Thursday, 29 July 2010

Better, But Not Sound

Nothing much to report on account of continuing lameness grumbling away there...

He had half a Danilon Sunday and Monday, don't believe I remembered to mention that. But that's all. Kate told me he'd been hooning around the paddock being all silly and deliberately spooky yesterday :) As my Nan would have said, his head's full of broken biscuits!

I panicked this evening because whilst the other two were at the gate waiting, Quadi was stood in the corner of the top paddock. He neighed to me. Laminitis, in big red flashing letters, flashed across my mind. I got to him and he was reluctant to move. But the mares were just over the fence, and when I got to picking out his feet to put on his hoof boots he was fine about this and not stood oddly. Weird for him to be on his own though!

I brought him in to soak his feet and then dry them out on the concrete. With the warm wetter weather we're experiencing I'm leaning towards overall infection as opposed to abscess. His heels are spongy and whilst not smelly, they don't look too clever. We're about to switch paddocks to a better-drained one.

I've been having some thoughts about his feed and so on. First of all his feet, tummy and topline do not please me! I think I've let something slip diet-wise. Fin and The Baby can often be found licking their stable salt licks or the pasture mineral lick. I don't think myself or Kate have ever really noticed Quadi use either. Plus I was reading somewhere (EE?) about how you should supplement with mag-ox if you feed an alfalfa/straw chop. I do, which incidentally is Hi-Fi and is coated with mollasSes extract. I'm just getting through the last of his Top-Spec joint supplement and will be switching him to MSM only. The former has glucosamine in it, contraindicated for laminitics I believe.

To that end, I think I'll have to start dosing his feed with salt. I haven't yet worked out how much to give him, I don't want to give him a full dose in case he is using the licks. Plus I'll get him some magnesium oxide. On top of switching to MSM, I'm going to look into a different kind of forage. With the linseed he's getting, I'm not sure the alfalfa as a source of protein is necessary, and it's kind of a hit-or-miss legume to feed to a laminitic. I'm thinking of an uncoated grass/straw chop....

In his stable, Quadi has access to the straw for bedding as well as his own hay. Not easily, but there are ways and means for a hungry boy! Despite my offering perfectly nice hay in abundance, he's expressing a preference for the straw. I've always been wary of feeding straw in case of colic, but am wondering if lacing his hay with straw will be good for him in order to feel full without calories?

At the end of August, the boys will be moving house. We'll be very sad to leave where we are, the only reason this is happening is that Kate has bought her own place, complete with grazing and stabling :D Quadi is very lucky to be allowed to move in too! There is a point to bear in mind that the grazing there is richer but the stables have a concrete yard and there's my aforementioned idea to give him hay and straw. Combined with strip grazing, a dry lot and muzzling if need be, as well as a full workload >:) we should be ok.

Lots of jumbled musings from me tonight...The Feeding Challenge rumbles on.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Hot and Bothered

Whilst he's looking better, Quadi's still not right. Still very sore over stones and pottery across the access field (it's quite uneven). He's much sounder in his own paddock, the footing is nice and level there. I think it's worse if he's been stood still for a while and then has to move.

I brought everyone in this afternoon. Partly because it's good for them to come off the grass for a bit and partly because it's easier for me to get through the poo-picking without the boys following and mugging me for attention every two minutes :)

Quadi had his feet soaked whilst I carried on with my chores. He was stroppy about the poultice boots. Not a big deal, we got there in the end. I gave him a few cuddles and a smooch and he was falling asleep on me, we were both rather groggy in the heat! It was, if I'm honest, a little liberating to not have to ride because I felt too hot in the humidity we're currently experiencing. Even now that I'm home, hours later, I still can't keep cool.

So no change really. Glad the lameness is no worse but hope for him it will resolve soon :(

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Haven't worked Quadi for two days on account of him being lame coming in yesterday :(

He's sounder on soft ground and will bear weight on it, but he hirpled over the stoned yard and was less-than-amused at having to stand on his cobbled stable floor. No puffiness, heat or anything to indicate soft tissue damage thank goodness. But he did have a slightly raised pulse in that leg.

It's either an infection up the white line (we're on a constant face-off with white line disease whilst the last of the flare grows out) or an abscess. I'm leaning towards the latter. Poor love has had both fores soaked and today he wore boots in the stable whilst we were at a show with The Baby. He was much happier walking to the field in them too. I've seen a slight improvement today.

