Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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Scott: MHWF
[smile] Thank you Donna! it has been a pleasure watching you turn into a horsewoman these past years.
Donna M.
Instead of 7 posts for 7 equines, I will try to consolidate by pecking order, dynamic duo buddies, or maybe size and attitude. 

Sugar and Raven are both doing well. This is year 7 with Sugar, my beautiful girl who started this equine obsession. I'm pretty sure I get those super cool papers this year from Karen and Scott making Raven officially mine. Raven and Sugar became fast friends and are almost always together. Yesterday was farrier day and they both napped in the sun while Steve trimmed their feet. 

My goal this year is to lope on Sugar Bear. We can trot till the cows come home with no problem and everyone tells me loping is easier. I think it will help to have lower impact as I've recently learned I have arthritis from my neck to my toes. The good news is we ruled out some other pretty scary stuff so I just have to pursue PT to keep riding. That's my plan anyway. 

The only pics I ever take of the girls are with a cell phone. Not the best but you get the idea ... super happy, laid back mares making it through this brutal northern Wisconsin winter without a care in the world - because I do all the work! 

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Donna M
Sugar Bear and I recently went to Palmquist Farm with a few friends. Let me tell you, as many are well aware, riding a mare with three geldings can offer some interesting experiences. 

Day 1: Travel Day/torrential rain day
Sugar was a rock star but all that was asked of her was to go for a ride in a trailer, hang out in a dry stall, and eat. Heck, I might have even enjoyed that. 

Day 2: Rode some soggy trails with lots of water crossings, infatuated with Fella, pinned ears at Dusty (actually she always hates him), didn't give Dallas the time of day; tied well at the winery when we stopped for ... ahem ... an ice cream cone.

Day 3: More riding, in love with Dallas, more pinned ears at Dusty, perturbed with Fella ~ I knew she was gonna be a floozy on this trip; pretty sure she was PMSing since she felt like she was going to explode under me every time I asked her to stop eating. 

If you've never been to Palmquist Farm, I highly recommend it but only if you enjoy comfy accommodations for you and your horse, home cooked Finnish meals, nice trails to ride, and salt of the earth hosts with lots of farm history to share. They even played their Victrola for us!

Sugar and I have reach a milestone this year. We lope ... together ... while I'm on her back ... on purpose! I can't lie. I'm enjoying this. 

Couldn't make it to the MHWF camping trip because we had planned the Palmquist trip in December and couldn't make both. Here are a few pics from our visit to the farm. The group pic from left to right Sugar and me, Dallas and DeeDee (that was the day Sugar liked him, Sheila and Fella (Sugar's beau from the previous day), and Dusty with Crystal (Sugar really does dislike his hugeness), the "shack" we stayed in, our gracious hosts, and lots of horsing around.

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Sounds like a really neat experience!
Donna that sounds wonderful, marish antics and all!
Kristen M.
Looks like fun. Way to go on the loping!
Wow looks like a great place and sounds like a great trip!
Jenni O.
Donna, your update cracks me up. It's so honest...although I'm not sure you're being honest about the ice cream at the winery. There may be a lie of omission in there. Congratulations on the loping, and surviving a trip with a floozy mare.
Donna M
My 9 yr old neighbor girl has been spending a lot of time with my horses and has learned so much. She was sad to hear yesterday that little Journey is too small for her to learn to ride. Kasey adores Journey and that tiny mare is soaking up all the love a little girl can give. Kasey was consoled today when I told her she could start working with Sugar Bear. I told her she can do the same things with a big horse that she learned to do with a small one.

