Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
1 - Him not eating before I ride...whenever that happens, he always gets grumpy about it 1/2 through our school
2 - I asked for more - a lot more and I could feel him instantly tense up a through his back as I was asking for more.
Our warm up, was GREAT! Lots of walk trot walk trot transitions, some walk halt, bending on circles and serpentines etc. It was a solid 20 minutes of GOOD warm up...then, I shortened my reins a couple inches and really asked him to use his butt and he almost immediately tensed through his back. I tried gaining the suppleness again through the transitions to ensure he was working from behind, but he just didn't want to believe me that it was going to be okay...so, the Carrie of old would have fought with him at this point and said 'YOU'RE DOING IT YOU STUBBORN DONKEY'...but, the Carrie of new said, 'Okay, I feel you getting tense and short in behind, let's leave it at that for now'...the WORST part about it, (well, not only that he wasn't feeling the best) was that The Boss and Kelly were going to be stopping in!!! ARRGH!!! Of COURSE he wasn't feeling up to par when they happened to be coming.
However - we are ready to start lessons again...YAY!!!! I totally need to boss to start kicking my ass again. 3 months without a lesson has not done ANYTHING for my position...I can feel my lower leg swinging when I am not paying that much attention to it. So - once I am back from vacation the beginning of July, we will start with some lessons so she can help me really get his engine going again.
Of course, being the amazing person she is suggested I switch one of the ring work days for lunging with side reins...that way, he wont have to worry about me pissing him off on his back asking him to collect, and he can get comfortable with it again without me bouncing around up there...sounds good to me!! So, I will do that for sure on Thursday evening.
Canterdown on August 15 - REALLY is a possibility..the next three weeks are pivotal and it all depends on how determined I am to push him in our conditioning. We're to do 5 mins trot, 1 min walk, repeat x5 then x6 next week and x7 the week after. DVM Extraordinaire also said we should be doing solid hill work for 30 - 40 minutes...yay...not....again, it is all up to me now. The Boss again being amazing said, 'Canterdown has pre-entry don't they?'...the jumps are about 2'3, max...and I am pretty sure we could trot around the whole course which is like 800 m or something sill like that. BUT - it is a strong possibility and something I am absolutely gunning for....
ANNNNNNNNND - Barn owner Jen BOUGHT 4 XC JUMPS!!! so, we now have a total of 7!! AND Aaron is going to come out one afternoon and make us some more!! So, there you have it, we will have some xc jumps to jump before long!! :-)
Tonight, he has the day off, tomorrow we work-hack, Thursday we lunge and Friday morning (before we head up to North Eastern Ontario to an island in the middle of a lake) we will ring work it again.
I'm determined to make Chester as close to 100% as I can by this time in 3 weeks...July 11 is our deadline (and it also happens to be the day Dreamcrest is holding its event, in which Kelly is taking Molly and in which I am going for support.... :-) ).
LET'S GO PICKLE!
Monday, June 21, 2010
She was thrilled with his progress and said we have made monumental progress...AND if we keep going, that maybe maybe MAYBE Canterdown on August 15 is a possibility!!! :-) HOW FREAKING AMAZING WOULD THAT BE?! OKay, not that we are getting ahead of ourselves, but she was really impressed at his improvement from 4 weeks ago.
- His trot is still catching - slightly, but regulairly - we need to up our game on the conditioning. She said for me to wear my event watch and time it. 5 minutes solid trotting, walk for one minutes, repeat x5 then x6 next week. He really is quite fit...we can trot for ever without him breathing really hard. She said that is a sure sign to up it and push him.
- Said he canter looks GREAT - but the focus as I said above, needs to be on his trot.
- Include one day of just going up and down the hill for 30 minutes - his recovery period should be when we 'walk down the hill'
- In the arena - figure eights, serpentines, lots of changing direction, keep going with the grid work.
- Add more poles into the grid work - we should have 5 or 7 on the ground
- NO MORE DISH SOAP!!! She said the blister is fantastic and has obviously done it's job! Good thing - now the other horses won't be making fun of poor little Pickle.
- His back - is 100% better...it is amazing what horse strength robaxacet and a new saddle can do.
- Best of all - HE IS HAPPY...the pickle makes its appearance regulairly and was very much apparent when DVM Extraordinaire was there on Saturday.
So - three more weeks of HARD conditioning, harder ring work, more bending, more engagement, more circles, more grids - then, DVM comes back out to take another look....and dare I say it...we attempt to jump...
The Man enjoying some hand-grazing after his conditioning yesterday
Friday, June 18, 2010
BUT - the BIG baby steps continue...
ie - trotting AND cantering through the horse-eating-monster-infested puddles
ie - 20 m circles
ie - cantering in the ring!!! (I'm STOKED about that most)
Meeting tomorrow at noon with the DVM Extraordinaire to discuss next steps. (Actually, maybe I am stoked about that most....)
Slowly but surely, slowly but surely, slowly but surely...
GO CHESTER GO!!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I could tell when I got there last night that he was in a little bit of a mood. As I was bringing him in, they were a little late at the barn and he hadn't been brought in yet for dinner. I have mentioned before that my horse is the slowest eating horse on the face of the planet and because I was late myself yesterday - it was pushing 7:30 when I got there - I figured I would let him eat after we had worked. As I was bringing him in, rather then putting him into his stall, it was right into the cross ties for the Pickle...I think he was a little surprised at that. His tack up, was also pretty quick....he sensed that...no doubt. He is the sort of horse that lies to be fussed over, detail oriented, take your time, tell me I am wonderful, scratch my face, scratch my withers, scratch my butt, okay, now put my saddle on, scratch my face again etc. Well we skipped the in btween part last night and went right to the saddle part. When you put the lack of dinner and lack of QT together, I think he was pissed...especially because I wasn't there on Monday night. I told you he was quirky right?
So once I convinced him that ring work is fun (it is a losing battle for about 5 minutes) we got down to it...I did ask for more engagement - TONS of walk-trot-walk-trot transitions, some more bending - some 20m circles - and some cantering...he is a little more stiff to the left then he is to the right...which makes sense because he is more sore in his left stifle....although he was cranky about it, I MADE him push on...and we did it!! :-) I am VERY proud of the pickle for allowing me to ask (well, somewhat force) him to take the next baby step - although a big one - in his recovery. He was quite cranky about it, I did notice some tail swishing and some not happy ears, but his mouth was frothy, s that leads me to believe he got over it....after a good 20 minutes....
Tonight - because the weather is dismal, we will be in the ring again...I might even go so far as to try and set up a canter pole or two depending on how he is feeling. I am going to ask for more engagement again and really ask him to bend and come up under himself. Let's hope he is feeling better and he gets dinner before I get there!!
Hummm - I wonder if it was because I made him wait to eat until after he had worked. Horses are funny creatures - I guess I will never know.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I was speaking with her last night...she has been on the on-call shift from hell...and we are trying to sort out when she will be able to make it out to visit us...anyways, we started talking and the conversation went a little bit like this:
Me - Well, I am scared you know? What if I ask him for a 20m circle and it sets us back? What if I ask him to canter in the ring and it sets us back?
Vet: PUSH HIM, he will let you know when it is too much. If you don't push him, he'll plateau and you want him to get stronger.
Me - I'm just scared to do too much.
Vet: DON'T be scared - he is smart enough to tell you when it won't feel right.
Me: Okay, if you are sure.
Vet: I am sure. Have FUN!
So - last night - I was all excited to ask him for MORE in the ring...like more engagement, 20m circles and cantering...but I ended up stuck in the office until 8:30...joy. So we will try again tonight.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
I was excited to try and canter (with me asking him too as opposed to telling him no, he is not allowed too) and kept reminding myself that if he felt off in any way shape or form, there would be no more trying until further notice....tack up said pony and away we go...
The straightaway that we use, is awesome...hay field on one side, strawberries on the other side...no joke. It is great. At a decent trot, it take about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get from the start to the end, it is level, the ground is decent and there are a couple things for Chester to look at...perfect for our conditioning. So, on the way back....I asked him to canter....I think he was over the moon at that...he sort of went "whaaaat? huh...? REALLY?!" and he happily cantered on, kept his line and enjoyed it...YAY CHESTER FOR CANTERING....the best part...was he felt as floaty as he normally does!!! :-) I was so proud!
