Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is it Munchausen?

Louie must have known that I finally got my new saddle in the mail on Monday.  I went out to ride him in it last night and was disappointed to learn that he had cut his back legs up pretty well earlier in that day.  I can not really figure out for sure how he did it, as he has cuts and scrapes of various shapes and sizes on both sides of both hind legs- over the hocks and cannon bones.  There are no boards down in his paddock, and his stall is in good repair, so it was a sneaky feat that my apparently accident-prone horse has accomplished.  The only thing I can think of is that he must have caught his legs on/under the fence when he was rolling in the paddock.  Silly goose, my husband wonders if Louie must need a bubble-wrapped body suit.  I wonder if he knew that I had my new saddle and was trying to create an injury to get out of work? 

Well. . . it worked- I've been very busy cold hosing, scrubbing, and NFZ ointment-ing his legs, and I don't think I'll be able to ride him until he heals up a little and the swelling comes down.  All of this cold hosing is really making me think I could use one of those leg soaking devices about now!

This is his left hock (looking from the front).  Nevermind the green appearance of the wounds- that was cell phone effect, he's got some white granulation tissue forming at the bases of the wounds that makes it look that way.  Well, here's to hoping he heals up really quick so that we can try out our new saddle!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Size= Large

I have never thought of Louie as a really huge horse. . . until today.  He wears a 74" blanket, doesn't have any problems fitting down narrow aisleways (chuckle chuckle), and seems to fit very well into average sized horse tack.  He has, however, rather sprung himself out in the rib cage in the past year or so.

I recently upgraded our work harness and purchased a new (used, but new to me) Schneider's quick hitch harness, with a few Walsh accessories (Tilburry tugs and reins).  I tried it on Louie for the first time tonight and it just barely fits him.  The bridle is let pretty much all the way out, the overcheck doesn't stand a chance of being long enough (good thing I don't really use one- and the bridle does have side-check rings so I can rig up my own side check), the breast strap is let all the way out, and the girth/saddle just barely fits on the last notch.  Suprisingly, he has plenty of room to lengthen the backstrap (I find that odd that that piece is the most roomy as Louie has a rather long back).  But alas, all of the pieces that I need do seem to fit, and I'm looking forward to trying out our new harness- it is very nice quality, and interchangeable as a bitting rig/long lining harness/driving harness, which should help to simplify our tack needs.  I'm looking forward to trying it out!  Now if only the harness had protective, fly-repellant properties, we'd be all set. 

In other good news, I think our saddle search is coming to an end- FINALLY.  The Saddle Fitter had me try one of her demo saddles, a Thornhill Berlin, and I think we've finally found what we're looking for.  It is an all purpose saddle, which is a little saddening, but the search for a close contact to fit my long legs and Louie's wide body was just impossible.  We have ordered a new saddle for me, and I will write all about it on another post when it gets here.  Hooray!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Driving Fly Frustrations

My husband came out to the barn tonight with me to drive Louie.  We warmed up in the indoor arena, hooked, then went outside to work.  My husband teased me about how much fly spray I put on Louie (I doused him in Ultrashield, then added an extra coat of industrial strength spray to "tail range"), Bjorn said it was windy outside and supposedly flies don't come out when it's windy out. . . Ha!

Well, just as I expected, the flies were terrible outside.  And Louie is the biggest fly baby ever.  I even took away his fly sheet this week because I decided he needs to get used to being bothered by bugs.  The instant we went to the far end of the arena, Louie's tail was all over the place, getting over my lines left and right.  Ugh!  My husband who was supposed to be watching us was talking on the phone and after about 25 minutes of fighting with the bugs, I pleaded with him to please hang up and take a couple of pictures of us so that we could be done for the night.  By the time he finally got off the phone, the flies were swarming like B-52 bombers.  I was on my last nerve between the slow husband and the flies and Louie paying more attention to the bugs tickling him than he was to my cues, but I was bound and determined that we must continue until I could get at least one picture, since I don't have any of us "off leash." 

Finally my husband came over to the far end of the arena where the sun was out to take a photo.  Louie got frustrated between trying to manage flies and me yelling at him to quit messing around and broke into a canter.  I was able to rein him in quickly and continue along as if nothing had happened, but we need to figure out something to manage these bugs so that Louie can concentrate on my cues and get productive work accomplished.  I may have to get a fly sheet or one of those darn fly nets afterall. . . Anyhow, he did manage to snap one nice cell phone photo of us:

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Saddle Fitting

Well, today we had the saddle fitter out.  She was very nice and knowledgeable, but as I expected she didn't have a lot of great news for me- at least not news that I wanted to hear.  None of the 4 used saddles I had her look at fit Louie well.  Some worse than others for one reason or another.  So, she brought out about 6 saddles that she carries that she had thought might work based on our conversations thus far.  Of those 6 saddles, 3 of them were workable for Louie.  Of those 3, one was a very deep seated all purpose saddle that I just wasn't going to like.  Of the two remaining close contact options, after sitting in both of them it became clear that one of them was a far superior option, not only in fit, but quality, softness, and comfort- of course that correlated with the most expensive option- way more than what I wanted to spend. . .

