Sunday, March 24, 2013

Food recap

When I went out to feed the Pony tonight, I found this:

A bit of an egg.

It rained a bunch last night and I'm guessing he smacked himself while running around in the muck today.  I'm pretty sure he did it right before I got there as it's actually bigger in the picture then it was when I first got there.  I cold hosed it for about 25 minutes and then scrubbed it with some betadine scrub in case he had some small cuts under there.  Then he got some bute to help with the inflammation.  Fingers crossed it's gone or at least greatly reduced by tomorrow AM.

Inspired by L. Williams' post on feed, I've decided to do a quick run-down on what Charlie is eating and why.

Cocosoya oil

I've been looking for some sort of coat supplement for the summer and my research led me to cocosoya oil.  Lots of omega goodness and has the added benefit of providing some extra calories.  I added this to the diet in the beginning of March and I can already tell a difference in his weight.  Charlie doesn't seem to mind it either and he's very picky (are you really surprised?)  Now if it keeps him from bleaching out this summer, it really will be a miracle supplement. ;)


Next up is Sand Clear.  I haven't actually started using this yet as I'm waiting for 1 April since you feed it for 7 days each month and I figured it would be easier to remember to feed it if I started the first of every month.  Since Charlie typically eats outside, I thought this might not be a bad idea to add to the diet.

The grain

For grain, Charlie gets Seminole Wellnes Show and Sport which is a high fat, high fiber, low starch feed.  Charlie LOVES this stuff and I really like the ingredients.  I also like that there seems to be a very high degree of quality control as every bag looks the same.  Charlie's girlfriend gets Purina's Equine Senior and every bag's contents seem to be just a little bit different - sometimes it's the color, sometimes the consistency, sometimes the smell, etc.  To me, it just never seems to be quite the same.  Not so with the Seminole.

Loose minerals

I started feeding loose minerals last fall after talking to the vet about Charlie's ongoing battles with rain rot.  I told her I was convinced it was an immune issue based on something lacking in his diet.  She suggested feeding a loose mineral to cover any mineral deficiencies.  Since I started feeding this (in combination with one other thing that's mentioned below), no rain rot.  The really cool thing about this stuff?  It's $14.99/bag and I've only used about 1/4 of the bag since I opened it at the end of October.


Given all of Charlie's feet issues, it should come as no surprise that he gets a hoof supplement.  I think it helps but I don't really know because he still has crappy feet but when I told the new farrier that he got this he seemed to feel it was a good one.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I feed a splash of apple cider vinegar for a number of reasons, none of which are proven fact.  I started feeding this last September because a client of Cherie's told me she fed it to her horses to prevent rain rot.  But I know other folks who feed it because they say it helps keep the flies away and many humans drink a shot of apple cider vinegar to help with arthritis-type issues.

I'm hoping the weather clears up and Charlie's leg goes down so I can at least go for a hack tomorrow.  I'd really like to practice our turn on the haunches move.  I might try and get back up to Amy's this week but my truck really needs it's oil changed so we'll see how the week plays out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Turning on the haunches

Yesterday was a good day despite only getting approximately 5.5 hours of sleep - I worked all night, crashed for a few hours and then loaded the Pony and SuperMom up to head to Tryon.

I had a really good lesson with Amy - just flat work but I felt like I walked away with some solid homework for fixing the walk.  The walk has been getting better but it's been a very sloooowwww journey.  For whatever reason, Charlie is incredibly fussy in the walk.  If you pressure him, he gets very, very lateral and refuses to go forward.  I barely touch his mouth and pony club kick him but it doesn't do much good and I end up moving onto to something else in a different gait.  Every once in a while a can get a few steps of true walk with some connection but it's very sporadic.

Because everyone has told me the walk is the easiest gait to ruin, I've been a bit tentative to really get after Charlie in the walk.  As we worked on the walk, Amy talked about her thoughts on why the walk is so tough (because I think it should be the easiest) - basically, since there is never a moment when all four feet are off the ground in the walk, she thinks it makes it easier for the horse to evade and more difficult for the rider to collect.  After watching us for a bit and knowing how Charlie likes to use lateral evasion (she pointed out that I tend to use to much inside aid - especially leg because I'm trying so hard to get him to bend), she had us do walking turns on the haunches.  So instead of going on a circle, we made a square by doing quarter turns on the haunches.  Very effective for two reasons - 1) it gave me something else to think about besides the fussiness and lack of impulsion and 2) it made me lay off the inside aids because I was using my outside aids almost exclusively to create the turn.  As we kept working on it, Charlie became less fussy, more forward, and his walk became much truer and straighter.  And this folks is why she makes the big bucks! ;)  It was interesting because in the beginning, Amy said not to pressure him too much in the walk but at the end, she said to go ahead and put some pressure on him because he seems to have to have the mild temper tantrums to breakthrough to the good stuff.

We also worked on some shoulder-in on the circle at the trot, increasing the angle of the movement each time we asked.  Charlie got better and better at this - he really started reaching for the outside rein with his inside hind.  I just have to be careful going to the left as he tends to swing his hips out instead on keeping them on the track.  We then finished up with some working canter to medium canter to working canter transitions.  I must say I was very proud of the WonderPony - he tried really hard and only put up a few token protests.

