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Wizard Rides 549 – 603: Come On Feet

March 10, 2014

Chance, watch out for Wizard- he's ready to rumble!

September 22, 2013 – March 10, 2014

I broke Blogging Rule #1, which is to not neglect your blog. Let’s catch up a little.

Monmouth County Hunt Club

In late September, Wizard and I rode with the Monmouth County Hunt Club for the first time- they hosted a clinic, during which guests were invited to ride with the hounds and the hunt. Wizard handled the hounds very well. He was great when we were moving, but when we stopped, it was difficult for him to hold still for periods of time in that big group. After about two hours of riding, we retired and walked home. The hunt club members were SO nice, and very welcoming to us. I hope to ride with them again sometime.

THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE…

Wizard was a supermodel during his Model Geldings class

In October, Wizard and I competed in the Second Call “Fall for Horses” Charity Show. We did two model classes and two Intro dressage tests. Wizard did really well in the model classes against MUCH younger horses, and we came home with ribbons in both classes. In the dressage tests, we scored a 54 and a 55, if I remember correctly. I was very proud of him for handling the show environment so nicely, and by the time we got to the dressage tests, it was a long day. I think he was just ready to be done. His free walks were good, but our trots were tense, and he erupted into a few sideways crab-trots on the circles, and did some creative leaping at the beginning of the second test. We stayed in the ring without jumping any barriers, I didn’t fall off, and he didn’t lose any shoes, so I’d call that a huge success for our first-ever dressage tests. His weight was great, and he sparkled in the October sun. I was very proud to have him there.

Wizard in his model class

Thank you to Wizard's legion of aunties (and grandma) for their help and support during a successful dressage debut today!

Wizard gets a pat after our dressage test at the Second Call "Fall for Horses" Charity Show at the Horse Park of NJ

Once the dressage was done, we took a few weeks in November to work on a little jumping, and we also got in trail rides whenever we felt safe enough to venture out in the woods with the hunters.

Boy oh boy is this horse fun to jump. I only take a few gymnastic lines about twice a month with him, but we both love it.

Wizard said, "Dressage, schmessage. Let's jump."

Flying with The Wizard

Up, up, and away with Wizard

Wizard's weekly jump school. Did a little gymnastic line of a placing pole to a cross rail, then two strides to a vertical.

And we practiced our ponying skills with Brigid! I’d like to do more ponying in the future.

Ponying Brigid with Wizard. It's fun!

Somewhere between my last rides in the Assunpink in 2013 and the first robins of 2014, it got cold. It snowed. And snowed. And got colder. And snowed a little more.

Wizard in Winter

"The two are heads apart and Wizard's got a lead! Wizard put a head in front right in the middle of the stretch! It's Wizard and Chance battling back along the inside! We'll test these two to the wire!"

I disturbed His Royal Highness Wizard's sunbathing session

All bundled up for the cold

Wet weather is not kind to Wizard’s feet. Despite diligent and skilled farrier care, Wizard’s soles were thin, his palmar angles were low, his frogs were protruding, and his heels were getting crushed. With the help of my regular veterinarian, the veterinarian at our local equine clinic, a local farrier, and consultations with Dr. Ric Redden, we’re now making some progress with Wizard’s feet.

Wizard’s shoes were pulled in mid-January. In early February, he was fitted with four rocker shoes. Although he normally lives outside 24/7, he is currently stalled each night at our local equine clinic for his hoof rehabilitation process.

In these photo sequences, the photos were taken on January 8, February 1, and February 9.

Left Front…
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left front
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left front
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left front
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left front
Wizard's New Shoes
Right Front…
 Wizard's feet: 2014
Right front
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Right front
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
  Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Right front
Wizard's New Shoes
Left Hind…
 Wizard's feet: 2014
Left hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Left hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Right Hind…
 Wizard's feet: 2014
Right hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Right hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Right hind
Wizard's New Shoes
Wizard's feet: 2014
Right hind
Wizard's New Shoes

Click here to read more about palmar angles.

Click here to read about rocker shoes.

Here’s a video of Wizard trotting on Feb 24…

My friend massaged him, and interestingly, he was tighter in the front end and more comfortable in the hind end. He’s moving well, and I’ve put about 12 rides on him since he got his new shoes. We also took a dressage lesson and worked on some “physical therapy” type work to loosen up his neck, free up his shoulders, and help him build correct muscle whole we get fit for the spring.

We’re doing walk and trot work only right now, and practicing our shoulder in, as well as bending exercises to help with body awareness.

