Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Saturday Soreness

My beautiful bay weirdo.
My horse and I were beat from the clinic day before. I did not feel good. But I still wanted to hop on her for a brief flat ride. She was totally calm even though it was windier than heck and I loved on her as I slowly tacked her up.
"You want to me what, mom?"

Sometimes she looks so awfully skinny :(
Once I was on I noticed that she was a little slow and stiff. No big surprise there, since I had been on her yesterday for about 2 hours and she was pulling those fancy horse yoga moves. We walked and trotted just a little bit and then I hopped off. She just wasn't quite like normal.
And then sometimes, she looks fine. For her, anyways.
Lindsey called her racehorse training husband out to come take a looksie (he has magic lameness eyes) and while we waited, I put her on the lunge. Lindsey and I both agreed that she was a lot stiffer in her hind end on the lunge. We also noticed a nice crack on her right hoof that looked like a blown abscess, which would explain her angry lameness a few weeks prior. Her hooves are drying up from the thrush too.
It was a lovely windy day
I pouted and turned her loose in the arena. She took off at a fancy trot and looked not so sore again. Such a strange lameness. I didn't know what to think. Magic red haired fairy made it out and looked her over and watched me lunge her. She was less off on the lunge again, but something was still there. He made some adjustments on her three different times and had me lunge her each time after that. She improved with each adjustment. He felt that she was just body sore, especially going from tiny circles over and over and over in my arena and then going out and jumping all over in a big arena.
Hello pretty girl
She was really tight in her shoulders and had a sore booty for sure. Another plan is to throw some hind shoes on her to help her get some more traction with the ground back there and she shouldn't have to work as hard. She was popping and cracking all over the place. Poor girl. I felt like the worst owner. Red trainer assured me that she would be great the next day with a bit of bute and some rest for the day. And he was very right. After he left, I turned her loose again and grabbed the camera. It was so nice to get pictures of her enjoying herself out there.
Damn suspicious knocked over jump.
We can't all always be beautiful.
I have been watching her closely since then and she has been moving fine. Even out in the bumpy dry pasture. Now, I must convince the husband to increase our arena size.
But she can, most of the time.
My Bacon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

One Heck of a Birthday

Featuring three warmbloods and one giraffe.
Friday was my birthday. I woke up at 5am nervous as hell and already mentally exhausted from the previous days of the week. Bacon was hauled over to Prisoner's house Thursday and I had an interesting ride. Apparently when you are in heat, you have more of an opinion. Who knew? I figured Friday might end up too interesting for my tastes. I would be riding in the Nicole Cobb clinic with three other very good riders. Riders with waaaaay more experience and knowledge than me (with one of being named as a top ten event rider in the US). Jumping sticks in a pattern is already scary.
Whoa man. Trotting stuff.
We introduced ourselves and before I could say anything, Nicole looked at me and yelled BACON! She already knew. Oh god. Who told her? What did they tell her? Don't pee my pants. I told her what we are working on (getting to the base of the jump, not getting flat, etc) and that most of my jump/ride time is spent in my 50ft arena with one jump and we had been new to this jumping thing for about a year. And then it was time to jump some stuff.
Now canter stuff.
Bacon was a wee bit excited and strong that day. The most nervous she had ever been at that facility. I am guessing the hormones weren't helping, and neither was my radiating anxiety. We started over some trot poles and Bacon was all WEEEEEEE TROT STUFF and then we cantered through them and WEEEEE CANTER STUFF was happening so Nicole immediately called me out for being too nice. "You seem like a really nice person. A person who would never hurt anything, but you need to get meaner". Well, alright. If you say so. I had to do some strong half halting through the poles and Bacon picked up on it after a few times through. High fives!
Horse yoga. You wish you had a hind end like that.
And then there was the gymnastic. I knew we would have trouble with it because we have only done them three times I think? Oh well, I knew it was coming. We had to work through it more than everyone else, but that was ok. I was getting very tired but I still had enough gas. Bacon also figured out the half halting through there too. And then we got to string some stuff together.
Entering the gymnastic.
I was feeling kind of down because we needed the most work out of us four, but I told myself that I had been jumping for only a year (BOTH of us, for that matter) and with my current arrangements, we were keeping up alright.
We like oxers!
The rest of the course work had Bacon and I establishing our canter and ride a few strides out before the jump, and my job was to keep it the same all the way to the jump. And we did that quite well. Of course we had some awkward distances and things, but we were able to work through them and just keep going.
Lime green for lyme disease?
I really really liked riding with Nicole. She always had positive things to say along with her constructive things. And they all made sense. I was trying my hardest to do everything she had asked and it was working pretty well. She had some sass to her too, and I liked that! The weather was brilliant, my horse was good and it was hard to ask for a better day. But thank goodness I had the next day off and was riding Sunday because I was EXHAUSTED.
My fav pic of the day!
Coming out of a one stride!