After the lesson, he got his feet done.  It was very interesting to talk with Mick - he thinks the reason Charlie has such a hard time keeping shoes on is because he has some fungus-amungus growing in his hoof wall.  While it's pretty much invisible from the outside, it wreaks havoc within the hoof wall and makes it almost impossible to nail into (like trying to nail into swiss cheese).  There is some sort of fumigation product (pretty sure it's called White Lightening) that you put in a bag and then seal the bag around the foot and it kills the fungal infection.  Pretty neat and if it keeps Charlie out of glue-ons, I'm sold.  Mick did nail his shoes on this time around and said to be prepared to have to get him done as soon as he needs it so we can get rid of all the yucky stuff and hopefully have new, lovely hoof to start working with - fingers are crossed.  It will be much easier to get to Tryon then Aiken and since the adventure is easily combined with a lesson, I feel like I'm getting more bang for my gas buck.

An afternoon stroll in the sun.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This post has been a bit delayed because I've been contemplating my lesson with Carolyn which took place last Wednesday.  It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, it just was.  If I'm honest with myself, the last couple of lessons have been ho-hum.  I'm not sure if it's because I don't have a set dressage goal or what but all we really do is trot around in a circle and she tells me to flex him lateral work, no real transition work, no counter canter, nothing.  Not really sure that's worth my $55.

All that being said, she was a total miracle worker this summer in helping me correct my contact issues. So where to go from here?  I think I'm going to take a bit of break from straight dressage lessons and spend the money on going to Amy's and maybe trying to find a jumper trainer to add to the mix.  Sigh.  I hate change.

Onto the Amy lessons.  More jump in the canter is the theme.  I still get lulled into thinking he's in front of my leg when he's not but I'm getting better at telling when he's faking!  We worked on some shoulder in on the circle to encourage him to step under himself with his inside hind.  He was quite good going to the left and not as good going to the right.  I kind of expected it to be the other way around - just shows how much I know!  We warmed up over a vertical two strides to a small oxer with 2 placing polls in the middle.  The first two times through were a bit sketchy because I couldn't see a distance to the vertical to save my life but once I got my head in the game, it rode really well and I could really feel Charlie use himself over the oxer.

Then we moved onto some bending lines of related distances and really trying to make the lines smooth.  Sort of successful.  Successful in that we were forward but I'm still struggling with not feeling like a wild indian when Charlie is forward.  I'm going to start riding in one of the fields at home so I have more room to gallop around and practice lengthening and shortening his stride.  I think that will help me adjust my inner metronome.

In today's lesson, we worked on lead changes because I'm a loser and I don't know how to do them.  But the WonderPony does!  Amy got on him and showed that he is very well schooled if you ask correctly.  She made it look so easy and when I said that, she promptly replied "that's because he knows what I'm asking for" - made me laugh because it wasn't blatantly obvious by her response that I was the one with the problem!  Although, I'm beginning to think I'm not coordinated enough to ask correctly.  One more thing to practice in the field!

A quick rant - on my way home from my lesson today, I had a semi literally a foot behind me.  I have no problem getting over (I was in the middle lane) but I had a slow-poke semi in front of me and another one right beside me.  Not really sure where the one behind me thought I was supposed to go but he was making me very nervous.  It makes me very angry when people do this, especially truckers as they know it takes them much longer to stop than others.  I looked at the trailer number on the truck and I'm going to write to Tyson Chicken and tell them how unsafe this idiot was (when I was finally able to get over to let him pass, he continued to tailgate other folks until they got out of his way) and that I am never eating/buying Tyson chicken again.  They don't need to know I don't particularly like chicken. ;)

Now for a quick side note - I may have to cyber kill Megs over at Natural Noshing Meets Dressaging - Ride-Away was having a 20% off everything sale so I just had to get some more poly pads considering they were about $30 a piece after applying the discount.  Megs is the one who turned me onto Ride-Away.

I'm going back to Amy's on Friday to meet a new farrier.  I'm also going to have a lesson as I might as well knock two things out at once.  Pretty excited about this farrier - he sounded very normal on the phone.  Novel concept!  I'm really over the farrier drama.

Someone is waiting for breakfast!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stuff and other ramblings...

In my recent travels, I've picked up a few things.  I told you about one thing; the Poly Pad but I managed to get my grubby hands on a few other things.

Up first is a new girth.  Charlie needed a new girth...well, not really but I thought it looked comfy and sort of cool (cool as in temperature cool) so I bought it.  It's a Professional's Choice SMX Ventech and both of us quite like it.  I've always steered clear of the Professional's Choice girths because they look hot but this one has holes in the neoprene.  And the elastic is very stretchy so Charlie approves.  The best part is I can put it in the washing machine.

Next is Canter Silk Mane and Tail Conditioner - I remember reading about this stuff on Pia's and Prairie's Parade but thought nothing could be better than Cowboy Magic.  Boy was I wrong - this stuff is amazing!  It keeps the tail feeling like I just washed it even though I haven't washed Charlie's tail forever.  Great stuff and I like it even more now that SmartPak carries it...

