Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Familiar Feeling

Phil and I have been putting in some great rides lately. We had a fantastic lesson three weeks ago and, as usual, my trainers instruction has helped in huge ways. 

Before the lesson I had been concentrating on keeping Phil's neck loose, since his first instinct is to tighten the neck whenever he is resistant or stressed. To do this I was moving his neck left or right to alleviate the tension. 

During the lesson my trainer told me that it was time to just hold my hand still and firm and just push him into my hand. If I kept moving my hand and his neck around it would be really hard for him to establish a steady contact. Makes sense, right? At first Phil resisted but my trainer told me just to be firm. And after a few minutes, Phil relaxed his neck and established contact. THIS IS HUGE! My bit evading horse, making contact? So wonderful! 

My trainer also started work on the flying changes. She gave me an exercise to begin training his mind and body for the change. We are to head across the diagonal at the canter and as we approach X, circle ten meters. Then we are to continue to circle and shorten the stride until Phil is coming through and on the contact. Then, walk and simple change at X. 

After a few tries, Phil knew exactly what we were doing, so he started anticipating, but kind of in a good way. Then she had me just ask for the flying change instead of the simple change. It really stressed him out but he did one clean change each way. Until the next lesson we will just work on the simple change exercise so he gets it in his mind that he's supposed to change leads. 

Today, though, something amazing happened. Halfway through our canter work, something felt familiar. Phil was cantering over his back, neck loose, mind and body relaxed, with a good jump, all with a steady but light contact. 

He felt like Kaswyn. It was amazing. 

Who is awesome? This guy! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Horse Pesterer

The other day I only had a short time to spend at the barn. That meant no riding, but I did have enough time to turn my boys out for a little bit. They don't go out together anymore because Phil is a jerk and chases poor Kaswyn around. But since I was there to supervise I thought it would be fine. And it was, considering they were much more interested in the grass than each other. 

Then of course I wanted pictures because it was a beautiful day. 

I was following them around to try and get a good shot. 

I had to call their names to get them to pick their heads up. Phil was pretty cooperative. 

Kaswyn, on the other hand, was completely ignoring me, 

Finally he got sick of me calling his name and pestering him, so he threw me some shade. 

Uppity little thing, ain't he? Still, gotta love him! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Boots don't lie

Well I'm back to riding. A few observations: 

Dressage boots with no zipper or elastic will be brutally blunt about any weight gain. Mine were so tight it was painful just to be in them, let alone ride. 

Taking them off was even more painful. It seems like I must make better choices when eating or buy new boots. The first one is cheaper so we'll go with that. 

Phil has been okay with returning to work but I feel like he's uncomfortable somehow. Or maybe he's not making as solid of a connection because he likes being off work! I'll just keep trying. 

An old barn friend once told me that dirty horses are happy horses. Kaswyn has reached nirvana, everyone! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Taking a rest

It's not just Phil that's taking a little break, it's me too. I'm not able to ride right now. I had to have surgery on my face to remove a small bit of basal cell carcinoma. 

Before you get all freaked out by the Big C, this kind of carcinoma is easily treated by a procedure (called the Mohs procedure) and as of right now it is totally gone.  

The bad thing is that I haven't been able to ride for a week. I might be able to ride again in a few more days. But for right now, I can't ride until I'm all healed up. 


So people, along with your helmets, wear your sunscreen outside! Especially during peak hours of 11am and 4pm. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day ride

Mother's Day for me started off with a lovely breakfast in bed served by my girls (assist from Craig, of course). Then I was off to the barn to see my pony boys. 

I rode Phil and he was really good! We are still working stuff out, but I feel progress. 

Then I took Kaswyn out for a walk. He's completely recovered from his fall a few weeks ago, so we had a nice walk outside and a little graze. 

It's easy to let him graze when I'm riding since I ride him in a halter. 

This horse is so fantastic. I wish everyone could meet him. He's the best! 

Thursday, May 07, 2015


I ride Phil outside again today. It was really lovely. The footing was perfect, the breeze kept the bugs off of us, and Phil was a pretty good boy. 

