Thursday, December 31, 2009

I rode today!

I rode Arabee again today! I went out to catch her, and she refused to be caught! So, I went back to the garage and put on my tall rubber chore boots (due to the ankle deep mud in places) and set about chasing her around the paddock until she showed signs of being willing to stop and let me catch her. Finally she lowered her head, and licked her lips, and I haltered her. Saddled up after scratching as much of the mud off of her as I could, picked her feet, and did the regular mini-longe session at the end of the rein - walk, whoa, walk, trot, walk, whoa practice in both directions. This gives me an idea of how attentive she is, allows me to tighten her girth enough after she quits bloating, and refreshes her voice cues.

I had terribly overestimated how long my stirrups needed to be - it's a miracle I was even able to get my off leg over her back, so I got off and adjusted them. They were still too long, but I left them as they were. All we did was walk, whoa, and turn, and thankfully we didn't do any spooking practicing, so the long stirrups were fine.

She did a fine job of halting to my body cues. Not such a fine job of turning with my legs, but that's never been one of our finest movements. It was very very low key, but a good beginning to starting riding again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Soaking and Cows and Walking

Went out to soak Arabee's front hooves yesterday. Brought a clean gallon milk jug half full of hot water, sprinkled some Borax into each soaking boot. Caught the mare, who was muddy halfway up her legs. Walked her through a puddle to try to clean her off a bit, then picked her hooves, and put the soaking boots on, and poured in the water, which was just pleasantly warm by this time.

I was grooming her when Matt and his dad pulled up in the pickup, saying one of the old cows had gotten out, the neighbor put her back in, but we were going to move them back to the home pasture. So I quickly pulled off her boots, and did some frog trimming. They really look very good, but there were some spots that could trap mud and manure, so I trimmed the frog in those areas. I turned her back out, and went to help move the cows.

It didn't take very long, so I haltered her again, and we took a walk down the road to the corner. A suburban drove by, a neighbor jogged by but it was otherwise uneventful. She wasn't nearly as squirrely for this walk as she was the first one we took. When we got back I picked her feet, took off her halter, and rubbed the itchy spots.

I had my husband weigh myself and my tack to try to determine what weight division we'd be for AERC. I had on my heavy carhartt overalls, heavy flannel shirt, thick vest, and rubber boots. We weighed my saddle, pad, girth, crupper, breastcollar, bridle, reins, pommel pack, and it was all sitting on the saddle rack. The pommel pack was empty, I plan on carrying some first aid items, some snacks, and two bottles of water, a hoof pick. I didn't weigh any hoof boots. I am still about 30 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. So...the weight we got between changing rider apparel and loading the pommel pack and hoof boots and hopeful weight loss is not what it will likely be come April - but it places us pretty soundly in the Middleweight Division.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

15 Minutes Today

Today my husband got home early, so I got to get outside while it was still light, and it wasn't just to do chores! I think he'll get to take a half day tomorrow, which will be even nicer!

So, I headed out and called in the horses from the pasture. I haltered Arabee and brought her out and picked her feet. They look really nice after the trim. It's clear that there's some loose frog that needs trimmed away (which can be an indicator of thrush) so it's a good thing I plan to do some hoof soaking.

After the hoof picking, we took a quick walk. It was clear that she's been used to being "wild and free" by how high-headed and snorty she was - glad we're taking the time to do some ground work before getting in the saddle! I made sure she stayed with her head at my shoulder and had good manners - she needed many reminders in the short walk we took.

I picked her feet again after walking on the gravel, took her halter off, gave her a good rub on the spots where the halter was, and that was it! Altogether it was about 15 minutes. We are starting slow, and not solely because of the horse - it's mostly due to my reconditioning after the pregnancy and birth. It feels so good to be active and outdoors again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Closer

It seems the going is slow! After my last post, the next day I trimmed Jack's hooves with the hoof grinder as well, and he behaved well also. The fact that he's thousands of years old (ok...will be 30 in 2010) and can't hear probably helped! His hooves are black, and quite a bit more firm than Arabee's mostly white hooves, and took a few more passes with the grinder (or else the wheel wasn't as sharp after being used on Arabee) Either way, they were much nicer to look at after the trim than Arabee's - I'm going with the operater's skills had improved with practice.

Recently the temperatures have been much too cold for taking my kids outside, especially the baby, so I had been staying inside almost constantly. My husband and father in law have been doing the feeding chores (horses, goats, and our LGD) instead of me since before the baby was born, and we had moved the goats around and several have been born - I didn't even know what to feed my own animals anymore! So we took Cora and Luke to their grandparent's house last night and Matt taught me how to feed the animals again. It was fun!

My plan is that I will do chores at night, and work on soaking a pair of hooves at a time. When we trimmed them the other weekend, I discovered a bad case of scratches on Arabee, and I want to renew thrush treatment on Jack, to make sure he keeps the progress we made in the fall. I have a pair of Easycare's soaking boots, which are really nice - your ornery old gelding can't pretend he accidentally stepped out of the rubber tub you were soaking his hooves in - they are strapped to his pasterns!

So, the only thing I need now is a good tying spot. I got away with not having a place to tie my horses for several years, mostly because Arabee will stand ground tied, but if I'm going to try to soak hooves and be doing other things, I need a safe, secure place to tie.

Ideally, it will be all of these things:
  • Level
  • close to electricity and water
  • have footing that won't get muddy
  • be secure enough that if I have both horses tied to it, and they pull back at the same time that it won't come down
  • wither height
  • have a lighting source
  • be reasonably close to my tack room
  • free of obstacles/sharp things to get hurt on
Can anyone think of other important criteria to have in a tie area???? Let me know, I'd appreciate it!

I think I might have my husband really glad to have a good idea of something to get me for Christmas and my birthday, and I will be thrilled to get it! Until then, both horses are in serious need of mud and mane tangle removal, so it won't be a bad thing for me to babysit them while they soak.

So, with these cold temperatures, chores and soaking and hopefully handwalking is what I'll be doing with Arabee for the rest of December. I'm starting to really look forward to riding again, but my stomach muscles have a long way to go before they'll be strong enough to keep my butt centered in the saddle during a big spook, so the grooming and groundwork will be good for me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Begin Again!

Today was my first "real" day of doing anything horse related after Luke was born.

And it was a bit of a doozy!

I trimmed all four of Arabee's feet using an electric grinder! She handled it like she'd been having her feet trimmed that way her whole life.

I on the other hand have a bit of a learning curve to overcome on the machine. It works super fast and I love using it because I did the first hoof in half the time it usually takes me. The trim isn't perfect, but it will do for her current use, which is pasture ornament. Each hoof I did looked better than the last, so I'm at least improving.

After the trim, Arabee and I took a walk to the mailbox. She will have a lot of getting-used-to to do - she had a cow over the shed that the goats were in, the newly weaned calves in the barn, the replacement heifers in the pasture across the road, and the mailbox. I will have a lot of fitness to restore - my shoulders and arms are quite stiff, and will be sore tomorrow, and if the baby allows it, I'll sleep well tonight! So, a good (if not slow) start to getting back at work to building rider endurance.