G Isn’t Lame!

Gina’s mysterious lameness has passed. I longed her yesterday and while her front end looked fine, she seemed a bit stiff in her hindquarters.

What a nice face she’s making. I think the stiffness is coming from a few different places. Her turnout is brick-hard, she hasn’t been ridden in three weeks, and that arena is also brick-hard. I felt better about the stiff hind end after trotting her out for a few minutes; she seemed to loosen up and move normally. 
Encouraged by yesterday’s longe work, I went out today to ride. She was the tiniest bit stiff when we first set off, but started to move out and feel normal after about a minute of walking. We spent a long time walking. I trotted and briefly cantered her both directions and she never put a foot wrong. I was really pleased with her attitude today; I half-expected her to freak out and try to murder me after three weeks off. She didn’t (obviously). She was as relaxed and quiet as could be, going around on a very loose rein. Our only moment of spastic behavior came when I took her out on the sensory trail. We recently moved a couple of leaky water troughs out there to use as planters. Gina took one look at them and had a mini panic attack, staring at them bug-eyed and snorting. She reluctantly walked in a circle around them, continuing to eye them like they were going to jump out and get her. She eventually forgot about them and we concluded our ride. I hosed her off and hand-grazed her for about 45 minutes before returning her to the dusty dry lot. 
In other news, G’s new halter came Tuesday. I think she looks pretty snazzy. 
Excuse my thumb.

It’s Perris Nylon Halter in paisley, ordered from Dover Saddlery. As you can see, it’s a very cute halter. My only problem with it is its size: it’s huge. Gina is a fairly large horse at about 16.1hh and her noggin is by no means petite. I have both the crown and chin buckles on the last hole and it’s still kind of baggy. It’s an improvement on her old halter, though, so I’ll be keeping (and using) it. Halter Hunt 2011 continues; I think I’ll just look for a leather one at my local tack store soon.

Finally, a report on the barn Anne and I went to visit on Tuesday. It was nice. The paddocks were full of grass and had good fencing. The barn had large stalls with rubber mats, fans, and a large aisle. Some stalls had the option to leave a door open to the paddock, so the horse can go in and out freely. The hay looked fantastic; the barn owner feeds alfalfa in the morning and grass hay at night. There wasn’t a proper arena- the barn owner told us she’d let it grow back to pasture since “no one was using it”. Currently, it’s a decent sized, mostly level fenced area that would suffice as a dressage arena or jumping ring. The biggest plus of the place was an adjacent property of 70 acres that boarders can ride on. It has ponds and streams and used to have trails that the owner had let go to seed because “no one was using them”. That was kind of the theme of this place- no one uses it? Let it go! She told us the barn also had a wash stall with both hot and cold water, but it was currently blocked off by hay because…you guessed it! No one was using it. Other than that, the only thing I disliked was her feed. When I asked what she fed (because grain is included in board cost), she basically told me she feeds whatever is convenient and seems to be working. She mentioned using TSC’s 10% sweet feed frequently, but said the horses were currently on some type of senior (I don’t remember the brand). I told her I fed Patriot 12%; she said she hadn’t heard of it. I said I got it at Mid-America in Talala, and she replied that she didn’t really want to drive all the way out there to get feed for one horse. Hmm. I can’t say I blame her, as it’s about 30 minutes away from where the barn is. The only reason I go there is because it’s close to work and the feed works really well for G. And don’t get me wrong, I’m ok with switching feeds; I just need to know what I’m switching to so I can determine if it will work for G. I’m also ok with finding a feed that’s more easily available in this neck of this woods; I just need to know the horse will get fed the same thing every day, period. Overall, it wasn’t a bad place and I would feel comfortable with Gina there, provided the feed situation is worked out. 
There’s another place in town that Anne and I are going to try to tour next Thursday. It’s cheaper than aforementioned barn, but may not have the same amenities. I’m looking forward to it, though.
In other news, my mother is visiting for the long weekend. I’m going to try to squeeze in rides on Saturday and Monday mornings. My mom is a horse person and enjoys watching me ride, so I don’t think this will be a problem. Maybe I can get her to take some pictures!

Lame Pony

After G’s trim on Friday, I decided it was time to get back on her and start practicing for next month’s dressage show. It’s only a few weeks away, and I want to make sure those Training level tests are perfect.

I got to the barn early on Saturday give G a really thorough brushing before our scheduled ride. Big mare has been looking kind of crusty with sweat over the last week- temperatures are still over 100 every day out here. She grazed while I brushed. Anne arrived and got to work setting up the dressage letters in the outdoor arena. I tacked G up and led her across the rocky parking lot to the brick-hard arena. She seemed to be gimpier than usual over the rocks, but I chalked it up to her newly trimmed hooves. I mounted and G set off at a walk. Something felt really wrong. My energetic, eager horse had been replaced by a stiff, slow mess. Gina normally approaches work with an excited attitude. She walks purposefully and with plenty of impulsion. She’s never lazy.  
“Hey, Anne? I think Gina’s lame,” I yelled. Anne looked up from one of the dressage tests, surprised. She had me trot G out, and sure enough, G started to seriously favor her front left leg. Uh oh. Anne walked over and ran her hand down Gina’s leg. The horse flinched as soon as Anne touched her knee. Anne poked it. Gina twitched. Anne poked it again. Gina did nothing. I jumped off and the two of us took a look at the knee. Upon extremely careful examination, Anne found a small, curved mark on the front of the knee. After some thought, we decided Cal must have clipped her in the knee sometime in the last two weeks. The mark was smooth and nearly covered in hair, and the leg itself was cool and clean. No swelling or heat anywhere. 
Ugh. G was slightly gimpy last week, but I didn’t feel any indications of an injury on any of her legs. I figured she wasn’t feeling great on her long toes and would improve after a visit from the farrier. She’s definitely less lame this week, but still unable to be ridden. She’s getting around the pasture fine, so at least there’s that.
I’m going to give her some more time off and put her on a longe line this week to see where she is. Fingers crossed she’s recovered in time for the dressage show!
In other news, Anne and I are headed out to a barn on Tuesday. I’d like to move Gina closer to home for a number of reasons. The barn’s website makes it out to be a nice place, and the owner was very prompt about responding to my email about visiting. I’m excited to see how it goes!