Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NOW she's sore

Today Nina's leg was extremely swollen, not the one with the cuts, the other one. It had lots of little nicks, no cuts but apparently it is bruised.
So she got cold hosed, walked, cold hosed, walked, until it was less than elephant size and then a furazone sweat.
If you are going to put DMSO on this horse you have to do it FAST. The minute she tastes it she is leaving town. Managed to get the wraps on and now she doesn't want to eat.
Eat a bite, spit a bite out, eat a bite, spit a bite out. I think she ate about half of her pellets and nibbled the hay. I assume she will eat as the DMSO works out of her system and the taste is not so overwhelming.

image found here

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

legs are healing and a rant

Have you ever pulled someone off of a fast moving horse? I have (when I was on a mounted police unit we tortured each other regularly) and I am about to do it again.

There is a girl, not a child, old enough to know better, at the barn who is a total menace in the arena. There are lots of people who can't steer and some who always are going too fast and mostly out of control, but they are nothing compared to this idiot.
She likes to run the horse, she like to ride bareback so she is mostly just hanging on and she lets the horse run full out. On the rail, off the rail, zigzag, across the center, circles here and there, motorcycle through the corners throwing dirt everywhere. The horse is basically running like a loose horse, as fast as he can with little or no direction from the rider. It is impossible to even guess where they are going and at the speed they are traveling you don't have much time to get out of the way.
Last week they started this and after a few minutes of dodging and then finding myself standing in the middle of the pile of jump standards, I just got off and went and sat on the mounting block in a corner and waited for her to get done.
I didn't complain to anyone because this girl normally goes for months at a time between barn visits so I figured I wouldn't see her again for a while. Wrong. She was there again today.
This time I complained to the manager who said that she had been watching and was going to tell her to knock it off. I told her this was the second time in a week and she was also surprised that the horse was ridden twice in a week.
I hope the manager does talk to her and she pays attention, because I am going to put her in the dirt next time.
Oops...did I say that out loud???

OTOH, Nina's legs look really good, a little swelling but not around the cuts, the skin looks like it has reattached really well. Traded in the standing wraps for a bandage and some vet wrap.
She was sound when I lunged her so I tacked up to ride. Idiot rider beat me into the arena, I decided to wait and then after careening around for a while she set up poles to work on. So now there were additional hazards to dodging her. This is when I complained to the manager, untacked Nina and went home.
(spell check just told me that I should have unstacked Nina, not untacked...gotta love it)

Monday, June 28, 2010

legs are ok today

I didn't take the wraps off but there is no heat, no visible swelling and she is sound. Also sore, she didn't want me messing with them. But all appears ok. I will try a small bandage with vet wrap tomorrow and see if I can ride her.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

a day off

Apparently Nina needed another day off. Today was the schooling show at the barn so she was going to get today off.
She somehow got tangled in her fence (perhaps striking at the horse next door?) and cut the front of one front leg and scraped the inside of the other front leg. She is walking sound and is now covered in furazone and standing wraps. I will get her out for a walk tomorrow but I want to leave the bandages in place for a couple of days and then see how the legs look. Hopefully they are not bruised and will heal up quick. Poor girl.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

another day

I spent a very short time working Nina at a walk, primarily just on the rail. Asking for a good stepping out walk, kicking for pinned ears. Then I tried an exercise that I have had students do for stiff horses. Walk 10 steps, trot 5, walk 10, trot 5. For many horses this loosens them up and gets the motor running without the rider fussing at them. It didn't do much for Nina, but I think that I just didn't get a chance to do it for long enough. Fortunately she is very easy to sit on at the trot so I don't have to even try to get her forward enough to post.
Then I taught a lesson off of her. Tried to keep on eye on her ears and give her a good kick whenever she pinned them. She realized very quickly that she did not have my undivided attention and decided to save the pissy act for another day with a more appreciative audience. I think it may be cooler teaching off of a horse instead of standing on the ground getting covered in dust. But I had help resetting the fences today. Normally teaching a jumping lesson from horseback involves a LOT of dismounting and remounting.
Another very hot day. She will get the day off tomorrow, the barn is having a fun show all day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

a tired horse is a good horse

A new day has dawned in the Nina/Barb relationship. I am well aware that trying to dominate a TB mare can be a foolish thing to do. But I also am drawing a line in the sand. I have a few new rules, otherwise many things are negotiable.
NO crawly gaits
NO going behind the bit
NO head down between the knees

Normally I am big on just ignoring it when a horse pins its ears or shakes its head or makes ugly faces. They often come when learning something new or difficult and are a temporary objection.
Nina's pinned ears are a great big F_U to the rider. From now on there are consequences to telling me to F off.

So today it was 100 degrees. I rode Nina for about an hour, walking only. She was exhausted at the end. We walked, mostly just around on the rail, FAST. A going somewhere, big striding, head nodding walk. When the ears went back, kick. When the walk slowed down, kick. When she tried to bolt, stop and then kick. She was excellent, marching along, head in normal TB head carriage, accepting a light contact for about 99% of the time. She just had to try me out a few times and for just a few minutes. She relaxed after a while and was fine. Big progress, HUGE.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

some people should not be allowed near a horse

ok, a LOT of people should not be allowed near a horse.

While I was riding today a woman riding in the arena trotted up behind me, so close that when Nina swished her tail it hit the other horse in the face.
Instead of telling her to back the hell off I was nice and just said "this horse might kick."
Her response was...."oh, that's ok, this one will just kick back"
You think she was being a smart ass, don't you? Nope, she was quite friendly and chatty about her lack of ability to steer her horse and her opinion that as long as both horses kicked at each other everything was ok.
I am going to stop trying to be polite, I swear it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It got a little ugly today and then it got better.
Nina was doing her usual sucked back, foot dragging walk/trot.
Every time she started to relax and move nicely she seemed to catch herself, suck back and pin her ears.
Finally she got stuck. And for a horse that is so dramatically sensitive to the slightest touch, she managed to ignore some pretty good kicks in the ribs.

I didn't lose my temper, but I had just HAD IT. Nobody has hurt, scared, hit, shoved, pushed or picked at her in any way for 2 years. 2 YEARS. It is time to GET OVER IT.
Pissy, pissy, sucked back, reluctant to do anything, big drama over everything. I was tired of it. I have gone to great lengths to avoid anything that could start a fight, as that is what she seemed to be anticipating. But now I was ready to fight. Not angry, just determined. A contest of wills.

I spent way too much time getting her unstuck, moving one step at a time, flinging her head.
Finally she tried to bite my foot and when I kicked at her I missed. So she tried again and this time I leaned down and slugged her in the face. She was astounded and finally started walking a little.

But now I had decided that either she was going to GO FORWARD or one of us was going to die trying. So she started her crawly head down walk. Every time her head dropped I kicked, HARD. Every time she pinned her ears back, I kicked, HARD. She flung her head and bounced around and tried to bolt, thought about biting my foot again, thought better of it.

She finally walked a little like a well behaved horse. We stopped and she wouldn't move again. Back to square one. Finally walking again on a loose rein. Every few minutes she would grab the bit and bolt. I would float her teeth. Then the crawly walk again and a hard kick again.
The lady training her horse with a carrot stick was appalled.

We did this for a while and suddenly she remembered how to walk... forward, soft, on a loose rein and like she was going somewhere. Lots of halts, a little backing, all nice and soft and relaxed, ears soft.

By now it had been over 3 hours. Might as well stay til midnight.
I asked for a trot, expecting the same nasty piaffe instead and I was astounded to get a beautiful forward trot, on the bit, light, huge stride. It was like riding on air. I wanted to go on forever, but I also wanted to reward her for doing it right so I did a couple of laps of the ring. She maintained a beautiful trot the whole way, including a little spook at a noise and back into stride immediately. I asked for a halt and she did not try to rip the reins out of my hands or knock me out of the saddle with her head. (That was a part of the walking I forgot to mention.) So I got off.
Great, her secret is out. She DOES know how to do this and can do it beautifully.
The jig is up, Nina.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a lesson...

I took a lesson today from one of my students. She said she was going to get after me for the same things that I get after her for.
So it went like this:

Ali: Stop looking at her head.
Me: If I don't look at her head how can I tell when she is going to buck me off?

Ali: Just ignore the bad behavior and ride.
Me: IGNORE IT!? How the ____ do I ignore this?

Ali: Just make her do it.
Me: What do you think I'm trying to do up here?

I am going to have to rethink what I say in lessons.
Seriously, eyes on the ground are the key to working through problems.
Thanks Ali.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I hope next week is scheduled better

I managed to ride exactly once this week. I had appointments every other afternoon.
Nina says she doesn't care.
I remember when everything came second to riding, but as a friend said, when I mentioned this to her...I used to have a horse that I enjoyed riding a lot more. Yes.
But Nina doesn't have a chance of becoming a horse that I enjoy riding if I don't ride her.

Three of the things I found myself doing this week were meeting with a roofer, getting my hair done and going to the gem show. None of those are on next week's schedule. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the storm seems to have passed,,,,

both the one that brought rain and the one raging in Nina.
Today she was perfectly normal, disgusted with her muddy pen, begging for carrots, lunged a little in a 'damp' roundpen and was perfectly sound. Not a sign of a pinned ear or a sore back.
It was really too muddy to ride when she is being unpredictable, I taught a lesson in the indoor, mostly walk and trot working on some details.
I had an appointment with a roofing company tomorrow and was wondering when I was going to get to ride. The roofer got confused and showed up today. I got home early and was only a few minutes late for the appointment that he thought he had. So that worked out well, I will get to ride tomorrow. I am treating myself to hair coloring on Wednesday and teaching a lesson at a different barn on Thursday so probably won't ride again until Friday. Maybe just walking tomorrow in the mud to stretch her out and if things are drier on Friday we might pull out a crossrail to work over.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

some girls......

Nina is apparently having a PMS week. This is unusual for her, normally her seasons come and go with no notice other than some inappropriate flagging at a gelding or two. But this week has been hell week. Her ears have disappeared back under her mane. She is ouchy when being groomed (she had finally decided several months ago that grooming was actually a good thing), threatening when being tacked up. When I sat on her for a couple of trot strides a few days ago she told me to get off and generally she is just grouchy with people and flirty with the poor geldings around her.

Yesterday took the cake. I have a great farrier, he has been doing my horses for almost 15 years and patiently follows me around as we change barns. He is enormously patient with the horses and has been more patient with Nina than I would have been. She was a PITA for her first few shoeings but has slowly gotten better and better. Until yesterday.

Let me back up just a little. A BIG storm blew in here yesterday afternoon and is sticking around today, although not as violent as it was. All week leading up to it has been still, 95+ degrees and while most people had to check the weather forecast to know that it was coming, the horses have seemed to sense it. The entire barn was spooking and flighty all week, even in the heat.

So, yesterday Nina is getting new shoes as the storm approaches. She was OK for the fronts until it started raining just as he was finishing up and she backed away from him hard enough and suddenly enough to put him and all his tools on the ground. Nearly pulled me off my feet also.
Explained to her that this was unacceptable and finished her front feet. Then the hail started, just a little, but enough to make it unsafe to be crawling around under her, so we moved to the indoor arena. Just in time, the skies opened up and the rain came down so hard you could only see a few feet into it. This sort of deluge usually only lasts for a few minutes, but this went on and on, for over half an hour. The parking area and surrounding areas disappeared under running water and the noise inside the indoor was deafening. I found myself holding a frantic TB and just trying to keep her attention so she wouldn't run over me at every sound of thunder, which was even drowning out the roar of the rain and hail on the metal roof.

We waited this out and went back to shoeing. Nina had had enough and was a complete jerk, so the process took twice as long as it should have. At some point she turned, glared at the farrier and kicked him. Not hard enough to damage, just a nasty fast snap kick that barely connected. A great big F U from her to him.
I could have killed her. If she hadn't had him cornered I might have tried. What a nasty, bitchy thing to do. He just shrugged it off and even made some excuses for her. I don't know which was worse, having her behave so badly or hearing him excuse her bad behavior. *sigh*
Thank heaven for good, loyal relationships....we actually have an appointment for her next shoeing set.
On reflection, I have to admit that there are days that it might be nice to be 1200# and able to just lash out at someone who is annoying you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

getting adjusted

Adjusting to life at Bibber Creek. Nina (r) and buddy Tino in the small turnouts.
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