Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working "out of it".

Well, Gus is slightly off still on the, what seems to be, left fore. However the more and more B and I look at him the more and more we think it's higher up (say shoulder/back/etc). And as he's done in previous weeks, he did eventually work out of most of the stiffness.

We started off on the lunge and unlike the previous weeks, Gus decided to attempt to kill me again. I lost track of how many times I had hooves flying at my head ... I guess Gus was feeling frisky with the cooler weather. Oh well. I'm used to it.

Once we got past that and started on the undersaddle work, it became evident that Gus wasn't 100% on the left - or at least with the left front. Funny thing was, it was worse going to the right then to the left. Because of that, B thinks we're dealing with something higher up ... perhaps chiropractic will help. I guess I need to save up for that again.

Lesson-wise, we worked on serpentines again and trotting on the second track. We started off with 3 and 4 loop serpentines at the trot. Once those were going well and Gus was starting to loosen up, we proceeded to work on the quarterline/second track. The goal with straightness - and umm, we didn't quite manage that at first but by the end of the exercise we had the straightness almost nailed. We also did some changes across the diagonal using the smaller arena that was set up by working off the quarterline. Those helped Gus stay focused and balanced, with most of his weight back on his hindend.

Canter work started and ended on the quarterline/second track. The objective was straight, balanced and supple. We just about nailed that too. The hardest part was half-halting upon approaching the short side and doing the sorta-kinda turn-on-the-haunches to get a square turn. Gus was much better at the end ... and we actually had some nice canter work on his bad side (aka right side).

This weekend is the show at the barn again. I'm hoping to get a lot more photos on Friday of all the ponies, so stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Okay, final post for today (Monday). Last Friday Gus finally got his hooves trimmed. He was at just over 9 weeks out and desperately needed to be reset. I guess J finally was able to catch up on horses.

Here's Gus's pretty hooves, three days post trim.

We'll see if his soundness improves with the trim/reset. He was not the greatest, soundness-wise, last week when I had my lesson. I wasn't able to ride today (because I spent HOURS clipping him) so my plan is to head out to the barn tomorrow morning and get in a quick ride before work. I'm hoping he's doing much better with the reset. 

Gringo Time!

So, a long overdue update on the younger Mr. G.

Gringo had his hooves done this morning - I think he was at 9.5 weeks this time. I did tell L that Gringo is moving at the end of October, so we're switching to the other farrier while he's at B's. L understood and wish me and Gringo luck over the winter months. I truly am excited to start working with him more.

Here's the photos from today's trim:

Not sure what happened to the lateral shot of the LH. Oops - I must have deleted it.

After his trim, I put Gringo to work on the lunge line. We worked on walk and trot with and without side reins. Overall, he was a good boy. Forgot the meaning of "whoa" for the first 10 minutes but he eventually remembered his manners. After a little work on the lunge, we went for a handwalk around the property. Again, he was a very good boy.

After all that work, we had another impromptu photoshoot in the barn. Camera phone - not the nice DSLR. Here's Gringo working the camera.

Looks like I got Laura, a friend and fellow boarder, to move Gringo for me at the end of next month. We are  tentatively planning on moving him the last Friday of the month. Fingers crossed that we can make that date (or the day before) work.

Clipper Time

Uggh. I had really hoped that this season, things would go as planned. But of course, that wasn't to be the case. I was prepared and had four new blades purchased and ready to go. Gus had a bath this morning and was spotless. I don't think he's been that clean in a long time. And what happened? Multiple blades decided not to work. Again.

Well, four hours or so later, I finally had him done. Sad thing was, I ended up just doing a trace clip - kinda modified to suite me and Gus's workload, but still should not have taken that long.

Here's the  few images I was able to capture.

You can just see on the edge of the frame where the clip lines are. Basically, his neck, chest, belly and half of his back are clipped. I left his rump and back legs alone.

My favorite picture.

So, hopefully this clip will work for Gus. It'll sure beat handwalking him for hours to cool off after our lessons in the evening, that's for sure.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Western Dressage, English-style

Well, yesterday I had another nice lesson on Gus. We're working him in a more "western dressage" style frame and mindset. Frame may be too harsh of a word, but basically we're aiming for a more down, round and slow job then a more powerful trot. And Gus is finally getting it. Success!

After an extended lunge session, due to Gus being off in the left fore (long toes perhaps?), we cleared him to work to see if we could work though whatever it was that was bothering him. Gus being the trooper he is, didn't have any problems once he was sufficiently warmed up.