Well, I have that saddle out on trial for a week.  It's a Smith Worthington Stellar Altair Close Contact.  It is a beautiful saddle- it's like absolute butter to sit in, soft and luxurious, and it seems to fit me well, but I'm not sure I can get over my mental price block. . . We shall see.  It's a good thing I've got a week to decide.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cool Item of the Month

This has virtually nothing to do with Louie, but I thought it was really cool, and would love to get one of these for him.  My friend boards out a few racehorses during the summertime.  Of course they are serious about conditioning and treating their horses ailments.  The other day we were out just after some of the horses were worked and we saw their leg soaking system, which is really cool!  The horse was standing in crossties, with a cooler on and a tubing system over the cooler that neatly draped over his back and wrapped around each leg just above the knee.  A slow stream of cold running water flowed through the hose, essentially cold hosing each of his legs from the knee/hock down.  They put any of their horses with a tendency to stock up in this system after working them- but instead of spending 30+ minutes cold hosing by hand, this gadget does it for you- now how awesome is that?  Apparently you can purchas the soaker coils from Big Dee's, and the trainer had put together a Y system to attach 2 together to do all 4 legs at once.  I have to admit I was super impressed and want one for Louie!  Of course he doesn't get worked as hard as those racehorses, and it might be excessive for his purposes, but WOW I am so in awe!   Photo here from http://www.bigdweb.com/ showing one leg coil. 

In other news, Louie is driving very well- he got to drive with another driving horse for his first time on Friday night, and he did great.  Of course, this other Morgan mare that was driving is an old pro, and very calm and business-like.  Just right for Louie.  :)  However, he also had his first minor spook in the cart on Friday night.  I think it was a combination of a sudden loud noise coming from the barn aisle and the Morgan's owner putting her cart away, covering it with a tarp that raised Louie's attention just a bit.  All he did was take a few quick scooting steps at a trot (we're talking like 1-2 strides), then settle right back down and get back to business.  So that was very good. 

Tonight we had a very nice drive, and we even enjoyed the beautiful sunset and took a quick drive down the driveway all by ourselves- of course Louie was great.  Tomorrow we have got the saddlefitter coming out, probably to give us some bad news about our impossible saddle search.  I'm hopeful she can help us- if people can ride draft horses, QH's and Arabians, we ought to be able to find a saddle for Louie! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Driving and Stuff

Louie and I have been driving up a storm!  We've hooked about a dozen times now, and he's becoming quite the pro!  I have been driving him by myself, and with little warm-up in the long lines as he is just showing that he is so comfortable in the cart. 

We had our last lesson with Steve last week and Louie did great.  We went outside to tackle the front of the barn one more time and Louie didn't even bat an eye.  He did great, so we worked on a little bit of walking and trotting up and down the driveway, then headed down the far bend of the driveway towards the road.  Everything was fine, there was a car that drove by behind us just after we got turned around and Louie got slightly startled by it (he is easily startled by cars- always has been, especially when they are driving fast), and he looked for me for reassurance, I told him he was okay, then he continued on.  This, for Steve, was reaffirmation of why Louie is just so much better in an open bridle right now, as if he hadn't been able to look back and see me, he may have really panicked with that noise behind him.  Anyhow, we got the free rein to drive as we please and we have continued to progress- in working on a slow jog, regular trot, and an extended trot, we're turning tighter circles now- actually this week we turned about a 4 foot-diameter circle around a jump standard, and we also weaved around some ground poles with no difficulty at all.

We have some new boarders at the barn who have carriage driving and dressage Morgans.  The carriage drivers are starting to peak my interest in carriage driving, as I think Louie could excel at this.  I must do more research to figure out what it's all about, but that is definitely a possibility for us, even though at this point driving is mainly just for conditioning.  But it would be fun to compete someday- in something. . .

For the last week or so we've been taking it a little bit easy in our workouts as Louie's feet have suddenly had a growth spurt and all of a sudden he ended up with 4 very different feet, with his front angles opposite one another, and I worry about injuries due to that.  Our awesome farrier Pat was out today though, and got him cleaned up so now we can resume our normal working routine. 

Last night, for the first time ever, I rode Louie bareback.  This is always an interesting experience for a youngster as they're not used to feeling a human's butt directly on their backs, but Louie did great.  It has been years since I've ridden bareback, so my skills have definitely declined, but Louie took care of me.  Well- except for when he would suddenly turn his head/neck to look one way, then throw his body the opposite way- that just about shook me off of him a few times.  :)  But we did a little walking, jogging (which was great, by the way), and even a little posting trot.  I am amazed at how wide and flat Louie's back is- when I was sitting comfortably in semi-normal equitation, my legs made zero contact with his body from about 4 inches above my knees, all the way down to my feet!  That's because of his wide back. 

Speaking of his wide back, we are finally going to take our saddle fitting woes into control!  We are having Cordia Pearson (the master saddlefitter) out to do an evaluation for us on Monday!  I am very excited for this, as I am hopeful she will at least be able to lead us in the right direction in finding a saddle that works for us.  I am going to have her look at a few used saddles as well as a few saddles that she carries that she has had good luck with fitting other similar build horses in the past.  So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll have luck! 

Anyhow, that's the update in the past 2 weeks of the life of Louie and Leah.  It's been crazy busy, so I'm sorry, I did not mean to neglect the blog!  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!