Sunday, January 28, 2007
Lovely day today except for the lack of real sunshine.
The ring footing was great, so I had a nice school on Tucker. Quite an improvement since yesterday's work since he was far more willing to carry himself. He kept his head down on all his canter departs and only laid his ears back once when I put on some really strong aids to get him to turn correctly.
It will be interesting to see what Patrice Edwards has to say about his training. I haven't had a lesson in months, and my primary input has been from Chris, so having another set of eyes and perspective to give us feedback will be great.
I then rode Chance. He is a riot. I got on, headed round the arena, and as soon as we reached the gate to the trail, he stopped, didn't want to turn away and just kept insisting we go out. That was not the plan as I wanted to school him a bit. I think he heaved a big sigh of resignation and off we went around the ring.
Today turned into a steering lesson. He really likes to take the bit on the right side and try to yank it out of my hand. And he is very reisistant to turning in that direction. Fortunately, we only had one moment of concern when I didn't react fast enough and he almost hit the fence by the woods, but after that, I stayed ahead of his reactions and kept him mostly where I wanted him to be. I had forgotten how frustrating babies can be when they just don't understand how to stay in balance.
The trot, at first, was fast and forward, but I just let him go. The nice thing was that, except for when he was flailing out against the rein, he was keeping his head down. It's not going to take long to fix most of the basic problems. In the meantime, he is really fun to ride and has a super attitude about being corrected or asked to do something my way instead of his.
Once I finished with Chance, I saddled up Toby for a short school. It is so nice to get on a horse and know my aids are going to work. Both Chance and Tucker were very interested in what I was doing and hung at the fence by the gate watching Toby's every move. So, I told Tucker to watch and in each direction of canter, aske Toby to do a flying change. Master that he is, he gave me two perfect ones, exactly where I wanted them, precisely where Tucker could get a good view. I don't know if we left and impression, but he was definitely watching as I told him that was something he was going to have to learn how to do.
All in all, it was a good riding day. Good, as well, because there may be snow tonight and the next two days are supposed to be cold again.
Guess I will be shivering at the clinic. It is not supposed to be much warmer on Tuesday.
Yuck. Winter wouldn't be so bad if spring weather didn't keep teasing us.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I guess I shouldn't complain. This winter has still been incredibly mild. It's just that now when the cold hits, it's harder to put up with because I am not acclimated.
I'd gone out to do some errands in the morning and it took me all day to warm up again, even though it was much warmer outside--well above freezing.
It was nearing 4 PM when I went out to ride Tucker. He was, again, quite angelic for the most part. He is not quite as supple as he needs to be and I do have to keep reminding him to be soft to the reins, but he was forward and really gave me no problems about staying forward through all his exercises. We had a bit of head up on the left canter depart, but even that was an easy fix.
I schooled for about 20-25 minutes and then went out on a shot hack along his "comfort trail." He hasn't been out in at least two weeks but he just dropped his head and walked happily along.
When I got back, it was still light enough so I saddled up Toby and took him out back to see how the flooding looked. The engineers the Township hired to study the area are coming out on Tuesday morning, so I needed to have a look in advance to make sure there is something to show them.
To make a long story short, I have been working for well over two years to correct a stormwater flooding problem into the State Park from the warehouses across the Turnpike. Now, a new warehouse they built has a huge water basin to hold its stormwater and most of the flooding has been stopped. However, the whole area has been severely affected by the past flooding and the runoff from the Turnpike is still causing problems.
I got one of the warehouse developers to put up $100,000 to do a study of the problem. They were supposed to start back in July. I have no idea what they've been doing since then, but my question at a Township Council meeting at the beginning of the month spurred a flurry of activity and they are finally coming out to look things over.
Since Tuesday is the Patrice Edwards clinic, I had already taken the day off from school. So, in the morning I will have time to meet with the engineers and try to set them on the right track about the study.
My clinic ride is not until 5 PM, so I will have lots of time to watch some of the earlier lessons to get an idea of what to expect. My friend, Stacie, will be riding once with Patrice tomorrow and again on Tuesday two rides before mine. I'll get lots of feedback from her too.
