Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Fly Mask

The fly mask was really a non-event!

I stalked Mezza, and worked with her, doing in-hand and longing before introducing the small fly mask that a friend had used for awhile on her horse. I let her feel the soft edges, and mouth it a little, then I proceeded to rub it on her head, neck and over her ears before finally taking it off and on several times.

We finished with me leading her around in the round pen with it on, but taking it off before taking her back to her own pen.

Then, several days later, I again put a fly mask on her in the round pen, and practiced leading her in it at the walk, then the trot. I took it off to walk her back to her pen, but put it on again once she was back in her pen, and left it on her for about 10-15 minutes. She did not seem flustered.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mezza's 2nd Show

Dawn and I trailered Mezza over to the Indiana Equestrian Center for her second show on August 19th.
We loaded Mezza in a different spot, and she was a little flustered, so I took her out of the trailer and re-loaded her. She settled in and we were on our way. No problem with the un-loading at the center, and she got to eat while I put on her hoof shine, re-groomed her and Dawn put on her show halter (which is finally getting easier to unbuckle--those new ones need plenty of conditioner and work!)

Mezza behaved herself quite well,  and did a wonderful job!

This time for the halter class there was no "mouth check", but again, a very quick squaring up was required.

For the Showmanship class we had a new pattern, which was not a problem. The class had about 8 or 9 entries.

Going through the groundwork and preparation for showing covers so much of what a horse needs in basic training. It also requires getting up really early, and working with the horse a bit before she's ever loaded to go, but the show itself is so worth it! You will notice that our backing is not straight, something to practice, and more work is needed on the head down at the trot. Horses are so truthful, we cannot 'fib' our way through, they always point out the (my) weak spots that need extra work!!  : )

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mezza Growing Up

Mezza has been coming into heat now. It has never seemed to bother her, or to make her act our--that is until now.

Recently Dawn and I each discovered that Mezza had very sore flanks. Where touching her there had never seemed to bother her before, now any pressure there caused her to lay back her ears, grind her teeth, and eventually come after us with her mouth!

She was eating, drinking, pooping and moving well. The barn manager mentioned cysts on the ovaries, both Dawn and I looked at each other and thought--why would that produce pain so low?

The pain did appear to be inconsistent, this started after the 1st week of July, then tapered off somewhat, then got much worse by the start of August. Of course, during this time frame we've had some of the longest stretches of hot days on record, enough to make anything (horse or human) cranky and uncomfortable!

So, on August 1st, the vet arrived, and checked Miss Mezza out. I got to longe Mezza at walk, trot and canter for the vet--we don't typically longe at canter, so she doesn't even know that word. Well, she did just fine.  Then she received her sedation, which totally made her like a rag doll. Dr. Gary proceeded to ultrasound her ovaries, and yes, one of them appeared abnormally thickened.

Mezza was given a little time to wake up, and then was given a hormone shot. This, the vet said, would help Mezza's cycle continue, as it was most likey "stuck". Usually this can happen to young mares who are just beginning to cycle. In other instances a mare may continue to have problems, and either she can be put on birth control, or the problem ovary may need to be removed.  In a small percentage of cases, the problem is caused from a tumor on the ovary, but in that case it won't respond to the hormone shot, and the mare can often exhibit other more extreme behaviors.

The vet had us walk Mezza for about an hour after giving her the hormone injection. She went into a full sweat (read mare hot flashes) and appeared drunk!  She remained so well behaved the entire time, bless her heart!

Dr. Gary set up a follow up appointment for a week later, saying to handle her as usual until then. In the follow up he will again ultra sound her to see how the ovary reacted.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Hoss and Scout day

Mike and Hoss with storm coming
The storms came in early today, but Mike and I had Hoss out in the field before they arrived. We have been trading off riding him, as Scout has been out of commission for quite awhile. I finally have my own set of reins so I don't have to shorten Mike's by tying knots in them!

After riding about the field as a warm up we dodged the storm and headed to the outdoor arena to join in some fun with cones. Hoss seemed to enjoy it as much as we did!

Sheree and Amazonia placing their cone

Megan and Kaya picking up their cone

Lindsay and Bri both riding Smoke

Smoke doing double duty!

Katie and Hoss placing their cone

Hoss appears to be enjoying himself!

Later I took Scout to the barn and tacked him up in a surcingle, blanket and side pull. We did some long lining and ground driving in the outdoor arena. It rained a bit, but not hard enough to make us stop. Once the ground got damp Scout was really bent on getting down to roll, so I had my work cut out for me to keep him going. He did well.

Upon asking for him to back in the lines at the end, he started swishing his tail and stomping his right hind leg. I'm noting this because it may mean the left hock is bothering him again. He definitely liked getting out and getting attention!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mezza Saturday

It was warm, but Mezza was happy to come out. I stalked her, then asked for some small circles on a long lead rope at the walk and at the trot. We practiced walking, stopping, and a few turns.

We left the round pen and went into the barn to groom and tack up. The flies are awful this time of year, and I am so proud of her the way she stands for the fly spray!

Once groomed and tacked up we headed back up to the round pen and longed at the walk and trot on the longer line using the side pull. I then added the second line, and practiced flipping each line over her back; she stands really well for that.

We practiced in the long lines and worked a little on turns along the rail. We finished the lines by having me ground drive her a short distance, whoa, and then back. I removed the lines and side pull, put her halter back on, and out we went for a walk to the east end of the property. We practiced the trot at side and the turn on the hinds briefly in the outdoor arena and then headed for the trailer.

At the trailer I tied her, gave her a little hay, and unsaddled and took off her sport boots. We walked back to her pen, and I took off her halter and rubbed her and said 'good by'.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An eventful day with Hoss and Scout

My husband, Mike, and I loaded up Hoss this morning and headed out for the Equestrian Center!  Hoss was not thrilled with riding alone in the trailer--took me a few minutes to convince him to stand alone quietly in the trailer so I could tie, and he whinnied as we left the farm, but was well mannered and stood well for tacking up as he was tied to the trailer.


Mike and I (and I think Hoss) had a great time exploring the trail around the canal. It was hot, so we quit after a little more than an hour. Hoss actually drank from the tank while we were there, and we all relaxed together before loading him. He did not want to stand alone in the trailer (again), so we got in and out several times, and he had to circle if he didn't willingly get in. We need to trailer him a lot more in general, and a lot more on his own! The big plus was that he wasn't an anxious sweaty wreak after trailering, and he was polite and quiet!

Later I trailered Scout over for his chiropractor appointment. His back is a lot better, only minor soreness in the sacral area, and a little in the withers. Dr. Deb Schlutz has showed me a couple of stretches, one of which I knew from Kim Cavanah. Stretching the rear leg forward and holding it for up to 30  seconds, then increasing the stretch (gently) as the leg permits has helped to release the over tight right hamstring at the same time as Dr. Schlutz has worked to free the lower back where it was caught down from the extreme bucking.

Scout should be able to be ridden again this next month!  I will need to keep up on the stretches and watch the arthritis in his left hock closely. We still have a lot of ground driving over poles etc. to work in to the schedule, but I'm elated!!  : - )

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mezza Practice... Wednesday, July 23

Today Mezza got a variety of practice: We started in the round pen where she bounced a bit, then trimmed all the plant life within easy reach.

We longed at the walk and trot in both directions, did  several turns on the fores, and just enough turns on the hinds to stop at a really nice place!

Then I ground tied her in the center of the pen, practiced squaring her up, and groomed her. She is so easy to groom right now, and her tail is still really well conditioned and combs out easily.

We left the round pen and walked over to the gooseneck trailer. She eyed the Alpacas suspiciously for a few minutes. Then I opened up the back, and loaded her up twice, nice and easy. Didn't hurt that there was a little left over hay toward far end of the trailer!  I turned her to take her out and she hopped right out both times after waiting for me.

We will need to revisit the stall for backing out a little longer, and then we can work on backing out of the trailer. A good day!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mezza's first show!

It's July 15, I'm up at 5 a.m. getting ready (read coffee in hand) and then heading out to the barn to have Mezza ready when Dawn arrives with the trailer.

We'd spent the previous day giving Mezza her first official bath (one that wasn't just water). Yesterday she was wonderful about standing for the bath, although you could tell she thought the conditioner after the shampoo was taking too long!

So this morning I stalked her, and practiced a few in-hand moves (turns and backing) for show prep. Then I took her to the tie rail and undid all the bands from her mane and unbraided and fluffed her tail.

