Monday, March 14, 2016

Chrome Ride 118 - 100 Ride Challenge Ride 4

Sorry there are no pictures today.  I forgot to take my phone with me.  I was alone today (hubby at work) so I just rode bareback.... in the pasture!  I was nervous about riding in the pasture bareback (because that's where I was when I fell off) and it didn't help that he was being passive aggressively... uhh gate sour...  See he isn't barn sour because he doesn't want to go to the barn.  He wants to go to the gate to get out of the pasture.  He hates riding out in the pasture.  So I guess my horse is the opposite of barn/pasture sour.  Regardless it meant he was drifting, trying to turn, balking, etc. but it was at the walk only and fairly mild.  When I told him to quit he would... until the next time lol.

The ride was only fifteen minutes because something felt weird to me.  It was only when walking on a very slight downhill that was muddy.  He wasn't limping, but something just felt weird.  So when the goat started harassing us again (oh and riding in the pasture is a pain because none of the others will leave me alone... so annoying) I jumped off of Chrome's back and chased after the goat yelling at him (I must look crazy).  The funny thing is Chrome didn't move from where I left him (not even to go to the gate).  He just watched me and stood politely when I walked back up to him.  Good boy!

I undid one rein and longed him at the length of both reins.  At the walk his stifles looked... loose.  That's the only way I can think to describe it.  Not wobbly, but just loose.  It's hard to describe and most people probably wouldn't notice it.  I did because I know him so well.  At the trot he looked fine.  I rubbed and poked and prodded both stifles and he watched me, but he didn't pin his ears, shift his feet or swish his tail, so I'm guessing they don't hurt.  They are just really loose and weak.  I have got to stop letting him get so out of shape in the winter.  All of the standing around the hay bale for hours on end every day is so bad for him!!

So it was only fifteen minutes, but since we worked on lateral flexion, backing and weaving in and out of the barn poles I still consider it an actual ride.  I only rode right up around the front of the pasture because I'm too chicken to take him too far when he's wanting to spin and go back to the gate.  He wasn't excitable or explosive or anything, but he was very "light".  If I asked him to turn with a mere whisper of a rein cue he wanted to spin all the way around.  Make sense?  It made me a little nervous.  I had to keep the reins short and balance the cues with the outside rein so he wouldn't over turn, instead of riding him on the buckle.

Anyway enough about the ride.  There's two things I want to tell you guys about.  One happened today and one was yesterday that I forgot to tell you about.

Yesterday I had Chrome tied up and was grooming him.  He started rubbing his head on the tree (which he does all the time and I scold him for it), but I was brushing his back legs so I didn't see him do it.  The next thing I know he almost sat on me, which scared me to death.  I jumped out of the way and saw that Chrome had gotten his head under the rope so it was behind his poll and he was pulling back with all of his strength (which he doesn't normally do).  It finally popped over the top of his head, but instead of stopping he kept pulling until he broke his halter.... my favorite halter.... the one I had searched for ages for....  luckily it's only the throat snap so I can replace it.  He didn't get loose from the tree, but just decided to stop pulling and stood there.  Maybe my yelling finally sank into his little pea brain.  It took me ages to untie him (I had a quick release, but I put the tail through the loop because he likes to untie himself and it tightened up when he pulled) and then I tied him back up and we carried on like nothing happened (with his plain blue halter, not his pretty one).

Today when I lined Chrome up alongside the round pen panel so I could get on out in the pasture he stepped away.  He has done that before, but he normally only does it once and it's only maybe 2% of the time.  When I reset him he will stand still.  So I circled him around, lining him back up.  He did it again!!  It was a very deliberate step sideways, just far enough so I couldn't get on.  He was doing it as soon as I started to climb the fence.  I jumped down and smacked him (with a flat palm) on the butt and made him do two tight circles.  Then I lined him back up and he didn't move again.  I was able to climb up the fence and slide onto his back.  The little brat is testing me I think.  I can tell I haven't done much with him for five months...  bad me!

So Chrome isn't perfect (not that I ever said he was... okay maybe I did...).  He has his moments.  I still love him though.  He really is a sweet horse and not a difficult horse at all.  I'm sad his stifles are giving him problems, but I shouldn't be surprised.  This happens every spring after a winter off.  Now I just have to figure out how much is enough exercise and how much is too much.  I really wanted to start riding him more than one day in a row instead of always every other day.  I thought at his age that it wouldn't be a big deal, but I guess I had forgotten about his stifles.  I'm going to give him the rest of today off and then tomorrow bring him out on the driveway to watch him walk and trot.  The mud is hard on his stifles because the weak muscles are the ones that pull the hind leg up and forward.  I think it's the equivalent of the quads on humans.  If he's walking fine on hard ground tomorrow I'll go ahead and ride him.  I'll just avoid the mud.

Anyway sorry for the rambling.  I just need to get this down so I remember it. Also I did the math (scary I know) and I have to ride at least ten days a month to complete the challenge in December lol.  I don't know if I'll manage that!  At times like now, when the weather is nice it's one thing, but there are times in the summer where it's downright dangerous to ride in the heat and humidity.  We shall see.  The stifles complicate things too.  If we can't do it, it's no big deal.  It's still a motivation to get out there and ride.  :)  Thanks for listening guys!


  1. Try to look at it this way, he is in a muddy pasture, no? While mud may be hard on his stifles, I would bet it isn't that bad at all while riding him because he has some acclimation to the mud from being in the pasture. I say don't worry about it, working him some is much better than working him none.
    Sucks about your halter but yes, a replacement snap is fairly easy to find (at least online) and better than having to find a new halter. Bad Chrome for freaking out!

