Monday, December 28, 2009

Trail Riding Fun & Supplements Question

So I took Miss Greta on her very first BIG trail ride with me yesterday. And I got video, of course. Just a note: the part where we walking on a paved road, the road's closed due to construction and since it was a Sunday, no workers were present. Just our luck! I love where she's slurping from the creek that runs through the stables at the end!

Now, a question for y'all: I've been looking around for a supplement with Selenium and Antioxidants in them, to help with Greta building muscle (along with the extra roughage and grain with an ample amount of fat). I found SmartPak's SmartE & Se Pellets that looked good. Does anyone else know of a similar supplement that they have tried and it works well, possibly cheaper? SmartPak's is about $0.64 a day for their 3.7 lb/112 day supply bucket. She wouldn't be getting them in SmartPaks, because she already gets Black Oil Sunflower seeds for hoof and coat (it's birdseed but it works great, cheaper, but don't some in SmartPaks!) and raspberry leaves to even her out (also cheaper than some of the other calming supplements I've seen out there, Mare Magic comes in SmartPaks, but I've found the bulk package of raspberry leaves on Amazon far cheaper, also works GREAT!)

I also found two others, and these are the comparisons:

E-Se-Mag: $.042/day - 1,000 I.U. Vitamin E - 2 mg Selenium - 3,000 mg Magnesium (Curious, how does Magnesium help?)

Finish Line Vitamin E & Selenium: $0.62/day - 1,250 I.U. Vitamin E - 1 mg Selenium - no Magnesium

SmartE & Se Pellets: $0.64/day - NASC Seal (what's NASC?) - 1,250 I.U. Vitamin E - < 1 mg Selenium - no Magnesium

So... what do you guys think? I've always heard pretty good reviews about SmartPak supplements, but that E-Se-Mag looks good, too. Oh, Greta, the things I do for you :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Belated Christmas!!!

So we didn't go trail riding Thursday. A cold front was coming in and the wind was so bad you would've thought a hurricane was coming. Not safe weather to ride in, we all agreed.

Yesterday was mostly spent at home, save for the hour I went out with Miss Greta to wish her Merry Christmas. She downed the pound of carrots I got her in maybe five minutes. I love her.

Lastly, MERRY BELATED CHRISTMAS!!! Now, allow to me to get up on my soap box:

Sure, the presents are wonderful and all, but let us pause to remember the true reason of the season: it is not just about the physical gifts that are wrapped up in pretty paper and pretty ribbons, but the gifts of having family, friends, lovers, and in our cases, our horses! They all give us so many gifts that we may not even realize at the time, but they eventually show themselves. Gifts of teaching us love, patience, kindness, humility, all that jazz. And you can feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that you probably mean a lot to them, too. Feel good knowing that you are special to many people (and animals) and that they are equally special to you. No matter what happens, somebody out there will always care for you. And that is a wonderful gift, I believe, to have people (and animals) like that in one's life. Those gifts are truly meaningful, and make the best Christmas presents, if not year-round presents, to receive. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may you be blessed with wonderful gifts year round, sugarcoating and all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Trottin' on

We plan to go on a trail ride tomorrow with another boarder! How fun! If I don't post about it tomorrow, then MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! MAY YOU GET ALL YOU ASKED FOR AND MORE!!!!!

Yesterday I rode, and I got some video. This is just video from the beginning of our hour long ride (we had ample walking breaks, so no worries, but it is good for building up Miss Greta's fitness!) and we didn't look so hot. I didn't realize I had let my leg slip back, so I looked like a bad hunt seat rider, and Greta probably didn't like that much either. But if you will notice at the very, very end, we look really nice.

Today when we rode, we looked awesome. Greta was "on the bit" for a good 75% of the time, with a hammer and a dremmel going in the background, also a horse vacuum. I've learned, and I've been told and read, that if you try and think nothing of the tractor rolling nearby or the hammer in the background or the tarp flying on the other side of the property, just to give a few examples, then your horse will read that and not think much of it either. Unless, of course, you didn't see the horse-eating dragon in the corner, because it wasn't there to begin with :)

Also, pictures!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Martingales In Dressage?

Perhaps it is just me, but I see quite a bit of people do dressage schooling with a martingale or something of the like. Like about 50%. Something like that.

Anyway, my thoughts are:

If they are not allowed in competition, why would one school in them?

I'm not just talking about those seriously misinformed people who have their horse's chin to their chest in an outrageously tight martingale. Yes, that is bad. I'm really just talking about martingales in dressage schooling general. I honestly think that if you rely on one in schooling it's almost a bit like cheating your way to getting "on the bit". And then you get into the show ring and both you and horse are like "er... what do we do from here?"

If you school in them a lot or all of the time, how would that help you in competition when you can't have one on? Your horse might not know what to do (if you've been using the martingale improperly) or they might just think "YUSH HAY DAY!" and throw their head up in the air when you tighten your reins and look more like a bad jumper than a dressage horse. I understand they are quite practical in and allowed in anything that involves jumping. They are also allowed in almost all of the western speed events. But dressage is not a speed event, so....

