Saturday, January 23, 2010

ABC Retreat - Part I

Last night, Pandora and I went to our first jumping lesson in about three months. Goodness, it's been a long time! She was no worse for the time off, though. In general she was soft and smooth and she certainly hasn't forgotten how to jump.

My position needs quite the refresher, which isn't too surprising. I fell into old habits, popping up on my toes over the fence (ugh) and not being strong in my core to keep my shoulders back. I'm not terribly worried, though. It was a good, quiet reintroduction to jumping and now I know what to work on! I am also sure my dressage lessons will make a big difference.

Without further ado, the beginning of my report from the ABC retreat.

Most of the girls arrived for the ABC retreat on Friday evening. As people filtered in, we'd grab some cookies or cider and start talking about horses (of course!). I got the rare opportunity to talk about horses with girls my own age who have similar interests - we talked about working-student positions, horses in college, moving up the levels in eventing.

After everyone was there, we received a brief introductory lecture from Nancy, our host. She spoke to us about the need to ask good questions in the horse world, especially as we learned from all the guest speakers over the weekend. Asking all the questions - who, what, when, where, why, how - can help us get a deeper understanding of anything. Nancy then divided us up into a few groups and told us to come up with five questions for each of the topics we'd be covering over the weekend.

Here were the topics: Working With Your Vet, Equine Systems, Conditioning, Starting a Young Horse, Equine Facilities Tour, Long Lining, Suitability, and Structures of the Equine Distal Limb.

I really enjoyed that exercise, actually. It got everyone thinking about what they wanted to know, applying each lecture to their own situation. The discussion was lively, with everyone throwing out ideas. Here is a sampling of the questions my group came up with.

What is one of the most common cases you see in which an owner should have called a vet right away, but didn't?
Do the systems of horses differ by breed? How?
How can you build condition in the winter?
What is the place of road work in conditioning?
How do you decide where to situate the windows and aisles in a barn relative to the prevailing winds or sun in the seasons?
How can you use long lining to improve the training of a trained horse?
How do you pick a suitable off-the-track Thoroughbred?

We got answers to almost all of our questions over the weekend, though I never did run into anyone who knew about how to lay out your barn with regard to prevailing weather conditions.

After our question-brainstorming, we headed out to Nancy's garage for our Vet lecture. The room was stuffed with benches and blankets and rugs - pretty cozy, though it was a bit chilly. Hence the blankets.

We went over the Diseases and Vaccinations information I gave you last year, so I won't type that all up again. We also got a list of things Dr. Hoffman says you should have on hand in your first-aid kit:
- Stethoscope (for pulse, or know how to take it by palpation)
- Thermometer with lubricant
- Bandaging materials: cottons, stable bandages, clean absorbent dressing (diapers work!), antiseptic cream like Nolvasan
- Antiseptic cleaner like Betadine soap
- Pliers (to pull foreign objects out of feet)
- Clippers

She says optional but nice are twitch, bute, ice boots, easy boot, and poultice for hooves.

To that I would probably add Banamine paste to give for colic if your vet says so over the phone. And gloves, latex or nitrile. And I like to have gauze on hand for smaller injuries for which you don't need huge absorbent dressing like diapers. And scissors for cutting the gauze.

Even though I had the first part of this lecture last year, I found it pretty valuable. It refreshed my memory and gave me a good opportunity to ask newer, in-depth questions.

By the time this lecture was over, it was about 9:30, so everyone settled down. Nancy's place is very cool - each room seems to spill into another and the house kind of goes on forever. In the back living room there were enough couches that I think seven of us slept back there, plus she had couches in other rooms and extra bedrooms and the like. It kind of felt like a giant slumber party, which I suppose it was, except we talked about horses instead of boys. (This is my kind of slumber party!)

We rolled out of bed the next morning to a yummy breakfast of fresh cinnamon cake, english muffins, oatmeal, cereal, and several other things I think. I, in my perpetual state of 'Yeah, I'm kinda hungry,' am eternally grateful to Nancy for making food available to us at pretty much all times of the day. Plus lunch was this amazing pot of chicken and rice soup that Nancy made from scratch. It was fantastic.

Anyway, after a nice breakfast, we headed out to the garage again for the day's lectures. Nancy kicked the day off with a discussion of horse systems - digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and the like. We talked about how everything interrelates when you give an aid: you squeeze your legs, which sends an impulse to the brain, which sends the instructions back out to the muscles to move. Then there are all the involuntary processes like heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and so on.

We talked about fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles and the differing proportion different breeds have. Slow twitch fibers are aerobic, or they need oxygen; they primarily correspond to strength and endurance. Fast twitch are anaerobic and produce bursts of speed, but they can only work for short periods of time. Highly relevant to eventers, who must go at speed over distance and terrain!

The different systems also condition at different rates, as we learned later in the day. For example - you can get a horse's 'wind,' or respiratory system, in condition pretty quickly. Same with muscles. But soft tissue like tendons and hard tissue like bones take much longer to fully condition. This is important when we're talking about conditioning for hard, stressful work like riding cross-country.

After that was conditioning with John Camlin of Caber Farm - an excellent lecture. Further reports to come soon!

1 comment:

Leah Fry said...

What a great opportunity for you.

And good to know I get a good grade for having the right stuff in my first aid kit.

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