Friday, August 7, 2015

I Miss the Blog . . . Back Early

I miss the horse people I've come to know and enjoy through their blogs, and even those who comment but don't have blogs.  I can't really tell, or know, if anyone misses me and my blogging, but I guess that doesn't really matter.  So I didn't make it until the end of September for an update.

Anyhow, I've been reading, and sometimes commenting, on others' blogs, and missing blogging.  There's something about writing it down that is meaningful, somehow.

I won't be updating the ride log - that's too compulsively specific, without really capturing what is going on in our day to day riding life.  I try to do my riding now from day to day, without worrying about numbers of rides or numbers of days.  If I don't feel like riding, I don't, if I do, and I often do, I ride.

My blog break didn't make it to the end of September, but here are some highlights from the past month or so:

Horse updates

Pie had a bad reaction to mosquito/black fly bites again and developed face crud again - I caught it much earlier this year and we started on our regime of antihistamines, SMZs plus washing his face and Quadritop antibiotic ointment - he's fine now and without the scarring he got last year.

Red had a bad reaction to fly spray - got hives all over and was biting his chest and rubbing himself on the stall walls - I immediately washed him off and gave him a dose of antihistamines.  He was OK for a while - I switched to using Eqyss Marigold spray, but then he got "chest crud" - the same as Pie's face crud, so we're doing the washing/antibiotic regime.  Don't know yet if he'll need SMZs.  He won't even tolerate the Eqyss spray on his chest.

Dawn had a minor left front ankle injury - a little swelling on the inside, probably a low suspensory strain.  She's not off or unsound, but Dawn's legs are normally very clean, with all structures well-defined and clear, so I pay attention to these things - if she's got filling, something's going on.  She's had some days off and I'll wait till next week to see how she's doing on the lunge and under saddle - today the ankle was looking much better.

Norman down at Paradigm Farms got his PPID medication adjusted.

Lily gets a body clip at Paradigm - she's being treated for PPID and is doing well but still tends to grow too much coat.

Some Links

Melissa at Paradigm did another in her excellent series on PPID: Cushings/PPID Primer, part III.  I've also put it on the sidebar for future reference.

Manolo Mendez did a wonderful piece on on straightness and bending, with great compassion for the horse.

Mark Rashid had a link to another post which debunks many of the supposed behavioral theories that underly "natural horsemanship".  In summary, too much projection by humans of their dominant/aggressive tendencies onto horses.

Riding updates

I'm delighted to say that all four horses are working and riding very well. Everyone is calm and happy, and soft and responsive.  All four horses pretty much ride exactly like I'd want, no matter how many days off they have. Many things that used to be issues no longer are - things just go the way they should.  They all lead and handle on the ground well.  They all stand completely still on a loose rein for mounting, every time - it's just assumed and so it is.  Softness is a given - with Red I have to be sure to ask for it early - lots of figures and circles and transitions, including halt and backing - but if I do it's there throughout our ride.  With the other three, it's never missing.

We've mostly been riding in the indoor - the bugs have been ferocious outside due to our weather.

Missy almost never braces or roots anymore - she's just soft, all the time.  We've started some canter work, and she struggles with the left lead - her natural bend is to the right, so this is hard for her.  We've only been doing a little bit of right lead canter work - her better direction - and are continuing to develop her left bend and suppleness at the trot, working to activate the inside hind and help her step under with it in the turns.

All of a sudden, Pie's work has really come together.  He and I no longer struggle with right bend - it's just there and he's as soft and responsive in that direction as to the left.  His canter work is also really progressing - my "revised" canter/walk position after the clinic gets me out of his way, and his canter is becoming quite lovely.

My work the past month had emphasized for me how important straightness is to bend, and bend to straightness.  It's also emphasized that you can't force bend - and the dangers of excessive lateral flexion of the head and neck.  Bend, and straightness, come from the hindquarters, not the head and neck.  And a horse that isn't soft - one that is braced - will have much more difficulty with bend and straightness.

I've had the chance to see some lovely things this month - including one day when Pie and Red were flowing in with the gelding herd from the far pasture at a relaxed canter.  This makes clear to me how much more important for our horses their horse herds and horse companions are - this is their world.  They may enjoy our company, and work together with us when we ride, but their horse companions are by far more important.

I hope you all have an excellent rest of the summer!


  1. I haven't had time to read blogs lately so I miss them all, including you! I'm glad everyone is recovering well from their ordeals. I'm glad you're going to keep posting!!

  2. Glad you came back early! Love the new header. Sounds like you are in a good place with your horses right now.

  3. I did try to leave a comment yesterday and it wouldn't take it now I know why.

    Glad you're back earlier than expected. Sounds like everything is going well with you and the horses. I'll check out those links you mentioned.

  4. Glad to read an udpate! Can I ask which fly spray Red reacted too? It sounds like you tried switching to the Eqyss Marigold but that wasn't the one he originally reacted too? I always like to keep up with people's fly spray reviews.

    I love watching the horses be carefree with each other, there is something very special about it.

    1. Red reacted to Mosquito Halt, which is pretty nasty stuff (although it worked better for black flies and mosquitos than the others) and has some extra ingredients compared to most other fly sprays. I got ride of all my MQ - it's also super expensive. I use Bronco - I don't feel as poisoned myself around it and it seems to work as well as the others (which isn't that well this time of year). I'd love to use a more natural (or home made) spray, but have found they pretty much don't work. Our insect problem at the barn is pretty bad - there are a lot of horses and there is zero manure or fly control.

      Red's fine with the Marigold spray provided I don't spray it on the irritated area on his chest, which is healing up now.

      I think my best times with the horses are just watching them in the pastures - our pastures are reasonably large and herds are about 15 horses or more, so there's lots of good stuff to observe.

  5. Nice to see you back, I tried to comment when you stopped but I see you had disabled your comments, I still seem to be on a break, or on and off from blogging ,but I do miss it , and the time spent reading others

  6. The Beth Gibbons article was very good, but she says she uses "non-escalating negative reinforcement" and I don't see how that would work, isn't that nagging? I'm thinking of horses who've learned to tune out a rider's leg. What do you think she means by that?

    1. I'm not an expert on the operant conditioning language she uses, but I'll go back and take a look at the part you mention and see what I can make of it.


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