Adventures Of Diesel, The Life of Diablo

A Visit From The Chiropractor

I’m late to the game writing this post as I’ve been on vacation for the past week. While I’ve been away soaking up the sun in Florida, the boys have been enjoying a life of leisure with a well-deserved week off from work as my trainer has been in Tryon with a few of her other students. However, before I left for my trip, the boys got a visit from our awesome local chiropractor, Dr. Amy Mushrush, because you know, it’s just money! 🙄

I’m not new to the whole chiropractor thing. In fact, Diablo has been adjusted multiple times in the past when he was in full work, and I have even had myself done as well. I know many people are skeptical about chiropractors and the benefits of utilizing chiropractic care in horses, but let me tell you, I am a firm believer that it is a necessary part of maintaining performance horses in addition to joint supplements. Yes, it can be pricey, but I personally feel it is worth the money as I can see and feel a real difference. While I feel that it is necessary, I definitely don’t think it is necessary every month. I think the frequency should be based on the individual horse as some need it more than others.

To give you a little more insight into the process, I thought it would be a great idea to talk about both Diesel and Diablo’s adjustments separately and break them down for you all that may be interested in incorporating chiropractic care into your routine. I will make sure to include what problems we have been encountering, how the chiropractor adjusted them, and the results.

Diablo

Diablo was the first to be adjusted as he is an old pro when it comes to being adjusted. However, I have to admit that I am a bad horse mom and haven’t had him adjusted in a little over a year as he is no longer in hard work. I know, I know, I’m just terrible! 😉

If you’ve never personally met Diablo, you wouldn’t know that he can generally be very tight throughout his back and is usually out of align in his pelvis. This is probably a result of both his older age and his long history with lameness issues. It is obvious to see when you trot him off as he develops an asymmetrical swing in the hind end at the trot accompanied by an asymmetrical stance and a crooked tail set when he is out of align. When under saddle, you can tell he is out of align as he tends to become stiff and reluctant to bend around the leg. I equate it to riding a stiff 2X4.

 

Unfortunately, he can be sort of hard to adjust as his mystery allergic reaction that runs the length of his back makes him sensitive to touch in that area during peak allergy season. Even though he is on medication for it, it can get a little ouchy if he has been rolling frequently. However, the chiropractor did a wonderful job working around it to keep him willing and comfortable throughout the entire adjustment. As you can see from his report that I have attached below, she spent the majority of his adjustment focusing on realigning his pelvis and was successful in achieving a symmetrical hind end swing and stance by the end. The result: a relaxed pony that is no longer stiff and unwilling to bend.

IMG_2836

IMG_2838

IMG_1342 2.JPG

 

Diesel

Unlike his brother, this was Diesel’s first time being adjusted. I haven’t really felt the need to have him adjusted before now, but now that his workload has become quite strenuous, I felt that it was time to start getting him adjusted to keep him in top shape.

Within the past month, my trainer and I noticed that his stifles had begun to give out at the trot and he was having difficulty picking up his left lead. After her pre-adjustment examination, the chiropractor determined that he was sore in his SI region and hocks, which was causing him to overcompensate with other regions of his body resulting in the reluctance to pick up the left lead and the minor stifle issue. After a few adjustments and a quick massage, he was good to go again. There will definitely be more adjustments, cold hosing of legs, and liniment baths after hard workouts in his future!

IMG_2844

IMG_2842

IMG_2839

 

IMG_4613.JPG

I have to brag on him a little as he was a complete angel throughout his entire adjustment. Within a couple of seconds after her first adjustment, he was licking and chewing with a soft eye. He definitely enjoyed all the attention, pats, and treats like a true attention hog. In fact, he didn’t want to go back into his stall afterward!

After I left, my trainer rode Dies once before she left and reported that there was no more falling out behind and difficulty picking up the left lead. Thank goodness! Hopefully, the adjustment and his mini vacation will do wonders for him. 😊

A huge thank you to Dr. Amy Mushrush at Mushrush Performance for doing an excellent job with both of my boys! If you are looking for an awesome chiropractor in Georgia, she is absolutely the best!

