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Author Topic: Heart and Sol  (Read 2309 times)

bearxfoo

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Heart and Sol
« on: August 05, 2014, 07:42:39 am »

I've always wanted to make a little journal where I could talk about Sol and all the things I do with horses, in a more "matter of fact" kind of platform... Well, I guess it's time I ought to do it and where else better than here?

We bought Sol two years ago from a lady who lives in Jackson, MI. She was supposedly 6 then. Unregistered, but she was pretty and in our price range. It was dusk when we arrived to their farm and they tacked her up for me and I rode her around, in the dark, in her pasture. She did great and I didn't have any complaints. The whole process was rushed though, because they told my husband over the phone if she didn't sell by that night (they had had her up for sale for awhile), she would be going off with their trainer to be worked for 90 days starting the very next day, then he was probably going to flip her. I didn't want that, even though I didn't know this horse, so we agreed to take her.

The next morning we arrived with the money. Their trainer agreed to bring her to us since we didn't have a truck or trailer. He was a nice enough guy who agreed to bring her to us over an hour away, so I couldn't really complain. He didn't know us or owe us anything.

They had her out and ready when we got there, but the owner was not there, just her husband and two daughters. The husband seemed happy that we were taking her and was not interested in a drawing up a contract, stating, "oh no, she's yours, don't worry". I just went with it.

Finally, the trainer arrived with his gooseneck stock trailer. It had another horse in it already and he said this horse needed to go to the vet. Okay then. Again, it was a free ride so what could I say?

Sundance, as she was called at the time, did not trailer well. All I remember is the trainer on the outside of the trailer, with the rope being pulled from inside (I can't remember how, though), and "Sundance" refusing to get in. He tapped her on the butt several times with a whip and she did NOT like that; I remember watching her move and thinking, "oh boy, she's gonna buck or kick". After a few minutes she finally hopped into the trailer, and all I can remember is looking at my husband and thinking, "what the hell did I just buy??"

We left at the same time the trainer did, but it would be quite a few hours before "Sundance" would arrive home. We got worried half way through, stopping at a rest area hoping to hear form the trainer. He did eventually call us back and said the vet trip was going longer than he expected.

Finally, though, she came home! Off the trailer she came, calmly, and started grazing. She was a good girl and seemed uninterested in her surroundings and more worried about eating.

It was then that we decided to rename her from Sundance to Solaris, or Sol for short. Because her name was Sundance, we wanted to rename her to something similar. Solaris is Greek and it means "Of the Sun". Fitting for her since she's this beautiful chocolate-y brown with golden in her mane and tail. She also has vivid amber eyes. She's almost identical to CJ but her and CJ are the only horses I've ever seen with this kind of coloring.

But, she was home now, and that's when the real fun began.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 07:55:52 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 10:23:49 am »

The first few weeks we had Sol, she was separated from the herd as we had to wait on a coggin's from her. The lady we bought her from told me she had a current coggin's, however when the day came, she mysteriously could not find it. On her vet records she gave me, she hand-wrote in coggin's even though it was a carbon-copy of the receipt.  ::)

I would be lying if I said, at first, I wasn't incredibly intimidated by Sol. She was bigger than CJ, much younger, and truthfully, she did NOT like me. This mare had so much attitude to boot, and being separated from the herd, kept in a round-pen for almost a month made her as sour as can be. The vet was coming for her coggins and I was the one who had to handle her, and she was NOT happy about that. She pinned her ears at me and tried to bite me several times. Luckily, she was not like this with my husband, who was going to be her primary rider, so I just did the best I could with being filled with some horrible amounts of fear.

Tying her up to the post waiting for the vet, I watched her as she moved constantly, refused to stand nice and was just an anxious mess. I stood back a few feet and just felt so bad because I totally thought we were in over our heads...

But, then vet came, got her coggins, looked at her teeth & floated them, said the age was pretty spot-on, and then left. She was sedated so the crazy mare I had just seen was gone, at least for a few minutes. Finally, she came to, and back to her roundpen she went.

The next couple of months that we owned her, she would teach both my husband and I a lot of lessons.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 09:08:11 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 10:39:45 am »

Sol's past was fill of holes, at best. We bought her from a women who was more a beginner than anything else. Her and her 2 daughters were into horses, but the girls, who were probably around 14 - 16 years old, had much more experience than her. The mom and one of the daughters shared Sol, or Sundance as they called her. She told us when she got Sol, she was as skinny as can be and was abused previously. Later I found out she likely wasn't abused. Since Sol was 6 when we got her, she must've been 4 or 5 when they bought her - which, for a beginner, that is just a bit too young of a horse. They did, however, work with a trainer weekly, taking lessons on Sol from him.

