Sunday, February 24, 2013

Woot. Woot.

I had another great ride on Gus today. Same ol' warmup as usual - lunge work followed by shoulder stretches undersaddle plus the 10m half circles. Gus was really acting oddly today though. I do think his eyes are starting to bother him more and more though. He kept flinching when we went by the arena windows and the sunlight hit his eye ... definitely knew that eventually his sight would start to fail, but hopefully he overcomes this new obstacle like he does everything else.

Our trot work started off with 3-loop serpentines. Then I did the 20m, 15m, 10m spiral circles at B/E. We did this same exercise a couple months back and it really helps get Gus to sit down and work off his haunches. Gus definitely still wants to travel on his forehand, but thankfully if we slow down and I raise my hands up (think "saddleseat" hands) I can get Gus to rock back on his hindend and work properly.

Canter work wasn't anything special today. Just a 20m circle plus half a trip around the arena. Me and baby (yup, I'm expecting my first in July ... officially 20 weeks today!!!) just can't handle the rocking motion of the canter anymore. Gus was a good sport though and he had nice, clean transitions. I think canter work will mainly be on the lunge, least for the time being.

Surprisingly enough, I can now comfortably sit the trot again. Posting trot is nearly impossible ... can't get myself and my big butt (and belly) out of the saddle. So I just work on tightening my core and absorbing the bounce there. Seemed to help a lot and I thought our trot work was much improved, all things considered.

Gringo didn't get worked today, but he did get a nice, long grooming session. He is shedding like there's no tomorrow. It's ridiculous! I probably took off a small waste basket full of hair today. Gringo's always been an early shedder ... so that's nothing new. I just don't want to bring all of his hair home with me, especially considering that he's got grey hair and the interior of my car is black. Uggh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another day of success.

Today was another successful day out at the barn. I worked with Gus first and he was truly a superstar. He started off pretty rough again - very stiff with an up/down movement versus down/out movement but eventually he did work out of it.

Our under saddle work was the same basic principles as last time. We warmed up with some 10m figure-8 circles (we did the whole arena twice) followed up by another 1 1/2 laps of shoulder stretches, both directions. Once that was done, I asked for the trot. Trot work was interesting ... today Gus didn't attempt to avoid contact, but he didn't want to slow down and do a more "jog trot". I did eventually get him to sit down on his hind end and slow down, but it was definitely something I had to keep asking for.

So, for our trot work we ended up doing mainly 3-loop serpentines, at least to start with. That progressed to a few 20m circles and some long-sides.

Canter work was short and very sweet. I just wanted to see what I had to work with. I asked for the right lead canter first ... in the corner going into the short side of the arena. Gus was very obedient and picked up the lead right way. But it was a bit of a hot mess. Very unbalanced and kinda four-beated. Going to the left, I asked for the canter in the same spot and it was much more of a normal canter, least what's "normal" for Gus.

I ended Gus's work out on that note ... after asking for another couple trot laps. He was such a good boy today. Our workout consisted of 15 minutes of lunge work and 25 minutes of under saddle work. The goal is to slowly start working more and with greater intensity to get his strength built back up. I hope I can get there.

Gringo was a really good boy today too, all things considered. He was lame on the lunge to start with, so I opted to go right away to ground driving versus lunging first. Boy, he was just a mess ground driving though. I decided to work on leg yields again, as it's something that is difficult for Gringo (whereas most things he picks up right away). Well, they are still just a mess. He's much, much better leg yielding to the right then he is to the left, but he's still just a mess. Oh well.

We did have some fabulous half-halts though. Gringo was very, very quick to pick up that new command a few weeks back, in his last lesson. So I like to use it often ... although sometimes he's too quick and totally drops down a gait. But, at least he's thinking and hearing me. That's ALWAYS a plus.

At the end of our ground driving session, which was done exclusively at the walk, I did ask for the trot again to see if Gringo worked out of his lameness. And he looked like he had, least for the most part. So we did a few trot laps... working on getting him down and round and moving slowly. He did a FABULOUS job. Very, very proud of Gringo today. I honestly haven't worked with him in seriously, like 2 weeks. Glad this boy remembers things REALLY well.

