Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I'm going to be scarce (or even more scarce) for a few days due to various non-equine related problems.  Chrome is doing great and looking great!  He's done a TON of shedding out and his coat is coming in so gorgeous.  His mohawk is about half an inch long and almost white.  Really cool looking.  I'll try to get pictures soon.  I am continuing to do his workouts every other day.  I'll update again when I can.  Internet access is spotty right now so it might be a few days before I can get around to catch up on all of your blogs.  I hope you all are doing well.  Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blog Hop: Appreciating What You Have

L. at Viva Carlos has another great blog hop for us!  She said, "Let's take a moment to appreciate the Pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons."  I love this!!

So things I love about Chrome:

1.  He has the perfect personality for me!!! I swear we are two peas in a pod.  He's goofy, friendly, in your pocket, lovable, hugable awesomeness!  He has just the right combination of intelligence, friendliness, confidence and desire to please.

2.  He's gorgeous and photogenic!  I swear this horse sometimes looks better in photos than in person!! There is something that just makes him shine in photos.  Obviously I may be a little biased about how adorable he is.  :D

Tarp Desensitization 

Standing on pedestal with loud bags for CTR training.

Pulling a drag tire.

Learning to work in a cordeo.

Learning to lead from the four wheeler.

3.  He will do anything!  Chrome is game for trying anything!!  I love that confidence.  I can't remember a single time when he has ever flat out refused to do something.  Sure he's been hesitant at time (leading from the four wheeler wasn't his favorite thing ever), but he's quickly reassured and confident to try everything.  :D  I can't wait to carry this over into our riding (as soon as I quit being a chicken, because he sure isn't one).

4.  He's so smart and easy to train!  I bought him when he was only five months old so I've pretty much taught him everything he knows (he knew how to lead, tie, pick up feet, etc. when I got him) and it's been so easy and so much fun!!  Also he LOVES to learn new things!!


5.  His color!  Those of you who know me are probably laughing your butts off right now because I'm one of those people who said I will never, ever own a gray horse and now I'm saying I love his color hehehe.  How can I not though?  It's so much fun watching him change!  Maybe someday when he's actually solid gray or flea-bitten I'll probably go back to saying I'll never own another gray, but right now it's so much fun!

Well I've probably photo spammed you enough for now, so I'll give you a quick update. I'm feeling much better.  I felt absolutely awful yesterday, but woke up today feeling almost back to normal.  I went to the doctor anyway since my allergies have been making me miserable for weeks and I really don't want to miss out on this weather.  They gave me some great medicine.  I went home, ate brunch, took my meds and promptly slept all day..... I woke up when my husband came home and other than a bit of a cough (not nearly as frequent as before) and the occasional runny nose I feel good as new!  So I went out and walked laps around the pasture with Chrome (we only went .38 of a mile).  I didn't do his workout, but I'm planning to do it tomorrow if I continue to feel well.

Also while using Google Earth to see how far we walked in the pasture I realized that Faran and Chrome's silhouettes are on there!!!!  Check out this screenshot...

That's Chrome at the bottom with his head over the gate and Faran above him standing next to the round pen.  I couldn't find Zep anywhere. He must have been hiding in the barn.  Anyway I thought that was sooo cool!

P.S.  Don't forget to check out the contest over at Equestrian at Hart.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Well damn...

... I have a low grade fever, so no walk for Chrome today.  :(  And it's such a gorgeous day too.  Sunny and in the seventies.  Sigh.  Typical.  So Chrome is on vacation for a few days I guess.  I'm going to the doctor in the morning.  This feels like a sinus infection/bronchitis.  It doesn't feel like a cold/flu.  So I may need antibiotics (YUCK!).  Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My pasture feels empty...

It's weird only seeing one horse at the gate ...
(Zep never stands by the gate, so that part is normal)

After grazing for several hours yesterday Chrome calmed down and stopped neighing every few minutes.  It's so funny because he kept staring off at the backyard like he thought Faran was still just grazing back there without him.  He doesn't realize the horse trailer took him away.  Today Chrome is totally fine again.  He still has Zeppers, so he's happy.  :)

Faran is doing great.  He settled in immediately and hasn't acted spooky or nervous at all.  Yay!  I'll keep you guys updated on him.

I thought about riding today, but my allergies have been so bad the last week or two that my ribs feel bruised from sneezing so much (my back and stomach muscles hurt too)!  I love the temperatures at this time of year and all the sunshine, but man my allergies make it miserable!!  So I just did his workout like normal (routine 2).

I noticed when doing his leg lifts (tapping his rear legs to make him pick them up to his belly) that his left stifle was locking again (only twice and only when switching back to that leg, so having it straight is what locked it).  However when doing his hip stretch his right leg seemed stiffer.  This horse is so weird.  The hip stretches were MUCH easier this time though, so I think the work is already making a difference.  We didn't do the hindlegs together exercise since I haven't built a new pedestal, but everything else went well.  He did much better on the poll stretch (my expectations were wrong.. my Masterson's Massage book explained it better and has pictures so that helped me understand what I was looking for).

The flies are out already (and the ticks eek!), so I've been having to spray Chrome everyday.  I'm already seeing bumps on his shoulders too, so I need to find my Neem oil before the gnats really come out of the wood works.  It seems a bit early for them, but it's been really warm so I guess not.

Well I guess that's all I have to ramble on about today.  I'm going to go try not to sneeze for a while!

P.S.  I changed my blog header because I was bored with the old one (since it had only one picture hehe).  I think it's really cute, so let me know what you think of it!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Faran's New Home & Chrome's Monthly Progress Report

Okay, first I have to say I didn't get any pictures today.... I had my camera with me the whole time, but I totally forgot to take pictures, so I'm sharing some old ones.  :)

Faran finally went to his new home!!!  I haven't mentioned anything until now because I didn't want to jinx it.  After over a year of trying to find him a home and several leads not working out I didn't want to have any reason for this home to not work out lol.

I got him out first thing this morning, brushed him down really well, did a once over of his mane and tail to check for snarls and then let him graze in the yard.  Chrome was pissed that I was giving Faran attention and that he wasn't getting to graze in the yard too.  He galloped around like a maniac (see video at the bottom of this post), so I didn't let him graze until the end of the day after he had settled down again.

When Faran's new owners were getting close I popped him back in the pasture so he could get a good drink before he loaded up for the three hour haul to his new home.  When they got here I helped them load up the rice bran, minerals, his driving reins, etc.  I also bagged up three days worth of feed so his diet wouldn't change too quickly.

Once everything was loaded we brought Faran out to see what he thought of the unfamiliar trailer.  He hesitated (because I fed Chrome to keep him quiet and he wanted to eat too... oops), then walked up to it and stood sniffing.  It took a few minutes clucking to him and asking him to get in.  We praised him each time he stepped forward and then he just put his front foot on and hopped right in.  Such a good boy!  I was so proud of him.  He handled the three hour drive to his new home well, but he was definitely ready to unload!  His new owner said after she put him in his pen (next to his new buddies so they can get to know each other) that he even let her approach him.  I'm so, so, so glad he likes her!!!  He's normally so skittish of strangers so it's a huge relief that he's settling in well and enjoying her attention.  A bit later he tried to pretend like he didn't want her attention so she walked off and left him.  He almost immediately walked back to her asking for attention.  He doesn't have her fooled!!  He loves the attention.  :D

 I will miss our beautiful boy so much, but I think this was the best thing we could have done for him.  My husband has been too busy to mess with him much and my attention has been focused on Chrome, so I've felt kind of bad for neglecting Faran a bit.  He does NOT do well without daily work.  After the move he got to where he didn't like being caught or having his hooves done, etc.  He settled eventually, but never back to the way he was when we worked with him daily.  So at his new home he's going to get lots of attention every single day and I think he's going to settle down again really quickly.  I'm also happy that we can go visit him since he's only three hours away.  :D

His new owner has been reading the blog, so I want to say thank you for taking my boy.  I'm so glad I found you because I think you and Faran are going to be a perfect personality match (my anxious personality with his anxious personality wasn't really a good match!) and I can't wait to see the great things you can do with him.  :D  I really hope you enjoy him and that you both are happy with each other.  It sounds like he already considers you his new buddy.


Since today is the nineteenth I have to do Chrome's progress report and assessment.  I'm using the picture from my last post since I didn't take any today.  As I mentioned before it shows his muscles (and lack of) really well, so although it's not a fantastic photo it serves it's purpose.

Date: 4-19-14
Age: 4 Years 11 Months
Height: 15.2hh
Height Gain: None.
Weight: No idea!  I need to check.
Weight Gain: N/A

Progress:  So far he's doing really great with the new workout routine!  You can read about his new workout program HERE.  He only had a couple of days where his stifle was locking again after the second workout.  It has a lot of stifle strengthening exercises in it, so it didn't surprise me.  I'm not sure how I feel about his weight... some days he looks a little thin and other days he looks great.  I guess a bit thin is better than too fat.  I think our new hay will help plump him back out a bit.  I haven't really talked about our hay problems this winter, but there were some!!

