Thursday, May 29, 2008

Up. Up. and Over

A Tale of Three Jumpers

I decided to lunge everyone tonight. I also decided to have some fun, so I set up a little jump made from my blue plastic barrels with slope poles as wings so the line wouldn't catch when my Boys jumped.

Chance was first in and is the most inexperienced jumper. He really has improved immeasureably with his lunging and is almost even on both the right and left reins. He will still drift out on the right, but it's really not bad anymore. With a nice warmup at trot and canter, I set him at the jump on the left rein. Well, challenged as he was by the height--probably about 2'3" or so, more than he's jumped before--he somehow managed to lift himself over. Well, the pictures of his father show marvelous form with knees up to his chin. I don't think Chance inherited that attribute. Or, is just could be he had absolutely no idea what to do with his legs. It wasn't a pretty picture. But, it wasn't a disaster either, and as we went on an eventually moved on to the right rein, he improved considerably. The big issue, I think was, that he couldn't quite figure out how to really jump off his hind end, so the front had to do too much of the lifting and couldn't quite get out of the way. Still in all, he was willing, able, and certainly showed an ability to handle it. Were I interested, I have a feeling I could school him into a pretty able jumper and, I also think his form would really improve.

But I'm not. At least not any more. I used to ride hunter/jumpers and I even evented in my younger days. I've been over some pretty big fences in my day--5' plus--and I loved it. But there is a risk there I no longer care to take. Sometimes I miss those "wings" and all that "flying" but I'll enjoy Caroline's experiences instead.

Tucker was in next and of the three, he would probably be the best looking over fences. His first jump, his knees were way up and his heels practically hit his girth area. He really uses his front end well and definitely jumps off his hind end. The other nice thing is that he seems to be very quiet and pretty bold about tackling things in a calm manner. I'm not keen on horses that want to rush to a fence and he doesn't seem to do that at all. He'd be fun, but I'd worry about his soundness. He did have surgery to correct a club foot. so that would be a concern, although my vet said it would never be a problem. His foot size and shape are kind of like Russell R.'s too and eventually Russell developed navicular which I attribute to the many, many fences he jumped.

Toby is definitely the most athletic jumper of the team. He is neat with his front legs and really has a nice bascule. But, when he takes off, he looks as if he could "jump the moon." There is an ease and strength that makes it look so easy. I his not quite as elegant as Tucker but impresses with his sheer ability. He will get quick to a fence and if he makes a mistake can get a bit rambunctious. The only time I really jumped a course in the show ring with him, he placed 2nd, so I know he probably would have been a good prospect. He has nice sized feet and has proven to be really sound for all these years. However, he has a cowardly streak about new things and can be super quick and athletic about a runout or stop. He would have needed a lot of work--like Jazz--to settle him into accepting new things. His spooks are still unpredictable and dramatic.

It was really fun and interesting to watch all three doing the same exercises tonight. Once again, I was struck by how lucky I am to have three such nice horses. They are so easy to train and such a joy to work with. Frustrations come, of course, but I always seem to find an answer. It took a long time to get Tucker to be a "happy camper" but it was worth it. Now, I can just kind of "play" and enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Nice Ride

Tucker Is a Star

I rode just one horse tonight. Don't know why, but I guess I was just a little lazy.

Anyhow, it was worth it. Tucker was a pleasure to ride. I had some nice trot work, with very forward strides and a feeling of "eagerness" on his part. I did shoulder-in, haunches in, leg yield and "beginner" half pass with him as well as some serpentines. Then I moved into canter and again got some good work. But best of all were the two simple changes. He went right down to walk, kept it foward and then took the canter lead with no effort at all.

It was short schooling session, but really productive and fun.

Afterwards, I dragged out the fly sheets and suited everyone up. The bugs are about, and I think that's what's making the Boys tend to hang out in the barn. Actually, since each horse stood quietly to be sheeted without being tied or even brought in from the paddock, I figured they agreed it was time for the "summer outfits."

Hate to Say It

Two Day Migraine Sort of Thingie

My neck went out on Sunday night. The chiropractor was closed on Monday for the holiday. I was miserable all day and then ended up with a stomach thing. Stayed home Tuesday. Went to the doctor and finally felt better by Tuesday night.

No horse report. The Boys are spending daylight hours in their stalls so I guess the flies are starting to bite. Will have to put their fly sheets on and put the fans in the barn.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


On to Plan B

I wanted to take everyone on a hack, but when I took Toby out into the woods he was attacked by mosquitoes. He is pretty good about it, and tried to trot off, but he kept his wits about him and we took the shortest route home. I trotted and cantered him in the arena for another 5 or 10 minutes and called it a day with him.

Then I saddled up Tucker and went on to Plan B. I decided today to simply keep him in a balanced frame where he was not using my hand for support nor dropping onto his forehand. The walk was fine but when I halted, he went to his front end, so I did a reinback. That wasn't pretty as he had put all his weight on his front legs and gotten stuck in the wrong balance so he couldn't step back. Then, he didn't want to go forward. However, it wasn't much of an issue and once he figured out what I wanted, he was fine. Once we'd sorted out the walk/halt/walk, I pushed him into a very slow, cadenced trot and repeated the exercise I did at the walk. Trot, halt, reinback if he was on his forehand, trot, etc. Once we'd mastered the basics there, I did some canter with the same concept in mind. Tuck can almost canter on the spot, but on the downward transitions he still tends to drop on his forehand. Today, with the reinback exercise, he stayed pretty solid.

I will not do this with Tucker every day as the reinback can cause other problems of its own. It can mess up the halt as the horse will automatically step back, and it can discourage forwardness. However, once in a while as a training exercise, it really does set a horse back on his haunches if he tends to lean onto his forehand.

I then rode Chance, with the goal of simply having him keep his head down towards the bit for the entire ride. I decided as well, not to push him past his "concentration" or stamina point so that he would start to toss his head out of furstration. I was really pleased with him. Although his right turn still needs a strong leading right rein at times instead of working off the outside, left rein, he kept himself in a nice little, though sometimes erratic, frame on the bit without bringing his head up. The only little mess was when I asked for the left lead canter and he lurched into it instead of doing a decent depart.

Chance is, in general, taking the canter from a leg aid, so that's really good for a young horse. Today, I only rode him for, at most, fifteen minutes. Since nothing went wrong, and he tried for every stride, I have absolutely no complaints. He is coming along just fine.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Real Work

On a Nice Saturday

I had two good rides today.

Tucker was first and after a long and low warmup, I asked him to come up onto the bit and do some more serious work. He was a little sluggish at first and wanted to drop down onto his forehand, but some shoulder in got him stepping under better. Then I rolled into the canter and did a few transitions. He lightened up enough for me to practice a series of simple changes first on a figure eight and then on shallow half circles back to the rail. It did not drill him, or overschool because I know he is just coming off nearly three weeks of layoff. Still, I was quite pleased with the fact that he really hasn't lost much of the schooling I was working on before his gravel. It is now just a matter of getting his fitness and strength back up to par.

I rode Chance next and from the first asked him to walk down and round. He was little silly at the start and kept trying to rush off into the trot, but it didn't take long for him to settle into a nice round walk. Only then did I ask for trot and again, he stayed round.

He still takes a good hold of the right rein, and doesn't step as well to the left rein, but it is always getting better. When I wanted to canter, I simply gave the leg cue and he hopped right off on the correct lead in both directions. As usual, the right lead was a little less coordinated and just before I was going to stop, he fell into the trot, completely disorganized. This time I just pushed him back to canter without worrying if he was settled again. It wasn't pretty, but he took the lead, finished another half circle and then, on my cue, went back to trot. He was tossing his head and fussing with the bit at that point. I'm not totally convinced it is entirely because of a balance issue. Sometimes, I think he just decides he's had enough work and protests by flipping his head around. I gave him a sharp correction which seemed to surprise him, but he did have second thoughts and dropped back down to the bit.

The left lead was softer, but I do need to work on his bend in that direction. Again, it's a relatively easy fix. At the rate Chance is coming along, I would be likely to be able to compete at Training Level (walk/trot/canter) in mid summer if I wanted to. However, with the rising costs of gasoline and everything else, I doubt I'm going to show too much. It's no big deal to me anymore as a test of my own training, so unless I really feel I need to prove something, I will not likely be in the show ring.

Imagine, with Toby fit, I actually could have three horses to compete if I wanted to. Pretty cool.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Normally I'd Be Out There Riding

But...well, I didn't have time last night due to the Honor Society thingie. We did have a really nice dinner and the ceremony was very pretty with the candles held by all the students.

I was cheered by the audience after I sang the National Anthem and everyone who spoke to me later was mightily impressed. It is both humorous and charming. I have been teaching there for over 30 years and still, many of my colleagues have no idea that I sing. (Mostly at church where I am a sometime soloist, get paid upon occasion for weddings, do summer music thing at other churches, and I have done one paid concert so I guess I am fairly good. I do know my limits, though and would never have been able to have a professional career.) If you've never heard the US National Anthem sung, consider yourself lucky. It is a vocalist's nightmare. Apparently the tune is an old English song (To Anacreon in Heaven) and the lyrics are all one huge sentence totally impossible to phrase so the words make sense. Luckily, I have a pretty big range of notes I can sing well, so I can handle the messy music.

As I said, apparently everyone who heard me thought so too, because even today I was getting compliments. I'm glad. The whole ceremony was for the kids and I was able to set a really good tone for the evening. I really feel blessed to be able to sing like that.

OK, done with the selfish promotion. Came home tonight pretty tired from the week. The weather is still gorgeous out there, but the Boys were all hanging out in their stalls earlier. Don't know if the bugs were out or what, but I was surprised they weren't out in the pasture. So, I fed them right away.

When I went out later to help my neighbor collect the empty feed bags he gives to his feed man, my little herd was happily grazing at the far side of the pasture. They looked so content and happy I just din't want to drag them in.

We do have a three day weekend. Memorial Day is on Monday so there's no school. The forecast is for good weather, so I figure I can make up for some lost training then. I really want to try some quality work with Tucker, but am still just a little unsure of how sound he really is. I want to work him when I feel I have the time to really evaluate that.

Meantime, I need to make some adjustments to Toby's cribbing collar. He has figured out how to crib in his stall with it on without triggering it. The company has offered a suggestion to modify it but I want to take my time trying that as well.

So, with my own tiredness and the happy pasture Boys, I guess I am giving up for tonight.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Three Before the Thunder

I Love My Boys

It was raining when I drove home from school, but when I got home the sun was out. The carpentry teacher from school who is going to build my run-in came shortly thereafter to look over the job specs and the lay of the land. He was a bit taken aback by the leaping and galloping horses since I'd let Tucker out to play---the ground had dried out during the day from really bad mud in the AM. I guess they are pretty impressive and kind of scary when you are not used to it.

Rain threatened again after he left, but I decided to ride. I started with Chance, rushing a bit to tack him up as thunder rolled on the distant western horizon--usually the sure sign a storm is on the way. I put him in a single jointed full cheek snaffle at Patrice's suggestion and he went just fine in it. More and more, each time I ride, he is seeking the bit and keeping his head down in a little young horse frame. I wasn't going to canter, as there were a number of water puddles in the ring and he didn't want to get his feet wet, but in the end he felt so good I did anyhow. We had a little trouble getting the right lead, but no big deal. The right lead canter is now much slower and far more balanced than it was two weeks ago. The left lead is really nice. I am thinking another week of work and he will really steady up. By the time I was done with him, he had worked up a nice little sweat in the suddenly returned sunshine.

I plucked Tucker from the paddock next and he actually seemed quite pleased to be working. He was nice and forward and sound, but there is a little stiffness on the left side. I suspect the two weeks of limping cost him some of his suppleness. I didn't ask for too much except a long reined trot with lots of circles and changes of hand. Then I cantered. Again, the left lead--the side with the hoof issue--was not quite as supple or balanced as the right until we did a bit of work. I am going to be generous with him for the next 5 or 6 rides since I do think the lameness compromised some of the muscling he's been developing. I'll need to work on getting him even again.

Risking the impending rain which seemed to be coming back again, I took Toby out on a nice hack in the woods. He really had a nice forward, energetic walk and wanted to go. There aren't too many places to move out, though, so we stayed in the walk until he decided to canter up a little hill and along the trail on his own. He trotted a little later as well, but I had to pull him up so I didn't lose my leg on one of the trees we needed to wind around. The wood roads would be nice for some faster work if it weren't so muddy and wet. It really does get slippery.

It chilled off half way through the ride, and at the end, began raining, so when we got home, I put waterproof sheets on everyone. Then, it seemed to be ready to rain even more. I put Tucker back in his pen and went to do some quick grocery shopping. When I got home the sun was back out, so I put Tuck out for a few more hours. If the forecast holds for tomorrow, he will have to stay in again. I feel bad, but at this point I just can't risk his hoof/shoes in the mud.

Like Caroline, I didn't have anything too exciting or groundbreaking happen, but I enjoyed every stride. I have three good horses to ride.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Discretion is the Better Part of Valor

And Tuck Takes Off

I had decided to lunge Tucker, mostly to see how sound he was. As it turned out, it was the wiser choice.

First, he looked fine. Maybe a little step or two not quite right, but mostly a good sound, striding out trot. That is, until Toby and Chance decided to some storming in from the pasture. Top speed, they charged through the other side of the arena, then to the paddock, leaping and careening madly.

Thank heavens I wasn't in the saddle. Even on his best days, Tucker could not have ignored the rioting pair. He leaped, bucked, galloped, and generally ripped around me--remarkably not pulling the line out of my hands. The nonsense continued for about five minutes with a few later episodes when Chance decided to leap about some more.

It was cool and windy, so I suppose there was some excuse. The good news is that Tucker did look good.

At that point I decided not to ride anybody but to rather spend the rest of my time lunging. Both Toby and Chance were good boys, I am happy to report, although Chance was kind of excited to start off with and cantered off instead of trotting to the right. At least he took the proper lead.

All in all, everyone, including me, got a good exercise session.

Erratic weather is here today (Tuesday) so I may be stuck, and the rest of the week does not bode much better.

I'll do what I can, but being soggy, cold, and miserable is not my idea of a fine Spring riding session.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Missed the Window

And So Came the Rain

It was lovely this morning, but I had to go to church. On the way home, I had to stop at the feed store to stock up.

Came home, unloaded some 700 lbs. of grain and went into the house to recover a little.

In the meantime, the skies darkened, and within an hour or so, it started to rain--hard.

Tucker was turned out with the others, but when I looked out, everyone was settled in under the run in, so I didn't bother putting him in.

I think the showers will be off and on the rest of the night and, apparently well through tomorrow. Prospects look bleak for much riding.

Had to laugh about Caroline's comment about the border collies. Jack, when he was younger, never did wear out. Now, at 15, he has finally slowed down. But the pup, Mic, just kept going and going like a little windup toy. Scott is great with them, though, and when the dogs travel with him, they usually have the run of the farms where he shoes. Jack was always very well behaved and I am sure Mic will be no exception.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shoe On Tuck Off

But on the Mend

Scott came late this morning to shoe Tucker. He carved a chunk out of his toe and told me to pack it with epson salts and Betadine. He will be back at the end of the week to do the other Boys and check on him again.

Mic, the little border collie puppy is adorable!! And old Jack has really been revitalized by the kid. They are so cute together. I will post some more pics tomorrow. I do love border collies, but their endless energy wears me out. When Jack was young, he would play "fetch" the whole time Scott was here to shoe three horses. I can see why these dogs are so valuable to the shepherds. I love watching them work the sheep. My friends have a flock of sheep at their house just for training herding dogs. (Not much real sheep herding around here so they compete on special flocks.) It was so much fun watching the dogs work. Honestly, it is absolutely beautiful to see a good herding dog doing his job. Totally awesome.

It appears Tuck's trouble did start in the toe. I don't know if Scott had come sooner if it could have been carved out and treated or if it was already to far gone by the time Tucker became lame. Scott did tell me to call him first if I did have a hoof problem, but I don't know if that would have made a difference in this case. Regardless, Tucker is in good hands now.

He is, though, not 100% sound. He trots sound to the left (the injured hoof is the right front) but going to the right, he is very slightly off. I let him graze on the lawn for the afternoon as his limited turnout. Tomorrow I will put him out with his buddies for a short afternoon if he still looks sound. If not, he will have to stay in.

Because I'd had a chiropractic adjustment after Scott left, I opted out of riding. (It was my neck again.) Instead, I decided to lunge Chance and just catch Toby at least three times. The idea is to catch him and not do anything with him so he doesn't think running off the always the best option.

Chance was lovely on the line. The more I work with him, the more I like him. He really does have nice gaits and carries himself well. He is quite and impressive little horse...who by average horse standards is really not so little at a bit over 15.2 h. I think is will make, should I decide to do it, a really nice dressage horse--perhaps the best I've had. Three solid gaits make the difference here. Toby has three solid gaits but is not physically balanced enough--his neck is set level. Tucker has good balance, a super canter and walk, but a more limited, flatter trot. That will improve, but it will require training rather than capitalize on his natural ability. Chance has an "elevated" front end, a nice neck, good haunches, and those three good gaits. I am really getting enthusiastic about his potential.

Toby was caught as planned, cuddled and carroted. I am sure he is quite pleased with himself.

Friday, May 16, 2008

No Report

Rain and More Rain

Miserable day. Rainy and chilly. Definitely stayed indoors.

Scott is coming to put Tucker's shoe on tomorrow. I am excited not only to have Tucker back in action, but also to see Scott's new puppy!! (Scott with pups. He sent me these pics)I will have my camera in tow if it is dry enough out there and the rain stops. When Scott called tonight, he said little Mic, the pup, was a muddy mess. Apparently old Jack is showing the kid the ropes. Jack is deaf and has some really bad arthritis, but he loves the puppy and, I hope, is teaching him all he knows.

Soggy day off for the clinic boys.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

OK, So I Don't Know How to Ride

Clinic Report

Riding with Patrice is a certain ego leveler. Think you know what you're doing? Take a lesson and learn you actually don't.

Because Chance is a "tabula rasa," (blank slate) the goal today was to ride him absolutely correctly so he doesn't learn any bad habits. Think that's easy???

Well, did you know your leg is pretty darn irrelevant in keeping the horse straight? Did you know it's all a matter of your seat and balance? No fidgeting, now, no correcting, just ride right and he will relax and walk straight. Easier said than done.

And then, keeping your elbow down by gravity, under your control, and maintaining an absolutely even, steady contact on the right rein while on a left circle ought to be a cinch too, right? No pulling the left rein to stay on the circle...nope...just the right rein contact and sort of an "expectation" to turn left. Hard to explain, but it does work, after a fashion. The trick is trying to keep the contact correct with a green horse quick to escape or bounce off the bit if my balance or his goes even slightly astray.

If I sound somewhat frustrated, I am, but not necessarily in a bad way. Patrice's meticulous approach to getting a horse straight simply by being totally straight and correct in your own riding, including your seat, leg and the hand is exhausting mental and physical work, but it produces a "correct" horse.

Since I have already trained two crooked horses she's seen, she was particularly hard on me when I rode Chance. He was, by the way, a good boy. A little tense to start off which is where the kind of "dead or super soft leg" approach started off. The idea was for me to be very nonchalant and relaxed whenever he tried to trot off. It really did work, but it was a lot harder than you might expect.

The steering work focused on Chance's tendancy to bulge himself out to the right, so that was really useful. But again, not correcting him with the rein, seat or leg with also a lot harder than it sounds.

Stacie was at least as frustrated. I didn't watch her whole lesson, but again, working to get Toby straight is not necessarily easy either. And, she had some position problems beyond that due to all the time off from riding and practice she's had since Lucky became unsound.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for her. She has ambitions to become a really good competitive rider--something I really don't care so much about as the journey of training a horse is what I'm about--and not having a horse of her own to ride is no way to get there. What she would like would be a solid, straightforward schoolmaster she could ride and just concentrate on her own position and being absolutely correct. At least, I think that's what she wants.

Wish I had a million dollars so I could find her that horse. I don't need one myself, but I would love to be able to see her with one.

Think I need to buy another lottery ticket.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another Good Day

Tuck on the Trot

I trotted Tucker for a few strides around me on the lawn and he looked sound. As he still is unshod, I am not planning on riding him, and he will have to stay in his little pen. He is not particularly happy about that, but is also not behaving badly.

Tomorrow morning, Dr. Klayman is coming to do the second round of annual vaccines. I had a call from Dr. Dante on my answering system asking how Tuck was and telling me Dr. Klayman would look him over when he was here so Dr. Dante would get the report that way. What a great veterinary group they are! They really do care about both patient and owner. I have already written a note to leave since I will be at school when the vet comes. I need to add to it that if Dr. Klayman wants to take off the wrap and look at his hoof, that's fine, especially because I will be home before one since we are going to the Patrice Edwards clinic in the afternoon. I can easily rebandage it then.

With Tuck happily mowing my back lawn, I rode Chance. He is progressing rapidly with the basics of "on the bit." The head tossing is decreasing and today, for the first time, when I asked for canter, he actually managed most of the work with his head down to the bit. His right lead is still a little quick but even than is really improving. The left lead has a soft, relaxed feel to it that tells me he is going to have really good canter work as time goes on.

I have to wonder if the man who started him as a three year old might have done some canter schooling. Otherwise, I am truly an amazing trainer myself, because already Chance is taking both the gait and the lead from a very light, single leg cue. He needs a little help in positioning to take the right lead, but it really is no problem at all. I have never really had a problem getting the horses I have trained or ridden to take the correct leads, so it might just be my understanding of the aids and the way the horse needs to be going to take the asked for lead.

I did not work Toby because Stacie came over after work to ride him. When I spoke to her tonight she said she had a good ride. The right lead canter was much better for her, so that's a big plus. Tomorrow's work with Patrice should be a great help.

So once again, another good day at Follywoods.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Really Good Day

Good News For All Three

First the Tucker report. Tuck continues to heal and looks sound at the walk. I did not trot him as he still has no shoe and I am leery that he might have developed the gravel/bruise when his shoe was off the last time. I may try a little trot test tomorrow if the bandage is still in one piece when I get home.

I turned him out on the lawn to graze for about an hour--after blocking off the carport with the feed in it--and he was really happy to be out and about. He is staying in the little run in shed/stall/pen thingie until he is back to 100%. His hoof and the crack on the coronary band looked good today. I called Scott last night and left a message filling him in on everything. Now it's just wait and see.

I lunged Chance after dinner and he has come along amazingly well since about a month ago when lunging was almost out of control. He did some excellent trot and canter on both hands and was completely under control. He was great!

I do have to admit I think he is quite pleased about his new role and the lessons. He is practically beaming with self-confidence and seems to be relating to me more and more each time I handle him. He comes willingly when I call and actually acts as if he wants to work. It's as if he knows he is a star and wants to bask in the accolades. He deserves it. He is one grand little horse.

Toby decided, after reading Caroline's blog, to play "Catch me if you can," all over the pasture when I went out to collect him. Chance did not help at all since he thought the game was "gallop to the far end as fast as you can." I just kept walking after them, pushing Chance aside every time he came to see what I wanted. After perhaps fifteen minutes of this, Toby decided all the effort just wasn't worth it and he let me walk right up to him and put on his halter.

I gave him a nice lunging session which was, as always, perfect. He is such a gentleman and so responsive, it's a pleasure to stand in the center of the circle and just watch him go.

Carrots all around finished up the evening. The weather was gorgeous. The day had warmed up to the 60's and there was a light breeze blowing. The only downside was that there were a few insects--maybe some kind of gnats--buzzing around to be annoying now and then if the breeze stilled. Those six legged critters are the big downside of the nice weather.

I am happy as can be with my Three Boys.

Monday, May 12, 2008


At Last!

Tucker has a good sized crack about in inch or so long in his coronary band right in the front center of his hoof. The abscess/gravel has finally blown.

It was raining and really windy this morning, so I left the poultice on since it still looked nice and neat and there was plenty of cotton to absorb any discharge. Tonight, when I brought him out to change it and soak his foot, he was almost completely sound. I would suspect that a big opening in the coronary band might still be a little sore.

He was quite cheery and his eye was quietly content for the first time in days. He was also a very good boy about standing well with his soaking boot on, not really spilling too much of the soak tonight. I suspect it might have felt good to have that sore spot in the warm water.

I rebandaged the whole foot with lots of Ithammol on the coronary band. I don't want to take any chances of his doing damage to his unshod foot while the rest heals. I have him stalled in the side stall with the little pen set up under the run in roof where he will stay until he is fully healed and reshod.

The weather was really nasty today. Cold, rainy and windy. Suffice it to say that after shivering all day in school--guess the heat was off for the season since it had been hot last week--I did not even think about riding. I'm not sure it's going to dry out by tomorrow either. Hard to say how much work the two lesson horses are going to get before Thursday's clinic.

Still Tuck's almost smiling face made the sun shine on my day. What a relief.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Tucker May Be Better

I'm not sure yet, since I didn't take off the wrap I put on this morning, but Tucker was walking better.

I really had to convince him to come out of his stall this morning for his soaking. I checked on him several times during the day and finally, around 4, decided to drag him out to graze on the lawn for an hour or so.

As time wore on, he was walking better. Not sound, yet, but definitely not as three legged lame as he was yesterday. It could be the abscess is finally broken through, but I am not taking off the bandage yet. I wrapped the area with cotton and a really good layer of Icthammol so it should be fine until morning. I'll get up early and soak and rewrap. I'll keep my fingers crossed tonight.

I did have to laugh though. There is a lot of grass to eat in my unmown lawn, but when I went out to feed and put Tuck back in, he was in the carport where I store the hay. When he heard my voice, he backed out, looking a little....very little, sheepish. Why was he in the hay when there was all that grass to eat? Well, there was also a bag of feed in there. Sure enough, the bag has a Tucker sized mouth hole gnawed in it and he was having a snack. Clever boy.

Meantime, the two dressage lesson stars had the day off. Both of them worked exceptionally hard yesterday, so they deserved the vacation.

The downside is that is it supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, so the vacation may be extended.

I have a clinic with Patrice Edwards on Thursday. That is generally not too stressful on the horses as she really makes the rider work. If Chance goes, I'm sure it will be an interesting and truly beneficial lesson. Stacie will be riding Toby, so I hope Patrice will help her sort out the right lead canter issue. As for Chance and me--since I really doubt Tucker will be sound enough and reshod to go--no reason to push him--anything we can learn together will be absolutely wonderful.

So perhaps the countdown to the big "pop" has finally begun.

Still Waiting

Lesson Success

Still waiting for the gravel to blow. Maybe tomorrow???

Meanwhile, Toby and Chance went for the lesson.

Chance was a bit "high" at the start, and I still a bit "low" from the after effects of my migraine. So, after a bit a lunging, Stacie got on him for me. Not that he's bad, but he was just a little excited and I am definitely getting older than I used to be.

May I say, she did a great job to riding him and, it was good for me to see as he really didn't do anything naughty. He was VERY forward, but that's about it. Gabriel liked him a lot. Said he put his hind end underneat himself, had three good gaits, had a really nice hind end, was cute, and he loved his markings.

When I got on, Chance really reached down for the bit, took it and worked in a really nice little frame for about 10 minutes, maybe longer. Then, after a short break, he started tossing his head up and getting fussy. Interesting as that seems to be his protest when he starts to get tired. He had, by that time, already worked longer than I ask for at home, so once I managed to get him to the bit again for a few strides, we called it a day. I was quite pleased.

Gabriel asked me if I'd like to take more of a lesson by riding Toby for a bit, but I said "no," as I was still not 100% after the migraine and this cold thing. To me, the lesson is more about the horse than about me anyhow and it was a totally positive experience for Chance, so that was what mattered.

While Stacie rode, I gave Chance a nice shower in the wash stall. He was really good for that, again a pleasure since he was afraid of the hose at home last summer. Then I loaded him up to wait in the trailer. Loading still requires a feed treat, but that is a good start, and I can manage by myself. What is funny though is that he managed twice (once at home) to get his head into the opposite stall and then he got got "stuck" with it there behind the front center upright bar. Both times I had to take down the back butt bar, and back him slightly out of the trailer to get his head back where it belonged as he simply could not do it as long as he was closed into his stall side. Strange, but curious that he could get himself in but not out of an awkward position. Once he is tied in his own stall side, he's fine.

Stacie had a super lesson on Toby and he looked GREAT while she was riding him. Again, though, her little right seat bone problem showed up again when she tried to canter on the right lead as Toby kept throwing in flying changes. She was really frustrated by it, but I think a lesson with Patrice will help out enormously. Gabriel and I could see she was putting her weight onto the left seat bone, which made Toby fly the change. One good thing was that she felt she had a solution by taking Toby's head to the left to push his body to the right to keep him on the lead. That totally confused him and he ended up simply taking the left lead and staying on it. It really is a simple fix, but in order to do it, Stacie needs to really figure out how to keep her seat to the right even if Toby tries to throw her to the left seat bone. I do know he can get a little twist in his canter if he's a little reluctant to use his hind end on one side, so that might be what's happening. Trouble is, I really can't recreate it when I ride him because I instinctively know how to correct it and just do it before things go haywire.

No biggie. I know Stacie was frustrated, but she rode everything else SO well this is just a little tiny glitch in the proceedings.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Good News

No X Rays Needed

Dr. Dante came today as scheduled and he didn't even have to take out the x ray equipment.

Tucker is about to pop a gravel right in the center of his coronary band on the lame foot. The abscess wasn't quite ready to pop, so the Dr. pressed on a it a bit, hoping he might urge it along.

Now I am back to the soaking and poulticing--not the whole foot, just the coronary band area. He said Tucker should be just fine by Wednesday.

Hard to say when it will blow, but it looks to be be soon. Good thing as Tucker is very sore. Every time the vet touched the spot, he flinched and pulled his foot away.

Never met Dr. Dante before and I liked him a lot. He is the newest member of the practice but worked with another vet I know as a partner. He has a really nice way with the horses and a really good manner with the owner. I am really pleased to have met him.

And relieved to find out that Tucker will be OK soon.

It's been raining all day, so no riding with the other Boys.

Lessons tomorrow, 4:30 and 5:30, so it will be later on when I post on Chance's first real outing. And, of course, Gabriel's assessment of my little man.

Waiting Mode

What's Going On?

Tucker is still very lame. It is worrying and my mind is imagining all kinds of bad things. It's Friday and the vet should be here later in the afternoon.

I was sick yesterday so I ended up staying home--either really bad allergies or the start of a nasty cold. I also had my knees injected in the afternoon.

Wednesday I lunged both Toby and Chance so they did get some work.

Had a migraine this morning as a result of the cold/allergy thing so I still felt rotten. Home again, but I went to the chiropractor in the early morning and am feeling much better at least with the headache. Still not sure about the whatever else I caught.

More later after the X rays.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No Resolution Yet

Still Limping

Despite Caroline's good prediction, Tucker is still lame. After staying in his stall all day, he was "marginally" better than yesterday when he was really sore.

So, I called my vet's office when I came home from school. The next step was to take x rays to rule out anything more serious. Looks like Dr. Perez, Dr. Klayman's associate may be able to come on Thursday. The problem is that I have a doctor's appointment for my own knees that day at about the time she can come here for Tucker. Apparently she travels with an assistant, so it is possible they can take the x rays even if I am not here. I am, meanwhile, waiting for Dr. Klayman to call me so I can update him and ask if there is anything else I need to do.

Tuck is just a little depressed and definitely feeling sorry for himself, as I can well understand. But he is a really good boy about being in his stall while the other two are outside. They have access to his door too, so that might instigate him to be naughty, but he just doesn't seem to get upset. I think he understands he needs to stay in so he will get better.

I opted to ride just Chance tonight, and we had a really good school. He is still unsteady with his head as his balance keeps shifting. But he is offering to drop down onto the bit more and more each time I ride. I am fairly sure now he will be my lesson horse when Gabriel comes on Saturday. It isn't exactly what I had hoped, but I am sure it will be a good lesson. Patrice Edwards will be here on Thursday next week too, so Chance my have to fill in there too.

Meanwhile, unless I am missing something, Toby does not seem to be cribbing at all. He has always cribbed while he eats, often leaving his stall and food to go out to crib on the fence instead of the edge of his stall. He would also crib after having a treat and just about any time in between. Tonight, I did not see him crib at all.

He does not seem distressed or upset at all. He is eating well, and appears, overall to be quite content. If what I am seeing is true, this new contraption is truly amazing. I have tried everything I could think of to keep him from cribbing in the past. He wore a muzzle at the last boarding barn to protect their fences and I put chicken wire up in his stall to keep him from ruining the edges there. I tried various cribbing straps with no luck and also had another kind of electric collar that just would not trigger with his technique.

This one, called the Barclay's collar, from Australia triggers only when he expands his throat to swallow the air. Then it delivers a static shock. Though it may sound cruel, when it did click on, Toby just flinched a little bit. Then he started to crib again, thought better of it and, over time, seems to have given it up.

Since I am sure his colics--gas colics--have been caused by his cribbing, I think a little shock is far kinder than a bad tummy ache with potentially life threatening consequences.

So, the stories continue to intrigue at Follywoods. I don't know how any of them will end, but I surely would be pleased with some "Happily Ever Afters" about now.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ups and Downs

That Foot is Sore!!

Tucker was definitely more lame this morning and tonight when I got home from school.

Hard to say if that is good or bad. If he has a bruise, then the bute would make him sounder. But he had his bute this morning and he was not sounder tonight. Of course, he might have bounced around in the teeny tiny little paddock, but it couldn't have been much and last night he was confined in his stall.

So, is it an abscess brewing? I called Dr. Klayman and he said I should put him in the stall tomorrow and see how he is when I get home. If there is no improvement, he will come out to look at him again and take some x-rays.

I stripped two stalls tonight, so it took a good while and then I had to soak and wrap Tucker again.

By the time I finished up, I was too tired to ride.

I usually give them Monday off anyhow, so no great loss.

I need to get to bed early tonight so I can get up earlier than this morning to do the chores and bandaging. It took me just a little longer than I had expected to do Tucker this morning and was a little later getting off to school than I'd planned. I still made it on time, but the drive was a bit hectic as every traffic light seemed to stay red forever--as they always do when you are in a hurry.

Let us see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Big Bird

Does Tuck Have Wings?

Al least he thinks he does. I put him out on the lawn to graze since the grass needs mowing and he was not likely to run around with the other horses in the paddocks instead of out with him.

He found the bird feeder with corn and seed in it. As you can see, he had a grand time playing Tuckbird at the feeder. What can I say? When you're cute, you're cute!!

Tucker is still lame but as you can see, quite willing to put weight on his right front--still wrapped in vetrap and duct tape here. That is far better than he was on Friday, but definitely not sound. I still did not see any sign of an abscess blowing out anywhere. I hope sooner than later.

I have a lesson upcoming with Gabriel on Saturday, so I am schooling Chance as replacement horse #1. Stacie will be riding Toby, so I need another option. It's actually OK as Gabriel really does want to see Chance. But disappointing as we did have plans for Gabriel to ride Tucker to start working on the flying change.

I also have a clinic with Patrice the week after, so Chance may have to step in there too. The "man" is going to get right into the swing of things. He was much better today, though still erratic with his head. I really need to keep my elbows close to my side when I ride him to give my arm a more "fixed" though not stiff or resistant contact. Once I did, it started to make a difference as to how he was carrying himself.

As yesterday, the trot and left lead canter were better than the right lead canter, but the right was not as rushy as it was either. I could work the rein a little on the left lead but on the right he was too unbalanced to really insist on much. Still, whenever he did raise his head, he would stiffen a little and be more likely to break gait back to the trot. As long as I could keep him a little supple on the right, the canter stayed. I've only ridden one or two horses like that before, so I know the feeling and once I develop a technique to keep him a little bent and a little "on the bit" the lead will come really quickly.

I do like the feel of his canter under saddle. It has a bit of a bounce and I think, with work and strength, it is going to be really nice. His trot is actually quite good as well and with work is going to develop nicely as well. He really is a good little horse--only little in comparison to Tuck who is at least 5 inches taller.

I rode Toby in the arena as well, just going through the basic exercises Gabriel had us do in the last lesson. Ten meter circles at the trot, shoulder in, half pass, canter ten meter circles, half pass, counter canter, and some really nice flying changes on the center line. He was so easy to ride it was just delightful. I didn't close him up into a really tight upper level frame and still every exercise was as easy as could be. Amazing what 16+ years of training can accomplish.

So, as much as I miss riding Tucker, I still have two great horses to occupy me on a Sunday afternoon.

Lucky me.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Small Sigh of Relief

Tucker and the Cribber

Tucker looked much better this morning. Either the Bute helped or his foot felt better. I soaked him again and put on the Icthammol poultice. When I went out later for evening feed, he was out in the pasture!! SOMEBODY had opened his door and let him out.

WHO, by Chance, could that be???

The good news is that Tuck didn't look any the worse for it and walked back in considerably sounder than he had been last night. I didn't see any evidence that an abscess had broken out anywhere, but the Ithammol is awfully messy. I will have a better look tomorrow and wash his foot throughly to see if I can find any discharge.

My other thought was that--something that happened years ago to Russell R.--somehow he may have given his foot a good whack and shifted a nail in his shoe into the quick of his foot. Taking the shoe off helped Russell, so it COULD help Tuck. We'll just have to wait and see.

I rode Chance for a nice schooling session. He was much improved, offering to go down to the bit more and more often. Again, it's not steady yet, but if he keeps up at this pace another week or so and he will be going really well. The big accomplishment was two really good canter tours on either lead. We went all the way round the arena and did several circles on each lead. The right was a bit quick--kind of like Caroline's early canters on George, though not quite as "motorbiking." The left lead was really nice aside from his head up position. Then, after a break, I tried the right lead again and it was much slower and far better balanced. Maybe I should start off on the left lead next time to see if the right lead is better after he has cantered some.

After the school, we went out for a nice hack in the woods.

I decided to just lunge Toby since I had a new cribbing collar to try on him afterwards.

This is a new shock collar that gives the horse a static shock when he tries to crib. I had an electric collar before but it didn't work. This one uses no battery and has and entirely different design.

Toby has colicked several times and I attribute it to his cribbing as the colics seem to have been caused by gas--swallowing air. I have tried just about every anti-cribbing device and treatment I could find, so if this works it will truly be a miracle. So far, after I adjusted the collar correctly, Toby cribbed a few times and I heard the collar "click" He quit the cribbing immediately. I will, though keep a close eye on him as not being able to crib might be traumatic. I just hope it doesn't cause some other bad habit to develop.

So far, I am pretty impressed with the collar after watching him for about a half hour. If it works, I will be one happy camper.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Panic Attack!!

Called the Vet

When I came home after successfully getting the truck inspected, I called the Boys in for supper and Tucker did not come.

I fed Chance and Toby and called Tuck again. His stomach finally won and he came hobbling, all twisted into horrible contortions, with his hind end totally uncoordinated. It was a really scary sight.

He made it to the stall and his feed, and I, after a quick exam of his hind legs, headed for the phone to call my vet. Luckily he was still on the road and not too far away so he said he'd come out tonight. I was not expecting that, but I was quite happy about it.

By then, whatever was going on with the rest of his body, Tucker seemed to have decided the pain was in the right front. He was pointing it seriously and really looked uncomfortable. His fetlock was hot and swollen, and I felt some heat in his foot. I was pretty suspicious it might be a hoof abscess but he was in such pain, I didn't call my vet back to cancel the visit.

Sure enough, thank goodness, Tuck seemed to test sound in his ankle and joints, and really reacted painfully to the hoof testers. Off came the shoe...Scott will love that...and Dr. Klayman did a bit of probing but didn't find a track, despite finding one very reactive spot near the inside of Tucker's toe. Whew!! Painful for sure, but a relief that it was not likely something more serious.

So, Tuck will stay in, have his hoof soaked, his front legs wrapped in standing bandages, an Icthammol poultice on his foot and bute for the pain.

I may have overreacted having Dr. Klayman out, but he said he was already kind of in the area. Still, I do feel bad since he was next heading out for a colic. Then again, Tuck was so lame, it might well have been something really critical.

Hopefully things will improve over the weekend. If not, Dr. Klayman will want to look at him again and x rays might be in order.

I've given Tuck his Bute and I'll be going back out shortly to soak and wrap.

Obviously, the riding was short circuited by the medical "emergency."

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Oh Well

Too Worn Out

I have been playing "cart teacher" in school this week as my classroom is being used for testing. As a result, I have to take all the materials I need to teach class to another room on a cart. Inevitably, at some point I have forgotten something and then need to go back to my own classroom, a good hike away.

Then, the teachers (substitutes) running the testing programs do not have keys to my room ( a computer lab) or the lab next door, so I need to keep tabs on locking the doors when they are at lunch or done for the day.

My knees were not happy today and I was worn out by the time I got home.

Do you hear an excuse coming? Fact is, I didn't ride. Top it off that it was choir rehearsal night too so I would have been a little pressed for time.

The Boys didn't mind. When I came home from rehearsal, they were happily munching on the hay I'd left under the apple tree at the gate by the house. I gave them a fresh stock to keep them content along with some cuddles. I'll go out for late night feed a little earlier than usual, so I can get to bed.

Plan A is to get up an hour early so I can take my truck back to the inspection station as soon as it opens and hopefully get it passed. The battery had gone dead over the winter when I wasn't using the truck and the engine computer had gone "off line" so that it all failed the emissions testing. The inspectors could not get a reading. They told me to drive the truck for at least 150 miles to reset the computer system. Now that I have done that, I certainly hope all is well.

Now all I have to do is roll out of bed at the crack of dawn......If I don't make it, I will try to get there after school. Or week.