Saturday, January 24, 2015

Battle & Breakthrough

First off, THANK YOU to all of you beautiful & majestic unicorns for your tips and suggestions for what I should do with the Lilly situation. I think my POA is to get a blood panel and a fecal test, add beet pulp, and begin blanketing her and see where we can go from there. Thank you all again!

Now, the rest of this post might be lengthy and wordy, BUT I also have plenty of pics [and mostly happy ending]. Terrible quality, video stills, very grainy and mostly blurry, but! I took them myself with my iphone propped on a barrel. #flawless

Prefect angle for photography -_-
So to say my ride yesterday was the worst of my entire 24 year existence is no exaggeration. I realize I said that about Tuesday's ride, but I shit you not, yesterday, I rode a dragon from hell. Fucking hell.

Words cannot express the level of fuckery I experienced with my darling animal, but I will try my best.

For new readers, and others alike, I've had some serious issues this winter regarding Bacard's spooking and rideabilty. I've tried and thought of almost everything that could be wrong or of use in our situation. Everything. Yes, that includes teeth and eye exams, etc. Sans scoping for ulcers, everything. The damndest thing is he was FINE in summer/fall and I didnt change a thing.

So yesterday. I decide to try a fleece girth cover, last minute, to see if that would help. B is SUPER sensitive [makes clipping a real joy] and flinches on almost every inch of his lower body even when being brushed. Don't even think about asking for a change in gait, or lateral work, with more than 3lbs of pressure on his sides. So why not try and see if this makes him more comfortable.

Anyways. He was bad. From the get-go he was snorting and making a fuss. You know, the wound-like-a-rubber-band feeling beneath you?

yes, like this
Yeah, we haz it. All the fucking time. I didnt even ask for anything other than a nice big walk and he was already jumping sideways, snorting, rearing, twisting and dancing underneath me. And I had barely picked up the reins. Tried to ask for lateral work to give his brain something to do...wrong move. Cue explosions. Yes, many. Think chain reaction explosions. Bombs going off, knocking pillars over. Throw in a few MASSIVE crow hops and bucks and a few bolting episodes and you have the recipe for frustration. He was having NONE of it yesterday.

The last few rides, if I distracted him with transitions or lateral work, he would simmer down and only pop a few rears here and there. (Still not acceptable by any means). What broke the camels back was, after 15 minutes of his shit, me just wanting him to WALK in a normal fashion and he refused and just jigged. So I asked for a halt, patted him when he stood for .8 seconds, and the instant my hand touched his neck he reared, twisted, landed, bucked, bolted and crow hopped until the cows came home. I have no idea how I stayed on. I had to one rein stop him for fear of losing my life, but that only made matters worse and it was probably a good 17 crow hops later before he stopped.

This is tame, actually
Like I said. No words describe it. It was awful.

So what did I do?

I cried.

Like a fucking baby.

Bawled my eyes out for at least 8 minutes. No joke.

I was SO done. So frustrated. I've NEVER owned a horse that was so intent on killing me, or himself, and or just being a complete ass for no reason. I've never had a horse shiver at my touch. I've never been afraid to ask for a trot. I've never had to worry about possibly flipping over backwards in the next 4 seconds. NEVER had this much trouble with any animal, ever.

Why couldn't I do this? Why was B so impossible? WHAT was I doing wrong?

And you know what?

Apparently everything.

While I was sobbing, I dropped the reins, hung limp like a sack of potatoes and just sat there. B continued to walk around, but I noticed after a few blurry minutes that he wasnt jigging. Wasn't exploding. Wasn't flying sideways or backwards or upwards.


Then it hit me. I had been going with what I knew because my methods were tried and true with all of the animals I've ridden and horses I've owned. Even the Thoroughbreds. But B isn't every other TB. No no, he's a Sensitive Sally, Prickly Prince.

I should've put it all together.

He was definitely abused. So he's already sensitive to quick movements and heavy hands. He also raced, so his has a mildly stunted brain in the ways of learning. I've done my best to be gentle and kind. But he still always twitches when I girth him up (slowly) and if I use "too heavy" of a leg aid he lets me know. Same with hands. But we managed fine for months. He was perfect. We understood each other.

And then winter arrived.

It got really cold, and I shaved him.

Cue Winter Willies. Which include random spooks. Not a problem in most horses and manageable. But when you have a Prickly Prince, half-halts are apparently fuel for the fire.

An ass thats ready to bolt
A whiel back I surmised that  my half-halts were freaking him out more, so I tried releasing when he spooked and bolted, and then applying steady pressure to get him to stop. When that didn't work and his bolting/rearing got worse, I HAD to use one-rein stops. That only escalated his anxiety.

Basically, I CREATED a monster.

