot on rides out and about the place for this very reason. At the trot they see less dragons, though when they do spook it will be bigger! Enforce the go forward too, when you ask for it, make damn sure you get it, because one day you will be riding down the road with a big truck coming towards you and when you say go forward you want your horse to respect you, more than she fears the truck. I carry my stick for this very reason. I ask and if I don't get, I hit.

I have a friend who has a theory that a horses ears will touch before they blow up. I have never noticed this to be honest but she is pretty adamant about it. If you see that I guess you are in deep shit? Or of course you can hope your go forward is still functional. It's a terrible feeling riding a horse with it's back up but it is just one of those things, let them walk out of it, or lunge them, it's better not to stop.

I guess thats all I have to offer in this regard. Most of it is old advice really, that gets passed around a lot so perhaps there is even some truth in it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More pictures of hunting


Connie has heard the hounds

Mum is on her borrowed mount again

Kate is mostly indifferent

Team photo

Hand whip high five

From L-R- Mum and Donna, Kim on Kate, myself on Connie

The hounds eating the hare


The quarry, getting away as per!

Thats Connie in the middle

Monday, May 3, 2010

A good day

Man today was productive! I'm tired now though. After breakfast I rode Bill horse and she was quite full of beans when I was lunging her so I was feeling a bit chicken! Still I rode her and she was very good. The activity was nice because it meant I didn't have to work so hard to keep her going. I did trot poles on her and she was perfect, walking over them first and then trotting. Her turning and forwardness is improving so much. We managed our first full lap of canter on the left lead and I got two strides on the right lead which is much weaker and was a lot more like leaping before she broke and popped up onto the left. She is very weak on tat canter lead. Then the farriers arrived, 45 minutes early so I didn't get another crack at the right lead, and everything got shod.

I have had huge issues with Bill and her back feet and farriers. She is fine for me to handle her back feet now, but I used to have to pick them up with a rope so I didn't get to close to those flying feet. Then she nearly took the farriers block off and so she never gets her back feet done. They stay nice anyway, and sometimes I give them a wee file. Anyway a little while ago I took her over to the cattle yards and roped up her back legs (one at a time) and just let her go ballistic and fight herself. I know thats not the sort of thing you admit to on the internets, but a drastic measure was needed. So today I picked up her feet and then the farrier took them off me and she was really really good. He didn't nail that tightly and said they may not last but hey thats progress. She is really growing up.

Then after work I lunged Rascal and she was good enough and so I rode her too. She is unfit and weak but work will sort her out. I can't wait to do more. So many horses to ride! I'm going pretty easy on Kate until her saddle arrives, and Connie will be turned out after a few more hunts probably and I'll just give her the occasional light ride to keep her ticking over. I'm looking forward to doing some clinics especially with Kate. And Rascal. And Bill. And Connie. Ha