Wednesday, 14 November 2018

I so suck at this

So a lot and equally nothing has happened.  I’ve had a lot of changes work wise that affected my time available as well as financials. Zeke (my gelding that should be a mare)horse did his typical 2 steps forward but 1 step back situation.





I love this sport but sometimes it’s so frustrating. Looking forward I’m hoping for much more time and money to devote to it.  There are some changes  coming in the next few months that should free me up financially and relieve some of the stress I’ve been encountering. 

I have been a huge fan of the he rest of the equestrian blogging community so I hope to contribute as much as I’ve gained from them.




Also...... in t minus 6 days there will be a new addition to my little household!!



Monday, 12 February 2018

Progress

Even as seldom as I remember to update this it stands as a good reminder of how far we have come and how f***ing annoying Zeke used to be compared to how slightly less annoying he is now.

Just previous to Christmas after some targeted strengthening exercises Mr. Zeke was feeling much stronger but the canter in general always seemed to spark a fight. No matter how I cued, when I asked in the ride or even if I tried to use a gymnastic to encourage him to pick it up (either lead... at this point it really didn't matter) I was getting some none stop and escalating sass. The joys of being at the barn I am at is that I have wonderful trainers.

Terrible screenshot I had to keep looking at everytime I thought about giving him away....

J is the head trainer at the barn with years and years of knowledge. He grew up Eventing up Toronto way where every year they would get a whole crew of OTTB's to bring along over the winter to show in the spring/summer and sell. He then switched to the Show Jumping world and competed with the likes of Ian Miller and other top riders. He certainly has some stories about those days..... Needless to say though, he was the reason I ended up interested in the OTTB in the first place. Also because of his years of experience he has endless tools up his sleeve to get the result you're looking for. In his words "If you only have 1 way to get result X and it doesn't work you're screwed. You need to have enough tools to have a Plan B, C,all the way to Z because not all horses are the same. They all have different weaknesses and baggage. It's your job as a rider to figure out what each particular horse needs".

S is the Assistant Trainer at the barn. She has 2 horses that are actively competing on the A circuit and regularly ribbons against the top hunter riders in Ontario. Both of these as well as many previous horses shes brought along from unbroke horses to 3'6 competitors. While she is only 30 she has years of experience with a variety of horses and is a tough but extremely fair rider.


These 2 have been invaluable in helping me with fixing this issue and giving me some pretty great tools for my toolbox moving forward.

Tools should include torturing your pony for giggles right??


S has been on Zeke twice with great results.

She had a few observations for me

1) In her words I've done a good job with him so far. Within 20 minutes he was going around nicely and had most of his buttons functioning. Horse's that haven't been taught those things don't suddenly acquire them that fast.

2) He is pretty tetbook in his evations and tendencies in the walk and trot.

3) I know what I am doing and my instincts are correct. Zeke is also more than aware of what I am asking. I can't let him trick me into otherwise.

3) Zeke is a giant dick.

Essentially what she is thinking has happened (and I will very much agree) is that Zeke is green and is struggling with typical green horse problems but with a very very healthy dose of attitude. Due to an unfortunate series of events which included me moving and his turnout buddy having hock surgery, Zeke lost some muscle in his hind end. As per the vet, he will always be prone to a weak hind end due to his conformation and  natural tendencies in his way of moving. This snow balled into a big issue as we were asking for harder things and he those things were hard for him. We were essentially asking a couch potatoe to go lift weights. Most horses would just continue to try to do as they were asked and the issue would go away. Zeke on the other hand started giving us all the finger. In his head, he could flail and drag himself into a canter (if he felt like cantering at all.... don't you know it's exhausting???) Traveling straight was also hard... Fuck you people for making me use myself properly...

Besties.... or as we've dubbed them the T-Rex and Raptor. They look so innocent until you find the teeth marks on both of their necks from playing hella rough


Instead of nipping the behaviors in the bud and doing 1 big correction (like I needed to for trailer loading, and his planting of the feet and biting...why I didn't figure this part out is beyond me) I was nagging him. Oh, you don't want to pick up that lead right away? Little Tap. Oh I'm squeezing and you don't really trot off? Little tap. This all culminated into him getting pissed and resentful and me getting frustrated and nagging even more. Cue vicious cycle.

