Sid's diary

Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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What a sweetheart this horse is.

He's been with me 6 weeks. He's not been ridden much, but my goodness, he has a lot done to him. Today was typical.
  • Groomed him. He likes being groomed. He got a chest massage.
  • Tacked up with bareback pad (still no working saddle, hey ho) and bridle (no noseband or browband, perfectly functional). He doesn't mind the bareback pad but still swishes his tail when it lands on his back and swings his head as if to bite every time I do the girth up a hole. I'm not surprised, he's got a big rub on one wither from a too tight saddle, his withers are still sore all over and so is his chest.
  • Once I've got it all on he gives a huge heaving sigh when he realises it's not going to hurt today.
  • Today we did 20 minutes' work on standing at the mounting block. 2 weeks ago he would swing his quarters away from the block when he arrived at it, when I moved around to the mounting side, when I lifted the reins over his head, when I put my hand on his withers, and when I stepped on the block. Today he stood perfectly still and relaxed until I leant over him and bounced up and down, then he moved his quarters. I put him back sharpish and after that he stood like a pro.
  • I took him to the gate to try him with our little portable steps. Still a pro.
  • Back to the stable, tack off, smoothed soothing lotion into his wither rub. Such faces of ecstasy!
  • Now to the feet. 3 times around. First time, pick out feet and spray soles. Sid holds up foot for me.
  • Second time around, rubbing Heal to Hoof into all keratosis and mud fever areas. Sid tilts hoof and lets it go floppy so I can manipulate it to get into all the little folds behind his fetlocks. Doesn't move when I rub behind his knees, even though some bits are still sore.
  • Third time around, he stands still while I paint his feet with hoof moisturiser.
  • Put on rug (heavy rain due tonight and I fear that a horse that gets mud fever might get rainscald too). Fiddled with leg straps for about 10 minutes. Sid stands perfectly still, rolling his eyes. He already knows I am a tack dork.
Not a cross word throughout, apart from saddle on and girth up. Happy face, perky ears. I left him in the shelter with a net while I fed Mattie and poo picked, and every time I went past the door he stretched out to sniff me and get a tickle.

I love him. He is such a dude.
This is a real 'feelgood' thread!
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Progress on the feet! Sid had his first trim since his shoes came off. Trevor my trimmer was very pleased. His sulcal groove holes are healing well and the new growth in the hoof is at a much better angle. His frogs are absolutely massive and seem very healthy.

Here is the inside of one hind . You can see nasty dark marks where the nail holes are - but sulcal groove completely filled out in six weeks! Thank you Hoof Stuff.

IMG_1162.JPG

Trevor also said what a difference he noticed in Sid's attitude. No laid back ears, no swinging head and snapping teeth, just friendly, easy and so chilled that when Trevor got to the last foot he was actually asleep and wouldn't lift it up until I poked him (gently, of course).
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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Had a lesson today. It was so hot we were all a bit slow, but I really wanted Sarah my RI to check out my saddle and confirm I was OK to ride Sid in it.

She watched me put it on and confirmed that the numnah was fine if pulled well up into the gullet. Sid was really quite chilled about girthing up, he doesn't object to the StĂĽbben string girth at all. We took it very slowly, one hole at a time, then took him into the school and I walked and trotted him in hand to get used to the saddle. Sarah had a good feel to see if it was bridging but said she was 99% certain that it would be perfect when he lifted his back to be ridden.

He was good at the mounting block till I put my foot in the stirrup, then he moved away. We repositioned him and then he stood nicely. I put weight in the stirrup, took it off, put weight in, leaned over, patted him behind the girth on the other side, stood away again and generally messed about. Then I got on - tightened the girth, he was good - took one step forward to get clear of the block- got off. Walked him round, got on, rinse and repeat. In the end did just a little bit of walking around the school practising steering. He steers from the wither which is really nice, Ziggy never got the hang of that.