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM

 

 

College Life

A Summer in the Saddle | A Little Bit of Everything Post

I can’t believe my first year as an animal science major and second year at UGA is already over! This past school year brought with it a lot of really cool experiences and taught me a lot both academically and personally. I got the opportunity to get down and dirty with some awesome animals at UGA’s teaching dairy, beef and sheep unit, and swine unit during my practicum class, attended a Temple Grandin seminar, started a new job at a small animal clinic, joined an absolutely amazing new barn family, and met some really great people along the way!

images-2

Despite all of all of the great things that came with this past school year, it definitely wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I have to say, life definitely didn’t take it easy on me – especially this semester. A series of family health emergencies caused me to miss quite a few weeks of classes and left me struggling both emotionally and academically. My grades also took a hit as I struggled with my anxiety and depression throughout it all. However, with a lot of hard work, late nights, coffee, and, of course, some pony therapy, I was able to salvage my grades and make it onto the dean’s list with five As and one B!

Enough about school though – IT’S SUMMERTIME!  That means there will be a lot of pony-filled days in my future. To say I am excited would be a little bit of an understatement!

In preparation for me moving back home for the summer, we moved Diablo to Southern Sky Farm to live with his little brother, Dies. He settled right in like a champ and has been as happy as a lark. I’m so happy to have my two boys back together in one place again as now I can ride both of them more often!

IMG_2804.JPG
D trailering to his new summer home!
IMG_2825
D’s first ride at Southern Sky!
IMG_4809
D’s first ride at Southern Sky included a field ride!

As usual, my trainer has been doing an absolutely amazing job with Dies while I have been away. I got a chance to watch her jump him around a couple of days ago, and oh my gosh guys, he was amazing! He has gained so much confidence over fences that he was able to jump some larger jumps without even blinking an eye! That definitely wouldn’t have been possible a few months ago. There are definitely still a lot of things we need to work on, but for his first time jumping jumps this high, he was a rockstar!

IMG_2824.jpg
Diesel jumping 2’9ish!
Screen Shot 2018-05-13 at 8.52.23 PM.png
Diesel jumping 2’3ish!

IMG_6334

I have been able to flat him around twice since I have been back home, but sadly I didn’t get any video or pictures. However, I will be having my first lesson on him in two months tomorrow and I am hoping to get some pictures then!

I can’t wait to start lessoning regularly and get back to riding how I used to before college. As of right now, my goal is to do our first show together on June 9th! I hope that we can make that happen as I am really eager to get back to showing after a two-year hiatus! Fingers crossed!

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM

 

 

 

Reviews

Anything For The Win

I will start off this post by saying this: while I love horses and care extensively about their welfare, I do understand that every horse cannot go in a double-jointed snaffle and simple hunter noseband bridle. I am not one of those people who think bits and bridles are bad. In fact, I generally believe that the bit and bridle are only as severe as the hands holding the reins.

However, after watching the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event this year, I was left with sadness in my heart and a feeling of anger and disappointment centered at the organizations that serve as the foundation of our sport. The center of it: Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous.

Pictured below is an image of ML from the dressage phase of the Land Rover Three-Day Event and a closer look at the same picture.

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 1.55.46 PM.png
Marilyn Little atop RF Scandalous
Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 1.55.59 PM.png
A closer look at the picture posted above.

Db-VtSUVQAEZGwG.jpg

When I saw how tight that flash noseband was, I was appalled. A noseband as tight as this one has every possibility of restricting air flow and causing injury to the lips and tongue. Not to mention, the tightness could very well cause damage to cartilage that makes up the horse’s nasal passage.

My first thought was: how could this have passed the tack inspection?

After all, according to the eventing division of the USEF rulebook, “a steward should be appointed to check the saddlery of each horse before it enters the arena or starts a Test“, and that “the checking of the bridle must be done with the greatest caution“. And while I see that there is no direct reference to the tightness of flash nosebands in the USEF rulebook concerning the evening division, I did see a rule that states that “a cavesson noseband may never be so tightly fastened as to harm the horse”. Does this not apply to flash nosebands as well? What happened to the two-finger rule?

