Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Some updates -- I've been busy lately, starting college and whatnot of course.

Went on a trail ride Saturday. Our friend took us on a longer ride than I'd like; it was about an hour and a half, but there were some pretty big hills and Pandora's just not in that kind of shape. She was completely willing, though, and never seemed tired or sore. A little touchy riding over gravel. She was perfectly comfortable with hills, trotting up and walking down. Fine with pretty rough terrain. Fine on the road. A little freaked out by a nearby donkey when he came running up to the fenceline braying! There was no naughty behavior though, just a very tense horse with body language screaming Get Me Out Of Here. I just asked her to walk away onto the road and she did so -- she seems to get more nervous when forced to stand still, but when provided with an outlet (walking forward) she relaxes instantly. Good pony.

She wasn't sore or anything the next day, so no harm done I suppose. Still cheerful as ever to come in and get her Ultium.

Farrier came out today and gave her a much-needed trim. I'll take pictures tomorrow. She was a dream for him, stood very nicely still, patient on the hoof stand, very polite (except for drooling a little on his back when he trimmed her fronts!). Walked off sound and straight, and appears to have more of a heel-first landing now that she's been trimmed. Her feet look good.

Her mane is being unruly again, drat it. I'll need to do more pulling on the floppiest section and then I may have to braid that piece down again. Ah well.

Haven't ridden her since Saturday. Will probably ride tomorrow.

I like working with this horse. She's always looking for the right answer. I think as we progress further in my riding with her, the experience will offer a very interesting dialogue between us. Her personality truly invites thoughtful, subtle interaction.

Our vet is coming out on the 15th to give her a general checkup and float her teeth if necessary. She dribbles some grain when she eats, but I'm not sure if she needs floating or is just a little sloppy. Previous owner said she was floated recently, so we'll see.

Off to do the calculus homework.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Longeing Over Cavaletti

Didn't have much time tonight (went straight from work to barn then home to change and go to a high school football game. I wanted to see the band play, and it was very cool, although rather strange to be in the stands instead of on the field or the podium!). Longed her over one low cavaletto.

I liked the way she focused on it as soon as she came into the arena. Warmed up without it, then did some walk and trot over it. Don't know if she's ever been asked to do cavaletti before? She seems to want to jump it, especially at the trot. On the plus side, when she did jump it from the trot, she looked very elegant and graceful, can't wait until we start jumping her.

After a few passes she figured it out, walked and trotted over it just fine. Didn't canter her over it because Mom rode her too. She's doing wonderfully at the walk, but the tucking-behind-vertical/leaning on the bit is still there at the trot. Seems to respond well to pushing her forward into a steady outside rein, lots of loops/serpentines/circles to keep her body moving, and simply ignoring the head-fussing and steadily resisting the pulling when there is some.

Ugh, can't wait until I can get on and do some serious schooling at the trot!

Spent some time with a little groundwork, working with feet, and a little massage. She seemed to enjoy it. Considering doing a little clicker work with her back feet. Practiced pulling her forelegs out forward and holding them, like a hoof stand would -- she was totally fine with it. She should be fine for that part of her trim, then, which is nice.

Then brought her in to longe over a cavaletto again. Walk and trot was much better over it, so after a bit I cantered her over it both directions. Beautiful, she was really just lovely. Nailed the distance every single time -- she is going to be a dream to canter fences. She just looked elegant, it was really nice.

I like this horse :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


All has been going well in Pandora-land. We tried the flat, no-copper-lozenge french link and she didn't seem to prefer it any more or less than the copper lozenge one, so we just left it on the bridle.

Longeing has improved exponentially. She understands that I am asking for deceleration (or negative acceleration, ugh physics) when I send a ripple through the line. She can halt, facing either direction, without turning in, or walking for two full circles first! It's wonderful. Still a little touch-and-go with the halting, sometimes she gets it better than others, but she improves every time. It's becoming much easier to have her hold the canter, as well. Also I can adjust her trot speed with my body language: very cool. By moving her out and then backing her off, it's helping her adjustability, and I notice a definite difference in stride length and smoothness after I bring her forward and back a few times.

