Saturday, 2 April 2011

Bit of a conundrum!

You would think that now that the weather is so much nicer and the grass is starting to grow again (at last), that Echo would be putting on weight and I would be struggling to keep her trim. It is therefore a bit of a mystery to me, why she is in fact losing weight. It's really weird and has only really been in the last few weeks. All over the winter she looked pretty good and I was feeling rather smug that I had managed to keep weight on her through all of that snow and freezing temperatures. Now, as far as I am concerned, I haven't been doing anything differently: she is still being fed twice a day (in the last two weeks I have nearly doubled her feed to try to put some weight on her) she is still getting hay at lunchtime and at night (although I don't have anything to do with this - it's given to the three horses by the lady that owns the other two. She has been wormed, had her teeth done only 4 months ago and yet looks terrible.

The lady who shares the field with me has a thermal imaging camera and sent me a text on Thursday to say that she had scanned Echo's head and there was something going on with one of her teeth. I couldn't really see much - there is a little heat spot around one of her teeth -once I can work out a way of getting the scans on to here, you can see what you think. She emailed the scans to the dentist we both use and I had a long chat with her about what she thought. The dentist didn't think that there is a problem with her teeth - she said the heat spot was not pronounced enough to be anything serious - she might just have some forage stuck there and that I should check myself (I'm not sure quite how - I rather value all of my fingers!) I had a look as much as I could and couldn't seem to find anything. The dentist then questioned me about worming and the hay situation - she suggested I check that the horses are having the hay in separate piles that are far enough away from each other - Echo is no longer the dominant horse in the field and gets rather pushed around by Faye's big ex-eventer. I mentioned this to Faye, although it is hard not to sound like I'm being critical - I just really want my horse to put some weight on!!

In the mean time, the dentist suggested that I really try to build up Echo's work load - it's tricky with no saddle (we still haven't found one to fit) but she said that as she starts to build muscle she will put weight on. I know this, but it's hard to motivate myself when I know there is no chance of riding Echo and so we just lunge all the time - that MUST get boring. I will start lunging her with poles etc, and I would love to learn to long-rein her, but I have never long-reined, so am cautious about trying. I have asked a friend of mine to teach me some Parelli games so that I can try to keep Echo's mind busy - it's getting to the time of year when she is in season and escapes from the field - I found her in the back garden on Friday morning, happily mowing the lawn!!

If anyone has any ideas for interesting groundwork to do with her, I would love to hear them! I don't like walking her in hand as if hacking, as she is really spooky in that situation - it's much better when I'm riding her; we are therefore somewhat limited to the school...

I lunged her yesterday and took some photos and video. In the back of my mind is the fact that we had all of those soundness issues at the start of the winter, which were never fully resolved - I'm just sort of hoping that all the time off she has had has made them go away. I took several clips of video, and as you can see, she starts off fairly stiff, but looks a lot better by the end. She has lost all of her balance and ability to carry herself, so rushes quite a bit on the lunge, but she hasn't been worked consistently since October, so I'm hoping that this is the reason behind it.

I have been reading an article on straightness that was recommended to me by Wiola - I will post properly about that another time, but I think it is the key to many of our problems.

This first one is just a short clip showing her walking on the right rein. She had already walked and trotted free on the left rein before this, but I hadn't got my act together with the camera!

This next one shows her trotting on the left rein having just had the side reins on - she is a little stiff and resistant at first.

This is a little later on on the left rein - more stretching and submission.

This is moving onto the right rein, still in the side reins - really rushing and not really stretching.

A little later on on the right rein - starting to half halt her a little with my voice and she is relaxing into the side reins a bit more. She's still quite unbalanced here.

Echo's favourite thing - stretching at the end of a lunging session!

Enjoying a bit of grass at the yard before going home.

Daily adventures while training my young horse.