Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jogging in place

Ever feel like you're doing that? You're running but not really getting anywhere..  Well we have sort of come to that spot.

The harness showed up last week. Just in time to have it for the weekend!!!  I am excited, it is incredibly well made and just gorgeous by the way. So we put it all together and tried it on the little man.

The only problem is- the traces are a bit long.  Since the shafts are a tad short and a touch narrow, I figure we will address this first, then figure out the best course of action on the harness. 

We have been trying to contact a few people in the area associated with the cart. No luck, no returned phone calls, no problem. I will just go somewhere else.  So yesterday the neighbor is driving by and we flagged them down. They do welding and gave us a quote. A fair price for their work and when they get a chance to do it, they will pick up the cart and do their magic.

In the meanwhile, I hooked him again last night for a brief drive to keep him going and still hoping about the driving event up north this weekend...  Seems the neighbors were irrigating, the ditch had a leak and the back corner of the pasture was wet.  Two choices on this one. Steer clear and just get the workout in or plow through it and get him started with his feet wet for the upcoming water obstacle on the marathon course in the CDE's. 

He wasn't thrilled about the wet parts, but he motored on through. The neighbor was also having a barbecue, complete with a yard full of cars and guests in their back yard filling and surrounding the pool.  At one point they were making noise, there was some yelling of encouragement of some kind and the little man just kept working like it was all no big deal.  Perfect amounts of noise, unexpected yelling and a bit of water to make him understand that conditions are not always prefect or quiet. Not at home, not at the shows or anywhere else we may go. 

He also got to experience the neighbor power spraying his car and the dog running along the fence line the night before. Blasts of water, the noise it comes with, seeing the water then it's gone... May not be anything we will come close to in the show ring, but he has seen it, dealt with it and processed the thoughts of how he is to react.  So far he is steady as we go again...

**Blogger is being incredibly weird and won't let me edit parts of the post. If there is extra spaces or something- I have tried to fix it with no result. Yay blogger. Not!**

Monday, May 23, 2011


Although everything has been shut down lately due to the EVH-1 breakout, training at home can still go on.  Over the weekend I felt like crap. Lillian had something the end of the week that made her lose her lunch and she ran a small fever. She must've thought it is always nice to share because I got it. Saturday I was miserable!

My small portion of a PSA is this. If you are tossing your cookies and can't keep anything down- warm, flat Coke is the answer. Small sips, here and there, the syrup will settle your stomach. The doctor told my mom that years ago and it took me most of the day to finally come to my senses and remember that... As long as I could keep things down, I could handle the rest of it myself.

Sunday I felt a bit better. Well enough to head outside and work the little man. How did he do? Excellent! He was incredibly light in the bridle. More so than ever before. Responsive? Oh hell yeah... Had to tone it down some even. 

After his great explosion last weekend, we had made a trip into town so I could get the stuff needed to repair the harness. I wanted him put to the cart ASAP so he didn't think he could get away with anything like that again.  I had also been in contact with a harness shop. I emailed to explain the days events and inquire as to what size they had decided on and when it may be shipping? I am happy to say it's on it's way! Wahoo! 

I longed him, then a little work in the long lines and he was doing serpentines down the length of the arena with only the slightest of tugs on the reins. I just walked along behind him in a straight line as he wove his way left, then right, back and forth in front of me.  He stood like a champ and let me hook him all by myself. The only time he moved was a step back as I brought the shafts up through the tugs, as if he was helping me.  I long lined him a little more from behind the cart and then stopped to get in.

A bit more walking, I eased him into a trot and let him work. We did circles, sorta tried the dressage pattern again, used the corners and he was still incredibly light and responsive.  We both needed a workout like this. Nothing exciting, no pushing for extremes, just letting him work and rebuild his confidence as well as mine.  The harness was repaired and he worked Sunday of last weekend, but not like he did yesterday.

We do have one area needing work. We need a word or cue for our transition from a trot down to a walk. I can tell him to walk, whup, ease up or slow down, letting the reins slip through my fingers some, but he just stops dead, the cart bumps him and I have to ask him to "Walk on".  Sure beats the alternative though of him not listening or stopping at all!  And if this is the one thing we have to work on, I'll take it. 

I asked him to back up a few steps last night. He did it rather well, we got a few steps and called it good.  If things in the horse world are back to normal by then, there's a Scurry and Country Drive scheduled up north on June 4th.  We may be ready for it. Maybe?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No foolin around

I received this in my inbox the other night-
I skipped over some of it to focus on the relevant information we can all use.
Message sent to AAEP DVM Member in the U.S. and Canada on May 16, 2011

Currently, there are numerous reports of equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) affecting horses and farms across the U.S. and Canada. This outbreak appears related to initial cases at a cutting horse show in Ogden Utah, which was held from April 29 - May 8. Horses at that event may have been exposed to this virus and subsequently spread the infection to other horses. While the true extent of this disease outbreak is uncertain, there is clearly a very significant elevated risk of EHM cases at this time. At this time control of the outbreak is critically dependent on biosecurity.

