Sunday, June 28, 2015

So... maybe Fleck IS a bad boy....

Today was... interesting! The other day at Cindys', she was commenting on Dan's bad behavior. I mentioned that Fleck was thinking the same thoughts, he was just too disciplined to act on them. Cindy snorted and said "Sure... Fleck can do no wrong" or something to that effect. Peri giggled and said "he does wrong, you just get a kick out of it". The funny thing is... I was thinking... "Wait.. was Fleck really naughty today or are they just teasing?". Like, I really couldn't remember if he had been a bit goofy or not. So anyways... today proved that he CAN be a butt.
Kelli and I met up for a little jump session and a hack. I wanted to work on my leg and ... well, honestly... I figured that I might as well push the envelope a bit so that Dr. Bob could see him while he was actually sore and not just when he's vague. (Our appt is Tuesday). So I figured I would jump a little. We warmed up and then jumped the grid once. He was pretty good over it although he scurried a little on the right hand turn after. So we went through again and had plans to roll back to the red vertical. Well, Fleck was spooking at the judges stand and our approach wasn't great, but I did manage to get him mostly supple before we came through the grid. On landing he bolted a bit but I was careful to not snatch him in the face and let him settle into a regular canter and then we were able to canter a fence at the opposite end of the arena. After Kelli did her go, I went back to do the grid again and was going to do the other line after. Well... after I jumped the grid, Fleck bolted! Like flat out go for broke bolted. I don't know why, but all I was thinking was "Don't punish him and make him invert". So... in typical Holly fashion, I went to the extreme and basically threw the reins at him. In my defense, I was trying to supple him with my legs and upper body, but it didn't work. We ended up making almost two laps at a dead bolt before I finally got pissed and ripped his face off. So then... I started crying because.. instead of just riding him normally and asking him to stop, I went from saying nothing to yelling at him. Instead of going from nothing, to a whisper to stop, then to a firm stop, I went straight to a screaming "stop". Sigh. He stopped though. But I broke down. I mean... why do I always punish him? He's really only doing what I ask?! And then I was crying because maybe he's bolting because he hurts. I'm concerned that he hurts when he lands, so he bolts. Thank goodness for Kelli because she talked me down a bit. Then she went so I could breathe for a minute. Then I did some transitions and Fleck was polite so I took him over the outside line. He was running at them a bit but he did pay attention when I talked (in a normal voice...not screaming) to him and settled after only a few strides of getting quick. I did a few more jumps and realized that I was really being too passive. I'm so afraid of messing up his retraining or making him hurt, that I"m not doing anything. And not only am I not doing anything, I'm not helping him. Sigh... I can't win anymore. I just..... don't know what to do. :( I did manage to ride a slightly more collected uphill canter to a fence and keep my body upright and we got a decent fence with a decent back side. I quit with that and then we went for a hack and soaked his legs in the lake for 10 minutes. 
It was a good and bad ride. The bad, obviously, and because I still don't know if the bolting is fear or pain or just because it's been so long and he's excited. The good though, is that it was a lot of fun jumping again. Even if it was a little terrifying at times. And... we worked on my leg. I was really thinking I was going to need to sell my saddle and buy another one because I was fighting my leg so much. But Kelli suggested I raise my stirrup another hole and... it really was good. I didn't have to fight so much to get my leg where it belonged and it felt like it was behaving and not swinging too much. I also think that if I think a little bit about pinching with my knee, it actually works for me. It's not that I want to pinch with my knee, but by thinking of closing my knee, it actually closes my upper calf on him. And that secures my upper body more. I don't know what was the key phrase or what I was even really thinking about, but... I kind of liked my leg today. :) So there is that. ;)
But really... this is so emotionally exhausting. I really hope that I can fix him and fix him well enough that I can stop riding the "broken" horse and start riding my horse - start riding him to ride and not riding him looking for the lame step constantly. I'd like to be able to ride and work on proper riding rather than focusing on whether I felt a funky step or not. So.. fingers crossed, praying hard, and hoping for the best. 

Beating the heat.. .maybe

 Today was the XC lesson with Kelly with Dan, so I got up early (although not quite as early as I wanted) and rode Fleck first. We didn't have much time - only 30 minutes - so it was a quick hack, but it was very enjoyable. I was hoping to beat the heat, but it was another miserably hot day.

 Nothing too exciting.. just another hack in the woods. But it sure was pretty. 