My only concern is how Tucker will behave in a new indoor. He has never been to this farm before, so it will be a test of his new-found maturity to see how well he takes it all in. I certainly hope we will be able to do some work and not spend the whole lesson trying to convince him nothing in the ring is going to eat him.
And I have captured Mommycat so I can get her spayed before she has another litter of kittens. Poor little lady is presently in a cage in my sunroom and absolutely terrified. She is very easy to handle, so I suspect at one time she may have been a domestic cat, but at least a year of being a stray has left its mark. I feel terrible about locking her up, but the last thing this world needs is litters and litters of stray kittens. Getting her spayed will give her a far better life.
That leaves trying to catch Poppycat. He is a cream orange tom with no interest at being handled. Have to wonder if I can lure him into the trap. He's been showing up morning and night for a nice meal, so we do have some rapport.
It's so sad knowing these cats are strays. I'm glad I can try to make their lives a little nicer.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The ground thawed enough the last two days so that I had some fairly good footing to ride--not a lot of time, but at least enough to give Tucker a school.
His worst fault was being lazy. Just getting him to go forward was a challenge. His trot was a little jog until I insisted he get his hind legs going. It is possible not having shoes in back is making a difference in his willingness to stride out, but honestly, I would think by now a good kick would leave some impression! *G* I didn't put my spurs on, though, so I had to rely on taps of the dressage whip--not the ideal way to get him to go.
On Tuesday, I concentrated on balancing him up a bit and some transitions. Tuck still has a habit of falling apart a bit on the downwards but overall, even without the steady work, that is getting better. Too, I need to be sure I sit up and use more of a "body" half-halt than too much hand. Once I settled that a bit, I let him go long and low and just asked for "forward."
Wednesday, I rode again, this time primarily working on forward, long, and low, encouraging him to use his back. I started off with just a little trot and cantered early on as that is more likely to get him to release his back. Back in the trot, I concentrated on my circle in, circle out exercise to loosen him up laterally which always helps the forward. Then I did some shoulder-in at the trot, and carried that into the next canter session. I let the shoulder-in develop into a canter half-pass, to a counter canter, and just for fun tried for a flying change in the corner.
Well, to my surprise, with a little tap of the whip, he actually gave me a change from right to left. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't perfect, but it was a flying change! Tucker's first! Right to left was a total failure, but...well, big boy stuff! I'm not going to work on it too much for now as the primary obstacle is getting him to really work off his hindquarters in the canter first, especially in the downward transisitions. Until then, the change will be just too hard for him. Still...cool.
I went to my orthopedic doctor for my knees today. I haven't been to him in over a year when I finished my last session of stem cell injections to help regrow the cartilege. My knees have been really sore for the past two, going on three months. I was beginning to think the time to look into replacements was coming fast.
Not so. My doctor assured me that the initial treatments normally last 6 months to a year, so I was right on schedule to need some follow-up sessions. The bad news is that he didn't have another open appointment until March 6, so I am going to have to put up with this discomfort until then. He will be doing a round of prolotherapy to tighten the ligaments, the stem cell injections for the cartilege, and then some laser therapy to help with the pain. He also told me the laser would help my foot and any other joints that have some pain.
This guy is on the cutting edge of all kinds of therapies as an alternative to surgery. As it turns out, I would have been better off not having the arthroscopic surgeries I did have to remove the damaged meniscus and cartilege as what he does heals those instead. When I told him there were a lot of kids at school having knee surgeries, he grimaced. They, he said, are going to be headed for arthritis early on and he would never do surgery on someone that young. At least I was in my 50's when I had mine.
The whole world of medical alternatives to old practices is amazing. I am glad I have found Dr. Magaziner. He is one of a very few doctors in the whole country using some of these methods. Lucky me.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
And I didn't ride again.
Needless to say, the footing was not good. However, it is supposed to get a bit warmer during the week, so the ring will probably thaw enough so I can to some work. I am riding in the Patrice Edwards clinic on Tuesday the 30th, so I do need to get some riding in between now and then.
Meanwhile, the Boys are all snuggy in their new insulated blankets--kind of a silver gray in color. So far they are still clean since the mud is frozen, and everyone looks quite dapper.
