Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Summer of Thrown Shoes


It's been a rather dismal summer for Cash and I in terms of getting to ride.  We hit a few high points when I was able to actually ride him for more than 2 weeks at a time and got a few jumping rides in which were amazing.  However, the majority of the summer went something alone these lines:

Farrier comes and shoes horse
Horse keeps shoes for a few weeks, a month maybe
Horse throws shoe
Call Farrier, Farrier comes a week later, by this time Horse is lame
New shoe on, wait a week (or more) for Horse to be not-lame
Horse is sound, ride horse for a week or two
Horse throws shoe
Rinse, repeat....

I've honestly lost track of how many shoes we've gone through this summer. We finally got him to let us hot shoe him (courtesy of a lip chain) so that we could put quarter clips on.... that still didn't work.

He tore up his bell boots like nothing else...

So got shinny new ones... and still pulled a shoe the very next day

I'm frustrated, my farrier is frustrated, we're both puzzled as we can't figure out why (or HOW) he's pulling these shoes so frequently.  Interesting thing is I realized yesterday that the rate at which he's pulling these shoes has increased significantly since getting his hocks injected earlier this summer. So it very could be that he's feeling better and stepping up more under himself, OR he's just the klutz with his feet I know he is and continually stepping on himself as I see him do on a nearly daily basis. Sigh.

SO.... as of this last missing pulling a few days ago I'm just going to throw in the towel and pull his shoes for the winter and let his feet grow out.  They are getting so riddled with nail holes at this point that it's just going to be a continual downward spiral.  Sucks because I was hoping to get to ride him in his first show next month.  Oh well, such is the life of horse ownership.  I'll probably still take him just to hang out and experience the atmosphere, but I doubt he'll be sound enough to ride.

Welp Cash, enjoy your winter break! Guess that gives me more time to study, play with the kiddos, hang out with the boyfriend, and play a sweet little GPS-based mobile game I got dragged into called Ingress.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

THIS Happened


After literally years of not jumping anything more than wee 18" cross rails... I went for it today with Cash.  I set up a little one stride in and out and after cantering over 2 x-rails I set the back one up to a vertical, and I set it right at 2'7" from the very start.  And, as I expected, Cash still made it feel like nothing.  This is the highest he's ever jumped under saddle and he rocked it.  This horse is going to be a BEAST y'all!!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Making strides... some big, some little


It's pretty safe to say that Cash's hind end problem is cleared up.  He's no longer pissy under saddle, he's content about getting a saddle put on, and he's moving much much better.  Now it's back to boot camp.  Sorry horse.  Ha!

A brief run down of what we've been up to:

We've "upgraded" the bitting department.  
After getting to chat with a thoroughbred trainer who has retrained many TBs into other careers, I took a hint from her and added some curb leverage.  Cash now rides in a Pelham any time we are outside of the arena or doing poles/mini jumps.  And lemme ya, it's NICE to have brakes!!!

Trot poles.  Lots and lots and lots of trot poles.  And canter poles--although he is quite the klutz over these, and it's rather amusing to watch him flail those big ol legs of his.  He'll figure it out soon enough....

The trot pole "ditch" of doom
Assuming he quits throwing shoes!!! Good grief it's getting ridiculous.  On the bright side, the horn growth from after adding the hoof supplement is finally hitting the ground and as long as this red monster quits tearing off giant hunks of his feet, we should have some better hoof to work with now.  Yet, alas, in the words of my farrier "if we could centrifuge his two feet together we'd have one really nice foot".  Thank you thoroughbred feet.

So, in the times when we can't ride because of lost shoes, Cash has learned how to hobble.  When I tried this a year ago he was not keen on the idea.  I tried it again on a whim about a month ago and whaddya know, he took it like a champ.  It's awesome to just let him chill and graze while I put stuff up and not have to babysit him.  Plus, hobble training does WONDERS for their mental thought process.

Can't see the hobbles, but they're there
Trail riding so far has been a bust.  Either it's weather or people's schedules... or weather.... we haven't gotten out yet.  Though I did ride him out in the back pasture for the first time ever and he was amazing!! Full of energy yes, but OH MY did it ever feel wonderful to be out of the arena riding in grass.  That got my cross country bug itching that's for sure.