I did ride Fin out yesterday for a little hack and he was super, I shimmied my position a little whilst he walked out and felt a stretch down the front of my thigh as the stirrup bars on his saddle are set-back. It's always nice to be able to ride other horses :)

And The Baby was a superstar today, definitely the best-behaved of our bunch *lol*

Friday, 23 July 2010

Hanging Out

Although I knew by the end of the day (ie. now!) I'd be in agony with my sciatica, I plumped for long-reining Quadi around the woods. It was a perfect sunny afternoon and offered a good chance to see how he is moving.

I didn't put boots on him so that I could observe his gait and footfalls without them. The ground in the forest is forgiving and he wasn't wearing me so he wouldn't have been too encumbered even over stony patches.

And he was a Very Good Boy. A stop or two at some tarpaulin writhing in the breeze but that's allowed :) We tried a couple of trots but he was rather onward bound and I found it hard to walk to his trot speed, and he didn't seem to want to alter the pace any, so mostly we walked briskly.

Jean asked me in the comments yesterday about ulcers.

I am 90% certain he has ulcers. I discussed them with the vet last time he was out. In order to have Quadi scoped he'd have to travel to either Edinburgh or Glasgow (respectively 130 and 150 miles away). Not the end of the world, but my poor pony has had his fill of vet and vet centres and needles and fuss recently, and he's not been bad behaviour-wise, so we haven't travelled him. Whilst scoping is vital to diagnose, we all feel it's too much at the moment for Quadi.

Since we moved yards, his distended tummy has radically subsided. He's on a high-fibre, low calorie and low sugar diet, and I supplement this with Yea-sacc every day. So although I haven't done anything to heal his ulcers (I hope at least) I'm managing the situation.

I had a grand plan to buy a 2-month supply of Gastrogard or other generic ulcer medication this summer to treat him, and then everything we're doing to maintain him at the moment would be good to maintain his hopefully-healed tummy. Sadly this hasn't happened because I've worked 24 days offshore in an eight month period (I expect to work about 180 days in a 12 month period!), so finances won't allow this.

It's another stick I'm beating myself with at the moment. I think about it every time I tack him up. I hope that he's not in pain when I ride him unless he acts up, and when he does I try to avoid a confrontation and diffuse the situation (apart from yesterday, that one got away from me). I'm not 100% convinced he's fully able to engage his abs but he goes so well in the school these days, even better when my friend rides him. I really want to film him working in the school but trying to co-ordinate everyone is tricky.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

You Can't Fox a Fox


I knew, I just knew, he was going to be a turd. Did I jinx us?! Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The reason I knew today would be a problem was because I wanted to do a long road hack. Which meant going along the previously-closed road which is apparently terrifying and traumatic when it's just us two.

I booted him, it was going to be a long hack, for better or worse, he definitely wouldn't have coped without. Hopefully in a couple of weeks his feet will be crunchy crunchy again. Because we departed the yard with a right turn, as opposed to the expected left hang to the forest, I expected some stop-starting along the track.

Even heading out he was ok and then we came to his first bogey. A road sign, and on the opposite side of the road a lorry was parked without His permission! Behind said lorry were two horses in a field. Bum. I did actually manage to unstick him but from that point he was just a goober. Dragging his feet, gazing wistfully over the hills to the left where he knew his fields were just out of sight, shying, insisting that The Road Was Lava and that he could only walk on the verge. Like I said, goober! I tried to occupy him by using some flexions and shoulder-fore. This was interpreted as Distraction Tactics and was not well-received.

Eventually he sunk anchor and just absolutely could not take a step further. It's a slow and painful process, I knew he was going to do it and I tried to remain positive and 'up' and only rewarded with verbal praise. But no, he decided any further advance could render him a little bit dead and I was most unreasonable to ask him to do so. So Drama Llama posing it was...I had no idea what he was seeing. Wee green men for all I know!

I tried to outfox him which led us to two-legged displays of threatening behaviour. I hopped off, by this point I'm ashamed to admit I was quite mad. Mad at him even though he seemed genuinely fearful and mad at myself for being mad at him. He was reluctant to walk or trot with me. Can't say I blame him, by this point I was gritting my teeth, silently seething.

I remounted and off we went again. I pushed on into trot, he clocked something else to be scared of. Once again I couldn't tell what it was. Halt, spin, rear and plunge. I said no, please, this way. Really. He rebutted with rein-back. I dismounted again, he was pricking about next to barbed wire again. At the point of totally losing my rag, I marched us both along to a safe spot so that my backside may be reunited with the saddle for more than 5 minutes.

This was all on the road of course. A very quiet road in broad daylaight and we were decked in high-viz, but nonetheless I expected better of a teenage horse who has hacked this road plenty before.

The very reason I wished to hack this route was partly because of the length and partly because of the hills. There's a great long ascent I wanted to first walk up, then go back down so we could gallop back up. Really work us out. By the time we got there I gave him a good length of rein and we galloped up there first time. Only because we were both winding each other up, I thought a blast would clear my head. He was good! Slowed when I asked and moved from one side of the track to the other as I picked the best footing.

We pressed on past the quarry and onto a now-overgrown track which would loop us onto the next road to go home. If there was a place to spook, where tigers might be lurking, it was here. Yet he bulldozed his way through thick ferns, low branches and gorse thickets as if they weren't there.

Back onto the next road, he was up but listening. He spooked at a mirror at the end of someone's driveway but just wibbled his legs and carried on. Funny how much less spooky things seem on the way home. Hmph.

That's what was bugging me today. I understand that horses see things we don't and any perceived danger is very real to them. That applying human logic is not appropriate and that growing ever-more frustrated solved absolutely nothing. But come on! Scary things on the way out are less scary than scary things on the way home?!?!

At any rate, when we cut back into our usual forest, instead of heading home, I steered us into the forest. We'd only been out an hour (it felt much longer), and he felt rather fresh. I took him round The Loop the other way, to the left. Just as we drew level with the last track to home he set his head and neck, and tried to tow us in there. A few times actually. I opened the right rein to demonstrate very clearly we would be going this way, thank you. After some jigging, halting, and discussion (I did actually sit there and explain I wanted to go that way and we could go really fast on the return loop), we pressed on.

And galloped as promised. Brakes were present and in full effect again, he seems to be improving with practice and fitness. I snuck out some more rein after the bend (taken much more sensibly on this rein) and let him go flat out.

On the way home we popped a couple of jumps and he was still chipper as we warmed down along the track. He only broke a sweat under his girth (it's synthetic) and under the back of the saddle. He feels better with the Prolite pad so not sure if this sweat pattern is something or nothing.

Whilst I'd have insisted post-hack I didn't feel stressed and didn't focus on him being bad, I had chest pains and a palpitation as I was poo-picking. Perhaps it was the heat.

Tomorrow's another day I suppose. Today I felt totally inadequate for this sharp, sensitive and terribly clever horse. I definitely let him down.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


This afternoon I suffered(!) 23 degrees and sunshine to school, when I'd much rather have been in the chilled shade of the forest! Despite being in a sleeveless vest, I flaked before Quadi did...

I don't usually like to school during the day because the school has been built within a paddock, and during the day there is a pony in the paddock grazing. Quadi finds her most distracting, and it doesn't help that she mooches at the fenceline. Can't be helped. Perhaps it's good to work with distractions but right now he just seems to focus that much better without a cheering squad!

I put a Prolite saddlepad under his saddle. It has pockets for shims in the front, so put them in. Seems to work quite well...

Today's session was much in the same form as the one before but didn't feel as light or easy. He seemed even heavier in my right hand than last time, I never seemed to break his leaning. The closest I got was towards the end of the session when I used figures of 8 to switch bends, and a little earlier on I played with a slow trot I could sit to. That seemed to work.

He kept napping towards the sides of the school and the pony. I couldn't be done with that really, I never quite had his attention.

On the plus side, I could feel him lift his back up more (because of the pad?) and he was very attentive to my leg for lateral work. He's anticipating things like shoulder-in and pirouettes so I'll have to come up with more tricks to keep him thinking forwards.

I've asked Kate to be our eyes on the ground next time. I've peaked in terms of schooling unsupervised!

Monday, 19 July 2010

A Quiet Mooch

With the changing weather, I brought the three of them in today to give them some respite from the weather. Although it's not cold, the rain had soaked through Quadi's coat, I thought he'd appreciate a roof over his head and some hay in his face! Plus I can't put a cotton saddlecloth over a wet back and he needs the work!

