Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The New Year Begins!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did! It was so great to see my family for an entire week. Although there was a ton of snow when I arrived, it was all melting by the time I left. It was a crazy weather week for sure.

I came back hoping to find Lilly completely healthy... What? Christmas miracles happen all the time! I thought maybe I would be the proud recipient of one such miracle. I actually found her worse than when I left. I even brought back some Sand Clear to share with the barn owner, but we decided the Metamucil we were using actually was making the girls worse. So no more of that... we did decide to deworm with some Quest instead to rid their system of any encysted small strongyles that may have been present. Now it's a waiting game. If Lilly isn't better in 10 days-ish, I'll call the vet and see what else they suggest. The vet has already suggested blood work, but the blood work from last year didn't show anything. Although, I'm starting to wonder if this might be something different than last year. Maybe it is just coincidence that she had diarrhea last year and this year because last year it cleared up after she stopped cycling. This year it just won't go away. So I'll proceed however they suggest to see if I can't get rid of this mess.

I've been washing her every day since I've been home and I'm keeping track of it all in a planner. That way I'll be able to look back and see when everything was started, stopped, and how messy she was. I've created the offical "Poop Scale". On a scale of 1 - 10, how messy is she? Today she was a 4... Maybe a pattern of some kind will emerge. Maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Either way, welcome to 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Game Plan

Is anyone else as freaking busy as I am? Holy crap! I'm leaving for Michigan for a week on Saturday and I have 6 million things to do before I go. Christmas snuck up on me for sure!

I haven't even been to the barn in days. I can only imagine what Lilly's butt cheeks will look like on Thursday when I finally get time to visit (or Wednesday... I don't really know yet). She'll need a good scrub for sure before I go. Lots of Desitin is in her future... While I'm gone she'll have to go a whole week without being washed. Ugh! Poor girl.

So here's the game plan (veterinarian recommended). I'm going to order some Sand Clear. I'm going to order some Quest dewormer. She'll be on the Sand Clear for 2 weeks straight to see if she's just got some sand trapped in there somewhere that's causing irritation. Then about 3 weeks after that, she'll get the Quest dewormer to hopefully remove any encysted strongyles that the ivermectin/Equimax may have missed. I'll leave her on the supplement for now as well. The vet recommended probiotics too, but the supplement already contains pro and prebiotics.

If that doesn't work, the barn owner said we could move her to a different pasture and see if that helps at all. And if that doesn't help, I'm screwed. I'll be starting a log on the 28th, though, to track progress (or track no progress). Maybe some kind of pattern will emerge.

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll talk to you when I get back from COLD Michigan!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gloves Are Good!

I forgot my gloves yesterday for my lesson... BAD idea. I have two huge blisters now on my ring fingers next to my pinkie fingers. You know, right where the reins go.

Lilly was a handful. She is such a brat and often gets on my nerves. :) It isn't cute or funny anymore. Ok, maybe it is still funny, but I'm getting annoyed. She isn't kicking at my leg or hopping around like a rabbit, but she still tries to canter all the time on her own and then shoots off like a rocket when I ask her to canter. I had been riding her with very few transitions because I don't like to fight her and thought riding with lots of leg but no canter would be a good idea to desensitize her, but my trainer said I need to canter, canter, canter. I need to do it so much that Lilly becomes bored with it and sees it as no big deal. Easy for her to say... she doesn't have to ride this crazy mare!

She is making progress, though... I see an itty bitty bit of progress each time I ride. Maybe if I do canter, canter, canter it will help and she won't be in such a hurry to launch herself into the canter. Then we can work on leads, slowing down, and getting her to put her head down.

We also worked on my posting: "SIT UP for crying out loud!! And post with a purpose!! Get your butt out of that saddle!!" And then we tried to slow Lilly's trot with my posting speed. And I'll be darned... it worked! It is harder than hell to post against her, but she slowed right down to get in rythm with me.

We just might get the hang of this one day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yucky!

I went to the barn last night to ride, but never manged to even get my tack out of the shed. It started raining, a donkey and pony got loose, and I helped one of the boarders with her recently dewormed horse. Not to mention the fact that I spent nearly 45 minutes washing the hind end of my horse. She was disgusting!! And her tail, oh my gosh... beyond words. And it was so dry and crunchy. I guess from having manure sitting on it. Luckily it was about 58 degrees outside so I didn't feel too bad washing her with the hose. The water was cold, but it had to be done. Her poor skin is so red... so I coated it with Desitin and put her tail in a tail bag with a lot of conditioner.

I guess the supplements haven't started working yet... I wonder if they ever will. It has only been a little over 2 weeks, but I was hoping to see a little bit of progress. I figure I should see something in 2 months if it is going to work. So February is the deadline. If she's still messy by then, we'll have to do something. I don't know what, because we've tried it all already... but this is ridiculous. I don't think she's still coming into heat... so I have no idea what the problem is. It's too cold to be washing her every day, though. Not to mention her skin is so red and irritated... poor girl.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Well, She Was Better

Since it was going to be a balmy 56 degrees yesterday, I headed over to the barn to ride. I usually give Lilly and myself the day off after our lesson because I'm always so sore and I figure she might be sore too, but the weather demanded it (insert sarcasm). I didn't ride her too hard and we just practiced a few canter transitions after trotting her around the arena with my leg on her side. She did better, but she was still annoyed with it being there. The transitions were still 'big' but she settled into the canter much more quickly than she did on Wednesday. I even mixed it up with some poles and she was trying to trot over two of them at one time. It didn't work out real well for her...

Is it spring yet?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What a Brat!

I had my lesson yesterday and it really turned out to be a lot of fun. My trainer set up some ground poles, so we worked on going over those before working on the 'c' word. There was one pole off by itself and then there was a group of 4 that we had to maneuver. Lilly did OK with the lone pole, but when it came to the group of 4, it got ugly. I think the first couple times she thought she was supposed to step ON them rather than OVER them. Toward the end of the lesson, though, she got the hang of it and did really well. It was fun to feel her pick herself up and trot over them. I'll definitely be doing more pole work in the future. I think it really helps Lilly!

Now on to the even more fun part!

My precious princess is still of the mindset that she gets to canter whenever she wants to. She tries to canter as soon as I do a sitting trot. Granted, 99% of the time, the sitting trot is followed by a canter, but that's beside the point. She needs to wait until I actually ask for it. So there were times when we were doing the poles that I was doing a sitting trot and Lilly would start her choppy, prancy, trot deal, where her head comes up and she desperately tries to canter. I had to just keep doing half halts and then pushing her into a working trot until we got past her little fit. A couple times my trainer told me to hold her head up... we figure if she wants to have her head up like that, I'll hold it there for her until she gets tired of it being that way. It didn't work too well because I think that's Lilly's preferred way of going, so it didn't last long. What was working best was just pushing her into a working trot and getting her head back down. We even mixed it up and I went from a sitting trot to a rising trot to a sitting trot. Sometimes when I was posting she'd try and canter too, just because she couldn't stand it. Her steps get so short and choppy that I end up on the wrong diagonal because when I'm up she manages to take two steps. It was crazy!

I was telling my trainer that the canter departs weren't a problem any longer. We didn't have to worry about her taking 4 trot steps before the transition because now she leaps into the canter with her ears pinned, tail swishing and with a slight buck. Our first canter depart didn't disappoint me! When I asked for the canter, it was just as I described. She had been waiting to canter for SO long, she just burst into it when I finally asked her for it. My trainer decided we'd let her canter for a while around the ring just so she could 'run it out' and maybe relax for the rest of the lesson. So I cantered her around the ring about 4 times and then asked for the trot and then the walk. When she was walking I gave her a loose rein so she could have a break. After a couple minutes of walking, we tried again. This time, though, my trainer wanted me to trot and put my outside leg on her and leave it there but not let her canter. Oh boy... that's like holding a giant lollipop in front of a 3 year old and not letting them have it. And Lilly threw a fit just like a 3 year old. She kept trying to canter and I kept holding her back. She'd want to prance and shorten her stride, and I'd push her forward. She wanted her head sky high and I kept asking her to put it back down. Finally, she got so pissed that she started kicking out sideways! She was kicking at my leg! I was laughing so hard my trainer finally asked what was so funny... I just couldn't believe she was having such tantrum! My trainer said it was better to laugh than to get pissed back because then we'd be in big trouble. After much effort, Lilly finally gave up. I actually felt her just accept the fact that she wasn't getting my leg off, and she wasn't going to canter. Her whole body just relaxed and she jogged around in the circle. What a little brat she is! Oh, but I love her SO much! She's always making me laugh.

We had to do the leg deal in the other direction before cantering and she was slightly better. She still had a fit, but we worked though it and had the most wonderful canter depart ever! She just stepped right into it like it wasn't a big deal, so that's where we stopped, and she got lots of pats and kisses. It was a great lesson!

I need to stay consistent and firm, and not let her get me flustered or upset. She'll learn that its my way or the highway eventually. And once we get things worked out, we'll be such an awesome team.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

AJ is the Man!

The farrier was out last night to trim AJ and shoe Lilly. (Yes, it was cold, dark, and WINDY!) When I went to get AJ from him usual pasture, I noticed he wasn't there. I thought I had seen him in Lilly's pasture when I drove in, but I knew we were getting some new boarders so I thought one of their horses looked just like AJ. Come to find out, it was AJ.

So mister AJ is now in Lilly's pasture with three other mares. Let's just say, he's loving life. The barn owner said the mares are a lot calmer now with him in there. They were all eating hay when I was there last night, so there wasn't much interaction, but he seems to be enjoying himself. He was very happy to see me, though, and came right over when I went in there with the halter.

It'll be nice having him in the same pasture as Lilly because it will be easier to visit him.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Lesson of All Lessons

Nothing like writing about last Wednesday's lesson on Monday... things were busy all weekend with Thanksgiving and I was lazy. I'll admit it.

It was COLD and dark, but I rode in my new breeches and they helped to keep me warm. I was still quite cold, but I could tell the pants helped. My toes were frozen, too, and all I could think about were those wonderful new boots at home in the closet.

The lesson started out well. Lilly was frisky but she settled in well and we got to work. I had been talking to my trainer about wanting to do some work off the rail with obstacles to break things up, so she set up a pole on each end of the arena and we rode over them at the walk and trot while doing our circles. It isn't as easy as it seems to trot over a pole in a circle... Lilly didn't want to stay bent while going over the pole, so it took a bit of work to accomplish that. Going over the pole actually makes her pick herself at the trot and she can't be lazy about it.

After the circle work, it was time to canter. Lilly did OK at first but was still giving me problems. She was doing a lot of the same stuff she was last time I rode her... the cantering on her own agenda, the hopping, the bucking... but my trainer was there this time to tell me what I needed to be doing. Lilly knew we were going to canter, and it was as if she wanted to get it over with, so she would rush right into it on her own. At first we just tried to settle her back down and get her trotting again. Lilly would decide that she wanted to canter NOW, though, and start hopping around like a loon. My trainer told me to put Lilly's nose on my toe and make her trot around in a little circle until she decided to listen. As she got soft, I was supposed to make the circle bigger and when we were ready, ask for the canter. As the circle got bigger, Lilly would try to canter again. This went on for quite some time and I lost count of how many circles I did. I was dizzy... Lilly acted like a booger both ways, so we circled a lot both ways. I was so sore this weekend... My poor legs were tired. I imagine Lilly was pretty sore too.

My trainer doesn't want me to overuse the circles, but at the same time Lilly can't be in charge. She needs to learn to wait and do what she's told when she's told. Wonder how long that will take?

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!