One month with Mo

Posted on 8 April, 2016 at 12:09 Comments comments (103)
Last week marked the completion of one month's training with a beautiful Morgan named Mo. Mo came to me after a long break from working under saddle. His owner had worked with him before that break, but there were a few issues. She hired a few trainers in the mean time to try to iron out the kinks, but they did not work out for various reasons. 

Mo is a very sweet horse, who I would rate as being somewhat insensitive and a bit slow to respond to cues. I believe that he remembers what certain things mean, but only vaguely, and in addition to that, he wasn't sure how to make his body perform what I asked of him. 

My first few days with Mo were spent testing the waters. He is curious about everything, but not anxious or nervous. He performed well in the round pen, considering his break. He seemed at first like he was trying really hard to please, but wasn't exactly sure how I was going to treat him. 

He reacted well to each "new" task I gave him. I worked in the round pen several days to see how he moved, how he carried himself and how he reacted. He was very unbalanced laterally, and still some of that imbalance remains, as it can take months to years for a horse to truly be balanced. This was evidenced by not being able to easily pick up the right canter lead, and cantering around wildly, racing around the round pen and leaning into the middle, dropping his shoulder. 

Unbalanced horses are a safety risk for themselves and the rider. We can help them build balance by working over poles and small obstacles, and also teaching them lateral movements such as leg yields, turns on the forehand and haunches, and lots and lots of transition work, between gaits and within them as well.

When the day came to mount up, I was expecting a bit of a speed-racer, based on the work in the round pen. I was happy to learn that he was not as forward under saddle. However, this also has its drawbacks as he does take a little bit of pushing to get forward. This is truly apparent at the trot currently. He needs a lot of work polishing up and when he is fatigued, his trot will dissolve into a less true gait. This will also be remedied by lateral work, work on transitions and work over poles. In an ideal world, this type of problem can be helped tremendously by working a horse up and down hills. 

This picture is the first day I cantered with Mo. Not unlike most other horses with a similar past to Mo, he was not sure what I wanted. However, due to the work in the round pen, he had learned the voice cue to Canter, so he had an idea. It was more a matter of organizing his legs to perform the canter. 

Mo has also worked over a small gymnastic exercise, bounce canter rails and some small cross rails. He is sensible, not spooky, and has a good attitude when it comes to work. I look forward to what this month will bring! 

If he continues progressing at this rate, he will be attending a small local, casual schooling show on May 15th. 


Posted on 26 April, 2013 at 10:03 Comments comments (24)
Mud, mud, mud, and more mud!!!

I have learned first hand that mud is not a problem isolated to one area. Many people have to deal with springtime mud. And here in Minnesota it is no different. We really needed the extra moisture so that our grass can actually grow, but mother nature decided instead of giving it to us over the course of winter, she would just snow a little (a LOT) extra in the spring instead. We were in drought conditions going into spring, and now we are not. That is a lot of moisture. 

Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about care of the horse when it is muddy out. Some things can be overlooked if you cut corners. If you have any additional advice to share, feel free to leave a comment! :)

Small injuries can be hidden under a thick layer of dried mud. I am not suggesting you meticulously scrape every speck of mud off, but just use a brush to get the worst of it off, and run your hand down the horse's leg. In most cases he will show you is there is an injury. 

As most horse-owners know, injuries usually have heat and swelling. Mud can disguise this, and make it harder to notice. If your horse is at risk for injury in the pasture, or even just after a nice hard workout, make sure you are keeping a close eye on it. 

If your horse is kept outside, he will likely lose a good portion of tail during this time of year. I usually put mine up- Start with a clean, dry, conditioned tail- then get an old athletic sock, cut some tassels in the open end. Braid your horses tail tight starting a few inches below the dock, rubber band to secure, and then roll it up and put it in the sock. Now you can use the tassels to thread through the top of the braid and tie in a knot to secure. Make sure you are able to undo this wrap and inspect and possibly re-wash and re-braid once a week. Horse's tails can and will rot off. 

Thrush is a fungus that loves moisture. When you bring your horse in, make SURE you pick his hooves out well. If you see any white powder like flakes coming from his hoof, that is thrush. If left untreated, it will eat away at his foot, and can eventually cause bleeding and severe lameness. If the pasture is ONLY mud, consider having him stalled a portion of the day to let his feet dry out. 

MUD FEVER (scratches):
This is a bacterial and sometimes fungal infection of the skin on the horse's lower legs, generally speaking on the pastern area. This happens when the skin is made weak by being wet for a period of time and then small pieces of sand, grit, dirt, manure, or shavings actually get ground into the skin. Prevention is simple: don't make your horse stand in wet conditions for long periods of time. If possible, feed hay in varying areas so they aren't always standing in the same spot. Another idea is to have him inside to completely dry out for a portion of the day. 

Don't forget, you can be affected by mud also. Bring a pair of rubber mud boots to the barn so you don't ruin your leather boots, and make sure your feet stay dry, or you could be putting yourself at risk for athletes foot, which is similar to thrush in horses. 

What are your tips and tricks??