Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pony Boot Camp Day Three

English Tack, New Saddle, Ride time is 1 hour

This was the day that I was able to borrow my moms friends saddle, to see how it fit her.  I tacked her up, and went to ride, and she felt great.  I think she does much better with the noseband bridle.

She was feeling really good, but then I kept thinking that the saddle seemed too far back.  So, I moved the saddle into proper placement, and she didn't feel quite as good.

Then, I realized, have I been putting an english saddle too far forward this whole time, and thats where my saddle fit problems are coming from? I'm obviously used to tacking up western, which the saddle is much further forward than it should be english.  I noticed a slight difference in her left lead lope, which makes me think that possibly she needs a follow up with the chiropractor.

When we loped with the saddle further back, it was seriously wonderful.  Smooth as butter.  Once I moved it up though, my seat was harder to control, and she wasn't quite as responsive.  After our ride, she had even sweat marks, so I hosed her off (it was 95 degrees!) and let her in the arena.  She marathon rolled (as always!) and then ran around quite a bit.  After she finally came down, I worked with her a little at liberty.  She still will not walk up to me, but as long as I am walking towards her, she will walk towards me.  I see that as confidence lacking, which is already one of my goals to be working towards.  She followed me except for a short period when she went back to the gate, but for the most part she was good at following me around.

I brushed her, and went to put her away.  There is a stretch from the tack area to her pen that is right in front of the barn where she gets super rude.  She doesn't necessarily mean to, but she just picks up the pace walking and gets faster than me.  We have been working on it, but this day she was much better about it.  I walked super slow, and she was focused on my feet, she wouldn't move a foot unless my foot was moving as well.

Pony Boot Camp Day 2

Friday July 19th.
English tack, 45 minutes ride time.

- 1 lap each direction walked
- 1 lap each direction extended trot
- 1 lap each direction walking in two point
- 1 lap each direction sitting trot
- 1 lap and a few circles on each end loping

Of course I did some trot after the lope, and some walk in between and such.

Here is what I wrote in my journal

'She was much calmer and slower today.  We also had the arena to ourselves which makes a difference. It was easier to get a sitting trot if I did an extended trot first.  The first few circles of lope were quick, but she quickly slowed herself down and calmed down.  She was slightly better at the trot after we loped (usually she anticipates loping again and gets super fast in her trot after we lope once) '

It was nice to see that after only a day of some focused work how she was responding nicely.

Pony Boot Camp Day 1

So as it turns out I'm better at keeping an old fashioned journal to chronicle my Pony Boot Camp, than I am at keeping an online journal! So, let me catch you guys up on whats been going on.  This is day one, Thursday July 18th.

We rode english, the ride time was about 45 minutes.

I had a very short amount of time, I was definitely running late.  Here's what we did

- 1 full lap in each direction at the walk, cutting across the diagonal after 1 lap.
- 1 full lap in each direction at the walk, cutting across the diagonal after 1 lap, in two point the entire time.
- 1 full lap in each direction at a sitting trot, cutting across the diagonal after 1 lap.
- 1 full lap in each direction at an extended trot, cutting across the diagonal after 1 lap.
- 1 lap each direction loping.

She was somewhat hot and funny, but of course this was after her not being worked for quite some time!  I definitely should have done an extended trot before the sitting trot, a slow jog has never been her forte.  However, once I let her extend her trot a little, it felt absolutely wonderful.  It felt so springy and loose.

So, I came up with a list of goals that I hope to have seen an improvement in by day 30 of Pony Boot Camp.

30 Day Pony Boot Camp Goals

- Will drop head and be soft on bit at a walk and trot for a good amount of time.  When I say a 'good amount of time' that means not much more than 6 or 7 strides. Collecting herself is tough for her, and it is requiring muscles that are not developed at the moment.  So, I am not asking for a miracle, just progress.
- More exact walk > trot transition.  Thats our worst transition. I have no clue why.  It's seriously hideous though.
- An acceptable lope > trot transition.  This one is SUPER tough for both of us.  She listens to my body nicely when I ask her to transition down from the lope, but then its either a jackhammer trot or she trots a few steps and stops, and no amount of squeezing in those few steps will make her keep going in that trot.  Such a fickle pony.
- Calm and Collected simple lead changes.  I don't actually mean her being collected, just that I want to be able to have a simple lead change where she doesn't loose her brain.
- I should be able to sustain two point for at least a full two laps in any gait. (I may have reached a little high for this one....)
- Calmer and slower lope overall.
- Work on engaging core and having a better seated trot at varied speeds. (Who knows how difficult it is to sit a trot in a jump saddle? It is SO difficult.  I can sit a trot bareback better than I can in my jump tack.  This one needs some work.)
- Work on engaging core and get my butt glued to the saddle in a lope.
- Better hind end control, better rollbacks and spins.

I also have a list of things that I would like to improve in the bigger picture scheme.

Overall Goals

- Improve/continue carrot stretches.
- Improve flexibility (massage/stretches)
- Improve her ability on her right side (she gets upset if you lead her/are on her right side.)
- Improve her confidence, work on sending her over things by herself.
- Circus pony tricks!
- Teach her to lay down.
- Teach her to pick up her legs with mine.

I have more posts to do about each ride since then, but so far we are doing great!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tomorrow Begins

Marissa and Pony boot camp.

Me and Pony have a lot in common right now.

1) We're fat.

2) We're out of shape.

3) Neither of us have a job

4) We've had lots of time off

I rode yesterday, and I could barely drag my fat ass out of the saddle into two point.

In case you didn't know, two months off of riding will really make those muscles go flabby.  Since Pony's mysterious offness has been cured by the chiropractor (I officially fully advocate Equine Chiropractors, assuming you get referrals and get a trustworthy one) she is feeling good, and I can start riding her again.

