Monday, April 28, 2014

Random Discussions with Mags

Brego got hurt, Tom was out of town. The weather was crummy and I needed to get a ride in on Maggie this weekend. I had to work most of the day on Saturday and by the time I got around to getting out to think about a ride on Mags, it was late. Probably too late to haul over the trails.

I think I mentioned that last fall we sold the old truck and steel Goodneck trailer and got ourselves a new rig. The trailer was new right out of the factory and the truck is a 2005 model. It's sure alot nicer set up in many ways but I am still adjusting. That includes driving it. I have not pulled a bumper pull since my early 20's and frankly, I don't really like it. Makes me nervous as heck! Goodnecks pull sooooo much easier.. much less worry about fishtailing and losing control! The truck is HUGE. Its a full length bed so driving this get-up feels like your on a land Yacht. . I am not used to it and certainly not comfortable with it.. 

So, when I considered the time , the hassle, the weather and my apparent fear of driving this thing, I decided to stay home and ride around the place, cruise a few nearby fields and just stay close to home. I guess I'll have to get over it at some point... 

Kinda pretty set up, isnt' she?

Maggie : We have to stay home? But I hate the arena ... 
J: Yes, we are staying home, besides, I can't take you out in public looking the way you do right now. You look like you have mange. 
Maggie: Well if you haven't noticed ,it was snowing just this morning. I need all the hair I can keep but the daylight hours are really creating problems for me
J:You still look like you  have Mange.
Maggie: I thought the braids were supposed to help with that?

J: No the braids are to keep your wild hairdo from getting caught up in my hands whenever I ride you. You seriously need some conditioner in that hair-do/
Maggie:Will that help with the mange?
J: you don't have mange
Maggie: I thought you said I look like I do.. 
J: I did
Maggie: so what is Mange?
J: I will get you a mirror and you can have a look for yourself
Maggie: That would be nice, I could admire myself. 

 Maggie: See this is my sexy look

J: It's not working for you
Maggie: My girth feels awfully tight...
J: That's because you blow yourself up like a puffer fish everytime I try to saddle you. As it is , I have it on the very last hole. It doesn't go any bigger and I am not buying another girth for you. 
Maggie: But I can't breathe
J: If you couldn't breathe, you would turn blue and pass out.
Maggie: I am feeling lightheaded
J: that's because  your holding your breathe,  just let you air out and the girth won't feel so tight. 

Maggie: Look, there's a lady running down the road in pink tights. Why don't you wear pink tights?
J: Because I would look hideous in pink tights
Maggie: Maybe I need a pink saddle pad
J: Your not that kinda girl
Maggie; What kinda girl?
J: the kinda girl that wears pink anything
Maggie: What's wrong with pink?
J: Your not a princess
Maggie: I think I want to be so I can have a pink saddle pad
J: Well your going to have to start by not insisting on covering yourself in 1" thick mud everytime it rains. Princess horses stay clean
Maggie: Maybe your right, I am not that kinda girl. I really like Mud. 
J: I am always right, remember?
Maggie: Not usually, I am pretty sure your ideas aren't good ones most of the time and it irritates me
J: My way is the easy way, you just insist on making things more difficult for yourself
Maggie:I just like to keep you guessing. 

J:The view from up here isn't any better. Your a mess. I just braided your mane last night. It looks like 4 rats got in there and tried to make a nest
Maggie: I tried to rub it out, it itched
J: But you looked so pretty, why must you make such a mess of yourself all the time?
Maggie: Because, remember?
J: NO , what?
Maggie: Because I am not that kinda girl
J: Lets just got for a nice ride, shall we?
Maggie: I suppose, do I have a choice? Your on my back , aren't you?
J: You really could lose the attitude?
Maggie:Well, this is boring. I would rather be out on the trail
J: Finally, something we can agree on..! AMEN

Maggie: My  post ride snack.. my favorite !
J: You still look like you have mange. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kicked Through the Wall

I went out this morning to feed and Brego and Maggie were rather spooky. (I forgot to mention we brought him home from the jumping  barn a couple of weeks ago) For Brego , he tends to be a bit spooky so that isn't out of the norm for him, but not Maggie. Both horses were tense looking and were at the far corner of the corral. Brego would not approach the fence like he usually does for feeding. Maggie hesitantly came up to greet me. Both horses kept looking in the direction of their shed.  I looked over there , thinking it was just Xena behind the spruce trees snuffling around looking for the neighbors cats but quickly noticed the stack of pallets that we once had leaning up against the outside of the shed wall were now laid over on the ground. Then I saw this  lovely redesign of the wall of the barn .

