Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thank Goodness They're So Forgiving

Yes, our lovely equine buddies certainly do forgive us for so much. We're lucky that they live in the moment and don't hold a grudge -- because if it was any different, a lot of us would be screwed, quite frankly. :-)

Last Monday, Salem had an appointment for his second natural barefoot trim. The good news is that his hooves are coming along very nicely. His White Line Disease is completely cleared (yay!), his bars are straightening out, and he has a very tight connection in all four hooves. And, they're so tough that Candy had to sharpen her knife twice during the trim! Woohoo! Tough, rock-crunching super hooves!

These pics were taken about 9 days post-trim (because I am a procrastinator!)

So, if there's good news, of course there's some...well, let's just say not-so-good news. As Candy was working on Salem, she placed her hand on his back and he flinched and pinned his ears. She said, "Hhhmmm, he's very sore here," and started giving him a mini-massage (she's also a certified equine massage therapist and a saddle-fitter). Salem let out a big sigh and relaxed after a few minutes. Candy stepped back and looked at him for a moment and then told me, "His muscling is uneven, and he has no muscle on his topline. Let me see your saddle on him."

Well, of course, the Pessoa that I've been using on him does not fit him. In fact, it is extremely narrow and way too small, and it has been making him sore. When I heard that, I turned into a little Jewish mother and started getting major guilt pangs. I've been hurting Salem with every ride! Cruelty against ponies -- somebody call the ASPCA! I was even making things worse by adding a big thick sheepskin pad. I thought it would make things all comfy for Salem, but it was actually just making the saddle fit even tighter.

At this point, I was feeling horrible. I asked Candy to look at my Collegiate to see if it was a better fit. Nope. Of course not! It's equally narrow and has probably been making every horse that I've ridden for the past however-many years sore. Super. My stomach acid at that point was so high that I probably should have given myself half a tube of GastroGuard. There might have been some mild hyperventilating involved. This was just getting worse and worse.

As a last resort, I asked Candy to look at Heather's saddle. She had let me ride in it during our last lesson, and it seemed to fit Salem very well. I figured, what the hell? Let's give it a shot. I placed it on Salem's back and, after a few minutes, Candy announced that it's a "near-perfect fit" that could be made perfect by some minor flocking adjustments. Of course it is. It's a $36000 saddle.

(Anyone have some Xanax?)

The Beautiful Magical Uber-Expensive Saddle

So, I have started saving up for a new saddle, as I realize that my saddle is far too narrow for any horse that I would ever ride or own. In the meantime, Heather has been gracious enough to let me borrow hers, as long as I clean it and put the stirrups back to her setting. Fair enough! I also ordered a Thinline saddle pad and booked an appointment for Salem to get a full-body massage.

Since he was so sore, I gave Salem a week off from under-saddle work and just did a lot of longeing, ground work, grazing, grooming, back massages, liniment rub-downs, and of course treat-giving and major apologizing.

Yesterday morning, Candy came down for Salem's massage. He loooooooooved it! He kept yawning and rolling his eyes back, and he even did this really weird/cool back stretch that I have never seen a horse do before. And it was interesting that Candy could tell so much from his muscles -- she said his right side needs to be developed more and he's stiffer on that side (so true!) and that he has sore muscles in his left hind (which is why he rests his left hind all the time).


That is one relaxed pony

Chunky Monkey!

This was meant to show Salem's stripey, sun-bleached tail

After his week-long vacay and hour-long professional massage, I'm pretty sure Salem has forgiven me. I think all the extra treats helped, too!

Thank goodness for Candy -- if it wasn't for her, I would have never found out about the saddle fit issue. Hindsight's 20/20, and looking back it all seems so obvious. On the longe, Salem was all stretchy and floaty, but he was always a bit short under saddle. All of my barn-mates thought his feet were sore and I should put shoes on him, but I knew that he would be short on the longe if he was foot-sore. I'm just grateful to Candy for getting to the bottom of the issue. How many farriers would have noticed a back-sore horse? Not many!

OK, I am off to the barn. We'll see how the lad does now that he's all loosened up and comfy. Fingers and hooves crossed for a big, swingy trot!


Denali said...

I'm jealous of Salem's pasturns. Denali's are too long! I was hoping she'd grow into them, but nope! No jumping for her.

I had an animal communicator tell me that my saddle didn't fit. I didn't believe her. But, she was right. Luckily the one she has now ALMOST fits her like a glove, just a riser pad that helps her move better.

Like the new layout!

SprinklerBandit said...

Ugh. Saddle fit issues are no fun.

My two cents is throw in the towel now and get a treeless dressage saddle. It will save you the months of agony that Izzy and I went through.

Then again, you'd have to analyze Salem's conformation. It doesn't work for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Saddle fit is so important - you're fortunate to have figured this out. And my horses love massage/chiro - they really enjoy it!

Golden the Pony Girl said...

lol I am not laughing at your plight just how much I feel you pain! Saddle fit is so amazingly complex the more you learn the more you realize the less you know. Good farrier for pointing it out to you though. Do not feel bad, it is so hard to have the knowledge about all this stuff... you are such a good mom by tackling the problem head on! Eeek! :)

Frizzle said...

Thanks for all the support, guys. I feel like such a heel -- I was taught to buy a saddle that fit me, pad up the horse, throw the saddle on, and away you go.
SB, I am already perilously close to being labeled The Official Barn Whack-o. I'm a vegetarian recycling-nazi, Salem is barefoot, I NEVER brush his tail, I don't use Show Sheen or other silicone products, I use a funny bit, only clean wounds with saline, etc., etc. I fear I am a bit-less bridle and a round pen session away from Totak Freak status. A tree-less saddle would really not tip the odds in my favor!
Plus, I know that the ACD Classique in a wide tree fits Salem very well.
*goes off to plan the bank robbery*

Nina said...

THOSE HOOVES LOOK AWESOME!!!!! I would love Sam to go barefoot I am just scared to start because I know he will be sore to begin with.

Great news about the saddle, well not that it was hurting him but that you are aware of it and can fix it!

He is lucky to have you!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Oh Frizzle..I have like a million comments.
First off, Salem's coloring is chocolately delic.
Secondly, I want his feet on Laz (goal goal goal!) Were they always big and wide like that..they look so strong!
Thirdly-my new barefoot guy mentioned once Laz gets better/stronger -checking out my saddle fit on him as well. It's a Crosby that I love but I got it for a steal on Craigs list for $ maybe check it out? U can borrow to test ride/have your hoof/back person check it out before purchase-any good seller anyway will do that.
I love when they yawn and flip their inside red scary eyelids, so funny. Like big puppies, right?
I'm learning SO quickly-the whole barefoot support is tricky and so many people have strong thoughts against it. You are awesome to see, staying strong to it. I'm learning..

Frizzle said...

Lol, Kristen -- Salem is slowly turning to a caramel/buckskin color because he spends aaaaall day outisde in his paddock. I'm not complaining, though. :-)
Yes, Salem's feet were always pretty big, but that's because he's been barefoot for his whole life. Believe me, Laz's feet will expand. Horshoes are sort of like Chinese foot-binding.
And, yes, I have already found a used ADT Classique on I just have to come up with the $$$, because it still isn't cheap!
Don't listen to the nay-sayers when it comes to barefoot. Keep your head down and your spirits up, and you'll be just fine. Remember -- you have the science on your side!

Denali said...

Sorry, I'm late to the comment party, but I had to laugh at your description of yourself. "The Official Barn Wack-o" I was labeled that once, but it was because I wanted simple things, like clean water and my horse fed.

Why don't you brush his tail?

He doesn't need show sheen, he has cocosoya oil which makes him super shiny (like Ms. Denali, thank you again for that)

Good luck with the saddle hunt. It's such a hard thing. Especially since you need to fit a horse, THEN see if it fits you. Ugh. No fun. Especially since they are not cheap!!

Denali wanted me to let you know that she'll come down and help you rob a bank, she already has the outfit!! :)

Frizzle said...

Nina, if it's done properly, Sam's hooves won't be sore. You'll have to buy some hoof boots, that's all.

Denali, I don't brush his tail because it breaks/pulls out hairs. I'll hand pick it every week or two (sometimes twice a week if it's driving me crazy), even though I always want to get all the tangles out. It's a lesson in self-restraint!

I also don't use ShowSheen or other silicone products in his tail (or anywhere else, actually) because it dries out the hair. And, honestly, it only keeps the tail tangle-free for a day or two, so what's the point?

And, yes, he has Cocosoya oil AND flax seed, so he doesn't need that crap anyways. ;-)

Denali said...

Flax seed? Just plain flax seed or is it ground up? What magical stuff does it do? (I'm just going to live vicariously though you.) I actually told Denali's Lessee the other day, "Your kind of like my Frizzle" She was confused. I had to explain.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

uh oh..I love Showsheen!! Shoot..perhaps I need to give that up b/c I had to take Laz off cocosoya/flax for now too. AND I brush his tail everyday!! YIKES!! Frizzle, I need a lesson(s) from you!! lol!

Frizzle said...

LOL! Denali, that's funny -- and even more funny is that your lessor is Megan and I'm Meghann. Is she my doppleganger?!?
And, yep, plain old flax seed, unground. Contrary to popular belief you do NOT need to grind or boil flax seed. It provides extra fat, Omega 3s (which reduce inflamation), zinc, copper, amino acids -- all kinds of goodness! Just don't give more than one full cup a day, as it has an unbalanced calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Kristen, your comment made me chuckle! Lol, I know plenty of people who use ShowSheen and brush tails every day -- you guys are in the majority! It certainly doesn't hurt anything, but I prefer to use more natural products/methods because I'm apparently a tree-hugging hippie weird-o, hahahah.

SprinklerBandit said...

I'm anti-bitless bridle (except I really want a mechanical hackmore for no good reason) because otherwise, I'd be in the same place you are. Treeless saddle, barefoot horse... yeah well. I'm glad you found something to fit him.

Denali said...

Blond hair, blue eyes? Shorter than me? (I'm 6ft, so that's most of the female population)

Flax seed sounds like a great thing to add, but she is already on different supplements, so I am afraid of adding something else to her diet that I don't know a lot about. It sounds like a great idea.

I don't use showsheen on her tail, at least not in the winter. I keep it in a tail bag, and before I bag it up I put in a ton of MTG to help it grow. When I do take it down its soft and greasy so it's easy to brush out. Still, it will never be a "gogo" tail. Sigh...

Mary H. said...

Lovely frogs. His feet look really nice.

(By the way, found your blog from a comment you left on Golden the Pony Girl's blog.)

As for saddles, how about finding a cheap used saddle that you could at least use for schooling?

I have an ancient wide-tree Stubben that I use on a lot of the roly-poly quarter horses I ride. I snagged it on ebay a few years ago for a couple hundred bucks. Wouldn't dare take it to a horse show, but it keeps the horses happy.


Frizzle said...

OK, maybe she isn't my doppleganger afterall -- I have light brown hair, hazel eyes, and I'm 5'7" (the shrimp of my family).
Mary, I am looking at an Arc de Triomphe on ebay that was used as a demo saddle -- still $2300, but that's way better than $3600 for a new one.
Anyone want to buy a kidney? :-P

Alana said...

Oh dear, according to your definition I am a freak! LOL! Veggie, tree-hugging hippy, barefoot horses, recycle-nazi, little-bathing-lots-of-grooming, hand-tool-teeth-rasping, doing research on treeless saddles, ride English in more-than-predominantly western area.....and I live in the middle redneck-land, to let's just say I do not fit all! Love your blog by the way! (this is crittergirl from ES BTW)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I'll buy a hoof if you have an extra!! Don't need a kidney but will pay GOOOOD money for a new hoof that can be easily attached to my Laz.
We are all freaks, eh..but we all love our babies.

Rachel said...

His feet look fantastic. I am glad to know that someone else was raised to buy a saddle that fits you (and slap your nameplate on it) and pad it up to 'adjust' to the horse you are on (that day). A few years ago when I started bumming rides on trails, the other riders would go on and on about saddle fit and it was such a new concept for me to be so concerned. But, I have learned and now adore my adjustable gullet, so my dream saddle can (usually) ride what I ride. It has air panels as well so we don't have to worry about uneven wool flocking over time. :)

Frizzle said...

Alana, I like your style! Stick to your guns (although that must be difficult sometimes in redneckland!).
Kristen, you don't need to buy a new hoof -- Laz will grow a new one! Actually, he's already growing a new one that looks much more healthy.
Rachel, I've heard good things about the adjustable gullets, BUT I've heard a whole lot of bad about the air panels. I've been researching about saddles, and the concensus is that wool flocking is superior to foam or air/foam-y thing. But if you're happy with it, that's all that matters!