Is it just the people who use martingales improperly that should worry, or what? What do y'all think?

I've stayed away from martingales for this reason, not like we need them anyway. I would be afraid of becoming dependent on them. Also because I have no idea on earth how to use one properly. I use polo wraps. Those aren't allowed in competition. I use a dressage whip on occasion (I usually never had to tap Greta though, all she needs is just to see it in my hand and know that I really mean business). And those aren't allowed in most competitions either. So I guess I am a bit guilty of my own argument.

But it was just a thought. Does it seem fair for one to use a martingale in schooling, when used properly? Does one only use them when a horse is acting up, or to get a green horse/rider used to feeling of contact and being on the bit? Enlighten me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back on Track


Today was like a confirmation to me that things are back on track, horse-wise. Greta's tendons are back to beautiful, I got in the last of all our registration and membership papers for whatever showing we do next year (USDF and SWANA) and it was just overall a lovely day (in the low 60s, warm enough I didn't need a jacket and definitely warm enough to not need a blanket).

I hand walked and trotted Greta around the indoor arena to warm her up, and she did wonderfully, no gimp, no swelling, nothing! She has been like this for the past two days, so I felt comfortable to let her do a bit more than walk and trot. Warmed-up, I turned her out into the round pen, which was thankfully dry.

Now, Greta has been very polite this entire time. So polite, in fact, that I was almost dragging her about the arena when we were walking and trotting. I would think that a horse that has been in for two days (but thank goodness there's no mud!) would be quite rambunctious and excited to be out and about. Nope. Not Greta.

I turned her out in the round pen, unclipped the lead rope, and shut the gate and watched from the edge. She walked to the center and back, and looked at me. I shrugged. She came up to me, as if to say "You're supposed to be in here. Making me do stuff. Right?"

I told her (because she can totally understand me) that she can romp around for a bit. She walked back into the pen a bit, turned and looked at me, and then proceeded to roll and nice hearty roll. She got up, shook herself off, and looked at me again. "You still not gonna make me do anything?"


At this point she proceeded to kick loose, trot around the pen and whinny at the other horses, mockingly, before continuing on to little leap in the air and nice buck. I had my camera with me. It was just in my car. Why didn't I catch this moment of cuteness?

After bouncing around like a two-year-old on caffeine, she stood in the center, shook herself off, and cooly walked back up to me. "Okay, I'm done!"

I waited for a few seconds to see if she would do anything else, but she continued to stay with me by the gate. I took her, curried some of the dirt off her and picked out her hooves, and we grazed.

That felt wonderful for me and must have felt wonderful to her after those pathetic looks she gave me watching the other girls do lessons last night. At least I think she appreciates having a job. I've told her when she acts like it's just so hard to trot a twenty meter circle for the third time that it could be a lot worse: I could be making her do eventing. How's that for hard work, Miss Nibbs?


I rode her today, and yup, we are back on track!!! Our riding was atrocious (it's always been pretty atrocious, even for noobs) but she wasn't lame! I did shorten my stirrup holes by two, and my seat felt more secure and my aids more efficient. Also, the new half pad is awesome, now that I've finally had a chance to try it. $20, fleece (washable!), super soft and cushioning, on SmartPak. Go look at it.

I will work with Miss Greta again tomorrow and of course for the rest of next week (not Christmas. That would be just wrong. But she will get a special souper delicious bran mash.)

And 14 followers! That's almost 20! How exciting! I need to get some more interesting posts up!

Thanks, really. You guys have helped a lot in sharing ideas on this blog. Go you.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Greta loves Coldplay

And Tayor Swift. And Regina Spektor. And all of the others singers that I like. Perhaps because I like them and so that's the only thing she can really listen to when my iPod's playing :)

That will be explained later....

The Absorbine Liniment Gel (love it, always have) has worked great on her back right tendons. The swelling is almost gone, but not like there was much there before, you had to feel it to see it. I'll still be applying the liniment until she is walking and trotting normally again. Mostly now, we believe, her hoof sole is tender from the mud (if you feel the white line below her cornet - forgive me for my lack of knowledge of hoof terminology, I'm learning - it's squishy. Yikes! But her sole is still quite hard, so that's good to see) and the trim from two weeks ago is still sore from the mud as well. So the combination of those three things, mostly just soft soles at this point, are our woes. Things could be far worse, so I am quite thankful! It's just a little bump in the road. She goes into a stall tomorrow, so hopefully the dry ground and some hand walking and trotting on hard ground will help a lot. Anything else anyone recommends to toughen soles?

Now, to explain Greta and Coldplay. A new YouTube video that I had been messing around with for months while I was bored. Just to entertain y'all!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bumpy Road

We're still here! It's just been a bumpy road that's all these past two weeks. So that mystery lameness I was talking about last post? That showed up two weeks ago, and we thought it was just some stiffness due to mud. Well, it hasn't worsened, but it has not been better.

