Hmmm, this one got me thinking… http://justanotherdayoutwest.com/is-horsemanship-creative/
Oh, and the picture has nothing to do with the post. It’s just one I like of Kanak.
just about anything that comes to mind during my day
Hmmm, this one got me thinking… http://justanotherdayoutwest.com/is-horsemanship-creative/
Oh, and the picture has nothing to do with the post. It’s just one I like of Kanak.
A break from writing, a break from riding and maybe sort of a break from reality? Nah. http://justanotherdayoutwest.com/back-from-a-break/
New post today, about the rides I had yesterday. I even got some pictures in. http://justanotherdayoutwest.com/trail-riding/ Enjoy!
It must be just about Spring. Our highs have been in the 60s the last couple of days. I’ve been out doing way more, hence a lack of posts here.
Yesterday everyone (all the horses anyhow) got de-wormed. It must have been due, as I could see the dead worms being passed in the manure today. Yucky. Just, yucky.
Also yesterday, Kanak got to go to the arena where the trainer works. He was kind of an idiot with all the newness. There was a bucket full of tractor parts on the ground between where I unloaded him and where the pens are. He made a huge move as he spooked at it. He dropped way down and went to spin away, until he hit the end of the lead rope. I just looked at him, asked him if he was done, and we moved on. Once he got into his pen there, he settled right down. There was hay and a new girlfriend next door.
Today I stopped by to check on him about noon. Not that I was worried about him, but he is one of my kids. It wasn’t a special trip, I just chose to come home that way after a few errands in town. He was sacked out, oblivious to everything. A few of the other horses were crashed out too, they got up as I was pulling in. Not Kanak. He barely lifted his head. He didn’t even get up when I went to his pen. I think the excitement wore him out. My place can be a little busy at times, but there was a roping going on at the arena when I dropped him off yesterday. I have no idea how long it lasted. I’m sure he was watching the goings on intently. Plus he has all these new friends to meet. Did I mention he’s kind of a cool guy?
Today I got the all three of the yearlings brushed up a little and introduced them to the idea of working in the round pen. I had done a little bit with the colts on this a while ago, but hadn’t gotten much done with the filly. In fact, I still need to teach the filly to tie. She should be pretty easy. Her brother (Jr) got it figured out in about five minutes. Both the colts got some time learning patience. That means they got to stand tied for a while. Lets just say that both of them have a ways to go before they have patience mastered. They know better than to set back and pull, that part they figured out some time ago. There was some rearing and much pawing though. Much pawing.
Horses don’t have the sense of time we have. The older horses seem to figure out that there is such a thing as later, and if they get pulled away from their buddies they will get to see them again later. These babies seemed so relieved when I turned them loose together. I swear the boys were saying to each other: “Oh man, I thought I’d never see you again. Are you all right?” After which they both took a couple of cheap shots at each other, went for a quick romp around the pasture then settled down to munch. Normally, they tear around after each other, trying to bite each other’s face and legs and whatever else they can get at. The filly doesn’t put up with that so much, she’ll usually just leave if they start in on her. The colts were so much more polite to each other and the filly after I turned them all back out in the pasture. Amazing what a little bit of education can do for their level of respect.
Monday, I need to call the vet’s office to make appointments for them to be gelded. Is it wrong that I’m excited for this? The thought of only having one intact male horse around here is so relieving. I’ve even been having thoughts of castrating Jr. Except he is starting to look more grown up and has such a nice hip on him. Hmmm, he still gets a chance. Plus, the guy wants to see what he’s going to turn out to be before making that call.
I have managed to get a couple rides in on Sierra. There is a cow horse clinic I signed up for in May. It occurred to me last weekend that I have about two months to get the both of us in shape for it. My goal is to get her worked four to five times each week. That should allow us to be pretty well prepped for the clinic. I am hoping to get her as far as I know how to in that time, so the help I get at the clinic is new information. Not just reviewing how to get a horse to a point that I know how to do already.
Finally, I’m so excited I’ll have an extra hour of day at the end of my day. You will too. It’s not all mine. I’ll share. Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday at 2:00am. Since I almost forgot all about it, just thought I’d remind you.
