Saturday, May 30, 2009

More lessons

So here is what I remember from my lessons on Thursday. I didn't come home and take notes so I'm sure I'm missing stuff.

For Albert, him main problem is straightness. He has been carrying his haunches a bit to the inside, more to the right than to the left I think. So I just need to concentrate on making him straight without compromising the bend or quality of the trot. It's totally possible but I just need to work on it.

Also I can improve the canter if I start riding him in a more uphill balance. He's fine for first level but if I start thinking second level frame then I can make the canter have more jump and a bit of collection even at the working canter. That could help to improve my scores if I can do it without making Albert tense.

I have lots of video from Skyy's lesson. I had to break up the largest movie into three parts. You can hear my trainer talking about what I need to do, and see how well I was able to accomplish it. Or not, as the case may be.


Part 1

video

Part 2

video

Part 3

video

Then we ran though Training Level Test 1.

video

And then Training Level Test 2.

video

He was really a bit of a stinker throughout the lesson, but I think he had improved by the end. I had all intentions of having to work through all the same things the next time I rode him, but since the lesson Skyy has been a star at home. If he can keep up this good behavior until the show is over I'll be thrilled! And we might be able to get those scores if he continues to behave and focus on his job. I just think he was pissy for some reason on the day of the lesson. It's too bad because if he had been better we would have been able to work on other things besides getting him on the bit and in a steady rhythm.

Kaswyn has been fine, but since we are on handwalking duty I don't have any idea how the leg feels. He doesn't look lame, so that's good. I think I'm going to keep him on no turnout until after the show. No need to tempt him into doing something dumb like he did before the last show.

And now for the bad news - I'm sick. I caught a bad cold/flu thing and so have the girls. Craig is as of yet unaffected. It's settling in my lungs, like it always does when I get sick, so I'm taking my asthma meds and vitamin supplements in hopes that I'll get over this before the show. I don't want to show if I'm sick but I will if I have to. It just won't be fun. AT ALL.

Friday, May 29, 2009

In process

I'm working on commentary and video of my lessons on Thursday. Since Kaswyn is healing I only had two - the first on Albert (for which I have no video - bummer) and the second one on Skyy. As always, I got a lot out of my lessons.

I'll share the info when I get it done.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Visiting Dr. G

It always sucks to have to take your horse to the vet, but Dr. G's office is great. I actually like to go there because I always learn something. It would just be nice if I didn't always have to learn on my horse.

Susan was able to finish with work early and get to the barn in time to drive her truck and the trailer to the vet's office. When I was able to get a good look at the trailer I decided that I could have done it, but was just as happy to let Susan do it. After all, she had hauled the trailer before, and it was her truck.

Before we left the barn I got two videos of Kaswyn at the canter, since that is where I felt the problem the most. I didn't feel anything at the trot but that didn't mean it wasn't there. However, Dr. G has space to trot the horses for the lameness exams, but no room to canter them since he does the lameness exam on the road on a straightaway.

Here is the video of Kaswyn cantering to the left.

video

And to the right. Watch in this one where he takes a bad step. This is what it felt like when I was riding him yesterday. I thought this would be helpful for Dr. G to see.

video

We got to the clinic and the barn was almost full. They have eight stalls, I think, and it was obvious that they were very busy. We just happened to be the last ones of the day, and we had to wait a bit. My trainer was able to get finished with her lessons and training horses and she met us there. As soon as they could they checked us in and got the lowdown on why we were there.

As usual, they took Kaswyn's vitals and then Dr. G. did his exam. After trotting him outside and doing the flex tests he concluded that it was indeed his right hind leg that was the problem. We headed back inside and I showed him the videos. When he saw the bad step on the one to the right he said "Oh, that was a painful step right there."

