Welcome to Grey Horse Matters. This blog will address issues facing the aging rider. I will try to address the challenges of aging with our horses with sympathy, support, and humor. This blog will also feature my interests pertaining to all horses and information I think might be helpful to all equine enthusiasts.
I’ll start with Rosie and what we’ve been doing. Rosie hasn’t been ridden since the end of September. Through no fault of her own. I haven’t been able to ride because I’ve either got sciatica going on from my lower back down through my calf or another herniated disc. There was no way I could swing my leg over to mount her or ride. It seems to be getting better now which I’m grateful for, I’m tired of the pain and limping around like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. We’ve managed to longe a bit and I’ve incorporated cavalletti into her repertoire. I have her doing trot circles over them, she’s smart and gets it. Maybe a little too much because she figured out that jumping two poles was easier than trotting over them, so I’ve added a third pole and fixed that situation. That said I’m hoping to be back in the saddle soon.
Rosie and Hanz have become grazing buddies and she seems to have gotten over her nastiness towards him. She still looks to Blue as the leader but prefers to stay with Hanz most of the time. Blue just ignores everyone as usual and doesn’t care. Hanz is doing well and is a pleasure for my daughter to ride. He’s a very sweet and talented boy.
Hanz getting an after ride treat and Rosie checking him out
"Rosie, that's rude!"
"Tee, heh, heh, I sniffed his butt!"
Ginger had two more seizures the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and has been to the vet. Her blood test showed her Phenobarbital levels were perfect and she’s not on a high enough dose to affect her liver. So for now we’re just going to stick with the program and not change anything unless she has more seizures. Fingers crossed she’ll be okay with this medication and won’t need anything else.
Ginger relaxing in the leaves
The strangest thing has been happening around the house. There is a red cardinal who insists on tapping on my windows. He/she does this all day long and follows me from room to room. I have a bird stalker! It flies up vertically like a helicopter then taps with its beak on the windows. I’ve gone out and fed it but it still persists. If he/she keeps it up I’m going to get it a little leather helmet for Christmas!
Just staring in the window at me
Sitting on the landscapers truck
Getting ready for another tactical assault on the window
Taking a break from window tapping
And the last piece of news. The other day on her way to work my daughter noticed a whole section of fence was down that borders the waterway in the back of our property. So she went back and investigated. Seems a hunter knocked down the fence and post (probably dragging a deer out that he shot) and left it like that. She found a shotgun shell. This isn’t the first time a hunter has come on the property unauthorized, because we don’t allow hunting here and there are signs posted all over warning them off. Last time someone left the gate open the herd got loose onto a neighbors property. If they had gotten out this time they would have surely been hit by a car or truck as we are on a busy two lane highway on that side. They just disregard the notices and do whatever they want. They’re from the “good ole boys redneck club” and don’t need to listen to no stinkin' signs. After all they grew up around here and we are newcomers! So she called the sheriff and has a report on it and she’s going to call them every time they do this. I really hope we can catch one in the act. I don’t like strange men roaming around the property with guns at all hours. How obnoxious!
Quote for Today Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.
Just need the bridle and we're "Ready to Go" ( I know it's a bad picture but she moved!)
This past week Rosie got to take a short walk around parts of the farm under saddle. I had a feeling she hadn’t been out in the world at large much before I got her so it was time to test out my theory. My guess is that she was kept in a stall and only let out for short times in a paddock or to work. She’s gotten the whole, “Oh, I stay out all day now,” thing down pretty well and she’s adapted to being the only girl in the herd. She still hangs near Blue most of the time but occasionally she can be seen with Grady or Sami. Blue can be a grumpy old man and although older men should be wiser and safer sometimes he’s just a pain. Sorry Blue, but you are.
After she was mounted in the outside arena and thought she was going to work in there, she got a surprise and was walked out and down the driveway to the gravel road by the pond. She wasn't too crazy about the pond because there is a beehive beside it and there are huge carp in there that can be seen swimming near the surface at times. Even Grady spooks when the carp swim by. So, for her first time out she wasn’t forced to stay anywhere she wasn't comfortable because she was a little nervous. Next, she went on with her excellent adventure to explore the path around the outside of the indoor arena. This went a little more smoothly in the absence of strange wildlife. She then was taken into the catch pen and into the next paddock to walk around in the shade under the trees. She’s not only used to being in there everyday, but there was a nice breeze in the morning so it wasn't too hot yet, and it seemed like a nice way to end the ride.
