Friday, May 30, 2014

Rain and Mud.... Ick! (warning: snake pictures at the bottom of the post)

Funny how I was just saying he looks leggy and then I take this picture above where he looks short and THICK!  Funny how perspective works hehe.

We've been getting a LOT of rain.  It didn't really bother me when my back was hurting because I couldn't do anything anyway, but now that I'm feeling better I'm really annoyed.  I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I'm really not a fan of rain.  Obviously I'm happy when we get it because it makes the grass grow and living things need water.... but a week straight.... really?  Grr!

So since I'm evidently a fair weather rider and have no desire to go slop through the mud I'll just share pictures (I took during a break in the weather) of it instead LOL!!!


 In front of the small gate to the pasture.

 Poor Chrome is so itchy.
Can't wait to get some claritan for him.

In front of the big gate.  Not too bad.
I can still walk through it without mud boots thank goodness! 

 In front of the barn is a SWAMP!
There's even water inside the barn.  :(

Before the rain started this was bone dry....  we had hay on the right side (a mixed grass bale that someone gave us that they only ate half of, they weren't crazy about it) when it was drier, but when I saw the forecast I asked my hubby to put the new bale on the left side.... which until now has stayed completely dry.  Oh well it's still drier than anywhere else.  Zep appreciates it because he hates rain.  He would rather starve than stand out in it to eat.  Once I get a part time job and pay off our OUTRAGEOUS property taxes in two counties (wish our renters would buy the old place and get it off our hands) I'm going to buy some gravel for the barns.  :)   There are drainage problems that need taken care of too.

Zep says thanks!

 Walking toward the pond.  Another swamp!

 The pond is FULL!!!  It was a foot lower than this a week ago.

 Yep, definitely up a good foot.

 Chrome follows me around like a puppy.

 Tadpoles!!!!!!! I saw a bullfrog the other day too.

 Chrome thought I wanted him to get a drink I guess hehe.
If I stand by the pond, he drinks.  Love it!

 I started stalking wildlife.
A lizard! He's hiding behind a stick lol.

 Little bitty teeny tiny baby turtle!  Cute!

Chrome got bored and decided to graze.

Jackal was pissed I left him behind and stared daggers at me the whole time.


For those of you who don't like snakes please stop reading here!  When I first walked up to the pond I startled a snake, but I didn't think much of it because there are always black water snakes out there.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this guy!!

At first I thought it was a cottonmouth, but after doing some research I figured out it's just another non-poisonous water snake.  I'm just not used to the colorful ones.  The thing that makes it hard to identify them is because both cottonmouths and water snakes can be colored like this or solid black, olive green or brown.  I'll share with you some of the ways to tell them apart.

 This guy was around two feet long.  He just looks bigger in pictures.
This picture shows his cool coloring.

Water snakes swim with their heads above water, but their bodies are submerged.  Cottonmouths puff up their lungs when swimming so their whole body floats on the water.  Water snakes rarely come up on land (but will sun on sticks above the water) where cottonmouths are just as happy on land as in water.  Cottonmouths when threatened (if you throw a rock at it, don't get close) will open their mouths and show the white inside.  Water snakes dive under water to hide.  Cottonmouths can be territorial and threatening, but aren't always.  Water snakes are usually fairly shy.  This one was swimming circles around the pond, hunting I guess, but he would dive under water if I waved my arms or startled him.  He wasn't as shy as the black ones that I'm used to though, which is why I took the pictures and went to research it.  Now on to physical characteristics....

Here is a close up of his head.  The water snake has a rounded head with his eyes visible from above.  The cottonmouth has a flat head with hooded, vertical eyes that you can't see from above.  Water snakes have round pupils and cottonmouth have oval pupils (they can make them into slits in bright light I'm pretty sure).  Water snakes have a rounded nose, cottonmouths are blunt.  Cottonmouths also have a pit between their eyes and nose, but I'm not getting close enough to see that LOL!!  I think the eyes are the easiest way to identify it in pictures.  However if you can't take pictures, they move so fast it's hard to tell when they are swimming around, so just be careful!!  I thought this was a poisonous snake until I got this close up and could see his eyes more on top of his head than a cottonmouth is.  :)  He's not poisonous and won't hurt anything so I'll leave him alone.

Anyway sorry if I scared anyone with the snake.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Leggy Boy

I keep looking at this picture of Chrome (I made it my desktop background) from last weekend and thinking.... man he's still really leggy!!!  Is that because he's five?  Or does he just not have a deep heart girth?  Will it get deeper as he fills out and matures some more?  Or maybe it's an optical illusion from hubby zooming in (we weren't close)....  anyway it's not a big deal.  Just one of those weird things I think about when I'm bored (being injured sucks!) and thought I would get your opinions for fun.  :D

I also noticed he looks thin in this picture (athletic thin, not too thin), but in real life he looks kind of fat LOL!!  I think he's one of those special horses that loses weight in pictures instead of gaining it.  Just another bored observation I made.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blog Hop: Let's Make A Baby

L from Viva Carlos came up with a GREAT blog hop this week and I can't wait to read everyone's answers.  She asked:

"If you could/were so inclined to breed your horse (1.. let's not get into the issues of backyard breeding and 2.. let's pretend your horse is a mare if it's not) WHO would you breed your horse to and Why!"

Okay first off.... thinking of Chrome as a mare had me and my husband laughing our butts off!  I don't know why it was so funny, but it's really hard to think of him as a mare.  Then I started thinking about what stallion I would pick and it's HARD!  I would never breed Chrome because of his weak stifles and sweet itch not to mention he's not even purebred.  What the heck would you breed a Friesian/Arabian cross to anyway??  Picking out stallions for a purebred is hard enough on it's own, but trying to guess what a cross would look like crossed with something else..... yeah right!

Then I remembered reading about the Arabo Friesians.  Here is more info on them (LINK),   The gist of it is they are only 5-20% Arabian and the point is to improve athleticism (I think).  So I guess I would breed him... err her back to another Friesian.  Then it gets even more difficult because of how inbred Friesians are.  They said they usually breed Arabo Friesians from the Age or Ritske lines because 90% of Friesians come from the Mark line (Chrome does) and also because they are more known for their athleticism supposedly.  I'm just parroting this from the website.  So then I had to research which stallions come from the Age or Ritske line.

Teunis 332

My first thought is that I would breed him... her to my favorite Friesian stallion Teunis 332, but after looking he has Hearke 254 three generations back and Chrome has him five generations back.  And he's from the Mark line so that didn't work anyway.  For more info on Teunis go HERE.  The pictures at the top are not him, but there is one at the bottom (which I posted above).  He was gorgeous, but he died young so it's hard to find info on him.  I did however discover that he received Preferent status several years ago which I had no idea about.  Kind of exciting!  ETA:  Another stallion I always liked was Laes 278 but he's from the Mark line as well.  Both of them are dead too, so I'd actually have to breed to one of their approved offspring if I were going to... and Laes doesn't have any approved offspring.

Anyway enough about him.. sorry for rambling, but I really liked him.   I forgot to give you the link to Chrome's Friesian grandsire Brandus 345 so here it is (LINK).  Now you can see his pedigree.  You will also notice that waaaay back in his pedigree he has Ritske in there, so if I was aiming for lowest inbreeding percentage I would probably need a stallion from the Age line.  This is so complicated and one reason I don't breed lol.

So after digging around I found the stallion Sape 381 (FB page, website & pedigree--those are three different links FYI) that they claim is descended from the rare Age line..... but looking at his pedigree he also has the Mark line.... so then I got frustrated and screamed (okay not literally) and gave up thinking THIS is why I don't breed horses because I have no idea what I'm doing or how to find a friggin horse mine isn't related to in such an inbred, complicated breed.  Besides my goal of breeding him... her back to a Friesian would be to add a little height and bone... well with this "modern" fad going on in the Friesian world it's almost impossible to find the old Baroque style anyway......  and the sad thing is I could only base my decision on inbreeding percentage and how baroque the Friesian is because I have no idea what else to base it on.  Approved Friesian stallions all look alike to me these days... and I don't know enough about conformation to pick one that would specifically compliment my horse's conformation.  I don't have what it takes to be a breeder.

Then..... I realized I couldn't breed my Chrome-mare to any of these anyway because they are APPROVED Friesian stallions!!!!  He... she would have to be bred to an unapproved stallion..... by this point I was too frustrated to care... so either my Chrome-mare is not getting bred or she's not getting bred to a Friesian.  I can't breed her to an Arabian either because I have no idea what his... her dam's breeding is.  That would also defeat the purpose of the things I would want to improve in him.... her (height, bone, stifles, etc.).  Although breeding to a Friesian probably wouldn't improve the stifles anyway.

