Monthly Archives: August 2010

Super ride on Fling – and ‘cooler’ weather!

I was shocked when I heard the weatherperson say it was 99 yesterday – sure did not feel like it. In fact, it felt downright pleasant, since the humidity was definitely a lot lower.

I rode Fling and she was super. Still riding for a very short time, and not working her really hard. But her trot half passes are much improved. I did a bit of canter last night and she felt very balanced and in self-carriage, so I did a few large schooling canter pirouettes. Wow. That is definitely going to be Fling’s forte. She has a very powerful hind end – the best of all my Frohwind offspring – and therefore it is comparatively easy for her to carry weight on her hind. I know the circle is still too large, but it felt super balanced and very controlled.

The drier weather is holding for the next few days so hopefully I can get back to riding two a day, even if just for the next few days. This weekend will be spent mostly painting at my Med Center condo, getting it ready to re-lease. It is undergoing a huge remodel. I am putting in new interior doors (7 – which I have had to paint, 2 coats on each side of each door), and new porcelain tile flooring.  I had the oh-so-70s popcorn ceiling removed, I primed and painted all the ceilings, am having wide baseboard molding put in throughout (which I also have to paint!), new light fixtures throughout and I am painting every square inch – walls, ceiling, closets, trim around doors, pantry shelves, built-in bookshelves, linen closet shelves and kitchen cabinets. It’s a big job, but will make the place almost like new. I bought it right out of college, lived there for four years and it’s been a rental ever since. I completely redid the bathroom about 5 years ago and did a partial kitchen remodel with new sink/faucet/countertops and tile floor about 5 years ago. I grumble about the work, but I do enjoy remodeling projects – plus my tenant lived there 6 1/2 years, so in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t had to spent a lot of time on it.

I am taking time out to get a lesson this weekend, tho. If the cooler weather holds, I might take Fling!


Fling breaks out of jail and a frustrating 6 weeks

As a recap, Fling has been on-again, off-again lame the past six weeks, ever since her front feet were ‘butchered’ by a substitute shoer. Not only did he cut her so short and take off so much sole that she had massive bruising on her left front, he also chopped her heels, drastically changing the angle of her foot. Our regular shoer came Wednesday and started ‘repair work’ to fix the damage. In the meantime, Fling has been confined to the round pen and arena (they have an adjoining gate I can leave open) to keep her from bombing around the pasture. Due to the bad shoe job, she was a high risk for a suspensory injury. I’ve only ridden her sporadically during this time, and pretty much only at walk with some trot.

So our shoer came and first put gel pack in her sole and then leather pads on her. He remarked she still had signs of massive sole bruising to the left front. No s*)t Sherlock – she was completely NON WEIGHT BEARING on the left front for probably 3-4 days after idiot shoer came. The heel issue will be a slower fix – can’t be repaired in one trip, hence my concern about her having unrestricted access to the big field. If you want to find a silver lining, it’s been so hot they’re all getting ridden less anyway. BUT, I was going to try and show Fling Third level in Oct. and now not so sure that will happen. She still looked ‘off’ after the shoeing and my shoer said that would probably be the case for a few days as she adjusts to new heel angles. Sure enough, by Friday she looked good and I rode her very lightly – mostly walk, lots of lateral work, and some trot. Her half passes are definitely better.

Faxx was off too since we pulled his front shoes after he lost one mid-cycle, and he kept coming in slightly off due to bruising. So I had shoes put back on him, and, to be on the safe side, Faeryn too, since she was barefoot also. Faeryn is the ONLY one who seems to have really hard soles since she has not taken a lame step during all this really dry weather.

I had lessons scheduled far in advance for both days this weekend, but since a) I am remodeling my condo and working like a dog over there to get it ready to re-lease and b) Faeryn was the only sound one, or the only one really “up” to a full lesson, I canceled for Sat. and just went Sunday.

I should have known better to hook up the trailer in broad daylight where Fling could see. 😉  As soon as she saw me, she started racing around the arena. She really thought she was going to get to go somewhere! And then suddenly, she was in the pasture galloping madly around with Faxx and Faeryn in her wake. “Oh crap,” I thought. She’s torn down the electric fencing.”  Upon closer inspection – all fencing was intact. She JUMPED out of the arena. I watched her long enough to see her trot and she looked sound. So I just sighed and continued with what I was doing.

Faeryn has not been anywhere since going to the Pine Hill show in May, but she was a very good girl and did not even require lunging when I got there. I explained to Marie about her canter issue, and she watched us go and gave some good pointers and some very good exercises to not only improve her canter, but to get her more honestly on the outside rein, and to also get her to quit blowing through my half halts. She commented that there’s a lot fancier mover in there than what I was currently getting from Faeryn. That’s my feeling too. The key is half halts and lots of transitions. She had me to trot, walk two steps, then immediately trot off – several times. I could feel her trot getting more power.  She also needs to ‘sit’ more in her lengthenings, which I can definitley feel. We definitely did not work as hard as I usually do – it’s just too hot. But we got good ‘homework’ for our everyday sessions. And that was my main goal.

I hope to show Faeryn at first level at a schooling show on Sept. 19 and Faxx will hopefully make his first level debut on Sept. 11.



MAYBE everyone is sound..

I rode Fling last night. First I just decided to walk her around the pasture. “Walk” being a relative thing, as it took about 1 half-halt per second to keep Fling at a walk. Plus a few full halts and a few full halt and back-ups. Finally after about ten minutes I had convinced her that, yes, she actually WAS going to WALK and that TROT was not required at the moment. She felt good, running through a bunch of lateral work. Finally I decided to do a short little ‘experimental’ trot on the softest ground I could find. Felt OK. So I did a bit more and she seemed fine. Probably did about 5 minutes of trot all totaled. Then we did more walk – harder stuff like turn on haunches and schooling walk pirouettes. And not wanting to push my luck, I headed to the barn, and fortunately caught sight of Faxx trotting a few steps – he looks sound. I’ll do a more thorough test tonight.

For now, Fling remains in the round pen/arena until Jerry comes next week. Her front feet are out of whack since ‘substitute shoer’ did one and Jerry did the other. They do not match at all. And I don’t want to do anything strenuous with her until they match. and she has pads. And I am sure she is completely 100%.

I have my barn help raking up rocks around the barn and pasture gates today. I had crushed concrete spread around there probably 5 years ago and larger rocks keep working to the surface. From now on we will go on periodic ‘rock patrol’ to try and remove any and all rocks that have Faxx, Fling or Faeryn’s ‘name’ on them!

Three horses and two ‘flat tires’

Fling is still on and off again not quite right. Sometimes I think I am being paranoid and imagining she is not quite right. I swear if you stare at any horse long enough, it will look wonky.  She is locked i nthe arena where the ground is soft until our REGULAR shoer comes in two weeks – at which time I’ll have pads put on her. I really think her on again/off again ouchiness is still related to deep bruising in her foot due to the *&^% shoer who cut her too short. She’s now been mostly out of commission for a month. Two steps forward, one step back.

And Faxx is now lame, too, coincidentally on the same foot as Fling. He lost a shoe last week (more super shoeing by the *&^% shoer) and I had our regular guy come and pull his other shoe and trim him since I did not want to get him off schedule with everyone else. Two days later, he was sound when I saw him motoring around the pasture and then an hour later when I saw him he was lame. I suspect it is a stone bruise since I am sure he is a bit tenderfooted being barefoot for the first time in a year.

And so that leaves Faeryn as the ‘last man standing.’  Her right lead canter has gotten wonky again and I am frustrated with trying to diagnose the problem. time to call in the experts. When Marie gets back from Germany Faeryn will go for a lesson and hopefully we’ll get it sorted out.

It’s too hot to ride until around 7, so they’re all getting short shrift anyway. I certainly don’t hear anyone complaining about not getting ridden enough – except maybe Fling. I think she DOES miss the work. Tomorrow I will ride her at a walk and do a ‘test trot’ and see how she feels.

Faxx tries out some Second level moves

For most of the time that I have been riding him, Faxx has been my toughest horse. Not because he is uncooperative or naughty. The main reason he is hard for me to ride is the very reason why he is such a nice horse — he’s a BIG mover. And he’s a big mover who was not terribly keen on taking steady contact with the bit.  That issue, at home anyway, is mostly a non-issue now. It does pop up at shows now and again, but he’s made huge strides in that area. The other reason he’s been tough to ride is that to be able to SIT that huge trot of his, he has to be completely through and connected with the bit. For a long time now, I’ve been able to sit the trot for short periods, until Faxx comes off the bit and drops his back. Then it’s been back to posting trot – even iof just for a few strides – to get him connected, and his back up and round, in order to go back to sitting trot.

