Monday, 22 September 2014

Surviving horses

Over all the years I have been caring for horses, I can tell you that a horse can certainly get creative in finding ways to hurt themselves. I have been through many an injury and being the overly anxious type, when I see a way to prevent something, I will darn well do so.

I have been working very hard on managing my stress and trying to become less freakishly worried about everything horse related. My confidence was severely shaken a few years back and it has been a lot of hard work getting it back. At my worst, I was looking out the back window of my house at the view of the horses in their corrals with heart racing and palms sweating, praying they wouldn't be running. If they were, my gosh, certainly they could get hurt. If it were muddy they could slide into the fence (yes, that has happened, and more than once).

If I were planning to ride, I would be shaking already before I even got out of the house. It took a decision, a commitment to get over this, that began a long struggle back to enjoying horses again.

I have come a long way and no longer panic when I see the horses playing around. I don't even look out the back window much anymore, and I certainly don't feel the panic I used to.

View from my window :)

Tonight was one of those fine evenings that gave me a glimpse of how far I am coming along. After putting the kids to bed, I headed out to do the evening feeding. My 1 and 1/2-year-old filly, Shiraz and the pony, Silver had been in the arena for the day to do some "mowing" for me. As I entered the barn yard, I could see the metal arena gate on the ground, bent in a U shape, and the fence post it was hinged to was broken in half. Hm. Interesting. Now, this is where in the past I would have filled with fear, wondering how bad the injury would be to the horse that did this, running, shaking to find her.

Proudly I can say I did not. Instead I paused and considered the situation. As I was going over it in my mind, gaping wounds or not, I knew I would be able to handle it. And moving forward with fingers crossed, I saw Shiraz. After examining every inch of her, there was just one little mark on her knee. No swelling, no bleeding, and nothing else. What a lucky little horse.

My anxiety is still there. Like when I am approaching the first jump of a ride, or thinking of taking my mare on a trail ride, but I can feel myself improving all the time, in small ways. With a commitment to baby steps and "doing what I can do, until I can do more", I know I'll get where I want to be.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fall riding

I love fall. It would be my favorite season if I could only forget it is a precursor to winter...

After pausing momentarily to soak in the beauty of the colours,  I resume my spot in panic mode over prepping for winter, is there enough hay, is everything in a spot I can find it once 3 feet of snow is here, will my de-icers last one more winter, will I really survive -32 yet again...!
love her!

My focus with Miss Tea these days is all flat work getting her to think about using her hind end and maybe perhaps lifting her back.

It is so hard for her. She would much prefer to drag her back legs along and hollow out, but we are getting a few steps here and there of magic!

When we get it, it feels so elevated, light but powerful! She still looks downhill, but she is a Quarter horse and aren't they bred to be downhill?
Less downhill than usual :)
Much better reach for her with the hind end

Taking time to smell the daisies

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Ups and downs

What a summer. After the up of Carman fair came the down of a horse with a problem. Even though Miss Tea had been doing so well, all that forward momentum came to a screeching halt when she started to seem sore, started bucking at the canter, and losing weight.

Just give me a carrot already woman.

Figuring it all out was a bit tricky. The ground at home was very hard after weeks of no rain. Maybe sore feet? Another possibility was her back--she is ridiculously long-backed and has always had trouble using her hind end. Perhaps all the riding we had done thus far had taken a toll?

Even lounging her was a mess. She would trip over her hind feet a lot and buck at the canter. She was just not happy.

So, step one was to just give her a brake for a bit and see what evolved...meanwhile, my sweet little Savvy girl was waiting and ready for some much needed attention! I had started her lightly last summer, but no where near truly broke to ride. A few weeks in with her and I was able to take her over to a friend's arena for our Sunday horsemanship practice and she was fantastic! She is such an amazing girl and learns incredibly fast. Her only issue is she gets VERY excitable in unfamiliar situations, but that is something we will work out by just getting her out and about more.

Smart little mare picking up on this riding thing like a Boss!

I discovered Miss Tea's issues were back related, so after time off, I purchased a riser for my saddle to make that as best a fit as it could be, started her slowly with lots of ground work and now we are cautiously back into riding. So far so good! The aim is to strengthen her top line and see if I can help prevent this from happening again.