lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I harassed a Hanoverian again. I am sure Ellie is wondering why I keep showing up and ruining her day.

As determined after our Pirouette of Doom two weeks ago I am working her on the ground until I feel confident that she will be a sensible creature when I get back on her. This means that she needs to lunge like a sensible creature.

Yesterday she got the whole deal. Surcingle, lungeing cavesson, breastcollar (the driving one), and crupper with attached kicking straps/trace carrier. I put the crupper on after we got into the arena as I had no idea if she had one on before (Kristin confirmed she had not) and having her goose in the crossties or as I led her didn't seem like a good idea. That said she was great to put it on and only seemed bothered by the kicking straps slapping her sides briefly as she was being goofy.

I don't know how you all do it on a regular basis, but I managed a couple photos. Our first few rounds consisted of her making dragon noises as she tore around on the end of the line.



I kept changing directions until she started thinking about being a sensible creature. Her turns have gotten quite good and this time she was pretty even on both sides (last time she was sticky turning in right). When she settled a bit I asked for a brief trot and I had a fire-breathing dragon again, though she turned back into a horse much quicker this time.



I don't know what it is about Ellie. I really do want to like her and her owner loves her and thinks she's a great young horse. I find her to be okay, but feel like there's some gaps that need addressing. She is a little twitchy at times and doesn't feel as broke on the ground as I would like a horse to be before getting on board, which is why I'm back to lungeing her. She's certainly not where I'd want a five year-old to be with a year under saddle. I at least fixed her no brakes issue the second ride, which Kristin was grateful for and now I'm working on getting her to where I feel 100% comfortable swinging back on because I admit I wasn't fully comfortable the three rides I've put on her due to how she handled. Thankfully Kristin is cool with me taking Ellie back to ground school. She understands my reasons for going back to the ground and appreciates Ellie advancing her training in any manner.

She is kindof cute.



As mentioned before I got my new lines in and have been playing with them. I'm using the 5/16" navy line to work Ellie here. I'll do a more thorough review later, but my preliminary impression is I like the thinner lines for long lining and the thicker lines for lungeing. I am also enjoying the feel of the buckles instead of snaps. The snaps are quicker and more convenient, but the buckles fit through everything and don't add a big clunk of weight at the end like the snaps do. I'm glad I was able to sell my other two sets to mitigate the cost of the new ones and happy to have more tools to use.

Of course, working with other people's horses gives me gratitude for my own crew. Especially comparing Tru-D to other young horses.

Speaking of other young horses Keara was out and put a ride on Cinnamon. Despite an opinionated moment while lungeing they went on to have a good ride. The Stink was a little sticky going forward to start, but there was no attitude unlike the first few rides in November. I think once Keara puts another ride or two on her I can start pulling Cinnamon out to ride myself during lessons and perhaps this will be the year I finally get her past greenbroke (with Keara's help).
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The other morning Ruby, Tru-D, and McLintock were lined up in order of size. By the time I got my phone to take a picture Mac had moved, but it did give a good size comparison between Ruby and Tru-D currently (with Charm-N peaking over their backs).



More pictures and rambling )
Tomorrow is another full day and it looks like there are many full days ahead, which is good because in another month it is going to get even hotter and we'll see how many wilt.

The lady with the gypsy cob wants to move forward with driving training, but is weighing her options. Full training is still in the air, but traveling to where she boards is also an option.

The couple who started driving a couple weeks ago have a horse they are wanting to get driving too.

I might have found a bit of a niche with this driving thing.
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
Today was crazy-busy. I had five lessons starting at 7am and then took a client to pick up her new mare from Casa Grande at 2pm. After all was said and done I got home a bit after 5pm.

I'll talk about my client and her horse later (spent four hours horse shopping Thursday). Today is about Bud! Well, actually it's about Trensen Knebel.

Bud is sporting them, though he wasn't being very photogenic for me.



I don't know if there is even an English word for them, but I guess "bit cheeks" would be the best descriptive words for them. The dictionary wants to call then "bit gags," though trensen refers more to the cheeks of the bit than the whole bit to my understanding.