The barn faucet finally froze, but I used an electric heating pad to get rid of the ice plug at the nozzle, and all was well. I was thinking of getting some heat tape to wrap it in, but never got around to it. Guess that's another project for this week.
Funny how the work just seems to keep going no matter what the weather. Little chores take on a life of their own in the winter, often more than you plan for.
Last night, for example, the Boys got into the main aisle of the barn and trashed things. My fault for leaving Chance's inside stall gate open. I went out to find three horses happily hanging out in the aisle surrounded by sheets, piles of manure and tipped over garbage can. At least they were nice and cozy, getting along well, and very protected from the wind. Can't say that I blamed them but by the time I had the chance to clean it all up, the manure had frozen to the floor mats.
Then, of course, when I finally got the water running, I overfilled a bucket and spilled that all over the aisle. Which, in turn required me to use some of Toby's old bedding to soak it up so it wouldn't freeze into a skating pond.
Somehow that's just the way things go in the winter.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Typical. The weekend weather is going to stink. Windy and cold on Saturday, and cold again on Sunday. Monday and beyond promise moderating temperatures.
So. I long lined Tucker again tonight after he spent the soggy ground day inside to keep his feet and shoes protected. He was as good as gold. He never ceases to surprise me. When he stays in, he does not seem to build up energy and act all silly when he finally gets out.
Of course, I could be living in a fool's paradise about this.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy it.
Chance was all snuggled up in his stall last night when I went out for late feed. Both he and Tucker are always ready for a nice nap. Toby lies down to sleep too, but I think the younger boys are more prone to be prone.
I didn't work either Chance or Toby again. I had to change the trailer plug on my truck so I can trailer Kelly to her lesson tomorrow. That turned into a bigger job than it should have been as I could not figure out how to get the old plug disconnected because of the clip holding it in.
I had to call Kelly's dad to come by to help me out. Then, once we got the plug replaced, we decided to hitch up to save me the trouble in the morning. The lights worked OK, with a little feedback when all the lights were on, but that might have been some dampness from the cleaner I used to polish up the trailer plug. Then, when we hooked up the equalizer bars, the spring holding one of them to the hitch kept slipping out of position. This necessitated another 20 minutes of special rigging to hold it in.
Once more, a job that should have taken a half hour consumed at least twice that. I was hoping to get back to school for the senior performing arts students' showcase performances. Guess I will have to go tomorrow night instead.
Never try to plan ahead when you have horses. Something connected with them will always consume every spare minute and leave you in the lurch.
Wind is picking up. Nothing like the rest of world has suffered over the last few days, but enough to put a crimp in most of outdoor activities.
Then again, if the ground dries out a bit as it freezes up, Tucker is good to go out.
And that, after all, is always a good thing.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Every time I see Tucker, the first thing I do is look at his feet to see if the shoes are still on.
Today the ground was frozen, so he was out. Now, though, at just past 6:30 PM, the temperature is rising again. My ring footing wasn't bad, so I lunged him for about 25 minutes or so. We both got fairly wet as the drizzle was trying to become rain or snow, or something.
I put the cooler on him and locked him in the stall, where he is going to spend the night and, probably the day tomorrow. I just can't risk having him out in the mud. I hate leaving him in, but he is pretty good about it, so for now, it's the only solution.
We had the first snowfall of the season this afternoon. Nothing spectacular, just a dusting, but for once, it actually looked like winter. I don't know what the future promises, but I can do without the white stuff.
Saturday, I am supposed to trailer the young rider who helped me with Chance to a jumping lesson. Sad to say, problems at her stable make it awkward for anyone from there to help her. She and her mom are good friends of mine, so I don't mind, but it's too bad things aren't better for her where she boards.
The barn politics are one thing I certainly don't miss about boarding my horses out. At least having them home, I don't have anyone to argue with about care, riding time, turnout, feeding, etc.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Well, Tucker has done it now. Somehow he managed to pull off both front shoes.
I will talk to my shoer about the possibility of leaving him barefoot, but I don't think that will go. We have had a serious crack in his one hoof and I am not sure it would be strong enough. Also, I have a clinic on January 29, and I doubt he would be OK for that.
If I had known the winter was going to be warm, muddy, and soggy, I MIGHT have considered trying barefoot early on, as we did pull the back shoes, but I doubt he would stay sound if the ground were frozen and hard.
