Over in California…

Today was day three of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event.  Although I don’t follow eventing closely, I do always pay attention every spring for when the horses are displaying their discipline in Dressage, galloping and jumping, intimidating (well, to someone like myself) solid fences on cross country day and showing their maneuverability, amongst other things, during show jumping during the final phase of the event.  Three day eventing has always been an interest for me and it’s definitely my sport of choice when it comes to horses.

Kentucky looked beautiful and picturesque for this years event.  Back in California, the weather is similar and the only thing that could make it better is if I had some grounds resembling that of the Kentucky Horse Park ;).. The sun is shining and the horses are enjoying a much slower lifestyle than the horses at Rolex.  Reason munches on grass instead of galloping across it and stands for his own photos, not from completing a complex four star cross country course, but because he’s enjoying the victorious feeling of getting to munch on the tall grass that he’s been eyeballing for some time.

Reason is doing good and he’s been carrying the bit well, during his light lunging sessions, since his dental work on Monday.  I have yet to hop on him, as he got his feet trimmed and came up sore.  The field has gotten pretty dry, crusty and hard which has not helped the situation either.  Poor guy can’t seem to catch a break.  He should be ready to go early next week and then we begin lots and lots of tack walking.  But we’ll see.  Thankfully we have two big fields to hack out on so we won’t get too bored too quickly with the walking..

I’m very excited to begin back under saddle with him.  After his dental on Monday I really came away with a relief and I’m optimistic for the future.  He’s such a good boy with a good, very trainable mind.  Lets go Reason!

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A Date with the Dentist.

Yesterday Reason and Errika had their stint in the dentists chair.  Reason loaded up in the trailer only with minor coaxing this time.  But then again it was the trailer that he likes and has always willingly loaded up into.  Without having my own trailer to practice loading, I’m thankful I do have access to the trailer that all my horses have prefered to ride in.  When we left the clinic, Reason loaded up without a second thought.   If I could buy this trailer or one just like it, I would.  I love it.

When we arrived at the clinic, Reason hopped off the trailer sweaty.  He is not the happiest hauler.  He stands quietly, but he gets nervous.   When I got him I was told he likes to ride loose.  Although he doesn’t ride loose in the trailer now,  I do give him the whole back slots of the trailer to himself.  He always backs up the the rear corner against the door and the right-side window and stays quiet.  When it’s time to unload, he usually walks forward and waits patiently for me to get him out and he proceeds ever so cautiously to step off the trailer.  Thankfully our trip was short.  I’m guessing that Reason will be a happier hauler once he goes in and out like it’s just another day at the office.  A routine of regular trail rides and things of that nature.  He has only been hauled by myself twice, since I’ve had him, both for different purposes.

Once at the clinic both the horses were good and relatively quiet.  Errika hauls well, but isn’t one to take easily to new places.  Unless of course she has a buddy with her.  In this case the two horses kept each other grounded and comfortable.  It was peaceful and quiet at the facility, which only aided in their ability to stay relaxed.

Reason went first and Errika kept him company tied on the opposite side of the large stall.  (I’d like to mention here I do not like to enable a situation where horses are reliant on each other, “herd-bound.”  However I do feel like horses should have the chance to be horses, especially horses like Errika who are in their retirement and should enjoy the company they love and are happiest with.  There is nothing I like to see more than my old girl grazing in the pasture accompanied by her “man.”  Like-wise Errika has been great company to keep for Reason.  Errika has helped Reason in many ways and he is a happier horse because of this.  When Reason goes back into real work, they may be separated  and Errika may have a new friend in the place of Reason, but it will be for the benefit of Reason’s growth.  I want a well-rounded horse who can travel with and without company etc.  Everything is done with a balance in mind and the horses comfort in mind and body, so it will be a well thought out flow of adjustment when the time comes for Reason to possibly move on to a new living situation.)

Reason has a “typical 6 y/o mouth,” the vet said.  With the exception of some good sized hooks at the very back of the mouth which required the use of hand-tools to really get to.  The vet drugged Reason carefully and conservatively making sure to build upon the sedation as necessary.  It seemed as though Reason needed a bit more sedation than initially thought.  Even when the vet began the venture into the mouth, it was discovered that Reason was almost over-riding the drugs as he displayed overly sensitive reactions to the work being done.  The said work being done was gentle, careful and conservative and I felt at ease with the whole procedure.  Besides Reason’s hooks and the tiny over-bite, he has a normal mouth and the vet discovered nothing directly that would be causing the swelling I described.  As the vet worked on Reason it was noted that the big horse is pretty sensitive all-together and that there was certainly a possibility that Reason was/is sensitive to the bit.

I’ve thought about what I witnessed and what I’ve noticed yesterday during the appointment and also over the course of time I’ve been trying to figure everything out.  To me it appears Reason IS in fact sensitive in the mouth (as with almost every other part of him) and that could have contributed to the pain I’ve been sensing with him.  The vet also put in “bit seats” which makes me wonder if this could have been where most of the problem lied.  Cheek flesh, sensitive soft tissue, can get pulled back when pressure is applied to the bit and can be inflicted by the fore cheek teeth (in addition to pressure on the tounge).  Knowing how sensitive Reason was during his dentistry and under sedation, makes me believe that when the bit was even sitting in the mouth it could have been causing discomfort.  The vet recommended a rubber bit to try as well.