Then he started palpating the right hind leg, saying "It's certainly right hind, but I don't think it's the hock. I think it's higher up here in his stifle." Then he had me feel the stifle joint on the inside, explaining that he felt there was fluid in the joint on the right, but not on the left. I could certainly feel the difference when he showed me the proper place to press on the joint. He wanted to get x-rays of the ankle, hock and stifle so we could see what was going on in there. The findings were as follows -

Right ankle - No Significant Lesions - NSL
Right hock - No active arthritis, middle joint a bit narrow. Dr. G. added "This hock looks great for a horse of this age and activity. If this were a pre-purchase exam and you wanted to pay $50,000 for this horse I'd say yeah, go ahead."
Right Stifle - Plateau of tibia looks good. At articular surface of tibia there is a bit of density. Some calcification seen on surface of tibia over darker area at cranial cruciate ligament attachment site. Three pits exist in cruicate area of femur. Tibia articular surface has a black remodeling area.
Left Stifle - NSL.

What all this medical speak means is that my horse has inflammation in the stifle joint at the attachment of the cranial cruciate ligament attachment site. I asked if this was from concussion, poor footing, or if it was a traumatic incident, and Dr. G said "It's because he's 18."

He suggested injecting the joint to get rid of the inflammation. The plan after that is as follows -

Bute - one gram two times a day for five days (starting Thursday), then one gram once a day for five days.
No turnout and hand walk for five days.
Day 6 lunge
Day 7 lunge and light work
Day 8 back to normal

I commented that would mean that he could go to the show, and he said sure. My trainer asked him if he was sure he was okay with this horse going to a show in ten days, and Dr. G said "If he's sound, yes. The only way we are going to know if we are right about the stifle is to treat it and put him back to work. If he's sound then we know we are right. If not, then this is just Plan A. We still have Plans B, C, D, and E to go. So don't worry."

Then he was ready for his team to get to work. He said "Okay, I'm going to inject that right stifle. I need him sedated and then I'll need 9 cc of Hycoat and 1 1/2 cc of Depo. Sue, you scrub him and Heather, you get on the penis."

At that, the entire room came to a halt. My mouth fell open and I stared at Dr. G. I was pretty sure he just told his tech to get on the penis. I looked at my trainer and she was thinking the same thing that I was. Then the techs looked at us and burst out laughing.

I said "Did he just say 'Get on the penis'?" They were all laughing too hard at our reactions to explain, so Dr. G said "I mean she needs to hold the penis and sheath out of the way. I need to get to the inside of the leg and it needs to be held to the side." Oh well, that makes perfect sense.

I asked if I could shoot video of the injection, so here it is.

video

Kaswyn was, of course, awesome for all of this. I discussed Kaswyn's work regimen with Dr. G, telling him that I used to work Kaswyn every other day, but recently since I had been riding the younger horses 5 or 6 days a week I had been doing the same with Kaswyn. My trainer commented that I had been doing hard training on those days and not having an easy day in between. Dr. G said I should just work him every other day like I used to, and his advice was to "Train light and show hard." He also said that he'll be able to pull Kaswyn through this and keep him going, and when I have a break in my show schedule that I might want to consider IRAP treatment. Then I asked him if I should consider retiring Kaswyn. He said no, not right now. Whew!

So, I have to say my trainer was right. She was concerned about Kaswyn after the last show, but I insisted that Dr. B had said that Kaswyn was fine. My trainer had said I should take him to see Dr. G, but I didn't and he got better so I didn't think anything of it. Now I see that I was way wrong. It appears that my poor judgement has not done huge damage to my horse, and that Dr. G can turn this around. Oh, and he'd like Kaswyn to stay on the Polyglycan. He says it's a great all around arthritis preventative.

As soon as Kaswyn woke up and was more alert we headed out of there. He was the last horse to leave. As we were loading him in the trailer Dr. G was driving away in his car, and pulled up beside us to say "Dr. B says hi! He's halfway to Pennsylvania to look at horses! He's really booked up!" It's really wonderful that both these great vets can work together without their egos getting in the way of the care of the horses.

So, good news - this is fixable, and Kaswyn might still be able to go to the show. Bad news - I have to hand walk him for five days! We both HATE that!

Oh, and tomorrow I have lessons at my trainer's with Skyy and Albert. I'll try and get more video. It's going to be another long night = my husband is a saint. And sexy, really really sexy. Smart and funny too. Just so you know.

