Yesterday started out VERY early. I got up at 0400 to check my youngests blood sugar(remember his is diabetic) and couldn't fall back asleep. I had the alarm set for 0515. I didn't know what was worse the excitement for showing or only kowing I had 1hr and 15 min til I had to get up. I layed in bed for about 40 minutes tossing and turning and then decided that it was a lost cause. After getting dressed, sluggishly, I headed out to pull the trailer up to the top of the hill. My drive is so steep it is hard on the BigRedHorse and truck to pull it up, so I park it at the top and then load. As soon as I stepped outside I turned right back around to go back in to get another jacket, that's right ANOTHER. It was FREEZING. All week we have had temps in the upper 60's and lower 70's. This morning a whopping 30*. How did I get so lucky? (note sarcasm) I am soooo glad I put Olly's blanket on him the night before. I walked out to get Olly from the paddock and I think I woke him. He usually neighs when he hears me coming, but this morning he didn't until I was right at the gate. Even Yogurt was suprised to see me. Everything was already loaded so Olly was the missing link. I thought I may have a bit of an issue trying to load him into a dark trailer so I grabbed my flashlight. Pfffft! He walked right in.
It was 30*!!!
Yes, I was driving. Get over it.
I got in the truck that was so warm and toasty, I almost felt guilty for Olly, and started adding the address to my GPS. Since the barn is on a private lane it wasn't listed...oh, well. I was pretty sure how to get there. I rolled into Hunter Lane at 0655. Schooling started at 0700. Just in time :)
By this ime I had on 2 shirts and 2 sweatshirts, oh, and don't forget the gloves and hat.
We saddled up and tried to stay warm. At the begining of the schooling my instructor said Olly looked a bit stiff. All of his sheath swelling was gone, but I couldn't help but think that it was apart of it. We went over a few 2ft jumps but he just seemed like he was struggling. Now I know that 2ft isn't much of a jump. I mean, we jump higher than that on a normal day, but it made me concerned. Terri suggested to enter in the lowest height. I struggled with my own wants and eventually gave in. This is for Olly, too, remember? I went and changed all my classes.
Casey and Nevaeh, getting ready.
The arena was a mud slick from the previous day's rain. Olly didn't care much. Alot of the other horses were over jumping and chipping due to the puddles. Olly plowed right through. Water isn't a big deal, except for the snake filled creek. We finished schooling over the 18 inch jumps. He loosened up, but was far from focused. He was speedy and at times choppy. We trotted around the arena about 10 times in each direction to get all the stupid out. It worked by the time we were finished he was more relaxed.
The classes are set in divisions. They are three classes. You get individual points for each class and then get a total score for all three. At the end of the year who ever had the most points is the best, I guess....
First class, Novice Equatation 18" over fences. There are two classes like this. Basically it is the same pattern just backwards, for reasons of leads, I am sure. the third, under saddle. I really don't care about the under saddle part, but they accumulate the points for all three, so I do have to care a little.
My hair fell...
Walking or trying...note the tail swish.
The first jumping class, we blew the lead because I lost my sturrip before I even hit the first fence. In the video you can kinda see my left leg slip forward on the way to the fence. after the second fence I had to make a right turn, since I was unbalanced I didn't get the lead. Too much trying to get my sturrip back. I ride with out sturrips all the time, I shouldn't have worried so much about it and just did what I knew I had to do. It is a different story when the judge is watching though. Stupid things get flowing in my head. I made it over all four fences with out my sturrip and picked it up as soon as I landed, go figure. Oh well, the next class will be better.
Second class, he got all his leads and was a bit more balanced and calm. Good Boy!!!! Oh and I have to comment on the video clip. I got home and downloaded the video from my camera. While watching and listening I heard someone in the back ground mention Olly and I, while I was jumping. I am not sure what they said, but I thank Casey for about ripping them a new ass. I even made a comment on the video, so make sure you have the sound up.
Here is the video.
The flat class was ok, all of you that know Olly and I KNOW we are not hunter-esk. It is amazing that he even canters at a non-lapping pace. We did place though, so I am not complaining.
We chilled until after lunch and the got ready for our next set of classes.
This year they had a class that was called "Long Sturrip." Perfect! My being 'older' and Olly being inexperienced, it worked out great. Again, two jumping one flat. I didn't get a video of the jumping, but I did for the flat. Now you will see what I mean about not being a hunter. We ended up getting third which I was soooooo proud of!!!! Good Boy!!!