Laboratory submission of nasal swabs and whole blood samples collected from the exposed horse can be utilized for virus detection and isolation. Please consider testing any suspected cases.

The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse but typically only causes neurological disease sporadically. However, in an outbreak of EHV-1 neurologic such as we are experiencing now, the disease can reach high morbidity and case fatality rates. The incubation period of EHV-1 infection is typically 1-2-days, with clinical signs of fever then occurring, often in a biphasic fever, over the following 10 days. When neurological disease occurs it is typically 8-12 days after the primary infection, starting often after the second fever spike. In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs may include: nasal discharge, incoordination, hind end weakness, recumbency, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone. Prognosis depends on severity of signs and the period of recumbency. There is no specific treatment for EHV-1, although antiviral drugs (i.e. valacyclovire) may have some value before neurological signs occur. Non-specific treatment may include intravenous fluids, and other appropriate supportive therapy; the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is strongly recommended. Currently, there is no equine vaccine that has a label claim for protection against the neurological strain of the virus.

Horse-to-horse contact, aerosol transmission, and contaminated hands, equipment, tack, and feed all play a role in disease spread. However, horses with severe clinical signs of neurological EHV-1 infection are thought to have large viral loads in their blood and nasal secretions and therefore, present the greatest danger for spreading the disease. Immediate separation and isolation of identified suspect cases and implementation of appropriate biosecurity measures are key elements for disease control.

For additional questions, please contact Keith Kleine, AAEP director of industry relations, at (800) 443-0177 or


William Moyer, DVM
2011 AAEP President
There were also two follow up emails.
One containing a vet's name stating there were 30 confirmed deaths in Arizona.
The other one saying the vet does not exist, there are three (3) confirmed cases, no deaths...   
I don't understand the thought process of people making stuff up or adding to the hype in cases like this. We all like to pass along information. It sucks we may have to check our sources from time to time before we do. 
I hope nobodies horses are affected or infected with this. If it happens, I hope they are either able to pull through with a quick recovery or have a quick and quiet end.  I don't like it when animals suffer. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The good, the bad and the UGLY!

We all have our days. Kat is no exception. I just wish he could have either waited a bit longer (a LOT longer) or had his not so glorious moment sooner (A LOT sooner). Like while we were still in long lines and he had not been hooked yet....

He was doing so well, coming along so nicely and had really showed promise. Last weekend we went to the horse park and he did Awesome. Handled everything well enough, new place, new environment, other horses around, still had to work. He whinnied a lot, but fine, whatever. That I could deal with.

The show was yesterday. We didn't go. Hubby and I did, but Kat stayed home. See, it all went wrong, something like this...

Saturday morning we went to the horse park. Figured we would get in another workout there on what would be the showgrounds. There were two other trailers in the parking lot when we arrived and a few horses in the public use arena. Last weekend was kind of the same. As we went in to work, the one horse in the arena left. As we finished up, other horses had arrived and were ready to go in. We had the arena all to ourselves for his workout.

This time add in a few horses. He needed this in case there are ever other horses in his class. Some day there will be so he had better get used to it now. This worked for the other people too as their horses were, in their opinions needing to be exposed to new stuff. A pony pulling a cart around was certainly something new for them. Win-win.

Well it all started like any other workout. I lunged him, we put the bridle on, this time I opted for the long lines instead of the driving lines. Again I worked him, walking behind the cart, just to get him going and to be sure there was no funny business. Satisfied, I stopped him and climbed in the cart. I picked up the whip and we walked off. 

As we were putting him to the cart, I told the other riders, I am NOT hoping for ANY excitement today. Not for them or me. We certainly don't need it and I am confident in saying we are all a bit too old for that kind of crap. They agreed.

We started with our circles and softening exercises. The two riders were following us and said to let them know if they got too close. No problem. As we came around through the center of the arena I turned my head and said over my shoulder that we would be going to the right now. They thanked me for letting them know. No excitement remember? Open communication is good for this!

The right has not been his better side. He is a bit more stiff, a little more resistant and the right turn was where we had issue at home the one day making the corner. In another evening workout, he had been bothered going to the right past the neighbors oleander because there were birds in it. At one point heading towards the fence and asking for the right turn, he had stopped. I asked him to move on and turn right. He balked. I asked him to move forward again and he ever so slightly reared. Left turn- fine, but we circled around and were soon going the intended direction anyways. Stop and redirect, no big deal. Avoid the accidents at all costs when you can.