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Got to Ride in a Real Arena and Jump All the Things

A preview of the fun that was.
I have been trying to ride, but it was not going. Most of the days were just lunging. And all of the girls were good. Bacon put herself to work and listened and did her transitions almost flawlessly. Finally, I got to ride on Friday and it was interesting...
Bacon's worst day ever still equals this. I can deal.
I could not find Bacon's brain. It was gone, loooong gone. I got my ball of explosive energy out and tried to groom and saddle her up. Husband was busy trying to fix some of my standards and the sound of the drill and Bacon did not go well together. She would not be calm with it around. And then I needed help tacking up because my hands weren't working all that well and she thought that the drill sound was being made my Blake and he was now A SCARY MONSTER. INITIATE RUN BACKWARDS MOVE NOW! And then fall down.
The blue barrel is out of the shot, but to the right of this photo.
Grrr horse. So we did a little ground work. We went and stood by him as he used the drill. She seemed to settle down a little bit. I finally got her dressed and she was still in a panic. So, she got lunged a little bit more. She was still listening to me and doing all she was told, so I hopped on. And then, we saw the blue barrel. MAYBE THE BLUE BARREL WAS MAKING THE NOISE. OH NOES.
Not relaxed, but listening.
Every time we went by the blue barrel, we had a real good hard look at it. Every damn time. The same barrel that we have always ridden around and jumped over. I was tired of those shenanigans, so she got to go around and around the barrel, almost touching it. She then realized her fear was kind of dumb. We actually had an ok ride. She was tense but did as she was told. Even when the neighbor pulled into the pasture and used a leaf blower in the back of his truck to blow grass everywhere for the goats to eat. She didn't even bat an eye at that.

The next day was a lot better. We did three trot poles into a cross rail and scared the Romanian kid when he came out to ask me a question about dinner. All was good. And then Lindsey came over and we devised a field trip that was yesterday. And it was excellent.
I think Bacon was ready for a field trip because she walked right into the trailer ready to go. When we got to Prisoner's house, I tacked her up in the baking sun a little nervous about what was to come. Courses. They scare me folks. I warmed her up and although she was a little up and strong at some points she was still really good. I used my inhaler and drank almost a full bottle of water before we started jumping. Lindsey set up a fun course that could be ridden many different ways. We started trotting over a vertical just to get a feel for things and then did some courses.
It's always good for this horse to jump off both legs.
Heels down, let's go!
Not the prettiest jump, but my position is not too shabby.
They weren't scary at all! There were some verticals, a gate and two swedish oxers. All about the 2'6"-2'9" range with maybe some a little higher. There was a bending line if you wanted it, and some fairly tight turns after a couple of the jumps too. Goals were: be forward enough to the fences, sit up before the jumps and try to get in a little deeper, weight into heels, try to not hold horse to the jump, remember the courses, and try to have some sort of release. And I believe all of those were accomplished in some form. We did three different courses and they were all fun and no rails came down (even though we rubbed some). I was thrilled. I was so proud of my horse and myself.
I think four strides from the vertical to this oxer?

Those are better knees. Just wish I had a little bit more of a release...
...but I think that was my bending line to this oxer. Downhill jumps are exciting.
We haven't done very many courses, but I am now starting to get a bit more comfortable with them. That lesson was a nice confidence boost coming into this weekend with our jump clinic. I am still really nervous, but at least I feel like we can go out there and accomplish things and get better. My horse is willing if I am willing and it will be a great birthday present if we have a great clinic. I am excited!
We look like a team!
Horse doesn't even try.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Back To Work!

I have no idea why I keep losing my stirrup position.

My horse has stayed not lame (HOORAY THANK YOU LAMENESS GODS) so I got a couple of easy rides on her last week. Well, the jumping one was not easy for me, but it was nothing spectacular. I tried to do a cross rail to a one stride over the blue barrel. Our little arena is just not big enough to do much in. We still had some rushing, but it wasn't too bad and she was listening to me a bit better. Her current issue is  hauling ass towards to the jump and getting super flat and not picking up the legs.
WEEEE JERMPS! (Also known as not how to dressage).

Settle down mare. Settle down.

We also did some dressage.That went better, but we still had some issues. For some reason one of the corners became scary. So scary, that we had to hurry past it every time. So when we took our breaks, she got to take them in the corner. Soon, it was no longer as threatening. Corner=good things, not bad things.
Well now this is a bit more pleasant.
I worked on a few things. Constantly working on getting a bigger trot out of her without speeding up. And we are seeing some progress there! Not much, but it is something. At least I am getting more practice controlling her with my seat. I worked on me keeping my legs on her (inside leg) and pushing her into the outside rein. We worked on maintaining contact and were somewhat successful.
Lost our contact but she looks very pretty here.

