Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beat the rain!

Fashionable camo vetwrap under the T-boots!

Wow.  What a NICE horse I had today:)  I wasn't so sure it would turn out well, because we had a little "Come to Jesus" while I was tacking him up.  I demand good ground manners.  I will NOT tolerate yanking, crowding, dragging, pawing, and general idiocy.  I'd noticed while grooming him that he'd knocked off the scab on his splint boo boo.  It is much smaller than it was, but it still is about 3 inches long, and was a little bit raw and red.  I put on some Wonder Dust, and while trying to treat it, he just kept pawing with his foot, and when he knocked me in the jaw with the edge of his shoe, I had to do something about it.  Once I got my point across that we STAND still, I gave him a treat, rubbed him, and just stayed cool.

Tacked up in the dressage tack and was armed with spurs and a dressage whip, just in case.  As I mounted and began walking in the ring, he felt GREAT.  Not sulky at all.  Let him loosen up for about 8 minutes, then shortened the reins.  The BEST thing I've done with him thus far is FINALLY teach him NOT to jig, yay!  I can now shorten my reins and walk him on contact without him trying to trot or jig.  I circled both ways several times, and finally picked up the trot.  He felt WONDERFUL!  After staying on the rail for a minute or 2, began my favorite dressage exercise; the thread the needle.  That's 8m cicle at the short side, continue about 3/4 down the long side, reverse, back to 8m circle, etc.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Moved from that and did some sitting trot with leg yields away from the rail, then back to the rail.  He was so soft and responsive it was awesome!

THIS is the year of the lead change.  I changed to the thread the needle exercise in the canter.  Reversed through a simple walk change.  Back and forth 8 times.  I then counter cantered the exercise with flying changes.  I then did the exercise on the correct lead with flying changes.  He was SO good.  Yes, he did get a little heavy and strong, but some good effective half halts had him coming RIGHT back to me:)  At some point I tossed down the dressage whip because he did NOT need it.  Did a perfect turn on the forehand, then left the ring.  We had our first SWEAT of 2012!  Woo hoo!  Muffin needs a hair cut!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

:) X 2

I had a GREAT ride on Tiki today.  After longeing him on Friday, he had the next 3 days off.  Today I decided to ride in the front pasture where I always used to ride him before the ring was finished.  I actually wanted to ride out there on Monday, but all the mares were out there.  Today, just Star was out there, and usually Star will leave us alone.

He was AWESOME:)  I think his little problem lately has been ring sourness.  He went forward, he was happy, he was soft and relaxed.  I trotted ALL over the pasture.  I went in straight lines, I circled, I went around the remnants of the old grass ring.  We did shoulder-in, transitions, and a LOVELY figure 8 at the canter.  We did fantastic work at the canter today; hand gallop to medium canter to collected canter, and back again.  He was so adjustable, so responsive, and SO good.  I ended with a counter-canter tracking left, then flying change back to the right lead.  I then did it the other way, and let him end there.  The lead changes were PERFECT!  Relaxed, quiet, and clean:)  He didn't rush, he didn't tense, he just changed his lead.  Woo hoo!

Super excited about the hunter pace on March 10.  I think me going at this point is pretty set in stone; Tiki NEEDS to go off property and have some fun.  Not sure I'll get to ride tomorrow; it's supposed to rain tonight.  We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Day 1, fresh off the trailer

Longeing in December of '08
Longeing in February of '12

Happy birthday to me!  Yesterday was my 33rd birthday.  Those are SO not as exciting as they used to be:)  Hoping this is a great year; I'm ready to have one I can look back on and say, "THAT was an AWESOME year!"

Got Tiki out of the ring yesterday and longed him in the front pasture.  I like to let him navigate over the uneven terrain, especially now that I always boot him up from now on.  He was actually really good, and after one good swipe with the whip, he was going on pretty well.  There was JUST enough wet in the grass he slipped a little cantering, so there was lots of bucking going on, lol.  I rigged up the surcingle with a lead rope this time, but I didn't see much of a positive difference, so I probably won't worry about doing that any more.  The point is to get him to use his back end; same idea as the $200 Pessoa longeing rig.  Last time I felt like it did a GREAT job preventing him from cross cantering, but this time no dice.  He crosscantered almost the entire way tracking right.  To be fair, it WAS sort of slippery, but STILL!  He KILLS me the way he cross canters!  