When he got to the clinic, he weighted 1,200 pounds. The stress of the move caused him to lose 65 pounds. The vet put him on sucralfate, I changed his feed to Pennfield Energized Senior, added alfalfa hay and an extra grain feeding at night, and as of today, his weight is back up to 1,195 pounds. Hooray!

The farrier will check on Wizard’s feet next time he’s at the clinic, and Wizard is due for another shoeing in early April. I hope that he can go home soon. We’re waiting for the ground to dry up so his feet don’t get soft too soon while they’re rehabbing.

This endeavour is expensive and it took a leap of faith, but so far, so good. I’m looking forward to the rest of our adventures in 2014.

Wizard Rides 534-548: September Already

September 22, 2013

Wizard and I embark on a hunter pace

Monday, Sept 2
Tuesday, Sept 3
Wednesday, Sept 4
Thursday, Sept 5
Saturday, Sept 7
Sunday, Sept 8
Monday, Sept 9
Tuesday, Sept 10
Wednesday, Sept 11
Saturday, Sept 14
Sunday, Sept 15
Tuesday, Sept 17
Wednesday, Sept 18
Thursday, Sept 19
Saturday, Sept 21

With the exception of one schooling foray at the Horse Park on the 11th and a half-hour ride on the 21st, Wizard and I rode on the trails only for all our rides this month. It’s just too nice to not be out in the park. Most of our trail rides were 1-2 hours, mostly walking, with some occasional trotting and cantering. We’ve been riding both solo and with friends, and Wizard feels great. He’s confident and forward.

The Horse Park is hosting these great “Before Dark at the Park” schooling events for Horse Park members, and they are perfect training opportunities for Wizard. The 11th was our third time schooling in the arenas, and he was better than ever. We took a half-hour Centered Riding (intro) lesson with Kathy Culler. It was great for Wizard, and excellent for me, since it helped me to “center” myself and help him settle. Kathy was overall happy with our way of going, and praised Wizard’s “catlike” walk. Some things I took away from the mini-lesson as being very helpful for my current state of riding:

– face your palms toward each other- this is such a better way of thinking of keeping “thumbs up”
– let the energy/imaginary wave/etc flow up the front of your torso and down the back
– imagine your feet as having roller skates on them (to avoid tipping my feet when giving leg cues)
– actually SIT in the saddle on the down-beat of the posting trot
– picture the distance from shoulder to hip growing/elongating, especially on my right side, which often caves in

At the very end of the session, I felt Wizard start to lose his patience. We ended the lesson with some 20m circles, just as he was tensing up and thinking of making an unplanned exit from the arena. I was happy with our good note, and was able to ride him out of the arenas and all the way across the cross country course without any episodes. And I was smart, too: I took him on a trail ride AFTER schooling at the Horse Park so he does not think he gets to go home right after riding at the Horse Park. Within 5 minutes of the trail ride, he was loose and relaxed and feeling good.

On the 15th, Christie and I teamed up to compete in a hunter pace hosted by the Monmouth County Hunt. It was my first hunter pace since the late 1990s during my glory days with Alibar. It was Brigid and Wizard’s first-ever hunter pace, and both performed very well. So well, in fact, that we won our division (Open) and overall Reserve Champion for the day!

Wizard and Brigid's hunter pace debut, and my first since, oh, the late 90s? Special thanks to my most excellent hunter pace partner, Christie, for a great day in the park!

The ride was (roughly) 7 or so miles long. On the way out, Wizard was next to perfect. He handled the Hunt Club (including hounds in kennels and some tents, etc) very well. We hit a few snags when we started the loop back toward home and he got a little nutty at the canter, but it wasn’t anything that was scary or unmanageable. I was so proud of both our horses- we had so much fun with them.

Wizard, Brigid, and the hounds

On the 18th, there was a spectacular full moon on a crisp night- Kris and Sunny joined Wizard and me for a moonlit ride. The moon was brighter than I expected, and we rode a full circuit around our usual local fields.

Full moon ride tonight!

On the 19th, the saddle fitter came out and adjusted the flocking on Wizard’s saddle. She said the left side felt lumpier/more squashed than the right side, and she felt it was partially my riding and partially Wizard’s inherent crookedness. After she added flocking, the saddle felt more stable again- no more shifting.

After our appointment, my friend Erin and her mare Esme met up with us (she lives in MD) and we went on a great trail ride. We rode the loop around the lake, followed by a second loop around the back field and into the Horse Park. Wizard was fantastic, only getting a little loopy when we cantered and he got a tiny bit jiggy at the very end of the ride. I rode him about 10.6 miles, which is longer than our usual rides, but he felt like he could have gone around again. He’s putting on weight and getting fit.

