Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More on that Sword...

In response to the comments on the last post:

Unfortunately at this facility it is all or nothing. They teach so many lessons during the college quarters that they need all hands on deck. The number beginner lessons far FAR outweighs the number of advanced lessons, so that won't work. He is one of the best horses she has for the beginners under saddle. He's never been lame and he just does what he's asked in the arena. He is slow to respond to halts but he is not dangerous about it, just takes a few extra steps to make sure you meant it. He isn't spooky or hot and he doesn't need to be lunged on a Monday morning before lessons start.

I can choose to not renew and wait a bit, but if I choose to re-enroll it would be for a year's contract again, and NO, the BO's are NOT flexible on this.

All riders do sign a liability form so I wouldn't be the one to bear the fault of negligence if he hurt someone. But like Friday, I would feel terrible and I would be embarrassed. I don't want to be the owner of "that horse" which is what he's becoming. Last night I went to ride him and he got bitey and kickey with me while grooming and I had to smack him around. Some lesson moms came up and said (before I had to smack him around) "I am just amazed at how good he is with you. He will barely let us brush him."

All of this also makes me wonder what else could be going on with him. He seems totally healthy and his weight is so much better. He's still a 6 or so, but his fat pads have shrunk and he seems to be maintaining an even weight. He does not seem lame or in pain under saddle, aside from the occasional hind end stumble when neither of us are managing his balance, but he's never been the most coordinated. I have plans to get him a chiro, but that's not happened yet. I thought about ulcers, but he doesn't show any of the physical symptoms of it. I can groom him roughly when he's got something else to look at and he doesn't care. I think it's just a "go away" type thing. "If I'm mean to you will you just go away? Like a fly or another horse?" Remember, he was never taught the difference between other horse buddies and human alphas and it's taken me a good long while for me to establish the dominance and respect I have... which he still ignores occasionally. I was told his breeder was afraid of him. I'm not afraid. He's not aggressive, just naughty.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Double-Edged Sword

Junior is currently being used as a lesson horse. There are many benefits to this and yet many drawbacks. We are coming up on the date I need to either cancel his contract or allow it to automatically renew for another year. I already know what my decision will be, but I thought I'd talk about those benefits and drawbacks today, just for funsies.

BENEFITS
1) Financial. As a lesson horse we get a standard $40 discount per month. On top of that we get a $3 credit each time he is used in a lesson. He averages about 18 lessons per month, more when the college rec. lessons are in full swing, less when they are not. This past month was 24 lessons so that gave another $72 off on my board. This way he "earns his keep", so to speak.
2) Boredom Breaker. If you have been around this blog a while you will remember he began cribbing after I brought him home. Getting out of his stall a few times every day really helps him have something to do. This also helps get him used to the schedule of a show where he has to go back and forth between his stall and our classes.
3) Increased exercise. It's not a TON of exercise because most of the lessons are very beginner lessons, mostly walk/trot, and if there is canter involved it's for very short periods. This has been very helpful when turnout is limited and because my work schedule does not permit me to go see him every day.
4)He seems to LOVE the attention. He looks SOOO happy during lessons. See?

When I first got him I didn't actually think this would be possible, but he's been awesome with the little kids. KAT can put ANYBODY on him. He just does his job, and he's become a favorite of many beginner kids and advanced students as well. He has been referred to as a "big comfy couch" more than once. There is even one little girl who refuses to canter on any other horse.

DRAWBACKS
1) My riding times need to work around the lesson schedule, and the schedule isn't always the same from quarter to quarter. There are over 170 college students taking lessons this quarter. On Wednesdays KAT starts the first lesson at 8:00am and ends the last one at 10:00pm, and there are no breaks for her in between. The horses always get at least one lesson-long break in between their lessons, but that time is also shortened up by tacking up or tacking down. I have made requests for times and KAT has been as accommodating as she can be with such a crazy schedule, but it has still made it more complicated. If I want to ride during the week outside of our pre-arranged times I need to find out his schedule. On weekends he's all mine, of course, but when he's doing SO MANY lessons I like to give him Sundays off with just turnout and maybe a little showmanship.
2) Health and Safety issues. Some of the college lessons get really hectic. Seven Newbs on horses at one time is nuts. It is not how I think first beginner lessons should be. I have been told that Junior has been kicked at by other horses in lessons and has been run into. One other lesson horse positively HATES Junior and has been known to try and chase after him. KAT has done her best to actually keep the two of them out of lessons with each other and only puts them in together during the more advanced lessons where the riders are more aware and would be able to keep them separated. I've seen some of the bouncing that happens with the newbies and it turns my stomach. It also turns my stomach to wonder what else could happen. I know KAT doesn't have eyes in the back of her head, and I know she does the best she can do with the situation she's been given. Still, it gives me the shivers.
3) Bad Habits. The only effect I've seen is that he thinks he can ignore a command to "whoa." He's never been great about a whoa anyway, and these beginner lessons have not helped the situation. He knows what is being asked, he chooses to ignore. You probably recall how Junior doesn't have the best manners and that he is a very smart horse who doesn't see a need to treat humans any differently than he does with his pasture buddies. Though he seems to be the best with the little kids, he has begun to mess with the college newbs. He started by going up to them when they opened his door and pushing them out with his head and going back to eating. Then he started grabbing the halter out of their hands and throwing it. (Kind of adorable, but also not acceptable.) "He won't let me in the stall" is a common complaint KAT and the nearby boarders have heard. He's NEVER played that crap with me, but it seems to be escalating to the point where on Friday he kicked a college kid. I happened to be in KAT's office with her when it happened and she was called out into the barn by someone saying "someone got kicked." I thought to myself "oh please not MY horse." but there we go to his stall alone and the kid is sitting down on the box outside the stall. Now, this is totally unacceptable, but he was untacked and his halter was still hanging on it's tie, meaning the kid didn't put his halter back on and tie him before working with him which is a total NO-NO in that barn. Again, STILL unacceptable for him to kick a person just because he wants to eat his hay in peace, but how can I possibly punish a horse so long after the fact, and how can I train him against it when he doesn't do it to me? I'd feel much better if he was more closely monitored. Having the students tack and untack the horses themselves (KAT always checks it all before they mount, don't worry.) is giving him ample opportunity to realize he can boss them around. He's just one of those horses that wasn't taught good manners as a child and he likes to see what he can get away with. I have become consistent with him and not afraid to demand respect. These newbs don't know how to do that and frankly I don't want them to try.

So, there you have it. The factors that help me make my decision to stay with the program or remove him. I'll tell you on May 15th what I decide. Why so long? Well, that's a whole 'nother story and you'll have to wait for that, too. :)

We have our first show of the season next weekend!!!!!! For homework, you can read up on the same show from last year Here and
Here, just incase you missed it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Happy to move on!

What is it about shedding season that makes me find myself taking a super extra-long shower at the end of a barn day?!?!

I really appreciate everyone's well wishes and advice with Junior's mystery episode on Wednesday. Though I get down-right sick with worry when anyone suggests the symptoms may mean really really bad things like laminitis (gulp), I really do appreciate hearing from people who have more experience and more education that I have. I'd rather be the overanxious/overcautious horseowner than the naive and neglectful horseowner, and it is so hard to describe symptoms and events sufficiently when I do not have an advanced terminology. Cedar View, I had to google subcutaneous edema. LOL! I do not know what exactly was done for vaccinations on Wednesday. I will call them on Monday and try to find out exactly what they used. I do keep a record of all of his vet work, but I noticed the bills don't have the brand names of the vaccines, just what they were vaccinating against. This is the first time since I've had him that he's had this severe of a reaction. I described him as "cranky" during this round last spring, but that was it. I will also try to find out if they used the same brand before, etc. I remain more ignorant about vaccines/schedules than I should be and since the barn takes care of it all I have been enabled. Just like it took me this long to learn what I know about nutrition, I still have a lot to learn. I am a firm believer that I don't know anything. I know more than some people, but so much less than others. If I've learned anything about horses it's that there is always more to learn. These are the days I wish I had gone to college for Equine Science!

Speaking of vet bills, I finally got the one for his eye. I really didn't know what to expect, but now I have a better idea what it costs just to have them show up. I'm just thankful that I can pay for it, but I hope it don't have to pay for another one anytime soon!

Junior was totally normal again today and rather on the cuddly side. We rode and then worked on showmanship. Monday's showmanship session (not a lesson) was total crap. He had gotten to a point where he seemed to forget what I was trying to get him to do when I asked him to move his feet square, same with pivots. He has been either forgetting everything, or just being dumb about it, so I felt the need to move back to the basics of showmanship. Yesterday we ONLY worked on walk/trot, stop, and set up. Just that. Then today we did that and pivots and he was SOOOOO much better. Maybe now that *I* know more about what we're doing we just need to go back and review things step by step. Today I felt like he was really really trying to do what I was asking, unlike Monday when he was focusing on everything BUT me. Maybe one of these days I'll realize that those days are few and far between and should simply not be days to force the issue because it has zero benefit. Again, I still have so much to learn!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mystery.... gone?

