Monday, January 25, 2016

Back in the saddle!

My doctor cleared me to ride again last week and I have been trying to capture as much saddle time as possible!  Some on Odin and some on other horses that are a smidge more comfortable with an idiot monkey trying to find their legs.
I try to be very patient with the humans

I am one of those people who after weeks of forced rest can just dive right back into athletic endeavors - and do them super poorly while being in a shit ton of pain.  Then spend 4 days hobbling around the house.  Don't be jealous.

Physical ineptitude aside, I am psyched to really be riding again.  Even if I can only trot for about 3 laps before needing to walk and rest.  I know the endurance will come eventually.

Odin has also been doing really well.  He has mostly come "unstuck" and doesn't suck back or get cranky about the leg.  In true green horse fashion he has completely abandoned that and instead has become incredibly sensitive to go.  You currently don't want to apply much leg to him and you certainly don't want to hold your leg on.  Which is just the pendulum swing and he will find the middle ground one day.  But let me tell you, when an out of shape amateur accidentally grips with her legs a bit....we got an amazing left lead canter transition at least!
Older photo - Cantering now has 100% less flail

Speaking of the canter, I don't know if the magic of chiro, the magic of estrogen (he got his first shot Saturday), the magic of fitness, the magic of getting older or what combination of those is responsible, but all of a sudden the left lead canter is No Big Deal.  Steps right out and holds it.  Of course I am not holding my breath it is fixed forever, but hey, right now it is pretty exciting.

I did switch him back from the eggbutt snaffle to the loose ring french link as he seems more responsive to that, at least this week.  And for me.  He is great for his training rides no matter they use.

Jumping is still very minimal but he continues to love it.  He gets excited just thinking he is aimed at a jump.  So it will be super boring until it becomes less exciting.  I won't be taking him over anything until my leg is back, so maybe in a couple weeks.

Oh and we did our first trail ride on Saturday!  Just a small one up the dirt road a bit but the houses can be very spooky and Odin didn't bat an eye.  His sellers had done some trail riding with him and said he was good, it is always nice to confirm.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Chiropractic adjustment

It has been a crazy busy week.  I had my last day at my old job and I start a new job on Monday, I got released by my doctor to start exercising again, and Odin has had plenty going on.

The big thing this week was his first visit with our chiropractic vet.  I have never been able to be there for one of Fawkes' session but as my last day at the old job was Wednesday and the chiro came Thursday, I took advantage of the chance to see him in action.

For Odin specifically, it wasn't particularly exciting but it was interesting to see.  He asked about his racing, breeding, and recent riding history.  Turns out the chiro had actually met Dynaformer and could confirm the sire's nasty reputation.  Luckily Odin doesn't have a mean streak....a good gelding goes a long way.  Then we talked about any concerns, which is only the head tilting and stifles.

Next he had his assistant walk and trot Odie on a straight line and in a circle.  Said there was nothing to see there, Odie is tracking up, using himself well, and sound.  I expected as much but it sure is a great feeling when a vet says your horse is sound, under any circumstances.

Then he started adjusting his hips/pelvis.  Not going to lie, I don't know much if any of the terminology and therefore everything I am saying is based on what I observed.  He said that as he was working in that area he could hear Odie's stifles popping around some and thinks Estrogen treatment couldn't hurt.  Otherwise he didn't find anything "out" in that area.

He also commented on how well this horse tolerates whatever life throws at him.  He was definitely suspicious of what the chiro was doing, but never reacted, just sort of observed with his ears back to listen.

Next he moved on to what I can only call face hugging and the chiro explained as something with the TMJ.  Odie freaking loved the face hugging.  Sadly no photos but he just plopped his head in the chiro's arms and had a dreamy look.  Same for the poll work.  And again, not much special to note in that area.

The lumbar region was the only real region of comment.  The chiro basically said that Odin isn't back sore, he got no pain response at all, but he is somewhat tight in the back and doesn't really know how to lift it.  He expects nothing less for a horse that is off the track and green so he isn't worried about it but did do some adjustments to help.

And recommended three carrot stretches - the usual left and right but also having him stretch down between his front legs as that can help with back development.

We wrapped up with the tail pulling/back stretching thing.  Odin's least favorite.  The chiro said that most horses love it and he never gets kicked.  Those were nearly famous last words as my horse definitely lifted his left hind about 5 seconds in and contemplated kicking back.  Then I think he realized it felt good or knew kicking is not cool because he put his foot back down before we could even do much.

One vial of estrogen later (and instructions for a 5ml IM injection weekly for 4 weeks), we were all set.  It is nice to know my horse doesn't have any major concerns or issues at this point.  Building a topline and learning to use his back are on the training plan anyways, so it is also good to know that aligns with his chiro needs.

Monday, January 18, 2016

General updates and catch up

I just want to brain dumb a few things so I feel caught up going into this week.

  • Odin got his teeth done on Wednesday and that seems to have fully resolved the drooling and quidding.  I didn't get to talk to the vet but my trainer said she thinks it was just a float, and not anything in particular with his baby teeth.  But she isn't sure.  Either way, he is much happier in his mouth.
Here is a random starving dog who just wants some pie

  • Which means that there are two things we can now attribute to baby learning behaviors - bit chomping and head tilting.  
    • The head tilting is a little strange.  We have one other horse at the barn who does it quite a lot and I am hoping this isn't Odie's future.  Tracking left, he tips his head right at the poll.  So while trotting along with his neck straight, his nose pokes right.  This was worse before the teeth work so I am hoping this is just residual but it also points to some resistance to outside right rein contact.  The trainers are working through this and baby horse is smart, so I am sure this will resolve with time.
    • Bit chomping - green horse learning to accept contact so another thing that time will help with, but in the meantime we are playing with his bit.  He has been going in Fawkes' o-ring french link.  Fawkes loved this bit and it works for Odin but we do get a lot of mouth gaping and chomping.  So we are going to see if he likes something else better.  Up first, a big fat eggbutt snaffle.  
      And random Jasper catching some sun
  • Plateaus and leaps forward.  Odin has progressing well but slowly until Sunday he seemed to take a big step forward.  At least to someone who spends all their time scrutinizing him like my trainers and I.  So more bullet points!