I'd dug out the hand razor we always use on Hoss and Scout--and shaved off her whiskers. She'd been great about the clippers around her fetlocks, but we'd only practiced near her ears and face, so I cleaned those up with no problem.

I only cleaned her hooves and brushed her until we got to the Equestrian Center, since dust would stick to the show shine once it was applied to her hooves.

She loaded up on the trailer this time like a pro, and had her first ride alone. Once there we let her eat while Dawn registered and I finished beautifying her. Dawn's daughter, Jen arrived just in time, and we changed out Mezza's halter for the pretty show version.

I think both Mezza and I were in a trance for the halter show--it was a wonderful learning experience--she was well mannered around us and the other horses before going in, but we both froze a bit--she didn't want to trot, and I forgot to set her up for the judge!  Ouch!!

Before I took her in for Showmanship, we did a "review". I asked for something, and I wanted a "try". So we went through each turn, the back, and the trot separately.

Mezza did a good job with me in Showmanship. There is still tons to improve on. There were about 13 of us, Mezza and I didn't place, but that was not the point. We figured out we both can have stage fright, and that we just need to refresh. I thought she did great, and we ended with her loading up beautifully again to go home!

The point I take home is we're not working for the show, we're preparing for life, and this is one part of it. Thank you Dawn and Jen for taking the time to make this possible!

There's plenty to practice on always.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Scout in the long lines

Today I spent time with Scout. He got some good grooming in which he enjoyed, and then I tacked him up in the surcingle and side pull and we worked at ground driving, and a little long lining in the indoor arena for about 20 minutes around the arena and over poles.

He saw the chiropractor last week, and had his 7th cervical and his first thoracic vertibrae put back in place. She worked on his LS joint area too. The first two adjustments seem to have held, but the lower back has not. She does not want him ridden or worked in small circles until that one stays in place. He did a great job for me, and was very willing. He really likes the attention. We will have to see what happens with the lower back. I stretched out his hind legs afterwards, and he happily walked back to his pen with me.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mezza revisits the obstacle course

Today was hot, but that did not stop us!  Mezza watched me like a hawk yesteday, neighing every time I walked by, so she was happy to come out today. As both round pens were in use, we headed down to the indoor arena, and started our session with a longe at the walk and trot over ground poles. Then I had her do the turns (bends) on the longe line, where I toss the rope across her back just behind her shoulder, as I stand to one side of her neck, then walk to the side I tossed it to, pick it up, walk kind of towards her rear, flip it over her butt, and ask her to turn around. She is doing those really well!

It was good practice for her to start in the arena when there was someone riding in there--she has to be used to that for shows. Once the rider left, we worked on some in-hand turns (fores and hinds), backing and walking and trotting at side. The trotting at side started out with her getting ahead, so we went back to walking at side, and then "whoaing". Once she paid attention, we added the trot back in, but only for several paces before asking for a walk again. If she started to scoot ahead, I held the rope or end of the dressage whip in front of her face.  Once we did well, I stopped, and then turned her loose for a break. She was relaxed, and just ambled about for a bit.

So I clicked the lead line on and we went out and groomed and put her sport boots on and headed out to the small field with the obstacle course. We were all alone, and started by walking past all the jumps. One of the ones with telephone poles we both hopped over and proceeded through all of the obstacles:  the 'boxes' made of poles, walked around all of the tires, through the 'W' made of raised poles, over the tarp that is held down between 2 telephone poles, over the 4 or so ground poles, and finally, over the 'bridge'. This time she followed me over the bridge with no problem, but didn't really want to walk over it while I walked beside her. That we will have to practice more. I am really proud of her!

We finished up by walking out to the trailer, where I took off her boots and put fly spray on her, then gave her a few timothy pellets before walking and trotting her back to her pen. The walk and trot back were 'right on', she was in fine form!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old and new

This evening was cool--what a joy!  I stalked Mezza in the round pen and then we did some in-hand work on turns and backing before going down to the indoor for tacking up.

Once tacked up with the saddle, I had Mezza do some walk trot on a short rope in the halter, then asked her to stand while I did some review of desensitization with the rope hitting the saddle on each side.  She did well with that, so I put her in her side pull, and had her longe on a long line both directions at walk and trot over poles. We followed that by adding the rope to the second side, and I long lined her around the indoor arena. Her turns are getting better each time.