Erin and Esme

(photo above of Erin and Esme)

So that’s been our September so far!

THREE horses available for adoption through Atlantic County SPCA (New Jersey)

September 21, 2013

These 3 horses are under the auspices of the Atlantic County SPCA. They were part of a seizure a year ago. They are now in good weight and healthy, but the ACSPCA is out of funding to pay for their care.

Due to financial constraints, these horses need to find their forever homes. The SPCA hopes they could be adopted with a rescue agreement. They have had hard times, and deserve to not have to worry anymore. (The woman who is caring for them is in hard times herself and would welcome any donations either monetary (acspca.com) or hay.)

Bugsy, the gray is younger– 9-12 years old–and a gorgeous 15 hand Arabian gelding. With finishing, he would make a great all around horse for some woman or girl–his past abuse makes him NOT LIKE MEN.

Atlantic County SPCA, Nancy Beall, 609-927-6265

Bugsy- available for adoption through Atlantic County SPCA

Bugsy- available for adoption through Atlantic County SPCA

These 3 horses are under the auspices of the Atlantic County SPCA. They were part of a seizure a year ago. They are now in good weight and healthy, but the ACSPCA is out of funding to pay for their care.

Due to financial constraints, these horses need to find their forever homes. The SPCA hopes they could be adopted with a rescue agreement. They have had hard times, and deserve to not have to worry anymore. (The woman who is caring for them is in hard times herself and would welcome any donations either monetary (acspca.com) or hay.)

Sally the chestnut mare is 20 years old and is still feisty. Her teeth are bad so she gets soaked Sentinel Sr. and alfalfa pellets. She can be ridden walk-trot with a light rider.

Atlantic County SPCA, Nancy Beall, 609-927-6265

Sally- available for adoption through Atlantic County SPCA

Sally- available for adoption through Atlantic County SPCA

These 3 horses are under the auspices of the Atlantic County SPCA. They were part of a seizure a year ago. They are now in good weight and healthy, but the ACSPCA is out of funding to pay for their care.

Due to financial constraints, these horses need to find their forever homes. The SPCA hopes they could be adopted with a rescue agreement. They have had hard times, and deserve to not have to worry anymore. (The woman who is caring for them is in hard times herself and would welcome any donations either monetary (acspca.com) or hay.)

Grady (Black w/white socks) is an 18 year old OTTB gelding, very sweet and has been ridden bareback w/ lead rope at a walk.

Atlantic County SPCA, Nancy Beall, 609-927-6265

Grady- available for adoption through the Atlantic County SPCA

Grady- available for adoption through the Atlantic County SPCA

Wizard Rides 529, 530, 531, 532, & 533: Never Miss a Beat

August 29, 2013

Raised the jump cups to about 2'9" this morning, and Wizard was a star.

Friday, 8/23/13

Lesson day! Carole came over and did a jumping lesson with us. I asked for some jumping exercises and input about our progress. After Wizard was warmed up, we trotted and then cantered over a series of five poles, set 9′ apart. At a trot, they were one trot stride apart. At a canter, they rode like a bounce. We did them on the left lead first. At the end of the poles, Carole instructed me to ask for a halt, sitting UP, not doing the typical slump and hunch with a pat. This kept Wizard’s hind end under him and was a good balancing exercise. He rushed through the first few times, but as I engaged my core and sat UP and really extended my arms, Wizard was able to use himself better. Interestingly, my dressage lessons and jumping lessons both echo each other with my position: hands up and out in front of me, not in my lap. On the right lead, Wizard was more balanced and rode through them quite nicely.

We graduated to a little grid with a cross rail to a pole to another cross rail. I thought the pole between jumps would make Wizard scramble a little, but it actually helped him with his rhythm and he rode it nicely. Carole raised the second jump to a vertical, and once I was able to reach my hands forward and get a little stronger in my leg, she raised it a few more holes. When we’re schooling without a trainer, I don’t jump more than two feet or so. With a professional watching, I felt comfortable working over slightly bigger fences. It felt great to graduate to some more substantial jumps. Wizard took them really nicely, and we got up to a 2’9″ vertical by the end of the lesson (picture above).

As I tightened my core and stopped throwing the reins away over fences, Wizard responded with a rounder, more balanced jumping style. I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to get my leg strong enough for bigger jumps. I see a lot of stirrupless work in my future. I also could feel my position go out the window as we rode through the gymnastic lines. Carole would give us something to work on, and I could hold it to the jumps, and then it was gone. By the end of the lesson, I was at least carrying the seat and hands to the first fence. Now I need to keep it all the way through the line.

At the very end of the lesson, I could feel Wizard backing off from my leg just a little bit. He willingly took all the jumps, but it felt like he lost just a bit of his forward desire at the end. He actually added a stride for the very first time- he usually launches with a super-long distance.

We ended with an inviting cross rail and then I cooled him out. For a regular rider, it was not a lot of jumping, but for me and Wizard, it was a fun challenge. Carole’s great at evaluating a horse’s comfort level and working just to the point of building confidence for the next lesson.

Our homework is to canter poles, both in a series and as singles. I need to work on my hands and on my leg. I plan to do some half-seat canter work on the trails. It was a great lesson, and it felt great to take that step to the next level.

Saturday, 8/24/13

Kris and I went out on a fantastic 2-hour trail ride. The weather was perfect and the bugs weren’t too bad. We covered just under 6 miles, crossing a little stream, riding around some fields, and exploring a great wooded path that runs along the stream. Wizard let Sunny take the lead at the end of the ride. What a difference it is to ride him now from how he used to be. Gone is the horse who needs to be on the lead at all times and needs to be moving at a hurried walk. Now he can mosey along behind a trail buddy. It only took 4-5 years!

Sunday, 8/25/13

I only had a short window of time before work, so I rode Wizard in the outdoor arena and tortured myself with a little stirrup-free trot work. Wizard was happy enough to truck along while I did my best to get my position under control. I avoided riding without stirrups for a long time because of my back, but now that I’ve cut back on photo work, my back (touch wood) is feeling better than it has in years, and I can handle the no-stirrup work again.

Monday, 8/26/13

Before work, Wizard and I took an hour-long trail ride. We cantered down the straight cantering lane and rode a big loop around the perimeter of the Horse Park cross country field. Wizard was a little looky with all the wind, but didn’t do anything wrong, even when we came across a few different dog people.

National Ride Your Horse in the Park in a Green Hat Day

Tuesday, 8/27/13

Wizard got another dose of Pentosan. I also am trying a short ulcer treatment cycle to see if it helps with his goosey behavior during grooming sessions- it’s mostly on his right side. So far, it’s not doing anything. Could it be saddle fit? Or maybe something else. The good news is that he’s moving out better now that he got his Pentosan back. And he rolls over all the way when he rolls- usually, he rolls on one side and then gets up and back down again to roll on the other side. Only when he’s feeling nice and limber can he roll over all the way with regularity.

We chased daylight and did a similar ride to Monday’s session. This time, we took a bigger loop so he could see the arenas and come back through the cross country field. I found myself humming a song to myself while we finished our loop- Wizard was very relaxed and happy and snorting along. Maybe he enjoys hearing his goofy rider sing songs by the Kaiser Chiefs. He probably also got a kick out of me YELLING at the deer to get out of our way. They just stand there until the very last second and then bolt, so I try to get them moving along sooner with some encouragement. And another sneaky one LEAPT right next to us out of the bushes with a loud snort, startling us both for a moment.

Before Dark at the Park: VIP Access to the Horse Park of New Jersey

August 27, 2013

GKB Coal Magic

AUGUST 28 •SEPTEMBER 11 •SEPTEMBER 25

4:00PM– 7:00PM

A new summer series for Horse Park of New Jersey members. First date is TOMORROW, August 28.

$20 per session for Horse Park members. Not a Horse Park member? Sign up today and your membership lasts through 2014.

Does your greenie in need of a little schooling? Does your seasoned pro ready for a tuneup? Would you like to work out some show ring jitters? The Horse Park of New Jersey is offering an EXCELLENT opportunity for VIP access for Horse Park members to the indoor and outdoor arenas.

You can also reserve a time to school in a dressage arena or ride in a free Intro to Centered Riding session.

Visit http://horseparkofnewjersey.com/calendar.html  for full details, and download the information here:

http://horseparkofnewjersey.com/2013_PDF/Before_Dark_at_the_Park_Flyer_%28Page_01%29.pdf

http://horseparkofnewjersey.com/2013_PDF/Before_Dark_at_the_Park_Flyer_%28Page_02%29.pdf

Wizard Rides 526, 527, & 528: The Sunset

August 21, 2013

Jumping Wizard is SO MUCH FUN

Thursday, 8/16/13

Before work, Wizard and I hit the trails. On our previous trail ride, I noticed that the perimeters of a few fields were mowed this week. The footing was dry and even, and the fields had good visibility… perfect for some trot and canter sets! All the way around, the field is about a half a mile. We went around it three times, doing a trot or canter on the long sides and walking the short sides. It was FUN! Except for one stumble, Wizard was quite light on his feet, and “on” the bridle. I always assumed he’d be a zoomy kind of horse when we began doing trot and canter work off the property, but he really is quite soft in the bridle and tends to slow down when he’s uncertain instead of rushing forward. It’s quite different from Alibar, who did everything quickly. We walked home and I gave him a nice hosedown before hustling in to the office.

