The Exciting Exploits of Katherine and
Katherine is a 1993 OTTB. She's high strung
and sensitive, but exceptionally willing. She doesn't much care for
dressage, but is so responsive and lovely. She loves to jump, and she
loves to gallop.
Duchess is a 1990 OTTB. She's got a calm, easygoing temperament and is
tremendously good with beginners. While I've been unable to ride due to
back problems, I've been teaching her to drive.
Both are off-track Thoroughbred mares. I bought them
in 2001, and in 2002 I took each to her first
horse trial. I unfortunately developed several
and had to stop riding until about August 2003. We three trained Fall
2003 and were about to start back competing in December 2003, when the
health issues struck again. Frustrated at my inability to ride, I have
been keeping the horses fit
with lunging. I have also been teaching Duchess to drive.
It is now March 2004, and I am cautiously starting to ride again.
(Added on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 @ 03:28:12 PM)
This Kieffer saddle came in to have the foam in the panels replaced with
flocking, and to widen the panels. (See "Courbette" or "Thorowgood"
entries for examples of replacing foam or widening panels.)
When I dropped the panels on this Kieffer, I discovered that the points
As a horse moves his foreleg forward, his shoulderblade rotates backward
under the saddle. The points of the English tree help to guide the
shoulderblade under the saddle. They are rounded and flexible, and so
are able to help the shoulderblade slide without banging into it.
If the points aren't symmetrical--or worse, have sharp edges or
corners--then the horse's shoulderblade will not slide as easily.
Instead, it will encounter interference with each stride, each time the
shoulderblade has to rotate backwards.
I removed the points, made leather ones to replace them, and attached
(Added on Saturday, August 13, 2005 @ 02:18:29 AM)
Modifying the Cashel Soft Saddle
The problem with most bareback pads is that the girth is narrow and quite
forward on the pad. When you tighten the girth, it drags on the
wither--even on some pretty wide, mutton-withered horses, it'll drag on
the wither. Since there's no tree or other stabilizing factors, the girth
has to be pretty tight to keep it in place; that makes a serious pressure
point across the horse's wither, dragging directly on the tips of the
The Cashel has somewhat the same issue; it is, however, thick foam. I cut
a bit out of the foam at the wither. Actually I cut all the way down the
spine, but removed most from the wither area. This allowed for a little
less drag all down the spine, and much less drag at the wither.
The girth originally connected to the saddle quite forward, and had a
single strap going across the back.
So I also modified the girth placement so that it is more like centerfire
rigging. It doesn't drag directly on the wither now, and the cut out area
leaves some room for the withers. Instead of a single narrow band that
goes across the wither area, the girth now attached to a band crossing
the saddle at the front AND a band crossing the saddle at the back.
In the process of modifying the rigging, I also added a couple of billets
that I had sitting around, and now my Cashel SS uses a dressage girth.
With the modifications, I find it a quite useful little tool.
(Added on Sunday, May 15, 2005 @ 03:19:30 PM)
Fantasy and I have been walking (leading) up the street and back.
We're doing this to help Fantasy understand that going out of sight
of the other horses won't kill her, to work on her leading skills,
and to help her learn to accept what a human asks calmly.
The first trip was a nightmare. Rearing, plunging, screaming,
foaming with sweat. Poor kid thought it really was going to kill
her. Let me add that this street is about .2 mile, if that, and she
could see the other horses if she stood still and looked.
Second trip was hyped and freaky, but all right.
Third trip, she's starting to get the idea. Walk a bit, stay calm,
get invited to have some grass. Walk again when instructed, stay
calm, have a bit of grass. She got a touch tense when we were on the
way back, but overall did really well. After we have another of
these, I think I'll start on trailer loading again.
Looking over the log, it seems I didn't include an entry about
Fantasy's second surgery and the trailer loading. I'll do that
She had an injury that chipped a vertebra in her neck. She had
surgery to remove the chips. They were hesitant to be aggressive
about digging out the chips, because it was close to the spinal cord.
Apparently they missed one.
She was very good to load for the first surgery. We'd been working
on it for several weeks--the discussion of this is in her archive,
I'm pretty sure.
So I went to refresh her memory about trailer loading when we were
planning the second surgery. First session she walked about halfway
in, looked VERY uncomfortable. I went ahead and ended there; didn't
want to push her past that into panicky. Second session, she walked
all the way in almost immediately.
Unfortunately, she then managed to hook her halter over a bolt in the
door at the front. It "trapped" her, she fought to get free, and
seriously panicked. Poor creature. I managed to get her loose, but
getting her willingly into a trailer wasn't going to happen again any
time soon. It was 3 days to the surgery. So we tranq'd her for the
trip. Gah, I felt guilty. Poor baby was trying to cooperate and do
things right. Wasn't her fault she got stuck and scared.
Since then, I have left the trailer alone and been working on bonding
stuff. Getting her to calmly accept what I tell her, even when she
is scared (such as walking up the street). She's getting better at
So as I said, I think after another trip up the street we'll take up
strailer loading again. Start fresh and ignore what's gone before.
Just do what I tell ya, little girl, and we'll all be fine. ;)
(Added on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 @ 01:45:56 PM)
Stubben Edelwiess Evaluation/Repair
Click the pic to see the whole sordid story.
(Added on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @ 01:03:04
Another fun trail ride
So Kat & I went on another trail ride. Terrific fun. Went out & rode
with another horse owner up the dirt road where her horse is boarded.
Rode along the trail for a long ways, then into a pine forest. Whooo,
the pine forest was interesting. Kat was VERY uncertain about the
footing, and didn't want her feet touching the ground. So we did a
parade ground prance for about 20 minutes solid.
I think she's forgiven me now, for taking Duchess somewhere in the
trailer, and for sitting on Fantasy briefly :) She's such a funny
mare...so precious, so precious.
Incidentally, when we first got there, she had a total FIT about the cows
one field over. She is just terrified of cows. She wouldn't even stand
still to let me get on (totally out of character), and was agitated for a
while until she couldn't really see them anymore.
After her workout in the pines, though, she was much calmer on our
return, and even stood quietly to be untacked and then hand grazed. Poor
little thing. What have cows ever done to her?
(Added on Saturday, January 29, 2005 @ 01:03:04 PM)
Guess what WE did today?
First we put the bareback pad on Fantasy (she's well used to it by
Then I put on my helmet and my body protector...
We led Fantasy to a pile of hay and put a sawhorse next to her...
Then I climbed up and put my hands across her (been doing a lot of
leaning over her at mealtimes & such, so this was nothing new)...
Then I leaned way over, but still keeping most of my weight centered
Then I slid my leg across (this is the point where she becomes part of my
support, and if she flips out, I will fall)...
And scratched her forelock
She was very, very good. I'm so proud of the Little Bit.
Please excuse the angle of the pictures. The photographer was also the
holder/helper, and what a good job he did, too.
(Added on Friday, January 21, 2005 @ 08:23:37 PM)
Trail Riding--More Excitement than Planned
Today Duchess was going with me on a trail ride. At least, that was MY
side of the story. Duchess usually loads fine and is well behaved
under saddle (if a bit pushy when she can get away with it). So it was
very surprising when she flat out refused to go with me in the trailer.
Part of it was a lack of foresight on my part. Kat stands so well that
it's easy to lead her in, drop the lead and say "Stand," then run around
anf close the trailer door. Duchess kept following me back out. After
two tries, she didn't want to go into the trailer anymore (probably
thinking "something's not right here," and I don't blame her). And it
would just be stupid to tie her before shutting her in from behind. I'm
going to have to work something out there.
Eventually just turned her back out (no point in making her more upset
than necessary) and waited for John to get home. He got home, we got her
loaded (minimal fuss), closed the door, and off we went. John came along
to help get the trailer closed up again when we were there.
Now, part of the problem was definitely that Duchess did not want to
leave Fantasy. Duchess has gotten very maternal about Fantasy. So even
though we got her into the trailer, she was NOT happy. She kicked--a
lot--for 15 minutes! Yikes. But the idea here was to convince her that
leaving is okay; want her to realize that when she goes, she's going to
come home. That she should be calm in the trailer, because the world
isn't at an end.
Then for 10 minutes she was pretty much fine. We got to the park, let
her graze a bit...tacked up and rode out onto the trail (John walking
alongside)...She jigged and jogged a lot. Poor baby just didn't know
what was going on, was scared.
After a little bit, she started to relax. We went back to the trailer.
(We passed by a group who had arrived as we were leaving. I'm sure that
they had some interesting comments about us leaving so quickly. Ah
She loaded into the trailer first try, but dumb Mommie forgot to unlock
the escape door, so Duchess had nowhere to go when Mommie stopped. Oops.
Quick-reverse and exit. Unlocked the doors--she didn't want to go in.
Showed her the lunge whip, she went right in. Closed her up and took her
home. Nothing of note on the way home at all.
Hopefully with this experience under her girth, she'll be happier about
future travels. I want the sweet girl to relax and feel secure.
Want to make a quick comment about the lunge whip. I want my horses to
respect it, but I don't want them to fear it. Duchess was in a situation
where it was likely she could get worked up. I didn't want her to feel
very frightened or threatened when the whip came into play. She when I
got it out, I rubbed her with it around the chest and loins while
muttering soothing noises. Yes, yes, of course she's seen it before...I
just wanted to be sure that it was not a surprise, and it was not
interpreted as a threat. And things were fine.
(Added on Friday, January 21, 2005 @ 08:22:05 PM)
Kat and I went on a trail ride several weeks ago. She was great to load
(by myself)--walked right on, stood like a little angel while I hopped
out, ran around, and shut her in from behind. Both heading out and
coming home. While actually on the trail ride, she was rather jiggy for
the first few minutes, but then settled down and was just PERFECT for the
rest of the ride. Hard to remember that this is my unpredictable little
loon--she's been SO GOOD since my back problem got so bad in Dec 2003/Jan
Since the trailer trip/trail ride she's been
a very cheerful little sweetie. She's been quite jealous of Fantasy ever
since I started working with her; sometimes she stands between me and
Fantasy, sometimes I just get the cold shoulder. But she was quite happy
after the trail ride; I suppose it reinforced something or other that
made her feel more secure.
Unfortunately, this past weekend she colicked. She colicked for 3 days.
We know what the problem is; it's an ongoing one. My beloved little
rocks-for-brains stops drinking in chilly weather. Oh yes, we've tried
to combat it--fresh clean water, warm water, flavored water, water in her
food...So far nothing has worked. Last year at this time, it got so bad
that she had to go to a hospital for IV's (and she was tubed something
like 3 times before she finally got over it). This year, she got over it
with one tubing and lots of sloppy bran mash--and one other
I decided to stop attacking it from the direction of making the water
appealing, and go for making Kat want the water. (Salt in the food
hasn't helped.) Since she stops drinking when it's chilly, I decided to
make her hot.
Since I started blanketing her at higher temperatures, she's been
drinking more regularly, and overall seems more comfortable. I am much
relieved. I think we may have a long-term solution to this ongoing
But since she colicked--impaction from dehydration--so recently, she
wasn't the one going out on the trailer today. I believe she was
offended. She usually walks up to me when we come into the pasture, and
stands to be cooed over. Tonight she walked up to *John*--and when I
walked her way to pat her, she turned her butt to me and trotted away!
Oh dear, I think I'm in the doghouse.
Soon it'll be her turn again. I did so enjoy trail riding with her.
(Added on Friday, January 21, 2005 @ 12:35:55 AM)
Fantasy and the Medieval Barding
Well, it isn't barding really, but it certainly looks like it:
Doesn't she look like she's wearing decorative barding, or armor, or some
such? (She is, of course, as cute as ever.)
Fantasy and I are trialling Cashel's new product, the Bug Suit.
Apparently part of the design is that it is intended to help protect
sweet itch sufferers. So I was contacted and asked if I'd like to test
it out, since I have a "horse" (for very small varieties of horse) who
has sweet itch.
Unfortunately there was a mixup and it arrived without the instructions,
so I spent quite some time playing around trying to figure out how to put
it all together. You can't see it in the pic, but it's got about 7
different pieces, including pieces to protect the underside of the belly.
I was *so* proud of the little girl! She pretty much just stood there
and let me play around. She even dealt with it just fine when I
picked up her forelegs, and slid the
foreleg coverings on over her hoof. She was great.
About a week and a half ago, Fantasy got to be the model for a number of
my upcoming book.
She was very very good for that also, and eventually figured out that for
SOME strange reason, we wanted her to stand just so and not move. I
think she's a natural model ;) I suppose that goes well with her
(Added on Thursday, January 20, 2005 @ 11:09:21 PM)
Sacroiliac issue progress -- utterly thrilled
My beloved Kat is a fabulous horse. All the go in the world, intense
desire to please, sweet and lovely.
She's also off-track, with lots of visible and non-visible body issues
One of these has been that she ALWAYS bucks going into canter. She needs
a nice kick out once or twice in each direction. They're usually off to
the side, occasionally backwards--it looks like she's "popping" her
spine. Once she's managed a few good bucks, she's happy for the rest of
the ride. I got around this by simply free-lunging before riding, to
allow her to buck as much as she liked.
A while ago I learned that this is a symptom of a sacroiliac
problem--certainly makes sense. A horse who needs chiropratic
self-adjustment with every ride probably has something going on in her
back, right? Well, I've been working hard on her muscle issues (lots of
scarring/adhesions around the spine, particularly the SI, also muscle
wastage and tenderness). I'm making progress in many other areas; she's
now calm to groom (used to be too ticklish), her muscle damage is filling
back out again, the adhesions are slowly going away.
I went to lunge before riding a little while ago, and she didn't
buck...whoa. I was concerned that perhaps she just hadn't been
awake/alert, and might buck under saddle...decided to ask for cantering
anyway. No bucking. Thought perhaps it was a fluke...then in yesterday's
got a lovely smooth canter transition with no bucking (and no lunging
beforehand at all).
This is astounding. I am too delighted for words. I could cry; I'm so
happy that she's feeling better. This is such a long-standing
problem--clear evidence that SOMEthing wasn't quite right. I've been
trying so hard to make her more comfortable and make her life easier. It
looks like I am definitely making progress in that area.
(Added on Monday, December 06, 2004 @ 01:39:09 PM)
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