Monday, November 4, 2013

Some Thoughts

I wanted to capture some thoughts about this weekend that didn't end up in either post, before they are lost to age, time and more pressing matters.

On Saturday, Ashke had intermittent ouchie-ness on his front feet. Not really bad enough to be called lame, but enough to cause me to stop five (count them - 5) times to check his front boots. I had booted his front and left his backs bare, primarily because I knew the trail wouldn't be horribly rocky and because his hind feet are shrinking. The boots are loose and slip around on his back feet. (I am going to try and wrap the front of his feet with vet wrap and see if that helps with the slippage). Although the checks did yield some information (small rock caught at the back of the pastern, a stick jammed in the top of his RF boot) nothing seemed to fix the intermittent lameness. He did seem to lose the sensitivity when we were chasing the other horse through the neighborhood though, and it was less obvious when we were on grass or loose dirt. When we hit the asphault in the neighborhood heading back to the barn, the lameness became more apparent. I stopped and removed the front boots.  On the outside edge of his LF was a stone bruise on the hoof wall. Ashke was fine without the boots on and we walked home without any issue.

I could not, for the life of me, figure out why he had a bruise on the hoof wall of the outside of his LF hoof. I brought the boots home to clean them out and see if I could figure it out. And I did some research. First, a stone bruise on the hoof wall does not usually cause lasting lameness, once the issue is corrected. Second, it is almost only found on a hoof where the hoof wall is too long in a spot, causing undue pressure to the wall of the hoof in that particular position. Third, once the pressure is minimized (usually through trimming) the horse shows no signs of lameness. I washed out the Easyboot and looked for something that could be causing the bruise. I was thinking clump of mud or rock stuck inside, but I found nothing. I turned the boot over and discovered the culprit. There was a granite rock about the size of the tip of my thumb stuck in the treads of the boot right on the outer wall where the bruise had developed. Go figure.

On our ride at Bear Creek, Ashke was booted on all four, because of the rocks. I added a medium soft (pink) pad to the easyboot for his LF. He was sound and eager the entire ride. I have to say both horses are reaching the point of great conditioning. I am really hopeful that we will continue to do rides out where they can improve their conditioning over the winter. And improve their performance in the arena (from a dressage standpoint) to help with muscle development and strength. Makes me think we will be able to do a Fun Ride, Poker Run or LD 25 at Kenlyn Arabians in the spring.

I think I look pretty awesome in this picture. I am becoming more fit and strong each time I ride and N complemented my posture and position on Ashke when we were riding on Sunday. I am trying very hard to do the things Cassandra asked me to work on. I think the dressage is helping with my core strength and even if I'm not ever able to complete a 50, at least I can spend the weekend riding and not feel crippled the next day. I love that J will go out with me on her bike. She was pretty sore this morning too, but it was a good kind of sore. Last weekend, I rode for 18 miles. This weekend we rode for 15.5 miles. And I must say, these saddlebags managed the ride much better than the ones that fell apart. The water is stable and easy to grab. The pockets are big enough for a halter and lead rope (although we didn't need them on Sunday, since we ate before we left) and I can carry the bulk of the food, instead of making J carry it in her pack. Ashke didn't seem to notice. And there are straps for coats or jackets, if needed.

The changes to Bear Creek were pretty intense. The devastation from the flooding was pretty stark and there was a lot of closed areas where we didn't try to go through. There was one point where we rode on the edge of the road in order to move from one section to another. I thought I would share some photos of what it looked like during the floods.

I'm pretty sure this is the Cottonwood crossing that we tried the first time, before moving upstream to where J videoed us crossing back over. Even two months later, there is a lot of storm wrack and down trees fouling the waterway. Additionally, the stream did not end up being one stream, but rather a series of streams, pretty deep in places, and four or five times wider than it started out as. There were places where we could see and ride through across grass and dried mud. There was still a lot of water in the ground and the creek was running incredibly high and deep and fast. It was amazing.

So, we weren't the only riders out. We met up with a couple of women riding a Rocky Mountain Gaited horse and an Icelandic black pony. They were amazed that J was riding with us and that our horses were fine with her and her bike. The woman on the RMG kept telling J, who got off her bike and hand walked it every time they were near, that her horse was terrified of 1) the bike, and 2) the jacket she was wearing. Seems like a bad place to ride if your horse is afraid of bikes.