Nervous

Kaswyn took a funny step yesterday when I was warming him up and now he's off. He had felt sore on Saturday so I had Susan give him one gram of bute twice a day and he had two days off. Then yesterday he took a bad step behind and then was really off. I wouldn't call it lame, but certainly not as good as he should be. He got another gram of bute. Then I started making phone calls.

Dr. B is booked until next Tuesday, as was Dr. G. However, I called Dr. G's office this morning to check for cancellation and he has a 4:30 today. That means I have to borrow Susan's truck and take the trailer over there myself. Susan would do it but she's working. Luckily the truck is all hitched up (she and Albert had a parade on Memorial day) and I know where the keys are. But Susan has put the fear of God in me because the trailer is long and wide and she's afraid I'll have problems hauling it. It's a three horse slant load bumper pull so it's been awhile since I've hauled something that big. But it's not a far trip.

This is not what I need right now. All I can think is that he pulled his suspensory.

Friday, May 22, 2009

FDA - what's going on there?

I got this comment on another post, but I'm assuming that this comment is in regards to my last post about using the Polyglycan instead of the Legend and Adequan -

"The issue really is do you want to use a product that is not FDA approved and therefore requires no testing and can claim anything they want on an animal you love to save a few bucks. There is a reason is cheaper. "

This looks valid on the surface, but let me give some information out about the FDA. FDA approval just means that the FDA has approved a certain device, protocol, or drug for a specific procedure or treatment. It does not mean that items that are not FDA approved are harmful, aren't functional, or don't have any benefits. In fact, we use non-FDA approved protocols, solutions, and devices in our lab routinely. And it's LEGAL and safe.

Here's how this works - and by the way this is an extremely simplified version, and applies to human subjects. Non-approved items may be used under two circumstances -

1) The item and/or it's use has been published in peer-reviewed journal articles as being effective in whatever capacity that you want to use it in. For example, lets say that the FDA has approved whisks for the use of scrambling eggs. However, there are articles that say that forks are very effective in scrambling eggs. Forks are FDA approved for using as eating utensils, but not for scrambling eggs. Since there is literature backing up the use of forks for scrambling eggs, then forks may be used without FDA approval for egg scrambling.

2) In order to get data for the published journal articles mentioned above, an investigator (scientist or physician) must submit a proposal for research with the Institutional Review Board, or IRB. The IRB looks at the proposal and will grant permission for the research study to proceed. Patients who fit the criteria of the study are asked if they would like to participate, and will then sign papers that give consent. The papers outline the risks and benefits of the research, and no patient is obligated to participate. These experimental studies are how medicine and technology advance and new procedures become available. Using the whisk example, perhaps chefs would be asked if they would like to try scrambling eggs with forks instead, and give their opinions on the ease and success of the procedure.

So, it's true that Polyglycan is not FDA approved for use as a joint supplement. It is approved, however, as a wound lavage (wash) used in joint surgery. Here is a quote from the web site on the properties of Polyglycan - "Introducing Polyglycan into the synovial space as a post-surgical lavage and fluid replacement will assist in the normalization of the joint following arthrotomy."

Using Polyglycan as a joint supplement is off label use, and the company makes no claims that it works as a joint supplement. In fact, I'm sure if I called them they would strongly advise against using it in a way that it is not approved for. It says so right on the bottle, for one thing.

As for off label use, is my vet doing anything illegal by prescribing this for my horse in an off-label use?

Searches for articles on PubMed (The National Institutes of Health and US National Library of Medicine database which lists all medical published literature) using each of the three main components of Polyglycan plus the words "equine joint" came back with the following numbers of published articles -

Hyaluronic acid sodium salt - 92
Sodium chondroitin sulfate - 32
N-acetyl-D-glucosamine - 5

The answer is NO, my vet is not doing anything illegal. By having many published articles using components of this product, FDA approval is not necessary. Of course the FDA would prefer if you didn't use it, but it's not breaking the law if you do. Dr. B not only has read the articles but has treated other horses with it and has had good results.

And come on, people! I'm a scientist! Of course I did my homework before injecting my horse with something in an off-label use.

Now, Adequan (and probably Legend too, but I haven't been able to find any) has their own studies that show that it is more effective than the Polyglycan. And that's okay. I understand why. They are trying to make money with the product that they developed, tested, and approved. Just for fun, I did a search for whisks and forks. The least expensive whisk was $9.99. The cheapest fork was 63 cents.

Here is my point in a nutshell. Just because the FDA has approved something does not mean it is the only appropriate, effective, safe, and legal product available. Items that are not FDA approved can be used within certain guidelines, and can be just as effective, or possibly more so. Being a well informed owner can help too, so do your homework before just accepting what your vet (or doctor, for that matter) is telling you.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keeping it straight

Now that I'm taking three lessons in one night I'm starting to have problems remembering what I have to do with who. It was easy with one, not to bad with two, but with all three I think I'm forgetting things. So after my last lesson I came home and jotted down some notes.

5/18/09 lesson notes

Skyy - make steady uncompromising contact, but not pulling or holding. think elastic side reins and try to keep position consistent so he knows where I'll be. steady deep seat in canter. keep hips from drifting in on corners by controlling inside hind. work on canter departs and not letting him toss head in transition. also work on centerlines and halts. big improvement from last lesson

Kaswyn - canter half-pass left - losing positioning/bend, neck getting tight, and letting right hind trail. must get it under. exercise - half-pass across diagonal to quarterline, then walk in half-pass position and keep right hind stepping under. from that position canter and continue half-pass. very nice work on piaffe/passage.

Albert - canter loop - take more time to make turn. think 4-5 strides to do turn instead of 2-3. keep control of haunches on corner and don't let them drift to inside. trot half-pass left same problem as Kaswyn, except shoulders are moving too fast for right hind to keep up. must slow left side and not let him rush through left leg. left trot half-pass is good - nice and slow and relaxed. just rushing to left. keep positioning. fixing this will help issues in right lead canter, as he tends to leave right hind to inside and instead of reaching under he's propping it to inside and does not use right lower back. makes canter not fluid and not through back. exercise - renvers (haunches out) left going to the right. Better than travers right while going left.

I've been working on these things since the lessons. Skyy is making lots of progress. His biggest issues right now are balance and organization. Instead of having his hips fall in line behind his shoulders he sometimes whings a foot out to the side. He needs to be able to track all of his legs straight when he moves forward instead of scrambling all over the place. It's not terrible but it gets worse in the corners, so I'm really trying to help him there by hugging him with my legs to give him boundaries that he can feel.

I worked Kaswyn very lightly the day after the lesson because he felt a little sore and was due for a Legend shot. However, instead of Legend Dr. B said I should try Polyglycan. He says it's both Legend and Adequan in one shot, but it's cheaper than buying them both separately. I've read literature from the Adequan people who claim the Polyglycan does not work as effectively as Adequan, but I would expect them to say that! So Kaswyn got his first shot of Polyglycan. I'll ride him on Friday and hopefully I'll see a change for the better. Or at least not a change for the worse.

And Bert is just a star! He is so smart and willing to work it's wonderful. We've been working on the trot half-pass to the left and now it feels as good as the right. After he gets over his first reaction of "Something new!! Ahh! Panic!" and we work it out he just gets his head in the game and does his job. And even now those panic moments are getting shorter and shorter. My trainer said during his lesson "You know, after Nationals you're going to have to, you know, do something...", and I said "Yes, Second Level. I agree. We'll do something about that." He's already schooling shoulder-in, half-pass, and counter canter. By fall he'll be ready. Finally, at 17 years old he'll move on from Training Level! He could have done it before now but Susan just hasn't had the money to put him in training and I haven't had the time. The only thing that might be really challenging is the flying changes. I think we're going to have to take those slow and break them down as much as possible.

So the plan is to take all the boys to my trainer's place next Thursday for lessons in her big arena! I'm so excited! Susan has the day off so she's going to help me. I'll bring my camcorder and get some video if I can get someone to shoot it for me. I think all three of them will feel more free in the bigger space. I know Kaswyn does for sure.

Just about two weeks before the show! Let the stressing begin!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hey Mama, I have something to tell you.

Last Wednesday evening Macey had the worst temper tantrum of her life.