What I can piece together is that his initial spooking was just winter willies. But he could not tolerate the sudden pressure of a half-halt and THAT created anxiety and he spooked/misbehaved more often. Rearing, one way to escape pressure, or fear of pressure, bolting, another. The more he bolted and reared and spooked, the more I would have to half halt to try cease such behavior. In turn, he began to associate the field, me on his back and riding in general as a terrible bad thing. But when you have a sensitive sally, anything is too much & I just never put it together.

So, after feeling terrible for creating this problem, I decided to test a theory.

1lb pressure on the reins, sitting the trot and little tiny baby half halts (or total releases) on inside rein whenever I felt him getting "wound up". By 1lb, I MEAN 1lb. Like, I tried to imagine that the reins were feathers and I would crush them if I gripped or pulled "too hard".

And motherfuck, it worked.

That vest is not flattering

I KNEW he wasn't like most horses and didn't like much pressure anywhere, but I did not correlate ME correcting HIS behavior (as it should be) as the issue.

Is any of this making sense to anyone?

He didn't spook once while I rode him like this. He got a little apprehensive, but when I did not react to it, he relaxed instantly. What the shit Bacardi.

Note the very loose inside rein
I think it will take a few rides of me riding him this way to reassure him that I am not some massive bitch, but I think FINALLY I have figured my horse out.


Gratuitous Levi shot doing dressage

So much more relaxed & willing with loose reins
Not that loose reins are accepted in dressage and we will have to work back up into true contact, but its a plus that I can fully drop the inside rein and ride just on the outside. We will get there.

Tired pony

Also, should probably do more work in the dressage tack, but his shenanigans were getting so ridiculous/dangeours I felt more secure in the jump tack.

One last thing I've been noticing and not putting it together...

Happens after every sweaty ride.

What the fuck.

Is he allergic to his own SWEAT?

What else horse, like come on. Could this be another reason his skin is so sensitive? Allergies?

Anyways, fingers crossed for a *hopefully* relaxed ride tomorrow. Thank you all for hopefully making it through this post.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Old Lady Horse

I still haven't cleaned my tack, did not work out this AM, ride yet & I had cheesecake for breakfast...

Pretending none of that happened, goal achieving starts...NOW. Must. Motivate. Self.

I did paint two paintings last night though and finish all my new-hire paperwork at my fancy new new adult job. Paperwork= cool things like insurance and other neat things so I'm not complaining. I REALLY am becoming a real real adult now with this job.

All of that aside, I come here today to beg ask for help. Because bloggers are the best of helpful friends and I value all opinions and take them for what they're worth...WHICH IS LOTS OF GOLD. You guys are awesome.

You guys probably have seen Lilly Belle pop up form time to time in my blog. Shes this stinkin cute, jet black, QH mare that is boarded here on our farm. And as of Feb 1st, she will belong to the Vollmer Family. Not going into details, but her owner couldn't afford her anymore and my dad loves her so much that we said we would take her. Besides, she's on the older end of things (16) with pretty atrocious lower limbs (sound, just hideous) and a really bitchy streak at times...I didn't think anyone would want to buy her. So, dad and I did it again and collected another horse and pissed The Mom off.

Dad loves her (pictured in August)
I kind of love her too (pictured in July)
Whatever, horses are like chips, yada yada.

However, she's RAPIDLY been dropping weight since about October. She showed up here in late June and was fat, shiny and swoll. Classic QH muscle and a big fat ass. Her owner was paying me to work on her attitude and skills (I will go into that at a later time) so she was getting ridden 3xs week and was on 24/7 turnout. She bleached out in summer, but never sropped an ounce and continued to build a topline and her manners throughout the summer.

He then couldn't afford to pay me to train, so she stopped getting ridden around, you guessed it Oct. He also barely came around, maybe 3xs month, so she was just sittin pretty in the pasture.

In November I started to noticed a steady decrease in her topline (muscle loss) and ribcage (fat) and switched her over to SafeChoice Senior and added CoolCalories into her rations. She also still had full access to pasture and twice daily rations of hay in addition to pasture.

Near the end of November I gave all the horses round bales and 24 hr access to said round bales. They ate like champions, and I usually dole out a round bale every 2-3 weeks per horse. Lilly is known for her food mongering and can kill a round bale in 2 weeks pretty easily, by herself.

Lilly in July
By December, she had a fully wooly coat, seemed happy outside, and was still inhaling hay like it was her job. She still was not gaining weight on Senior/CC so I upped her grain, started adding alfalfa to her rations and hoped that would do the trick. Mind you, she wasn't getting ridden, AT ALL.

