glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Zorro has been to horsepital.

Two months of box rest have made a negligible difference - he was alright on pure box rest, the moment he went out at all he was coming in lame again - so he needed a full work-up. For that we had to go to the vets, where they have lots of facilities and can do a proper job.

Consequently yesterday we put Zorro in a horse box ( after he had almost bitten my thumbnail off by accident ) and drove him over to the Equine Hospital for a series of nerve blocks. The first blocks reduced the lameness but didn't clear it entirely, the second block was similar. They X-rayed his feet, which showed arthritic changes in the coffin joint and around the short pastern. These seemed to be present in both front feet though, so that may not be the source of the lameness. The vet wanted to try blocking the coffin joint, but he couldn't do that while Zorro was still affected by the previous nerve blocks so he had to stay the night at the hospital. That meant the ride home I had booked wouldn't work out and the transporter couldn't do the next day. It was a stressful evening and I had a sore thumb.

This morning we came in to find that Zorro had already impressed the nursing staff by taking himself on a self-guided tour of the facilities. I'm not sure how he got out, but probably he caught the door when someone opened it and went walkabout. He was very easy to catch apparently. He did have warnings about biting and potentially escaping on his little patient card outside his stable so I didn't feel too guilty.

This morning's nerve block didn't completely resolve the lameness but knocked it down a long way. The vet thought it was worth using a steroid injection into the joint. If the arthritis is causing the lameness then this should help. If not, then we'll maybe need to go back in a couple of months ( which we will spend on box rest ) for MRI. If it's a ligament injury - could still be, then we're probably looking at six months or more of recuperation.

So not great news and we don't really have much idea about a long term prognosis yet, but Zorro is home and happy to be home and my thumbnail hasn't fallen off yet, so I guess there are some rays of light.
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Yesterday morning we were up early and Zorro and I went out for a couple of hours ride around the common. Zorro was pretty good - a little bit keen on taking turns to make a shorter loop rather than a longer one, but so much better than he used to be even still. Or I'm better than I used to be. Either way.

It was a brilliant bright morning and there were many birds and few people, particularly at first. There were Martins darting around, presumably preparing for their long flight south by grabbing at the tiny fine crane flies that seemed to be hatching out everywhere in the bright cool air.

Some of you may recall the problems I have run in the past with handling other horses going past, either in the distance or nearby. The way that Zorro would cue himself up to other horses over my requests made hacking out a little anxious, especially if there was another horse trotting or cantering in the other direction- Zorro typically seemed to assume they were running from certain death and that he needed to go with them immediately.

During our ride yesterday we met about forty horses from the local hunt going the other way. Zorro got a bit up, he was watching them and filled the saddle a little, but after they had past he just kept on going. They passed us a second time a little later on and Zorro didn't even get more anxious. I am so proud of that horse.

A bit of video from the morning ride ( no large groups of horses involved, I kind of thought I might need both hands on the reins at those parts... ) so you can enjoy the light and the bright heath and forest trails a little too:
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Cherry blossom drifted across the lane as Zorro and strolled down towards the common today, somewhat in the style of a japanese painting. The blossom, I mean, not the ambling. We had some time and some sunshine this afternoon and having gone for a little ride on Xefira in the morning the afternoon belonged to Zorro and I. We padded out onto the common and then took a slightly different route to any we've taken before, not entirely on familiar trails but largely through places we've been once or twice before, out onto Hankley Common, which is a little further away but a lot more hilly and scenic. Also it is very close to my parents' house so I grew up walking and mountain biking on those trails and they are very familiar to me.
In which things do not transpire as anticipated )
glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
During our ride on Saturday ( "us" being Zorro and I, Small is still feeling a bit ill ) I took a few video clips, which I have now edited together so those of you in far off places can get a feel of riding out on Thursley Common, which is one of the main places we get to ride.

glenatron: (Emo Zorro)
Today Zorro and I went out for a bit of a longer hack than we have before, calling in at my parents' house to say hello and steal mum and the dog ( who is still terrified of horses ) so we could go for a bit of a bounce together. My theory is that if Pippa the puppy gets to be out with the horses from time to time she'll get more confident around them. Certainly she seemed to enjoy running with us when we trotted and cantered a bit, although it did make her pretty barky when we stopped.