But things didn't go great for the beginner mom as Sol had a lot of attitude. Sol is the mare who's in charge - she wants to do what she wants, when she wants it, and she lets you know if she isn't happy about what you're asking of her.

Pictures like this:

Show just how much attitude the poor girl had.

Eventually, things got to the tipping point and Sol dumped the lady. According to her, they were walking along when she suddenly reared, took off at a sideways sprint and eventually the owner fell off. She was hurt pretty badly, stepped on when she fell, and had some bad bruises and a fractured hip. I guess the saying "green on green makes black and blue" is pretty accurate.

They bought her in December of 2011, and by September of 2012, she was sold to us.

Just recently, I spoke with the trainer that worked with her and he had nothing but good things to say about Sol. She's quite the horse. I learned that the people who broke her out were big into Parelli and that's probably where a lot of her bad habits were developed. Not saying anything against people who like Parelli, but from my experience, horses I've seen trained with their methods tend to be pushy and disrespectful. Sol was VERY much that. I also found out that Sol actually spent a month with this trainer and he worked her quite a bit, taking her to difficult trails. For him, she was wonderful. She did have issues being tied - which I still see today - he told me he would tie her up every day and let her just stand there, since it was such an issue for her. She's much better now but I still won't trust her in crossties.

Owning Sol has been such a wonderful, crazy adventure for us.

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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 12:26:52 pm »

Sol came to us with a whole host of problems, which included: not standing to be tied, not standing to be tacked, not standing in general. She hated putting a bit in her mouth, she wouldn't stand to be mounted, and she was extremely headstrong and stubborn.

Our first real, serious problem was the bitting issue. Besides her inability to stand nice, she was HELL to bit. She'd fling her head up as high as she could to avoid it. At first we thought it was a pain issue - we checked her teeth, her tongue, her lips. Then we tried different bits, all with the same issue. It got so bad that my husband ended up getting knocked in the head by her's. We thought that this problem would never fix.

But, eventually, we put her in an Imus Comfort Gait Bit and she seemed to accept it, more and more. Today, I can bit her with no halter on, not tied, standing in the middle of the arena or the barn aisle way. She's come quite a distance.

After her biting problem was solved, we then moved onto saddle fitting issues. Since Sol was originally bought for my husband, he insisted that he did not need to spend a lot of money on a good saddle. I rolled my eyes but I let him think what he wanted: she was, after all, his horse.

First, we borrowed a saddle from our barn owner. It was a King saddle. It seemed to fit okay but it wasn't ours, so we needed to buy one. Our first purchase was a Big Horn cordura gaited saddle, 17" seat. I thought it fit well...
but one trail ride, Sol was being a little anxious, kind of moving all over the place and the saddle slipped out from under neath my husband. He fell.

That started a long list of fall's my husband would experience...

After another incident with that Big Horn saddle, he decided to get a good saddle for her. During the early winter, my husband and I were on a trail ride. Him on Sol, and me on my new gelding, Sargent. Sargent was a very forward horse when I first got him, so we were quite a few strides in front of my husband. But suddenly while looking back to talk, Sol decided to just lay down. She didn't roll, she didn't do anything else except suddenly lay down on the trail, as if she was saying, "nope, I'm done." This was our fist REAL clue that something was wrong.



After that, Sol dropped quite a bit of weight. By the end of winter, we realized she was very sick but we didn't know why. Her attitude had changed drastically - she went from the feisty, stubborn horse to a very complacent, quiet, slow horse.



So the vet was scheduled out for shots and he also took fecal samples for worms. Even though Sol had been wormed when she came to the barn, her test showed she was LOADED with worms and we knew then that's why. She got dewormed with a pretty powerful paste and within a month or so, she was back to herself. She gained the weight back and we were very thankful.

We also had finally decided that a custom saddle would be perfect for Sol, since it was obvious all the "cheap" saddles we bought were not working out. In March, it came, and it fit perfectly, both Sol and my husband. I was EXCITED.