And here we are in January and I am DEEPLY concerned for this mare. Through the thick hair I can feel every rib, her backbone, hips and her quarters are sunken in. I'm guessing her body would be about a possible 3 maybe a hard 4 and that makes me want to cry. I am STUFFING her face everyday and she has not gained an ounce, and even seems to be losing. Hay belly does not count when I can feel every single on of her ribs. I stopped with the CoolCalories and tried something else called CocoSoya. I've heard nothing but good things about it, especially with hard keepers, so both the beasts get it in their grain after a lot of research.

Even before we talked about transferring ownership, I refused to let a horse in my care dwindle in body condition. I feel like I've done everything I can and I don't know what else to do.

Lilly this morning. 
I've dealt with Senior horses MANY times in the past and haven't has this much trouble keeping them in healthy condition through the winter. Hell. Shes not even THAT fucking "old". Granted, we had a few weeks of HORRIBLE weather, but really the winter has been mild. I have a few ideas of other options but considering I am literally feeding her everything I can, I don't know what else to do in the way of food.

Here's where bullet points help.

  • Blanket her. I tried letting her have her thick coat and just "be a horse" but perhaps its time to blanket the mare. I'm worried she will overheat, so maybe clipping her chest and neck will give her a vent. I'm wondering if she's expending all her calories on staying warm, even though she has a huge furry coat.
  • Ride her. Worried riding will expend even more calories, but I know that with OTTBs they gain weight the more you ride. Especially muscle. I've never had issues with any QH being underweight, but they were also in moderate work. Lilly has been just sitting around eating and pooping.
  • Change feed again. I am a HUGE proponent of label reading and did not make the switch to Senior lightly. But perhaps she needs what Bacardi is eating, because he is a slick, fat, happy horse RN.
  • Stable her at night. Since she's been on the property, she's mostly been on 24/7 turnout. Only time I've ever brought her inside was for inclement weather and I mean like, tornadic events or freezing rain/crazy winds. Otherwise she PREFERS to be outside. She really doesn't like a stall. (Neither of my current horses do actually)
I'm really at a loss here. Shes UTD on shots, teeth and deworming. I've exhausted all my brain thinking and need to recruit other brains.

Am I worrying too much? Is she just "old" and having a hard time and will bounce back in spring with grass and more riding? Or do you have any suggestions on what else to do?


Uhhh dorable

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blog Hop: Fitness

What better way to continue on the new year goal train than to hop on with the rest of my blogging friends! Herro Blog Hop! Theres no better way, actually. Its the best way.

I would like to say however, that I have yet to clean my tack...but thats irrelevant-ish here (THANK YOU for all the WDW responses by the way! So helpful!)

Tracy from Fly On Over was the origin, to my understanding, but I've also read many other posts and felt the urge to join in.

Because accountability.

And since I'm still sore from riding my beast on Tuesday, its safe to say I have fallen off the exercise wagon. HARD.

No one is this happy to work out
Granted, Bacardi was LITERALLY the worst animal in existence on Tuesday, and I am not fucking exaggerating, but I haven't been sore in YEARS from riding. So that was a wake up call.

A picture of us
Could be the twisting, explosions, bucking and rearing fits that had me hanging on for dear, sweet life (thighs of steel yo), but still, sore? From riding? Please.

A couple of posts ago I had admitted that I am the absolute worst at sticking with goals or being motivated. The actual worst. And that is especially true for the gym. No matter how hard I picture an insanely hot, toned bikini body, it cant make me get up at 5AM for more than a few months. No matter how much I know that extra plate will go straight to my ass will prevent me from stuffing my face like a true American glutton. Its a real problem.

There for a while when I began my real person job, I joined a Crossfit gym and woke up regularly at 5am to gym before work. CF was a very love/hate type of relationship. I actually grew to like the cult gym and the CF workouts & learned all "CF talk", even though I wanted to die while doing them. Like I actually prayed my heart would explode so I wouldn't have to be shamed into finishing a WOD. Dont get me started on the PR talks and protein drink obsessions those people have. But seriously, CF was a great kick in the ass and I lost like 9 lbs and got ripped and really strong. And then the holidays came and I stopped going and kept eating because I am a fat fat fatty.

Nothing made me do work like CF though. Nothing. I hated it every fucking second, but the coaches made me do shit and I got shit done. It was an hour of hell, but so worth it. I would really like to go back, actually, because I apparently like to be tortured... but I know getting back into shape is just so painful and I dont wanna *pouty face*. But I also know that I will not make myself do anything at a regular gym. I need my ass kicked.

Luckily, thanks to good genes and a generally good diet, I can get away with sedentary lifestyle in winter. Barely. I definitely am getting some grandma flapper arms and a little more booty in the back.