New shoes

Well... he was better today. Wayne redid his feet yesterday and they did look pretty rough. The aluminum is so soft and his feet were growing over it. And the heels were caving in, pressing on his heels. So... maybe?? Wayne said he was definitely soft on his soles and positive to hoof testing. So that could have been it. We tried a different shoe for him this time. It's an "excaliber" or something like that. Slight wedge but less than with the aluminums. It is steel, so it should last better, but it's heavier. It has a rolled toe, which should help with the breakover. I figured it was worth a try.

Today in my lesson he felt better. There was a few steps here and there but nothing glaring. That flat tire feeling was gone, but there was definitely some bobbles. Cindy said she didn't think she saw anything other than a few steps of him pushing over to his left front to offload the right front. We had a decent ride working on the usual. Nothing spectacular. 

So... we'll see how he improves. I am scheduling a full out lameness work up. I want my Flecky back.... 

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Really?!?! What is wrong with my pony?! :( 

He felt great the other night. Tonight, he had a flat tire. I think it was behind, but maybe it's the right front again? Soooo frustrating. I don't know whether to give up, whether to take him back to Dr. Brown, whether to take him to Rood and Riddle.... or what to do. :( Maybe it's just an abscess or bruise again, because his shoes are about to fall off. Or maybe it was chiropractic because after my ride I adjusted him and he was out at C7 and his shoulder on the right, his back, his pelvis, and his knees. Maybe it's his knees? Maybe it's that right front fetlock still? It was worse tracking to the left this time, which could be high on the right. But that wouldn't fit if it's his fetlock. Sigh...

And such a shame because he really felt game. He was going and didn't seem sore or anything, more hitchy. But significantly hitchy. And when he was going straight, it was barely noticeable. And he felt good otherwise! Like good in the bridle. He and I are both starting to really get it. I was able to focus on riding right, not riding like I always do. I had to remind myself repeatedly, but I was able to stop blocking him with my outside leg. And I was working very hard on soft hands making him round instead of pulling him round. And it was working.

Sigh... so we did maybe 15 minutes of ring work after our walk warm up and went for a hack. And he was happy to walk, trot, and canter, in the ring and in the field. Sigh. And actually, during our walk warm up, we got some nice turn on the forehands to the right again. Now the left side is the hard side. 

Sigh.... I'm so frustrated. If Fleck isn't sound, my whole world turns upside down. And I know it shouldn't, but it does. It affects everything..... He's my world. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Back from Vacation!

Mr. Flecky got some time off so that I could go to the beach. much as I missed him, I desperately needed beach time. It was so good to go and relax and rest and just... let things go. And eat well. And hang with Mike. And not worry. And now I feel ready to tackle the world again. And happy with my life choices. And less stressed about Fleck and what will happen with him. Maybe... just maybe... I'm okay with not eventing him anymore. Although I won't lie and say I don't want to jump. Because I do. But I'm also realistic and know myself and know that after he really gets back in shape and is feeling good, I'll probably want to take him back out. And I may even want to take him back out at prelim. But you know... that's okay! I'm going to worry about it later. :) 

So yep.. the beach was good for me. The poor ponies though. It was HOT while I was gone. And it's going to get hotter. But I couldn't help it. Despite the 95 degree weather, I couldn't resist and took them for a ride. 
I got on Fleck first and we walked about 10 minutes and headed to the ring for a quick little flat ride. I would have done more, but Alex and Lisa and Rebecca showed up for a trail ride so I decided to join them. But I did get some work in. Fleck and I had a respectable turn on the haunches to the right. :) Whoo hoo. Except now I've broken the left one. Of course. And we had some nice leg yields. And our trot was okay, because he was a little hollow trying to figure out who was who and what was going on. But it was fine. I decided that I wasn't even going to try to fix my canter aids for the right lead. I was just going to keep asking by sitting a stride until my brain learned the right way. And of course it worked. It wasn't our best canter, but it was passable. 

So then we joined them for the trail ride. It was hot. And buggy. And humid. But we had fun. I made Fleck stay round. Okay... I attempted to make him stay "not inverted". And it worked most of the time. I tried really hard to not rely on the reins as is my bad habit. I did a lot of bend your barrel right, bend your barrel left, lift the reins (touch my boobies! hee hee....) and it worked. Much better than grabbing his face did. But man... I didn't realize how handsy I have gotten. It's a hard habit to break. Sorry Flecky.

We stopped briefly in the lake but the other ponies were rollers, so we didn't get to play too long. Plus I still had to ride Dan and it was getting late. But it was nice to get a ride in. :) I've missed this goof!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fancy pants are back on

So whoo hoo to Fleck... boooo to me! I swear... why on earth can't I get this?!? Doh! I swear it's the same old same old. I should really go back and read these blog posts before each ride. Maybe then I could actually learn. ;)

But it was a good lesson. I rode Flecky first, which made him happier I think. We had a good ride and worked on getting a nice slow trot and then adding suspension. Cindy said that Fleck doesn't just naturally give it to me, but it is there. I just need to ask for it. :) (I heart her!! She's always so positive and encouraging).