I CowgirLiz do hereby declare war on the vermin responsible for digging holes in my riding pen. Be you Ground Squirrels, Prairie Dogs or other varmints your life is now in peril. I did try to give you peaceful warning that your dwellings were not welcome in this particular area by filling said holes in with rocks and dirt. Your persistence in recreating these entrances to your burrows put my horses and my own health and even lives at risk. If you do not retreat from this current territory you will force me to the following acts:
I admit that you are cute and I appreciate watching you scamper into your burrows by the road. For your own sakes, please relocate to a more accommodating area. It may seem that you have found an area that is protected from the coyotes, even if it is with the trade-off of having no ground cover to hide from the hawks. In fact you have traded the coyote predator for an enemy in me. If you do not leave, I will eradicate you.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Today I worked with Sierra again. As I was going through doing my thing with her I was making mental notes of where we are at, where I would like for us to be and what might be getting in our way. So that others might learn from what I have learned I figured I’d share. Get comfy though, this is a lengthy one.
First a bit more background on what has happened with her. Last summer she came down with Pigeon Fever. No it’s not from Pigeons, the name comes from the typical ‘Pigeon Breast’ look that develops as an abscess forms on their chest. Google it, there are some really yummy pictures out there! It is caused by a common bacteria in the soil, Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. Typically they get a ugly lumpy puss filled spot, it breaks open, drains then heals up. Aside from the overall nastiness of draining pints of puss out of a horse, it’s not a big deal. Sierra got weird in her training, then went mildly lame, then her whole belly swelled up with edema, then she got a spot that broke open (on her left side, just behind where the cinch goes), then another and another right next to the original. Then she got some other abscesses that opened up back by her right udder, and another and another. The usual treatment consists of keeping the horse comfortable and letting the infection run it’s course. After a few months (yes months!) of dealing with this and thinking it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t just a normal case of Pigeon Fever, one of the vets I use suggested a course of antibiotics. It’s not a simple five to seven day run of penicillin or Uniprim. This was thirty days of Rifampin and Sulfa drugs twice a day. Cost was roughly $700 and they cut us a great deal. Yes, that was a deal. (BTW – Love these guys!) Sierra was an angel with her treatment. To get the right dosage of each drug she wound up getting three syringe fulls of medicine at each treatment. In other words I was cramming crap down her throat six times a day, for a month. Pretty sure none of it was cherry or peppermint flavored. Personally I would probably have been biting or kicking at the end of the first week. She took it all, very well. Other than not really wanting to be caught, she never argued about getting her meds.
The end of the drug therapy was early in November. She had lost a lot of muscle tone overall. She was particularly atrophied in her left shoulder region. In her lameness she would not extend her left front leg at all, she would bring it to neutral (straight up and down) but not place it out in front of her body. This persisted for so long she apparently lost all tone in her triceps. At one point I wondered if there had been permanent damage to the muscle. Timeline wise, she was off by mid-July, first abscesses broke mid-August, meds ran October into November. Five months of sick horsey. Poor mare. Luckily it didn’t appear to go internal, although that is a complication that can happen, similar to a case of bastard strangles. It was definitely a systemic infection. My guess is the main hangout for it was her axillary lymphocenter, just my guess though. In my brain, it would best explain the persistent lameness. There was also some residual swelling on her left side in her chest and down her pectorals. No heat, and not really edema-ish, more squishy making me think there might be a lymph drainage issue.
The theory is that the drugs and her immune system beat the infection. Although, in typing this all out I just got the weirdest deja vu feeling that I had shared this story and she got sick again. Some altered form of Murphy’s Law, that once you think you are in the clear everything goes wonky again. For now, I’m operating on the idea that the bacteria no longer poses a threat to Sierra’s health.
Figuring that even if the whole infection had been kicked that her body needed lots of recovery and recuperation time she had all of November off. I really didn’t do anything with her until mid-December. Six months off by that time. With her body pretty well beaten up by the infection.
