Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another good lesson.

Yesterday was another good lesson day. In typical Gus fashion, he was EXTREMELY stiff and lazy to get going but once sufficiently warmed up, he was moving fairly fluidly.

The lesson was a repeat (minus the cavalletti) from last week. We started off really working on getting Gus to move down and out, but not necessarily forward - or as forward as we'd like him to normally be. So, we began with three loop serpentines working on strictly flexion and giving to the bit in his jaw. I was instructed to not let go of the reins (ie loosen my contact) until Gus gave. It's amazing how much more responsive he became to the more subtle commands. B kept after me about my hands, as I kept giving and taking, without really getting any response from Gus. Like I told her though, it took YEARS to develop this bad habit, so it'll take a while to undo the damage.

We also worked on leg yields from quarter line to the rail at the trot, in an almost tear-drop like pattern. Meaning once we reached the rail we did a 15m circle and repeated the exercise. Trot work also included working on big figure-8s, getting Gus to really bend and flex at X, where the transitions occurred. We also did 1 loop serpentines, with a 10m circle back to the rail at X. Those really made Gus concentrate on bending and flexing in the correct direction.

In the canter, we again worked only on counter canter. B really feels that making him worked just a bit harder at the canter is better then making things too easy. If it's too easy, Gus just has to work that much less and is quicker to offload weight from his hind end... and it's in his hind end where we want him to be carrying more weight, not on the front. So, off we went on the counter canter. Very easy counter canter, just big ovals, but that made Gus really work on stretching down and out. Gradually we'll work on making Gus work in a more correct frame at the canter, but for now he just needs to maintain the canter (not switching leads - found out we do have a flying change hidden in there after all) and stay off his forehand.

So, my plan is to keep working on the same stuff during my own time. Maybe trying to toss in some 1 loop serpentines at the canter? We'll see. Definitely happy with the progress thus far.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Clipping Time!

I debated long and hard about clipping Gus again this year. Since the fall of 2002, Gus has been clipped in the fall, with the exception of the one year he spent at my in-laws, pre-wedding. It has made life so much easier for me and it's made Gus much more comfortable. He is likely the hairiest horse at the barn, probably has the most active sweat glands as well. Haha.

So today was D-day. I was armed and ready. Yesterday, I purchased two new #10 blades and with a recently acquired blade that was used just once to clip Hope, my parents' dog, I thought I'd be good and ready. Think again. By the time it was all said and done with, I had gone through all three new blades, plus about three old #10 blades that were dull along with three #10 WIDE blades. Uggh! Definitely should've washed Gus prior to clipping. That was my problem again this year. Like the saying goes, the difference between a bad clip and a good clip is two weeks. So just two weeks until Gus looks fabulous.

Without further ado, here's some photos from today. This first group is from before the clip.

And here he is, nearly four hours later. Uggh. Remind me to thoroughly WASH Gus next go around. As it only took an hour to do the front 2/3rds... and nearly three hours to do the rump. Uggh. 

I'm debating about getting up early tomorrow to ride before work. I don't have to be in until 1pm. So, if I drag myself outta bed by 7am, I'd have plenty of time to get a quick workout in before hand. 

I didn't update this blog at all after my lesson last week, but on Thursday I had another really nice ride on Gus. He was such a good boy. We basically did a copycat ride from the day before, just without the poles - I didn't want to drag them all out. 

Anyways, more to come. Here's hoping that Gus stays sound and keeps progressing forward.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Tonight I had an amazing lesson. It was our first lesson since (if I"m not mistaken) mid-August. Crazy! But Gus was truly amazing. We worked pretty hard, all things considered.

The lesson started off with some lunging, just to see what we were dealing with and to get Gus moving out and forward. Once the undersaddle work commenced, it was forward and flexing at the walk. And quiet legs! I have a major flaw of nagging Gus constantly - and I guess after nearly 12 years of ownership (and the development of a really bad habit) B wants to change that. So, quiet legs it was. And Gus was so much better because of that.

