Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Needled

Last week Kaswyn's right lead canter felt a little off. This is odd because usually it's the left lead canter that feels much worse than the right. But it was certainly the right lead that felt off, so I rode lightly and gave him bute and a day off. He felt the same way the next time I rode, so I gave him bute and called the vet for an appointment. He didn't feel lame, but he certainly didn't feel like he has been feeling.

Of course this shows up after the day I did all those flying changes on him, and I started to feel like I broke my horse by doing it. But it's not like I haven't done ANY changes with him in the past few months - just not so many in a row. It's hard not to blame myself for everything that happens to him, but in this case I'm not convinced that he wasn't already heading down the road to soreness.

Anyway, Dr. C came out today and examined Kaswyn's back. He said Kaswyn was a bit sore across the left side of his back, and down around the back of his haunches. Then he did a traditional lameness exam, complete with observing Kaswyn while being lunged and flex tests. He asked when his hocks and stifles had been injected last, so I pulled out my calendar (I'm SO glad I write everything down!) and told gave him dates and specifics. He said the Kaswyn was presenting as hock pain, and that if he didn't know this horse better he'd suggest injecting the hocks. But knowing the history, and the fact that the previous three hock injections haven't solved Kaswyn's problems, he suggested another round of mesotherapy instead. Check out this link for a nice explanation of the therapy.

We discussed how I'd been riding and what could have caused this, and I told him that I hadn't given Kaswyn a Polyglycan shot since December. I asked if that could have contributed to the problem and he said "Yes, if the Polyglycan helps his hocks and he gets a bit hock sore, then the work could be making him compensate and making his muscles sore." So the moral of the story is I have to not be so lazy about the Polyglycan and make sure he gets it once a month!

Still, Dr. C was very happy with how Kaswyn looked. He said for his age he thinks he looks great, and that he's not nearly as sore as he was last time. He also thinks he's put on more muscle over his back, which makes me feel great! And he was happy that it had been eight months since his last treatment. Me too, since every treatment means a little time off for Kaswyn (well, only one or two days) and a medium sized vet bill. I actually hadn't had a vet bill in months! I'm not looking forward to getting them again.

Here is a video of my horse getting mesotherapy.

video

In it you can see Dr. C injecting Kaswyn just under the skin with the treatment solution (a combination of a steroid, a pain reliever, and another anti-inflammatory) using a big syringe attached to a manifold that contains five small needles. I don't remember posting this video before, but it's from Kaswyn's treatment in July of 2009, not from today. I'm a big fan of the treatment, at least for my horse, because he seems to respond so well to it. It's also pretty non-invasive, and is much less risky than joint injections.

So the plan is to give Kaswyn off until Monday, and then I'll ride him lightly and see how he feels. Then Dr. C will come back on Wednesday and evaluate his back to see if another treatment is needed. He's optimistic that one treatment might do it, since I have caught the soreness early this time. This is good news for me!

But poor Kaswyn didn't have such a great day - he got mesotherapy, his spring shots, and a dose of Polyglycan. He got lots of pokey needles in him today. Of course he handled it like a champ. Yes, I do think my horse is awesome.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leather CPR - a Review

I was contacted by the makers of Leather CPR to do a review of their products. They offered to send me free samples and in exchange asked me to write a blog post about the products. They also said they would offer my readers free samples too. So, lets get to it!

The first product of the Leather CPR Cleaner and Conditioner.





I love the packaging, because I can just hang the squeeze bottle on my tack hook.



I read the instructions -

"Apply Leather CPR liberally using a clean, soft sponge. Do not use cloth to apply, or product will be absorbed into the cloth rather than the leather. Leave Leather CPR on item for 1 to 2 minutes to allow product to dissolve the dirt and condition leather. Continue to rub item with sponge to loosen dirt. Wipe off excess product and dirt with a clean, soft cloth. Repeat if necessary."

- and started cleaning. The cleaner is a one step cream cleaner, not a soap. It's very similar to Horseman's One Step, but not as goopy and neater to use since it comes in the squeeze bottle and not the tub (well, Horseman's One Step used to come in a tub. I haven't used it for years). At first the product goes onto the leather very nicely, but after a minute or two I felt like I was smearing dirty cream all over my saddle. Then I was left with a dirty, creamy, sponge. I didn't like that.