A noseband as tight as this one should have never been allowed to enter the ring.

To make things worse, not only was Marilyn’s flash noseband obscenely tight in the dressage phase but RF Scandalous was found to have blood in her mouth before, during, and after the cross-country phase. This is not the first time this has happened with Marilyn Little. In fact, there are at least two other documented cases of the presence of blood in RF Scandalous’s mouth – once at Boekelo and once at Fair Hill beside this instance. This doesn’t include the multiple other offenses with other horses that Marilyn has racked up. You would think after the third documented instance with the same horse that something would be done as this is obviously no longer a coincidence. After seeing her groom rush over to the pair with a RED towel after cross-country, I definitely think not.

images-1.jpeg

Db-VtRkUQAA5YKt.jpg

Db-VtRfU8AA7NPE.jpg

Unknown

Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 11.18.30 PM.png
Marilyn Little’s RF Scandalous displayed blood in her mouth while on cross-country at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI****. Photo by Erin Harty/Retired Racehorse Project acquired from Chronicle of the Horse.

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 5.04.43 PMIt can be seen in The Chronicle of the Horse’s article concerning the blood found in the mouth of RF Scandalous that the official vet ruled the blood was due to the horse biting her bottom lip. After seeing the photo of how tight Marilyn’s noseband was the day before, I would be hardpressed to believe that the horse biting its lip is an unrelated incident – especially since this is only one of the multiple incidences involving ML. Think about this: how many times have you heard of a horse biting its lip resulting in blood beside the cases related to Marilyn? The blood could very well be the result of a too-tight noseband. That would be my first guess after seeing how tight her flash was in dressage.

As a rider and a member of the equestrian community, it saddens me to see such blatant abuse of equipment by a professional that is supposed to serve as a role model to the younger generation of riders. It saddens me even more that the organizations that are entrusted with regulating our competitions and the welfare of the horses competing allow this to happen without enforcing any kind of punishment. This is a welfare issue that needs to be addressed.

While this post is undoubtedly centered around Marilyn Hill, she is not the only person at fault in this industry. Our organizations need to hold people accountable for their actions instead of making excuses for them. The FEI/USEA/USEF need to examine their rules and standardize a rule across all disciplines and actually enforce them. Blood is not acceptable in any circumstance – especially not the amount of blood that was coming from RF Scandalous’s mouth. Step up to the plate, FEI/USEA/USEF, something needs to be done now.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures Of Diesel

HJ Fox Show | One Stride At A Time

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. With the semester coming to an end, a tidal wave of assignments and exams have made riding pretty much non-existent in my life for the past few weeks. It has also made finding time to post almost impossible!

Before I get into the details of the show, I have to share a picture and a video from when I got to come home and watch Dies school before the show last week! My awesome trainer has been working really hard on developing his adjustability and putting him over some bigger fences to raise his confidence. It was the first time I have seen him go over anything higher than 2 ft. Of course, my trainer is amazing and made him look like a seasoned pro. Enjoy the cuteness!

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 4.21.15 PM.png
Diesel jumping a “big boy” jump a couple of weeks ago!

 

HJ FOX SHOW | FRIDAY SCHOOLING

If I had to pick a theme for this show in one word, it would be “progress”. This weekend was full of so many triumphs and accomplishments for Diesel both in and out of the show ring.

Like any other horse, Diesel has his own quirks that, while endearing in a way, can be frustrating and discouraging to work through at times. Some of our worst enemies right now are his lack of confidence and tendency to become easily overwhelmed. Yes, they are pretty common quirks in younger horses, but boy, are they a doozy! They most often manifest at the beginning of the ride with him starting off very tense through his body and becoming hyper-alert to everything except his rider. In the saddle, it feels almost like you’re riding a fully stretched rubber band just waiting to snap under pressure.

However, he really surprised me this weekend with how well he coped with his insecurities in a busy show environment. There was a definite improvement from the last show. His transition from walking off the trailer to going into the covered arena to school on Friday was much smoother than it has been in the past. Last show, it took around 20 minutes of intense flat work to ease his mind, stop the unnecessary spooking, and get a more relaxed, supple pony. However, this time it only took him 10 minutes to get to that relaxed state of mind and get to work. I’d say that’s progress!

