Archive | January, 2013

Dressage dreams and an update

24 Jan

I’ve been a dressage-a-holic as of late, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. I received a Chapters/Indigo gift card for Christmas and after meticulously scouring store shelves, I opted to purchase two books online (better prices, free delivery for orders over $25, and more selection!). After tracking their delivery status for over a week, they finally arrived yesterday!

I chose, “101 Dressage Exercises for Horse and Rider” by Jec Aristotle Ballou, and “Dressage 101” by Jane Savoie. I started reading through both of them last night (how could I choose just one?) and subsequently had dreams about dressage exercises last night.

My excitement for dressage has further been re-invigorated because the 2013 draft show calendar has been released. There are a tonne of schooling shows this year, pretty much one every other week, if not every week to choose from. New locations too, including the barn where Corona was born! This has me wondering whether or not he’ll remember it there and whether this could result in a calm attitude on show day(s). I’m not going to be doing every single show, unfortunately the bank account and the fact that I need to work for a living prohibit that, but I’m hoping to get to at least 5 shows, plus two hunter paces over the season.

All I need now is for Corona to get better, and for the icy riding conditions to subside – how on earth can I practice all of these new found exercises and theories on a fractured/swollen horse on the ice rink that is the barn, not to mention the -36 degree Celsius weather that we’ve been having all week. Oh summer, how I miss you.

As for a Corona update – he is improving. The vet (the boss vet) was out last week and took an interest in Corona while the other vet (who he saw a few weeks ago) worked on the racehorses. Apparently there is no more infection, but he has developed a passive edema which is what is making his leg swollen. He recommended that we put ichtamol around the wound for 3 days, then leave it for 3 days, and repeat this pattern until the swelling subsides. He mentioned that we shouldn’t be alarmed because the ichtamol will make the leg swell, but eventually it will get less and less each time we apply, until it returns to normal again. He said that there’s a chance that the affected knee may always be a bit bigger than the other, but that it’s nothing to be worried about. Also, he said that I can begin to hand walk or ride (walk only) Corona around the track to assist with the swelling.

I started this regime on Saturday. We did some groundwork in the coverall and I was super impressed at how good Corona was despite us not having done this in probably 2 months. He remembered what I’d taught him and was very well behaved. I decided to try to hand walk him around the track but unfortunately it was pretty icy with a layer of light snow over it. Corona was pretty good about it, he has a very forward walk which is good, however it’s not so good when you have a silly human at the other end of the rope trying to stay on her feet over the ice. He was getting a bit full of himself going around and being held back by me so I started asking for some halts and backups in an attempt to prevent any sort of taking off. It worked but I could tell he was getting rather annoyed. We lasted one full lap of the track and then I decided that before things turned sour, I’d take him back into the coverall to do more groundwork and then call it a day.

Again, he was great, and then he found a place where the dirt wasn’t covered in snow…he began to paw…I realized he was going to roll…He was still on the lead line at this point and I didn’t want him to roll while I was attached to him, and also because it meant he wasn’t paying attention to me. At that moment he started going down onto his knees and to my surprise, when I said, “no Corona” he popped back up and looked at me! I was pretty impressed at this and decided it would be a good place to give him a reward and end our session. I walked him back over to the gate where I took off his rope halter and let him loose to go roll. Of course when I did this, he decided to just stand there with me for a minute, then he decided to go sniff around the other piles of manure that were on the ground, then he went over to his spot and had a good roll. Then up, other side! He was covered in the dirt and looked pretty pleased with himself. At one point he squealed (it appeared like a squeal of joy to me), did a little jump to complement this, and then looked around to see what to do next. I walked back over to the gate, picked up his halter and rope and approached him to put it on thinking he may have decided he liked the idea of being free, but nope, he stood quietly as I put it on him, gave him a good pat and laughed at his filthy face, and off we went back to the barn for a good brush and some treats.

Hopefully the footing will be better this weekend and I can take him for a walk while sitting on him….the forecast is calling for -21 degree temperatures and a northwest wind, so it may not be pretty…but I gotta get this horse healed!