Seriously, it was a doozy. I mean screaming at the top of her lungs for easily ten minutes. When she would not calm down I told her she would have to go to bed, so I just proceeded to get her ready for bed. Eventually in the course of getting her in her jammies, picking out clothes for the morning, and brushing her teeth, she calmed down. We had a little chat and everything was fine again. Craig was not home for this, but heard about it later.

Fast forward to Saturday. Craig was not home again, but that's not a big deal. We had just eaten lunch and it was time for napping. Lily can go without, but Macey needs a nap or she gets super cranky in the evening (she napped Wednesday, so there was not excuse there). Lily has a pull-out trundle bed in her room and on the weekends, if they request it, we let Macey sleep in Lily's room with her. Usually it all works out okay and they go to sleep, but sometimes we have to pull the plug because they won't settle down.

The trundle was still pulled out Saturday afternoon for nap, and they asked if Macey could sleep in with Lily for nap. I said yes, as long as they settled down. Of course they didn't, and after a warning I went in and took Macey out of there. Instead of putting her back in her room, I decided to be nice and let her lie down with me, which she usually likes to do. However Macey had other ideas.

She began screaming "LILY!" as soon as I put her down. No explanation, no other words, just "LILY!". I tried to talk to her, but she was whipping herself up into a state. I told her to calm down, I tried rubbing her back, reasoning with her. None of it worked. So I told her if she screamed "Lily" one more time that she would lose computer time that evening.

She screamed "LILY!". So I told her that if she did it again, she would lose TV. Again, she shouted her sister's name. I even told her I would swat her on the butt, which we rarely do, and after she screamed Lily again I did swat her on the butt.

She looked me right in the face and bellowed "LILY!"

So I scooped her up and put her in her bed, telling her that if she cannot control herself that she would have to be in her room. Then I closed the door.

That child screamed like I was killing her. She kicked her feet on the wall, pounded her fists on the bed, and made herself hoarse. Much more impressive than Wednesday night's little tirade. It was so over the top that Lily called for me and asked what Macey was doing. I told her that she was having a fit. Lily said "Yeah, she's really screaming loud." I said "She sure is. I don't think you ever did that." and Lily said "That's because I always got what I wanted!" HA!

Eventually Macey stopped crying, I went in and we talked, and she went to sleep.

Later that afternoon, when I would not let her watch TV or even watch Lily play on the computer, she says "Mama, I don't like you."

I said "Really? Why is that?"

She said "Because you won't let me play on the computer or watch TV."

I said "That is because you are being punished for having a fit."

"I don't love you."

"Well, I love you."

"I'm not your daughter. You're not my mama. I'm Lily's cousin and Aunt Tracy is my mama."

At first, this was like a little dagger in my heart. I knew she was saying it to hurt me, but I wasn't going to let her know that I was crushed. Instead, I said "Well, we need to call Nana and Pop-pop and tell them that you aren't my daughter."

She got a blank look on her face as I called my parents. I told them the story, and of course they howled with laughter. Then I told Macey to tell them what she had told me. When faced with having to tell them the hurtful things she had said to me, she changed her tune and said simply "I love my mama." She smiled sheepishly at me, and then wouldn't talk on the phone any more. We didn't discuss it further, and she found other things to play with and amused herself without any more griping.

So far there have been no more atom bomb tantrums. Oh, I know she'll have more of them, and as she gets older I know they'll get more refined. I also know that her hurtful comments will get more mature and will more easily find their mark. I just hope when she's fifteen and screams "I wish I had never been born!" that I don't cry in front of her.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pressure

Skyy's owner sent me an email telling me that he needs three scores, not two scores, to qualify for Nationals. ACK. I'm only showing him in three classes in two weeks, so I need to make every class count or I will have to take him to another show. I need three scores of 62% or better. Yikes! There is a show in July that I can probably go to, but I don't think I'll take Kaswyn. Albert probably won't go either, so I'd be able to show Skyy in more than one class a day. If he needs to go, that is. Good thing Albert is going to this show in two weeks because it turns out he needs two scores also. Somehow I got it into my head that he was already qualified.

Thankfully all three boys are doing really well, and I'm having another lesson night this evening. I don't know how many horses I will get to, but I hope to be able to ride them all. It just depends on how much time my trainer has. I'm starting to feel very pressured to get Skyy ready for this show. Albert is totally ready, and Kaswyn is my horse so I don't have an obligation to anyone but myself. But Skyy still needs work!