I do not have a very nice dressage body. Everything is short and blobby looking.
The biggest thing we worked on at the end of our ride was our transitions from the walk and trot. She really started to listen to my seat and wait for me to exhale into our downwards. It really helps me and her. My hubs popped out during the middle of our ride and snapped a couple of pictures, so that was nice of him.
Her legs were finally clean enough to try out her new boots!
I feel like Bacon and I have a lot of catching up to do in the dressage department. Last year I think I just really enjoyed her being sound and exploring the eventing discipline and learning how to jump somewhat. We just kind of did whatever and tootled around and I didn't ask too much of her. This year is a bit of a different story. I have learned sooo much from watching other riders and going to friend's lessons and now I have a small idea of what to look for in becoming a little bit more successful. Bacon has been pretty game so far, so fingers crossed this year will be another incredible experience!
The evil corner is behind us.

Also worked on keeping contact with her stretched down just a tad more in the canter.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Updates Up The Wahoo

I am the best at dressage.
So last week, I spent many days watching and observing Bacon for the lameness. She certainly has squishy feet and so I started a No Thrush treatment (thanks to the recommendation of my husband) and I have noticed a nice improvement. She still sometimes takes an ouchie step out in the pasture, but it is lumpy as hell and hard as a rock. I would lunge her a few laps on the sand, and she would be sound. She was sound three days in a row, so I hopped on for a very brief dressage ride in the arena.

She was perfect. She was less bracey and gave me lots of stretching. I tried out some of the techniques that Aimee had done at her clinic and they were working nicely. I kept shaking my back loose to help her relax her back, as well as relaxing mine. It was nice to be in the saddle again.
Sleepy Pandora
Yesterday was body work day for Lucy and Bacon. Bacon had quite a few things off, and I was not surprised. A few ribs were out of sorts, as well as her neck and withers. She had to work on her pelvis a bit as well. After I turned her out, she played really hard and did the biggest fanciest trot I have ever seen her do. So that was very nice to see. Lucy on the other hand, was not amused at all. She did not like this evil witch that poked and prodded her.
Sleepy and pissed off Lucy goose
I knew she was going to be a mess. Given her start in the ranch world and seeing her age, I was not surprised at all of the issues she had. Poor girl had some big pops in places and had most issues with her back. I have never ever seen this mare offer to bite or kick anyone, and she was doing both yesterday. She had a lot of sighing though and stretching. I hope she will be more comfortable soon, and has a recheck in three weeks. I felt so bad.
But whhhhhyyy mom? 
Today was teeth day! I love seeing drugged ponies. Everybody had some sharp points that needed addressing, and again, poor Lucy had the worst of it. Our vet assured me that hers was mostly due to her age, but everyone should be doing fairly well after this. Lucy is not quite sure why I am torturing her so much, but hopefully she will be feeling brand new soon.
Whoa. Drugs.
As far as me, well, I am scheduled for sinus/nasal surgery on April 10th. The doctor told me it would only be about a week recovery time, so I okayed it. But it is making me miss a horse show damnit! Hopefully it will be worth it in the end, and I will be able to breath and have less pressure in my face. Also, do not go out in the sun for very long while on doxycycline. Biiiig mistake. Sun toxicity!
My favorite saggy lip!

Sleepy paint sisters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lameness is Lame

The day before. Being awesome.
Insert major paranoia.

Why? Because my horse is lame. I repeat, Bacon is lame.

I took her out for a dressage ride two nights ago out in the pasture. We started out ok, and then she really started to fuss and I had no idea why. I got off and lunged her and there it was. The head bobbing action started. I was (am) horrified. Of course, it was the same day that I had signed her up for a jump clinic with Nicole Cobb at the end of the month.

I took her back to be untacked, my mind racing. We had jumped the day before, a two jump grid thing that I quickly switched to one jump with a placing pole. We went through the grid jump maybe five times and then the single jump five times? She was sound as could be.
First jump into out "grid".
There are two factors on my mind. One is her feet. She has been living in mud all winter long and the pasture is hard as a rock and very lumpy and uneven. Her feet are pretty soft right now and I am sure that must be uncomfortable.

But the scary one lingering in the back of my mind is her mystery lameness that kept her from being ridden for almost a year. And we had no idea what it was. We had thoughts of a possible knee chip, but that was never confirmed. We originally thought abscess, but that never really was true either. And then we thought her feet. But at that point in time she did not have shoes on and weaved her walls right off so that made more sense.
Second jump.

I took her out yesterday and watched her in turnout. She seemed better but not all the way. I took her out of her pen later that day and jogged her two laps in the sand. No lame steps. I turned her out this morning, and she seemed a little worse than yesterday for turnout. But "somebody" did forgot to turn the water off when filling the trough and her pen got muddier. And of course, she still weaves and weaves.So, I am stuck and scared. She is what keeps me going with this stupid disease. My goals and plans with her.
She enjoyed the one jump more. And figured out how to counter bend through the corner and thought that was a blast!

So, I am going to try to not lose my cool. Our vet is scheduled to come out next Tuesday to teeth on everyone. If she is not better by then, then we shall have some more investigating to do. Fingers and toes and eyes and arms and legs crossed that it is just a soft feet issue. I just hate this.
Please lameness gods, spare this sweet pony.