In BOTH divisions we got enough accumulated points to be Reserve Champion! Are you kidding me!!! How awesome is my BigRedHorse??!! The next show is April 18th. I am not sure if I am going yet because I have a Lucinda Green (w00t!!) clinic I am attending on the Tuesday before. But whatever show I go to next we are going to do the 2ft. I think he will be fine. I am also going to set up a few jumps in a course like pattern to practive getting leads. We usually don't have problems with leads, but the first class is still haning on.
I know there is no third, some how my "ribbon handler" mixed them up AND my kids 'misplaced' a second.
Just a short update for any of you that are following. Last night when I went out to check Olly's sheath, it seemed to be decreasing in size. Part of me wondered if it was me just being hopeful or if it really was. I talked to Kristen at Sweet Horses Breath told me that her horse Laz had an inflammed sheath and ended up having stomach ulcers. it scared me. The vet wasn't able to come out til next week. I decided to skip the bute.
You will be happy to know that this morning it wasn't just being hopeful. Olly's sheath has significantly decreased in size. It is still inflammed but tons better. I still have him on regulated hay intake and exercise and I do regular "tick checks." i am not sure if any of these things were the cause or even contributed, but he is getting better for the most part. His attitude is still the wonderful little puppy it has always been.
As for tomorrow?? We are going. I have entered into 6 classes. 4 jumping and 2 flat. There WILL be pictures to come. Today I have my hands full not only preparing for the show, but preparing my house for a full day of 3 unattended children and my hubby. Now one would say well your hubby is there....ummmm yes, he will. I forsee junk food and tv. My boys will have a blast vegging out with dad.
This is what I have to work with
Bath, banding and keeping my I-love-to-roll-in-mud horse clean....good thing I have his rain sheet, sleezy and wraps ;)
So as I stated in my last blog Olly is having some "boy parts" issues. I went out yesterday morning to find that the swelling in his sheath was a bit increased. I broke out the bute and the hose. I pulled him from his paddock and put him in the back yard. I know it sounds hillbilly, but I didn't want to stall him, he gets stocked up easily and I wanted his close so I could monitor him. Don't judge ;).
Ummmm, Mom? Can I come in???
I made my house cleaning duties near the windows. He, yet again today, didn't act like anything was wrong. Still was eating and munching away at the grass and wanting the attention that he always does. Baffling to me. At around noon I happened to look out the window and notice that he "dropped" to pee. Woooo! What a load off. See the main concern I had was that it was swollen enough to block him from peeing. I did some recon and come to the conclusion that the "passage" isn't swollen just the outside tissue. Again, that didn't really make sense. His sheath wasn't hot, but it was horsey temp and it didn't seem tender. Now let me tell you a bit about the BigRedHorse. He HATES his sheath touched. It is a job just to clean it. He hops and stomps and throws a hissy fit. Same yesterday and today. I don't think that it is painful because he is displaying the "normal" Olly don't-touch-my-sheath-signs.
also, when I was cold hosing he didn't seem to mind the water pouring over his sheath. I don't think it is as tender as it looks.
I contined to monitor him all day. When it came time to cold hose him in the evening I asked him to trot around the paddock, I didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
So, the plan is:
-Limit hay intake. I have closed off the paddock with the round bale and he is allowed 3 hours to eat and the rest of the time is whatever grass he can get in the non-hay paddock.
-Cold hose twice daily for 15 minutes
-Small doses of bute morning and night
-Exercise...walking, trotting and some short cantering
-Show....I think I am still going. We are only jumping 2 ft. Tuesday when we jumped he didn't show any signs of pain while jumping. IF he developes any painful symptoms I will stop all riding activity.
This morning when I got up I checked what the weather was suppose to be. Thunderstorms again pffffft. Yesterday it was suppose to thunderstorm and all we got was a sprinkle in the late afternoon.What a joke. So I figured they would carry the weather over to today. 97% chance of thunderstorms, no specific time. I waited until noon. I looked out side and this is what I see.....
Uhhh-huhhhh. I grabbed my saddle and was out the door. I wanted to do a few new jumps before the show. I kept them low and we did them only a few times. Just as a last ditch attempt.
After hitting the jumps a few times we went out for a hack. I had to find a new place to ride since Saturday I got yelled at by a guy that was probably half my age learning to be a farmer because I was riding in a field that looked like it was growing grass. Now, I have been paying close attention to the farmers fields because I am deathly afraid to ride in their crops. Well, I guess they all learned from the Dust Bowl decades ago, because they no longer till the soil. Missed that one. So the "grass" I saw...yeah that was actually rye. Oops! Here is the catch though, I was riding in the non-growing area. I know that sounds silly, but I really am cautious of where I ride. I never ride on land unless I ask permission first and not in crops for sure. Let me show you....