Since longeing is going so well, I think it will be time to start introducing cavaletti on the longe. Will probably do that tomorrow.

I think she's gaining weight. It's hard to tell when we've only had her for a couple weeks.

Consistently moving up the pecking order in the herd. She is definitely in the upper half of the mares now. Chases off ponies, Delilah (young draft X mare), McKinna (who is displeased about that situation), Bree (who ranks above McKinna), and maybe one other. So she's, I don't know, in the top 5 maybe? I don't really care where she is -- she is high enough up that she will never have to worry about getting the last hay pile or always being chased off, which is all I care about.

Need to talk to barn owner about possibly buying hay a la carte (ha!). Boarding contract provides for 4 flakes of hay per day (very nice hay), but I think I want to give her more over the winter, so I want to see if she'd be willing to charge me a little extra for an extra flake or two of hay per day. We'll see.

Need to start working a little more intensively with the hooves. I want her to be 100% solid when the farrier comes in a couple weeks. She pickes up each foot well, but takes some time to relax with the hind legs, and I have no idea how patient she is on the hoof stand.

Mom's been riding her once or twice a week and it is going well. She wants to tuck back behind the vertical still. At the walk, much of that has gone away. At the trot, she alternates between wanting to suck behind the vertical, and wanting to lean very hard on your hands -- Mom is having a bit of a hard time dealing with all of that while still pushing Pandora forward/not tensing her upper body/holding her balance and everything. I think most of the trot-fixing-work will have to happen once I'm in the saddle. I'll be lacking the leg strength (obviously) but I've dealt with a lot of stuff, so I'm comfortable multi-tasking that much.

It really does seem to be an anxiety issue rather than a stubbornness one. She's such a fast learner that I'm not worried about it at all, I just want to get riding right now to fix it! Oh well -- only about a week more (!!!!) and I get my walking boot off. I'll be back riding again ASAP :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Mom rode Pandora again last night. Went very well -- she gets some really nice forward walks out of her, with nose firmly in front of the vertical. Every once in awhile, usually when she gets anxious, Pandora starts tucking her nose and chewing nervously. I'm not sure exactly what to do to fix it, I think only time and relaxed riding will really take care of it, the same as horses that go above the bit. I've just been having Mom push her into a forward walk and don't worry about the reins.

Since we've only ridden her twice, it's too soon to tell how deep of a habit it is. I still want to try our other french link; I was thinking that since she usually has such a wet mouth (tends to have wet, slightly foamy lips even after just eating grain or some hay), perhaps the copper centerpiece is too much for her in the bit we're using now. I need to remember to change it out for the next time she's ridden.

We've decided to take her to the dressage schooling show on October 5th. I'll be riding by then, but I won't ride her in a test. We're taking both horses. I'm just going to hack Pandora around and ride in the warmup ring while Mom's doing her test on McKinna, and then if Pandora is doing well and nice and relaxed, then Mom will just ride her in an Intro test. It should be a fun, low-key first outing, as the barn it's at is very well-run and has a nice big outdoor warmup arena.

Two weeks and a day until I get my walking boot off!

Monday, September 8, 2008


I finally got to longe Pandora today -- till now, Mom's been doing it, but I'm walking well enough on my boot that I decided to do it.

She was great. With a bit of work, I think I got her to better understand the concept of halting, out at the end of the longe line, even facing to the right! It's very strange, and sometimes the halt is hit-or-miss. I find it odd. Sometimes she'll walk a circle or two without stopping, despite repeated commands and jerks on the line. Stepping in front of her path does nothing but confuse her and make her nervous.

It will take time and time only, I think. With most horses, I would get after them and either drive them forward or back them up when they went so long without executing the command, but I really feel like that's counterproductive with her. I'll have to experiment. For the most part, she seems to get very upset and nervous when you respond with quick discipline, such as driving her into a canter for not halting. She doesn't mind a swish of the whip. What seems to work best for discipline is when you only need to do it once to illustrate your point -- for example, she didn't pick up a trot right away when I asked, so I stepped at her aggressively and flicked the whip at her haunches. She scooted right forward into the trot, and every time thereafter she was prompt in her response.

