Wizard Rides 641- 756: Eez-eh
Our rides from April 28 to mid-December, 2014…
After Wizard returned home from wintering at the veterinary clinic in March 2014, we had a fun, happy, (mostly) healthy, and productive spring, summer, and fall.
A partial list of our accomplishments, escapades, and memorable moments:
– A fun spring and fall series of hunter paces with Christina and Saffy. Wizard is fun and forward-thinking on the trails. He’s more relaxed and there are fewer of his anxiety episodes. When he does have them, he normally can go back to “zero” in shorter amounts of time than in the past. The biggest and greatest change is that he’s now very happy to lead OR follow. Saffy has been a perfect trail partner for him, and the two of them take turns switching off as the leader.
– A Susan G. Komen Ride for the Cure. Our team raised over $1,200 for a good cause, and the horses sported some seriously pink wardrobes.
– A short ride with no bridle. Wizard just felt like he would be fine without a bridle, so I took it off, and he was fine. Quiet, easy, and a nice yardstick of our progress.
– Improvements in all gaits. Wizard’s trot is stronger and more balanced, and he’s learning how to take contact with the bit. It only took us 6+ years of awkward attempts and exercises to get that connection. Wizard’s gallop is also improving. He gives me less of the head ducking and crab-walking and more of a forward, springy hand gallop.
– Our jumping was sort of on and off. We hade leaps and bounds (pun intended) for a few months in the spring, and then I could feel him getting anxious again in the late summer. I backed off and we’ve been working from the ground up again.
– We schooled over cross country jumps on a proper cross country field for the first time! It was humbling and fun at the same time, and I hope to do more of that next year.
– We almost went to a horse show. Wizard was alllll gussied up for a schooling show, where he was going to do a model class and two dressage tests, but then we had some trailering and trailer issues and instead we ended up taking some fun photos of a braided Wizard at home.
– We spent hours and hours and hours in the Assunpink, both with friends and by ourselves, in the daylight and by the light of the moon. It’s the best thing in the world for our physical and mental health.
And a partial list of things I’ve learned and some things that are currently working for Wizard:
– In November, Wizard tested positive for Lyme Disease (again). Our treatment this time around was Oxytet injections (administered IV by a veterinarian), followed by a course of minocycline. He’ll be done with his treatment this Wednesday. I haven’t seen a huge change in him, but I’ll continue to monitor him.
– His feet are looking pretty great. While we worked with a special farrier who used rocker shoes and x-rays last winter (2013-14), our plan for this winter (2014-15) is instead to move him to a farm where he’s stalled at night to give his feet a break and let them dry. So far, so good. He’s in regular shoes. His frogs look much healthier, and his heels are not running under as much as they were a year ago. 24/7 turnout is the best thing in the world for his body and mind, but stalling in the winter seems to be the way to go for his feet. Of course, I’m VERY fortunate that the barn owners at these farms are gracious enough to let me winter at one barn and summer at another, and I’m grateful that I know such a great group of local farms.
– On a related note, Wizard really seems to enjoy the footing at our winter barn. It’s a synthetic blend, and it’s on the firm side. He springs along quite happily, and snorts like a racehorse when we first step into the (HUGE) arena.
– Our bit of choice for 2014 is a French link eggbutt snaffle. Mild, quiet in his mouth, and less jiggly than some other bits.
– So far so good on the saddle. The fitter checked it in September or so, and she was VERY impressed with his muscling- he gained a tremendous amount of topline muscle.
– Under the saddle, I started using an Ogilvy pad. So far, so good.
– All spring, summer, and fall, Wizard was fed Pennfield Ultra Energized Senior and Purina Amplify. His weight was pretty consistent, and he held his muscle well since I was able to keep him in light, consistent work for most of he year.
– This is nothing new, but I need to say it anyway: exercise and fitness makes you a better rider. Once I got my back issues under control, I was able to get into a running schedule. I lost a lot of weight, and was fit enough to run six miles. When I’m that fit, I ride my best. Now that it’s dark so early and I’m wrapped up in 8,000 other things, I only have time to ride and I have not been running. I immediately gained weight and am not as fit as I was over the summer. Hopefully I can get motivated again, because my back never felt better, and I’m sure that Wizard appreciated a lighter, fitter pilot.
– One of my biggest lessons in riding has been to not be afraid of contact. Don’t create static in the bit. Hold the reins like you mean it, release like you mean it, and your horse will appreciate it.
– My other lesson was to WAIT for the hind end to engage. Don’t get ahead of him. Wait, and you’ll get there together.
And a few more photos from the year…