Muuli and Tiina in the indoor riding arena!

When I broke my knee in January and got to the surgery in February I had to get someone to ride Muuli during my sick leave. I was off from work for 3 weeks but doctor said that I should not ride for 6 weeks. Muuli had just got brand new shoes under her so it would be a shame to let  her stand in the pen for 6 weeks.

Luckily my friends Tiina ja Sonja were able to ride Muuli! Sonja had ridden her a few times last summer and Tiina had only lunged her but hasnät been riding her until now.

Tiina is very talented rider so she could also teach Muuli some new things in riding and dressage!

After my surgery she took Muuli to "her" barn where they have inside riding arena. Muuli has been in arenas before but not so many times. We don't have inside riding arena at our barn. Muuli has always been okay in strange places and arenas but off course new place and quite new handler is exciting!

Me and my husband drove to the arena to see Tiina riding. I got some great pictures and my husband took video.

All the action was accidentally left outside the video. When we arrived Tiina was already riding Muuli. But when she had got on, Muuli spooked something and bolted but Tiina managed to stay on! And when she was loading Muuli to the trailer after riding Muuli took off and was running in the road! And I didn't have the camera with me. It happened because Muuli refused to go inside the trailer and the yard and the road was covered with ice. Tiina could't hold on in the icy yard.

After that Muuli walked happily in the trailer lead by my husband and they left back at home.

If you are western spirited person you might notice our nose band. And I know you are thinking "poor mule, what an abuse". But feel no sorry, noseband is loose as it should be and it also has the place in Muuli's tack! We don't use noseband to shut her mouth and she is totally capable to pull her tongue out if she feels to. Luckily she doesn't do that anymore.

Please notice too that we don't use spurs or whip with her, so maybe nose band is not that bad?

Muuli is wearing new pad in these pictures. I bought her used Reinsman Tacky too pad and it rises the saddle from the front. Now arter a few weeks the pad seems to fit her fine! Saddle is not sliding forward anymore (off course we are also using britchen) and sweat marks are better than before.

Sweat marks

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Muuli got her first shoes on!

I have been using hoof boots on Muuli since last year. I have "winter version" with studs and spikes on. I have Flex Hoof Boots with small spikes and Boa boots with studs. And I disliked both of them!

In pur part of Finland it is impossible to do any trail riding or riding in the outside arena during the word winter months if horse doesn't have shoes with studs or hoof boots on. Roads and arena will get to icy that is impossible to ride there.

Okay so the boots... One or two fell off almost every time I rode with them! Then I needed to ride back, put the boot on, continue and hope that they will stay on.  I got frustrated and asked the farrier to shoe Muuli!

Muuli has never been shoed before but she took all of this like a pro!

Here is the video I took during the one hour operation. Muuli got a bit tired at the end but luckily all 4 shoes were on on that point.

The farrier had only shoes size 000 with her and as you can see, they are a bit too big for Muuli. But because Muuli will have shoes only for 2 months, we thought that it is okay.

Muuli has also "anti-snowball pads" in her shoes and 4 studs/caulks (?) in every shoe to keep her from sliding.

Now after 1,5 months I think this has been the best decision ever! Muuli can trot and walk in her pen safely and she is so sure footed on the trails! One shoe fell off farrier came next week to nail it back.

I will get the shoes off after 2 weeks when we are going to the horse fair with Muuli, but until that. I will try to enjoy the shoes as much as I just can!

Muuli will NOT have shoes on during the summer time but I'm sure I will ask the farrier again next winter! We have the worst riding conditions usually 2-2,5 months in the winter so if I shoe Muuli for that time, life gets so much easier.

Shoeing in Finland costs around 100 euros in winter.

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What is going on?

We enjoyed for the most beautiful winter this year!
Oops, I totally forgot this blog! I really need to start update things in here too, but if I'm not, you can try to use Google Translator for my Finnish blog.

Last time I wrote in November when I was riding with my friend. After that weather got worse and all the roads were hard as stones because temperature was under 0 C. Dark also came so early so it was impossible to to go out to trail riding on a weekday after work.

So I started to take riding lessons! Here is a video from one of the lessons. We started wit the basics and the lessons lasted only for 30 minutes because this is so new for Muuli. Usually I just ride with her happily in the trails and I don't much "ride" during our trails.

Here is also another clip a couple of weeks before the first one. Muuli was afraid of one side of the arena and refused to go there. I tried to make her to go and then she bolted! Twice! It was totally my mistake to try to force her in to the corner.

But usually Muuli has behaved very well! I have trail ride with her A LOT in January and the start of February. Usually we have hac a company from our barn. Here is one nice video. I had GoPro in my chest during our ride.

At the end of January I drove to collar making course with Muuli and my friend and her mule. We were supposed to make my mule the collar too but.. When we arrived and walked our mules in the pen my mule spooked, bolted and I fell to the snow but I didn't let go! Muuli loped the pen around for the couple of times before she stopped. My knee hurt but not so much.

We made the collar only for my friend's mule Olle and I had hard time that weekend when I couldn't put weight on my right foot at all.

Then back at home my knee got better, I was riding but then it broke again! And again! Then I called to the doctor, went to MRI and result was broken ACL! I had the surgery a week later and right now when I'm writing this post I'm still not able to ride. Doctor said that I can try to ride next week when it has been 6 weeks from the surgery. I might first try some another horse just to feel how the knee feels in the saddle and if everything is okay, I might try Muuli.
If Muuli behaves well, I have no problems. But if she bolts and I fell down, it is not good thing for my knee. But right now there is not much I can do with Muuli. I can let her run in the pasture but I cannot lunge her because she has a bolting habit turing lunging! And right now I just can not fell and hurt my knee again!