So... we specifically worked on me blocking that outside shoulder of his. I don't know why I feel the need to correct it. It's not even that bad. But I panic almost and try to block it. Instead of trying to fix it with the outside leg of mine, I need to fix it by fixing the ribcage. I need to make sure my inside leg is at the girth and on, let my outside leg go back a rib (stop trying to physically move the shoulder Holly, and focus on wrapping the rib cage around the inside leg), then keep the outside rein connection to shorten the outside of his body, and then ride that. I can also think about riding his right foreleg to his sternum. So like riding a shoulder in. BUT... not by throwing my outside leg forward. That is not how a shoulder in is made little one! That is how bad riders make a shoulder in, but we will not be bad riders anymore!! 

And Fleck got a little fancy :) So.... whoo hooo!!
Hee hee... Fleck! That is not your fancy dressage horse face!! ;) 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Optimism returns

Get it Flecky!!

So...God bless good friends, great horses, and beautiful weather. I don't know what kind of funk I was in, how I got there, or why even... but it was horrible. I spent the last two days crying on my way home from working all day. Sigh... And just feeling downright horrible. I felt like I was failing in everything...riding, bringing up Dan, being a wife, being a chiro, being a vet, being a daughter/sister/cousin/aunt/daughter-in-law, etc. And I half assed tossed around the idea of quitting ponies for a bit. Like I said.. horrible funk. But then.... God threw me a bone.

I almost didn't want to ride with Liz and Peri because I was just so frustrated. But I'm so glad I did. They fixed me. They cheered me up. They helped me see the sunshine again. And God bless Peri because I know she is having a really rough time right now. So I'm glad she got to enjoy herself too. How kind of her to pick me up when she needs it more. But anyways... point being... it fixed my funk. :)

So,yeah baby...We had fun! Fleck was still not perfect. And God knows, neither was I! But it was helpful and we made progress. We set up grid number 2 and started through it. Fleck was maintaining his speed a bit more. And we worked on some flat work before. Then Kelli joined in too and between the 3 of them we determined a few things that really helped me.

I tend to straighten my elbows and drop my hands a lot and that makes him invert. All the freakin' time! So... Liz had me think about grabbing my boobs. Hee hee. Not the prettiest, but it worked. Jump, jump, jump, boobies!! Hee hee. She told me to ride him like it was her horse. She had me hop on Party and I was so worried about not messing Party up that I rode nicely. She had me ride Fleck like that. Soft and lifted hands with my leg on. I had to also think about a "soft crotch". No more driving his withers into the ground. I thought about lifting up his withers with my crotch and bringing his back up to me.

So we went through the grid and before I took him down the line, I had to get him supple and up in his back. I accomplished that by almost ping ponging him laterally. Rather than grab that shoulder when it gets away from me, Liz suggested I almost do the opposite. Throw him farther onto that shoulder so that I'm almost pushing him off balance so he has to catch himself and balance himself. I'm not holding him up that way but he's soft and supple. It worked. But only if I kept my hands up and kept a soft seat. Then we could jump. And admittedly, I had to sometimes swing his barrel from left to right and left again going into the line, but it worked. He stayed soft and supple and jumped well.

And then upon landing, he would scoot a bit, especially when going right at first. I panicked because he was scrambling and I thought he was going to fall. We decided it was a bit of both of us. Liz didn't feel that Fleck was hurting but more anticipating hurt so he was scrambling. I made a very conscious effort to not grab and then each time we turned right he became softer and quieter. Yay! That's a smart horse that has learned and accepted it doesn't hurt anymore, not a horse that still hurts. :) So then I had to think about riding straighter and not just motorcycling to the right. Which was hard. ;) We also realized that I was collapsing my right side and if I thought about opening my right hip (like with Kathryn) that made a huge help. I also had to grab for my boobs (hee hee... lift my hands) and not grab his face when he scooted. Just let him go and settle him by leg yielding/lateral work. And interestingly enough, he started coming back quicker and quicker.

