Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Been a While

Sorry for the lack of posts! I've had three sessions with Halo since my last post, so I'll try to summarize what we did. The weekend before last I took her on a trail ride. It was my first time ponying her off Taz. I think poor Taz was a little bit annoyed having to mind the baby, but he was very good about it. We had a moment or two of naughty behavior on Halo's part, but she settled in fairly quickly and kept up with the group. Taz likes to walk fast, and apparently so does Halo - we ended up leading or being close to the front for most of the ride. Unfortunately it has been so incredibly dry here that the ground is splitting open. The fields are barely safe to ride in because they are riddled with cracks. We kept our pace at a walk due to that (and because one of the other riders was recovering from a recent surgery). It was a great opportunity to take Halo out, and I'm glad we kept to the walk.

The last couple of sessions I've had with her have just been basic longeing. The horses are back to being cooped up in their dry lots now that all the grass is dead, so she has a lot more energy. I'm also getting paranoid that she's getting overweight, so keeping her fit and exercised is as important as ever. Her legs don't need any extra stress.

I took some new conformation shots:

I think her neck shows the most dramatic improvement over the past year. She went from looking very ewe-ish to having a nice shape to her neck. It's still a little shorter than I'd like, but those bones are the last to fuse - she may gain a bit more length.

She's still noticeably downhill, but she's been see-sawing quite a bit over the past year. She'll never be uphill, but if she makes it relatively level, I will be happy.

She's well-balanced overall, but still light on bone in her legs. Her feet also do not look as good as I'd like. She's as sound and happy as ever, but these pictures are reminding me that I need to bring her toes back. It's getting a lot harder to rasp now that her feet are so dry and hard. I worked on them last night, but it's going to take a few days to get them where I'd like them.

Halo also looks almost like she's a tiny bit back at the knee, but I don't think that's the case. I think her ridiculously long pasterns are making her appear that way. She does have very long, weak pasterns, which seems odd. To my knowledge, that is not a trait present in her immediate bloodlines.

Any commentary is welcome!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flying Dirt

It seems that pastures are all gone for the summer, which means that Halo and her friends are now confined to their dry lot. Despite the heat, that means Halo has exponentially more energy! I took her out and longed her last night with the bareback pad on. She was very hyper, and wanted to go, go, go. She did buck some at the canter, but I pushed her forward. Fortunately, it didn't take much cantering in the heat to decide that maybe listening to me so that she could stop was a good idea.

After 15 minutes or so of that, we moved into the round pen. I took off her halter and did some free-longeing work. I wanted to see if I could get her to do rollbacks on the fenceline. Sure enough, she can roll back. I had her do it once or twice each direction and then stopped. I don't want to push the issue since a) she was very good about it, b) it was hot out, and c) it's tough on her hocks to do a lot of that. I didn't get the best pictures, but it was beginning to get dark outside. Still, you can see all the dirt she sent flying.

This second picture is really odd. I think I caught her post-roll back at the point where she was launching out of the turn.

And here she is as I'm sending her out at a walk to cool off a little bit.

After this I slipped on her sidepull, did about five minutes of walking/steering from the ground, and then I bit the bullet and jumped on. I wore my helmet this time! We worked on the very basic concepts of walk, stop, and back. We did some turning through the middle of the pen, but mostly walked around the perimeter. As long as she was moving forward where I pointed her nose, I stayed completely off her face. I want her to have a relaxed frame. I think too much contact was a mistake I made with the first horse I started. He was very well-behaved, but didn't stretch down as easily or as much as he should have. Hopefully I can avoid that pitfall with Halo.

She was fantastic! She had typical baby moments of wanting to toss her head while backing, but she quickly figured out that if she lowered her head and backed I would immediately release pressure. We only backed up one or two steps at a time - just enough to let her know that she was doing the correct thing. Then we'd release and stand for a few moments before picking up the walk. To keep things clear, I tried to pause between each thing I asked of her so that each action was definitive. We would walk, whoa, wait a moment, back, whoa, wait a moment, and then walk again. As I said before, she was wonderful.