Trying to put together the puzzle to get Reason through this and pin down the source of pain, has not been easy.  Horses can’t talk and we must rely on our senses, in addition to a more in-depth sixth sense as it seems, to communicate and hear what they are trying to tell us.  All along I’ve known something was wrong in my gut but had to take my time and be patient and listen closely.  In the beginning I didn’t listen to my horse like I should have and only listened to one aspect of the whole big picture.  In fact I do believe that Reason’s reactions (rearing, bucking) were to pain and discomfort and really are not related to training.  I truly believe he is a wonderful, great horse with a good head on his shoulders.  But as sensitive as he is, I think that is why he had the reactions he did, where maybe another horse may have only exhibited head tossing or gaping of the mouth.  In addition to the discomfort, I became hesitant of doing much with Reason as I was unsure if it would cause him pain.  He sensed this in me and knew he could all avoid the pain itself and the pain causer (me) with dominance.  Well, now that I’ve had two professionals in different fields address him from different perspectives, I do have a clearer, better understanding of what is going on and how to change the outcome.

I have taken away a lot through this whole ordeal and have learned a lot as well.  That’s what it’s all about, right?  Lots of learning.

Today visiting Reason, he seemed happier, quieter and wasn’t trying to ‘tell me something.’

I think it’s safe to say that chapter has ended and a new one is beginning.  Such a relief.

2 Years Past.

I didn’t write anything last year, but I’m writing something this year.  Two years ago today I lost Ink, my very special horse who taught me a boat load in the short span of the near 5 years that I had him.  I have moved on and made my peace with the past, but I still miss him and do wonder what things would be like if he was still here.  Shortly after his passing I saw Doves on numerous occasions and in odd places.  But it was the Hawk that stuck around and who comes about even now, that I am reminded of him and comforted by his never-ending presence in my life.  Ink started it all.  I miss you my big beautiful horse.

 

Chasing a Weak Body. Back to Riding.

I haven’t ridden for some time.  When you don’t ride on a regular basis your muscles developed for riding and staying balanced on the top of the horse are weak.  The lower leg moves about; you pursue a battle with the heels.  They occasionally want to come up and don’t always want to stay secured, quietly placed like they’re supposed to.  The upper body at times loses balance and topples back and forth as you try to keep it quiet, relaxed and following the motion.  Oh, the fun of chasing after a weak body.  As I made my way around the arena, this was me.  Minor battles and disagreements with different parts of my body, all the while trying to remain quiet and supportive for the horse while absorbing each step and stride as they came.

My first jumps back in the game were nothing special, small little cross rails that were meant to help me get the feel of things again.  But the following week I scooted over a 3 foot jump on the back of a handsome hunk of a horse whose name couldn’t be more befitting.    I didn’t do him justice; I had to reel in my mind and body to see myself over the jump and he saved me as I scrambled to make the distances.  But he took me over the jumps and he helped me remember how much fun jumping can be.  I haven’t jumped a real sized jump or even jumped on a horse like him in what seems like forever.  Since my lesson days at pony school.  But on the back of this Warmblood I got my wings back and ate up the silence when you’re up in the air and landed each time with more and more hunger.

Yesterday I rode another horse who is a bit more green than the big horse.  An OTTB gelding in a cute, compact, bay package.  This little guy has a super fun jump and is just fun overall to ride.  I’m excited to spend more time with him and on him. (Pictured left)

I’m learning to let go and get back into the game I’ve missed for quite a while.  I used to be able to ride the way I want to now, but it will come back and I’m hoping it will come back even better this time.

Reason is doing well and will be going on a trip redux towards the end of the month to hopefully bring some answers to whatever is going on with him.  Reason’s cheeks swell the following day after a ride and has me confused.  The swelling goes down consistently over the course of a few days, however it’s presence, including when it comes only after riding, makes me think there is something going on inside the mouth, maybe.  Some answers to lead us to what to do next, would be helpful.  I’m not getting my hopes up, but I am hopeful to have some; “yes, there is something going on,” or “no, not happening in the mouth.”

More on Reason after the trip.

More about my exploration into riding and sailing as it happens :).  I’m sore but it feels so good to be back on the horse getting stuff done and making things happen.

Re-Evaluate

Yesterday Reason and Errika were to attend a clinic.  Not a riding clinic.  In a perfect world, both horses were to load and head to said clinic without a hitch.  But it didn’t work that way.  Perhaps there is a greater reason for this.  In fact, I was reminded that, everything happens for a reason from Matt.  He was disappointed we didn’t get to go as well, but was quick to say the above.

Reason managed to step into the trailer a few times, but quickly with-drew as the inner skeptic emerged.  The normal trailer that we use; the same one in 2006 that Ink stepped right in as we picked him up to bring him home, was not available which made me have to get together a plan B quickly.  The trailer is a nice 3 horse, which is inviting for the horses.  I love this trailer and if I had the money, I’d buy the exact same one.  Reason has stepped into this one without much of a thought times before and I had no reason to believe he’d address our plan B trailer without the same attitude.

I was wrong.  The trailer we used was a 2h, extra tall, extra wide.  I like Logan horse trailers.  They are solid and well-built (to my eye).  But Reason, he was not into this trailer apparently.  I attributed it to the fact that it wasn’t a 3h therefore the space in the rear, was not as large and therefore not as inviting.  Lesson learned.

unfortunately without a trailer to practice loading in and out of on a regular basis, I’m kind of stuck.  After selling my little Miley trailer (that Errika loved, but was WAY too small for anything larger than her) I’m looking for a trailer.    It kind of stinks not having one right there to use, although we have managed.  And so the hunt for a trailer commences.