Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Emily's visit and a few firsts

It was another horsey weekend for me; Emily came to visit! Trail riding on Saturday, horsey shopping, and jumping on Sunday made for a very nice time for both of us. We made a whole course of jumps out of whatever we could find, which was a lot of fun and good practice for Charlie.

Saturday trail ride
Oh!! On the way back from our trail ride we had to ride on the road and not only did a horse and buggy show up behind us, which is typically a really scary thing for the horses to see (a horse being "chased" by a jangling creaky box on wheels tends to freak them out), but it passed us. We had barely any shoulder to work with on the side of the road so we just had to deal with whatever happened and you know what? Neither horse did a thing! I was so proud of both of them :)

Here are some more pictures and video. I didn't have my real camera along but luckily Emily and I both had our phones. A few notable firsts: Colby's first time over a jump ever! Charlie's first 2'6"! Woohooo! And Emily's first time really riding Charlie. The other first time was when he first moved to PA last summer and was still slightly crazy and minus one shoe lol.

Colby is the best at kisses
See? xoxo
Game time
Charlie's first 2'6" (video still). Bam!  :D
Colby's first jump!

Braiding fun

The videos:

My goals:
1. Remember that staying out of Charlie's way while jumping does not mean forgetting to steer. Ooops!
2. When in doubt ask for the longer distance, Charlie likes it better, but practice seeing his strides to the base of the jump to get a more consistent good leaving point
3. Work on setting him up in the air to land on the correct lead
4. Practice flying changes, for when he doesn't land on the right lead
5. Start jumping bigger!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mystery injury

On Sunday night Jan informed me that Charlie came in from the field with what appeared to be a few superficial wounds on the inside of his hind leg. He's had one inside his hock that is in the process of healing (he had pulled loose a nice sized flap of skin a couple of weeks ago) but is about 85% healed so I wasn't too worried about that one. I figured he probably pulled off the scab and made it bleed (which is what is seems he has done). The lower one had me a little more concerned though. Jan cleaned it for me and didn't seem too worried so I decided to wait to check it out on Monday morning rather than make a special trip in.

A pic from today to show the location of both wounds
On Monday it was pretty swollen (like half a golf ball size), and I wish I would have taken a picture than for comparison. The area around was hard but it wasn't hot to the touch and when I cleaned it it looked just like the skin had been rubbed off the surface, I couldn't really even see a cut. Charlie was completely sound on the leg and didn't seem to mind me messing with it, so I figured it was just brush burned and bruised, cleaned it and put on some furazone, and sent him on his way.

On Tuesday the area was a little less swollen and had scabbed over a bit. Getting better, I thought.

Then today when I brought him in from the field to ride the injured area was much less swollen than the past two days, and a clearish liquid with some blood was oozing from it and drying on his lower leg (no pus). I decided to do another good scrub with betadine to disinfect and see what was really going on in there. When I did I found what looks like a puncture in the center.

It was really warm outside today so I couldn't tell for sure whether there was any extra warmth around the wound area, but I cleaned it really well and scrubbed off all the crusties and dirt. While cleaning I squeezed the swollen area all around (which Charlie love, obviously, but was very tolerant for) trying to find a pocket of fluid or anything that might have been stuck in there, but I couldn't express anything other than a little blood.

My gut reaction, if it is a puncture, is to try to keep the area open and draining; I know with punctures if there is anything in there that still needs to come out you don't want to seal it up. I also want to keep it clean, though, and keep the flies away. That's why I was leaning toward the furazone because it tends to be goopy enough to keep out the bugs - more so than neosporin - and in my experience is less likely to dry out a wound and cause it to scab over (plus it's kind of a cure-all wonder drug).

To me the tissue looks pink and healthy, not red and not dried out or dying. I'm hoping it might just continue to drain itself if I keep it moist and clean and eventually it will heal from the inside out....I have some SMZs but I'm reluctant to start antibiotics on a whim, although maybe it's better to give him that extra boost to help prevent any infection?

Who knows what Charlie got into but this is the third inner hind leg injury he's had in the last couple of months. Maybe he's catching himself with a hind foot, although he has no shoes on so he'd have to get himself pretty hard. Could be a bug or tick bite that got infected. Makes me think of bot flies, honestly, but they don't usually burrow into horses legs like that, and it's still early in the season. And that would be really gross.

I honestly think he might have gotten a small splinter or something stuck in there awhile ago (maybe a thorn from a bush while on a trail ride?) that now has worked it's way up and out. That would explain why there didn't seem to be a cut earlier in the week but now it looks like something exploded out of his leg.

Anyone ever dealt with anything similar and have suggestions on how I should be treating it?

Oh, and we're also dealing with this raw spot under his jaw where (I'm pretty sure) either Colby or Leo got too rough playing fly mask tag and pulled off a bunch of hair and some skin. Ouch. Some friends. lol

Monday, June 16, 2014

Riding Weekend Part 3: Jumps!