I think I'll go double check those qualification requirements again. And maybe print them out this time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lessons

Oh my, I'm so busy! That's why I had lessons on Friday and I'm not writing about them until today.

So I started with a lesson on Skyy. It's a good thing I had a lesson because I was riding him incorrectly. Skyy has a lot of movement but he's a bit disorganized and unbalanced. He's very "forward thinking" and moves out with a big trot with no problem. So I had just been letting him go and was concentrating on steering, bending, and getting on the bit. My trainer said that what he needs to do is slow down and learn to push, since what he was actually doing was letting his long hind legs trail out behind him.

When I slowed him down enough he didn't feel like he was going anywhere. My trainer said that it will feel slow, but it's actually a much nicer trot than him going around at mach 5. We worked on that trot and when he began to relax I was able to ask for a bit more and he pushed off of his haunches without rushing.

That was all at the trot. The canter is still kind of quick but needs strength and balance. At first he refused to canter when asked. This was just bad attitude directed at me for not letting him rip around the arena at the trot anymore like I had been. He pinned his ears and got all bunchy in the back and just refused to canter. I hadn't carried a whip or used my spurs when riding him, but my trainer said that I should not allow him to refuse the canter again. I asked my trainer to grab my whip for me, got back into the trot and asked for the canter. He ignored me again, so I gave him a little swat with the whip.

He didn't like that AT ALL, and bolted forward. I just hung on for the ride and told him he was a good boy for cantering. We got to the other end of the arena and I had him slowed down enough that I could sit the canter. When we came out of the corner and went down the long side, he broke back into the trot. I asked for the canter again, and he hesitated, so he got another swat. He went kind of fast into the canter, but he got more praise. After that when I asked for the canter he jumped into it. My trainer now wants me to be careful not to let him trot quickly into the canter, but to ask him to jump into it from the nice slow trot. This will help him build strength and make him push like he's supposed to.

My next lesson was on Kaswyn. I told my trainer what we had been working on, and after warming up she said "I have to say, that I feel much more comfortable with you riding this horse now. Before the last show he looked stiff and creaky, but now he looks like he's ready and willing to work. He looks like your old horse again."

YAY!!!

So we had a lesson and ran though some of the upper level movements. We did trot half-passes, which were great to the left but lacked sufficient bend to the right. My trainer said that he has plenty of forward movement, but if I wanted to perfect it I would need more bend. Of course I want to perfect it - I'm just a little obsessive about my riding, in case you couldn't tell. So we will be working on the bend in the right half-pass.

We also worked on the canter pirouettes. The pirouette to the right was quite good, while the one to the left just needed to be smaller and more on the spot. We were able to improve it after some schooling, and will continue to work on it. All in all, a great lesson. My horse feels wonderful, and I guess he looks it too.

I was lucky Friday in that Susan was there to help me, so she was getting horses ready for me. When I got off of Kaswyn she had Albert all ready, and my trainer had about 20 minutes left before she had to leave, so I had a third mini-lesson on Albert. I showed her the canter loops and change of direction at the canter, and she (as always!) was able to tell me what I needed to do to make them better. And she was happy with the trot lengthenings, but told me that I should ask for more elevation of the front end now that he's got the idea of lengthening and pushing.

So I have a list of things to work on with all three horses, and hopefully I can get another two (or three!) lessons next Monday. They are all entered in the show - it's in three and a half weeks! I'm trying to ride all three of them five times a week, and sometimes it's really hard. I get super tired, but I can't complain about the results. All three boys are making great progress, both mentally and physically. Skyy is losing weight and is getting nicely toned, and Kaswyn and Albert are little beefcakes with rock hard butts. My body is also benefiting from all of this riding. I'm ten pounds less than I was when I got pregnant for the first time, and I have my six-pack abs back. Not bad for a forty year old who hasn't walked into a gym for almost six years.

Today Susan and Skyy's owner are busy, so I have to ride and groom all three by myself. It's going to be a late night, and I'll be tired when I get home. I'm lucky my man is so understanding. And that he cooks dinner, because I'll be hungry too!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

So cool!

Check this out, although I'm sure many of you already have -

http://www.muralmosaic.com/Cadeau.html

It's a mural of a horse made of of a bunch of different horse paintings. If you click on each tile you can see what each painting looks like. Click on the eye - I find that one especially interesting.



Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Three great rides

Yesterday was a tiring day for me at the barn. I didn't have anyone to help me, but I managed to groom and ride three horses in 2 hours and forty five minutes. I blew off cleaning the tack (I know, shocking!) but I really needed to get home because Craig needed to pick some things up at the store. One day of dirty tack won't kill me, right?

Anyhow, everyone is coming along really well. I started with Skyy and he's beginning to settle down and is becoming more consistently on the bit. The canter still feels a bit weak and he has to rush at times, but it's getting stronger. He was a bit pudgy when he first came to the barn but he's started to lose weight already. We can't work very long because he gets winded and sweaty, but we managed to get good work done.

Skyy is scared to pieces of the washrack. We tried to rinse him the usual way with him facing out of the washrack but he kept bolting out of it and into the barn aisle. Good thing I decided not to cross-tie him or he'd have probably gotten hurt. We've changed tactics and now he faces towards the back wall of the washrack. He's got no place to bolt to, but that doesn't mean he stands still. He still dances around and snorts loudly at the water, threatening to spin around and run to get away. Yesterday he about lost his mind when someone walked into the barn during his rinse. I just ignore his antics, tell him that he's fine and just keep spraying him. If nothing bad ever happens to him he'll calm down eventually. I just wish it weren't such an ordeal.

Kaswyn was my next horse, and he is really doing well. He's gotten the idea that he's supposed to go forward without me pushing him all the time. There are still things we need to work on, but he's getting stronger every time I ride. It feels like I have my old horse back.

Last up was Albert. He's such a smart, good boy. We have been having some issues at the canter with one of the movements from First Level Test 4. At the canter you have to head across the diagonal, but instead of changing directions you do a shallow serpentine loop from the corner to the center of the ring back to the corner on the same side. You're supposed to keep the same lead. This movement shows increased balance at the canter and sets the horse up for counter canter work.

Also in the same test, you head across the diagonal, but in the center of the ring you trot, then pick up the other canter lead and change directions. So the beginning of both movements are the same, but halfway through they get very different.

Well Albert was just all confused about what I wanted from him. Once I had schooled the shallow loop a few times he was convinced that we'd be doing that loop every time we headed across the diagonal. So halfway across the arena just as I was preparing to trot and change the bend, he'd throw his shoulders back towards the wall that we just came from and run. I can understand his confusion, because the differences in the aids are very subtle for both movements and for a thinking horse like Albert it's hard for him to just slow down and be patient.

It took a few weeks of us working on this, but last night he finally got it. There were a few times that he ran into the loop without me asking, but by the end of the ride he got it. The thing about this horse is every new thing makes him tense and rushing, but they also make the old things that he used to be tense about all better. Like the lengthenings and the leg yields used to send him running, but now they are no big deal. It's great to see this horse get better and better.

I'll be having lessons on Kaswyn and Skyy on Friday at 7:30 am. Yes, AM. I have the day off but I have stuff to do later so I have to get riding done early. I'm very excited about my lessons, but I think Susan was a little bummed that I wasn't going to do one on Albert too. First, I don't think my trainer or I have time for three lessons. Second, I'd be exhausted! And lastly, of the three horses, he needs it the least right now. I really want to coordinate with Susan so we can take the horses to my trainers barn for rides and lessons. It would be so much more productive to work in an arena that is the correct size for showing.

Speaking of which, show entries for our last show before Nationals are due this Saturday. I have one show and three classes to qualify Skyy for Nationals. I need two scores of 62%. I hope I can do it, because I have to work the weekend of the next show, and the show after that too. I'll be showing all three horses at this show. I'll have three classes every day over the three day show. Albert is totally ready for this. Kaswyn is much more ready than he was for the last show. That little booger better not hurt himself again or I'll be very put out. And Skyy? Well, we'll just have to see what happens.

 
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr