Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Sillies: McKenna Edition

Last week was brutal in terms of riding with Miss McKenna.  She's been in heat and was just a monster to deal with under saddle. Environmental factors didn't help. It poured Monday, was rained Tuesday, was nice Wednesday; Thursday saw the hottest temps of the year so far (75* and muggy), Friday the temps dropped, winds picked up and the storm came in.

Our barn's gotten busier lately and trying to find time to turn the mare out in the arena is hard.  If I can't let her get out and run around I'll throw her on the lunge line before getting on.  I know it's not fair to her to expect a full-of-herself 7yr old OTTB to stand in a stall 23hrs a day and come out and get right to work.
Don't believe the angelic expression

Thursday I turned her out and she ran for a while, as per usual, then I groomed and tacked up. McKenna had a huge hump in her back as soon as I got on and felt like a ticking time bomb.  We did lots of transitions and changes of directions to try and get her mind focused.  She wasn't super great during our trot work but once we started to canter all bets were off.  She got super sticky going right, would either not go forward at all or leap forward like a freight train.  I actually had to run her into the wall a couple times to get her to stop.  After about 15 minutes of trot-canter work in which I was fighting with her the entire time I got off, pulled her tack and let her run around some more.  She ran for over half an hour almost non-stop.  By the time she was done she was dripping sweat and blowing hard. At that point she had been working for over an hour and still had a slightly crazy look in her eye.  I hand walked her out then gave her a good rinse.
Crazy mare

Friday she had off, as a storm was coming in and you could feel the change in the air.  I thought it wouldn't be worth it to try and work her through that so she got turned out in the arena to play.  Saturday I got back on (after turnout time and a lunge) and lasted about 5 minutes before I threw in the towel.  She had the same hump in her back and I could tell she had attitude and I didn't even want to start that fight.  I pulled tack and let her run around some more.  I was really disappointed, I thought we were almost over the naughty crazy behavior, at least to this extent. She's not a naughty mare at all, and her I don't think it's a pain issues because her back has been feeling pretty good. I sent a message to my trainer asking for a lesson and/or trainer ride this week because we need help.

Sunday was gorgeous and sunny so I ran out early in the morning and turned McKenna out in one of the small outdoor paddocks. I came back 4-5hours later to ride and I had a completely different horse.  She was tired, relaxed, and soft in my hand.  I actually had to pony kick her multiple times to get her to canter.  We started in the indoor then moved outside once she proved she had a brain in her head.  The only time she got nervous was when someone was lunging inside and cracked the whip.  The big sliding door was open between the arenas (with the gate closed) so she could see and hear what was going on inside.

I'm really hoping that I can find away to get her more turnout during the week.  We're a self care barn, so if I want her out I have to do it myself.  A couple boarders come out in the middle of the day and I'm going to see if one of them would be willing to turn her out for me. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Grid Work Round 2

On Wednesday I was way too motivated and rode both Tia and McKenna after work.  I did Tia first and let McKenna get her crazies out in one of the outdoor paddocks.  Before I got on I added another fence to the one stride from last time.  I had it set as a crossrail, one stride, crossrail, one stride pole to begin so I didn't overwhelm the big mare.

Switching the stirrups on Tia's new saddle really helped.  My ankles weren't dying, I was able to keep my leg quieter and underneath me better. When we first started over the grid I wasn't staying up in two point long enough after the fence, kept sitting down too soon but that got better as we went along.   We did the two crossrails a couple times to make sure she was good and I had the distances set right.

This is her staring at the photographer and trying to land and go sideways
I got off and put the last fence up to vertical.  Coming to it the first time I felt Tia look at it and hesitate and we lost our impulsion to the first fence. I legged her on and held mane.  One of the bet things about Tia is that she might not know what you're asking, but she'll try.  She'll look at something and hesitate if she's not sure, but as long as her rider is confident and supporting she'll go for it.  We had a bit of a leap to the last fence, but coming around to it a second time she figured it out and adjusted herself.  We did the whole thing probably 5 times and each go was better than before. 