Sue and Henry were feeling under the weather so I put a ride on Bud today. He goes quite well in the Stark Naked Bit (the purple thing), though I wanted to secure it so if he fussed with it, it would stay secure. For the most part he's good about not messing with it, but that's where the trensen knebel come in.

As you can see they are a small piece of metal with a hook attached. The "cheek" so to speak, goes through the ring on the halter and then hooks to the bit ring.

Bud did well. We reinforced the lesson that if he goes straight past home without changing pace or wriggling he gets home faster.

The Trensen Knebel are an awesome thing to have in the toolkit. You can use a regular bit on a horse who might have issues with its ears being handled (buckle the halter on, slide the bit in). It is an easy way to try multiple bits without having to fuss with buckles. It basically makes any halter a halter-bridle.

I picked up three pair from pferdeladen.eu . They were happy to take my order and it was about $30 for the three pair including shipping, which was quite reasonable! The only downside is that you have to speak German in order to naviagte the website. A few places I looked at wouldn't ship to the USA so I was happy to find one that would!

I plan on messing with them a bit more here and there. I haven't tried them with the rope halters and I don't think it would be very feasible since it wouldn't have a good place to lock into, but I'll play with it and see!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yesterday I had one lesson and since Susanne is quite indpendent I grabbed Mac and rode him while she was on Kash.

It was Mac's first time in the bitless bridle and my first ride on him (third ride back, Ruby Wednesday, Kash schooled briefly Thursday). I did have two students on him since he arrived, which gave me some feedback, but he hasn't done anything since we got his teeth done so I was curious and figured since the goal is to get him bitless with students like the rest of the crew might as well just dive in on it. I will eventually get him his own bitted bridle to work in.

I also worked him today and between the two rides I can say most of his head unhappiness the first ride was related to him thinking this work thing might be for the birds. He was a bit pushy about his direction and had a few spots where he was pretty sticky. He'll definitely need some work on loosening up his shoulders. Today he came off of the leg a little nicer and was a bit more forward. He did get a little nervous when I growled at Kitt and her rider, but towards the end of the ride he realized if I hadn't asked him anything the grumpy voice wasn't ained at him.

I was able to get him to trot quite a bit yesterday and as I suspected he didn't need a whole lot of goading forward despite how his previous rider rode him. He did suck back here and there, but it wasn't much to get him going again. I sent him over a pair of cavelletti today and he went over them atraight and honest, which was quite nice.

I'm hoping if I keep working him a few days a week by the end of the month he will be ready for students to start using during actual lessons and I'll have a pretty good handle on how he functions.

Yesterday after we ran some errands Chris pulled out Ruby and Charm-N. We had used Ruby the other day to get some measurements for a chain attachment for the Challenger (Chris jokingly dubbed it the "bank robber"). The Roberts carriage had used a neck yoke and this one just has two rings on the end of the pole. If we had breastcollar harnesses there would be straps that ran from the breastcollar to the rings on the end of the pole. With our harnesses thereis a neck strap that comes down from the collar and usually snaps onto a neck yoke. The straps usually sits center of the chest and reaching it across the front of the horses to the pole wasn't going to happen so we had a piece of chain to bridge the gap.

We got them adjusted and I took our maiden drive. Both mares were a little forward, but not bad. The breeching wasn't engaging ad I liked and we fussed a bit with the adjustments, but didn't really find anything we were happy with. Then we realized the breast strap's snap slid along the strap, which really didn't help as it kept increasing the distance before the breeching engaged!

We brainstormed a bit and decided we're going to order a neck yoke that will bolt to the end of the pole. We've seen other configurations with chains and such, but the neck yoke will give us a nice fixed point to work with and not have to worry about getting more chain and fussing with it to no end. Just hook up the yoke and adjust the heelchains as necessary.

We also had the evener fixed and I'm not sure I like that. We removed the bolts so that the evener will do it's job next time.

It does look pretty sporty all hooked up!



