lurath: teephs (Saber)
I rode that grey draft pony beast, Smokey, yesterday! And it was actually somewhat fun, despite him being nothing like my Deli. Also: WIDE. Holy hell, he filled up my entire leg and it was like riding a marshmallow fluff even though he is a short little feller (I'd guess 15hh). Seriously: I put my leg on and there is like 10 inches of squish to him. Pillow-pony.

He is super green and whatever training he has in him has taught him to fake giving to the bit. And he's a bit short-fat-necked so relaxation in the neck is going to be hard for him anyway. He doesn't work very consistently off the hind end. He basically ignored any requests for lateral movement, but I later learned he was always ridden in spurs, so maybe if I ride him again I'll dig them out. At one point I asked him to move off my leg that he was leaning on with a boot, and he decided to go backwards so I flicked him with the whip and he LEAPED forward.

But he was nicely forward, if wiggly. There is actually something there to work with.

I've realized that I actually have something to offer green horses as a rider. Thanks to Deli of course. I know I have my issues (worst thing is a fairly loose lower leg), but I also think I've developed a good instinct of when and how to push, when to give, and how to use my seat. And I must say, even though my lower leg is somewhat loose... I don't really NEED it or even my stirrups in a lot of situations. At one point when he spooked and I lost my stirrups I just continued on without them. Of course, it's easier with a huge wide round thing that is pretty dead to the leg than my horse, who gets irritated by more than a very very light constant pressure.

Observing more of his behavior I'm seeing some stallion-like indications, which would explain him going from puppy-dog to attack mode when Winnie challenged him. The thing that bothers me is that he had no problem with rearing and striking and kicking out when it was a HUMAN he was facing. Even just playing, that is not okay. Also: he masturbates ALL THE TIME. He is very mouthy/nippy, and of course kind of dead to being smacked like every draft horse I've met. When I smack Deli she has so much more of an emotional reaction! Basically he's a huge dog who hasn't been taught manners.

Anyway, the barn owner was saying I was making him go better than the old trainer he had by the end (she'd seen videos). She wants me to ride him more. On the one hand I think that would be fun and I think I would do him MORE good than her because she isn't very firm and does not seem to have a very good feel for correct dressage movement (she loved it when he was curling his neck but totally strung out in the hind). He was standing in the wash pen drying after the ride and he came over to me wanting to nip/play with my hands and I smacked him and wouldn't let him enter my space, so he walked over to the barn owner and started doing the same with her and she was laughing about it, saying how he likes her better. Oy. Boy needs to be given boundaries!

On the other hand my barn owner is being paid to give him more miles/training and get him ready for sale. So me riding him feels like she's taking advantage of me. Again. She also wants me to trim his feet with no discussion of compensation! I'm for-sure not going to do that, because I want to save my back for trimming MY horses, and I'm still uncomfy with the idea of trimming a complete stranger's horse. Perhaps I will ask for a reduction in board and I can make training him an actual planned thing. Ugh, I feel like that's a conversation that could start drama!

I also had Brian ride the old Arab guy, Riskky, before I hopped on Smokey. I just put him on the lunge line and he did really well walk/trot. While I rode Smokey he just walked around the arena. And we finally found an English saddle that is comfortable for Brian's junk: just a plain old Wintec event saddle. Brian does need help keeping his weight sunk into his heels, but I think it's more time in the saddle that's going to be the most helpful for that. I'm not sure Rissky is the best horse to do lots of trotting on because Brian is a bit big for him. The boy is all legs (his legs are 4 inches longer than mine, measured from our hip bones, and yet he is less than an inch taller than me) and he does seem more comfortable on a horse that fills up his leg more, regardless of height. He did seem to like him okay, and rode for a good half-hour, so I think he'd work for some walk-only trail rides.

In Deli news, she was looking pretty much her old self sickness-wise yesterday. Her nose is still very wet, but it's all clear or ever so slightly white. Her temperature has been normal for several days. Since I run out of SMZ tonight, I am going to call the vet first thing and see if she thinks I should get more SMZ or if 5 days is enough (I don't want to be creating antibiotic resistant bacteria!). Her leg is looking good as well. I actually think the fact that she's been sick allowing me to DEMAND she be kept separate during turnout has been much more helpful because she doesn't have to out-of-nowhere escape evil teeth of a horse attacking her. She's been in a nice small grass paddock bordering the paddocks of her buddies that attaches to her pen, which has clearly decreased her stress. I just want to know WHY dear Deli, you fall in love with horses who chase and harass you constantly... girl is masochistic! I'm going to try and keep up this arrangement as long as possible.

I start my volunteer job next week, and I'm also planning on going out to the endurance-trainer's barn to do some exercise riding if she has a need. At least in THAT situation there is an exchange: she's teaching me about endurance riding. And there is a lot to learn and she was totally happy to share and talk about it. Also, I'm just riding her already-trained horses so it feels like a fair exchange...

I must say that I have been dreaming about endurance riding/trail, riding every night for weeks now. Maybe it's the summertime weather, but I just NEED to be riding! And I want a truck & trailer and a young horse in training... or even better: my own soul-mate horse Deli sound and ready to hit the trails! I have offers to take us horse camping and all that jazz, but it does not matter if Deli is hurt and/or seriously out of shape!

Oh wait, did I mention I got married this week?! It has been a good week despite having to deal with a horse cold and me feeling a bit sick as well.
lurath: teephs (Deliasnine)
The flu that I've had for going on three weeks now is FINALLY pretty much gone. Still a bit of manky-ness in my throat, but my energy level is finally increasing. It turns out I may have actually had walking pneumonia because apparently someone I was around right before getting sick had it, though they didn't tell me. Balls.

Deli has been doing decently. One thing I'm a little concerned about is that her RH stocks up a little over night in her stall-with-run. The vets tells me it is probably related to the fact that the tissues in that leg are ALL stretched out after last winters horrible cellulitus, and she will always get puffy in that leg more easily. She's sound and the puffiness goes away with a little movement.

I've been riding her VERY lightly, mixed in with ground work and lunging exercises. The atrophy on her right-side bum (yes, pretty much ALL of her injuries have been to her right-hind) is going to cause us some difficulty. Instead of using her bum muscles she is using her lower back on that side. She is sore in her lower back. She was sore there after two months off (well, essentially a YEAR out of regular work). This is why I've been riding her, because I can tell when she's just using her lower back and I can work with her to use her bum instead. It does seem to help and the muscles don't seem to become MORE sore due to riding, though I've been keeping my rides no more than 20 minutes and not riding two days in a row because the saddle does sit on the lower back muscles she has been overworking just by existing.

The 20 minute rides have been a good length given her winter-woolies (only now beginning to shed) as well, as much more than that and it takes her much to long to dry.

My plan is to start doing LOTS of hand-walking and jogging on the trails mixed in with light riding so I can be sure she is using her bum, since last time she had hind end issues that's what fixed her up in no time. Supposedly the trails are still too muddy to ride on and we have yet to be out on them at this new barn at all. They are on someone elses property and I still need to be shown where they are and where I am allowed to go, so it will be important to be respectful of their land. I can also ride in the huge vineyard down the street once the ground dries enough that our feet won't tear up the soil. This will all be VERY different trail riding than Deli is used to, with new things to get used to. She's a natural about riding alone in the wilderness and I expect more "suburban" wilderness will take more adjusting for her.

I must say, it has been nice to ride her again. She gets literally a year off without serious work, but she still remembers what we were working on LAST winter and has so much heart despite simultaneously not wanting to work (lazy girl!). Also, after one light "reminder" ride she's back to seeking contact immediately. Even out of shape (both of us!), wiggly, and herd bound, she is still a joy to ride. Even when we are not "clicking" perfectly, she just feels so right underneath me.

The ground work has been good too, because when I "returned" from the Bar she was horribly buddy/herd sour and her manners had deteriorated a bit from having other people handle her. Granted, my standards for what constitutes good manners are often much more strict, but hey, she's my lady and I can demand that of her if I want! The herd-bound-ness is much much better with a couple days work. And leaving her in the x-ties to scream and fuss for three hours while I read a book! Everyone was very impressed with how long her anxious fits last, but I long-ago ceased to underestimate her silly brain's stamina. She only fusses now when I set her loose to do her own thing, and that usually involves screaming her head off. She's a vocal horse anyway, so that's no real surprise. And the other horses scream for her too, so it's not like she's the only one being a dork.

I'll have to do a post at some point about the eye-rolling I've done with this new barn and the barn owner. Though I must say our situation has VERY much improved. I still long for our own place, but this place is (so far) workable. It's absolutely wonderful when I have the barn to myself for hours, as I absolutely prefer being alone with my horse, and recently I just KNOW that any benefit boarding would have is far overshadowed by the joy I would have with my horses on my own little farm.

Brian agrees. He isn't always thrilled about barn chores, but he did tell me that he felt a bit peevish caring for other people's horses. He does think that if it were our own place he would feel more attached to it. I feel the same way. It's like how when you rent a house you care less about it than when you own it. Oh, and he also said one of his favorite things is horse breath on cold mornings. Deli always sniffs his neck and face for some reason, which apparently he does not mind because she has nice-smelling warm breath? I kind of love him even more because of that.
lurath: teephs (Default)
I'll probably ask some of this on [livejournal.com profile] equestrian too, to get a broad idea of these products.

Rachel recommended Skito pads to me—specifically The Skito Equalizer Interpad and the Skito Olympic Pad (in Dressage). I'm cringing at the prices, but this is something that will really help Deli from becoming sore and resentful of the work so... I guess I can afford it if I don't eat next month.
There is also Toklat Ultra Cell Cushion.

The main page I found those pads is here, and I haven't done much digging for cheaper stuff. There are Wintec-foam-type pads that are MUCH cheaper, like THIS The Wintec Comfort Pad. Still, I like the idea of having the pad and foam inserts to be encased in something else (washable) and have complete spine clearance all the way down the back. I just know that kind of pad would last longer between a destructive horse and accident-prone rider.

So what I'm looking for is something to give my horse more spine clearance and back protection. The saddle fits OK—and quite honestly, she has been changing shape so often that I'd like to wait until she is in better shape until I purchase something better (did I mention I'm kind of between jobs?). This is more to make sure that when she does lift her back, it feels happy and comfortable and nice. She went so nicely in the pad my trainer tried on her yesterday (A Toklat pad with the two foam inserts and a sheepskin cover that she said they don't make anymore)that I feel the need for something like this is strong.

As a reference I ride my horse in a "Wintec Pro Dressage" (with Cair, I think).

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Lurath

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