From the outside wall

From the inside looking out

It appeared that the kick went completely through, knocked over the pallets due to how hard the wall got hit, and then whoever did it, jerked their foot back through. I cringed thinking of what waited me for an injury. Both horses were upright when I came out so that was a good sign.. At first I assumed it was Maggie  since she is constantly getting chased away by Brego and she will often kick at him. When I checked her legs, there were no signs of any issues..

Surprisingly I found this on Brego. Not one leg...both legs . Badly banged up. It must have happened not too long before I found him because the swelling has not set in too bad. It doe not appear there is any damage beyond some health scrapes and alot of lost hide.

Closer look
Not sure how he managed to get both legs cut up..He either got cast and got a leg through , which would explain why his right hing has cuts up high , or he got one leg and then struggled to get his leg back through and dinged up the other one in the process.  Looking at the dirt in the barn, it looks like he was struggling and was down but I have never seem him lay down in that barn so I really can't say.

Doctoring on Brego is never a  party either, especially his back legs. Tom is out of town for the weekend of couse so any doctoring is on me. Brego has managed to cut his back legs a couple of time in the past and it's always when Tom is not around so your truly ends up wrestling with Brego to get his wounds cleaned and  ointment administered. Its no wonder this horse and I  have a love-hate (probably more hate) relationship. I am always the one causing him discomfort and doing stuff to him he doesn't like. He's not a good patient at all.

Good times....

 I won't bother wrapping him because without a second set of hands, it will be impossible.  I will just have to try to keep it clean with a betadine scrub it and antibiotic ointment and hope it doesn't get infected.

Meanwhile, we are getting torrential downpours..

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Conditioning efforts for the Wildebeast

In between various goings-on , mostly traveling for work, family stuff and whatever else that seems to always creep into my schedule keeping me from riding as much as I want, I have managed to sneak in a few rides on my furry Wilde-beast of a mare over the last few weeks.

At this point, Maggie is so out of shape , it's pathetic. Plus she is hanging onto most of her winter coat still, which might be  good thing for her, as snow is predicted tonight. sigh.. (is spring ever going to commit?) but not good for my conditioning plans.

There is one (singular) ride in my area at the end of August that I would like to attend, Mt Spokane in Washington.

Yes,  one ride (other than the one in May that there would be no way to be ready for in time) in my area this year.. Even at that - it's still a 5 hour drive, which is closer than anything else. Sad.. isn't it??

That said, it's a  long ways off. In the meantime, I am just riding as much as I can, and slowly bring Maggie back into some sort of condition again. She is quite out of shape so this is going to take some work .She doesn't seem to come back into condition very quickly like the Arabians or TB's . It's a whole different set of plans to get this Morgan mare in shape. What she has going for her is that she is tough so even though she is out of shape, she can withstand long rides without any issues in the process of getting her into shape.  Of course, that makes it easy to override her because she just keeps going with no complaints.

Over the last few weeks we have probably done about 6 rides out on the trail and several sessions of  trotting around the perimeter of the pasture. The trails have gone through their regular progression of crappy footing to less crappy footing..At first, it was snowy footing, then it turned to rotten ice (the kind that is partially slippery and partially mushy), then mud. Now it's mostly dry with spots of hard gravel interspersed with mud and puddles depending on where we go.  Adding to that, the state land where I do most of my riding has continued with it's logging operations over the winter so lots of huge mud puddles created by heavy equipment tearing through the areas and wide skidder tracks now replace what used to be nice soft single track trails..

I didn't take my GPS for any of these first few  rides (except for this past Saturday)  but we probably averaged 5-7 miles each time . We didn't do much more than walking because of the footing. Neither horse has shoes on yet  Nonetheless, my little out of shape Morgan mare got a decent work out  on those first few rides. Never once did she act tired.. she gladly would have kept marching on.

This past Saturday I wanted to do a real concerted effort "condition" ride . Tom got shoes on both Brego and Maggie so we didn't need to worry about getting anyone foot sore.  I finally dug out my GPS. That took a good half hour of hunting. Once I found it, then I had to find batteries that actually worked which was another treasure hunt. Since I  have not bothered to use this little gadget in two years ( has it been that long?), I had to relearn how to use the darn thing.

While I waited for Tom to get ready, I took to the back yard and started pressing buttons, and wandering around aimlessly to see if I could press the right button to get to the right screen that I needed.  My GPS is a  Garmin Etrex and while it's a  pretty simple model  compared to several  other models out there  today, it has alot more functionality than I have bothered to learn about.  I just always use the trip calculator function that gives me distance, speed, stopping time, fastest speed over the course of the trip, etc.

I don't get any fancier than that..

Once I figured out how to use it again, we were in business. We loaded up Brego and Mags and got to the trail head alot later than I wanted to. It was already 3:30 in the afternoon. I knew a 2-3 hour ride was going to be the most I would want to ride.  We ended up going for 3.5 half hours. We started out really slow because Maggie was feeling her oats for sure in spite of her poor fitness level. She wanted to get out and go , so the first 2 miles, we walked. Until she gave me a relaxed walk, I never even thought about a trot.

 Eventually she did settle in and I felt like I could ask for a trot and get something that wasn't out of control. We did short spurts of trotting but she gladly would have maintained her trotting in spite of her huffing and puffing like a steam engine. Did I mention the winter coat she is packing around still?? Heat dissipation isn't exactly ideal  for her right now! It was about 58 degrees out which doesn't feel overly warm to us,  but to an overweight Morgan with half of her full winter coat still attached, it was probably like a sauna. Poor thing.. and yet she just wanted to go.

At the end of the ride, my GPS recorded is 8.63 miles in 3.5 hours.. Certainly didn't set any speed records (not that we were trying) but it gave me a good idea of where she is at physically.  In the tank.... 

We have alot of work to do which in the endurance world, means Long Slow Distance. Boring but required.

If history proves anything, getting her fit enough for a LD is going to take some effort so that her recoveries are decent. Doing endurance on  "other" breeds just take a bit longer.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Best Decision Ever

Last Spring Maggie and I never saw much of the trail. I boarded her at a nearby arena hoping to get an early start on the season but it didn't turn out that way at all. After a few weeks at the facility I realized I had more than I bargained for.Maggie had turned into an anxious nervous mess of sorts. I wasn't sure if it was the environment or something else. Nonetheless, she we had to take a step back. Given where this mare was mentally, it was pretty clear that distance rides of any kind other than a long walking trail ride were off the calendar.  If Maggie was this bothered at home, she would only be a disaster in a distance competition.

I changed her focus. Spring time was all focused arena work and obstacle course work. We spent alot of time revisiting groundwork  and spent hours back in the round pen.  I worked her consistently on the lounge line doing walk /trot /canter transitions. I rode her in a couple of cow clinics and we took a few leisurely trail rides in between. Our arena sessions were often difficult, leaving me frustrated and puzzled at why this mare seemed to be making everything more difficult for herself and me. Everything was a BIG DEAL. A leg cue , a half halt , a walk to trot transition and canter transitions were explosive.  Saddle fit, teeth and all other physical issues were ruled out. It just seemed this mare had turned into a sour unhappy girl.  July and August brought about a lot of travel for my work and I wasn't home long enough to do anything by my laundry and repack. Tom rode her a few times just to keep some fitness on her  during those weeks I was gone. I advertised her for sale. Before I knew it , fall had arrived. One day in particular stands out. I was waiting for a potential buyer to arrive  dreading the whole process because I was certain she was going to be a awful. The family that showed up fell in love with her immediately.  She quietly trotted around as I rode her prior to them taking her for a spin. I was a bit in awe, wondering who this mare was and what had she done with Maggie. The sale didn't work out. Maggie was still more horse than they needed and I turned their offer away.
I rode her a few more times before the winter conditions set in, and each time she seemed a little better and better. I was puzzled.

Maggie has come out of spring the same way she went into winter. Content and quiet to ride. I have been on vacation this past week and have ridden her several times. She has remained an absolute joy to ride, both on the trail and in the arena. Yesterday,  I took a chance and asked for a canter depart from a walk. It worked and Maggie cantered off without her big kick out, buck or head tossing maneuvers she had previously become know for.  Her canter was quieter in both directions and I even had to ask her forward to keep from breaking into a trot.

So while I can't put my finger on exactly what her issue was last year, she seems to be over it. (Fingers crossed) and she is actually a real joy to ride. She still gets cranky with certain things, like too much leg cue on her right side,  but instead of the volume of her reaction being a 10 , it's now a 4 and much less frequent.

Sometimes , I guess we have to go back a few steps in order to make leaps ahead.