Unfortunately, though, I had lost my job, which meant my husband started working as much as possible - two jobs - to keep us float. I also focused all of my time on my gelding, Sargent, so Sol sat for quite awhile. We would take her out every now and again, my husband would work on her groundmanners, (which were finally improving) but we didn't have the time to ride her as much as she should've been ridden.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 07:42:03 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2014, 01:45:43 pm »

So, fast forwarding, after my husband was dumped from Sol a few times, and taking two jobs to support us, we did not ride Sol as much as we should have. I devoted all of my time to my gelding, Sargent, but things between us were not working out. In May of this year, I gave Sargent back to his previous owner. She was incredibly happy to have him back, so it worked out much better than I thought. But I couldn't keep investing time into a horse that fought me every step of the way. So I decided to focus on Sol instead. I had also tried to sell her, but nobody was interested. I took that as a sign, maybe we were meant to be together.

So, in May, I started working with Sol. I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified when I started working with her. My husband had done everything with her - with me supervising - and I knew he did a good job on the ground. But watching her spook and dump him multiple times, all I could think is, "oh god, when is that going to happen to me?".

I decided we needed to take things slow. I wanted to get to know Sol more, since our past wasn't really great - after all, when I first handled her, she pinned her ears at me and tried to bite me. It seemed now, though, that that mare was no where to be found, as she seemed completely fine with me, so I was relieved.

I started with her for a good solid two weeks of nothing but groundwork. We worked on general respect, leading, moving when I say move, backing up... that sort of stuff. We also lunged a lot, got her moving to see if there was any buck in her. Luckily, there was none. She did great on the ground. We got excellent at leading, at moving together. So while our groundwork was solid, I had to finally get on her back and see what she was made of.
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 08:37:45 am »

When I first started working with Sol, we did run into a minor problem of her running away from me. But I quickly fixed that by rewarding her with treats when she didn't run, and ever since I did that, Sol hasn't run from me once. In fact, when she sees me now, she comes TO me, which I think is absolutely amazing. Not even CJ did that.

June was a busy month for Sol and I, and it was for the better since we started riding by then. We only did arena stuff in the beginning, as I was too scared to take her around the trails by myself on where I boarded. I finally got bored of the arena, however, and decided to take Sol to a nearby park to ride her. It was just her and I and my husband on a bike. She did GREAT. A little spooky since we were alone, but we did the whole park and it was pretty amazing. She was so nervous that I couldn't get her to standstill or walk, but that's to be expected on our first outing a lone.

We also did a desensitization clinic hosted at my barn by my barn owners in the beginning of June. It was mainly for upcoming members who wanted to join their mounted patrol group for the township. It was, however, open to all boarders. Sol and I eagerly attended.

The day started off pretty okay as I opt'd to walk Sol through the obstacles first before riding her. She was being okay for the most part, she let me tack her up no problem without even tying her as the tying areas were being used. I lead her into the arena, past the scary pig area, with no problems either. And once we got in, she was fine. Some stuff scared her initially, but she quickly got over almost everything except some small things: smoke, flares, flags and the big giant ball. I was so proud of my horse. She really impressed me and I was really starting to see the kind of horse Sol could be.

Later on in the month, I took Sol to a second desensitization clinic hosted at my now current barn. This was, Sol did even better than the first. She took on EVERY single obstacle and did not hesitate at all. It was amazing because we were in a strange environment with lots of new, scary stuff, and she did everything with stride.

A weekend after that, I took Sol to yet ANOTHER clinic, this time it was at a campground about an hour from us. If you can believe it - Sol did even better than at the other clinics. By this time, I was convinced that Sol was an amazing horse and that I had gold all along and never knew it.

Here's some pictures from our clinics.

Waterloo, June 28th:







Here's from the clinic before that:









And here's from our solo-ride at Crosswinds:


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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2014, 02:01:59 pm »

By the end of June, Sol and I were becoming pretty close and I was really starting to *feel* something for this mare. It's so funny because I had bought her for my husband, who ended up falling a few times, and he was really scared of her. She sat in a field for so long because I, too, was afraid after seeing him fall. But when I finally gave her a chance, rode and worked with her, I realized she was a good horse who just needs somebody to trust her so she can trust them.

I made the decision, however shortly after I started riding her, to move barns. Although I was pretty happy at my previous barn, I was pretty lonely as I was the most active boarder there. Or at least it felt like it. Maybe my schedule didn't line up with the other boarders, but regardless, I wanted a more "social" barn. So I looked around and I found a place where a couple of my friends had moved to. I had been there a few times, so I saw the facility and knew it was very nice. They also had recently built an indoor arena with crossties, tack storage, grain room - the works. So it was a pretty good deal, lots of amenities, and a great atmosphere. I decided that this was the place I wanted to be.

