Monday, January 31, 2011

Arena Update

My confidence riding Cole in the arena has skyrocketed. We are typically riding 5 days a week. I will ride all over the arena unless he is being a handful or there is a lot of commotion from other horses who are also being ridden at the same time.

I learned that I don’t need to lounge on mild days. Mild means about 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the indoor arena. If it is down to 25 degrees, lounging is advised. And if the outdoor temperature is below zero, I can’t even plan to ride and I have to lounge very, very carefully since a Mustang straight off the range would probably be quieter. Let’s hope we don’t get any more days that are that cold this winter.

I know that what Cole needs is to be turned out to run and run and run. Unfortunately, the footing in our outdoor arena is not suited for that right now. There is a lot of ice, and it is frozen with many divots. I just don’t want to take the chance. We are no longer allowed to turn out in the indoor arena due to where the hay is currently being stored. He never did much in there, anyway. After about a minute, he would find hay scraps to eat; so much for getting his bucks out. Cole really likes to eat.

He is hardly spooking in the indoor arena, now. In fact, Cruiser is spooking more than Cole! Ellen prefers to ride Ranger with Cole because, not only is Cole less disruptive than Cruiser, but he’s less of a distraction. Cruiser and Ranger like to make faces at one another. They are also attracted to each other like magnets. Wherever one is, the other would like to be, too. We don’t have this problem with Cole and Ranger.

We have been doing lots of circles, trotting and transitions, and he is doing them well. His bends are terrific. He overdoes his downward transitions from the trot—he halts instead of walks. We have to work on that. He doesn’t get distracted even half as much as Cruiser. That makes so many things so much easier.

I have been using clicker to tell him whenever he is doing something great. One day, he started to give me a very powerful and big trot. It was awesome, so I started clicking him for it. He did it over and over. I decided to quit before he got sore. I was too late. The next day I rode him, he fought moving forward in such an adamant manner, that I was sure he was hurting. I gave him a day off, and he was fine the next ride. Now I know how powerful the clicker can be, and that I am responsible for keeping him from pushing himself too hard for a piece of carrot. Now, I click him before he gets to that point—when he is rounding up and stretching down.

Sometimes, when I ask him to trot, he stops. This is something we are working on, too. It is usually after I have ridden him about a half hour, and he is telling me he wants to quit. In the old days if a horse did this, I would have given him a big kick and smacked him with the whip, but I am doing something different, now. He tends to jump forward when I give any strong forward commands, so I am doing things in a kinder and gentler manner. When he does it, I squeeze my legs and hold. If he doesn’t respond, I keep squeezing and add a continuous light tapping with the whip. Once he takes a step forward, I cease. I then ask him to trot. If he stops again, and sometimes he does, I repeat it all. Most of the time, he will trot. He has been doing this less, so I think it is working.

The other problem that I have had is him being attracted to the corner that all the other horses in the barn is afraid of. He has successfully taken off running towards it when I really want to go in a circle instead of down the wall. I think he found it is fun to go there, and it gives him a break from work.

I have increased the times I walk and trot through that corner without stopping. When I was intimidated by the far end of the arena, I stopped there often to breathe—another reason he may like it there. I am also concentrating on my circles to keep him from going to the corner when I don’t want him to. In that direction, my outside seat bone tends to float off the saddle. If it does, he will veer out of the circle or even go straight out if he wants to go to the corner. If I hold my seat bone where it belongs, he will bend on the circle and not even look down the wall. It is amazing that a horse so green would be so tuned in to what I do. It goes to show me how important my riding is not only to his performance, but to his behavior.

I am learning a lot with him in the arena, and time goes quickly. Still, I really want to go down trail. With everything I have been doing with him this winter, he will be well prepared for the trail—unlike last fall when I was riding him out there. He knew so little, it still amazes me that he was so behaved. Now, he will be great—at least once we get past the springtime silliness.

Another old picture of Cole

Here I am at the breeder leading him with a saddle on.  It was the beginning of something great. 

My boyfriend took these pictures and only got them off his camera this weekend.  He has a bunch more that I will try to post, too.

House Cat Tip of the Month

House Cat Tip of the Month

Grass. Cats love grass, and indoor cats don’t have the access to it that outdoor cats do. I harvest the long stalks of Thunder’s favorite grass so he can have it all winter.
I used to just feed it to him by hand, but one day, I had an inspiration. He had one of those corrugated cardboard scratching pads that he no longer used. I took a bunch of the grass stalks and inserted them upright into the wholes of the cardboard. Now he has his own pasture to graze on. He loves sniffing around it; looking for just the right piece to nibble on.
I also created him a hanging garden by loosely bundling a few stalks and hanging them upside down on a piece of furniture. He enjoys that, too.
The dog will also graze in the pasture, but I’m not sure if it is because she likes to eat grass or if she only does it because she sees Thunder doing it. He doesn’t mind her eating his grass—maybe because he knows there is more in the closet.
Yes, Thunder is spoiled.

Cole's New Trick

Cole’s New Trick

I love training with a clicker. There are different ways you can use it. You can reward a horse for getting something right. I do this all the time, and it seems he is getting things right more than ever!

Another way to use clicker is to shape a behavior. That is when you start with one behavior and change it to a better behavior one step at a time. I use this, too.

One more way, is to reward an offered behavior that you didn’t ask for, so your horse will want to do it again. I haven’t done too much of this, but last weekend, something happened, and I clicked it.

In the winter, I have my pockets stuffed with mittens, gloves and half gloves. I like to be prepared. Sometimes, I need a pair of gloves with mittens over them. Sometimes, I only need half gloves, but if my hands get cold later in the ride, I need to add mittens.

Anyway, in the winter, if you want to find me, you just need to follow the trail of gloves that fall out of my pockets.

That is, until this weekend. I was riding Cole, and a mitten fell out of my pocket. He wanted to look at it, and I let him. He sniffed it and picked it up. When I reached over and took it out of his mouth, I clicked him.

That was just the beginning. The mittens kept falling out, and Cole kept picking them up. I found that I couldn’t click before I had the mitten in my hand, or he would drop it to get his treat. Also, I couldn’t lean forward to get it before he had his head in his normal standing position, or he tended to drop it, then, too.

In one evening, without more than a total of a few minutes of training, I had a horse that picked up my fallen mittens and allowed me to take them from his mouth.

I didn’t tell Ellen about his trick until I was riding with her the next morning. I got everyone’s attention, dropped my mitten and told Cole to pick it up. Ellen wasn’t too impressed since she knows what is possible with a clicker, but everyone else was. It is a cute trick, and it may be useful on the trail, as I tend to drop mittens there, too. It would be great to not have to dismount to pick them up. I am trying to teach him the verbal cue “pick it up,” and I hope eventually he will only pick things up if I tell him too. It could be a problem if he tries to pick up everything he sees—like cats.

The funniest part is that if a mitten falls out of my pocket and I don’t know it, he will just stop to get it. This would also help on the trail because I will be less likely to lose things. Ellen said that if he learns to stop whenever something falls from him, maybe then he will stop if the object that falls is me!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Old Cole Pics

These are pictures of Cole at the breeder the day I bought him.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I rode Cruiser!

Well, after a month of only hand walking and occasionally hand trotting just to check his soundness, I decided it was time to ride Cruiser.

I quit riding him in December when he persistently was showing lameness at a trot when I rode him. It was primarily when his head was up in the air like a Saddlebred. When I could get him to relax, he would lower his head and trot sound. Unfortunately, over Christmas, he only wanted to trot with his back hollow and his head straight up. The lameness got worse, so I was time to quit riding.

I was going to get the vet out the next week after the holidays, but by then, the lameness was gone.