Afterwards she got hosed off and walked for a little bit, and then got her dinner. She was a happy filly, and I was a happy horse mom.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Perking Up

So far, so good with Halo's recovery from colic. This weekend she looks much more like her fat and happy self, and doesn't have that sucked-up look she had when she came home from the clinic. She's eating well, and drinking like a fish, and overturning water buckets whenever she has the opportunity. I think she misses having a pond in her pasture.

I trimmed her feet last night and she was miss fidgets about the whole thing. I decided if she was going to be that fussy, I might as well put her on the longe line for a few minutes and see how she was moving out after the trim.

We had some guests haul in to use the arena last night, and Halo was in high gear showing off. She pranced around on that longe line with her tail straight up in the air like an Arab. Goofy filly. I let her canter a few times each direction to work some of the punk out of her, and then quieted her down and made her listen. I focused on having her obey my requests for transitions, even if the gaits weren't her prettiest. We only worked for about 15 minutes, but she was sound as could be and very energized. I get the sense that this is the kind of filly who is going to need to have a job.

I forgot my camera, so all I have is a blurry iPhone pic, courtesy of Casi:

After all that she still had her tail up a little bit!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Honeymoon Pictures

Not much going on with Halo this week since she's still recovering from her colic. She looked great when I saw her on Tuesday, so I'm feeling a little more confident that she'll be okay. The real test will be this weekend when she comes off the meds she's been on all week. She's back out in the normal pasture now, but I've been slipping her some alfalfa and a bit of hand grazing when I come out.

Here's a few pictures from our honeymoon! I managed to find horses, even 2,500 miles from home.

Huey was the amiable Percheron who took us on our carriage tour in Victoria. He was very perky and always eager to hop into a trot across busy intersections.

I found a horse at the Butchart Gardens! They're installing a carousel soon. One thing I haven't grown out of since childhood is my love of carousels...probably because I was always afraid of bigger rides.

We went over to Vancouver one day. This picture was taken at the harbour and I was very happy with how it came out. I miss the mountains already.

And near the end of our trip we went ziplining!

Ziplining was a big stretch for me because I'm scared of heights. After the first couple of ones, we figured out that if I go off backwards I don't get scared. It's looking down at the ground off the platform that makes me feel terrified and sick. In the end it was pretty fun!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Update

We saw Halo yesterday, and she was doing better. She got out of the hospital Friday night, but went back in on Saturday. Argh. The bills are definitely not good right now - I may be selling my vintage Circle Y show saddle to help recoup some of the costs. I don't need it as much as I need a healthy horse!

She came home again on Saturday night. Their theory is that she had colic on Wednesday, then the stress of being cooped up at the vet gave her some gastric ulcers that caused her discomfort on Saturday. So she's on horsey Maalox for a week. When I saw her yesterday, I was pretty alarmed by how much weight she'd lost. Not that she couldn't have stood to lose a pound or two, but it was a pronounced difference.

Overall she was her usual alert self. We gave her a bath to clean up some of the muck that accumulated in her tail from being at the vet (and all the oil they put in her). She also got about 1/3 flake of alfalfa. The vet wanted her started on alfalfa at first because it helps draw water into the gut to keep things moving through. She should be getting more food as the week progresses, and will hopefully be back to most of a normal diet by next weekend. I'll likely be out tomorrow again, so there will be more updates and pictures then.

Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good Thoughts Needed

Apparently summer is the season of trips to the vet. Halo is spending the night at the Elgin veterinary clinic tonight. She has gas colic, and we're very concerned about her. Unfortunately, I'm also still out of the country on my honeymoon. Please send your best thoughts to Elgin that the little girl will pull through just fine and be on her way home tomorrow. 

In the meantime, here are a couple of our wedding pictures. I'm on the left in both shots.