Saturday, May 29, 2010

Near Normalcy

Tomorrow everything will be back to normal with Lilly. The last bits of "lesion rehab" will be gone... that leather pad she's been wearing with her shoe is gone. She had the past couple days off because my farrier and I wanted to make sure she wasn't going to be sore. I checked on her today and she seemed to be doing just fine.

She has made such a great recovery! All this time I've been thinking a fall timeline was being optimistic for riding and showing and that next spring was probably more likely. Instead, here I am planning on showing her at the June JCHSS show on the 26th. It will be about 8 months post injury and she should almost be back to pre-inury status by then. She probably won't be as conditioned as she was last year when she was injured, but we're working on building those muscles back up.

Last November I was devastated... and here I am talking about showing her again. I am beyond excited! I also have so much to do before then to get both of us ready! That's perfectly ok with me, though!

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and please remember our Veterans when you're spending time with friends and family. They have sacrified so much to make this country what it is today. Semper Fi, and Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trim Time Again

My farrier was out again today to trim AJ and reset Lilly's shoes.

I know it's summertime-ish, but Lilly's feet seem to be growing like weeds! Even my farrier commented on how much hoof he had to cut off. Usually, he pulls the shoes, cleans them off, rasps the edges of her hooves, and nails those suckers right back on. Today, he had to use nippers! She really could have been trimmed at 5 weeks instead of 6, and actually that's what I'm doing next time. Is this hoof growth because I took her OFF the hoof supplement? It sure seems to be. My farrier said her feet look better than ever.

Today was also the day we took her leather pad off. The last little piece of what we've gone through over the past 7 months. I celebrated a bit. :) He said she had a few little bruises in there from the pad so I was ordered not to ride her today or tomorrow just to give her some time to get used to that foot without the pad. Hopefully the bruises don't turn into abscesses.

Even AJ was extra good today. Because of his arthritis, we have a special way that we trim his feet. His best hind hoof first, then the two front feet, and then his other hind. Usually, he jerks Greg around a bit when he tries to trim the hoof on his bad leg, but today he didn't. Not even a little bit.

Angels, I tell you... both of my horses are angels. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No More Pony Tail

I rode Lilly western again today and we did a little bit more cantering. I'm limiting her to twice around the arena each way for now. We'll do that for a week or so and then I'll start working her like I used to before she got hurt. We'll officially be back to "normal"!

She did great jogging too and has been doing super with her head. When I was warming her up, she walked around the arena with a level head the entire time until I asked for the jog. She was very calm and relaxed too, and it wasn't because I was asking her to keep it there, she just carried it there all on her own. :)

She's so sweet!

Here's a picture of my new haircut. I'm still on the fence about it... My stylist cut it a little shorter than I wanted and the back is layered and quite short. I would rather it have been all one length in the back, but there's nothing I can do about it now.

It's nice to have something different. Before, it was just there... it blew around in my face and always looked plain and boring. I'm just not sure if I'd rather have plain and boring. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cantering!

Doesn't Lilly's shadow look just like a little pony? Oh wait...

We've been getting a lot of rain here lately. In fact, it seems to rain every time I'm at the barn. Yesterday I had to go get AJ in the pouring rain because I just couldn't wait any more. Today I decided to keep waiting because I wanted to ride!

Lilly did really well. I rode her western again and we've almost got our "slow down" button figured out. Instead of a half halt, she responds better to a slight left rein, right rein, left rein, right rein in tune with her stride. She'll slow down, I release, she speeds back up... rinse, lather, repeat. She seems to be getting the idea and we had some really great jog strides. The best part, though, is that even the quicker strides aren't that fast and she is being very consistent.

Our restricted rides are up, so of course I couldn't wait to canter her! I wasn't sure how it was going to go in the western saddle because I don't have as much contact with her sides and didn't know if she was going to pick up on what I was asking. Her transition was wonderful, although she picked up the wrong lead. We tried 3 more times and she finally got the correct lead. The transitions were all really quick and she didn't trot at all before picking up the canter. Our canter transition in the other direction was a bit better because she picked up the correct lead the first time. She stayed calm as we worked through her leads and I couldn't have been happier. :) I only cantered twice around the arena and then did some more jogging and walking.

