Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And the bubble is burst...

Sad news and a frustrating diagnosis; Bear came up lame Monday night. I had been laughing at his attempts to frolic in the slippery pasture on Friday, but now its not so funny. We think he must have slipped and fallen sometime Monday because he was fine that morning and noticeably lame that night.

So needless to say I'm more than frustrated about having to give up all my immediate goals and plans for him. We had planned on trailering out for his first real trail ride today, and clearly the January show is out of the question. In fact even with a best case scenario I doubt that he'll be able to go to my horse training 2 class. But more than anything I'm just worried how sound he'll stay in the future and if this will affect him later on.

The vet prescribed bute and hand walking and waiting! We'll talk about what the next steps are on Saturday depending on his improvement by then. He was certainly feeling better today, and trying his best to be silly despite the slick pasture and a bum leg. So he was back to bucking and kicking and running about. But he's definitely still lame, and is throwing his head like he's frustrated that he can't run like normal.

Anyway, I'm heart broken, but trying think positively. His training log is probably on hold since all his work will be in hand for a while. I hope to have better news soon!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

Rainy, muddy, cold and miserable... I SO want an indoor arena! I would be so much more productive.

It had been so long since I went out to ride, that I actually had to look at the calendar to figure it out! 16 days! Leaving a barely broke horse to sit for 16 days is not the best way to progress, but between the rain and the holidays it couldn't be helped. Unfortunatley it also means that he spent most of that time locked up in a pen because of rain, and when he is out in the pasture its too slick and muddy to actually run.

So yesterday I was determined to get back out there. We have just 15 days until the schooling show, and I'd like to be able to do a walk/trot class (without crashing into other horses!) I head out in the afternoon feeling a little rushed to get done before dark, so of course I end up cutting corners and regretting it! Because of Bear's run-around-the-pasture-before-being-ridden routine, I decided to take off his blanket first, and then get his lunch ready. I went straight out without a halter or anything, and as soon as I get all the buckles undone except the front two, he starts walking off. So off he goes with straps slapping and banging about, so needless to say, he spent the next 5 minutes trying to get those straps to stop flapping! Every time he bucked, they hit harder, so he'd buck harder! He was distracted by the running and bucking because he had to be REALLY careful not to slip and fall, so he wasn't really watching where he was going. I was just laughing too hard to really do anything about it. He noticed a big boulder at the last minute, and had to jump over it. Then he ended up tripping and sliding when coming up to the old mare, and he only came to a stop when he actually crashed into the side of her!

If it was too slippery to have fun galloping and bucking, lunging wasn't going to be an option, so I planned on sticking with the round pen just in case he was a nut case. I hobbled him while I tacked up, so I've at least spent one extra day working on the one item I swore to do everyday about two weeks ago! Then I walked him around and I addressed some of the ground manners I've been getting a little sloppy on like stopping when I stop and not walking ahead of me. Then we worked in hand through the trail course that I've set up with poles and logs, before finally heading into the round pen to get on. He was just as good as he was 16 days ago! Its so wonderful that we don't have to start over at the beginning just because I've been too busy. We just did work at the walk, and worked on stopping and backing up, then called it a day!

Today (Saturday) we trailered out to the big arena with my sister and old mare. He was pretty full of it while lunging, so I'm glad he had a place to stretch his legs and get some exercise. Since we worked on turns and stopping yesterday I took advantage of the big arena to focus on going forward. So we trotted and cantered around, and I even got his left lead! YEAH! He moved forward on a loose rein and was happy and relaxed the whole time. He's such a good boy.

We're off to a good start for the schooling show January 10th, but I need to keep this up everyday to be ready in time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trail Training

So we've been troubled by the holiday busyness and the bad weather, and riding time has been pretty slim. My Tuesday class is over, and my weekends have been full, so its been hard to find the time. I could get up an hour early and give up my current "hour of sipping coffee on the couch trying to wake up" in order to ride, but despite all my good intentions I just can't make myself do it when morning comes.

Wednesday we had a great training day. I trailered out to a friends house to join in on her appointment with the barefoot specialty trimmer. I was super happy with her work, and it was a good excuse to skip out on work for the day. So first of all this was a much longer trailer ride than usual, and he was going alone. We have three set places to train: home, the covered arena for class (10 min trailer ride), and the big arena (20 min trailer ride). He's used to those places, he's secure there, and my mare usually is around so he's go his security blanket. So needless to say when he arrived at this big open pasture with 14 horse staring at him from a pipe barn, without his security blanket buddy, he was more than a little overwhelmed! He wasn't naughty, just hot, and constantly distracted. When I took him back up to the trailer and tied him for 10 minutes before tacking him up he neighed his head off the whole time. They were huge full body neighs! His little stubby tail would shoot out and shake everytime! So funny. But when I actually took him down to the arena to lunge him, he was surprisingly quiet and relaxed. I rode with the friend and her husband around their 20 acre pasture. It was great trail training with a good gradual hill, lots of crossings through a natural creek bed, bumps to go up and over, and ground poles to walk over. He was a star! He normally follows my mare because she walks so much faster, so I expected him to follow the other more experienced horses. From the very beginning he took the lead and bravely walked wherever I pointed him at a nice forward pace. We trotted up the hill, and practiced stopping and backing up the hill while we walked back down. He did spook once, and half spooked a second time, but we easily recovered and continued on as planned. (And now I at least have an idea how he'll spook.) He seems to be a "spin to the right and stop" kind of horse, and his half spooks are just the sort where the seem to jump to a halt. Overall is was a really great training experience, and he's definitely ready to start trail riding.

Since then he's done nothing, but I've got a goal now. There's a local schooling show with a couple of walk/trot classes on January 10, so I have just under a month to get him going enough to try his first show! Yeah!