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Top 5 reasons I love Corona

22 Jan

I really just want to be at the barn everyday. I find myself yearning for it more and more everyday. Today’s yearning made me think of the top five reasons I love Corona. In no particular order, here’s what I came up with:

1. His sense of humour: this horse is just funny, a real goofball. Some people hate that about him, but I personally find it endearing…don’t get me wrong, I could do without some of the horse-eating-monster sightings, but overall I find his sense of humour fantastic.

2. His expressive eyes: he has puppy dog eyes and I melt every time I see them.

3. His nickers for food: he sounds like an opera singer at feeding time, it’s a shrill squeal of joy at the thought of getting hay and grain.

4. His joie de vivre for work: I can honestly say that this horse enjoys working. Whether it’s a meander around the track, or a session in the ring, he loves it.

5. His soft side: it’s starting to come out more and more, dropping his head, closing his eyes while I scratch his ears, falling asleep as I braid his mane, cocking a hind leg as he gets groomed, looking at me as if to say “yep, that’s it human!” when I find a good scratchy spot.

Goals for 2013

17 Jan

I’ve come up with my first cut at goals for the winter season. Keeping in mind that on average I’m only able to ride about 1/week in the winter, I am trying to be realistic and focus on basics that both Corona and I need to rediscover. Also considering the lack of riding time, I’ve added in some theory goals that will allow me to learn through books and videos when I’m not able to get out to the barn.

Theory goals:

Continue study of natural horsemanship through purchase of fundamentals video from Parelli.

Learn theory behind the Parelli 7 games more in-depth so that I can more accurately put them into practice.

Get dressage book to more accurately understand the pyramid of training and then be able to put it into practice.

Groundwork goals:

Lead Corona walk/trot/halt and have him follow at a respectful distance and speed. Will halt at a respectful distance and keep out of my personal space.

Mount/dismount from both sides while standing calmly in a variety of locations

Teaching him a “head down” cue.

Riding goals:

Halt/walk/trot/canter transitions – I want to have consistently willing and relaxed transitions.

Focus on leg position – keep heels down and leg in a secure position.

Be able to maintain forward impulsion throughout riding sessions and keep an even tempo at all times.

Relationship goals:

Increase the trust that Corona has in me as a good leader. I will do this by spending time with him grooming, going for walks, exposing him to various objects and using approach and retreat. Also I will look for other ways to concretely build our relationship of trust.

Just thinking about these things makes me very excited!

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I love good news

9 Jan

The good news – prognosis is 100% recovery! I’m so relieved at this.

The not-bad-but-not-super-news: as with any injury, we have to wait and see how long it will take to heal.

I’m so relieved. I knew I was worried, but it wasn’t until I heard the good news that I really recognized how stressed I was about this situation. I’m really looking forward to many more days, weeks, months, and years with my horse. I just love him, plain and simple.

Oh – and on another positive note, CG had a conversation with the Boss the other day about future plans. Seems as though everyone is on the same general page with respect to the future…including that we will have the option of taking our horses to the new barn!

Fractured

5 Jan

The vet came out to see what’s going on with Corona’s leg on Wednesday. After much inspection, they did x-rays and discovered a very tiny hairline fracture by the wound! I wasn’t there at the time so didn’t hear what was said, but according to the Boss it is of “little consequence and will heal very soon.” While this does sound somewhat comforting, I can’t help but think perhaps it’s not as straight forward as it sounds. I’ve been googling it and, like anything you google, find 100’s of different prognosis and treatments. The vet said that Corona could continue to be turned out provided he stays quiet. I’m quite happy about this but wonder whether he really is capable of remaining quiet 100% of the time. He doesn’t rage around like a maniac in the field with the boys, but there are definitely squabbles and the odd chase of dominance. I guess on a positive note it’s usually Corona who pins his ears, bares his teeth and chases off the others, not vice versa. The vet also has put him on tetracyclin for the infection since the penicillin wasn’t working. I really hope this works and the infection is stopped. The tetracyclin can be given in his feed, which I appreciate because I know that he’ll receive it. The penicillin was given as injections and the Boss isn’t capable of doing it, so I was having to rely on the Trainer to do it.

I’m quite worried about all of this. It doesn’t help that I’ve got a crazy cold/flu and haven’t been able to get out to the barn to ask all of my questions. I emailed the Boss to ask about long-term consequences of this injury – is it going to result in permanent lameness?

I love this horse, I really see us having a long relationship together. It sounds terrible, but now I have to think about what I’d do if this injury wasn’t going to heal? Would I still take him on as my own to CG’s barn as planned? Would I be happy if my one horse couldn’t be used as more than a companion? At the same token who am I to give up on him? It’s not as if he wouldn’t have a good quality of life, even if he couldn’t be ridden, it would be my own selfishness that would be preventing him from having that if I decided not to take him when the time comes. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, maybe everything will be fine and I’m worrying for nothing. I’m not opposed to having a companion horse, but in the grand scheme of things, I was envisioning him being a companion horse 15 yrs from now…not from the moment I take him on.

 

Xmas blissadventures!

3 Jan

Long time no write! As with several others, the holidays sidetracked this girl into an abyss of chaotic bliss…

I’ve been having some great adventures with Corona over the last few weeks, both good and not-so-good:

1. Gate crashing:

I went to visit the barn on my way to a family xmas party and to give some homemade xmas treats to Corona. He was out in the field at the time and made short work of the treats and peppermints I brought. CG and SM were out at the barn to ride, and CG went into Corona’s field to get Roller out. I was holding the gate for her and as she came out with Roller, Corona decided that there was no way he was staying in the field. He crashed through the gate and ran over to the mares’ field for a little visit. CG and I went over to grab him, but within seconds a couple of the mares were at the gate mingling with him, including a feisty pony named Grace. Grace and Corona go way back, it’s a love-hate relationship. On this day, I suppose it was hate. Grace reared up and knocked the mares’ gate latch off its hook, the gate opened up and in ran Corona. Chaos ensued as all the mares got involved and my silly hotshot Corona was prancing around in their with his tail straight up and loving life…until Grace decided that he wasn’t welcome. SM was out at this point so I ran into the barn to get a bucket of grain to entice my “stud” back to the gate. CG managed to get hold of Grace so that she didn’t kill Corona and after a few minutes Corona came over and happily went back to the boys’ field. Good thing he’s cute. Also of note – at this point, his leg was swollen but didn’t seem to be bothering him whatsoever.

2. My Mongolian trekking pony:

Last week it snowed and snowed and snowed…we probably got about 3 feet of snow in 2 separate blizzards. This made for heavenly winter riding! On boxing day, Corona’s leg was still a bit swollen from the kick, but he wasn’t lame so I decided to take him for a stroll through the snow. Also, the Boss told me it’d be a good idea since it would keep the wound open to drain. Corona was a bit hesitant at first, but with a bit of coaxing, off we went through the snowdrifts. Since the barn is surrounded by fields on two sides, we get a lot of drifting snow, in one area the snow was up to Corona’s chest. I love the feeling of riding a horse in the snow and feeling their exaggerated movements. There was one section that Corona started to blaze a trail through, decided he was over walking, and leaped through the air over the snowdrift. It was hilarious; he then continued along like it was nothing. Looking out over the fields, it was as if we were trekking though Mongolia. We did a couple laps that day and the next.

3. That’s not good:

I arrived at the barn on Saturday, excited for another trekking adventure with Corona, only to find that he wouldn’t move! His leg had doubled in size and he had no intentions of leaving his stall. The Boss and I took a look at it and decided that it would be best if we could coax him out and get him out in the field to walk around and hopefully limber it up. The Trainer was supposed to be coming and would take a look at it when he arrived. Magically when coaxed with treats, Corona decided he would happily go outside, but he was definitely worse for wear than he had been the previous few days. He had finished a “dose” of antibiotics already and the Boss was debating getting him on penicillin if things weren’t clearing up. I say “dose” because I have since learned that it wasn’t a complete dose, they ran out of pills before recommended dosage ended. Things clearly were not getting better, they were getting worse, the Boss left to get penicillin which he’s now getting twice a day.

As of yesterday his leg was looking better, definitely still swollen, but he wasn’t hesitant to walk on it anymore. The vet is going out to take a look today which I’m very happy about. The hard part about leasing a horse is that I don’t really get to make any decisions about the horse’s care. I.e.: don’t turn him out with a horse with back shoes and metal corks! I wanted to get the vet out on Saturday but I was told that it wasn’t necessary because they’d just tell us to put him on penicillin. Maybe so, but at that point it was going on 2 weeks with a swollen leg. I’m anxious to hear what the vet says, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.

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