No bucking, no rearing, no hissy fits... such a good girl!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

He's Looking Better

Today I spent quite a bit of time with AJ. He seemed very excited to see me and I didn't have to walk half a mile across the pasture to get him... instead, we met half way. :)

I spent some time brushing him and feeding him cookies. He seemed very relaxed today and wasn't nearly as spooky as he was yesterday. The sore on his cheek is doing much better and is dry and starting to scab over. (Finally... I might be able to let go of some of this guilt once it looks like it's really healing) He got his "facial" and stood much better for the washing part than he did yesterday.

He freaked out a bit when I took him over to the tree to eat grass and kept trying to walk all over me. The weird thing is, it seems like he's trying to look at objects with his left eye (the one with the cataract), which is why he ends up walking all over me. When I had the vet look at him a while ago it was his right eye I was most concerned with, but instead we found the cataract in his left. It doesn't help that he's afraid of his own shadow and spooks at just about everything. Such a delicate flower, he is.

It's fun to watch him eat grass. He is so dainty about pulling on the grass that sometimes he has to try 2 or 3 times to get it. He'll stand in one spot for 5 - 10 minutes and does a very thorough job of mowing. Lilly drags me all over hell's half acre trying to find just the right spot... and she eats like it's her last meal ever.

He's always thirsty when I put him back out and the two mean horses he's with are always crowding the gate and never let him get to the nearby water trough. So I have to stand guard and protect him while he takes long, slow sips... then looks around, licks his lips, and goes back to drinking more.

I ordered him a new fly mask today. I guess I'll start with the Cashel and see how it works.

I added it to my SmartPak order, so it won't be here for a while. His face will need quite a bit of time to heal before I put a new mask on him anyway. We'll also be at the new farm by then, so hopefully no one there pulls it off and devours it. If that tends to be the case, I'll have to try the one SillyPony suggested. I just don't want the other horses to make fun of him. :)

I usually don't share personal stuff about myself because I figure no one cares, but I'm getting my hair chopped off tomorrow and I'm so excited I couldn't help spreading the news. I've had past my shoulder length hair for a LONG time and I'm excited for a new look.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Think It's Official

I rode Lilly again with her western saddle and had absolutely ZERO issues with saddle fit. I think I'm declaring that riser pad a success and the answer to our problems! Just since the few times I've ridden her with the pad, she has been SO much better during the tacking up phase of our ride too. No more tail swishing and no more fidgeting... so she's definitely more comfortable.

We had some of the best trotting that we've ever had today. I just can't get over how well she's doing since her rehab. We used to have issues with her coming off the rail, and she's doing MUCH better with that. I already told you about showmanship fun we had yesterday, and today, we had a PITTER PATTER jog! You know the kind... where your butt cheeks just kind of shift left and right instead of bouncing up and down because your horse is going 20 miles per hour. She was going slow enough that my butt cheeks were going left and right instead of up and down!! She's carrying her head level 90% of the time without me asking, and her "whoa" is getting much better. She's actually stopping now instead of stopping and then creeping. What a wonderful little mare I have. :)

AND (as if this could get any better), when she sees me in her pasture coming to get her, she whinnies and TROTS over. It makes me so happy to know that she's happy to see me.

Devil pony follows her wherever she goes as much as he can on the other side of the pasture. He whinnies and whinnies for her the entire time she's out. She was cracking me up because every time he whinnied for her she pinned her ears. LOL She still doesn't like him getting too close, and she still protects her donkey, but they seem to tolerate each other a little bit more these days.

I also spent some time with AJ and cleaned up his sores. The marks on his nose are looking good, but the one on his jaw still looks pretty icky. I put some more cream on it and hopefully it'll look better tomorrow. Thank goodness it's been cool and overcast because there are a lot fewer bugs that way.

He's still acting funny with his vision too... I had to take him away from the outside hitching post because it has mats underneath it and the water splashing from the sponge I was using to clean his sore was freaking him out. The sore is on the left side of his face where is cataract is so he was having a tough with the whole thing.

I'm thinking about getting him a different fly mask. Something with a different design might fit his face better and create fewer rub spots. His Super Mask has such a small area of contact with the face compared to something like the Crusader mask. If anyone has a different brand they love, feel free to drop me a note.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who's Been Training My Horse?