Ring work tomorrow, hopefully with the Boss.
Chin up and Kick On
Thursday, June 10, 2010
DVM Extraordinaire is yet to make it out...no biggie...I am on her clock and she is going to try again for tonight and if not tonight, then on the weekend for sure.
Last night, Chester has never felt better since that dreadful day 10 weeks ago....
It was ring work day. I set up 4 cavaletti, with the final two being about 8 or 10 inches off the ground. He didn't touch them...once. :-) I don't think I had been more proud in my life!
Sidebar - There was an interesting article the other day on www.eventingnation.com that was titled "Why Do I Do This..." and the author went on to write about a green OTTB mare who she had taken xc schooling for the first time...the mare sounds a lot like Chester: sensitive to your leg and hand aids, spooky, looks at everything etc. The best part about it, was that very like Chester, the mare LOVES praise. It went on to talk about how she started the school being very unsure and un-confident and ended up walking around like she owned the place because she knew she was good. The other best part about it was the author's closing line that read: "That's why I do this sport, for the simple moments of confidence when the horse has had as much fun as you have. Its not the ribbons, the scores, the glory or the glamour...it's the connection you build with a special creature who is willing to do crazy things for you simply because you asked them to try."
Well let me tell you something...I talk almost constantly to Chester, whether or not it is under my breath, or full out making a HUGE deal out of the littlest thing he does right. He feeds off of the positive energy that I carry...the more relaxed and having fun with it I am...the better he is...Last night for example. I had moved the poles apart a couple inches because I reallly wanted him to start to pick his legs up and really start to use his butt. And the last two poles in the grid now included height...another new thing. So picture this: We're riding outside, the grid is down one side as I am coming around the corner, this is me: "Head's up Chester, poles coming you're going to have to pick your feet up...don't worry I'll stay out of your way"...make the turn, set him straight then into 2point I go..."kay Chester, here it comes, my leg is on, it's all you" One Two, One Two, One Two, One Two... he holds his line, keeps his rhythm and doesn't touch a single pole "GOOD BOY CHESTER!!! GOOD BOY"...followed by ENORMOUS pats...repeat...By the third or fourth time around, he was snorting to himself as if to say 'Really, this is IT?! Come on Mom, I GOT this'...it was awesome!!! I was so proud of him. I made such a big deal of how happy he had made me that when I was cooling him out (on a hack) one of the girls who joined up with me said 'I take it he was being a good boy tonight?' I said YES, he was great! She goes "We could hear you in the indoor arena"....lol...I guess I was happy. We are still a long long long loooong way from showing, (we haven't cantered in the ring in 2+ months) let alone jumping anything, but you can bet your ass off I am going to ride this positive upward momentum train...he. felt. great. He was relaxed, no tension, frothy mouth...I was paying close attention to his ears and they were forward the entire time, all the while cocking one back listening to me...awesome. If we keep going like this, please please please keep your fingers crossed...then maybe Canterdown August 15 is attainable!
So (in the author's words of the above mentioned article), why do I do this silly sport that wastes so much time, money and can cause so much disappointment ....weeeelll.....
I do this because I believe in my horse. I do this because I know that my horse is special. He deserves every single opportunity to show everyone who ever told him he would 'never be an event horse' to shut it. I do it for the moments when he finally gets it and understands just how really special he actually is and what a strong team we actually are. I fall in love with him for the first time again every single day that goes by and I get more and more proud of him every single day that goes by....THAT is why I do this sport.
Chin-up & Kick-On!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Pickle, is the slowest eating horse I have ever met in my entire life. When I got there last night, they were just in the process of bringing them in for dinner so I decided to grab him and bring him in before I got changed...NOTE - be prepared for the barrage of comments/insults when you go out to collect your horse in a suit and flip-flops...and YES I know I should not be around horses in flip-flops and YES I know it is a bad example for the kiddies.
45 freaking minutes later.....