Trot work consisted of lots of serpentines again. First we did three-loop, then four-loop and finally, ended with a five-loop serpentine. I've never done a five-loop serpentine, let alone in the tiny indoor arena (it's 20 x 40). Gus was really good for the trot work, least once he figured out what it was I was asking for. Carrying a majority of his weight on his hindend was NOT something that Gus enjoyed, but he was a good sport nonetheless.

Canter work was fairly simple and meant to be easy. It consisted of cantering on the second track down the long sides and then trotting the short sides. Problem was, going to the right Gus kept falling to the outside and pulling like a freight train. I was able to fix that with some creative use of the dressage whip - mainly on Gus's left hind and rump. Worked like a charm. Going to the left, we had a whole 'nother set of issues. Gus was bracing against the bit and trying everything he could to just be an a**. Thankfully, he figured out rather quickly that it was less work and less effort to just behave and go like the good horse I know he is, rather then behave like a green 3 year old.

Gus STILL has not been reset. He is supposed to be reset (9 1/2 weeks later) tomorrow. I guess I'll find out over the weekend, when I'm out next, if he was done or not. Due to the extreme wind we had yesterday (sustained winds of 30+ mph, gusting upwards of 40) I wasn't able to get any photos of Gus. I'm hoping to do so on Monday.

Also on Monday is CLIPPER time. I can't wait. Actually, I can wait. But, hopefully this year I'll be more successful. I just spent $100 on four new clipper blades and plan on giving Gus a very warm, sudsy bath on Sunday. I'll definitely have photos to post pre- and post- clipping. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is here, sadly.

Sadly, the end of summer has "officially" come to an end. About three weeks ago, the "unofficial" end of summer came after Labor Day. Here in Minnesota, most primary schools start the day after Labor Day and that's kinda when everyone starts wrapping things up - closing down the cabins, bringing in the boats, removing the docks. However, due to Mother Nature's generosity, we had an extended summer with temperatures still reaching the 80s yet last week. Now, it's frigid. Well, relatively speaking.

So, yesterday I had my first ride on Gus in nearly a week. He STILL has not had his hooves done - it's been 9 weeks today. Rumor has it, the farrier will be able to do him on Friday. Fingers MAJORLY crossed that he'll finally get reset then. Otherwise, I think I'll need to find someone else. And as much as I love female J, she just didn't go a good job with Gus ... so I'll have to ask the vet for a recommendation. I suppose I should find out from B if I can even have an outside farrier come. I've always just used who the barn provided because they did adequate work.

Anyways, back to yesterday's ride. Despite the fact that the ground was hard as rocks and Gus was three weeks overdue, he was actually really, really good. He tripped quite a bit due to his long toes (and loose shoes) but he was a trooper.

We rode outside in the cross-country field and basically worked on the canter - and the trot. The trot is coming along nicely - we're working hard on getting a nice "jog" trot versus a nice working trot that you'd get in the "english" ring. With a slower trot, Gus is able to stay more balanced and rocked on back on his hindquarters. If he goes too fast, he just falls flat on his face (aka forehand).

The canter was REALLY nice. Granted we had quite a few trips and hiccups (mainly with his backend) but I think those were all related to the ground and the desperate need to be reset. He was willing to bring the canter back to a nice, slow canter and seemed to stay up in the bridle, least for the most part.

I brought my camera with me today, so I'm hoping to snap a few shots of Gus outside ... Still need to figure out a time to have M (another boarder) meet me at the barn to take photos of me riding Gus. She was the only one who volunteered to be my photog for the day. Super excited!

Gringo's been on the back burner as of late. He's also 9 weeks out, post-trim and will be getting his hooves spiffed up next Friday (so at 10 weeks). He doesn't seem to have too many issues stemming from infrequent trims, although once he's back at B's he'll be on a 8 week schedule, I think. J, female J, will be doing Gringo. I asked her the last time I saw her and she said she would. She has a lot more patience then the other J, and she's a female. I'm hoping her and Gringo will work out okay.

Hopefully, I'll have a bunch of photos to post here in the following days. I took a couple nice ones on my cell phone last night, but haven't uploaded them yet.

ETA: Finally got those long awaited photos uploaded. Here's a recap of some images from our ride.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pony Time!

Today was an amazing day ... and a PERFECT day to spend with my ponies. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, only Gus benefited from some one on one time today. Hope to hit the barn and see Gringo this weekend. 

Despite being WAY overdue for a trim (not my fault ... farrier has been out for the last two weeks with back issues) Gus is still sound. We had a nice ride outside today in the cross country field. Basically, we just trotting around doing serpentines for a while, with some walk and canter thrown in for good measure. Just a beautiful day to be outside on a horse.

Hoping that Gus gets his hooves trimmed this week or early next week. His shoes are barely hanging on, as it is. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Riding Recap

Yesterday and today I had two amazing rides on Gus. Lesson day was yesterday and for the first time in a month, heck since before then even, Gus was really really good.

I started with lunge work, as per our usual, but I made the decision to NOT canter on the lunge. Typically when I ask for the canter on the lunge, we get the whole BFB ordeal. NOT worth it ... I just don't want to stress out that soft tissue injury. We had NICE lunge work yesterday and again today. I did a lot of walk work to start with before I even asked for a trot. Once I asked for the trot, I had a nice, gorgeous, floaty trot. LOVED it.

Once the undersaddle work started, the objective was a nice, slow jog trot. Gus was offering a nice, big trot but like B stated, if Gus starts trucking too fast, he falls on this forehand and that defeats the whole purpose of everything. So slow and steady it is.

The whole lesson was spent on getting Gus moving straight, relative to each movement. Basically, we spent the entire lesson on serpentines - sometimes the loops were true bend, others were on the counter-bend. Whatever the exercise was supposed to do, I think it worked. Gus had a lot more suspension ... more then he's ever had before. I just loved the trot we had. Today, wasn't as nice ... but still nice enough trot work.

Canter. Boy was that interesting. Yesterday was much better then today, but still difficult both days. The canter work consisted of basically just canter the second track down the long sides working on being as Much more difficult then one would think.

But all in all, two very nice rides these last two days.

On another note, J still hasn't been out to reset Gus's shoes. Looks like it'll be next week sometime before he's able to make it out again. Gus's shoes are holding, but barely. I just hope we don't loose any hoof if they come off prematurely.

ETA: Here's some photos taken on the 5th, post ride. It was a BEAUTIFUL sunset. Wish I had my "real" camera with to capture some nicer images, but these work well enough - just don't do Gus or the sunset justice.

Gus modeling some ice boots. He's stylin'.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today is game day.

Well, after having two nice, light, hacking sessions with Gus since last Wednesday, today we'll see where his soundness truly lies. Our first ride back after the latest break was on Saturday morning, followed by another ride later on Monday. Both times it was just a nice, easy [mainly walking] ride outside in the fresh air. Gus was on his best behavior and it was a very enjoyable ride. However ...

I have not lunged Gus or worked with him in the indoor since last Wednesday. I didn't want to stress the front legs by pounding him into the ground on trot circles (or worse yet, him behaving like a lunatic doing the BFB movements) so it's truly hard to distinguish how sound Gus really is. Outside, he felt fairly even or in his case, consistently uneven aka stiff. The few times I did ask for the trot, we had nice steps but it's really hard to be sure what I was feeling was real, as the ground is currently hard as rocks and uneven itself.

So, plan for tonight is to warm up with some light lunging ... HOPEFULLY Gus won't be an idiot. If he is, well time will be cut super short. I'm hoping that we (B and I) can work on some exercises to increase Gus's flexibility and suppleness. I guess we'll see what happens when it happens.

Forgot to mention, but after the last two rides and even last Wednesday, after every workout session, I've been cold-hosing and then ice booting Gus's LF leg. Not sure if it helps a lot, but makes me feel like I'm doing something for him. After about 10-20 minutes of the ice boot (couldn't tell you how long exactly cause I'm usually running around doing other things while he's chilling in the cross-ties), the leg is nice and tight and COLD. Secretly, I think Gus really enjoys it. Funny boy.

On to more pressing news, Gus still has not has his shoes reset. Really stinks but I guess J is out with a really bad back [injury?]. We're all hoping he gets well very fast. I guess he's got over 200 clients and well, we're all frantic to get our horses hooves trimmed again. Thankfully, the shoes are holding well enough and with the ground being rock-hard, I believe that's benefiting Gus ... as long as he's not having to try and stomp flies away. Hoping the new shoes come within the next week or two.

Then, on to even BETTER news. Gringo is moving back to B's as of November 1st. I'm SO EXCITED. And even stranger yet, so is the MIL. Yippee! Reason why Gringo is moving back is because I truly would like to get him started under saddle and there is absolutely no way I'll get that accomplished with him living out at their place, the in-laws, that is. We're losing daylight as I type and with my work schedule and the barn(s) in relation to work and home, it just makes a lot more sense to have him at B's for the winter. The plan, therefore, is to keep him at B's over the winter and go from there. I truly hope he stays sound enough for light work ... so, please cross your fingers!

More news to come. Eventually. When I'm not so dang tired and stuck at work. :-)