As I reported in the comments last evening, Junior seems to be fine. If Wednesday hadn't been so weird I would not have thought anything odd about his behavior on Thursday.

Cedar View: I'm not sure. I could not find a swollen injection site, but the have always done then in the neck as far as I'm aware. I'm not sure what the injections were. It's barn policy that they get no turnout for 24 hours after vaccinations and wormings.

in2paints: Wednesday before the ride he seemed totally normal other than being oversensitive in that spot. He's sensitive under there anyway, this was just more than usual. After the ride he looked exhaused. Sluggish. Remember Artex in Neverending story when Atreyu was pulling the reins trying to get him to come out of the swamp of saddness? Yeah, almost like that, even on the grass. Overall stiff looking. He moved slowly the whole walk back to the barn from the outdoor, even walked slowly into his stall and turned slowly, one foot at a time. Thursday he was totally himself, though.

Colic: he really didn't show any signs of colic. He's been eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, and farting as normal as I can recall. He pooped twice between 4:30pm and 8:30pm and though it was not the dryest poop I've seen from him it was not abnormal. He was not pawing, biting at himself, rolling, or getting up and down. He just looked tired on Wednesday. I know the banamine can somewhat mask colic, but since his digestive system seems to be working I don't think that's the case. I had several people observe him and no one thought there were colic symptoms, other than fatigue on Wednesday and normal on Thursday.

Laminitis: Dear God I hope not. I was reading a Practical Horseman's magazine from 1986 over the weekend and it talked about laminitis and how though we know so much more about it, the biggest thing we've learned is how little we know. KAT felt his feet for heat and said they all felt normal on Wednesday. He did not seem foot sore Thursday and moved out much freer and easier than he did Wednesday. I didn't lunge the crap out of him or anything but he didn't get stiffer as he went on, needed no urging, and even loped off without urging towards the end. This leads me to hope he's not footsore. However I will monitor carefully and do some research. We've been limiting their spring grass intake, he gets turned out almost daily, his weight is back to a good weight, and he's on a low starch, high fiber pelleted feed. None of that is a guarantee, I know.

Today he will have a normal day with walk-only lessons, a little turn-out, and I will be there around 6pm. I will ride him and see how he feels. That will be the real test, I think. I'll keep you posted.

This is from Thursday. Max was being groomed in the aisle while Junior was busy finishing the last of his hay by dunking it in his water. They are so funny together. Junior always tries to bite his nose and for some reason Max tolerates it!

video

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mystery

I'm awaiting an update from KAT and will re-post when I get one....

Last night Junior was very, very off. It's a mystery why, but there are a lot of factors involved. So here's your mystery to solve:

1)Vaccinations were done yesterday
2) He is not wearing shoes (front shoes will be put on on Wednesday)
3) His first time (this spring) truly working in the outdoor arena which has less than ideal (rocky) footing.
4) He was not turned out Wednesday due to the vaccinations
5)He'd already had a morning lesson in the indoor but it was only at a walk and he seemed fine.
6) He'd had a lesson Tuesday evening after turnout and did not seem out of the ordinary.
7) He had drunk nearly all of his 2 buckets by 7pm.
8) There was manure and urine in his stall and he farted and pooped while riding.

So, what happened is that he threatened to kick at me while I was grooming his left barrel before tacking up. It wasn't impressive, he got a verbal scolding and was fine. I did not take much note of this until later, though. We got out to the indoor to ride and he started off just fine. He was a little short strided so I trotted him out at a posting trot for a warm up. Since he hadn't been out I figured he could use some long trot before being asked to jog. Then he walked and jogged along but I kept having to ask him to reach from behind and he was increasingly non-responsive to my requests to do so. Then he started needed to be continually cued to jog or he'd break to a walk. At this point I became aware of the abnormality in his movment and behavior and was just trying to "feel it out" when KAT noticed and said "wow, he's really moving differently in the footing out here. Try and trot him out." That's when he started to feel limpy and lightly head bobby. He usually carries his head very evenly so the small amount of bob was very visible. As soon as I stopped urging him he broke to a walk. I stopped him, checked his feet, felt around and didn't find any inconsistencies/heat. I tried to lunge him a little and his right hind seemed shorter strided than his left but both fronts were choppy. KAT felt his feet and said she couldn't feel any heat. I took him back to the indoor and he was VERY sluggish the whole way back. I tried to ride him in the indoor to see if it was just the footing and he was worse in there. I put him in his stall, untacked him, and noticed he had a bulge on his left barrel, just behind the ribs that was warm to touch and he cringed and threatened to kick again. KAT looked at it and though he may have been kicked there and so was painful from it.

We gave him some banamine paste I had left over from his eye, put his blanket on and gave instructions for no turn-out and no lessons for today. This is one of those days I wish I lived a whole lot closer to the barn!

What the heck is wrong? IS it a kick? An internal thing like a hernia? If it was a kick it must have happened on Tuesday and he didn't show any soreness until Wednesday evening?

This is one of those times a talking horse would be helpful.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Progress

Just some proof that I'm working on it:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shirts and boots.

On my last post, Rising Rainbow left a comment that I was "cutting it close on the jacket" I'm making for this show season. Oh how I wish she was wrong!!! I planned to use a new pattern this year, one that was non-stretch, and the sort of in-between length that can be worn for both showmanship and rail classes. The pattern doesn't have the collar or sleeves that I wanted so I was going to combine the old pattern and the new. I spent the entire weekend trying to find the old patter. I tore my sewing room upside down trying to find it. I found the kraft paper copy I made, but I didn't want to use that. I bought another pattern today at JoAnn's and put a mock-up together to test how much fitting it will need and it's going to need far more adjustments than I can do without someone to help, and I really don't know anyone here who knows fitting enough to do it for me. I don't know what body type that pattern was made for but it sure as hell wasn't mine. So now I'm back to the old pattern and I'll just have to add some ease into the hips to make it fit less snug and add some darts at the waist to make it fit better there. Ugh. So now it isn't even started. Puke. Guess what I'll be doing in my very small amount of spare time this week! But I've gotten a lot more done in that amount of time before, so I think I'll make it.

Junior and I had a nice weekend. The weather was sunny and warmish. We're limiting their time on the grass right now since it is super fresh. I practiced showmanship and rode both seats and he's doing well. His attention span for showmanship is narrow and my schedule is nutty this month so I only have one more SMS lesson scheduled before the May 1st show. I have no idea how we'll fare. I never watched the adult showmanship classes last summer so I'm not sure what the competition is going to be like. At one of the circuits (the show on the 25th) the adult classes are 14 & up so I fully expect to get slaughtered by a bunch of 15 year olds, but so be it.

Oh, I wanted to let you know about a site I found. It's called onlinebootstore.com (I know, very original) and I ordered a pair of Ariat Showbaby's for $90 with free shipping. They're listed at $100 but if you put "tencoupon" in the coupon code box you get another $10 off. The shipping was fast and the price was the lowest I found for that boot. I hadn't bought new boots since my first pair of Ariats back in 1994. And yes, I still wear those, too. Sixteen year old boots and I still showed in them last year. Now do you wonder why I'm an Ariat girl? And if I could envision any occasion I would wear these at I would SOOO want THESE! in a size 7... just incase you want to send me an early birthday present. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Yay! it's Spring!!!!!!!!

I absolutely LOVE spring! Now that the early spring mud is gone, the grass is green, the trees are blooming, the leaves are budding, the daffodils and tulips are nearly done, and the shedding is in full swing! I was able to give June-Bug a quick bath yesterday before my showmanship lesson. Not the most thorough since I had to both hold his lead and do the scrubbing, but such an improvement over the winter-sticky he was covered in, and that first bath really helps the shedding out. I love it when the yellow-brown suds get rinsed out and you know all those months of poo are going away! I can't help rubbing my hands all over him when he's freshly dry from a bath because he feels so clean and soft. Of course there's still the fact that as clean and soft he felt, I felt filthy and soaking wet!

We got to use our cooler, too! I like it a lot but it needs to be washed with a little vinegar to make it a little more wicking. At least that works for towels so I assume it'll work for polar fleece?


Showmanship is going very well. We certainly need a lot of practice and fine tuning, but the elements are all there. Not an acceptable pull-turn yet, but the pivot, set up, back, walk and jog are there. We aren't always in step or always in an even cadence and we lack real snap and polish, but that takes time. I'm very pleased with how well he's been doing.

We had a western lesson last night, too and it was very uneventful, which, I guess for Western Pleasure is a good thing! He's become very consistent and easy to ride and if he acts that way in the show ring I'll be ecstatic! I don't think we're every going to have a true slow lope, but he's collected and relaxed so I'm okay with that. I'm excited to see how he does at our first show which with either be on April 25th or May 1st, depending on how busy work gets! I'm for sure doing the show on the 1st, but may not be able to get away for the 25th. We'll see. Plus I need to have a new jacket made by then... yikes.