As I am grooming him, I notice a lump on his lower left side, sort of by his sheath....it is a little warm and it is ouchie when I touch it...GREAT...I swear if anything, Pickle's UFP has made me so much more aware to everything that is going on with his body that the smallest little bump, scrape, I freak out about. So much for being low maintenance. I turn him out into the arena and phew, he isn't off at all.
Since he had the lucky opportunity of being off for 3 days, it was back onto the trails for him. I was expecting the giraffe neck, not paying attention to anything, spooking at rocks, trees, grass, the sky etc, and a lot of tourism from him. He was anything but. I think he is really starting to understand what it means to pay attention and when he does pay attention, it means I don't constantly have to remind him to pay attention with a half-halt every 4 seconds. We went up and down the loooong straight away 6 times, on a longer rein, at a steady trot...not the let's trot as fast as I can and not pay attention so I fall on my face trot...balanced, with me staying off his face...it was great. Yes, he had his head UP, but his ears were pricked, he was looking forward and snorting to himself....I praised him the ENTIRE way.
Head over to the dreaded Hill...and in doing so we come across the scary horse-eating-monster-infested water. He looked at it, didn't want to go through it the first time, I said enough is enough and then he proceeded to walk straight through as if he had been doing it his entire life. Head out at a trot and head up the hill...maintaining the same, BIG but balanced trot. Chester looked straight up in front of him the entire time and had no interest in anything that he wasn't supposed to be doing. I was very proud. Trot down, in balance, I could feel his feet coming up and under him from behind...it was great! Get back to the water and he walks right through, first time, no funny business.
We walked back to the barn on the buckle with his neck stretched out and head down...snorting to himself the entire time. I love my horse.
The 'Pickle' was out again when I dismounted and it stayed that way while I was untacking him. I am very pleased with how far he has come. There is still the clicking/popping as he catches his tendons through his patella, but it isn't nearly as often or severe. But know we still have a long long long lonnnggggg way to go before I ask him to collect more or even jump anything.
DVM Extraordinaire comes tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Things up for discussion include: acupuncture and glucosamine.
Bromont starts tomorrow...and it is hard for me knowing that instead of being a year away from going, I am now at least two...sigh...
Friday, June 4, 2010
Last night, I had some company for the hack, which in all honesty, was fantastic!!! Abbie & Casanova joined us on our hack...which I warned Abbie about..."this isn't a mosey along hack, we're working"..she had no problem with that and WOW, what a difference having Cass along for the ride made. Hard to believe, but Chester actually seemed to pay more attention to me and what we were doing as opposed to everything EXCEPT what we were doing...it was amazing!
The damp, dismal weather we have had lately has created a couple big puddles along our hacking route...which I was stoked about...Chester, is petrified of water...I chalk that up to him never having to really deal with it, ever. Whenever I would see puddles, I would try to make him walk through them...he, on the other hand would prefer to half rear and pull a one 180, half pass around them, jump across them rather then walk/trot calmly through them...he is a maniac. So, we came across a PERFECT puddle last night to get him over said fear. Cass is also deathly afraid of the water monsters that are waiting to eat him at the bottom of the water, so it was good for him too. The puddle was about 10 feet long and maybe 5 or 6 feet wide...all I wanted was for him to walk through it a couple times and not freak out about it...well, there was definitely freaking out (both Chester and Cass) for a solid 5 minutes. At one point, Abbie goes to me 'Chester's spooks look really floaty'...and she couldn't be more right...EVERYTHING about this horse is 'floaty'. (huh - imagine that a spooky horse who likes to jump 12 feet to one side on no notice, but it is somewhat 'easy' to stay balanced because he floats....). After reminding myself to look UP, open my reins and encourage him on (i.e CHIN-UP and KICK-ON) he walked right thought it like it was no big deal....twice, then trotted through too...it was almost like he just said 'FINE, I give up, I'll go through the horse-eating-monster-infested-water...but only because you are making me.'...I was so so so SO proud of him.
On to the hill...we trotted the entire way to the hill - about a good 4 minutes - then went straight up it....Chester, is scared of everything...grass, tress, things that are different colours, the changing of the ground from grass to dirt, a pile of wire balled up on the side of the road...his tourist mentality, do NOT make my job any easier. With Cass along for the ride, I was able to maintain a steady, clam even paced trot withOUT having to have a strong contact on his mouth...which, was a first. He was paying more attention to me and to Cass, he forgot to be a tourist and actually focused on what he was supposed to be doing. What a change! We trotted up and down the hill several times and then headed back to the barns...the sky was about to open up and I didn't want to be in the middle of a field in a downpour.
There was only one thing that made me go uh-oh....on the way back, Cass was cantering up ahead of us, Chester, was trotting calmly and he broke into a canter...calmly, so I let him do it...I am so so so very hesitant to let him canter yet....so, we're cantering and I can see him fixed up on Cass and Abbie up ahead...he tosses his head a couple times (we are going to have to figure out a way to stop that, because the last thing I am going to need is getting head butted) then it felt like he bucked...BUT, here is where I am stuck...I don't know if it was a buck, or his leg getting locked and him having to kick out to unlock it...I guess I will never know. I brought him back to trot immediately after I felt him do that. But, his canter, while we were cantering, felt great!
He has today and tomorrow off and I will be out on Sunday to do some gird work over some cavaletti...the DVM extraordinaire comes Monday evening for her follow up and next step in Operation: Rehabilitation
Until next time, Chin-UP and Kick-On!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Take a look at him: happy, ears up and forward, knees up and together, frothy mouth, relaxed through his back, a mile over the fence...It was taken Friday, March 26, as we were warming up during our last lesson before we went to our first schooling show...this was the last time that Chester felt on top of the World. It's funny when you look through pictures on Facebook, read some of the comments and think to yourself, 'wow, that didn't turn out the way I planned'.
I know I should be over it and focusing on Operation: Rehabilitation (which I am, completely, trust me), but every so often I do find myself asking that dreaded question still: "WHY did this have to happen?"
Last night - I teeter-tottered on thinking the worst.
The weather for the past couple of days have been dismal. Rainy, cloudy, damp, dark, blah. I have noticed steady, albeit very slow, improvements in Chester over the past 2.5 weeks since we have started blistering and he has been staying out 24-7. I have him convinced that he can move happily (at the walk and trot only) with his head down and in somewhat of a frame and it is okay for him to step up underneath himself. We are continuing with our trotting outside (which he loves and is determined to make my ass hit the ground at least 3 times per ride) in long straight lines and up and down hills....although we haven't been able to do a lot of that this week because of the weather. I think regardless tonight (even though it is supposed to be raining) we have to go out there.
He was in when I got there last night and standing at the back of his stall, head down, ears flopped over. I think he was tired because IMO, I don't think horses sleep as much outside as they do inside. Anyways, I pull him out of his stall and he takes a couple 'locked' steps. Hummm...interesting. I ask how long he had been in for and it was about 90 minutes. Okay - not that big of a deal. I press and prod along his back, no reaction...phew!!...I'm VERY happy about his back...!....apply the dish soap and he doesn't flinch...phew to that too...those two non reactions are HUGE in this process. There was a lesson finishing up in the arena (because of the cyclone that was going on outside) and they had to get by. So, I go to move Chester over and something happened that caused a mili-second of panic to run through me; his hind legs didn't want to move and he almost fell to his knees in the middle of the isle...situation over, he sorted himself out and moved over without a problem....But still, he has NEVER done that before and let me tell you, every ear twitch, every head jerk, every reaction, I now pay extremely close attention too...
So, we ride. And I could tell he was a little uncomfortable at first. He didn't get as frothy as he usually does, and it took me a little longer to convince him to put his head down. I KNOW we have to work through his uncomfortable-ness and I know it is scary for him and he doesn't understand why he feels off, which makes it soooo super hard for me to 'make' him try. I keep reminding myself that he is an althlete coming off an injury, going through rehab...and know what it is like to go through uncomfortable-ness in rehabing a knees (I screwed mine pretty badly a couple years ago when I was still young enough to play rugby.) But, we worked out of it and he was feeling good enough to 'spook' at all the things I knew he was going to spook at...like people sitting in chairs and the door being 1/2 opened...he is such a freak...by the end of the ride, he was a little frothy, light in the bridle, his head was down and we were doing upwards and downwards walk-trot transitions in a consistent frame. There was no 'locking' of the patellas after we rode while in the crossties, so I was happy about that.
