A Tale of Two Rides

I do so good for a bit with writing on here and then I fall off that wagon so hard. Oh well. I’ll figure it out at some point.

I’ve had at least two rides on Uno since that last time I wrote here. Maybe more. But since I remember these two, I’ll write about them.

Uno is very into jumping. I’d hopped him over a jump a time or two when Holly and I were riding together before but not recently. I was hesitant to do it for multiple reasons. First, I was really out of shape. The last time I jumped him was when I was using Holly’s saddle and I almost got jumped out of the tack. The only reason I stayed in was her oh-shit strap. So I needed to buy my own. I have one now. I’m still out of shape but there is some extra support if my own muscles can’t hold out.

Two, Uno and I were having some serious communication issues. He’s not an easy horse to ride. He doesn’t enjoy most parts of working and I’d been spending these many months with him just on working on forward and basics like that. I now feel like we’ve got the forward a lot more consistently now. There’s always issues with that first trot transition but I feel like we’ve gotten past the other bs after that.

Third… well he’s not Scarlet. Jumping Scarlet was 100% effortless to me because unless I fucked up badly, Scarlet got us to the other side. He had only ever refused to jump less than a handful of times. I trusted him implicitly. And any other horse I’d jumped with any consistency was a lesson horse. I trusted my trainers to put me on a horse that wasn’t an ass. And Uno had already shown he could be an ass. So I was scared.

But a week ago Friday, I decided I wanted to try. I did give myself the caveat of if Uno was horrible, we’d skip the jumping and be safe. I thought we might have to go with that when he gave a huge spook at one corner when we started cantering. But he recovered well and was good otherwise. So I shoved aside my fear and, making sure we had a good forward canter, pointed him at a small X. He was great. Went over it fine. We went for the larger X, him keeping his canter forward on his own now that we were doing something fun. My steering was… off and we went over the side of the X making for a much larger jump that I’d anticipated. He was great though. No playing or being stupid. Just hunting for those jumps.

I did the small and larger X a few more times on each lead and went over an X shaped oxer twice and then called it a day. Probably only 10 jumps but I was getting tired, even if Uno was NOT ready to finish. I definitely realized that I needed to get over my fear. I was relatively stable in my jumps, Uno behaved very well and we did just fine. I need to trust him more. He likes jumping too much to mess around.

This last Friday I just did a flat ride. I have alternating Fridays where my day is basically my own to do whatever future development I want on my skills. So my start times on those Fridays are completely in my control. So I’ll save jumping for those days.

Now that Uno and I are more in sync, I want to start pushing for more flatwork things. I didn’t have a concrete goal for this ride except to try some lateral work with him. I’ve been having issues getting the feeling of him actually connecting to either of my reins unless I’m yanking him along. I thought lateral work would help with that.

Guys, we struggled. We only ended up doing a bit of lateral work because everything was freaking broken. We had forward but omg could I not feel a single flipping part of his body doing what a horse’s body should do. I tried riding off the rail to get him listening to my aids. Didn’t really work. I tried the lateral work, had to basically kick a hole in his side to get him to move. Tried some counter cantering. He decided that on the left lead, he was going to begin a pirouette. I’ve never cantered in place quite like that.

I tried to end off with some serpentines and he felt like a handful of stiff pieces of wood connected with limp noodles. How on earth can a horse be so stiff and yet absolutely unconnected at the same time?! It was an extremely frustrating ride though we did accomplish small steps of what I wanted each time. It just… I’ve never had to really deal with anything like that when riding previous horses. Or if I did, I wasn’t experienced enough to know the difference. I don’t feel like I have the tools to deal with it other than just plugging away.

When I was bitching about it to L she said that Uno is a low tone horse and actively tries to suck the rider into being lone tone with him. She said that because of that, I’d have to ride with a lot more effort to get him to do things. He takes so much effort already that the task is a daunting idea. I’m not going to give up on working on harder things with him but its not appealing if I’m being honest. But I don’t want to just get on and ride in circles. I could totally do that and not change my amount of effort at this point. But I don’t want to do that. I want to ride and improve as a rider. So effort it is. I really need to get working out if I’m going to have to carry both my tone and Uno’s.

Toes

Scarlet got his toes done on Monday. I happened to have the day off work so it was easy to get over to the barn in mid afternoon with the farrier. He’s a bit difficult to get pinned down for an appointment. It him 3 days to get back to me after I first texted him about needing a trim. And then another 3 days or so to pin down a day. I feel like since we are just doing a barefoot trim I can’t really throw a fuss about it. He’s not exactly making a ton of money off of me. So I just will have to keep in mind for the future that I need to contact him about 1.5 weeks ahead of schedule in order to have Scarlet done about every 8 weeks.