So what other breed would cross well with a Friesian/Arabian??  I have no idea!  I thought about Andalusian, but that wouldn't really increase height/bone I don't think... maybe it would.  So since I FAIL at this whole pretend breeding thing (over think much do I?) maybe you guys could make suggestions on what breed you would cross my Chrome-mare to?  My only requirements would be a little more height (around 16hh), a little more bone (I like heavier horses... don't ask why I got an Arab cross.. just don't ask), improved stifles (no clue how to even go about that), preferably not gray because even though it's gorgeous on him I don't want another one lol (he only has one gray gene so it would be 50/50 if bred to a non-gray so no Lipizzaners!)... and I think that's it.  I would love to keep his personality and intelligence because those are my favorite things about him.  Also I'd want to keep his endurance and athleticism, so when I say heavier I'm not necessarily talking about Belgian heavy lol.  Just a little thicker boned like a Cleveland Bay or something.

Gorgeous Cleveland Bay!  
Look at those thick legs!
This is a random image from Google. 
Forgot to save the source.. sorry!

So what do you think?

L. this was fun, but very difficult!!!  It's definitely a great reminder why most people (like me) should not breed horses (especially cross breed crosses ahh!!) LOL!!!!!  It's not an easy thing to do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chrome's Dental & Vaccines

It was crowded and this is the best shot my hubby could get.

Chrome got his dental done today by the new vet and she's awesome!!! She's smart, down to earth, friendly, knowledgeable and the prices weren't as bad as I was expecting.  She said he definitely had some sharp points, but no ulceration at all so that was a relief.  She let me feel them too.  I'll make sure not to wait so long for his next one.  She also made sure to get the molars around where the bit would be really smooth since I told her I was going to start using one.  She asked questions about him and genuinely seemed interested in everything I told her.  She asked what my plans were for him and she complimented his bone and big feet.  :D  Oh and his personality hehe.  I know vets like all well behaved animals, but she really did seem to admire him.  It made me happy!

Since we're hoping to go do things this year we went ahead and did all of his vaccines (rabies, WNV, E&W, Tetanus and I think Rhino and Influenza too, but I'll have to check the receipt... I forgot lol).  I'm terrified and checking on him every hour for reactions but she said the vaccines she uses (I forgot the brand... will have to look it up or ask) have a carrier agent that rarely causes reactions.  She didn't seem concerned at all.  The good news is she has a mobile emergency truck so if he did have a reaction she could come right back to treat him and since I had the vet do it the vaccine company would pay for it.... small comfort if things did go wrong I guess.  I'll be obsessively checking on him for a while though!  How long does it take before you know they are completely safe?  I'm probably being overly paranoid.

I also had his blood pulled for his coggins.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  As soon as she got there it started pouring rain so we had to do it on my front porch LOL!!! I wish I had a barn.  Chrome was very good as usual.  I think he liked not having to be in stocks or having his head cranked up high (I love that she lets them hold their heads naturally).  She also said I can try claritan for his Sweet Itch.  She said it works just as well as the equine antihistamine, especially if they've already started itching.  Apparently the equine kind (I think she called it TriHist) has to be started before they start getting bites.  I take claritan anyway so it's worth a try.  :)

Well that's all for now.  My back is killing me from being on my feet for so long (we had a huge Maple limb fall in the pond so we had to drag it out, cut it up and haul it out of the pasture), so I'm going to go lay down a while.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ground Work

My back has improved considerably (sitting isn't agony anymore), but it's still not good enough to ride so I just did ground work with Chrome today.  It wasn't a workout like I was doing before, but it was a good refresher on manners.  I focused on making sure if he stopped too close to me that he had to back up as well as making him back out of my way when I turn right or there's an obstacle in the way instead of me walking around him.

I worked on walking, stopping, trotting (not much because of my back-just started walking normally again today), backing, yielding haunches and shoulder as well as flexing his neck.  I was surprised that he had more trouble flexing to the right than to the left since generally he's harder to turn left when under saddle.  Strange horse.  I need to get back to his stretches because he's definitely stronger on one side than the other.  Other than that he did GREAT!  He was very compliant and relaxed.  Although he was a touch lazy he was almost willing to really move his feet when I asked him.  :)

His backing still required a heavier cue than I like... the thing is I remember when he was younger he would back off of a finger light touch, so I think his reluctance to back is because of his stifles.  When they are locking (not locking at all today yay!) it happens when he backs so he expects it to happen.  Once he takes the first step or two and doesn't lock then he backs smoothly and easily for however many steps I ask (until he gets crooked, but that's a baby horse strength thing).  So I'm going to start working on backing a lot more since it strengthens his haunches so that he can learn that it's not always hard.  When he locks I'll do something else so he won't feel frustrated by it.

Another thing I noticed is when asking him to yield his shoulder he yields better moving right than left.  It's always been that way.  Going left I had one finger on his shoulder and had to put one finger on his neck to make him step sideways instead of trying to go forward.  Going right all it takes is one finger lightly on his shoulder.  Is that stifle related too?

I'm thinking about doing ground work on his days off just to keep him tuned up and so that we are doing something.  I have a tendency to do nothing but feed and fly spray him on his days off.  He needs to do something everyday I think.  So that's the plan anyway.  Also when I can ride again I'm going to work on all of the stuff we did on the ground... walk, back, yield haunches, yield shoulders, etc.  Learning to do those under saddle I think will help him with his steering a lot.

Anyway sorry if this makes no sense.... major headache.  Tomorrow is his dental so I'll try to get pictures of that if this new vet doesn't mind.  I haven't met her yet but I've heard really great things about her so I'm excited.. but a bit nervous too lol.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ride 53 (much better cantering video!)

Today was an interesting ride!  I rode in the pasture again because I wanted hubby to get some better cantering videos.  I started out warming him up at a walk...

Before we even warmed up he already wanted a drink hehe.  I don't mind.  I want him to know drinking is a good thing and besides I got a picture for you guys this time!

While warming up I could immediately tell he was feeling sparky.  He walked slow for all of two minutes and then he was zooming around like he had rockets under his tail.  He immediately wanted to trot.  I could tell he remembered our high speed ride a few days ago lol.  He listened and stayed at a walk while we warmed up though.

Please ignore my position in the pictures and video.  I'm soooo out of practice!!  He looks awesome though!

When we started trotting I immediately lost my steering again and had to do some flexing to remind him to listen.... I can't wait to start teaching him to ride in the bit.  I really wanted to train him bitless, but I just have no idea how to make him soft in the bridle without a bit...  we need lessons sooooo bad!!!  Eight years without lessons is entirely too long!

Zep is still around... and refusing to shed out his winter coat lol.  Donkeys are soooo slow compared to horses.


This shows me losing his shoulder!  I have to teach him how to move his shoulders around.  I really need lessons so someone on the ground can yell at me to engage my core, get my elbow back, close my hand and point my toe forward.  If I rode better he would probably steer better.

Next we have the cantering video (sorry no pictures, didn't think about it).

If you watched it to the end you'll see that he got a little excited and started to crow hop (and my reins were too long!!!), but I was able to pull him out of it.  He definitely loves the faster speed!  Since he's getting too excited I'm going to stop cantering for a little while and work on our trot some more.  I'm very happy he's so willing to canter, but we need more steering before we do much more cantering.

After the crow hopping I was a little shook up (not sure why after watching the video), but my hubby told me to go again or I would lose my nerve and not want to canter again.  I asked him to trot toward the back of the pasture and without me asking he looped around trying to come back to the front of the pasture.  When I tried to get him to stop he sped up and took off with me... at the trot... yeah he didn't break out of the trot, but it still felt totally out of control. I had to run him into a corner to stop him.  WTH Chrome!!  So yeah we need a lot more trot work and stop work and steering work before we do anymore cantering.

After he "took off" with me I was a little pissed (but didn't take it out on him), so I took him to the front yard and trotted him... and trotted and trotted and trotted and trotted to teach him that he's only allowed to canter when I tell him to canter and to teach him he has to trot when and where I say to trot.  I've totally let him get away with being a spoiled brat and it's time to remind him that I make the decisions.  So I trotted him up and down the driveways and through the yard, making him stop when I said and turn when I said.  He actually did really well once he realized we weren't cantering again.  So since I was shaken I knew I had to canter again or I'd be scared of it again.  I started trotting up the driveway and he tried to duck off the side.  I circled him and made him trot straight up the driveway again.  The little shit did it again!!!!  Ducking out is such an annoying evasion!  I kicked him hard and made him trot again.  Then I asked him to canter up the driveway toward the road and he did... it was perfect.  Green horses are so confusing and frustrating.  We need lessons so bad lol.

Overall it was a good ride... it was just a reminder that he is still very green.  I've been riding him for two years, but he's only had 53 rides in those two years.  That's not a lot of riding.  Not to mention 90% of those rides were walk only.  So it's time to get to work on actually training the dingbat instead of goofing off.

After the ride we were both happy and getting along, so I'm not upset with how it went.  It ended on a good note (we spent some time discussing that stand still means STAND STILL!) with him obedient and me not scared so that's fine with me.  I just need to stop letting him get away with the small stuff because he thinks he gets to call the shots.  That's probably why he's so nervous on the road because I've just been a passenger.  Well no more!  I'm the driver now Chrome!

