The Archives – 4/8/08 – 6/9/08 Sparkle

So Doug came out to get some pictures of Sparkle last weekend.

I think she is really progressing nicely.

A trot lengthening, she is starting to really come from behind on these. Note the RF shoe has been nicked and is bent…oops. It is fixed now.


Some working trot

Some round canter where I’m obviously setting up for something.

Another lengthening, with a bit more sit, or seeing where it is, I am probably starting to come back towards collected

She had a massage on Sunday and Tina said she is pretty sore in her hamstings and some other hind end femoral bicep something muscle, but considering the work she is in, it is not unexpected. So, armed with that information and a fixed shoe, we went out today and did a walk trot ride. Many, MANY transitions within the gait. Many between gaits, I even tossed in some counted walk, and was surprised to feel a couple of those steps start to diagonalize into what might have been approaching piaffe, after about 3-4 steps of that, we would trot off forward. Without a ground person, it is hard to say though, since I have never ridden a school master I have no baseline for what piaffe feels like.

I also was doing some lateral flexions with her neck at the w/t and definitely encountered some tightness when asking her to flex around right. It improved with gentle stretching, but I will remember to incorporate this into a ride a week.

So, the jumping saddle fits Sparky too! Wheee!

Since I was in the jumping saddle and the was a 3-x bounce set up with a ground line coming into it, I rode through that a few times on Sparkle. She had to stretch to get the bounce. She is a compact horse, but she seemed to be quite happy to go through. I’m really hoping that with a fitting jumping saddle, she will find that jumping is FUN and we can go out and do some fun jumping stuff with her also. Because her jump is beyond cute. Tight, tidy knees, with a bit of the peek going on.

But, the rest of the week, I need to settle into learning my tests for Sunday’s show. First 1 and First 3 with Sparkle. I’ve ridden both of those before, so what I need to do is figure out how much warmup I need to do to get the best performance in the test.

If you’d seen Sparkle in person you’d never think an ounce of TB blood. There might be an ounce or two, but she is foundation QH/App. Old school appaloosa. One whose papers got lost in a divorce, but he meets breed standard in just about every way, although the sire is faded out completely. You can see where he had some color. He throws gorgeous color pretty much 100% of the time, but I’m not sure how often the owners were going to keep breeding him because of the registration issue.

I am pretty sure she has shivers or EPSM, I have her on a lot of rice bran to up the fat in her diet and that helps. The only time it is an issue is when the farrier is here. It is hard for her to hold one hind foot up, although stretching her hind legs out before the farrier works on her helps. I thought about the EPSM test, but opted to not do it. If she had issues anywhere besides the farrier, I’d probably go for more testing.

I also worry that she might be an IR candidate. She is not currently obese, but she is an easy keeper, and might have to have a muzzle when out this year.

I don’t often put the worries out there, but the farrier was here yesterday and so it is fresh on my mind.

The weather was foul. But, we valiantly went to the dressage show.

Despite terrible footing (due to rain, nothing much the facility owner could do) and pouring rain, eliciting water-removal head shakes, Sparkle was quite workmanlike. She had a couple of bobbles but got 62.3 on First-1 and 62.4 on First 3. That second test had a 4, for a blown lead, which was a surprise to me, Sparkle hasn’t done that in forever. Possibly due to hurried riding mentioned below.

Comments were accurate given the ride & conditions. The one that made me laugh was “take your time, don’t hurry through the test”. Because really, by the time I was in the ring for First -3 I was soaked. last test of the day, raining harder AGAIN, and so, Sparkle & I both were a bit “let’s just get this thing done and go home!”.

I’ll do another show at this facility. I liked it . The people were nice.

No pictures as Doug did not deem it suitable picture weather. We’d have looked like drowned rats. My hands were wrinkled from the soaked gloves.

So, during the show, the canter felt bad. A “what’s wrong with you” bad and I passed it off as the footing.

