Sunday, June 30, 2013

Merit Badges

Wow, life's been crazy! Definitely the good kind of crazy though- lots of visiting with good friends and family! Thankfully, I managed to squeeze my rides in amidst the chaos. Kwik is now two weeks into his hock injections and two injections into his Pentosan loading dose series, and I think he's feeling much much better. He was a little stiff last Tuesday after his first injection, but he's really starting to notice his "brand new joints,"and while we haven't really had a full-fledged dressage school or cantered yet, I can already tell a difference in the way he's moving.

We had some great trailventures this weekend as well! We went out with D and Sky, Kwik's pasture buddy and best good friend on Saturday. We rode ALL OVER THE FARM, and Kwik was as happy- go-lucky as it gets. We even rode up to the stadium jumping arena and did some trotting. He was attentive and relaxed, and it was great to have accomplished that since our last trip up to the dressage arena didn't go so well. We were headed down the trail back to the barn when huge storm clouds and gale force winds blew in. I could almost hear Kwik ask, "Umm, this is a little scary. Should I be scared? Do you want me to gallop back to the barn?" I wanted to get off and lead him back, but I knew this was one of those merit badge moments, and I could tell Kwik wanted to earn his. He was waiting for me to tell him what to do and how to act, so I sat back, relaxed my arms, took a deep breath, and continued on like I wasn't concerned and he didn't need to be either. That's all it took, and he relaxed and calmly walked back to the barn, gale force winds and all. As soon as we got back, it started to pour. Perfect timing!

Kwik and I have a ways to go until we are completely dialed in, but that moment really boosted our trust and confidence in each other. I think that ride was a major turning point for us, and our rides from here on out will only get better and better as a result. Today's ride was certainly a case in point. We headed out with J and Annie, and I felt relaxed and confident the majority of the time. We even walked through the cross country course, and, while I could tell Kwik wanted to let loose and enjoy the wide open spaces, he knew he needed to listen to me and did so willingly. He's looking to me for direction now, and I'm consciously trying to give him a confident ride. I think I might have earned a merit badge myself this weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guess Who's Coming to the Barn!

Any guesses? Okay, I'll tell you! Becky Holder is hauling some horses out to my farm this afternoon to school cross country and to teach a few lessons. Holy cow! Unfortunately I have meetings and such all day at work, otherwise I'd fake being sick faster than you could say "Becky." Sigh... guess I won't get to creep afterall. Here's hoping everyone has a good ride!

Speaking of good rides, I had one yesterday. It was the first ride back after Kwik's hock injections and new shoes (the weather has so not been cooperative), and although we walked the majority of the time, I did notice some positive changes. Walking into the barn from the pasture, Kwik usually avoids the gravel walkway like the plague, but this time he walked on it comfortably. Same thing walking back to the barn from our cool down trail ride. He also immediately felt more comfortable at the walk. He was eager to march forward, and I think we had some really nice walk work yesterday as a result. I did trot him a bit in each direction just to see how he felt. He was definitely a little stiff/sore tracking right, but he felt pretty good tracking left. We'll increase our ride time to 45 minutes tonight with a little more trot work if he feels okay. So far, so good!

Still wish I could meet Becky...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big Thanks to Hillary!

Just wanted to say a big "THANK YOU!" to Hillary at Equestrian at Hart for giving me my first ever blog award- the Liebster Blog Award. I'm so excited!!

Kwik and I accept! :)

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued. Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
11 Random Facts
  1. I'm a Navy brat. I was born in Duluth, MN and I've lived in Rhode Island, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and now Georgia.
  2. My sister Emily and I used to fight all the time when we were young. Now we're best friends.
  3. I have a weird phobia of dairy foods. I'll eat cheese and ice cream, but that's about it.
  4. I'm terrified of deep water. To get over this, my best friend has decided I should get my scuba liscense. We'll see about that.
  5. Sometimes I get to travel to amazing places for work. My two most recent trips were to Panama and Mozambique.
  6. I get restless. I'm playing with the idea of moving to Colorado.
  7. I'm allergic to bee stings.
  8. I'm terrible at video games. Just terrible.
  9. I have a black thumb. Even my mint looks terrible- isn't that supposed to grow like a weed?!
  10. I love fantasy books.
  11. I just met Khaled Hosseini at a book signing!
Questions from Hillary:
  1. Favorite gait? Normally the canter. Not so much right now. We'll see what those hock injections do!
  2. Favorite breed of horse? Thoroughbred!
  3. Favorite famous racehorse? Yikes, I just don't know.
  4. Favorite tackshop? SmartPak
  5. Favorite tack brand? Hmmm, I have such a mismash of stuff right now. Honestly, I love my Wintec saddles!
  6. If you could be anyone for a day who would you want to be? Maybe Kaley Cuoco. An actress and an equestrian? Sounds good to me!
  7. Discipline you would like to try? I'd like to work cattle.
  8. Thing that you are most afraid of? Deep water.
  9. Favorite TV show? Don't laugh... Vampire Diaries.
  10. Biggest barn pet peeve? Unnecessary horse clothing.
  11. If given an unlimited budget and 1 month to travel where would you go? Europe!
Questions for My Nominees:

1. What's the name of your heart horse?
2. Half chaps or tall boots?
3. Favorite vacation spot?
4. How long have you been riding?
5. Do you have any other pets?
6. What was the last book you read?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. What's the one thing your horse does that irritates the heck out of you?
9. Do you like to cook?
10. What will your next big horsey purchase be?
11. What song are you embarassed to admit you love?

And for the 11 Blogs:
I may have repeated a few nominations...

1. Stacey- The Jumping Percheron; Stacey's blog about her "Odd Couple" is fantastic. She is a conditioning pro, and her two gals are amazing!
2. Lauren- My Life with Charlie; I love following Lauren's adventures with Charlie- reminds me of my adventures with Kwik.
3. sega61- Horse Country Chic; great blog with lots of equestrian style!
4. Andrea- Project Runaway; Andrea is a phenomenal horsewoman. I learn something new every time I read her blog.
5. Stephanie- Hand Gallop; Stephanie and I grew up in the same area!
6. TBA- TBA; TBA does a little bit of everything with her three gals.
7. jenj- Wyvern Oaks; great blog about owning a farm and retraining an OTTB.
8. Amy- A Work in Progress; I love reading about Amy's adventures with her kids and their two horses.
9. T Myers- A Filly's Best Friend; Tori just got a new horse! Can't wait to see what's next for these two!
10. Alana- Pony Express; wonderful blog with great pictures!
11. Lauren- She Moved to Texas; just hilarous! I laugh every time Lauren posts. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hock Injections and Insurance

After discussing Kwik's crow hopping issue with my vet, I decided to have her come out to do a lameness evaluation. She did flexions and watched him go on concrete and in the round pen. He started up with the crow hopping right on cue when I asked for the canter, and she saw it all (thank goodness- I'm not crazy afterall!). She thinks his hocks are bothering him, but it does not appear to be severe. We decided to go ahead and inject his hocks, and we discussed joint therapies for maintenance. My farrier happened to be out a day early and was present for the evaluation as well, and we decided to put back shoes on this go around. He had to stay in last night, but he can go back out with Skye tonight. We can start walk work and light trotting on Monday, and we can start working back up to regular work after 7 days. Kwik raced for 5 years and just turned 10 so I fully expected him to need some joint maintenance. Hopefully annual/semi-annual hock injections and a good joint supplement/injectable will fix our problem and we'll be back in business very soon!

I also finally pulled the trigger on an insurance policy. After MUCH deliberation, I decided to go with a $2,500 Mortality + $5,000 Basic Medical/Surgical policy from Hartford. It's not the ideal policy, but I think it gives me the most value for the premium price ($103 + $200 = $303).

The Good:
  • The $5,000 limit for Medical/Surgical is not limited to the value of the horse. I insured Kwik for $2,500 but I will get the full $5,000 if I need it. Some policies restrict Major Medical limits to the value of the horse ($2,500 wouldn't get me far at all if he ever needed surgery...).
  • The policy includes a $3,000 emergency colic surgery endorsement. Major Medical is my primary coverage, but basically I have $8,000 available for colic surgery which I think is pretty decent.
  • The premium is very reasonable. My main concern for purchasing insurace was being able to afford a major surgery in the event of an injury or illness. I really don't care about being reimbursed if he passes away. If you're not concerned about recovering your loss, insuring your horse under value is a good way to make premiums more affordable.
  • There are no copayments for X-rays and ultrasound diagnostics.
The Bad:
  • There is a 50% copay for other diagnostic imaging (bone scan, MRI, etc.) and shockwave therapy
  • Havested tissue treatment isn't covered
Hopefully I won't need any of this, but it's good to know I'm covered and I didn't have to break the bank!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Somethin Ain't Right

The bronco crow hopping has returned, and I got tossed AGAIN. It looks very similar to this, except I'm not that good at sitting it out (obviously).

Folks, something just isn't right. I've gotten to know this horse, and he tries his big heart out every time we ride to do what I ask him to do- even when he doesn't know how. This horse doesn't have a mean bone in his body, and he really doesn't "test" me. Sure he'll over bend or counter bend to avoid traveling straight and do other silly little evasions, but he doesn't do dangerous stuff to get out of doing work. He likes to work, and he likes to please his rider.

With that being said, our ride was fantastic yesterday. I was feeling confident and very trusting and decided we'd take the trail to the dressage arenas and do some work there. He was absolutely wonderful on the trail- this was the longest trail ride we've been on alone, and we had to walk up steep hills, around the lake, and past the xc course. He was wonderful, and we even did some bending walk work and a little bit of trot in the dressage arena. Then we walked back to the barn on a different trail, and again, he was great!

I wanted to work the canter since it has been so good of late, so we went into the barn arena to finish up our ride. He was already warmed up from our trail ride, so I put him right into the trot and asked him to come onto the bit. We did some serpentines and changes of direction, and then I asked for the the canter. He took a couple of quick steps, and then started up with the above. I came off, felt fine, and got right back on and put him into the trot. He was totally fine and did what I asked without question. Then I asked again for the canter, and he crow hopped again. This time I managed to get his head up (I've stated riding him in a breastplate with running martingale to help with this) and pull him to a stop. I switched directions and asked for the canter again, and he really tried for me but we couldn't pick up the correct lead. I knew something was wrong and pulled his tack off and put him in the round pen. Again, he crow hopped each direction at the canter in the round pen. We called it a day, and I gave him a nice cool hosing.

I think the 2.5 weeks of stall rest did his body good back in March, and as a result, we had a month of good canter work. We've been back to full work now (jumping, dressage schools with canter work), and the problems we were having before are back only now. I really truly believe this is a pain issue, and he needs some serious bodywork. Either that, or I'm in serious denial and he's just being naughty naughty naughty. I'm just mad at myself because my saddle fitter said his back wasn't happy last month during our fitting and suggested a massage. I put it on the list of things to do, but I should have done it right away. I've got a call in to a woman who does several of the horses at my farm, so hopefully we can give that a try. I'm so sorry buddy! :-(

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pilates for Equestrians

Kwik and I have been trail riding up a storm, and things are going really really well. I'm happy with where we're at and where we're going! Unfortunately the hot temps and humidity have arrived along with the bugs. Poor Kwik's left eye was a tad swollen when I saw him yesterday, and he was swishing and stomping to no avail. We did a little bit of work on the longe since I've let that slide of late. Work in side reins on the longe really does help him, but I honestly hate doing it. It's a ginormous pain to put all the gear on, take it all off, remember to bring it all inside afterwards, etc. Oh well, it's effective, so we need to do it at least once or twice a week. Afterwards we went on a short little trail ride (all by our onesies!) and called it a day. I bathed him and fly sprayed him within an inch of his life. Maybe that will give him 5 minutes of peace. Anyone have luck with any of the bug-off supplements this year?

On to equestrian fitness! Every year my organization does a "Healthiest CIO Challenge." The Challenge is a three-week fitness and nutrition program designed to help you develop healthy habits and foster a little friendly competition between national centers. To complete the challenge, you need to log 150 hours of physical activity (riding is on the list of activities!) and meet a new nutrition goal each week. This year I'm participating! I'm not really a gym person, but I wanted to find something I could do on my non-riding days that will get me in better riding shape (strengthen my core, increase balance and flexibility). Not surprisingly, Pilates is the first thing that pops up on a Google search for improving rider fitness. According to Balanced Body, Pilates increases body awareness and improves balance, flexibility, and strength, which in turn helps improve rider posture (enter core strength for a more secure, independent seat) and refine rider aids. Sounds like a winner to me! My local yoga/Pilates studio offers a 30 day unlimited trial membership for $34, so I'm going to sign up on Monday and give Pilates (and yoga!) a try. I'm also going to be prepared with Advil, a hot bubble bath, and Bengay... anything to become a better rider, right?!

If anyone is interested in jumping on the bandwagon with me, Kerrits (gotta love them!) has a great series of Pilates for Equestrians videos on YouTube.