Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jumping with Distractions

Fleck and I went to Wishing Tree Farm today with Danny. Fleck and I had a jump lesson with Beth. It was great! We started with a grid to work on Fleck. We were working on letting him not hang on me and hold his own shoulders up and jumping nicely rather than rolling over his shoulder. We went through it a few times and Fleck did great. I can't drop him or abandon him on course, but through a grid... I can. And once he realized I'm not holding him up, he sets himself up quite nicely. He really kinda nailed it. So then we did a few courses. With some tough downhill angled questions. When I rode properly.. he was great! So... 
  • no half halts without leg
  • half halt with the outside rein, not both, not inside
  • no half halts or dropping him to let him stand up himself within the last 4 strides before a fence

So yep.. it was a good ride. Fleck was great and I finally sat up and rode and it was awesome. Fleck was cracking me up though. Since Dan came too and stayed up at the barn in the round pen, Fleck was awfully distracted. He did his job though! He was really not paying any attention though. He was so focused on where Danny was. But he was able to do the job and get over all the fences. Hee hee. Like Mike.. so good at his job he can do it with only ONE brain cell devoted to it. hee hee.

But yep.. a fun day.

Monday, April 22, 2013

More fun

So... we sorta continued the birthday celebrations today :) We met Kelli, Debbie and Peri out at Ashland and had fun riding together. We started in the ring and Fleck and I did some more dressage. I really need to remember Beth's plan - SLOW IT DOWN!... leg yields, counter canters, etc... slow it down. It really gives Fleck time to balance. We worked on the simple changes again today. And had some nice trot lengthens too. Lots of fun.

Then we went for a trail ride and soaked in the lake. It was fun. Then we finished with cupcakes again :) 

Lots of fun. Tomorrow is a jump lesson with Beth! We're excited. Fleck felt good today and although he wanted to gallop.. I resisted! That was yesterday buddy!

The celebration continues

While Fleck and I celebrated by ourselves yesterday... today we partied!! Lucy was so kind and allowed me to use Ashland as our party site! I made cupcakes (funfetti of course) and carrot cake cupcakes, had drinks, blue and white streamers, and party favors. We had about 7 people and their ponies show up and we went for a fun trail ride. It was Missy and Zhar, Marty and Toby, Liz and PJ, Cindy and Buddy, Sarah and Tully, and Lynda and Merlin. It was fun!!

We did a nice long trail ride and I got to chat with everyone. Then we hit the XC field and everyone played around a little. Buddy and Fleck decided to go for a gallop! FLECK WON!!! hee hee... Although Buddy didn't really seem to mind if Fleck was ahead, but he kept up, so who knows? But Fleck won in his mind, and my mind! It was a blast. Then he still wanted to canter and gallop around. So we did. :) 

Then we celebrated with cupcakes and grazing. It was a good party!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy Sweet Sixteen Flecky!!!!

Happy Happy 16th Birthday to my Bestest Fleck!!!! 

What a great birthday it was!! Fleck got breakfast with his ginger star cookies. Because he's a rock star! Then they got to go out and eat grass for most of the day. Then we went for a ride. We went to Ashland and did some dressage work. He was GREAT!!! We got some seriously good work in and we even nailed our canter to walk to canter transitions! It's all about the half halt just before and getting him rocked back on his haunches. He felt great today!! Whoo hoo. He so loves his canter work. 

Then we went for a short trail ride and had a nice little gallop in the field. We soaked in the lake and then took the hills through the woods back. Then I let him graze for a good bit and chomp on all that good grass. Then home for dinner and more star cookies. :)

A good birthday I think! Tomorrow is his surprise Sweet 16 party!! Some of his friends are coming and there will be cupcakes and carrot cupcakes and pony favors. And beer!! Just like Roany's party. 

I'm so lucky to have him. He's just..... Flecken Awesome!

Good News!!

Turns out.. I am an excellent Fleck manager :) He responded so well to the Gastrogard I just assumed he had ulcers. He's been scoped twice before and was always clean but had residue, so to speak. Well... He's been on ugard powder and I don't feel like he's stressed. Yes, we travel a lot and he trains hard, but.. he's so laid back and it's so normal for him, I didn't think it bothered him. But with the NSAIDS.. maybe. So... we opted to scope him today. But... first, I rode!

We met up with Kelli and Peri and George and had another leisurely trail ride. Until the end... I let them go ahead and Fleck and I went for a little gallop. :) Then we went to the ring and did a little bit of work. 

Then he had to be locked up so he couldn't eat until his scoping. Poor poor Flecky... he was so sad. But he made it and we went to the vets and got him scoped. And.. he was clean as a whistle!!! No ulcers.. no signs of ulcers... clean esophagus. He looked great!!! So.... no idea what was bothering him unless it was the start of ulcers. He is awfully sensitive so maybe??? Guess we'll continue our current management plan but add in the preventative dose when he's getting a good bit of NSAIDs. 

Good news though is that he is clean.. and still feels good!!! Maybe it was a mild virus or something, but he's been eating great ever since and feeling better and better each day. 


Taking it easy

After the show, Fleck got a few days off and a few days of easy. :) I let him have Monday and Tuesday off. Then on Wednesday we went for a trail ride with Peri and her new mare. It was a take it easy day and ride and we had fun. 
We love our trail rides!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FENCE weekend!!

 Flecky is AMAZING!!!!!!

So... Friday morning he was interested in eating!!!! Yay! I fed him senior, but still. He ate well. I turned him out to the front field and he even trotted out there. So yay... feeling better already! Then I finished packing while I waited for the rest of his ulcergard. And in the meantime, his ice packs came as did my cell phone holder. I was feeling good. These were good signs.. it was going to be a good weekend, yes indeed! Once the ulcergard came, we were on our way. We picked up Nike and Jamie and Chloe on our way and made good time. 

We got there and I had an awesome stall. On the corner, near most everyone I wanted to be near. Whoo hoo. I got Fleck settled, got the trailer situated and then we got on and did some dressage. He felt awesome!!! Again, its all about the core. And we fixed our walk too! Marching forward... he needs to be going INTO the bit... overtracking! Beth said to think about how when I jump... I form a wall with my hands/reins and ride him into that wall. That creates impulsion and jump. Same thing with the walk. And sure enough it works. Then, because we have impulsion and a true connection... there's no fussing when we go into the trot because the connection is there. So we had a great ride. His canter was lovely. And Beth told me to think about pulling my belly button into my spine when we did the downwards. Heck, think about it non-stop as it helps me not perch. I cooled him down and gave him his bath and then we went to walk XC. It was a fun course! Nothing too exciting but some good stuff. It was straight forward to start out but got a bit challenging at the end. We went up the hill and then did the banks. Up the bank, over the ditch to the other bank, then down the bank to the angled skinny cabin. Also a left handed corner. And then... a substantial brush roll top BOUNCE! Eeeks. Beth told me to ride the canter and ride angry. By angry she means powerful and bouncy! For the bounce... she said that because it was a 13 and 14 fence, not an 13 a and b... to jump them separate. We decided it wasn't fair to ask Fleck to figure it out over such big fences and expect him to get it on the first try. We haven't really schooled that stuff, so.. might as well make it fair to him. Then the coffin and nothing else really exciting. So we went back and I grazed Fleck and fed him dinner. Which he ate slurpily!! Yay! More grazing under the stars for him after I ate dinner. Then I decided to go ahead and braid. It was about 10 pm, but... I didn't want to get up super super early, so I went ahead and did it. He was good but just as I was about to turn them up, his tail started swinging. I pulled a tick out of his "cheeks" and then... we had to take a 20 minute butt scratching break. Hee hee.. He was funny. I was laying my head on his butt while scratching away. He finally let me finish his braids and then it was bedtime. 

Saturday morning dawned early. His attitude was so much better and he was eating great, we went for it. We got ready and warmed up and had a good ride. Then I headed over to the cover and saw the judge standing up. Oh no... apparentely I was late! Yikes!! She said she wouldn't eliminate me and would let me ride. Thank God!! But I got reprimanded for 3 minutes. Sigh... At this point I was angry and really more frustrated with myself. So I wasn't really nervous. And we went in and had an AMAZING test! It was our best test. He was steady, workmanlike, and supple.. It was fantastic!!! As we were at the end though I messed up one move! It was the canter to trot to canter across the diagonal. He came down and I thought he jumped back up to the canter too soon. Not enough trot steps, so I pulled him back down and then made him canter. Totally ruined it. We earned a 5 I think and it probably would have been a 7 (or even an 8 like last time) had I left it alone. He trotted enough on the video. Anyways... turns out that despite me being late.. the judge LOVED Us. We got a freakin' 31.8!!!! WHAT??!!  That is our best score EVER... not just at prelim. EVER!!! We got FIVE 8's!!!!!! FIVE 8's!!!!!!!! That also put us tied with two others for first. ha!!! When on earth have I ever been tied for first after dressage. Never!!!  I was so proud of my amazing boy. 