There is a mixture of excitement and terror driving the new carriage. The terror will wsne as we become more familiar with it and certainly once we get the fit properly adjusted. I trusted it to turn a bit better than the Roberts (might be the shorter pole) and I will probably notice the ride better when I'm not worrying so much about how the horses' harnesses are engaging.

McLintock

Dec. 22nd, 2016 03:38 pm
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
So we're taking a slight gamble, but hoping it plays out well.

Tuesday we took the little gelding to have a vet check. We used Roach because Chatham broke his hip last week. They went ahead and gave him a whole hip replacement and he thinks he'll be back to it after Christmas (I think he's pushing 80, tough old guy).

There was nothing major outside. She did think he had a lot of sand in his gut as it was making some swooshy noises and suggested an intense round of psyllium. She also thought he might have some ulcers because he was sensitive around the girth, but with as enthusiastically as she was poking around his girth area I don't blame him for being a little flinchy.

He had some hooks and will need his teeth done. She then looked at his eyes and went straight to suggesting squamous cell carcinoma. I explained the previous owner's story with the fly exposure and how the spots were supposedly much worse previously. After some reading I suspect he may have had the misfortune of having summer sores in his eyes (ulcers created by a stomach parasite that flies end up depositing in wounds, pretty nasty). Dr. Roach suggested sending pictures to another vet who does a lot of work with eyes. We took pictures and got the email from his office staff and sent them along.

We did flexion tests and he came up with a vague bob when his right fore was flexed, but moved perfect on the other three. We did two flexions in the hind after the front right and he trotted even so it was very slight and only when aggravated. When we tried him out Sunday I had poked around his front suspensories and he had twitched a little high on the right so I wasn't terribly surprised that he showed a slight positive on the right front. She was talking about xrays and nerve blocks or just doing a round of bute and retesting in a month or so.

We initially called the owner and said we'd be taking him back. The prospect of eye surgery was more than we wanted to invest ontop of his purchase price. She offered to drop $500 off the price right away and we politely declined. I told her we had sent in pictures and were waiting to hear back on a second opinion, but we were pretty sure he was going to be heading back North.

Needless to say we were not looking forward to a six or seven hour roundtrip to take him back. Chris and I did a lot of serious talking and hoping that the other vet would get back with us.

Since this pony was 100% for the lesson program we shifted to the business angle. How long would it take for him to earn back his cost? We had dropped the initial price from $2500 to $2300 already on account of his eyes being questionable. She was willing to knock off another $500, which would put him at $1800. At what price point could we potentially make back his costs and be even financially if it were a big issue?

I figured the eye issue wouldn't be more than $1500 to deal with, even if they completely removed his third eyelid on the left side. The eyes weren't bothering him and the tissue wasn't red and angry at all. I want to take the previous owner at her word about the flies and that the part on his actual eyeballs is just scar tissue and nothing too nefarious.

I called her back Tuesday evening and offered $1500. I don't think she even batted an eye. She admitted with the knowledge we shared she'd have a hard time moving him on at their original asking price and would rather see him in a place that sounded like they would get it taken care of and use him well than not. She will send us back the check and then I'll mail her a new one for the agreed upon price and there's that. We have another Haflinger pony. We're calling him McLintock after the John Wayne movie (Kelhan's favorite) or Mac for short.

During the vet exam he was extremely good and showed what a nice-natured pony he is, which can be hard to come by.

Yesterday morning after her regular lesson I had Susanne climb on him and give him a test ride for me. He was a little sticky here and there (really wanted to sniff all the new poop), but not at all phased by the new environment. His mouth was a bit noisy, but new bit plus teeth needing to be done makes it understandable. I wasn't quite going to throw Susanne on him in a bitless bridle since he has never been worked in one before, but we'll work up to that and see how it goes. Chewy's bridle and bit fit him pretty well. He moved well under Susanne and was not a runaway by any stretch of the imagination. I have a couple other students I can use to feel him out until I am ready to get back in the saddle, which is a nice place to be in.

Yesterday I got an email back from the other vet saying that the spots most likely won't vanish on their own and should be removed. Depending on the treatment chosen it would be between $750 and $1500 for all three spots done at once, right on the money.

Eye pictures )

The current plan is to get his teeth taken care of and perhaps have a second (third) opinion from Chatham about the eyes. We will get it treated, but how soon is going to depend and since he's gone at least a year I don't suspect putting it off a few weeks or a month will hurt. The other vet said it could require a second treatment four weeks out so he could top out at $4500 in costs with purchase and treatment outside of his basic care, but hopefully he can earn that back in the coming year and then some.

Yesterday I dewormed him, which he was okay with once he realized he couldn't back out of it. It rained last night so I went from five lessons today to zero. We moved Mac into the spare stall Dave and Marty had. Once it dries out a little more we'll move him into the turnout and he can start getting acclimated to the herd. Cinnamon apparently thinks we've brought her a handsome man as she has been standing by his gate sniffing and squealing while lifting her tail.

We'll see what the weather looks like tomorrow and whether we'll have dry space to work. Saturday was already cleared out being Christmas Eve. There is also a 100% chance of rain Saturday so it is just as well!

By the way, Mac sports a pretty spiffy mustache.

lantairvlea: (Tru-D)


Since Chris is driving and we have another few minutes to home a quick announcement.

The horse trailer has had its first occupant. He's 13.2hh and is a bit small in the big warmblood-sized stall. He's around eight years old and supposedly ride/drive, though he hasn't been asked to drive for about a year. The owners are moving out of state and thus downsizing the herd.

He was a little twitchy at the start, but chilled out as we worked with him.

There is one question mark that we'll be having the vet check out this week before making it final. He has some corneal scarring on both eyes at the edges of his iris and sclera. The lady said they used to be huge and angry. The people they bought him from had many animals, I assume poor manure management, and didn't believe in fly masks. He does have a good menace reflex so vision isn't impared and after calling and chatting with our vet he didn't think it would cause issue. We'll get an in-person check to confirm that this week.

They called him Tom, but that name definitely isn't staying.

Edit: I was thinking. This little gelding is seven years younger than Chewy was when we got her. If he holds up just as well he'll be with us 17 years (!!) by the time he is Chewy's age. This definitely puts into perspective how old the little mare is. Fingers crossed all is well and he can start filling in Chewy'd shoes.
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
Tru-D has been doing well in her training and I'd like to get her put to the cart this coming year.

She'll be three in April and while she is probably close to her full height I imagine she has some filling out to do. Unlike Zetahra she doesn't quite fit in Kitt's harness. I tried it today and she still looks like a little kid wearing her mom's sweater.

2016-12-14 19.43.04.jpg

2016-12-14 19.42.32.jpg

Not nearly so bad as it was this spring when the top of the hip strap was down by her tailhead. It is still way more adjusting than I want to do back and forth and the collar is definitely too large for her. I'm sizing up my options as I don't want to be stuck with a harness that ends up being too small!

Speaking of driving I ordered the last two parts of the Parelli/Nate Bowers DVD series for driving. I wasn't super impressed with the value of the first one for the money, but they had a really good sale and I picked up both of them for less than one of them normally retails. We'll see how they are.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The view from the driver's seat.



Kelhan is going to be a good driving buddy.



Chris got to drive his team.



We put the pole to the wagonette today. Chris had set up the forecart at the beginning of the month and we had a successful first drive with them together and hooked (we have ground driven them a few times together). They have both pulled the wagonette singly so as a team wouldn't be a problem.

I ground drove them a bit and we set set up the tie back on Charm-N. The two of them match well in their paces, but Charm-N has a hair-trigger for her "go" button while Ruby needs some extra encouragement sometimes. Charm-N can also be a little on the hot side to start and occasionally jigs here and there. She could use a good couple mile warm-up by herself to get settled, but at least she isn't dumb about it and is easy to ask back. That said she tends to walk off ahead of Ruby and occasionally jogs ahead of her as well so the tie back is there to encourage her to keep Pace with Ruby. It consists of a lungeing "Y" (I think some call it a "V") that snaps onto her bit and then another strap that goes from the bottom ring of the lungeing attachment to, in this case, Ruby's hames. If we had a long enough strap it could go all the way back to Ruby's singletree and Charm-N would end up pulling the carriage with her face, but the strap isn't that long and she isn't that bad about it. Turns to the right were much improved with the tie back as it kept Charm-N waiting without my accidentally correcting Ruby through the reins to keep Charm-N from rushing the turn. For those not familiar, when you drive a team (or pair as it is called among the pleasure driving sect) you have a single set of reins to communicate with both horses, which can make it difficult to do individual corrections.

Chris took over the lines to get them hooked up. The wagonette's pole is longer, but taller than the one for the forecart and I wasn't convinced they could be stepped over and backed into it. As it was Ruby did beautifully and Charm-N swung her butt wide to the right, which required some manual manipulation. Of course just as we were hooking up the neighbor's grandkids started zipping around on their quads. Perfect timing guys!

There was a brief moment where both of them went to step off and I had to check them hard, but it settled quickly and they stood like rocks the rest of the time.

The pole for the wagonette is really long. Both mares were at the ends of their heel chains and I had to lengthen Charm-N's false martingale to keep the breeching from riding up her butt. We suspect underneath the layers of tube insulation and pipe wrap the pole actually telescopes, but since we plan on moving it on once the cart and carriage arrive in January there really isn't a point in cutting through all of the padding to find out. Plus it works well enough as is for what we're doing.

Once hooked up I took them around the arena a couple times (quads revving and roaring just over the block wall the whole time...) and Chris opened up the fence so we could get out front and away from the noise a bit. Since the girls seemed fairly settled Chris went and retreived the little men from Marty and the four of us drove around the front and side of the house for a bit before returning around back to the arena for a few more laps. Tristan lost interest first so Chris hiked the little man back to Gama's and Kelhan and I drove some more until Chris returned and climbed back up. Kelhan thought he was done a short while later, but then changed his mind and at that point Chris got the lines and I sat in back with Kelhan. By now Charm-N was waiting for Ruby to step off first and was pretty consistently in her "sweet spot" where the tie back did not engage.

Chris enjoyed driving his team and even took them out of the arena and parked them in front of the workshop so we could unhook the carriage and not have to push it very far to park it!

Kelhan was very good at waiting to the side while we unhitched and then "helped" me lead Charm-N back to where we untacked her. He then decided Gama's was going to be more fun and Chris and I finished up hosing them down and putting away the carriage.

I'm looking forward to more driving with the big ladies. I just wish they were both seven instead of seventeen. We'll just keep being grateful for whatever years we have left with the two of them.
lantairvlea: (zetahra)


Tristan helping fill Zetahra's water bucket four months before.

I'm okay when I don't think about the end too much.

As Tru-D comes along I can't help but compare the two. Z had a bit more sass and self-confidence, but she was ultimately respectful and wanted to please (though I am sure in other hands she may have been more self-serving!) Tru-D is more cautious and a little more reactive, but she lacked the 10 months of handling that Zetahra had from the start. She is coming around and is much more social and wanting attention and is always seeking the answer to the questions I ask her.

They have a surprisingly similar build (I need to get some good conformation shots of Tru-D as it cools down) and I think Tru-D's mane is going to be almost as ridiculous and is in desperate need of a good brushing, but there's more pressing things I need to do while sweating it out outside like mucking, teaching, and doing general care of the herd.

I'm hoping Tru-D comes along just as well as Zetahra did and I look forward to seeing her develop and mature, fingers crossed. Tru-D and Zetahra are four years and two days apart in age and I can't help but think that there isn't some purpose and connection in there somewhere. There's no replacing Zetahra, certainly, but Tru-D has been helping to fill the gaping hole that Z left behind.

Short update on Chewy. We have had some poop! Three piles yesterday even, but nothing yet today, however her input has pretty much sucked so there isn't much passing through. Yesterday we took her in for her teeth and they are definitely showing her age. She doesn't have much chewing surface left on the top and had some points that were starting to cause some cheek ulcers, which probably weren't helping. Dr. Roach (filling in for Chatham since his knee surgery three weeks ago) also found two small abcesses that had started. The vibration caused by the electric float caused them to rupture slightly so we're looking at a long course of antibiotics. I have some SMZs left over from Dakota last year and they are good until October so I will be using them up. The timing is surprisingly good and while Chewy hates that I'm shoving more stuff in her mouth twice a day hopefully it'll make her more comfortable in her mouth and get everything back in order. I'd love to have her healthy and sound another five years, but at twenty-five already I know it is going to take conscientious maintenance a bit of luck to get there.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Good news! I just got an email from Niki and Panda sailed right through the vet check. I wasn't surprised, but there's always that little worry in the back of your head, you know? Apparently the vet said if Niki wasn't going to take Panda she probably would!

Did I mention that I did about 90% of the training on Panda? Of course now I can't find a picture of me riding her (none on my phone) so have a lovely conformation shot of her instead.

no title

And a video of me riding her bareback last February.



Niki's very excited to be taking Panda home and said it was a dream come true. I'm excited to see her going to someone who is so obviously in love with her. I hope they have many years of enjoyment together!

I did find out that the Spotted Draft Horse Society is officially defunct like the Pinto Draft Registry, BUT there is now a Spotted Draft Horse Registry based in Canada and they are registering horses that were a part of PDR or SDHS for free with a copy of the registration papers. Thankfully I have a copy of both to send to Niki so she can get her (re)registered.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Six years ago today...



We said hello to Zetahra.



She and Panda were pretty adorable together.

After her first bath

She was pretty fancy from the start. Here she is at six weeks.

Man, if things were different what would we be doing now?
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Chewy's new bridle arrived today. She now has one custom-fit for her and the same color as her rope halter. It makes it easier for the students to tell which goes to what horse when they're color-coordinated. I also finally got her a slightly smaller nose net so it rests closer to her nostrils.



The little mare looks pretty sporty in her burgundy bridle. It also has reins a foot shorter than the other bridle so my students aren't having to deal with an insane amount of slack. It got its first use today and has received a preliminary stamp of approval from all parties.

I'm giving the old blue one to Tru-D ... or at least that's the theory! I had to loosen the nose and drop the cheeks and throatlatch all the way down. I suspect she won't fit in it come next year when I start getting her ready to ride. It should hopefully work while I continue to build her ground driving skills, but she may need a Tru-D specific one in the next year (I am sure Lisa will be thrilled with my continued repeat business!). Of course the blue one does fit both Sunny and Cinnamon too so it isn't like there's no one else for it to fit.



Baby horse does look pretty good in blue. I worked with her on bending both ways in it and asking her to back. She was pretty light and soft left, but a little sticky right. It didn't take long for her to loosen up and give easily. I then played with her in pseudo-liberty. She was still wearing te bridle and I asked her to yield herforehand and haunches as well as follow me turning both ways. I had not asked her for that type of thing before, but she did great with it and I only touched the reins once.

Tru-D is going to be a very sensitive, careful horse. Depending on how she does I may not want to let students on her in another three years .... I had the same debate with Zetahra, but never got the chance to be shelfish. Z, however, while sensitive was a little less reactive, though a good share more opinionated. Tru-D is like Panda in sometimes getting herself overly stressed about trying to please. Zetahra was a people-pleaser (and mugger for attention...), but she didn't stress if she wasn't getting something. I guess Tru-D might endbup being a mix between Panda and Zetahra, though I guess I should compare her more with Chewy, who is related to Tru-D's sire (can you seethe resemblance?).

A sensitive mare in her own right Chewy can get herself a little stressed trying to find the right answer and has an incredible amount of give. However she is, for the most part, pretty unflappable and that is a combination of training, personality and time. I wonder if that is a C-line mare trait.

Of course Tru-D is the one who will trot up toand follow around the boys as they drive their rather noisy John Deer Gator power wheel toy.
lantairvlea: (Kash)
I was able to put in a second ride on both Chewy, Kash, and Kitt and rode Bud in them as well this week.

