Monday, July 18, 2011

And other things

To catch up on other menial doings of the past week.....

Wednesday, I decided to try a new fun game with Bobby called grid jumping. Mr Uncoordinated himself did not think this was such a fun game. It ended with me on the ground and my ankle still wrapped five days later. But to get there! Really, I was asking for it as soon as I started jumping and as much as Bobby could have been more willing, I should have been smarter. We had a really fabulous warm up flatting. We did a lot of circling and suppling and he was really starting to move out and relax his chin and head, giving me his best "frame" yet. We worked on our canter circles each way, but still not too much success there. I really, really need to buckle down on them so we can at least do a real 20 meter circle without breaking into the trot by August 7th. It doesn't need to look pretty, but it does need to get done. I ran through our Intro B dressage test once, then did the BN Test A once. I let him walk for ten minutes, alternating between going along on the buckle and doing leg yields.

I had three jumps and a ground pole set up for our grid exercise. I started off with a pole, one stride, pole, one stride, x-rail, bounce, 2' vertical. Two times he ran out on the xrail because I had the poles set up on barrels for the standards. He wasn't very impressed. I finally got him focused and he did the in and out beautifully! The little light bulb went off! We ran through it once more before I raised the first ground pole to a 2' vertical as well.

At this point A) my stirrups were too short, and B) I was feeling dizzy from the heat and not having eaten breakfast that morning (living with low blood sugar for many, many years, you think I would have learned by now). He went over the first vertical well, then the ground pole, then dove away from the xrail again. I should have lowered the first fence to another xrail or just dropped one side down, but no. I tried him through it again. This time he didn't run out. He stopped. Because of me. I brought him up to it totally unorganized and with zero amount of forwardness. I went over his shoulder, but after many, many years of tumbling off of nutty Thoroughbreds, I happen to be a bit of a pro when it comes to falling. Seeing that I was about to fall back-first onto the wooden poles of the xrail, I pushed off of my left stirrup as I fell and launched myself over the jump to land safely on my butt. Unfortunately, I twisted my ankle pretty badly and untacking and cooling out Bobby with one leg to stand on and your mind only half there due to dizziness is not fun. I ended up calling Hubby and having him talk to me until I felt a little better so I didn't pass out. No harm done to Bobby, but I'm definitely going to go about that grid differently next time.

Friday, I had an equine massage woman come out to do both Red and Bobby. Before she even started to work on them, she berated me up down and sideways for how skinny they both are. I think by the time she was done four hours later, she had finally gotten the clue that I was doing my part and to place the blame elsewhere. But I'll get to that later.

She worked on Red first. He was not shy about showing how much he was loving it. I didn't get any pictures because she was letting me be really hands on with him so that I knew what to do to keep going with it. Her evaluation of him: His neck was the worst part, but most of it was very old, probably from his years on the track (which of course she thought the entire industry was pure abuse. Puh-lease.).

He had two vertibrae out on each side of his neck which she got realigned very easily. The muscle running along the top of his neck was very tight from him making a habit of being on the forehand and me fighting against him because of it. The pouches behind his throat latch were both filled and she showed me how to drain them. That will help him flex much easier and be more willing to give to the bit because he can bring his head in more. His shoulder was very loose and in good shape. His hips were tight and I explained to her the problems I'd been having with him. She worked back there for a long time, and by the time she was done, he toes were pointing forward before instead of toeing out. Honestly, I hadn't even noticed until she pointed out the before and after difference. Overall, she raved over his conformation, but said we both needed to work on riding upwards and stop letting him go along on his forehand.

red's new neck. nice and smooth!
Bobby: she wanted to evaluate my saddle on him since he is thin and he doesn't have any fat along his topline yet. However, my saddle is very heavily padded and it fits him really well all the way through, so she wasn't concerned with it at all once she saw it on him. The first thing she did was tongue pulls. She held his tongue while he worked it around and loosened the muscles in his poll and behind his throatlatch. (She commented on how he must have been twitched alot on the track because he didn't want to give her his tongue. Let me shove my hand down your throat and see how willing you are to let it stay there.) On his neck, she found that his C6 vertibrae on his left side had been knocked out of alignment upwards instead of outwards which was very rare and she'd never seen before. She said it was from an old neck injury, probably from getting stuck under something like a fence. A year ago, the girls at Cobleskill told me he'd hurt his neck and they were doing carrot stretches with him, but they didn't know how he'd done it. I didn't remember them telling me that until the woman commented on it. She said his muscle was very, very tight there and it was going to take alot of work to get it softer. This is probably why he has more trouble going to the left than the right.

me working on his tongue exercise.
His shoulder was nice and loose too from galloping, but his hunter's bump area was very prominent. She got it loosened up some and it did look a little flatter and smoother when she was done. She said that would take about a year to go entirely down. He was being very resistent and not very cooperative the whole time until she got to his hind end. He finally figured out that what she was doing felt good and he was hamming up his stretching and releasing of his hips, haunches, and stifles. He stands with his front feet very narrow and close together, so I have to make him stand with his legs wide at all times to keep that area loose and stretched.

Now for the weight issues. After I pounded it into her head that I was indeed feeding them enough grain (8lbs of Safe Choice a day), they had been getting wormed, and I was giving them extra to help (8-10lbs alfafa cubes a day), she agreed that BO not giving them enough hay was the only thing holding them back from gaining. She really ripped BO apart when he showed up, and between her, CL, and me all telling him the whole time he was there, I think it FINALLY sank in. Forget the past six months we've telling him they need more hay. Sunday, when we got to the barn at 8am to get Bobby loaded for the show, he had some hay left in his stall, and so did CL's yearling wo's too thin. I'm hoping this is going to be a new trend--him giving them extra hay when he's done cleaning stalls. CL, CL's friend and I are going to work out a schedule so that one of us is there every single day to give them noon hay, and alot of it. Right now, we're probably only getting there five days a week total. I'm still on the search for a new barn, but dang it's hard to find someplace both close and affordable.

Starting today, I'm going to use the weight tape on both boys each time I'm out and record how much they're gaining, if they're gaining at all. I told BO I'd hay for him tonight since he and his family are going to Knoeble's so at least tonight everyone in the barn is eating well.

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