Saturday, 16 March 2013


This weekend we're back into the deep freeze of the middle of winter.  The calendar may say it's spring coming soon, but up here, we're back into the -25 and below temperatures.  I am SO glad that I tossed Koda's blanket with fleece liner on him.  This weekend everything grinds to a halt again since we're stuck with low temps, snow, and wind.

So for now it's all about reading and planning our next moves and making potential plans for the summer show season.  There are a few relatively close dressage shows to get to and a few clinics I'd like to go to as well, but I'm debating between showing or clinics.  I know I can handle the basic work for dressage and show jumping, but both of us need exposure to cross country desperately.  This year we may invest in clinics instead of showing, but I'd still like to get into at least one or two shows... just need to find the time and funds of course.

Decisions, decisions.

What do you guys think?  Show vs clinic

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Chiropractor and Massage

Koda had an easy week and weekend this week.  Temperatures dropped again, and along with it came a blistering cold wind.  We still got out for a couple hacks down the field road (that has been plowed, yay!), but all in all, very easy.  On Sunday, a fairly local (4 hrs away!) equine chiropractor and massage therapist came up to treat a group of local riders' horses.  I wanted to take Koda since he is new to me and I always like to know where he may need some help, what could be underlying causes of issues we have, etc.  Koda has always been very stiff to the left, and has trouble picking up his left lead in the hind (front lead is fine, hind lead will be disunited).  His neck has always been a bit of a snap, crackle, and pop situation, but all in all, he's had no huge red flags saying something was seriously wrong.

The consultation went as expected, with nothing major coming out of it.  His left hip was rotated out and down, along with his left shoulder.  One point on his neck on the right side was out as well, along with a vertebrae.  We went through different stretches and massage that I could do to help him develop evenly behind, making sure that the muscles on the left hind remain loose and not knotted.  She found a few knots and worked them out, allowing me to try and practise as well.  I liked that she explained a lot of things, demonstrated things that I can do at home.  She had a very "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of attitude that I appreciated since everything she found was reflected in what we were having issues in, plus she wasn't telling me that Koda would need constant adjustments that didn't reflect in what Koda was telling us that day. 

Going forward, the plan is to work a bit more on the left than the right, making it maybe a 60/40 split.  Continue with the long and low, working on developing those back muscles that will help his slightly dippy back (SO glad she didn't see anything to be super alarmed about with that!).  Another cool thing we're going to fix doing is our carrot stretches.  Before, Koda would twist his head all over on the ground, under saddle he keeps his profile perpendicular to the ground.  To remedy this, she mentioned to ask with one hand each at the top and bottom ring of the halter.

On a slightly sour/worrying/alarming note, Koda may have been exposed to something dangerous.  I cannot say much on the subject, but posts may be a bit more sobering... let's hope it's a  false alarm.

Please let it be a false alarm

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Getting back into the swing

Yesterday Koda and I had our best ride yet.  On the agenda was getting down to some good work, carrying ourselves properly (myself included!) through basic transitions and staying soft.  For the most part, it was a very good ride, a great step in the right direction.  Koda was a lot better about being by himself, no calling at all until we were packing up to head back to the barn.  We went straight to business since it was clear that Koda had plenty of energy to get rid of as he was "spooking" at everything he could think of that was "spook worthy".  So to keep him occupied, we worked on transitions, working through the bridle, lateral work, trot work, and some canter work.

Koda's take on "the look of eagles" Mr. Wofford speaks off

One of my favourite exercises in the trot is the "almost walk" exercise.  All you do is develop a good working trot.  One in the working trot, slow it down using your seat and body to an almost walk.  At the slowest tempo of the 'almost walk' trot, push it on and forward, asking for a lengthening almost.  Don't hold either the slowest trot or most lengthened for more than a few strides at a time depending on your horse's fitness.  With Koda, since we're still getting back into it, I only held the almost walk strides for 1-2, the lengthening for 4-5.  I find this exercise really helps longer backed horses (aka Koda!) to step up under themselves and stretch through their back.  Koda rose to the occasion like a star, getting a few steps of truly "fancy" trot.  He has a lengthening in that long body of his.

We did some short canter work and it was very nice.  I was really surprised at how nice his canter actually was considering we're both still out of shape.  The SO stopped by right at the tail-end of the ride and caught some of the canter work.  At the end of our ride, Koda actually stretched down and out, and had some baby foam on his lips.  As funny as it is, that spelt success to me :)  Koda is a pretty stiff guy, and bringing him back from his 3 months off correctly is going to be crucial for him.  I just need to make sure I stay on my game and keep RIDING.

We have some dressage shows lined up for this spring, the first being a training show in May.  I'm not sure yet about whether we're going to do any tests with canter, or just stay in walk-trot for our first outing, but with the canter he showed me today, I'm tempted...