Monday, April 22, 2013

Chiropractor, Side Reins and Sunny Days

This week was a busy week for Charlie: chiro on Wednesday, farrier on Saturday and getting used to side reins in between everything else. We also lunged in the outdoor for the first time ever (not his calmest experience, but it was buggy, I'll give him that).

My artillery: a shedding blade, side reins, Sore-No-More and No Bows wraps (to be explained)

I was actually really excited about Dr. Katz's visit on Wednesday, but kept psyching myself out leading up to it because I was sure he would take one look at my saddle and say there was no way it fit and that I have to go shopping for an expensive new one....but he didn't! Actually, after trying many different pad options, he said that although the saddle didn't fit perfectly, it was doable and the Lami-cell pad I've been using was doing the best job of removing any front-to-back rocking. The remaining rock was minimal enough that he said he didn't think it would bother most horses, but Charlie is extra sensitive. He showed me how to use a folded No Bose wrap instead (or a hand towel) to raise the front of the saddle a little and even everything out better than any of the expensive pads were doing. I really liked how Dr. Katz was so down-to-earth and honest; he didn't try to sell me anything or convince me to purchase expensive correction. Instead he worked with what I had and I really appreciated it.

My improvised No Bows pad
Dr. Katz did say that Charlie, with those huge withers, is a nightmare to fit (no kidding) and will probably always need some sort of corrective pads but before we go crazy with that we have to make him comfortable enough to work and develop his topline (Pro: now I have a "real excuse" to buy one of the Mattes pads I drool over; Con: my wallet is rapidly thinning!). He also mentioned trying a fleece girth instead of my Professionals Choice synthetic girth because apparently some horses feel like it pulls their belly hair and so that might be contributing to Charlie's grumpiness. I have nothing against fleece girths, but I really like my Professionals Choice easy to clean! For Charlie's happiness, though, it's worth switching it up and seeing what happens.

After the saddle fitting Dr. Katz did a full chiropractic evaluation on Charlie. At one point he asked me to take Charlie into the indoor and walk/trot in hand so he could see how Charlie moved (Ooops, forgot about that part of the eval). I had a brief moment of panic since I hadn't gotten to lunge Charlie before Dr. Katz got there and thought he'd go through the roof or run me over or think we were "playing", but (thankfully) Charlie was well-behaved. We stopped just before he passed his "this-is-boring-so-let's-spice-things-up" threshold. Phew!

Overall, Dr. Katz pinpointed some key areas of soreness in Charlie's withers and hind end, but he got some real good releases and said there weren't any true "problem" areas (I have a short video of some of it but it is still processing, I'll have to post later). For the next month or so I will ride with the corrective padding to try and build up muscle and use Sore-No-More religiously after every workout and then we'll see where we stand.

On Friday we started with some light lunge work again. I'm slowly trying to introduce Charlie to the idea of the side reins so for the meantime they're extended from his rope halter with some baling twine so they aren't tight, just so he gets used to them being there. I'm gradually shortening them each time and then will transition to using his bridle. This was taken with them super loose at the beginning of our session; he's obviously not too impressed:

Finally (although you wouldn't know it today) we did have a few really warm days this week and Charlie definitely enjoyed the time out in the sun. Dan and I got to the barn this weekend to find him conked out and soaking up the sun. It was pretty adorable :)

Grazing is good, but it makes the neighbors jealous

Monday, April 15, 2013

Side reins

One of my finds at this weekend's tack sale was a pair of leather and elastic side reins. I knew they were going to be a little short for Charlie, even though they were horse-sized, but for $5 I figured I could make them work. After warming him up I hooked them on. Here's a video of my first time using them with him, jury rigged with some bailing twine to be nice and loose until he gets used to them. He fought a bit at first until he learned that moving forward and down meant no pressure on his face, then he was really good.

Once I got a nice relaxed trot in both directions with the side reins I took them off, had him trot and canter again each way and then got on. We had one *argument* (I think he thought he was done after the side rein bit) but I didn't feel like dealing with that crap so I pushed him through it and and he came back together quite nicely in the end.

This weekend was a rough one for me for many different reasons so getting on and riding today was therapeutic, exactly what I felt I needed to stay grounded. Other than Dan, being around the horses seems to be the only thing that makes sense in my life right now, so I'm so glad that I at least have that. Otherwise I think I'd lose it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tack Sale

Scored some good finds at a local tack sale today. Best deal? A Baker fly sheet for $10!

So chique!
It has a few small tears on the butt but I don't care about that....Also got some side reins, a leather breastplate and a stable blanket:

Don't I look handsome in pink?
All in all, $37 well spent :) I had brought some of my old things along to sell but no one in the Foster, RI area seems to have big enough horses to be in the market for size 81"+ blankets. Kate made out really well, though, selling several of Lucy's blankets and a pair of awesome new tall boots that didn't fit quite right, and our friend, NG, sold a bunch of his things. I figure I'll try my luck at the consignment store and in the meantime I can cross a few more things off my wishlist. :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Shoo fly, don't bother me!

I found out today Charlie hates flies. Not just is annoyed by them or thinks they're, he despises them and they make him fly off the deep end. Today was gorgeous outside, the first true 70-degrees-I-think-spring-might-actually-be-here kind of day. Of course that also meant the flies all emerged as well and poor Charlie apparently has the sweetest blood of the bunch. After turning the horses out this morning the barn owner saw how badly they were flocking to him and how much Charlie immediately started flipping out. She attempted to spray him with some fly spray but she was lucky to even get a few small spritzes on; he wanted nothing of it and bolted whenever she got near him. He even still had a blanket on at that point so the flies couldn't get near his body....

By the time I got to the barn around 2:00 Charlie was tossing his head non-stop, wouldn't stand still, and just looked irritated out of his mind. I could see all the horses were a little antsy from the bugs and that there did seem to be more around him than some of the others, but honestly? The flies really were not that bad. He was definitely bugged out and miserable, though, and after the barn owner's daughter told me what had happened that morning I deserted my plan to lunge in the outdoor ring. That would not have been a positive experience. (Instead we worked indoors and he was SUPER) :)

Since I hadn't yet bought any fly gear (I got Charlie in the winter so there was no need at the time), I turned him back out after we were done and hustled over to the nearest supply store to buy a mask and some spray. I was only gone about 30 minutes, but when I returned Charlie was in his stall bug-eyed and wigging out. The barn owner's daughter said as soon as I left he started freaking out so badly that he worked himself into a sweat and was cantering in place, getting everyone else worked up and freaking out so badly she was afraid he might colic. Thankfully she was able to bring him in until I returned. He definitely had crazy eyes and was reluctant at first to let me anywhere near his ears, but once he calmed down enough to realize I wasn't a bug he did let me put on the mask (note to self: when in doubt, next time go for the XL....Charlie's head is so much bigger than it seems!). I then walked him out into the aisle to spray him down with the fly spray, fully expecting a meltdown, but although he eyed the bottle he stood really nicely while I gave him a thick coat all over. He must have just passed the point-of-no-return this morning when he wouldn't let the BO near him; he was fine for me.

So out he went, prepped as much as I could get him. The flies were still bugging his nose a little but he was a different horse: visibly more relaxed, head down, and actually standing still. Crisis averted! I can't help but wonder, though, what will we do in the summer once the bugs really get bad?

Ahhh now I'm happy....

....and naked! :)