Spoiled brat actually had to sweat.  The ride was only forty minutes, but it was more trotting than we normally do and it was HOT!  I also noticed after I unsaddled him that he had a dry mark where there was a wrinkle in the saddle pad!  Oops!  Poor guy.  :(  I might need to switch back to the other one.  The white one I've been using is built more forward than the saddle so it doesn't fit quite right.  I'll probably go back to my square pad.  Also after the ride I tied him up and made him stand.  I think the evasions are because he thinks the sooner the ride ends the sooner he can graze in the yard.  So he's no longer getting to graze after our rides.  Grazing can happen before or a lot later after the ride.

I think that was everything.... I'm writing this a lot later after the ride than normal.  After the ride I was mucking out the barn and wrenched my back.... AGAIN!!!  I can barely walk and sitting is torture (I'm writing this laying down)... I really hope it's feeling better tomorrow.  This sucks having back problems again.  I need to start working out or stretching or something.  Well that's all for now. I need sleep!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blog Hop: Chrome wears a bit...

 ...and he doesn't like it much lol.

I spent my whole day yesterday searching for my bit that I know I have and could NOT find it, so being the impatient person I am I went and bought a new D-ring snaffle.  I think my other one is a loose ring anyway and I've heard they can pinch without bit guards so I needed a D-ring anyway.  I was going to get a full cheek, but my stupid backwoods tack stores didn't have any.  I'll still ask my friends if they have a full cheek later, but after today I think the D-ring is going to be fine.

First I put the bit in his mouth without it attached to anything to see if the width was okay (it is).  He took it immediately into his mouth and then it bumped a tooth and he jerked his head in the air.  I'm tall though so he didn't get it out of his mouth.  I held it for a minute while it chewed it so he knew it was an accident and that the bit doesn't hurt.  Then I took it out and started attaching it to my bridle.

I feel like such a dork!  I haven't put a bit on a bridle in so long it took me FOREVER to adjust it!!!  I took the noseband off because it was just making everything more difficult.

I put it back on him and he hesitated a second, but took the bit easily.  It is a bit loose in the above picture and the below video.  After taking the video I realized he got his tongue over the bit so I tightened it one more hole and put the noseband back on.  Here is a short video...

He reacted just about how I expected him to for having a bit in his mouth for the first time.  Here is a picture of it once it was adjusted correctly.

Well I think it is anyway.  It looks right to me, but if you see anything don't hesitate to make suggestions hehe.  I wish I'd managed to get a picture with his mouth closed, but with the delay it was kind of hard since he was chewing constantly.  After the video, but before this last picture, I took the bridle off to get it back over his tongue.  He hesitated again and then took it.  I didn't bump his teeth either time I bridled him so hopefully he will forget that first time lol.  Looking at his teeth I can tell they definitely need floated so I'm not riding him in the bit until after his dental on Tuesday.

After he wore the bit for a little while I stood behind his shoulder with one hand over his back and asked him to walk around while I gently steered him with the bit.  He did great!! I can't wait to ride him in it. He's much more responsive.  We will do a lot of walk work before I ask him to trot because I don't want to surprise him with it.  I'm setting my new bridle up bitless (since it doesn't have bit straps anyway) and I can use it for our trot and canter (so cool I can say that now!) work until he gets adjusted to his new hardware.  :)

P.S.  I think he looks cuter without the noseband.  Once he stops chewing the bit so much and stops trying to get his tongue over it does he even need a noseband?  I don't have it very tight at all so it's not really doing much anyway.

 ETA: I'm editing this to add it to L's blog hop since she did this week's about bits! I don't know if this is a weird coincidence or if L is just that good LOL!  To join the blog hop go HERE.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chrome's Monthly Progress Report

I was so busy having fun on Chrome's birthday that I totally forgot to do his progress report!!  Oops!  His sweaty picture from the nineteenth is the best I have for a conformation shot for now... he's facing downhill so he's not that butt high.  Oh well.  I'll get a better picture next time.

Date: 5-22-14
Age: 5 Years  (I still can't believe he's five!!  It feels so weird to put a 5 right there.)
Height: 15.2hh
Height Gain: None.  I'm assuming he's still 15.2 since I didn't check.  He hasn't gained height in so long I doubt he's grown any.  He has definitely filled out and gotten wider though!
Weight: No idea!  I need to check.
Weight Gain: N/A

Progress:  So I kind of fell off the bandwagon with his exercise routines because I hurt my back and then was out of town, but I've been trying to exercise him as much as possible and he's doing really well.  In fact he was doing his Prep routines so easily that I've moved on to the Cardio routines.  I also rode him solo on the roads and cantered him so even though they weren't on my goals list they were huge accomplishments (more for me fear wise than him lol).  I'm very proud of how well we did last month! 

