Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas and Moving Into the New Year

We wish everyone a very happy holiday season!

Now that Christmas is behind us, I'm starting to look forward to my new year. I'm super excited because I believe I finally have a horse that I can take to a show!  Ollie just mentally can't handle it and I don't want to put either of us through it. He is the king of meltdowns. But he's a blast to ride so we will keep on with our work and perhaps one day he won't be so anxious about going into canter.

In the meantime, I want to set myself up to get Canoodler going! We're lucky here in Kentucky that we have many schooling shows. Even in winter! The "go to" schooling shows for winter are the Snowbird Dressage Series. They have a show each month except in January. So we have plenty of time to work on our strength and suppleness before the next show. It's a low key show that is perfect for newbies both equine and human.  I happened to take Ollie there a couple years ago but we never made it into the show ring.

The barn where Canoodler is located has several horse and riders that will be participating in these shows as well. This is perfect because I'll be clueless and need my friends to help me out.

Assuming Canoodler can handle going to a show, I want to set up some goals for future shows and real shows! Not just schooling shows.  I guess that means I need to fill out memberships to everything - USDF and Kentucky Dressage Association. It's all so new for me! I love having goals!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Solstice lesson with Sharon Vander Ziel

December 21st, 2014

Jim Koford has headed south for the winter (look for him at Wellington) and I want to keep working with Canoodler. So on this winter solstice, Canoodler and I took some coaching from Sharon Vander Ziel. Sharon works for the US Dressage Federation, is active in coaching as well as conducting many clinics in the local Lexington area. She regularly comes to the barn where I keep Canoodler so I thought I'd give her a try.

I explained to her where we were, what I saw as issues and what the Canoodler team (chiropractor, masseuse, vet) saw as issues to work on.  Clearly, suppleness and strength are where we need to work.

Canoodler has a much more difficult time going to the right than going to the left. When pushed to carry himself correctly, he tires quickly. We worked for a long time at just the walk. Sharon explained the bio mechanics of where we needed his jaw and poll to be in order for the rest of his body to align correctly which in turn allows his back to be used. Then we worked a long time at trot. It's just difficult for him to hold it for any length of time. It was most obvious with our attempts at canter to the right.  In the video you will see that he only canters a few strides before falling out of it.  I had him moving so nicely at the trot at the point of asking for the transition that he lost his balance and fell apart when asked for more. Regardless, it was a small success from which to build on!  This one time where we captured the right lead was after a few failed attempts, so that's why I was excited about it.  LOL!

Here is our video - it's not very exciting but I want to document our progress.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together

It's been a month since my last post and things are moving along swimmingly! Canoodler is improving physically and mentally each and every day.

We've had Michele Haman of Equi-librium Therapy, LLC out to work on him. She gave Canoodler a very thorough massage to help him work out some of his soreness.

In November, I got Canoodler a start in being straightened out with a chiropractic adjustment by Core Therapies', Dr. Larkspur Carroll. I was thrilled with the results as you can see in my previous post! 

I felt he needed massage to help him out as well. So in came Michele Haman. She spent 3 hours working out so many tight muscles.  Both Dr. Lark and Michele came to the same conclusion that he may have had a poor saddle fit for a long time that put him into his current uncomfortable situation. He is very tight on the left side of his neck and in his right hind. Horses get messed up diagonally... So she worked and worked to unblock those muscles and get circulation to those areas needing help. One of the hallmark indications of poor saddle fit is where the horse is very sore in the base of the neck (wither/shoulder area) and in bad cases their back is roached.  This was Canoodler. We are still working on the roached back (it's a slight roach) and it will take a long time but we have already seen improvement. The best sign of improvement is in the way he moves. He is becoming more supple and slightly more flexible. He lets me know he's feeling better by running out in the field now.  Best news is that my lovely Albion saddle that was fitted for Ollie is a fantastic fit for Canoodler!  What luck!!

The other ingredient we brought in was our coach Jim Koford. Jim is a gem. He worked with Canoodler and me to get him to flex/bend to the right for a long time. Keep in mind, his issues are left shoulder/neck and right hind. We are asking him to carry himself more on the right hind and stretch those left shoulder/neck muscles when we go to the right. But he was trying and trying hard! So proud of him! Ultimately, it has helped to loosen up those muscles even more! He has become much more supple and he's looking more like a proper dressage horse!  I'll try to post a video in the next couple of weeks.  To quote Jim, "The best part of Canoodler is that he will out you when you ride improperly!" Jim likes him...

At this point, I have a great team of people helping me with Canoodler's aches and pains. I feel we are in a really great place and working in the right direction for him.  He seems so grateful for the help.

I have another lesson with Jim this week. 

I'm riding the Noodle-man most every day and each day I go through a stretching regime with the big boy. Today's stretching produced a whole lot of popping sounds from his bones which I KNOW had to feel good. His whole neck popped and his tail bone, when pulled, gave a loud pop around his hip area.  This is telling me loud and clear that we are helping him and putting him back into to place! 

In the meantime, my rides on him, especially after having Jim work with us, have been amazing! He's so much more supple and balanced. Now we can work on building up his strength and keeping those muscles loose!  And a bonus with this horse is that I can work more on my position when I ride. I was rather defensive when I rode Ollie because Ollie was just so tense and nervous. Canoodler is just a laid back guy who will give me just what I ask for to the best of his abilities. We're going to be a great team together!