I was very happy to get two of my friends to ride Muuli! Muuli has been in the trails many times and she has also done a lots of dressage in the arena! I'm really looking forward riding her again!

I did some groundwork and positive reinforcement with Muuli earlier this week. Here is one video where Muuli is lifting the whip from the ground. I praise her with my voice and then I give her a reward. I have oats in my fanny pack.

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Training for endurande riding starts NOW! + video

I'm not a competitive person when it comes to dressage or show jumping. Even thinking of them gives me stress. I don't want to win, but I don't want to be the last one either. I also stress too much how my mount behaves before, during and after our turn. I think it is even worse if Muuli would rear and bolt before and after the course than during it.

But endurance riding is something different. I don't think the same about it. Endurance riding (at least in Finland) feels to be open for everyone and the feeling at the competition is nice. Everyone is welcome because Finnish endurance races has had to be cancelled because lack of participants.

I haven't compete in endurance ever, but I hope we could start one day with Muuli.

We have already started practising, a lots of trail riding with different friends and different routes. Sometimes I ride first and sometimes my friend. Off course Muulis main job for me is to work on trail riding, but beside it I can practise towards endurance riding.

Last weekend my friend excited me to ride with her on the great and big sandpit near us. I don't mean children's playsquare but really big area of sand.

The place is only 10 kilometers from us, but with this experience it would be not possible to ride there with Muuli, then lope around the pit and walk back home. So we borrowed the trailer, loaded my friend's horse Väiski, then drove to our barn, loaded Muuli and haul them both near the sandpit.

I equipped Muuli with bridle already at home and left rope halter under the bridle. I have always loaded her with the rope halter but I have changed the nylon for her for the drive. This time I left the rope halter on her all the way and even tied her with it in the trailer. If you are from US, you might think, why in the hell am I telling this.. I tell this because rope halters are not common in here and so many people won't never tie a horse with the rope halter to anywhere because the horse might panic, bolt and break his neck. Maybe people should tie their horses more when they are foals? I don't know, but I will be using rope halter in the future too.

I have had problems with loading Muuli. I can load her by myself, but I have to tie her to the front in the trailer and then wait until she walks inside. When she comes forward, I tighten the rope and then wait when she takes another step. When she has her head completely inside the trailer she walks straight in.

I don't like this way of loading, it is not safe and it takes time. Not much, I have loaded her maximum 10 minutes, but she is worried and is stressed.

I always give her treats when she comes forward but she won't eat them near the trailer. That means A LOT of stress alltought she looks fine. She is not panicing or rearing or anything, she just stands her mouth shut. I would like to be able to send her inside the trailer, but that doesn't work with me. When I keep her busy when she is not looking at the trailer and let her stand when she is near it, she starts to bolt and really escapes from me.

My friend thought that maybe travelling with a friend and to nice places like trail riding would help this problem. And hauling also for very short trips would help. Usually when we go, it is at least 1 hour drive, this was only 15 minutes.

So when this trip was great change to train for endurance riding, it was also great place to train loading too!

Pic: Tiina Lepojärvi

We unloaded at the yard of an empty barn and rode 1,5 kilometers to the sandpit. It was huge!! I had never been in there before but my friend had rode there many times. We trotted, climbed to a small hill and then loped, a lot! Longest stride of lope was 2 minutes! It was recorded with GoPro on Tiina's helmet.

Total length of our trip was 10 kilometers and it took 1,5 hours. That included walking from and to the trailer, all together 3 kilometers.

Muuli behaved so well! I mounted quite easily and she didn't bolt. She was so brave and loped at the front allmost all the time. My friend had hard time trying to keep her horse from not galloping. Muuli was loping/cantering so nicely!

When Muuli gets tired, she starts to jump a bit and pulls her head down when I give her leg. At that point, we walked and trotted a bit to let her "load". When she felt okay again, we could lope a little more.

She was very swetty! But not under the saddle. I was hoping I could get great informative pictures under the saddle to check how it fits her. Depending on these pics saddle seems to fit fine.

We didn't take any pictures from the sandpit but I edited nice video from there!

Muuli was easy to load when we headed back home and she was more relaxed inside the trailer too. She ate treats (oats) from my hand and also hay that was in the net inside the trailer.

Back at home I blanketed her, let her dry a bit and brushed her. I left the blanket on for the rest of the day to prevent stiffness in her muscles.

The next say I lunged her and she seemed to be fine.

Ps. Read also my last post when I tried Boa horse boots on Muuli!

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Boa Horse Boots on Muuli

I bought Muuli used Boa Horse Boots. I have one pair in size 0 and another pair in 00. I thouthg that Muuli's size is 00 (the smallest one) but it seemes that 0 is better for her. Muuli's hoof is 10 cm long and it means that 00 should be okay, but it is very small. I could wear them, but it was much harder than with the bigger size.

Muuli is used to hoof boots but this was the first time she was wearing Boa boots. Boas felt quite heavy but still elegant. I liked when there weren't any velcro straps on them.

First I was a bit afraid about how are these going to stay on in a sylinder shape mule foot, but they stayed on very well! I didn't yet try these on the saddle or in the trail, but I will.

I think I will keep these as my summer boots and I will screw studs back on to my another boots.

This is the size chart for Boa boots in case you are interested.

Even that our arena wasn't THAT wet, there was plenty of water inside the boots when I took them off. These boots don't really have holes for water to come off.

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