 

 

HJ FOX SHOW | BABY GREEN CHAMPION

Like last show, I was up bright and early at 5:30 in order to drive to the horse park, tack Dies up, and lunge him to get the early morning sillies out before meeting my trainer at the covered arena to warm up at 7:00 am sharp. This show I got to break out my new Back On Track Mesh Sheet that I got on sale from SmartPak, and let me tell you, I am a believer! After wearing the sheet all night, Dies came out of the stall nice and loose despite the weather taking a 40-degree dip overnight. Of course, I will have to do a full review with pictures, so stay tuned for that in a few days!

He was an absolute rock star on the flat and took home the first-place ribbon out of a large class comprising of 16 horses. He was visibly much more relaxed than he was at the last show, which translated into some really nice, flowy trot work. He is starting to settle much quicker than he used to, which definitely translates into a better performance on the flat. Both of his over fences rounds were really wonderful as well! He put in some great rounds that earned him a first-place ribbon for his first round and a third-place ribbon for his second round. Unlike the last show, he graced us with some flawless flying changes, which in of itself was a huge accomplishment for him! Go Dies!

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 12.45.40 AM

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 12.45.52 AM

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 1.11.30 AM

With a first on the flat and a first and a third over fences, he ended up taking home the champion ribbon for the whole division! I was such a proud horse mom!

 

Not only did he do extremely well in the baby green division, but he also knocked it out of the park in the schooling hunter division as well. He ended up placing second on the flat and second in his first over fences course out of 24 horses, which was absolutely amazing!

 

Dies also put in some really great trips on Sunday, but sadly, the new judge just didn’t seem to agree with me. He was an absolute angel both on the flat and over fences and put in some of the best trips he has had yet even though the ribbons didn’t quite reflect that. Oh well! That’s just how it is in hunterland sometimes! I couldn’t be any prouder of my pony and all that he has accomplished this past weekend!

The next show we have planned isn’t until July. However, that will give us plenty of time to improve and grow! I can’t wait to dive into summer!

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM

 

The Life of Diablo

An Open Letter to My First Horse | Throwback Post

While scrolling through Facebook tonight, I stumbled upon a post sharing something I wrote two years ago on a blogging site known as Pucker Mob. Reading it brought a smile to my face as it reminds me of all of the great memories that I share with my first horse and first love, Diablo. I couldn’t help but share it here with you all! Enjoy!

IMG_2655.JPG

An Open Letter to My First Horse

Horseback riding is such an all-consuming sport – in fact, it’s addicting. Riding is as addicting to a rider as heroine is to a drug addict or a cigarette is to a smoker. You just can’t get enough of it. The feeling of being in the saddle is so thrilling – especially when you’re competing at a show. This sport just takes over your life.

However, it isn’t just the sport itself that is addicting – it is the bond and partnerships you form with the horses who you have been blessed to ride. Over the past five years, God has blessed me with the opportunity to form a partnership with you that has changed me as both a rider and a person, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Thank you for teaching me that the color or quantity of ribbons you receive doesn’t define your success. Over the past five years that we have been together, there were plenty of shows where we didn’t place. At first, I was so frustrated and discouraged because it made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough – that we weren’t good enough. Then, I began to realize that you were teaching me one of the most valuable lessons you could have ever taught me – that ribbons don’t define your success. Success for me may not be a blue ribbon. It may just be jumping a clean round or getting that lead change we always seem to forget and that’s ok. You don’t have to be winning blue ribbons at every show to be successful. After all, we don’t pay hundreds of dollars just for the ribbons – we pay for the experience that comes from showing.

Thank you for teaching me to be tough and fearless while staying humble. There have been plenty of times where we have disagreed – whether that was on how many strides we should get down a line or if we should even jump the jump in the first place. Many of those disagreements ended up with me on the ground wondering where I went wrong, but those falls served an important purpose. By challenging me as a rider, you taught me how to be tough and get back in the saddle – even when I am afraid – and how to stay humble. After all, what is more humbling than eating dust?