And finally, I picked up some EquiFit Ankle boots.  I've had the open fronts for a while now but needed something for the hinds for show jumping and a tack trailer at the show in Aiken just happened to have some.  I quite like them although I would love them if they were brown.  I'm on the hunt for some brown show jumping boots (front and back) that aren't leather - I don't want the maintenance associated with leather.  Also, no fleece for the same reason.

Now for the ramblings.  Not sure if I mentioned it but Charlie has lost some weight during his recent travels so I decided to add some cocosoya oil to his diet.  I was going to do ground flax but I was worried about it going rancid in the heat of the summer so after some research and cost comparing, I went with the oil.  I've also upped his hay so he has the fescue round bale supplemented by lots of orchard/alfalfa mix.

Hanging out while I set up some jumps - he stands in the middle of the ring and supervises while I do all the heavy lifting.

WonderPony has been quite wonderful lately.  Two lessons this week - one on Wed with Carolyn and one on Thurs with Amy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


This whole working thing makes it a bit difficult to be consistent!  Although, in my defense it should be easier now that I'm moving to nights and will hopefully get into some sort of routine.  Apologies in advance as this is going to be a bit disjointed as I hop around to try and catch-up.

To start, let's back up to Southern Pines.  While there visiting Cherie, her husband came for a visit.  Tom is a vet.  A very good vet.  During my weekly conversations with Cherie, we often discuss lameness issues and things Tom sees and learns about when he goes on calls or to continuing ed conferences.  Several of those conversations have centered around the S-I joint.  I've become more and more convinced since the October vet visit that Charlie's true soreness was in his S-I joint and not his hocks.  So I begged Tom to take a look at Charlie when he came to visit Cherie and he kindly agreed.  He watched him go under saddle with me as well as with Cherie, performed extensive flexions on him and came to the conclusion that he needed the left side of his S-I joint injected along with his left stifle, left hock, and the left side of his neck.  Poor pony!  The good news is he feels amazing!!!  According to Tom, many vets don't realize how often the S-I joint is the true culprit and instead focus on the hocks or the stifles.  I will say it's important to note that Tom did not feel Charlie was lame in a clinical sense, just uncomfortable and these injections will allow him work correctly and therefore build the correct muscles to support his joints.

Jumping forward to the end of February, Charlie and I did indeed make it to the jumper show in Aiken despite some truly crappy weather.  I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of the farm we got to stay at but it was really pretty.  It was a shed row (not my favorite style) but the stalls were super roomy (I'm thinking 14x14) and the ceiling was really high so it made the stalls feel very open even when the dutch doors were all closed up.  The farm was in a planned equestrian community and it had an amazing common area with a dressage arena, banks, and lots and lots of show jumps available for all to enjoy.

I drove down to Aiken on Friday evening and we puttered around Aiken on Saturday during the drizzle and rain.  It stopped raining in the afternoon so I had a jumping lesson in the common area.  Cherie focused the majority of the lesson having me supple Charlie laterally and keeping him in front of my leg.  The Pony was simply amazing.  After riding, we headed to Maria's for a lovely Mexican dinner accompanied by an even lovelier margarita. ;)

Sunday was the show and despite some stress over the whole start time thing (how do you H/J folks do it?!?! Start times are a beautiful thing...), Charlie was really good.  He was a little wired when I first got on but settled down nicely.  I felt really badly because I ended up on him way longer then necessary but he was very good.  I didn't realize they would hold the class until you were ready - it took them about an hour to run a class that only had about 5 people in it because they were waiting on folks to show.  Anywho, on to the important stuff.  I entered two classes, low schooling jumpers which was 3' and Children's/Adult jumpers at 3'3".  Both classes were power and speed which was a new concepts for me - you jump the first 5-7 jumps and if you're clean, you get to do remaining 5-7 for speed.  First class was good although I'm an idiot so we ended up with some time faults but Charlie was clean so we got 6th and won $10!  The second class was about an hour or little more after the first and by that time Charlie was pretty tired.  He was very good but pulled first 2 rails so we just did the first half of the course.  All in all, it was a very good outing for both of us.

Another random tidbit - for the 3 weeks between Tom working on Charlie and going to Aiken, Charlie was a little nappy in the canter especially going left.  Needless to say, I was a bit worried that it had something to do with the injections as that was the only thing I could think of that was new.  Then it hit me - I had been using regular saddle pads which for some odd reason slip back under the flaps of my saddle.  The whole saddle doesn't slip, and the pad under the saddle doesn't slip, just the part under the flap.  This in turn pulls the pad very tight against his withers.  When I use a Poly Pad, this does not happen.  I have no idea why this works but it does so I guess that means Poly Pads and nothing else for the Pony.  Lucky for me I was able to score a used one from a tack shop in Southern Pines to add to the two I already have.

Charlie modeling his new used poly pad.

Riding has been a bit sporadic with work and the weather but now that I'm switching to nights, I plan on going straight to the barn in the AM to ride and feed the Wonder Pony.  Hopefully this all works out the way I've planned it in my head...