Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Equine Massage and Trailer News

Over the weekend, my friend L came out to the barn with me to do the nightly check and have fun with the barn dogs while I worked Koda.  We went out after a day of rain, and the ground was VERY soft so I decided to work in the yard area where the old road used to be (best drainage).  I had Koda essentially ready to go, was just running to my truck to grab my bridle when it hit me.  No bridle.  I had taken my bridle in to clean it after our last ride and completely forgot it by the door at the house!  So Koda was put on the lunge line again.  I dislike lunging so often during the week, but it was better than nothing, and this time it was eye opening!

We set up a couple low jumps to change the routine up a bit and to have Koda jumping more before the clinic this weekend.  Small jumps, nothing over 2' (well, whatever 2 milkcrates stacked together are), just to get him into the groove.  I love watching this horse jump.  He's so efficient and has a lovely jump, doesn't rush them, doesn't chip, will generally keep himself nice and soft at approach, over, and landing.  After a few fences to the right, we switched to the left.  At this point I took him off the jumps and just had him on a circle when I noticed it.  Koda had a slight shorten of stride on his left front.  He wasn't as willing to step up and out in this direction, nor was he happy when I asked/told him too either.  I wasn't sure what I was seeing as it was very slight, so I asked L and she saw it as well (yay for fresh eyes!).  It was only noticeable when I had him on the circle, when he was on the straight (I lunge him straight over fences so am jogging/running with him) it wasn't noticeable, but when he had to have more weight born on that inside leg, he wouldn't send it as forward. 

We stopped the lunge session and went for a cool-out walk along the short back loop trail on the property (also doing fence check as I saw a bear back there the other night).  Once we got back, L assisted me in doing some equine massage on Koda.  I was lucky enough to find what I think the culprit is quite quickly.  A large knot had formed along his left scapula (I think, not as up on my anatomy!) that needed to be massaged out.  I did some massage on it, and Koda stood stock still and let me work whereas usually he's trying to graze, look around, fidget, or rub his head on something/someone.  After I was done, I put him on the circle again and both L and I saw a positive difference in that he seemed more comfortable reaching out more with that left front. 

For this week, Koda is getting plenty of long straight works on the roads or in the field, with massages and stretches after each ride with some liniment on that shoulder.  Once he was put away, he went to play with his buddy Cain, so I don't think it's bothering him that badly, thank goodness!

In other news, I checked on the progress of the trailer, and I should have it back in my possession by TOMORROW!  HAPPY DAY!  I haven't had my trailer since May, so it's about darn time, plus it's another bill to pay that will be taking away from savings for the wedding, but what can you do?  Roll with it and keep going :)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Lunging the "Less-Forward" Horse

Last night I got out late to the barn, and was still feeling fairly fuzzy (darn colds in the summer time, it is just WRONG), so I grabbed Koda and decided to do a quick lunge session.  My rule of thumb is to lunge for 30 minutes max, never over, sometimes under.  I rarely keep him on the same circle all the time as I'm sure he finds it boring as well as I do.  We'll do spirals in and out, along with some straight stretches as well so I get to move around too.  With Koda, as he isn't the most forward horse in the world, we both get a good workout from constantly moving about.  I'm sure for an on-looker, our sessions look like absolute chaos and no order whatsoever, but it works for us.


Me: Trot-ON!
Koda: slow jog, ok
Me: Com'on Koda, TEEE-ROT
Koda: Are you sure? *picks up the tiniest bit of tempo*
Me: *growl, flip whip at haunches and steps in*
Koda: Ok, ok

Generally, for any upward transition, he'll test you as if he wants to make sure that is what you want.  He'll toss a bit of attitude in there, with a flick of his heels, but when that happens all he** breaks loose.  Some touches of attitude I don't mind, but when hooves leave the ground, that is NOT ok.  It's kind of funny in a way, since he is SO half-hearted in all his little rebellions and tests, I'll generally laugh at his attempts at them than get intimidated.  Don't get me wrong, he gets reprimanded and praised for proper manners and is 95% a gentleman, but that other 5% he thinks he's a rebel.  When we first started the session, he immediately decided he wanted to go over to his friends in the paddock.  Well, he trotted nicely out on the circle, then started to canter and try to go straight.  Ok, didn't ask for the forwardness, but whatever.  The moment he hit the end of the line, he immediately began to circle.  Whoever started Koda in lunging did ingrain good manners in there as he has never pulled on the lunge line and carries the line rather consistently as long as I am consistent as well.

One good tip I read before I went out was a post on facebook talking about holding the line instead of pulling.  A horse can never find release if we continually pull on the line as there is no release in pressure since we're continually pulling up the slack.  I was very conscious of how I was holding my line and the tension in it, particularly on the spiral in as you do have to take in slack there.  My method was to take an arm's length, then hold it so that Koda could respond to the new circle size.  Since this was a shorter session and I was pressed for time, I didn't put on the vienna reins, but next time out I think I will since he does need help in rounding and connecting through his back. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

There and Back Again

And we're back from across the pond!

Had an incredible trip, including some life changing events :)

On the non-horse life front: The SO has turned into the fiance!  May the planning and booking commence.  He picked an absolutely beautiful spot to ask, and he surprised me, the bugger :)

France was absolutely incredible, we spent a week in the country side and a week in Paris.  In Paris we did all of tourist-y things like visiting the Louvre, seeing Notre Dame, having a picnic beside the Eiffel Tower, and visiting the art district of Montmartre.  It was hectic and incredible and I would do it again in an instant.  While we were in the countryside, we visited different towns on their market days to get fresh produce and trinket souvenirs.  All of us would have lunch, then head back to the cottage to relax.  Some evenings the SO and I would go geocaching (how he found the place he wanted to propose).  The SO let the person who owns the geocache what happened, and they asked if they could publish it on the website.


Kind of adorable and endearing, even though it's being broadcast to any person who looks up this geocache... ah well!  It's cool with me.

On the horse life front:  I found out that a spot opened up at a great eventing clinic over the August long weekend for Koda and I!  SO pumped!

Because of the clinic, this week Koda and I are in a mini bootcamp... well, I've been trying to do a mini bootcamp but ever since we got back home a nasty cold has been keeping me down.  I've gotten two rides in and a lunging session so far, but at this point I am SO glad that Koda lives out 24/7 and doesn't lose too much of his conditioning when left to his own devices.  He's still a porker, but at least not obese.  Now, just to get the trailer back from the shop... that is still working on fixing it... since May...

Will have more to report, but for now that's all from up north!

Friday, 5 July 2013

New Farrier and a Trip Across the Pond

So, for the past two weeks I have been planning and prepping for a big trip the SO and I are going on.  It's been in the works for about 6 months, and I cannot BELIEVE that it's finally happening!  Myself and the SO, along with my family, are going for a 16 day trip to France :)
We'll be spending a week in the countryside (Brittany, the maritime province), and then a week in Paris.  We'll be there for their Bastille Day (like Canada Day, or Independence Day), so that is going to be a blast, let alone everything else!  With this in mind, and the heat (40 degrees Celsius, are you kidding me?!?!), Koda has gotten fat and happy out in the field, hanging with the herd.  He was due for a trim this week, so I had to get someone local to come trim him out, so I took a shot in the dark.

My friend P is an avid barrel racer, and her husband has really gotten into farrier work.  He took three weeks of courses with our usual farrier who teaches courses at the agricultural college in the province.  I was pretty confident when I called her and asked if he would mind giving Koda a trim, thinking since he studied with our old farrier and does her horses, he couldn't be horrible.  Well, let me tell you he did an INCREDIBLE trim!  He balanced Koda's feet up, looked at different wear patterns, saw the bruises that I KNEW would be in his hind feet (not too big), and ironically we both discovered that Koda was a bit sore on his right shoulder.  He was being a PIG about that one hoof, then when we trotted him out he was bobbing a bit on that leg.  I inspected all around his shoulder and found a hot spot around the top of the shoulder blade (looked like a kick).  Nothing to write home about, but let the BO know and to keep an eye on him/cold soak when possible.  Since he's getting the next two weeks just to be a horse and chill out, I'm sure he'll be fine once I'm back.

I'm so glad that I've found a farrier who will trim Koda who is local and knows what he's doing!  Living up north in the middle of no where has gotten just that much better now for Koda and me :)
Now, it's time to make our way to France ;)

Be back in a few weeks!!!!