Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things are looking up, kinda.

Well things have been interesting these past few days in my little horse world.

Let's start with the good news, because in a sense it affects the bad news.

First of all The the most Amazing dentist came and worked on his teeth. I love this dentist..he was so gentle with Max, easy to talk to and did a great job. He found numerous sharp points in his mouth that were causing discomfort and removed them.

Okay...the bad news...I had a lesson scheduled with my lovely trainer on Sunday, but as soon as I hopped on Max he displayed a limp in his right front. Ugh..I know :(  So I slid my sorry butt off, armored his feet with cavallo boots and pads and pastern wraps and put him back in his paddock with lots of treats.

However within the past few days he seemed to get better! I'd start by walking him around, and last night when I lunged him I couldn't see any gimpy-ness.

So I hopped on for a short and easy ride and guess what? He seemed so much happier. Yes he did a few head tosses but after a few transitions he was super sensitive to my go aids and I could feel his back lift..and the tossing went away! I also didn't detect any limp! On top of that, he didn't display any flat ears, like he has our last few rides. I really think the teeth were causing him discomfort.

Another piece of good-ish news. A new farrier is coming in tomorrow to work on his feet. I don't want to get into details but I was not thrilled with the last farrier so this is a relief to me. I hope this new guy will help Max a little more, and be easier to communicate with. J is going to jog Max around to see if he still needs hoof-testers. We shall see..

So...saddle fitting- check, teeth- check, and hopefully feet will get a check soon, in hopes that Max will feel comfy so our rides can be more pleasant for him, and thus for me.

Fingers crossed---I'm just going to glue them there so they stay crossed permanently!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sarah Vanecek Groundwork clinic.

Max and I participated in our first clinic yesterday  :) There were was an obstacle course set up and the clinician also focused on lunging, side-lunging and long-lunging.

It was freezing so unfortunately I didn't take a whole lot of pictures. I wish I did now that I'm nice and warm in my comfy office!

I opted out of the obstacle course to focus on lunging for Max. He's generally good with it but we have had some scooting  moments. Plus I wanted to make sure I wasn't picking up any wrong habits.

So we started out with talking about the correct position and set up for lunging. She spoke a lot about position and energy. She had me pinch the whip under my armpit and hold it back at first.

Of course, he had to be a good boy that day >.< so I couldn't really recreate the scooting off he sometimes does. But we did work on lunging with a lunge whip and getting him to feel that it's okay to see the lunge whip in my hand - that it doesn't mean I'm going to chase him with it.

She told me that when he is doing what I want him to do, to relax my energy and look at his body and keep my eyes soft. Then when I wanted a canter transition, she had me visualize what I wanted him to do, look right into his eyes and raise the whip slightly. I didn't even have to say anything. Like magic he transitioned nicely. Then as soon as he was cantering, I moved my eyes back to his body and lowered the whip.

Earlier on he'd toss his head and snort when I lifted the whip...she said that he was probably a little offended by it! By asking courteously, quietly and from the heart, we had a nice smooth transition without any of the drama. It was just lovely. She expressed some surprise at how well I was handling the lunging, that I wasn't over-reacting or under-reacting and to not change that when I work with him.

My most favorite part of the clinic? After working with us and seeing how we got a long she came up to me and told me that it was a real treat for a first-time owner, who was also new to horses, to have a horse like Max. She said that my energy was well-matched with his, and that it was rare to find such a sensitive horse with such a good mind. In the wrong hands, it would be a disaster, but my personality was just right for a horse like Max, and that he could teach me to be really smooth with aids which was a real pleasure to see and teach.

It was a fantastic feeling. I admit there have been those days where I have doubted myself... am I the right owner for Max? Will I ruin him with my lack of knowledge, lousy confusing aids and endless worrying?

It was nice to hear from a natural horsemanship professional that we were a good match. Very VERY nice.

And of course, it doesn't hurt that he's cute as a button!! ^.^

 Braids were a must!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

I CAN do it.

During one of my conversations with another trainer at the barn (I usually take her cross-training/jumping lessons) she mentioned that most horses will jump with confidence, it's mainly all in the rider's mind whether they feel they can make it or not.

I remember a few weeks ago, before the freezing spell, there were some plastic jump containers set up in an A-shape in the big arena. On the ground they looked tiny so I thought it would be no problem getting Max over them. However as soon as I hopped on Max , the jump looked huge...

I decided to go for it anyway...went over twice, came out of my tack twice. I would get nervous before the jump, slow Max down and he would have no choice but to pop up and over.

After the second time I told myself..nah..these are still too high for me..although obviously Max can handle it. I basically convinced myself I wasn't ready going that 'high' and that I needed more confidence before trying them again.

Today I was looking through some old pictures and came across these...(Please ignore the terrible rider position)


New year's resolution - get out of my chicken suit and go out there and have some fun over jumps with my jump-loving pony!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Treasure hunt.

I hid Max's treats in his lunchtime hay and of course he dug them out right away ^.^
There's nothing as calming as listening to a horse go munch munch munch.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting back to work.

Whew it's been a while since I've hopped on the blog world. I work through the holidays and vacation when the weather is nice so balancing work, family, friends, pets, and horse time had me pretty much maxed out for a while!

My excuses aside, I wanted to blog a little about getting back to work after some time off.

Max was out of work and had rest time in his stall for a little under two weeks straight till he was deemed un-lame by the vet. After that I noticed stiffness and resistance, especially going right, and when picking up contact with the bit. I figured this was normal recovery stuff and I wanted to give him enough time to get back into things, build his muscle back up.

Well apparently I was being a little too lenient. He started resisting more during canter departs to the right especially, and he'd either buck or push his shoulder out and run off with me. Me being such a worry-wart started giving him more slack, thinking maybe he had some sort of discomfort.

I had the saddle-fitter come out and she did say that the ThinLine pad that I had put on him was not fitting well with the saddle and was causing a bit of a pinch. I also have the dentist coming out to check his teeth, juuuustttt in case.

In the meantime I had my trainer hop on him. She sent me a message as soon as she hopped off saying he had picked up a bit of a behavioral habit of tossing his head and resisting. He also bucked! She continued to ride him forward and round and after that he was great.

She advised that when he is weak on one side to not ignore it but keep working him through it. If I didn't keep on top of things, he would try avoid it constantly and then build into something behavioral.  Looks like while I've been busy worrying about one thing, something else pops up!

I'm still going to make sure he is doing well physically. With the dentist coming out, and a hoof specialist in spring, proper saddle fitting and good exercise hopefully he will be a happy well-adjusted horse by summer.

In the least I know that he CAN work through it and to not let him trick me into thinking he can't!  What a clever fellow he's turning out to be!!

Cheeky Max!