Yesterday we were supposed to be out on the trails, so I reallllllyyyyy hope the weather cooperates with me tonight so we can do some long trot sets.
Remember how I mentioned the weather? Well, I'm wondering if damp dismal rainy weather, can have the same sort of effect on horses that it does on humans? Like - someone who has arthritis feels more achy and sore when it is damp and rainy out then when it is bright and sunny out. Let's hope so.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Originally, I wanted to get a pony for Juls to ride (she doesn't ride) and we were going to go out on a hack...but, I got tied up at work, didn't get home until late soooo we visited the Pickle and I introduced Julia to Tristan...
Back out again tonight - hopefully to hack....buuuut there is supposed to be a big thunder boomer this afternoon/evening so we might be stuck in the arena...boo hiss.
I LOVE MY SISTER!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
FIRST OF ALL - CONGRATULATIONS TO JEN on the NEWEST ADDITION TO THE BARN: WELCOME BABY TRISTAN!!!
It seems as though every time I feel we are making headway, I do something stupid (like not be patient) and screw it all up. Well, last night, was the exception to that.
Chester was in because he went shoe shopping...this horse of mine, I absolutely freaking adore...he knows when I am coming and when he spots me, doesn't take his eyes off of me...I fall in love with him again for the first time, the second I see him, everyday. He has his head over his door and his greeting to me is with an outstretched neck and head. I give him the cheek scratch and let's out what I refer to as as close to a sigh that a horse could do...I rest my forehead on his head and give him a little kiss...oh how I love him.
I noticed he was a little more 'stiff' then usual through his stifles yesterday...but after pressing and prodding, there was no soreness or flinching away from my touch and I chalk that up to him having to stand for the farrier and then be in his stall...it is amazing the change in him from the horse strength robaxacet and being outside 24/7...
Ring work - with poles and raised cavaletti - maybe 8 inches or so off the ground...I really want him to know it is okay to use his butt and that it doesn't hurt when he does....I have to tell you, he was an absolute dream. While I wasn't so much concerned about him in a 'proper' dressage frame, I was concerns about him keeping his head down, moving at an even pace, not coming up short behind, bending a little more through the corners (still no circles really), and maintaining balance and rhythm. Well, he did ALL of that...and the trot poles with no problems!! I asked Jen if he looked as though he was coming up even, because that is how he felt and she said he looked great! I was so so happy. He was snorting, his mouth was frothy, he was relaxed through his body....Now if it would have been the Carrie of old, I would have said, GREAT, let's canter. But, I did not! I will save the cantering for the trails this week (which I am rotating btw, one day ring, one day trail) and I ALWAYS take him out for 15 minutes after the ring work...I will make him brave...eventually.
Now - the reason I am so overly excited and pleased about last night...is that, the 'pickle' made its first appearance in a while...like the 'pickle' that I have been so accustomed too...by the time we had finished our cool out hack and I had dismounted, it was out...and stayed that way the entire time I was grooming and fussing over him. (NOTE - I think the people who were sitting by the barn while I was riding think I am absolutely crazy because I talked to Chester the entire time I was riding and made a HUUUUGEE deal of ANYTHING he did well.) By the time I was back in the barn, I was the only on there, it was quiet, warm out and the birds were chirping...it was nice quiet time for the Pickle and I...as I was fussing, he was uh, 'relaxed', had his neck stretched out and an ear cocked back in my direction.
DVM extraordinaire comes on Sunday (that'll be 3 weeks of blistering already...!! I'll try to remember to take a picture...it is friggin NASTY looking) to reassess and determine the best course of action for us. But, we are absolutely making headway.
I think last night was the BEST he has felt in a long long time and he's starting to trust me again: that I'm not going to ask him to do anything that will hurt him and that he can believe in me as his Pilot again.
It's a good feeling.