Then, I rode her again a couple of days later, and the canter felt bad again. Hmm, did she tweak something in the slop?

Then Suzy rode her, it was nearly dark, and I could *hear* that she was four beating the canter.

Think about it, and it is definitely worse going left. Perhaps something did get tweaked, but this is higher than lower leg, I’m thinking chiro may be in order after seeing if a galloping blowout might not fix things up, it works sometimes.

This morning she looked decidedly stiff in the RH, and I did not ride her, but rode her tonight. Since she seemed so stiff, and I realize she was not partaking in the herd airs above the ground the past two days, I did some stretches before getting on. RH stiffer than left.

Got on, rode, and she was tight at the walk, then trotted and it was not a normal Sparkle trot, so we did a bit more, and it was still not right, so I tried a blow out. Gallop around the ring, both ways. We started left, switched to right, 3x around the ring each direction, came back, and had a much more normal Sparkle. Trot was good, walk good, canter to right, 3 beat, canter to the left, still 4 beat, and I can feel it is the RH, but with work on my part I can get her almost even. Then, we head out for a short loop, that has a long, grassy stretch for galloping straight, idhokie is on Romeo who is ALWAYS up for a gallop. Sparkle lets it all out, in an admirable effort to keep up with runaway Romeo. She has a fantastic, loose walk, and we turn to come back for the second pass of gallop, start trotting, a fantastic trot, and she clips her RF shoe, twisting it. So much for the second gallop set. Walking home was what we did, with some trotting on the soft sides where the twisted shoe just sank into the sod.

I got home, SO glad that I bought the nail pullers and clinch cutter 2 weeks ago and got a lesson on clinch cutting from the farrier (which was photographed to much general amusement), as it was much faster pulling this shoe with the right tools than the one a month ago with old, rusty nippers.

So, I’ve decided it is something up high, possibly in the hip/SI region, possibly just glutes/hamstrings. It is better when she works it out and I think it was ouchy so she has been babying it, thus becoming more stiff. But, bute and robaxin for a couple of days, light work in the soft sand until her shoe is fixed. If it resolves itself, I’ll wait on the chiro. If not, she’ll get a chiro visit.

Wow, almost a full month since I’ve updated Sparkle’s journal. She is making a habit out of torquing a shoe. RF. She also has a bit of white-line-disease in her LH foot, so that means we’ll be resecting that tomorrow and putting shoes on her hind feet .

She is doing well. She got a chiropractic adjustment, where it was discovered that her poll was out and very tight. I’ve been doing work attempting to stay in first level condition, since we have a show June 7/8. I kept meaning to get in a lesson to hit the high points of 1-4, but it doesn’t look like it will happen. I guess my score sheets will be my feedback and guidance for the next lesson.

I’ll have to ride her tonight. I need to start walking the pattern for 1-2 and 1-4, then actually ride the test, as best I can in my 25x50m arena. I’ve never ridden those and did not even sign up to ride them in a schooling show. Lacrosse season uses up a lot of time, and I don’t quite realize where all the time went.

Oh, one other thing, the vet/chiro doesn’t think she has shivers. I never bothered with the EPSM test, I’d bumped her fat up, but it was not at the % levels recommended because she is such a chunky girl. So, we are back to the shaking upon hind feet handling being nerves/behavior. The improvement upon introducing more fat in her diet may have been coincidental. If it gets worse, I’ll put the rice bran back. So, the plan is to ace her for the farrier, even though her behavior isn’t nasty, it may take the edge off her nerves, maybe I should get one of the other OTC items instead. Dr. Nolan said that 8 days is enough for ace to clear the system for the recognized show… I’m nervous about that though (farrier tomorrow). Last thing I need is some USEF fine for drugging.

Since the only real issue is w/ farrier time and hind feet, I haven’t pursued expensive diagnostics.

Two entries in one day! But, Sparkle went out and jumped all the little fences I have set up. I had really hoped that once I had a jumping saddle that fit her, she’d like it a lot better. It seemed that she would based on her attitude towards it when I was in the dressage saddle.