What I like about Rosie is even though she gets worried or nervous, she doesn't have a big spook in her. She doesn’t bolt or spin. The most she does is break into her little western jog. It must be what she feels safest with and so she reverts to her comfort zone. Which is totally manageable. After this successful outing, Rosie will have lots more time out of the ring and little by little she will go farther afield as she gets used to being out by herself.
Now, it would help if Sami would stop calling to her the whole time she’s away from him!
Quote for Today The world is best viewed through the ears of a horse.
" So I'm a working girl again this morning? Well, okay but don't forget the treats!"
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. We’ve been busy with barn and property projects. The horses are all doing well. Rosie and I have been doing some training and hopefully forging a relationship with each other.
Rosie is a very willing and talented gal. There’s rarely a time she refuses what is asked of her except when she doesn’t understand the cue. Then she just stops and we figure a way to let her know what I want. Once the light bulb goes on, she’s fine and we continue on with the lesson.
At first anytime I took a slight contact with her mouth she would stop, so I assumed her previous training required her to go with no contact whatsoever and we rode on the buckle for a while and gradually inched up the reins in subsequent lessons. Now she can be ridden with a light following contact. We’ve done a lot of walking and circles with a gentle opening inside rein to teach her how to bend and use her body properly. I know some people subscribe to the training principle of pulling the horses head around to their side and think the horse will then learn how to bend. I’ve actually been at one barn where they tied the horse’s head to his tail overnight thinking that would do the trick. It doesn’t and it’s cruel. I’m more about starting with a soft flexion at the poll and letting the rest follow, so that’s what we’ve been working on.
Asking her to trot at first produced a western jog and we figured out that a second pressure from my legs would get a response and a smoother more flowing trot. I recently found out that she was a western pleasure horse. So it’s taken some time with her figuring out what her way of going was previously like and how to change it gradually so she understands what I’m asking. Everything we’ve done together so far is designed to reteach her to my way of riding and not to cause her any stress. I’ve tried to make each teaching moment a good experience and so far I’d say we’ve achieved that.
We’ve done a lot of groundwork on the longe and she’s learning how to open up her stride and loosen her musculature. The other day we free longed for the first time and that went pretty well. She even cantered a bit and looked great.
Small steps and gradual understanding of each other is our way of getting to know each other. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It may sound impractical to some but I believe in letting it take as long as it takes to have a happy well adjusted horse who is willing to work with me. And for both of us to enjoy our time spent together. I’m happy to report that Rosie will now groom me back while I’m grooming her and she will let me kiss her nose and hug her.
Quote for Today
If the horse does not enjoy her work, her rider will have no joy.
The month of March hasn’t been one of my favorite months. We had three Nor’easter’s in ten days and then another one the following weekend. Tons of snow and wind and three more of my neighbor’s trees came down into my yard breaking the fence to make it even more special. Spring has officially arrived, or so it says on the calendar. The temperatures are warming up and the snow is almost completely melted. There are some buds on the trees and sprouts of early Spring bulbs.
There’s not much going on with the horses, we’re all just waiting for the warmer weather and they’re waiting for more than a few patches of grass to appear. They are as bored as we are.
Mr. Blue had a birthday yesterday, March 29th, he turned 21 . Happy Birthday Blue! He’s always been our Mr. Cool and he still is, but it seems since he’s taken on the responsibility of being “Leader of the Pack” he has moments of being Mr. Grumpy old man. Blue likes to push everyone off the hay now and has claimed Rosie as his harem of one. She actually listens to him and hangs with him most of the day.
" Blue & Rosie"
Here are some pictures of The Month of March, mainly so I can remember how miserable it was and to remind me not to complain in the summer when the temperatures soar…
Ginger and Nikita loved romping in the snow
they manufactured "ice balls" that stuck to their under carriage! They were hard to get off too.
Quote for Today You never appreciate Spring till you’ve been through a tough winter.