We worked on cavallettis and circles tonight. Starting off with the usual (haha) serpentines at the trot, we quickly proceeded to working with the cavalletti. B set the poles up down the center line, with three before X and three placed after X. The exercise was trot down the centerline, through the first set of poles, then a "figure-8" set of 10m circles, proceeded by continuing down the centerline through the final set of poles. Once we hit the long side, at E or B we through in a 20m canter circle. Rinse and repeat the other direction. Eventually we changed it up and instead of canter circles, we worked on moving off the leg (baby leg yields). Gus definitely does not want to move off the right leg (leg yielding to the left) ... but that's not really unusual.

We ended the evening with some canter work. First it was 15m canter circles on the short sides, followed by cantering down the long side on the second track. Followed by canter across the short diagonal and doing a few laps in the counter canter. Gus had a very hard time keeping the right lead canter going to the left (if I'm remembering that correctly). We ended up with some flying changes. Fun!

Regardless, Gus was a very.good.boy. tonight. I'm so very, very happy with him. He did get some banamine prior to our lesson, just to take the edge off. He'll be getting pre-med'd for the next few weeks, just as a preventative - though it'll be with bute.

The plan will be to keep working on keeping my legs quiet and getting Gus in front of my leg and flexing. We need to build his strength back up, so even if we don't have forward we need to have contact, connection and flexion. The forwardness will come with time. I'm not worried.

Now, next big question. Clip? or not to clip? Uggh!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Almost there...

But not quite. So the last time I was up on Gus was on Friday, the 7th, and we had a pleasant enough ride in the indoor. But it was far from perfect.

The truth of the matter is, while Gus isn't lame-lame he is off. B was giving a lesson in the indoor while I was riding, and during a moment of downtime for the other rider, I asked her what she thought. She agreed that he wasn't lame and thought that he looked "ouchy" and tenderfooted in the indoor. Heck, that was what I was dealing with back in August. Sheesh. Now I'm really not sure what to think but we both agree that there isn't any harm in continuing to work Gus, as long as he doesn't get any worse.

So, for the time being, Gus is back into work. Mostly walk/trot with a little canter thrown in for good measure. On Friday, we worked mainly on bending and suppling in the bridle. Granted, he would have benefited greatly from some lunge work, but that just wasn't feasible with the other rider riding. Just not enough room.

Wednesday will be the first time I've done a lesson on Gus since like August, I think. I know we did nothing in September... and I don't think there was much, if any, productiveness in August. Oh well, should be entertaining, to say the least. I would really like to work with some cavalletti again, to really get Gus stretching out and over his topline. Maybe I'll suggest that to B. Regardless, I'm dreading the "cooling out" period with Gus. He's a hairy beast right now and just the thought of work makes him sweat. Uggh.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's October and it's 80 outside!

Nothing like having an Indian Summer. It's been absolutely GORGEOUS these last few days. And rumor has it, the weather is supposed to last until the weekend. For like the 8th day in a row, temperatures have been in the mid-70s to low 80s. Absolutely perfect! I can't complain at all, except that I'm stuck at work. Which stinks.

On Monday afternoon and again Tuesday morning, I had some nice rides on Gus. Granted I wasn't really able to gauge his soundness, but we were riding outside. So who cares? Gus was definitely sound enough to do some w/t/c in the grassy fields. We even threw in a few gallops stretches (we're talking a dozen strides or so) for good measure. Gus was definitely feeling up on Monday, as he proceeded to attempt to dump me about three or four times. Silly boy.

The plan is to ride again tomorrow, but this time (unfortunately) I need to work Gus in the arena to see what I'm really dealing with. We tried riding in the outdoor arena, but he still had some issues with the footing. So not sure if it's just footing related or if he's still having some lameness issues. The indoor arena should give me those answers. For what it's worth, Gus seemed content working outside. He was much better on Monday then he was on Tuesday, but he was still comfortable both days.

