Sunday, July 31, 2011

Poco & Ben - week 3 of getting my senior horses back into shape

Poco and Ben are into their 3rd week of their reconditioning program. Because they are both in their late 20s, we continue to take this slow and easy, adapting as we go.

The first week was ground poles at the walk on a slight hill. 5 minutes each direction. We added poles and changed the spacing/height during the week.

The second week, I added a couple more walking poles, and started trotting, 3 sets of 2 laps each direction.

Both guys are making very fast progress. I've had to add and change poles several times during the previous weeks, and increase trotting time at their insistence. I'm still starting our sessions with the polarity clearing, chest and tail points, running the bladder meridian, and finishing with Dr Golob's back exercises. In week 3, the differences between Poco and Ben are starting to show.

Historically, Ben has had issues with his hocks and with his ability to go round. So in our 3rd week, I've been using DNR Draw (no longer on the market) topically on his hocks daily. I have kept him on the gentle hill, and we've added trotting time. We are up to at least 5 minutes of trot each direction, and a few laps of canter both ways as well. We cool down over the ground poles. Ben has gotten very frisky, and insists on trotting or cantering for most of the time he's on the lunge. At this rate, he'll be under saddle by this weekend for some short rides. His back exercises are improving also.

Poco had navicular/ringbone/sidebone in both front hooves when he was 12. So I am watchful for any front end issues. Additionally, he had been weakest in his stifles, and was prone to sacro-illiac issues. So, rather than increase his trotting time significantly, I've moved Poco onto a steeper hill at the walk to focus on stifle strength. I allow him to trot on the flat if he chooses, which he usually does. I'm not pushing the trot yet though. I'm using DNR Draw on his stifles and sacrum, and also putting my favorite balm on his front pasterns and coronet bands anywhere that I feel old calcium deposits. I'm keeping a close eye for heat. I've gotten more aggressive with Dr Golob's neck telescoping. Poco's stifles have improved already (he isn't ducking the back exercises), and his topline is filling in. I noticed him cantering down a steep hill out in the field today with his hind end engaged. If he continues to improve, our next step is ponying off Ben on the trails at the walk.

Update:  the program continues...

Interested in learning more about the senior nutrition program I am using?
January international teleclasses, recorded for convenience!  
See website for details

Would you like guidance setting up some TTEAM obstacles?  Would you like to learn how to do some of the exercises I described?  Contact me for in person or video coaching!

(c) copyright 2016
All TTEAM and TTouch terminology is copyrighted and trademarked by TTEAM. These statements are not intended to diagnose or treat disease, and have not been evaluated by the FDA or AVMA.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The downside of ear tags...

Bandit and Conan got ear tags before their trip to Canada.  Bandit removed his.
Ear tag removal - the painful way

Bandit chillin' on the deck

Bandit found an oak leaf

Torn ears cannot be stitched due to cartillage damage.  I cleaned up the edges and applied balm to help it heal and keep the flies away.  Now he really does look like a bandit!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Updates - retraining Lucky the ex-racehorse, Poco & Ben - getting my senior horses back into shape

Wow, so much to report since last week.

Lucky and I are out on the trails now bareback. He's excited, and very alert, yet still responsive. I'm so proud of him. We'll be adding the saddle to trail riding days this week. And we'll be joining a friend (thanks Missy) with a seasoned trail horse to help Lucky with his confidence.
In the ring, we have worked on standing quietly at the mounting block, standing for mounting, and relaxing after I'm on. He's done really well. We've got our walk-trot transitions, and great halts as well. We'll be taking the mounting block lessons out on the trail this week.
I've started doing more TTEAM with him again. Right now, we are working on Dolphin, leading up to Cheetah. He's still a bit confused about why I want him to walk further away from me.

For the ground exercises, Lucky will follow me with the lead draped over his neck.

Poco and Ben are through the first week of their reconditioning program. Because they are both in their late 20s, we're taking this slow and easy, and adapting as we go.
Last week we started with ground poles at the walk on a slight hill. 5 minutes each direction. Similar to the Parelli topline exercises. I walked with them over the poles, so looks like I'm getting reconditioned as well. I found as the week progressed, I was able to add poles until we were doing 5 or 6 each time around. Some days they could handle an elevated pole for the entire session. Other days, they dropped the pole part way through, and I would leave it down when that happened.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First trail ride on Lucky! We did it! And an exercise program for Poco & Ben

It's been a long interesting journey with this ex-racehorse of mine.

Tonight, after a quick EFT reminder that riding Lucky is fun and easy, we played in the field a bit with some basic TTEAM obstacles and plenty of circles and yielding. And then we headed out onto the trail for the very first time.

Lucky was excited and interested, yet very controllable. I did have to dismount for a monster manure spreader. :-) After we got past that, I discovered a new gap in Lucky's training. Mounting on the trail. Did I mention I was bareback??? We practiced at ditches, stumps, lumber piles and rocks on the way home.

So I can see our next game is going to be standing quietly next to objects that I am standing on.

And, it's time for me to learn to swing up bareback without any mounting aid. Good thing he's short.