I started her back with light round-penning and some time on the hot-walker. Then started saddling her and continuing the light work. Currently I ride her lightly. Working on going forward willingly, staying soft through her face and sides, and light lateral work. About every other ride I push for a little more, taking her up to the edge of “do I have to”. Hoping to find the balance between progressing and getting soured. Today all we did was walk and trot with a bit of extra attention on soft willing upward transitions. Although I didn’t time the ride, I might have been on her back for all of ten minutes. Including a minute or two of just standing there petting on her after I stepped up on her. She likes to have the backs of her ears scratched.
The goal with her is to earn points and/or money in competition with her and ultimately breed her, maybe someday if the horse market comes back. I would like to get her to the show pen sooner, rather than later to start proving her. Of course I would be much happier and closer to that goal had we not lost six months training and conditioning time. With that in mind, I’m gearing her more to reining than the cow horse events. There’s less to learn. She does have to be fit to show in reining, but not quite the ultra fit that is required in the cow horse. Even in my eagerness to go do something with her we won’t go show until she is ready both in training and conditioning.
Where does the body work come in to it? While she was sick, I didn’t do any massage. Systemic infections + massage = bigger mess. I did try some light touch (CranioSacral Therapy) and energy (Reiki) work with her. The CranioSacral work just didn’t feel right while the infection was still cruising through her body. Even though what I was doing wouldn’t stir up the tissues so much, I got kind of busy signal from her body. Like it was overwhelmed with what it had to deal with and couldn’t process anything else. Ok. Her body seemed to welcome the Reiki work. If nothing else it is usually comforting.
Now, I check her body every day that I work her. I also pay attention to little things. For instance, she acted flinchy if the back cinch was at all loose. Typically I have the back cinch to where there isn’t a big gap between the belly and cinch, but not snug against the belly. She seemed more comfortable if it’s really snug on her belly. Odd. I don’t remember her being that way before. When I got done working her I checked and she had some tight spots in between her ribs. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I checked her CranioSacral Rhythm, it’s solid. She is tender in her muscles, body sore from getting back in shape. To me it’s a good sign that her belly and ribs are where she is sore and not so much in her back. It says we are working the right muscles. If maybe telling me to back off a tad. I am mindful that after a systemic illness of that nature it may be a year until she is fully back to herself. Doubtless there are many instances of scar tissue to work through along with the effects of a long term course of antibiotics. There is probably another three months of conditioning I have to do before she is mostly back to where she was.
Now I find myself using massage techniques and CranioSacral Therapy on her after every ride. To a degree, I’m not even consciously looking for things to work on. I just find myself spending time with my hands at certain places on her body, checking if any changes need to occur.
I’m toying with whether I should set aside one day a week as body work day, or keep going with work after every ride. I’m sure riders and trainers who are not body workers make due with getting their horses help maybe once a week, maybe every other week, once a month… Depending on what they can afford and what schedules allow for. I like the idea of catching things that are not quite right before they become a larger problem for her. For me. Then again, the idea of devoting one of our working days to just making sure her body is feeling good strikes me as a more thorough way to help her. Thinking it out like this, now I’m leaning towards doing both. That should cover all the bases. All I know is I would hate to be bringing her back into shape without my knowledge of body work.
The NRCHA Celebration of Champions starts tomorrow. In looking through the schedule and the draws I realize I have the bug to show. Again. Let me be clearer. For the last few years I could have cared less about showing anything. I thought I was over the going and competing thing. Maybe it was from burn-out, maybe I just had grown past that, maybe I just didn’t care anymore. Whatever it was, it’s not now, showing sounds like fun. It sounds like it did when I was a teen and in my early twenties. Go to a show every weekend if you can. Why? Because! It’s fun! It’s challenging! Right now, deep down, I want to go out and show a horse. I want to win too.
Being as Sierra and I are not in San Angelo, TX at the moment. Even if we were, we would be oh so poorly prepared. I started looking at some other possibilities.