Seriously! Who's been training her behind my back?

I decided to work on showmanship today instead of riding her. I got the lead with the chain (that's her cue that it's showmanship time!) and took her out to the arena. I walked her around for a while and then stopped to start practicing, and when I turned to face her to ask her to set up, she set up all on her own! I didn't even move the lead rope to ask her to move her feet! So I tried it again, and sure enough, she was moving her feet on her own. She didn't set up perfectly every time and I had to help her a couple times, but for the most part, she did it all on her own.

I didn't teach her that! And she wasn't doing that at the last show we went to, so who was it!?

She did great with everything we practiced... she was pivoting on her right hind instead of her left hind and backing up nice and straight.

I'm beginning to think everyone should give their show horse 6 months off! Just hang with them every day and let them eat grass and cookies. Give them lots of kisses too, and they'll learn things all on their own!

***

In other news, I'm a horrible mom. :( I have a little rotation I use with AJ's fly mask to make sure his face gets a break. One of the horses in the pasture kept taking his mask off, so last time I put it on a little bit tighter. I didn't think it was too tight, but it wasn't as loose as it usually is. Today when I took his fly mask off, there was a pretty good size rub mark on the one side of his jaw and across the bridge of his nose. Both spots had rubbed so much that his skin was raw and the one on his jaw was pretty icky. We had a lot of rain the past couple days, so I don't know if the fly mask being wet made it rub more on his skin, or if it was too tight. I feel awful, awful, awful, awful, and I'm sick to my stomach about it. :(

I cleaned both spots and put some antibiotic cream on them and I hope they look better tomorrow. I can't believe I did that to him.

Showmanship, How I Miss You

I think Lilly and Tyler (devil pony) are starting to work out their differences. Yesterday I found them grazing near-ish each other, and Martini (the donkey) was way down the hill in the shelter. So perhaps they have agreed to disagree. :)

I'm thinking I might actually be able to attend the JCHSS show next month on the 26th. I don't want to get my hopes up too high because I don't want to push Lilly, but by that time, we will have been cleared for full work and should also be cantering.

Maybe we'll only be able to do showmanship and halter, but I hope we can at least go!

I've been thinking about how much we miss showmanship:







I can't wait to get back in the show ring!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More Trotting

I wanted to trot Lilly again today, and since I rode western yesterday, I decided to ride english today. She was really good... in fact, I think for the first time EVER, she trotted around the arena on a loose rein while simultaneously staying at a very consistent pace. I trot 3 times around the arena and the entire time we had a loose rein and a good speed. I was actually able to practice my equitation for once. That might change when I start adding the canter again since she is such an anticipator, but for now, I'm enjoying it. :)

Next week I'll be able to trot 3 days out of the week, and then the following week I can start cantering again!

Lilly seemed very comfortable in her english saddle, but I don't often have an issue with it unless I'm using a specific pad. I did notice today that there were spots on both sides of her shoulders that had dry spots, while the rest of her was soaked with sweat. So I've decided to go ahead and buy her an english style riser pad and see how it works.

When I was done riding, I set up Lilly's hay net down by the lean-to in the pasture because I'm sick of devil pony chasing her away from the hay pile. I strung it up high enough that he couldn't reach it, but she could. Hehe... take that! I wonder how she's getting breakfast and dinner, though? Is someone standing out there with her while she eats? I doubt it...

So when I put her back into the pasture, she ran right over to where the donkey was and herded him away from the pony. I didn't get a good picture, but it looked something like this:

It's almost like she feels she needs to protect him from the pony, or she wants him to herself... but she's always keeping the pony away from the donkey, and he's more than happy to hang with her.

She had a small hoof print on the back of her leg today, so I'm guessing devil pony landed a good kick. It was puffy, but the skin wasn't broken. She was just missing some hair.

I wish she had her own pasture.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She is a Gem

I.Love.My.Mare

I know I say it all the time, but it really is true, and days like today make me really appreciate what a wonderful horse I have, and what a wonderful relationship we have.

Just the fact that my mare can be on stall rest for 118 days, and then pasture rest for another 2 months, for a total of 6 months worth of rehab, only to go out in the arena and ride like we never took a break... I think that's really saying something about her.