We finished by de-tacking and doing some neck bends. On the way back to the pen we practiced out trotting at side (no flat halter/chain). It was a good time!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Staying Cool Again....

When I got to the barn today I learned that Mezza had been lying down in the sun for more than 1 hour, and several people were concerned. I went out to have a look--it was really hot, and Mezza uses her shelter as a bathroom, so it's not unusual to see her lying down. However the temp today was about 100 degrees. Two friends of Dawn's (Mezza's owner) had been concerned enough to try giving Mezza water from a squirt bottle, but she wasn't getting up. I took her halter and went in. The barn manager showed up, and we checked her gums. She got right up with the halter on, so I took my hat off to listen to her gut. She promptly  spread her legs and peed on it!  Her gut sounded good, she didn't seem dehydrated, so I called Dawn and told her we'd like to give Mezza some electrolyte paste, and I took her into the barn where it was cooler to do that. After the paste, I wet her down with a sponge, and Dawn asked me to wet her pen down as well.

In the end, Mezza was fine--fared better than my hat, which had to be sprayed down too, but took twice as long to dry!  

Jill and John (who board horses at the same barn) told me later this evening that their new mare had been put beside Mezza the evening before, sometime after I'd left the barn. Apparently Mezza had run a lot  along the fence line between them, and Jill thinks Mezza could have been quite tired today.

I am not sure why Mezza's water got moved. I took note of the depth and will recheck tomorrow. She was doing that mouth tapping at the new mare today. Hopefully she's not intimidated by her. If she is, the water may need to be moved away from the shared fence line.

Tomorrow I'll get her out for a bit. We may do more water again. She was curious about the hose today and kept sticking her muzzle in the spray when I wet down her pen!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The water bath

Mezza, cool and relaxed after the 'bath'

I think both Dawn and I wondered if we'd end up wetter than we did!

Mezza, not overly concerned with the spray.

Dawn and I met just after 11am--it was already hot. Perfect for working on bathing Mezza.
Mezza was ambling about in the round pen. We brought her out and Dawn hooked up the hose. It was set so the water was not real cold, and the sprayer was on a light "rain".

Mezza is taking fly spray like a champ now, and takes sponge baths from a bucket, but hadn't seen the hose for a "bath" since last fall. Then she was very wary of it, so we were interested in reaquainting her with it and getting a bit farther along this time.

Honestly she did great!  Starting at the feet Dawn was able to work up to her chest, along her body, and even most of her rear end with Mezza standing well for quite some time. Mezza even let Dawn hold the  hose in front of her face, and Mezza reached out and played with the water several times.

She does not like the water trickling down her back legs, so I started rubbing them as if I were washing her with soap. She did well with that. We got to a good standing point with the water on her and called it a day!  It will have to be repeated, but it was a positive experience.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To the Show (we did not go)

I arrived at the barn at 6:45am and gave Miss Mezza a partial flake of hay to eat before I put her in the round pen. It was still cool and nice, and we were preparing for her first halter and showmanship show. Things went as usual--stalking, some short longing, inhand work, and then a walk to the small field to practice walking and trotting at side around some of the big jumps out in the field.

Nothing seemed amiss. Dawn and Jennifer arrived with Dominique, an exchange student from Germany, who's been living with them for the past year, and Oliver, his Father. They gathered the other two horses, Luna (Mezza's dam) and Boo, Jennifer's horse. I walked Mezza up to the trailer, asked her to step up, and .... nothing. I asked a few more times, circled her, asked again... nothing.

Dawn and Jennifer tried offering food, treats, tapping her on the butt, picking up her front foot and placing it on the trailer floor--Mezza just approached the trailer each time and stopped right where she should have stepped up, or she pulled her hoof off if it was picked up. She was not upset. She seemed to have decided she was not going for a ride today. She had been on the trailer at least a half-dozen times before, and had ridden to the equestrian center twice before. She'd never refused to get on (only off!)  This was totally unexpected. So, Jennifer put Luna on the trailer first, then Boo, but Mezza could care less. Luna and Boo were taken off.  Mezza was indifferent.

Plan B.
Mezza got to trot circles. After several circles each direction I stopped and brought her to the trailer and asked her to load. Nothing. Repeat. Nothing.  By this time we'd worked about an hour!