Then we tried to add a line. Well... it sort of worked. We both got worked up and while I was able to half halt some and let go some, we still jumped it a bit strong and quick. However, it wasn't quite as flat as usual, but still not how he's jumping the grids. Then we tried to make a wide oxer to see if that would encourage him to pat down to the base. Ha!! Fleck laughs at our wide oxer attempts and just jumps longer. hee hee. So then I decided that it might work better if I tried it from a normal approach without a line or the grid before. It was hilarious. And maddening! I could get this soft supple canter with him being beautiful... all down the long side. But the second to last stride, I couldn't help myself. I changed and let him change and he jumped it like we always do. Sigh. I just... couldn't make myself hold it. I don't want to basically hold him into a frame to jump. That scares me. And I *know* that the canter he is in feels amazing and like he could jump the moon, but I just don't trust it yet over decent sized fences. And I *know* that I'm not cranking his face down and he can easily use his head and neck to jump, but still keep his back up. But in my mind, he either won't use his head and neck because he hasn't or doesn't think he can, or I'll snatch him and he can't. So... it scares me. BUT... I think that if I can keep doing it, I'll get to where I trust it more and he trusts it more and we can do it. And then..... then, it's on!! :)

So yep... a VERY encouraging day and one I'm so grateful for. I needed that. :)

Ahhhhh........ happy Holly

Alas, no pictures or videos despite there being at least 2 phones there. Doh!

Sad but silly ride

Sigh... so after my Kathryn ride I was feeling a bit defeated. And then, I had the grid lesson with Beth on Dan. And that depressed me more. So I got on Fleck bareback and took to the woods. For a good cry. I was crying for Fleck, I was crying for Dan, and I was crying for me. I couldn't help it. I just... was in a bad place mentally. And I know... it could be worse. Blah blah. That just made me feel worse about it and set me off crying more.

But... bless Fleck. He was rarin' to go. It was so hot and humid yet he was a bouncy boy. We did a good bit of walking and he was on a mission. We got to the path that sneaks up on the halfshire gallop field and I decided to let him have a little gallop. So right as we hit the clearing, I let him go. Only right as we hit the clearing there was a deer on the path. Fleck slowed but didn't stop and then did a veer off to the right. While still cantering. Which was fine and dandy. But then the deer fled and so did Fleck. He went off on a porpoising spree. Which was fine. At first. But then the half pad on top of the bareback pad (because yes, Fleck is that bony) had slid up and back. And after a few bucks, I was losing my seat. So I'm half giggling, half crying and then half yelling at Fleck to cool it so I don't fall off. He settled and we continued in a regular canter. Goof! But he did help me feel better.
 We finished up at the lake with a quick splash and headed in. And then.. I ruined the day again. Sigh... I swear, Beth must think I'm the worst person on the planet. I asked her to look at Fleck to see if he felt funky. She was ready to leave so we were in the parking lot area (it's grass, not gravel, but slick apparently) so I trotted and she said he looked great. Then I asked for the right lead canter and he kept swapping to the left. I was getting frustrated and already mad at the world (remember I said I was in a Mood!) and sad and I got mad at Fleck. Sigh. Of course it was in front of Beth. I wasn't horrible or abusive. But I was mad at him. She said she just thought it was him trying to balance in the footing and it was fine. So I burst into tears again after she left because now not only am I sad but I'm a horrible horrible mother too. :( We went to the arena with decent footing and of course he cantered to the right beautifully.
 I'm so sorry Flecky... I hate when I do that. :(

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rehabbing Ride with Kathryn

So... this was a very interesting lesson, but I will admit to being disappointed. Not in the lesson, but in what Kathryn was seeing. We worked on it being therapeutic for Fleck and on me a bit.  Kathryn had me slow it down. Really slow it down. Almost to a western job. So that he had to use himself and almost think about using himself. I was thinking to myself "aha... this is why I get frustrated with Dan... Fleck is self propelled"...I never felt like I had to cluck or squeeze. But that can backfire too because then I get to handsy and don't use enough leg. But anyways, I was letting Fleck stretch out and unkink in the hind end and help himself be sounder longer. So we worked on it. It was hard to tell if he was making himself lamer or sounder sometimes, as he almost waffled between the two. And I couldn't really tell what was making him sounder when he went sounder. Kathryn seemed to think (unless I misunderstood) that by slowing his body down and making him take precise steps and think about it, he was able to use his body fully and realize it didn't hurt. And thus go sounder. She suggested riding him this way for awhile to help him. (I'm thinking she's a lot like Jean Luc in the sense of riding biomechanically to improve the horse). So then we did some canter and our right lead canter wasn't horrible. But it wasn't great. I slowed him super down too and Peri said he was looking pretty darn good. So then we started to go over a cross rail. I had told Kathryn about our grid day and she wanted to see what he was doing.