Oh I almost forgot.  He's gotten better about the neighbor horses too!  I have ridden past them on both solo rides although they weren't right up by the fence or galloping.  We will see if he continues to do well this month.  He did neigh back when one called to him and he acts a little balky, but he hasn't gotten out of control or anything.  I didn't even dismount.  Yay me!

Assessment:  The book suggests asking yourself five questions at the end of each month to see if you're progressing, pushing too hard or not hard enough.  Also keep in mind during the Prep phase there won't be a very noticeable change in appearance.  The Cardio phase is where things will start changing.  Here are the questions:

Where are his muscles filling out?  I haven't really seen a change in his muscles yet, but we literally just did his first cardio routine yesterday so hopefully by next month we will see a difference.  I think his haunches are looking a bit more muscular, but if they are it's minuscule lol.

Has he developed any resistances/or has his behavior changed?  After a week off his stifles started locking again, so I think the exercise really is helping with that.  His stifle did give once during a canter, but so far so good with riding.  He has gotten to where he walks slower going away from home (and weaving around), but this only started when I went solo so I think it's a nervous thing more than a resistance.  He still walks fast headed home though.  He starts out walking slow during every ride and after warming up for five or ten minutes he loosens up and gets his nice walk back (I think this might be stifle related).  

When riding out in the pasture he is very balky about riding away from the barn.  He's very barn sour... well it's not really barn sour.  What he's wanting is to graze in the front yard, so he's grass sour lol.  It's an annoying habit, but short of never letting him graze in the yard again I don't know what to do other than just push him through it.  

I noticed he shifted around during the tail pull yesterday, so I'm seriously thinking of getting a chiropractor out (if I can find one).  He doesn't react to me pressing my fingers down the length of his spine and he didn't crow hop when we cantered, so I don't suspect there's anything really wrong, but why wait for a problem to try it?  Chiropractors are good even when you don't have a serious problem.  Someone told me it helped their mare with the locking stifles too!  So I could have him/her check his back for soreness and see what they can do about the stifles.  It's worth a shot!  It will have to wait though because I'm getting his teeth done next week.  I'm applying for a part time job so I'll have more horse money and so I can start saving to finish my kitchen and then get a new horse trailer.  I enjoyed my break from having a job (while we were building our house I did the stay at home thing), but having some pocket money again would be nice lol. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Other than that he still neighs at me when I walk outside and seems eager to do whatever I want to do.  :D  We'll see how he feels after a few cardio rides when the spoiled boy has to start sweating hehe.  

Does he start out stiff each day (as if he hasn't recovered from previous day's exercise)?  I haven't noticed any stiffness other than the normal slow walk before we warm up.  Once he's warmed up he's fine.  Also after exercise (even this last workout where we cantered) he will still do his big floating trot and acts silly in the pasture, so I don't think we're overdoing it at all.  :)  I haven't been doing his leg stretches because my back has still been sore.  I'll try to modify how I'm doing them and get back to it.

Does he fade during exercise or show signs of fatigue?  Nope, not that I've noticed.  Like I mentioned above he still acts full of energy even after our workouts.  :)

Has he lost, gained or maintained weight?  He looks the same to me.  I need to get back to measuring him.  If he's lost any it's a very tiny amount.

 Goals: My goals for this month are to continue with his new cardio workouts every other day.  I also want to continue our solo rides, so I'll have to figure out how to mix them up.  Other than riding I want to work with him on the trailer again... after going to my friend's house and hauling her horses to camp I really want to try tying him in the trailer.  I don't like when he spins...  I'm thinking I'll load him, close the ramp, tie him up and then just stand there with him to see what he does (there is a place I can stand where I'm not at risk of being hurt if he freaks out).  When he's fine with that I'll start pulling him around the block or something.  I really wish my trailer had a divider.  It's a straight load, but without the divider he can get twisted around and turn his head... it freaks me out a little.  I might take a video and show what I mean so I can get your suggestions.  I'm also getting his teeth done next week.  

Oh and I want to keep washing his tail more frequently to try to keep it whiter (I might try a tail bag when my mom and I find the time to make one) and practice braiding.  I like being able to braid his tail since he has no mane to do anything with hehe.