In other news, Gus now has a turnout buddy again. This is the first time in about two years that Gus has been turned out with another horse. D got moved into Gus's turnout because his turnout was needed for another horse. D is also suffering with stifle issues, so hopefully the two boys won't play too rough. I really can't deal with another issue - not when we're finally getting to the root of the front end issues.

On Monday I went out to see Gringo again. I talked with my MIL a lot as well. Mainly about Gringo and his training and his lump. The lump, while still present, is going away - albeit slowly. I'm thinking about calling Anoka Equine and seeing about getting a vet out. Gringo is probably due to have his teeth floated anyways... I don't think it's been done in like three years (even though he's checked annually, at the minimum).

Regarding Gringo's training, MIL thinks (and I agree - WOW!) that he should be sent off for professionally training, once we're reached the point to get him under saddle. I think he'd truly benefit from someone else doing the initial saddle work. However, being nearly 9 (in February), hopefully the past is the past and getting him going under saddle will be simple enough. Knowing Gringo, though, that won't be the case. MIL thinks we should work with a "butt rope" to get Gringo used to having things up behind him. He does NOT like the butt rope and back when we were doing ground driving, we had more then our fair share of incidents involving a lunge line, his tail and bolting. You figure out the rest. Anyways, MIL wants me to start working with one again... wouldn't hurt anything, anyways. Well, except maybe me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Witches, Goblins and Christmas Ornaments, Oh My!

Well, today I opted to just take Gus for a spin outside. The weather was amazing - cool but sunny. Absolutely ideal fall weather, least in my opinion.

Tomorrow is the fall show at the barn, so everyone is getting everything ready. This also means that the cross-country course is decked out with fun decorations. This year, B (the BO) went over board. Everything looks amazing, but I'm SO GLAD that I won't be competing. There's no way that Gus would not look at the jumps. They are down right busy, in a non-obnoxious way.

Anyways, I took some photos during our ride. Nothing amazing... kinda hard to ride and take photos at the same time. I'm thinking about getting my mom to come to the barn next weekend, weather permitting, to take some photos of Gus and I. Since I wasn't able to compete at all this year, I never did get any nice photos of Gus and I. Heck, I need to get some new ones of Gringo and I as well...

Isn't the above jump just scary? Fortunately, there are jumps located on either side of the above jump. The baby beginner novice jump is off to the right, the beginner novice off to the left. So, they actually don't have to jump between the costumes. 

Gus was also decided to be a goofball this afternoon. This is what greeted me when I walked out to get him from his turnout this afternoon. Granted, these photos were taken after I had brought him into the barn. 

I personally thought he was trying for the unicorn look. So, I just added a bit of fluff to the ear piece and viola! Instant unicorn.

An no, I don't think Gus appreciated being decked out as a unicorn. Good thing that I didn't go searching for my Twinkle Toes hoof polish or body glitter. Haha. 

Gus was also delighted with the fact that he was able to enjoy an apple again today. He hasn't had one (to the best of my knowledge) in probably a good year or so. He does occasionally get pieces of an apple from the barn staff, but because of his insulin resistance and subsequent Cushings, I really monitor his diet closely. I figured since he was being such a good boy and I had a tasty Honeycrisp apple that was just beckoning Gus... well, the rest was history. As usual, I attempted to document it with photos... but they kinda ended up blurry. 

 Mmmm. An apple. 

 Hmm. It's a bigger apple then what I normally get. Wait! I don't get apples any more. 

 Shoot. I'm losing it! 

Mmm. Pure bliss. Pure satisfaction. Did I mention that I LOVE apples? Cause I do.

Oops! Not done yet. Least I'm getting a lot out of this apple. 


Nom. Nom.

<insert slurpping sounds>

<insert mega slurping sounds> Nom. Nom.

This is... nom. nom. ... very good.... nom. nom. 

<more slurping sounds>

It's hard to talk... got my mouth full...

Nom. Nom. 

<insert one final slurp>

Mmm. Tasty! I love me some good, crisp, juicy apples. Do you think I can be a spokeshorse for the Honeycrisp apples? Cause they are just amazing!