Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve with a Ladder . . . and More

My horses and I took Christmas Day off, but other than that, we've been riding, riding, riding . . . (for those of you of a certain age, it reminds me of the rolling, rolling, rolling of Rawhide . . .).

All three horses are doing well and happy.  Dawn and I had an unusual Christmas Eve ride, and I was very proud of her.  The smoke alarms at the barn had been malfunctioning - thankfully no beeping in my part of the barn - but the security company was out on Christmas Eve to try to fix things.  What this involved was a very long ladder placed in the arena up to the rafters so the security system guy could reach the smoke detectors up in the arena roof.  Dawn and I happened to be riding when this was going on.  Now as far as I know Dawn's never seen anything remotely like this, particularly with the guy climbing up and down.  This is why I don't do formal desensitizing, except with things horses are likely to encounter often - it's impossible to predict what your horse will encounter.  Developing the horse's confidence and trust is more important, I think. Dawn used to be very, very spooky, but she's come a long way. The ladder was positioned about 15 feet from the rail, and the first time I led her by it in hand, she scooted by, but from then on she pretty much just ignored it.  When she noticed the man way up on the ladder near the ceiling, she did the horse thing when they're trying to see above them - not easy for a horse - sticking her head way up in the air and nose up.  By the end of our ride, she was working around the full arena, including within feet of the ladder.  What an excellent mare!

Red has been doing lots of walking rides under saddle.  I've also started bringing him in during the mornings after I ride Dawn.  So far, we've been walking around in the arena and up and down the barn aisles - I'm getting him used to the idea that we can work at times other than bring in time.  Today, when I rode, Red was very forward and walking really well.  When I last lunged him on Monday (three days ago), he was still stiff and slightly short-strided on the left hind, although it was very slight.  I've decided to have a full lameness work up on him, with nerve blocks and whatever x-rays and ultrasounds the vet feels are needed, so we can figure out what's still bothering him.  The vet - not my regular vet but from a clinic that specializes in lameness - will be coming on January 7. Red is about 90% sound on the left hind, but usually not much more than that until he warms up after a bit and moves better.  I'm thinking that whatever the original injuries were, he's healed from those, but that perhaps the injuries and the recovery have exacerabated some underlying hock arthritis - but who knows.  Anyway, today he felt so good and clearly wanted to move that I tried a bit of trot - he was happy to oblige.  I kept to straight lines - only a few - and posted on the diagonal (LF/RH) that kept me from sitting when the LH was on the ground.  He felt very good, and even his downwards transitions were fine - none of that "collapsing" he tends to do with the LH.  We'll see how he is tomorrow . . .

Pie has been working very well.  His canter work has been coming right along.  His right bend at all gaits is also improving as I improve how I'm bending myself.  Today, since all the horses were feeling very good - it was cold and the horses haven't been able to really move at speed in turnout since the ground is both frozen solid and very chopped up - Pie was very forward.  I took advantage of this, and we were able to do some very nice halt/trot and back/trot transitions.  We even were able to do our first ever walk/canter transitions on the left lead - the right lead isn't there yet but he's getting the idea.  His sustained canter work and also circling in our small arena are also improving.  He still can get a bit strung out at the canter, particularly on the right lead, and his softness comes and goes but he's starting to find it more consistently.  Today at one point on the right lead, he got a bit strung out and fell into trot, clipping himself on the heel - no damage done just some hair scraped off.

Three fine horses - who could ask for more?  (Well, I could . . . but finding time to ride all of them would be a challenge . . .)

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