Monday, March 19, 2018

Ready for action

The Oatsmobile is highly sick of this winter and the boringness of trotting around the indoor and getting stronger and more balanced.

He has dreams of jumping and running and most of all - being in charge!  The danger of the smart horse is that they get bored easily and you have to stay ahead of them.  I haven't been great about that all winter and he has been as patient as he can.  We do incorporate lots of poles and small jumps and try to keep it interesting, but I am not about to crank the fences up on a horse trying to yank the reins out of my hands.

Luckily, he is well trained and good natured so having a few weeks of lovely weather really helped.  We were able to ride outside and get out on the trails and I could feel Odin relax and breathe again.  It doesn't hurt my brain much either. 

At the end of the day though, he needs harder work.  His canter is really coming together, he is maturing mentally, he wants to jump higher.  Bad news for him is that my riding time has been really limited by work lately and I am not fit enough to stay with him when he gets, uh, exuberant (this horse can crack his back like nothing else.  It's awesome, but tough when you aren't fit).  Good news for him, R2 has next week off and hopefully can spend a good amount of time getting him settled over bigger jumps so I can take over from there. 
He looks damn good

Work has been really intense with a big event that is actually going on now for the next two weeks.  After that I have a house move and then hopefully lots and lots of springtime riding. 

Odster is about to turn 7 and all signs point to him getting into a really good place in his training and I hope to spend the next several months enjoying and exploring that!

Saturday, January 20, 2018


When I was test riding the Oatsmobile to buy him, his trainer mentioned that he was a bit of a tough horse because while he isn't hot and isn't reactive, he is sensitive.  Except when he isn't.  He obviously was such a good horse and had such a great brain, I didn't process that description fully at the time, but have spent much of the last two years getting a deeper understanding of this.
Old pic to remind everyone he is cute

 While we have never pushed the issue in his training, it is very clear that you do NOT want to pick a fight with this horse.  He is a Dynaformer baby and his momma was a very tough racehorse so to start with, everything in his DNA says that if you get him into fight mode, he will go to the mat with you. 

And I have seen glimpses of that in his personality.  When I was first learning he might have some ulcer/stomach acid issues he was near unrideable.  I could practically feel him saying "I am being as polite as I can right now, but if you don't get off me and fix this, very bad things will happen."  So, my trainers and I put a lot of time and effort into convincing him that all the things we want him to do are his idea.  I get that this applies generally to horses, but seems to apply moreso to Odin. 
no sympathy

However - and this has been the hardest part for me to learn - that doesn't mean you can baby him.  If I ask nicely and he ignores me, and I let him get away with that, he has learned something and that is not a good thing.  So I have had to learn to correct VERY strongly but then to soften literally the second he gives.  It is a bit of a tightrope to walk and it has been an effort to get me there.  I assumed sensitive meant not to correct strongly but it really means (for Odin) to be incredibly firm and to give as much and as quickly as possible afterwards. 
Jasper pondering how tough all this riding stuff is

When he tries to lean on the bit, it is a hard pop and then soften like nothing happened.

When he decides it is time to shoulder in down the long side when I am asking him to go straight, it is a hard boot and then again, soften like nothing happened. 

As trainer R put it, sometimes he needs a bit of cowboy but you need to know when to stop because if you make it a total fight, you will lose. 

He also has a bit of a high opinion of his ability to be the one driving. 
Me pondering how tough all this riding stuff is!

I think he has been great for my education as a horsewoman because he is never scary and he isn't exactly hard - he will go out and be largely obedient.  But to get the best out of him, you need to up your game.

And for me that has been learning a new balance for the dichotomous horse.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hello world

So here I am, peeking out into the world again.  Not sure if I will resume posting routinely but I want to at least check in on occasion.

Odin has been doing really well these days.  I need to get some photos - losing our photographer was rough - but he looks very grown up now.  Filled out a bit and please please please not getting any taller.

From a recent bath . He is close to 16.3 although he doesn't look it
We are continuing to develop him at a super slow pace.  I think he is probably in a position to be pushed more but I am not and he is still only 6 so we will stay slow.  Ever since the stifle injection he has developed a ton of strength in his hind and has stayed comfortable.  We still do periodic estrone injections but that is all we had needed so far.  We will see if we can keep that up through winter or if he needs more support.

We did add ranitidine into his life for stomach acid maintenance and that has really helped.  In fact, if he misses a few doses you know immediately, drama king that he is.  He starts "spooking", tail swishing, and just cannot even horse.  We did a barn experiment on him to see if a grain that purports to fix ulcers would work at our facility because he is so clear on when his belly isn't perfect.  The grain failed the test but it was again a clear demo that Odin on Ranitidine is awesome and Odin off Ranitidine is a no go.  At least it is a cheap thing to do.

He has stayed in training and probably will unless I lose my job because it fits with my life right now. So much progress has been made in so many different ways - self carriages is improving, he holds his leads both ways, his changes are getting better and better, his jumping is improving, etc.

There is still plenty to do - he needs better balance cantering right, he still can get overexcited jumping and lose rhythm, he does have a tendency to lean on your hands - but it all keeps getting better and he is now in a position to help his rider out some and be confident in various scenarios.

