Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Often do You Ride, and For How Long?

I am curious if I'm under-riding, over-riding, or if it's just right at my house.  I know each person that follows and reads has their own life outside of the horse.  Many of you are married, with kids, a busy job, sometimes involving distant travel... While others aren't working full time, single, and have to travel a distance to see the horse. 

How often do you ride?  Daily?  5 times a week?  3? 

How long is an average ride?  20 minutes?  40?  Hour & a half? 

Looking forward to your comments... Give me a little perspective, will ya?

In My Eyes

Late last year, Harley went into the winter and 2012 spring with his canter leads all sorted out.  He came to me with an unreliable left lead, and a steady right lead.  That came back to haunt us a bit over a month ago.  I had tried all the tricks I knew - ask in a corner, ask on a circle, ask with steady rein contact, ask with outside leg back, bend his head in, bend his head out, loose rein and vocal kiss only (no leg pressure), spurs, no spurs, you name it.  The canter on the longe has been perfect, under saddle's been a nightmare. 

Yesterday, he started this up again.  Heading left, on a circle, in one spot, he'd get it.  Another spot on the circle, four misses in a row.  I was entirely annoyed.  I barked out, "Harley!  What the h&ll has happened lately?!  You knew this before!!"  I asked for a trot.  We both settled down.  I made sure my reins were even, my legs were even, and I sat deep.  I looked up and around the circle -

Left lead canter.  No hesitation.  A bit of it, and back to trot.  In a different spot, I asked again.  Reins, Legs, eyes, seat.  Left lead.   I even repeated it a third time.  Thinking I had this figured out, I let my eyes wander just barely outside the left-circle, and asked again.  Right lead. 

Harley's had that left lead all along, he was following my eyes, and counter-cantering because it's what he thought I wanted.  He thought he was going to turn right, and was leading off for it.  All that time, Okay, at least 6 months, I've been working on it, trying to figure out why it felt like he was guessing every time I rode.  It wasn't him, it was me.  I have trained him to follow my eyes, and as a result, my upper body.  He's gotten that bright. 

Wow... I had it all that time.. Eyes Up! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Harley Conformation Pictures

Harley, 10-25-12  I'm gonna be a little silly following, but here's a chance for anyone and/or everyone to comment on his conformation.  I'm curious what everybody has to say, so don't be bashful.  You can tell me he's gawgeous, you can tell me he's butt-fugly.  I know he's good at his job - see the show videos and the jump clips for movement.

Wait a minute, Mom.  I gotta itch!

Hi blogger peoples!  I'm getting ready to dance with Mom, but she wanted me to come say, "hi" for the camera first.  So , HI!
Mom, not my best side.  I know when I'm a naughty pony you call me "donkey", but taking a picture of my tooshie?  NOT NICE!

See, now I've got a funny face, 'cuz you were laughing at me.  Are you done yet?  I'm ready to go dancing!  

Thanks Mom, This comes AFTER dancing.  Foods!  Yum Yum

Here.. You want some?  I'll sharre with the reader people, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If this doesn't make you stop & think...

then check your pulse and make sure you're still breathing.

Comment along after me, and let her know we're reading along, cheering, praying, and wishing her more rides, and more stories.

Me?  I'm going to ponder that one for a while, wondering if perhaps some of my mental writing block is because of the same secretive spirit...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10-10-12 Harley Adjustment

A few too many frequent rides for about two weeks, Harley was throwing a temper tantrum.  First, he was breaking from canter-left to trot, and I squeezed him up pretty hard and scolded him.  His response was to dart to the inside, and start tossing his head.  I have a hunch his hiney came up during that fit as well, as I came off.  Slowly, and with all kinds of control.  I hopped back on quickly, and we went right back to canter-left, with lots of leg and lots of kissing.  No way he's getting away with that.

The second time, one of the neighbors fired off one rifle shot, way off in the distance.  Harley stopped, turned to face me, and a second or so after that, tried to take off bucking and kicking on the line.  I barked at him, and immediately put him back to work at the trot, stop & turn anytime he tried a wild canter or a head tossing.  Note, I didn't go after him for an immediate fear spook to the gunfire.  He waited 3-4 seconds after the gunshot to be a wild goofball.

A third time, it occurred when I started trying to get him to move his canter out.  I lifted up to 2-point, came down the long side, and pushed him again.  Temper tantrum, and off I went.  Slid off carefully yet again.  Hopped back on, and instead of pushing a canter, I asked for LOTS of long extended trot.

Harley rode about, puzzled, ears going every direction, and he continually asked to relax his trot stride.  A couple times he tried to pop into a canter.  In the arena corners, I could see the wrinkly, nervous eyes.  "What on earth does she want?!  She's asking like a canter, but I'm still trotting!  How weird!"  Finally, he settled and pushed in the nice trot.  I shortened my reins, and, as long as he stayed settled, relaxed, and didn't throw his head around (or twist it to avoid the bit), I'd leave him in an easy light trot.  The slightest bit of a fit, and we were right back at that long trot. 

This seems to have made some good change in his attitude.  I had already checked his back for pain (nope), he had a dental check earlier this year (didn't need float), and since it happened under saddle and on halter longe, it isn't rider-caused.  I'll keep everybody updated.. I'm still hopeful to catch a fit on video, and see what's causing it.. If it's truly spooks (deer, bunnies, snakes, moles) moving around that he sees and I don't , or if he's just angry I'm forcing more out of him performance wise. 

Last Sunday, I tested the recent training.  Longed him a bit, then hopped on.  A brand new cold front had burst into our region, and we were totally blessed with temperatures in the mid 50s and a nice breeze.  Harley was relaxed, quite, and alert.  In the ride, a gun went off at random probably 4 times, off in the distance.  Harley flicked an ear, and tensed up, but did not take off, did not get silly.  A neighbor was working on a tractor, and made some loud noises as well, but he didn't have a wild moment.  Something in the trees blew hard, and while it got a reaction, it got a good one - he picked into a long trot, but stayed within my legs and hands.  Finally, at the last gunshot, Harley turned to the middle of the circle I'd put him on, and slowed from a trot to a walk, ears on the gunfire direction.  I praised him with each and every calm reaction to all the loud noises and startles going on around us.  After the last gunshot reaction, I decided walk and trot was a good way to end the ride, leaving canter off the books that day.  We trotted easy a bit more, on the bit (with very little head tossing), and I walked him out. 

Here's hoping I've made the adjustment, and won't need it again anytime soon.

10-10-12 Romeo Update

Tendon injury is looking better.  Right front leg has a goose-egg on it on the canon bone, and so I've been cold hosing and doctoring it as well.  Now, I'm learning that Mo's skin doesn't enjoy being wrapped all the time, or damp and wrapped.  Doctoring for what appears to be scratches will begin this evening.  All the dampness, combined with cling wrap, sealing in the moisture, has NOT made the leg hair or skin happy at all..

Had a colic scare Saturday night, but resolved it with some banamine and a trailer ride to "shake it loose".  Easily resolved, and he's back on his normal grain and hay starting this evening.  Should make him incredibly happy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

09/28-09/30 Romeo

Friday, when I hosed it down, it was looking really good.  Applied the sweat (nitrofurazone), cling wrap, polos.  He got a pedicure Friday around lunch, and enjoyed a little grass from a small pen in the back yard while Mr Eddie trimmed Harley.  He ate very quietly in the pen, and behaved himself nicely.

Saturday, the swelling had increased significantly.  Where his leg was shaved, it looked a bit irritated.  I hosed it a few extra minutes, wraps only.  A bit more grass from the side yard.  - It POURED rain Saturday, with a total of 3-4".  Puddles and mud everywheres.

Sunday morning, the weather was brisk, wind blowing gusty, and I made the unintelligent decision to trust Romeo in the small pen while I cleaned his stall.  He proved there is in fact enough room to run stupid in that tiny pen, so I quickly snatched him back up and locked him back in the stall.  PM hosing looked really good, but the skin around the tendon lesion was incredibly red and scabby-irritated looking.  No sweat applied.

Tonight, we go back to Dr Sam for a quick check-up, and another laser treatment.  Easy enough.  Then back home to stall and pony-jail.   He's been on 2g bute (1g/2x day) and will remain on 2g for today and tomorrow.  I will reduce it after this to 1g/day for another week and a half.

The only other addition I've made, is ordered SmartFlex Rehab for Mo, to arrive sometime this week.  As always, the SmartPak folks were incredibly helpful over the phone at making this choice.  It's loaded in supplement goodness, and should help with the healing.

It's slightly overwhelming, all of it.  R installed a light at the washrack corner of the house, so I'll be able to start riding Harley again right after work, and hosing Mo's leg after dark.  Okay, time to be honest with myself.. it's incredibly overwhelming.  Did I not keep him fit enough that his little hissy fit a few weeks ago caused the injury?  Is he overweight enough that it was hard to run?  Should I go on a run all over my pastures and/or have a tractor come in and mix up all the dirt to eliminate any holes (that snakes and/or moles will just re-create anyways in a matter of days)?  Or is this just bad luck finally landed in my pasture? 

Dr. Sam has only planned the next month of rehab and healing for Romeo.  What comes next?  I don't even know, but I don't figure it's much cantering around the arena.  Probably the biggest disappointment?  I had set a goal to compete Mo in a Competitive Trail Course.  Not going to happen now, as I don't figure he'll be healthy enough to get back in shape needed to compete.  Huge disappointment ...

Romeo, The Diagnosis 09/27/12

Dr. Sam did some basic examination, flexion, longing, all kinds of manual pressure tests.  One of the techs, Jamie, gave him an injection to calm, so another tech Bubba could shave the hair off, and Dr Sam did an ultrasound.  I took this picture before the shaving, while we were waiting for the injection to work.

Click on the picture to see the teenie tiny red arrow I drew on it.  The horizontal lines?  Those are from the polos he was wearing before the picture was taken.

Diagnosis?  Lesion on the Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon, SDFT.  Fancy description for bowed tendon. 
The treatment?  I had three options...
#1 Stem Cell injection - At least one injection, $1500 minimum.
#2 PrP injections - Platelet rich Plasma injections - $300 a shot.  At least two shots.  PrP's are supposed to "concentrate the blood around the lesion, increasing cell counts and reducing inflammation, healing the injury faster.
#3 Laser light treatments, stall rest, Bute, sweats every other day, hydro & wrap daily.

Since Romeo isn't a "show pony", he's not in training for some big event, and he wasn't exactly the biggest investment I've ever made, I made choice #3.