After moving we had a lot of trouble finding a new source of hay (the one I used years and years ago when I grew up here isn't selling anymore).  So we asked around and tried hay from several different people, but they kept running out!!!  We had people sell us bales that were filled with mold which we just had to take a loss on because they wouldn't take it back.  We had one guy selling us hay that I swear was two or three years old even though he said it was last year's.  The quality of the hay we found that was actually edible still wasn't that great, so we had problems keeping weight on the boys.  I've had a LOT of people tell me their horses lost weight this winter because it was so cold and icy, so it might not have been totally the hay's fault.  Anyway we finally found a great source of gorgeous barn kept, fertilized hay and he cuts enough he said he never runs out. He cuts probably 5000 round bales of hay a year and who knows how many square bales.  It's kind of a long drive and it's a bit pricey, but it's worth it just to have a reliable source of good quality hay.  Oh how I wish we'd found it at the beginning of the winter.  It would have taken a load of stress off of my shoulders!  My boys have never lost hay in the winter so it really stressed me out that they did.  I think the move from a thirty acre pasture to a five acre pasture was part of the problem too.  I'm just glad the hay problem is solved!

So other than that things have been going well.  :D

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?  Since this is just my baseline I'll mention the muscles I'm hoping to fill out.  His neck is developing upside down so I want to work on that along with his topline and abdominal muscles.  His quads (stifles) are very weak and they definitely need strengthening.  So he needs to develop in his whole body, but specifically it's his stifles that need the most improvement.  Sadly they are the last muscles in the haunches to develop so it could be several months before he starts showing noticeable improvement.

Has he developed any resistances/or has his behavior changed?  Again this is a baseline, so I'll share a few things I've noticed to give us something to compare to.  He walks very fast downhill and even tries to trot.  That is a lack of strength (and practice).  Going uphill (and this is not a very steep hill) takes noticeable effort, but it's improving quickly.  He walks really fast heading out on a walk or when going toward neighbor horses, but he balks walking away from them.  Once they are out of sight he goes back to his normal walk.  He is landing heel first on his rear hooves (hooray!!!), but still landing toe first on the fronts (I'm working with my farrier on getting his toes shorter on the front).  After doing a workout that has a lot of stifle strengthening exercises (like walking over poles, picking up his back hooves or stepping over his hay bale) sometimes his stifle will lock up the next day and he also has to warm up his stifles (by going for our walk) before he can step over things without banging his toe.  That is another lack of strength issue, but it is also improving.  He seems to enjoy all of our exercises so far and I haven't noticed any reluctance at all to do anything.  The only thing he balks about is walking away from neighbor horses.  Oh and he doesn't care for his pelvis tucks, but he's never liked them.  That's all I can think of offhand.

Does he start out stiff each day (as if he hasn't recovered from previous day's exercise)?  I'm doing his workouts every other day and so far he hasn't shown any stiffness except after routine two when his stifle started locking.  He warms up out of it though.  His rear legs also feel unusually stiff in the hip stretch so I'm curious to see how/if that improves with our work.  It's probably because he doesn't use his rear end due to his stifles.  

Does he fade during exercise or show signs of fatigue?  Nope, not at all.  In fact I still catch him playing and goofing off in the pasture afterwards.  It's finally getting warm enough that on our two mile walk he's almost, but not quite starting to sweat lol!  You can't see it, but you can feel dampness on his neck and chest.  I don't remember the last time my spoiled boy has sweated!  It's no wonder he's so out of shape.

Has he lost, gained or maintained weight?  Since starting the workout routine, he has maintained, but he's at a good weight so I don't really want him to lose any.  I just want him to gain muscle.

 Goals: My goals for this month are to continue with his workouts every other day.  I want to continue to increase the distance we're walking on the roads and keep working on him staying calm when walking by other horses.  I also want to work on the CTR obstacles, but we will see if I have time.  We've been doing a lot of work on the house again since the temperatures are warm enough to paint again.  I also want to ride!!  Oh and I've been reading my massage book again too and I want to try to make massage and stretching a part of our daily routine!


Now here is the video I mentioned above.  I'm giving Chrome the day off today since I was too busy with Faran (and helping hubby and dad with filling the raised flower beds, planting vegetables and moving manure out of the pasture with the tractor-we are finally cleaning up the pasture after winter and we now have a muck heap!).  Besides he self exercised himself so he'll be fine waiting until tomorrow hehe.  The video was taken this morning after I'd brushed Faran and left him in the front yard to graze.  Chrome was pissed that he didn't get to graze!  Notice the awesome lead change?  Normally he only changes in the front (because of his stifles) so the fact that he did a full change made me happy.  He got a bit warm, so I walked him out, but I didn't let him graze until later in the day after Faran had left for his new home.  I didn't want to reward him for being a nutcase lol!  Here's the video.

ETA:  I slowed down the lead change in the video and he actually changed in the front and then changed in the back!  At least he did change though.  Someday with lots of work he will be able to do a correct flying lead change.
My question is, why did he change to his left lead on a right circle??

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chrome is so sheltered!

First I wanted to share a few pictures of Faran since I haven't posted anything about him in a while.  I brushed him for half an hour and I swear I got two pounds of fur off of him lol.  I don't mind though because I'm ready for him to shed out his sun bleached winter coat.

He lost a bit of weight over the winter (they all did actually), but he's gaining it back nicely.

You can see his ribs.  :(  His mane is pretty though. It took me a while to get the snarls out because the flies are out and he likes to shake his whole head which makes a quick mess of his mane!  I used some of the Show Sheen detangler on it, so hopefully it will keep some of the snarls out better.  Also I think that was the first time I've used a mister (instead of spray) bottle around him... he panicked at first, but then stood still on the second try.  He's so silly.

Oh I forgot to mention all of this was yesterday, I'm just posting a day late because I had to post baby Friesian pictures.  :)  So I did Chrome's workout yesterday (routine 1 with road walk, tail rotations, pelvic tuck, backing uphill and shoulder back and down stretch) and we went 1.84 miles.  By the way, for those of you who don't have fancy phones (mine doesn't have internet, just call and text) you can download and use Google Earth for free.  It has an Add Path tool that lets you trace out the route you took (use arrow keys to move around the map and mouse to draw path) and then it tells you how far you went.  This obviously works better on roads, but trails might show up pretty well too.  It's really great.

Anyway, I took a video of Chrome as we were walking past the neighbor's horses so you can see how he acts and why I'm a little nervous about riding him out totally alone just yet (and also why I called him sheltered in the post title).  :)  The video is below, but let's look at the pictures I took first.

It was around noon so the lighting wasn't great.

 I'm too tall!  If I forget to crouch, the perspective
 is off and he looks like he has short little legs LOL!

 All natural beveled edge from walking on pavement twice a week!  Yay!

 After we got home, he got a drink and this is him turning to walk back up the bank.

This isn't a great photo, but it shows his muscles (or lack of) fairly well.  Notice how he's getting the dip in front of his withers and developing the underside of his neck?  It's past time for some dressage to correct the way he carries himself, but that's what will make the assessments fun each month to see how his muscles change and develop.  :)

Now on to the video! Sorry I think it is about three and a half minutes long, but it's well worth watching it!!  I hope you can see it.  If not, let me know and I'll try to get screenshots.  So when we walked by the first time he was staring at them like he always does and wanting to get antsy, but he listened well and kept going.  You'll notice in the video whenever we get past them he wants to stop constantly and look back, but it's easy to get him walking again with a cluck and light tug on the rope.  After we went to the hill (which we walked back and forth over twice this time) we came back by on the way home.

On the way back the neighbor horses were amped up!!  They were galloping around, snorting, bronco bucking, just being total nuisances, so of course Chrome got amped up too.  They were all feeding off of each other I think.  So he turned on FULL ARAB MODE and oh my goodness he was GORGEOUS!!!!  I would pay money to see him in an Arabian Liberty Class because boy is he a show off!  That's why you have to watch the video so you can see the arched neck, flagged tail and floating trot hehe.  That is also why I stupidly encouraged him to behave this way when he was younger.  I'm dumb lol.  The good thing is that he's not out of control or anything.  I'm just worried how bad he would be under saddle since he has a tendency to be more nervous without me right there beside him.

Also I do not normally let him have the full length of his rope, but I did today so I could get the video.  He normally doesn't get this amped because I can keep him reeled in and get his attention better (even with his flat nylon halter, which I haven't fixed yet so I'm still using the rope halter).  So anyway I'll quit chattering and let you watch the video...