Today's jaunt was in the company of Kate and Fin. We went out in the drizzle which kept the flies at bay, which are fast becoming a pest. Once we reached The Loop we had a canter with Kate in front. Well, that is until the left-hand bend. Kate has taught Fin to approach here properly (ie. balanced, carefully and slowly). I have not been so careful with Quadi and as they slowed to take care over slippery mud, Quadi zipped around the outside and took the lead, feeling most pleased with himself! He didn't tank off and slowed up when asked, he just very much wanted to be in front. Who'd have thunk it a year ago!

We did the same thing along the next canter path...Kate and Fin setting a sensible pace in front, Quadi and I on their 6. At the top, where the path widens and we go into the forest, Quadi shot up their right hand side and this time he did bog off. Braking signals eventually reached Quadi's brain and we pulled up. He's so naughty but it's hard to do very much as he makes me giggle in such instances :)

Actually, he did this for a third time when we left the forest path and were onto our home track. Only at a trot, but he insisted on leading and was weaving back and forth on the path, to stop Fin moving in front. When Kate asked Fin to overtake Quadi found this to be a perfect excuse for some body contact...a frustrated polo pony perhaps?!

I booted him for today's hack as his feet have taken a backward step in progress, no pun intended. He seems to be feeling stones when he wasn't before, and his front soles look more flat. Am assuming it's LGL. I thought we were out of the woods since the grass had gone to seed and therefore wasn't so sugary, and I'd managed to avoid any hoof issues whilst the grass was seeding. However, there is a patch of the field we are strip grazing which is shorter grass. I imagine with this warm and damp weather it is more lush than I'd anticipated. He was sound in boots today and in the school yesterday, so that's something. But still... :(

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Even whilst I poo-picked at tea-time the flies were relentless in their swarming, so hacking was out of the question. I had a brief, mad thought about loose-jumping him but it was too muggy for that to be a one-person job! I'd have ended up doing more work than Himself!

So schooling it was. Despite my not being in quite the cheeriest frame of mind for it, he went so sweetly. That's always the way I guess, low expectations = no pressure!

I really wasn't expecting much when I had to drag him into the school, he was feeling the heat as much as I was. I figured if we mooched around in walk and gained any semblance of correct work, then I'd have been content with that.

Pretty much straight away I cracked on with achieving bend and softness. I can't remember exactly the order but I felt today he required shoulder-in (on the straight and on a circle), quarters-in, rein back, leg yielding in and out on a circle, and we worked a little on pirouettes in walk. The latter were coming straight off of shoulder-in on a circle, I was most impressed with him. I worked a little in trot but he wasn't quite ready for that step so we went back to do more of the lateral work.

Through all this he remained very soft and light in hand on the left rein, to the point he could almost worked off the weight of the rein. Only in walk and in a calm frame of mind of course, I'm not suggesting for a second he's working in total harmony all the time, but today he really was great on this rein. On the right he made me work very hard to get any bend, I had to do a lot of give and retake of the reins when he tried to lean on me, along with lots of bend to keep him flexing. I did some in-hand stretches the other day and he was noticeably stiffer stretching along his right neck muscles. Today, when using some flexions in halt, he preferred to avoid the right bend (all I wanted was to see the corner of his eye as his head flexed uniformly) by side-stepping, reining back, etc. I broke it right down for him and we got there in the end :)

Returning to trot, he was totally different. He didn't scoot off, he didn't throw his head up (20 minutes before it was a 50/50 split as to whether I could retain roundness) he was snug around my inside leg and tried his damnedest to flex right when we were on that rein. I gave him big pats and called it a day. To be honest at this point he was just warmed up to be pushed farther but I hadn't the physical or mental stamina today, I guess at that point I could have used a little direction from the ground. But despite that, he's starting to feel like a real Luso, a real riding horse, like the ones I rode in Portugal.

Couldn't be more pleased really. With him for his progress, both within this session today and looking back over the past few months. And with myself for being able to work through the issues as thoughtfully as I know how, and feeling a real positive difference by the end of the hour :)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Shan't! Can't! Won't!

Because I deigned to interrupt our regular hacking route, I was dealt some airs and strops...

We started out well. I even had him stood without restraint in the yard to have his mane plaited, he dozed as I tried not to include my fingers in the weaves of hair! The flies, whilst not too troublesome at first, were plentiful. Unusual since it was just after midday, so we trotted in some straights where we normally only walk. I let him pick his paths on the way, up until the point where he was thinking about which routes would take him home, then I took back piloting rights!

He was good but just awkward, seemed to want to do exactly the opposite of what I was requesting, so first time around the loop he was a little backward in going past the water container. I cantered him along until just before the left-hand bend, where we went to a trot in an effort to not motorbike the corner (that needs more work) and back up to canter. He came back down to walk a lot better as we ran out of track. I decided to track right, just an entrance road along a short way to a main road, nothing exciting. He was looky but ok along there. Back onto our usual route he was no bother until he came to a place we like to canter if you head up to the left. He jig-jogged, I asked him to walk, and then pushed on ahead (towards the underpass, as if we were heading towards the houses). He complied, but I could just feel him looking for stuff. I'm not sure horses are sneaky enough to look for excuses to spook, but it's what it felt like. Lots of infuriating stop-starting. Then the spinning and leaping commenced. I insisted that this was not appropriate behaviour, Quadi countered with a new game, Hat Dancing Towards Barbed Wire Fencing, followed by little rears (the sort Iberians are good at, you actually sink a hand in height as they collect and gather their forelegs in protest). And then a great big boxing stoppy rear! Since he was being such an outrageous gimp at being asked to walk a track he's traversed many times, I hopped off.

We walked along to the point where I discovered what was spooky, a natural burn which was fenced off for cows to drink at. We've seen this many times. Today it was scary. I asked him to walk to a point beyond where he was comfortable and it just so happened I had a spare sweetie in my pocket, so he was rewarded for the mental stretch.

And on we went. Second time around, and he took complete offence at being asked to go around again! Nothing I can do except sit tight and time my aids for forwards when appropriate. Which is not when he decided to zoom backwards at speed. I steered his backside into a tree and he thought better of this. I convinced him just halting and waiting was a good game, and played with some slight flexions. Suddenly he decided it was less work to go with my original plan of continuing our hack!

Another canter, this time I really asked him to collect instead of bombing off (fun as that is!), and he was reasonably good. We're making progress out of the school, which is fab.

Our third time off the loop and Quadi was hell-bent on going right. Which was my intended path, but since he made such an issue of it, I made him walk up to and around the water container on both reins a few times. No drama. Then we headed home, an uneventful hack from that point.

Despite all this he's just been super to hack recently. He lifts his back into my seat and strides out well, all this on a long rein. Good relaxation work to compliment to slow and deliberate work we do in the school.

Lots of waffle on what was not a ground-breaking hack, so it seems I've missed blogging more than I realised!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Returning to our Scheduled Programme

I didn't think anyone would notice I wasn't blogging. Turns out they do, apologies!

All is well with Quadi but frankly, I just haven't felt like doing anything constructive. That includes schooling and blogging! I've spent the past couple of months doing nothing more than either hacking on the buckle of the reins because I can't be arsed doing anything properly. Or haring around farm tracks flat out being silly. Both put a smile on my face :) And here's proof (I never smile when a camera's around, can't bear to have my photo taken!):

In that photo Quadi had locked on to the photographer (I guess he thought he might have a sweetie for him!) and whilst it's not apparent from the photo, we were bearing down at quite a clip, so I was deftly trying to steer left with a hellish fit of the giggles! Anyway, I'm just so chuffed he's sound enough to do all of this, he's still unshod so far.

Quadrado also celebrated his 13th birthday this month, I decorated him a little to mark the occassion. He thinks himself lucky that I couldn't find party hats and helium balloons in the supermarket:

Tonight was the first time in weeks I've schooled him. There were some unpretty moments in trot where he was anticipating canter (which I had no intention of attempting!) and I started to feel negative about it (wondering what I was doing wrong to send him into Llama-mode) but calmed my mind and worked through them. Whilst I had been offshore Kate had been trying a little quarters-in and he's starting to get it with me despite my lack of control over my limbs and seat. We also had some shoulder-in on a circle and rein back. All of this with a calm and relaxed front end, and connected back end. Not bad going considering I almost wimped out to go for another hack!

I've had a lot of thoughts and have made a lot of progress, will have to try and get them Blogged asap.