    1. Yeah that's true. My weight is the only difference, but I'm not exactly a tiny person lol. The thing is that out in the pasture they don't move around much. They stand at the hay bale all day, walk to the pond (not far), walk to the gate for a nap (not far), but now that the spring grass is coming in at least they are walking to the back pasture again. Still on five acres that isn't far. That's why he needs exercise! They just don't do anything when left to their own devices. If he acts sore I'll just hand walk him though. He wasn't showing any pain yesterday though.

      Yeah I was irritated at Chrome for freaking out, but more surprised I think. He has pulled back before, but it's normally just for a second and then he lets off. I think it's because the rope was behind his neck. He's not used to that. Maybe I need to loop the rope back there and teach him to give to pressure on the neck. Never thought of it before, but it can't hurt. The funny thing is after he stopped pulling, he calmed right now. He stopped trying to rub on the tree, trying to graze, trying to watch me, moving around, etc. He just stood perfectly still lol. He has been so impatient lately (one thing that tells me I haven't been working with him enough and he is BORED) and has even been pawing some!! So yeah he needs a lot of work, for his body and his brain. Poor guy hates sitting in the pasture bored. I feel really bad that I let my old job get me so messed up that I ignored him for so long (other than caring for him obviously like feeding, hooves, etc.). He needs my attention. I'll do better!

    2. I can assure you that there are horses who WANT to have a job. App and TWH are like that, they WANT a job. They WANT something to do. Mia I think could go either way, she likes the attention but is also happy being a pasture pet. Being in a pasture 24x7 with no interaction doesn't make all horses happy, if he wants a job, help a gelding out!

    3. So true, so true. I think he really does want a job, especially after seeing how he was today. I really think his attitude yesterday was simply being in the pasture. His attitude in the pasture really makes me wonder if he's going to be one of those horses who hates arena work...... we shall see lol. Thank you for the encouragement!

  2. If you are worried about riding consecutive days, maybe you could try a longer ride one day followed by a shorter ride the next and see how that goes. Those goats are little trouble makers, aren't they! I think they are adorable.

    1. Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking of doing... although twenty minutes really isn't that long I guess it kind of is for him since he's so out of shape. That's why I kept the ride to only fifteen minutes (especially with the mud making things more difficult). I'll play it by ear and see how he's doing today and decide if I'm going to ride or just hand walk him around for a while.

      The goats are cute, but they are so annoying too!! I can't wait to get them castrated. We need to do it soon before it gets too hot, but with hubby and I working opposite schedules we are almost never off on the same day. He's off next week (spring break) so maybe we can do it then. I think it will settle a lot of their obnoxious behaviors. I hope anyway lol!

  3. They do tend to test on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th days -- usually as soon as they realize that riding regularly has become a pattern. I suppose it's like going back to school or getting a new job. The first day is novel and interesting, and then once you realize you are trapped in that routine, you sour a bit.

    It doesn't have to be a 100 ride challenge for you, does it? You can just do a little bit of refresher clicker training here and there and have it count. For myself, I would even count the times I groom the horses and take them for walks. I would consider it more of a horsemanship challenge. You are working and you've been having cruddy weather, so go easy on yourself.

    Also, I'm glad you rode where you fell, because the only way to lessen the fear is to replace successful rides in that location with the memory of the fall. I'll admit that I still avoid riding in the two locations in the desert where I fell. One was on a long, steep hill and the other was next to a road on a narrow, rocky trail lined with cactus, so I probably shouldn't be riding there anyway. One of my riding instructors told me to avoid those types of trails because my horses weren't ready for them, and then she'd turn around and take me on them. I guess she meant I just shouldn't take those trails by myself when she wasn't around to bail me out of trouble.

    1. Well I didn't ride in the exact spot where I came off... I kind of avoided that part. I will work my way over there when I have a saddle on him though. The problem is that neighbor is always up to something and the brush between our places is so thick that he can't see very well so every time he's ever spooked on property it was at that side of the property. It's made me leery of riding by that fence lol.

      Yeah that makes sense on the testing after a few rides. Chrome doesn't normally do it I guess because I normally ride every other day, but I really wanted to get him past having to do that. He needs to develop a work ethic at some point. If I ever decide to clinic or compete he may have to work more than one day in a row... it's just something we will have to work on. I'm really curious how he would have acted yesterday if I'd been in the yard. He's always worse in the pasture and mud than he is in the yard or on the roads.

      I modified the challenge to 100 rides instead of a 100 days of training because I really wanted to ride him more this year. He's only had just over a 100 rides in FOUR years and that's kind of pathetic even though I wanted to start him slow so he could grow. In 2014 when I didn't have a job (because we were building the house) I rode him over fifty times. That's the most in one year that I've ever done on him. I really need to get him in shape too just because of his poor stifles. So the more I can ride now while the weather is nice the more slack I'll have when things aren't so nice. I'm really not pressuring myself as much as it sounds like on the blog. I'm just using the blog to organize my thoughts and to remember things. I promise I'll do what is best for him and not overdo it. At almost seven years old, plain old walking rides surely can't hurt him. How can walking around for twenty minutes hurt him? I hate second guessing myself. I really don't think it can hurt him... It's just going to take time to build those muscles back up. All of the progress we made with his fitness in 2014 is gone now after he sat all winter. On days that I can't ride because of the weather or whatever I think I'm still going to go out and hand walk him or walk him over poles or something, because the most important thing is he just needs to move. I'll keep checking him for soreness and pain though. Just to be safe. I'm also saving up to hopefully get a massage therapist out because I think he'd really benefit from it.

      Thank you for the comment and for letting me think out loud (err well not out loud, but you know what I mean haha). We will see how he is today and I'll decide if he can keep going or if he needs a couple of days off. :)


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