Took me a whole week to find enough time to finish this post but better late than never!

By the time Monday rolled around Charlie was pretty tired after such an eventful weekend but Maddy and I were determined to snap at least a few shots of him jumping in the ring (since I've been working on mini courses but haven't had a photographer in tow to document). First, though, we had to put up a few hundred bales of hay and train a couple of horses with Jan.

Maddy with Mista and Bonnie, Finnagan's and Flint's moms
Then I took Maddy to the horse auction/sale in town (New Holland) which of course pulled at our heartstrings but it's an experience every horseperson who comes to Lancaster County has to see. She and I both got great deals on some gear while we were there. Not a native western rider myself, I almost passed up a Reinsman wool wither relief pad until Maddy saw it and told me I'd be a fool not to get it. I offered $15 and it was mine (and boy is it nice to ride in!). Oh, and we saw the most adorable pony ever:

Can't I just put him in the back of my car??
Then it was back to the barn for some jumps! We set up a small course and though Charlie was skeptical about a few jumps and was tired from the weekend, he was pretty good overall. It was really nice to see photos of both his and my form so I know what to work on, and I'm glad to have had Maddy there to help me out. I think looking at photos and videos of yourself is the best way to learn what you're doing right and what you need to practice (I'm pleased to see my jumping form is still in there somewhere!).



Yeah, nope. That's almost a Lucy move with the crossing legs!
Let's look at it and see that it's not scary
And then drop one side to make it less intimidating
Ok we got it

Making sure the barrels can't jump up and get him haha

Here's a video of some of the jumping. I REALLY botched the approach to the vertical the first time but I was proud of Charlie for still going over and then taking it so much nicer the second time around. He was a very good boy.

Oh! Before we did the jumping stuff I tried out my new western saddle pad and decided on a whim to hop on and ride without a bridle since Charlie was in such a good mood. I've been riding bridleless here and there. although only at the walk. This time we did all three gaits and he was great. I need to work on the neck reining but he's getting there, and I'll have to push for more impulsion and self-carriage since now I know he'll come back to me, but overall I'm really impressed by how well he listened!

I want to work on my position too, sitting a bit taller. Even though I felt like I was sitting up I can see in the video that I still was leaning a bit forward, bad habit. Gives both of us some good goals :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Riding Weekend Part 2: Charlie's First Hunter Pace

On Sunday Connie trailered Buffy (my neighbor's awesome Perch/TB cross) and Charlie about an hour away to a hunter pace (thanks Connie!). It was Charlie's first time out to an event like this and I was even more excited that Maddy was there so I could share it with someone.

Buffy was the perfect companion: calm, cool and collected the entire time, taking everything in stride and really giving Charlie the confidence he needed to have a positive experience. It was a very low-key pace, no dress code, but I had a few extra saddle pads laying around so I painted them to match.

Charlie, of course, had to inspect every inch of the trailer before we left (honestly I think he was mostly distracted by Buffy's nice butt in the stall next door).

Once we got to the pace we unloaded the horses and I couldn't have been prouder. Charlie stepped off the trailer like a pro. No shenanigans. No dancing or calling out. He stood tied to the trailer, eating grass, while we tacked up both horses, and then walked calmly over to the wheel well and stood like a statue for me to get on.
This looks like a fun place
Buffy the wonder horse

He's sexy and he knows it
Buuuut he's not so good at selfies lol
Much better!
In a hunter pace there is usually a fast and a slow division. Fast, which is what we did, is mostly trotting and cantering whereas slow is mostly walking and trotting. Jumps are scattered throughout the course (which was 5-6 miles) and are usually optional, and ribbons are given out for the ideal times in each division. The catch is you have no idea what that ideal time is since it's generally an average of every teams' times in that class. For me, though, it's all about the fun and experience so we just went whatever pace we wanted and had a ton of fun.

Waiting at the starting line

It was overall a really nice ride with lots of varied scenery, from skinny trails in the woods to winding paths in grassy fields; uphill and downhill; roadways and bridges. Charlie willingly crossed 3 open metal grate bridges with Buffy's encouragement, which is more than some teams could boast. I was so proud of him!

Photo credit: Rough Coat Photography
Unfortunately most of the jumps were toward the end of the ride and by then both Charlie and Buffy were getting tired. So we did some of them, but opted to stay away from any that were a little bigger or scarier. Here are some pics courtesy of Rough Coat Photography:

By the end everyone was a little tired and more than a little sweaty (I'm so glad we opted to go first thing in the morning so we weren't out in the 80+ degree weather later in the day). But boy did we have a good time!

Buffy is smiling for the camera
Honoring the OTTBs!
Pace Maker 6/8/14