I rode her western again today with my new lift kit (hehe). She was SO good! She was really calm when we tacked up, didn't walk around the arena with her nose in the dirt, and never once shook her head or acted uncomfortable. We even trotted and she was completely comfortable the whole time. I think this pad is really working for her.

I wasn't sure how trotting would go in the western saddle. She certainly doesn't have a western pleasure jog, but I was hoping I would be able to sit the trot, and I did, quite easily. She jogged around at a really nice pace, it wouldn't win any western classes, but it was slower than our hunt seat trot. Her head was LEVEL and she would slow down when I half-halted. I was very proud of that jog... and very proud of my mare. :)

I sure do love this mare.


*****
In other news, I went to the barn yesterday to move Lilly into the paddock with the donkey and the pony. I would rather she had her own paddock, but that wasn't offered as an option when the BO emailed me back. I told her that I would hang around and make sure everything was good before I left.

So when I left, it was good-ish, but it took quite some time to get to that point. I wasn't expecting the show I got, so I didn't have my camera. I wished I did, though!

Lilly has always had a "thing" with ponies. Even when we were at shows, she always gave the ponies the stink eye. They're little horses, what's the problem? From what Lilly tells me, they can't be trusted.

When they first touched noses, they sniffed and sniffed and sniffed... and then came the squeals, and then the legs were flying! Lilly ran all over the place and actually ran until she was soaked with sweat and breathing like she had run a marathon. Good thing I don't have a heart condition...

The funniest part was when Lilly kept trying to show dominance. She would pin her ears and charge the pony, only to duck out at the last minute when he didn't move a single hoof. So she tried again, and again... nothing.

When I arrived today I was hoping they would have become best buds overnight. When I took Lilly out to ride, he was carrying on as if they were, but Lilly wasn't returning his calls with a whinny. In fact, she looked at him like he had six heads and she was glad to be on the other side of the fence.

She could care less about the donkey, but that pony just ain't right!

I had my camera with me today and took some pictures. My poor chicken shit horse kept running over to me when the pony would get close, so it was hard getting pictures of her. I think she was hoping I would protect her? I'm not sure, but the pony kept eating out of her piles of hay and there was nothing she could do about it.

So here's the big mean pony asserting his dominance and running her away from her hay pile.

Here, Lilly is saying, "I don't want to get too close to that thing!"

Here she's watching him eat her hay.

Even when she had her own pile of hay, she had to keep her eye on him. You never know when he could come this way!

Here she is trying to climb in my lap. "Please save me, mom!"

It was interesting to me how she would run to me when he came near her. And when the pony was trying to steal cookies from my pocket, she stood frozen. staring at us like she thought he might eat me. When I was walking her hay from spot to spot, I'd say, "come on... come eat your hay." And she would walk (or run, depending on where the pony was) over to me.

"I hate ponies!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looking Better

It rained most of the day today so I didn't get to ride as I had hoped, but I still went to the barn to check on Lilly. Her leg looks a bit swollen still, but the cuts look better and there wasn't any heat to speak of today. The bump is still present as well, but might be from the cut on her skin.

She's still in the same paddock and I haven't heard back from the barn owner. I sent another email so if I don't hear back from her, and if Lilly is still in the same paddock tomorrow, I may just switch them around myself. She gave me the option, so I don't think it matters who is where, and I want my horse out of there.

I am slightly upset over the whole situation... all I want is to move my mare into a safe paddock where she isn't going to cut her legs all to pieces.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hey, Look... More Scrapes!

I had planned on riding today... In fact, I was going to make today one of our two trotting days for the week. It all went downhill when I got to the barn, though.

I went to the pasture to get Lilly and noticed she had blood over the eye part on her fly mask. So in a panic, I took her fly mask off to check her eye. It was fine, thank goodness, but where did the blood come from then? As I scoured her body, I found these:


Sigh...

The first picture is of her right leg before I cleaned it up, and the second picture is the mark on her left leg after I sponged the blood off. The blood looks old to me. I don't think this happened between this morning when she got fed and 11:30am when I arrived at the barn. I didn't make it to the barn yesterday, so how long has she had a trail of blood on her leg that no one told me about?

The mark on her left leg is just a scrape... nothing major. The mark on her right leg, though, seems to be semi-serious, at least as far as I'm concerned. It bled a lot for how little the scrape is. Her leg is puffy, there's heat in there, and she even has a bump where the top scrape is. This is the best picture I took that shows the scrapes and the swelling. All my bump pictures turned out blurry because the camera focused on her hind legs instead. Dang thing...

I debated calling the vet... the only thing that kept me from calling was the fact that she isn't lame at all. The bump and the heat concerns me, but I'll see how things look tomorrow and then decide from there. For today I just cleaned her up, hosed her leg for 20 minutes, and put some ointment over the scrapes to keep the flies off.

I love her face in this picture. It's her cookie face. I can only get that kind of reaction from her when there are cookies at stake. She looks so excited! "Please, mom... just one more!" :)

I decided not to ride just in case. She seemed completely fine, but I wasn't taking any chances.

When I took her back to the pasture, I started searching for what might have scraped her legs up. I know horses can hurt themselves in a rubber room, but I found this at the back of the pasture:

Ummm... it's obviously been there for a while because there's wire across the top of the tree. I have no idea if this had anything to do with her scrapes or not, but it isn't acceptable for her to be in a paddock with this. Needless to say, I sent an email to the barn owner requesting that we put her in the other paddock instead. I didn't want her in a large paddock yet, but I'd rather her be in there than in this paddock.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Decision Has Been Made

I mentioned a post or two ago that I was thinking about moving my horses to a new barn. (Can I say "barn" since there isn't actually a barn there?) I've decided to go ahead and move them. The cost savings is something I can't ignore. I'll try it out, see how it goes, and if it isn't working out for me, I can always move them again. I want to give myself the opportunity and see where it takes me.

I've been chatting online with the manager and she is super nice. She's also sympathetic to my situation with Lilly and has already offered a couple of pasture options for me so I can choose what works best for her until we're sure she's ready for regular turnout.

She and her boyfriend show Appaloosas and they travel to some of the bigger weekend shows. I'm really excited about the possibilities of taking Lilly to some of the shows they go to. I am so used to going everywhere by myself that I would really enjoy the opportunity to show with someone. I may be able to show at a few more shows since I'll be saving more money on board, too.

I think we've decided on June 4th as the official move date. I'll miss my current barn, but I hope I'll grow to like the new one just as much.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Riser Pad Trial

My new riser pad arrived yesterday and I was able to try it out today. First, here are a few pictures.

It matches my felt pad perfectly and really gives the saddle a boost.



Here is a side shot of the saddle without the pad.

Before


After
I think it looks a lot better with the extra pad. The saddle actually looks level now.

When I first put the pad on, Lilly started to wiggle around. Then I put the riser pad on and got that all settled. Next I tossed up the saddle. She wiggled and wiggled and then... stopped. A good sign! When I started to tighten the girth, she wiggled and then stopped. It seemed like she was anticipating the discomfort and then when she didn't feel it, she settled.

I took her out to the arena for our 30 minute walk. She usually immediately puts her head down in the dirt as we walk along, but today she didn't. She seemed completely comfortable. I was hopeful, but because she has on and off days, I didn't want to get too excited. Everything seemed to be going well until about 20 minutes into our ride. Then she started shaking her head a little bit. That's usually the first sign and then it gets progressively worse from there. I started doing some circles to see if I could take her mind off it and she seemed to settle back down. She was chomping less on the bit too, which I think is a good sign.

I'm still very hopeful about the pad. It was a lot better than usual, but still not 100%. I'll ride her again in it tomorrow and see how she does.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thinking Out Loud, With Words Of Course

Having two horses puts quite a strain on my wallet. Sparing you the boring details of my finances, I'll tell you that it gets pricey. Most of the things I own (truck, horse trailer, and all my assorted "stuff") is for Lilly. She's my riding horse and my show horse. She is expensive enough on her own.

AJ is relatively maintenance free, thank goodness. He's just a healthy, happy old boy. Routine shots, dewormer, and trims is all it takes to keep him that way. Well, that and love, but that goes without saying.

The expensive part is board. I used to do self care at a little farm where I had to provide hay and grain, and I know it isn't cheap. I'm sure being a barn owner where numerous horses are boarded isn't cheap. But the prices around here really vary, especially for pasture board, which is what I look for. AJ must be outside 24/7 and I prefer Lilly is too. She seems much happier out there, although she took to stall rest like a fish to water, so who knows!

So technically I'm always shopping for other situations. I'm not necessarily actively looking, but I'm always in the market, especially since I've spent so much money on Lilly this past 6 months. Savings has been reduced quite a bit. Next year I will graduate from college (FINALLY) so that means student loans loom in my future. Board is really the only area where I can cut costs.

I don't need to relocate my horses. I'm more than able to afford them in our current situation, but the idea of saving money always sounds like a good idea.

I looked at a farm right before Lilly hurt herself and it was wonderful. Substantial savings but it was really nice. There were some other people in front of me in line and I ended up missing out on that opportunity. I was quite disappointed because it was exactly what I wanted.

So now another one has presented itself. The facility isn't nearly as nice as where I have my horses now, and it'll take me about 35 minutes to get there instead of 20. No barn, no stalls... only one little wash/grooming area, although they have a lot of trees and everyone ties their horses to tie rings on the trees. The arena isn't nearly as big, but it has lights. The footing isn't as great, but there are also 2 round pens. The owners are really nice and all the horses look great. They have giant pastures, lots of grass, trailer parking, a nice tack room, and other boarders that actually show and trail ride. Where I am now, I'm the only one that shows. I'm the only one with a trailer, so no one ever takes their horses anywhere. I would love to be somewhere a bit more social, with people who are a bit more active in the horsey world. The owners show hunt seat and western and own Appys. I could actually take some western lessons!

It certainly isn't fancy, but it's safe. It provides everything my current location does (minus the emergency stalls), but not on such a grand scale. It's there, but it's not spectacular.

I'm worried about the no barn thing... only because of what I just went through with Lilly. I pray to God I don't need a stall again anytime soon, but things happen. And what do you do with a sick horse? What if they need a stall? What if it's raining when the farrier comes out?

It certainly isn't perfect and there are a lot of pros and cons to moving out there... but, I can save about $270 per month on board. I can save over $3200 per year on board. It seems like there are always opportunities to upgrade, but few opportunities like this to save so much money.

What am I willing to give up to save that much money? Is having a safe place for my horses enough? Or will I wish I had stayed where I am now? (We just got hot water!)

I just don't want to regret leaving the good barn I have...

I called and talked to my vet about the move and to see what was next for Lilly after her 60 day small paddock turnout. She said full turnout like she used to have. So after the 60 days, she'll be turned back out, and I'll be able to ride her as I used to. So she'll essentially be back to normal! She said moving her would be fine as long as we kept her calm. If I move her, she'll be in with AJ in a smaller paddock for a couple weeks while they adjust to the farm and the other horses. So we should be good there.

The barn owner emailed me today saying she needed to move Lilly out of her current small paddock anyway and that we could put her in the large paddock behind the tack room or put her on the other dry lot with the pony named Tyler. I don't want her in a large paddock yet, so she'll be going way over on the other side of the farm to be with Tyler. That paddock is the bane of my existence, though... she always seems to have bouts of diarrhea when she's in there. So I hope that doesn't happen again. We've been doing well so far this year. I hate how much my horses seem to be shuffled around.

I signed Lilly up for PAC and renewed my novice/amateur card. We might actually be able to go to some shows here in a month or two! At least for showmanship. I still need that 1 point to get our certificate.

There's always something for me to stress about. The joys of horse ownership.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We Trotted!

Lilly and AJ have been wearing fly masks. AJ's is mostly to help with his vision and protect his eye (because of his cataract), but Lilly has allergies and her eyes get really goopy. The flies love it. *barf

When I took her fly mask off today, this is how her hair looked. LOL (And there isn't any wind... it's all style!)

Since I'm still obsessed with her color, here are a few pictures I took trying to get her true color to show up.

I really love the color she has on her forearms.