Saturday however, turned out to be a lot different. We made the turn to the right and it started off fine. He picked up the trot, no biggie, go ahead. In fact I took a slight hold and pushed him forward into it a bit more. That's when it happened. Something set him off and he blew. In a BIG way! Now understand, this all went down in a few seconds or maybe even a minute or two. Takes a lot longer to type about it or read it than it did for everything to happen.

We had made the corner and he stopped, the cart was still going forward and bumped into him as he reared, then leaped forward. He headed for the gate along the length of the arena. I was just trying to keep him off the fence as best as I could. There was a person standing by the gate, inside the arena and he came mighty damn close to them as we went by. I'm pretty sure it was not an ideal situation for them either.

When we got just past the gate- he fell. Took a not so graceful nose dive into the dirt. That was the first time I said "Oh SHIT!" He went down, the cart shifted forward and stopped, I fell forward into the basket on my knees. NOTE- Knees and diamond mesh steel are NOT friends! (Think cheese grater effects.) As he scrambled to his feet I realized my right boot and ankle were wedged in behind the basket and the shocks under the seat. All I could think was that if the cart flipped my leg was as good as broken. Definitely not a position I wanted to be in.

I focused on getting my leg (and essentially me) free. Once that was accomplished I got back up and on the seat. Now I had to try and regain control and get him stopped. He was still rearing and leaping up and forward, add in some bucking and the cart was lurching and jerking forward and back.

We made the turn around the corner and he was still going to town. Probably about then is when I yelled at Kat. "Is that all you've got?" WTH was I thinking? Hubby said he heard me loud and clear... 

I can also remember thinking- If I were ON him, I would use one rein, really shorten it up and pull him around hard. Throw him off balance enough that he has to stop and get his feet back on the ground for a minute or fall. Horses don't like to fall down so they will stop. I pulled the right rein and tried to bring his nose around. Problem is, when you are driving, those pesky shafts kind of get in the way for this. The horse literally cannot bend... so down he went again. Scrambling to his feet and pissed, he reared and leaped into the air again.

This time as he went up, his head was down and his front feet were literally over his head as he arched in the air before bucking again. That's when the second "Oh SHIT!" came out of my mouth. His chest, the girth area was eye level with me sitting in the cart! He was that far up in the air.

We had made the corner and were heading down the far side of the arena at this point. Kat finally stopped but I wasn't about to let him think he had won. Hubby yelled to me to stop. He was in the arena headed towards us when I bellowed in my loud, angry voice "Trot On, Dammit!" Kat must have thought I was pissed. He trotted all right! We got several strides of an incredibly strong trot that I have not gotten before. It was amazing. When I said whoa, he stopped and froze. 

Hubby had said again, "Stop." This time he added four simple words. "Your girth is broken." I looked down and sure enough it was hanging off his right side. That was my cue to get out of the cart. By then he was next to the cart on Kat's left side and starting to undo everything. He asked me if I was okay because about then? The adrenaline rush had hit and I was shaking. "Yeah, I'm fine!" He told me to go stand by Kat's head. instead I seen him start to undo the breeching so I started to unbuckle the right side, unhooked the traces and we slid the shafts out of the tugs. 

Everyone was suddenly buzzing around. A few of the people there told me I handled everything really well. I really hadn't been in any position to DO anything. Just keep him away from anything, anyone and hope for the best. I don't even remember ever telling him Whoa! Then I got to thinking about someone else's male 'trainer' acquaintance screaming like a girl. Who has time to do that?

As we went out the gate to take the harness off of Kat, there in the dirt was the remnants of the left billet strap. Somehow we had managed to do all of that with no girth. The only thing keeping the saddle in place was the loose overcheck from the front, the crupper from the back and the weight of the shafts in the tugs.

We figured right there, the show was out of the question. We didn't have a harness to use anyways. Since it was still early in the day though... we headed into town and bought the leather to replace the billets on both sides. I wanted to get him put to the cart again, muy pronto and working so he didn't think that was the way out of it.

Through all of this, I not only mananged to keep the whip in my hand the whole time, I also never even thought to use it on him. Not even to tap his butt and push him forward. Who knows how he would have reacted if I had.

Seriously? I wish hubby had been able to video the whole thing. It definitely would have been one for YouTube!

*blogger has been screwy lately and edited my post for me. Thanks, but no thanks.*

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New addition

I was messing with blogger a few weeks ago and figured out I could do a photo page. Yesterday I downloaded a few of the pictures from Kat's workouts.

In gearing up for the show next weekend, we took him to the horse park Saturday morning. I don't know if hubby got any pics, but Kat did really well.  We worked on our softening exercises for starters, lots of circles, pushing him up into the bit, letting him work on a strong trot for a bit, then letting him relax down into an easy jog.  We did a few serpentines, left circles, right circles, big circles, smaller circles. For once the little guy actually broke a sweat!

We even got a few strides of canter at one point. Not because I asked for it, but kind of more like an accidental happening. He was not worried at all, a tug on the reins and whup, whup from me and he went right back into a nice trot.
We worked on using our corners more. Going straight down the rail into them and then turning instead of going along making a nice big oval. We even tried the one Intro level dressage test I remembered from long ago. I have to say, he Nailed IT!  When we did the walk, hubby said it was chewy and stretchy, just like the dressage judges look for. It couldn't be any better (except for maybe straighten out our line maybe) and if he were a normal sized horse... Well, that's not going to happen for him now, is it?

There isn't normally many (if any) driving horses at the Arab club sponsored shows, but who knows. If not, it will be good schooling for him, and if there is, we will find out how well he works with others in the ring.  He is really coming along well and I am proud of him.  If he continues to work the way he has all along, I won't be disappointed with him. Sure we may have our not so great days, but doesn't everyone?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Run for the Roses

Tomorrow is Derby Day again. It's hard to believe it is here already.  I had to go look up who's running...

I hope that it is a good clean race and no horses or their jockeys are injured (or worse).  If anyone is betting on the race, good luck in your pick. I usually pick my winners based on how the horse looks, a gut feeling about them and sometimes just their name. I know, lots of solid thinking going into that, right?  But I have gotten lucky a time or two.

Maybe this year we will finally see a Triple Crown winner?
Who knows...

I will most likely miss the race since we have a busy weekend planned. Plenty of running around, clipping a foal for an upcoming photo shoot and of course Mothers Day. I thought weekends were supposed to be relaxing?   

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's coming along nicely

Ever have one of those days? The day when you don't have a spectacular ride, but it all just seems to come together and you and the horse just click.  Yesterday was one of those for me and the Kat man.

Saturday went well enough, but yesterday it was all so much better.  He hasn't been driven all week since we were waiting for the ground to dry up from irrigation.  So hubby long lined him a little before we brought in the cart. He had him doing all sorts of intricate things, counter flexing, bending and I gotta say he looked great. But then when it came time to drive we had a small problem.

Heading into the first corner I asked for a turn. Simple enough, right?  Well Kat got a little confused. He thought I was asking for a counter flex going into the corner. Luckily we weren't  too far in or too committed to the turn yet.  Still enough room to make the turn, but bordering on not enough, so I asked for a stop.  I gave him a few seconds, patted his butt and let him relax. When I asked him to move on, let him go forward a few steps then tugged the rein for the turn again he responded with confusion again.  He still thought I wanted the counter flex bending to the inside, while turning to the outside. This time the fence was too close. So I asked for the stop, patted his butt and got out. At this point it was far safer for both of us to simply lead him out of the corner than to push it, ask again and chance a wreck.  It was just a little too much, too soon for the little guy.

Once back in the cart, we were moving forward again. I asked for him to start doing a few turns, guiding him a bit with the whip this time. He did a lot better, we did a lot of trotting and finished on a good note.

Yesterday we skipped the long lines and after lunging went strait to the cart. Lots of trotting, lots of circles, bigger circles, smaller circles, but something just wasn't quite right. Going to the left, his nose tipped in a smidgen, just right. Going to the right, if I asked him to tip his nose in, he did, but we also got a bit of a turn too. Tug the left rein to straighten him out on the rail- his nose went out too.

So that made me think. 
If I were riding, how would I fix this?
Now without your legs.
Or being able to raise, drop or spread your hands.
Or use your seat/weight.

So hubby tells me to do some circles at the walk. Get it right at the walk, then ask for the trot. Slow and right beats fast and wrong. Which we did and while we did, he was able to catch this-

Don't worry, he muted the camera so you can watch it at work and won't hear a thing. Which also kinda stinks because I can't go back and see what I need to do while I hear him telling me... (kind of like a mini clinic) and neither can anyone else. 

Basically it was a lot of circles and little tugs on one rein. Softening work just like if I were riding him. Sit up straight, don't lean, don't drop your shoulder, drive from behind, contact, but also let him work on a loose rein. Change rein and direction, same thing for this side... 

Which led to the question as to which hand should hold the whip? In some levels and types of competition, you are required to have a whip in hand at all times. Which one though? I have been carrying it in my right hand as the whip socket is on the right side of the cart, riding one handed the reins are in the left hand, sorta makes sense that way... I forgot to look or watch at the driving show. So today my quest for knowledge will include the ADS rulebook and a few emails to those in the know.  Hopefully I will have it right before the first show.   Which is in two weeks. 

And this morning we come out to soaked pastures again. Apparently the cover to the one port came off and we accidentally got irrigated.  Next weekend we were planning to head over to the horse park anyways. A way to drive him somewhere other than home, before expecting anything great and while we still have time to make some corrections if need be.  It helps that that is where the show is.  I will try to take some of my 'show clothes' and hope for pictures. Then we can see what works and what won't.