Check out that skinny neck and disproportionate body!
Got my individual Regional kids tomorrow, then my team Regionals next Saturday.  Taking Star tomorrow, then Star and Sparky next week.  I'm sure I will ride this week:)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You know, there IS a 5th possibility ...

( the ONLY time I can groom him without him lying his ears back)

(manly men wear pink)
And that would be RING SOURNESS!  During the summer I get Muffin out of the ring MUCH more than I have lately.  With all the rain, I've done MOST of my riding in the ring as of late.  Also, it's not a secret that many Throroughbreds thrive with a consistent and predictable routine.  Tiki's routine has been anything BUT predictable and routine; so it's not a stretch to think that the nappiness under saddle could have something to do  with general ring sourness.

Rode today and used a baby pad and my thinline.  Back in the same bridle I rode him in yesterday.  Took him up to the ring and walked on a loose rein.  I must say that at the WALK, he actually did feel better today.  I had him on the buckle, and even dropped my reins completely and did some no hands work!  (was showing off for a 9 year old, lol)  When I asked him for the trot, he pinned his ears and actually did that thing he did a few years ago when I rode him in the Myler bit with the port.  He literally lifted his head up, looked over his shoulder at ME, and swished his tail like he wanted to get a little light in the back end.  I didn't react at all other than to quietly close my leg and squeeze.  I didn't nag, I didn't dig in my spurs, I didn't shove my seat at him; just sat lightly and closed my leg.  It wasn't too long, and he was trotting along nicely.  Cantered both ways on the buckle, then picked up a little bit of contact at the trot.  I was just looping around the ring and seeing what kind of a horse I had, basically (and showing off for a 9 year old!).

The 9 year old wanted to see him jump, so I popped him over the stack oxer, then around to the coop, then the crossrail from last week.  He was LOVELY.  Soft, and eager:)  Felt GREAT.  I cut my losses, and took him into his pasture and let him walk the perimeter.  When I got to the biggest uphill part, I let him trot up.  I then trotted him in the flat part of the pasture, walked down the other side, then let him turn around and do a little gallop up the steep hill we usually walk for our hill work.  I trotted again on the flat part of the pasture, then walked out.  I decided too to take him down the driveway and down by the road a little ways.  I walked a short distance out of the driveway towards the trails (we haven't been on in a year), and got a little nervous when a huge cement truck flew by.  He tensed up and gave it the hairy eye, but stood like a champ.  Went ahead and took him back to the barn, and squeezed around his back pretty extensively and didn't find any evidence of soreness.  I'm no vet, but I'd venture to say I'm not dealing with any back soreness.

Overall, I focused on making sure he was not in pain, and tried to figure out how to make him happy with his job.  I am going to try and come up with a plan that works with the weather, and try and get him out of the ring as much as possible for a bit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Onward and upward!

Things are back to normal in my world.  I took a week's break from the muffin, finally can call myself "not sick", and enjoyed a nice ride today.  I think there is some validity to fellow blogger Jae's suggestion that maybe Tiki is nursing an ulcer flare up since being on stall rest for his splint injury.  It's either that, or my Thinline pad makes more of a positive difference than I thought it did.  In retrospect, for all of my rides recently, I've been using one of these pads.  I feel like both of my saddles fit well with this pad, and I haven't felt any different than I usually do.  My Thinline pad is really thick; it's an older model.  Also, it's just a smidge too short for my saddle, and I always worry I'm creating a pressure situation on that back edge.  I think for the rest of this week I need to go back to my usual combo of a normal thin cotton pad with the Thinline and see if I see a difference.

