As you may have already figured out, I’ve been even more of a fair weather rider this year than usual with Joey distracting me and my
sheer fear of being bucked off lack of motivation due to apprehension regarding how Copper will return to work post-Lyme treatment. Paige has carried me around occasionally, but outside of the clinic prep its been all trail riding or toodling about.
Some fall plans have begun to unfold, so I’ve started trying to leg her up for the adventures. On Saturday I rode her in my western tack and she felt fine, but whenever I asked her to go on the bit, she folded herself up behind the vertical or plunged her face to the ground like she wants to drag her nose in the dirt. This is normal for her in this bit, but since she and I are more likely to wander around on the buckle, it hasn’t been an issue. As long as I don’t ask her to go on the bit, she doesn’t go behind the vertical. The bit I’m using is stronger than she really needs, but it keeps her from hanging on my hands, which I forgot she did until last night when I rode her in the single jointed eggbutt snaffle and dressage tack.
I generally ride her in that snaffle when I trail ride, but she goes on the buckle on trails, so I haven’t had any issues with her leaning on my hands then, just when I actually want her to work. So basically I have two bits that “work” on her, but they don’t really work either since one she lays on and the other she evades.
I did the Myler bit wizard thing because it popped up on FB the other day and they recommended this bit. Ron Myler seems to think my answers on the survey imply that Paige wants tongue relief. So I might try to get my hands on one of these through a trial program soon. Until then, I think I’ll just use the bit we typically use that she goes behind the vertical in, and I just won’t ask her to go on the bit. I have enough to work on without fussing with her face this fall. I’ve also noted that when I ride her in my western tack (and that bit) she is SO much easier to steer with my legs and rein pressure on her neck, while she tends to ignore my legs while laying on my hands in the dressage bridle. Apparently she doesn’t want to be fancy.
I’m also planning on having everyone’s teeth checked before winter since they haven’t been in a while. That may be contributing to Paige’s bit issues. The vet will be out soon enough to geld Russell, so that’ll be a fun day.
The sudden return to riding (all two rides of it so far…lolz) has also made something else abundantly clear. Paige is starting to show her age. In case any of you missed it, Paige will be 18 this coming year. Apparently everyone thinks she’s much younger, but alas, she is on the wrong side of 15, hence why I wanted to get her pregnant to create her retirement plan. Joey exists to become my future reliable mount (you hear that Joey, reliable…like your mother).
The first day I rode it was fairly warm out and she felt good and was energetic, but the second was the first day of our recent cold snap. It was around 52 degrees out and Paige apparently felt it, though moreso in her joints than by being fresh like a young horse on a cool day. She seemed off in her front end while I rode and afterwards I tied her for a little while to help put hydraulic fluid in the tractor, then when I untacked her and led her off, she was stiff in her hind end.
So I think the cold weather is getting to her potential arthritis (that I’m diagnosing myself for now). I’ve been thinking all year about how I need to start her on some joint supplements since she’s getting older, but since I hadn’t seen any changes and she doesn’t get grain, I didn’t see the rush. I did randomly buy some MSM when the supplements blog hop was floating around, so I think she’s going to start getting some of that with a handful of grain until I devise a more solid plan. What I need to know now, is what do you guys do for your older horses? I know several bloggers have horses Paige’s age or older who are already receiving this sort of maintenance, so I’m looking to you guys for suggestions as Paige is the oldest thing I’ve maintained.