The problem now is that I may have to leave him in every time it gets wet and right now, that is most of the time. It just isn't fair to any horse to be stuck inside all the time. I will just have to figure out something.
I took Chance out for a short trail ride after I stripped and rebedded Tucker's stall. He was, as always a good boy. I do think I need to take him on a different track, just for variety, but for now this was fine.
Needless to say, the footing everywhere is pretty wet. My ring holds up well as far as slipping goes, but it has several patches of puddles. It's OK to ride in except when it has rained a lot and the base below the sand gets so staturated that the horse's hooves cut down into the clay. I just don't like to cut it up too much when it's that wet. Unfortunately, it looks like more rain tomorrow will lead it to that extreme.
Then, it's supposed to get cold again. If so, I am headed for ice. I think what I will do is drag the ring over twice tomorrow, hoping to level it out and get some of the water off. If it freezes then, I might still be able to use it a little--at least for walking.
Nothing like a wet winter to put a crimp in every plan. *sigh*
Saturday, January 13, 2007
So, I have Monday off due to Martin Luther King's Birthday, a national holiday, and it's supposed to rain.
Naturally. The week was chilly but dry, enough to get my ring into really good shape just in time for a bout of three days of rain.
This morning did not look too bad with peeks of sunshine, but I had a chiropractor's appointment. By the time I came home, the spitty spotty rain had started. I had a few chores to do inside, finished up, and went out to ride Tucker.
He was on "spook at the woods" mode when we started. I have no idea why unless there had been hunters out there earlier. I do know the area by the gate leading into the park was stacked with cars and trucks this morning. Perhaps there had been some activity out there--or perhaps not.
Tucker likes to find things to spook at--the blue plastic barrel, for instance. He was probably the one who rolled the barrel to its present spot by the arena fence. Chance may have "helped" but it is usually a Tucker activity. So, now that the barrel is there, it is certainly worth a spook.
Ah well. We did manage to get some nice work in. The lateral work was lovely, and once we got going, the canter was good. I managed a few collected strides here and there as preps for the downward transitions. All in all, it was well worth the soggy effort it took to saddle up and ride.
Chance's former owner, Lauranne, sent me some pictures of Chance as a baby. He was and is so cute!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I took these just a bit before sunset. I had to stay outside the fence or be horsemugged. As it was Toby wanted to hog all the shots.
And then, of course, Tucker decided to stand still long enough for me to snap the shutter.
One of these days I will do a formal photo session and see what I can do about getting some really good pictures of the Boys.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The Boys were running around being silly when I got home.
I would like to think they were happy to see me, but I'm never quite sure as playtime does seem to be a regular part of the daily routine.
This time, Chance was in full gallop, back and forth across the paddock. Toby and Tucker were more in trot, buck, maybe run a little mode.
I love seeing horses play. It is definitely a sign they are happy, content, and probably well fed.
When I was getting my mail, a conservation officer dropped by. Apparently someone had called the police because there was shooting out back of our houses. I thought it was still hunting season for small game, but I may be wrong. I have no idea who would have called or why. I saw two hunters on the weekend, fairly close to the safety zone, but I figured it was legal. I guess I will have to look up the law to see. Maybe the gun season is over.
It is a never ending adventure around here. My fire alarm system is on the blink and sent in a false alarm while I was at school, so the fire marshall came. Then, later in the day, after I had cleared it all up, the darn thing went off again while I was in the house. This time, I shut it off and called the alarm company for service.
In the meantime, I've gone to the chiropractor twice to get my neck fixed again.
It goes without saying that I have not ridden since the weekend. Too cold today.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Chance posed in the ring so beautifully I was really sorry the camera was in the house. He had his head up to see some kind of activity in the house just beyond the patch of trees and he looked gorgeous. It was true Kodak moment, and I had no way of immortalizing it except in my mind's eye. Oh, well, at least I saw it.
Everyone spent the day without jackets. I'm sure the Boys were quite happy to be free of clothes and everyone seemed to have rolled a bit. Surprisingly, despite all the mud around no one was too dirty.
A quick brush cleaned Toby up for a trail ride, and we had a nice one in the sunshine.