I also spent some time tonight laying out ground poles in a large circle on the hillside. I picked a very gentle slope. I put poles at 12, 3, 6 and 9 on the clockface. One pole was elevated, one was a pair set like cavaletti.
As Poco and Ben are older, I am starting with short sessions twice daily.
In one, I clear polarity, do K27 chest points and tail points, and finish with the back and neck exercises.  I use a flower essence spray topically on any blocked points and along their spine from withers to tail.
In the other, I run their bladder meridians on both sides 3 times, and do some basic TTouches, usually abalone over their bodies. Then some wand stroking all over, especially on their legs. After that, 5 minutes one way around the circle, more wand stroking for a short break, then 5 minutes the other way on the circle.
I'll reassess in a week to see how the program should be tweaked.

Part 2...
Part 3...
Part 4...

Fun to watch all the changes happening around here!

Interested in learning more about the senior nutrition program I am using?
January international teleclasses, recorded for convenience!  
See website for details

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lucky - we got it!

So, the last session removed the last of Lucky's fear & anxiety. Which is good. And, which led to the next layer of the onion.
So often when I get to the point that the horse finally realizes he/she can trust, the next stage is challenging boundaries. Pretty normal reaction, all things considered. Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals deal with this.
So, Lucky was different tonight about haltering and the saddle. He was turning his shoulder to me, cutting turns a bit close, bringing his haunches in on me, refusing to give his eyes. All subtle ways of getting into my space and challenging me.
Interestingly, I've been having lots of Parelli encounters lately, particularly with a client of mine. It occured to me that some of the basic exercises are a lot like the Taking Territory aspects of the Waterhole Rituals. So, I reached back to my Level I Parelli from back in '98 and did some basics with Lucky.
Fingertip yields of the shoulders and hindquarters, sending, circles, backing. Especially backing, as he was determined to crowd me tonight. I did everything gently and subtly, with breaks to relax.
It only took about 10 minutes, with plenty of pauses to chew things over, and he sighed and dropped his head and walked calmly with me.
When I got the saddle out, he made one try to shoulder past me. I backed him with the lead, and on the next try he stood for the saddle. (I used the lead Parelli-style, rather than the TTEAM wand and exercises, because I had a lead in one hand and a saddle over my arm, leaving no hand free for the wand.)
I put the saddle on and took it off from both sides a few times, and Lucky stood.
Looks like we've got the issue resolved.

I must say I'm still thoughtful about the process. I still dream of a horse wanting to be ridden, accepting tack on the first try with only curiosity. And, perhaps that is too much to ask for from a horse with baggage and history. Only time and furter learning will tell.

I'm planning to go to 2 sessions daily over the weekend, so we can continue the ground games and get some riding in as well.

Plus, I'm working up fitness programs for the 2 oldest horses (28+). I'll post more about that next week.

Fun & easy!

Bucklings going to Canada

Conan and Bandit are headed to Canada soon.  Here are some pictures of the boys.


Bandit - "must you really take pictures of my rear???"

Bandit - such a handsome face


Conan - look at that hiney!

Conan - Aaaawwww, he's so cute!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A change of pace for Lucky

I went to work with Lucky tonight and could tell as soon as I approached with the hackamore that he was disengaged. He walked away from me, and refused to put on the hackamore, although he was very willing to visit with me if I kept the hackamore on my shoulder. He was clearly feeling hounded or pressured by my training agenda.
My gut said to do something totally different tonight to give us both a break.
Lucky was a touch pushy, so I started with taking space (sending him gently away).
Then I invited him back to me.
Two significant changes - he is calmer about being sent away, and he comes back to me willingly every time.
We played with stand, come, and going where I pointed.
We did some shoulder yields, hindquarter yields and backing from his nose or chest.
For the first time, he let me lead him with a hand under his chin.
We did companion walking, circles, figure-8s and halts.
All without any halter or tack.
Between each exercise, we stood quietly and I did abalone ttouches on his body, ear work, raccoon ttouches on his face, or just stood with him, breathing together and enjoying the evening.
By the end, he was interested and relaxed, and looking for the next game. He was connected and engaged, curious and relaxed.

I'm thinking that our next session with the saddle calls for something totally different.
I'm going to skip the hackamore, and just use a rope halter. I'm thinking there may still be a mental association that is contributing to his anxiety about saddles.

If saddling continues to be an issue, we may just stick to bareback for a while and see what happens.

And still more saddling Lucky...

Lucky challenges me mentally and emotionally more than any other horse I have ever worked with.
Getting a read on why he says "no" can be tricky.
He is very sensitive and emotional, and reactive. Much more than my other Arabian Ben. I'd be curious to know if that is a difference common to Polish vs. Egyptian Arabian lines...
So, back to Lucky.
Lots more "no's" last night. They didn't last as long, and we reached a point of calmness faster, so I feel I'm on the right track.
Just waiting for that final insight and a breakthrough to full acceptance, for both of us.

I know I can ride him bareback, and he is calm about that. For long rides, a saddle would be more comfortable for us both.

So, we'll see what the next session brings.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

more saddling Lucky

Still getting resistance on the saddling. Blocking with his head, bolting forward.
Doesn't appear to be fear at this point. Anxiety, tension, anticipation of what comes next, some "no". Very head high.
Chunked the process down a lot. Saddlepad alone, then pad/saddle. No girth.
Added treats.
Lots of ear work, forelock slides, ttouches on his face, to get him thinking & relaxed.
Python lifts on his legs while wearing the saddle to ground him.
Head lowering, to get him out of fight/flight mode.
Got progress tonight.

We'll see how much stuck when I play with him tomorrow.

I'll know we've got it when I can saddle him while he's at liberty in the corral with no bridle/halter.