Friday, September 30, 2016

Sore back :(

Cupid had been a little cranky the last few days, and I thought it was the heat and flies.  And possibly his abscessed foot bothering him a little, though he has been moving sound.  We had our routine chiropractic appointment coming up this week, so I thought that could help too.  But yesterday it all came to a head when he just refused to go at all.  We started out walking okay, but as soon as I asked him to trot he became very balky, kicking out with a hind leg, swishing his tail furiously, and even baring his teeth when I asked him to go forward.  Sometimes he is a little fussy, but usually it only takes a moment to get him going again and then he's fine.  This time he just would not go at all.  I got off, my trainer got on, and trotted around.  He seemed fine.  She cantered him both directions.  I got back on, and he would not go.  So it was confusing; he seemed like he was moving okay, my trainer thought he felt okay, so I wasn't sure if something was bothering him or it was a respect issue.  I told my trainer I wasn't sure, she said at this point I need to make him go regardless.  I asked him to go with my leg, and reaffirmed it with my crop with a few quick taps behind my leg.  To no avail.  My trainer got back on and Cupid was good. 

Then my trainer thought maybe because I'm much shorter than her, maybe where my leg sits on him was causing discomfort; either a sore rib or possibly ulcers.  When she got on without lowering the stirrups from where I ride Cupid still went for her but was noticeably unhappier, with his head up in the air and tail swishing.

We also tried taking his saddle off to see if that was bothering him.  Though the saddle fitter looked at it a few months ago, Cupid has put on some muscle so it was possible that it was not fitting him as well.  My trainer got on bareback and trotted him a little.  I got on and.... Cupid doesn't want to go.  It was quite frustrating - my trainer telling me to make him go forward and Cupid not listening, all the while not sure if he was trying to tell me he is hurting or if he was just being a total brat.  I got a few steps trot out of him, and gave him a lot of praise.  My trainer told me to trot him once more, it took a few tries and I was getting very frustrated again, but finally a few steps and we ended on that.

The chiropractor appointment was a little later that same morning, so when she came I told her what was happening.  She started the examination, everything looked good (better than usual even) until she got to his back.  She determined he was very sore in his 14th and 15th vertebrae, and showed me where you could feel a little swelling.  She made some adjustments and recommended giving Cupid a week off from riding (turnout and lunging are okay, just no weight on his back).  She thought he should feel better in a week, but if not then try him on bute and see if that helps; if not then further diagnosis in order. 
Waiting for our appointment
Pink for areas that needed adjustment, yellow for problem areas
The chiropractor looked at the fit of both my saddles and said they looked good.  We don't know how Cupid hurt himself.  I feel horrible for trying to make him go when he was hurting.  My trainer said he still needs to be obedient, but I don't really blame him!  I hope he feels better soon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Indian Summer

The last week has been hot!  Yesterday it was already 80 degrees by the time I left the barn at 9am.  We are lucky where we are near the coast we only get flies a few weeks each year, but unfortunately now is that time and they are out in full force.  It makes Cupid a little cranky.  He has a lot of little scratches on his legs, I think it's from his own hooves when he stomps at flies. 
Fly proof

Last week I had a work event, so my trainer rode Cupid that day and did flatwork, focusing on getting him on the bit.  She said he seemed less comfortable cantering to the left, but did pick up the lead.  She ended her ride doing a little stretchy trot, which we had just started.

The next few times I rode Cupid I did feel him seeking contact a little, and not pushing his nose so far out.  I did a few rides just walk/trot, still taking it easy.  I try to shorten and lengthen the trot a bit, and make sure to balance before turns.  We also worked on 20 meter circles and a little leg yielding. 

On Sunday there were several small crossrails set up in the arena, so after doing flatwork for about half an hour I trotted over a few of the jumps.  We haven't jumped in about two weeks, but Cupid was relaxed.

We had a flatwork lesson yesterday.  I am still working on keeping my legs long, as I tend to push against the stirrup and bring my heels up.  I am also working hard on riding more off the outside rein, or at least not letting it get too long!  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Another Abscess

Cupid unexpectedly popped an abscess through his coronary band.  I thought at first it was left over from the one he had in July, then I remembered that was his left foot and now it is the right.  At the show I thought Cupid was struggling with the footing a little, but it felt more like something in his hind end - left hind maybe every so often just a little hitch in his step.  I brought it up to my trainer and she said he looked okay but if anything she thought it was the right front.  I think what I was feeling was him trying to transfer the weight off that foot just a little.  He was never lame, just one day he had the hole in his heel!  So I cleaned it and wrapped it a few days, and we have been taking it easy.
Abscess on Cupid's coronary band

We went on a trip over to the horse park.  Cupid has been loading great - today our barn manager was there when we were loading and he even commented how good Cupid was.  We did a little flatwork in the arena, mostly just walk/trot with a short canter.  Then we walked a big loop around the cross country field and Cupid was super well-behaved!  We didn't go in the water or do any jumps because I didn't want to infect or put extra pressure on his foot.  I filled up Cupid's treat dispenser to keep him busy.

