Riding again!

Wednesday I went out and groomed Scarlet. He was so freaking muddy! My arm hurt from grooming off the mud. I don’t mind him rolling but for some reason the mud is sticking really really well to his hair. His sore area looked awesome. There is no wound any more. Not even a pink spot. Its just bare of hair right now and that will get better with time.

Friday, I put a saddle back on him for the first time. I was careful when I put it on to focus on him to make sure he wasn’t telling me that it hurt him. It doesn’t seem to be resting at all on that part of his withers. I knew the saddle didn’t put pressure there but I was worried about the blanket. They seem to be staying up when I pull them up after putting the saddle on.

It was so awesome to ride again, even if all we did was walk and a bit of trotting. I didn’t even really mind that he was super duper spooky at the normal corner. I got him to walk through it by the end of the ride so that’s fine.

Saturday I rode again. I planned on just walking and trotting since we haven’t ridden for almost a month. I definitely do not want to override him after just getting back to being able to ride. We walked around the arena and did pretty well with the corner while walking. I started off trotting by doing big circles both ways in the middle of the arena.

Now, I’ve talked about the corner that Scarlet is worried about many times in previous posts. Its the bane of the arena for us. However, the most annoying/odd thing is, he is really concerned about that corner even when we are in the middle of the arena. If we are circling and we get over to that quarter of the circle, his attention is focused on the corner. I can’t figure out how to make that corner less concerning. We’ve stood in it lots. I’ve given him treats while standing in it. I can’t really walk him over to the things on the other side of the fence that I think are concerning him. That would mean I’d have to walk into the neighbors yard. No matter how nice they are, they probably wouldn’t appreciate that. I’ve tossed around just doing sacking out sessions in general to see if that helps. I’ll probably do that since its never a bad idea to make sure your horse can deal with scary things. (Mine so can’t. Not even close to being able to.)

Other than the corner, everything was going well on our ride. Then it decided to start raining. No big deal. I can ride in the rain after all. My boots and saddle are synthetic so I don’t really have to worry about my equipment. We will keep riding, I thought to myself. Mother Nature must have heard and said “Oh really?” cause the skies opened up after that. Immediately I was soaked. Scarlet was trying to keep his head out of the wind. Water was dripping down from my visor. So I threw up the white flag, tossed a blanket over Scarlet and called it a day. When Mother Nature takes up a challenge, she always wins.

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Mud on the Horse

Being out of town this weekend, I didn’t really get much time to hang out with Scarlet. I was able to get out to him Sunday afternoon after I came back. I was planning on trying to talk to the barn owner to see if she would mind me buying some sand or dirt to build up the pen a bit and then getting rubber mats. When I got out there on Sunday, I was surprised to find that someone had beat me to it! The barn owner and her friend had gone around that weekend and placed two 4×6 rubber mats in each horse’s pen. I was really surprised. Pleasantly so obviously. It saves me some money on mats. The cheapest I could find was $40! I would like to build up the area underneath the pad a bit as it’s somewhat lumpy with a few low spots. I’m waiting for the dirt to dry out some before I do that.

I took Scarlet out into the arena to lunge him and he decided he wanted to roll right then and there! Usually, he gives me a bit of warning as he looks around for the perfect spot. Not this time! This time he just put his nose down and dropped right down. I tapped him on the rump with the lunge whip but he completely ignored me. He got into it fast, flailing around like only a horse rolling can so I let him complete it while keeping the lunge line out of the way. He turned into a dark tan colored horse by the time he was done. So freaking muddy.

I was planning on grooming him after lunging but that obviously wasn’t going to work this time. I tried but everything was wet and I ended up not doing much. It hasn’t been too cold here the last few nights. Its even supposed to hit 70 this week. I decided to leave his blanket off.

One benefit of his rolling was that when I went to clean of his sore, he had loosened the scab enough that it came right off. There is smooth pink skin there now! Yay! I still put some salve on it since its brand new skin and I want to give it a good chance to heal quite well.

I was able to go out on Monday and groom him. I got there after dinner was served so he was eating. Smart horse was actually using the mats placed out there for him. I’m really hoping he continues using them. So many times I see horses ignoring the things we attempt to put out there for their comfort. I came away almost as dusty as he did after cleaning off all the dried mud. At least he is somewhat closer to his normal chestnut after that grooming session. I’m hopeful that I will be able to put a saddle on him soon. I do want to make sure that his back is 100% healed before I do though. Causing him to have another sore is definitely not something I want to do. I am not really excited about the rodeo that he will give me during the first ride back. But its worth it to be riding him again.

My Foray into Dressage Knowledge

So I finally finished reading my latest training book. I had bought Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101 a couple of months ago. I wanted to get something that would go more in detail into what a rider should be doing in order to work properly with Scarlet. I want to improve just as much as I want Scarlet to improve.

I’m normally an extremely fast reader but it took me a few months to read since I really wanted to absorb everything. I stopped reading several times and focused on trying a few of the first “nuts and bolts” things that she explained. The book goes further into dressage and flat type riding than I have ever learned myself.

I have a few things that really stuck in  my mind while reading this book so I thought I’d share them with you.

One: Reading this book made me really envious that I did not start out with a classical training. I started out learning from a mostly western but somewhat cross-trained horse trainer. She was very close to where I grew up and not expensive. I thought I learned a lot from her. I did become a better rider from the variety of lesson horses that I got to ride and the horses in training that I rode when I worked for her over the summer once. However, I really felt profoundly that I didn’t understand how to properly give cues to Scarlet after reading this book. No one had EVER broken cues the way Savoie does. I had never been told shift you weight here, do this with inside hand, this with your outside hand and here is what you are supposed to do with each leg. And the way she explains it makes sense. Now I by no means don’t understand the weight shift but that was earned from many many rides and “feeling” how I needed to go in order to not fall off and get the correct result. I feel like if I had a training start like the one that Savoie outlines, progression could have been much quicker and less painful.

Two: I will admit, I’ve never loved dressage. I was always annoyed when my trainer would ask us to do things like sitting trot and equitation figures. I was a typical young girl who was in love with going fast on a horse. Which isn’t a bad thing. But it definitely didn’t benefit me. While I will probably never have a passion for dressage, after reading this book, I have a real appreciation for the benefits of starting a horse with dressage for other types of riding. Any horse that I get in the future (and now! Heck who says 18 is too old to learn things?) will start off with a more dressage focused base. I love how I can see that learning things this way would give a very solid understanding of what is going on to the horse. I still love jumping and will always want to do that. But I want to make sure my horse and I meet that ready as can be.

Three: This point is slightly crushing. I realized that many of the horse people that I knew and idolized growing up really weren’t that good. Their methods were a little antiquated, a little cowboy-ish. They knew how to get a horse to go where they needed to. They didn’t know how to communicate that though. They also didn’t progress in the most logical manner. It hurts a little to think that the people I wanted to be weren’t all that great. That’s a part of growing older as well as reading this book. I have a better perspective on life and have seen more ways of training than I had when I was younger.

These points and more things crossed my head while reading this book. I have to say that overall, this book is extremely well laid out and easy to understand. Its broken down into language that most any rider, no matter what level, can understand. It definitely isn’t the end all be all of training manuals but I feel like this is going to be a key element of my library for a long time. At the very least, it has shown me how much I need to relearn and how beneficial it would be to research many more “bibles” for every discipline of riding to see what I can learn from each style.

A ride!

I’ve been continuing to put salve on Scarlet’s rub. Its looking pretty good now. The skin in the bald patch does not look aggravated at all and there is only a small scab. Scarlet flinches his skin when I first go to look at it but I just keep my hands still on his withers until he relaxes. The slave is supposed to help with any pain that may be associated to it as well. He doesn’t mind me touching it when I get the salve on it so he is either putting up with me or it helps.

I did remember my helmet on Sunday so I hopped on him bareback. I’m glad I did only bareback since the spot turned out to be only a couple of inches from my groin area. I was pretty sure the saddle wouldn’t have gone on without hitting it but I’m glad I never tried putting it on to see where it hit. I didn’t do much with him since I’ve never been a very good bareback rider. We just walked circles in the round pen for 15 minutes. It was fun to do that again.

I need to do more stirrupless rides when his back heals. Riding bareback definitely keyed me into just how dependent I’ve become on my stirrups. I blame that on my squishy core partially. I’ve got to get back to do the core regimen I created! I could feel myself getting behind the motion at first when I asked him to change directions. Definitely not a good thing.

The ride itself was very calm. Scarlet just walked around and seemed to relax. It was nice to just be on him. I really love this horse. I’m probably going to try to hop on him a little bit more while he is healing but not too often. I want him to get better as fast as possible. Its fortuitous that its raining at the same time that the rub happened. I wouldn’t be riding much in this weather anyways.

Calm week

I’ve been going out almost every day to treat the rub on Scarlet’s withers. Its pretty small. The hair has been rubbed off in around the size of a quarter but the actual cut is only about the size of the tip of my pinky.

I lunged him twice this week but I haven’t seen where the saddle sits in respect to the wound. I really don’t want to chance it.

I lunged him on Friday and let him run around the arena and roll. I figured that would be okay since I was going to clean and salve the wound after running. For some reason, the horses got fed early on Friday so Scarlet was extremely anxious as I groomed him. Its pretty annoying that he has such bad manners when being tied. I’m putting that on the list of things that I need to do more with him. I need to force him to stand tied and wait on me to be done with whatever I’m doing.

On Saturday, I was planning on trying to hop on bareback to see if me sitting on his back is okay with his wound. But as I was driving out to the barn, I realized I had forgotten my helmet. I hadn’t been bringing my helmet out for almost a week so it just slipped my mind. Oh well, I’ll try and ride bareback on Sunday.

I was able to see the wound quite well since it was the first time that I was able to take a look at it in full daylight/sunlight. I was able to gently tug the longer hairs out of the way and apply the salve directly where it needed to be. I haven’t been able to get clippers out and shave around the area so that the hairs stays out. Luckily, there doesn’t seem to be too many hairs that lay directly in the wound. I will try and at least bring scissors out to cut that hair on Sunday. I want to do whatever is possible to have Scarlet heal as fast as possible.

Mud

Mud is everywhere. It is everywhere. I thought I had a horse with white on all legs. I do. In the summer anyways. Winter? Nah I got a horse with four brown legs. I know it’s not his fault that he is really muddy. Its not like he can stay away from the mud in his pen. I still ask him how he got so muddy though. Isn’t it weird how we ask our horses rhetorical questions like that? I guess that’s just something us crazy horse people pick up.

I’ve been treating Scarlet’s sore each day. I just go out there and rub the green goop (Gall Salve) on it. That stuff stays really well. I honestly expected it to be rubbed off by the blanket but it really wasn’t. Kinda amazing how much staying power it has. I think it’s working well, at least as a pain reliever because he isn’t even twitching his skin as I rub it on anymore. He really didn’t want me to touch that area the first day. That’s definitely a plus.

I’ve been trying to keep a really close eye on any other place the blanket could be rubbing since I do not want this to repeat for the rest of the winter. So far, it looks like this new blanket is doing well. I may need to tighten the chest straps a bit but we will see. His shoulders don’t look worse and it definitely isn’t rubbing his sore.

I’m planning on just keeping an eye on the sore and his shoulders with grooming and maybe a few lunging sessions. I could probably stick a saddle on him and see where it falls but I really don’t want to repeat this or prolong the injury. One day at a time.

Self-hate

Post is late today because I really hadn’t been able to do anything with Scarlet other than check on him due to the rain and moving. I was planning on riding this morning and then writing about that for a post.

That didn’t happen.

I went out to go ride. It still really wet out but the arena looked okay. I wasn’t planning on doing much. I’d walk the whole time at this point, I was so desperate for a ride. I cleaned out his hooves which felt more like pushing liquid poo off. (It was really fine mud, it just looked nasty.) When I was currying him, I went over his withers and a huge chunk of hair came away. I looked at it and it was attached to a piece of skin. I then examined his withers and found that he had a quarter sized sore there.

So there’s the reason for the title. I had been messing with his blanket to try and get his shoulders to stop rubbing the hair but never noticed that the blanket was digging into the wither area. I feel like the worst person in the world for not realizing.

I did get some gall salve at the tack store to put on it. I’ve never really had wounds to deal with on a horse so it was lovely that I could get such good advice and help from the ladies there. They also helped me find a blanket that sits above the withers and  has the fuzzy fleece part to help prevent the neck from rubbing. They even told me that if I tried the fit on him and it didn’t work, bring it back clean and I can return it. Luckily, the blanket looks really nice. Big D. It looks like nice quality, has gussets and fits him well. I’m hoping this works well. The neck line definitely rests no where near where his current wound is. I’m hoping it deals with the rubs on his shoulders as well.

I had bought a product that I was planning on putting under his old blanket to help with rubs on Saturday called Bossy’s Bibs. They are pretty well reviewed, UK company with a Canadian distributor. They tout preventing rubs and allowing current ones to heal which supposedly lycra shoulder guard products don’t do. Since I just bought the blanket, I asked if it would be possible to cancel the order as it most likely hadn’t shipped. I got an email response within 10 minutes and they agreed to cancel it and refund me. Superb customer service. I mean really good. If this new blanket doesn’t help with the shoulder rubs, I’m definitely going to go back and order it from them again. It is just preferable to not have all the expenses happen at once.

Rain!

Its raining! Raining in California! While the rain does interfere with being able to ride Scarlet, I definitely cannot complain. I like drinking in the summer. And I like making sure my horse can have water to drink as well. So let the rain come!

