Monday, August 5, 2013

Guiding/Communicating Without Blocking or Bracing, and Poor Pie

All three horses are working very well and meeting every expectation I have for them.  Red will still sometimes brace for a few minutes if he's excited, but we work through that pretty quickly.  Today we had an excellent ride, with some good work in the indoor and then some fine motoring around the pasture, part of the time with another boarder and her horse.  We trotted around a lot together, and Red was just lovely, relaxed and willing to lead or follow.  It's good pre-trail practice for him - my goal for him through the fall is to extend our pasture jaunts - the pastures extend a good half mile from the barn - and ride in company and also work on our trailer loading until he's relaxed and proficient at it.  We'll also start riding out on the lane that leads to our trail head, and take things as far as he's comfortable.  Pie's ready to start trailering out - and the truck and trailer have arrived!  Early next week I pick up the trailer and get the trailer balanced and learn how to hitch a bumper pull with stabilizer bars. (It's an odd thing of my history that I've only ever driven and hitched a gooseneck trailer, never a bumper pull.)

Dawn is also working very well.  This morning we started adding some lateral work back in - just some shoulder-in at the walk this morning.  We've done some of this before, and both boys are ready to do some as well - all three horses already do very nice side pass and turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.  I find lateral work challenging.  I've learned in my regular, forward, straight work and circles not to move my body hardly at all, but use my focus, energy and intention to guide and direct the horse.  With lateral work, I tend to do too much - too much twisting and/or leaning of my body, too much leg, blocking with my seat, etc., etc.  All this gets in the way of the horse's freely moving where and how I want.  I need to do enough to have the horse understand what I want, but that shouldn't be very much at all, and I need to create openings for the horse to move into and not brace with my aids.  Dawn and I did pretty well this morning - or at least she thought I did pretty well and it's her opinion that matters.  She's a good one to practice this with, as she doesn't put up with any of that nonsense from me and needs only a suggestion, a whisper, of direction to get what I want.  Pie doesn't always yet get what I want right away, and I have to not up the ante but just be calmly, softly clear, and Red tends to overdo things - his tendency to overbend in the head and neck can come back.  So all three horses have a lot to teach me, and I may also go up and take a few lessons with Heather to get her eyes on what I'm doing.

Poor Pie - within a few minutes of my arriving at the barn - he was fine when I got there - he managed to poke himself in the right eye, apparently with a piece of hay from his hay bag.  (This is not necessarily a problem with the hay bag but rather with the way the barn workers put the hay in - they just tend to stuff it in there with bits protruding from the top and sides every which way - if you do it correctly the flakes of hay lie flat inside the bag - I need to keep an eye out for this.) His eye was tightly shut and and tearing profusely, and the eyelids were swelling.  I got some triple eye antibiotic ointment in there, after prying it open to see if there was any obvious injury - there wasn't but he likely has a corneal scratch - and gave him a 1,000 lb. dose of Banamine, some of which he spit out (after holding it in his mouth for quite a while).  I took his hay out of the bag and put it on the stall floor - with one eye not so good I didn't want to risk more injuries. When I left a couple of hours later, the eye looked slightly better - it was partly open and not tearing anymore.   I'll go back later this evening and put in some more eye antibiotic, and do the same tomorrow morning and also give him a 500 lb. dose of Banamine.  If it starts improving, likely no need to call the vet since they'd have me do pretty much what I'm doing now.  If it doesn't improve or gets worse, I'll call the vet.  Poor Pie!

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