Friday, 8/17/13

Epic Barn Day. Those are the days when you actually have a few hours to really get some things done at the barn. Baths. Or tack cleaning. Watching a friend’s lesson. Or just leaning over the fence watching your horse graze. Kris and I actually had the day off, so we declared Friday an EBD. We started our ride in the arena, and after some nice trot and canter work, Wizard and I took two separate lines of jumps twice each. First line was a placing pole to a cross rail to one stride to a second cross rail. Second line was a placing pole to a cross rail to one stride to a small vertical, maybe 2’3″. Kris was nice enough to take pictures, and got the really great picture of Wizard over the second jumping effort- I love how light and round he is. He’s really coming along.

After our ringwork, we hit the trails. We took the same field that I rode the day before, and cantered the far side. Wizard was much more “looky”- it sort of seemed like he was gawking at the white flowers that were blooming in the middle of the field. Tractors, deer, turkeys, those are all fine. But that silvery underside of leaves? Spooky stuff, sometimes. Same with certain white flowers. That’s okay- he gets a pass. He jumped like a star today. He was so good, in fact, that I scheduled a jumping lesson for next Friday. I’d love to take the next step forward with our jumping.

Here’s a neat photo evolution of Wizard over fences since 2009 or so…

Wizard & Me: Jumping!

Spring is in the air!

Wizard and Me

Wizard and me

Wizard and Me

Wizard is aiming for the World Equestrian Games...

Wizard and Me

Fly like a Wizard

The fabulous flying Wizard

Nearly jumping me out of the tack...

Wizard likes to take his little cross rails seriously. And a stride early.

Hopping hay bales with the Wizard

Wheeeeee!

No bit? No problem for The Wizard. He takes his cross rails much more seriously than his friend Sunny does.

Wizard and me

Wizard flies through the air with the greatest of ease...

Jumping Wizard is SO MUCH FUN

Saturday, 8/18/13

Wizard and I hit the trails for a solo ride. He was looky again, and interestingly was best on the cross country field on the Horse Park. We just walked and trotted around the perimeter, but there was a lot of noise over the loudspeaker and he took it all in stride. We were out a little over an hour. We cantered on the long cantering lane, but walked the rest of the way. He listened, but had his ears on swivel and his eyes on lookout. We got back with plenty of daylight. On workdays, it’s beginning to become a struggle to get out of work in time to have light for riding on the trails. In a few weeks, we won’t have any light at all after work. But we’ll have awesome weather. The tradeoff of autumn.

A Summer of Thoroughbreds. Colby: One Month Later

August 19, 2013

 

Colby: July 6, 2013

In June, I shared the story of Colby, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (click here to see intake photos and read about him) in the care of Helping Hearts Equine Rescue. My “summer of Thoroughbreds” has been so busy that I am just now finding time to share updated photos of Colby, taken on July 6.

Colby: May 25, 2013

What a difference a month makes!

Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: May 25, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013

As Colby get the nutrition he needs, he gains weight and muscle and his coat blooms. Gone are the long winter guard hairs, abscessed feet, and patchy coat. His rainrot and skin issues are under control with the help of medicated baths and daily grooming. He is fed supplements to help him maintain a healthy coat and hooves and support his young joints during his rehabilitation.

Colby: July 6, 2013

After Colby completed his quarantine, he was turned out with some equine friends. He is handled daily and receives training in hand, but his training under saddle will not begin until he is fully rehabilitated. In the meantime, he was quite happy to show off for me during a quick photo session.

Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013

He even showed off his potential when he cut across the arena and did an impromptu jump over the arena gate.

Colby: July 6, 2013

Colby looks great in July, but just wait until you see how he looks now. Stay tuned for more updates on this spirited youngster.

If you’re interested in donating to the rescue for Colby’s care, you can send a Paypal donation to hheartsequine@optonline.net, or visit the HHER website for other donation options. HHER is a 501(c)(3) charity, and horses like Colby are nursed back to health through the generosity of donations and the commitment of dedicated volunteers.

Please check back for new photos and updates about Colby, as well as other Thoroughbreds I meet this summer.