Plan C.
Dawn and Jennifer moved the trailer and backed it up to the round pen. I re-stalked Mezza for about 5 min. in the round pen--a little canter, a little trot, and then at the walk back and forth in front of the open gate that led to the trailer. She paused and entered the "alleyway" we all wiggled things and encouraged her and... she decided to step right up and went to the end of the trailer and started eating like nothing had happened. We congratulated her, Jennifer closed everything up, and Dawn took her for a short ride around the barn. We opened up the trailer (she seemed content) rubbed on her again, unloaded her and walked her to cool her down before putting her away to eat her breakfast.

So that was the "Show that wasn't". Kudos to all as no one got upset, least of all Mezza.
Proves that even the best laid plans can never be set in stone!! Learning and practice are never over.

So we rode the other horses instead!
Oliver getting stirrups set
Oliver's first ride

Dominique on Boo

Dawn on Luna, and Jennifer on Boo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Ride at Pelican Lake (with Hoss & Remmy)

Hoss checking out his surroundings.

Hoss eating breakfast

The ride as seen from between Hoss' ears

Diane with Remmy (white horse) at lunch time

Hoss and I at lunch time

My friend, Diane, next door to where we board Hoss and Scout, has a Quarter Horse named Remmington (Remmy), and has been up for going on some trail rides. We arranged to take part in a trail-riding clinic hosted by Kristi Plutt. The clinic features some time in the arena in the morning, followed by a ride along an equestrian course that takes you around a lake named Pelican Lake, out near Brighton, CO.

One of my goals this summer has been to work on getting Hoss to load and trailer more easily, and actually get him out to enjoy the trails that this horse really likes. Hoss has some bad 'baggage' in the trailering department. He's a long, tall horse, who doesn't like confinement, and most trailers are pretty tight for him. He's been loading in our 3-horse slant, taking up the back two spaces, and is fairly comfortable there, especially when he's got a horse friend on board. I worked hard about 2 weeks ago to trailer him alone, and finally ended up putting Scout in and taking them both for a ride, so I'm not quite at where I'd like us to be, but it's coming along.

The brakes on my trailer have been heating up something awful, so I arranged to have it looked at, as Pelican Lake is close to an hour each way. Of course, timing was awful, the trailer had to go in the day the ride was scheduled. Diane also has a trailer, a 2-horse straight load. She was happy to take Hoss along with Remmy in that...if he'd fit!  Her trailer is actually extra tall. We had to see about the length.

So, for 3 evenings prior to the ride, Diane hooked up her trailer, loaded her horse, and I worked at loading Hoss. He got in comfortable after about 30min of work the first night, and we reloaded him and let him eat and relax 3 times that evening. The next two nights he loaded up great, only backing out once when we didn't ask. So on the 2nd evening, we closed the bottom half of the back door.

On the 3rd evening, we ended by loading and closing him in for a short time--Remmy was also in the other stall in the trailer. Hoss handled it well.

The next morning we loaded them both up without a hitch and headed out. We all met up at Kristi's place in Platteville, and opened up the window so the horses could look around while we waited for one additional trailer. Off we went toward Pelican Lake. When we arrived at the equestrian center, Hoss was a bit wiggly, but Remmy was great. We tacked up and spent a short while working them from the ground. Kristi had us do several exercises in the arena together to get us and our horses aquainted, and to head off potential problems before they showed up on the trail.

The ride was good--quite a few gates to open from horseback, some hills, some flat, a beautiful lake and a few deer.  Only one encounter with a snake--a dead one.

Hoss must have lost 10 years out on that trail!  He walked out like a pro. He did not like the cattle guard near one of the gates we went through, but everything else he seemed to enjoy thoroughly. The only worry I had was that Hoss was so picky about drinking that he hardly drank on the entire trip--even the water I brought he turned his nose up at. He did readily drink when we got home, however.

It was definitely a step forward in our journey together and a very enjoyable time with Diane and Remmy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Watching at the Gymkhana

Took Mezza along with Boo, (Jennifer's horse) to the local gymkhana to watch the action. This is the second event she's trailered out to watch.

We worked both before trailering out (in the round pen) and again briefly at the gymkhana for a 'refocus'. She was very relaxed again, and I took her out to the middle of the equestrian field and walked her around while everyone was riding, then took her back to the arena to watch. No fuss, no muss. I was impressed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More Show Practice

This evening I met Dawn and Jennifer for a little "Mezza Practice". We let her run first in the big outdoor arena. She decided it felt pretty good--and we ended up stalking her in there!