I manage to ride him about twice a week myself and I am lucky in that I have a strong enough riding base that I can pull off decent rides without being in great shape and with inconsistency.  That being said, I manage it carefully.  If I am mentally distracted or stressed or don't feel good, I keep the ride in a box I can handle.  If I feel good, we do more.  My goal is to enjoy him and at least keep myself in basic shape and not ruin the training!  With all the chaos in my life over the last 6 months that is good enough for me.  My trainer is very supportive and amazing.

Honestly, there were points in the last few months were I contemplated selling.  Horses aren't my current priority and they cost so much money.  But for now I am glad I am sticking with it.  I think Odin is a special horse and a great partner and since I have a good support team, if I can swing the money, I will be glad to have worked through this tougher part later.  And who knows, maybe my person life will make sense again one day!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Life in Numbers

Last time I posed in late March, I thought maybe things were starting to get better.  That would have been accurate if I had instead thought that maybe my life was about to fall apart.  So let's try and revisit this in numbers....

1 - long term romantic relationship ended

1 - fall off the horse when he spooked grazing on the buckle that messed my back up pretty nicely

1 - freak hail storm that trashed my car.  Mine was one of the few that wasn't totaled (because it is so new) so instead after about $11k in repairs I will have a car I can likely never sell

2 - cats euthanized.  On the same fucking day.  That day can be lit on fire and never heard from again.

1 - birthday that hopefully goes down as the worst birthday I ever have

And as the icing on shit cake.....

6 - weeks in a walking cast after breaking my 5th metatarsal.

I was just getting back into riding after my back injury when this happened so I guess I like paying for other people to ride my horse.  He at least has been doing very well in training.  His punk teenager phase continues so I am not too sad to let the pros deal with him right now.  He isn't scary or dangerous, but just has more opinionz than I need at the moment.

Things can always be or get worse, but it would be really nice if the world cut me some slack for awhile instead.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Emerging from the fog

The last 6 months or so have been fairly rough, with a lot of things happening at the same time.  Work issues, life issues, physical health, mental health, it has not been a barrel of monkeys around here.  While in no way is everything resolved, I think in the last few weeks I have started to find a way to mentally re-calibrate my coping mechanisms (aka anxiety medicine).

Odin has been a source of nearly constant fun and joy since I bought him so having him go through health issues at the same time as everything else was depressing and I probably didn't handle it well.  I try not to ride much when my anxiety is bad because the horses can always feel it so that meant plenty of walking only rides or skipping rides entirely and I am forever grateful to my trainers for stepping up and covering my slack.

On the positive side, the horse is doing fan-freaking-tastic right now.  The steroid injection seemed to get that stifle on track and so far he is holding leads in back and feeling good.

However - that didn't resolve all the tail swishing, nose flipping, angst that Odin was feeling.  Trainer R decided to experiment with some left over tubes of Ulcerguard and Ranitidine and bam, magic, horse stopped being so twitchy.

We have been able to get some really good work done lately on trotting, cantering, and jumping.  His jump is miles different than last year, much easier to ride.  And his canter is coming along so nicely.  We have to make up some lost ground from the downtime dealing with his stifle and belly, but less than I thought we would have to.

And to keep both of our brains happy, we have been doing lots of trail rides too.  I think daylight savings time is stupid, but I will still totally take advantage of it!  Odin really likes to graze on our trail rides and has become something of a punk about wanting to be the one who decides when we eat.  Since I don't fancy being dragged over his head, we have been having "talks" about it.  Sometimes I have to boot him pretty hard and then he squeals in protest.  It is kind of funny.

Here's to hoping spring continues to bring improvements overall.  Oh and photos, I really need some photos!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Diagnosis Odin

Just kidding, like anything is ever clear in horse world.

Last Friday Odin got the good drugs injected, a quick racing stripe clipped onto his leg, and we took a look inside his leg via ultrasound.

It is a special kind of torture watching grey on grey blobs float around the screen while waiting for your vet to examine each tendon and give you their opinion.

On the plus side, all of the tendons look clean and healthy.  On the negative side, there is obvious inflammation in the stifle joint. Best guess is he tweaked the tendon somehow, it got inflamed, and now it is catching because of the swelling. Probably related but somewhat peripheral to his overall stifle bugging him.

After much agonizing on my part - and snoring on Odin's part - we decided to throw a steroid injection in the joint.  I hate injecting young horses but both vets from my practice were there and were aligned on this as a treatment with the rationale that continued inflammation leads to degeneration and we do not want that.

So a million hours of scrubbing later, he got his steroids, antibiotics, and HA injected with a mandatory 3 day vacation.

It has been 70 degrees here, by the way.  I don't generally recommend having your horse be hurt and laid up when you are getting spring in winter.

On Monday, he had one hell of a snotty nose, but the injection site was cool and clean.  I assume the vets brought him a little bit of a bonus cold on Friday (sigh).

Tuesday his nose was better and he was allowed to go into turnout and have a light ride.  Trainer R reported he seemed to be feeling good.

Today is the day we find out for sure how his stifle is as he goes back into full work.  Vet said he should be feeling great.  I am withholding optimism.  I can't get to the barn until tomorrow but I am hoping for a trainer report.