So, that's that. If we can get him to keep his shoes on so that I'm not losing 2 weeks of work every other month then maybe we'll get somewhere!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 Minute Catchup: A step in the right direction


Um wow, well over a month since I've last posted to this.  For that matter, I've not been reading any of the blogs I normally follow either.  Hello life!!  I've been INSANELY busy.  But a good kind of busy.  Finals are done and now I'm madly packing for a week and half vacation, so this will be a short n sweet update.

That said, I'll just jump to the heart of it:  Cash got his hocks injected yesterday.  After much poking and prodding and two vets looking at him, we narrowed it down to a FOR SURE thing being that we was extremely sore in both hocks, especially his left.  So I told the vet to just go for it.  She injected the lower two tarsal joints on each hock and we'll go from there as far as seeing how he feels and if we need to do more, we will.
Post injection, poor buddy
I don't recall what exactly she injected, it was 3 different things, I'll get an invoice soon.  He's on bute for a few days and under light exercise only.  In two weeks the injections will have attained their full affect.  I did ride him today and despite a few pissy faces, he DID trot for me under saddle which is huge.  He was not, at all, wanting to do it before.
The kiddo loves horses only a little...
The vet pointed out a few things he does with his hind legs when you pick them up, the way he pulls on it, etc. that indicate hock pain so it'll be interesting to see if those reactions diminish as well.
cookie monster
I'm feeling relieved that we are finally starting to put a dent into this and get him back on the road to being a happy, healthy, athletic thoroughbred.  Especially since he's really starting to come around mentally this spring and I can NOT wait to start doing things with him.  Like jumping.  Man I miss jumping.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cash does NOT have ulcers... what's next?


Well, certainly not the result I was expecting from the vet check this morning!

My vet and I got to the farm bright and early to grab Cash.  He was less than thrilled at getting on the trailer instead of eating breakfast, but we got him on within 10 minutes without a ton of drama.  Once there he was actually pretty chill, he unloaded, looked around and walked right into the building and into the stocks without fuss.

THREE shots of sedative later (yeah, I know)... we had a scope down him and the vet, Dr. Jergens, spent several minutes thoroughly looking around.  The result?  NO ulcers.  At all.  Just lots and lots of saliva!  Which is why he's ulcer free.  The vet actually really liked how his stomach looked.  Well, ok then.  That rules that out.
Mmmm... drugs!
So we started talking about how he's been acting.  My vet described to Dr. Jergens the various colic episodes he's had, and we talked about his behavior and his recent disgruntled response to leg pressure under saddle.  Dr. Jergens poked and prodded around and picked up on a few things.

He's got a weird little swelling on his belly, a very small amount of puffiness on the inside of his left stifle, and a thickened medial suspensory branch on his front right (he's had residual swelling there since I got him from what I've presumed was an old injury, and that was confirmed today).  Also, he is slightly asymmetrical in his SI joint.  It's oh so slightly higher on the left side (which is the side he reacts more to in response to leg pressure).  When palpated a normal horse should dip their lower back down.  He however, would not do that, instead he was very tense and resisting.

The verdict?

We are going to give him a PowerPac dewormer to rule out any possibility of encrusted strongyles causing intestinal discomfort (which is what could be causing that belly swelling).  Then I'll plan a time with my vet to do a full lameness/soundness workup on him and likely we'll just treat the SI by injecting the joint instead of doing a block.  Also, chiropractic body work might be in the works as well.

The long and short of it is that I'm REALLY glad I took him in, it was well worth the money and we got some good routes to pursue and was able to rule out the ulcers without wasting money trying to treat them.

So, back to work he goes, just lots of good stretchy exercises to keep his whole body limber and we'll go on from here!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cash has an appointment


This past week Cash has been a bit "off". Not in a lameness sense, but in a not-himself-at-all sense.

When I rode him a week ago, every time I put my leg on he would slam on the brakes, throw his head up with his ears pinned and give a little kick with his hind leg. Not like him at all. I still managed to get him to trot through use of the seat and voice because I was not about to let him get away with not obeying... You let this horse get away with anything and it's a training nightmare to try and fix.

Additionally he's been off his feed a bit lately. He's lost some weight but I think it's just his "beer belly". He's leaner for sure, but he has put on a little muscle which is good.

So, he is currently scheduled to have his stomach scoped this coming Thursday to be checked for ulcers. I will be very surprised if he doesn't.

Until then I'm just giving him a short vacation, no point in making him work if he's that uncomfortable.

Gives me time to get back into doing harness work with the ponies!

That said, this has been a test of the mobile blogging application. I hope it works alright.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Perfect Evening


Sometimes, the best times at the barn are when you simply walk out into the paddock in the setting sun and do nothing more than stuff cookies in your pony's face and then give each other some love.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Forward, my friends, forward!


The last two days of riding Cash have felt an awful lot like riding a firecracker.... HELLO FORWARD.

On Thursday after watching him leap and buck on the lunge line I popped on and though "whoa, there is a lot of energy in here today,"  Sure enough, it wasn't long until while just walking quietly along I suddenly found myself riding a bunny rabbit.  Hullo.

The next day was the same. I tied the stirrups down for lunging as I was thinking that maybe them banging on his sides the previous day had been causing the bucking.  Nope, even more leaping and bucking on the lunge and WOW WHAT A TROT.  I'll blame the beautifully mild spring weather for his feel good antics, ha!

Thankfully we didn't have any more bunny rabbit episodes under saddle, we did have plenty of spooks... but no spins and bolts thank goodness.  And wow the trot!  We'd come around a certain area of the circle and he'd throw his head up and get super fast to the point of almost breaking to the gallop.  After we'd pass that spot he'd settle, lower his head, take the contact and just give me the most amazingly forward trot ever.  It was an interesting mix of using my core to keep the rhythm, my leg to keep him from sucking back, and my hand to half-halt and supple and keep him from breaking without pulling to encourage him to keep his head down.  A few rounds later (and mostly once he figured out I wasn't going to pull on him) and I was riding one of the biggest, loftiest, most forward trots on him ever.  This horse is going to have a killer medium and extended trot one day.

Later that day I saw a post on Facebook from Tamarack Hill Farm that was talking about Impulsion and how it can be frightening to some riders because it makes them feel on the verge of losing control and that the best way to counter this is through rider fitness to be able to handle the power created by the horse.

And that is so very true.  I got done with that ride on Cash and went "Wow! I'm more out of shape for that kind of riding than I thought..."

I've been working on trying to increase my core strength at home.  I do a mix of squats, push-ups, sit-ups, planks and pull-ups at home when I can.  It doesn't always happen.  Obviously though, I need to step up my game.  With a horse like Cash it is so important that I'm able to direct his energy into that forward trot, I can figure out packaging it later on down the line, but for now, it's forward, forward, forward!!  Because the thing is, if I don't get him forward, that energy gets turned into unpleasant things like spooking, bolting and bucking.

Getting him off the inside shoulder helps too... but that's a topic for another day.  In the mean time, ride your horses forward my friends and enjoy the wind in your hair!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blog hop: What's in a name


Sometimes these blog hops pop up and often I just plain don't have the time to put something together, but this one looked fun and with Spring Break officially upon me I can actually do something about it!

This Blog Hop is brought to you courtesy of Viva Carlos

The Story behind my blog....

I've been intriqued by blogging for some time.  I consider my "official" start to blogging back when I used to be an active member of the Horse Grooming Supplies forum.  When the forum underwent some upgrades and added on a blogging feature I jumped at it and had fun, writing about horsey adventures and shows and riding and lessons.  I enjoyed it, a lot.

But, all good things come to an end and I got a bit (ok, a lot) fed-up with the forum and some of the drama so I decided that I had bigger and better things to follow and decided to copy another HGS member and made the move to blogger.

I don't rightly remember where or how I came up with the idea of "A Mile High on Horseback", but the logic behind it is pretty simple:

I live in Colorado.  And that means elevation, a lot of it.  As a state we have 54 mountains over 14,000ft, our average elevation is approximately 6,800 and the steps of our Capitol building in Denver is exactly 1 mile above sea level.

While where I'm at currently in northern Colorado is slightly below the one mile elevation mark, I grew up in a town with an elevation of 7,600 and all the locals would always joke about going to lower elevations and feeling so energized because of all the oxygen!!

In short, we pride ourselves on our elevation in this state.  Denver is known as "The Mile High City".  The Broncos play at Sports Authority Field at Mile High... the list goes on.  So while I'm not a resident of Denver (and never will be if I can help it), I figured I'm close enough.  And thus the name was born.

Monday, March 10, 2014

21 Days to Break a Habit...


There is this little theory out there that it takes 21 days to break a habit.  How legit that is, well I don't know, but knowing firsthand how hard habits are to break, I could be influenced to believe it.  As I get my muse on, contemplating this blog post, I began to wonder, does that apply to horses?  Especially race horses?

