Archive for October, 2010

Sunny does Equinosis

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Since I pulled Sunny from the Oakland Hills ride I’ve been trying to analyze her performance over all the NATRC rides we did, and what I came up with was that on every ride, when she got tired, her rear end would start “falling away”, so her rear hoofs would start catching on roots, rocks, etc., which I think is how she hurt herself at Oakland.

Yesterday I took her over to Gilroy and had an “Equinosis” study done on her.  For Equinosis, they put accelerometers on the horses’ poll, hip, left front, and right hind, then the horse is walked and trotted, straight and in circles both directions, with the accelerometers blue-toothing their info to a hand-held computer, where it’s graphed out.  The idea is to see if there are any imbalances in the limb movement; it really helps to pinpoint the source of obvious lameness and it can help detect really subtle chronic lameness, which was what I was worried about.  BTW, it is NOT useful for identifying lamenesses due to spinal or neurological problems.  (And in horse-land terms, it isn’t that expensive!)

The result was that Sunny is about perfectly balanced, and there is no limb lameness. HOWEVER, the vet, Russ Thompson, noticed what we all have noticed:  that she doesn’t use her hind end well.  In addition, though, he pointed out that her butt is really slanted down, rather than being rounded or flat, so when she DOES start working her rear end, her hind legs are really going to go deeply underneath her, possibly resulting in a forging problem because she won’t get her front legs out of the way.  Sheesh.  He described it as a “challenging problem”.

So, I’m supposed to (1) continue the dressage work we’ve started, (2) do lots of pole work to give her the opportunity to figure out where her feet are, and (3) step over lots of high, soft things (hay bales, e.g.).

Also, at this recent conference, they (Dr. Thompson and the owner of the  very nice dressage facility that we were at) heard a paper from Dr. Hillary Bryant about the use of “reminder devices” on horse’s legs. Evidently, back in the day, trainers of gaited horses used to put various dangly things on their horses fetlocks and pasterns to encourage them to move in certain ways. Some of the things they used were, according to the story I heard, cruel and useless. However, some trainers were demonstrably and consistently able to change the way their horses moved by using them. Hillary Bryant, who’s a research vet at at a mid-west university, an ex-endurance rider and a current dressage rider, is looking into using some variants of these things as physical therapy for horses.

The prototypes she showed at the conference were made of stirrup leathers, with little shower curtain rings attached to them, so you could put the “bracelet” on the leg above the joint, and the light plastic would sort of jingle on the leg, reminding the horse (or annoying the horse enough) to move it energetically.  I think I could make one, but I’m not sure how I’d go about introducing it to Sunny. I can see a situation where I put it on, she moved and got scared. Not sure how I’d get it off.

Anyhow, there was lots to think about.

wanna ride?


Texas had it’s high points . . .

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Hey! We (The Husband, The Mutt and I) just got back from a road trip to far east Texas, where much of Wayne’s  family lives. While we were there, his cousin Mike took us along to watch his Sunday Afternoon Ropin’ Gang. What a fun thing to see!

The arena was in someone’s back yard – and it was huge and nicely maintained, with stadium lights. There was also a small pen at the back of the arena, and a narrow chute that ran along one side of the arena and to a gate at the other end. There were ten small steers in the pen, each of them wearing a little hat sort of thing, to keep the ropes from hurting them.

To start the thing off, the pen was opened and the steers trotted down the chute to the gate. A horse/rider team got on either side of the gate opening, the header (who ropes the front end of the steer) on the left; the heeler (who ropes the rear end of the steer) on the right, next to the fence. Someone opened the gate, the steer ran out, the header started trying to rope it, while the heeler kept the steer off the fence. As soon as the header got the steer roped around the front, he would turn left, into the center of the arena, theoretically causing the steer’s butt to swing out, exposing the heels for the heeler to rope.

Wayne was sort of keeping track – he figured that the header was successful at roping the steer’s head about 50% of the time, and the heeler was successful at getting the heels about 25% of the times that he got a chance to try – that is, that the header was successful.  I’m surprised that they were ever successful:  this was going on at high speed and those steers, although small, seemed to be able to pull the header off-line pretty consistently.

The steers were pretty funny. When the roping was done, that is, the horses had stopped running, eight of the ten steers would just stop, too. The ropers would loosen their ropes and the steers would duck their heads, then scamper back to the holding pen to do it again! The two steers who didn’t do that would just pull header and his horse back to the pen, where someone on the ground would loosen the rope and let him in.  As one of Mike’s friends said, “These steers know the drill.”

A couple of notes: when I used “left” and “right” in the description, that’s what I meant: the heeler is always on the right, the fence is always on the right, etc. As a result of this, Mike, who just started roping but is left handed, HAS to be a heeler, which seems to be way more difficult than heading. Also, the roping technique for the header and heeler are different. The header throws in the way I’ve seen in Frederic Remington statues and on TV, sort of flat. The heeler has to throw down (under his horse’s neck frequently) to get the heels, so they throw the rope from way over their heads – you can see it in the photos if you follow the link below.  Oh yeah, in competition, there is a penalty if the horse starts running before it’s legal, so about 1 in 4 starts, the riders would just let the steer run, without trying to rope him, or just one of the teams would follow. The intention was to prevent the horses from anticipating the start.

There are photos of the roping with some notes at in the Texas Roping album in our gallery.  If you want to read my notes about the pictures, the best way to view them is to click on the thumbnail to get to a large size photo, then use the navigation buttons at the top to walk through the pictures.  And if you are interested in photos of the rest of our trip, they can be found at Texas Trip 2010 album.

Anyhow, I think I’m up for at least team penning next spring!

wanna ride?

Cowgirl Camp Follow On

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Executive summary:  Videos of Cory, Diane and I doing two of the exercises Marybeth showed us at camp.  Don’t watch them for technique, unless you want to know how NOT to do them.


Cory, Diane and I were all inspired by Cowgirl Camp, where All We Did Was Ride; we found out how much we didn’t know and how much fun we could have learning it.   (And I’m working on a Cowgirl Camp blog, I promise.)

Anyhow, the three of us got together today to work on some of the things that Marybeth started us on at camp.  We decided to video a couple of the exercises, both to be able to see what we’re doing and also to be able to compare our current state with our almost guaranteed improvement over time.  Here goes:

First, the Dreaded “L”, in which your horse should walk through the L, as defined by the cavallettis, then back out of the L.




After the “L”, we moved on to The Box.   The idea there is that you and your horse walk straight into a square made of cavellettis, turn 180 degrees via a shoulder yield, then finish the turn by yielding the hips, and exit The Box where you came into it.  We all made the turn – but no one made it according to the recipe.

Cory & Jade:

Diane and Kialoa:

Donna and Sunny:

Stay tuned for updates.

wanna ride?