We moved in July 1st. Trailering, both CJ and Sol did great. I don't have a head divider though (straight load trailer), so I had to have Chris stand in the back and make sure they didn't try to bite at each other. It was a short drive so Chris wouldn't be in any danger.

CJ settled in pretty fast but Sol was a little more anxious over the whole thing. I came out almost every day the first week we were there and I walked Sol around the property, tried to show her all the scary stuff she wasn't use to seeing. For the most part, she was okay, but the property also has train tracks literally backing up to it. So the southern half of the property, Sol was really a mess in. And she still is. Back there is also an obstacle course which is continuously set up all year long. 

This is Sol and Chris on the tire before the bridge:



Sol and Chris on the mattress:



And then Sol and me, with her standing on another large tire.



The first two weeks there, we spent a lot of time on the obstacles. But the biggest challenge I've had with Sol is her spookiness. At this property, her spookiness has been so unpredictable and sometimes, pretty scary. The first ride I had with her around the 1.5 mile long bridle path around the property was just a spookfest. We did lots of sideways jumps, bolting forward, spooking in place. And every ride afterwards has almost been the same thing: spooking unpredictably and for no real reason. She'll spook when another horse does, when nobody else is, if the wind slightly picks up, at nothing at all. That is our biggest challenge and I'm not sure what the remedy is.. if she's just a spooky horse in general, or if it'll ever resolve itself. Sometimes her spooks are so bad, she does a complete 180 spin. We're going one way then suddenly we're not. I remember one of the first rides, there is a little alcove on the property, and within the trees is a cabin the BO's built, plus an outhouse. The first time I tried to get her to go through it, we were gaiting pretty well and ALMOST in when she decided nope, not happening, and we did a complete spin back out. I don't know how I stayed on, but I did. I just remember yelling "OH SHIT" as we did this because I was so completely taken off-guard by it. The girl I was riding with was on a walking horse too, but bareback. Luckily he did not act like my mare did, but she circled back and made sure we were okay. The rest of the ride was just as eventful, as Sol spooked and took off with me towards the front of the property too. That day I must have done 3 one-rein spots with her because she wanted to take off with me.

I will say, though, that since we moved, Sol is being ridden more than ever. I'm at the barn almost every day, and every day, we're riding, working on something new. From the obstacles, to the trails, the arena, a giant ball... Sol is getting her mind and body worked and I'm incredibly happy.  We've been there a little over a month now, and I'm just so amazed at the people who invite me to ride with them, who're there to help, to do fun activities with.


Sol inside the barn after a nice little workout.

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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 05:33:57 pm »

I never did really talk about, in depth, our ride at Crosswinds Marsh. I went twice, by myself (meaning no other horse people). The first time my husband came along via bike. The second time my husband came via bike, again, and so did a friend of his.

Our first ride at Crosswinds was..... interesting to say the least. Sol is the kind of horse that has no confidence on her own. She needs a strong leader. I try to be the best that I can be but I'm not perfect. We did do the whole 5 mile loop, left the staging area without any issues, but she was very anxious the whole time. We spooked a lot, but overall the ride wasn't horrible. I was proud of her.

I took her back again about a week later. It was the same - anxious as all get up, but she had issues leaving the staging area. Two women had recently rode up to the staging area as we were getting ready to leave. I knew one of them from somewhere, so I chatted with them for a few minutes then tried to go off alone. Well, Sol was having NONE of it. I'd urge her forward and she would spin right around back to the trailer. I tried maybe 5 or 6 times, all with the same result: walk forward a bit, and SPIN right back around. So the lady I was talking to took her mare and lead us out a bit, then stopped, and as soon as the other horse stopped, so did Sol. I did have to get off, lead Sol about 30 or 40 feet, and then give it another go. After that she was fine to ride alone - but for some reason she just couldn't leave the staging area. The rest of the ride was uneventful - she did spook, as usual - but nothing unpredictably or crazy. We made it back safely in one piece.

Well. Since then I've seen the women a few times who helped us, as she's best friends with my current barn owner. This will make sense a little bit later into our current story....

