A great lesson, #*&!%! scratches and Fling’s tantrum

Happy Fourth of July!

I had a really productive lesson yesterday. We continued to work on Fling’s canter and getting her to RESPOND to my half halts, and also on my position. Her trot work is quite good – shoulder in is much better, we can properly do a renvers. All good there. As is often the case, the canter is the ‘last frontier.’ I had her in super canter work last fall, but lost it somewhere along the way. I can recognize is when I feel it, but I can’t always find it on my own.

We worked at trot first, doing some of the same exercises we’d do at canter – haunches in on a circle, renver on the circle. Going from one to another. Let me tell you, it’s a difficult geometric mental image to keep the circle, and keep the correct bend required for each maneuver. I think most of the time I was just guessing! LOL. Worked on my position –  I need to remember to make myself as tall as I can from my naval to my chin to influence her better with my seat – not a leaning back, grinding the seat in the saddle – that is wrong and will put her on the forehand.  But to think as  my body as sort of a ‘lever’ and the longer/taller it is, the more influence it can have on her. Also need to work on keeping my shoulders back without hollowing my back – something I always know but is hard to do because I am slightly swaybacked and my tendency is to always hollow my back if I try to really put my shoulders back.

Also work at trying to get leg longer – esp my right leg – and heels back slightly and to keep spurs off her sides. Need to keep a flexible heel with the feeling of a teeter-totter. (Note – I figure it’s always been a good lesson if you can barely walk when you get off your horse. Such was the case yesterday, and today my right hamstring hurts from the stretching it took yesterday!)

Also worked trot to canter transitions which have been hard for her since it’s been so long since she had to do them. She is most convinced that it is not even POSSIBLE for her to do that anymore and if I make her, they have been awful. Because her trot was better, she had no trouble doing trot to canter transitions. I  need to SIT onmy  inside seat bone, even when asking for haunches in on the canter. That feels really WRONG to me – it really feels like I need to be sitting on my outside seat bone, but that’s not the case. So a real struggle for me to sit on the inside while asking for haunches in at canter. We used that exercise to control her more and it also made her LISTEN to my halt halts. We spiraled in on the circle so it became a ‘schooling’ canter pirouette and boy did it make a difference in the quality of her canter!  We did almost the same thing at walk first to improve walk pirouettes and it was harder to do at the walk than it was at the canter! I am starting to feel we’ll be ready to show Third level this fall. (but am afraid to even type that!!)

The Battle of the Scratches continues. It took me an hour and a half this a.m. to treat them all. And that didn’t include clipping Faxx’s legs, which I did last night. The protocol for now is to wash with a anti fungal shampoo, available from Walmart – hexachlora-something.  Then dry, and mix together a goop made of Desitin (zinc oxide), 1% hydrocortisone and triple antibiotic ointment. You are supposed to apply that twice daily. It takes about 3 tubes of the zinc oxide and a tube each of the hydrocortisone and the triple antibiotic to treat them each time. I had to make an early morning Walmart run to pick up more supplies before I could treat them this a.m. so they had to stay locked in their stalls much longer than normal.By the time I got home it was 9, and they were demanding to be let out of their stalls!

 Visually, Faeryn’s are worst, but yesterday Faxx developed swelling in both rear legs, signs the scratches are actually worse. Even tho he has very few little scabs, the fungus or whatever causes scratches, has become systemic. Penicillin or other antibiotic is called for in this case, and of course I had none and the feed store is closed today. (Unlike human medicine, penicillin is available OTC for livestock.)  I am hoping Tractor Supply is open and has some. I clipped his legs yesterday, which I should have done at the first sign of them. Clipping allows the ‘goop’ to make better contact with the leg and helps it dry out faster when it does get wet.

The battle continues with Faeryn over treating her scratches. I have not clipped her legs yet either – she still had goop on them this a.m. and I did not relish having to scrub it off, fighting her every step of the way. So I just slathered on more stuff, trying to sneak in scratching a few scabs off as I did. Our poor horse shoer comes Wednesday and he is going to have double fun – first, she has gotten horrible about having her legs handled due to this, plus they are covered with white goop! I think a generous tip will be in order here!

However, Fling won the prize for being the most difficult child today. Since she has very few visible scabs, I only scrubbed her with the hexachlorawhatever last night. So she had no goop on her legs. So I decided to clip her legs, but wanted to scrub them again first. In her mind, she was already 2 hours late in getting set ‘free’ and she was WILD to get out of her stall. She was fairly good getting scrubbed, tho. A little worse for getting her legs clipped (I toweled them dry and then could clip them while damp.) However, before you put the goop on them, their legs need to be DRY, so Fling had to stand tied in the aisle while they dried. If I had put her in her stall, she would have gotten shavings all over them. This is where Fling pitched a tantrum the likes of which I have not seen in a very long time. She kept spinning around on the crossties, so I moved her and tied her to the doorframe at the front of one of the stalls. She pawed, she raked her teeth up and down the metal bars of the stall (ouch!!). She tried to get the stall door open, she threw herself against the front of the stalls, pawed some more. So this went on – lather, rinse, repeat. I patently ignored her, first cleaning stalls, then treating Faxx and Faeryn in their stalls. Mentally I ‘dug in’ for the long haul – determined not to pay a bit of attention to her, or finish treating her before she gave up. Really, it was almost funny, and sometimes I had a hard time not laughing at her.

Fling is the smartest horse I’ve ever had. She can open doors, and she has an ‘awareness’ I’ve never seen in another horse. (Example: I had exhaust fans put in the barn last week to help make it cooler. The other horses never noticed them at all. They are at each end of the barn, up in the gables. The first time I brought Fling into the barn after they were installed, she immediately looked up at one on one end, then looked to the other one at the other end. Freaky.)

So, finally, Fling settled down – she had worked herself into an all-over sweat. I was easily able to apply the  ‘goop’ to her legs. When I went to put her out she took off at a gallop and that set Faeryn and Faxx, in their stalls, into a tizzy. When I let them out, they each went galloping after Fling and they all had a good gallop around the pasture.

I have not looked at my arena yet – we got about 8, yes 8 inches of rain the past few days. Much of Houston had flooded streets, etc.  Around here it’s either drought or drown! Not much in-between! I hope I can ride today – we’re less than two weeks away from Regionals and Faxx has not been ridden since Tuesday. 

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