Isn't he gorgeous??  Or am I just barn blind?  :D

P.S. When I call Chrome an idiot in the video I'm using it as a term of affection.  I call my dog a dummy and my dad a butthead too.  It's just the way my family is. :D  I was never mad at him.  My voice sounds meaner in the video than it does in real life hehe.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I got to photograph a friend's Friesian foal!!

This adorable four day old purebred Friesian colt belongs to a friend I met a year ago at a dressage clinic at my barn.  I got to go meet him yesterday and take pictures.  He is absolutely adorable and soooo much fun to watch.  He was tasting everything, running around, climbing his mom, bucking, pretending to spook, etc.  So fun!  Check out these pictures.  I'll get more posted soon and I hope to go visit him again soon!

Isn't his mom gorgeous??
He's giving her kisses.  :D

 He was zooming around everywhere.

 How adorable is this guy??
This is my favorite picture I think!

Sooooo handsome!!!!!

Meeting this little dude was the highlight of my week!  It also makes me really want another baby!!!  :D

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stifle Exercises!

Okay I finally had my husband help me get pictures of the stifle exercises in my Equine Fitness book!  You can buy it HERE and no I don't get any money for advertising it, I just really like it.  I hope these are helpful for anyone out there who has a horse with weak stifles.  I also hope I don't get in trouble for sharing material out of the book since I'm not doing it to earn money.... is that breaking copyright by sharing with you guys?

I never realized how difficult it is to take pictures of pages in a book!  It wouldn't stay open and there are shadows and some of them turned out awful, but I left them full size so I hope you can read them if you click on them.

This one is on a circle so I won't do it with Chrome until he's stronger.

 This is the fun one that I need cavaletti poles for.

 This one is easy.  :)

 This is the one Chrome couldn't figure out.  It's much easier to just have him stand on his pedestal!  My husband will be making me a new one since the old one is at my old house and my renter is using it with her little filly.

 I love this one!

 Can't so this one since I don't have any uneven terrain.

We will do this one once he's learned to leg yield... I need an arena lol.
Or we could do it down the trail if I ever manage to get out on the trails.

As you'll see that's not all of the exercises I've been doing in his routines. These are just the stifle specific ones.  All of the exercises are laid out like this and there are even little cards in the back that you can take out and have with you at the barn.  Also there are fifty exercises in the book!!  It's a really great book.  :)

Let me know if you can't read these.  I hope you can, because I'm not sure I can get any better pictures.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chrome's Fourth Workout

Sorry I didn't post yesterday.  My best friend's grandpa was being taken off life support so I was babysitting her puppy all day.  :(

Today I did the fourth routine in Chrome's workout.  No pictures again sorry!!  This was a very easy workout since I couldn't do one of the exercises and I ran out of time.  It was a very, very busy day.

First we started with the pick-up sticks exercise.  I think with actual cavaletti poles that this would be soooo much fun!  Basically what you do is scatter your poles out like the pick-up sticks game, letting them lay in all different directions and even overlap.  Then you walk or ride your horse through them in all sorts of directions letting him pick his way through them.  This is one of the stifle exercises that I will be posting about in more detail later.  All I had was my PVC pipes and some are only two feet long so I was very limited in what I could do.  I put them out as best I could and walked him through them.  He only hit one once, but otherwise did a fantastic job finding his way through!  It doesn't even seem like he's looking at them, but he never misses a step.  So weird.  I think he watches his feet more than I ever guessed, it's just not as obvious as some horses.  I'll try to get a video of this when I have actual cavaletti poles.  It's going to be one of my favorite exercises (more like a game!).

Next we walked over the poles in a line like I described on the second routine.  It was at the very end of the day at feeding time and he was very relaxed and laid back (read LAZY), so he bumped it a couple of times with his toes before he remembered to pick up his feet (keep in mind just a minute ago he was walking through the crazy pile without hitting them, so I think a straight line is just boring hehe).  He also tried ducking around the two foot ones which he didn't do last time.  Brat.  I can't wait to get some actual poles so that when he's lazy he actually bangs his toes without them moving and learns to quit doing that.  Once he went over them a few times, keeping straight down the middle and not bumping them I called it quits.

The third exercise was something totally new for us.  Lateral work while walking.  I've only ever asked him to yield his shoulders and haunches while standing still, so this was totally new.  The exercise is turn on the forehand in motion.  Basically you ride or walk them in a straight line and ask them to step one hind leg in front of the other until they've done a 180 degree change of direction, keeping forward motion the whole time.  Since this was the first time I'm ever asked him to do this I was basically just doing leg yields from the ground and he was AWESOME!!!!!!!