Will definitely have to work on it more, but she is still improving. The halt will drive me crazy until it's fixed, but I think it's an understanding issue, not a stubbornness one.

Her stiffness is all but gone. Her walk starts out with a nice overstride, even before she's warmed up. She doesn't track up all the way in the trot at the beginning, but I wasn't paying much attention to how it was after a warmup. I think I'll start her over some walk cavaletti to help build some strength.

Started giving her and McKinna SandClear (psyllium) yesterday, just because they eat off the ground so much in the pasture. We'll do the recommended one-week-per-month dosage, though next time we may check her manure to see if it actually has any sand in it.

Trying to pick her hooves while she was eating her grain was a pain. She was fine for the fronts, but couldn't be bothered to pick up the backs. Eventually I got her to give each hind leg to me several times, but it took quite a bit of convincing on my part. I think she just didn't want to be bothered with it while she was eating, since she doesn't have an issue in the cross ties. Note to self - pick her feet before you put her in the stall to eat!

We've decided to take her to a dressage schooling show on October 5th. I won't have been riding for long, so Mom is going to ride her in one Intro test and I'll just hack her around and warm her up beforehand.

Still no signs of the killer-rearing-horse. Sweet as a pie, willing to please as a Golden Retriever, and getting better every day. So far, signs indicate that she's a remarkably quick learner, though it'll take more time to really determine.

That's all for the night. I'm pleased with her longeing progress.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bath Time

Today was a fussy grooming day.

Pandora got washed all over, her mane rebraided, and her tail braided and bagged.

Did I mention that I like this mare more and more every day?

Started hosing her legs carefully because I remembered her dancing around the first day we got her when my parents hosed her scrape. She raised her head high, snorted, wanted to move around but Mom held her.

Within five minutes, she was standing still and relaxed as I ran the hose full-blast across her whole body. We got the shampoo where you attach the bottle to the hose and it just goes through, EQSolutions I think it's called. It's awesome and way less work than we're used to. With McKinna we'll still have to use QuikSilver to get her super white, but for a dirt-colored bay? MAN baths are gonna be so easy.

Did her whole body, washed her mane really well, cleaned her udder since it was rather nasty (she was totally fine with this too), washed her tail very very well, and cleaned the dock area as well. Other than tucking her butt way under when I washed her tail (poor girl, the water was probably a little cold for those parts even though it was a good 85 degrees outside), she stood totally still and was an absolute rock star.

I was very impressed.

Brushed her tail out to braid and bag it. It's actually pretty nice, rather long, a little scraggly at the end. Mom redid her mane as well, I think this is the last time we'll braid it over because it seems to be staying on one side nicely.

She dried so nice and soft!

Let her eat some hay for awhile as she dried off and put her back out in the pasture. She's settled in much better now, by the way. It's often hard to tell which one she is until I get out in the pasture, because there's so many bays and now I can't pick her out because she doesn't stand all by herself ;)

She's getting better and better about her feet, too. Just run your hand down her front legs and she'll pick it up and hold it for you; the hinds she's still a little jumpy, but if you start up on her butt and ask politely, she'll pick it up and relax quickly as you hold her hoof. I'm pleased she's calmed down about it so quickly.

Honestly, if Pandora has good athletic ability (hard to tell as I haven't ridden her much/jumped her/anything) and she's not spooky at shows, she is going to be one KILLER horse. She's very very intelligent and always ready to please, and it's amazing how fast she learns. I can't wait to see how she turns out.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Here's the picture post, with pictures from my day of riding.

Didn't go out to the barn tonight -- my dad took me and the boy out to the rifle range to learn how to shoot. Or, in better terms, we Went Shootin'. It was an interesting experience and actually pretty fun.

Anyway -- pictures! Do give me a break, I'm riding without stirrups (you can see the boot on my right leg!) and just trying to evaluate the mare, not win any contests for pretty riding ;)

A nice, relaxed walk.

More nice walk. I was experimenting with rein length, trying to see what prompted the headsetting and what didn't.

Mom riding! She got on first, and she's the only one that did any trotting as I'd rather not flop around like a dead fish on Pandora's back. Balance? Not so much. Strength in my thighs? Lord I can't wait until that comes back. No stirrup-less trotting for me.