We started by trotting over the cross rail and Fleck kept leaping and landing scurried. So she wanted me to slow it down and try to encourage him to step right up to the cross rail, rather than leaving so far behind. And she also wanted him to not panic on the backside. We managed to get it a few times and he even took a breath. He went from flinging and bolting (almost, not really) to breathing and just trotting over. So then we tried a canter. Again he reverted back to the near bolting on the backside. So... that bothered Kathryn. Rather than try again repeatedly she had me go back down to the trot. He did and actually jumped it calmly rather than bolting. We quit with that because Kathryn was thrilled with that. She said she was a bit worried about him and his reaction over the jumps but that he redeemed it by trotting calmly over it after her was reactive at the canter. She said that gave her hope that he wasn't still painful, just anticipating pain. So she was pretty excited about the lesson.

I, however, was depressed. I know she wasn't going to say "hey, he looks great, go jump him prelim next week". But... I don't know... she kept saying stuff like "well, you know, maybe he won't do prelim, but"... and "you guys could easily jump and do training level, or novice". Which is fine. And probably true. But, I kept hearing the novice part and thinking that was all she thought he was going to be able to do. And I was really hoping the injections would have created better results.

Sigh... a bit depressing. But Peri said he looked really good and she thinks that if I can do the homework and focus on retraining his body, I'll have a really NICE horse on my hands. She made me feel better. So... we'll see. That's all I can do. Wait and see what he tells me he wants to do. It's not that I won't have fun playing with him at training, or even novice. I don't know... I don't even know what I want I guess.

Grids with Liz

Hmmm... somebody is glad to be jumping again! Too glad! He was a twit.
Liz and I decided to do Grids every Thursday we could. We started with Jimmy Woffords first grid in the grid book. And Fleck was pumped!! He kept charging through it and just getting flat and strung out. Liz wanted me to not hold him up, for therapeutic purposes, but she wanted him to jump round and arc, rather than jumping flat or twisting. And he was not jumping well at first.
So we breathed... and I breathed some more. I had to walk him into the grid to get him to not fly through it. But it worked. He was jumping quite nicely through the grids. I was basically just letting him figure it out himself and hold himself up.
Then we moved on to a single line. Yep... not happening yet.  I couldn't really take him to any single jumps because he was just flinging himself over them. So we decided to just stick with the grid for today and keep it small. Once we've retrained his body to jump better, we'll start going for more.

missed lesson

Ugh... is today Monday?? It sure seems like it.

I cut my turn a little tight and hit the gate post with the trailer fender on my way out with both boys for our lessons. It smashed the gate so that I couldn't latch it shut. And smashed my fender into the wheel. Argh! So... I tried repeatedly to hammer it out and crowbar it out, but it wasn't working. So I called Mike and cried and told Cindy I wasn't sure I was going to make my lesson. I unloaded the boys and tried to fix it. Once the trailer was empty and I got my frustrations out, I was able to tweak it enough to make it usable. So Cindy said to come and ride one in my later lesson and then just ride the other while I was there. Apparently while I was fixing the trailer BOTH ponies decided to roll. In the mud. Ugh. They were filthy. But it's Monday remember?! ;) So of course they did.

Anyways, Dan was good for his lesson and then I got on Fleck. I took it super easy in the arena and sort of fluffed him around on the buckle. He felt pretty decent. After a quick little hack I took him around the pastures and let him trot out and took a bigger and heavier connection. And he felt great!
So then I found Peri and asked her opinion. I rode him deep, like Kelly Eaton wants me to, and he felt awesome! His canter was amazing!!!! Yay! I asked Peri if he was too deep, like rolkur.... and she laughed and said that he was in a training level, maybe first level frame. Doh! I must retrain my brain! But she said that in her opinion, I should ride him with a heavy connection and get him where he needs to be so that he muscles properly and goes there. So she gave me a quick little mini lesson and we played around. Despite calling for Dan, Fleck was lovely! He was slow and balanced and rocked back and really felt quite fancy. I'm sure it wasn't as good as it felt.. but we felt like we were in a third level frame. Hee hee. I swear I really thought he was nose to his chest and Peri kept having to tell me that he was just in a first level frame. Wow... My sense is so warped. But it was great. We got some really lovely trot and canters and Peri even agreed. :) So I only did like 8 minutes and then we quit. I didn't want to make him sore.

But so.... I'm thinking that I need to ride him deep and mega round (which is in reality... normal!) and encourage him to go there and stay there and build muscles there. That should also help keep him sound because he's using himself more properly.
So... a cruddy day actually turned out to be quite nice! Two great rides after all :)