There is a Stock Horse Challenge coming up here the first weekend of March. For the last few years I would be looking for any excuse why not to go. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to make it work. I did ride Sierra today. She felt ok for having six or seven months off from riding. (Once the bubble in her back settled down. She was snorty to start with!) Could I have her ready to show in about five weeks? She felt soft in the face and moved off my legs well. I just need to get her strong and fit, put a lead change on her, see if she can slide and teach her to spin. Oh, one more thing roping and stopping a steer is required. (Along with working it at one end and down the fence.) She can deal with being roped off of. I can throw a rope. Sure I can. I can even twirl it a bit before I chuck it out there. The problem is in catching anything in the loop. And this would be the first time she’d be at a horse show, of any sort.
Right at this moment instead of thinking to myself there is no way I could have her ready, and figure out how I could catch in the second part of the competition so I could get a score. I’m trying to figure out what it will take to get ready. If it’s doable. Not automatically dismissing the possibility. I have to decide in a couple weeks as entries are due February 11. All of this with the idea that I want to win. Part of the deciding factor is if we can be well enough prepared to have a shot at winning. Thinking through what we need to be able to do versus what I know we can do right now, the odds don’t look good. However, I’m giving it a go for a couple weeks to see what kind of progress we can make. Who knows what surprises we can come up with. If this Stock Horse Challenge ends up being a no-go for us, we’ll be that much better prepared for the next option that comes up.
Anyone else itching to go to a horse show and compete?
Wow, this Body Work category I set up is sorely neglected. I figure it’s time I threw out something that focuses on this.
I have no idea how many times I was told to stand up or sit up straight. By my parents, by riding instructors/coaches/4H leaders. I probably heard it when I did dance for that one year. I think even when I was learning to play piano I heard it, something about sitting up straight helped with playing music better.
Going to massage school is what finally helped me to understand what straight actually is. I tell you what, it’s not what my very linear brain thinks straight should be. (For horsey folks, it’s much like the kind of straightness we want with correct bend on a circle.) Who would think you could achieve straightness by having curves. My a-ha came with not only understanding how the curves of the spine are supposed to work together, but being corrected in my own posture for my body mechanics. Who would ever guess that I might have poor posture. (Ha! hahahahaha!)
Most massage therapist who desire longevity to their careers pay attention to their body mechanics. Good body mechanics start with good posture and a properly aligned spine.
What I learned about my own posture is that the way I had stood every time someone told me to stand up straight was to literally try to straighten my spine out. Which actually made it harder for me to be correct with my posture. What I wound up with was a posterior rotation in my pelvis, slumpy shoulders (technical term, can’t you tell) and excess strain through out my back. It’s no wonder I had encountered back problems.
It was halfway through the year of massage school that one of the instructors (thanks Miss Elisa!) got it through my thick skull how to change my posture. She told me to stick my butt out. What? That’s just rude, right? Well kind of, coming from the polite middle class upbringing I did, where those things weren’t much discussed. The better place for my pelvis leans more towards what I call a “ghetto booty” (btw, do not do a google search for images using that term!) as opposed to the “old man/no butt” posture that I tended towards. (Think a bit of Steve Urkel from “Family Matters” if you haven’t seen too many old men.) In more technical terms, I needed to rotate my pelvis more anteriorly.
Quick Anatomy and Physiology lesson. Our spines naturally have curves to them. They are not simply a column of building blocks with one stacked squarely on top of the other. Our neck (cervical vertebrae) have what is called a lordotic curve. When viewed from the side the middle part of the section moves towards the front of the body. Next the upper back or thoracic section of the vertebral column has a kyphotic curve where the middle part of that portion of spine is farther away from the front of the body. The low back (lumbar vertebrae) have a lordotic curve again, the sacrum repeats the kyphotic curve. For the horse geeks out there (like me) that learned a sway back horse has lordosis these are relatively easy to keep straight. Kyphosis is what Quasimodo (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) had. Human spines have to have these curves to function normally. (Note, kyphosis and lordosis are the pathological conditions where the curve is taken to an extreme, impairing (that seems to be the assumption) normal function.)
To continue the A&P lesson, our sacrum is more or less attached to our pelvis at the Ilia (one of the bones that make up each side of your hips.) So, any flexion of the pelvis will drag the sacrum along. Now, the sacrum is one bone made of (usually) five vertebrae that fuse together when we are very, very young. There is not individual articulations (movements) within the sacrum. It does have have movement where it meets up with the last lumbar vertebrae. Back to the connection between the sacrum and pelvis, it is not a solid connection. There are the sacrum meets up with the Ilia at the sacroiliac joint (SI for short) where, as with most joints, things are stabilized with ligaments. There is a small degree of movement at the SI joints, certainly enough for them to be put under strain and even displaced.
Why did I tend to tuck my rear under, putting more strain on my SI joints and my whole lower back musculature? The short answer is who knows. Somehow, things in my head translated “stand-up straight” to literally trying to straighten my spine out. It was also probably tied in to a whacked out body image, not knowing what to do with curves that appeared with puberty and other such things. Might be in part that to “suck it in” to appear thinner I pulled my stomach in and rounded my lower back. Whatever all the reasons, I have a habit of rotating my pelvis and putting undue strain on my body.
Whether my instructor was rude or not in telling me to stick my butt out, it helped. Any time I feel I am working too hard with a massage stroke, I check if I have my butt tucked under or not. It is the key for me. Some folks have to think about bending their knees more, or where they have their feet placed or putting the wrist in a more neutral position… for me those things fall in line once my pelvis is properly oriented to the rest of my body.
An added perk (this is aimed again at my horse-y friends)… when we as riders have good posture it is so much easier for our horses to have good posture.
On Friday I worked Ki and he was a bit naughty. At first he was his usual lazy self, I was happy when he stepped into the lope a few steps after I cued him. I was unhappy though when he felt like he wanted to stop and rear, or get bucky, he alternated between the two. Wha-huh? He hadn’t offered to do anything like this so far. Granted the only thing I could get out of the guy that started him was “he lazy.” There was difficulty in Spanish to English communication there. Anyhow, bucking, or even rearing would take effort. Not something this horse is going to just come up with. At least that is what I thought so far. But, maybe somewhere in the last week he had decided to put effort into not getting worked. So I kept going until I found a sort of good place to end with him for the day and figured we’d tackle it all again the next day.
Saturday he was the first horse I pulled out. I was planning on spending some, ahem, “quality” time with him. If he just needed an attitude adjustment, let me tell you I could dig into my bag of tricks and catch him off-guard. I had all day to deal with him. As I was grooming him I checked his neck and back to be sure nothing was bothering him. Everything there felt solid – no soreness detected. I went to get a different brush out of my tack room and was sort of mentally scratching my head, genuinely wondering what was up with him. As I walked around behind him, I noticed he had a very fine line that started at his coronet band and ran about half-way down his hoof. I looked. I looked again. Really, a quarter crack! On a hind foot! What the fuhhh?
While he was out (away from here) getting started last Spring he had a few less than stellar shoeing jobs. (Anything that is getting worked/ridden at all almost has to have shoes on with all the rocks and hard ground here.) Ki has been back from his adventure as a ranch horse since June. Since then my shoer had been getting his feet back to where they should be, slowly. (It really sucks when someone screws up a horses feet… it can take less than twenty minutes for someone to create something that will take a year or more to fix – be it undoing ideal angles or un-balancing the foot or creating asymmetry anywhere in the hoof.) Something in the process of correcting his feet back to where they need to be caused enough shearing force between the toe and heel to create separation at the inside quarter of his feet. The good news is that it is not a full blown crack – it is not all the way through the hoof wall. The bad news is that it’s there at all. Anyhow, the shoer reset Ki’s hind feet and took some pressure off the inside walls. Immediately the wall of his hooves started to relax, like there was less pressure where the crack was forming. Ki also relaxed a bit. Not that he had been really edgy or very uncomfortable, but he just hadn’t quite seemed settled.