Took Lina on a hike Monday morning. She was very intrigued by the ducks and huge white herons.

I was a little concerned because his fronts had chipped along his quarters both sides of both feet. He hadn’t been showing any tenderness or any issue with walking. And I recalled that the quarters weren’t the weight bearing sections but I was still concerned. The farrier reassured me that that’s normal and find with the wet to dry and back again weather we’ve been having lately. His hooves got a clean bill of health so I’ve been avoiding thrush pretty well. Always a relief to here.

She was very impatient with my desire to make her pose for pretty pictures.

For how spooky Scarlet can be, he is certainly blasé about things that would set off most other horses. I definitely am grateful for how chill he can be for shoeing. Especially this last time. A house has recently been built to butt up against the barn. Their backyard lines up with the wash stalls, which is where Scarlet gets his feet done. They have two dogs. I know this because the dogs decided they wanted to run down to the fence and bark at us for about five minutes. To be fair, one of the dogs barked a time or two and then decided we were boring and left. The other just sat there barking. Scarlet didn’t care. Bothered me more than him. He barely flicked his ears back to list. And the dog was behind him barking its stupid head off. So its super lucky that Scarlet couldn’t give a flying fuck about dogs.

But she did it. Because she is a good girl (most of the time).

Our trims only take about twenty minutes now. Scarlet is mostly good at holding his own balance. There’s some moments where we have to reposition him so that his weight is better distributed before picking up a hoof but if he’s relatively square, picking up his feet is no longer a huge issue. I’m really glad they are short and really glad to have gotten this last trim done. We walked Tuesday morning and I felt like he was moving better. I think he’d been stumbling a bit more often since his toes were a bit long. Just another reason to keep in mind that I’ll need to be more proactive with this farrier to schedule earlier. I miss my old farrier and his schedule of remembering Scarlet’s shoeing dates without my input. 😦

On Like Donkey Kong

Uno was great this Friday. Holly’s project horse was sold recently so she has had more time to ride Uno than she had before. I’m not sure if that really contributed to his behavior but it definitely didn’t hurt.

I had a limited time to ride as I needed to be off and ready to work by 10am since I had a meeting. Normally on Friday’s I have a little bit more flexible schedule but I made it work. Uno was shedding a lot so I took the time to actually go over him everywhere with the metal curry. He hates being groomed so I normally try to do only what is necessary to clean him up and get the tack on. But I wanted to help him get rid of his mammoth coat. I cannot wait until he is fully shed out. It will make grooming him so much easier.

Cat blep to break up text

There were two poles about four canter strides apart down the middle of the arena so I incorporated those into our warmup. Other than the first trot transitions, he was pretty responsive. The poles made him more forward as well. Much easier than fighting him. We had just started cantering when it started to rain. Uno kicked his heels up a bit but it wasn’t too hard and we were already out there. I just mentally shrugged and continued riding.

We did a lot of cantering through the poles. It went fantastic. He got super forward and felt connected to the bridle. I even felt comfortable enough with his responses that I did some two point work. I didn’t feel like I needed to have my whole body focused on booting him forward. It was great. I considered trying to jump with him but I hadn’t put my new oh-shit strap on my saddle yet. I want to have something to hold onto since I’m not as strong now.

I really hope that this week’s ride was an indication of us improving for the future. Whether it was him being ridden more, him being more responsive to me or him just having a good day, it was amazing. He felt strong and connected all over. He normally feels like a fucking splintering two by four. Just stiff and prickly and impossible to deal with. But he felt great. I need to figure out how to get that feeling with him all the time.

Horse STAHP!

Stop getting hurt! Stop having blood dripped down your leg when I arrive at the barn with no source. Stop playing too hard with your neighbors. Stop having an actual bite on your ass. Also, stop shedding. It’s not warm enough to shed yet.

Seriously. I’m not sure what Scarlet is doing but I have come out to the above within 3 days. (well the shedding has been happening for a month but still). Saturday I went out and he greeted me as normal. I fed him and started picking out his feet. I go around to his right side to pick up his right fore and see this.

I took a quick picture and then got some towels and a bucket of water to start cleaning it. Scrubbed away and could not find a single point anywhere on his leg that could have been the source. I peeled back all his hair and looked super carefully even for a small puncture. Honestly if I had cordless clippers, I probably would have just shaved his leg to try to see. But there was nothing there.

I also checked over the rest of his body to see if the source could be elsewhere. I didn’t think so given how the blood clearly ran down his leg but I figured I had to check. Nothing. I checked his leg for any heat or swelling and there was nothing. He walked fine on it so I gave up trying to figure it out at that point.

Sunday he was fine. Maybe the tiniest bit of heat in his ankle on that leg but it was so minor that I couldn’t tell if that was me making a mistake, from the sun or actual heat. No swelling so I left it to be. Monday there was a bit of heat but nothing major. He walked fine and it went away after walking. But I found this while currying him on Monday.

I assume someone literally bit his ass. It looks like the right shape. Very shallow, just the first layer of skin off. But seriously horse? Just stop it. Getting hurt is so not cool.

Muscles

We got a recent amount of rain for San Diego in the last few weeks. Not as much as last winter. Last winter was Noah’s Arc levels of rain. But still enough that it got pretty muddy. Luckily, the paths between the mare motels is pretty hard so it stayed walkable. There was about a 5 minute loop that we were able to walk on. Scarlet was very happy to get out. Probably too happy. I had some serious issues with a crazy horse on the end of my line.

I definitely do not mind him being crazy. But he doesn’t exactly have the best balance. So when he tries to hop and rear and just generally go crazy, it worries me. He would settle down after walking a bit. One day he didn’t but that was the wettest day and most of his stall was very wet with pretty slippery mud so he wasn’t walking much inside his stall. He threw a tantrum for basically 1/3 of each lap on our walk. We did three laps and he really wasn’t settled after. But I’ve got a limit during the morning to how long I can walk. So we made do.

I’m pretty pleased with how well Scarlet was able to walk overall. Even some spots that were wet or more slippery than I was fully comfortable with he did just fine. My biggest worry about this winter was he wasn’t going to be able to keep his footing when it rained and we wouldn’t be able to keep walking. But that didn’t happen. So we’re keeping the muscle we’ve worked up for.

He even wore his blanket for a while with no negative consequences!

I’ve still been riding Uno once a week. Holly just sold her project horse and she still seems fine with me riding. Which I really appreciate but I’m ready to be asked to contribute monetarily or have her tell me that she wants to have all days of riding back to herself. Just setting myself up in case that happens.

We’ve been doing well together. He’s still a pain but I feel like we are understanding each other better. My biggest problem always has been how reluctant he is to move forward. So for the past few rides, I’ve been trying to be very clear on my forward ask. He gets one ask and then a smack with the whip within two steps if he has not transitioned up. I then get him moving forward. At the initial trot, I take a good trot rather than a proper forward trot. After getting what I asked him for, we take walk breaks.

It seems to be working so far. I haven’t had to work nearly as hard to get him to move forward with the first ask to trot. And after we’re warmed up, I’ve been getting some crazy powerful feeling trot steps. I still can’t stand how not flexible he feels and how much he ignores my requests to get into the bridle, but its a step at a time right? We’re at least making progress.

I’m hoping to make muscle progress on myself shortly. We’ve decided to make half our garage into a gym. We’ve got the rubber flooring down and we purchased a bench that has some bars for pull ups, pushups and leg lifts on the other side. We also got a rowing machine. So once we set those up (hopefully this weekend) I plan on trying to work out more. I’ve picked up running a bit more consistently the last couple of weeks. I’m aiming for 4 mornings a week with the dog. She’s not super fast but its good for both of us. So between walks with dog and horse, runs, my ride a week and my garage gym, I’m hoping to add a lot more muscle on. I foresee a loooot of soreness in my future.

Scarlet Special

I’m trying to get back to a regular posting schedule. It’s very hard. Posting on a blog is so inertia based for me.

Scarlet has been doing really well recently. He didn’t have any real soreness from his dental work so we’ve never had to step back his walking. We even got some rain dumped on us a week or so ago. Quite literally. It had been raining on and off for most of the morning and since it seemed to be a nice, sunny off period I was hoping to see how Scarlet would walk in the mud.

Hello there

He had pretty much no issues. Obviously I didn’t head for puddles or the deep slurry mud spots but he was able to leave his stall and walk pretty much normally. We had gotten maaaaaybe 1/3 of the way through the truncated loop that remains solid enough to walk on after rain when rain started coming down again. It was pretty much faster to just finish the loop than to turn around at the point when it got really heavy so he and I had to deal with it.

Is that a cookie?

Scarlet was very unhappy to be out in the rain. His neck was in the super arab curl and his head was perfectly vertical to try to keep the rain from hitting him as much as possible. We walked as fast as possible but we still got soaked by the time we got back to his stall. Side note, taking suggestions for barn/equestrian appropriate rain coats. I don’t need anything heavy, at all. I just want an extra layer for the super cold days and to not actually be soaked through when its raining.