Sunday was also focused on moving into our new house. It still looks like the box-apocalypse happened. I know its going to get better and when moving/cleaning/organizing happens, it always gets worse before it gets better but it can be really tiring having trouble walking through the boxes.

I have been using the tomorrow paste on Scarlet’s hooves. Its hard to tell if it’s making a difference with the thrush. I don’t think it is getting worse. I’ve specifically been focusing on the heel area as the crack there was starting to grow upwards which I’ve read is very bad. There are a couple of cracks in the middle of each side of the frog on his back right hoof. I have still seen some black gunk getting pulled out of those when I’m picking his feet but I don’t think those are growing either. Fingers crossed that I can battle this thrush issue. Its always one of those things that Scarlet has had issues with in the winter. I just don’t want it to get too bad.

Since I haven’t been riding, I’ve been trying to keep reading my dressage 101 book. I don’t love the idea of advanced dressage but I really think that the basics are essential for any type of riding. And since Scarlet and I aren’t going to be doing anything amazing together soon, working on the basics should be really helpful. We have done a few things listed in the beginning of the book but we haven’t gotten anyone out there to give us feedback so I’m not sure if I can move on to the next steps yet. I’ve read way far past where Scarlet and I are at but I do read fast. Hopefully come summertime we will have a fair amount of the core basics down. I want to have someone help me get some more poles out so I can start doing work over poles soon.

I did go out to see Scarlet on Tuesday. I wanted to give him some grain and check his shoulder. His blanket keeps rubbing his hair off. I can’t figure out why or how to fix it. He has had the blanket for a while so I don’t know why it is now. I’ve been adjusting the straps to see if I can figure it out but it just seems to be moving around the spot that is getting rubbed. 😦

I didn’t want to walk through his whole pen since it was quite muddy. I slipped through the rails with the bucket and he lunched for it, which cracked his head against mine. That hurt so badly. I smacked him and sent him away to wait for me to put his grain in his feeder. I am going to have to work on his food eagerness. It’s not exactly aggression but its still bad and potentially dangerous. I had been making him back up and wait but I’ve gotten lazy recently and just let him drop his head to the bucket. Now I’ve learned and it won’t happen again.

Fingers crossed that this rain continues so we can be good this summer!

Good rides

I got to ride several times this week! It was amazing! Riding just makes me so happy. I can be having a crappy day at work or be really stressed out, go ride Scarlet and I’m mentally in a much better place when we are done.

I got to ride Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Wednesday was a fairly short ride but we were let out of work early for the holiday on Thursday so I got a good ride in. I did set a timer so that I wouldn’t ride for too long. Both of us are too out of shape to just jump into a long ride. Its really hard to keep track of time when I get to the barn so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t working him too hard.

I focused on several things during these rides. I really wanted to work on the spooky corner so we spent a lot of time in that corner. I rode circle after circle at all gaits in all directions until he was listening to my leg and wasn’t tensing up too badly when we got to the corner. He is still looking slightly wide eyed at it as we go through but its definitely an improvement. I’ve also stuffed my pockets full of treats and have given him some from his back while we are halted in that corner. I’m sure he is more thinking about the treats than the corner but I’m trying any sort of positive reinforcement I can get. I’ve also decided that we are going to use that corner for getting off at the end of the ride. I wait until he drops his head somewhat while halted and then I get off. I want him to start relaxing in that corner and realizing that nothing is going to hurt him.

I worked a lot on side passing. I side passed down the diagonals at a walk and then with his head pointed to the fences. I think its really helping loosen him up. That’s the hope at least. I can’t tell if he is cheating or not. He knows how to side pass correctly. He even knows how to do it from a halt and move directly sideways but he likes to cheat. No one else is riding when I am so I can only tell by feel. I need to figure out a way to fanagle my phone and video tape myself doing stuff. Maybe I’ll look up tripods for iphones.

I also did a bit of work with sitting trot. Both Scarlet and I hate that but I managed to get it done. On Saturday he was super impressive and did almost half a circle at a rideable sitting trot. I was so happy with him. I want to work on that more since he has been really anticipating the canter signal.

We also did some more work on halt-walk transitions. When we’ve worked on it a lot, he is really sensitive to my halt cue. Not so much going forward but that is another thing that is on my list of focusing.

Having goals when riding by myself is really new. I used to be that kid that just rode around in circles having fun. I never focused on a particular element unless my trainer had something she wanted me to work on at home. I feel like I’m improving as a rider since I’m focused during each and every ride on my position and how I’m asking for different things. I also can feel remarked improvement in the exercises that I have focused on for several rides. I’m hoping I can keep this up and keep planning “lessons” for me and Scarlet.

PS All of Friday was spent moving stuff and half of Saturday. Moving into a new house is absolutely exhausting!