Saturday, February 18, 2012

'Round and 'Round and 'Round We Go

Where this stops, nobody knows...

After I got used to having two bits in my mouth, and the curb rein buckled to the bareback pad, we added the snaffle rein. I got to run around with that arrangement for a few days. It isn't much bother. With the reins so long, the only feeling I got was a slight motion as their weight swung the bits a little.

Because we had the bareback pad on, Brita could hop on for a little ride towards the end of each work out and take up contact on the reins... not ready to ride yet... so I need some work in lines.

My bareback pad is replaced with a surcingle, and the snaffle rein is removed and replaced with long lines. The curb rein is buckled through the center ring on the surcingle. At first she didn't even take up contact, just let the weight of the lines take it up. I set my head up really cute. I'm very light mouthed, and just the weight of the reins is enough to get a response.

We go through my paces both ways of the ring at a walk, trot and canter. I am obedient enough on lines that my trainer only needs one hand, leaving the other hand free for movie making.

Once the camera is put away, the lines can be taken up, and contact adjusted to keep me bent along the circle. If my mouth is happy, and I am receptive to learning that day, then the lines are shortened and we do some "ground driving" in figure eights and serpentine. This DOES require two hands. It also sends a lot of new and complicated information through the double bits. Brita can watch from a distance to see what is going on which is the reason long lining is so useful. From my back she can't see as well what mistakes she is making and we can concentrate on me and giving me experience with the bridle.

How'd I do? Good?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Double Double Toil and Trouble

We have been doing some constructive things with our time. The main one is working on getting a double bridle adjusted for me. And here's what I think of THAT...

It's not that I'm totally unfamiliar with a double bridle. I did a stint back when I was four years old when we were trying to decide my career path. Also, now and then we use a pelham, but we spend most of our time in a plain snaffle.

Since I'm a Saddlebred, Brita figures it would be best if I learn the finer points of a double in case anyone ever expects me to wear one. And since she has dreams of showing side saddle someday, a double bridle is really the most appropriate. Plus, at my age and stage she says a horse ought to know these things.

Fortunately, Brita, with her Saddlebred background, knows enough to lead the way on this one, even if she is a little out of practice. The first and most important part is getting bits that fit. This is a bit of a shopping challenge, because I have a wiiiiiiide head. Not a big head. A wiiiiiiide one. I now wear a 5 1/2" bit. All the bits in our double bridle bit collection are 5". In fact, I've outgrown all the bits we own except for my favorite racing Dee and a full cheek Waterford. So it was time to go shopping. You can't even buy a 5 1/2" bit in a Saddlebred store. But the dressage people make some.

So here I am in my new 5 1/2" weymouth bit. Brita says if we ever want to play Cowboy and buy a western bit (or cinch for that matter), we have to shop at the Big and Tall (draft horse tack) store. I am wiiiiide in more than one place.

The next challenge is getting them hung in the right place. Your bradoon (snaffle) must hang above the curb mouthpiece and wrinkle the sides of your mouth. The weymouth (curb) must hang below so as not to interfere or pinch against the other bit. But not so low as to clank against your teeth. It's easiest to adjust one bit at a time. That's why we have the bridle stripped down.

We started with the curb. The problem with the curb is that it tickles my whiskers. I'll need to shave. Sometimes it gives me sneezing fits and I have to stop and rub my face on something. Shaving helps this.

While we're making these adjustments, I spend most of my time trotting about with my curb rein buckled through the "oh shit" strap at the pommel of my bareback pad. I don't even get the snaffle rein yet because Brita does not want me to be able to pull against it to help pick that snaffle up into my teeth because I like to chomp on it.

I am spending a lot of time with the bits just hanging there so I can get accustomed to this mouthful. The next step will involve replacing the bareback pad with a surcingle and running long lines off of the snaffle so I can get used tot he feel of two bits working independently in my mouth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Feet!

I got my shoes back on yesterday and my feets feel SO much better!

I even got to go for a run down the road!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Oh No! My Feets! Part 2

I have a major hang nail. Don't you hate hang nails? Try walking on one.

Remember back in August when my feet were hurting? Oh No! My Feets! (part 1 as it turns out. Who knew.) We weren't really sure what the problem was as it was rather vague and I just felt generally uncomfortable. Well, a month or two later, we spotted a definitive answer. Even though my soreness was mild, and there was little physical evidence, and no particular spot could be pinpointed with poking or prodding or hoof testers... the light finally dawned. There was an abcess that worked it's way up and out at my coronary band. It took a few months for the edges of the crack of the "exit wound" to dry and curl and become more evident as it grew down my hoof wall.

Here is a photo from the other blog entry.

Everything looks OK, but if you magnify it and look, you can see the evidence. Riiiiiight there....

When it grew about half an inch down the wall, the mechanical forces of me standing on it caved it a just a bit and it became a ridge. Brita just watched it. We knew when it reached the clinch line it would become an issue. My shoes were pulled for the winter like usual and we waited.

Last week, the edge was really curled and beginning to crack downward (better than upward) at the ends. So Brita got out the nippers and trimmed the edge so it wouldn't catch on anything and wouldn't be funneling mud. What she found was a sizable void behind the wall which would be the site of the original abcess. You can't really see the depth of the hole, but she says you could almost fit a whole chapstick in there, whatever that is.

You can see that the front end of the crack is on target with an old clinch hole. We run the risk of a tear out there.

Thankfully the back edge is well away from the soft tender part of my heel because you can see below that it has cracked through the weight bearing surface into my sole. It flexes when I walk and is now to be considered a bonafide hangnail. My podiatrist has been called, and he will be coming soon to make a recommendation on how best to minimise the inevitable.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's Official: I'm Famous

Yup, that's my face on the February issue of The Chronicle Connection.

Brita got herself interviewed for an article on how husbands and wives manage to get along with a demanding critter like me in the picture. When the author requested a family photo, we didn't have one to offer. So we did a photo shoot.

I love photo shoots! There is always candy involved.

Too bad my humans aren't as photogenic as I am. I looked good in ALL the photos.

Anyway, I really think the whole family should have been in the pictures. It takes lots of people to manage a horse and still get along. There's Uncle Dad, also known a "Housekeeping", who makes my bed. Mom, who took the photos, brings fresh towels every day and manages my diet. Brita who pays for stuff, checks my feets and makes sure I exercise. And Tim who shops for peanuts and celery and sometimes remodels for me. One big happy family!