Tuesday, May 18, 2010

20 Ticks and Maisie Gets Back to Work

Poor Scout - when he came in from turnout he was very itchy - in fact so itchy that he was rubbing his butt and tail so hard on the stall wall - he was almost sitting on the wall - that he broke the top mooring of the wall (it's horizontal boards in vertical metal holders that are attached to the walls) and ended up with one whole end slightly leaning over towards the neighboring stall. (His owner is going to resecure it.) We had to figure out what was bothering him before he deconstructed the barn. The geldings moved to a new pasture yesterday, and I expected ticks, and that's what we found. More than 20! Yuck! And his owner had de-ticked him the night before. Most were on his tailbone, in clusters, and the poor guy had one up between his butt cheeks. Our lovely evening barn lady and I worked and worked at removing the ticks, and poor Scout was so appreciative - standing like a statue and stretching out his neck and wiggling his lip. Once we were done, he calmly started eating his hay. He has a very long and thick tail - it almost drags on the ground, and his owner trimmed it up so that the ticks will have less opportunity to climb it.

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Maisie's getting back to work. I'm still not up to much riding, so on Sunday when my daughter isn't at the barn, I just went there and groomed and then did some in-hand and leading work with Maisie outside. There were horses in the big outdoor ring, so we went to the small outdoor which is adjacent and did some in-hand lateral work and also some backing. I switched bits - when my daughter rode her Saturday she was very bracy in the KK double-jointed with lozenge - and we're now using a version of this Mylar high port, although without the slots to attach the headstall and reins as we don't want the mild leverage effect. This bit is very stable - it really doesn't bend at the ends of the roller. When I put it on Maisie, she carried it well even when the headstall was still too loose, and her mouth was quiet, and stayed quiet when I moved the headstall up a couple of holes.

While we were in the small outdoor, we did some standing around just observing things - this was the first time she'd been out there and she was pretty relaxed. Then we did some backing. She wasn't really doing it correctly at first - just rushing backwards with her poll flexed, but there wasn't any real softness through her neck and back. We has to work for a while to begin to get that. I got a few nice, soft steps a couple of times and then we were done. I'm sure some of the hunter/jumper folks in the next ring thought I was crazy, but they'll get used to us and how we do our work, I expect.

Yesterday, since Maisie was staying perfectly sound, my daughter got in a good ride on her - I was there to watch. First I let her loose in the indoor to have a bit of a run - she was more energetic than she's been. We saddled her up, and after some warming up at the walk, they moved up to the trot. Maisie wanted to rush - that's her normal evasion - and my daughter worked on redirecting her energy in circles, but she was still pretty excited, even offering up dropping her shoulder to the inside, particularly to the left, and some crowhops. My daughter got off, we took the bridle off and had her self-exercise a bit more. Then back on - this time it went better - no crowhops. Maisie was pretty out of shape - lots of huffing and puffing and she got sweaty even though it was cool. They continued to work in one direction until she was able to go around a full large circle at one end of the ring without rushing. Then she got a good loose rein walking break to signal her that that's what we were looking for.

And here's what I think was the critical thing. My daughter asked her to do the same thing in the other direction, rather than stopping there. It didn't take as long, and my daughter said that Maisie was much more engaged mentally - not just rushing even when she was moving her feet too fast - and that she was listening and responding. She got the big circle with no rushing, and they were done.

It was a very good session. Being persistent enough to complete the specific work you have in mind - we wanted one big circle in each direction at an appropriate pace (the whole arena would have been too much for the first day at her level of un-fitness) - is so important. I sometimes failed to do that out of frustration in my ring work, and working on the trail really didn't do much as our maneuvering options were so limited. Being able to do consistent daily work is going to make a big difference - I think she's going to come right along and be the good riding horse I know she is, once again. My daughter's going to give her a good ride every morning except Sunday, and then I'll ride her in the afternoon. Initially, until my back is fully recovered, my daughter will have to help me tack up - I can't tighten a girth - and I'll only be able to walk, but that's OK - she can stretch and relax and we can do some lateral work and backing work. And soon, I can be reinforcing the things my daughter works on in the morning. I'm actually looking forward to riding again as I can see a way forward.

