Thursday, September 8, 2011

Barrels + Rocks = Smile

I had an extended long weekend.  The weather has (thankfully) started to cool down a bit.  Flies are still bad though.  Gem’s turnout has rocky areas and he has chips and chunks out of his hooves from stamping his feet.  I can’t keep up with the bot fly eggs (gross) on his front legs.  I scrape off as much as I can without causing him injury and the next time I see him it’s back to square one.  Sigh.

Sunday was actually a good ride.  I was alone at the stables so I had the front paddock to myself.  I had my Nano turned up and all was well with the world.  My singing did manage to frighten a few pigeons that were hanging about, but my beautiful boy is getting used to my performances so he didn’t mind.   A few songs that were particularly well paced for jogging/trotting were Midnight Rambler and Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones, Billy Jean by Michael Jackson and Cold Shot by Stevie Ray Vaughan  

A barrel was set up at the far end of the paddock about 8 feet in from the fence and in the middle.  Two cones were set up across from each other at the other end, 8 feet in from the fence and about 8 feet apart.   Initially, I used the cones and barrel to help with turning Gem using neck reining, at a walk.   Perhaps it was the music, perhaps it was because I was relaxed…I don't know..... but I got brave.  :-)  I did the turns at a jog and then upped the ante to a lope!  We loped to the barrel, slowed down to a jog to go around it and then loped back.  Ya-hoo!  Gem was enjoying himself.   We both actually worked up a bit of a sweat.  The bugs were crazy and I think that was his encouragement to keep moving.  In fact, he kept kicking at his belly every time we stopped and when I dismounted, I found and pulled off this blood sucking bastage bug that had anchored itself to the tender inside of his back leg.  He was obviously relieved.

Monday the barn was crowded!  The weather was iffy, so most of us ended up in the arena.  The Young Ladies were loping their horses through upright poles, doing lead changes as they went through each pole.  Sigh.  It was beautiful to watch.  Such balance – horse and rider!  Gem and I decided to give it a go….but at a jog.  :-)  He’s actually quite good at zig zagging through the poles and I can see this becoming a fun exercise in the future for side passing.  We managed to join in on a group lope a couple of times.  It’s so funny…Gem feels the need to catch up with the horse in front of him and “eeeeeeeeeasy” was a reminder a couple of times to slow it down.  Perhaps he thinks he’s a Thoroughbred…:-)

Tuesday's ride was…well…weird.  Instead of standing still while I was tacking up, Gem would move away from the brush or I would have to ask a couple of times for him to lift his feet for cleaning.  It had rained Monday night, quite hard, and the paddock was wet mushy sand.  The breeze was lovely though, and I decided to ride outside.  Gem would not stand still next to the mounting block.  It took a few tries to convince him to “stand” still to allow me to get on.  Walking was fine, but he protested when I asked him for a jog....again and again.... Even when we were jogging, he showed his disdain by shaking his head or slowing down and resisting starting up again.  Then he started reaching around and nipping at the air near my foot.  WTH??!  OK....perhaps he's getting bit again....

 I dismounted and checked him all over for bugs.  Nada.  I checked under his girth, under the saddle blankets for burrs.  Nada.  I took him back to the mounting block and got back on.  He resisted everything I asked.  It was at the point that I though, "Geez, I wonder if he's sore?"  I walked him around the paddock a few times and then dismounted. His rhythm did not seem unbalanced to me, but to be honest, with the paddock being so muddy how could I be sure?  His legs looked fine to me; no swelling, sensitivity or heat.  Feet were clean.  I am not sure what else it could be other than he may have been a little muscle sore.  Being ridden 3 days in a row, which included some loping and lots of turns, may have made him stiff.....I know I was!  Could that be it?   Or maybe he just didn't want to work!  We all have days like that. :-)  I gave him a nice bath and let him graze for a bit.  With the exception of Gem's chomping, it was very quiet.  Every once in a while an aggressive Blue Jay could be heard.

After his beautification, I turned him out. I had brought my own spade and started digging some of the offending rocks out in his turnout area.  He and DH hung around, watching and sniffing the rocks that I dug up.  I managed to remove quite a few rocks, but it will take forever to get rid of all of them.  I may not have had a good workout riding, but I sure did digging up rocks!  Who would have thought that being in the sun pulling rocks out of dirt and manure, and breaking a newly manicured nail in the process, would leave a person with such a sense of accomplishment.  :- )  Later on, I met up with co-workers at a restaurant for dinner.  It was a business event, not a social one really.  Every once in a while when the table talk would become too technical/boring for me, I would look down at my broken nail and my thoughts would wander to the afternoon.... and I would smile.

What was I thinking....?


  1. Sounds like a fantastic time to me. I hope Gem was just a little sore and stiff and it's noting more. I'd be a little grumpy too with all the bugs on top of it all. I'll take a day at the barn over a nice dinner anytime! or should I say boring dinner...

  2. Sounds like an awesome few rides :) I love "barrel racing" for fun although I haven't done it in awhile.
    It sounds like Gem could have had sore muscles. I'm sure he enjoyed his beautifying though :)

    The bugs sound like a real nuisance.

  3. Ugh, I HATE bot flies! Nasty buggers leaving their little yellow eggs ALL OVER MY HORSES!

    Anyway, hopefully Gem was only a little sore and will perk right up and want to work in a day or two :)

  4. You and Gem had a great couple of rides. Hate the bugs, they're just so nasty. I'm thinking he was probably a little sore or tired, he'll probably be back to his old self next time. You make digging rocks sound like fun, I'll have to remember that next time I'm picking rocks. I guess it's better than sitting through a boring dinner for work though.

  5. Morning everyone!

    Mary – My co-workers are passionate about the technical stuff so I can't fault them for that, but for me it just puts me to sleep (yawn). I just think there are so many other interesting things in life to talk about over dinner other than software (yawn)...

    Ruffles – I hope it was just sore muscles! Gem really likes the barrels and the poles. It’s a nice change for him. I hope we start using them more this year in lesson. He really needs to become more flexible.

    Shannon – Those friggin’ bastage bot flies drive me nuts!!!!! Gross! This year was really bad...he even has eggs in his mane!

    GHM – I think he was just tired. I guess now that I am getting more confident, that means that Gem is going to be worked a little harder. Even though I am more enthusiastic about loping, my balance is not perfect (yet!) and I am sure he’s having to compensate for that too. :-) Re picking rocks, good music and sunshine always help!

  6. Hi--yep, I'm with you about the flies. One of my mares goes absolutely out-of-her-gourd nuts over bot flies. Once she was tied and started flailing around and I thought she was being stung by wasps--turns out it was just a bot fly. She never has an egg on her, so I figure she must always outrun them (and yes, this is a horse I worry about riding for this same reason). I think it's important for any horse to know that a person can "listen" and understand their signals that things aren't right--that develops trust in any relationship. He's a lucky boy to have you.

  7. That barrel thing sounds fun; glad you had the place to yourself so you & Gem could really enjoy yourselves :D
    Lucky you, riding 3 days in a row -- though don't know if Gem would agree ;o) Fingers crossed, it is just a case of being sore and fly-bothered *shudder*
    Music definitely makes even the most mundane jobs fun! xx

  8. Great first and second ride! Sounded like heaps of fun! Hope Gem feels better soon!

  9. Fetlock - I can't believe your mare has never had a bot egg on her!!! I am so jealous! I like your building trust comment - thank you!

    Joy - I love music! Satuday and Sunday were Motown days, :-)

    Nina - He was much better yesterday. Whew! Nice to hear from you. :-)

  10. I get bot flies off with a safety razor - and I do it in the parking area where they can't get in hay or anything. Is that what you do?

    Sounds like you are riding and having a grand time. I often drift back to the barn in boring meetings. If only I could have some simulation of me in the meeting and be with my horses instead.

  11. Hi Breathe! I have a very sharp scraper thingy, but I am very nervous when I use it. I hadn't thought of a safety razor. Yes, the area where I remove them is not near hay or grass. I hope you and yours are still managing OK.