2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back
|BB Pon standing well at the mounting block|
Hello fellow bloggers, I have crawled out of the dark shadows of my life that have been, and continue to be, filled with obstacles and challenges particularly difficult to overcome with the lack of light I seem to possess, but nevertheless I am joining the ‘useless chud at work’ party and taking a few moments to update my blog. I started this blog as a tracking mechanism for myself and my horses, and though it has been very lackluster this year due to literally sitting on a horse less than 20x since January 1st, I continue to do what I can, when I can.
|Hubby & Icy, Low Hunter Stakes Champions|
Kai. Oh Kai. My troubled soul; my problem child. My horse that should have been born a red head, and my glimmer of light at the end of a very, very, dark and scary tunnel.
While I bash my head on a wooden desk as I write this, Kai has not ‘really’ hurt herself since she moved to my new farm nearly 2 months ago. She’s still in exile in my round pen for fear she won’t ‘horse’ well in a large pasture on barbed wire, and it allows me to feed her additional grain every night to aid in her weight gain. For anyone familiar with the pricing of Buckeye, you’ll understand why I won’t risk her being in a pasture of other horses at feeding time.. but regardless, 3 weeks ago I rode the mare. I rode her 5 times. And it was ah-may-zinggggg.
I had rode Kai a few days prior at a walk for a few circles in my arena. I blogged about it and how the accomplishment felt, but other than swinging a leg over and walking a few circles, we didn’t really ‘do much’. I did, however, learn even more about her. The mare is a BEAN guys… a GREEN one! So I gave her a few days off due to my busy life, and the following week I decided to buckle down and make some progress with her.
Similar to my ride in the previous days, I got on in my arena post-lunging, and walked her a few circles. This time I asked a little more, and rode with a little more assertion when she got sticky. I kept it short with a lot of praise, all the while having serious ‘wtf’ moments in the back of my brain. How did someone gallop this horse? How did no one DIE?! She literally felt like Kidd did the very first day I got on his back when I started him under saddle. Confused of the bit, dead to the leg, rooting, pulling, gaping, and all the general fuckery that goes with babies.. but alas, I found a good note and dismounted; beaming.
|Tied to her pole of shame|
Motivated from the day before, it dawned on me – you have a round pen, idiot. Now, if you missed it in previous posts, I am blessed to have a 100 x 200 ft sand outdoor arena. The footing is super, apart from the never ending supply of rocks, but there is no fence around it. It’s a little unnerving on green horses, or horses in general if you’re a nervous-nelly, which I can sometimes be. I don’t know why I never thought of using the Round Pen before for working horses in; I guess because Kai and Icy were turned out in it as a paddock, and it morphed into that. Regardless, I tied Icy to the conveniently located hitching post, and got to work. Today I round penned her instead of lunged her. I have never round penned her before, but either she’s very intuitive or she has been round penned in the past. We worked through all 3 gaits and both inside and outside turns. We ended with join up, and some snuggles. I bridled her, and we practiced standing at the mounting block before I swung a leg over. Feeling a little more confident after our join up and snuggles, plus having a solid fence around us, I pushed her a little more. We did quite a lot of trot, and it didn’t take long for me to determine she’s very dull to the leg. It’s not uncommon that race horses be on either end of the leg pressure spectrum, and to be honest I would prefer she be a little more behind the leg than spooking and bolting every time I touch her. I realize some people may be like ‘girl.. no..’ but I have very strong legs, and don’t typically have a problem in the ‘forward’ department. Plus, I know in this case it’s just lack of knowledge on Kai’s part, rather than being ‘dull to the aids’, so to speak. She just doesn’t know. Which gives me something to work on. Today I rode her for about 30 minutes, and felt like by the end she was really starting to understand the bit, and was even willing to give to the contact a little and step up into my hand rather than just brace and lean on the bit at any sign of pressure. I did ask her to canter which was met with a “I don’t wanna” sewing machine trot and pinned ears, so I decided to leave it alone as the footing was compromised with poop and I would rather address it in a larger space. Regardless, I dismounted again, beaming.
|We go ride now?|
Kai’s day off. Or was it? I came home from work and she whinnied at my car as I drove past the round pen; instinctually looking for an injury she was bound to have developed because heck, I rode her 2 days in a row – something needs to go wrong. I told myself ‘she’s fine, go put your feet up and enjoy the day off’. Funnily enough, I compared to that whole ‘you sleep when the baby sleeps’ motto for new moms, but I found myself continually looking out the window at Kai, and with a smile forming in the corner of my mouth I threw my shoes on and headed outside. I was just going to brush her, and do a little ground work, that’s ‘fine’ for a day off for her. But actually, it didn’t last long. Within 10 minutes she and I were bored, and I thought I would try something totally risqué and daring. Something she’d never done before, and something I would have never done on Kidd at this stage in the game. I rode her bareback in a halter… and guys, she was great. I tied the lead rope around to resemble reins and did some practice ‘whoa’s before I got on. She tolerated me gripping and slipping as I attempted to scramble onto her back, which included a knee or two to the hip (sorry girl) with a ‘what the hell is happening’ look to her, but she stood stock still nonetheless. Upon getting on, I wrapped my legs around and asked her to move forward. My question was ‘answered’ with another question… ‘what? You sure?’. So I encouraged the sweet mare on, and she rode just like she did the day before. She didn’t much care for the bareback trot (AKA bareback flop) and given her lack of topline I asked for trot both ways once and brought her back to a walk after a few strides, for both our sake. I dismounted again but this time I wasn’t just beaming, I was absolutely ecstatic.
