Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays!!

Bags are packed, horse is taken care of, and pet sitter will be here soon.  We are about to head to the airport (please shine on us travel gods) for two weeks in New Zealand.

Happy Holidays to blogland and all of its critters!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3 years ago today

After a long trailer ride, an orange horse got off the truck and probably wondered why someone pulled him from a Maryland that was having a mild winter and delivered him to frigid Colorado

First view of CO

Checking things out
Who are you lady?
Less than a week later, so unimpressed
Happy anniversary, Fawkes!

Friday, December 12, 2014

This horse can stay

It has been another crazy week with my riding time being nonexistent.  We leave for New Zealand in exactly one week which has us running around trying to get organized and then, scarily, Aragorn got sick.

Sleepy sick kitty post subcutaneous fluids and a day trip to the vet

He was diagnosed a few years ago as likely having IBD but most seemed healthy if I watched his diet.  However, I noticed he was still having stomach issues on his Rx food a few weeks ago and decided to try a new limited ingredient diet with a novel protein (duck).  Yeah, this is the reason I am not a professional animal nutritionist or apparently smart person.  His stomach health has tanked this past week.  We are still waiting for bloodwork to make sure it isn't something else, but after he spent all day at the vet today getting rehydrated they think it is just an IBD flareup.

Poor guy does not feel good and J and I are tired of inhaling carpet cleaner too.  Anyways, long story still kind of long, I didn't get out to see Fawkes until this evening.  But it was so worth the wait.  I actually think that minimizing my rides has multiple benefits in that Fawkes and I were kind of on each other's nerves and the break has made us much happier when we get together.  Most importantly, all these uninterrupted training rides are giving me a new horse to ride.  And I like this critter!
Weird things happen in my house.  Like dog stacking

We took a lesson and his walk and trot have officially become like new gaits.  He is learning to default to dropping his head instead of doing a giraffe imitation, use his hind legs and back, and hold steadier in the contact.  He still sometimes gets cranky about the right leg, but there is an actual response there now.  I need to get J out for some pictures because I am pretty sure he looks hooottt.  I know he feels it.  He was also responsive and light in the bridle.

We trotted and cantered poles and straightness is getting much better.  I am really trying to use my outside aids correctly.  And because Fawkes has discipline now, if he ignores my right leg I get to kick him instead of trying to will him to listen.

To wrap up, we trotted a cross rail a few times.  Fawkes was brave, forward, and straight - admittedly a tiny x - but what was craziest was that he actually tried to rush the thing.  Twice!!  Fawkes has never been confident enough to rush at a jump.  I steadied him and didn't let him, but what horse is this and can I keep it??

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Busy week

I am surprised I managed to ride Fawkes twice (Monday and Friday) this week given how crazy it has been.  Work getting ready for the holidays, us meeting adopters for the foster dog, the insanity of 6 animals in general, etc.  Oh, and J left town to go visit his family so I am single pet mom for the time being.

Gizmo went to his new home this morning, yay!!!

However, I did get to the barn yesterday.  Which brings up the topic of Keratex.  I have been using it as instructed since literally the day his hind shoes came off.  So two whole weeks now.  The first week was daily and now it is twice a week.  To try and maximize the process, I am being super anal.
1. Pick out horse feet, scrape walls
2. Hose horse feet to remove mud and dirt. Listen to horse sigh about the torture.  Get soaked by rebounding water.
3.  Walk horse up and down aisle to squeeze out excess water.
4. Wipe hooves (including sole) dry with a towel and make sure to remove any remaining dirt.  Get hit in the face by tail of horse who is tired of picking up his feet already.
5.  Groom, pet, ignore, or feed treats to horse to let 5ish minutes go by to allow the insane dryness of CO in winter to remove residual moisture. Watch horse complain about not getting enough cookies.
6. Apply Keratex to hoof wall and sole.
7.  Tack up horse and ride.

I am middling impressed.  The Keratex doesn't seem to have done anything about the chipping/flaking below the nail holes on his hinds but on the other hand he hasn't been sore in back so maybe it is working?