Walking after the rain was fine. Scarlet loved rolling in the wet sand in the arenas that were open. I had to toss him into an arena that was a bit more wet than I would have liked the first day after the rain because he was thinking about rolling while we were walking. He’s done that before to me. I really really don’t like when he does that. I’m so concerned about him getting the lead rope caught up or something. But he literally throws himself to the ground and once he’s down there, not much you can do but keep clear. So I chose the lesser of two evils and ended up with a horse who is trying to become a brown horse instead of a red horse.

The other side is just as wet and muddy.

Since it doesn’t look like it will be getting as wet as it did last year, I don’t think Scarlet and I will have any issues continuing to walk and keep his mobility high. My worries about that can go away for at least a year.

What’s Up Danger?

(Yes I’ve recently rewatched Into the Spiderverse and can’t get this phrase out of my head. But it also felt oddly appropriate)

So welcome to 2021. We all survived, which is a feat. Truth be told, I’ve had it a lot easier in comparison to others. I work in software so transitioning to working from home was ridiculously easy. I’m an introvert so not being able to go out and meet people was fine. Sure I miss seeing some of my friends but I definitely didn’t feel the loss like an extrovert would. I’ve got a whole house with a decent sized backyard, a barn that never closed, a safe neighborhood to walk around in with my dog while masked. It’s been not bad in the grand scheme of things.

And yet, this year was definitely hard for me in different ways. I was still struggling with Scarlet’s neurological issues. I had to come to terms with him being permanently retired near the middle of the year. My main stress outlet was gone. The world was burning, people I cared about didn’t seem to be taking any of this seriously and oh yeah election stress. I struggled (still struggle, it comes in waves) with depression dealing with all of this.

A lot of negatives but a lot of positives as well. I got a puppy who is still crazy energetic and sometimes super hard to handle despite already having ticked the year old mark. I read 82 books this year. I’ve been given the opportunity to take on more responsibilities at work and have had some clear conversations with my manager on options for promotion. Scarlet’s improved in his walking and seems like he is going to remain able to walk, roll and even try to run a bit when he feels spicy. I finished Nanowrimo again.

I don’t know what I really hope for for 2021. Everyone to have the vaccine obviously. Since that’s probably not practical, the new administration providing a plan and financial support to help states roll it out efficiently and to the right people. Being able to see people in person again. I haven’t even really been doing that while masked. I’ve been trying to be extra safe. I’d like to introduce a lot of people to Lina and haven’t been able to. I’d love to say I am planning on getting a second horse in 2021. The reality is that’s unlikely to happen with our current budget. Unless I magically get a huge promotion or raise, I’ll need to find alternate ways of getting money. Even if I find something, I’ll need to have a buffer of money as it would not be a consistent income. So being realistic, that’s not in the cards.

I think the most realistic things I can hope for this year are those I love staying healthy, the world moving towards normalcy, and Scarlet remaining able to walk around and get up on his own. So here’s to a 2021 that improves things.

Chillin

It’s been a while since I’ve updated anything here. My bad. My depression picked up a bit again and then I focused really hard on completing Nano. I did and that actually reset me pretty well mentally. Something about routine and outside deadlines helps me a lot.

Scarlet is doing really well. He got his teeth and vaccines recently. That was terrifying if I’m honest. He’s got relatively okay balance right now. But he has to be fully in control of himself. Sedatives mess with that.

We started by giving him half of the amount. But he was not having it with his teeth being worked on. So we ended up giving him the full dose. He listed a lot so we backed him into the corner and he ended up resting his butt on the fence.

The vet discovered that he has the start of EOTRH. One of his insisors has a large hole in it now. It’s not loose but it will eventually need to be pulled. She has a mule who has it and has all his upper teeth gone and he’s doing fine. I’m not too worried, just upset that there’s more to keep an eye on with him.

Quite the large hole. And you can see above the tooth where it’s being exposed as well.

We haven’t been doing anything else interesting honestly. Just walking every day. Scarlet is getting pretty frisky in the early morning. It’s pretty cold now most mornings. (San Diego cold people, so probably not bad for everyone else 😂) He’s a bit harder to deal with but not extremely. I’ve been reminding him that he has to behave and stay behind me while walking. I’ll halt and then make him back up if he isn’t focusing on me enough to halt with me. He doesn’t back well now so it gets his attention.

He’s been enjoying getting dirty while rolling.

We walk 5-6 mornings a week and I plan to continue this as long as we can. This will likely be my update every week with Scarlet for the most part. Hope everyone is doing well in these crazy times.