And I love the color on the underside of her cheeks. It is BLACK. Do you see all those long hairs? I HATE THEM! She has a ton of them on her neck and they're all very light in color so she looks all funny. They're driving me crazy and it just seems cruel to yank them all out. :)

I'm still waiting on the riser pad. Hopefully it will be here tomorrow. Until it arrives, I'm just going to keep her in the english saddle. I've noticed quite a difference in her attitude and how she travels when she's wearing the english saddle. I rode strictly english last year so I hadn't really noticed until the last couple times I've had the western saddle on her. She tacks up like a dream with english. She stands still, doesn't fidget around, and seems quite comfortable. When I put the western saddle on her, she seems irritated and wiggles all over the place, especially when it's time to cinch her up. I'm not one to cinch it all up at once, or even cinch it up super tight. I do it gradually.

When I'm riding in the western saddle, she practically drags her nose in the dirt the entire time. I'm assuming she's trying to give herself some relief because she doesn't do that with her english saddle.

So anyway, we got to trot today! This week we trot one day for 5 minutes. Next week we trot two days for 5 minutes. The week after, it's three days for 5 minutes. Then I'll be able to canter.

She was SO good. She seems a lot less sensitive than she was before her injury. I asked her to trot and she turned her head back to look at me as if to say, "seriously?" So I said, "come on girl, trot". And off we went. She is obviously out of shape and couldn't stay round for very long at all. Maybe 10 strides or so, and then she'd fall apart, so I'd round her back up. It will definitely take her some time to get back into shape and get those muscles built back up. She was trying, though!

I'm as out of shape as she is! 5 minutes of trotting = A LOT OF POSTING. My thighs were burning when it was all said and done. Tomorrow I will definitely be sore.

It was quite hot today and she worked up a good sweat after all that trotting. So I hosed her off and couldn't resist taking one more picture of her color. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Downhill?

There were some great comments in my last post regarding my saddle fitting woes. Funder made a comment, though, that struck me and sent my brain off in a completely different direction. She was referring to Lyme Disease as a possible cause, and while I'm not sure about that yet, what she was getting at is that maybe it isn't my saddles necessarily, but perhaps it is Lilly.

Hmmm...

Perhaps not a medical issue, or a muscle issue, but maybe a structural issue?

So my brain has been working overtime and I've been reading everything the Interwebz has to offer about causes of saddle problems without the causes actually being the saddle. I have 4 saddles that don't fit my horse. What are the odds that all 4 saddles fit her so poorly that they render her unable to be ridden? Odds are that one of them would fit... especially since all of them should fit according to the guidelines, right?

So what else could it be? I read an article written by a woman who was on a mission to find the cause of the white hairs and dry patches on her horse's withers and shoulders. (I wonder if Lilly would have any white hairs on her withers if they weren't already white? I sure hope not...) She tried everything, and even spent a gazillion dollars on a custom saddle. NOTHING worked for her. Then one day she borrowed a cutback pad, worked her horse, and was in complete shock to see no dry patches on her horse's shoulders when she took the saddle off.

She determined the cause of her issue to be the simple fact that her horse was just built downhill. So when she rode her horse, nearly all the weight from the saddle and the rider was being put on her horse's shoulders. The cutback pad lifted the front of the saddle enough that it dispersed the weight over the horse's back properly.

So, I give you exhibit A:

I don't think the seat of my saddle looks terribly uneven, but she is clearly built downhill and you can see just by that picture that the weight is being put right on those shoulders of hers. That could be the cause for ALL of my saddles causing her shoulder discomfort. Aside from being built downhill, she has a short back. It is sometimes challenging to find saddles and pads that don't restrict movement in her hind end. It isn't so much an issue with english stuff, but western is tough. I think the saddle and pad I have on her in that picture are a little bit too big for her, and I'm thinking of selling this saddle and my show saddle. (That's a whole nother topic, though...)

Since I just bought that new pad, I was thinking of trying these:

The description on the website says, "This is a 1" Syn-Felt pad that fits under the western saddle. This pad raises the front of the saddle and helps relieve pressure on the horses withers. The Syn-Felt shapes naturally to the horse and offers maximum protection to the withers." While it refers to the withers, this riser would essentially make a cutback pad out of my new felt pad and lift the saddle up off her shoulders.

It's only $12, so I was thinking about ordering one and trying it out to see if it makes a difference. If it does, I'll be purchasing another new pad, only I'll get a cutback pad for western riding, and then find something similar to use for my english saddle.

*I just placed my order... we'll see if it works!*