Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sending positive thoughts

I am really saddened to hear the turn of events for Gogo and the horrible decision that Andrea has to face.  Gogo was an up and coming barefoot eventing horse that was kicking butt and taking names and I really enjoyed reading their progress.  I was shocked when she injured herself 2 years ago at an event and had to be painfully and slowly trailered home, something that took several days through several states.  I have followed and read about all of Andrea's work that she put into Gogo's rehab, giving her nothing but the best medical treatments and care and it has all failed Gogo. 
I hope that Andrea finds comfort in her internet friends and peace in whatever decision she makes.  I support her either way, fully knowing she is making the best decision for Gogo.  Andrea and internet friends helped Denali's Mom back when Denali was facing the possibility of being put down and we are returning the favor, if you want to help or send condolences feel free to visit Denali's Mom.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cat stories

I am gearing up for my show next weekend so this week will all be dressage, dressage, dressage.  I am still on the fence about entering the App as well as the TWH, need to make up my mind fast though b/c I have to mail in my registration by Friday.

On another note my barn cats are always amusing.  They still keep me well supplied with dead mammals, ranging from 3-5 dead things a week.  Not too bad IMO, that is enough to not make me not feel bad about giving them a can of wet cat food at night.  I do, however, have 2 stories.  One gory, the other funny.  Skip two paragraphs if you would like to miss some death.

SO has a toolbox in the back workshop from his previous life as a mechanic.  In it he had a few granola bars and some rags in addition to all of his tools.  This past spring he noticed something had eaten on the granola bars and had tried to make nests around his toolbox.  We couldn't ever find anything alive and it wasn't a nuisance enough to set traps.  Yesterday SO was working back in the shop and found something had put a serious hurting on a shirt he had left out.  It was now full of holes and chew marks and when he picked it up he saw movement.  There was a mouse IN the shirt.  He tried shaking the shirt a few times but the mouse clung to the shirt, refusing to come out and run away.  As the mouse wouldn't run away, SO brought it up to the barn as a toy.

SO didn't even have to call the cat's names as he came around to the barn, they came to inspect whatever he was doing.  He told them he had a toy and when the mouse still wouldn't shake out of the shirt, he put the shirt on the ground.  The cats got the mouse out of the shirt but only half heartedly played with it, the mouse was pretty defensive and didn't just run away.  At one point it almost got away by trying to climb up the barn wall but was knocked down.  As it lay there Patches went in to play with it and had the audacity to bite her face.  Patches grumbled in protest and threw the mouse off.  Sylvester started playing with it again but then Patches walked up and, with no hesitation, went munch, munch, off with it's head.  Bye, bye mouse, I guess the lesson is do not bite a barn cat.  She didn't eat it either, just bit it's head off so I am guessing she took the attack personally?

This morning I turned all of the horses out for the day and was cleaning stalls. I kept hearing noise outside and then not only was the dog barking but then the donkey brayed.  Since this was extremely out of character, since she typically brays when she wants something and doesn't have it, I went out to inspect.  I heard chirping and it sounded like turkeys were fighting.  I saw some jumping around and some wing feathers through the trees, being excited to possibly see two male turkeys fighting I walked quickly over to the neighbors field.  What I saw, however, was not 2 turkeys fighting.  What I saw was an adult female turkey being stalked and attacked by Patches.  The turkey kept chirping and walking away and Patches was trying to pounce thus making the turkey jump in the air and squawk.  She has been stalking turkeys since spring and I am figuring it is only a matter of time before she gets one.  Wonder what the appropriate prize would be for a barn cat if she drug home a wild turkey?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lesson recap

Despite nice cool weather for a week and yesterday morning, the evening quadrupled the humidity amount and made riding difficult but we did prevail and last night I took my first lesson in months.  The instructor is a gal that came recommended from people at the tack store that closed earlier in the year.  I had heard her name numerous times and finally saw her ride when I volunteered at the Horse Trial.  I liked the way she rode and she placed well in a division several divisions above where I ride so I made my appointment.

She said she remembered seeing me school my boys once when during one of the cross country schooling days and that my boys looked willing enough.  We talked a little about Sinatra and his history and his quirks, what I have issues with and what his abilities are.  She was happy to hear that he did a normal w/t/c and that I intend on competing in Sept at the eventing derby.  She talked about couple of gaited horses she has trained for the local hunt club, I hear they are popular among the hunt people and they send the horses to her to train to jump.  It is nice to know she is flexible in her training abilities!! 

I rode the TWH and we warmed up, showing what we can do.  She liked his w/t transition though his t/w transition is a little abrupt.  She really liked his hind end and said he has a huge engine but he wasn't using it, he is on the forehand and she wanted to see him push from behind more.  She liked his t/c transition and was intrigued with his c/t transition.  Sinatra was very pacey last night had wouldn't pick up the trot right away after dropping from the canter.  She had me try different bending exercises to try to help him to not pace when dropping out of the canter.  Unfortunately they were all a failure but it was fun to watch her think of ideas.  She did recommend trying to canter up to some trot poles to try to sharpen the transition down, I may try that.

She asked to ride him and she seemed to like him.  She was really pushing him forward to try to get him driving from behind, it was pretty hard even for her but we did have moments of success.  She suggested lots of bending exercises with changes of direction and to push forward, forward, forward.  She was surprised with his canter, saying "Wow, now this is different" but she said he was on the forehand there too.  I actually thought he was collected in his canter so was a bit disappointed there.  Overall she liked him and sees potential.

What do I need to work on?  Biggest one is my hands.  I know my bad habits and she saw them quickly, I need to ride with my hands closer together, I need to stop widening my hands, I need to ride with shorter reins.  Hopefully I can work on it again and be more successful this time.  While the lesson didn't cover as much as I expected, I did like the lesson.  I was happy she thought I was a "good little rider" which means I do have a pretty solid foundation to build on.  I will try to ride this weekend, I have homework!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Appy is sound!

First up is an update on the Appy, he finally came off of bute on Thursday without having to relapse back to bute.  I toyed with half grams and skipping doses since last Friday but kept having to put him back on due to residual ouchiness.  Thankfully when I took him off on Thursday night he was good Friday and Saturday so yesterday I hopped on him and he is sound!  No more very slight heat, no more tender footiness.  Very happy, he was down a week and a half and I didn't like seeing him so uncomfortable.  Would highly recommend anyone do an epsom salt paste and/or betadine/sugar paste wrapped to a hoof if you think your horse may abscess.  Am very pleased with the results.

TWH went to a hunt/jump show over the weekend and we had pretty good results.  I arrived at the show WAY too early, I anticipated showing around 9a when I didn't show until after 1130a.  All those hours I could have used sleeping, mmmmm.  We won second in our adult hunter over fences class which was nice.  We also won fourth in our adult hunter hack though I really think we should have placed higher.  The last class I rode against 20+ little kids again, I really don't like riding against a bunch of little kids especially when I am the ONLY adult in the class.  Argh!  It was funny, not even 10 minutes after I wrapped up and headed down the road it started POURING down the rain and was off and on until I got home.

And since I have been slacking in the picture department, here are some from our show!

Ready to go!
I say mom awoke me way too early for no reason.
Trotting our equitation class
Approaching the 18" jumps.  Much smaller than what mom made me jump last week.
Mom has good form but she has to remember to shorten my reins.
Barely any effort is required for these jumps
Trotting in our hunter hack class
Mom loves my canter but someone needs to tell her to shorten her reins again

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Preparation and a surprise move

The TWH and I have a show this Sunday, a schooling show over fences and some flat classes.  This one is supposed to be a much smaller show and shouldn't have as much competition as the rated show we went to.  As a result I am dragging myself out of bed at 5a every day to ride.  5a comes SOOO early.

Yesterday during our ride (when it wasn't even light yet) the TWH was a pill.  He decided that contact with his mouth wasn't going to be acceptable, consistent gaits were not acceptable, he constantly threw his head and even threatened an elevation issue!  After reminding him that elevation issues are absolutely, positively not acceptable and inspecting him I found no obvious issues so I schooled him pretty hard in manners.  RB3 had been riding him and isn't nearly as strict in the expectations department nor does she ride with contact, she prefers to ride one handed and neck rein.  Unfortunately we didn't get too much accomplished thanks to having to revisit some basics but the ride ended on a pretty good note of going over a 2' vertical. 

This mornings ride was much, much better.  First I brought my measuring tape out to the arena to measure my distances, I have been eyeballing/walking them and suspected they were off.  They certainly were and it is no wonder the TWH has a hard time sometimes, my 2 stride distance was a little over 4 feet too short!  I corrected the distance and put placing poles down to hopefully make the ride go smoother.  TWH started the ride fussing about contact but I insisted he would have contact and drove him forward into my hand and didn't back off.  After about a 10 min warmup he relaxed into his normal demeanor.  I put him over the line of 2 1' verticals and forced him to keep his frame over them and he did pretty well.  He did switch his hind lead once but didn't make a habit out of it. 

I bumped the jumps up to 2' and put him over them again and while they weren't perfect, I was able to get a series of 3 jumps where he kept the correct lead the entire line.  Big improvement!  I really tried hard on working to keep him collected which was really hard in the line with the longer distance.  I realize it is the correct distance now however he really likes to fall on his forehand and go faster over these jumps.  On the plus side the ground line (and probably distance) really seems to help him get over the fence by making him jump earlier.  An issue I have been having is him getting right to the very base of the jump before jumping, resulting in a very awkward jump.  

Because our show has jumps up to 2'3" I threw it up to 2'6" to challenge him.  I don't typically jump at 2'6", normally I keep it at 2' or 2'3" but  I pointed him to the line and he immediately knocked the first jump down but threw an impressive effort to get over the second jump.  I am so thrilled that he as decided to figure the jumps out instead of backing off of them!  We did have a few lead issues as it was pretty difficult to keep him collected in between the jumps.  I am going to have to really think about how to fix this issue.

Then I did something I didn't expect to do.  I got curious.  I wondered what TWH would do if, perhaps, it got harder?  Then I did it.  I still can't believe I did it but I did.  I put the second jump up to 3 foot.  And I put the TWH OVER IT!!!  And it went perfectly!  He didn't hesitate at the second jump, he saw it was higher and just put in a bigger effort and we sailed over it!  I am SO happy.  If you had told me this time last year I would randomly throw the TWH over a 3' fence while strapped to his back I would told you that you were insane but I did it.  I only did it once and called it a day, not sure if I will do it again tomorrow or not.  He was fairly effortless over it but I think I will work him at 2'6" for a little longer and then try it again.  On the bright side I am having a lesson from an actual eventing trainer next Wednesday and she will be evaluating my TWH.  Here's to hoping things go well!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lots of updates

My post shall start off with a whine, I am so fricken tired it isn't funny.  I am sore and exhausted and have both my morning and evenings booked up clear through Friday morning.  Already.  And it is only Monday.  Need me some sleep!  How did I get in this position?

Last week Chip found a staple and thought there wasn't any better place to hold it for me than in his hoof.  That resulted in a week of wrapping, antibiotics and bute.  On Friday he was doing much better so the vet had me stop the antibiotics and wrapping, keeping him on a half gram of bute 2x a day to control any residual swelling.  Saturday he was okay, Sunday he was pretty ouchy so last night I rewrapped his foot with an epsom salt paste and gave him a gram of bute, repeated again this morning.  He is looking better, there isn't any heat or sensitivity but am suspecting an abscess may be forming despite my vigilant attempts at keeping one at bay.  If he isn't better by mid-week I will have the vet come out and take a peek at him.

Saturday was so much fun, I volunteered at the local recognized Horse Trial.  I was a jump judge, sitting in a big field watching horses go over "my" jump and marking down if anyone refused, fell or had issues.  I was paired with a newbie, the father-in-law of someone else and he had tons of questions so I didn't get bored lol.  It was relaxing and entertaining and I had a really good time.  There wasn't any drama or issues at my jump, I had only 4 refusals the entire shift.  It did rain a couple of times but not too badly and I had brought my rain suit so I was prepared.  The only downside is that I really would have preferred to have been stationed at a point where I could see multiple jumps, it was a field behind us and a field in front of us so all I got to see were horses running towards me, a quick jump and horses running away.  Pretty minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. 

After my shift was over at the show I went home and met SO's cousin and we went to the state fair.  It was pretty cool, saw some... interesting... things and watched the demo derby for a couple of heats until a massive thunderstorm moved in and everyone ran home.  I hear the same storm killed 5 people in Indiana at their state fair, it was a very impressive storm.  I was completely thrilled when I got home as I found my boarder cleaned the stalls for me as a surprise.  It was 830p when I finally got home and wasn't looking forward to cleaning stalls, it was such a lovely surprise.

Sunday was a lot of fun as well with lots of networking and such but absolutely exhausting, I had volunteered to be jump crew.  Quick backstory, when I was a teenager I loved to run.  I ran cross country and just loved it.  When I was 16 or 17 I fell wrong and blew my ACL and tore my meniscus.  The doctor refused to fix the ACL in surgery when he cleaned up my meniscus, insisting I had to have a second surgery.  I refused because I had a horrible recovery, almost 10 years later I finally had my ACL and then also the PCL fixed and lost more than half of my meniscus.  As a result I haven't ran since I was a teen, either due to knee instability or (now) trying to save what meniscus I have left.  This year I have started trying to "run" again and can now make it the 300 feet to my mailbox and back without being exhausted. 

Thank goodness I am in condition to run short distances again because that was what I did almost the entire morning on Sunday.  We would set the fences up, a horse would ride the course in 80-90 seconds and at almost every ride a horse would knock a pole and/or entire jump down.  Horse would either finish or stop, I'd run out there with 0-3 other people and we would fix the jumps.  I heard several times that the jump crew was doing a fantastic job and was told personally that the staff appreciated how quick and efficient I was being.  As soon as a pole went down I would jump up and wait for the opportunity to fix the pole.  As a result the owner of the facility, former president and current board member of the local eventing association and a well known trainer in the area now knows my name and face.  I chatted with several people so hopefully people got to know me a little.  I finally left around 1p as the lower levels had started and the need for jump crew had dropped considerably. 

I am very happy with how things have went the past couple of days, though I seriously wish there were a few more hours so I could take a nap.  I am truly exhausted and sore today, though not as sore as I expected with all that running.  By the power and grace of sugar and caffinee I think I can make it through the day but it is going to be hard.  Next Sunday Sinatra has a small, open jumping show so it is riding every morning to hopefully finalize the fixes I have been working on.  Hopefully Chip gets sound soon and a couple of hours magically appear so I can take a nap. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Last night RB3 came out and I jumped the TWH, working on trying to keep his lead between a set of 2 jumps so that we may have a shot of placing when we go to our show on the 21st.  We started with a set of 2 poles on the ground which worked well when I kept him collected and "in a box".  I then bumped one pole into a 12" crossrail and worked on the same exercise with the same relative success.  It was not perfect by any means, but we kept it most times.

As going over a tiny crossrail is extremely boring, I went ahead and bumped the 2nd pole up to a 2' vertical and jumped it.  TWH had lots of problems with getting the wrong lead both in front and rear, ugh!  I finally called it quits when he kept his lead twice in a row both directions.  While I normally insist on 3 times I didn't want to start a fight I couldn't finish as we had been riding almost 45 mins at this point and he was pretty tired and sweaty.

I switched horses with RB3 and jumped the App, he had been watching the jumps and had tried to go over them a few times with RB3.  App did pretty well, his only issue being hanging his front legs from jumping too close to the jump.  Well, who am I fooling?  He hangs his legs all of the time, it was just worse because he was jumping at the base of the jump instead of a little ways back.  When I jump next I will put a placing pole in front of the jumps to help back everyone off of the jump, I know it will help and don't know why I didn't do it last night.  Bad trainer.

When I came out to feed this AM I noticed the App was very lame on his right front, he didn't want to even set it down.  Dread filled me, what did he do between night check and now?!?  I checked him over and there wasn't any heat or swelling, when I picked up his foot it was an obvious answer.  There was a huge fence stable jammed in the apex of his frog!  I have absolutely no idea where he would have gotten that in his stall and I know he was okay at night check.  The staple was in pretty deep too, I feel so bad for the guy.  I pulled it out and cleaned it the best I could.  Put some betadine and Scarlet oil in the hole and then soaked the hoof for a few mins, drenched it in hydrogen peroxide and wrapped it up in a diaper with some loose Epsom salt and neosporin.  I am really really hoping it doesn't abscess or become infected, he was still pretty tender on it after I wrapped him.  I will check him again at lunch and give him some bute if he is still ouchy.  Poor guy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Loving life

I sound like a broken record, I am always busy, busy, busy.  We got a lot done over the weekend and I got a sneak peak at the Horse Trials that I will be volunteering at next weekend.  Wow is all I can say.  Saturday was going to the Blueberry Festival which was kinda fun, I had my very first taste of blueberry pie.  First taste you ask?  I am not a big fan of blueberries because they can be tart and I just don't like that.  I rode with RB3 and worked with Appy on lengthening and shortening his stride and he did okay.  I really need to turn up my arena work to get them both back to where I want them now that I consider them fit again.  Both boys aren't as "snappy" as I would prefer and their jumping basics have obviously suffered as a result.  But I can do this.

Sunday was really nice despite some pretty heavy rain.  We cleared out some out-of-control shrubs that were next to our house and barn and we finished extending the pasture behind our arena, that opens up another third to half an acre for them to access.  I am hoping they will eat it all down so I don't have to cut it down myself, we can get a discount on our farm insurance if it is clear by Sept so they have some time and I am expecting nothing but great results.  The donkey had better eat the shrub, that's what donkey's are known for lol.  I have also confirmed to myself that I really dislike woven wire fencing, it is heavy to move, hard to unroll in narrow paths and is virtually impossible to have "tight" without having a tractor to pull on it.  If this fencing doesn't work well enough I am going to get a solar charger and put electric back there.  Ugh.

Sunday night was so much fun!  I went to a volunteer's dinner to learn how to be a jump judge and be shown the course I will be judging next weekend.  I had a lot of fun and got to meet a couple of people.  The dinner was okay but the cake that came from Costco was surprisingly really good.  We got a tour of the course with some impressively scary jumps, this horse trial is having max height/width on most of their jumps and most are many levels above where I am.  I will have to get a picture of this one ramp, it was probably 4 feet tall and is on a slight hill, you come to it and cannot see or imagine where the ground is on the other side.  A horse will jump it, there is a drop from the base of the jump to the ground, a slight flat spot then gallop down the hill.  Yikes, I am not sure I am ready for that!  I am very excited about volunteering next weekend, here's to hoping the rain shown in the forecast doesn't appear.

This week is busy, busy as well, RB3 comes out 2 nights and I am giving lessons 2 nights.  Of course a state fair is this week too so I will need to attend it, I am super busy but I am loving life right now.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little booger

With a new boarder comes the fun of herd integration.  On Sunday and Monday I turned pony out with Daisy in the electric as the owner had said he can be a bit of a Houdini.  I wanted him to respect my fences since they are not as solid as I would like and at 12,000 volts on a low amperage fence I figured he would respect it fairly quick!  Those two got along fine and when I brought the boys in Monday night, Pony threw a fit whinnying and running around even though he had been separated from them by a fence and he still had his donkey in the pasture.  On Tuesday we were to get severe storms so at lunch I opened the fences and let Pony introduce himself to the boys, this way if storms came everyone could go into shelter instead of just the boys.  It was extremely boring.  No squealing, no kicking, no ears, just "Oh, okay, hi.  Let's eat".  I ate lunch outside to watch them and got bored and went back to work.  I checked on them at 1, 2 and 3p and everyone was quiet and happy.

At 545p I finished work and went downstairs to make dinner.  I saw the boys and the donkey in the electric part of the fence and figured Pony was in the arena.  I picked up a pan off of the stove and put it in the sink to wash and thought to myself "I should check on the pony".  I followed that thought by "He is fine, he isn't getting out of the pasture".  I turned the water on to wash the pan and thought "I really need to check on the pony".  I threw some shoes on and went to the arena and as I was approaching the arena I had the pit in my stomach.  I already knew he wasn't there and it turns out I was right.  I now have a brand new pony that has escaped after being in my care only 48 hours, he has been gone up to 2.75 hours and I have no idea where he is.