I know it looks like in the video we are heading right for the rye, but I assure you we did stop and move to the side of the road. Anyway....
So, we went back on the trail under the powerlines. I just know one day I will glow from all the powerline riding.
We crossed the snake filled creek,
At the bottom is the creek, I know it is so small the picture doesn't even recognize it...sad.
and as we were heading to our ususal trail, I saw a road that the hunters use. I have been down there before and thought I think this comes out to the road. Let's try it. Just about this time my camera battery died. GREAT! *note sarcasm* As we are walking down this lane I see a HUGE rut from the trucks and it is filled with water. Hmmmm...this would be good xc stuff. Note to self, on the way back canter through! We walked through to make sure it was safe to canter on the way back. We went down the trail and to the road. There wan't much room on the shoulder but we kept our eyes on the look out and used the space wisely. We crossed a bridge which had NO shoulder, and suprisingly Olly kept his cool the entire time. Sometimes if there is a big truck that whizzes by he shudders a bit, but not today. Good Boy!! We went roughly 2 miles before we turned around and headed back. Remember the huge puddle? I did! We started out trotting down the lane and as we rounded the corner I asked for a canter. PIE! He cantered right through without a hiccup.
Now, you would think that I would be geting used to Olly doing the "right" thing. I really do make a big deal of him doing what he is just suppose to do. Why?? Because his self-esteem is the size of an acorn. Honestly, it took A YEAR for us to do these things. A YEAR! I love my boy, but I am ready for a struggle when it comes to new things. I guess that is something I need to get over.
We headed back to the house for some sugar cubes and a good currying. Before tacking and after untacking Olly I always curry and then brush him. As I was brushing, I noticed that his sheath was inflammed. !!!!!!!!! WTF? I didn't notice it BEFORE the ride. How could that happen? Did I just miss it? Seriously? Either way it was there now and I had to address it. As a veterinary technician I instantly had a slew of questions pop into my brain.
Is is painful? Did it seem to affect his ride? Fever? Was he eating? What could have caused it? How do I treat it? On, and on, and on! No, I didn't notice any change in his riding, it definatly was inflammed, but it didn't seem to be warm to the touch, or warmer than normal horsey temp. And he didn't seem bothered by it. He generally doesn't like me to clean his sheath and puts a fuss when I do. Same this time as I checked around. Nothing unusual. I ran inside to do a bit of recon on the computer.
I grabbed a bucket of water to make a compress. Now I have never come across this problem. My first reaction was to call the vet, but seeing that it didn't seem to bother him, I took a breath and tried to remember what has changed that could cause this.
Hay-I recently got a round bale instead of feeding square bales. He now has 24/7 access to hay. Increased protien can cause swelling, since it is the lowest hanging area, fluids tend to gather there.
Ticks-I found 5 ticks in that "region" that I had to pluck off. Ewwwwwwww! I know that Lymes and Ehrlichia is prominant here, so I hope that we don't see anymore signs of that.
Exercise-He gets plenty of exercise, but I hadn' ridden in the past 2 days and he was standing eating himself into a hay belly.
Wouldn't ya know that those are 3 out of the top 5 problems associated with sheath swelling. The other two? Cancer and dermatitis. I did take his temp, normal, so I kinda ruled out the dermatitis for now. And I didn't see any funky looking lumps or bumps to indicate a cancerous yuck.
My main concern after finding out that he wasn't in pain was peeing. I am totally busy and hardly ever see him pee. While I was "checking" the area I made sure that the inflammation wasn't so bad that he couldn't drop and go pee. The swelling seemed to be just on the outside. It didn't appear to affect the inside. Gross, I know, but a mom has to do what a mom has to do. I debated on giving him bute. I have mixed feelings about it. I held off and am waiting to see what tomorrow holds.
I did pay more attention to his behavior while I was in the house. I can see his paddocks out of 5 of the windows. He seemed totally content with the Chincoteague by his side. Munching away at the grass and hay and defending his paddock from the goaty-goat. He doesn't like her in his space.
This weekend is the Hunter-Jumper show. I feel that Olly is in good enough shape to show. If something changes I will totally pull him out. I am keeping an eye on his nether-regions.
Yesterday I talked husband into making me a real coop. I know you have seen pics of my little 2'2" (I know, I know, I measured 2'3" but I forgot the "slanting" part). It is extremely narrow, for our level, and Olly sometimes ducks it. Not a good habit to start. So after like 3 weeks of badgering and me starting the project, he wandered out to the garage and took over. See husband is a GREAT maker of things. Jumps, chicken coops you name it and he can do it. He often tells me that I have too high expectations of his talents, but he always ends up making what I need and it always turns out pretty well. The coop was no exception. I had asked him to make it out of vinyl siding instead of plywood for more than one reason. 1) we have extra vinyl siding 2) it was cheaper than buying plywood and 3) if I fall on a hollow vinyl sided jump it will hurt WAY less than falling onto a sturdy plywood jump. The coop is 2'6" high (measured correctly this time), 2ft at the base and about 7ft wide. Why 7 ft? I am a firm believer of use what ya got. I had a 7ft plank and didn't want to cut or buy another one, so, 7ft wide.
He helped me load it in the truck and put it in my "arena." It looked awesome out there. By the time we were done making the stinking thing it was almost dark so I couldn't even try it. DRATS!
So today after our boat ride in the 75* weather I went out and was ready for what ever Olly was up for. I hadn't ridden him yesterday so he was well rested.
Travis enjoying the boat ride
I have been bouncing around in the bit department and haven't found a happy medium. I have gone from a loose ring french link to a kimberwicke and to no avail he wither runs through it or drops his head so low it is hard to sit up straight. Here is a little history: Loose ring french link: this is what I used with Olly when I first bought him. It is great for any type of dressage that we are doing, but if we are in an open field forget it. He tucks his head to his chest and wants to run. Kimberwicke: He doesn't like this bit. I know it is a mild bit compared to some, but he acts like it is a corkscrew. I have great brakes, but he carries his head very low and doesn't like to open his mouth to take it. Boucher french link: I tried the boucher for the poll pressure. I got a worse result than with the loose ring. No brakes what-so-ever and he kept dropping his shoulder. Still not sure why about that. Bitless: you all saw the video on that one....enough said. 3Ring Elevator Mullen Happy Mouth: I LOVE this bit!! And Olly seems to also! WIN!!!!!I know that this bit can be harsh. I actually got it on sale (my speciality) online and thought for $7 who cares if it doesn't work, it was only $7. I started out with the reins on the middle ring. this is our new jumping bit. I have great brakes and he carries his head wonderfully. He actually opens his mouth and is still very light but not in the ouch that hurts sense. The only down side...I can't show in it!!!!!!! The level that we are at (Hunter Jumper) doesn't allow it. Pfffffffft on them!!!! I am going to try a french link D-ring in warm up over a few jumps next weekend, if that is a no-go I will have to use the kimberwicke. :( Now I am still very light with my hands. He has a very sensitive mouth, even with the loose ring I was careful to not pull and saw just to get him to stop. When I say I didn't have brakes, I meant that he didn't stop like he should. Olly has never run away with me.
In the video of our coop today, we used the elevator. His speed is more regulated and smooth, if you ask me.
Since I have gone through my bit troubles, on to the jumping!
I head down the lane and wait patiently to see his reaction. When ever I set out a new jump his sees it and it immediately on guard. He has to go smell it and check it out.
After our "inspection" of the coop, we warm up. I was a bit nervous. EVERY jump(other than a plain wood colored vertical) that we attempt that is NEW he first refuses, runs-out or just knocks it down. Today...well you will have to watch
I can't explain to you how happy I was. I am sure that you can hear it in my voice in the video. He did great! I have been waiting for a YEAR to have him jump something, anything just knowing that he jumped it because I sent him towards it. I am a PROUD mama!!! This is what we have worked for. Since he jumped the coop no question, we took it a few more times and then went on a short hack. While we were walking down the lane the Pony Vision kicked in when a Gator drove by.
On the last note of today's blog, I wrote last time about my boots not fitting. A kind soul, Sunshower at Lans End Stable, commented about how every tall boot is "too" tall when they are new. I feel like a ra-tard. It should have crossed my mind that they haven't been broke in from the heels. I even commented in the blog that my heels would never stay down if I didn't. Even non-blonds have their moments. So thank you Sunshower for giving me hope that they will work out. They are getting better. I have been wearting them everytime I ride and I can feel a teeny-tiny bit of relief everytime. Today while riding I left them zipped tothe top and buttoned and they weren't that uncomfortable.
The past few days the rain has been drenching. The ground is so soft that I really didn't want to jump that much. Do I donnedon my dressage saddle and loose-ring french link and went for it. A few days ago I attempted a half-pass....not bad for the first time but not good either. So today I broke out the whip. I have never ridden him with a whip, I actually had to buy one for the Lucinda Green clinic I am going to in April, I also had to buy spurs...the two things you would never think my horse would need. I also have been riding in my tall boots. My mom got them for me for Christams and I thought I better start breaking them in now, because when it comes show time, those heels are gonna be level if I don't.