About 4 years ago, Cruiser bowed his tendon very bad. I was leading him on the street and a dog came flying out of the house we were walking by. Cruise was terrified, and I couldn’t hold him. He got loose, jumped a ditch and came out lame on the other side. It took a full year for him to recover, and then a few moths later, he had a relapse. At that time, the vet checked him for Insulin Resistance—bingo! Even though he didn’t look like a typical Insulin Resistant horse, he had it, and it weakens the tendons making them more susceptible to injury. We changed his diet, and I exercise him 5 days a week to control it.

It appeared the lameness was from his bowed tendon leg, the opposite hind and possibly his back. Over the summer, he had a horrible case of hives in the saddle area. I put him on steroids to get them to heal. They did, but he still has a bump right where the saddle and the hives intersect. I have been suspicious about this for months.

Anyway, back to my ride. It was so great to be back in the saddle with Cruiser. I felt like I was home, again. After a long warmup, I got my nerve up to trot a little. I knew he would be excited, so his head would go straight up—putting pressure on whatever was sore in the past. I was really, really nervous.

We went about 10 strides. His head was up, but there was on limp!!! A minute later, I did it again—10 more strides. He was still okay. I decided I should try it at a sitting trot, too, since it seemed worse at the sitting trot—plus, it is easier to see a head bob. Still, he was fine. I was so happy.

The plan is to slowly add trotting to his ride. In about a month, we will be out on the trail and I will just slowly and carefully add more work. I am assuming that it is the tendon, and I will treat it as such. I am hopeful that I will get another summer of trail riding. Maybe it won’t be as fast or as far as it was in his younger years, but I have Cole for that, now. I will be happy just to be able to take him out and ride.

Cruiser is a great horse, and a joy to ride on trail.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Farrier Night

I got to the barn, and my farrier was already finished with Cruiser and working on Ranger. Cole was going nuts in his stall. I never saw him do anything like it. He was pawing, spinning and jumping all around. After 20 minutes or so, he settled down. I was a little worried how he would be for his trim,

He was the best he has ever been. The only thing he did wrong was try to eat the lead rope. I was very pleased.

Since my boyfriend was there to help with the feeding, and he got all the watering done while I was with the farrier, we had a lot of time to kill. (I’m not supposed to feed until 8:00.) I walked Cruiser for a half hour. I still had time, so I lounged Cole. I didn’t expect to be working with him, so I didn’t have any carrots. Instead, I used peppermints for his click treats. Well, I found out the Cole works harder for peppermints! He did have one bolt and rear episode, but he trotted out beautifully and with much enthusiasm. I guess I should always have a few peppermints with me for when he does something great.

Finally, it was nearly 8:00 and everyone left. Time to feed. We have 36 horses at our place, and they were all eagerly waiting.

It was about 30 degrees, and it seemed so warm, compared to what we had over the weekend. It was strange not to be cold. It is supposed to be manageable weather all week. I hate winter!

Monday, January 24, 2011

This is Cruiser crossing the river right by the barn.  It was deerfly season--that's why he is wearing his bonnet.

My sister's horse, Ranger.  Isn't he awesome?

Ranger in his winter coat.  He turns into a yak in the winter.

Morabs and Cold Weather just don't Mix

The wild Morabs were at it, again. Saturday morning, it was 3 below zero when I left the house. I don’t know what it was at the barn, but Cole made me sweat, just the same. I didn’t plan on riding, but in the end, I didn’t have any choice. He could barely contain his energy. What am I saying? He didn’t contain his energy.

Leading was extremely difficult, and lounging was near impossible. Bucks, rears and bolts. I did it anyway for 20 minutes. He was a little better when we finished.

Cruiser was feeling pretty good, too. I am still just hand walking him. When I started, we were alone in the arena. A few minutes later, all kinds of people were in and out with their horses. Cruiser was dancing and bucking all about. I decided to take him in, and my sister got her horse out, instead. He’s not a Morab, so she was able to hand walk him for a half hour with little trouble—in spite of 3 other horses being in the arena.

When she finished, things calmed down, and I finished Cruiser’s walk without any problem.

Sunday, it was much warmer—10 degrees above 0. I decided to lounge Cole first, and he was his old self. After 5 minutes, I brought him back to saddle up. I rode with my sister on her horse, and both of them were fine.

I led Cruiser, and he behaved beautifully.

I’m sure it was all due to the weather.

It is going up into the 20s, today, so the weather shouldn’t affect their behavior with the farrier. (I hope.) I am getting Cruiser’s shoes back on. I guess the vet is right and he needs the support for his tendon, after all. I will start riding him later this week and see how it goes.

The whole weekend was brutal. I don’t know how those people in Montana and other northern places do it. They predict 30s this week. What a relief.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wild Morab Update

Cole has been an interesting horse to ride, lately. Remember Monday’s ride he was acting weird and I thought he was sore? Well, I didn’t ride again until Wednesday. He seemed sensitive in the girth area, so I switched him over the cotton string girth. I always used that girth with this saddle in the past, and no horse has ever complained about it. Cole was just so fat when I first started riding him that it didn’t fit. My sister gave me this expensive girth to use—because her horse Ranger didn’t like it.

I took him to the arena. Unlike Monday, when he didn’t want to budge, this time, he seemed very, very energetic. He didn’t misbehave, but he felt like he wanted to. I decided to lounge him. I got off and hooked the lounge line to his bridle. I had never done this with Cole, so when he started careening around, bucking and rearing, I thought maybe I should go back to lounging in a halter. Well, he still careened, bucked and reared. I then thought it was the saddle bothering him. I took it off, and he was just as bad as before. After about 15 minutes total of scary lounging, he settle down to work. I went another 5 minutes or so, and brought him back to the barn, resaddled and rebridled him.

I then hand walked Cruiser. He was bucking, gaiting in hand and dancing around the first 10 minutes. Why did I want Morabs? Why didn’t I go with Quarter Horses? Alas, I made my bed, and now I have to sleep in it. (It is great to go on a vigorous 2-hour ride and come back to the barn with a horse that is as fresh as a daisy.)

I rode him, and he was back to his normal self. What a relief. I am glad I lounged him. If he had all that misbehavior pent up in his little body, I was glad I was on the ground when he decided to expel it.

I think he needed a good turnout. The outdoor arena has too much ice in it, and we aren’t supposed to turn out in the indoor arena. Besides, after about 30 seconds of playing in the indoor arena, he finds hay scraps to eat—that defeats my purpose.

The farrier was supposed to trim his feet, yesterday, but there was a snowstorm over where he lives and he postponed it until next Monday. It wasn’t that bad by us, so I went out anyway to ride. I lounged him for 10 minutes. He reared once, but otherwise was fine.

I then rode him with no unusual behavior. I have my horse back, for now. This weekend, I will lounge him before I ride, since it is going to be bitterly cold. I haven’t even decided for sure if I will ride. Usually, if the indoor arena is below about 15 degrees F. I won’t ride. It just isn’t very comfortable. Since it is going down to 4, tonight, I think it may be too cold in the morning.

I still think he was sore on Monday. I barely rode him because of it. With him being off on Tuesday, I think he just had too much energy on Wednesday. He no longer seems sore. I really am thinking it was the girth. The week before, I realized it needed to be tighter and raised it a hole. That’s probably what caused the problem—and remember—Ranger didn’t like this expensive girth, either. The 10 dollar cotton string girth wins, again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Even more snowstorm

Cruiser in the snowstorm.  I wish I could edit myself out--particularly the coat. 

More Snowstorm

More Mingo in the snowstorm.  I sure miss him. 

Snow pictures

I decided I needed to add some pictures.  I don't have many pictures, because I don't have a digital camera or a home computer.  I depend on my sister for everything.

This is my dear Mingo in the Valentine's Day snowstorm of 2006.

Monday's ride

An awesome day of arena work is seldom followed by another awesome day of arena work. It didn’t surprise me that I had problems, but they were very odd problems.

Cole was very fussy during our warm-up, and that made me suspicious. When I asked him to trot, he jumped. I stopped him and tried again. He did his huge trot, right from the start. I clicked and treated him after only a few steps. We only did a few transitions when he told me he wasn’t going anywhere. He got very fussy and irritated when I asked him to walk forward.

He was so odd, that I got off and checked his bridle and saddle to make sure everything was correct. It was, so I tried to ride, again. By now, I started to think he was just sore from the previous day’s ride. I had thought at the time he may have done too much, so maybe he did. I still had trouble. He got light in the front a few times like he wanted to rear and once he bucked when I asked him to walk.

Sigh… When I did get him to walk off, I clicked and treated. I did it over and over until he was walking circles. We still had some trouble, and I had to do the clicking in both directions, too. We did a little trotting each way (ordinary trotting), and then called it quits.

He must have bee sore—just like I am from lifting those huge bales of hay that they just got in. They feel like they weigh 200 pounds! I had to lift 5 bales onto the hay cart. I hope they get the lighter ones next time.

I turned him loose after the ride, and he rolled, bucked and ran around the arena a few times. I massaged his back afterwards, and he showed no soreness. When I did his neck, he was in heaven. It may be his neck that was sore.

He will have today off. I will test him out on Wednesday. Thursday, his feet are being trimmed, and then I won’t ride him again until Saturday.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I haven’t blogged much, lately. It’s the winter blues. I am so ready for spring. I am tired of riding in the arena and walking my dog in the dark after work. The snow is too deep and it is just too cold most of the time. It may be 40 degrees tomorrow, but they are predicting freezing rain.

I am tired of working, too. Oh, I am glad I have a job, but I am ready to retire. I chose a date. January 21, 2025. I have a goal, now. It seems like a long time, but as I get older, time just goes faster. It will be here in no time.

Anyway, Cruiser seems very sound. The farrier is coming out this week and I will have him put shoes on. I will then start riding him at a walk, only, for a few weeks. Well, I may try a trot just to see if he will trot sound while being ridden, but that is all. He is very, very energetic from the limited exercise. I’m sure he will be quite a handful, but I am used to it. He has been a handful for me for the last 21 years—I certainly don’t’ want that to change, now.

My other handful of a horse is settling down, beautifully. I have entirely quit lounging him before I ride him. I just lead him about for a few minutes to make sure he is of the right mind to ride. I figure I could always go back and get a lounge line if necessary.

Anyway, he is starting to transform into a horse I have only dreamed about. In just the last week, he went from a horse that continually goes above the bit—resisting any solid contact to a horse that is reaching for the bit, taking contact and rounding up underneath me. If I ask him for more energy, he is starting to collect and really step under himself. This is just in a week! I don’t think this is normal. I feel it is directly due to clicker. I let him go a few deep, collected strides, and then I click. He stops for his treat, and we do it again. This is completely unreal for me. I only work in the arena a few months out of the year. I think Cruiser started to do this about the age of 12. Cole’s stride gets huge—and it throws me out of the saddle. I need to work on myself.

I never shortened the reins through this. I only use a snaffle bit, too. I just figured if I rode well, did lots of transitions and circles to improve his strength and balance and clicked when he did something outstanding, it would all come in time. I just thought it would be a lot more time than this to start to see him transform.

My sister saw me ride him this weekend, so she confirmed everything I felt. She says he looks magnificent, but I can’t get her to ride him so I could see what he looks like.

Quite the trail horse I have, huh?

I still haven’t figured out a way to gently get him cantering for me. My sister suggests waiting a few weeks before I start trail riding, again, because he will get pretty excited about adding cantering to the mix, and I then may have trouble settling him down to work, again. As usual, I think her advice is good. In the mean time, I will teach him to get very responsive to acceleration requests. Maybe I will be able to accelerate him right into the canter.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I read on Forbes that Cleveland has the second worse winter in a major metropolitan area. Only Denver gets more snow, but we they have regular thaws. We get snow and it stays forever. I bet we are cloudier, too.

Well, our most esteemed weather forecaster thinks we may get a January thaw during the last week of the month. I sure hope so. We usually get one, but didn’t last year. At my house, we have a foot and a half of snow on the ground. I hate snow.

Our only big plans this weekend is a movie night at my brother’s house. My eldest niece is home from Cornell, so they have been inviting us over a lot so we can see her. My boyfriend gets to pick out the movie, and he never tells me until last minute as a surprise.

I will be riding Cole Friday through Monday, as usual. We did have one incident last time where he bucked and bolted to the far corner. It is so odd because all the rest of the horses are afraid of that corner and try to bolt away from it. I decided I need to work more in it so the novelty is gone. I don’t know what attracts him to it. That is the second time this month that he did that. Once I stopped shaking, we walked multiple tiny circles there and spent plenty of time walking through the corner.

Cruiser is doing well—no sign of a limp at a walk or trot. I only trot him every few days to make sure he is moving sound. I am going to have his shoes put back on next week, and then I will start riding him—very conservatively. I am going to treat him like his bad tendon got irritated and hope for the best. If he becomes lame, again, I will call the vet.

It is tough having an older horse. I worry so much about him.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Storm

Whew! What a trip to work. The roads seemed totally unplowed, but it may have been because the snow was coming down so fast. The traffic was atrocious. It usually takes 20 minutes, and I took and hour and a half. The snow is still falling. I sure hope it stops by the time I go home.

Even a front wheel drive car wouldn’t have helped me, today. I don’t think I ever got faster than 15 MPH. I actually only slid a couple of times the whole trip. I drive a Camaro—I have only had Camaros my whole life. My next car will be a fuel efficient front wheel drive car, that’s for sure. I have just gotten too old for this.

I just hate winter so much. If I didn’t have to drive so much, I don’t think I would care so much.

At least it is now light when I drive home from work. In a few weeks, I will be able to walk the dog in the daylight. It won’t be until March when it will be light enough to go on a trail ride when I get to the barn in the evening. It seems like forever.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Close Call

When I went to ride, yesterday, I saw the new boarder in the other barn. She has a 5-year-old Arabian. I introduced myself and then got Cole and started riding. Our stables has 3 separate barns that are attached to the indoor arena. We are in the small side barn. There are only 7 stalls over there, and we love how quiet it is compared to the larger front and back barns.

As I was riding Cole, the new boarder was talking to a friend. I heard the words “Morab,” “awesome,” “75% Morgan,” and “has been riding him only a short time.” I couldn’t hear the rest, but I could tell by the tone of her voice that she must have been talking about Cole--and saying very positive things about him. I felt like I was riding the most beautiful horse in the world. Sure, I have gotten many compliments on him in the months that I have had him, and one woman wanted to marry him, but it is much more special to overhear someone talking about him when they didn’t know I was listening.

Eventually, they walked towards the arena and watched me riding. It didn’t take long for the new boarder to realize that he was the horse that she had told her friend about. She said they were just talking about him, and told me how much she likes him.

Later, my boyfriend arrived to help me do the evening feeding. I told him the story, and then I heard the “rest of the story.”

The day before, he was talking to the other women in our little side barn. They told him the new boarder was young and pretty.

My boyfriend has recently begun clicker training with his horse, Starry. He is still on the target training stage. He found it hard to coordinate the clicker, treats and the target towel. He got himself one of those round, plastic butter containers and punched a couple holes in it. He then took baling twine and threaded it through the holes. This way, he can fill it with carrot slices and hang it around his neck. He looks like a total dork; albeit a cute dork, but a dork, nonetheless.

He was in Starry’s stall, doing the clicker, and in walks the pretty new boarder. She wanted to show Cole to yet another friend. My boyfriend panicked! He turned his back on her, whipped his treat container off his neck and hid it in his jacket at the speed of light. He couldn’t let the pretty new boarder see him looking like a dork! Due to his cat-like reflexes, his image has been saved.

Whew, that was a close call!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cole Ride and Starry Emergency

I had a nice ride on Cole last night. I didn’t even need to lounge him, first. I am starting to think that I could skip it. He has today off. If he is still sensible on Wednesday, I do believe lounging will be a thing in the past.

I was able to ride by myself the whole time. We trotted all over the arena; doing circles and eights and a lot of transitions. He is fun to ride, now that I’m not frightened. He pretty much stopped his spooking-bolts—which was what was scaring me. In just a few short weeks, he is behaving better than Cruiser as far as spooks.

He is trying something new—and I think he is just testing his bounds. He sometimes stops and refuses to go forward. Next time, I will ride with a whip and see if I could gently convince him to change his mind. It is better than kicking his sides hard. It worked on the trail when he went through that phase, and after about a week, I didn’t need it anymore.

Starry D, my boyfriend’s horse, got cast last night. He was rolling in his stall. I am glad that I was there—and I had help. Three other women were there, and between all of us, we got him flipped over. He is such a big horse. I’m glad he didn’t panic. He is a quiet, good-natured Appendix Quarter Horse. Once he realized he was stuck, he just laid there, let us loop ropes around his legs and when he we pulled him over, he slowly and carefully got up—giving us time to get out of the way. He didn’t hurt himself at all.

Cruiser Update

Well, I have been pretty quiet about Cruiser. The last few weeks, he wasn’t moving right whenever he trotted and had his head too high, and last week, he seemed lame. I decided to give him a little time off with just hand walking, and if he wasn’t better—and I fully expected he wouldn’t be, I would call the vet out. It was over the holidays, so I figured I would wait until after them to get the vet.

I don’t want to simply give him stall rest, as he is insulin resistant and exercise helps control the condition.

Yesterday, he was overflowing with energy as I led him. He couldn’t contain himself and kept trying to trot. Since I was going to check him at the trot and then call the vet today, I asked him to trot. He trotted perfect. I tried a few times, and he tried a few more times. He did fine. Now, I can’t get the vet out, because he’s not lame!

This happened last summer, and giving him a week off did the trick. I am going to continue his little vacation and see what happens. If the lameness comes back, I will get the vet out immediately before it goes away.

I should be happy he is better, but I really liked the idea of finding out what was wrong and letting it heal over the winter so he would be back on the trail in the spring. Now, I will have to guess the best course.

I certainly don’t mind if I can’t ride him much over the winter in the arena—I have Cole Train for that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Good Holiday Weekend

Cole and I had a wonderful weekend. The weather was lovely on Friday, but the driveway was a sheet of ice. I rode him in the arena, again. Most of the time, it was with other horses. My confidence level has skyrocketed, and I am nearly as confident on him as I am on Cruise. I can’t believe the difference in just the last few weeks. We did a lot of trotting, and included full laps in each direction.

Saturday was still very warm in the morning, and everything melted. I started out riding in the arena, and after a half hour, I headed down the hill to the river. It was roaring from the thaw and all the rain we got the night before. This was the first time I rode him on the trail in at least a month, and it was the best that he ever did going down the hill. He didn’t try to trot a single time. He did well on the way back, too, but he normally does pretty good going up the hill. It was good to get outside for a little while.

Sunday, it was frigid, again, and the bare ground was frozen solid. I decided to stay inside. I got to ride nearly the whole time by myself, and we rode all over the arena without any hesitation on my part. I am so happy to leave that sick feeling behind me. No longer do I catch myself holding my breath with my heart pounding.

My plan for the winter is to get my riding back in shape. A summer of trail riding and being nervous has caused me to be sloppy. I can’t expect Cole to do well until I do it, myself. We have about 2 more months in the arena—at 5 days a week, I should be able to make a difference in my riding. Fortunately, my sister knows what I am trying to achieve, so she could give me feedback. Riding well is something that is very hard to do by yourself!