A little close-up. See how her mane's all on the other side now?

In that last picture you can see what I'm talking about with the headset. I wasn't even touching the reins and she was wanting to tuck. I do have a picture where I asked for a little contact and she took her nose way back behind the vertical, but I decided not to post it!

An issue that will be fixed with time, patience, and forward riding, as so many issues are. She's a good horse with a willing, sensitive mind -- the biggest obstacles will be getting her to chill out a little and stop worrying, not getting her to listen! I'm really looking forward to training her in earnest once I'm out of my boot. She's a very intelligent mare and she thinks a lot, you can tell.

I have a feeling it will be a very intellectually challenging training project.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Ride!

Things with Pandora have been going absolutely swimmingly. Tonight my mom rode her for the first time since we went to look at her, and she threatened to steal her from me ;)

Still has that worried expression a lot of the time. Never spooks, just often looks askance at things and blows a little. It's almost cute, actually. Nevertheless, it seems to be duly fading as she settles in. I have to keep reminding myself that we haven't even had her for a week.

Getting much better about hoof-picking, though today as I was picking a front hoof she started to do that sink-back-ready-to-go-down thing, and managed to yank the leg away. I hollered at her that no, I did not appreciate having to hold her up. I picked up the foot again and she started to do it again, but I yelled and she stopped. Didn't have any trouble with any of the other feet and she stopped after the second try. On the plus side, she's almost 100% calm with picking up forelegs now, and her hind legs are getting there.

Her mane is all trained nice and pretty to one side now, except for a little chunk at the bottom that we were too lazy to do. This weekend we will probably take everything out, pull a little, and rebraid to make sure it stays on one side. I do so love primping my horses! She'll also get her tail washed. She seems to rub it, not sure if she still does or if it was in the past, but a good washing should help if she does still rub. Then we'll braid and bag the tail.

Continues to understand longeing better. Still, for whatever reason, only halts to the left. If she's walking to the right and is asked to halt, she'll turn in and face left, then halt. Bizarre. Oh well, we'll get her to understand it.

Perfect gentlewoman for tacking up. Mom rode first, declared that she has a wonderful smooth walk. Compared to McKinna the short-backed almost-pony, it's...well, not much of a comparison! But she did walking and some trotting, and Pandora was just great.

I hopped on for a little walking. She's definitely a very sensitive horse, and is thoroughly concerned about what I want her to do. You know the kind of dog whose eyes never leave you, because it wants to do exactly what you want it to, the instant you say so? That's kinda what riding her feels like. Very anxious to understand what I wanted. I kept it nice and low-key.

Moves off the leg nicely, definitely looks for the support of outside aids which is nice. Tends to mouth the bit a lot when she gets anxious, will have to see if that fades. Will try the plain french-link next, instead of the one we're using now with a copper center lozenge -- just to see if she likes the plain link better. Doubt it, but it's worth a shot. Don't think it's a bit issue.

The biggest thing is that I can feel her wanting to tuck her nose behind the vertical. Suspect that, at some point in the past, she was asked for a headset instead of working into the bit. She'll take contact, but it's too floaty and tucked-back for my taste. There were, however, some steps of nice contact without head-ducking -- perhaps the tucking is a reaction when she's feeling nervous? In any case, we'll definitely start out focusing on forward and relaxed and very much In Front Of The Vertical. She's quite happy to stretch down when you give her the reins, which is good. I have a feeling that trail rides will be very, very good for her peace of mind.

Her walk is, well, pleasant. She's much more forward than I was expecting (as I keep mentioning, her stiffness fades by the day). It's got a nice forward-back motion and almost a side-to-side sway with each step, not sure how to describe it. Nothing particularly weird, just a different walk than McKinna I suppose.

Speaking of walk, I've been watching her carefully and I am undecided. When she's walking in from the pasture with me, it often seems that she has a toe-first landing, but I'm also walking in short halting steps and she may be just going with me. On the longe I don't see quite the toe-first stabbing landing, and certainly not at the trot. So perhaps I'm just being overly concerned.