Sarah watched him carefully all the time. She said he looked as if he had deep concerns about the saddle and being mounted when we started, but she kept telling me how he was looking so that we could increase what I was asking a tiny bit at a time. She says he has a good temperament and wants to work but obviously he has a lot of bad saddle-related memories to put aside, which will take time.

She suggests that I do several more short sessions in the school until he is really comfortable in there. Then when I start hacking him out, if we encounter any problems I can go back to his comfort zone to work on them.

He was so good and so thoughtful. I get the feeling that he is very puzzled by being treated with kid gloves, not just "bang on the saddle, let's get on with the job" - but I don't think he objects!
 

Jane&Ziggy

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So we are just past 10 weeks and I have reread this diary to see how we are getting along. Just to compare where we are with where we were a month ago (May 14): this week I had a ride out with him on the bareback pad and yesterday did another saddle desensitisation session, and this is how it went.

Monday, hack out

No issues at all tacking up with the bareback pad. I put it on crooked, and when I came to get on (from the big log at the top of the Sheepwalk) I realised, had to move him away from his position, undo it, move it, do it up again and reposition him - no problem at all. No issues for me riding on it either: he was a bit of a muppet about the forestry work in the quarry below the path, and I managed to deflect a turn-for-home mamoeuvre and keep him going forward, which I am finding is the best way with him. Feet still a little tender so I led him down the stony gully to Green Lane, and had a real struggle getting back on in the v-shape path for which he stood like a rock the entire time. Very pleasant saunter along Green Lane with 2 little trots for cars (ouch) and a long chat to Ingrid at her gate. He was sweet. He is sweet.

Wednesday, saddle session

I thought I would bracket the saddle session with something pleasurable, and decided to have a go with the Equine Fascial Massage tool https://www.fascialrelease.co.uk/pages/equine_Fascial_Edge.html. This is the tool my chiropractor Suzi uses to get a good massage in less time. I am a complete beginner with it but Sid loves it. I did his neck, back and quarters before the session (you're not supposed to use the tool on the back immediately after riding) and he wobbled his lip with delight. As I did his back his head just went lower and lower until his nose was on the ground, and he lifted his back to meet the pressure, which is great.

I saddled up with him loose in the shelter because I wanted him to know that I was interested in what he had to say about it. He backed up a step when asked, stood still for the saddlecloth and saddle to go on, and didn't switch his tail as I fastened the girth. He turned his head to me a couple of times to tell me that the saddlecloth was creased, but his expression is so different now - ears are not pinned back, mouth is not tight, he is just saying, "Oi, mum, I know you are a tack dork, just be careful, hey?"

Led him out to the school and he stood quite still at the mounting block while I fiddled around getting my balance and swinging on. Stood still while I tighttened the girth. Then we had a little walk around, turns in both directions, and then walk the long side-trot the short side in both directions, then two turns on the forehand and that was that. He was foot perfect and no tail swishing.

So back to the shelter and I did his chest with the Fascial Edge, which he absolutely adores, did his mallenders and feather scabs, put his fly rug and mask back on and left him fast asleep.

Such progress!
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Just a note based on our hack today for future reference.

  • Sid is round, really round. Unless the girth is TIGHT the saddle will slip. Even if the girth is tight when I set off it may need tightening as he gets sweaty. This didn't happen with Ziggy, who had a proper wither, but on Sid it just slithers right off if not properly girthed. Memo to self.
  • He is easily scared by logs and unexpected things (three ladies sitting next to their van on camping chairs, today) but as long as I am firm and determined we'll get past.
  • He is OK with backpacks, kids with backpacks and flappy maps.
  • He's always up for a trot but is really not very fit, I need to do more trotting.
  • He's not that patient about being washed off after work. I might need to put his headcollar on.
 

Huggy

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Just a note based on our hack today for future reference.

  • Sid is round, really round. Unless the girth is TIGHT the saddle will slip. Even if the girth is tight when I set off it may need tightening as he gets sweaty. This didn't happen with Ziggy, who had a proper wither, but on Sid it just slithers right off if not properly girthed. Memo to self.
  • He is easily scared by logs and unexpected things (three ladies sitting next to their van on camping chairs, today) but as long as I am firm and determined we'll get past.
  • He is OK with backpacks, kids with backpacks and flappy maps.
  • He's always up for a trot but is really not very fit, I need to do more trotting.
  • He's not that patient about being washed off after work. I might need to put his headcollar on.
Thank you! To hear someone else saying "he's round, totally round and the saddle slips" makes me feel soooo much better! I do 3 tighten ups once I'm on!
 
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Skib

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He's always up for a trot but is really not very fit, I need to do more trotting.
Not just her needing to trot, I do too. But how far?

All those years when I went on escorted hacks following an escort and I took pride in never asking to stop trotting and have a rest. If the leader was trotting, I trotted Maisie too.
So in a big sloping field the other day, I told Ella we have to do a riding teacher's trot. How long is that Jane? What would be reasonable? I told her 100 paces of trot. And it is more work out on one's own than following a young girl!
Then the weather changed and became tropical so I took her into the shade and no long distance trotting.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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a riding teacher's trot
I love that phrase!

To me a riding teacher's trot would be brisk, but controlled and balanced. Not rushed, not sluggish.

I've never counted the paces in trot, but today we trotted for quarter of a mile, a distance it would take me 5 to 7 minutes to walk. I'd like to be able to get to half a mile, all the way up the wrongly-named Golden Mile. Notice I say "i" not "we" because Sid could trot much much further than I could!
 

Jessey

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Surely that’s ^^^^ just a working trot?

When I was doing long rides I’d trot 5 miles without too much bother, obviously there’s a lot of building the horse up to get there. You don’t want them blowing too hard in the build up, but they have to blow a bit or you’re not challenging to body to get stronger.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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how do you know it is a quarter of a mile?
Because I walk my dogs around and about all the bridle paths I use, and I am distance and time conscious (step counting etc), so I have a good sense of how long different sections of track are.

I'm planning to use the Equus app to record distances and speeds once I have a phone with enough memory to process it.
 
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Skib

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Thank you Jane. OH and I walk almost every day in the same area and we have the Samsung fitness app on our phones so I will do a bit of measuring. And find a quarter mile.
However Ella is well exercised by other riders. This trotting endeavour (in which I hope to emulate you) is because I want to shed my Covid weight gain. They say walking is very good for old people (I guess we are old) but in spite of resuming walking, I am not fit.

And riding has not been massive exercise. Because my priority has been to feel safe and to canter her safely on my own.

I think you have been very brave with Sid, getting him out and about. I may be more timid.
 

carthorse

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@Jane&Ziggy and @Huggy I'm also a member of the round club! Do you also find that no matter how tight the girth mounting from the ground is not an option because the saddle rolls? On the plus side it works wonders for rider straightness because if I sit to one side or weight my stirrups unevenly that's where the saddle goes.
 
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Huggy

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@Jane&Ziggy and @Huggy I'm also a member of the round club! Do you also find that no matter how tight the girth mounting from the ground is not an option because the saddle rolls? On the plus side it works wonders for rider straightness because if I sit to one side or weight my stirrups unevenly that's where the saddle goes.
Totally! All that with bells on. I know every stump and log that's high enough to use if I have to get off! And of course it has to be higher, because u have to heave yourself onto the saddle, without using stirrups! I congratulate myself if we get home with the saddle straight. I also find that I tighten in a certain order - right side always last, because that's the side it goes down, and tightening straightens things up. Hallelujah! I'm not the only one!
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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works wonders for rider straightness
I would never try to get on from the ground, partly because of his back but also because I would never get there as the saddle would just follow me down.

I find I am super sensitive to saddle swivel these days and spend time tooling along the lane pushing down on the higher stirrup to even up!
 
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