I rode yesterday, and she feels so dang good.  She's got her left lead back, and it is smooth as butter.  I suppose having restricted movement in your hip will really throw you off canter! (Teehee, I'm punny)

Due to schedules changing, I am currently unemployed (life of a nanny!) so while I am on the job search, it will be whipping me and my pony back into shape time.

Does anyone have any good advice on a good regime to stick to? Basically, she is literally the energizer bunny and I get worn out before she does, but she forsurely needs to lose some weight, but hey, I'd rather have an easy keeper than a hard keeper! (go mustangs!) I'd like to have a base and continue to build each day.

In other news, I'm getting a saddle to try (english) from a friend of my moms (aka, I can borrow it for free for as long as I want) and I am crossing my fingers that it fits my fat hard to fit pony.  Seriously, she isn't fitting in any saddle (except for the expensive sentimental western saddle that she doesn't prefer to go in).  Her english saddle gets tight on the shoulders and then bridges the back a little, my moms friends saddle is what she used on her thoroughbreds, so she thinks its probably pretty narrow.  I've tried going wider on Pony, and I think that narrower is the way to go, wider does nothing but make it even tighter on her shoulders.  She loves being ridden english so I KNOW we will be on the path to success if I can find her a saddle that feels good for her!

Originally there were a few jumping shows at the end of the summer that I really wanted to spend the summer working towards, but with all the lameness and tack problems, I don't know if thats going to be a viable option, but we'll see how we feel a month from now!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cute English pony

I turned in a bunch of coins to coinstar a few weeks ago, and rather than get cash (they take out 10%) I chose to get money for amazon (they don't take a percentage). I figured that way I could get lots of horsey things! 

I found a bridle I really liked, an English one. It was only 40 dollars, so I didn't have very high hopes for it being very soft leather. The brand is gatsby. 

I got it, and couldn't wait to try it on pony!  The leather was actually pretty impressive. It's not exactly buttery soft, but it definitely doesn't feel or look cheap. It's got a pretty stitched browband and noseband.  It's dark leather, and I ordered pony sized. They offered cob, pony, horse and oversized. Usually horse sized are too big and I have to punch more holes and it ends up looking raggedy with long tails out of every place. However, the pony sized wouldn't have fit if it had been even a centimeter smaller! I had to punch a hole to drop the bit a little more, but other than that, it's JUUUST perfect. 

Heaven forbid I ever have to put it on a different horse though. The one thing I don't like is that the reins are somewhat short. I'm wondering if they are pony length reins since its a pony sized bridle....

Or maybe I'm just used to riding with long reins!

Anyways, pony looks AWESOME in it. While I was waiting for my trainer to show up (I wanted her to look at it before I ripped off the tag) I was bored and I braided her mane. Anyways, she ended up looking super legit English Pony, it was sooo cute! 

Now I just need to shave her ears and whiskers and feathers and bang her tail and pull her mane....

Haha just kidding, over my dead body will anyone shave her feathers or pull her mane!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chiro work

Finally, Tuesday evening, the chiropractor was able to make it out. The barn was EMPTY since it was still 95 degrees at 7pm. She was super nice and had me walk out pony to show her the movement. 

She noticed off the bat that her left hip had restricted movement in it, and her tail was slightly set off to the left. She stood on a block thingy and pushed on her hip and back, Pony was a champ for it.

The chiro loved Pony, she thought she was adorable and actually ended up charging me a little less since Pony was well behaved and so small and easy. Makes me a proud horse momma :) (even though Pony was basically born with good manners, alllll on her own). 

It was cool, because she has a program where she puts in what was out, and it sends me an email with a follow up report and diagrams so I know where stuff was going on. She had a few vertabrae out, which was probably what was causing her back soreness. 

I came out the next day to ride, and while she still felt like she could be slightly sore (obviously, the muscles are all now being used differently) she picked up her left lead immediately and it was smooth as a baby's bottom. 

I'm going to include the diagrams I got sent, in case anyone is interested...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Flexion Test

So today I went out to the barn (in 104 degree temperature) and ran around with my Pony.

I sat down afterwards and thought I was going to die.  Why is it so difficult to do things when its so hot? I really prefer humidity when it's hot, I personally think that a dry heat is way worse, but I know barely anyone in the world feels that way haha.

So, I was alone and didn't feel like waiting around for my trainer, so I did the flexion test by myself.  I set up my phone recording on the table, walked past it, lifted the legs, waited, then trotted her out.  The first time she had no idea what I was asking of her, and I ended up with rope burn on my hand.  OUCH.

Learned my lesson there!

Anyways, what I have to show you is her hind flexion.  I wish I had gotten more of her trotting, but oh well, this is what I have.

You can skip to 1:07 to watch her RH trotting out, and skip to 2:03 to see her LH trotting out.  At first, I didn't see anything, but now watching it again, I'm seeing some lameness in the LH.  Remember, I've been having some problems with the left hind.  However, she had a lot of back pain on her right side, and she loved it when I massaged in front of her hip on the flank on the left side.

So, while I do see a little lameness, I still don't think thats the problem I've been having.  I figured if it is something that has been causing her problems, the flexion test would make it way obvious.  We watched her move from the back, and neither of us saw any difference in the hips when she walked or trotted.  However, if she has a vertabrae out, then that wouldn't be obvious in the hips, but could still cause her problems.

So I have officially emailed the chiropractor, and I cannot wait to have her out.  Let me know if you guys are drawing any conclusions that I haven't though about yet. I just can't seem to see any other options of what this mysterious 'offness' could be, since there is absolutely NO lameness.  I read online that someone that had super similar problems ended up their horse had a neuro problem similar to wobblers... I did a neuro test on her and she doesn't have any problems there.