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Wizard Ride 66; JR Ride 22: The Best-Laid Ride Plans of Mice and Men…

April 1, 2009

Wizard

Monday, 3/30/09

The weather is windy but dry after a few days of rain. Both horses were complete mudbombs from rolling and playing all day in the sunshine. Wizard has a big bite on his neck and a little lump from the bite between his jaws, probably from too much horseplay. It did not seem to bother him. I gently cleaned it and put a little ointment on it. I grazed both horses before it got dark outside. I administered Wizard’s Ulcergard and gave him a tub of Alfa Supreme while I took pictures of Mary the Morgan wearing bunny ears and worked with JR.

JR looks like the time off did him a little good. I free-schooled him for a few minutes in the arena and he trotted and cantered around the arena, investigating the big collection of jumps in the middle of the ring (there was a horse show at the barn this weekend). Grooming did not bother him and he was fine about being saddled. I tried my KK Ultra on him to see if the looser mouthpiece was better for him. He chewed the bit most of the ride, but it looked like productive chewing. Unfortunately, JR still felt resistant under saddle. He was willing to perform the tasks I asked, but he was not as forward as he can be. I did a long warmup at the walk, followed by trotting on a loose rein. He was rushing at the trot so it took a little bit to relax him enough to stretch down. We worked on walk-trot transitions and I could feel resistance in the transition from walk to trot. I rode him on a big figure 8 and rode a few simple patterns. I asked for a few steps of leg yield, which he did very well. I rode JR for about 20 minutes. I might go back to groundwork with him and give him a little more time off from riding.

I recently got a new saddle pad for Wizard. My Roma pad already fell apart in the wash (My bad! Gentle cycle means gentle cycle) and I’m going to see if my mom can save it. Tack of the Day sold Eous sheepskin pads and I got one recently. It’s thicker than my Roma pad so I was a little concerned how Wizard would like it. Wizard gave it the stink eye as I placed it on his back, but then the funniest thing happened. He took a BIG SIGH. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but perhaps he really is a sensitive guy and really enjoys everything fuzzy.

So here was my ride plan for Wizard. The plan is italicized and my comments are in bold:

Warmup:

Warm up at the walk on a loose rein, allowing the horse to take in his surroundings. Wizard performed this very well. He was calmly interested in his surroundings- the sounds of the wind outside did not affect him at all.

Begin work at the trot on half the arena, first asking the horse to stretch down and reach for the bit. Ask for walk/trot transitions, using the entire arena. Encourage engagement of the hind end by asking for the transitions frequently. Be sure to actively ride into and out of the walk. DO NOT pull for a walk. Ask for the trot when the inside hind leg is ready to go forward. Change directions and work on walk/trot to the right and to the left until the horse feels more supple and is on the rider aids. The warmup trot went well, but this is way too soon in the warmup to ask for a lot of walk-trot transitions from Wizard. When I asked for them later in the ride, they were far better (see below). The changes in direction were a little awkward at first but then we both got more balanced.

Ride on a 20m circle in both directions. Count the number of steps on the circle and determine if the number is similar the next few times around the circle. I decided to do this exercise later in the ride. I spent more time at the trot letting Wizard get more relaxed and balanced. I did not longe him tonight and I think that’s why we did well with a longer warmup.

Work:

Ask for a Figure 8 with a walk in the center, making sure to trot only after the center line. We started this exercise trotting the entire figure 8 and when I felt him responding to leg, seat, and hands, I asked for a walk at the X of the figure 8. It went really well! We continued on to serpentines and used the entire arena (100 x 200 is a BIG arena!), walking at each change of direction and picking up the trot after the center line. This is a really beneficial exercise for Wizard.

Begin work on a more sophisticated and balanced trot by alternating between a forward trot and a working trot, making sure to keep the rein aids light and soft. If the horse gets tense or resistant, give, give give and ride softly. I incorporated this exercise into the serpentine/walk exercise. Whenever Wizard felt like he was bending well and using his hind end, I kept riding down the long side of the pattern and ride in straight lines down the arena, asking for forward trot on the long ends and working trot on the short ends. Wizard feels quite green with this exercise so I need to be very sympathetic with my hands and seat. When he needed to be rebalanced, I took him back into the serpentine and went back to the exercise with transitions. By the end of this exercise, Wizard was doing a little of that happy working Thoroughbred snort that I love so much. Whenever he gets tense, he makes “the gelding noise” (that gork-gork-gork sound) and it goes away as soon as he relaxes. For some horses, they make the gork-gork sound even when relaxed, but I always notice that Wizard is tense when I head the sound.

Go back to riding a 20m circle in both directions, riding short into the circle and ask for a leg yield for just a step or two outward toward the rail and the edge of the circle. This was our first work on the 20m circle. I tried leg yield a few times and decided 1) Wizard does not know it nearly as well as JR does, if at all 2) it’s easier on the straight line for Wizard. So I asked a few times by walking on the quarter line and asking him to step just 2 or 3 steps of leg yield. He did it well but greenly so I did not ask for it at the trot.

Cooldown:

Trot on a loose/soft rein on a 20m circle, counting the number of steps again. Did they change? Are they the same? No comparison since I skipped this exercise in the beginning of the ride. To the left, Wizard took 30 steps every time. To the right, he took 31, then 28, then 28, then I got him to do 30. He’s less consistent to the right so I think it’s not as easy to trot rhythmically to the right.

Walk on a loose rein until horse is cooled out. Did this, good boy! It was a GREAT ride. I rode for about 40 minutes and he was steamy and just barely sweating when we were done. I’ve long been looking forward to the day when I could have ride like this on him. Things are really coming together. I even felt that old familiar feeling of not wanting to be done with the ride even though our work was done.

Ride plan for Wednesday night? Riding lesson!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. oregonsunshine permalink
    April 1, 2009 9:54 am

    I’m probably asking something you’ve already covered in a blog. So if I am, please feel free to point me in the right direction.

    What was Wizard like before you started using the Ulcergard? And when you stopped it recently, what were the differences that had you going back to it?

    I ask because Casey has had two blow ups in the past month with no detectable triggers. He’s finally getting into good shape and the possibility of ulcers or some sort of yucky stress tummy has crossed my mind. He’s never been raced, but he was a train wreck when he came to me. Both blow ups have happened since being worked regularly. He’s adjusted as needed as well (my trainer does chiro as well). I blogged the specifics of his most recent blow up if you’re interested.

    Your thoughts?

  2. April 1, 2009 11:11 am

    Sorry you had to go through this, OS! Glad that everybody kept their cool and was OK.

    I have a friend who has a mare who has similar explosive behavior on crossties, but she actually breaks them. Unfortunately, nobody has found the source, but she gets a “See ya later!” response and WHAMMO! she’s loose in the barn. My friend worked with it by introducing ground tying, which she started with a very long lead rope, similar to the Parelli-type 12-foot line. She started by holding it in her hand and eventually could leave it loose. She still crossties the horse but wanted the mare to learn more than one way to tie. I don’t think that it would help in your case, since Casey’s behavior is more random. I also knew another gelding who Could. Not. Be. Crosstied. He was able to stand on crossties at the very end of the barn on occasion, but if you put him in the middle of the barn, he lost his marbles and broke free. He ground tied like a champ, though! His was more behavioral and I assume it stemmed from a bad experience.

    Causes for Casey could include physical ailments that be anything from narcolepsy to ulcers (as you mentioned). It seems especially odd since he never did it before. It’s also odd since it is not triggered by anything you can see. No funny touches, sounds, etc. Is anybody else on the barn aisle when it happens? Some horse get skittery when there are things behind them.

    I started Wizard on Ulcergard because he’s reallllly sensitive to touch. He also is a bit of a hard keeper, plus he’s a cribber and is a little on the nervous side when he’s under saddle. When I dosed him with Ulcergard, he was less irritable with grooming and we had some very good rides. The hard part is deciding if it was the Ulcergard or if he’s just getting better with handling and riding! I’m actually going to ask a friend to give him random doses so I can guess if he had it or not so it’s closer to a blind test.

    There are many, many preventative remedies for ulcers, but my advice is to go right for the real deal. GastroGard and UlcerGard have the same active ingredient (omeprazole) but GG is prescription only and UG is OTC. Both are quite spendy: they are about $26-36 per tube. The preventative dose is a quarter tube, but if you’re trying to actually get rid of the ulcers, the horse needs a full tube every day for up to 30 days- OUCH!

    There are “ulcer points” on a horse and if your trainer believes in that sort of stuff, ask her to feel for them on Casey. Or just see what she or your vet thinks about ulcers in general.

    Some think that ulcers are the disease du jour and some think that ulcers are underdiagnosed.

    If you want to test it yourself, it will cost some money. The good thing is that the Ulcergard will show results almost immediately. You can dose with a tube a day for as little as three days (I think the recommend a few more days than that) and if you don’t see results, then your horse is probably not being helped by Ulcergard.

    Scoping is the only real way to prove a horse has ulcers, but your vet can let you know if it’s worth considering. For the cheapest Ulcergard, order from http://www.entirelypets.com and use the code EPET15495Z for a 15% discount. When you get a 6 pack, it works out to about $26 per tube. I have not seen it cheaper anywhere. A few people on the Chronicle of the Horse forum had shipping problems with Entirely Pets, but my order was perfect. 1/4 tube is the preventative dose but a full tube is the treatment dose. It’s palatable and Wizard does not seem to mind it much.

    PS- I also snap my panic snaps the way you do with with the quick release at the ring, not the halter. I’ve also used Turtle Snaps, which are VERY easy to release. I use these at the halter ring- the nice thing is that you can unclip them under any circumstance. They are the safest crossties I’ve found. The only problem with Turtle Snaps is that they unclip a little too easily for horses who are confirmed crosstie breakers.

  3. oregonsunshine permalink
    April 1, 2009 11:40 am

    Thanks for leaving me an answer on both blogs!

    Casey is sensitive in the shy, slightly nervous, doesn’t truly trust most people sort of way. He doesn’t really seem to know how to be a horse either. He doesn’t play, doesn’t move around when turned out, except to follow me up and down the fence if I’m there. He’s quite simply, broken, for lack of a better term. I don’t know a lot about his history, as he was a throw-away horse who’d gone through 9 owners in 4.5 yrs. Since October (when I got him), Casey has learned that scritches are good, cookies are better and that “Mommy” is the best person.

    Under most circumstances, Casey would rather be with me. He’d rather come cuddle than just about anything, yet he never invades my bubble.

  4. oregonsunshine permalink
    April 1, 2009 12:06 pm

    I should add that the one time he was being a pill and I whacked him with the end of the lead rope, Casey acted like I had just hurt his feelings and completely broken his trust. There was a definite regression for a couple days after that. He’s sensitive, but not sensitive to the touch.

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