Both of their horses were shaggy (winter coats) and lathered from their ears to their tails. I was very confused by their pace, given that their horses were so out of shape. N and I have been very careful to increase our speed or distance, but not both at the same time, in order to stretch and improve stamina and strength, without injurying our horses. We could have gone a bit faster yesterday, except that both horses were pretty spooky going out. And we were unsure of the terrain. Going home we did a lot of trotting and a couple of canters. Hopefully, by springtime I will have resolved the racing issue with Ashke and we can canter more and longer. They can do hills without any real problems. I should start monitoring heart rates and pulse down times for both of us. :) When we got back to the trailer the women were there and released their horses into the arena to run as a method of cool down before loading them. I was not impressed.

Finally, I have a question for all of you out there in blog land. How would you handle seeing another rider or owner kicking their horse? I overheard the tale of one of the trainers at the barn kicking a TB mare in the stomach as she raced by, having shed her rider over a jump. I have seen an owner stop applying flyspray and kick her horse repeatedly in the stomach for stomping a foot when she didn't want it to. I saw an eight year old kick her Icelandic pony in the chest to back it up away from the trailer so she could tie up the rope. In all three occassions someone other than me also witnessed the event: I heard about the trainer from one of her students who was relating the story to a friend and laughing about it; there were two people working on the big grey horse with the flyspray, and the other woman seemed to find the kicking normal and acceptable; the eight year old's older brother and mother were right there while she moved the pony away from the trailer with her boot. I even know a friend who told me about kicking her horse in the stomach when it wouldn't load. I have also had my stepfather, who used to be a farrier, brag about kicking horses in the stomach when they weren't behaving the way they were supposed to behave while he was shoeing them. Is there ever a time when you would consider kicking a horse in the stomach acceptable behavior? What course of action would you take if you saw this happening?


  1. You do look fantastically in shape in that photo!! I agree! And I also think you could definitely conquer an LD without any issue. You may be surprised that with added fitness you'll be ready to both conquer a 50 one day ;-)

    Kicking a horse in the stomach...uh, isn't it a lot of work to get your foot that high? I've definitely given rude horses (who turn to bite me or try to throw a leg to kick me) while I'm close to them (often messing with a saddle) a knee to the girth area to divert their attention elsewhere and save myself potential injury. I suppose a knee vs. a foot is a lot different though. Kind of like a snowshoe vs. foot in snow as it puts the pressure over a wider area. All the same, I suppose if you're reacting to aggression from a horse it would be okay to do something to get them to back the eff away.

    1. Interesting, since in none of the incidents above were the horses being aggressive. It appeared that the people involved were frustrated and taking out their frustration in the form of kicking the horse in the stomach: frustration that the horse moved it's leg (it didn't kick), frustration that the pony was standing in the way of tying the rope, frustration the horse wouldn't load into the trailer, frustration that the horse was misbehaving, frustration that the horse was leaning on the farrier. Not correction for an issue and certainly not self-defense.

  2. I agree with Liz: you look great! Nothing like spending more hours in the saddle and dressage work to really put your core to work! You're doing a great job conditioning Ashke-I also agree that an LD should be more than achievable in the near future. :)

    I don't agree AT ALL with kicking a horse in frustration or as a form of redirected aggression (that's actually a term in animal behavior, but people do it all the time). A farrier at my old barn used to do that to the horses he used to shoe (mind you, he'd also Ace all of them prior to working on them...) and he was fired by every client that caught him in the act. Each and every one of those horses was absolutely fine for other farriers that worked on them. My current BO evicted an owner whom she caught doing that to his horse (redirected aggression at the time; he was mad about something entirely unrelated and took it out on the horse!), and at the barn where she boards her horses, they are keeping an eye on a guy that has been seen to do that to his fox hunter when tacking up. The horse holds his breath when tightening the girth. That is absolutely not a reason to be kicking a horse! The barn manager over there just hasn't caught him in the act yet. So I'm happy to report that in these parts, there's zero tolerance for that kind of behavior.

    1. I wish our BM had responded with something other than a shrug. I don't believe kicking a horse in the stomach is ever acceptable and I know I have zero respect for anyone who behaves that way.