It was not a long ride, just a warm up, then trotted the crossrail line (includes a crossrail oxer), then we went to the small vertical that had an empty flower pot underneath (flowers removed to save them from the labrador) and that got a sliding stop as she peered at the empty pot. She would have jumped from a stand still, but I had already decided to just reapproach. The rest of the fences were no problem, even the vertical that is around 2’6″ and the little square oxer.

I was pleased as can be and after making it an entire course, we just walked out to cool out.

I should have been practicing first level test 2 or 4.

Little Miss got a small (yay) portion of her hind foot resected. Thank goodness the white line was not too high up yet. But, since she has a dressage schedule this year she got a shoe on for support, well, it seemed silly to have her in 3 shoes, so she got hind shoes.

Then, I rode her later. A few thoughts.

I can read & ride. I needed to learn First-2 (next up is First 4) and got out my handy “Dressage Illustrated” book. It is a bit bigger than 8 1/2×11 pages. At first, idhokie was reading it to me, but I suck at visualization and since I am missing 4 letters (small ring) I need to pictures. So, I took it, and at first, was just walking the pattern, but then, I decided to trot some of it. Then, what the heck, I just rode the test, while holding the book to reference my next move. It worked nicely. I could not fuss with the reins much at all, which did make shortening them after the lengthenings and stretching a bit tough, but it was kinda fun. I will do it again for learning First 4 tomorrow.

Sparkle, seems to like her hind shoes. At first, she was tentative, then she really was powering through.

I definitely need to buy some bell boots for her when riding.

Sparkle is less reactive under saddle than in her stall/on the ground. She contains herself when she has a rider up. Fly spray? We hadn’t applied any and both Romeo & Sparkle were tormented, so I did the totally unsafe choice, rode into the barn, leaned down to grab a fly spray, rode outside (my safety concession), then fly sprayed Sparkle while I was on her. Then, we rode around Romeo and did him too. Tonight…she freaked out over the fly spray bottle, I got irritated, sprayed and sprayed her then smacked her shoulder with the bottle side, and got my just rewards….the lid came off and I got a facefull of fly spray. I had to shower and rinse out my shirt! Serves me right, I had no reason to be that mad.

Sparkle does have a flying lead change, but I don’t think she believes she is supposed to do that under saddle. So, after all that dressage test learning, we went to the grass field and played around with it. I ended up giving up on the balanced, from behind change, it was.not.there. So, hell….put her so bloody off balance she HAS to change….in front….then finally behind. They were getting better, less late behind, and with enough “good girl” praise, I think she was starting to understand what was wanted. not counter canter, a lead change, without a walk, trot, or halt between the leads. She got two clean changes at the end, one each way, and I stopped there.

I should have ridden her today, but it was raining again after the show, so I went and got a manicure/pedicure then went to see a movie w/ Mr. Snaffs. Snaffs Jr was all set to drive us there, and we passed the HS, and he remembered there was a lacrosse game he wanted to watch. After a few minutes, we decided we really didn’t want to watch another game, but that he could stay for the game, we’d go to a movie. He doesn’t get to watch much lacrosse, he is always playing, so I understand. I almost wanted to do that, but I haven’t seen a movie w/ Mr. Snaffs in months, and Mr. Snaffs likes to go to movies. For me, I’m a follower if I’m not riding. So I would have been happy with either.

So, only Jules got ridden today. Tomorrow, Sparkle gets a massage though, then hopefully she’ll be feeling good.

idhokie took video of my riding 1-4 and 1-2 on Sunday. I watched it. I am collapsing my ribcabe too much. I might need to find that merrywidow Badger suggested (I think that is the bratype thingie, will go read Badger’s journal again), sooner than later. This will not do in July when I’m in the Kottas clinic. Probably related to this is the unsteadiness in my hands, still worse in left than right.