Thank you for showing me that hard work pays off. In the beginning, I remember wondering if I was even cut out to be a rider. In fact, the first day I brought you home, you had me in tears when you broke your brand new bridle in the middle of the barn aisle! I spent so many hours in the saddle over the past five years learning your quirks and how to ride through every curveball you threw my way. However, by challenging me, you taught me that the best things in life never come easy.  All of the blood, sweat, and tears that I have shed in the saddle have paid off because I have been able to witness you blossom from a horse that I could barely canter without you running away with me to a horse that has taken me around a 3’ course without a blink of an eye. You have become a different horse in every way, shape, and form. You have truly become my once in a lifetime horse.

Most importantly, thank you for the irreplaceable friendship we have formed and the many years of love you have given me so far. You have always given me unconditional love no matter what, been my shoulder to cry on, and have brought a smile to my face every day. You have brought so much joy into my life through the little things you do such as the way you always pose for the camera or the funny way you look at me when you hear the treat bag crinkle behind you. There is no way that I could ever replace you or the joy that you have given me. I am so thankful for our partnership and friendship.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 1.43.27 AM.png

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM

 

 

Adventures Of Diesel

Diesel Update | Lesson Recap

In the midst of jugging a tidal wave of assignments and studying for tests, Diesel and I have been making some really good, but slow, progress together. It is extremely frustrating to not see improvement as fast as I used to, but I have to face it, I just won’t improve as fast as when I was in high school riding five days a week. However, it is exciting to be back in the saddle with a goal to work towards.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 8.28.30 PM

The First Real Lesson Back: Crossrail Edition

This past Monday I had my first lesson on Diesel since he has been in training and let me tell you, the difference in him is unreal. It is so much easier to focus on the more technical parts of our rides when your horse has some idea of how to do his job without relying on you to hold him every step of the way. At least, it is for me as an amateur. Pros, I give you some major props! Riding young, green horses is hard! It’s sappy, I know, but I got a little teary-eyed when I asked for the canter and he held himself up through the transition rather than falling all into my hand.

The majority of our lesson was spent on the flat, as usual, since that is the most important part of riding! This week, at the trot, we worked on tightening our turns using my outside aids to produce an immediate response rather than letting him bulge his shoulder out to the outside. He has big swooping turns down-pat, but those tighter turns can be a little harder to get when you’re a baby horse. I need to work on using my outside aids more effectively in order to set him up for success all the time. Additionally, I have got to stop hanging on my inside rein when tracking to the left. What a terrible habit! I know my trainer has to be about ready to just rip my arm off as many times as she has to remind me to soften it up. I got a little slack in my year-long break from lessoning, so this is as much of a learning process for me as it is for him. I definitely need a tune up myself!

We also worked on our transitions at the canter by cantering around the arena, asking for a full halt on the diagonal of the arena, and then asking for the opposite lead from the halt. He was a superstar at that exercise – I can really tell how much work my trainer has put into developing his transitions. We definitely still need to work on getting a more immediate halt as it is still hit or miss sometimes. That is mainly due to my fault as I hesitated and didn’t fully commit to the halt. I have to work on that!

Our lesson ended with me getting to pop him over a few crossrails. Believe it or not, it was the first time that I have ever jumped him in the entire time that I have owned him. When I bought him, he was just not far enough along in his training for it to have been a positive experience for him or me. It was definitely worth the wait!

The jumps definitely weren’t anything substantial, but it was a huge step for us as a team. He was such a good nugget for me and packed me around the little course of 12″ crossrails like a pro. I was smiling like a fool the entire time. My baby Dies is growing up! This time we just started out trotting them as I am still learning how to trust him again and am a little rusty over fences. Plus, I definitely don’t have the strength over fences that I had when I rode five days a week so his round jump would have launched me if I had tried to jump him any higher right yet haha! Small steps!