If anyone has suggestions about how I can help Kasey learn to ride, I would welcome your input. I do not have an arena so it would be in my yard. I also do not have a bomb proof horse. Sugar has lots of trail experience in all kinds of situations and is generally calm. She can offer some resistance when she gets confused or does not want to do something. But she is a super sweet mare and enjoys Kasey’s company.
I’m starting Kasey with basic care and ground exercises. I plan to set up cones, a bridge and some PVC pipe so Kasey can learn to move Sugar’s feet in a specific location. I’m nervous about actually putting her in the saddle though. My thought is to keep a halter and lead rope on Sugar when I give Kasey the reins so I can avert any undesired behaviors. Good? Bad? Other ideas?

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Jenni O.
Donna, you are so nice for doing this. What a lucky young girl to have found a generous person with a herd of equines.

I think what you are doing as far as groundwork is a great idea. The halter and lead is also a good idea, and later you can go to a lungeline.

When Kasey gets to the point where she has more coordination with her reins and legs, teach her how to do a one rein stop. Reminder, this is not to be done once a horse is at a gallop as it's dangerous at that point. Have her practice this at the walk.

If/when Sugar resists, use it as an opportunity to teach her to figure out what's going on and how to deal with it. These are the things that will not only teach her how to ride, but how to think about the horse's point of view.

I would start slowly by just walking her around on the lead. Let her learn to balance (not sure how comfortable you would be putting her on bareback, but that would be beneficial to do at some point, but I don't blame you if you're not up for that). Teach her about leg and seat cues. You could maybe have her practice that before even introducing her to reins, since we tend to be naturally "handsy" as it is.

Instructors often have students work on a lungeline with no reins or stirrups to get their balance. To make lessons a little more interesting, once she's ready, you can have her walk and trot over ground poles, serpentine around cones (have her try it without using the reins) or other obstacles.

Last but not least...helmet and proper footwear, and maybe a pair of gloves for groundwork. A helmet isn't a bad idea for groundwork either. (I'm not saying I wear one, but people do, and it's not a bad idea.)
Kristen M.
Starting with the lead rope is a good idea and then you can progress to walking near enough to grab the reins. It is ok if a new rider makes a mistake and the horse doesn't respond the way they are hoping, that is how you learn. The rider can just try again.

Although I wasn't giving the lessons myself, I allowed my mare to be used for a child's lessons at my boarding barn this year. I was nervous thinking about all of the things she might do and then I realized that none of the issues would have been issues for me as a kid. They did great together.
Donna, you are such an awesome lady to share your horses and to start this young lady on the horse road.  I agree with all the thoughts presented.
Donna M
7 years already!?!
This girl sure has changed my life ... ate up all my savings, retirement investments, time, energy, strength, patience ...
In return she has given me bruises, abrasions, sleepless nights, aches and pains in places I did not know could hurt, and endless attitude. 😆

But she has taught me grace, tolerance, communication, commitment, acceptance, trust, fairness, and has freely offered the bond of an animal like I’ve never known before. Such a powerfully gentle spirit my, Sugar Bear. ❤️

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7 years already? Sure doesn't seem like it.  On the other hand, I was 21 about 3 weeks ago.....
Jane Liess
Great picture and great sentiment, Donna.  Your love and care for all your horses is inspirational!
Very nice
Donna M
Looking for advice, pearls of wisdom, to be talked off a ledge, whatever the case may be...

Sugar Bear has been lame on our last two rides. A few weeks ago we were on our first ride of the year for about 90 minutes. She was fine for most of it but I dismounted and walked the last half mile home because she seemed to be struggling on the right front. I gave her a week off until the farrier came. He told me she looked ok. I took her out a week after her trim and she was lame almost immediately. I’ve only noticed this when riding. She is fine at walk, trot, and lope in the pasture. She struggles at a walk under saddle.

Anna suggested she might have soft soles from the wet spring conditions and the road surface might be too much for her. She also suggested to try trail boots to see if there is an improvement. I have trail boots for her but they are a size 1 and still fall off.

Does anyone have a favorite trail boot they use? I’ve read about Renegade and have considered those. Currently I have EZ Boots

Do you think I should have her evaluated by a vet?

Our equine vet recently left the area so my first thought was to drive her an hour and a half to the closest equine vet for X-rays but I was able to talk myself out of overreacting (that’s a first for me.).

I know I don’t have to tell this group of horse lovers how much this horse means to me. You will totally get the fact that I had “an ugly cry episode” because of my concern for her. This horse has taught me so much and has given me everything she has in every situation I’ve put her in.

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Scott: MHWF
Just my two cents.....

Try to figure out if the issue is a saddle issue first.....if the saddle pinches at the withers or on the shoulder, that could explain it.

Assuming it is not the saddle, then the next thing to do is to figure out where in the leg the trouble is coming from? Is it in the hoof, the feltlock, higher up? Once you get that figured out, then you can at least have some ideas of what to look for and where, then start to plan for a treatment. If you watch some YouTube videos on flexion tests, you might be able to figure out where the pain is coming from by doing that. Could be a million things, acute founder, a stone bruise, a twisted this or that.....could be a tiny abscess.....anything. 

If you cannot narrow it down to where it hurts, then the best thing to do is to get a vet out. X-rays might not be needed, maybe, maybe not....but any kind of lameness is better off diagnosed sooner rather than later.

What Scott said. Hopefully it's an absces With this wet weather although you would think she would be lame riding or no riding then.
I can relate to the panic mode. As soon as something shows up on one of my horses I am automatically thinking the worst scenario. Hasn't proven to be true yet
Donna, I know what you mean.   I have had several of those ugly cry episodes in my time with my horses.  They are like my children and when they hurt, I hurt.    Scott is right, it could be one of a hundred and one things going on with your Sugar Bear.   I have dealt with several things from stone bruises, abscesses, pulled tendons, arthritis,  navicular and stress founder. Unfortunate for us, they can not tell us what is bothering them so you have to start at the beginning.  I am going to throw another idea out there too.  When we acquired Dragon's buddy Wylie ( who is 27 years old ), he could hardly walk, limping on one front leg bad.  We gave him a week or two to settle in and kept an eye on him.  I finally made a Vet appt. and had her come and check the old guy out.   She started working on Wylie and found his hip was out of place causing him pain and to limp on his front leg.  She shoved his hip back into position and within 10 days, Wylie was walking, limp free and no pain.    I would of never thought that the hip would have had this much authority over the front leg but it does.  Keeping good thoughts and outcome with you and your special gal. 
Scott hit it on the head Donna; need to find the source of this to correct it.  If not off when not riding and moves well (see how she does with ground work / lunging) but is off when you do ride there are clues there and I suspect a tack issue, that is just a guess.

Like I say, try to put her through her paces on the ground and watch closely.  This can tell you a lot or narrow down the cause.  Not sure if this helps but all horses will be off time to time for various reasons, sometimes just a sprain that goes a way, other times something longer term.  Examine the sole on up closely for any swelling or oddness.  Also talk to your farrier about this (along with the vet)

Let us know what you find out please...
Donna M
I finally had a chance to evaluate Sugar Bear tonight. Aside from yesterday when I thought I noticed her a little off on the right front, she has seemed sound in the pasture. I have not noticed any heat or inflammation and her activities and behaviors have been normal. A friend stopped by tonight and after some brief ground work we walked her barefoot and bare back down the gravel driveway, blacktop road and through the yard. Then we added a saddle and I wrapped her front feet in vet wrap before putting on her trail boots. After another walk down the road and back, we added a rider. She seemed fine the entire time. I’m taking her out for a ride on Sunday and hope she does ok.
Wishing you the best of luck on your ride Sunday.  I know my horses have been very tender footed with all the rain, hopefully that is all it is with Sugar Bear as well.  Keep us posted.
Donna M
Went on a nice ride today
Walk, trot, cantor - No issues
Vet wrap and trail boots did the trick.
Love this mare so much.
Awesome!!  So glad you figured it out!
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