I say "generally" good diet because on the weekdays I eat so clean its sad. Like, it actually hurts my soul. And I've eaten more plain chicken and veggies than I care to ever eat again. BUT, it is extremely good for you and since my mom is like, the healthiest person alive (not even joking) the worst food we have in the house is canned soup. I was raised on no soda, so I hate it, and barely any bread, cereal, chips or anything bad really ( I DO love carbs though). So 5 days a week I eat really great (a plus when living with the rents) but when The Boy and I get together its a total shitfest. Pizza, burgers, fries and Taco Bell. MMMMMM GET IN ME. Its terrible. We always say "we need to stop eating out", because a) expensive and b) terrible but we cant stop.

Its time.

Riding has usually kept me in pretty good shape, but since its winter and I'm not doing much of that....

My "fitness and health" goals for Feb:
1) Nix alcohol (a thing The Boy and I are trying)
2) Only 2 "eat-out" meals on weekends, the rest need to be groceries. Out of 6 meal possibilities, 2 isn't terrible. Plus I really like pizza, Okay?
3) CF or gym 3x's week MIN. And actually do something at said gym if its not CF. (this will be the hardest)
4) Ride 3x's a week at least, beneficial for everyone

PS I made some changes to my blog again because I have background ADD, let me know if something isnt working. I don't think the mobile app is connected right/ working because its all black on my app. Hopefully its working for y'all

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Do Wednesday: Tack Edition

As we all are well aware, there is not much to do in winter in the ways of riding unless you live in the south (I hate you bitches!). If you're like me, you become a giant slug that doesn't get anything started because why bother.

I decided to put an end to all that because no one likes slugs, especially unproductive ones. So going along with the "New Year" motivation garbage, I made some mini goals for my winter equestrian endeavors, sans riding.

Like making blanket hooks. Check. Clean chicken coop. Check. Organize back half of barn. Check. Organizing feed bins and labeling properly/updating feed list. Check.

And cleaning tack.

And then I remembered its winter and everything is frozen, including my saddle soaps.

So whilst they're defrosting in my house into a useable consistency I figured I would bang out a post about tack cleaning.

My mind tends to wander endlessly when there are no distractions and so I began to think about my love/hate relationship with cleaning tack.

I rarely do it for one. I am a seriously bad tack whore. I think it stems form the fact that growing up I owned worthless pieces of leather that no amount of cleaning could glamify and no amount of drowning in conditioner could soften. So I just didn't do it.

Enter Pony Club.

We ALL know how that goes. You're basically considered useless if there's a speck of dirt anywhere on you, your tack or your horse. Practically impossible to succeed at any of that and only solidifying that tack cleaning was worthless and futile.

After PC, I continued to not care. I also still owned nothing of worth. Almost all my shit was pleather, including my saddle, so I just hosed it off when it got sweaty. None given.

I think my parents were trying to teach me something by not just giving me everything I wanted, like shiny, soft, pliable, nice leather goods, even though they could easily afford it (thank you rents).... but teenage me hated it.

Then, I tuned 16, my mother was deployed, and she gifted me a drool worthy dressage bridle from GER as apologies for missing such a monumental b-day.

Yankee modeling fancy bridle like a Sir (bridle is 8 yrs old in this pic)
This changed my tack cleaning ways forever. Kind of.

Once I started making my own money and buying nicer pieces of tack, I also took better tried taking better care of it because HOLY GOD was it expensive.

FFW through college and into present day, I now own all mediocre brand, real leather, second hand tack that I love to death but also take TERRIBLE care of. I am the worst.

I don't know why its so hard for me to clean my fucking tack but it is. I put it off. And off and off and off. I HATE sticky fingers and more than normal dirty nails. I despise having to change clothes just to clean tack.  I hate the mess. I hate nasty tack sponges. I hate tack hooks. I hate scrubbing bits. It requires so much effort ...and its just a PITA.

Jesus, what first world problems.

But seriously, my main issue has always been finding a product thats easy to use and does the job. WHAT in the hell do you use? What is best? WHY? WHO KNOWS THESE ANSWERS?!

In college I had a BO who made us clean our tack after every use. She had reallllllly nice leather cleaner from GER, but I could never afford that shit so I just used Leather New. Doesn't do a very good job.

Then I moved barns and it was the dustiest place on earth and cleaning tack was basically pointlesss. So I rarely did.

I dabbled with Horseman's OneStep for a while when I did my semi-annual cleanings, and found I like that best for quick wipe downs but nothing gets tack shinier and cleaner than regular tack soap and water. But then, for crying out loud, you have to condition it too. MANY PRODUCTS. HOW DO. So I just get stuff from TSC and call it a day.

My main WD question is what brand of tack cleaner do you use? AND how often do you clean yours? (And how do you make yourself do it)
Since I haven't cleaned anything of mine since, oh, September, don't feel embarrassed if its equally as shameful. Spill it!! What do?

Feed me your secrets.