We did some in-hand work with the rope halter, then switched to the flat "show" halter with the chain to pretend for halter and showmanship. Jennifer and Dawn set up a cone and we practiced our showmanship course. What fun. A little bit different than the round pen--and the other horses were being fed. Good distractions. The head was up a bit on the trot--she hates the chain beneath her chin!

The turns on the hinds are staying straighter though. Very dusty and good!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wet Pony

I stalked Mezza and practiced for the show (used both halters, and did longe with the chain on, but not attached to the lead, just hooked on the flat halter), and then got out the spray bottle--what a change--after the first few moments of insecurity she let me spray her entire body!!
Then I took a bucket with water and a sock, and I wet down her entire body!!

The puddle wasn't as easy--she finally walked through the mud, but was still hopping over the actual water part, so I left it at a nice walk through the mud and we walked on out to the out door, where I turned her out for a bit. The we continued our walk down to the east end and all the way back up along the road. Stopped at the trailer a moment (for practice) while I got her a few timothy pellets, then continued on to her run. A really good day.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Show Practice

Mezza in a borrowed show halter. I didn't take a photo tonight--we used a regular flat halter and her heavy lead with a stud chain to simulate a show halter and show lead with the required chain. She is handling it like a pro!

This evening I met Dawn and her daughter, Jen, and we had a joint practice session with Mezza.

The session lasted about an hour and Jen had a chance to watch Mezza being stalked, walked, turned, backed,  and trotted. Then Jen got a chance to do the in-hand work with Mezza so she could feel how Mezza handled. They did really well together!

Next we put the flat halter on Mezza, along with the stud chain in the "show" position--running beneath the chin. She's had it on once before in her run, while we tried on an actual leather show halter and lead.
Now Mezza needs to get used to the feel and sensation of this. 

We repeated our in-hand exercises with the flat halter and stud chain. She did really well. Jen and I switched so each of us could work Mezza. Even with the lead loose, she was initially high headed in her trot at side with me, and I need to stretch my legs more. She finally relaxed and put her head down, but she still held her ears back. Jen had better luck with her pace, and the head stayed fairly low. Again, the ears are kinda laid back. We aren't sure why, she's not trying to bite, the lead is loose, so that may just take time for her to relax more. She is definitely watching our position though, as she is really good about slowing to a walk or stopping when we do.

The turns on the hinds need further work so that we can keep our hand just on the lead beneath her chin and turn her without her body bending or her moving her back feet before the full turn is completed. This will simply take more time and practice. 

The last thing we worked on was her giving her head downward to pressure on the lead with the stud chain. She does this pretty well in a rope halter, but wasn't so good at it in the flat halter and chain. She started giving, and I got a really good release finally. I need to practice this daily so the release becomes automatic. Dawn and Jen seem pleased at how she's doing, and I think she is coming along well! It will be a lot of fun to watch/show her in halter and showmanship. I'm sure we'll learn a lot as we do.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday's practice with Mezza

Since I didn't squeeze in the long lines on Tuesday, I felt they needed to be practiced again today. Miss Mezza is doing well with them, and starting to get the turns down, so I want to practice them regularly enough that we can see ground driving later this summer.

Currently I am incorporating as many basics as I can think of into her practice, which is about 3 times per week. I try to rotate some of the activities so the sessions remain between 1 and 2 hours, but others need to be practiced each time. Since Mezza will be showing in halter and showmanship she needs to be really light and comfortable handling at side in different locations. It is really easy to get in a routine, and then forget about some of my "mini goals". The true test will be in the actual show ring itself.

Ideally I would add at least one more day per week, but with our own 2 horses and work, that is still in the "planning" phase! What might work better is to add one or two short sessions, of just handling her mouth, washing her hooves with a sponge and bucket, practicing just spray, or just bending, etc.

Usually I try to start by stalking her in the round pen, and then practicing in-hand there for more focus before taking her to another location on the property. This way she may start in the round pen, get tacked and groomed in the barn, get additional work in the indoor or outdoor arena, or even in the obstacles in the small field, and then go back to the round pen for long lining before de-tacking again in the barn.

Right now part of her getting used to different locations will be achieved by trailering her with Dawn's other horses to different events.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Mezza...

Mezza after backing out of the stall. "Whatever..."

Today I was out late, so Dawn got to watch most of the session with Miss Mezza. Mezza got stalked, then we worked on in-hand turns (fores, hinds), walking, trotting at side, backing with me facing her, backing with me at her side (backing with her).

After our "warm up" I went and got the infamous spray bottle, and we practiced with that. She still moves off initially, but is standing after a short while. I need to do this every few days now that the weather is warm.

After that I took Mezza into the barn and we first went into the stall with the higher step up and practiced stepping out front first. She bounced out the first time, walked out the second. Then we went to our second stall, with barely any step up and practiced backing out. Soooo much easier this time. We completed 3 nice backs in about 10 minutes!  Her confidence is really coming!

Show halters go especially well with a nice bit of hay.

I returned her to her pen, thinking we were done. However, the grand finale of the evening was trying on a show halter with plenty of bling!  She acted like it belonged on her--well, I guess one will, very soon. The next show is the 3rd week of June and we're planning to enter her in halter and showmanship. Much to do yet before then, but it's coming along. :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mezza work continues

Today Mezza and I skipped around and practiced on a number of different things. I'd wanted to get her back in the long lines, and for that I still want the round pen until she's more comfortable in them.

So, we started by practicing our stalking, turns, and in-hand in the round pen, then walked down and tacked up indoors, where she is relaxed while tied, as long as she has a companion. I need to practice walking away around the corner. I don't leave her alone yet.

After grooming, saddling and putting on her front boots (more for practice than needed protection) we headed into the indoor arena and walked and trotted close circles over poles, then worked on more desensitization with the rope hitting the saddle before switching out the halter for the side pull and longing over the poles using a longer line at walk and trot. That is coming along nicely.

We finished up with that and headed all the way back up to the round pen, where we spent time desensitizing her butt and legs to me flopping the ropes around before sending her out on the long lines. She is getting the feel and doesn't mind them, and is picking up the turning!  I'm so proud of her!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Preparations for showing Mezza...and more

I woke up early today, and headed down to the Indiana Equestrian Center. It was the first Colorado Stockman's Horse Association Show of the season, (3rd Sunday each month, starting in May). I walked around as trailers pulled in and folks got busy preparing their horses.

The halter shows and the showmanship were what I really wanted to watch. Dawn and her daughter, Jennifer met me at the bleachers and we sat with a small group of people who helped fill us in on some of our questions.

The show was not crowded, and the weather was great--not too hot yet. We were surprised to see all the halter and showmanship horses had leads with chains!  Although they did not put them over the nose or through the mouth, they still ran the chains underneath and up against the chin of the horse. Almost every horse we saw was well mannered though, and I only saw 2 individuals really tug on those leads.

For Mezza to compete in halter, she will be in a class of mares 3 and under. Today there were no 3 and under, only 4 and up. The halter class is judged entirely on the horse--their conformation, how well muscled they are, and how well they present to the judge. We watched real close at how the handler moved around as the judge walked around the horse!  The horse also needs to square up, something to work on, as Mezza loves to cock a foot when she's relaxed.

Next we watched the showmanship classes. These are judged on both the handler and the horse. There is a short pattern the handler takes the horse through before stopping for the judge and letting them inspect the horse. The horse must walk, trot, back, stop and in this case pivot on the hinds for the judge.

Eves dropping and asking questions gave us some information--some of these kids were taking lessons on showing their horses in halter and for showmanship. No wonder the horses were quite calm and the youngsters did quite well.

For showing Mezza, we talked about trying the Novice category, as this was new to us all.

Then we headed out to go and collect horses. Mezza was going to be introduced to the equestrian center and actually riding in a trailer (instead of just loading) while Jennifer would enter Boo in some of the Western classes and Dawn would bring Luna, Mezza's dam along for an outing.

Things went well!!!

Mezza got a minor 'focus' workout in the round pen while Dawn and Jennifer got the trailer all hooked up. We got to practice loading and unloading Mezza and I got her brushed up while Boo got a bath. Luna got a grooming while the last tack was loaded in the trailer.

Mezza hopped in and took her place at the front (see feet beneath Boo's stomach in photo).

We wondered how Mezza would react to everything at the center--to our amazement she was quite calm, did not pull and walked around with or without the other two horses with no concern! We were happily surprised, to say the least!