I decided to take us down a hill that I have known for as long as I can remember as "Steep and Stony" which is fairly steep and quite stony. Zorro paused a couple of times where tree-roots created steps and he thought it might be easier to stop and perhaps turn round and find an easier route but we managed it and I was very pleased with him.
illustrated version )
glenatron: (zorro)
I finally faced up to my hairy black demons and rode out the stroppy bucking fit Zorro has been packing for a little while. Details in [livejournal.com profile] horsemanship, including a bit of video of the grumpy beast in action. He was fairly annoyed.
glenatron: (zorro)
One of our most important skills is the ability to learn from our mistakes, so we can at least vary our mistake itinerary. After reading Kathleen Lindley's book (which is excellent, and I heartily recommend) and watching her at work on Saturday I had a few new ideas, or useful reinforcements to my existing ideas, about how to help Zorro get over the Hedge...of DOOM. And by "over" I mean "near" of course- we have no plans for jumping it, or at least I have none, and given his feelings on it I doubt Zorro would be keen to leap it on some crazy moonwards escapade.

The first thing I made sure I was doing was approaching the hedge with no preconceptions at all about Zorro's reactions- I realised that he could easily be flipping out on that side of the school at least in part because I was expecting him to. Horses are amazingly subtle in their reading of body language so any tiny cue that we subconsciously give is likely to be very obvious to them. Instead I was focussing on visualising us walking happily along the side without anyone getting flustered.

Secondly I was concentrating on breathing, keeping mine regular, deep and even. This is really useful in the saddle where it seems to be a cue that horses pick up on very easily and deep breathing helps you to focus and stay aware of your body and your surroundings.

Thirdly I realised I had been inconsistent with him in the way we treated the hedge by moving him away from it when he got anxious and then using approach and retreat to try to get us close to it and get him accustomed to being near it. Bad idea. What that taught him is if he jumped up and down by the hedge he could get a break from regular work and maybe have a mouthful of food. To be a good leader in equine terms I realised my attitude should have been more "I know that you're worried but I say it's safe and I'm in charge here so deal with it" rather than "oh no, poor pony, are you all right?" All that did as far as he was concerned was reinforce that the hedge was a danger and something that he was correct to be afraid about.

On Sunday we did some good and fairly soft work that got us able to move quite happily around the hedge-free side of the school so today I figured we could confront the lions and tigers and bears that inhabit the holly bushes by adopting the strategy that all imaginary monsters hate most and simply ignoring them. Easier for me than for Zorro, but although he got his energy up and tried to hide behind me as we approached the side of the school, with me keeping position by him and being very steady and measured we managed to walk most of the way along without panicking. This was apparently easier to do with me on his left than on his right, but after a bit of scurrying around he was mostly able to do both most of the way along. He was still trying to drop his shoulder on me and having to be shoved away as he did, but he went along the side and he survived. After a few good runs [livejournal.com profile] sleepsy_mouse came over and we paused for a minute and talked about what we were doing and what a good and clever horse I had.

Then we went to do one more walk along the side to reinforce what we had already done and half way along a sparrow moved in the bushes making a tiny rustling sound. Zorro, realising he now had a gallery to play to, went ballistic; galloping flat out away until he hit the end of the line, rearing, bucking and generally showing off the kind of movements that are only approved of in the High School. This was where my consistency plan came in - I just kept walking along, kept him moving so that there was no relaxation or benefit to him while he was making a fuss, and did what I could to ignore him.

It's not always easy to ignore half a ton of furious equine trying to go at full gallop on the other end of a 12' line, but we managed to get from all-out rampage to a big stomping trot and finally to a very energetic walk in circles around me. I managed to extend the circles into ovals so that Zorro was walking along the fence line for a few steps before circling away and once we had worked that up to a few metres we called it a day.

I think that he was settling to the idea it wasn't fatal to be near the hedge, I'm fairly sure that he preferred me not reacting to him flinging himself around to me reacting to it, I'm hoping that tomorrow he will be better, having had a bit of time for latent learning to kick in.

It may seem excessive to get so involved in the fact we can't go on one side of the school when we could just do normal schooling in the rest of it if we wanted, but for me what it's saying is that he doesn't trust in my leadership enough to believe I will keep him safe. Once we find a way to get over that I think we will have a real bond that will give him confidence in me, give me confidence in him (and in myself) and make our lives together run a whole lot smoother.
glenatron: (zorro)
Today was really good fun- we pretty much spent it at the yard with the ponies. One of the other horses at the yard was leaving, having just been sold and her field mate was getting a little anxious. This combined with the fact that Jasper and the other new arrival on the yard both seem to enjoy squeaking at each other made it quite a noisy place to be.

There were a couple of minutes of drama as we helped retrieve a walker who had fallen and broken their ankle (probably) at the end of the field but aside from that things were mostly peaceful.

We brought Joe in and gave him hugs and grooming, took Jasper out for a little walk up the hill again and I had a lesson on charming Zorro by the end of which I had a few strides of trot where I managed to keep my hands down and my heels down at the same time. Quite an achievement!
And the illustrated version )
Tonight it's raining and windy. [livejournal.com profile] sleepsy_mouse is worried that Jasper will blow away.
glenatron: (zorro)
Today Zorro and I went for our first hack down the lane the yard is on with [livejournal.com profile] sleepsy_mouse joining us on foot. In the first few minutes after leaving the yard we had a tractor and about five cars go past, none of which bothered pony in the slightest (although smoke from a bonfire and a roadside salt bucket were both clear sources of danger) and we mooched cheerfully down the hill. The road past the church, which is the steepest part of the lane, was surprisingly slippery- dry tarmac but old and very smooth so that even unshod Zorro was sliding a little. We got by fine though.

Just before the end of the lane, where we were planning to turn round, we had a sudden attack of yapping small dog behind a closed gate by the road. Zorro spooked but we were still on the slippery tarmac and his legs literally slid out from under him. I didn't know what to do- I'd lost my stirrups but his body was still upright and I was still reasonably well balanced so I figured it was probably safest to stay where I was and let him have his head and get back up of his own accord. We had an anxious moment of scrabbling but he picked himself up really well and marched quite soundly the last few yards to the village green where I hopped off and we let him have a bit of a munch while we checked him for any injuries.

Amazingly, aside from some very superficial grazes on his legs he seemed ok in spite of the fact that his fall had been heavy enough to leave dents in the road. We walked him back for a while but he seemed quite sound and happy to the point tjat I felt it would be alright to ride him the last half of the way home.

It wasn't until after we had given them their dinner and were heading home that the adrenaline subsided and I started feeling sick. I think that he's fine, although he'll probably be a bit creaky tomorrow I would expect that if there were any serious problems they would have shown up immediately, but it could have been so much worse. We've clearly been very lucky indeed.

Maybe not really our week, so far.
glenatron: (zorro)
What an extensive weekend.

On Friday we had a gig in Guildford- we have changed our image to include sharp jackets and shirts. Appropriate that our first show with the new outfits was in a small room full of teenage kids pretty much flipping out and loving it. Consequently it was amazingly hot. Playing was great fun but I couldn't flip out as much as I wanted for the last two songs cos I was sweating like I'd just been hosed down and had consequently drunk so much water I was sloshing and I thought I'd probably chuck. Really good fun, though.

Saturday riding )

Saturday night was the Hag do. It was classic, really good to see a whole lot of you again and apologies to anyone who didn't get the attention they deserved. Those kazoos weren't going to play themselves, though.

We arrived home at six in the morning on Sunday and promptly went to bed until midday.

In the evening we were back up to the yard and I was doing a bit more with Zorro, in the school this time.
Schoolwork )

Today was a little different )
glenatron: (zorro)
This has been a very hectic weekend really. Yesterday was spent in the studio recording the first new Sequoia material to get taped in the last couple of years. The songs are sounding good, even un-mixed, and the recording was actually quite fun once we gave up on using a click track. It took most of the day to get drums and bass down, but the performances we ended up with were pretty accurate I think so hopefully the demo we're recording will impress the people it needs to impress.

Today involved riding )
It's been a hectic weekend but right now I'm pretty happy about things generally.
glenatron: (zorro)
Zorro has been here a week,now. He spent the first few days very much on-edge, getting used to the sights and sounds of his new field and the sight of Joe over the fence. He is quite jumpy around the electric fence between his part of the paddock and Joe's, especially since he leaned on it to get closer to his dinner on Tuesday and discovered that it was still on at which point he practically sat in the water trough and scampered off most indignantly.

Half a ton of handsome bitey cob )
glenatron: (Default)

I have a pony again! )

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