Lately, I’ve been able to sit his trot ‘at will,’ as it were. And, now, when he ‘falls apart’ a little, I can often ‘fix’ him without posting the trot.

Suddenly, Faxx is no longer difficult for me to ride. It has been a long road, but one so worth traveling. Faxx has a super brain, and is a really sweet, good-natured, honest boy. Not the sharpest crayon in the box, but that’s OK. Fling is smart enough for all three of them. A high IQ is not a prerequisite for being a successful dressage horse!

He’s been working so well, last night I decided to try a few tougher moves to see how he would handle them. Canter is his best gait – people are awed by his trot, that has a ton of suspension, but he has a terrific ‘born-in’ canter that is super easy to ride. Plus, he’s very balanced at the canter – more so than the trot. (Which makes him the polar opposite of Faeryn.)

So, there’s a move from Second level – test 1, I think, where you do a three-loop serpentine the entire width of the arena, so you are in counter canter for a portion of it.  Most horses sort of ‘fall down’ during the counter canter part at first – or want to speed up to maintain their balance through that. Not Faxx. He has no trouble with the counter canter, or maintaining his balance.  Then I tried some 10-meter canter circles. Same thing – no trouble. What a good boy!!  Then I again asked for canter to walk transition – remembering to half half several times and try and use my seat more in the downward – he had ONE trot step, but the transition was very ‘up’ and he maintained his throughness.

And so I quit on that! I always thought Faeryn would get to second level before Faxx,but now I am wondering. Perhaps I just have not been ‘challenging’ Faxx enough? That is the biggest problem with my riding (and with most amateurs). We love our horses so much, we are happy with what they give us – and we do not ‘push the envelope’ often enough. It’s that ‘pushing the envelope’ that gets you from one level to the next.

Fling is still ouchy

Fling is a high energy horse and I really hate to lock her in a stall for any length of time unless absolutely necessary. but I am thinking that’s what I will have to do to finally get her 100%. When I watch her trot, it’s like this: sound, sound, sound, ouch, sound, sound, sound, sound, ouch, ouch, sound, sound….  Of course she can go bombing across the pasture at a full-out gallop with absolutely no trouble — and that’s part of the problem.  She is not being ‘quiet’ enough to let her bruised sole completely heal. I started painting the soles of her feet with iodine – that’s supposed to toughen them up. Fling likes to work and she keeps looking at me as if to say “Why aren’t you riding ME?” whenever I get Faxx or Faeryn out of the field and leave her. She follows all the way to the fence and stands there, just watching.

Faeryn’s canter felt especially wonky and disorganized to me today, so I decided to start doing short stretches of canter, with many transitions from trot to canter and also walk to canter (which is new to her, and still difficult). The canter depart itself is a good ‘strength-building’ exercise and after a few I could see that it had already helped her ‘organize’ her canter better. One thing Faeryn likes to do, which feels great and is fun, is just leap into the canter. As much as it makes me smile when she does that, I need to break her of that habit. Leaping is ok to a degree, but instead of leaping up and forward – she is just mainly leaping up — and even tho she does it with her back really UP — it’s not correct because it’s not FORWARD enough.  

I often wonder how a horse feels about dressage – a sport where the work just continually gets harder, and when we teach them one thing, we are always going back and sort of ‘undoing’ what we taught them to make it better. For instance, when Faeryn was first under saddle, almost any canter depart was good, as long as it was on the correct lead. Now, not only does it have to be on the correct lead, it needs to be forward, upward, prompt, in correct bend, yada yada yada. It really is a wonder every dressage horse just doesn’t go on strike at some point.

I do think it is easier if you take a horse and do dressage from the get-go — rather than taking a horse who has been used to not working very hard, and then ask him to be a dressage horse. With mine, I figure they have no idea there is anything easier to do, since they’ve been dressage horses from the beginning. Or, probably horses don’t quite think about things as much as I do. 😉  Their thought process is probably something like this:  “yea, food!”  Yipee — turnout! Work — ok. Yea! Food!”   Except for Fling. Sometimes I think Fling is thinking about quantum physics in her spare time.