I had him walking forward with me facing him (kind of like longeing only with me in arm's reach), which I haven't done a whole lot of.  Once he was walking ahead I put my other hand on his rib cage and asked him to move over, while tilting his head slightly toward me with the other and he did it!!  He was only reaching about to his midline with his inside hind leg, but that is huge for him with his weak stifles.  I did it in both directions.  I had to press his rib cage more firmly on his right side, but it's not like I was leaning into him or anything.  He was responding well to the pressure.  I can't wait to try that under saddle.  :)

So after doing that two or three times on each side (only about three or four steps each time-I didn't want to overdo it his first time), we did the backing uphill that we did in the first routine.  It was hilarious though because I got him lined up on the gentle culvert slope and turned to face him, asked him to put his head down, then went to ask him to back up and he did the leg yield again without me even touching him LOL!!  He is so silly.  I stood more directly in front of him and tried again and he figured it out.  He kept getting crooked, popping his head up or not backing straight so I had to keep stopping him, asking him to lower his head and back again.  We got about three steps on average each time.  On the fifth or sixth try he backed about six steps, straight back with his head fairly low, so I ended it on a good note and praised him big time.

Last I did the pelvis tuck (which I will get a video for you soon I promise) and he was fairly good.  He can arch his back really, really well (really impressive to me! Wait until you see it), but sometimes he's crooked and he likes to try to sidestep away so you have to release the stretch.  It's never been his favorite exercise.  I only did it a couple of times since it's hard work.  I can sympathize with him on that one.  I hate doing sit-ups.  :)

There was one more exercise in this routine, but I didn't do it because it has too many circles.  It's basically spiraling in and out on circles (not leg yielding, just spiraling).  I'll probably do some circles eventually, but not right now.  His stifles need a lot more strengthening before we do a lot of work on circles.

So that's all for today.  It was a really short, easy workout, but he deserves easy days too.  I'll probably add riding or walking him into this fourth routine when it comes back around, but I just ran out of time today.

It's almost the 19th and I'll do his assessment so we can see how his muscles change throughout this workout program.. The book said there won't be a noticeable difference during the prep phase that we are doing, but that it is essential to prepare them for the cardio phase.  :)  I'll try to get the pictures of the stifle exercises up tomorrow.  I hope everyone is having gorgeous weather and getting to ride!

P.S.  I haven't seen his stifles lock at all today.  :D  I don't know if they did yesterday since it rained all day and I stayed hidden inside with the puppy, but I didn't see them lock when I fed them.  Hopefully as his stifles get stronger they will stop doing that after the hard workouts.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Chrome's Third Workout

Sorry for the old picture.  I couldn't take pictures today because of the threat of rain.  I didn't mind if I got soaked, but I definitely didn't want my camera soaked.  As luck would have it, it didn't rain, but better safe than sorry.  Also sorry for not posting yesterday!  I totally forgot.  I will get it done tomorrow since it will be raining all day.

So I decided to do his workouts every other day instead of three days a week, since this is a workout routine for a three year old and he's almost five.  Today was the third routine.  It was a fairly easy one which was great since his stifles have been sticky since his last workout.  I was worried he was in pain, but he was trotting around out in the pasture, practically floating off the ground, so I'm guessing he's fine lol.  I'm also having him trimmed at the four week mark since his last trim instead of waiting six weeks, just to see if it makes a difference for his stifles.

Today we started out with a walk on the roads.  We only went 1.69 miles, but there is a hill at the end going that way and it's fairly sloped all the way up that road.  Good workout for all of us (hubby went again).  Chrome was super eager and had his head in the clouds for most of the walk.  The new direction there were horses out and they were galloping around, excited to see us.  Chrome flagged his tail over his back and his walk got super springy, but he managed not to break into a trot.  Good boy!!  He was about as high as a kite, but he contained himself well.

We continued past the horses and went up over the hill, down the other side, turned around and came back.  Next time I'll add a couple more back and forth loops on the hill, but I don't want to overdo it.  It's a pretty steep hill.  One of the exercises on today's routine is hill work, but they want the horse longed at a trot on a hill.  I don't have a place for that and circles are bad on stifles, so I'm just going to walk back and forth in a straight line on the hill work days.  Straight lines up and down hills are the best thing for stifles.

We headed back home and after we went by the horses again he started acting balky.  It only took two times before he gave up, lowered his head and walked home in a relaxed manner.  Dork.  On our next walk I'll probably just walk him back and forth in front of their pasture until he calms down.

