Monday, July 24, 2017

Greenguard Grazing Muzzle - A Review

I own an adorable pony, who is also a very easy keeper. I don't want her to be obese and I especially don't want her to founder. On the flip side, I do believe that horses are meant to be eating...all the time.  So where does that leave us (besides between a rock and hard place). 
A fat two year old in a grazing muzzle
With a pony who has been wearing a grazing muzzle since she was two. Going from a harder keeping thoroughbred to a welsh cob, the grazing muzzle world has been a new experience. Right off the bat I put Emi's on with a cookie in the bottom so she actually tries to put her head in when you take it out to her. She's totally not concerned about wearing it and has never gotten it off. However, I don't think they are super comfortable either. The very first year she wore it she tore her eyelid (presumably rubbing on the fence). Now I have a "flymask required" rule any time her muzzle is on.
Graphic photo, sorry to those who are squeamish.
The spring of her three year old year she wasn't on a very grassy pasture so she didn't need to wear the muzzle. This spring, she was on lots of grass and the grazing muzzle hunt began again, as the muzzle that fit her at two was now too small. I ordered several different muzzles and struggled with the fit on all of them. The cob and horse sizes meant nothing between brands and I was totally frustrated. I finally settled on one and Emi began all day turn out with it on (~12 hours per day). It wasn't long before she was getting fairly significant rubs on her jaw from opening her mouth to graze. With the rubs getting worse I was able to arrange a different turn out option for her so that she wouldn't need to wear a muzzle. 

Rolex deals
Then I went to Rolex and strolled by the Greenguard booth. I spoke with them and handled the muzzle. I was intrigued but not sure it was worth the money. My biggest concern was how much grass they would be getting as it's so open compared to the standard rubber ones. As they pointed out, the whole on the rubber ones it right in the middle where a horse can get quite a bit of grass in it. The design of the Greenguard muzzle has a strip right across the middle of it so horses have to work around it. That made some sense to me. Although I didn't buy the muzzle on Thursday I thought about it all weekend and purchased it on Sunday. 

Emi has been wearing the muzzle 3-4 hours per day with no trouble. Then a couple weeks ago we put the muzzle to the ultimate test. Emi was staying at a friends house for a few days while we had some work done at home, and was out on lots of grass. She wore her Greenguard muzzle for 4 days straight (24 hours a day). Of course she was under supervision and I checked her for rubs or any trouble every evening.  The muzzle was amazing! She had zero issues with it and didn't seem bothered at all by wearing it for that extended period of time. 

It's so much better than the "normal" muzzles. The square design and the rigid shape keep it from collapsing around the horses face. Not only does it not cause rubs, but it is so much more breathable. No more pony nose sweltering in a rubber bucket. Just the thought of that makes me cringe.  

If you are fighting the grazing muzzle battle, buy a Greengaurd muzzle. You won't regret it. It was worth every penny I paid!  If I hadn't bought it at Rolex I was going to buy an Eponia Bridle...and I'm still saying it was worth every penny.  Seriously, life changing!

I've reached out to Greenguard and they have provided me a coupon code to share with all of you - 1H99QEEA.  You'll get 10% off and the code is good for 30 days. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quiet Moments

I have so much to write about and haven't had any time! Last night I was thinking about how much I enjoy having the horses at home. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of work. It's been even more work this summer as we have had a lot of projects to do outside; fencing to finish, arena installation, paddock work etc. With those projects out of the way next summer should be much easier!

But back to why I like it. I love the quiet moments with my horses. I notice this especially with Emi, as Roz tends to be a little less social. Emi loves to be scratched and will stand with me for a long time while I scratch her withers and neck. Our visits are so relaxing and the chance to connect with the horses on a different level than "work" is so nice.

Then you have moments like this morning. Someone dug a big hole in their paddock which I noticed after I fed breakfast. Both horses were eating and I was trying to figure out which one had been digging and why. I assumed it was Roz as he loves to roll and if he got fired up about something I could see him being a little crazy. After he finished his grain he started in on his hay...and started pawing. It's not unusual for him to paw a couple times to sort through the hay, but not over and over and over again. Then he left the food and moved to the back of their paddock, digging more holes and then kicking at his stomach. That's how he earned himself a trailer ride in to work (which happens to also be a veterinary hospital). I scurried around grabbing my stuff and hooking up the trailer before loading him up and giving them a heads up call.

They didn't find anything remarkable on his blood work, rectal, nasogastric tube or abdominal tap. They tubed him with fluids and electrolytes, and placed an IV for fluids. The re-introduced food this afternoon and as of 5pm he was still doing well. Hopefully nothing changes and he can come home tomorrow. I know he's not going to live forever but I'm also not ready to say goodbye.

Liam earned his keep today, being the perfect companion for the pony left behind.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Since our Sunday show was at the same venue as the schooling show we attended in March, it seemed fitting to do some photo comparison. Day in and day out the progress seems slow, but comparing current photos from the ones taken 4 months ago really highlight the changes. 

Emi is beginning to look so much more mature.  The connection is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was. And we are finding the canter! I can't wait to see what she looks like in another 4 months. 

I'm so fortunate to live near Emi's breeder. All of the above photos were taken by her.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Showing Up

I'm way behind on posting and never finished my clinic recap, but I'm going to move on to the show I went to today. I don't think I have ever been less enthused about going to a show. I spent all day Saturday trying to decide if I even wanted to bother going and when the alarm went off at 5:30am I was still trying to convince myself to go. That's really odd for me! 

I may have also put in the worst horse show prep ever. I had the clinic on Saturday & Sunday, rode Emi on Tuesday with a new bit and flash attachment, then moved her to a friends house. She spent Wednesday/Thursday/Friday there and I moved her home on Saturday evening (after we got the fence back up). I got home with her around 6:30pm and had done nothing to prep for the show. Tack was dirty, the pony was dirty and I was not feeling it. I snuck in a quick ride in our new arena before hosing her off and heading inside to eat some dinner. I went back outside and started braiding her mane for the show and at this point it was after 9pm and I was losing light fast. I did about a third of her mane before bailing on that idea and just quickly braiding the rest so it would lay on the correct side. All that back story to say, I was feeling much less put together than normal. 

Once I convinced myself to get out of bed I got around pretty quickly this morning, cleaned Emi up, and hit the road. She was pretty vocal when I unloaded her, which confirmed my suspicion that she's coming in to heat. Oh joy! Our warm up went well but when we got into the ring for our first test Emi had some anxiety about it. We used our time before the bell, to scope out the judges table, and then I put her to work with some of our JW exercises. Although she was tense and a little distracted, our test had several good moments. We scored a 68% and first place! Highlights were a 9 on our free walk and an 8 on our geometry. JW had just challenged me to ride my corners better and I made a concentrated effort to do so in the ring.  

I had about 20 minutes before my next test. I stayed on but spent some time standing around, a small amount of warm up time, and then in we went. Emi was more settled but she also ran out of steam. I kicked her around and although we had some nice work it would have been much better if the pony had more go. This test scored a 65% for second place. 

It was worth "showing up."
I love the photos and how much development you can see in her. Now it's time to put to get back to work and move up to Training Level. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Good - Clinic Day 1

First of all, thank you all for your great feedback regarding our trailering drama and also the tongue issue. It's nice to know we aren't the only ones to struggle with things like that.

Despite the terrible loading issues our clinic ride on Saturday was quite good. Emi came to work and JW commented that she is looking very grown up. She also thinks she's growing, which I agree with. Not only has she lost weight fairly easily over this past month, she seems a bit unbalanced again.

If you remember from the last lesson, I was really struggling with the right bend. The right side has gotten way better and now the left side is our difficult side. We worked a lot on nose to the wall/haunches to the wall, baby shoulder in/out, steering (not drifting through the corners) etc.  I'm impressed with how grown up she's gotten in the trot work. For the most part she's very maneuverable and moves off your leg well. This is one of the places were I really notice a difference between her and other horses that I have had. Introducing those concepts to her at 3 has made a really big difference for us. I can already feel how we are adding on to her initial education and it's super cool! The canter work was fun and we started to really build on the shoulder in/shoulder out, capture her evenly on both reins and canter.

Emi had a few moments early on where she was worried about the horse in front of us leaving and so I put her in to a leg yield on the circle. She gave a couple of piaffe like steps which JW commented on. JW also said that she's "very on track for a four year old." That was music to my ears!  I feel like we work on our own a lot and it's up to me to recognize problems and address them. In some ways I feel very capable but sometimes you wonder if you are really on the right track.

My long term goal is to get my bronze medal on Emi but it would be super cool take her further than 3rd level. We shall see how things progress...we all know that horses take a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

I'll share video when I get a chance to upload it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

All the Drama

Emi and I had a two day JW clinic this weekend and I'm going to start with the bad. 

The first bad thing was loading on Saturday morning. Since Emi's been home I've been hauling her out usually 2-3 times per week to ride. She hasn't been very happy about it recently and I think that's two fold. The main reason is Roz screaming for her and relating to that I don't think she's been very happy hauling alone. Loading is something I practiced with her quite a bit as a youngster and at one point she loaded really well. In the past month she has started being a little more difficult to load. She's stopping at the step up to the trailer and questioning whether or not she actually needs to get in. A couple taps with the whip have fairly easily convinced her that yes, I do expect she get in. 

That was all fine and dandy until Saturday morning when I walked her up to the trailer. She turned her neck and trotted away from the trailer. Umm...that's NOT okay. I took her back to the trailer and she did it again, this time getting away from me (as I was dodging the trailer door and a wood pile off to the side of the trailer. Plan B: Where's my chain? I used to have two and I couldn't find either one. Plan C: I grabbed a lunge line and ran it up through the front of the trailer. I took her over to it and before I had a chance to hook her to it she took off again. At this point I was totally frustrated (alright lets be honest, I was frustrated after the first time), but I got her tied to the trailer and then hooked the lunge line on before I untied her. She tried leaving but with the leverage that I had she wasn't able to go anywhere. "Perfect" I thought as she climbed in, except she managed to turn her head as she was getting and ended up facing backwards after she got in. I had about a second to realize this was going to go well when she came charging back out. I held on and luckily she didn't get away. I got her lined out once more, kept more tension on the line as she was going in, and finally got her loaded and locked in with the divider. I'm sure it was somewhat comical to watch but it was definitely a nightmare for me. 

I got in the truck with my mind reeling. Emi has NEVER been that naughty before. On one hand I wanted to kill her and on the other I know she's experiencing very real anxiety to be that bad. I was frustrated with myself for letting it get that out of hand but I was so shocked by it I didn't resort to a good game plan quickly enough. Of course I spent the hour drive to the clinic replaying the drama. 

Luckily when we arrived at the clinic Emi seemed no worse for the wear and we had a good ride. On the way home I thought she'd probably load with out issue and I thought wrong. She took me trotting across the parking lot the first time I presented her to the trailer. Que tying her back up and grabbing the lunge line. The second time worked great and we made it home with out incident. 

This morning and the return trip home I went straight to the lunge line and there is no doubt in my mind that she would have left if I didn't have the lunge line on her. Ugh. Interestingly enough the only other horse I've had a similar problem with is Roz. When Emi was a baby he spent a period of time loading in the trailer and turning right back around and promptly dragging me back out. There's nothing like being helpless on the end of a lead-line.

I think for Emi since her first evasion of not going in really didn't work this is the next thing she could come up with. I mean, if you run away I can't make you get in. Haha. I do have a corner feeder in the trailer and have been putting a small amount of grain/treats in there every time I load her (for at least a couple of weeks). She also has hay. Roz has also stopped calling for her so that's helpful. Any suggestions? Has anyone else ever dealt with something like this?

This next week we have quite a bit of hauling to do. The horses are going to a friends house for a few days while the arena and paddock are being worked on. Since they are both going I'm planning to load Roz first and I suspect Emi will hop right in. Then on Sunday we have a league show to attend. Once we are done with that I think she can stay home for a month or so and the break will be good for her. One thing is for sure, the lung line is here to stay for a while. I'm not going to let her have any more chances to learn that if she doesn't want to load she only has to run away. 

The other sort of bad thing is that Emi has started to put her tongue over the bit. She did it both days. On Saturday it was at the very end of our ride and Sunday it was at the very start. Saturday when I got off it wasn't over the bit and I thought perhaps JW had been mistaken. Today I got off to fix her bridle and she fixed her tongue herself. JW didn't seem overly concerned but did suggest experimenting as we want her to have good bit habits. I have been planning to try a different bit on her so I ordered that tonight (she's in a basic eggbutt snaffle). I'm also going to put the flash on her. I don't plan to have it be super tight but hopefully it will encourage her to keep her mouth quiet. 

Back home with her BFF