Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Thought

As I was washing McKinna's legs before my jumping lesson on Monday, I noticed she was in heat. I think this may have something to do with her extraordinarily tense behavior on Saturday. The wonderpony has a history of being really, really cranky/tense/uncooperative for one ride and then being in heat a day or two later. Maybe she gets some sort of cramps or something related to the onset of estrus. I should have thought of's always a retrospective thing when this happens. I think that last summer, as the season went on, she wasn't as bad. Maybe I can just keep a hot pad with me, and if I ever get on and she's really tense, hop off and toss the hot pad on her back to help her relax, since it seems to be her back muscles that are tight? Makes sense...I get kinda cranky when I have cramps too.

Anyway, I'm still looking at everything else. I just bought an Albion Legend jumping saddle off of eBay (what?? I'm a tack junkie, I swear) and will try that on her when it arrives. Even though it isn't a high-end saddle, it's a bit of a step up from the Thornhill so if she likes it I will be quite happy. If she doesn't, oh well, back on eBay it goes. Next on the list to try is a Happy Mouth, which I mentioned in the last post.

The jumping lesson on Monday was (of course) lovely. Our flatwork is still improving by proverbial leaps and bounds. Devin still had me getting her to work by pushing her into a steady outside rein, then closing rein and leg when she tries to hollow and softening and stretching once she complies. I have to say, it does work - the more I can catch her hollowing attempts as they happen, the less frequently she tries to hollow in the first place. In the end I had a quiet, pretty supple, forward horse with a nice positive connection in the outside rein. Looking at the video, she was still more compact in the neck than I would like, though. This should go away as she keeps learning to reach for the bit.

Our canter work was absolutely delicious. We are approaching the ability to quietly, and in balance, transition upward. And the gait itself is SO much better. I was going around my canter circles grinning like an idiot because she was on a soft contact and I could half-halt with my abs. This is groundbreaking territory here, people!

The jumping was also quite nice. My position gets work as always - it's hard because, as Devin has explained, McKinna is short and I have a fairly long torso for my height. But the pony was good. Lots of work on quietly jumping, which we really got towards the end. We are also developing the first glimmerings of true adjustability! Two lines, both set for a 12' stride (McKinna usually gets about a 10 - 11' stride), were set for three and one strides. We aimed for a quiet four in the three, which we got, and a longer step to make the one-stride, which we also got. And she is learning to sit up and balance herself when I sit up and touch my seat down. Awesome feeling.

We ended by jumping the barrel on its side (2' high, 3' across the face). As per usual, the first time trotting in was a bit of a disaster, even with a guiding rail on one side. I feel bad as I know Devin uses this as an accuracy question and after last time (when McKinna clearly didn't understand the question) I decided I would school barrels at home until McKinna understood. But, I didn't. Sigh. Second time I sat down and she jumped, third time (still trotting) she started to rush so I tried to slow her down but I pulled and ruined it so we got another stop. After that we got our act together and I think she started to understand the question, because we cantered it and she didn't try to skitter sideways. She focused on it and jumped it dead center like a real fence - it was pretty nice, actually!

So I do feel bad about that, just because it is my fault for not schooling that question at home even though I knew it would come up again in a lesson. At least she understood after a few tries, which is better than the first time - that time, she would go over if I rode her perfectly but I still don't think she fully understood. But it's also silly that I feel so guilty, because it is a LESSON and that is where we teach things to our horses! I will be sure to practice barrels at home, though. I want to have no problems next time.

Also, we are working on little video to show you some video of McKinna when she's tense and McKinna when she's quiet and relaxed. I will put it up soon. Just watching the clips has given me some ideas, mostly about my position. I love my mother for all the videoing she does while I ride her horse :-) I have footage of almost every lesson, which is an awesome tool.


Carly said...

First, I love the blog. Very interesting thoughts, fun pics, and good discussions. Secondly,
Kinda of an off topic question. I'm needing to get a new saddle for my horse and keep seeing you mention getting ones of ebay. I've thought about ebay but have always been scared to try. Mainly I'm afraid of a saddle not fitting and not being able to return it or getting a saddle that is not as described/pictured. Has this ever happened to you and were you able to sell it for about the same price you got it for?

manymisadventures said...

Hey there, welcome to the blog! I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it.

Buying saddles on eBay is NOT foolproof, but there are some precautions you can take. Tell you what - I am going to consult with my mother (who is the real eBay expert) and write a whole post on this. But, to answer your question in brief: you guard against getting a misrepresented saddle by buying ones with good pictures from sellers with good feedback, and yes, sometimes it doesn't fit, so you should do some research to make sure you will be able to at least resell for what you paid. In the past we've had luck reselling saddles for about as much as we paid or sometimes more.

I'll try to get a full post on eBay tack shopping in a day or two. It's a risk sometimes, but we've generally found it to be worthwhile for the sheer amount of money you can save.

HorsesAndTurbos said...

Hey, I always wondered about mares & cramping. In women, it's because the uterine wall is sloughing off. Horses don't do that. I think we tend to project onto horses our feelings - not that I just didn't make an obvious statement.

I can see them being ultra-sensitive and alert for a potential mare gets into serious stud-alert when she's in heat, and I can tell the day she's ovulating...she pratically walks around with her tail in the air! If I put pressure in the right areas on her flanks, hips...the "woo-hoo" areas...she just melts!

I did put her on Mare Ease, and it does seem to help if you want a more natural, herbal remedy. Now her tail is lowered, and she's not so jumpy, and I've only got her on half-dose.

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