A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Thursday, August 27, 2009

She's Always One Step Ahead :D

I keep talking about how smart Sora is and now I have a good story to prove it. :D

First a little background to this story. I've been soaking and bandaging Sora's left front foot, because of the abscess, twice a day since Saturday when I did my first session in the evening. I've been using treats as reinforcement and to keep her willing and happy. This isn't how I would do this if I had more time because it means that she's been getting away with some behaviors that I don't like. Because of this experience, when I have more time I'm going to work with her on standing still and keeping her feet in things without treats when she is sound. The reason I'm doing this now is because I don't want to hurt her when she is already sore and because it just needs to get done. I haven't had hours to work with her on the lead to get her calm and patient and the treats work very well for doing this and keeping her in good spirits lol!

I'll start the story with Saturday evening: Sora is sore and grumpy. She doesn't understand why she has to stand in the cross ties with her foot in warm water for ten minutes. I give her tons of treats when I get her foot in the water, along with lots of praise, and more treats periodically as she keeps it there. She only takes her foot out once and fights me when I put it back in which is accompanied with tons more treats.

Sunday Morning: Sora is fussy, now realizing that this has to happen more than once. She doesn't fight me when I put her foot in (tons of treats, HELLO) but she does take it out continually and dumps over the entire tray of water once. This is before I bring extra water so I spend the next 6 minutes fighting with her to keep her foot in an empty tray :X

Sunday Evening: I easily get Sora to put her foot in the tray but she takes it out a few times. By now realizing that when I put her foot in she gets more treats then when she just leaves it there. Overall she is much better and I can tell that the treats are starting to sink in. Instead of just being grumpy she is happy and is thinking hard about everything.

Monday Morning: Sora is in a GREAT mood today and willing PUTs her foot in the bucket but removes it at least ten times, knocking it over three times in the process. I realize something must be done.:~)

Monday Evening: I've decided that I won't give her treats when she puts her foot in the tray, instead I'll give them to her once she's kept it in there for a short while. At first this doesn't go over well.

Tuesday Morning: Sora figures out that she has to keep her foot in the bucket for a little while and stands perfectly the whole time, she is also distracted by something outside though lol.

Tuesday Evening: Sora gets the concept and is perfect through the beginning of our session but later on gets bored and knocks the tray over twice. I give up for the rest of the session and decide I need to think of a new approach.

Wednesday Evening: (yes, I missed my Wednesday morning and I felt SOOOO bad) I thought about it over night and have decided that every time she moves her body but her foot stays in the same place I'll give her a bunch of treats along with giving them to her when she stays still for a while. This way she can get treats for doing something which also consists of keeping her foot in the tray rather than taking it out. She does well this evening. She takes her foot out twice but easily puts it back in and I can see the gears turning in her head as she thinks about this new system. Realizing that it is better to move and keep her foot in than to take it out.

This Morning: I can tell right away that the new system is a hit lol! Sora moves around a fair amount but her foot never leaves the tray. Success!!!! I'm brushing her to pass the time and at one point I go over to get a new brush and as I'm walking back Sora looks at me and very deliberately picks up her right hoof and puts it in the tray with her left! I was laughing so hard that I could hardly stand. I eventually got control of myself and fed her a ton of treats. As soon as she got the treats she carefully removed her right foot, looking at me the entire time like "see, I know how this works."

She didn't remove her foot for the rest of her ten minutes and I actually took it out when our time was up. I'm getting a kick out of the new system because she'll shift around and then look at me like "Ok mom, where are the treats? Look what a GOOD girl I'm being!" ROFL. Now hopefully she won't get bored and this will continue to work :D

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Much News

I don't have too much to report today. I've continued with soaking and bandaging Sora and both of us are getting better at it. Saturday is the last day I need to do anything with her abscess so hopefully that will be the end of that. I'm hoping to start building up her muscle again starting by long periods of walking on the longe and maybe some ponying interspersed with some trotting. I'll wait until she is a little stronger before I climb on her again but hopefully I'll be able to get some more nice riding in before it gets too cold. I do wish our riding season was longer in Minnesota :P

On another note, I finally got Sora's records all straightened up. I bought a three ring binder, some sheet protectors, separators and a pocket for it and proceeded to put all her stuff together. I now have a way of recording her deworming, vet visits, hoof trimming, registration, etc. all in one convenient place. I must be kind of a dork because I had TONS of fun getting it all together and organized and I was kind of excited to put her recent vet visit stuff in there lol!

Now I need to start thinking about bed. I have my internship tomorrow which means that I'll have to be up at 6:00 to get Sora soaked and bandaged before I leave. Hopefully the little princess won't give me any trouble tomorrow when I have to wake her up at such an early hour :D

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smoothness Resumes

I trotted Sora today and she is perfectly sound! Now I only have five days left of soaking and bandaging. I'm so glad my baby is feeling better!

I'm glad to say that we have been bonding over this as well. Now she is following me around in the pasture and when I leave she she tries to follow. I switched to purple duct tape today because we don't want anyone thinking that Sora doesn't like variety :P

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pretty in Pink

I had another interesting bandaging this morning but over all it went much better than it did yesterday. I am certainly perfecting the art of wrapping a hoof and it looks really messy but it is tight in the right places and loose in the right places. The one thing I really don't want to do is hurt her leg in a different way while I'm trying to get her hoof to heal.

I'll try to get an actual picture of the abscess tomorrow for anyone lucky enough to not have seen one but for now, here are some pictures of her pretty pink hoof :P
Look at the tongue on khepri!!! :D
"Hey mom!! You don't happen to have any treats on you do you?"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's Like Mount Vesuvius Down There

Soooo, the vet came out today and Sora has an abscess in her front left hoof. At least I was right about where she was lame :P I'm upset that she is hurting but I'm relieved that it's only an abscess and not something worse.

I LOVE my vet! He was really nice, patiently walked me through what to expect and what to do to treat her. He didn't charge that much for diagnosing her and he was very kind to her even though she was hurting.

Don't laugh but in my eleven years of caring for horses I've never had to deal with any kind of health problem! I've never had a horse more than slightly lame where they slightly head bob when trotting and of course never called a vet out for that since that never lasted for more than a couple of days. I haven't had to deal with stitches or any other type of wound like that. Because of that, although I'm not happy about Sora hurting, I am kind of glad that I get this experience now when I can easily deal with it so I have the experience.

I'll try to get a picture of the patient's pink wrapped foot tomorrow. After all a lady has to be fashionable at all times right? :D

Friday, August 21, 2009

So Now She's Gimpy :*>(

I just got back after bringing my younger sister back to college in Cleveland. I got back tonight and Sora is REALLY lame! She's painful on her left front leg. She'll walk on it and put weight on it but when she walks her head bobs noticeably. I'm really concerned about her! I've never had a horse this lame and the worst part is that I don't even know when it started so I don't know how long she's been like that.

The vet is coming tomorrow. Hopefully it'll just be a pulled muscle or a stone bruise. Think good thoughts for the both of us

Sunday, August 16, 2009

She's Horizontal Again!!!!

I went out today to rotate pastures and Sora's withers have caught up to her butt. I never thought it would happen lol!!! It looks like she'll be kind of tall though :~( I'll love her soooooooooooooo much no matter what but I was hoping for a 14-14.2 hander *grinz* I am beginning to wonder about the name of this blog though ;~)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flying Without Wings and a Decision

Yesterday, the twelfth, I took Sora on a really long trail ride with her babysitter. She was fantastic. Truly this horse is like a dream come true!

The only really place we have to ride is into a small town and the only way to get there is along a road. Because Sora is still a little nervous around cars and because steering can still be interesting this can be dangerous. We went slow and I climbed off for the first few cars but after that she was wonderful! It was funny because after I stopped her and had her look at the first few cars she decided that meant that we should stop at every car. She would hear a car coming and stop without looking at it or paying any attention :~)

The best part of the entire wonderful trip was when, on the way back, we were trotting alongside Khepri and the horses were racing a little. We cantered! It was wonderful. She was balanced and it was rocking and beautiful. It will be great for Dressage when we get there and even though Khepri was cantering right alongside her when I gave her the lightest pull to slow her down (she was only wearing a halter) she slowed to a trot and than to a walk and even stopped when I leaned down and hugged her :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

The decision I made is to slow down with her training a little. I'm not going to quite riding her it's just that I'll be happy if I ride her once or so a week instead of being disappointed if I don't ride her a few days in a row. I realized that I have been pushing her more than I ever planned on and although she hasn't had any problems I just don't want to risk it. I have also read this article and I tend to agree that waiting until four is better for more horses. Because of this I'll ride her a bit more this fall and than just work on things like desensitization and trick training this winter and into next spring.

I may be moving her next summer to a boarding stable where I'll have a couple arenas with good footing and flat ground to work with and hopefully a Dressage trainer. I plan on continuing my training on her myself and if I have my way I'll be the only person ever on her back but having someone to give me lessons would be helpful so I won't be fumbling around in the dark.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

First Road Ride

I took Sora on her first ride along the road tonight with Hanna. This was our first time up there because she has been nervous about the road and since there isn't much room to get off the road I've been reluctant to take a chance. I'm finally feeling like she is controllable enough and Hanna decided to ride Khepri who is the best baby sitter EVER so I decided today was the day.

I was sooooo proud of Sora. Only one car went past and I kind of panicked *blush* but Sora handled the car, and me :P, with grace. We went on Sora's longest and hardest ride so far and she was definitely tired but she did a good job and really wanted to go the entire time. The best thing for me was that she didn't shy even once! *jumps up and down* We also did a LOT of trotting and she listened and was willing to slow down whenever I wanted :~)

I was also pleased with how willing she was to ride on the gravel and how tough her hooves are. That's really good since I really want to keep her barefoot!

and now, finally :P, some pictures!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ground Work Wednesday :>)

I think I mentioned in the last post that Sora has been a little nervous about me putting the saddle and saddle pads on her back. Not only have I checked her all over for pain but she is comfortable when I get on her back, walks with her back loose and, most of all, is just as nervous about me taking them off. All of this has led me to believe she's just nervous about it and not that she's uncomfortable or in pain.

I decided not to ride today and just to take it slow and work with her on the saddle pad issue. I brought her in from her pasture and longed her to figure out her mood. Her mood was perfect, she was tired lol! It was warm so she was being lazy which was just fine with me since I wanted her quiet. I worked with her as I did from the begining. Desensitizing her to it flaping and getting closer and closer. Then I started rubbing her with it. She did really well and after moving away from me and some "please don't mom" s *pouty lip*, she sighed and stood still. I worked on both sides first outside, where we had more room to move, and than indoors. Finally I put her in the crossties and added the saddle. She was a little nervous but we worked through it and in the end she was calm and good. She got tons of treats and grain after.

I neglected to come through on my promise of pictures woooooops! I'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1st Real Trail Ride

I finally got a sister to ride with me! Yay!!!

Lauren (the 21 year-old) took Jackson out with me today and we went on a trail ride. We both started out in the arena and then headed up our old hill road. Sora was good but I wasn't really working on anything which meant I was letting some stuff go that I really wanted to work on. Sora needs rides like that sometimes but it's hard for me because I am such a perfectionist.

On the hill road we ended up in a tricky situation where we were up a really steep little hill with a bunch of ditches to go through before we could get back home. I thought about getting off but I didn't and Sora allowed me to gently guide her down. We did very well together and I was proud.

The best thing was when Lauren complimented me on my work and said how calm Sora looked. I could tell that she continued to be impressed as we rode down the driveway and Sora stayed just as calm. I was proud of my girl as usual.

I did find a couple of things I need to work on though and I think I'll try to address at least one of them tomorrow.

First, Sora is still being weird about me putting the saddle and pad on her back. I've checked and checked and she really doesn't seem sore so I don't think that's what it is. I did realized today that she really started getting nervous about it after she snagged her saddle on the barn door and shied from it.

Secondly, she had her first nervous moment in the barn when Jackson left without her. Apparently not having a horse in the barn with her is ok, but having one leave her in the barn is not. At least now I know lol!

Third, although she stands perfectly for me while I mount, as soon as I'm up she moves off. She also doesn't stand for long when I stop her. I think we'll start working on that in a few days when I ride again.

I know, I know. I promised pictures. I promise I'll get some tomorrow even if it's just of Sora's new saddle pads.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Time Off is Wonderful!!!

Really wonderful :~)

I rode Sora again today and once again she was wonderful (over use of the word? :P). I wondered about her before I climbed on her because she had been in heat this weekend and she went through a fence while I was moving horses out of the arena preparing for our ride tonight.

The fence was easily fixed and Sora is fine other than a tiny little welt on her chest. That is one reason why I like our thin wire for fence, it will snap before a horse hurts itself and on our large farm away from any roads that is preferable to always needing to keep them in.

As soon as I put her in the crossties I knew she was going to be calm and wonderful. She stood still and listened as I tacked her up. I'm so impressed with how much better she stands for her hooves now. She lifts them all nicely and stands still with them up for a fairly long time. Now I'm just hoping she does the same for my trimmer next time she comes out!

She stood perfectly at the mounting block like normal. She stands still and watches me while I get ready, putting the stirups down, reins over her head, etc. The look on her face is so cute, like she's waiting for me to get all that stuff done and just get up already but she never moves a foot until I'm on and I never even trained her to stand still like that lol!

Once I got up I rode her around with her halter for awhile and she was good, especially once she got going, so I switched over to her bit. I would love to never make her wear a bit but I know it's important if I want her to be able to do Dressage and all of the other things I'm interested in doing with her. She was not happy about the bit in her mouth and the fact that I was pulling on it and I was really thinking about just putting the reins back on her halter and riding her like that but I realized that if I don't start working on it she'll never get better :-s so I stuck with it and after a few minutes she was turning and stopping fairly well. She is going to be very light on the reins. So much different then Loki who acted like he was trying to pull my arms off. I will work more with the bit this week and hopefully by sometime next week I'll be able to use the bridle alone and get the halter out from underneath it.

On a slightly different note I need to order another bit :O I've been using this one but she already has pretty bad chew marks in it right over her tongue that actually split the plastic open and I don't want it hurting her so I think I'm going to get her an all metal one like this.

After I had worked with her with the bit for a little I attached the reins back to her halter and took her on a trail ride. Once again she leg yeilded right over to the gate and stood still while I opened the gate and leg yeilded out nicely. We went on the longest trail ride so far and other than some pretty big spooks she was wonderful. I don't even mind the spooks because after everyone I feel more confident in my ability to stay on and she never tries to bolt or do anything else silly.

I still haven't gotten a sister out to ride with me but I'm not going to complain because it is giving me a chance to work on getting her out on her own. I can't wait until my next ride. Seriously Sora is the best horse I can possibly imagine :D I will be getting more pictures from next time I ride so no fear :~)