Going to get back to work with Cooper

I'ts been almost 7 months since I fell off of Cooper, October 24 2014, and stopped riding him. I even stopped doing groundwork and only went out to see him a few times a month.

My prosthetic leg was hurting all the time and I was spending so much time with a new puppy, oh and I've been having fear issues. I did get back in the saddle after the fall but that was it since then.

Also I have been wimping out since my husband started working a second job in the evenings and I just haven't wanted to go to the barn by myself.

The new prosthetic leg is finally starting to feel better, not great, but at least its not as painful as when I first got it a few months ago. In the beginning I was only to wear it for an hour a day and then a few hours and after about 8 weeks I was told to start wearing it all the time and not switch back to the old one. Still don't know how it will feel when I put my foot in the stirrups again, hope I can do it!!

I started going up almost every night since it happened on April 28/15 to look after a wound on Coopers face. He got kicked in the field, just missing his eye, only fractions away from it. He was on antibiotics and I needed to keep the wound clean. After the antibiotics were done I started to use Manuka Honey on it and it began to heal very nice. There is still a little opening and a lump which the vet will look at this week when they do vaccines and deworming.

I'm trying to get back into working with Cooper now that I know I can do things without my spouse being there! I may not ride right away but no big deal if I don't anyway.

I have had a few non horse people ask me lately, Why do you have a horse if you can't ride and you don't do any showing or anything with him?? I say because he is my therapy, he is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time and I am not giving him up just because I am not riding or showing. I am never going to show, that is not why I got him, to try and win ribbons and stuff!! These people that are saying this are the ones that go away 3 or 4 times a year to Cuba, Mexico, Punta Cana, etc. That is what they spend their money on!! I have no interest in going anywhere so I will stay here and spend my money on my horse, my dog and my daughter. Although my daughter wants me to get a passport and go to at least one place with her once maybe twice LOL 

I'm going to start with groundwork first and try to build my trust with him again. Last night I did about 10 minutes of ground work, trying to do some of the straightness training by Marijke De Jong. I only watched 3 of the 4 part mini mastery series, missed the last one that was for riding, but I read that it is very similar to what a lot of training is, western, dressage, etc. Just going to take my time, like I always do and not worry about riding yet, if I ride than ok, but no hurry for it to happen.

He has been very head shy lately, especially in the side that he was kicked on, I'm guessing that is why he is doing this. 

I'm hoping to head up again tonight, Tuesday May 19/15 and do another 10 minute session, or longer if my leg doesn't start hurting.

Tomorrow night I will be going with my daughter to see Cavalia Odysseo!! She got tickets to take me as a birthday gift. I have always wanted to see it, it's going to be fantastic!!

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Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on October 13, 2015 at 12:27pm

Coming up to almost a year since the fall and riding Cooper! It's still fresh in my mind when ever I go near the mounting block, the corner, the part of the arena where I fell off, what the heck!! Just when I think I am prepared I back out.

He hasn't been ridden much, the other boarder hasn't been able to ride very often, she's had about 7 rides on him so far. Sometimes boarders that are there when I am will ride Cooper for me to get the bugs out for me to ride and then I change my mind about getting on. This Saturday a girl rode him and he was snorting and jumping at everything, I probably shouldn't have watched her ride as he was scaring me!

I've been watching old videos of us and I see we were doing very well, moving pretty quickly at the trot, same as he was going with her, and I was able to manage his spooks, that was before the last fall.

I've been watching some of my DVD's, Jonathan Fields, John Lyons, Clinton Anderson and Parelli and think I can do that but then everything changes once it comes down to trying to get on.

I think to myself I want to use the Rope Hackamore again because he really liked bitless much better than any of the bits we used, or even try the Nurtural Bitless. I have a leather one I purchased way back around 2009 or so and have never used it, only tried it on. It's gotten all moldy sitting in my tack box, EVERYTHING is getting moldy!! I cleaned it and it got moldy again! I bought a used like new nylon one, so maybe I will try that if I ever get back on. One of the boarders rides her chestnut Thoroughbred mare in a Nurtural and she loves it!

I would love to try English because I am thinking maybe it will be easier for me to move my legs as the western fenders are so stiff to move. But then again maybe they will be to flimsy and my legs will wobble all over the place? Of course though, I am more secure in the western with the high cantle, just have to work on getting my leg over it easier.

Maybe I'll try to get on again this week or the weekend, someday soon I hope as the weather is getting perfect for me now! 

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on August 5, 2015 at 1:17pm

One of the boarders at my barn has ridden Cooper a few times and she said he is amazing and very well trained! That made me feel so good since I have done most of the training with him. He hadn't been ridden since Oct 24 2014 and did fantastic! I am not a very good rider and she is and says he listens very well.

She has been riding him Western but she rides her own horse English. Her and her horse have won many ribbons including riding in the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair many years ago.