Then on the way home the freeway we got caught in some traffic.  Well that's what we thought - but it turned out they closed the road for over an hour for an investigation!!  So the poor horses had to sit on the trailer.  I hope Cupid is not going to want to not load again after this!

I got Cupid new boots.  We got some Woofs cross country boots at our trainer's recommendation.  I also ordered a pair of the Back on Track quick wraps because there was a pretty good sale.  I don't know how much they help but I figure they can't hurt!
Back on Track quick wraps
Woof cross country boots

Monday, September 12, 2016

Woodside Pony Club Combined Test

I got to the horse park around 6:30am to muck out, feed and groom Cupid, and prepare for our dressage test.  I decided to just use my jumping saddle for both phases because I'm more comfortable in it.  Since we were among the first groups the warm up arena was not too crazy.  It was the same arena we rode in yesterday.  My trainer was riding right after me on her young horse (who was at his first show!) so we warmed up together.  We walked around a few minutes to let the horses settle in.  Then we trotted some 20 meter circles, did a few shorten and lengthenings at the trot, a little shoulder-fore, and cantered both directions though we wouldn't be cantering in the test.
Heading to dressage with Cupid's new friend, also an ex-racehorse

My number was called as the next up.  I started trotting around the outside of the dressage court, and Cupid was a little startled when he saw the judge and scribe in the booth!  We rode by it yesterday and he had no problem, I think he wasn't expecting to see people in there.  So he took a few sideways steps and dropped to a walk.  I reassured him and let him walk past the booth, then we picked up the trot again and I did a little shoulder fore to get his attention.  Then we entered the ring.  I thought our first halt was pretty good.  We could have been a little quicker going back into the trot after, we took several walk steps first.  I thought the rest of the test went pretty good.  Could have been a little more forward, but I was happy with it until the final halt, which was not great Cupid wasn't quite still.  But overall I was really happy!

We had about 90 minutes until our jumping round, so we went back to the stall and untacked and Cupid got several carrots.  I wish I had given myself a little more time to warm up again before jumping.  The jumping warm up arena was a little busier, and Cupid had a little spook which unnerved me.  Then the jumps were occupied, then they were resetting them, and I heard my name called before we even did any warm up fences!  I jumped one really quick and headed over to the show ring - I was a little late and kind of got scolded.  I heard the judge announce that you need to stop and salute before starting your round - I did not know that so I was lucky I heard the announcement because several riders got chewed out for it.
Our course - more complex than I expected!

We entered the arena and Cupid whinnied.  Then he was a little distracted by the horses in the turnout paddocks behind the ring, one was banging her bucket around.  So between the spook in the arena, only having one warm up jump, being rushed and running late, and then Cupid seeming distracted, and a somewhat tricky course, I was not feeling confident at all and went very conservative trotting between all the jumps.  I had a little too tight hold on Cupid's head, and we had one rail down.  Cupid was really good, I just should have loosed up a bit.  I was happy with Cupid but a little disappointed in myself, but it was a learning experience and hopefully next time I can relax a little more.

After jumping Cupid met my 6 month old niece, since my sister and brother in law had come to watch.  He seemed curious about her, and was very gentle.  He kept reaching his nose towards her, and she touched him and even stuck her fingers up his nostrils and he was very good!  It was really cute.  In three years maybe they will be doing lead line classes together!

We went back to the barn to untack, and I was horrified to find blood on both of Cupid's bell boots.  Normally I use fleece lined ones because they seem comfortable, but I never thought they were strictly necessary.  I used plain rubber ones for the show and they rubbed the backs of his pasterns raw.  I felt really bad that happened, poor Cupid!!  They were only on him for about 20-30 minutes.  :(  Cupid seemed very tired afterwards, just not quite his normal happy self.  Even though it wasn't too much work physically I guess it was a lot of excitement for him.

My score for dressage was 63.438%.  Pretty much all my scores were between 6 and 7, and I think one 7.5.  In all honesty I was expecting it to be higher, but I guess it was fair.  I was hoping to do better than what I got at the Halloween show last year (39.1, translating to 68.1%), and I still think we did better but that test was scored more generously.  Since our division was small we still got a ribbon.

You can see Cupid looks a little tired, but I am very proud of him
Originally we were planning to do a little cross country schooling in the afternoon before leaving, but decided maybe the horses (and riders!) had enough for one day so packed and headed home.  I washed Cupid's wounds and sprayed alushield on them since ointment would just draw too much dust and dirt that close to the ground. 
Poor Cupid :(

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Show Prep

In preparation for our combined test, Cupid got a bath today.  Though he behaves well, he does not really like them.  His winter coat is starting to grow, so he was pretty fluffy after he dried!

I toweled him off and wrapped his legs.  He was great loading into the trailer!  We made the short drive to the event without incident.  We unloaded and got the horses settled in their temporary stalls.  I hung two water buckets and dumped two bags of shavings.  The show office was open but they didn't have the entry packets available so I'll have to remember in the morning.
Cupid is on the far right

After letting the horses relax and eat some hay, we tacked up for a practice ride.  Cupid seemed pretty relaxed.  We mounted up by the barn and walked down the road to the arena.  There wasn't too much activity going on, and our horses were good.  Once in the arena we walked around a little, then all three of us trotted both directions together.  This is the best Cupid has ever been on the first day at a new place!  (Well he has been to the horse park before, so maybe that's why!)  We cantered one at a time.  Cupid and I missed our left lead the first time, but he was good.  Then we each went through our dressage tests.  Our turns down the centerline and halts were pretty good.  My trainer told me to watch my circles, and make sure Cupid doesn't shift his hind end left at the halt but that overall it was good.

We ended the ride by walking along the top of the cross country course, and Cupid was perfect!  I gave him his dinner, then cleaned my tack for tomorrow.  Our dressage test as at 8:10am, and jumping at 10:14.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pretty in Purple

Doesn't Cupid look cute in his new purple saddle pad?? 
Our favorite retailer (Riding Warehouse) was running a labor day sale so I got a few necessities (Magic Cushion for his feet, stud chain for travel so he doesn't drag me around new places, white pad for dressage) and a few things for fun - the purple pad, sun shirt for riding in the heat, and a navy hunt coat!  I also ordered some white breeches which I promptly returned when I realized they are very see-through!

We are entered to a combined test this weekend - dressage Intro test B (walk/trot) and jumping 2".  I'm already getting nervous, but we had some great practice sessions the past week.  I've been working on my turn down the centerline and my halts.  I'm not quite there yet (turning too wide, and Cupid isn't stopping square or staying still) but making a little progress. 

My first lesson this week was flatwork.  More of turning off the outside rein, and squares.  My trainer wants me to go more forward on the sides of the squares, but I have a hard time asking for it since I know another corner is coming right up!  We also worked on transitions, and making sure I don't throw away my contact during them.

Today I had a jumping lesson.  We actually did quite a bit of flatwork first - for preparation and also because there was another crazy horse lunging and the arena was being watered and the hose was stretched out across.  Cupid was feeling a little cranky by the time we were going to start jumping, he seemed like he thought he was done and didn't want to go back into a trot.  But once we started jumping he was happy!  We warmed up over a crossrail.  It was in the middle of the arena at a bit of an angle, and I thought it was angled differently so our first approach was less than stellar but since it was small Cupid wasn't too disturbed.  We trotted a figure 8 around it a few times jumping from each lead, then cantered.  I had to do a simple transition going from right to left because Cupid landed on his right lead. 

Then we did a pretty challenging course.  We started with the warm up crossrail from the right lead, land and go left and circle back around to the brush box, land go straight and roll back left turn to the barrels, land and go right and circle back around to the first crossrail, land and go left and around to a one stride combo vertical to oxer but with a jump interfering with the approach so you had to come at an angle then straighten out.  A bit confusing!  I botched the turn to the barrels so circled around there, then chickened out going into the combo so circled around again.  We did just the last combo again, I was still a little intimidated but not as bad, and it felt pretty good. 
From the far end of the ring, 1) right lead to the green and blue X, 2) loop around left to the brush box, 3) straight past the barrels and roll back over them, then 4) right circle back around the green and blue X
5) Continuing left circle back around to this one stride combo
 Despite my piloting errors Cupid was super, and very game!  He was listening to me, my trainer said his ears were flicking back and forth going okay where's the next jump!!  I did a much better job sitting up before my jumps, and Cupid listened and waited not taking the long spot.  I need to work on being able to get myself organized quicker after landing to prepare for the next job and be able to have better approaches.  Overall I was super happy with Cupid, he was a rockstar today!!  I have things to work on, but slow and steady I feel like I'm making progress and my nerves are slowly getting better too.  I hope I will feel this good after the show!
Earned his carrots today!
Ready for the show.... I think!