Nothing S did when she was on him those 2 times was unfair or cruel or violent. She just insisted he do things properly and didn't give him an option to opt out or there were swift and large consequences. Correct and move on. The vet confirmed that was no physical reason he couldn't do what we were asking so he didn't get to have any excuses. Seeing that he was able to correctly pick up both leads without fuss and without throwing his shoulders around was very eye opening. Games up bud....

Since we have addressed this (only took 1 major CTJ moment) we have about 1 discussion a ride and then he happily goes back to work. It's honestly like a night and day fix.

No more are the motorcycling corners, now more is the head flailing and threatening to bop me in the nose. No more is there bucking in the canter transitions. The most important thing to remember is :Don't get after him enough for him to buck you off. Get after him until he's just about ready to throw down then move on." Zeke is very much the horse that will come to the fight if he thinks you're being unfair but he 100% understands when there are serious boundaries as long as I outline them for him.

It's exciting to have my fun horse back. We won't be making the show for the end of February but instead we're coming out of this with a lot more knowledge and filling some holes that were bound to come back and bite us later.

I finally feel comfortable enough to set some plans for the rest of the year!

This past Saturday I took Zeke for his first (and mine) Snow Ride! For the most part being the drama queen he is he was fantastic. Barn friend, we'll call her L had her mare there as a baby sitter. As long as Zeke was right on her hip he was happy as a clam. We tried to have him lead and that was just way too exciting for the baby and his brain kind of fell out. Then L tried trotting her mare and the rest of his brain temporarily fell out. We ended on a good note walking 1 more lap around the field. All in all a success!!
Proof we didn't die!!

So...

Plan 1) More trail rides.
My goal is to have 2 trail rides per month the rest of the year weather permitting. Spring here is hard because we tend to get a lot of rain. But hopefully between trailering out and on property hacking we can get this done.

Plan 2) between the months of May through October Zeke needs to leave the property atleast once per month. Hopefully in the summer we can blow this away by heading to the western shows to ride around. Otherwise I have a few venues in mind to get him out and about

Plan 3) We will show in atleast 1 horse show this year. This was on my list of goals last year but for a variety of reasons didn't happen. I don't even care if we go in flail around and not ribbon in anything. I want some solid educational classes for the baby. The more he does the better he is.

Plan 4) I'm hoping for atleast bi-weekly updates here. I really enjoy being able to look back and see where we were months and weeks ago.


I also thought I would throw the progress pick in here... This is about 1 year in between photos... Baby is filling out!




Here's to a better 2018!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Oops.

So it's been awhile and plenty of things have happened... both good and bad I suppose.

1st off... Zeke is now full time at the training barn. This has been hugely helpful for him as he's getting a 5 day a week riding schedule.

2. We were pretty consistently jumping all of the boxes and doing full courses. We can pretty consistently do our changes over poles and semi consistently without them

3. He's now a pro at  riding with other horses.

4. The bad.

We ran into a loose stifle issue. About 6 weeks ago he suddenly decided to not like cantering to the left. Vet came out and diagnosed the loose stifles (both) and recommended 3 weeks of trotting poles and long trotting.

3 weeks later and he's much stronger but still not loving his life on the left lead. Vet comes back out and takes x-rays of both stifles, both hocks and both ankles. All are completely clean. Vet is now prescribing leg paint for 10 days on the inside of both ankles and check ligaments and a course of Myoplast.  I am currently 3 weeks into this and we're seeing mild improvement.


Zeke is now learning how to come on the bit and go forward into the connection. He's a quick study but as always, doesn't love when something becomes "work". It'll come when he gains some strength.

 He consistently stands at the mounting block and as long as he gets 1 run a week to play hes a pretty happy camper even ridden with other horses.