Jennifer enjoyed riding Boo in a couple of classes, and took home a first and second place. She thought Boo would have appreciated running barrels over the show classes, but hey, it was a nice day for a ride anyway!

And Mezza, she enjoyed alternately standing and watching all the action, (along with getting quite a bit of attention for folks), taking walks around to see everything, and yes, of course the wonderful grass!

The entire experience can be chalked up as a "non-event" something that my Equine Studies teacher, Damian, says means that I've done my homework. I think we all got a good grade for the day!
Many thanks to Dawn Dooley for her collaboration with today's events!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

About Scout

This is my little Mustang that I bought in April, 2005. By 2006 he looked really good, had filled out and was in good shape. I had to put shoes on his fronts, as his hooves didn't grow fast, and his soles were thin. In 2007 he started to go lame on the front after going barefoot in the winter. We shod him again, but he needed pads for awhile. Later, I believe the next year, he developed a "hitch" which I thought was in the rear. That did not get confirmed by x-ray until early 2010, and he was found to have some pretty good arthritis in his left hock.
Scout just after I got him in 2005
Scout, early 2010
Scout, December 2010 before fight

Currently, Scout has very little muscle on his left side, and lots on his right (I noticed that he really looked uneven when ground driving him last week, and Jill, a friend who works at a vets commented on it after I asked if she would look at him). She said he's obviously been carrying the weight on his right side for some time. I'm perplexed because since last August we've given him injections in his left hock about every 4 months (August 15, Dec. 16, and April 17). His left rear leg seems better (he will back without swishing his tail), but his lower back continues to get inflamed, and his turning ability with the back legs seems worse. 

This has been a problem ever since his fight with our other horse in January 2011, although the arthritis in his left hock has been an issue since early 2010. (He received one injection for the hock in March 2010 or April 2010, followed by an injection of Legend several months later.) I was told to ride him or work him lightly every other day, and Bute him with 1gram of Bute beforehand. This seemed to be fairly successful before the horses fought. If I had followed up earlier with another injection late that year it might have helped. However, everything went to  H.... in a handbasket after the two horses tangled, and from late Dec. 2010 until summer 2011 Scout had no injections, only chiropractor work, a lot of working from the ground, and little riding as he was quite sore. He was also overweight, and insulin resistant. 

In August the hock was re-evaluated and found to have gotten a lot worse. Scout was in his own run now, not sharing with the other horse, and we could control his feed intake. Treatment began again on the hock. Initially it looked like this was the key! But, his front shoes had been left off for X-rays, and when those weren't put right back on he became sore on his fronts. His soles are thin. So, we put bar shoes and Equipack on his fronts. This helped his fronts, but he continued to be bracy and sore.

Therefore, Scout and I are trying a test of sorts. Every other day I will walk or exercise him straight (from the ground, not ridden) as I've been doing for some time--ground driving, walking up the little hills at the east end, or long lining in really big circles or on the straight at walk and trot. In addition I will add 10 minutes of longeing him in a circle to the left mainly at the trot, and if possible over one or two poles.

The photos I've posted are from two different dates. The first ones show Scout in late summer 2009, before he'd started to put on weight.

The second set shows Scout as of yesterday, May 18, 2012. He's lost a lot of his additional weight, but is quite sore in the back just in front of the LS joint.

I want to see if this will help the left side. I'm hoping it will. Probably I will need to do this about three weeks at least to see a change?  If he gets sore instead I think I'll know sooner than 3 weeks that it's not working, but I don't really know what to expect. Right now any time I ride him I sore his back up, even if all we do is walk with a little trot, which may be because he still won't load the left side and walk evenly, or because it's just so much weaker he can't. We may need to rule out damage in his pelvis if this continues. 

I worked with him on this yesterday (Friday the 18th) and since I'm writing this Saturday, the 19th (behind as usual!)  I checked him today. His entire back, both sides, from the base of the withers to the LS joint is really sore. However, I also gave him a dose of Ivermectin yesterday evening, and the weather changed abruptly as well, and I think that might have had an effect.  So today I put Sore No More all over his back along both sides of the spine and gave him a paste electrolyte. He seems to be eating and drinking well.  I'm not ready to jump to conclusions yet.

If anyone reads this and has any ideas, please let me know.