Monday, July 5, 2010

Pictures and working through issues in saddle

Oh God, it's the paparazzi again.

I went to the barn on my own today. While I love to ride with my daughter and husband, horse time tends to be my alone time. You have to focus so much on the horse (or at least I do) that I find it hard to attend to everyone's demands.

So it's always sort of a relief to go by myself. No one else was at the barn, and again, that was nice. I love to be social and enjoy everyone at this barn. It really is the barn without drama. But I just wanted to be in that quiet place that is pretty rare in the life of a working mom.

It was a scorcher today, so I didn't want to work Cibolo too hard. But after all the comments on his weight (wow! thanks everyone!), I wanted to get some photos done and I did want to ride.

One thing I have wanted to do is work through more problems while I'm in the saddle instead of doing a 15 minute round pen session. One reason is my foot - walking that distance in my paddock boots can get painful and I'm really trying to be good about keeping weight off of it. The other reason is that it's a little bit of a crutch. I find I want to get off to do ground work too often when I just should stick with it from horseback.

I need to be more comfortable with problems when I'm mounted. Period.

I knew Cibolo would be a little challenging because we hadn't seen each other in a week. He's just the kind of horse that you need to be consistent with. Three days in a row and he's so awesome you just want to ride forever. But take a week off and fugettabatit. In fact, he can be a bit of a pain in the:

See how I'm working in these photos quite naturally?

We went out on the trail at a walk and worked up and down some hills. I figured hills are good for hindquarter building (yet another photo segue).

He was testy, and although I kept him listening, I could tell he just didn't connect all the way with me. I don't think in his previous life he went out on the trail on his own much. We trotted up a steep hill and to a gate for me to fiddle with. Then something bounded out of the bushes and he spooked.

Just a 45 degree turn in about .00005 seconds. But I have to say, I love my saddle. Kept me right in. We went back and confronted the scary fawn. Then we did some work on the hill. We were fighting for who was in charge.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a huge blow up battle. But he'd refuse to turn. I'd make him turn. He'd turn. Then he'd worry over something. I'd tell him to get over it. He would, a little.

I can't seem to make that first five minutes of a ride on him work - but I think I know the problem.

Because of the heat, I was avoiding cantering him. I really wanted to take it easy. But I knew the issue would rise there. And I knew I could meet it. So, as it had cooled off some, I went for it. I cantered him and he started tossing his head. I collected him and kept him going. We went three times until he stopped with the head tossing.

Then, that was it. I could feel our connection.

Isn't that odd? So the canter decides it? Anyone else have this experience with a horse?

Then we worked on trailer loading. Much improved. He loaded, but getting him to the place where the bar will close was tough the first time. A little easier the second time. I'd say we made another leap.

Then I washed him off and proceeded to take a bunch of HORRIBLE pictures. But I have no shame, so here a few.

It's weird. Only in some angles can you see ribs. Really you can't see them, but if he's damp and the sun hits just right...

Um, aren't we done? I mean, you've been snapping that thing a million times already.

Again with the pictures. I'm not even dry yet!

Do you need a nuzzle? I'll give you a nuzzle, then I'm going to eat my hay. Okay?

Sersomorsy, mosgry moonikey schmawoee.
(Sigh. He is complete unintelligible when he's eating)

I put my hand here to show how big the dip is behind his shoulder muscle. That's why the new saddle is so much more comfortable. But I wonder if he's lost back muscle and if I should work to build it back up.

I think for his breed he's a tiny bit underweight, but not as much as I feared, based on comments and on seeing him today. I'm going to try to get him a little more hay - ask the barn owner to put him up for separate feeding once a day to see if that helps. He'll get his teeth floated in a few weeks and that may help too. I've heard it does, anyway.

Anymore thoughts based on these photos?

7 comments: said...

I still think he looks great. How awesome that you love him so. :)

Dunappy said...

Here is your problem.

"I think for his breed he's a tiny bit underweight"

You are looking at him based on his breed not based on what he does. Just because he's a Quarter horse doesn't mean he has to be "fat". The fat QH I see are the don't do much show horses. Just take a good long hard look at the working ranch horses. Those are the kinds of Quarter horses who travel as much or more than an endurance horse. You might want to use the following website as a guide.
It shows the body score criteria.

Anyway as far as food goes, he will need more food to maintain the muscle because muscle does burn more calories then fat. I like Beet pulp to help with that.

His teeth might be a tiny part of the problem, but overall he's really looking good.

Breathe said...

Thanks, MBF. I do love him. Sometimes I want to toss him over the paddock, but that's just how horse love is. :)

Dunappy - what a great point! You're right, the ranch horses I've seen, all QHs, are wirey looking, much like him. Okay, I'm going to also have the vet give me a body condition score for fun. I drive my vet crazy, but its a good crazy. :)

Kate said...

He looks good to me - if he were to get thinner then I'd worry. The nice round butt is a good clue - if it starts to lose roundness then he's too thin. He just looks fit to me. Working horses tend to be pretty lean - all Mark Rashid's clinic horses look that way - fit but not fat.

Maisie had the same dip behind one wither - it can be atrophy created by pressure from a badly-fitting saddle. It may start to go away a bit as you ride more with a saddle that fits.

The thing about the canter - it may be that he just needs to engage his mind by doing that, and perhaps he likes the gait. You seem to have a good handle on what he needs and what works for him.

Rising Rainbow said...

dunappy makes a great point. It really all depends on what the horse's job is. For endurance riders keep their horses lean as do those who race horses. Show horses can tend to be on the fat side sometime, particularly halter horses.

Melanie said...

Okay...he looks a lot better in these pictures...a lot!!! : )
It's amazing what a difference an angle can!!!
He resembles a QH mare that we used to have who had a bit of TB in her background. She was delicate, feminine, and hard to keep weight on as well.

However, I still think he needs more calories (again, just my opinion). Jewel (the QH mare) was ridden hard by us kids (like 2-6 hours 4-6 days per week), and needed 6-8 flakes of hay per day to maintain her weight. She only got a handful of cob with her vitamins, but she had to have a lot of forage.

Oh, and sorry if I sounded harsh about the breed thingy. I just think that QH's should have some "umph" behind their muscle, regardless of what they are being used for. But I like big-bodied horses too, so I am sort of biased I!!! :)

Again, you are doing a fine job...keep up the good work. : )

Shirley said...

It's funny what our horses pick up on; anything that is an issue with us becomes an issue with them. Sounds like Cibolo won't give you his complete trust until you deal with the lope; then the air is cleared- for both of you.