He has been hot shod which was a success and in general is much much improved with his ground manners (no more planting his feet and refusing to move).


Over all a plus. I am super bummed about having to press pause on our jumping. However it really is allowing us to fix some holes that were forming in his training. At the end of this slooow slooow progress I will have a much more broke horse than I would have otherwise. Maaayyybbeee I'll even make it to the show at the end of February. We shall see!!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2017 Goals

Now... Considering Zeke is a baby (some days a very dumb baby.....) these are very loosely based and probably (hopefully?) conservative

-End 2017 with a sound healthy Zeke
-Be jumping a course of any size with fill by the end of the year
-Start working on lead changes and have them at least 75% firm
-Completely eliminate his loading issues
-Improve his anxiety about being ridden with other horses
-Compete in at least 1 show (not including a flat class) in any division
-Take him (and not die doing it) to one western show at the show grounds


Personal Goals

-Lose 15 pounds
-Re commit myself to my work. My dedication has been slacking a little since the end of my last position
-Meet my yearly budget
-Run a Tough Mudder
-Read atleast 12 books a year (I stopped reading from lack of options)
-Blog atleast Bi Weekly (mainly to keep a training log)
-Get more riding media (This is a very useful tool to evaluate our current weaknesses)

2016 Recap

January 
-Ozz was becoming a fire cracker under saddle due to lack of work.
-We were jumping 2' courses with fill and landing the correct leads
-Ended up moving him to Ironstone for a few months so he could be ridden consistently

February
-This was the start of saddle shopping for me and attitude for Ozz
-I ended up purchasing a Stubben Edelweis and Ozz continued to battle with a severe attitude under saddle.
-Started him on muscle relaxers and some hand walking.

March
-Took this month to slowly bring him back into work from hand walking to under saddle
-Zero riding to be had for me

April
-Had a training ride on Ozz in which he feels stiff but not overtly lame but acts the same for Seana
-Had vet out for another opinion
-It was determined he had severe hock pain and SI pain. Hocks were going to be injected.
-Quit my job that was literally stressing me to the point of sickness. This was probably the most necessary and important decision of this entire year.

May
-Hocks were injected and more time off was had before bringing him back to work.
-3 weeks of rehabbing and zero attitude changes
-Vet comes out for 3rd evaluation and basically says he's falling apart.
-Further diagnostics weren't pursued as it didn't change the treatment but it was guessed he had super thin soles and would need pour in pads, a front left ankle issue, SI issue and a return of his ulcers.
- Decided Previcox was the way to go

June
-Ozzy was officially listed for sale after a couple weeks of rehab work.
-I also started my new job with a company and boss who is wonderful to work for.

July
-Found a wonderful family in Harrow to purchase Ozz.
-He is a beginner safe trail mount and a companion for the daughters jumper. It was literally the perfect situation.
-Horse shopping commences!!!

                                      

August
-After looking at a whopping 2 horses, I decide to purchase a quiet lazy gelding.
-On August 13th Wicked Sting officially gets delivered from Aurora and we start the lovely process of bringing along a 4 year old 16 hh goofball of a gelding that is right off the track!



September
-This brings the start of lessons where I learn he doesn't care about indoor arenas, has a bit of a trailer loading issue and I only have to buy minimal tack for him!
-I also learn that he has meltdowns when ridden with other horses... this is an on going issue.

October
-Lessons continue. Zeke gets a bit spicier as the weather cools down and he doesn't get worked as much.
-We have officially trotted our first course of X's and begin to attempt small grids with.... mixed success.
-Semi have the trailer loading issue fixed

November
-Trailer loading isues show up full force. But I keep persevering and working around it.
-He is now up to 20 minutes to load both ways.
-Consistently picking up the canter better and intriducing lengthens and shortens at the trot. Great success here!

December
-Trailer loading comes to a head with it taking over an hour one night to get him to load coming home. I finally ended up beating him to get him on the trailer.
-With work at home our trailer loading tactics have changed. It is now a zero tolerance for stopping and planting his feet. Trailer loading must happen with a dressage whip.
-Also get my saddle looked at by a saddle fitter where it is determined it fits well.
-Someone also might have chewed on my saddle........ A$$

                                            


It's amazing how at the end of the year you don't feel like you've done much until you sit down and write it all down.