I'd been taking her out every day since that Thursday two weeks ago and letting her stretch her legs put, walk around, and graze. Then I would bring her in, hose her legs off, clean out her hooves, and hand walk her and trot her up and down the concrete barn aisle (yay concrete barn aisles!) which made it a lot easier to hear any oddities of the hoofbeats. There was some slight hesitation on the front left, which corresponded to what I saw. Monday I and my instructor took another look at Miss Greta, and confirmed that there was definitely something wrong with the front left. We believed it could be beginnings of an abcess. Had the farrier look at her hoof, and he said that there was definitely no abcess, no softness, nothing. She was not worsening nor was she three-legged lame, so we did not feel the need to call the vet yet.

So the same routine of taking her out continued up to today. She seemed much better these past two days, so I decided to do some walking under saddle. Today, I took her out, cleaned her off, and hand walked and trotted her, both on the concrete aisle and in the arena. She seemed stiff in the arena, but not lame. So we saddled up and started our walk work. Then she got significantly lamer, but not three legged, but I could feel a stiff jar beneath me and I could see it in the mirror. I got off and hand walked her several times around to see if I could work it off. When I got back on, she felt much better. We got a final opinion from a vet tech out there and the hunter trainer (you guys must be going "why don't you call a vet?" but like I said, she is not in any immediate pain, and just let me continue....)

Both immediately noticed something off on her back right, not just her front left. They felt her back right and it there was some swelling in the tendons below the hock. I felt both bac legs and there was definitely some swelling on the back right. As you can imagine, I felt bad, because I had been focusing on the front so much... then I remembered: I am no expert when it comes to lameness!

She has been compensatiing for the stressed tendon on the back right by applying more pressure on the diagonally opposite hoof, the front left, which left it sore. She will put a significant amount of pressure on her back right, but she tries to not put too much weight on.

It was not visible swelling, but you could feel it, so it was pretty minor. We believe we have it solved: the combination of the new trim (which was also corrective for the conformational fault in her front right where she walks on the outside of the hoof instead of putting even pressure upon it), hoof softness caused by the mud, and the stressed tendon on her back right all mounted up to create some wonky walking!

Wednesday we made arrangements for a stall this coming week, once another horse has moved. Greta will end up next to my friend's lease horse and one of Greta's many favorite geldings out there, a young barrel-racing Quarter horse (ooh, a cowboy!) She will probably be in there for the rest of the winter, until it finally dries up enough that we can put some gravel down in her paddock to hopefully eliminate the mud and keep this from happening again! We well have a few days of no rain, but clouds, and then some days-long drizzle. Mmm, winters in Texas.

Until then, her legs will be cleaned off (I was also complimented how clean I kept her legs, because she should have had scratches by this point!) and hooves cleaned out, and then Absorbine gel put all along the tendons from hock to hoof. And just to quell some of you guys, if things get worse, then out will come the vet! But for now, everything seems to have finally been solved!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Finger-Flavored Cookie Caper!

Firstly, all is well in Gretalund (I think that's what I'm going to call my clinic or stables or whatever when I'm older and Greta's an old grannie and I am too and then we'll be matching! Same age spots and everything!). We had a little glitch this week from her being trimmed Tuesday: when I went to go ride her for her lesson Thursday, she was gimpy on her front left! As you can imagine, I got this queasy feeling in my stomach and mentally flipped through all of these things that could've happened and what I should do and if she'll get worse or if she'll get better... and failed to consider that perhaps she was still a little ouchy from the trim Tuesday. Of course, a boarder friend and my parents told me that's probably what it was. Friday morning (no school because we had a flurry of snow!) I walked her around and she was still iffy, gave her a gram of bute, let her graze, and crossed my fingers. Come out this morning, and she's fine. No bute, nothing, just let her graze for a good twenty minutes, gave her an apple, cookies, and said adieu.

All of the horses have been kept in for the past few days because the temperatures are dangling above 40 at midday and as you can imagine, none of us Texans are used to this. We were all so excited to see snow Friday (and by snow I mean a really nice flurry and it all melted when it hit the ground, but that was what made it kind of cool!) and Greta was the only horse that seemed unfazed. Of course, she lived in Colorado and Iowa and Idado for the good majority of her life, so that might explain it.

And lastly, just a fun story to share. Yesterday I apparently forgot all of my basic horse handling skills for a split second. I fed Greta an Apple and Oat treat (she is obsessed with those delectable goodies and it's hilarious how she checks my pockets and scans me up and down with that camel lip of hers so she can see if she find any trace of one of those cookies on me!) and held it with my fingers, not on my palm. So Greta takes it... and my fingers too. She starts this sawwing motion with her teeth after she couldn't chomp down, probably thinking "Wow, this is a hard treat!" and meanwhile I'm trying to pry my fingers out from her cookie-obsessed vice grip, and when that failed I tried to pry her jaws open. I was desperate. My fingers were cold, so it felt very painful. Then Greta has a stroke of genius: she tastes with her tongue, realizes "WTH? This isn't apple flavored!" and releases my fingers. Immediately she proceeds with eating her real treat.

Now to clarify things, no bodily harm was done, not even a bruise on my thumb and forefinger, and it all happened over the course of a few seconds. The only reason the pain didn't subside quickly was because my fingers were freezing. So children, have you learned your lesson? I sure did. Serves me right :)

I have a goober horsey <3