Here are my overarching observations that one might consider with these bits:

This is not a bit you let the horse just "hang out" in. Some might be okay, but most will start playing with it to some extent and will end up dropping it given enough time. I discovered this as I had to get on and off resetting poles as students knocked them over. No problem if you have a headstall, which is an option with these as well, but just as the jaw bit you don't want to leave them alone with it too long.

It's also not good for grass snatchers and drinking (having to swallow and move feed around makes them push the bit down because it doesn't have anything holding it up). It is also not good for leading unless your horse is SUPER light. I didn't push trying to lead with it because I knew the mechanics of it were non-condusive. If you need to lead a horse either leave the halter on or wait to put on the bit until right before you mount up.

On to the working thoughts: I have been able to use them with four horses at this point, Chewy the Haflinger, Kash the Arab, Kitt the Fjord, and my client's Haflinger, Bud. Chewy was the initial driver since she as the facial nerve that misfires. I know it is the trigeminal nerve and not the caudal, but I figured it was worth the shot at least. She still had some head shaking so that theory is out. She does wear a nose net on her usual bridle, which does help so I'll either need to put on a cavesson with it or put one on her halter. She was pretty good in it, though might have been slightly offended as she hasn't worn a bit in almost a year! There was a good amount of mouthing the first wearing and she dropped it a couple times (see above!). She didn't feel too different from her bitless and I would have to pull out her bitted bridle to see if there is any difference there (takes a double-jointed eggbutt with copper lozenge). The second time she was less mouthy and I was able to trot and bend and turn a bit more. She was wanting to fall in on the turns to the left, but that's more her than anything on her face or in her mouth.

A rare picture of the little mare. Biggest eyes I've ever seen on a horse of any size.



For Kash the first thing I noticed was how QUIET he was in his mouth compared to every other bit I have tried on him (and over 12+ years I have tried a lot of bits!). Yes he played with it a little to start, but he wasn't constantly jawing is as he is wont to do when not actively engaged in anything else (he goes pretty quiet when his brain is engaged). I got two rides in it with him thusfar and I'm pretty pleased with how he felt in it. He was off for other unrelated reasons (stepped on himself and biffed it a couple weeks ago and is still just a little sore), but so far as bit function goes he felt really good in it and it was so nice not hearing "Ka-clack, Ka-clack" and he chewed on his bit. I think it's also pretty hard for them to suck it up into their molars (no scratches, yay!) because of the snugness and the fact that the jaw gets wider towards the molars. Kash also neck reined beautifully with it and he was lovely and soft in it. He's not a very stiff horse in general and tends towards bending too much, but I think he was more responsive because he wasn't so distracted with trying to chew on it as he is with his conventional bits.

The first time with Kitt she played with it a moment, but then was pretty quiet until she got a bit of grass in her mouth to chew on and had a hard time figuring out how to work around it. I didn't do much hard work either ride with Kitt so it's still in the "wait and see" column. I did note she fussed with it a little more the second time, but I did leave her alone with it too. When I picked her up into a trot she responded pretty well with it. She did want to drop her head a bit more, not quite rooting, but not quite an honest stretch either. It'll help if I get the time to put in a "real" ride on her. We worked turn on the haunches and forehand today, which was good and she bent pretty readily.

I wonder with my three if any of the initial weirdness is due to them not working bitted at all for almost a year. I imagine there would have been a more notable difference going from a metal bit to the the biotbane jaw bit and less of an offended "why are you putting things in my mouth?!"

Bud went okay in it, but I think I had some other things going on with him too.



I thought he might be a little lame in his turnout so I took him out to the road where I would have a flat, straight surface that would tell me clearer. The neighbors down the road had some workers in their yard and a big stack of pallets that he was giving The Eye. He bowed out terribly and was sticky going forward and since I didn't have the whip I had to kick, which he was pretty dead to and was pretty exasperating. Once past it and turned around he power-trotted towards home dead-even. I was able to back him off pretty well with the bit and tried getting him the other way again with marginally more success. He wanted to rush home again and I finally picked up the whip and threw on my vest (I like having my vrst when riding on the road). The whip seemed to help since I wasn't throwing us off balance kicking him. He might have been a little less responsive than his usual low-port Kimberwick, but it can be hard to tell with him if you don't ride him in two bits side by side. Considering I had to work him past a super scary pile of pallets and didn't have the whip like I usually do he did very well! He came back from his power trot home well enough so that was the important part.

I think the Stark Naked Bit is an interesting option to have. It seems that no one is objecting horribly to it (yet). My horses who haven't had bits for close to a year were more skeptical than Bud who works in a bit all the time, but they all seemed to settle fairly quick so long as they don't have something else in their mouth or are left alone to play with it. I like that it molds easily around the tongue and while the stitches provide some texture there are no points, nubs, or joints creating possible pinch points or poking into the roof of the mouth. It also has a softer feel on the skin than any metal bit could, especially thinking about how this might feel on the bars of the mouth compared to metal.

The construction was nice with sturdy stitching. I also liked that they gave you options for strap width as well as ring diameter for a customized feel for both horse and rider. I went with the 3/4" strapping because I thought that the 1" might be a little too wide and isn't comparable to any bits I've ever used with my crew. They also offer a 1/2" which was narrower than I was wanting for my group.

I plan on continuing to try them now and again and hopefully get more of a ride in on them, but as most of the rides have been while I'm teaching there does end up being a lot of standing and observing than actively riding the horse.

Ruby

Dec. 27th, 2015 08:19 pm
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
A week ago Thursday or Friday Ruby came up sore on her right fore. My first hope was an abscess as I couldn't feel any heat. She has had ringbone in that foot since before we bought her as a six or seven year-old in '06. She was an Amish horse and our best guess is that she suffered an injury that caused damage to the bone. She has some external scarring going into her coronary band that is usually hidden by her feather. She bowed the tendon on that leg as well about two years ago in some freak accident while turned out as she wasn't in much work at the time. We have done a few x-rays over the years that show some pretty impressive remodeling spiraling across the front of her short and long pastern bones. Her last set about two years ago showed some fusion in the joint, which explained the slight hitch in her get along as she has reduced shock absorption with the joint progressing towards fusion. The good, big lady also has shivvers, which shows up in her right hind, especially when you try to pick the foot up too fast, but also occasionally when she steps off after standing a while.

I had Kevin deop by Tuesday to hoof test her (I should get a pair someday...) and he didn't find anything of concern. The one spot I thought was a little soft was just some dead sole needing to come out anyway. Drat. He did note that her ringbone lump was larger than he remembered and he also poked at her shoulders a bit to see if she wasn't sore further up.

So I got her on some Bute twice a day and put her back on a loading dose of MSM because I have been bad about getting it to her regularly, but come Friday she wasn't moving any better and was actually pointing her right fore and very reluctant to move. Arthritis gets better with movement, but as the uncontested benevolent overlord Ruby moves for no one and she barely has to shift her weight to send the others back pedaling. I put a call into the vet Saturday and given her size we upped her to three grams morning and night. We also shaved her pastern, which revealed that it was actually convex and I could feel some warmth on it. We slathered it with hydrocortisone and DMSO gel on top to help it carry into the joint.

Today she is no longer pointing that leg and while still limping seems to be more willing to move around. I hope she continues to improve. We're going to set up to have the vet come out and do a new set of x-rays on her to see where it is now.

I really hope this is just a blip as the joint finishes fusing. Ruby is not one we would necessarily be looking for a replacement when she goes, but I really would hope she sticks around a few more years. She's only 16(ish). She has given us nine pretty much sound years despite coming to us with a substantial case of ringbone to begin with. I don't have delusions about nine more, but maybe four?



Ruby and Charm-N geound driving together (you can see Chris' leg back there). We haven't quite gotten to hooking the pair to a cart. They are surprisingly well-matched.



Ruby and the boys last year.

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