She was trimmed right before we got her, but it seems to me that she needs a trim soon anyway. Her hooves are a bit pancaked-out. I think.

Argh, I wish I was better educated about hooves. I know what looks good for the most part, and I know what looks bad for the most part, but I also can't tell exactly what is bad, or what is good. Does that make sense? I am also always worried that their hooves aren't good enough. I wonder, for example, if Pandora has a mild case of thrush. I see some black in the collateral grooves, but it doesn't smell bad, and it's not all mushy. A little soft. I don't know.

Clearly it's too late. This is a training log, not a reflection on how I feel about horse hooves!

Will post a picture-only post tomorrow from us riding today.

I'm out for the night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Updates

I round-penned Pandora briefly yesterday to celebrate my discovery that I can walk on the boot without crutches. It's a limping awful gait and I can't move quickly, but I can do it well enough to turn in a circle in the middle of a sand pen. She did pretty well, though I can tell the concept of reversing is mostly lost on her. She'll do it, but only if I'm almost directly in her path. Ah, well -- something to work on.

She did pick up a nice canter for me in each direction in the round pen, a good sign. It's not terribly small, but it's small enough that it makes horses work hard to keep up a nice canter, and she was reaching under herself very well with her inside hind. Stiffness continues to fade.

She's a little wary of fly spray but doesn't mind it. She is also getting better about her hooves by the day, especially her fronts. I'm not worried about having her rock-solid by the time the farrier comes on the 30th, I think she'll be totally fine.

Today she gets the night off, and tomorrow Mom is going to ride her.

We've braided her mane all over to one side, and so far the braids are staying. Her mane will be an easy one to keep tame, I think. Sometime soon we'll wash her, if not her whole body then at least her tail. We're going to braid it and keep it bagged. If there's one thing we're good at, it's at helping the horses grow nice pretty full tails ;)

That's all I've got for the night. She continues to be light and responsive. Nervous, but not spooky, and she never reacts irrationally to whatever makes her nervous. I think it may just take her some time to settle in -- really, we've only had her for about 5 days, so I think it's to be expected.

Oh, and the blanket and boots I bought at the tack sale fit her perfectly, as does Bailey's old winter blanket, which means all I need to buy is a lightweight blanket. Score!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Past two days we've worked quite a bit on longeing Pandora. From what it appears, she was longed in the past, but not particularly well. She can walk trot and canter, but she often forgets to stay out on a large circle, and her concept of halt is sorely lacking. She'll stop, sometimes, going to the left, after several jerks on the longe line. On the plus side, she learns very very fast, and shows improvement daily. I'm not worried about it at all -- she's already learned to stay out on the circle, and it won't be long before she figures out 'ho' too.

Much to my happiness, her stiffness appears to be fading more each day. Whether it's the fact that she's being worked daily, her 24/7 turnout with horses that are only too happy to make her move her butt around, or some other reason, I'm pleased. She tracks up better at the beginning of her workouts and still improves as she warms up. Here's hoping that it continues to go away!

She's learning to love her Ultium when she comes in each day. Today she was in the cross-ties, which are directly across from her stall, when Mom put her meal in her grain bucket -- she got the wide-eyed, nickery, "I AM STARVING!" look and fidgeted until she was allowed to go in. Cute.

I think we may encounter some separation anxiety issues, will have to be very careful about that. She doesn't mind being alone, but if she is in the cross-tie area with McKinna and we take McKinna away, she gets nervous, dances around a little, and sometimes will call for her. Definitely not a huge issue, but I will be keeping a close eye on it. Horses that can't stand to be by themselves drive me crazy. Especially at shows.

She's settling in more and more every day in the mare pasture. Still gets run off by just about anybody when they decide to run her off, but she won't leave until they pin their ears and really get after her. She's comfortable wandering into the herd to eat instead of hanging at the outskirts.

Found a little thing up on the inside of her thigh which I'm pretty sure is a sarcoid. Doesn't seem to bother her at all -- will have the vet check it out when she comes out for a general checkup.

Pleased with her progress so far, and her attitude continues to be pleasant and willing. Will probably give her a break tomorrow, just a little trot around the round pen. I think Mom will hop on her for a ride sometime this week.