The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind and it's probably high time I gave an update. Believe it or not, I have been riding, in fact, quite a bit. Beginning the 4th of July weekend, I was on "staycation" and had family visiting from the east coast, cousins I haven't seen in over 15 years. We had an absolutely fabulous time . In between the boating, hiking, swimming and sightseeing, I did manage to stay disciplined enough to get up early and get my riding done first thing, leaving me the rest of the day to enjoy family time.
So here is the run down. I purchased a Duett saddle from another endurance rider and blogger and it has worked out to be quite a good fit for JB. Surprisingly enough the saddle also does ok on Maggie Mae (previously known as April), So with the new saddle, I have been putting quite a bit of time on Peanut (JB). As a side note, JB was gelded a little over a month ago now and is enjoying his new life as a gelding, getting to have pasture mates now regularly, although he often chooses to be a loner. Gedlinghood has changed a few things for him in training as well. Suddenly , all the arena work and excercises that I had been working on for the last several months are all coming together. When I ask him to travel long and low and stretch his back at a trot, he no longer fights it, now he welcomes it. His canter transitions are improving in leaps and bounds and he is jumping 2' now with ease and some pretty darn cute form too!
What about endurance you say?
All in good time....
No, I haven't forgotten , nor do I plan to. I decided that , in JB's best interest, we needed to just put endurance on the back burner until next season. I am seeing now that it was definitely the right decision. His hoof issues seem to be resolving. I have had him on Farriers's Formula for 5 months now and it is really helping. I never work him without his Easyboot Epics and pads, even if it's in the roundpen that has absolutely no rocks. He has to have the boots on. Otherwise, he starts short stepping. We think alot of it might be memory from the pain he went through last year with the heel/sole bruises because he hoof tests out just fine. there is no more actual detectable soreness. As long as the boots are on, he seems to finally be able to reach with his front and moves much better. A few weeks ago, we had a minor setback , but realized right away what the problem was. His feet had grown (imagine that!) and the size 0 boots were squeezing his feet just a bit more than he was comfortable with, so we went back into the 1's and now he is moving better again. I am really enjoying our time together and he seems to be much happier as well. Now that he is a gelding there is alot less mental energy exterted in his surroundings. As a stud, every other horse, bug, piece of dust, blade of grass or whatever else happened to fly by his sight was a total distraction for him. As a result, he is "talking "less and listening more. That has allowed our arena time to be much more productive.
As for M&M ( MaggieMae), well , all I can say is, wow, she has been a trip. She is the total opposite of JB. I spent a solid three weeks of round pen work only to establish some sort of relationship and give her some excercise with the added burden of rider. She was quite overweight. The time we spent getting to know each other in the round pen ?? My gosh, she is a quick study. She listens so well and is moving nicely up and down through her gaits with only a slight shift in my body position and a verbal cue. She has lost about a 1oo lbs and is feeling much better as well.
In the beginning, she would get very agitated with the feeling of any pressure at her side and would literally squeel and wheel even if I touched her there while on the ground. I got her to a point where she accepted in on the ground and would step her hind quarters over nicely but while I was in the saddle she hated the feeling of any pressure against her side. I had never experienced that with a horse before. Eventually with more work from the ground and in the saddle, we got past that. However, right about then, she decided to pull out her next trick. We would be trotting along and all of sudden , she would slam on the brakes, literally stop dead . And mover her forward??? forget it. .. She planted her feet and there was no moving her. She would turn and back up and maybe go foward a step or two but then she would pin her ears and kick at your foot in the stirrup when you would encourage her forward with your leg. Each time she would do this, we would go through the same thing. She would throw what appeared to be a temper tantrum and I would pateintly ask forward or ask her to take a step to the side , hoping tounlock her feet . We would do this and each time, she would eventually get out of her snit and then just walk forward like nothing happened. However, each time she did this, I was noticing she was "upping the anty" a bit more. I realized that I had better get an upper hand on the situation, as it seemed to be becoming a bad and dangerous habit because she was beginning to throw her head and offer to rear. About a week ago, I strapped my helmet on extra tight and went to work. As predicted, she did her slam on the brakes maneuver and I thought, well, here we go, not really know how she was going to react to what I would do. When she stopped, I asked her to move forward with my leg, her response was throw her head and kick at my foot in the stirrup. At that moment, I had an extra long rein and I had the extra length ready. When she kicked at my foot, she caught the end of my leather rein on her heiny. She jumped sideways and kicked out again. I offered her to move off my leg forward, again, she kicked at my foot in the stirrup, so again I caught her with the end of the rein. Now she was beginning to realize I might be serious because when I asked a third time with my leg to move forward, she moved forward. Wow, did we move forward. She trotted out a ways and then she tried to stop and kick at my again. This time, when I asked with my leg, she opted to listen to that cue and she moved off, quietly and without kicking at me, throwing her head or any of that other nonsense. I am pleased to say we haven't had an issue since. She moves off leg pressure now and there have been no other temper tantrums. Now that she is a bit lighter and feeling better, she will occasionally kick out as she moves up into a canter but it's not anything to be concerned about. It's almost more of a playful thing from what I can tell. I am seeing that Maggie likes to go and go fast.
Very much unlike JB, my focus with her will be speed control right out of the gate. This weekend we started introducing the half halt and she is picking it up quickly. She will be a tough little mare and I hope to ride her next season in her first limited distance.
So, that's the news with us and the horses these days. I have been busy riding two horses, both at totally different points in their training. This coming week, we begin a big project with putting up a 24x32 haybarn. Yay... I can hardly wait...