Saturday, August 30, 2008

She's home!

We actually ended up bringing Pandora home yesterday -- my dad wanted to go golfing today, apparently, so he suggested that we go get her a day early. I wasn't going to argue!

She is wonderful to catch. My dad wandered out into the pasture she was in and she came walking right up, then hung out with him while he gave her some love. She loads just fine; a little nervous unloading when we asked her to back out, I think turning around may be what she's used to. Nicked her right hind leg on the trailer somehow, not sure where, but she gave herself a little scrape.

Very very polite and patient. She was nervous in the barn aisle (new place, ya?) but even when Dad turned her towards him to go the other direction, she was careful to not run him over. Introduced her and McKinna and all was fine, no squealing or anything. Pandora seemed more interested in making friends than McKinna.

Put them out in the mare pasture where Pandora seemed quite timid. She sort of wandered out to the outskirts and kept her distance, got chased off by everyone a few times but we talked to the barn owner this morning and apparently she was chasing off the ponies earlier today -- a good sign, so hopefully the timidity will fade as she settles in.

Today Rose wanted to ride her. Pandora was great coming in from the pasture -- we put her in a stall to eat some hay while we got stuff out and she was a little nervous but settled down quickly to eat. We longed her and while she was a bit confused at the start, by the end she'd figured it out. Was wonderful for tacking up, the dressage saddle fits her nearly perfectly (which means, of course, that once she gains weight it won't). Rose took her to the arena and they stood for awhile while she waited for a release form to sign.

Again I was struck by how patient she is. She stood next to the mounting block for probably almost 5 minutes, totally relaxed (in an arena she's never been in before), just chilling. Didn't fidget, didn't try to walk around in circles. Just stood there. Very cool.

She was equally as good for the ride. At first she was sticking her tongue all the way out of her mouth and lolling it around -- I'm going oh awesome, she's a tongue-sticker-outer, dressage judges love that SO much -- but then I realized that when they had put the bridle on, they hadn't adjusted the fit, and the bit was hanging down wayyyy low in her mouth. After shortening it a few holes until it just touched the corners of her mouth, no more tongue lolling, thank goodness.

Still a little stiff at walk and trot. Will definitely have to start massage and stretching. On the other hand, by the end of the ride, Rose got her to do some really nice trot and walk where she was tracking up and moving pretty nicely.

Throughout the whole ride she was quiet and willing. No resistance, no rushing, just a little reluctance to move forward which I suspect is related to the stiffness. Very much hoping this is muscle related and not joint related, but she's only six, so I think it's more likely to be muscle. There's also a chance that she's footsore, as she's barefoot and her heels look awfully low to me. Will discuss with the farrier when he comes out at the end of the month.

Barn owners spread a round bale out in the mare pasture today -- YAY! Having free choice hay (for the four days that it takes the mares to chow through one, anyway) will certainly help Pandora gain some weight. We've started her on a little Ultium, and will gradually increase it till she's where she needs to be, but I'd always rather have her eat as much hay as possible.

She is a good pony :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting Organized!

Bringing Pandora home in two (!!!) days.

Have started to get organized. After discussing with Mom, here's the feeding arrangements: start with small scoop (~1/4 lb) of Ultium + vitamins + raspberry leaf (we buy in bulk, so it's cheap and it sure works on McKinna). Will gradually increase the Ultium until she's at an ideal weight, then hold it there.

Last night, we started to put together a binder for each horse for their records. It's a requirement of Pony Club later in the ratings, but we already kept a calendar for McKinna, so we decided to get organized and keep detailed books for each horse. It will have a calendar for noting vet/farrier/vaccinations/clinics/shows/whatever, a folder for keeping receipts or other important data, and note paper with dividers for different sections. There will most definitely be a training/clinic notes section, which will probably get typed straight into this blog for training notes! It will also have places for detailed notes on vet or farrier visits, condition/ feeding program, exercise schedule, and whatnot.

As a person that can easily get messy but absolutely loves being ridiculously organized, I'm very excited for this.

Thankfully Pandora rides in a 5" bit, which means we don't have to go out and buy new bits - McKinna has a few extras we can use. Bailey's old dressage bridle should fit her, and from our quick test, our dressage saddle fits her (hopefully the jumping saddle will too). It would be nice to have a brown schooling bridle, but those are fairly easy to find inexpensively. Other than that, the only thing I should need to buy for her are a few blankets for the winter.

Two more days, can't wait :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getting Started

Just a place to keep training logs and notes for the new girl, Pandora.

Initial assessment:

6 year old 15.2ish bay Appendix mare (unregistered, unfortunately).

Soft eye, intelligent and sensitive. Nicely muscled through shoulder and butt, but needs some weight on ribs and topline. A little nervous, but not spooky. Perfectly calm for grooming and tacking. A little squiggly in the cross ties, jumpy about hind feet but I bet that'll improve with consistent handling. Looks kinda funny right in front of the point of her croup -- have a feeling that has to do with musculature being underdeveloped because of the chiropractic issues.

Was worked by chiropractor approximately 1 month ago. Was severely out through hip, pulling spine off all up through withers. Jaw was out about 3/4 inch.

Went in a 5" single-jointed eggbutt snaffle, will switch her to a french link when she's home.

Stiff in the hind end, improves with warming up. Will work on slow conditioning, stretching & massage, and steady warmups to help her with this.

Currently on just grass hay, will start her on a little Strategy when she's home.

With previous owner (PO), story is that she randomly freaked out and reared up while hacking out at a horse trials. Subsequently she began rearing when PO attempted to mount. PO says unpredictable, puts her up on Dreamhorse; free to a good home (I believe) or she goes to OSU vet school for animal research for a term and then euthanasia. Seller says no no, I will take her, goes and picks her up; has chiropractic work done, teeth floated, feet trimmed; no issues for the 1 month Seller owns her.

Pandora was Eventing at Novice level. No idea how solidly, but she readily takes contact and stretches down on the flat. When she was shown to us, she was very calm to the fence, working out her own distances at the canter without panicking even from a long or short spot. No idea how much scope she has.

She wiggled around quite a bit for mounting when Seller mounted from the ground, but held quite still when Mom got a leg up from Dad -- suspect that mounting from the ground pulls on her back and hurts. Since we usually mount from a mounting block, shouldn't be a problem. Nevertheless, will be sure to establish politeness for mounting.

The Plan:

Bring her home, put in arena with McKinna for brief introductions, then put the two out with the Mare Herd. Put her on a pound or so of Strategy per day. Spend plenty of time grooming, fussing, and generally bonding; also take plenty of time to establish really solid ground manners now so it's not an issue later.

Start with short longeing sessions with lots of walk, a little trot, and maybe a bit of canter. Gradually build those up. Each day, spend at least 10 minutes massaging and stretching. Check tying ability; if impatient, tie her to the tie ring in the arena while McKinna is being worked and let her figure things out for herself.

Call chiropractor and find out when she'll need more work. Call farrier to let him know we have a second horse; check patience for standing and having hooves messed with. Slowly introduce riding work, short walks at first.

Work on desensitizing on the ground to build trust. Check calmness for bath, clippers, fly spray, rope swinging, tarps, ground driving. Round-pen to further establish bond and respect. Establish all in-hand skills: turns on forehand and haunches, back up, stop, trot, lead from off side, sidepass.

Train mane over to correct side and pull. Braid and bag tail.

And away we go :)