I have been horrible about blogging lately (and commenting – please forgive me!) Life has taken over and I have been incredibly busy. I am now up to working an average of 63 hrs a week between my 3 jobs. I never really get a day off. The closest it gets are Sundays when I begin work Sat night starting at 10pm, and get off 7am Sunday morning before running to the barn to bring the horses in. The rest of the day thereafter is mine – however it feels like naught when all I want to do is sleep.
That’s the other thing. Being pregnant ensures that I am in a constant state of exhaustion. I’m tired all day everyday, no matter how much sleep I get. Hell, I’m tired as soon as I open my eyes in the morning! I feel like I’m constantly running on fumes – “rest” is a word nonexistent in my vocabulary.
Upon hearing how much I work everyone’s immediate inclination is to assume that I never see my daughter. Nothing could be farther from the truth! In fact she stays with us Sunday-Thursday, with Friday and Saturday being the only nights she spends at her father’s. To break it down basically I work 40 hrs a week now at my engraving job (M-F), with Friday and Saturday nights being the days I pull two 9-hr overnight shifts. We also bring in the horses 5 days a week and are responsible for 2 evenings there as well. I am lucky that my boyfriend is sweet enough to help me at the barn and I am not stuck doing it myself or that 63 hrs would easily turn into 66 or 67.
At any rate I understandably have very little time to ride, and have made the difficult decision to put Wings up for free lease. I am going to be picky about where he goes, ensuring that a contract is signed, references check out etc, etc. I have come to terms with the fact that despite having owned him the longest of all my horses, I have never really developed a strong bond with him and he would be best suited for a home where he would be used and able to continue jumping (his favorite thing).
Meanwhile I had Pokey’s coggins renewed, but he is still slightly footsore. He is so thin soled and the recent rains have taken a toll, despite my applying Venice turpentine every few days. Amazingly, the only horse that is really 100% right now is Siesta!
She was on and off lame much of the winter and I suspect winter onset laminitis or even navicular. It all started when her shoes were pulled last fall and as soon as she grows out her right hoof wall enough again (for she has somehow managed to take a big chunk out of it), she will be getting shod all around and I will be keeping it that way permanently.
In the meantime I have gotten smarter when it comes to managing her Cushings and IR. She is currently on Chaste Tree Berry Powder (which has worked wonders) and gets clipped every few weeks. In doing so I discovered that she is not nearly as profuse a sweater as I first thought. The truth is she has a fantastic downy undercoat that never thins out – even in the summer when her top coat appears sleek and shiny. Right now she is sporting just a basic trace clip but as temperatures rise I intend to attack the problem head on with a full body clip.
In the meantime the past couple weeks have consisted of just getting her legged up and back in shape. Easier said than done of course, with my schedule and then you take into consideration that this mare is a beast to ride at home. Seriously y’all. Her crazy erratic backing and rearing progressed to the point where it had become decidedly dangerous last fall and naturally when bringing her back, it was the first thing she tried. Crops have no affect on her when she gets like this. Once she shifts into reverse, there is no forward button. The only thing I’ve had any success with is yielding her head to my knee – which ultimately brings her to a standstill but does nothing to get her moving forward again (once you release and ask, the reading and backing commences).
HOWVER, this year I have a new, secret weapon at my disposal.
Because at some point a light bulb came on. If wild mare won’t mind her ass while at home, I shall simply take her somewhere else!
Believe it or not, it’s been as simple as that! Without the security of her stall and pasture to run back to, she simply gaits (and/or trots) her little tail off for 5 minutes, before settling down to business and attacking the trails like the savvy little beast she actually is!
We have 3 parks with bridle trails in our area – Bryan Park, Northeast Park, and Cedarock Park. All 3 comprise approximately 5 miles of trails – not long enough for a true endurance rider, but well enough for us! All 3 also have a good supply of of water – also equally important as I am attempting to teach wild mare to drink on the trails.
In fact my #1 source of frustration is Siesta’s refusal to drink. A week ago we visited Bryan Park, then did NE park on Saturday with Ashley and Cedarock on Monday (Memorial Day) by ourselves. At Bryan Park, I e-lyted her before leaving the barn with a mixture of 1 1/2 scoops of enduramax and applesauce. Yet she never drank that day. She would stop and lower her head to the water, but never actually drank.
Before Northeast Park, I tried again, this time with 2 scoops enduramax and some crushed tums mixed in (in case the enduramax in and of itself was too harsh on her stomach). Still nothing. We rode for 2 hrs and 6.04 miles and she never drank. She waded up and down the chest deep creek but the closest she came was pawing and sloshing the water once with her nose. Meanwhile Thunder drank and drank. It was starting to piss me off.
Then at Cedarock Park, I forgot the electrolytes, so syringed her a mixture of applesauce, crushed tums, lite salt and table (iodized) salt.
During the course of that ride, however, I noticed something.
A) Siesta has learned to associate the water with stopping and resting. Therefore she likes it. Water is her friend. (And mine because I am able to sponge her and I am aware of the benefits the cold water has on her legs.)
B) I have inadvertently taught her to lower her head. Although completely unintentional, apparently my habit of dropping the reins the second she reaches down has trained her to drop her head and touch the water on command! This is one SMART horse y’all!
The last water crossing was on the way back to the trailer, in the form of a big creek that was about knee deep. Although Siesta didn’t quite drink, she finally dipped her head and appeared to suck up some water. What a GOOD GIRL!! I praised her and praised her. I’m not sure she quite understood what I was so excited about but she turned her head and flicked her ears at my words. I am going to have to start packing cookies on the trail and giving them to her ONLY when she drinks lol.
And now that we have covered the drinking thing, allow me to briefly summarize the last couple of weeks.
Weather in the mid-seventies. Partly cloudy. Siesta started out full of fire but after 5 minutes slowed to an animated walk which wold become her gait of choice. She was very sure footed – as always – and attacked hills impressively. Toward the end of the ride she started to tire and stopped twice of her own accord. The first time she did so, I just waited. I understood what she wanted, but was afraid if I jumped off the moment she stopped that it would encourage her to start stopping all the time. However she was clearly tiring, so the second time she did so, I dismounted and walked a while. When I remounted she clearly demonstrated she had found her second wind and kept up a good pace until we arrived back at the trailer. Good mare!
Wild mare is extremely out of shape! However she is very adept at communicating her thoughts and needs to her rider – a definite plus!
And now – media;
This turned out to be a very interesting ride. Ashley and Thunder accompanied us and little Thunder shocked me by setting the pace – trotting and cantering the loops at a rapid clip. Siesta was hard pressed to keep up. Her trot is more animated and slower than Thunder’s ground covering one and her canter (like many gaited horses) is incredibly smooth, and incredibly slow. (I should add here that she alternates between gaiting and trotting – preferring to trot over trickier terrain, which is perfectly fine with me). She fell behind several times, and I was pleased that even when we lose at sight of Thunder, she was willing to allow him to leave her. This tells me that Mare is aware of her limitations and won’t kill herself to keep up with another horse. Very good, you wild thang you. We’ll worry about speed later.
The next day we headed out to Cedarock. Cedarock used to be pretty popular with local trail riders but they rerouted the bridle trails a couple years ago – turning it from a large 7 mile loop around the boundaries of the park to almost a figure 8 totaling 4.9 miles instead. Since then it is still ultized by trail riders, but not nearly as much as it used to be.
I prefer Cedarock over Bryan Park, only because it is slightly more scenic. The woods aren’t as thick and the location not nearly as remote. Otherwise it is very similar. For some reason, Siesta was much more forward this ride – opting to trot a lot! At one point I checked my phone and was surprised to see that our average pace was 5.5 mph (which in our book is pretty damn good!) I don’t know our overall speed because I forgot to turn the gps off (oops!) but I’m pretty sure it was greatly reduced by the fact that we spent a lot of time hanging out in the creek. Right now I’m not really worried about it anyway.
Conclusion: We have a lot of work ahead of us! I’ve clearly got to rethink my strategy when it comes to getting her to drink but she obviously learns fast, is able to communicate, and is willing. Good little mare!