Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Essa-versary! (Yeah, that's dumb)

So it's been 6 months with Essa.  I started going back through the blog, and I'm happy to have a record of our progress - some days are awesome, some are terrible, most are just regular days.  I've tried to "train" her every day, even if it's just the repetition of grooming, turn-out and turn-in routines.  I'm fortunate to have a horse (Cody) with the manners that I aspire to for her.  She is much less of a hazard to herself and others!

It's been slow going, mostly because of that pesky day-job that allows me to indulge in all of this.  But that's OK.  I've found some great resource books that have really helped, along with all the Google searches for this, that and the other thing.

We had a great lunging session last night, even after a few weeks off.  More of the same, just walk/trot both directions with side reins - not a bit of drama.  (I've gotten better at lunging too!)  She's really starting to act like a horse that I'd consider ACTUALLY RIDING.

The flax seems to be working - she was insanely sun-bleached over the summer but her winter coat is coming in dark and shiny!

So here's the before-and-after shots:

I hope I NEVER see a horse looking like this ever again

Hard to believe, right?  She's still pretty nippy and cranky when it comes to tacking up - even trying on blankets.  But I think we can work with that.  Here's to the next six months!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back to school

Full disclosure:  I drafted this post a couple of weeks ago and forgot to polish it up.  So here's a bit of time-travel back to late August.  It's been 6 months since Essa moved in, and I promise a real-time update and pictures tomorrow!

I finally decided I'd had it with Essa's issues being in her stall by herself, and with a few end-of-summer days off in a row, it was time to do something about it.  Back to "Essa goes in, Essa goes out".  The game goes like this:  I take her from her paddock, do a little groundwork in another paddock to make sure she's listening to me, then take her to her stall.  After a few minutes I put her in cross ties for a teeny bit of grooming, then back out to the paddock for a few more exercises, and finally back to the others.  The idea is to teach her that-

1. I'm a perfectly good leader and she doesn't need to panic away from the others.  Apparently, asking her to back up/trot/whoa etc demonstrates my leadership skillz,

2.  I won't abandon her in her stall, and there's a pattern to coming in for some work, and

3. Hollering away doesn't get her on the express lane back to the herd.

It's not nearly as fun as actual riding, but it's gotta be done.  After a few days I can say that she's definitely improved.  She no longer leans on her stall guard until it gives way, the hollering is diminished and less deafening, and she doesn't start a tornado in her stall that I can barely escape!

I didn't expect much from the worming - it's just one of those horse maintenance things I take for granted.  But I really think it's made a big difference in her progress.  She's not nearly as fussy in cross ties for grooming and the cow-kicks have disappeared.  And I swear her stall is less destroyed overnight...

I had her out with side reins for the first time in a few weeks and she was a total peach.  She responded to walk/trot/whoa and went just fine in both directions.  I changed her to Cody's bit and I think that's what I'll keep her in.  I don't have a vast bit box (yet) so I started with a loose ring French link (too wibbly wobbly), then a single joint full cheek then this one - just right, I hope!

It's the first time I've seen her in a state that I'd consider getting on her.

Sad to say that "winter is coming" and her summer coat is shedding out.  She's now on 1/2 cup of whole flax daily, which I hope will be rewarded with a soft fluffy winter coat.

Farrier is out tomorrow!