Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Feet! I mean New Year!

Louie got his feet trimmed today- just a little clean up on his angles. His feet are holding up really well with all the snow and ice we've gotten around here, and they look even better now after a fresh trim!

Louie also got to wear his new blanket for the first time today. It's a Schneider's turnout, midweight with a TOUGH 1680D ballistic nylon outer shell to stand up to the hard-core playing that he does outside with his buddies. It is a fitted turnout, so it conforms more to his body like a stable blanket. I really like the way that it fits him. My only one complaint about it is that I got the long-drop version of the blanket and it's not really very long, barely covers more than a stable blanket would. I think though, that is because they only put the longer drop on the larger sizes, so perhaps Louie's 74 did not qualify as one of the larger sizes and just has a regular drop. But it is a VERY nice blanket and I'd definately order it again! Here it is on the Schneider's model horse, no photos of Louie in it quite yet, though I assure you it will come!

We're in for a cold snap here, highs in the single digits for the next few days, so I decided a double layer of blankets might be nice for Louie, so I put his old blanket over the new one so that we preserve the new one and keep it looking as nice as possible. Once it warms back up to at least over 15 degrees during the day again, we'll take the outer shell off and he'll get to wear just the new one.

We've not really been doing any consistent work since it has been so cold outside, but we've done just a little free lunging and regular lunging. Louie has started anticipating the canter really bad while lunging to the right, to the point that every time we get to the part of the circle where I usually had been asking for the canter, he takes a couple of awful looking trot-canter-left-lead steps where it looks like he's lame, but really he's just trying to counter canter instead of trot. Ugh. On Tuesday I lunged him in circles for about 20 minutes to the right only, trotting only (after a walking warm up), and it took that entire time to get him to just trot square and even and not attempt to canter. Yikes this is not fun! Going to need to come up with a game plan to fix that in the new year! Until then, wishing all of my readers a wonderful new year (and a new decade)! Cheers!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Full of P&V

Well I worked Louie for the first time since I've been back last night. Wow was he full of himself! I made the mistake of trying to long line him- well I should have started out just on a lunge line or something I think. . .

I had just gotten done talking with one of the other boarders at the barn about how Louie was really steady and wasn't really spooky, and that the "far end" of the arena that so many horses are scared of doesn't really bother him. . . well thanks Louie for making a liar of me! There were some new jump standards at the end of the arena and a little bit of snow that had blown in under the door- suddenly my steady, fearless, easy going Saddlebred turned into a brainless, frantic Arabian (no offense to Arabian lovers in the crowd, they were my first love too, they just tend to act a little silly on occasion). Snorting, scooting past the far end while drifting off of the rail and me counter bending him in an awful way to try to get him back ON the rail, and spooking at nothing because he hadn't been in that end of the arena lately.

Well we only had use of half of the arena since vaulting lessons were taking place during our workout, but we did a lot of trotting to try to take a little bit of the edge off. It was clear that Louie had become a little rusty in his time off, as it was taking a little longer to get that nice extended walk and slow, rhythmic trot that we had before I went on vacation. But eventually he settled down and at least tried a little bit.

Well, it's going to be a process once again getting him going nicely in the lines and eventually in the cart, and with the holidays just around the corner, I suspect it will not be until 2010 that we really start getting back into the swing of things.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Chunky Monkey

Returning home from Oklahoma, I found Louie to be a bit of a chunky monkey. I guess the past 2 weeks without work caused him to pack on a few extra lbs- or was it Christmas cookies? Perhaps he is just starting to fill out, as his legs don't look near as long anymore as they did 6 months ago. Well one thing is for sure, this horse needs some exercise!

It has been REALLY cold here lately, today I think the high was -3. The horses stayed in their stalls today, and it's below my 10 degree rule (though, I might lower that number if the arena stays significantly warmer than the outside air), so I didn't work Louie, but turned him loose in the arena with two other horses to run around and get some excercise at will. He had a great time- he was playful and snorty, and has got some good speed!

Afterward, I gave him a much-appreciated curry and brushing. I've never seen a horse so happy to be curried. Well I'm glad I could make his day, it was probably itchy under that blanket for 2 weeks without brushing.

As I giggled about my little pork linker, I took a few cell phone photos. Sorry they're kindof poor quality, but I think they show his body condition nicely.
Note the roundness of the rump blending into the belly blending into the shoulder.Wide load!Look at that tail head- yikes! This is a nice meaty HQ though.Oh purdy. . .Do I see a dorsal stripe??Awww, what a cutie. Sorry Louie, gaining weight when on vacation is a good thing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

End on a Good Note

This is a phrase that is ever so important in horse training. And this is what Louie did tonight- well, not really "end," more like temporarily put the training on hold. We're going to our national field trial in a few days and Louie doesn't get to go this time, so this was Louie's last cart work for about 2 weeks. And the good note that we ended on- we made progress, Louie did great, and so did I.

Tonight we got the whole arena to ourselves, so after a nice long lining warm-up, Bjorn grabbed the cart and we set up in the usual fashion- shafts through the tugs, but nothing secured. We walked a few steps and stopped. Then we repeated that process. Having success in two small bouts, on the third time we kept going. We made a turn around the end of the arena and continued on at a walk- Bjorn holding the cart, me leading Louie by his halter and lead rope. We walked around for several minutes, both directions, practicing turning, which at this point seems to be the biggest challenge. Bjorn bounced the shafts on Louie's sides and he didn't care too much. All Louie really wanted to do was eat his lead rope. I swear this horse is stuck in his Freudian oral stage. . . as long as he's got a pacifier, he's happy. Bjorn pointed out at one point that Louie had his "fifth leg" out, which is a sure indicator that he was relaxed and happy walking along pulling the cart.

So after a few minutes of that, we moved on to the next challenge, instead of me being right next to Louie's head leading him, I moved back to his flank and took control of the lines. Still holding the safety line on his halter, we successfully long lined Louie with the cart in tow! We walked around a few minutes doing that, with much praise, and called it a day. A very positive accomplishment to "end" on. Now I think if we could trot Louie in this set up (not sure how easy that would be for my poor husband), I wouldn't be too nervous about hooking him. So we'll see what our adventures bring when we return. . .