    • Resistance to forward.  Resistance might be too strong a word, but he can get a little stuck and cranky about it.  Saturday there was quite a bit of this.  But then Sunday all of a sudden he was like, oh, yeah, forward.  That is cool.  Adding tons of poles has helped with this as it engages his brain.  Every last one of us is sick and tired of being stuck in the indoor so we need all the mental stimulation we can get.
    • Speaking of poles, rhythm and lifting feet.  Odin loves poles but also has no problem smacking them on occasion.  Sunday he either made a big connection or just had a really smart day as he was trotting over them out of rhythym and barely touching any of them.
    • Left lead transition. All of a sudden we have one!  Trainer R started using poles and cross rails to help and that made a noticeable difference.  Now to build up strength since swapping in back is still a frequent occurrence.
  • Jumping.  Not much to note here since we are just getting him into this but damn, does he love to jump.  
  • OK no surprise there
    I will try and get some video because it is fun to see that while he is super green, he has innate talent.  He brings his knees up, uses his neck, and cracks that back.  And while R2 is amazing and keeps him at more reasonable jumping efforts even she has said that he has lots  Just makes me excited for this summer.  
OK, brain dump complete.  Today is my 6 week follow up appointment from surgery, hoping I get cleared to start riding again since I know it will take me awhile to get back into shape.  I need to get on this and play catch up with my awesome horse!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


While I was gone over the weekend, something weird started.

Foamy mouth

During his training ride on Saturday he started drooling excessively.

This isn't the "I am being so soft in my mouth" foam everyone wants.  This was more like "has anyone noticed any rabid mammals hanging out near the barn?" foam.  The photo R2 sent is only of his mouth but apparently it was covering his legs and chest too.

On Sunday, I managed to get back in time for his training ride and he started foaming thick soon as the bit went in.  And back at his pen, we saw some definite quidding.  He is not the neatest eater in general, but the hay chunks falling from his mouth were telling.

Under saddle was some head tilting and shaking too.  Odin was clearly trying to tell us something!

The vet is coming out Wednesday but the safe bet is that baby horse is getting his adult teeth in.  And possibly needs some help clearing the runway.  Or maybe has some other dentition issues that need attention, we will see what the doctor has to say.

Last night I sat on him and walked around and it was clear how uncomfortable he currently is in the bridle.  So I just hope the vet finds what is going on and it can be easily resolved!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Horse Selfies

And then from the caboose end:

The red highlights in his tail are an unexpected bonus

And here are some poorly done conformation shots to gives us our Jan 2016 status.  I really need either more help or J to come to the barn with me because Odie has no interest in helping me get these and I hate asking other people at the barn.
This nice lady saw me struggling and volunteered so I took these quickly since she was on her way out.  

He is standing uphill here so while his withers have worked their way back up,
he isn't actually quite this uphill.  

He is still a bit ribby, I am hoping now that he had a growth spurt some calories can go to filling that in and muscling up.

And now we stand downhill.  Starting to get a bit of neck muscle

Pretty even when on level ground
And finally, I purchased some squeegee for his pen awhile ago but it has been too frozen to install. Our awesome barn manager got this in between our brief thaw and the next storm that is scheduled to come tonight.  The Odinpotamus thought this was just a clever way of us hiding food and also enjoyed a good roll.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Oh that left lead transition

Odin had yet another great week, continuing to make everyone love him.  He also told us how much he loves trotting poles.  Boy can't wait to get back to jumping.  He can start to get a little stuck by the gate, then sees the trotting poles and suddenly forward is real again.   I did capture some video, although not of the poles by the gate.

Our continuing challenge is mastering the left lead transition.

It is mostly just a patience game in continuing to strengthen him and wait for that stifle to tighten up as he finishes growing.  But in the meantime, we don't want him to repeatedly fail and get frustrated so we need to find ways to help him be successful.

He is getting it much better on the longe line, it is under saddle where it is either hit (gets it the first time) or big miss (bails at the last second and picks up the right lead instead).  He wants to be correct - when he picks it up wrong he has started trying to do a lead change to left but we don't really want to encourage that now.  One thing at a time thinking horse.

Oh and the endless arctic weather hasn't helped anything either.  Whose body wants to work correctly in ten degrees?
But who looks handsome in the striped quarter sheet?
One trick trainer R came up with this week that helped was cantering right on a circle, then basically cutting across the circle and doing a quick simple change.  The timing and relatively tight turn kept his balance such that the left was really his only option.  Yay successful left lead!

R believes it is partly still physically hard for him to pick it up but that it is also a little bit mental.  He anticipates it to be uncomfortable so he goes to the lead that hasn't historically hurt.

On the positive side, his canter transitions are coming along really well.  The amount of time between asking and getting has gone done significantly although there is still a wait.  He is usually dropping his head to pick up the canter instead of throwing it up and butt bumping has mostly vanished.

Once he does get his left lead he never swaps and R2 tells me it is a super comfortable canter.  On the right lead the swapping behind is probably cut in half.

And it is possible that I went against medical advice this week and sat on my boy to cool him out after a training ride....

Only two more weeks until I hopefully get cleared to ride!  Until then, I sadly go back to work tomorrow so I won't be able to go watch his training sessions and will just have to hear about them after the fact.  I will miss hanging out at the barn.