Today I came home from work with the plan to ride like earlier in the week. I rode her in the round pen again, and after about 10 minutes I asked my hubby to open the gate and I was going to ride her through and into the arena. I was curious how she would do walking through the gate. On the ground she’s been fine, but this was something different. Would she bolt? Would she plant her feet? She is a little funny about doorways, so I really wasn’t sure. I rode to the gate quiet and relaxed, but ready to grab mane if I needed to. She stopped; looked confused, but then walked through with ease. I walked her across the driveway and into the arena and she felt super. We rode a large rectangle with rounded corners; not right to the ‘imaginary rail’ as I really wanted to move her off my legs. Not overly surprisingly, to the left she felt quite straight, but to the right she felt like a drunk person stumbling home after a fun night out but it got better as we went on. I trotted the long sides and walked the short sides, patted her and dismounted. As I untacked and brushed her down, I reflected on how fast she is advancing. That green bean that was utterly confused by bit pressure seemed to be gone. She was still inconsistent in the contact, but heck – we had nice contact… and brakes… and we sort of steer! This little filly was proving to me fricken awesome. I was absolutely smitten.
Today resembled similar to Day 4. I rode her in the round pen, as a good friend looked on. She had never seen me ride Kai; she saw her loose in the arena once and a few times standing in the paddock begging for food, but that was it. She commented on how ‘fricken nice’ she is, and how ‘great she looks’, and I blushed as I continued to walk and trot around the round pen. I asked her to open the gait for me, and I rode her out to the arena while said friend went out to the field to catch her horse. I walked around, and upon my friends return, asked her to take some video. I picked up the trot, and Kai started okay but quickly became what I like to call, flat-ass lame. Frick. As my friend looked on, she encouraged me to keep trotting her, as she felt it looked inconsistent and fake, but after 5 minutes I brought her back to a walk and got off. Expecting to see a large rock wedged into her sensitive sole, I was surprised that her feet were mostly clean. Regardless, I got off, feeling a little deflated and confused.
|Hubby & Icy at a clinic the weekend before she went out on Trial|
The following day was Farrier day. My regular farrier had a C-Section and is off, so my friend suggested we get her old farrier out. He’s not a ‘great’ farrier, but he was the only one available. I reluctantly agreed as I weighed the cons between overdue feet, and subpar farrier jobs. I still think I made the right decision in having him do my horses, but I wasn’t happy with the job he did. I decided to put front shoes back on Kai, and unfortunately by Sunday she was still lame. I was going out of town on Wednesday for a brief holiday and was forced to deal with getting everything ready to go prior to then, so I was limited with horsey time. Kai’s soundness seemed to improve in the early week days, but she still wasn’t 100%. I was frustrated and upset, but upon my return from Holidays the following week, she was back to normal. No swelling or heat was ever present, so I’m hoping it was a stone bruise on my overly sensitive mare’s foot. Regardless, I got a new chiropractor out to see her and after a bit of a run-around, we were finally able to connect.
Kai was a hot mess yesterday, and I found it interesting that there are still certain things that seem to cause traumatic flash-backs for her.. be it from her race track life, I can’t say for sure, but she’s slowly improving in that regard.. however the Chiropractor appointments still seems to be a ‘trigger’, and when she’s in pain, she gets very reactive. As the Chiro worked with her very sore and out of alignment SI’s, she continually tried to snap and bite at me, and even reared once. She danced and pawed and looked like a psychotic TB that they’re so badly shamed for. This was the horse I recently rode bareback in a halter and was lazy as could be, and she was a total whack job.. Once the adjustments were over and she moved onto Pressure Release Points, Kai’s eye changed, she took a deep breath, and finally relaxed. The Chiropractor was excellent for being understanding as Kai continued to try and kick her every time she got near her hind end, and she repeatedly said “I know, I’m here to make you feel better” – which I found some relief in.
To sum things up, Kai was a trainwreck of structural imbalance. Her entire spine was curved to the left, both SI’s were out and her pelvis was twisted. The only thing that wasn’t out of alignment were her shoulders and lower limbs; everything else was out. The chiropractor has advised me to hand walk her in straight lines or large (20+ meter) circles at a moderate/forward pace and back her up often. She feels as though she will likely be quite muscle sore for a few days, and wants to see her when she’s back next month for a follow up appointment. I complied, and plan to book an appointment with my voodoo lady. She doesn’t actually do voodoo but I call her that, lol. She does energy work and uses tuning forks and acupressure and is the only person to ever make my back feel ‘good’, and she works on horses as well. I have never had her work on a horse, but 2 friends have been using her regularly for theirs and absolutely swear by her. So between her being sore, and the recent dump of 6” of snow right after disc-ing up my arena and my round pen now being full of poop, I don’t really have anywhere suitable to ride. Luckily, the snow is supposed to melt in the next day or so, and hopefully I can climb back on Kai this weekend, but time will tell. We have been so busy with farm work, trying to prep for winter, that it hasn’t left a lot of time for extracurricular activities!
In other news, Kidd is still obese and has gained some extra attention by gorging himself on foxtails and having them get embedded in his teeth, and Icy is currently out on a trial with a Pony Club family for 3 more weeks, so fingers crossed they fall in love! We have the Vet coming up on November 7th and I will be getting Coggins and Vaccines done on both Kidd and Kai in case I decide to board them at the arena this winter, and Kai will also be getting her teeth done.