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The new header is Norman the pony in his last show season with my younger daughter - his show name was 14 Karat and as you can see he was a superstar. He is also enjoying his retirement in Tennessee.


  1. NORMIE!! I wish I were small enough to ride him, he is so cool.

    I am so with you on the point about asking for Maisie to achieve the same thing in both directions. Sometimes on those rides when I'm tired and frustrated and FINALLY accomplish what I'm aiming for I just want to stop. So I have a little saying that I say to myself which is "ride like a pro." As in a pro would do exactly what your daughter did and make sure we accomplished the same thing both directions. Some days I feel like I am constantly reminding myself to "ride like a pro" while other days I don't need to tell myself that at all.

  2. Norman is beautiful! That bit looks intersting.Glad you were there to help out poor Scout

  3. Both of your daughters and their mounts look like they really know what they were doing. How sweet that both horses are retired at the same place. It sounds like Maisie is adjusting...so great that your daughter is there. What has happened with the turnout?

  4. Kate, the story about the ticks just made me shudder. They really creep me out! I am so glad we don't have them here in the Denver area.

    And I loved hearing about Maisie's session. Yes, my trainer has taught me to accomplish things on both sides before calling it quits, too. I think it's a good habit to get into.

  5. Lori - Maisie gets turnout every day for up to 5 hours, only in a dry lot - pretty big. She's pretty bored by it and often would prefer to come back in - more to eat and see as her stall is in a busy area with some good views. In bad weather, she gets to romp in the indoor. Not perfect, but she seems pretty happy.

  6. no kidding, the tail!? i've never seen ticks around that area! but i did read an article saying trim your horse's tail to help keep ticks off and i *LOLd* cuz i said, "they have four legs and a nose in the grass too!"

    but now i see.

    i'll have to check myself tonight cuz i was out in the grass for hours today.

    oh, one more thing - whenever i find a tick on me, i cannot feel it, even sometimes for days, cuz like mosquitos, they have some sort of painkiller in their mouths (so i have heard). how can the horse feel them if i cannot? interesting.


  7. oh, and do you have a tick remover? we have this ingenious little thing that is like a tiny fork with two tines that narrow toward the handle, and you slide it under the tick and twist to loosen the mouth, and then the whole thing comes out clean. the pincer types are ok, but this fork thing always removes the mouth. i'm gonna be sick now, ticks are so nasty.

  8. lytha - the horses often seem to have somewhat of an allergic reaction to the tick bites - they often get some swelling, some redness and even some "crusty", gooey stuff. I expect it itches. This varies a lot by horse.

    On tick removal, I'm pretty blase about it - I just use my fingers and pull firmly and things seem to do OK.

  9. I hate ticks!! My daughter got a very bad case of Lyme from them four years ago and is still having medical problems now. All of our horses have had Lyme's too. It's an ongoing battle here with the ticks.

    I think it's great that Maisie will be getting consistent work now. That's so important. I feel a little like I was reading about Dusty instead of Maisie. She's very forward and we do lots of circles too. Last time we simply did small circles up the entire long side at a walk until she got her head in the game and relaxed.

    Hope your back feels better soon.

  10. that header is a great shot - go Norman the pony!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  11. Love the header picture - they both look pretty focused in that one!

    20 ticks??? yikes. My new barn has a lot more long grass, so I'm going to have to start watching for ticks more...

    Glad you and your daughter are working Maisie again - consistent riding sure does make a difference.

  12. That's quite the pictures of Norman and your daughter!

    Ticks! I need to go out and check my horses for them. I haven't seen any yet.

  13. Love your new header. Your daughter is amazing!

    I hope your back improves. I'm so glad we don't have a tick problem here. Of course we don't have tall grass either, so that must be why.


  14. OH MY GOSH I don't know how I didn't recognize this before, or think to ask... but I used to ride Norman!!!!! When I was like 10, my friend Kelsey Slavin owned him - at Tievoli Farm. And I rode him. One day he bit me in the stomach and left the BIGGEST MARK!!! It was probably 12 years ago now. SMALL WORLD!!!!!!!!! I would love to see more pix of him!!!!!

  15. Thanks Kate. This bit looks perfect!!


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