She's just so darn cute!  I however need to fix my chicken wing elbow.
At least until I asked my friend to video.  She stood pretty much directly in front of the line, along the back rail of the ring and Tia looked at her hard coming into the line. She backed off, and ended up rubbing all three fences.  When we landed she took about a stride then ducked around the turn to make sure we didn't run over the photographer. I made her come back a second time and we ironed everything out.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Q1 Goal Review and Q2 Goals

My goals for the first quarter of the year were:

For McKenna:
  • work at least 4x/week.  Have one lunge in vienna reins day and one "jump" (poles, cross rails, etc) day a week. Pretty much stuck to it.  The only real "time off" she had was after her chiro adjustment and that was per the vet.  I wasn't great about one "jump" day per week but we'll get there.
  • Continue working on our canter. Success!  We were complimented on our canter improvement at our last lesson with TS and she gave us homework (shallow serpentines to introduce counter canter) that we've been working on.
  • Get her out and go places!  I haven't taken her anywhere in the year that I've had her and I want to start exposing her to new places before hitting our first show. Complete and utter FAIL. Partly due to my truck dieing and me not trusting it hauling and partly due to time/availability of someone to go with us. 
For Phoenix:
  • Stay a happy, somewhat sound, old man. Win!  Phoenix moved to his new retirement home and seems pretty happy out there.  He looks sounder less lame and isn't stocking up in his hind end anymore.
 Since I started riding Tia and hope to show her my Q2 goals are going to include her.

For McKenna:
  • Get her out and go places!  My plan is if/when I show Tia to get a stall for McKenna and park her in it at the shows.  And time/space/energy permitting I'll hand walk/lunge/ride her around the show grounds as well.
  • "Jump" more.  She gets so excited over the little crossrails that it makes me nervous doing them outside of a lesson.  I guess that just means I need to lesson more!  
  • Work on clipping her ears.  
For Tia:
  • Continue grid work, adding in bounces.
  • Work on more eq/jumper style courses 
  • All the counter canter!
  • Show in the 2'6", either hunter, eq, or jumpers.  I'm not picky
For Phoenix:
  • Stay happy, fat, and adorable!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rabies Vaccine

One of the horses in the barn is currently in ICU at the local vet hospital due to an infection from a vaccine.  Originally they thought it was a reaction to the vaccine itself, but now they believe its an anaerobic infection.  They have cut slits into her neck to open the muscle to oxygen as that's the only way to save her; pics farther down, but be warned it's bloody and gross.  They've already had to remove some necrotic tissue around the injection site.

The mare, as well as the owner's two other horses, were vaccinated by our vet Tuesday afternoon.  Wednesday morning the BO texted the owner saying the mare wasn't eating, didn't want to move, and looked pretty bad.  The owner didn't come out till that afternoon to check on the horse, and by that point her entire neck was swollen and she still wouldn't move or eat.  She called the vet and he came out and gave a dose of banamine as well as some topical ointment to help reduce the swelling. At 8pm last night, after the owner came out for a night check, the mare was worse and they loaded up to head to the hospital.

The vaccine that caused this was a rabies vaccine.  I've only ever given a rabies vaccine once, when Phoenix was being used for 4H and it was required.  He didn't have a problem with it. My vet said, as he was giving the shot that he didn't think it was necessary and he's never seen a rabid horse in 30+yrs of practice. I have no idea why the mare's owner choose to give the rabies, since I know my vet (whose she uses) wouldn't recommend it. Has anyone give the rabies shot?  I didn't even know they had one till I was told Phoenix would need it.  My ponies are due for their yearly shots and I'm kinda freaked out and no way in hell are they getting a rabies vaccine.

Picture of poor Poppi below.  The white you see are drain tubes, not puss.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Birthday Phoenix

Phoenix turned 20 today.  It's hard to believe he's that old and that I've had him almost 10yrs.  I didn't get to see him today but I went out on Saturday.  He got his face stuffed with peppermints, a good grooming and lots of kisses!

Happy birthday to the derpiest old man!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

As the Withers Turn

Tia is very hard to fit saddle wise; she has those shark fin TB withers. I was riding her for a while a few years ago, and borrowed her for a medal final, and had a hell of time trying to get a saddle to work for her.  The only saddle in the barn that fits her really well is a Wintec all purpose that I hate.  I can't get my calf on her and I can't get out of the saddle over the fences. My saddle fits ok with a large Beval wither relief pad but after our last ride I noticed it was rubbing her.

Today after our warm up, when I started asking for more bend and for her to come on the bit, she stopped.  We were trotting along and she just petered out and halted.  When I got after her she got pissy and hopped up on her front end.  I've been through enough saddle fit issues with her to know that's her way of saying "Ow" so I got off and took her back to the crossties.  I pulled my saddle and was staring at my BO's saddles trying to remember what I've tried on her in the past. My BO has 2 dressage (one fits Tia, but obviously not going to jump in it), 1 all purpose (hate), 1 jumping Wintec (doesn't fit), and 1 Dover Circuit jumping saddle.  The last time we went through this with Tia she didn't have the Dover so as a last ditch effort into not having to use the all purpose I tried it.
Dover Circuit

Surprisingly it fit pretty well.  It's maybe a touch narrow but gives really nice wither clearance.  I used the same Beval pad with it and did some easy w-t-c and jumped a small crossrail and the mare was happy with it.  I however, felt like a fish out of water.  It's narrower than my saddle, and while it's stamped the same size as mine it felt smaller. The knee rolls/pads are kinda weird and my leg goes over them a bit but I think it will just take some getting used to. 

Close up of the odd knee rolls
The Sprenger offset jointed stirrups just about killed my ankles and I think I'm going to need to punch some half holes in the leathers. The saddle came with a horse my BO's got last year, which it actually doesn't fit very well, so it's not used much and my BO said I can use it as much as I want and I can switch the stirrups. I gave it a good conditioning and swapped out the stirrups for my regular jointed ones and put my composite stirrups back on my saddle. I had taken the composites off because I can't show in the eq in them, but since I won't be using my saddle to show Tia in, I can have them back on mine.

Friday, March 20, 2015

My Poor, Poor Debit Card

This weekend was our state's yearly horse expo.  It's held about 10 minutes from my house but I haven't gone in a few years because they haven't had any (to me) interesting clinicians and because my former good friend and I used to go every year together before we had a major falling out.  It seemed weird to go without her, and I didn't want to chance running into her because that would be my luck. I had today off work and I wanted to hit a couple booths from the nicer tack shops that are an hour plus away from me.
Reason #1 why I can't go to horse expos by myself

I had spent the morning getting new tires for my car so my debit card was already in pain.  I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, maybe some new gloves to replace my holey ones and maybe a new blanket for McKenna.  Her current one rubs her shoulders and she's in between a medium (too small neck hole digging into her neck) and large size (slides around and doesn't do anything) shoulder guard so if I could find a deal I'd do it.  At the first booth I stopped at I saw a Rhino medium weight turnout over half off with only one left in her size. And bonus, it was a cute grey and purple plaid!  Got that and decided I was done for the day.

Blanket fits, with no tightness over the shoulders! Also enjoy the Tia photobomb

I walked around a little bit more and ran into a former boarder from my barn.  We chatted and caught up and it was great to see her.  She had left to put her horse in training, and had a bit of an issue with my former friend I mentioned above.  Once I said that the ex-friend had left she perked up and asked if we had any open stalls.  I said in a month we would and told her to talk to the BO. It would be nice to have her back in the barn.  Funny how you don't realize you missed someone till you see them again.
McKenna's super embarrassed over the giant hood though.

After our chat I found the booth of a relatively new higher end tack shop.  I haven't been in the actual store yet, but I've seen their ads.  They had a lovely display of Ogilvys and I talked to owner for a bit about them.  I've been going back and forth over getting one.  McKenna's had some back soreness and I've done the usual "are Ogilvys the great or is it just a fad" thing. The shop owner said she has a demo pad she sends out with people to test ride in, only I would have to drive an hour north to get it and return it.  I was seriously considering doing that when she mentioned one of the gummy half pads on display was half off.  It was custom ordered with someone's initials but they didn't like it/didn't buy it once it got to the store so they were selling it cheap.  I contemplated for a bit before biting the bullet and saying I'd take it.  Once the pad was paid for and bagged up I hurried home before I did anymore damage. Then it was off to the barn to try things on!

We'll just pretend those are my initials

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Back to Basics

I didn't ride Tia in over a week so when I pulled her out on Tuesday I thought it would be good to revisit some of our issues from our last ride, our horrible trot pole lesson. I set up an easy one stride, x-rail to ground pole with the intent to turn it into an x-rail. I've never taken Tia through a grid, and I seem to remember one of her past lesson girls trying and it not going well.  I'm of the feeling that because she is such a natural hunter that whoever started her just went right to course work, didn't do some (to me) basics. Luckily I really like grids so Tia will have many of them in her future.

Doing baby basic grids is hard work
When we first approached the mini-gird I could feel Tia question it.  It was the same "I have no idea what to do" feeling she had during the lesson.  Like she couldn't figure where to put her feet or how to jump.  She backed way off and almost jumped the x-rail from a standstill.  She did what I call the splits over it; front feet on the off side while the back feet were still on the takeoff side. She did a tiny little canter step then realized she didn't have enough room to fit a second one it and supermaned it over the pole.  She's a horse that can't split her stride over a ground pole, she'll either chip in or leave long.   I just tried to stay out of her way and support with my hand and leg to keep her going.  I did laugh a bit though.
Scary stuff man
It took about four times through the "grid" for her to really get it and to smooth things out.  The one stride became easy and she was relaxing so I put the ground pole up to an x-rail.  Coming to it she wanted to back off, but didn't feel as confused as when we first started.  She looked at the grid but went right through pretty well.  I only did the x-rail to x-rail another couple times since she was getting it.  It wasn't hard physically, but it was a big mental challenge to her.  I was just about done when my BO (Tia's owner) came out and I was able to get her to video us. I have no idea what my outside hand is doing, kindly ignore it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Success is to Me

I've been mentally writing this post for the past couple days, and think it's perfect that Tracy posted on it as well.  On Saturday we had another dressage lesson with TS and on Sunday our massage therapist was out to work on McKenna. On both days I was complimented on just how far the mare's come and how she seems like (finally) she's growing up.
Tia trying to get McKenna to play in the paddocks.  McKenna says "I've grown up now, I don't do that anymore"

Our lesson went really, really well.  We started with some walk-halt-rein back exercises that I've been doing after watching the Melanie Smith Taylor clinic. I've found that it helps McKenna focus, especially went she wants to be a bit up or spooky.  TS really had me focus on making sure McKenna was straight.  Both directions she wanted to float her haunches to the left, but a little left leg and right rein fixed that.

We then moved on to trot work where we were again complemented on how far McKenna's come.  She was able to come round, work the whole arena, and change directions and bend quietly.  TS had us come back to the walk to star some leg yields, and once we go them we tried it at the trot.  I've attempted leg yields a few times, but I'm never quite sure I have them on my own.  TS said they looked very good, the only thing I need was a bit more opening outside rein to help guide her over.  We did get told to not do too many; McKenna's the type of horse that once she's got something she gets cranky if we drill it too much. She's got a healthy ego and knows when she's right and doesn't see the point in doing something again.
The look of a champ
Four our canter work McKenna did her normal routine going right: counter bend, slow down, and not want to go forward.  TS said I was nagging too much with my inside leg, to give her one or two swift "karate kicks" then take pressure off.  I was also sitting too deep in my left seat bone when I needed to shift my weight to the right.  Once I figured myself out and quit nagging the mare, we had some nice canter transitions.  Funny how that works.  TS had me do a circle at each short end then start some shallow serpentines, from the rail to the quarter line and back, to introduce the feeling of counter canter.  Our first few times were pretty rough, but we improved each time and that's what matters.  That's our homework for next time.

At the end of the lesson we stopped and chatted with TS in the center of the right and she kept complimenting me and McKenna (including lots of head scratches and baby talk), saying just what an nice horse she is and how far she's become.  It really made my happy and I realized that this is what success is.  It's taking an unbalanced, somewhat crazy young OTTB and bringing them along myself.  It's that feeling of accomplishment after a great lesson or hack knowing you put this horse together and knowing there's still more to come.