I also want to try him with a bit.  I was going to do that today, but I can't find my bits so they must be at the storage building.  I'll check later.  I mentioned in yesterday's post why I want to try a bit. :)  I also think it would be really cool to set up one of those halter/bridle combo things with two sets of reins so that when I'm out riding I can use the halter, but if he gets strong or something freaks him out I can pick up the reins going to the bit for a little more control.  It's an idea anyway.  

I think that's all I have planned this month.  :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ride 52 - A Ride of Firsts (hint cantering!)

First of all, sorry no pictures.  I rode while my hubby was at work so we could go fishing when he got off.

I went out with the intention of doing our first cardio workout and nothing else.  The first workout consists of the tail pull, backing uphill, the shoulder rotation stretch, the pelvis tuck and intervals.  The book asks for cantering intervals, but we did trot.  It says to walk for ten minutes to warm up, which we did.  Then trot two minute, walk two minutes, repeat for twenty minutes.  I was counting in my head because I didn't have a stop watch, but we did the best we could.

The thing is when trotting in the pasture he can't trot a straight line or consistent tempo to save his life!!!  I think I got more of a workout than he did!  He sweated though and I'm pretty sure he got his heart rate up which is the point so I consider it a success.  In time the steering and tempo will get better.

I'm seriously considering starting him in a bit once I get his teeth done though because he tries to blow right through the bitless bridle when he doesn't want to go a certain direction.  That's probably my fault, but I'm not sure how to fix it so I might try a bit, get him really light and then go back to the bitless and see if that helps.  Any suggestions for bitless users on how to make him lighter to rein aids?  I don't want to jerk his face off and I hate hauling on one rein when he refuses to go one direction....

Anyway, that's not the point of this post.  We can work through that, especially when we start taking lessons.  At one point we were trotting toward the barn and he got really strong!  It felt like he was going to run away with me.  Then he broke into a canter!!!  I was shocked and a little freaked out, but he stopped when I asked (even though we were headed for the barn).  I walked around and trotted some more, thinking the whole time.

After twenty minutes of trotting and walking, I decided to try cantering him again, this time on my terms.  I wanted to feel it again and to see if he would try crow hopping if it wasn't his idea like he did last year when I tried cantering him the first time.  So I lined him up on a straight shot to the pasture gate where he likes to hang out, figuring if he did take off he wouldn't go far and on that path I could avoid tree limbs if he did take off.

I asked him to trot and then just kept clucking at him until he cantered and he did!!!!  It was only four or five strides, then he fell out of it on his own and stopped perfectly when I asked (before reaching the gate).  I was ecstatic!  He didn't try to crow hop at all and his canter was sooooooo smooth!

So of course I had to try it again... come on, who wouldn't?  I lined him up again and asked.  The cool thing is the transition is smooth as silk!!!  I'm sure it's all sorts of unorganized and downhill, but it feels so smooth you hardly notice he's transitioned.  Love it!  So this time his stifle gave out at one point in the middle of the canter.  I think it was partly due to a slick spot and partly due to his locking stifle.  I stopped him (which he did great, didn't have to use the gate as a brake like I was worried we would).

I decided to try it one more time to see if his stifle gave out again.  It didn't!  His fourth canter was perfect!  Remember it's only four or five strides each time.  So I called my mom at her house (same property, different house) and asked if she wanted to see.  She said yes, but that she was feeding my brother so it would be a few minutes... he can't be left alone when eating in case he chokes.  He has cerebral palsy.

Half an hour later she came out and she brought her camera because I told her a hawk she's been trying to get a picture of was out.  Sadly the hawk flew off, but since she had her camera anyway she took a video.  I cantered him twice (once to show her and then the second time she got the video).  So that was six short canters and he was perfect every single time!!

There's two other cool things to tell you before showing you the video.  While waiting on my mom I took him to the pond because Zep was getting a drink.  Chrome drank with me on his back!!!  That was a first and I was so happy with him.  I love that he will drink when he's thirsty.  It was early, but already kind of hot.  The other thing is I got bored walking around the pasture so I opened the gate from his back and rode into the front yard!!!  So we cantered for the first time (since that time last year was crow hopping it doesn't count), he drank out of the pond with a rider, I opened a gate from his back AND we rode for an hour for the first time!!!!!  Also he tried to roll with the saddle on for the first time.... but yeah that's not really an accomplishment haha!  He got it a bit dirty, but he didn't damage it or himself so it's all good.  The first ten minutes was walking, then we walked/trotted for twenty minutes, then we cantered four times, then we walked and stood around waiting on mom for half an hour, then we cantered two more times, so it wasn't a strenuous hour, but it was still an hour!  :D My boy is growing up!

So anyway here is the video.  I look UGLY because I was not expecting pictures/videos for the ride and my riding sucks lol.  The video isn't great quality because mom was using her older camera, but you can tell he's cantering so that's good enough for me.  :D

Go Chrome!  He's such a rock star!  I love him!

P.S. I was so excited that I forgot to do his other exercises, but I'll go do them as soon as I get this posted.  It shouldn't hurt to do them half an hour after exercise right??  Oh and mom did get a picture of the hawk!  Yay!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Chrome & Ride 51

Chrome turned five years old today!!!!  We had the best day ever!  I spent all day with him to make up for last year.  I started by letting him graze in the yard, then I washed his dingy, yellow tail and let him graze again while it dried.

His tail looks so thin when it's wet!

 Wet tail, still stained...
Thinking about a tail bag.
And some whitening shampoo!

Then I braided his forelock...
I couldn't find my braiding bands so I used red yarn... blech!

It looks weird at the top because instead of trimming his bridlepath I just add that part of his mane to his forelock to make it look thicker hehe.  It doesn't cause any problems for our purpose.... what is that you ask?

 His birthday present!  An ear bonnet!

 It's one of the crocheted ones.  It's black.  
I ordered blue, but they sent black...
Oh well, it will look awesome when his face is all white!

 Isn't it cute??  

 He had no trouble adjusting to it at all!
In fact he acted like he never even noticed it.  :)

And then I French braided his newly washed tail!!!!
This is the first time I've French braided anyone's hair (horse or human). 

 I LOVE it!  It's a little loose, but that will get better with practice.  It took me a few tries to figure it out (I wasn't getting the third piece and that was messing me up) and then I realized wetting it down might help and this is what I ended up with.  I want to practice a lot on braiding his tail since he has no mane.  I need some way to dress him up hehe!!  He wore it for several hours and it stayed put so I was thrilled!

Next we tacked up for our second solo ride!!
He falls asleep while I tack up and doesn't have
to be held or tied up! :D  I love it!

 He doesn't look too small for me anymore yay!
I like where my leg lands on him.  :D

 Isn't that tail gorgeous?
I love how Jackal is in this picture too.
I wish he could go trail riding with me, but
the neighbor dogs are dangerous.

 He is so gorgeous!!!!!
We look so spiffy even if my purple shirt
clashes with my awesome helmet cover.

 Awkward walk stride, but I only got a few of us walking up the driveway.

 I love his new ear bonnet!  He's so stylish!
The reason my shirt looks weird is because I
blurred out the words on it, sorry!

 When we first walked out on the road he was on high alert!

 Then hubby handed me the camera and off we went.

I only got the one picture because.... I got video!!!!  We went the same two miles as last time (figured we would stick to what he knows for our first time totally alone).  Hubby stood at the driveway watching us until we turned the corner out of sight, but we were solo I promise hehe.  The ride was approx. forty minutes long (I think I guessed wrong on how long the last solo ride was).  He did awesome (as you'll see in the video)!  He only spooked once (not on video) at something rustling in the leaves shortly after we left.  I was so proud of him (and surprised really) that he didn't spook again after that.  He sometimes stopped and looked, but it was mainly when he saw other horses or cows.  On the way home he tried trotting without me asking, but he came immediately back down to a walk when I asked.  A neighbor horse neighed at him and he neighed back, but he listened when I asked him to keep going.  I think that about covers it.

I was feeling 99% more confident than last time because I spent Thursday and Friday riding for hours on my friend's broke horse on some GORGEOUS trails at horse camp (we didn't stay overnight, we drove back the next day).  We rode alongside cliffs, through creeks, across flooded low water bridges, galloped full speed down sandy trails, it was AMAZING!!!!  I really needed to ride another horse to boost my confidence.  :D

Anyway here is the video.  It's a little long, but trust me it's worth it!  Oh and I sound like a dork hehe!

I love the sound of his hooves on the pavement.  It's very soothing.  He did great!  I'm SO proud of him!!!!  Sorry the trotting part was so bouncy.  It's very difficult to hold a camera steady when he's trotting.  :)

 Poor guy had to sweat on his birthday. 
He's not asleep, he blinked.

 His tail was so curly when I took the braid out!!

 His forelock too!

 Then he had supper!
I soak his feed so he has lipstick hehe.

 Followed by a nice long drink.
I LOVE his reflection!

We had an awesome day!  Chrome is the best horse ever!  :D