Monday, March 26, 2012

Water, Piss and Vinegar

Water = another storm blew in Sunday afternoon with wind and heavy rain
Piss and Vinegar = Winston

Sunday morning Brett was up very early, in the pre-dawn pitch dark, to feed the horses before loading up Flash for a trail ride in Orange County.  They pulled out an hour before the sun rose.  I stayed in bed until it started to get light.  Since I didn't have to feed, there was no hurry to get down to the barn and muck.  It was 31F outside so I made some coffee and had breakfast first.  When I went down to do my chores at 8:00, it was beautiful outside.  It was up to 40F by then and the sky was blue.  The storm was supposed to arrive around 11:00 am but other than a band of clouds on the top of the mountains out towards the Pacific Ocean, there was no evidence of rain.

I gave the chickens a pail full of scraps from Kyle's birthday dinner -- all the mushy veggies from making the sauce, artichoke leaves and some other odds and ends.  They were quite pleased with their breakfast.

I decided to ride Winston since the weather was so nice.  I quickly changed into my breeches and headed back to the barn to get him.  By the time he was tacked up, the wind was picking up and it felt cooler.  In our warm up he was full of energy, walking very fast and almost trotting off.  When we did move into trot work, he was amped and not paying attention.  We worked for quite awhile just going in circles and on the rail and across the diagonal to try and get his brain focused on me.  He was throwing his head in the air, then taking the contact, then throwing his head again.  It was work! 

I finally got him to relax a tad and listen.  Just about then, a neighbor did "something scary" -- I think it involved opening a car door or another highly unusual activity (I saw nothing odd anywhere).  Jackson was in the pasture (feeling better!) and he, Kalvin and both donkeys bolted from one end to the other.  Winston decided he should bolt from one end of the arena to the other.  He came back to me quickly (thankfully) and we continued with our work. 

I have learned that you can't argue with Winston; you wait him out and ignore the antics.  So, I ignored the spooky bolt.  After practicing our spirals in and out, I called it a day.  40F and we were both sweaty.   I turned him back out in the pasture and let him relax for a few minutes before putting back on his blanket.  In the meantime, the clouds had really started moving in.  The rain started around 2:00 and was blowing sleety stuff, almost hail, the rest of the afternoon and evening.

 Brett and Flash arrived back home at noon, just as I was leaving to take Kyle to the train station.  He used his dressage saddle instead of the western one to see if Flash got sore.  When I got home, Brett told me that the ride had been very beautiful but also very steep.  Flash hadn't complained and behaved like the good soldier that he is.  That evening, we checked his back.  Very sore.  So, the problem is hill work and not the saddle.  Both saddles fit Flash well and neither cause any trouble when he is worked on the flat.  After hill work, he is sore in both saddles.  So, blogger buddies, what are your thoughts?  I'm thinking it might be his hocks although Brett said he went downhill with no hesitation (and that is usually a hock red flag).   We will discuss Flash's back with our vet, of course, but Brett also requested that I ask all of you for your thoughts as well.


  1. sorry that flash is sore again. glad you at least know it is not the saddles.

  2. I enjoyed this post - but sorry no help on the back thing. Waiting to hear...

  3. What about the saddle pads...placement of the saddle? How about doing a trail ride on the flat and seeing what happens.
    Back here, we are going to have a major frost tonight. The horses have their blankets back on. These big swings are scary.

  4. Hill work and dressage work really exercises the back- right in front of the loins (where if I remember correctly- is where Flash is sore) If I had to take a guess, I would wager that it's muscle soreness from working those muscles hard.
    I guess the only way to test that it to do some flat work- not asking much of him (in terms of using his back) and see if he's sore after that.
    Crispin would frequently get sore after a couple days of hard dressage work or hill work- and in exactly the same place as Flash.

    Isn't it funny how the horses all get silly when a big rain is coming?

  5. So sorry to read of his sore back again. Unfortunately, I have no advice except to avoid hills?

  6. Have you always had regular flatwork lessons or is this something new for Flash? Is his stifles ok?

  7. If the trail rides are lengthy, then another variable to consider is the duration of the ride. Maybe his muscles are suffering from soreness due to lactic acid build up, rather than injury or compensation for something else. You could test it by riding him for the same length of time in the ring and try to keep the level of effort similar to a hilly trail ride.

  8. No idea here about why Flash is sore. Good luck. Sure hope it's nothing. I like your philosophy with Winston. I think continuing to ride is the best way to train them out of spooking. If they know it's not going to get them out of work and you're not afraid and stay calm, they'll eventually get better and better. People who try to reprimand or do circles, etc. only reinforce the heightened emotions in the horse and compound the problem.

  9. Isn't it amazing the difference weather makes in a horse's attention span?

  10. 40F is nice?? That's FREEZING!!! LOL!

    Poor Flash!! The only suggestion I have is for Brett to ride in two point up off his back for the up and down hills and see if he's still sore. I also like the duration idea that Val suggested. How long are the trail rides anyway? Are they only walking or are they trotting/cantering too? Are they taking any breaks at all? There are so many variables.

    How do sore hocks cause a sore back? Is it a compensation thing? I don't know anything about the relationship between back/hock pain and I'm just curious about it. :)

    Good luck figuring out Flash's soreness.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.