This weekend was a good one, absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather made for a happy Emily. Though, first, I had to deal with this:
After managing to get about 80% of it off him I went on a group trail ride with all of the riders at my barn.  All the horses but the ponies went. Poor lonely lil ponies! I got a whole of 10 yards from the gate of the farm before Cash lost his marbles and I opted to lead him instead. He fretted and fumed and pranced sideways while dragging me along for the majority of the 2 mile trek.  But, thoroughbredisms aside, he was SO BRAVE!!

We traversed 2 miles of completely uncharted territory for him.  We went on paths through really upscale lake-side estates with trampolines and barking dogs and bicycles and cars and a donkey, ha. We went over sidewalks (some were *gasp* red), through several narrow gates, past big scary ditches/culverts, by a golf course, along a very tall berm/lake dam with rather steep sides, and right by a BIG creaky moving oil well (with two pigeons running back and forth along the top as the arm went up and down--hilarious!).  He spooked at the sidewalks but that was about it.  Otherwise he led the entire gang of horses and never once did he need a lead.  We even splashes through some big puddles.  That's my event-horse-in-training.

Then, I came home to some good horse racing on TV and watched Game On Dude literally run the rest of the field off their feet in his third win of The Big 'Cap at Santa Anita. WOW.  Will Take Charge ran a gallant race but could not catch The Dude.  My favorite, Mucho Macho Man, ran a great race to start but tired coming out of the far turn, bummer.

Anyway... I got to thinking about how these thoroughbred horses really cling to their race training.  Granted, it's all they've known and it's what they are comfortable with... but even as you give them more training or teach them new things, it's their "backup" reaction when they meet something new and that's the hardest thing to train out.  It's just repetition.  That's where my 21 days to break a habit thought came into play. I can't wait till I get to actually ride Cash on a trail ride (what a novel idea), but I really do wonder how long that'll be.  I'm going to see how many rides it takes him to chill, maybe it's right at 21, hehe.  I sure hope it's not 21 times per each race he was in... because that would be 21 squared, and that's a lot.  Yikes.

So now, here's a new thought.... I'm thinking back over the various times Cash has gone nutso on me while riding him off the farm.  Which is like every time, but I digress.  The point I'm wanting to say is that the key thing that seems to trigger all of these "racehorse reactions" is that I've circled him or turned around and headed back another direction.

You're thinking "So what? You've really lost it this time Emily..."

Yeah maybe I have. But work with me a minute.

We've all (or at least, I hope we all) have watched the Kentucky Derby.  Think to the post parade, they lead all the horses, one by one, past the grandstands.  The announcer reads their names, gives their stats, yada yada yada.  This is all done at the walk (or sideways jig depending on the horse), but as the horses reach the far end of the grandstands they turn around and gallop to the starting gate for their warmup.  Ta-da!  Light bulb moment.  That's what Cash is thinking is happening when I turn him around and/or circle him while riding out on the roads.  Poor guy, no wonder he gets so pissed when I try and stop him.

One day, I think he will have that light bulb moment and it'll all click, when that'll happened, who knows.  It took Pie nearly 4 years with me to chill out (he was 13 when that magic moment happened), I sure hope it doesn't take Cash that long... but, until then, if all we do is hand-walking trail rides, well I'm ok with that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014



Man oh man do I own a stubborn horse.  So I actually got to ride him 3 DAYS out of this past week!!! [basks in glow from heaven]  I've been making the focus of our rides being going forward and lateral work. I've been riding him this week out in the dry lot with the other horses (yes, I'm crazy) because the arena has been soup... and surprisingly he's been a rockstar.  It helps too that the other horses leave us alone... Anyway, it's super nice having SO MUCH ROOM to ride in... this may become a regular thing even when the arena is dried up, hmmmm.

Well, I've been working a lot on half-passes from the halt.  Leg-yeilding wasn't getting us anywhere so I decided to pare it down and eliminate the forward and just work on the sideways.  Going to the right away from the left leg he is an old pro at, no muss, no fuss. Cool.

To the left though?  Forgettaboutit.  The conversation each and every time goes something along these lines...

Me: Sideways please
Cash: Eerr... forward?
Me: Nope, sideways.
Cash: Oh, turn on the forehand
Me: Sideways, now!
Cash: NO, backup?
Cash: .....fine

Oy.  Even after doing it 2, 3... 4 times in a row it's still the same thing. Once he actually relents and does it he does it really well.  He just simply does not want to.  The issue is that he doesn't want to yield at the shoulder, he'll do an awesome turn on the haunches first try, but getting the shoulder over is a fight.  Ornery child.

So yup, lots of lateral work.  I like to mix up the sidepasses with walking turns on the haunches to help get him moving that shoulder away from pressure, plus it gets his body flexing back and forth in different directions--hooray for suppleing!  It's getting there, slowly but surely, it's getting there.

I also dug out my big yellow watch and will be doing some trot sets with him in the near future as the weather and daylight allows for more riding time.  Time to get fit buddy.  Future trail rides are planed as well.  I'm excited!

Last but not least, here are some cute pictures from barn time and our ride this last Tuesday (and oh yeah, I'm back to riding him in a bit. It's a sweet iron full cheek snaffle and so far he's loving it).

Yes, they love each other

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday


Inbetween studying, work, chasing a baby, and actually getting to RIDE MY HORSE because it's warm outside, I bring you perhaps my most epic Throwback Thursday picture.  This was Wild Yonder (aka "Buddy") whom I leased for a couple years. This was from a lesson in which he decided that he didn't like the mini black and white coop.  Now I'll let the picture do the rest of the talking....

Friday, January 31, 2014

Do It Yourself: Mecate Reins


So with wanting to start re-introducing the bit and my goal of getting Cash out on some trail rides I got the notion in my head that I'd like to have a set of Mecate reins.  Another horse at my barn has them and I love the idea and functionality of them.  But, I don't like nylon... at all.  Not a fan of the horse hair ones either, too scratchy.  I love cotton.  Problem is they don't sell Mecate reins in cotton.  I'm sure there must be a reason, but nonetheless I wanted cotton.  So I decided to get thrifty. 

I Googled "Cotton rope by the foot" and the first hit was a lovely website called  Perfect.  I ordered 22' and sat patiently (not!) around all week for it to show up. 
I started by making the "tassel" at the end by unraveling about 5 inches and picking out a few strands and wrapping them tightly around the base, I tied them off in the middle and it was good to go.
Partway through unraveling the ends. 
Next up was the leather popper at the end.  After locating a pile of scrap leather I had purchased once upon a blue moon for a craft I've long forgotten, I selected a piece and trimmed off about 1/4" of width to get it how I wanted.  I oiled and conditioned it and then cut two slits in it to splice it back on itself.

Once that was accomplished I had to attach it to the rope.  A bit of Googling taught me how to do a crown knot and back splice. I tied off the splice with some cotton string from my craft stash and trimmed all the ends.
The crown knot
The finished back splice
And, TA-DA!! Home-made Mecate reins at a fraction of the cost.  Now I'm just waiting on an eBay auction for some slobber straps and I'll be in business! Woo-hoo!!

Total Cost: $20 (including s&h for the rope)
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Finished product

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A much more normal Cash


Where he is nice and mellow with an extra helping of lazy on the side.

Really, for how little I've been working him, he has been super good.  I try very hard not to think about how quickly he'd be progressing if I could ride him more.... daylight is coming folks, daylight is coming! (and warmth) Can't wait!

I've really been starting to stress lateral work with him, getting him side-passing, leg-yielding, turning on his haunches. In short, getting him OFF my leg.  He's picking it up finally, but it's sure been a long time coming.

I'm also starting to integrate the bit back into his life.  For now he will be carrying a snaffle under the halter and hackamore.  No contact, just for him to carry.  Once he's quiet with it and doesn't champ at it, I'll attach some reins and see what happens.  I ordered a full-cheek snaffle for him (was rather surprised I didn't have one already), I think it'll give a good transition from the side-pull hackamore to bit pressure.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Fire Breathing Dragon


Cool windy evening + fresh horse who hasn't been legitimately worked in two weeks =

And for what it's worth I did end up riding the beast.


Friday, January 3, 2014

What an amazingly beautiful winter day!


Wow, it got up to a balmy 55 degrees today so I took full advantage of the warm sunshine and spent the ENTIRE afternoon at the barn.  Since when has that happened?? I played with all the ponies, let the munchkin wander around, taught a lesson, and just had a great time.  And now my abs hurt from doing lots of sitting trot.  Good day.  Now I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

This is Rosemary, not me, driving Sassy

Yep, good day indeed.