I did follow the instructions to put the cream on, wait a minute to two, then rub with the sponge. Again it didn't feel like I was getting the leather clean. Then I wiped with a clean towel, as per the instructions. The towel was full of black gunk. Yuck.

I know the instructions said to use a clean sponge, but I don't have an unlimited supply of clean sponges so I had to rinse my sponge out and use it again. I had two saddles and two bridles to clean, so I had to rinse my sponge multiple times. I got as much water out of it as I could and I started again. Once the sponge was wet it felt like I was getting too much water on the leather, and the sponge got dirty really fast so I was constantly rinsing and reapplying cleaner. Doing it this way took me about three times as long as I usually spend on tack cleaning, and when I'm at the barn I need to be efficient and get done ASAP! Although the first time I used it I didn't really like the results, I decided to use it for a week before I passed any judgment.

The next time I decided to use it more like I would a soap, where I would scrub with the cream and rinse the sponge until the sponge didn't get dirty anymore. This seemed to work the best, and the leather seemed cleaner. I did go through a lot of product that way, but I was starting to think that my tack wasn't really clean to start with and that the cream was just taking a few cleaning sessions to lift all the buildup off of the leather.

The third time I used it, I noticed that my tack felt cleaner. When I use my soap, and then go to use my tack the next time, often my hands will get tacky black marks on them when I buckle the straps, and the leather feels tacky and sticky. After two cleans with the Leather CPR my tack didn't have that tacky sticky black stuff coming off of it anymore. And when I cleaned it the third time I noticed that my sponge didn't get as dirty as fast as it was the first two times.

Dressage Today runs a column called "Ask the Experts". In one column, the question was about leather care, and the expert was saddler Jochen Schleese. You can read his explanation of how to care for leather here. He explained that soap should not sit on leather, and should be rinsed off after use. Which makes sense, since leather is skin, and you wouldn't wash your face with soap and then just let the soap sit on there. So I'm wondering if I had a sticky soapy buildup on my leather, and it took three good cleanings to get rid of it.

Here is the proof that my tack was getting cleaner - this is the rinse bucket after the third cleaning -




A few more comments - once cleaned with the Leather CPR my leather seemed a bit drier than I was used to. I don't know if the soap buildup made the leather feel more moist or something, but it was certainly drier. Especially since I often used to wash my tack with glycerin soap and then condition with a leather conditioner. I don't know if the conditioner was making the soap sticky or what was going on there. But when I say my leather was drier I don't mean it was stiff - it was still soft and pliable. Also, I'm not sure I agree with the directions. It seemed to work better for me using it like a non-foaming soap, rinsing the sponge when it got dirty instead of smearing it on the tack and wiping it with a cloth.

Overall, here is how I rate the Leather CPR Leather Cleaner and Conditioner

Packaging - Excellent, very neat and easy to use
Feel - Good, non-greasy cream
Effectiveness - Excellent, seemed to get rid of soap scum and sticky black stuff
Cost Efficiency - Fair/poor, I had to use a lot of product compared to the glycerine soap

They also sent me the Clear Boot Polish.



While I'm not showing right now, and don't have show boots to polish, I did polish my riding boots and another pair of my Ariat shoes. The instructions were simple -

"Apply polish sparingly using a clean, soft sponge. Do not wipe off."

The polish is a thin cream which smelled really good, but the packaging sucked!







I like the little sponge that comes with it, but then there is this covering on the jar that is hard to get off. The first time I pulled it off I spilled the product all over my hand and the side of the jar. Messy! I followed the directions and it gave nice results. It didn't give a really high gloss shine, but I think it would have if it had been buffed. I didn't bother with any buffing, since it says "no buffing required."

I cleaned my riding boots, and then applied polish to the one on the right. It's a bit shinier, but nothing super glossy.




Packaging - Poor, hard to use
Feel - Excellent, smells nice too
Effectivness - Good, gave a nice shine
Cost Efficiency - Excellent, you only need a tiny bit and the tub is a decent size

So I'd have to say that I'd give each product a Good rating overall. There were things I liked an things I didn't like about each one. The big question is if I'm going to go back to my glycerine soap or buy more Leather CPR cleaner. The soap is cheaper, but I don't like the sticky black buildup. And I never rinse the soap off of my tack, so Leather CPR is probably better for my leather. But it takes a bit longer than using soap. I'll probably use all the sample and then decide what to do next - buy some more or go back to soap!

But hey, don't take my word for it. Go here to get your own free samples. The company said that they are giving away full sized samples, but that they have a limited supply, so sign up soon. And let me know what you think. Maybe I'm just too picky about my tack cleaning stuff and you guys will give it an excellent rating!

Visit www.leathercpr.com/specialoffer/ to get your free samples!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Muddy

Spring is finally here. It's still chilly at night but the days are heating up to the mid 50's and 60's. I've said here many times how much I hate winter and love summer, but spring and fall are the in between seasons where I hate them almost as much as I love them.

The good things about spring -
Finally getting warmer!
The arena can be watered because the hoses are all thawed.
No more icy pastures
I can breathe!
I'm much more motivated to ride if I don't have to bundle up like a mummy

The bad things about spring -
The mud!
The hair!
The darn digging varmints are back in the arena making holes!

Yesterday filled in five holes in the arena, and then I spent at least 30 minutes grooming each horse, scraping mud and hair off of them. They are SO dirty but it's too cold for me to bathe them and just let them dry without coolers, and I just don't have hours to wait and change out coolers until they are dry. I need a nice 70 degree day to bathe them. I know those kind of temperatures are coming, but they are not here yet. So I cleaned them as best I could and then was ready to ride.

I rode Albert first, and he's really coming along. We are still having issues with the canter. He's still a bit crooked to the right, and still likes to bear down on the bit instead of coming up in front and being light. I know it's time for a lesson and I'm sure my trainer will help fix this problem. But the good news is the trotwork is pretty decent.

Kaswyn felt pretty good. We warmed up at the trot and canter and then I went back to the trot and I didn't like what I felt. He doesn't seem to be steady at the trot. It's not a lameness thing, I think it has to do with connection from back to front. I don't really feel like I have his back working properly at the trot. Again, a lesson will fix this I hope.

The canter is much better than the trot for Kaswyn. He still tries to sneak his nose out and lose the connection, but I feel more organized at the canter and I can fix that easier.

Since he felt so good at the canter I decided to do some flying changes, just for fun. We did a line of three changes every four strides, then we did three changes every third stride. He nailed those, so I decided to ask him for some two's. He did five changes every second stride. So then I thought, well, lets try ones... and he did six changes every stride! It would have been seven but he missed the last one. But still! Wow. Such a good boy. That horse forgets nothing. And then of course he got himself all excited by doing the advanced movements, but he was getting tired too so I decided to stop with that.

During those changes I noticed that he used his back a lot more, and that I was getting a fantastic connection over his back after the changes. So I wonder if I can use the changes as a tool to get him over his back and connected, and then do some trot work. I know I'll have to make sure he's really warmed up before I try the changes, but I just have this feeling that it might help.

The next step is to schedule two short lessons with my trainer, as neither the horses or I are up for an hour lesson on each. I think it's time we made some real progress. And it's time to find out if all the work I've been doing on my own is on the right track, or totally off base!

Oh, one last thing. I'm still using the tack cleaner. I'll use it until Friday and then write my review.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Riding, Macey, and Tack Cleaning

Well I finally got back on a horse.

It took two weeks after my surgery to feel like I was able to ride again, and it went pretty well. I rode both horses for 20 minutes, and I felt like my legs were noodles after I was done. It's amazing how quickly I get out of shape when I don't ride. But both horses were very good, even though they both felt like they needed to get back into shape too. Since all three of us are getting older I'm going to take my time getting us all back up to speed.

Albert doesn't need to just get his endurance back, but he needs to lose some weight. He got very round in the past few months, and I could not only see if but I could feel it in my hips when I rode him. He is certainly wider then he needs to be! I know he'll shape back up soon when I'm able to ride more consistently.

Kaswyn put on a little weight also, but I think he needed the extra padding. He felt good when I rode him, but he took one of those funny steps behind like he did when his back was hurting. I immediately let him stretch down on a long rein and let his back come up and get soft again. But overall it was a nice ride and was great to be on him again.

After that day Macey came out to the barn with me and wanted to ride. Here is how that went -

video

Doesn't she look great! That little girl was steering that pony around, making him go and stop and everything. Did you see her stay with him through that spook?! And she didn't even get scared! Sure, sometimes it wasn't very pretty but she's only four years old. Craig saw the video and he said "Well, it's too late for that one.", meaning that Macey will probably be a horse girl. Yay!

A few days after that video was taken it got warm again. Today it was really nice and I was able to ride in a long sleeved shirt and light sweatshirt. It's fantastic not having to bundle up like I'm going to ride in the tundra every time I go to the barn. The only thing I don't love about the spring is the mud, which is coming up now in excess. Mud in the pasture means filthy horses, which means dirty blankets, saddle pads, and tack. I really really hate dirty horses!

But speaking of dirty tack - a company who makes tack cleaning products contacted me and asked me to review their products. They sent me free samples and asked me to write a blog post about the products in return for the samples. They are nice, full sized samples of the products, and I used them today. I'm going to use them a few times before I write my blog post review about them.

The company also offered to send full sized free samples to my readers who would like them. What do you guys think about that? I've never gotten any sort of payment or anything from the companies whose products I've mentioned here. When I write about a product - like the Freedom Semiflex Dressage Saddle - it's because I really believe in the product.

So I'll be writing that review some time next week. And at that point I'll post a link where any of you can get free samples if you want them. And if you don't, that's fine too!


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Gate? What gate?

Because I didn't bounce back from my surgery as planned, I haven't been out to see the horses in a week. I did, however, have a conversation with Marge, the barn owner last night. Apparently my horse is being a bit of a dipwit about coming in from turnout.

He's not being bad, he's just being unusually stupid about it. The situation is this - there is a pasture on each side of the barn - left and right - with both having two sections - one close to the barn and one close to the road. To access the ones closest to the road you have to walk through the pasture that is closest to the barn. When the mud dries up in the summer the gate between the pastures is left open and the horses have two pastures to graze in. When the mud gets bad we close off the one pasture closest to the road so that at least one field will have decent grass in the spring.

Right now the pastures on the left side of the barn are not usable because it's too icy to walk the horses over to it. So one set of horses goes in the front pasture on the right side and one set goes in the back pasture. The ones in the back come in first, then the gate is opened between the pastures and the horses from the front pasture come through the back pasture and out the gate to the barn. This is not a new thing, and happens often.

So, in Kaswyn's little herd of four, he is last to come in. Which suits him fine, as long as you don't take too long to bring him in. He doesn't like to be out alone, but is patient enough for you to get the horse before him in his stall before he starts to panic. Usually he will stand at the gate by the barn, in the back pasture, and wait to be brought in.

I guess twice now, when the gate between the pastures has been opened so that his group can be led in, Kaswyn will not go through the gate. Instead, he runs back and forth, right in front of the gate, right BY the gate, along the fence line. Like he's suddenly forgotten what a gate is, or can't see the gate, or can't figure out how to get through it. This is not a small gate either - it's got to be an eight foot wide gate. He's not happy about it, and when the last horse besides him is brought in he gets even more agitated.

So Susan and Marge tried to call to him, try to calm him down, but he just wasn't getting it. So they had to walk out to the front pasture and catch him. Then they walked him through the gate and suddenly it's no big deal. They say nothing happened to him during turnout like he got stuck in the gate or another horse ran him into it or something. They have no idea where this is coming from.

My plan tonight was to go out to the barn and walk Kaswyn in and out of the gate a few times, then groom and lunge both boys. However, work had other ideas and I'll not be getting to the barn tonight. I will have a short time tomorrow night to go out there, so I'll certainly work on this and try to puzzle out why my horse is being such a ditz. I think I'll be able to tell from his reactions when I walk him through the gate what's really going on. Then again, sometimes my horse is just a boob!

 
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr