Curing the Achies

Trainer is at Lexington with some riders all week, so Assistant Trainer took over teaching. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed a pattern, but AT kicks my butt HARD. I love her, but ouch. So I’m always excited when she teaches!

Frankie started out pretty stiff, which is quite new for him. Putting the stiffness together with the myriad scrapes and cuts I found on him, we deduced that he was playing and rough-housing with his buddy all night. Awesome. Once he got moving he opened up a bit, but he was definitely lazy.

“Ugh. must I?”

Lazy for him does not mean slow. It does not mean that I have to boot him up constantly. What it DOES mean is that he has absolutely no desire to hold himself up. This isn’t as apparent at the trot, but as soon as we stepped up into the canter he basically said, “Mahhhm, I’m tired, please carry me around the ring.” OK BUDDY THIS AIN’T WORKIN’ FOR ME. As much as he is my baby and I will do anything for him, I am not physically able to drag his ass around the way he wanted me to.

These ears are at half-mast because I am the wORST MOM EVAR and am making him hold up his own gigantic head.

Those half-halts were getting CREATIVE, let me tell you. Like, they started out very soft and subtle and got zero response, and it eventually escalated to me bumping him HARD in the mouth with my outside rein to get him to just GETTHEFRICKOFFMYHANDJESUSCHRISTISWEARTOGOD. He got with the program and tried a bit harder once we had one or two of those come-to-Momma moments.

It did get better. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I love this horse’s brain. There were 4 of us in there and some of the lesson kids got rather close and he didn’t blink. Just kept truckin’ around.

It was pretty stupid hot and none of us had the brain power to remember courses, so we made it a gymnastics day. We had a pretty wide variety of rider and horse abilities in the lesson and I think gymnastics are perfect for these- you can very easily adjust them to be suitable for anyone.

It was set as a short one stride to a longer one stride- the first was tough for Francis to get bouncy through, but he loved opening up through the second part. Predictable.

The take-aways: I need to just keep my leg on for support and let Frankie do his job. I tried to manage that short step a bit too much and he simply didn’t need my help. I was also getting too forward with my shoulders and trying to jump for him- I need to wait and let him jump up to me. He’s gonna jump the jump. I don’t need to do it for him.

Lastly, I really need to work on that auto-release. I know that I don’t hit him in the mouth, but looking at some slo-mo videos it definitely doesn’t have that smooth quality I’d like; it looks like I’m pulling back on take-off before releasing. I think part of this is the way Frankie jumps, but a much bigger piece is that I need to strengthen my core and get my hands truly independent.

Knees are slowly making their way up when he has to start trying a little. 3’6″ seems to be where he starts putting in an effort.

I was really happy with this lesson though! My leg is slowly getting better and less slippy on Francis, and he was totally game even as the jump went up. AT sticked the last oxer at 3’6″ by the last time through and I was having a blast. It’s still a novelty for me to do those bigger jumps, but I feel so confident with Francis! He doesn’t blink and just does his job.

I’m also glad we made him stretch a little bit over the bigger jumps- he was moving out sooo much better by the end and I think getting to move those muscles made him feel tons better. No more stiffness.

I also have a short cautionary story to share: I turned Frankie out once he was done getting a bath and cooled down. As he often does post-bath, he immediately searched out a spot to roll. This time, he chose RIGHT next to the round bale. Like, he bumped into the bale going down.

And as you can probably guess, he eventually got stuck as he rolled around. The round bale was between his front and hind legs and the ground was mucky enough that he couldn’t get purchase to roll away from it. I’m just glad that he’s not a panicky horse by nature- after trying to get up a couple times, he just lay still for a moment and then looked back at me. “Mahm. Help?”

Of course I was already running to him to get that bale away from my precious boy. Manfriend was luckily there to help (he is SO MUCH STRONGER THAN ME) and Francis was able to quickly stand up and shake off.

And get this- shaky and bug-eyed, he just walked over for kisses. I swear he was so nervous and needed his Momma for a minute. After some much-needed snuggles, homeboy quickly calmed down and was back to munching his hay peacefully and no worse for the wear.

So I’m not sure what we could have done to prevent this (seriously horse you have a solid couple acres to roll, why did it have to be right there???) but just a tale of caution in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t figured this out yet: horses will try to injure themselves on literally everything. EVERYTHING.

Two questions today:

  1. What do you do when your half-halts aren’t making a difference?
  2. What’s the weirdest thing your horse has tried to maim themself on?

21 thoughts on “Curing the Achies

  1. Allison Stitzinger 08/12/2016 / 8:15 am

    Bahaha, you can see him try to dive down in the video and you’re all like “nooooope!” and make him pick his poor heavy head off the ground. Dino recently tried to remove his eyeball on the wire basket we keep near our “wash rack” (legit a hose next some rubber mats on the ground). Thought it would be a good eyeball-scratcher. It was not. When my half-halts aren’t working I’ll just make them more dramatic/unpleasant for the beast, or if they’re REALLY not working, school halts/downwards until ponyface is sitting on his butt and listening. Or put them on a circle so they have to listen otherwise they’ll fall over.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:05 am

      He would legit canter around with his nose in the dirt if I let him haha. He missed his calling as a pleasure pony! We use the circle trick sometimes- either balance or fall over, your choice bub.
      Gah Dino don’t scare your mother like that!


  2. Monica V 08/12/2016 / 9:17 am

    Rip their face off. JK JK, but no, they will get their own CTJ moment and then we carry on. Must listen to momma.

    And when Yankee was 7, he SOMEHOW got BOTH feet stuck by the shoes (as in wire fencing was inbewtween shoe and hoof) incredibly high up on horse proof (the V shaped) wire fencing. Literally how. I could tell he had been there a while, based on his hind footprints in the mud, but I dont think he had freaked out much. When I came out to feed that AM he was just standing there looking at me like HAI, help plz? I had to cut his feet out and then pull the shoes off to get the wire our from underneath them. I still to this day do not understand how he managed that with horse proof fencing. Also, not a scratch.


    • Heather 08/12/2016 / 1:54 pm

      I had a mare do the exact same thing! And also just hung out until we arrived to save her. Fortunately it was only one foot but seriously. It was jammed in between her shoe and heel on a front foot and I have no idea how she even pawed the fence in a way that got her so stuck.


      • Monica V 08/15/2016 / 9:34 am

        horses are so ridiculous, omg!


  3. carey 08/12/2016 / 10:20 am

    Your lower leg looks good in the video. I’m focusing so hard on keeping mine still, right now, you provided a nice visual for me 🙂
    Cosmo has not maimed himself too badly since I have had him, but there was that one time when he was a yearling and scraped off half his face on a fence post/corral and now has a droopy lip and ear 😉 Maybe he got it all out of his system in that one gnarly incident.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:07 am

      Thank you!! I’ve always struggled with my right leg- for whatever reason, that’s the wiggly culprit- so I’ve been focusing really hard on gluing it to his side.
      Haha Mo covered a lifetime of maiming early on.


      • carey 08/15/2016 / 8:50 am

        My struggle is with my left leg, it just wants to dance!


  4. Centered in the Saddle 08/12/2016 / 12:28 pm

    I’ve had to do a similar pop-pop-with-one-rein move lately to get Drifter to sit up and stop cantering like he wants to drive his head into the ground. It’s not my fave but occasionally necessary.

    I’m also working on my release! I suddenly realized when looking at photos that on the down side of a jump I roll my shoulders and back into a “c” shape and it’s soooo ugly. So I’m working on keeping my back flat and shoulders back the whole way over – even as I release with my hands. It’s hard!

    I’m glad he was okay! Good thing you were there to help him out.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:08 am

      Agreed- I don’t like having to bump him in the mouth, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
      It is so hard! I love getting video so I can slo-mo and try to pinpoint what I need to work on, but actually correcting those things is harddddd.


  5. Heather 08/12/2016 / 1:56 pm

    I usually do a lot of canter to halt, and halt to canter transitions, and I put my leg on a lot stronger than normal when they want to get heavy. And even though it’s tempting to play tug of war, I do my best to use primarily my leg, seat, and core in the transitions rather than getting sucked into trying to strong arm them.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:09 am

      Absolutely- since Frankie is super NOT sensitive, he’s totally happy to get into a tug-of-war and lean on me all day long. Leglegleglegleg has helped that immensely.


  6. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership 08/12/2016 / 3:27 pm

    Nilla is obsessed with rolling as close to the fence as possible. She’ll also roll on the hill in her pasture and slowly scoot down the hill until she ends up in the fence. Thankfully she doesn’t get upset when she hits it. She just clambers up somehow.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:10 am

      Hahaha the mental image of Nilla scooting down the hill is amazing


  7. draftmare 08/14/2016 / 1:59 pm

    Somebody needs to learn to sleep at night and not play!! Though if your weather is anything like our weather, I can’t blame him for wanting to be frisky when the weather is cool at night vs during the day when it is hot and miserable.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:11 am

      It is SO unbelievably hot and disgusting out!! I’d hope that would mean less energy for roughhousing, but alas. Francis is a heat-resistant tank.


  8. CallyJumps 08/14/2016 / 3:04 pm

    If a halfhalt doesn’t work, depending on what we’re doing, sometimes I’ll go to a full on pulley-rein, sometimes an actual halt, sometimes a transition. It just depends on the situation.

    Mine has tried to destroy herself numerous times, but I’m not sure for the worst of it we’v ever even known what it was from. I mean, she took a chunk out of her own heel two weeks ago while stamping at flies.


    • hellomylivia 08/15/2016 / 8:12 am

      We’ve definitely had to resort to the pulley rein once or twice when homeboy had completely tuned me out.
      Ouch! But also how do you stomp so hard your foot falls apart, horse? Horses, man. Defying physics.


  9. Micaylah 08/15/2016 / 4:07 pm

    I’m pretty sure my horse could be in a padded stall and he’d find a way to injure himself


    • hellomylivia 08/16/2016 / 12:09 pm

      Howwww. How are horses such fragile little creatures. Makes no sense.


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