Tiki has never had a chiro adjustment; it's on my "to do" list for this year, but I have to have about $200 available so he can get multiple adjustments at first to get things "right".  Also, I put him on the remainder of the Ulcer Guard powder he used to be on; can't hurt!  He was his usual goober self; silly, sensitive, and taking opportunistic air nips as I groomed him.  None of the teeth bared, ugly attack I got a week ago.  Tacked him in the cc saddle and the copper ball bit on the regular cavesson bridle.  Mounted up and he was SUPER quiet, offering once again to just suck back hardcore.  He's always lazy at home; never away!  But never pin his ears, just won't GO; this behavior has reared it's ugly head since I've begun riding him since his injury.  Possible causes are:
Sore back
Pain elsewhere
Saddle fitting issues

I'm pretty confident it's not saddle fitting issues since he has exhibited this behavior with both saddles.  I would say my cc fits him a hair tighter than the dressage saddle, but both fit well (to my non-pro saddle fitter self).

An ulcer I didn't even think about, but that COULD very well be it.  He loves his turnout, and he was on stall rest for a full week.  Not only that, but with all the rain we've had, Joyce has just left him in at night:(  I've been watching him for signs of boredom vices, but none yet thank goodness!)

Sore back is possible.  He is just touchy and sensitive EVERYWHERE.  Were I to win the Mega Millions tonight, I would put Tiki on the following regimen:  Chiro every 4 weeks, Quiessence for the sore back relief, Cosequin with the mega MSM dose, Adequan, and would have him evaluated for a sacro injection.  He just carries around a lot of tension, and his skin is super crazy sensitive.

Pain elsewhere seems low on the list as well.  He is 100% sound on that left front, and he doesn't have foot issues.  His heels *could* be sore; I noticed cleaning them today they seemed a little mushy.  We've had a lot of rain, and I haven't touched Tiki since he bit me, which means he's had mud in his feet for a week.  However, I don't think this was the case a week ago when he was sucking back like he did today.

He was good.  All I did was w/t/c for about 15 minutes.  I got frustrated when he would NOT trot forward, so I raised up in 2-point and FINALLY got him to gallop up in front of my leg after totally chasing him!  The trot was a little better after that.  Hopped over the cav stack oxer 3 times; the first 2 times he sped up and got a little deep; 3rd time I kept a feel, used my voice, and he met it perfectly.  Not making any commitments for the rest of the week; if I ride I will report back!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Just a teensy bit down in the dumps

Friday was a huge suck fest all the way around.  Got the stalls cleaned, then set out to ride Tiki man.  I stuck true to the plan and put on the dressage saddle despite a pretty substantial headache brewing.  Took him to the ring, and all STARTED out well.  After I spent a solid 5 minutes walking both ways and picked up the trot, it became apparent he did NOT want to go forward.  I squeezed him with my spurs, and all he did was suck back and give an irritable swish of the tail.  VERY unusual for him.  As I went both ways and did some big circles, he just felt stiff and resistive; I did NOT  try to do anything harder or more complex.  I did try and get him in FRONT of my leg.  Used the spurs again, and he sucked back to the point that he actually bucked a little.  I smacked him with my hand, used the spurs HARD, he yanked his head down and bucked again, and I SENT him forward into a little hand gallop.  It was ugly; I was upset.  I did NOT get into a fight.  Once I trotted after the hand gallop, I breathed in deep and patted him.  Spiraled both ways at the trot, cantered on the 20m circle, and called it quits.  I theorized that maybe he was a little sore from his jump school Thursday?  Don't know, but I DO know that he was not his usual willing, kind self.

After putting him back in his stall, I went to put his blanket back on since it was pretty nippy, and the booger bit the HE&& out of me:(  Laid his ears back, bared his teeth, and came at me HARD.  He got me right above my left elbow; got a pretty big bruise there.  I unleashed he&& on him for about 5 seconds and made him regret coming at me:(  I was down enough that I was questioning what I was even doing.  I work FIVE days a week to pay for his board, and for what?  This week, I have had NO desire to ride at all.  I only did it because I know he and I NEEDED it.  I am STILL sick, and all I want to do is come home and relax.  So I'm working my tail off to support this horse, that I don't want to ride right now, and that I can't afford to compete.  I guess it bugs me that he doesn't even care enough about ME after 3 1/2 years to not BITE the he&& out of me.  I LOVE him, and he could take me or leave me.  I know it's not personal and he is not a person, but it still makes me kind of sad.

Then to top it off, my farm equestrian team failed to qualify for our Regional finals yesterday.  This is the FIRST time my team hasn't made it to the "finals":(  My middle school "school" team did, but not my farm team.  And to add insult to injury, it was requested that I NOT bring Tiki as an IEA horse to that Regional finals.  Sigh.  Come on, just hit me some more, I can take it ...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A week of firsts ...

As I threw a leg over Tiki's back today, my own words echoed in my head.  I often preach at  encourage my students to work on the things that they're either not good at, or are hard for them to execute whenever I give them "free time" to warm up.  So, I decided to trot some jumps!  I HATE to trot jumps.  I'm not good at it; I get left behind, I let my rhythm change too much, and I always have the sense that I just don't have enough gas to get over jump.  So I decided to work on that!

Muffin hasn't jumped in about a month, so I set up a couple of small things.  I did a usual, unimaginative setup of outside, inside, outside, inside.  The 2 outsides were a low cavaletti oxer stack and a tallish crossrail.  The 2 insides were the coop sections sans standards, and a pole.  As I warmed up, the words of a non remembered BNT reverberated in my ears; "I may be in the minority, but when I jump I want to JUMP.  I walk, trot, and canter once around the ring each way, then I'm ready to jump."  I seriously can't remember who it was that said that, but it struck a chord within me. I think sometimes I get a little mired down in the complex day after day; sometimes simple is just what the Dr. ordered!

I did about 5 minutes of trotting both ways, cantered, and it was time to FINALLY jump:)  I felt pretty awesome; my leg felt really nice and secure.  I trotted the 4 jumps, starting towards the ingate on the outside crossrail.  It went perfectly; he stayed perfectly even, I kept my heel under my hip, and all 4 worked out no problem.  Turned it around and started with the other outside, same direction, and only had one jump where I got a little left behind, but I caught up at the last one:)  Rewarded myself, and cantered all of them starting with the first outside again, but this time away from the ingate.  NAILED every distance.  I sang "Row, row, row your boat" in my head as we cantered up to the jumps.  I think I've identified a potential distance wrecker for me; on the 2 diagonal jumps, he VERY slightly bulged and drifted just a touch.  I need to remain cognizant of that, and just make sure to keep my legs on and make sure his body stays absolutely straight.  Did them one more time, reversing again to the opposite outside, and got one slightly deep distance, but I sat up, whoaed, and kept my leg on; it worked out just fine.  After the last jump, I kept cantering and hopped over a random single verticle that looked to be about 2'6.  No hiccup:)  

Love my boy, love my boy, love my boy:)  He is the bomb.  Quit on a good note, and threw him a nice big armful of hay in his stall.  Tomorrow I will end with a little school in the dressage tack, where we will focus on our flatwork; hope to formulate a plan tonight so I don't end up wandering aimlessly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

And ... the jury is back!

(Jan 19, 2010)
My dressage trainer from across the street brought her adorable Arab over to ride in our ring this afternoon.  I allowed myself to be pressured persuaded into riding with her, so I decided to actually RIDE today.  The good news is I progressively feel better each day, and today I've been feeling fairly decent.  Tiki was MUDDIER today than he was yesterday!  I had to break out the shedding blade; Mr. Sensitive was NOT amused.

Tacked him in the dressage tack and took him up to the ring.  Walked on contact, then trotted on contact; FIRST time on contact since his splint injury.  He was so good, Susan and I were wondering why he was so amazing?  Then I finally put it together ... ADEQUAN!  Gave him his last loading dose last week.  So, I have to say that he LOVES his Adequan.  I would say he loves it more than he loved his hock injections last year.  Very awesome, that makes me super happy:)

He was so super soft and relaxed.  He took the reins from my hands and trotted with his nose on the ground.  I kept things pretty simple and straight forward.  I think I can start to kick it up a little on his part, but as for me I'm still trying to get well.  I don't need to get pneumonia or something; that would be bad!