Friday, March 13, 2015

WEF 2016

It's a little over a year away, but next March my family is planning a cruise to celebrate my aunt's 70th.  We're going to be sailing out of Tampa to Cozumel and Key West.  My mom and I were talking about side trips (hello Harry Potter World!!!) and I said that I wished WEF and Wellington weren't 3hrs from where we'll be because I'd love love love to go.  So in true AwesomeMom fashion she said we can go!!!!  Now I just have to wait until they release next years dates so I can start planning! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Death by Trot Poles

In a continuation of the simple-but-oh-so-hard exercises I had a lesson on Tia Sunday that kicked both of our asses. I had been talking with my trainer at the beginning of the lesson about the clinic and joked that she'd have me do an all trot fence/pole lesson and while she laughed and said no, I managed to jinx us.

Tia is not a super fan of trot fences.  She likes to either loose all forward impulsion and then kinda collapse over them or canter the last stride before the jump.  It's a balancing act between enough leg to keep her forward but not get her cantering, and supporting with your hand but not holding her. Since she's such a schoolmaster she knows we do a couple trot fences then move on to the funner, bigger stuff so she kinda checks out during warmup.

We were to start warming up over three small verticals, at the trot, a single outside, singe diagonal, then an inside rollback to an outside. The first fence actually was pretty decent but she wasn't convinced she had to come back to the trot for the other fences.  She did canter before the diagonal and our rollback left a lot to be desired.  Trainer then had us just focus on the rollback, making sure I was looking early and asking for the left lead to make the turn easier.  Tia then decided to get twisted and drift sideways to the last fence so we got a placing pole to help keep us straight.

Accurate representation of us
While the turn and approach to the last fence got easier, the mare kept rocket launching the tiny jumps.  So trainer put out a placing pole before the jumps. Didn't faze Tia any, she just launched from farther away or did a super short canter stride between the pole and the jump. At this point both my trainer and I were laughing that the point-and-shoot horse was having a fit over such a simple exercise and I repeated that we were going to spend the whole lesson on trot fences.

We got more placing poles before the jumps and Tia completely lost it.  She stopped and (very slowly) ran out of our line of 3 placing poles. It felt like she had no idea what to do or where to put her feet. Coming back around to the diagonal I really had to hold her hand and support  her, hands up and plenty of contact and a supporting leg. It took her many, many tries with some, as my trainer said, truly terrible jumps.  A few times it felt like she straddled the fence with her front feet on one side and her back end on the other. I've never had so many bad distances in one lesson.  Once she finally she figured out the trot poles and we could trot the two fences nicely we quit. We had spent almost a full hour on those two, seemingly simple fences.  The poor mare was super sweaty and look exhausted so she got a nice warm bath and turned out into our all weather paddocks for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Melanie Smith Taylor Clinic

I went up to one of the bigger A circuit barns on Saturday to audit the Melanie Smith Taylor clinic.  It was a two day clinic, with three groups (2'6", 3', 3'6") but I was only able to go for the early groups on Saturday.  Based on the schedule I should have been able to watch the 2'6" and most of the 3' groups, but the first session ran long and I had to leave before the 3' started.
There were 7-8 riders in the first group,  a couple pony kids, a few teenagers, and the rest adult ammys.  The first thing Melanie said as they were coming in to start the clinic was she wanted them to stand in a circle around her and let go of the reins; let the horse stand on the buckle. Having contact while stopped is unnecessary; "pressure without purpose". She also wanted them to lightly bump the horse if their heads were turning or they were looking outside the circle.  She wanted them tuned in to their rider, or centered as she called it.

Melanie had them go out on the rail walking on a loose rein and ran the riders through a series of stretches. Dropping stirrups, one hand reaching up over their heads (ride long and tall), arms out to the side, lifting one leg off the saddle, then both legs off to help feel their seat bones.  Next was some walk-halt transitions, trying to do 5 steps walk, halt, 3 steps walk, halt etc..... Melanie really wanted the horses paying attention to their riders, again focusing on centering the horse. She had them do the same thing in their trot and canter work as well.