As an aside, (skip this paragraph if you don’t want more about quarter cracks)… I have only ever seen them on the front feet, in horses that either had contracted or sheared heels. I am not a shoer or farrier, so I have no idea how to cause or fix cracks and I certainly haven’t seen that many cases. I have known horses in the past that had problems with cracks – some of them get corrected and never have a problem again, for some of them it is a chronic problem. I’m hoping that this is just a one-time deal with Ki, due to an imbalance in his feet caused by trying to correct a poor shoeing job from eight months or so ago. Even though the cracks Ki has do not go into what is considered the sensitive part of the foot, I feel they still cause pain. That is from past experience dealing with a horse that had quarter cracks on his front feet who would spook, jam his feet into the ground, get mad because it hurt then spook worse. In that case, once his cracks healed up he was the picture of perfect behavior, well not really, but he did quit spooking.
The point of that whole long drawn out story was that I asked a question, then shut-up (mentally, in this case) long enough to “hear” (or see in this case) to actually get an answer. The answer? Hopefully, the crack will turn out to be what was causing Ki to misbehave. Time will tell. Maybe it was not what I wanted to find out. I would have been happier to find an ouchy spot in his back or neck that I could work on with some massage and help it be all better. So I certainly didn’t find the answer I was looking for. That’s the point of listening openly, without an attachment to the answer.
If I had not listened for the slightest answer, instead taking him out for that “quality” time, I may well have created enough stress on the feet to actually have the crack “blow out” – yep kind of like a tire. Where we are now is like when you notice that a tire has a slow leak, you take it to Les Schwab’s, they find the screw, patch the tire and you are good to go. Instead if you go ahead and drive on that tire, you risk a blow-out.
This was just my little lesson over the weekend about shutting up and listening after I ask a question. I have found that the more I do this, the better results I get in everything. Be it my health, massage or body work, horses, finances, romance, whatever. Everything.
Listen. It helps.
Because I promised you yesterday that today I would talk more about colt starting, here goes.
I don’t do it.
I used to.
But I have literally been dumped on my head too many times. Landing on my head once was enough. The other genuine buck-offs just helped with the learning curve.
Only one of these buck-offs was on a baby. He supposedly had 30 days under saddle. I believed them. Stupid me. One step with me on him then all buck – somebody lied. Imagine that.
The worst one, the one that I became a lawn dart – except the lawn in this case was a hard packed arena – was a mare that I had started and was tuning up post-foaling.
The last one was one I had helped start. He spooked, bolted went to bucking and after the third jump I was done. Ouch.
Experiences like these are part of why I made a career change. Something about only getting one body this go ’round.
And, it could all be because I suck at starting colts. The ones I started when I was younger, dumber and packing around fewer scars all seemed to get broke just fine. So I can’t be doing it all wrong. Maybe it’s some fear/awareness of my own mortality/dislike for pain at work.
I am pretty good at playing head games with myself. In the past I could force myself to relax, breathe and not dread the worst. When I was working with Ki last year, before he went to get started, I had him to the point of swinging a leg over. There was no where deep inside me that I could find enough trust in myself that I wouldn’t telegraph all sorts of bad things to him as soon as my butt hit the saddle. So, I didn’t sit on him.
At some point, it would be good to get over it. If I can’t find someone to start Kanak, I may just dink around with him long enough that I do climb up there. He seems to think enough and have enough regard for me that it might happen. Maybe. However, I am hoping there is someone local that will do a good job getting him going for his first thirty rides or so. After that, they don’t bother me. When they have an idea what the right answer is. When they don’t flinch or startle at someone wiggling around on their back. When they don’t jump around because your leg bumped them. Then, then I don’t worry so much.
We all have issues, right?
Here’s some pictures of Jr. (Finally!)
For whatever reason, he is a very light palomino. Genetically there is no way he can be cremello. He is light enough that people think he is. Which gets me pissy, because I find cremellos fugly. Jr has dark skin, every where except under his white markings. So, unless you want to piss me off (not recommended) do not suggest that he is cremello. Really, he might get a complex about it. Not!
But he was dressed accordingly. It’s what happens when you are likely to roll with your saddle on. Your momma dresses you in an ugly saddle pad with the old beater saddle. If he continues to behave, I will start to dress him more stylishly.