After the walk it said to step over the hay bale again. Since his stifles are still sticky I just took him over it three times, then called it good.  I don't want to overdo it, but I know I have to push a little or he'll never get any muscles.

After that was tail rotations and a tail pull.  On the tail pull, you stand behind him, take his dock in both hands and gently pull straight back keeping it in line with his spine.  You hold the pull for twenty seconds and sloooowly release the stretch.  The book said if the horse clamps his tail, stamps his feet or shifts side to side that he probably needs a chiropractor for spine issues, but Chrome stood like a statue and didn't move.  Yay!  The tail pull is gradually built up to two minutes!! I don't know if I can pull on his tail for two minutes lol.

The last exercise for today's routine was the TMJ massage.  It tells you to start at the top of the jaw.  If you draw a line down from the ear and over from the eye it shows you where to start.  You make small, gentle circles with two fingers and then press firmly for a few seconds.  If there is no response you move down an inch and do it again, then down another inch and do it again.  If the horse shows a release (yawning, blinking, sighing, etc.) you do it again.  I did the first spot, nothing, moved to the second spot, nothing, moved to the third spot and got a HUGE yawn!  Did it again, nothing.  Did the other side and the exact same thing happened.  :)  The yawn means he was releasing tension in his jaw.  This is one reason I love this book because it uses a lot of massage techniques that you would find in the Masterson's massage work.  :)

Chrome was doing one weird thing today... rooting his nose whenever I put pressure on his halter.  I think the reason is because I let him graze for several hours yesterday and he was wearing his rope halter since I haven't fixed his nylon halter.  He kept stepping on his rope, pulling against it and then yielding and stepping backward off of the rope.  I think he made his face sore where the knots sit, which is probably why I got such a great release on the TMJ massage.  I'll probably do that massage again when I feed him later.  I got the clip I need to fix his halter so I'll only use it for grazing from now on.  I feel bad he made his face sore.  :(

There is one more new routine that we will do on Tuesday, then it will be just repeating all of them so I won't be posting all of the details after Tuesday.  On the nineteenth I'm going to do his assessment to get baseline information and then I'll use it to track our progress throughout the workout program.  The prep phase, which is what we're doing, can last from one to two months.  Then we move on to the basic cardio program.  That's when I'll be doing a lot more riding and things will get more interesting hehe.

P.S.  I was going to ride today on our road walk, but with the threat of rain I chickened out lol.  I really, really need the exercise too, so it's not that big of a deal.  The prep phase is supposed to be ground work only anyway.  I was just going to cheat since he's almost five and I've been riding him off and on for two years.  I'm also going to start working on our CTR obstacles again soon too.  I've just been really, really busy working on some of the stuff that wasn't finished on our house!  Jackal is going to have a dog door yay!!!  I also discovered today that Chrome's likes the inside of his ears scratched just like his sire!!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chrome's Second Workout

 My gorgeous boy galloping up to see me when I called him.

I forgot to take pictures of the stifle exercises again so I'll do it tomorrow.  Today was the second routine out of my Equine Fitness book.  First up was walking over ground poles to loosen up his back... I don't have ground poles so I looked around and found some PVC pipe leftover from building our house.  I'm only using it temporarily and only at the walk so he doesn't break it and cut himself.  A friend told me how to make some raised cavaletti so I'll be doing that as soon as I can buy the materials.  That way I can raise them later so he has to use his muscles even more.

Two of the pipes are only two feet wide and he walked over all of them dead center every single time.  Such a good boy!  I walked him over them about ten times or so (half at the beginning and the other half after his workout) and he did really well.  I had the spacing wrong at first and had to adjust it so that he wasn't taking extra steps between poles, but after that he did great and only clinked the last one a couple of times (but not hard enough to move it).

 His tail still looks great... even though he rolled again...

After he was warmed up over the poles I did two stretches.  The hip stretch was first.  It involves picking up a hind leg, holding it for twenty seconds, easing it forward until the cannon bone is parallel to the ground, holding for twenty seconds, easing back to a normal flexed position and then supporting the hock and gently pulling it out away from the body (don't hold that one) and sit his foot back down.  Here's how it went...