 So then it was time to get ready for XC. He warmed up great and we felt good. He was starting to run off with me a bit even. Yay!!!! That gastrogard is good stuff! So.. then it was our turn. In hindsight, I wish I had timed it a bit differently so he had a bit more of a break to rest before we headed out on course, but oh well. He started off and felt just a little slow but jumping well. He jumped everything fantastic but I knew we were a little slow. After we galloped up the hill, I sat up and RODE the bank. I was just a little worried he would stop at the ditch within the bank, so I rode and.. my little amazing guy just soared right through it!! He aimed straight for the cabin and we nailed it. The corner was fantastic and then we went to the bounce. I briefly thought about bouncing it for times sake... since you know.. we were tied for first and all. But nah... not fair to him. So we circled and jumped both, carried on to the big giant table, and then headed to the coffin. I opted to cut a corner there which meant we had only four strides to the coffin. Fleck was tired at this point and really downhill as I was going to make up some time. But when I said sit up with a half halt, he did. He sat up, he half halted and sailed on through the coffin. We flew over the final cabin and finished! Whoo hooo!!!! We had time, but who cares! We both came into it not quite on our A game. We had been slacking a little on the fitness department and he was fighting ulcers. So... I couldn't be prouder of the big guy. He stepped up to the plate and was utterly amazing!!!! A real PRELIM HORSE!!!! whoo hooo... Unfortunately, we had enough time that we dropped to 6th place. Doh. Oh well.... I didn't care.. So proud of the guy.

He was iced, magnetized, and grazed a plenty while I cheered the others on. Then we did more grazing and poulticed him. Dinner was at the pavilion and afterwards we had drinks with Cindy. She had a deck of cards that had different drinks on them so we made a variety of drinks. It was fun. Finally bedtime.

Sunday morning dawned early. I braided Fleck again and was all set to get ready. I was feeling horrible though. I had a migraine brewing last night that hadn't gone away and was feeling awfully nauseous. I went to button my choker and.. oh dear!! I vomited beside the horse trailer. Ugh... I think it was a combo of the migraine, the nerves.. and Cindy's cocktails. :) But I felt better after that. So we headed to warm up and got ready. Fleck was still eating great and feeling good. We warmed up and he was awesome!!! Beth asked me who I was and what had happened because i was riding so well. ha ha. I told her I vomited out all the bad riding. ;) 

So then we headed into the ring. It was a fun fun course. We started our circle and I didn't quite get him as amped up as I thought he was. He jumped the first fence and we cantered down to the second fence. It was the easiest straightest line in the whole course. And... I collected, collected, collected... and then abandoned him. I dropped him and took my leg off. Fleck stopped. What?!?! Totally my fault. We circled and I closed his leg and he jumped it just fine. We came around to the double, which had caused some serious problems for the first two or three riders, and Fleck sailed through like a beast! The rest of the course rode wonderfully although I cut my turn after the 6th fence, an upright vertical then around to the triple. So... Fleck angled into the triple, but I said "No sir, we're doing it" and closed my outside leg and he went. The darn goober cleared the triple on a zig zag approach... yet wouldn't jump the oxer on a great approach? Silly boy... But it was my fault. As long as I hold his hand, he'll go. I just can't drop him. So anyways.. the rest of the course was lovely and we jumped clean! Minus the stop. Doh. We remained in 6th place and would have regardless of the stop. 

 SOOOOOOO Proud of him for this weekend. He gave me his best dressage ever, jumped clean over a tough terrained prelim course with a few tough questions, and jumped a beautiful and clear stadium round aside from the stop that was my fault. We finished another prelim. That now makes him an official prelim machine!! :) TWO clean XC runs at prelim! And... we also competed in the Team Challenge an our prelim team won!!! We were Team Flying Spots!! It was me and Jordan and Rio, another beautiful appaloosa (who won our division), Cindy and Buddy, and she painted spots on his hiney.. hee hee and Caroline and Jack, the paint. We all won a pair of breeches too. SWEET!!! 

It was a fantastic weekend!!! The rest of my friends did great too and Fleck was feeling good. YAY!! 