A Whole Lot of I Dont Wanna

Friday rolls around. Its my day to go riding. Except I’m feeling like I really really don’t want to. But I’m also getting free weekly rides. I don’t want to be a burden by asking to change the day. But I also don’t want to not ride for two weeks. So I get my butt out to the barn, all prepared to ride. ‘I’ll just do a short w/t/c ride.’ I tell myself.

Uno was really good for getting out and grooming. He’s a head tosser so he normally fidgets a lot while being groomed. He also isn’t a fan of brushing, even with the softest body brush so I usually get some nasty looks. He didn’t even do that. I was tentatively hopeful that he would continue that mood into the ride.

I got on and we went for a warm up walk around the barn. I liked doing that on Scarlet and Uno does move out better so I’m going to try doing it with him as well. He was fine for our walk.

I decided to work in the dressage arena for a little change. I didn’t want to jump and figured it would be good to work in other places. Plus it gives me the extra challenge of having to keep him straight without a fence.

After a bit of walking, I asked for a trot. Walk to trot transition is always very hard. The first transition is even worse. Uno just does not want to move forward. So I decided that we’ve had enough rides together. I need to start being more insistent and not let him get away with disrespecting the aids. So when squeeze/kick and cluck didn’t get any reaction, I started tapping with the dressage whip. Tap, tap, tap. I’m going to tap until you respond, getting more insistent with each tap.

He was NOT happy.

He exploded and tried to buck. I pulled his head around to my knee and spun him in a circle, insisting that he transition right after. We got the transition but it was so bad. Such a slow fake jog. The majority of the ride consisted of me having to get after him every moment of the ride in order to get him to move even the tiniest bit more forward at the trot.

Once I did achieve a forward, the next battle was canter. He wanted to fast trot. I said no and we had another battle with proper trot canter transitions. And then we talked about simple changes off the diagonal. We did end the ride after a good change each direction. But definitely not an easy wtc ride.

I found out from Holly that he hadn’t been ridden for a week before I got on. So he was actually quite the good boy for me.

I’m still going to insist on the trot much more forcefully in future rides. He can trot when and where I say he needs to.

Hock Sores

Putting this picture here so there are no graphic pics as the thumbnails on feeds

Scarlet has been getting some pretty bad hock sores. I think its a combination of the ground getting really hard from the dry hot summer and him no longer really having the nerve control to bend and lower himself gently to the ground. I definitely don’t want constant open wounds on him but its a bit difficult to stop. 

I added some bedding to his stall to try to keep the ground a bit softer. I also purchased Samsheild hock boots. Scarlet hates things on his hind legs so he was really really upset when I first put them on. I forced him to walk a circle around the stall for treats in order to check to make sure that he could walk when needed. He did it with protests and weird leg movements but he did it. 

These things suck mom!

While the hock boots definitely worked and I saw good progress, it was very very unlikely that I would come out and see both boots on and in their correct positions. He’d turn them around, take them off completely or manage to make them slide down his leg to be covering his hoof instead of his hock. Even when he did that, it seemed like he would leave them in place until after he rolled or slept. 

But after wearing them 24/7 for several weeks, it became obvious that the straps were rubbing the front part of his legs. I don’t really want to exchange one wound for another. So I thought that the hock sores had healed enough to leave the boots off for a bit in order to try to head off the rubs becoming actual wounds. I’ve looked for other options but there really don’t seem to be any style of hock cover that actually covers the point of the hock rather than being a support for the hock joint so I seem to be stuck with what I have. 

Getting better

Right after I took off the boots, Scarlet decided that he had too much hair on his right hind leg. He scalped and scrapped a bit of his leg. I couldn’t figure out where/how he did it. There’s nothing in his stall that seemed correct. Maybe his hooves where they’d chipped a bit since his shoes were removed. Whatever actually caused it, he wasn’t lame or even really injured. Nothing needed stitches. I just cleaned it and put some medicine on the two scratches. 

He did develop a bit of a swelling around the area that had the deepest of the two cuts. There was no real pus and the cut looked fine the entire time. The swelling didn’t grow much and would sometimes go down after our walks so I just kept an eye on it to make sure nothing got worse. It’s healing nicely now with a lot of hair in the scalped parts already. 

Since part of the scalped part looked like it would interfere with the strap, I left the hock boots off. But, obviously, the hock sores have made their return. So I will be putting those back on. But if anyone has any suggestions of hock boots that are other shapes that might not cause the same strap rubs that my current ones do, I am all ears. Or eyes since it’s a blog comment.