I picked up Chrome's left rear leg and my jaw almost hit the floor at how stiff his rear legs are!!  I mean, wow...  I normally only take them out behind him to clean them out (which he does easily) so I didn't realize how stiff they were going forward.  I held it for twenty seconds.... OMG twenty seconds is a LONG time I need to work out SO BAD!!!!  So then I eased it forward and he started resisting, but I held on until he relaxed.  As soon as he relaxed into the stretch I held for another twenty seconds (and almost died because that is so long lol just kidding).  Then I moved it back into a normal flexed position, grabbed his hock and very slowly moved his leg away from his body.  I didn't go very high since it's a new stretch and he was feeling unbalanced.  Then I repeated on the other side.  I seriously need to do that more often to help him loosen up his rear legs.  Stupid stifles!  :(  The good news is he didn't act like he was in pain or anything.  He completely relaxed into the stretch.

Next was the poll stretch.  This one is... difficult.  The goal is to put one hand up by his poll and then use the other hand on his halter or the bridge of his nose and ask him to flex his head toward you, moving at the poll, not in the neck and also making sure the ear and nose stay in line (so they can't just turn their nose toward you).... he thought I was asking him to back up, so I turned him around and put his butt to the tree and tried again.  I couldn't get him to turn his head toward me without moving his neck with my hand on his poll, so I put one on his jaw and one on the bridge of his nose.  Doing it that way I was able to keep his head straight and turn it..... I don't know if he's tight in the poll (it says a lot of horses are) or if I was doing it wrong.  I'll probably look up some videos and see if I can figure it out.  Anyone ever done poll stretches??

 After being brushed.  Pretty boy!

So after our warm up and our stretches it was time to do his strength exercises.  First up was stepping over his hay bale.  The goal of this is to have him step over as slowly as possible with each hind leg because they use their muscle better that way instead of using momentum.  Some days he's quick and some days he'll go slow.  Today he did great.  He would step over with his front feet, stop, pick a rear leg up over the bale, hesitate slightly at the top (without resting it on the bale) and put it down on the other side, then he would do the other one.  The funny thing is I worked with him several times months ago to get him to do it like that, but I always had to say whoa, okay walk on, easy, okay other foot, etc. but this time he did the whole thing without me even asking him to stop or walk on or anything.  He's so smart!

Next was rear leg lifts, where you tickle their leg with a whip so they pick their rear leg up straight.  The optimum lift would involve them lifting to their belly and holding it for a few seconds, but this was the first time I'd ask him to do this so I didn't ask him to hold it at all.  Since tapping his fetlock is his cue to rest his toe I tapped the front and inside of his hock gently with my whip.  It took a minute before he got the point and lifted his leg... all the way to his belly!  Good boy!  We practiced a few times on both sides and he did great.  He figures things out so quick.

The next exercise involves having the horse lower his head to wither height, then you tickle his ribs to ask him to raise his back, then you tap each hind leg until he steps his rear hooves closer to his front hooves.  This creates a great topline stretch.  You ask them to hold for ten to fifteen seconds and then let them step forward out of the stretch.... we could not figure this out at all!!  It sounds simple, but not for us!

I asked him to lower his head, then tickled his ribs.  He tried to go forward, then backward, then just stood there, completely confused, so I skipped to tapping his legs, but he was confused thinking I was asking him to do the leg lifts.  So then I put him in a corner and tapped his haunches.  He walked forward as far as he could, then I got him to bring one hind leg forward, then he felt claustrophobic and just stood there, confused again.... yeah I'm lost on that one.  I'm thinking about shaping it with clicker training, because I know I've seen a video on that somewhere.  I'll have to find it.  Also my husband is going to use our old tractor tires and make him a new pedestal because he used to do that stretch all the time on the pedestal.  It will be way easier than confusing and frustrating him.

After that since he was feeling stuck and frustrated we walked over the poles again (like I mentioned above).  He did great so we ended on a good note and I let him graze.

If you look at this picture you can see how straight his stifles are... it's no wonder they lock.

He's pro at grazing lol.  I feel bad for confusing and frustrating him, but it's going to happen at times.  Once we figure things out it will be easier each time.

So if you're like me you are sitting there thinking... "that wasn't much of a workout".  I didn't think so either, but if you think about how many of those exercises involved strengthening his weakest group of muscles it was a really good workout.  I let him graze until my husband got home (maybe half an hour) and then went to walk him over the poles again to show off how awesome he is to my hubby.  He plowed right through them.... I reset them and tried again.  He knocked a couple of them again.  So we tried again and he only bumped one (too softly to move it).  The next time was perfect.  He wasn't picking up his rear hooves because he was wore out from his strengthening exercises (remember his very first time through his didn't hit them so I know it was a fatigue thing and not a don't know how thing).  So yes it was a very good workout.  He's probably going to be sore tomorrow.  Poor guy, but it's for his own good.