During the 45 minutes that the group spent of flat work I noticed a majority of them either picked up the wrong diagonal or the wrong lead many times.  One girl, maybe 13ish?, (who was obviously incredibly nervous and over-horsed) never picked up the correct diagonal, and never checked it.  Her trainer was standing at the rail and would whisper to her as she rode by, and eventually Melanie started telling her to change.  Melanie also had to announce to the whole group that making sure you have the correct canter lead was more important than getting it at a certain spot.  In my mind, if you are jumping 2'6" and shelling out $400 to ride with an Olympic gold medalist and World Cup winner you should be able to get the right diagonal and leads.  It really surprised me how something that is so basic seemed to be so overlooked. /Rant over/

So deceptively simple
For their first jumping exercise Melanie had the group trot in to a line of crossrails with placing poles and a set of cones halfway between the jumps.  To continue the theme of precise transitions and having the horse tuned into you, the group was to trot the first jump, walk between the cones, then trot the second jump and halt on a straight line. Simple, right?  Almost all of the riders had trouble, either not being able to walk between the cones, horses going sideways, not stopping on a straight line, and quite a few had refusals. Some of my favorite quotes came from this exercise. "Do you want to ride in the Olympics one day?  Then you need to ride this, today, like an Olympian. These simple exercises are the basics you need to learn now in order to use later." And  "she's [the mare] is trying very hard for you, but she can't jump the standard. You have to direct her at the center and give her the confidence to do it." The mare was petering out to the base of the jump and drifting sideways, not dirty stopping but the girl (the one who can't find her diagonal) was doing nothing to help the horse.
Sorry for the crappy phone pics
After the riders somewhat got the exercise Melanie had them move onto what she called "the hourglass". They started with the same outside line, then trotted a diagonal crossrail, came back to a trot and did some raised ground poles in the center of the ring, then trotted out over the red crossrail oxer.  They continued onto the little white gait, back to the trot over the raised poles again, then a bending line to a far crossrail oxer. The more advanced riders of the group were to canter in, trot the poles, then canter the oxers.

During this exercise two girls fell off, one twice at the same fence, and I counted three instances of crying (one fall related). Melanie was getting slightly frustrated, but was still kind and encouraging to the riders.  She was happy if they took a circle to collect their horse, or if they asked to come back and do something over. Her main focus with this exercise was to get the job done, ie the transitions, then smooth it out. "Do as much as necessary, but as little as possible." I really liked watching this part, and wished I could have seen the more advanced group do it.  You could really see how some of the riders thought out their rides and how the horses had to think through it too. A few riders really got it, while most had trouble getting the canter to the second jump in the lines. One woman in particular had some very nice rounds and make it look super easy. I would highly recommend watching or riding in one of Melanie's clinics if you ever have the opportunity!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter D

Vitamin D is something we here in the PNW are normally lacking this time of year.  Usually it's gray, rainy, gray, cold, wet, and gray.  This year it's been fairly dry with a mix of foggy/gray days and sunny days.  And now that its staying lighter later (and thank goodness for the time change this weekend) I've decided to take advantage and ride McKenna outside more.

I think part of the mare's resistance going right is that we're riding in the indoor, where the footing can be a bit slick if it's wet.  The few times it's rained this winter it's poured pretty hard and unfortunately a few spots in the indoor flood.  The gutters can't handle it and some water seeps in. I've seen McKenna slip while being turned out in the indoor, and I'm wondering if this A) caused her back injury; and B) makes her more nervous and unwilling to go forward inside.  I rode outside Sunday and yesterday and lunged her outside Monday and she was a lot more willing and seemed happier. 
Photographic proof that we ride outside.
Brief barn tour: My barn has two aisles, the upper and lower, with the indoor arena between them. The long side of the indoor arena run east-west.  Our outdoor area is directly off of the indoor, and it's long sides run north-south.

Marvel at my awesome paint representation of the barn
About 10 minutes into our ride yesterday as we were coming around the lower corner of the arena heading up the long side the big sliding door from the indoor to the outdoor started opening. McKenna spooked hard, jumping backwards and sideways at the same time. Thankfully she didn't do more than that; I had visions of my ass ending up in the dirt. I yelled at the boarder (very sweet but utterly clueless woman) who was sticking her head out of the opening and I'm pretty sure I dropped a few f-bombs at her.  She was very apologetic, saying she didn't know anyone was outside.   Once the door was all the way open I walked McKenna past it and she tried to run sideways again.  Since my heart was still in my throat and McKenna's whole body was vibrating, I figured we needed a break so I got off and put her on the lunge line.

One of my fav pics of Phoenix and Buddy standing at the offending door.
Once I was able to breath without shaking and McKenna was lunging past the door quietly I got back on.  My plan for the day was to work over some ground poles but I scrapped that and settled for some nice w-t-c. She was still a little sticky going right, but I didn't push it since she was being so much better than she was in the indoor. The weather is supposed to stay sunny and nice for the next week so we'll be able to get some hopefully good rides outside.
I can haz stretchy trotz?

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Great Boot Debate

Last year my 8yr old Ariat Heritage boots finally bit the dust. I thought I had scored a deal on some Tredstep's, but they ended up not fitting.  I did turn around and resell them for more than I paid for them, so that's a win.  I was somewhat boot desperate and everything with the calf size that I needed was either on a huge back order, or flat not available.  I ended up getting the Dover Middleburg Square Toe Field Boot.
Pic courtesy of Dover
While being around the same price as the Ariat Heritages, the Middleburg boots are no where near as nice.  The leather isn't great, the zippers tend to want to fall down, and after a year of use (I only ride in my tall boots maybe 1-2 times a week and use them at shows) the insole in one of them is coming off. They surprisingly broke in pretty well, and after they dropped they're a nice height for my leg but that's the only good things I can say for them. I've also lost some weight and they are too big in the calf now.  Last week I was able to get them on over a pair of boot cut jeans, without tall socks.
So. Much. Want.

I'm starting the search for new boots again.  I would love to get customs but I can't afford that. My top pick for off the rack tall boots is the Ariat Volant S boots.  I would need an XW calf from Ariat, and from what I can see Ariat doesn't make this boot with that calf.  There is one online site that I found that says they have them, and I have an email into them confirming it, but I'm not holding my breath.

My guilty secret
I also really like the Ariat V Sport boots. I know they are impractical to get as show boots, since I couldn't/wouldn't use them in the hunter and eq rings.  But I like them, and they come in a XW calf.

Boring boots
I'm most likely going to get the Tredstep Donatello Plus boots.  I like the look of them slightly more than the Ariat Heritages and I like that I can get the XW calf with a shorter height.  But after the Ariat's they just seem boring. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Little R&R

When TS adjusted McKenna last week not only was she out in her poll, she was way out in her hips. TS hit one spot on her and poor McKenna dropped her back so fast I was afraid she'd fall down. TS said she also has muscle and ligament soreness in her lower back and hips.  She wasn't worried about it and after the adjustment McKenna wasn't reacting when TS was palpating the area. She actually said the muscle soreness was good thing; McKenna's developing a top line and her hunter bump is almost gone. TS recommended some time off and a few days of bute then slowly bringing her back into work.
She also figured out the Lickit

Being the over protective horse mom that I am, McKenna got to go in her BoT sheet for a few days, all the treats she could eat, and some long turnout time in the outdoor paddocks. The outdoor time only last two days before she figured out how to open the gate and let herself out.  Luckily she didn't go to far (found a stack of alfalfa to munch on) and one of the other boarders saw her go trotting out the gate so she was easily caught.
McKenna's view from her stall of the scary loud tractor and trailer.

I lunged her lightly Thursday and Friday in some loose set side reins to see how she'd be, and after getting some impressive bucks out she was quiet and relaxed.  Yesterday I got on after some more lunging, and while she was still not thrilled about going forward to the right, she felt pretty good.  If I tried to pick up the trot tracking right she would sully up and get pissy, but we worked through it. I did a lot of circles, figure 8s, and changes of direction trying not to pick or put too much pressure on her. Our BO was loading a trailer full of manure for a landscape contractor while I was riding and it made McKenna tense (read: lots of noise and scary sounds), but she didn't spook and kept it together.  We only did about 20 minutes of walk-trot with the focus on going forward and relaxation. I'm hoping that she works out of this right side stickyness but luckily TS is coming back in two weeks to recheck/do a makeup lesson.