Both boys had a new experience this afternoon. I used the shop vac and actually vacuumed both boys. Gus was a pro, like I knew he'd be. But Gringo surprised me. He was SO good. He was more afraid of the cord then he was of the really loud noise. Goofy horse. But I was happy to know I can use the shop vac in the future. Now to just figure how to blow instead of suck. Then I can blow out Gringo's winter coat, instead of brushing it out. :-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baby Steps

With small, practiced steps I think I've got my old boy back. Hallelujah!

Today was my first attempt at working with Gus under saddle again, least since he saw S almost a week ago for his massage/myofascial release therapy. We started off the "usual" way - with lunging. He was sound, but VERY stiff starting out. I opted to work him through the stiffness though to see where he went from there (if he got better or worse). Thankfully, he got better.

After attaching the side reins, Gus really wanted to plow around on his forehand - nose to the ground. I opted to keep letting him truck around like that ... as he seemed comfortable doing that, so I opted to let him keep doing his "thing". We had some nice trot to canter transitions today as well. A few crabby faces but I can certainly deal with that. Thankfully Gus opted to do no aerials above ground ... so he was taking it easy as well.

Mounting up, Gus and I set off to work on some suppling exercises. We did two circuits of the 10m half circles and then proceeded to do our shoulder stretches. We went 1 1/2 laps around the arena, both directions, working on getting Gus to loosen up his shoulders and back. He was quite resistant going to the right (so the left front was crossing over the right) but we did manage to work through it.

He did actually offer to trot well before I was ready to ask for it. So, I took that as a very positive sign. Eventually, I asked for the trot on the long sides ... first going to the left, then going to the right. And he was sound. THANK GOD.

I did notice that he kept trying to drop behind the bit and avoid contact ... even with the little bit of trot work we did. To try to correct this, I asked for a slower trot (think jog-trot) and had, what I call "saddlebred-hands". This helped tremendously.

We ended on a good note, after about 20 minutes of riding and about 5-10 minutes of trot work. Gus was an excellent boy today and I didn't want to push my luck.

I did do a few exercises prior to working with Gus today. They were recommended to me by S. One is a rib cage stretch ... or least that's the best way I can describe it. Basically one hand is on the shoulder, the other on the hip and you streeeeccccchhhh out your hands, slowly in opposite directions. Gus absolutely LOVES this and it's suppose to help keep things elongated. I also did some tail pulls too, just before mounting up. Gus seemed to like that too ... oddly enough.

Gringo was neglected today. I plan on working with him on Wednesday, when I'm out next. I do know that he's starting to shed like a crazy boy. It's crazy! But, that's Gringo for you. He always has to be different.

Here's some newish photos of the boys for your enjoyment.

Taken on Gringo's 10th birthday ... February 8th.


He prefers this look ... it's supposed to be intimidating, ya know?

Gus ... after his 1 1/4 hour massage and myofascial release therapy. Looks pretty happy, no?

Enjoying the new hay bale ... with the wind in his hair.

Gus (and Novio's) Pacman creation. They are QUITE proud. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Massage and Myofascial Release

Well, after talking to Dr. N on Tuesday about Gus ... she decided he could benefit greatly (possibly ... at least) by getting a massage done. She recommended S. I called S up and was (surprisingly) able to get Gus in the same day. So yesterday was Gus's "spa" day.

S and Gus got along pretty well. Actually, considering Gus's aversion (and rightfully so) to everyone but me and B, he was FABULOUS for S. She did a lot of slow work on Gus. It's called Myofascial Release and it works on the connective tissues. I guess it's supposed to be really beneficial to those who have some disease, whose name is escaping me at the moment. It starts with a "M" and basically you are diagnosed with it when nothing else seems to work/fit the equation.

S found NUMEROUS issues all over on Gus. Specific points of soreness include shoulders (around point of shoulder/shoulder joint), SI area, gluts, and a lot of tension/pain/issues around the last ribs & lumbar vertebrae.

Borrowed from Irish Horse Society's webpage.

She was able to work a lot of the soreness out of Gus and showed me a couple exercises/movements to incorporate into our everyday routine, to help keep Gus stretched and moving freely.

I'm really hoping that this helped Gus out ... a lot. I just can't afford much more treatment, unfortunately, if this didn't "cure" him. I probably will get one of the chiropractors back out sometime soon though, just to realign things again. I'm hoping to get Dr. K out again. She's much more sympathetic to Gus's plight then Dr. R.

The plan is to work Gus again this weekend and see how things go. I'm really hoping that he's moving better on the lunge ... and is sound enough for me to hop up on and do some teeny, tiny walk/trot laps around the arena. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Introducing Gus, the "Hothouse Flower"

Boy oh boy, if you didn't already know ... Gus is a very special horse and he's very delicate. And he's very, Very, VERY frustrating at times.

Yesterday was Wednesday, which makes it a well known fact that I usually have a lesson those days. Well, yesterday wasn't any different and I decided to pull Gus out of the pasture and see what we were working with.

Things started off pretty rough. He looked pretty comfortable w/t/c on the left, but switching to the right it became apparent that he was still off. B decided we should try to work him through it and boy did he. By the time I added the side reins on, he was moving so nicely on the right rein. So, I switched back to the left (like I always do) to finish up another five minutes with the side reins. And then he tripped.

Seriously. That's all he did. One bad step, and in the grand scheme of things it wasn't even a horribly bad step, but he was dead lame again. On the left. And he previously hadn't been off when going to the left. Bad step happened when he caught his left front toe ... look liked he kinda knuckled over a bit on that fetlock. But with Gus, who knows?

So, we tried the other direction again ... dead lame as well. Honestly, I've never met a horse that hurts himself as much as Gus does.

Back on bute he went ... I opted for 2g last night and this morning, and then 1g twice a day for the next six days. HOPEFULLY he pulls out of this one as it looks like the potential leaser (who I haven't heard from in nearly a month) is still interested.

Gringo got neglected yesterday but my plan is to work him Friday morning, as I don't have to head into work until 3pm. Gus will also be reevaluated on Friday.

Gus also got some new additions to his shoes ... some studs were added on Monday when J was out to reset him. Pretty nifty. The studs were only added in his heels, to help grab the ice should he slip. I'm hoping they help, and don't hinder, Gus. I guess with everything else, only time will tell. Photos to come soon. I promise.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gus and the Chiropractor

Well, as the title suggests, I was able to finally get a chiropractor out to see Gus this past Saturday. We had a new guy come out, we'll call him Dr.R. And, needless to say, Dr. R found a lot of things wrong with Gus. Besides being out in his withers and SI joint (and multiple places along his spine) Gus had quite a few ribs out. And putting those ribs back into place was not a pleasant task. My horse has turned into Hannibal Elector. He actually BIT the chiro! I couldn't believe it. Normally Gus misses but I guess this time he hit his mark. I was absolutely MORTIFIED.

Good news, though, is that I think the ribs plus the back being out of alignment were what was causing all of Gus's issues. I had meant to get out to the barn on Sunday, but opted to be lazy and just take photos of another horse south of town. Then I did some shopping (unsuccessfully) and got back home in time to watch "the big game". Blah. I could care less about football, but the commercials are usually pretty good. Only the Budweiser Clydesdales and the Dodge Ram commercials were good, least in my book.

Gringo still seems to be doing okay. We had a "lesson" last Wednesday. We primarily worked on learning how to do half-halts on the lunge. Gringo is such a smart boy! He figured them out fairly quickly. Sadly though, the half-halts don't quite make the same impression on him at the canter ... so we definitely need to work on that.

His new task he learned, in addition to the half-halts, was the start of leg-yields. Boy oh boy was that scary! Leg yielding to the R rail seemed to go fairly well. Going to the L rail? A disaster, of nearly epic proportions. He lost it. Multiple times. So, B suggested working in front of him and asking him to move over, gradually we'll start working more and more on that from the back. But, it's a start. He's a quick learner, so I'm sure he'll eventually figure out what it is I'm asking when we're going to the right (and he's moving L ... confusing, I know).

Anyways, today Gus was supposed to get his new studs in. So we'll see how those are working out for him when I'm out again on Wednesday. I plan on *hopefully* working Gus this Wednesday in my lesson. If all else fails, I'll do another lesson with Gringo. We'll see ... as I can't make it out to the barn until Wednesday anyways.

ETA: So, Gus didn't get his shoes and studs done until February 6th. Here's the photos from his last trim and reset. They are in their usual order.