I called my immediate neighbors and no one had seen him, I grabbed a feed bucket and walked the pasture and (still, to this day) could not find where he got out or find tracks to try to track him.  I then called his owner and then the police to report a missing pony and walked across the street to the huge field, no pony.  Just by luck someone pulled into my neighbors drive and said yes they had seen a pony down the road in a neighbors back field.  Picture me trotting my out of running shape butt down the road with a halter and lead in one hand and an orange halloween bucket in the other.  I am sure it was a sight.  It just so happened another neighbor was checking her mail on her golf cart as I was running by and she offered to drive me down the road to get the pony, thank goodness!!!  Nothing like already being out of breath and being offered a ride after someone has spotted your lost pony to make your day look better.  Did I mention it was misting/raining during this?  Of course it was.

Thankfully we saw the pony near one of the semi-major roads and when I called him he looked at me.  When I rattled the (orange with black pumpkins and bats) bucket with oats he trotted over to me with a whinny.  I was very relieved I didn't have to chase him all over creation, thanked the neighbor and walked home.  Pony has some impressive scrapes and scratches, I am not sure if they are from the App beating up on him or scrapes from him getting out or scrapes from running through the brush.  I cleaned him up by the time his owner arrived and gave him a half gram of bute and called it a night. 

Neither the owner nor I can find any indication of where he may of gotten out. There are no signs in the ground anywhere in the pasture of a scuffle, no signs in the grass of footprints or rustling, no fence is out of place, it is very baffling.  My only conclusion is that he squeezed between the Electrobraid and got zapped but he still kept going.  I am keeping him separated from the boys until this weekend in case it was the App being a bully.  I can't think of any other reason of why Pony got out on the only day he was with the boys and hasn't gotten out before or since.  Hopefully things settle down else I will put a hobble and muzzle on the App.  Not sure what else I can do with the PIA if he won't stop being a bully, darn horse. 

Clean tack room and tired horses. Life is good.

This past weekend went pretty well, even it if things didn't go as planned.  On Saturday we went to a local festival and overall had a pretty good time.  Much smaller than I expected and it reminded me of a community yard sale but we had a good time and I found a recipe for fabulous icing so it was all good.  We came home with the intention of work, clearing for the new fenceline, maybe even getting the fence up, reorganizing the tack room, cleaning pasture, clearing brush, etc.  As I was demolishing the tack room I got a call from RB3, she wanted to see if a saddle would fit.  She found it on consignment and want to try it on the boys before she purchased it. No worries she said, she had somewhere to be and would only be out for a little bit.

She came out and the saddle fits the boys fairly well.  While she was there the farrier came out and RB3 stuck around and helped hold them and then stuck around as I finished completely emptying the tack room and then rebuilt it.  After the chores of tack room, stalls and sawdust was done she wanted to ride so we went on a quick ride and then had pizza for dinner.  For someone that was only going to be out for a little bit she stayed from 3p until 10 lol.  It worked out well however and I had a good time.

On Sunday RB3 and I hauled out to the rails-to-trail trail I went on a couple of weeks ago and this time went north instead of south.  Overall it was a nice ride, quiet surroundings, fairly well maintained trail despite having to do "trail maintenance" on a newly fallen tree, not super buggy and not super hot or humid.  We rode for about 2 hours then I called and had SO meet us at a road crossing to pick us up and go home.  The boys were eager to hop in the trailer and got the rest of the day and the next off.  Having a "chase vehicle" was kinda nice, we could ride until we felt we were done and not worry about turning around or be somewhere at a certain time.

I also got my new boarder on Sunday, went and picked him up and brought him here.  He was a little hesitant to load but light tapping with a crop anytime he went anything but forward seemed to fix that and he was on and ready to go in about 5 mins.  He had been at the previous barn for a couple of years and the owner doesn't think the barn was bringing him into a stall as he has last almost all ground manners and is fairly sun bleached.  No worries, I was given permission to reinforce ground manners and he is coming around already.

Have I mentioned that this little guy is LITTLE?!  Much smaller than Daisy, he is a 10.1 hand pony.  Very cute face with the tiniest ears.  Very nice and personable, he is still a bit overweight and is only getting 1/3 of a cup of a hay extender.  Poor guy wants more food and begs for it with these huge eyes lol.  He drives and does some riding so hopefully the owner can come out and play with him on a regular basis.  He is a cutie.