Thursday, March 18, 2010

The ice is almost gone!

We've had so much ice around the barn in the past month from everything trying to melt. Poor Brigit was having stifle issues again because of it. It didn't help that she wasn't in consistent work last fall or over the winter due to her being sick and then it was just too cold to do much riding. We got back to riding regularly in February and I think she must have slipped on the ice a few weeks ago, she was very gibbled. From what I've read, horse's that have weak stifles need to be in regular work and since she hadn't been I think that combined with the ice caused one to come out of place. *Sometimes* with a bit of massage you can get them to go back into place but I'm not really qualified to do much, I usually leave that up to my amazing chiro/massage person. We seem to have issues with the darned stifles in the winter when she hasn't been worked much, has been in a stall and it's icy outside so it makes sense that it happened again this year.

I put Brigit in the indoor arena last night just to see how she was doing and she looks great. I think we'll be able to start riding again. I was really suprised to see how well she was striding out last night, HUGE big strides at the walk. Definitely feeling better!

From a little bit of research I've found out that hill work, backing up, and lots of work over poles & cavelletti will help strengthen the stifle ligaments to help keep everything in place. So I guess that's whats going to be on the menu for the next little while.

Other fun news, I might have one of my students pony's to ride for the next week. Cute, cute, cute little pony but it's developing a wee bit of an attitude. I honestly don't think it had ever been taught to bend or flex at ALL. The pony's little girl is just 6 years old, great little rider for her age but the pony is definitely taking advantage of her a bit. So I offered to ride the pony a few times for them if they wanted for a bit of a tune up. I'm hoping they do decide to bring her by, I think it'll help them out and it'll be kinda fun for me! Although I feel ridiculously HUGE on the pony!

I don't think I've ever properly introduced my "project" mare Shadow. A friend of mine gave her to me last summer. She wanted to find her a good home because she wasn't doing anything at her place. She bought her as a weanling for company to another weanling she had but she didn't ever have anything done with her. She's 6 going on 7 this year and she is a BIG mare. When I first went to work with her she was pretty level headed, didn't do much but was a little jumpy. I decided I could work with her so we brought her home.

Well things changed when we brought her home. She was REALLY jumpy, probably due to new surroundings and all of that. And then came the bucking.... We started out doing a ton of ground work and desensitizing. We discovered that her response to anything uncomfortable/scary was to have a full out bucking fit. And let me tell you, this mare can BUCK hard, she gets some good air. Part of the issue I think was the back cinch, so I just took it off to simplify things which helped a lot but she still had these random tantrums. I'll be honest, there's a few times I nearly gave up on her.

With lots of ground work we've gotten her to the stage where she really thinks about things vs. just being reactive and bucking. She's so calm to work with on the ground, you can do anything to her, attach stuff to the saddle etc and she doesn't get spooked by it. Progress! So once she got to that stage where I could do anything to her on the ground, I figured it was time to start playing around with getting on her. I started out by just lying across her back, which she wasn't too sure about at first. Then when she was ok with that, we moved on to lying across her back and getting her to walk forward, doing some steering, halts etc.

She'd been doing so good with that I figured it was time to swing a leg over. The self preservation in me said "Use your english saddle, it'll be easier to get out of, just in case!". I actually feel a little more confident in my english saddle. The first time on I had a friend on the ground holding onto Shadow. She didn't seem to mind at all, so we tried some walking and that went well. We did that again and all was great. A few weeks ago I brought her in and did all the ground work with her, didn't bat an eye, she was so calm I figured, today is the day. I swung a leg over without anybody hanging onto her and we went for a couple of walking laps around the arena. What an awesome feeling!!! But as they say "Two steps forward, one step back"..... Sunday I was hopeful that I'd be able to get on her again. Well it was not to be. I did our regular ground routine and then went to laying across her back doing a bit of walking. First time was ok, second time not so much. We walked 1/4 of the way across the arena and I slid off because the saddle had shifted sideways a little bit. Just as I was thinking "What a good girl", she blew up into some pretty massive bucks! It seemed SO random, at first I couldn't figure out what had caused it. Then it hit me, it must be the saddle being off center. I decided to test that theory after she'd calmed down, I grabbed the saddle and pulled it towards me and yup! Off she went again! At least all was not lost, I did figure out what the root of the issue was. Now to figure out how to get her to not react like that. I'm going to try stretching her legs out after girthing up and making sure no hair is caught/pulling anywhere around the girth. And maybe a fleece girth cover is in order. I guess we'll find out, trial and error.

This was taken literally seconds before she had her little bucking fit on the weekend.

One of these days I'll get this mare broke! I think she'll be a really neat horse once I do!


  1. She's lovely!!

    I bet your glad about the ice melting, I don't miss Canadian winters at all!

  2. I forgot to say that I think it's a mare thing with being uber-sensitive about saddles not being perfectly centered and bucking. I tbink geldings tend to be a bit more forgiving if the saddles aren't sitting perfectly but mares will let you know! I had so many problems with Hattie's saddle fit and has thrown me lots of times with huge bronc bucks if the saddle just moves forward a little bit onto her shoulders. I also use a sheepskin girth cover as well.

  3. Once my saddle slipped sideways as I mounted, and my gelding took off in a bronc fit. I just stepped off as he departed. I've made sure never to get on without a tight girth ever again.

  4. Thanks! I think she's definitely got potential to be a really neat horse!
    I've always had horses that have had gigantic withers so I've never dealt with saddle slipping issues before. She's just built so darned ROUND and flat that it doesn't take much to get it to shift slightly.