And, really, I was really using too much spur and drawing my heel up too much on the leg yields. The 10m trot circle was unsteady, a couple of transitions were abrupt, I needed to shorten my reins another 2″ or so.

The canter lengthenings that feel dramatic, are hardly visible….

Since I was wearing ghetto barn clothes, this video cannot be posted. cami-tops are not for public viewing, even if it did allow me to see how badly my ribs were collapsing!

But, this was excellent. I had some items to work on today. First order of business was sitting taller. Annoying back deal is flared up today, but riding makes it neither better nor worse, so I just try to make sure I’m even on the left side, despite the issues. The morning shadow provided me some instant feedback.

Next, I had set cones up for a 10m circle. I used them. Get the feel of a true 10m trot circle, used it for cantering as well. Used that 10m circle at the end of a canter lengthening to use the circle to bring back that canter instead of pulling.

I worked on that counter-canter loop, and when doing the left lead canter, Sparkle started swapping leads, hmm, perhaps I should have waited to insist on lead changes instead of Sunday, but I just came back to a trot, picked up canter again and made sure I was very clear that I wanted to hold the lead in that loop. Then, we did a couple of figure 8s, with the counter canter being held.

I worked on the leg yield from my calf and seat and did not have on spurs.

Overall, it was a lovely ride. She got a bit frantic in her canter at one point after I’d tapped her a couple of times. We pushed through that and she settled back to a nicer canter.

I also realized I need to build fitness. A couple of longer rides each week.

Next, I need to find a link to the button braids instructions and practice at least one a night.

Brief moment of “oh shit” on today’s ride. Sparkle was off! I called Mr. Snaffs out to see, and I felt something going right, he only saw a slight hesitation. Went left, and lame-o! So, I got off, and ran my hands down her legs…all good…got to the bell boot, and wait….my sand is not THAT red. So, the bell boot had rubbed her, possibly with the super-wet sand sticking. I don’t think it was an issue in dry sand.

So, I take off bell boots, hop back on and she is not lame, but not forward. I figure a light day is fine, and get off, then, as I’m untacking….she’d been getting pinched/rubbed by the GIRTH on the left side today too. #cat28# Poor Sparkle. I had the saddle a bit too far forward, and while I did notice this while I was tacking up, I was in some other place and did not fix it. It is a bit bruised in front of the rub as well.

I feel bad. I know she is super-sensitive and gets rubs easily, yet I ignored the number one cause.

I washed her two little boo-boos and applied Swat. Depending on how the girth one looks tomorrow, I may decide to just ride bareback the next two days in prep for the show. Let that rub heal up, and know that the work won’t be quite as good/accurate.

Sparkle was fabulous at the dressage show. She is definitely not a dressage horse in conformation, and so our scores sucked. Not saying that I have no room for improvement, but I think I’ll save my money and stick to lessons/clinics and the occassional schooling show with her. Because 2 years ago, when we did the same things, with a lot less engagement and no where near the kind of work she does now, we got higher scores. #h001# I am totally clueless about what the scores are, but at least I expected the score I got from the same judge on the second day. It was entirely consistent with the first day from her. The second ride on the first day, I simply don’t get the scores. I’m watching the video, I’m pausing, reading the test, and within the same test, I don’t see consistency from the judge. #conf44#

She has no idea that we got sucky scores, and she was all puffed up and proud of herself. She loves to be braided.

I’m attempting to upload the rides to youtube, but I went to bed last night after starting it and when I got up in the morning, it had failed to load.

But, Doug got some fabulous pictures for us. As always.

Sparkle’s hardest thing….trying to lengthen.

Her strongest movement! She really feels that this should be a co-efficient.

Some canter, we were roasting on Saturday.

The Saturday, non-existent leg yields (they were hugely improved on Sunday, and no change in scores…or worse, some of this may be my test-riding skilz are lacking)
null tons of pictures here. I love my pony.

She gets today off for a well deserved rest.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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