I'm still struggling to get into a routine and spend more time with Cooper. My prosthetic leg has been feeling much better but the stomach (bowels) starts acting up :( and it wears me out.

Hopefully she keeps riding Cooper and she said she might use him in a lesson sometime with her coach, which I think is great!

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on June 19, 2015 at 9:25am

We've done 10 training sessions with lots of dwell time in between. Doing most of it at a walk still, I am in no hurry. Lateral bending, forward down and stepping under on a circle at a walk and have done a little trot on the circle. He keeps popping his head up and then his back hollows so we go back to a walk with me by his side to keep him forward down. 

We've been doing shoulder in along the rail but still not up to doing the whole long side, only a short part of it. He tends walk fast and tries to speed up and I have to try and keep him going slow as I can't walk as fast as he tries to go.

We've been trying the haunches in the last 3 sessions. The first time it took awhile to get one step to the left then I tried a few more and moved to the other side where it was the same. He has been improving each time we try. He knows to come sideways to me for mounting on the left from the Lyons and Parelli training. The left side has been easier except for the last time, he forgot what to do or my body language was wrong.

I can see the results from this training, a dressage type of training. Lots of people do it but it's new to me. He is starting to gain muscle in his back and shoulder area, mostly on the left side so that means I am working him more on that side. I have to start doing more work to the right. At first I thought he was kicked again and was swollen then I looked it up when I got home and I saw several examples of the muscling on before and after pictures.

I've also noticed the spooking is getting better, he has been spooking less and when he did it the last time he spooked in place. It still scares the pants off of me when he does it, I am so afraid he is going to jump into me and run me over. He needs to learn to stay out of my personal space.

I also made a mistake of giving him a piece of carrot by hand and then he started to get very mouthy and pushy, so no more of that. And I was thinking of using treats for training because I thought he would respond really well to that as he is so food motivated, but not going to now.

We have been working in the indoor arena, hopefully soon I will start to take him outdoors but that also depends on my leg as well. I'm still getting pains up the back of the thigh and in the knee from being run over in the dog park. I got some exercises from a physiotherapist at West Park Hospital when I went to have them assess the new prosthetic on June 1/15.

Lots of walking for me with the dog and the horse and my leg has been getting very sore. Will be nice to get back in the saddle but I still do lots of groundwork with Cooper before getting on.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on May 26, 2015 at 2:59pm

They sure are good for the soul!! Cooper has been spooking in the arena at every little thing. I have been taking it slow, trying to calmly ask him to keep doing what I want him to do.

I was run into by some puppies running like freight train on Friday night and now nursing my knee with the prosthetic on it, oh boy! It's slowly starting to feel better, just have to keep moving it.

Coopers wound is almost all healed up but he's really shying on that side, to be expected getting kicked that close to his eye and then humans poking around at it every night.

Working on stretching his muscles with the Straightness training, lateral bend for side muscles, forward down to relax, lower his head and stretch the back muscles and stepping under to get his back feet stepping under his center of mass, so both hind legs do equal work. I think we are both starting to understand this. 

Makes sense though, to get him balanced and strong so he can carry me on his back better. I need to start doing more exercise myself to get stronger as well. The walking is helping, walking the dog, walking in the arena, slowly it will all come together.

We are still working at a walk only, in a straight line and on a circle. I have let him out farther on the circle and he seems to be stepping under well. We done 4 sessions so far and we are up to 10 minutes on each side. So he's got time to think about what we are doing in between training sessions.

Marijke De Jong put the Mini Mastery back online and I was able to watch the 4th part of the series, Haunches In Under Saddle and Liberty. 

Oh, Cavalia Odysseo was AMAZING!!! I would love to see it over and over! We were 8 rows back, had a great view of it all. We purchases tickets to do the stable tour after the show, it was alright but we weren't allowed to touch the horse and most of them were roped off, you couldn't get close. A little disappointed with that part but it is for the safety of the horses and the public. My daughter was all excited about horses again for those few hours, wanting to ride a horse in dressage, then she remembered she doesn't like my tiny untrained Cooper and that fascination was over. She wants a tall jumper/hunter horse. Cooper will never be tall but he can learn to jump.

Hopefully someday I will be doing some of those fancy maneuvers with Cooper and she will take an interest in him. 

Comment by Jackie Cochran on May 20, 2015 at 11:11am

Good for you getting back out to the stable to take care of Cooper!

By all means re-start Cooper on the ground.  Some horses have wonderful memories (one mare I had remembered ONE training session the next time I got up on her two years later!), other horses have to be "retrained", basically reminded that, yes, they are supposed to obey you, after an extended  time off.  One mare I ride has to have some "retraining" after just a few weeks off.

You have so many problems with your prothesis when you have to do much.  Try explaining this to Cooper before every training session.  You are working for cooperation as much as obedience.  Take it nice and slow, Cooper won't mind!  Being around horses is good for the soul. 

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