Cantered for the first time since the injury.  He was amazing, beautiful, perfect, soft, and lovely.  Transition was so so, but that comes from having him tuned up, which he certainly is NOT right now.  Not sure what the rest of the week holds, but the goal is to sit on him every day:)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Random musings

( how do y'all feel his conformation is? I think his weight looks great)
(hunk of hair)
I have NEVER felt more comfortable and at home than I do on Tiki man.  He is my very own slice of Heaven here on Earth:)  LOVE HIM.

It kind of amuses me when people think they can pick up an ottb for cheap, ride it for 30 days, then flip it for a profit that's thousands more than what you paid for it.  I'm sure there's SOMEONE that's done that.  But I've never known anyone.  I had a former student that was sure she was going to do that this summer; knowing how much I've put into Tiki, I inquired as to how the horse was doing.  Apparently, his "brain was fried", and they had to start him over from scratch after trying to show him this summer.  Just validates my thought that ottbs are HARD work.  Satisfying, but hard.  They're not a "quick flip", in general.

Spent some serious time with the boy's hair today.  Removed as much as I could without body clipping him, including cleaning up the tail.  I didn't realize it had grown so long!  I keep the sides clipped, but I hadn't banged it since the last time I showed him, which was ... July I think?  And back then all I did was trim it up a little bit.  Today, I hacked a big hunk of hair off!  Benign neglect has been good for his locks, I think:)  I spray it down with Vetrolin Shine at least once a week, but haven't touched it with a brush in a month.  He was DIRTY; he's seriously been enjoying his blanket-less time in the pasture, and has been caked in mud for about a week.

Since I've been hacking up a lung all day and trying to keep my nose from flowing like a faucet, I hopped on and we ambled around his pasture a few times.  He had a nice pace and rhythm, and I just worked on keeping him straight.  Didn't care WHERE his head was, just wanted his neck straight.  Finally slapped a bridle on his head; used the plain cavesson with the rolley-ball full cheek.  He was a perfect gentleman.

There's a hunter pace coming up next month I'm going to shoot for.  It's the same one Nicole and I won last year, at the Steeplechase land that's only 15 minutes from the barn!  The one with the big honking wooden coops ... where I seriously hurt my hand.  I will NOT forget my neck strap!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


(One year ago, at an IEA show)

Gee.  I was just scanning back through my posts from late 2010, and stumbled across this one:

Hmmmm.  Told y'all this was not a totally random occurance!  Yesterday felt AMAZING.  I was ridiculously ... SORE.  From WALKING.  What is wrong with me, lol?  Guess that means I really did WORK.  My butt muscles were sore, my seat bones were sore, my back was sore, and my legs felt like jelly.  I left him in his halter again, and worked at the walk for 10 minutes on the dot; same stuff as Monday, really.  Oh yeah, one thing I DID do on Monday that I sort of forgot to mention is I walked for 7 whole minutes in my 2-point:)  That probably accounts for some of the soreness!

After our 10 minuts of walking, I moved him up to the trot.  For the most part, he didn't flex at the poll by himself, but by the end of the 10 minutes, he was reaching his nose to the ground:)  The halter really makes you quit fidgeting with your hands, as well.  You can fidget all you want, but you're not about to accomplish anything because he has no BIT in his mouth;)  I didn't do much "hard" stuff at the trot, just stayed on the rail, and made some large, loopy circles for the most part.  Trotted over a single pole, but not over the cavalettis.  I worked hard!  A nice, big, open trot the whole time, and like I said ... he felt GREAT:)

Today, I am so sick I didn't go teach tonight:(  I've been fighting a mild cold since the Sunday of the last IEA show where it was cold and wet, and yesterday I woke up with a horrible sore throat/neck/head.  Today it's just as bad, AND my clear discharge has turned nasty yellow:(  I felt really, really bad after riding yesterday, but I stood in a hot shower until the hot water ran out, then trooped out to the barn anyway to teach.  Today, I just had to cry "Uncle", and stay home.  This is the long version of saying I didn't ride today.  Yesterday I bedded all the stalls, so today I cleaned as quickly as possible, gave the boy 2 peppermints to make up for leaving him in his stall, and skedaddled.

Hopefully I'm better by tomorrow, and it quits raining long enough to do some productive work!