Tummy troubles

Well... I am an idiot! Sort of... I have been certain that there is something going on with Fleck. He's sound, he's working well but he was just not quite his usual perky self. I even mentioned that he wasn't eating as quickly and wasn't as aggressive with the others at dinnertime. DUH!! This morning he got halfway through breakfast and quit. Fleck NEVER stops eating... even when he colicked! So damn... ulcers!!! Why on earth it didn't dawn on me earlier... Although in my defense, I did at least think about it so luckily I had ordered two tubes of ulcergard already and it was set to arrive that day. Only I was only planning on doing the preventative dose. Now that he quit eating... it was time for the full dose. So.. he got a full dose and I put them out in the pasture to graze. My poor baby!!! He wasn't even grazing. I felt so horrible. 

That night he didn't even want to try to eat dinner. But he did eat alfalfa cubes and beet pulp, so... I ordered more gastrogard too. 

But it really explains a lot. He's been on more firocoxib than usual, he's been willing to work but not spunky, he's lost a bit of weight, he's been eating slow... I really think that this was the problem! Which.. in a way... I'm excited about. I hate to sound cruel, but... ulcers I can fix! Hopefully insurance will cover it, but.. it's fixable! I was worried that I wasn't able to keep him comfortable with the arthritis, but.. nope, this could all be tummy troubles. Now granted.. if the firocoxib bothers him that much.. maybe I can't manage the arthritis anymore. Argh.. but I think that I can. I think that his knees weren't bothering him as much as I thought. So... we'll see. 

I just want him to feel better. My poor big guy. Either way I plan to take him to FENCE. I think that even if I don't show... I want to go and hang out and cheer on my friends. And I'd rather have him with me where I can keep an eye on him. And I don't think the haul will stress him more than usual. Plus he might enjoy some special one on one time. And lots of hand grazing. :)

Dressage with Beth

Another beautiful morning. Man... I love Spring in Georgia... all 7 days of it. ;) We met Beth early at Ashland and had a good dressage school. Fleck was good, even perky a little bit. 

We worked on getting Fleck even in both reins. She had me leg yield him out to help get him into the outside rein. But with the counter bend. We also worked on sitting in the canter. It basically boiled down to me using my core, having a little bit more contact so that it was consistent rather than bouncing on an off, and viola... LOVELY Fleck. :) 

So feeling better about FENCE this weekend :) 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Gorgeous Spring Day with the Besties!

What a gorgeous day!!! It was the kind of day you thank God for. And I did! It was beautiful weather... sunny, 70's, nice light breeze, not humid yet. A TON of pollen, but I thanked God that I didn't have any pollen allergies, so it wasn't bothering me. I met Christina and Missy out at Ashland for a fun trail ride. Fleck LOVES both their horses... they are his BFF's! Zhar is the little black arab he went to the beach with. And Sham is his other BFF. He loves them both. 
 So we met up at Ashland and had a lovely romp through the woods and fields. We finished at the lake with some soaking and splashing. Sham had a blast splashing around like an idiot while Zhar and Fleck watched on while rolling their eyes. Hee hee.. They got into it to a little bit. 

It was a fantastic day. Just what we needed... a nice long relaxing walk through the fields. Then Fleck got to spend the rest of the day munching on grass in the front field. 

We do dressage tomorrow. He gets the day off Thursday, and then we head to FENCE. It's supposed to rain, so I'm hoping the pollen will go away. This morning Christina and I were chatting and she mentioned doing a CBC. It reminded me that this time last year I was worried and ran a PCV on Fleck, so maybe he just really hates the pollen. His poor little nostrils are yellow... 

Man I love this guy.... Look at that face!!!1

Jump Day

So... I found some Legends and Fleck got a dose this morning. We hauled to Beths' for a jump lesson. It was fun. We did some good courses. Fleck jumped everything happily... except for the two jumps I threw myself up his neck a stride early on. Then he stopped like a good pony. Doh! We jumped a fairly big airy wide Swedish... and it gave me the creeps!! Shame on me... I jumped the one at Ashland just fine.. but this one was airy... wider.... bigger. But we did it. We did some tough turns, some tough terrain courses.... 

So.... He still felt pretty darn good despite yesterday. So... maybe it's all in my head. 

The key points from today were to remember to support him!! Don't abandon him. Ride forward through my turns but balance and then just maintain. Don't shorten to the fences.. but don't let him lengthen either. And when I half halt... I must add leg. 

Fun day!

Cedar Ridge Fun

So... today was "let's see what we've got" day.... We went to Cedar Ridge to school with some friends. It was a fun group! And it ended up being a fun day. 

We started off warming up over a log or two and Fleck was fine. Happy to go but not rarin' to go. Which worries me.. but you know... I'm not always on my A game every time every day. But I still worry. So anyways, we jumped around a good bit and it was fine. Then we went to the banks and ditches and walked calmly over. Fleck and I sat and watched while everyone else walked repeatedly over.... since Fleck has been there, done that. He started to get a little pissy about standing around, so he was pawing. Yay!!! There's some of that spark! Then we went to the water and splashed around in there and did a little mini course. Nothing special, but not bad. He felt a little wonky behind... a little careen-y. Beth said that I needed to sit up and ride and balance him more. He was like that because I was letting him. 

So then we did a mini-course and it wasn't bad. He jumped the corner from the long spot without hesitating and jumped everything else decently. I was pretty happy with it. Beth said she saw NO problems with him. I told her he still felt sorta.... not balanced. She looked at me and said.... I say this with Love, but... you need to stop riding him like he's broken. You're making it worse for him. Ride him properly and he'll go happily! I guess I looked a little sheepish so Hannah jumped in with "GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER HOLLY!" hee hee... Cracked us all up. And so... I went and did a new course and rode him like I knew he needed to be and liked to be ridden... and it was awesome. He was back!!  We finished on that and he even jigged back to the barn. 

So... I guess maybe he's feeding off my worry... and maybe the pollen and sudden heat is making him a little less than on fire as usual. So.... I will give him some legends and listen to what he's telling me... but RIDE PROPERLY and see how he goes :) 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lazy Day

Today was a lazy day..... No agenda, just a fun romp through the fields to enjoy the beauty of the day. We had fun. We walked, we trotted, we cantered.... we saw a fox!! We caught up with some friends. 

A nice day!


Good day

So..... today was a good day. I had a good day at the day clinic and then it was a beautiful day outside, so I was able to sneak in a quick ride after work. We ran through some dressage and then took a quick hack through the fields. Fleck felt good and there was no hesitation anywhere, so... fingers crossed he still feels good. He's just... a little calmer than he has been lately. Even at feeding time. So we'll see. We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset trail though!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

So Far, So Good... but knocking on wood!

So.... I managed to sneak in a ride today. I worked and Fleck had a chiropractor appointment we had to leave for at 11:30. But I managed to sneak in a ride. We headed to Ashland and did some dressage. He felt much better than prior to his knee injections. We ran through Prelim Test A once and worked on some other things. He was good. A little spooky and distracted here and there, but good overall. Then we went for a short hack in the woods. Of course!

So then at the Chiropractor they have a new iron horse statue. Fleck got off the trailer all happy go lucky and then OMG!!!! WTF is that?!?! hee hee.. His eyeballs bugged out of his head, he backed up onto his tail and snorted! hee hee. He had a rib out and was sore in his knees. But Dr. Brown thought he was pretty sore in his hocks. We x-rayed them and really found nothing exciting. So that's good news. I'm just a little worried about him being sore there too. But he seemed to adjust out of it a good bit, so.. fingers crossed. :) 

So we headed home and turned him loose. Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy all day!! Argh... I'm hoping to be motivated enough to haul to High Point tomorrow so I can ride. Or hoping that it will rain itself out in the morning and I can ride at Ashland or the Horse Park. 

Then Saturday I'll play at Ashland again and then on Sunday, I'm headed to Cedar Ridge. We'll see how he feels and then I can have a better idea of what to do about FENCE. 

Fingers crossed :) 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lucky Signs

So..... it was kind of icky out today and I woke up utterly exhausted. The week has just worn me out. So I opted to sleep instead of ride. I figured that Fleck would benefit from another day off. Christina came out and we injected his knees. Not IRAP, just regular joint injections. I figured this would be the best bet to get him comfy and happy again and buy me some time with FENCE just around the corner. So... fingers crossed it does the trick and he's good to go for FENCE. If not... then oh well. We'll scratch and just go hang out. But I'm hoping he feels good. 

It was easy to get sucked back into things because he's been going soooooo well. Better than ever really. So... I realize that I was incredibly lucky to get another year out of him at this level... but I'm still wanting more. If possible... Because he is just so darn fun. And he obviously enjoys it when he feels good. 

I was feeling a little blue about it. Although I suspect most of it is just being over tired and stressed. But... while waiting for Christina to arrive I let Fleck graze in the back yard. I found the BIGGEST four leaf clover! With it being Easter Sunday, I decided that was God's way of telling me... it'll be okay. So... he'll get off Mon and Tues. He goes to Dr. Brown Wed, but I may try to sneak a ride in before then and see how he's feeling. And hopefully he'll be rip roaring and ready to go for FENCE. If not... then we go and hang out and have fun and retire to the lower levels or competitive trail. :)