High off my ride from Phil, I decided to hop on Kaswyn just to walk him around outside. It was my first ride on him since his terrible fall, and it was really nice. Both boys got a quick bath after their work, and went back to their stalls to eat their hay. It was such a great evening all the way around. Little did I know...

I was cleaning up the wash rack when I heard Phil nicker in a strange way, and then I heard hoof steps in the aisle. Since I was the only one at the barn, I found this somewhat alarming. 

I ran into to aisle to see Kaswyn trotting towards me. I held my hands up and said "Kaswyn! Whoa! You stop now!"

He turned around and ran into the arena, where he proceeded to run around loose like a total boob. All I could think about was that the last time he was loose in the arena he fell in the most horrible way, Finally he stopped and let me catch him. I think he was really proud of himself. 

I put him back in his stall, making sure that I latched the door this time. He scared me, but who could stay mad at this innocent face? 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Rain riding

Today when I got to the barn I went to check the outdoor arena before I decided where to ride. Since it had rained off and on all day I was concerned that the outdoor would be too wet. To my delight, the footing was perfect, 

Of course I lunged Phil first, and I was able to get some pics. Check mah boy out! 

The ride was virtually goose-free, and even though it was raining lightly it didn't seem to bother Phil. The only thing that was annoying was all the sand that got on my boots when I lunged. It made the bottom of my boots slippery and I kept losing my stirrups. Either that or I was doing something weird with my legs or feet or something. 

The cleanup afterwards kind of sucked because there was wet sand everywhere, but I still had a good ride. Go Phil! 

Kaswyn is doing well too! I think I'll hop on him and have a little stroll around this week. I do love that boy! 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Plans, we got em.

I had planned on going to a bunch of recognized shows with Phil this year. However, we had some setbacks in the beginning of the year that made me rethink that decision. 

While Phil is much more ridable than he once was, I realized that we were still missing a major component of dressage: connection. We've been working very hard on this, and I am now planning on going to the NODA schooling show series this summer. 

I have to discipline myself and lunge Phil before I ride him, not because he's silly if I get right on him, but because it helps Phil to relax his back and stretch into the bit. It takes longer and it gives me more tack to clean at the end of the day, but Phil is certainly more through his back and makes a better connection when I lunge him first in side reins, even if it's for five minutes. 

Today was beautiful so we rode outside again. I forced myself to lunge him first and we had a great ride. Except we had another run-in with the geese! Those damn geese are secretly plotting against me. I must say that Phil freaked much less than he did last time. He was able to get back to work pretty quickly. 

I am certain that we'll continue to make progress. I'm really excited about this year. I just hope I can get a ride to the shows...not having a truck and trailer really sucks! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

First day out

I had been chatting with the barn owner and asked her if she thought the outdoor arena was ok for riding. She told me yes, it had been for awhile. 

Well damn! I hate to miss a good opportunity. So even though the weather was cool and cloudy, I went outside to ride Phil. 

We lunged first and he was a bit distracted by the new horses in their pasture next door. But all in all he was working really well. 

That is, until the two geese in the pond 25 meters away from the arena decided they needed to go someplace. They flew off in a fury of flapping and honking that sent Phil over the edge. He bolted and ran. It was all super exciting! 

We got ourselves back to work and he was really good again. Nice recovery, my boy! 

If you zoom in you can see one of the birds came back, and then walked towards the arena! Phil was not amused. 

Then we went inside and before I could get the bridle off of him, he rubbed his fave on the wall. Of course he caught the bridle on a hook, and of course, it broke. 

Good thing I have that bridle my sister got me for Christmas! Luckily Craig can stitch it for me. 

Let's hope we can ride outside tomorrow too! 

(I'm using the Blogger app. Let's hope everything doesn't look weird) 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Kaswyn's Birthday Bash - Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Kaswyn was slowly recovering from his fall. I heard him start to chew and then he swallowed. He seemed steadier, and was able to look at me. I made sure he could see out of both eyes, and hear out of both ears. Then I walked around him and ran my hands down his legs. Everything seemed to be in the right place. The only injury I could see was on his upper lip, which he had somehow taken a chunk out of. It was pretty superficial and wasn't bleeding so I wasn't really worried about that. 

