I've been really busy with non-horsey stuff (Thanksgiving anyone?) these past weeks and haven't been posting much, on the other hand there hasn't been a whole lot I've wanted to write about on the horse front. But here's a brief (well, as brief as I can be) summary just to keep things recorded:
Uneven trot thing - doing much better, although there have been a few times she's once again been kind of stiff and uneven especially when starting out a ride. Transitions seem to work really well loosening her up. Also been doing a lot of turns on the haunches.
Behavior - she's once again starting to oscillate between almost completely dead to my leg aids and needing to be pushed every stride or absolutely electric, spooking and running away with me every few minutes. I'm hoping this is one of those "two steps back before the big step forward" things, and the truth is that the other day we had a ride where she was pretty electric and just barely controllable at first but with just the right guidance was much more fun to ride than usual as I didn't have to push her constantly. So maybe it's a matter of me becoming comfortable with her kicking it up a notch.
It's been a rainy week and she's hurt her hoof (see more below) so she had a couple of days off, then yesterday when I took her out to the parking lot to lunge a bit she had a spook and shouldered me off the path. I'm pretty bummed that this is something that keeps happening - granted it hardly ever happens any more and when it does she doesn't actually run me over like she used to, but she's still not beyond shoving me aside and I'm painfully aware that this is evidence of her lack of trust and respect for me. Anyhow I've been thinking about it and I think that my response when she does this is inappropriate and may be in fact making things worse - I tend to get aggravated, make myself larger and get her focussed on me (in hopes she won't run me over) in a fairly aggressive way, jerking at the lead rope, tapping her with my stick and reprimanding her or even giving a quick "Hey!" shout. But if I think about it rationally, a whisper would probably do as well (or better) as a shout, and the truth is I can't expect her to trust me if my response to her being scared is effectively scaring her more. So next time, I'm planning to try to keep my body language as non-threatening and neutral as possible and talk to her calmly, reassuring her there's nothing to be afraid of. Whatever happens it will be a learning experience.
Dentist - so the equine dentist came over from Barcelona on her yearly visit and everything was more or less fine. A few points but nothing to write home about. Starbuck behaved nicely (the sedation helps) and it went much faster than expected. Sandra Fortuny's my dentist, she's more expensive than just having the vet float their teeth but I really like her and think she does a really good job, plus she's really good and patient with the horsies. She studied (she's actually a qualified equine surgeon) for a while in the US and did her residency at the animal hospital near Aqueduct race tracks.
New boo boos - her new bald spot is healing nicely and starting to have a thin layer of fur, and she has less fly-scratchy scabs than she does in the dead of summer, but she still has them. And it's not surprising, as there are still a fair amount of flies. I lent my fly mask to a friend whose horse has eye issues, but I'm thinking I may have to keep the fly mask on her year-round. She's the scabbiest on her cheeks where she scratches herself with her hind hoof. And what blog post would be complete without a new wound? When I went to clean out her feet on Monday I noticed she was missing a chunk of her front left hoof and frog where I'm guessing she stepped on herself with one of the studs on her horseshoes. It wasn't bleeding and didn't seem to hurt her when I probed it and cleaned it out, so I wasn't too worried but I checked with my vet and she recommended bandaging it with gauze and disinfectant for at least two days so that's what I've been doing. After four days of bandaging she isn't lame at all and the wound has grown noticeably smaller so today I just cleaned it but didn't put a bandage on her and we'll see how it goes - she'll have a rest this weekend since I'm going to Madrid.
OK, I think that's all for now. All in all we're making progress, I'm just going through a phase where I'm feeling very doubtful and inquisitive about what we're doing and where we're going, and especially about our relationship. We're still at a level where I have to ask / nag / demand and I wonder how much of this is her, and how much of it is me (pretty sure it's nearly all me). I know there's a better way to do things, and having just finished reading Alois Podjasky's "My Horses, My Teachers" I'm really motivated to try to find it. But right now I'm completely at a loss as to how to motivate her in more positive ways - I'm getting better at this but she's just not the kind of horse that responds much to cuddles. Anyhow it's simply yet another daily reminder of the mindblowing amount of things I still have to learn about horses.
Got to remember my mantra - Try different things.