Monday, August 31, 2009
Once he accepted being sprayed without a fuss, I moved on to the other front leg and repeated the process. Then I moved up to the elbow, shoulder, neck and belly. By the time I got to his back he was pretty bored with the routine and I had already filled up my spray bottle twice (my forearms are going to be aching tomorrow and Wednesday from all that excessive use of my fingers!). When I got to the hindquarters and hind legs, I got a more heightened response, as I expected. So this took a while to get some relaxation, but eventually we got there.
After using 3 full bottles of water on him and thoroughly soaking my poor horse, we called it good for the day and went to get a little fresh chow. I attempted fly spraying him while grazing (with actual fly spray) and it was a bit of a different game outside. Luckily he only moved a little bit, so I was able to get him fly sprayed pretty well without wasting too much.
This will be a multi-day lesson for Louie, but hopefully he will stand still to be sprayed by the time we're finished.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Then this morning I got a note from one of the other boarders (the owner of Connor, the QH/Clyde) saying she would be fine with trying Louie out there with that herd, and she would be there to work Connor in the morning before going out so he didn't have excessive energy with which to chase Louie. The owner of the other two horses in the paddock, a ~20 year old TB mare (Silly) and a 2 year old quarter horse gelding (Murphy), was also fine with the addition.
So, while Connor was out being worked, I let Louie go in the group paddock with the other two horses, niether of whom are excessively agressive or mean. Louie did great with them, though the 2-year-old, Murphy, thought it was a lot of fun to chase Louie off and strut his stuff. After a while, Louie wasn't responding much to Murphy's efforts on chasing him off- Murphy would get going at a good extended canter towards him, and Louie would take 2-3 strides of slow trotting then go back to eating- obviously he was really afraid of Murphy. ;)
Then the time came to add the big guy to the mix. At first he didn't notice Louie off in the far corner. Connor went over to the nice dirt pit to have a roll. Louie thought this was good reason to investigate and sauntered over to take a gander. Murphy intercepted Louie and proceeded to chase him away, protecting Connor from the potential threat Louie brought by coming over to check him out. Then the chase began. Connor noticed the imposter in his paddock, got up and began to chase Louie off. Luckily, most horses can outrun Connor due to his size, and Louie is in pretty good shape. Connor chased, and Louie maneuvered- zigging and zagging to get out of Connor's way. Connor couldn't keep up with the agile 3-year-old and gave up for a moment.
After a short while, the chase began again- after just a short lap around the paddock, Louie learned that he could out-maneuver Connor by slowing down and letting Connor pass him, then duck out behind him and go back to eating. I was pretty impressed by my horse's smarts when it came to the herd dynamic, and his agility, grace, and speed! We (the few of us who were there, owners of the horses and another boarder) also quite enjoyed watching Louie strut around, snorting and blowing, flagging his tail, and prancing around in that classic Saddlebred barnyard trot. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about watching that Saddlebred strut.
Well after a short while, everyone settled down and focused on the main task at hand- eating. Louie didn't eat with the herd, and was driven off a few more times by Murphy, but he got along pretty well for his first day, with only a single hoof sized welt on his neck to show for the day (and that was probably from his girlfriend- the gray mare in the adjacent paddock). It's funny how horses can get along so well with others over the fence, but take that boundary away and it's like they don't even know each other.
I think Louie will get along just fine out in the paddock with Connor, Murphy, and Silly, and after a few days, I bet Louie and Murphy will be playing like the young'uns they are and becoming best buds. Being out with other horses is so good for a horse's mind, and I think Louie really enjoyed being out with a group again- and most of all, I think he enjoyed being turned out on something green and edible.
Here is a photo of Louie's new paddock. Of couse I will have to get some more photos of it with him in it now. :)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
So after a quick warm up and "gear check" in the outdoor arena, we went down the driveway and across the street into the field. The manure path was a bit deep and Louie was a bit startled by the fact that he sunk into the path (but wow what a great work out that would be for him and his stifle!), so we walked on the grass field in between for now. Louie was very relaxed and just walked along like he'd done it his whole life. The grass was up to his chest in some spots- and he's got very long legs! After a little tour around the field, we stopped to graze on some of the luscious grass that had been tempting Louie during our entire ride. I think Louie was really happy to get to graze for a while, but maybe after he got home he wasn't quite so happy as he discovered the millions of welts on his neck and belly from the mosquitos biting him. Well I helped him scratch a few of them and Louie was very greatful for that. Poor guy.
Louie got another massage yesterday and Sharon thinks that he has some growing pains- in that his bones are growing and the muscles haven't had a chance to stretch and catch up with them. She expects a big improvement like the last time she massaged him (he's been a little tight since our show or soon after- I think maybe we overdid it a little bit with that cantering class), but I'm not sure I felt a huge improvement today. I'm not that great at feeling lameness from the saddle, but I will long line tomorrow and see how he looks from the ground.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
. . . and if you're really lucky, go for a trail ride through the edible green forest with your friends. . .
. . . then as the sun begins to set, come in to a cozy stall for dinner, and get some rest to prepare for the adventures that tomorrow might bring.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Our second class was immediately after the first- junior horse english pleasure. This was our first ever cantering class. Of course I was nervous about this as we've had our share of cantering trouble at home. . . But it went pretty well! He did just great the first way, then one of the other horses in the class had some trouble, so they had us repeat our canter the first direction after that horse left the class. Louie just stepped right into his left lead both times, but he did get a little amped up after all of that cantering- a level of excitement I haven't seen from him yet, but I'm kindof glad it's in there somewhere. He walked just fine, with a few reminders, but was really trotting with a lot of energy the second way. I had a bit of a hard time just keeping him in the trot- he was trying to canter during the extended trot the second way, and he did actually break for a stride or two right in front of the judge. When it was time to canter the second way, I asked him from a walk, but he trotted about 4-5 strides into it (which is okay because we've actually only taken the right lead from a walk ONE time at home- ever). But he did get the correct lead on his first try- so I was very happy about that! He was a bit fast at the canter, and was trying to keep up with another horse who was quite fast, but he listened pretty well and cantered at a reasonable speed despite his bountiful energy supply- and I don't think we passed anybody, so that's good. :) We were 5th out of 5 in that class, which was probably where we fit with not having a perfectly clean ride.
Overall I was very pleased with how he did- he listened, didn't have any big spooks at any of the scary cow corrals or barrels next to the arena, was very well mannered, and he seemed pretty happy and comfortable. He wore his neck and head beautifully- a bit higher than he has been at home (that's what happens when you get to a new, more interesting place!), wore his ears, and was very consistent, collected, and fairly light in the bridle. Bjorn said he was moving really nicely- had a nice big floaty stride, and used his legs as well as Social ever did with show shoes on, and Louie just has plain plates on a short foot in front (now I think that might be an exaggeration on Bjorn's part, but I'm happy that he thinks that because that's all he cares about and he likes this horse). He thought Louie could easily raise up to go saddle seat in the show ring. Unfortunately, I nearly had to twist his arm to get Bjorn to even come with me to the show, so he didn't want to take any pictures of us. I understand the whole concept of not being able to watch if he's taking pictures, but I would have loved even a candid of two before or after my classes, but oh well. :( So I have nothing to share from this show, so you'll have to take my word for it- we did really well! Yay Louie! Good boy!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Sandy was out yesterday and she was thrilled with how Louie was moving. We did a little of everything, walk, trot, canter, trotting poles, etc, and Louie was very good. He did not, however, get his right lead on the first try yesterday. It took 3 tries, but by the 3rd time, I asked him from a walk, and he departed into his right lead just beautifully. Good boy! So I'm not going to push the cantering thing, but I'll ride tomorrow night after work and test out our gears and prepare for the show. So hopefully I'll be reporting back this weekend on how the show went!! :D
Monday, August 10, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
So we trotted him over 2 ground poles, spaced about 12 feet apart. He got 1 full stride between the poles, I think, and I think he hardly even noticed they were there. Sandy was a little suprised that he barely even picked up his feet to get over the poles, so she lifted one side of each pole onto the jump standard at the lowest setting, which raised the pole up off the ground about 5 inches in the center of the pole, about like in this picture, except with jump standards rather than blocks.
I trotted him over the raised up poles, and while he still could have cared less that they were there, he did have to pick up his feet a little higher this time to get over them. So that's what we're going to do, a little higher poles to trot over while riding. Then I'll start him with chains on all 4 feet when I long line him to encourage him to pick them up.
So, Sandy thought he looked about 95% better than he had (I think that's pretty generous, I'd say maybe 70%), and is pleased at how he's putting on weight and filling out his hind end. Tom, the old barn manager, was there to watch us today (and hold Sandy's mini that she brought along) and he was impressed with how loose Louie was through his shoulders. I think this has been improving since coming to Mel-o-dee and having nicer footing for him. All in all, he's coming along, but we've got a lot of hard work ahead of us and a lot of prayers for long-term soundness!
Monday, August 3, 2009
So since Dr. Turner told us to get back to our routine and start a good stifle strengthening program, I took Louie for a ride in the big outdoor ring today after work (my first day! I needed the return to the normalcy of the barn after a day of meeting with 20 people and being totally info overloaded, wearing a suit and heels, etc. lol). So I set up 13 ground poles in a row along one side of the arena, leaving the rail open, but I didn't really measure in between, just tried to get them sort-of the same distance apart. Well I should have planned that a little better. After a good long walking warm-up, we did some trotting, then some 2-point trotting, then I had him walk over the poles. He did fine at a walk, but when I asked him to trot the poles, he nearly took a few nose-dives. He was tripping over the poles with his front feet, lol. I think I put them too far apart, either that or not far enough apart.
I took him through the poles probably 6-8 times total (a few times each direction), each time improving a little bit in our clumsiness and timing. I did most of the ride with a long and low headset (ala hunter), and in 2-point -which is tough in a cutback- but I needed the workout too. By the end, Louie figured out how to take one pole per stride on the ones that were close enough together (he was taking huge strides to get over them, but that's the kind of impulsion we need to build up strength!). So next time, I'll have to be sure to put them a little closer together so he can manage them in 1 stride rather than fumbling for 2, and I probably won't put so many in a row, maybe 2 sections of 6-7 poles on one straight away- did I mention this arena is huge? I loff it!
Overall, I think Louie felt pretty good while I rode him today, but I'm really not very good at feeling lameness (even worse than I am at seeing it from the ground). He felt a little different than he did before, but I'm not sure if that's a good different, bad different, or maybe I'm just making something up that wasn't there before? Sandy is supposed to be coming out tomorrow to watch him go and see if she agrees that he's looking a little better. I'm just happy to be back to working him again; it was miserable going out there and not being able to do much with him for nearly 2 weeks. So, hopefully we'll get his butt strong enough so that he doesn't require much help in staying sound! Back at it and keeping my fingers crossed!