I ran my hands down his back, and he started to walk around me. Since he was willing to walk, I walked him around. He seemed very sound, and was becoming more alert to his surroundings. I walked him in a small circle in each direction and that's when I noticed that he didn't want to bend his neck. He was holding it absolutely straight out in front of him. 

My phone rang with the vet on the other end. She asked questions about what was going on with him, and had me apply pressure to him in certain places to determine where he had pain. In the end she said she could send someone out to x-ray his neck, but said that due to where I said he was sore, that he probably didn't break anything and had just really wrenched his neck muscles. She said that if he had a neck fracture that it would be difficult for him to stand, and that if he could stand he'd at least be exhibiting some neurological symptoms, which he was not. I decided not to have her come out, but that I would give him bute and if he didn't improve in an hour, or got worse, that I would call back. 

My farrier arrived just as I was finishing my call with the vet. I explained to him what happened, and he watched him walk away from him, then back towards him. Then he took Kaswyn's tail, and pulled him to the side. Then he asked me to do the same. What I felt is that Kaswyn resisted and pulled back against me when I pulled his tail. My farrier said that was a good sign. 

In the end, all that happened to Kaswyn was a very sore and pulled neck. His mouth started bleeding, so it's likely that the pop I heard when he fell was hit biting his tongue! So he got a few days of bute, his hay in a haynet for a bit, and lots of love. I was very lucky that he didn't hurt himself more seriously. I don't need any more scares like that! 

Three days later, he's outside in the sun, cute face and all. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Kaswyn's Birthday Bash - Part 2

Part 1

Kaswyn had just completely wiped out in the arena. 

I ran over to Kaswyn and he lifted his head up. He looked dazed, and was shaking. I told him to whoa as I clipped the lead rope to his halter, but he really wanted to stand. Before I could stop him he heaved himself to his feet, but he wasn't really standing. All four legs were still very bent and he was close to the ground. I was convinced that he was going to fall over. I just kept telling him "Kaswyn, you're ok, lie down, it's ok, you don't have to stand, whoa sweeite..." There was blood coming out of his mouth, and he still didn't look like he was clearly aware of what was going on. 

In between reassuring him, I shouted for the barn owner. She had just been in the barn feeding and I was hoping she was still there. I didn't hear her answer, so I called the vet. I told them I needed someone out right away, that my horse had fallen down. They told me they would have a vet call me back right away. 

As I waited for the phone to ring, Kaswyn slowly began to straighten his legs. Eventually he was able to fully stand, but he was really wobbly and his eyes looked very glassy. I still really wanted him to lie down but I know that horses feel more comfortable standing if they can. There was blood dripping from his mouth. 

I held onto his head, gently petting his neck and talked to him while I waited for the vet to call me back. 

To be continued...

Part 3

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kaswyn's Birthday Bash - Part 1

Kaswyn turned 24 on April 23, 2015. It was a regular barn day for me, so after work I headed out to the barn as usual. The only difference is that I wouldn't be riding because the farrier was coming out to take care of the boys' feet. 

When I got to the barn I knew that the farrier would be arriving within a half an hour, so I decided to turn Kaswyn loose in the arena. He loves to roll in the sand, plus sometimes he likes to herd me and chase me around. That day he decided that rolling was his first priority, but he was reasonably clean so I kept him moving instead of letting him roll. Then he gave up on rolling and started trotting around and enjoying himself. 

I took this short video of him at the trot because he was looking so great! 

He would stop every so often and look out the window or sniff the manure bucket, then he'd trot off again, occasionally cantering off halfway down the arena. He had taken a few bad steps with his back legs at the canter that day, and they looked like steps that hurt but he was able to quickly get his weight off the leg and recover just fine. I already knew that his suspensory ligaments were in bad shape, so I wasn't surprised that he had occasional pain at the canter. I was watching him the whole time, so I clearly saw what happened next. 

Kaswyn had just cantered by me, when his back legs gave out. They slid completely under his body, and his front end came off the ground. His momentum carried him forward on his back, until somehow he flipped completely over backwards. I heard a popping sound just as he landed. 

To be continued...

Part 2

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr