Monday, May 25, 2015

Honor Memorial Day

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Well, Okay Then...

So on my editorial calendar today was a note instructing me to write a blog post about Lady and our adventures since the endurance ride.

I hate to type this out... but there have been no adventures since the endurance ride.

Yes, I know. Bad, lazy horse mom, poor Lady, etc, etc.
Well, I've been reading Lauren's posts lately... and I totally empathize with you, Lauren! I live about six/seven hours north of her, and the rain has just been AWFUL. It has been raining almost every single night, I've had to watch the road very carefully on my way to work in case the water is running over it. And when you consider that I live 4 miles from work, that can get a little irritating.
The horses currently live in what would best be described as a swamp.

I suppose I could brave the mud and do some riding at the walk. I could still do groundwork with Comanche. I could do a lot of things, considering that its usually somewhat sunny during the day.
But I hate the mud.

And I've been feeling pretty burned out lately. One of the things I didn't touch on in my posts about the endurance ride was that Lady and I were SO ready to go to our respective "rooms" and just do nothing by the time we got home.  I suppose you could say that we were a little tired of each other.
You see, Lady lives 24/7 on pasture with other horses. I check on her every day, but she never gets worked every day, and never for more than an hour or so at a time.  So for her, being constantly on a lead rope for almost 48 hours straight was super frustrating. She enjoyed the ride, she was very well behaved, but she wanted her freedom to graze at will, she wanted to wander, and she wanted to be alone.  She expresses that behavior in the pasture as well - many times bullying Tempest off for a few minutes by herself.
On my part, I treasure my alone time, and my patience limit isn't necessarily the best. I worked very hard over the weekend to make sure that Lady got as many of her "needs" fulfilled as possible, and I never ever lost my temper with her (slightly frustrated, yes, but nothing showed).  That meant that I was pretty worn out by the time we got home on Sunday.
Since then, I've been tired. I feel kind of like I want a short break from everything because having three horses at home means I never actually get a break.
So anyway... that's my lame attempt at explaining why I've been so absent from blogging lately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Endurance Ride Recap, Part Two

When I left off last time, we had tacked up and were preparing to head out. I had decided to sign up for the intro ride, which would be approximately 11 miles long. Easy enough for Lady and me.

Before officially heading out, we explored at the trail heads a little bit. Lady had a small melt down (okay, a pretty big one for her) about being alone the first time we got a little bit behind. We worked through it that time, however.
There wasn't a whole lot else to do, so we checked in with the managers and set off "officially".  R decided to start out by doing some interval fitness training. Even though Lady and I were capable of keeping up, I was far more concerned with the training side of things. We've been focusing so much on rhythm in our rides at home, so I was insisting on at least some basic rhythm even in the new and different environment.
Anyways, we fell behind R and her horse a little bit and Lady and I had a long conversation about staying calm even when we are alone. Her trot would get very quick and erratic in her excitement, so I insisted on a walk and as long as we remained in the walk and she listened to my steering, we were good. She got the hang of it pretty quickly, and made me quite proud. After that discussion, she did a SO much better and I felt comfortable cantering her.

A rather unflattering picture of me, courtesy of R.
About 1-2 miles in, Lady started having some confusion. We had a pretty long area where we were following a gravel road, and Lady really dislikes gravel. For about 30 minutes, she could not decide which direction she wanted to go - whether to follow our buddies, or to head back towards camp. Crazy horse. I think part of the indecision on her part was due to the more open area. In the forest spots, the trails were quite narrow and it was easy to just keep going forward.
Most of the 11 miles was uneventful. We did a lot of walking, along with some trotting. The area had been under rain for about two days prior to the ride, and there was a lot of mud. Also sand. Several portions of the trail were thick sand, which gave Lady a little bit of trouble, especially when cantering. And there were also hills, so we both got some practice with that.
In several of the open areas, I let myself have some crazy fun and I allowed Lady to "go fast".  Thus ensued several races between R and myself. I can be such a control freak sometimes, so giving Lady the freedom to gallop was exhilarating and at the same time liberating. I don't regret a moment of that. :)
We finished the 11 miles in 2 hours, 45 minutes.
I never got any cramps or anything weird like that, even though the ride was lots longer than we usually go. I did get stiff at times, especially in my lower back and my legs. Dropping my stirrups here and there as well as riding in two point/really dropping weight into my heels helped a ton.

After making it back to camp safely and getting through the vet check, Lady was pretty tuckered out. Not to say that she was exhausted... she wasn't sweaty at all by the time we got back to camp, but it was a long ride and more challenging than anything we usually do. She didn't have any issues with being tied to the trailer and sleeping. In fact, she more or less stood and slept for about four hours after we got back. Poor tired pony.

Overall, a fun, fun weekend. We intended to ride again Sunday morning, but R's horse was slightly off in one leg and I wasn't about to take Lady out on my own. Not while I was doing my best to make everything the best experience possible. For both of us.

And since we got back... its rained so often and so much, that I haven't ridden at all. Blegh.

But that was our first endurance ride!  We made it back alive and we succeeded!  And I really enjoyed the event, so endurance is definitely staying on my radar for the future. I'm considering training for a 25 miler yet sometime.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Endurance Ride Recap, Part One

I'm a week late with this update, I know.  Sorry.  And I didn't really get pictures, so you'll have to do a little imagining.

So Friday afternoon we loaded up and hauled out. Lady was hesitant to load, but we put the second horse on first and with a little quiet persistence, she hopped on without too much fuss.  I was actually very very very impressed with how well she traveled. We had to replace two tires on the trailer on the way down, drove through a hellish thunder storm, and even got kind of lost, all of which turned a 2.5 hour trip into a full 4 hours. She stayed quiet and calm the entire time and came off the trailer beautifully.  I was so proud.  :)
We walked around some to let her eat (in the dark, mind you) and although she was a little "up" because of other horses and the new place, she minded her manners. We had to tie to the trailer for night, and using a long rope for Lady ended up not being the best set-up. At 5:30 in the morning, my horse was returned to me, having broken the snap on her rope and spent part of the night on an escapade.  *sigh*  At least she didn't get into trouble.

Since I was up at 5:30, I just stayed up and gave Lady a really good grooming. By 7 we were tacked up and ready to go, and my horse is seriously the best creature in the whole wide world because other than neighing at the other horses around and being interested in eating grass, she was very very well behaved.

Tomorrow I'll write about how the actual ride went.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Crazy Mode

I had a specific post planned for yesterday, and one for today too, but you'll have to forgive me for not writing them and so forth.

Instead, enjoy Lady's conformational shots from yesterday, and my imitation of a fun arena to play in over the spring/summer.

Now excuse me for a few days... We leave tomorrow for Athens as soon as I get off of work and we can load the horses up. At the very least we'll be running an 11 mile intro ride on Saturday, unless I decide to be brave and sign up for th 25 mile. We'll see!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring Fitness: Health Checkup!

Obviously, if you're going to be bringing your horse back into work after a cozy winter of blankets and time off and/or snuggly easy rides, its a good idea to do at least a basic health checkup to make sure all the pieces are still in the right place and that everything is oiled and ready to roll.
Some people prefer just to get their vet out for spring vaccinations, coggins test, teeth work, etc.  That's all I ever did, when I did anything at all.

This spring, because of my plans to go to an endurance ride, Lady definitely needed her coggins done as well as a health certificate, that way we could.. you know... go somewhere?
Plus the baby horse needed to be gelded, so I just arranged a farm call and decided since I was spending the money, why not? I added a full-blown health/nutrition/flexion exam to the bill for The Mare.

So, two weeks ago, my girl had her first exam in the whole time I've had her. Yeah... we've done all the regular stuff, but I had never had a vet come look at my horse for the sake of looking at my horse.

All the normal stuff was just fine. Her heart is super strong and healthy, all her gut sounds were great, and there was no hint whatsoever of any sand in there, which made me very happy!  (Don't ask me why, but I've always had a vague worry about sand colic or something. Go figure.)

We did some conformational studying, and the vet confirmed what I already knew about Lady's hind end being her "weak link".  It's not something we have to worry about at all, but he did warn me against breeding her without professional guidance.

He spent a lot of time on her hooves, and pronounced all but one to be in very good shape. Her left front hoof has always had issues with flaring and ridging, which I told him about and he did some poking around on it. What he told me is that her heels are underrun on that foot, which is causing a breakover. The angle is actually pretty bad, which he said is causing strain on the tendons/ligaments of that leg. We also figured out that because of that, she is overloading the opposite (right hind) hoof, which just so happens to be the one hoof that she hates picking up and also gets stiff on most often. Mind. Blown. :P
Anyways... he gave me some trimming techniques, as well as some corrective shoeing hints to talk with my trimmer about. She'll be coming out this week to work on Lady's feet. I've got my fingers crossed that she is open to the vet's advice and we can work together as a team to get this resolved. (Hoof professionals in this area... seriously. They're all so closed-minded towards vets.)

Anyways, we went on to do a flexion test, and although she was just barely stiff on all her fetlocks/hocks (as expected), she was definitely sore on that left front leg. Again, due to that problematic hoof!
Dental check was all good. Lady needs her teeth floated within the year, most likely, but nothing to be concerned about, just maintenance.

All in all, he told me I have a very nice, healthy horse and that I'm doing a pretty good job of caring for her. So nice to hear that!!  That hoof is the only issue that I need to take care of, and its not going to be a big deal to fix. It'll just take some time. But I got the go ahead for the endurance ride, and pretty much whatever I want to do this summer.

What do you do before starting back up in the spring?