I haven't quite figured out how to fix this problem though.....
I ordered a 9W tall boot, well it is too tall. I mean i am 5'8", how can a boot be too tall? In order to ride or even get on I have to unzip the back. I am pretty sure that the judge will not approve. I thougt about tayloring them, but they were only $120. Not the best, but I only show like 10 times in a year and hat is if I am lucky. I can't quite rationalize $300 to Husband yet. Any ideas???
So without further ado...HERE is the half pass...second attempt.
He was tired from all that bending. "Why can't I just haul ass mom?"
Monday Olly and I went on a long 8 mile hack. It started out with just a few trotting and cantering sets, but then we changed direction and headed for the boat launch. This will be our swimming hole when the weather becomes nice-er. I know he isn't fond of puddles and doesn't mind the beach (in Hawaii that is) but I wan't sure about here. No big deal, he walked right in. I can't wait til we can go swimming. Even better this summer my sis is coming to visit. I can't wait to go riding with her. I am going to take her with the Chincoteague (Miss Kiki) to the Piankatank (that is the local river that leads to the Chessi Bay). I am hoping she can stay for the summer so we can ride together and maybe even get her jumping ;) Anyway, back to the point...After our 8 mile ride we went back to the house and got a good currying to get some of that winter coat off. Yesterday, I gave him the day off. My oldest son was home from his asthma and I had a 32 essay question paper due. So I basically sat at the computer all day doing school work. Yeah Nursing!!!
Today I couldn't help but go out and ride. It was like 70*. In addition to the wonderful day, it was husbands birthday and he got the day off. So we spent the first half of the day together. The second half was for the BigRedHorse. i went through my Jumping Exercises 101 book and found a simple yet educating line for us to do. Ground pole-oxer-Ground pole. Slow and steady was the key. I made the oxer ony 2ft since we weren't working on height. After steadily wrking on 2'3" and 2'6" a 2ft oxer seems so easy for him. GOOD!!! I have been waiting for that day. After setting the jump up, I got on and the first time through he just petered out...I think he would have totally gone over, I dont think it was a "refusal" per say...I think it was an impulsion issue that I should have fixed before heading towards the jump.
Yesterday when I got up I got a cup of coffee and sat down at the computer. Somehow I ened up on Youtube watching Lucinda Green clinics recorded by students. i was so inspired I started looking around in my yard for things I could put out in my "arena" to jump. I got a couple ideas.
Today I got some of my homework done and headed out to make my jump thoughts a jump course. I found a few more cement blocks, a piece of siding that looks like a wall, and a log seat that was rotting in the front yard so I decided to take that for a log skinny. It was great, it looks like a course, a somewhat real one. Anyway, after setting them all up and getting yelled at for driving on someones grass, whatever, I went back to the house to get my trusty steed.
I set up a fan jump, inspired by the Lucinda video, at 2'6" and then a vertical at 2'9". I also had barrels, a small coop and my log jump. The log jump was only like 2ft. We warmed up (in the kimberwike today) at a trot and a figure 8 canter, with flying lead changes. He got everyone too :) Then we went over the log jump, he never ducked or paused, he just went over. Sweeeeet! I think my riding has helped alot. He was more forward and never thought once of refusing and his speed was a bit more steady. I mean, he was still pretty fast, or faster than i would have liked, but it was steady fast. i thik the kimberwicke helped too. It went great, we only jumped for about 15 minutes (with pauses in between for recovery). At the end of our ride I thought well he jumped that 2'9" with ease, so what about 3'? My curiousity got the best of me. I walked over to the
standards and raised the vertical. HERE is the video.
After our last jump I dismounted, completely high from the 3ft perfection, and loosened the saddle and walked home on foot. He totally deserved it. Back at the house I grabbed the hose and all the bath fixin's. I have been waiting for bath day for a few months now. Olly enjoys bath time, I think when he saw me grab the hose he thought "ummmm, mom? Are you sure it is warm enough???" He bit his toungh and enjoyed the currying that followed.
Here are some pics from his bath...
He LOVES to drink out of the hose, he will go to great lengths to get it...
Husband stealing my water hose....for the boat.
Nothin' better than a clean tail.
His tail touches the ground. Now you know why I have the tail bag.
For those of you who don't understand see this blog.
My unicorn....hehe. Doesn't he look amused?
This is a short video of Olly after his bath. Benni seems to think he is bigger than Olly.