Last night, Sol and I had a chance at doing some cowboy games on horseback! I eagerly attended, although I did not expect too much out of Sol, as the events took place in the outdoor arena, which is positioned at the back of the property, right up next to where the train comes by. Sol is very spooky and unhappy in the arena, but I figured she might be "better" with other horses. For the most part, she was.

The first game we played with picking up a pinwheel out of a cone that was on top of a barrel and moving it to another cone. Well, Sol wouldn't do that (spooked at the pinwheel). Next game was pushing the soccer ball down the arena to make a goal. Sol wouldn't do that, either (scared of the soccer ball). The next game was holding a piece of toilet paper between two horses, going down the arena without breaking it. Well, Sol spooked at the toilet paper, too, and took off at a spin/canter, so we couldn't do that. Next game we had to do was going down the arena, getting a page out of a magazine, and bringing it back. We DID do that! Yippie. And the last game was going down the rail with a spoon holding a golf ball. We also successfully did that!! Even though we didn't do most of the games, at least we did a few. Afterwards, we all played soccer together and finally Sol was able to push the ball around without being scared.

I will say that at one point, I got off of Sol to grab some pizza and like an idiot, my reins fell and she stepped into them, getting caught. I felt SO horrible and bad because she could've been seriously hurt and it was just a dumb error. I was truly embarrassed. After the rein went up over her hoof and pastern, she calmed down (no more pressure on her mouth) and I unclipped her, but I felt so embarrassed and ashamed that I was a little shaky and almost, almost, cried. It was in front of *everybody* and I felt so irresponsible. I am going to buy shorter reins so that does NOT happen again, and I'm also going to make sure that if I ever fall off, my reins can't get come down and get caught on her, either.


Sol, me and the group: I'm the one standing near the rainbow flag


But - as for earlier - my husband had to drop off some cash for pizza and when he walked up, he over heard that same women I had help me at Crosswinds talk about Sol and I, and how she acted that day. She then turned to my husband and said, "Your wife is brave for riding that mare - she's A LOT of horse".

And the truth is - she really is a lot of horse. She's very reactive, flighty, stubborn. She gets upset if there's too much going on and she has to stand still or tied (she was never taught to stand tied for long periods of time). She's very spooky and she's very headstrong. She wants to do what she wants, when she wants it, and she is not being use to being told different. I do love this mare though, because like her, I am very stubborn and headstrong. We're both opinionated and I think it gets us both into trouble. Instead of going with the flow of things, we have to go against the grain. Instead of taking another horses' word that something won't eat us, she has to figure it out on her own, and most of the time she comes to the wrong conclusion.

I hope that in time, she will grow up and into a wonderful horse that won't spook every 5 seconds. Because I do love her, but sometimes it's hard to just go for a ride. Instead I have to be worried about, "well, do I want to ride a crazy ride tonight? do I want to spin sideways constantly?" And it's hard, because I could sell her, get another horse, and have all that. But instead, I choose to put time into her, because I think deep down in there, there's a horse that wants to try and make you happy, but she just needs to figure out that she CAN do it.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 10:14:52 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2014, 10:55:38 am »

I noticed not long after I started working with Sol that she seems to have pretty hormonal cycles. Some days she'd run from me, other days she wouldn't. Some days she'd be very difficult leading, other days, she wouldn't care. I figured out that it was probably her cycle and decided to put her on some "mare specific" supplements to maybe see if they would help "get the edge off". For the most part, they seem to have worked.

That did not, however, address her extremely spooky nature. At times it felt like Sol was afraid of her own shadow. This was frustrating for us because you don't always want a ride where you're on edge the whole time, trying to keep a perfect balanced seat so if your horse spooks you won't get dumped. Sometimes it's nice to relax and just enjoy the ride. Not possible with miss Sol. She often would spook at nothing at all - maybe a leaf or a stick. Things a horse should not spook at!

I got frustrated to the point of deciding to try some extra supplements. Through research, there is a link between being deficient in magnesium and being spooky for horses. I figured that I honestly have no clue if my horse gets any magnesium at all, it couldn't hurt to put her on a supplement for it. Adding it to the mix wasn't a big deal and I went with a lower dose of 5,000mg a day.

Well, the first couple days she was on it, I did not notice a difference. In fact, we had one minor spook in the arena for the first time within that week (she has never spooked in the arena previously). Outside of one of the openings, my BO had left her roller, and Sol saw it and kind did a little sidepass. No big deal. The rest of that night went fine, with us leaving the arena to ride around the property driveways to help with her gait (she gaits better on harder pavement).

I waited another week and went back out to ride. Well, Monday (8/18) is when I noticed my gelding limping, and I went back every night this week to care for him. Wednesday evening apparently was a very busy night at the barn, with a ton of people showing up after 6pm. I continued to care for CJ but it was apparent that everybody was going for a ride around the bridle trail. I reluctantly agreed because I was honestly scared Sol would spook a ton. The last few times I had taken her around the bridle path, she was a spooky, spooky mess, even one time being so bad as wanting to take off with me and I needed to one rein stop her more than once.

At first, it was just me and one other girl, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't insanely nervous. I was! Sol's signature spook is a nice sideways jump. Horses are just large creatures and it's amazing how with little effort they can move their whole bodies, all at once, to one side. Sol does it with grace but man is it scary.

So, we're walking along and Sol has a smaller stride which means we go pretty slow. The girl is pretty far out in front of us but Sol doesn't seem to mind. I try to urge to keep up but she continues to fall behind. We complete half the loop, pass by some other horses on the trail and eventually meet up with a larger group: 3 others plus the BO on her golf cart. We decide to join them! Yay, bigger group. Well, we walk for a bit, and Sol is still doing fine. No spooks! We completed the other half of the trail and we still were doing pretty good. We even went through the scary little alcove where a cabin and outhouse are. No spooks at all. I was super impressed.

Once we passed through the alcove we paused for a minute as we were attacked by those yucky BOMBER flies. Then, we decided to pick up the pace, since the bugs were comin'.

Well, let me tell you, going fast on a spooky horse made me just terrified. All I could think was "if she spooks sideways at this speed, I don't know if I'll stay on". But to my surprise, she DIDN'T. Not even once, as we went over the driveway, around corners, passed houses with dogs barking, and the scariest area: riding along the treeline where the train goes by.

I was amazed and finally was able to relax. Sol gaited most of the long stretch but she did break into a trot or pace at times. I was 90% able to bring her back into her gait by just a little pressure on her mouth and telling her to get it together.

I had SO much fun on her. She can REALLY move when she wants. For the last stretch of the straightaway, I let her speed up. She did do a pretty hard pace but it was maybe 15 feet of length. We finally all stopped and man, I was sweaty but I had a BLAST.

I'm pretty convinced that the magnesium is helping. I'm sure a big group of horses helped, too, but she didn't experience any balking or spooking even when it was just her and one other horse.

Just one more way Sol continues to impress me!

The group of us before we started to pick up the pace (I'm the last one):

« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 10:57:21 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 10:32:37 am »

This weekend was a huge milestone for Sol and I. Even though we've owned Sol for two years, I only started riding her since April/May. Since I started riding her, I've only taken her off property a handful of times. And never anyplace with complex trails and never in a group larger than 3 (and that includes myself).

Well, this weekend I had the opportunity to take Sol to Kensington Metro Park twice! Both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we trailered ourselves and met two others and we rode for about 3 hours. It was a wonderful ride, beautiful weather, and Sol did not do one thing wrong. She was wonderful and I was sooo proud of her. I was also proud of myself because it was the furthest I've driven on my own - it was about 45/50 minute drive on 3 large highways - 94, 275, and 96 (which, 96 is the worst out of all of them, CRAZY amounts of traffic). I was very nervous but I did!

Sunday was a BIG ride. Two ladies from my barn went, along with 4 others. In total it was 7 horses. I had never ridden Sol in a large group so I had no clue how she was going to do. We also used my trailer but not my truck and another lady from my barn drove, so it was Sol and another horse in my trailer.

Well, Sunday, she did a-mazing. She did just as well as she did on Saturday. It was such a big ride and I had no clue how she would act, but she didn't take one wrong step. And, bonus, we rode up to the Dairy Queen which was on the corner of a pretty busy intersection - Sol did not care what so over. We also crossed said intersection and again, Sol didn't care at all. All the cars going by, loud noises, motorcycles, semi-trucks - nothing bothered her.



We ended up riding fro 5 or 6 hours and we actually got lost but Sol did great. At one point we ran into a nest of bees, ground bees I think. All of the sudden the horse in front of us starts freaking out and then shortly there after, Sol does too. Then all of the sudden you hear somebody yell "BEES, BEES" and the group just takes off at a dead run to get away from them. We go a bit and then stop and a few horses in front of us had bees in her tail so she had to hop off and get them out. I ended up getting stung by a bee at this time! I couldn't believe it because I've never, ever, ever been stung by a bee in my whole life! Luckily it turns out I'm not allergic and I was okay.

The one thing that went really "wrong" was towards the end of our ride. We wanted to find some water for our horses since we rode for like, 5/6 hours without any, and just off the trail is a river. You can access it from either side of the road via a little downward embankment. Well, when we rode up, there was metal canoes on the ground near both entrances. Pretty much every horse flipped over these canoes. Sol and I made it passed them okay to the water, albeit she was pretty nervous and scared, but another women had problems, got off to lead her horse through. Well, her horse straight up ran her over and knocked her down. Going back was just as bad - another women's horse did the same thing.

Well, it came time for Sol and I to go passed it and I thought we were going to be okay - we inched up slowly and she was very nervous, eyeballing the canoes like they were going to jump out and eat her. She then suddenly jumped forward at a pretty good clip, then turned right and stopped on a dime. Well, somehow she got my balance off and before I knew it I was on the ground. I pretty much went right over her head and did a little sideways roll fall onto my shoulder. I got right back up, although I was little dizzy & the wind got knocked out of me, but otherwise, I was okay. Stood for a moment, regained myself, and got back on. We rode back to the staging area and we were okay the rest of the way.

Surprisingly, this was my first fall off of Sol. It wasn't that bad, shockingly, and I know she didn't do it on purpose and didn't run off after I got dumped, so I'm actually proud of her. I had no nervous getting back on her, wasn't scared at all. I'm proud of both of us!

Sol did amazing. I got a lot of compliments on her and how wonderfully she acted. The other girl that drove us complimented us A LOT, said that Sol really took care of me today, that she really trust me and she can see how well we work together. That made me SO happy. Another women on the ride, the same women who helped us at Crosswinds, told me that from the first time she saw her to today, it's like she's a completely different horse. They all complimented us and it just made me grin as big as possible.

Really love this little mare, I am so happy we're together.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 11:37:00 am by bearxfoo »
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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  • Posts: 271
Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2014, 07:03:22 pm »

It is my goal to expose Sol to as much as possible and get her to be a well rounded horse that thinks before she acts. It's difficult, because horses are flight creatures who run first and ask questions later, but so far Sol is really coming into a good trail horse.

Yesterday I introduced her to a giant swan. Yes. A giant swan.

It went pretty well! She was scared of it at first and got some good nose snorting but after while she was following it around and seemed pretty "ok" with it. :)







I can honesty say that this mare is wonderful and I think her and I will have many years of awesome miles ahead of us. :)
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2014, 08:40:08 am »

Since I am without a saddle, I decided to order a bareback pad as riding bareback without out is pretty uncomfortable. Sol doesn't have GIANT withers and she isn't SUPER bony, but I can still feel her spine and I'm sure my bony butt doesn't help her, either.

I've been looking for a specific kind of pad for a long time. I love the plushy, thick feeling of fleece, so I searched all over to find one. I finally did! Toklat makes a bareback pad from their "coolback" material. I got it in blue and it's absolutely wonderful. I rode in it for the first time yesterday and man, I felt so secure. I don't ride around bareback too much, but I think with this pad I may do it more often. I didn't realize how good of a seat I do have because I was just fine riding her around bareback. We gaited a bunch in the arena and when she broke into a trot, I didn't fall off! Lol. But amazingly, Sol gaits much nicer bareback.... interesting. I wonder if my saddle did not fit her.



I've missed out on a couple of rides. Last weekend I got invited to Waterloo, but Waterloo is extremely rocky and I do not shoe Sol. I considered it but I want to try and maintain my horses barefoot unless they need corrective shoeing for medical conditions. CJ may end up shoed on his back feet due to his abscesses, as the shoes will provide extra protection, however since his abscess has drained, everything seems pretty okay.

There was also a big ride yesterday (Sunday) but due to my shyness, I missed out on that too. I saw a post for it but I wasn't sure if people were going in groups or what time or anything so I just kept quiet and didn't go, lol. It's okay because I didn't have a saddle for either of them - I am borrowing somebody's Tucker but it's not mine and does not fit me well. So really, going wasn't a real good option. BUT! Today my new saddle should arrive and I will take pictures when it gets here! It's a bummer because I have school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. It'll be until Thursday before I can try it on Sol :( That's okay, at least I have a new saddle!
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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  • Posts: 271
Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2014, 09:32:17 am »

My new saddle finally came!! I am so happy and relieved that it's finally here. It arrived Monday and I got to try it on Sol on Tuesday. I was bummed because I thought I wasn't going to try it on her until Thursday, but my Tuesday night class let out really early so I rushed home and went to the barn with it.

I tried it on her and I'm pretty sure it's a good fit. It's a little bit more narrow than my previous saddle but hopefully this one will still work out. The seat is wonderful as it's an inch smaller - it may not seem like a big deal but it makes a huge difference. I need to adjust the latigo leathers from the front ring to the back, but otherwise, I am all set for trail riding. :) I am hoping that maybe I'll go someplace this weekend but nothing is set in stone yet.

Here's a picture!



I got a ton of compliments at the barn, people commented on the color and how well it matches Sol and how well it appears to fit. I'm very happy and HOPEFULLY I'll never have to buy another saddle again! I have NO PLANS to ever sell Sol, so this should be it!
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

  • Sr. Member
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  • Posts: 271
Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2014, 09:38:25 am »

Well, Sol and I had a great weekend.

Saturday we went to Waterloo. It's a pretty complex, large trail system in Chelsea, MI. It's beloved by many trail riders in our state and has probably one of the biggest, most active trail associations. I know lots of the members ride solely at Waterloo because the trails are so large and complex, you can ride there for years and not see everything it has to offer.

I trailered and it was myself & Sol, with a friend of mine from the barn, Stacy, and her mare, Violet. We met up with a mutual friend of ours at Waterloo who was camping there for the weekend.

We got a late start to the day, getting to the barn at around 11am and finally getting on the road sometime near noon. Sol gave me a hard time loading to leave the barn and she was really full of piss and vinegar. Had to let her out in the arena and free lunge her, she was pretty nuts in there. Running full speed around - it was awesome to watch but dang, was she full of it.

We finally got on the trail sometime after 1 and we rode until 5pm. It was a great ride and Sol did wonderful. Afterwards, we hung around the campground, partook in the potluck and just had a really nice, social time.

I could've ridden on Sunday but unfortunately, I had prior plans to go to a baseball game with my mom. I was pretty disappointed because a bunch of people got together and went to Crosswinds. I was suuuuper bummed, but there's always next week.

I'm hoping I get a lot more riding time in before snow falls.

I am, however, having some trailer problems which super bums me out. The center pole that holds the divider keeps coming undone while driving and there's two horses connect. I hang the trailer ties from the center divider and the pressure plus the vibration causes the pins to come loose and then the pole just unhinges. Dangerous, because I have a head divider welded onto the same pole, and when the pole comes unhinged, the head diver rotates in front of a horses face. Could cause a big issue while driving. I've tried to contact the manufacturer with no luck. I am getting pretty annoyed and am considering selling this trailer if I cannot get it fixed by the people who built the darn thing!

Anyway, here's a few photos from this weekend!

I'm in the green hoodie :)





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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"

bearxfoo

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  • Posts: 271
Re: Heart and Sol
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2014, 10:25:14 am »

well, looks like I'm back to trailer shopping.... I can't say I'm happy about this, because honestly, trailer shopping is a big pain in the butt. I spent months before Equine Affaire looking for a good trailer and I thought I had made a good decision with Eclipse.
When I looked up Eclipse, there was no bad reviews on them. However, right around May, June of this year, the whole company went........... bad? There's 9 complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General, and they've also had their BBB rating revoked, and they're at an F currently. They're ignoring their customers, not returning phone calls or emails, not even acknowledging certified letters. People have complained about loosing large deposits on trailers, thousands of dollars. They're supposedly in receivership which is not a good sign for their customers.

I've been shopping now online to see what's out there for a responsible price. Sadly, you get what you pay for seems to be ringing true. My budget isn't SUPER high, so that narrows my scope quite a bit. I have been emailing companies of trails I like to see how quickly they respond to inquires. 2 of the 3 I've emailed so far have replied. I may email others, but I'm leaning towards a 4star Trailer. Closest dealer is 2 hours away though, which.... is a drive, but, if it's a good trailer, it may be worth it.

We'll see... I still need to fix my trailer and then resell it, which means I lose out on riding time, ugh, so frustrating!
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Stephanie, S.E. Michigan

Sol, 13 year old TWH mare
RIP CJ. April 1986 - April 10th, 2018. CJ was 32.

"Confidence is built on the back of a horse"
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