I opted for ring work for Tucker as the forecast was calling for rain again and the ring had finally dried out after the last downpours, so I knew I needed to take advantage of it. He was a good boy and is actually getting the hang of the canter/walk/canter transition we need to master for second level.
I then saddled up Chance for a bit of ring work as well. This was not his idea of a good time. He flipped his head around everytime I put some contact on, and made a great show of heading towards the gate into the woods. He is so funny as he can walk so-o-o-o-o-o slowly when he doesn't want to go. This was his protest as we passed the gate without going out. On the plus side, once he figured out that flipping his head up did nothing worthwhile, he dropped it down, went on the bit to some degree and even managed to trot in both directions with some nice lower carriage. He is clearly a quick learner and I should have some nice work from him in a week or so.
Still, I am as much a trail ride in the woods junkie as he is, so we will still go out to have some fun. At this point, though, it has rained hard again, so I guess all the mud puddles out there are even bigger. Looks as if we are going to have to do some wade in the water training sooner than later.
Nothing like a good, challenging trail to make a good horse.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
It was well over 70 degrees f today. Short sleeved tee shirt was in order and I had to take the sheets off the Boys.
Lovely weather to work outside in. I stripped two stalls and unloaded twelve bags of feed before going to the chiropractor and physcial therapy. Then, when I got home, I picked the riding ring and took Chance out for a trail ride.
Just my luck. The gorgeous weather had brought out a group of ATV's. They were revving their engines in the woods where I was planning to go. I think someone had gotten stuck in the mud--serves them right, it's their mud--but the noise was enough to make me dismount, just in case. While Chance has been generally unspooked by everything so far, I didn't think meeting a groups of ATV's was a good idea. I don't know exactly how much control I have over him as far as steering and brakes go, so I opted for my feet on the ground.
The ATV drivers came out along the exact trail I had headed in to, so I scurried back out to the field and held Chance about 20 yards away. The riders did slow down and keep their engines as quiet as possible once they saw us--so I'll give them high points for that. And, I must admit, Chance did not seem either impressed or bothered by them at all. However, that was with me holding him from the ground, not in the saddle. Once they'd passed, I led him for quite a distance into the woods to a place where I knew there was a fallen tree in a good spot for a safe remount.
On the way in, I met a young man who had found one lost beagle yesterday and another one today. He was looking for rabbit hunters who may have lost the dogs. I doubt if he had any luck. I am beginning to believe some of these hunters around here just don't care at all if they leave a dog behind. I think they fugure if the beagle isn't obedient enough to come back at the end of the day, it's not worth taking home again.
Knowing the ATV's, hunters, and beagles were generally out of the area, I took Tucker out. This was on his "comfort trail" but going in the opposite direction. I'm not sure we've finished this ride too many times. Today was almost no exception. As we were heading down the last part of the trail to the field, he balked. This time I think it was the fallen log with the sun shining on it. We had a bit of a battle over this one. Since he never felt as if he were going to buck, but was just totally stuck, refusing to go in that direction, I kept circling and pushing him on. I am going to guestimate it was a good five minutes or more of one step foward, balk, try to turn around, circle, step sideways, balk, paw, refuse to turn, manage a circle, one step forward, etc. I made angry noises instead of trying to soothe him about it. I can do a pretty good growl when called for. Finally, though not at all too sure, I started to go. We skirted the log with a good neck craning glance and made it out to the field and the last leg home. Mind you, this is all of a fifteen minute trail ride on a normal horse. Tucker seems normal going in the opposite direction. It's just going this way that he sees the goblins under the logs.
Just outside the safety zone near my property, we passed another hunter, gun in hand. I made a comment that all would be fine as long as he didn't shoot, and he kind of waved me on. We made it home safely.
All of which made me decide to simply lunge Toby in the ring for a bit. He had been all worked up in the morning when a hunter had crossed through the woods behind the paddock, exactly where this last guy was, so I figured there was just no point in stirring him up again. He is simply no fun at all to ride when he is closing in on hysterics. So the schooling day ended quietly.
Then, I decided I'd drag the ring. I put the drag on the tractor and saw that the fuel gauge was reading kind of low. Drove over to the garage to get some fuel. I think I may have goofed big time and put gasoline in the diesel by accident. Managed to get near the gate when the engine quit. If I did screw up, I can only hope I didn't do any damage. The engine only ran about a minute before it quit. It was either gas, or bad diesel. At any rate, now I have to call the repair place if I can't find anyone around here to look at it for me.
Why do I always manage to make an adventure of a perfectly beautiful day? It never fails.
Friday, January 05, 2007
And not in the saddle again.
Thursday was a leftover migraine headache, again triggered by my neck. Darned if I can figure out what throws it out of whack, but I was sidelined until I made two visits to the chiropractor. Thank heavens that works!
Today, Friday, it rained again. Not exactly good for much riding outdoors. Times like this I do miss the indoor arenas I had at two different boarding stables, but perhaps being forced to take time off now and then mellows the whole riding process.
I finally got the lightweight sheets for everyone. There was an order mix up as it turned out. The did not have my order for the other 78" one for Toby, just the 72" one for Chance. The orange in the larger size was in, but not the smaller. So I changed things up a bit. I got a neo yellow sheet for Chance in the 72" and ordered an orange in 74" for him when that comes in. They shipped them right out so I now have two orange horses and one yellow one. Kind of cute citrus collection.
However, tomorrow, it is almost certain I will have three naked horses again. Already the temperature is up to around 60 degrees, and Saturday it may well get up to 70! And this is January! We haven't had any real winter weather yet. Next week the temperature is supposed to go back down into the 40's so I guess I'd better enjoy the shirtsleeves on the weekend.
I don't mind the colder weather as long as my footing doesn't freeze solid. Or at least if it thaws out during the day. Trails are OK when it's frozen, but I need daylight for them. Right now, I can get one trail ride in before dark. The days will get longer pretty quickly, so eventually, I will be able to get two short trail rides in. Or, if the ring thaws during the day, a decent school before it freezes up again. Kind of a poker game of riding.
Hopefully I'll have a handful of aces on the weekend.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I can't seem to quite find a boot to use on Tucker when he loses a shoe.
I have an old Mac I can't get on him even though it should be his size. I have EasyBoots in several sizes, but the one that should have fit was too small. The next size up stayed on for all of about two circles in the arena.
I had taped his foot with duct tape, so he had some protection for at least another turn before than too fell off. Luckily he was perfectly sound. We had a short, but productive school where I worked on canter trot transitions and just kept him forward.
My wonderful farrier was here this morning (Thursday) to replace the missing shoe, so all is well for the rest of the week.
Chance and I went out on a trail ride again. He's just so much fun out there. He is the only horse I've ever ridden who goes faster walking away from home than back. As a matter of fact, as soon as we turn up the trail heading for the gate and the barn, he slows down noticeably, almost like the reluctant schoolboy.
Before long, we will have explored most of the trails out back. I guess I'd better start training him to trailer load and ride so I can take him places. He is definitely an adventurer.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
It rained all day yesterday.
So, both the horses and I kind of hung out inside. My ring was flooded in the few low spots and it looked as if the drainage ditch into the groundhog hole by the fence might have even been filled to the brim. I'll know better this afternoon as the sun is out and the water will have found its way to wherever it goes.
The other low spots are still a problem even though we put some fill in them. They don't interfere too much with riding as they are off the track, but I do get tired of them. More fill may help or just force the water to find someplace else to settle. My arena was not especially graded when it was built and is suprisingly rideable in all but the wettest weather or when it freezes up.
My dream would be to do a bit of regrading and then add some rubber shavings to the sand, but the pricing for that is way out of range at the moment. So, for now, I really can't complain too much. Most of the year, I have a nice sand surface to ride on, and while not perfect, it certainly is excellent for schooling.
The weather is still unusually warm here with the temperatures going up into the 50 degree f range and even near 60 degrees later in the week. That means it's likely I will need to take the sheets off the Boys for the day. Since really lightweight sheets have not yet arrived, they will end up naked. Lovely for all involved until they decide to roll in the mud.
I am not looking forward to that.
Back to work at school today and I think I am coming down with a cold. I may not ride tonight, if I don't feel a bit better. I guess I will just wait and see.