Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Experiment Begins... (again)

It was a STUNNER of a day up in Seattle yesterday.  My car claimed it was 77 degrees, but I think that it was just excited, since everyone else seemed to agree it was 70, maybe 71... Regardless, it was lovely.  There was a warm breeze, some of the leaves are still clinging to the trees and all the mountains were crystal clear.  Not a bad day for a ride..

Between the weather and my newly written down battle plan (writing things down makes this girl feel so much more organized..) I arrived to the barn in a much better state of mind than I've been in the last couple of days. 
Of course then, in a move that would make every single one of my professors cringe/cry/punch me, I (the ever effective scientist) decided to ignore good procedure, indulge emotion and instead of focusing on just one item at a time, I decided to change just about everything all at once. (yaaaaay)

What do I mean? Wellll, instead of isolating variables so that I could possibly know what changes brought about what changes, now I made a mess of things, so should something positive happen, I might have to attirubte Pia's behavior change to my socks, or the radio station that was on, or something else absurd like the fact that I forgot my barn boots, so in order to save my still-blistered-feet from extra time in the Konigs, I got to wear these while tacking up... classy, I know..

(Breeches and heels... Thank god the barn was empty... I don't think I would have heard the end of it otherwise...)

Anyway, since the barn was empty, I picked P's feet and tossed her into the ring to bounce around.  I only chased her for about 15 minutes, but it was enough to get two bucks, a light sweat, and some energy out. The BO had left a note that Pia got bute at 3pm... and as far as I could tell, she was moving exactly the same.  No big changes anyway (so that's good?)

After our grooming/tacking session (in our heels), I wasn't going to lunge her prior to getting on, as the mare was fairly sleepy in the crossties and had her fun in the ring already, but right as I was adjusting my stirrups, P cause a glimpse of the BO's husband dutifully spraying for weeds in the driveway and she flipped out.  We were in the corner of the ring where the mounting block, stools, manure bucket and radio are... so her scrambling around trying to get out ended up tossing everyone over, scraping the walls and generally creating a much larger scene than necessary. 

End result? one very hyped up, very excited Pia horse.  Overfed and spooky? Maybe...

Since Pia was still snorting fire, I decided to throw her on the lunge and at least get her a bit focused.  This was laughable, and after about 5 minutes of her ZOOOOOMING around me in a 5 meter circle (idiot), I handed her off to the BO who was significantly less irritated or emotional about it all to calmly address her energy/focus issues. 

Ultimately this was a good decision, though I felt like I was in timeout as I was sitting on a stool in the corner (after I picked it back up) while Pia continued to zoom in circles and do about a ga-zillion transitions in order to focus. 

30 minutes later, the mare was showing some semblance of focus, and the BO asked if I wanted to get on, or call it a day at that. 

Duh, I wanted to get on.  But I did not want to get bucked around. 

We both agreed that getting a few minutes of non-bucky walk and trot would be a good thing, so we went for it. 

After wiggling around at the walk for about 5 minutes, we went for the trot, and got a series of objections (not weird). The standard, refuse to go forward, bite chest, be a brat objections... but this time, I caught it on videooooooo

Please know that this is horrifically embarrassing.  a) I look like crap, b) I'm posting a video of my horse blatently being a brat, and c) I don't have anything to follow it up with that redeems either of us.

My only hope is that someday, when we're breezing around the dressage ring, I will look back at this video and smile at how far we've come. 

Also know that in this "objection" I'm doing everything I can to keep her straight.  When she starts blowing through my leg I attempt to move her off the leg she's ignoring, but most of the sideways is all Pia... Weird.  and frustrating.

We worked for about 15minutes under saddle.  Not much, but the mare had already worked a LOT on the lunge and just running around the ring.  While I was happy that we didn't have a bucking fit, we definitely never got to a loose trot, or even a forward one. 

Here's one more clip of our leg yields.  Realistically, they weren't awful.  She moved off my leg without objecting, but she's still not in front of my leg and not wonderfully balanced.  Still, they were a small bright spot on the day..

Afterward, we did lots of trot/walk transitions to get rid of the stickiness, and called it a day when she had a nice upward transition by the gate (her stickiest spot). Still really frustrating to see her so bottled up after some really nice rides last week.

So, based on our current theories from yesterday here's where I stand:
  • Pain.  Buted her up for the ride.  No real difference.  So hopefully this isn't a kissing spine situation.
  • Overfed.  Cut her fatty foods in half as of yesterday.  We'll see what happens
  • Saddle Fit.  Double checked it, and I still don't see a potential problem, but our Prestige isn't here yet... it SHOULD be here soon.  gosh darn it.
  • Hormones. Easy Mare Gold is on it's way with our next smartpak.  We've tried mare magic, and I didn't see any effect (even on the loading dose), but this seems a little stronger?  Also, I'm upping her Quiessence dosage back to the loading dose to see if that helps take an edge off.
  • Outside. This is new, but the BO and I moved the mare back outside full time.  As long as she's not dropping huge weight from standing in the cold rain, I'll leave her there.  I think this might help.
Today we have another ride before I skidattle for the weekend... Depending on her behavior I'll either have the BO put some rides on her while Iim gone, or give her a few days off to just chill out and be a horse.  


  1. I think all these ideas are great! I finally put my mare outside and she has been so much better. Still spooky sometimes but wayyy better. I have been thinking about adding some sort of mare magic type of stuff to my smartpak also. my vet has recommended some sort of hormones but geez it is sooo expensive! Interested to see how things turn out with Pia!

  2. OH Pia, so so weird!!

    You are keeping track of her "naughtyness" do you see any pattern?? Her biting at her chest is just beyond me. I have NEVER EVER seen a horse do that!! :( I hope you figure something out soon!! Have you thought about (gasp) riding her bareback?? I mean you could get off pretty easy right? That would let you know if it was a saddle issue. I have a nice thinline bareback pad (that helps keep your butt in place) if you want to try it!

  3. Thanks for posting the videos, they help us see what you're dealing with. No question she's uncomfortable, but I guess the open issue is whether it's mental or physical. Interesting that she seems more comfortable moving laterally than she does moving forward. Of course I have no idea what that means, but might be worth noting.

  4. All good ideas! She looks pretty unhappy in the video, lots of tail swishing. More turnout and less calories should help, and also allowing her to move in a relaxed, stretch-down frame - she needs to learn to relax and let go in the top line, well before anything else. And there's something a bit odd in her movement behind - she's not really using her hind end and stepping under, she's just bouncing in place - could be a back issue.

    Good luck - all the steps you are taking are good ones. Could she have ulcers?

  5. Wheee, look at that mare tail fly!

    I'm sorry you're dealing with these issues-I do feel like your analysis is pretty spot on from what I can see. Maybe hormonal? Ulcers?

    FWIW, I think you do a great job of riding her in her "state". You seem to ride very quietly, which is a great thing in my opinion:) And I continue to loooove your indoor:)

    Good luck! I hope you can look back at these videos with a smile someday too:)

  6. Aw. That one is not as exciting as the other day. ;-)

    I hope the turnout helps--my mare is a totally different horse with turnout than without. Best of luck!

  7. she's a really beuatiful girly, so i hope you find a solution to her strange behaviour. at least you managed to finish on a positive note :)


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