A Jack Update

Jack and I are gearing up for our first show of the year this weekend, a Combined Training event at Beginner Novice. What I thought would be a small show actually has ~25 competitors in my division (maybe they’ll split it? probably not), but I’m hopeful that we’ll be competitive. I hope I’m not jinxing myself right there.

The dressage test is pretty straight forward and flows nicely with the exception of that stupid first centerline. A enter working trot, then at X turn onto a half diagonal to M? That’s right judges, because the best way to make a good first impression is by starting to exit stage right halfway into the arena. I’ve been starting to repeat the pattern with Jack, but each time it catches him off guard. Probably because centerlines were only recently becoming an obvious thing for him, now we throw him for a loop.

Overall Gaits
Our canter transitions are starting to come along, and though there’s tension in the depart, he no longer goes totally inverted like he used to. Once in canter he is so much more balanced, and I can start to maneuver his shoulders more and more. I haven’t gotten to asking for more jump in the trot, but in general he is steadier in the connection.

No idea what height this was,?

The Fun Stuff
In my last lesson, my dressage trainer [gladly] kicked my butt, and we introduced half-pass as well as tuning our renvers, shoulder-in and haunches-in. We’ve also come back to the walk-canter departs, something we avoided in order to establish the trot-canter depart (which didn’t exist before with any quality). Jumping-wise, we’re working on related distances, getting the correct lead on landing, and not snowballing down lines in general. Fences are creeping between the BN and N level depending on the technicality.


Weight Woes
The above picture was taken December 22. The temperatures started dropping around then, and my guess is that the lack of grass, cold/thin-skinned TB part of him, and the regular work schedule just took its toll. Lest you think he’s neglected or abused in any way- Jack eats almost twice as much as any other horse in the barn. He’s a big guy at just a hair under 17h, but with the coldest months just getting started I really want him chunky. After discussing with my vet, homeboy is now on:

  • 2 flakes compressed alfalfa once/day
  • 3 quarts Pro Force Fiber 2x/day
  • 1.5 quarts Empower Boost (fat supplement) 2x day
  • 1 quart alfalfa pellets 2x day
  • Free choice orchard hay at night (~5 flakes)

And finally in the last few days he’s starting to look like a normal horse again (see below picture on right). I’m hopeful that the return of grass in the spring will mean we can back off some of the new additions to his meals, but we’ll obviously do what it takes to keep him in good weight.

That’s the latest on everyone’s favorite Barbie Dream Horse!

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March Ultium Update

So, I kind of fell off the bandwagon for my February updates, and now we’re on month 3 of the new Ultium based diet.

Ignoring that Foster came out looking like a pig yesterday, here are his glamour shots for the month:

Foster_March

Foster_Before_March

Granted, my picture taking skills last night were abysmal, and I Foster didn’t have much patient for getting perfectly square. His hips are slightly tilted in the hind end photo, and his hips are slightly away from me in the profile picture.

Winter is never kind to Foster, and I have been supplementing with an alfalfa mash to get some extra nutrients into his system. Still, with the Ultium and the extra mash, I don’t see a discernible different over the last couple months. Perhaps it would be different if our riding had been more regular over the last month, but it’s hard to say.

The biggest difference in Foster that I have seen of late has been in his attitude. He’s been overall quite grumpy, not wanting to go forward, and generally not as happy to see me as I’m used to. So far I have been putting this down to everyone’s bad opinion of the horses being stuck inside for 2 weeks straight, or being part of the PSSM theory that lack of work affects Foster a lot worse than most horses.

Of course, I am not ruling out ulcers, and will be thinking about scoping him if a week’s worth of routine work has not improved his outlook. Anything to get my happy pony back!

Ultium Update and Another Chiropractic Visit

As I mentioned before, Foster has officially been on his new diet for a month. In that month, he has been sound but back sore, and hasn’t noticeably increased weight or muscle. If anything, he started looking a bit gangly again, and myself and others suspected a possible growth spurt. Luckily the vet/chiropractor had a measuring stick and we were able to confirm- Foster has grown to 16.2h this year (he was last measured a year ago at a hair under 16.1h). So, the Ultium could be doing its job, but my warmblood baby (who turns 8 next month, ah!) used those extra nutrients to sprout upwards rather than out.

In the interest of consistency, I still took pictures of his backside. Boy, equestrians are weird- I’m pretty sure dog people don’t do this shit.

Foster_JanuaryAnd from the side…

Foster_January_side

To me, there’s no noticeable difference, except that he’s standing somehwat hollow backed in the second picture. The only thing this picture proves to me at the moment is that I need to shave off those little feathers; the way they collect dirt is driving me nuts.

In any case, we’re sticking with the Ultium and Performance Supplements, and hopefully it will start to make a difference in some months.

Otherwise, the chiropractor (slash vet) and I discussed at length why he may have gotten back sore and why he is not straight. There are some guesses out there, with treatments that include hock injections and possibly scoping for ulcers. For now, we’re going to see what happens with this second adjustment (many of the same adjustments made), and I’m desperately hoping it doesn’t come to anything more. We hand walked for 20 minutes after his adjustment last night, tonight he gets light work, and tomorrow back to a regular routine.

So what will it be? A happy pony tonight, or a grumpy sore one?

 

2014 Accomplishments: The House

I have completely neglected blogging about the house this year, even though there have been lots of big changes.

My only house detailed post this year includes the following projects:

  • Glass in the fireplace (the now functional fireplace has been very helpful when the heat goes out!)
  • Hardwood floors in kitchen
  • New laminate floor in sunroom

Outside, we started with the patio, and the sunroom, since that’s the outdoor area we use the most. As you can see in the Before picture, it was looking a little unloved to begin with, but a bit of paint, lattice, and mulch, and voila! An outdoor space we can enjoy even more.

Patio_Before_AfterOne of the things I missed most about our former home was my giant rose bush, so that was definitely on my list for landscaping success. I also added my potted herbs- mint, a citronella plant (now sadly deceased), and the third pot now contains a rosemary bush. As you can see, the mulch is currently not defined, but next spring I intend to put down a landscaping border to keep it all contained.

Patio2_Before_AfterWhen fall finally rolled around, we pulled out the big guns. I’m extremely fortunate to have a father who not only owns a Bobcat, but is also proficient in grading and finds ‘small’ projects like ours to be fun. So as soon as it became cool enough to plant grass, my parents came up for the weekend and we reduced the backyard to mud dirt.

Husband stomping down dirt in his new truck

Husband stomping down dirt in his new truck

The husband’s brand new (to us) truck came in pretty handy that day, and we took 2,100 pounds of debri (rocks, weeds, unusable nature stuff) to the dump. Then I came in the next day to seed. Of course, the house is on a hill, and of course it was pouring so hard that a seed spreader couldn’t make it through the mud- so I donned a rain coat and spread seed by hand, swearing and sliding all over the place. I’m sure our neighbors found that a sight to see!

Yard_BeforeAfter

Since these photos were all taken from different positions, a star marks a couple trees that are consistent throughout.

Another view of before and after

Another view of before and after

So now Drake has lots of space to run around!

After: Drake has grass to run around on!

In the front yard, a similar process took place. It’s so nice not to have the most embarrassing front yard in the neighborhood anymore!

frontyard

The front yard- before: landscaping gone wild; after: bare but manicured!

Then inside, only a couple more projects have been taken care of since getting the hardwoods put in.

The first was the bathroom, which always reminded me of Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. I had a vision for a navy bathroom, so we essentially gutted it and began anew. For a 6′ x 6′ room, the bathroom reno took forever. Someone even walked out on us after giving up on the wallpaper removal. What a nightmare.

New paint, toilet, chrome fixtures, and black vanity

New paint, toilet, chrome fixtures, and black vanity

And then most recently, all those white appliances in the kitchen have been updated to shiny new stainless steel- thanks Black Friday for the good deals!

Hooray new appliances!

Hooray new appliances!

Whoo! That’s a lot done in 2014! Definitely a resolution for next year – be better about house blogging!!

Foster – ‘Before’ Photos

Posting Foster’s ‘Before’ photos as a reference, since at the end of this week he’ll be switched over to Purina Ultium and I should be able to start tracking his progress.

Foster_Before_12.5

Though the vet thought he was underweight, this photo was taken 2 days after the appointment, and I think while his topline and rear could be a little more buff, his weight looks fine. I think maybe he was just drawn up from the cold that day- it was 20 degrees colder than the day before. I’m not sure how much chunkier I really would want him to get.

Foster_Before_RearComparison_12.5

Here’s the photo that is most interesting to me. The two rectangles are the exact same size, centered according to the point of his croup. Looking at this, it’s obvious that Foster’s left side really is less developed than his right. So even though that left hind is stronger than it was a year ago, there is obviously a lot of room for improvement in the muscle tone there. If the theory holds from this diet experiment – better nutrition/vitamins > more muscle development > stronger left side > straighter traveling horse > no more haunches falling to the right.

Will be repeating this process in a couple weeks to see where we are!