Saturday, September 26, 2015

Update on Branson: Sound and Sane

Just a quick update to say that Branson has completed his second offsite show since his rehabilitation and I can honestly say his performance has blown me away! We competed at first level, lacking the real topline to push farther this year. Anyone who is familiar with Branson will remember that he's impossibly picky when it comes to grain, so I've only just now found a grain that he will scarf down without losing interest in... hence the frustrating lack of muscle.

Anyway, he was incredibly steady and well behaved at Woodbine last week, and I can't have been happier with his performance. I'm so lucky to have this beautiful boy in my life.

He also showed (with great success) in a couple of intro classes with his new half-leaser, Erika, who is the perfect match for him (patient, kind, balanced and gentle - who could ask for more in a leaser?!) I couldn't be happier for the two of them!

Also, as a quick aside, Since last posting about Branson I have found his brand on his left gaskin and it turns out he is a Holsteiner, not a Hanoverian (which is what I was told he was, when he was given to me.) I'm still trying to make out his brand so that I can find out where in Germany he comes from.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Spotlight on Willow: Emily's First Adventure in Breeding

You may know I'm a huge fan of baroque breeds, as well as Arabians. That is why in June when a friend of a friend offered to sell me one of her gorgeous Arabian broodmares with a breeding to her junior Andalusian stallion, I had to say yes!

Willow, aka Starstruck Motivation, is a 2008 mare by Pioneer Eclipse, making her a half sister to Caspian (who is thoroughly enjoying his new owner and his life as a show horse!) She is smart, attentive and very sensible. I brought her home several weeks before breeding and started her under saddle, which was so much easier than I'd anticipated. If there is any complaint I have about this intelligent little lady it's that she's too affectionate. She's always looking for a scratch or a rub, and she can be right up in your face to ask for them. We're pretty solid on our ground manners, but sometimes she's just a little too desperate for attention!

In early July, Willow was bred to the beautiful boy pictured at right, Matador BPF. This is his first year breeding, but he is a stately and intelligent boy, with lots of forward push. Despite being a bit more of the compact bullfighter-style Andalusian, his movement is sporty and big.

While I did confirm her pregnancy with an ultrasound I haven't had Willow's fall check, yet, but the hope is that her pregnancy is progressing and she will foal in the first week of July 2016.

In the meantime, she's continuing to learn under saddle for a few more months before she gets to be left to her own devices as a fat broodmare in the field. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spotlight on Veery: A Plucky Addition to the EMJ Equine Family

Meet Veery! She joined the string back in November of 2014 as a very-green-broke ex-broodmare. She'd been used a few years for breeding by a gypsy vanner farm on the west side of the state (producing some gorgeous solid babies), and before that she'd gone through an auction so no one really knows where she comes from or what she is. There are speculations that she's a Desert Norman (arabXperch) or a Friesian cross, or even just a straight Welsh Cob, but I'm never opposed to a nicely moving grade horse! Whatever she is, she's a gorgeous mover and she has the sweetest personality of any mare I've ever met. 

When she first arrived she was pretty stiff and had a very sensitive back. The chiropractor suggested it might've been because of hauling babies around for a few years, without a lot of supportive topline muscle. 

Now, after a year of training, barefoot trimming by our equine podiatrist and 4-5 chiropractic visits, she is sound and working hard in lessons! She does move a bit like a cart horse, with very expressive legs, but she also has enough power behind to come through into a very nice frame. We are still working to balance in the canter, but I would expect this little lady to go far!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Branson Update: First Time Bitted and Ridden Post EORTH Surgery!

Today was the first time I attempted to put a bit in Branson's mouth, since his surgery. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me, but he bitted easily and settled immediately. 

He had his surgery back in October, at the ever-amazing Kern Road Veterinary Clinic in Fowlerville, Michigan. It was a fairly uncomplicated surgery, though they did end up having to remove all of his top incisors, and one of his bottoms. I'll have to post his X-rays at some point - they're amazing!

Anyway, they also cut out quite a bit of bone, so it took a long while for it to fill in and heal up, especially since he kept tearing out sutures (ew!).

After the surgery it took him a while to get back to eating normally, and sometimes he'd just stop eating because it definitely was painful, but he's back to eating regularly now. Above is a photo of his extracted teeth, cleaned and boiled. Those large lumps are the hyper-cementosis part of EORTH, where his body laid down massive calcium growth after the roots of the teeth had dissolved.

Anyway, fast-forward to today.

I started with some groundwork to get him focused on me. He has a lovely habit of hollering constantly when he is unmounted in the arena, so we've been working on using natural horsemanship to get him to devote more attention to his handler, which has been working well.

After lunging him for 10 minutes or so, I hopped on him bareback to see how he would take to being actually ridden with the bit in his mouth. He has lost considerable weight after his surgery, and is only now starting to regain muscle and stamina; as a result, his spine is quite prominent and so riding bareback was less than comfortable for me, that's for sure!

Still, I noticed a huge difference right away. Where he'd always been heavy and clenched on the bit, he was soft and chewing and instantly working through his back. I can't even begin to express my happiness with this!

I hadn't even realized how stiff he was holding his jaw before. He worked seamlessly in walk, both forward and through, to a bit of collected walk, through renvers, travers, leg yield, shoulder in, half pass and turns on the haunches and forehand. The boy has the most amazing and sensitive buttons that I was never able to push before because of the pain in his mouth. He was soft, supple and sensitive, and completely focused.

I didn't dare trot him bareback, alone in the arena (I'm positive I'd pop off of him in two strides), but I honestly believe he is ready to go back to work! I'll be ordering him a muscle-builder supplement today, and I plan to get him started on that asap, but apart from his lack of weight/muscle, he is 100% ready.

I want to thank everyone so much for helping us to raise funds to get him the surgery he needed. He is very obviously more comfortable than he has ever been in my care, and he has acclimated to the large field with flying colors. I am eternally grateful for the amazing community that backed him and helped him get to where he is.

Also, his new nickname is "Mr. Tongue" because unfortunately he sticks his tongue out almost ALL the time now! While lunging today it was hanging out at least four inches, flopping around loosely and ridiculously. I suppose this is a testament to his newly relaxed jaw and mouth. LOL!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Equine Photo Sessions: Our Fundraising Adventure Continues

Branson continues to gain muscle and weight, as well as energy and enthusiasm for life. We get comments daily from passersby who notice his improvement. 

I am aiming to send Branson up for his surgery in late October, so we're closing in on just a couple more weeks before we need to be fully funded! Our next fundraiser is an Equine Photo Session!

Many years ago I began doing professional equine photography as a side job while I was in college. I would travel around to small events to cover their riders, but my favorite were always the individual personal photo shoots! Whether it was a young child and her pony or a seasoned competitor and her show horse, it was always so exciting to try to capture the connection between equines and their humans. Eventually I had to put photography on the back-burner because my lesson program was expanding.

So, with this fundraiser it'll be so much fun to drag out the camera to offer these sessions - especially since the proceeds are going to help Branson!

Here's the official info:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Branson Fundraiser Update

We have raised 1/3 of our goal amount for Branson's surgery! 
I'd like to take some space to give a BIG BOLD THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed!

Branson got a bath yesterday, and spent the morning soaking up the sun while he ate his alfalfa pellets, grain and supplements. He has finally started to gain noticeable weight, and his energy is increasing as well! I think the big difference has been that he is enthusiastic about working on the lunge line. 

Last week, I took him on his first trail ride - ever! The poor boy had never hacked out before, so it was a new experience for him, and apart from an occasional snort and some deep breathing he had no spooks! He's such a willing partner, despite his poor condition, and it's such a joy to work with him... 

Don't forget, you can order our fundraiser T-shirts online, or we will have them available at the October 18th Meadowlark Halloween Fun Show! 

Check back tomorrow for our next installment in our fundraising quest!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cool Evenings and Hot Horses: Branson, week three

Last night was a beautiful, cool evening here in SE Michigan. The sky was a variety of brilliant colors and the horses were feeling frisky in the fall air.

I brought Branson in briefly after I finished teaching to check his progress, as he'd had a chiropractic adjustment the previous afternoon, and right off the bat he was a sassy goofball. I'm realizing that it's probably a good idea to do some serious training refreshers with this guy before he gains much muscle. He can be a real handful (despite how chill he generally appears in his videos) so I've switched him to a rope halter and started some horsemanship groundwork with him.

This first video is our lunging from last night. You can see (especially if you view it fullscreen) he is still stronger to the left than to the right, but at the end of the video when I started to take large steps he began to engage his hind end more strongly.

This is a free lunging video from a few days ago, when Branson was especially spunky. You can see at times he appears to have full range of motion through his hind and front ends. I really believe once he gains muscle he'll be increasingly sound.