"Post from the Past"
March 15th 2008
I have not written in a long time. I’ve been busy working and taking care of Chico. I have not worked with Catlow in a couple of weeks and I feel kind of guilty, but I’m planning to get back into it.
Last weekend, Chico was recuperating, so I took Cody out for a ride. On Sunday, we went for a 10 mile ride down Dry Creek Road. I left Jasper in the house because he had a really swollen toe…just Sage came along with me. The gravel road is quite soft and wet, so it was perfect footing for Cody. Hopefully it will toughen up her feet while also providing support for her sole, without the pokey rocks. She didn’t seem tender on the side of the road, but sometimes she’d gimp when crossing over the center where the gravel was packed and there were some loose rocks.
We primarily worked with trotting and cantering. I tried to really focus on my body positioning while posting and sitting the trot and especially while cantering. I really notice that it is difficult to sit effectively when Cody is on her right lead. I’m not sure if it is me, or if she is just more unbalanced in that lead. Maybe it’s a combination. I’d like to work on that side and that lead. I probably need to do some strengthening and limbering exercises. I had an epiphany while riding that day. I know that my body position affects the horse’s balance, but I had never actually experienced how I can use my body position to change how my horse will move. I logically knew it, but had never put it into use before. My big epiphany was: I could change which lead Cody picked up by posting on the diagonal of the lead I wanted when Cody was trotting, then asking for the canter. She didn’t do it all the time, primarily because it is more difficult for her to pick up the right lead, but I actually got it once in a while! It was awesome! So, we practiced that quite a bit. I was getting that result, not because Cody knew which lead I wanted, but because posting on the appropriate diagonal had her balance such that it was easiest to pick up that appropriate lead. I know it’s simple, but it was a big bright light bulb for me! I feel like I am becoming a better rider everyday that I work with my horses.
I also worked on getting her to make round circles. She’s really barn sour so all of her circles were squished toward home. After lots and lots of circles, they did get more round. I wish I could get rid of that barn sour-ness. She walked so slow away from home, and on the way back, she was speedy the whole way. She repeatedly broke into a trot, so I shut her down into a sharp circle and make her trot vigorously the other direction, then turn around when I chose to. When we got back home I trotted her back and forth on the road in front of the driveway and used my dressage whip to tap her away every time she tried to duck into the driveway. Once at the barn, I cantered her in circles outside. By the time I stopped and got off, she was dog tired. She stood with her head hanging and she was quite sweated up, so I put her cooler on and let her stand for a long time.
This last week, I began to get really worried about Chico’s cut. It looked infected, but the vets said that was normal drainage. I tried to wash it out every day with a dilute iodine solution. There was never any danger of the drain closing up because it’s been oozing copiously out of the cut. The oozing is foamy and yellowy colored (gets white after it has been well cleaned). Underneath the foam is liquid of a snotty consistency.
This picture shows Chico's cut before I washed it.
Aside from the second day, Chico has been so well-behaved with letting me wash his wound. The very first day, he was good. The next day, he tried to lift his leg and walk around a lot, but I kept elbowing him in the stomach every time he moved off (he was moving because he was being pushy, not because it hurt him for me to touch it). After he got the message that he was not to move, he has been a perfect gentleman every time since. I can scrub at the scabbed serum running down his leg, flush iodine through the drain hole with a syringe, and pick the goo off the actual cut. I’ve been very pleased with his progress. He’s also been a very good horse with cleaning up all his oral antibiotic. It’s easy to treat an easy keeper.
The cut has not closed up yet and it is nearing the time when the stitches can be removed (definitely not time yet for Chico). The vet said that she was concerned that it might not close up well since it was not a fresh wound when they stitched it up. It’s also in a high tension area so it seems to have pulled apart further than when they first stitched it. We are to apply scarlet oil to stimulate the granulation tissue to grow and close it up. Supposedly we should see some difference in a few days. I took pictures today, so I’ll have something to compare to. It’s disgusting. It is so open and gaping. I think I’m going to let a scab form now, and just apply the scarlet oil over the top. It does seem to have closed on the very edges. He’s going to have a huge scar there. That’s okay though…he’s a tough little mustang. A scar will make him look like he’s been in fights and can hold his own.
Here is the wound after washing. The vets said to just go ahead and remove the drain now.
Without the flash on the camera, it gets blurry, but it really shows how open and deep the wound is. You can see all the way into the muscle!
Catlow's first ride!!!!
Today, I resumed working with Catlow. I saddled her up with my good saddle and took her in the round pen. I worked with her on lungeing exercises. She did crow-hop a little bit (humps her back and jumps as she’s cantering). She was uptight at first, but I continued with it and then put her on the lead line. She really started to relax after I repeatedly asked her to stop and let me rub her on the face. She visibly relaxes quickly. Her head will be up all high and staring at me, but as I walk to her and place my hand on her face, she drops her head and takes a big breath (I can only assume she had been holding it the whole time before that). Once she really started to relax, I made sure she still remembered flexing, yielding fores and hinds and sidepassing, then I put the bridle on her. She really needs more work with accepting the bridle in a calm manner. She wanted to keep backing up and sticking her head up high. I just had to be patient and repeatedly ask her to bring it back down. She still wasn’t perfect, but I got the bridle on. Then I flexed her with the bridle, flapped the stirrups (she freaked for a couple seconds at first, but then calmed right down), and jumped up over the saddle.
I mounted her, and she stood great. I flexed her for a few minutes (she’s much lighter in the bridle than in the halter). I also worked on having her hold her head flexed without whipping it back straight. She has improved. Then I asked her to yield her hindquarters by putting my leg back and putting a little pressure on the inside rein; she yielded great to both sides. Then I asked her to step across with her fores. It took a little bit of continued asking before she figured out exactly what I was asking, but as soon as she made the connection that this was yielding the fores, then she got it almost perfect every time. I did not side-pass as I think that is a more advanced maneuver and I want her to be perfect at the fores and hinds separately first. She was a little more reluctant about moving out and walking around the round pen (she hung around the gate a lot when I didn’t steer her). She sometimes stalled up and wouldn’t go until I bumped her vigorously on her sides. She also sometimes tried to walk sideways or yield her quarters when I squeezed with both legs to have her “walk”, but this is a cue that she doesn’t have much experience with yet. Todd came out after I got her understanding her basic cues, so he took some pictures and I showed him what she knows as he video-taped it. We also trotted for the first time on video…no mishaps. She was great. Toward the end, she was stalling out on me more, so I got a got a few good trot strides out of her, then quit. It was a great first ride of the year.
See the video Todd took below: