The weather here in Georgia over the last week has been less than ideal, to say the least. With an accumulated rainfall of around 7″, riding has not been feasible as the arena is quite literally like a small pond at the moment. 😬
Since riding was definitely not a possibility, I decided that my first day back home from college would be a grooming/organize-all-the-things day. I spent at least three hours, de-mudding the ponies, conditioning tails and manes, hand-grazing in between rain showers, cleaning tack, and reorganizing all of my junk in my two tack trunks.
If you can’t ride, you might as well be productive, right?
I ended up getting a lot done, and the ponies definitely looked so much better after a little elbow grease! At least they don’t look completely feral now. 😂
Unfortunately, the next day, we suffered a loss. Let’s have a moment of silence for Dies’s Amigo sheet that was sentenced to death by a bored, young horse. It fought a good fight. RIP Amigo sheet.
Sigh. I guess this is just part of owning horses, but man, I definitely wasn’t planning on having to buy another blanket anytime soon – especially another sheet that doesn’t come with a warranty.
SmartPak, if you are reading this, please, please, please make a 100g sheet! We rowdy horse owners are begging you! 😅
If you’ve been to a horse show recently, I can almost guarantee that you have at least heard of, if not tried, PEMF therapy. This type of therapy has been around for quite a while, but it has only just gained popularity in the horse world. After hearing about PEMF from a lot of the prominent show barns in the area, I decided to give it a shot just to see what all of the excitement is about.
Before I go any further into this post, I do want to make a disclaimer of sorts that I am currently preparing to do undergraduate research on the effect of PEMF therapy on performance horses. Therefore, this post is going to serve as a sort of pre-research survey on my particular experience with PEMF after trying it on my personal horse. After my research has been completed, I am planning on writing a follow-up post compiled with all of the data collected from the study (and hopefully published paper) to help you make a decision on whether or not PEMF is the right therapy for you and your horse. I hope to be able to answer the golden question: does PEMF therapy actually work?
What Is PEMF Exactly?
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves pulsing electromagnetic fields from the coils connected to the machine into the tissue to promote healing. I won’t bore you to death by going into depth about the science of it all in this post, but the basis behind this type of therapy is this: the electromagnetic fields promote healing through the restoration of proper cellular energy. PEMF is claimed to:
boost cellular metabolism
promote faster healing and reduce recovery time
improve speed and strength
improve overall comfort and wellbeing
All of these claims are great, but what I find most interesting is that PEMF therapy has been widely used in both animals and humans for the specific clinical indications including bone healing, healing of chronic wounds, general pain, osteoarthritis, and inflammation.
If you are interested in learning more about PEMF therapy, you can click here.
Why Did I Choose PEMF?
I am a huge believer in the wonders of chiropractic work for performance horses. I can, without a doubt, say that it works. Other than that, I haven’t ventured out into the world of alternative therapies. What can I say? I am a little stuck in my old ways when it comes to that.
The claimed benefits of PEMF caught my eye. Diesel has been having some SI soreness and stifle catching recently, which I am attributing to an increase in workload. I thought PEMF could be the key to resolving these issues as it is claimed to decrease body soreness and speed up recovery after strenuous exercise. What’s even better is that it is a little cheaper than chiropractic so it would allow me to use it more often in between chiropractic sessions to keep his soreness in check.
I can say without a doubt that Diesel definitely enjoyed the process. He licked and chewed the entire time it was being done and even started to doze off towards the end. There was never a point during the treatment where he seemed uncomfortable or ouchy. He seemed downright pleased with the whole experience.
After the treatment, I did feel that Diesel was much looser throughout his body and was definitely more relaxed than before treatment. He felt more willing to stretch down and through his body when ridden the day after. However, I don’t think that it necessarily helped with the stifle catching. I actually found that his stifle seemed to catch a little more the day after. I am guessing that the treatment could have possibly relaxed and loosened the muscle surrounding the stifle causing it to “slip” a little more than normal. I don’t think that it actually made the problem worse per se – just exposed how weak his stifles actually are. That is definitely a work in progress (say hello more cavaletti work and transitions)!
I will say that my trainer’s jumper got treatment as well, but she didn’t seem to notice any difference before and after treatment. However, he does not particularly show any difference before and after chiropractic treatment as well. Take that as you will.
Overall, I feel that it is hard to say without a doubt whether PEMF will benefit your particular horse or not. It definitely seems to be dependent on the individual as to how much they can benefit from it. I am interested to see what the results of my study show. After all, numbers don’t lie!
If you aren’t already, follow my blog to see the follow-up post and let me know down in the comments if you have ever tried PEMF!
Over the past few days, I have read quite a few blog posts answering the question “What have I learned?”, which was first started by Sara. Reading all of these wonderful and inspiring posts from fellow bloggers really got me thinking about what I have learned in the past few months that have had the biggest impact on my riding.
The theme of the past few months for me riding wise has been “it’s all in the details”. Diesel’s inexperience has really made me take a step back and work on fine-tuning my riding all over again. It has also taught me some things that I guess I never really thought much into before now:
Creating and maintaining a good quality canter is more important than trying to “find” a distance.
Continuing to work Diesel through bad behavior is more effective than stopping the exercise to regroup.
Your outside aids are just as important as your inside aids.
Working your horse on the bit does not mean you have to have strong rein contact. You can be soft and still maintain contact.
Softening your hand while working your horse in contact is a more effective reward for good behavior than just dropping the contact altogether.
Ride every step. You have to be the driver – not the passenger.
While all of these things are great, I have saved the most important thing I have learned, and am still learning, for last. It is best summarized in this quote:
“Riding, like life, doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” – unknown
I have been a perfectionist for my entire life. One of the hardest but most important things that I have learned and am still learning every day is that it is okay not to be perfect all the time. Messing up and making mistakes is part of the learning process, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. The most important thing is enjoying the ride.
Boy, it’s been a while since I was last able to sit down and get my thoughts together on here! Life has been pretty hectic in the last month between moving, starting the new semester, and horses. However, now that the first two weeks of the new semester are over, I feel like I can actually take a quick breather and get back to doing what I love: blogging!
Last Monday marked the beginning of my third year here at good ‘ole UGA and my second year as an Animal Science major. This semester’s classes feature organic chemistry, physics, animal reproduction, and equine undergraduate research. Whew! It’s going to be a tough semester, but hopefully, I will make it through in one piece. Either way, I am ready to step up to the plate and give it my best shot!
Even though I am currently living and going to school in Athens, I have decided to keep both of the ponies at my trainer’s farm. Both of them are at the best place they could possibly be, so it definitely wasn’t a hard decision to make even though they are an hour away from me. I just have to make a little extra time and effort if I want to continue to ride and lesson as much as I have been. Let’s just say that in order to get a lesson in during the week, sunrise lessons have become a thing. 😊
While getting up early is not my forte, I am actually loving being in the saddle right when the sun comes up. I actually look forward to my sunrise lesson each week, which if you know me, is probably a little surprising! 😂
Our lessons recently have been going extremely well with both he and I learning a lot each time out. I feel as though I am finally starting to figure him out rather than just going along with the motions, which has been a huge confidence booster for me. My trainer has also been pushing me a little out of my comfort zone each lesson by slowly inching up the jumps. Yes, that’s right, I said jumps! We are actually doing some courses now!
Jumping a “bigger” cross rail in our lesson two weeks ago!
A little trotting!
The video below is from my lesson two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the video of my lesson from last week wouldn’t load. 🙃 The main goal of our last few lessons has been to work on relaxation and pace on course. I sometimes let my anxiety creep its way into my riding resulting in me leaning and rushing at jumps. Thankfully, that habit is slowly disappearing each ride as I continue to gain confidence in both Dies and myself.
There are definitely a lot of things that I need to work on, but overall, I am really proud of our progress so far! I am also really proud of how far I have come both mentally and physically in the last few months. I am finally starting to feel at home in the saddle and like my old self again, and it is all thanks to my amazing trainer and my wonderful baby horse!
I know, I know. I’m a little late to the game posting this, but between prepping for the upcoming semester and work, I just haven’t quite had the time to sit down and get to writing. That is going to change, however, as I have a few exciting new posts in the works that will be published within the next few days! For now, let’s just start with a recap of our last show!
The weekend started off with me making a last minute decision to load Diablo up on the trailer with his little bro and take him to school in the horse park’s oh-so-wonderful Olympic stadium. I mean, if you’re already taking one horse, you might as well take the other too! 😊
It has been quite a while since I have taken Diablo to school off-property since his semi-retirement. However, like the good boy he is, he jumped right off the trailer and was ready to go – no prep required. I jumped right on, rode him down to the stadium, and had an absolutely fabulous ride! We even managed to sneak in a jump over the tiny trainer’s medal log. It definitely wasn’t anything close to beautiful, but for an old man that hasn’t jumped anything in over a year, it wasn’t half bad!
Of course, after we had our fun and got his baby brother bathed and all tucked in for the night, we loaded Diablo back up on the trailer and took him back home. While I had so much fun getting to school my old guy, it was a little bittersweet for me. I can’t say that I didn’t shed a tear thinking about how we were competing in this same arena together a few years ago. It’s days like that that make me really wish I could go back in time and relive it all over again. Oh, how I miss showing my old guy!
Saturday started out a bit rough in the baby green division for Dies. While he ended up blowing away the competition in his flat class, we experienced some technical difficulties over fences. He wasn’t badly behaved per se. He just really showed his greenness by pulling my trainer down the lines and trying to convince us that he had never heard of a flying change before. Despite that, he did relatively well handling being ridden in a brand new arena and not having a lunging session that morning.
He did, however, make up for his not-so-stellar rounds in the baby green division by completely rocking the schooling hunter division later that day! He flatted beautifully pulling a first place in a competitive class and two third places out of around fourteen 2′ and 2’6 horses – earning him a champion ribbon for the division! He was stellar!
Sunday was definitely Dies’s day as he came out so relaxed and focused. My trainer put in some absolutely gorgeous rounds on him in the baby greens and for the classic! In fact, her classic round was pretty much the epitome of perfection and ended up receiving a fourth place out of 26 horses! I am so sad that I forgot to video it! Like the day before, he flatted beautifully and received a first place out of twelve horses. While his rounds were beautiful, he only came out with a third over one o/f classes as his lead changes weren’t 100%. There were a few that he had to skip-change, which definitely cost him points in the consistency department. However, I definitely believe they were some of his best rounds to date minus the changes. It did earn him a reserve champion nonetheless!
Later that day, we decided to enter the schooling hunter division again to continue to work on developing his changes on course and finesse some things we can’t do at home. His rounds were even better than the ones he put down that morning! He just kept getting better and better! Amazingly, he ended up winning both of his o/f courses out of around sixteen 2′ and 2’6 horses!
Another spur-of-the-moment decision landed me in the saddle to flat him in his schooling hunter flat. He was being so perfect for my trainer that I decided to take the leap of faith and show him again! I even managed to put my big girl pants on and trust him enough to ride him to and from the arena. That definitely wouldn’t have even been a possibility a few months ago! As you can see from the photos below, I definitely wasn’t quite prepared to show, but at least my sunshirt was white! 😂
I had an absolute blast as he was a complete saint for me! He was so soft and supple despite how packed the arena was. Even though this was my first “real” show in about two years and our second time in the show ring together, we managed to pull out a third place out of a very large and competitive class!
I just can’t put into words how happy this guy makes me! He is definitely a dream come true for me, and I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold for us!
Although the summer heat here in Georgia has been verging on almost unbearable, I have been out at the barn almost every day riding and feeding for my trainer while she has been gone on vacation. One of those rides was a big milestone for us as a team – our first real hack outside of the arena!
A few months ago, this would not have been a possibility for us as he and I were nervous wrecks. However, thanks to my awesome trainer, our confidence in each other has grown to the point where I finally felt that I could trust him enough to go outside the arena and hack around in the pasture. Not only did we walk and trot in the pasture, but we did it all while on the buckle! He was such a good boy and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his “field day”! It was definitely all smiles from me!
Since my trainer came back from her beach trip on Friday, I signed up to have a lesson today to try and keep our weekly lesson streak intact. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to ride with a friend, which was so much fun! I find myself riding alone a lot of the time due to my schedule, so when I get the chance to ride with someone, it always makes the lesson 100x better!
The main focus of our lesson today was continuing to work on riding off of my outside aids to achieve precise turns and overall straightness. I developed such a bad habit of grabbing onto my inside rein to turn like a pony kid, but let me tell you, that does not work on Dies. His response is to just drift through the turn with his outside shoulder stuck out to Texas. Meaning, we actually never turn. We just keep on drifting.
However, I am glad to say that I am getting much better about using my outside aids thanks to all of the “square” circles, cone exercises, and off-the-rail work that we have been doing lately. Our straightness has improved exponentially, and we are actually able to turn! Crazy how that works, right? 😂
We also accomplished something huge today: cantering our first full pole course! Up until now, we have just trotted in and cantered out lines. I haven’t been quite ready to canter in yet, but today I finally put on my big girl pants and went for it!
I have to say, I was pretty proud of how well I rode and how well he behaved. I am starting to get a lot stronger and secure in the saddle, and I can really tell a difference in my riding. I have a long way to go, but I am definitely proud of the progress we have made so far!
As for the course itself, he took a wonky “baby horse” step to the first “jump” of the inside line and we got a little tight to the last of the outside line, but besides that, our pace was consistent, our turns were square and balanced, and I managed to not get in his way. I’d call that a win for us!
Overall, I was very pleased with our first full course. He just keeps on getting better and better each ride. I can’t wait until we start incorporating some jumps! We will get there!
As for what’s next, Dies has another HJ Fox show this coming weekend! I can’t wait!
Buckle your seatbelt guys, this post may get a little sappy.
Diesel and I completed a huge milestone this past weekend – our first horse show together! My trainer and I loaded up some horses early Saturday morning and trailered into a cute little farm in Monroe, GA named Serenity Creek Equestrian Center to attend one of their schooling shows. I have to say – it was one of the best-run schooling shows I have been to in a while. The staff was so nice and welcoming, the arena was well groomed, and the ribbons were super nice for such a small show!
Since it was Diesel’s first time having a non-pro ride at a show, my first show riding in three years, and our first time showing together, we decided to take it easy and set ourselves up for success by entering the adult beginner division and green horse division. I also decided to keep my goals for this show small: don’t fall off and give my horse the best ride I can possibly give him. That’s it.
Our classes actually went extremely well! We had some great moments where everything seemed to fall into place and all of the things we have been working on in lessons seemed to click for me. In those moments, the connection was there, he was relaxed and focused, and I was actually riding both sides of my horse instead of resorting to my inside rein like an idiot. Not only were there some really quality moments, but Dies also behaved like a complete gentleman! He was on his best behavior despite some of the other horses’ shenanigans ringside and some very scary speakers by the judge’s booth. I honestly just can’t put into words how proud of him I am!
Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! First and foremost, I have got to get back in shape and lose all of the extra “fluffiness” I have gained while in college. I am actually embarrassed by how chunky I have gotten. 😞 Not cool, Ashlyn. Secondly, I need to work on maintaining my connection with him throughout the entire ride to keep him focused on me rather than letting his attention wander. And lastly, I need to continue working on achieving quieter, softer transitions by timing my half halts better and supporting him with my leg and seat. However, it is all a work in progress and for our first show together, I was very pleased with how he behaved and how I rode! I felt as though I was an active rider rather than a passenger, which was a huge win for me! I couldn’t have asked for a better first time out!
Although placings weren’t even in the forefront of my mind for this show, we ended up doing extremely well for our first show together! In the adult beginner division, we ended up placing second in every class out of six earning us a reserve champion ribbon. That alone had me glowing with pride, but when we went into the green horse division and pulled out a first, second, and third, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Two reserve champions at our first show together? No way! I was beyond thrilled!
Even though it was just a few flat classes at a small show, I came out of the arena feeling as though we had just won the $1M Grand Prix! I was that proud of my sweet boy and all that he has accomplished in the last few months! Actual tears may have been shed, and that is not an exaggeration!
Not only was he fantastic for me, but he was also perfect for my trainer in the schooling hunter division. He was such a good boy and behaved wonderfully despite the stifling summer heat. He and my trainer also ended up champion of the division with a first, second, and fourth with my trainer’s sale pony close behind in reserve. Overall, it was a fantastic show for us! I hope there will be many more shows in our future!
As I’m sitting here writing this post, I am just overflowing with pride and love for Dies and gratitude for everything that my amazing trainer and parents have done for me and him throughout this journey of ours so far! My trainer has put so much hard work into both of us, and I honestly can’t thank her enough for that. And my parents, gosh, they have sacrificed so much to make owning this horse a possibility for me. I am beyond thankful!