Here's to a better 2017!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Lesson Day!

This week has been a mixed bag of rides. I was busy with work so his riding schedule was pretty light which I think contributed to his mood by Saturday.
As mentioned before,  Zeke loses his sh@t over mosquitoes. That contributed to the poor rides this week.

Image result for horse meme

Saturday, Zeke must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. He was cranky he didn’t get to go out and play during breakfast (my uncles fault) then decided he wouldn’t go through the gate. He would back up or go sideways or go any effing direction other than forward through it.

My aunt had to come behind him with a lunge whip to get him to go through.  Again, she had to come behind him to walk on the trailer.

Getting to the barn he was actually quite good. I chased him around (even though he really didn’t need it) and tacked up to ride inside. Then the idiot wouldn’t walk close to the mounting block.  Same as when he wouldn’t come through the gate. He planted his feet and would go backwards, sideways and I had to get help to get him to go forwards. (Everytime I go to give him a smack with the whip or rope I have with me he go sideways or backwards so I can’t get behind him.)

Once I was on him he was quite quite good though.

We started with trot poles and did a little course which he totally nailed. After that we did a course of x’s. OUR FIRST LITTLE COURSE!!!.... KIND OF haha. He basically crawled over the xs and even knocked a couple over. But other than being a bit wiggly he was quite good!

It shows up on the flat and especially with jjumps. He doesn’t totally respect the leg and doesn’t like to go forward. When you put your leg on he sometimes tucks his head of comes up above the contact and slows down. The wigglynes comes from his head coming up off contact and not going forward when I squeeze.  The suggestion was to follow the contact whichever direction he goes. Not to hold him but to artificially create it a bit so he cant evade it and will eventually learn to push into it.

It definitely improved and we then moved on to doing some canter poles in both directions. The left was as always better than the right but both were quite good. The canter just needs a lot of work.

We cooled out outside where we rode with 2 other horses!! That were a non issue even with a bunch of wind. We also walked over flowers which were a total non issue. Woohoo!

After the lesson I untacked and went to leave. Guess what… the baby wouldn’t leave the barn…. Bah.. the habit it getting really old.

When we got home I unloaded and led him into the barn where he proceeded to try to nip my arm coming in.
Then because I’m the best mom ever.. I made him a toy which he thoroughly enjoyed as you can see haha.


Just one of those no good very bad days..


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

One of those days..

It's funny. I went from a 9 year old ottb who had 47 starts under his belt to a 4 year old ottb with 6 starts all at the same track... the difference is astounding. You very much have to have patience... and more patience... and more patience....

Ozzy on the left the day we dropped him off with his new girl friend!
Tonights ride was... lack luster. I had some errands to run after work so didn't get on until about 650. This is cutting it super close to sunset and with the warm weather hanging around (I'm not complaining!!!!) mosquitos. There is definitely something I've discovered about Zeke. Flies the baby will work through. Mosquitos and his world is ending. He was bulging back to the barn... so violently shaking his head and biting at his sides he was almost throwing himself off his feet and even when I got off of him he just would not stand still.

I got about 20 minutes of good work and it just became not worth it. I was frustrated.. he was frustrated. No fun. Finally with some walk figure eights both directions where he didn't totally ignore my leg I called it quits.

It is really interesting how he rides at home (in a 100 x 200 foot pen that doubles as their turnout and is attached to the barn) vs anywhere else on the property or trailered over to my lesson barn. Anywhere else and he is all business. Here he always bulges that little bit extra... right turns are sketchy, you might as well not bother cantering to the right. In my lesson on Saturday all he wanted to do was cut in going to the right at the trot, was an angel to the left and had a stunning well balanced canter to the right where as to the left he was all over the place. There's nothing like them making a liar out of you right?

Sigh... Lesson learned? Don't even bother getting on after 6pm.