I have to admit, it is hard to not be really critical of myself. After all, I felt like I was riding like a potato the entire ride. You really don’t know how out of shape you are until you jump back into lessons – it really kicked my butt. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I feel as though I have taken ten steps back from where I was a year ago, and that is frustrating for me. However, I am trying to stay positive and think of all of the things I have accomplished since started back riding: I got back on my young horse after getting injured after several bad falls. I was able to confidently canter him my second time back on him. I finally got to jump my young horse for the first time in my first lesson back. Finally, I have more confidence on him than I have ever had. That has to be worth something, right? I think so! Progress is progress no matter how small!

If you are feeling down and out about your riding, I challenge you to list out all of the things you have accomplished so far that you are proud of. It really helps you to see that you are making progress even if it feels like you aren’t. It has definitely helped me so far.

Happy riding, everyone! Go out and dominate!

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 11.54.31 PM

 

Reviews

My Current Favorites | Early 2018

If there’s one thing I love, it’s trying out new tack and horse-related products. I don’t usually get to splurge on high-end horse products very often due to my unfortunate limited bank account, but when I do get the chance, I go for the stuff I’ve been drooling over for a long time. If you’re looking for your next splurge-worthy list of items, look no further for I have made a list of my current favs!

Galloping Graphics

The search is over – Galloping Graphics is your one-stop shop for everything custom. Not only did Elizabeth do an AMAZING job with my new logo, but her shop carries some great items such as custom stickers, mugs, t-shirts, and beautiful custom graphics. I can’t put into words how much I love my new logo and the items in her shop! They are truly unique!

cropped-screen-shot-2018-02-28-at-9-50-03-pm3.png

SmartPak Air + Neoprene Girth

If there is something that I couldn’t live without, it would be this girth. I have one for both of my guys and won’t use anything else as an everyday girth. In fact, Diablo has had used his every day since I got it in 2016. They are so easy to clean with the removable neoprene lining, and both ponies seem to think they are pretty comfortable.

The Herbal Horse’s Healthy Hair Salve

I’m a little obsessed with The Herbal Horse’s products now that I have been using them for the past few weeks. However, their Healthy Hair salve really stood out to me due to its luxurious smell and the results I have had with it.

CWD French Noseband Bridle

This honestly has to be my favorite item that I have ever purchased off of eBay. I got lucky and snagged this gem for $200 – it retails for $500 brand new on CWD’s website. The best part is that it only had five rides on it when I purchased it! It has now become a part of Diesel’s show wardrobe and looks fabulous on him! Plus, the leather is so soft and supple that it feels like butter in your hands. I was really surprised that I actually liked the more narrow noseband as I gravitate towards wider noseband bridles. However, the noseband on this one really shows off Diesel’s features.

 

Saucy Piaffe Ergonomic Fancy Stitched Halter

I definitely splurged a lot on this purchase even though I snagged it while on sale. I have to say, it was definitely worth it though as the halter is just beautiful! Saucy Piaffe is so great that I have been a repeat customer of their’s for quite some time. All of their products are great!

Back On Track Quick Wraps

As a standing wrap girl, I told myself that I would never own a pair of these. But alas, the temptation was too strong after the baby horse decided that taking standing wraps off is fun. They are definitely pricey, but the ease of putting these on and taking them off makes it worth it.

IMG_1625
D sporting his brother’s BOT Quick Wraps

Dy’On Rubber Working Reins

I ended up buying these reins spur of the moment off of a Facebook group when I found them for a price I just couldn’t pass up on! These reins are usually pretty pricey, but I managed to snag them brand new for $40. They have flat buffalo leather fronts, which I have found makes them super durable. Plus, the rubber portion of the reins is probably the grippiest rubber I have ever felt on a pair of reins.

 

Back On Track Back Pad

This is one of several BOT products that have made my list. As it turns out, I am an avid fan of BOT. In fact, I own several of their products and use them all the time. I bought BOT’s back pad on a whim for $30 from a Facebook group in an effort to try and avoid forking out the money for one of their coveted mesh sheets. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to like the pad, but it has quickly become a staple in Diablo’s warm-up routine.

IMG_2207

Ogilvy Baby Pads

This is probably no surprise to anyone. I’m a saddle pad hoarder with an affinity for anything that is customizable.

 Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 7.03.18 PM