Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Still Soggy

Well, the rain has finally stopped, the sun is shining, and maybe, just maybe, I'll be back in the saddle by Saturday. After yesterday's monsoon, I expected the arena to be completely under water, but I was pleasantly surprised by the footing today. Don't get me wrong, there's no way I could actually ride in there, but it was less soggy than I expected. My theory is that it was already so saturated with water that the rain we got yesterday simply flowed away.

Behold! The swamp!

Many, many puddles.
Lilly is bored out of her mind, but she's doing her best to stay busy by playing with the boys across the fence, snacking on tiny pieces of grass, and getting rid of itchies by rolling in the mud.

Behold! The mud monster!

Ew!
Come on sun! Dry up the arena so I actually have something worthwhile to post about!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Call To The Vet for AJ - Update

**********
Update! (2-24-13)
AJ is back to his happy (grumpy) self this morning. He was only allowed to eat half of his normal feeding, but he gobbled it up and couldn't wait to chase Justus away from his food. Lots of manure piles came overnight and all is well. Thank you so much for your kind words yesterday!!
**********

AJ is feeling a bit under the weather today. I received a call from my dad early this morning letting me know that AJ wasn't interested in breakfast. When AJ doesn't want breakfast, it's time to panic... well, maybe not panic, but it's definitely a cause for concern. He didn't even mind it when my dad's horse Justus stole some morsels out of his feed pan. No grumpy old man face with flattened ears is definitely not a good sign. He had a temperature of 102, which isn't necessarily high, but isn't necessarily normal either. My dad had seen him pee, but no AJ poop could be found, and he was acting very mopey.

My handsome boy.
My dad wanted to know if I wanted the vet called, which I did. He'll be 27 this year and I'd rather be safe (and poor) than sorry. He wasn't looking at his tummy or rolling on the ground, but he was just standing out in the corral looking pitiful. AJ's vet was dealing with a few emergency calls but said she would be free later if needed, and suggested giving AJ a little Banamine in the meantime. She said if he wasn't feeling better after the Banamine to give her a call because she'd want to see him.

The Banamine seemed to help because as the day wore on, he snacked on some hay and ate a few cookies. He was also drinking some water but still hadn't pooped, so my dad called the vet back to set up a time for her to come out. Shortly before she arrived, AJ finally pooped, and seemed to be a much happier boy.

The vet palpated him to check for an impaction but said everything looked normal. She checked his teeth in case an infected tooth might have been the reason for the slight fever but said everything looked good. His manure was much more solid than normal, so it sounds like perhaps he had a mild case of colic that the Banamine helped with. She said the Banamine will start wearing off around 6pm tonight, so my dad will keep an eye on him until bedtime, but hopefully he's over the hump and all is well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Winter Sucks

This weather really sucks!! For those of you buried under 3 feet of snow, I feel for you, but I'm still going to whine anyway because the weather we've been having here isn't normal! Wet, wet, wet!! Cold, cold, cold!! Here was my house last Saturday:

This should not happen in NC!!
If it isn't snowing, it's raining, and on the few days when I could potentially get out and ride, the arena is far too wet. I decided to snap a picture of it today while I was out visiting the sweetest pony in the world.

Arena = Swamp
I am so over this cold, wintry weather. BE GONE!! It's almost March for crying out loud. Shows start on the 16th and I can't even ride my pony more than once a week. Alex was planning to come on Sunday and play with me and Lilly, but it's raining today and will also be raining tomorrow, so I think the odds of us being able to get in the arena are slim. BOO!!

See, sunny and 65 on Sunday, but surrounded by nothing but rain!!

At least the temperatures are looking a bit better...
Lilly is bored, too. There isn't much to do with her other than groom her, feed her cookies, and give her millions of kisses. If I just go out quickly to check on her, she will walk over to the gate as if she's expecting me to take her out of the pasture. She'll go back and forth to the gate several times before finally giving up.

"Are you here to play with me?"
In other news, she's finally shedding a bit, though, so maybe that's a good sign. I also had the vet out to do Lilly's Coggins and check her teeth. Teeth will need to be done this spring, as expected, but they're not too bad. I was really hoping they wouldn't need to be done because I have become terrified at the thought of sedating her. It just seems like a needless risk, so I might see if I can find someone who will do it a bit more naturally. That way we won't have to use a sedative. The vet also said she was very happy with Lilly's weight and was proud of me for getting her back to a healthy weight so quickly. Enrich 32 + exercise = slimmer pony!

For now, I leave you with "cookie face", just because she's so darn cute, and this face could brighten up the gloomiest day!

COOKIES!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Some Great Rides

Lilly and I have been having some really great rides. Because of the rain and soggy arena they haven't been very consistent, but when we're able to get in there and work, she's been amazing. I was just telling a fellow boarder who was commenting on what a lovely horse I had, that what she was seeing had been a long time coming. It took a lot of work, with a lot of ups and downs, (throw in a few brick walls for good measure) but we were finally making some great progress. It is pure joy for me at the barn these days.

Don't get me wrong, Lilly has always been a pleasure to work with, but riding her hasn't always been fun. We've had a few rough days at some of the shows (which mostly stems from times when she's feeling insecure and herd bound), but when we're working at home, she's a gem. I haven't always had the skills to communicate with her in a way she understands, though, and it was extremely frustrating for me. When I got frustrated, Lilly got frustrated, and we just bumped heads. It wasn't an issue with her, it was an issue with us, and mostly an issue with me. It was even more frustrating because of the kind of relationship we have, and I knew the potential was there for us to be a great team.