Ride was ok, he wasn't spooky at all but he was a bit cranky.  Trainer R said Fawkes had a kind of rough week in terms of attitude.  She has started to be more insistent with him and that leads to temper tantrums and then when she disciplines him in any way, he freaks.  This has been the fine line problem we have had for almost 3 years now.  He is kind of a jerk and then flips his shit when you ask/insist he stop being a jerk.  So we will see if she can push him past that because I am definitely over it!  I feel bad saying he is on some kind of clock but we are really close to our 3 year anniversary (next week) and you can only hit the reset button so many times before calling it.  Anyways, besides getting stuck in canter transitions, it was pretty good ride.  His flat work is improving by leaps and bounds.  Tack got cleaned and conditioned before I left, which is also amazing.

Today Fawkes was getting a massage - more proof that he lives a better life than I do - while I took the dogs on a hike.  In preparation for the backpacking we are planning to do in New Zealand, I decided to do a reasonably hard hike (close to 8 miles, about 3k feet of elevation gain).  And to up the game, I carried 6 liters of water and some other junk to get the pack closeish to 20 pounds.

The hike is up a mountain called South Boulder peak, which had a fire two summers ago.  There is a section called Shadow Canyon which is something like 1800 feet of vertical in a little over a mile.  AKA a giant stone staircase of pain.  At the saddle before the summit, I turned to look back in the direction of the car and randomly caught this shot.
It was a rare overcast day in CO and the burned trees seem to make a cool effect with the low lying clouds.  And then, oddly, you can still see Pike's Peak in the far distance - probably 75 miles away.

Maya on the summit with the Indian Peaks in the background.
The dogs had a blast and are both currently passed out.  Not unusual for Jasper but I somehow tired out Maya!  The perpetual motion machine!  Very exciting.  On the descent my knees were very grateful for my hiking poles.  People make fun of hiking poles but I don't think you can hike as much as J and I do over such terrain (and ski and snow shoe and bike and ride horses and sometimes run) and still have functioning joints without help.  At least I couldn't.

Lesson tomorrow morning although I am already kind of sore so let's hope I can get some leg cooperation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Riding catch up

We had a riding lesson on Friday morning.  It was a beautiful, perfect day and it really is quite nice to see your horse in daylight for once.  There was a lot of activity in the indoor which in a strange way seems to make Fawkes more comfortable.  I suppose he feels he is less likely to be eaten in the herd.

I wish there were more exciting things to report from the lesson but it was really just more of the same.   If I feel like a broken record, just imagine how my poor trainer feels.  Right shoulder back, keep a feel but not too much, don't let your foot slip forward too much.  Fawkes feels absolutely amazing to the left, with this big trot and soft.  The right takes a lot more work on my part, but the trot quality is much improved, and we are starting to get a little straighter and more responsive.

Crappy pic, but at least it shows his clip job

We worked on lines of poles up the center - which is very hard for us because it is a tight turn with minimal time to get straight - and poles/cross rails just off the rail. Coming off the rail and controlling his outside shoulder is still very difficult.  Apparently I was using too much outside leg, or more accurately Fawkes wasn't responding well to my outside leg so I was compensating by kicking him.  My trainer told me to just use outside rein to straighten and the inevitable happened, Fawkes just drifted back to the rail.  So then we worked on maintaining light inside rein contact while straightening outside aids.  Again, my horse has a very narrow threshold.

However!  There is a big positive.  There have been great strides in the ability to straighten while going through the poles or between jumps.  So much so I over straightened him and made him crooked in the other direction.  I am counting that as a win.  And he continued his happy, bold, relaxed jumping.  Consistency and calm is a wonderful thing.

Foster Gizmo got groomed!!  So flipping cute and starts interviewing prospective
families this week.

Sunday I watched R2 ride Fawkes which was good but kind of a bummer because the temperature was plummeting.  It was 49 when I got the barn and 22 when I left 2.5 hours later.  Fawkes was very stuck for her, presumably because he was cold and slow to warm up.  So in a reversal of what I usually get, he was not great on the flat but was excellent over fences for her.  I am glad I was able to watch because it is nice to see that it isn't just me (he can be difficult for even a pro) and also how he is coming along.

Last night was intended to be a quiet hack for us, unfortunately we had an exceptionally spooky ride.  It started poorly when I was leading him inside and somewhere nearby a puppy was squeaking a ball.  The horror.  Then, when we were trotting around, someone walked past the indoor entrance to dump a pitchfork of manure.  Medium level spook ensued.  As we were recovering from that, a cat jumped up onto the wall.  Another medium spook then just tense critter being tense.  The rest of the ride became a game of  "Find Fawkes' Brain."  Transitions, circles, bending, not letting him look around for things to react to. Once he eventually settled back to a nice relaxed trot I let him be done.