We still have many, many things to work on and improve upon, but I'm no longer frustrated with my lack of communication skills, and neither is Lilly. We work together as a team and our relationship has done nothing but grow stronger. And that's something I never thought could happen.

Love her SO much!
Just this morning when I visited Lilly briefly at the barn, I walked out to the gate and saw her grazing in the back corner of her pasture. She looked up at me, but just stared in my direction. I hollered to her, "Hi, Sweet Pea!" She came running from the corner of the pasture to greet me, nickering. One of the other boarders was watching, saying "Awwww! She's so sweet!"

I brought her in, groomed her (she's the only one not shedding yet!), and turned her back out with a handful of hay. She got her usual belly scratch before eating the hay, and I gave her a giant smooch for being such a wonderful part of my life. She absolutely means the world to me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Supplements That Work!

The rain is supposed to come tomorrow, so I wanted to make sure I got in a good ride today with Lilly. We had the arena to ourselves, which is always nice. Lilly and I were able to work on lots of transitions, figure eights, and even some flying lead changes. Since her lope transitions really need work, we did a lot of those from a walk and also during our figure eights. She's really getting the hang of the figure eights, which is somewhat bad, because now she knows I ask for a change in the middle of the eight. Since she's Lilly, she tries to do it on her own without waiting for me to ask. I had to do a lot of circling, and hold off on asking her for the lead change until she was concentrating on the circle. She did really well, and the simple changes are getting better and better... flying changes will be just around the corner, I'm sure!

Love her!
We rode in the mecates again and we went bootless. She seemed extra lazy today as well, but I don't mind one bit. It's really easy to get some extra go from her, and compared to constantly asking her to slow down, I'll take lazy any day!

In other news, I finally have a SmartPak I'm happy with. I swear I changed that sucker at least every two months, but we've got it narrowed down and I think we'll be able to keep this one for a while. It contains U-Gard pellets to help keep her tummy happy, BioFlax 20 for hoof health and to hopefully help her grow some sole, and MSM to help ease any stiffness or soreness she might have from all this work. The MSM is the newest addition, but I feel like it's something she'll really benefit from. The U-Gard pellets seem to be working really well because we've had a pretty clean winter. Normally by this time of year, Lilly's hind end and legs are a mess. This is the first winter I've had her on the U-Gard pellets, and this is the first winter in MANY years that she's had a clean hind end. I can't remember the last time I had to wash her behind! I'm SO confident, in fact, that I'm not even afraid to say so out loud! I've written already about how much her hooves have improved since starting the BioFlax 20, so I definitely want to keep her on that as well. It's nice to know these supplements I spend $60 every month on are actually working and doing something for Lilly. I'm so happy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Consistency

Thanks to the rain storms and freezing cold weather, today is the first time I've been able to ride Lilly in almost a week. The weather was finally perfect, the arena was nice and dry, and I was loving it. Rain is in the forecast again for Friday, though, so it looks like the dry arena will be short lived.

Let me just say how wonderful, amazing, and fabulous it is to finally have a horse that maintains a consistent speed at the jog and lope. We can actually work on things other than slow down... slow down... slow down... I can ask her for a jog and then work on other things like keeping her round, asking her to bend, and keeping her shoulders up. We can do circles, figure eights, and patterns at a nice, slow speed. It's been a long time coming and I'm glad we finally made it!

Precious, sweet, and the best pony ever!
We had some gorgeous lope circles today, but her unassisted transitions really need work. She'll lope off like a well mannered lady, but she pops a wheelie every time I ask for the transition. If I take hold of her, and force her into a pretty transition she'll do it, but if I just ask and leave her to do it as she wants, I get the wheelie. I'm not sure if that's just what she needs to do at this stage in the game, or if she's just being lazy. As many transitions as we've done, you'd think she have the rules down by now, so perhaps I need to switch it up and try something else.

Looking cute with no boots today!
I tried her without the boots since the arena was freshly dragged and she did great! She was tender stepping from the sandy arena to the concrete driveway, but I was able to work her pretty hard in the arena without her taking short steps every few strides. I was very happy about that, since one of my goals with her hooves is to be able to show her without the boots. We might need them to walk around the show grounds, but I'd like to be able to pull them before our classes. I think we're making progress there!

We rode in the mecates with a saddle for the first time and I love them! I love a good pair of split reins, but I feel like I can work her more productively with the mecates. They don't flop around and get stuck under my leg while we're loping and it's really easy to adjust the length when we (she) have a brain fart.

Lilly's boyfriend was in the arena with us today and she was oblivious to him. He, on the other hand, was a "jackass" and his mom said it was because he was showing off for Lilly. Lilly gets blamed for that a lot. They were having a lesson, so I felt bad that we were in there encouraging his mischief, but I just tried to be courteous and stay out of their way. Not much else I can do other than that!

I'm sure you're getting tired of seeing the same kinds of pictures over and over again, but I don't have much to work with. I broke my camera today too, so now it won't auto-focus... that'll make getting different pictures even more difficult, unless I can get it fixed soon!