Friday, April 29, 2011

A Cinderella (ish) Story...

New theory: the mare is attempting to copy Miss Kate Middleton and snag a Prince Charming of her very own.

Why do I think she's scheming?

Frankly it's the only explanation I can come up with for why the mare is conveniently 'slipping' out of her shoes in the middle of the night.

I'm not sure who she thinks she is going to come along and swoop up her horseshoe/slipper then launch an all out hunt to come rescue her from the evil stepmother (me??).

But she must have grand ideas of some sort because otherwise, I just can't figure out why she would keep throwing her shoes about like a teenager trying to get dressed for the prom.

Either way, I clearly couldn't ride, or even lunge, and I'm a little miffed that we might be shoeless on Sunday.

Bad mare. No fairy tales for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Ok.  Officially annoyed.  Whatever "scratch" in my throat I've had all week has erupted into a full blown total obnoxious viral thing.  I still feel fine - but if I try to elevate my heart rate whatsoever (take the stairs, chase a pony, fold laundry...) I start coughing and hacking like I might potentially expel some critical part of my lung.

Yesterday, I even justified a day away from the barn on the couch strictly avoiding any heart rate elevation aside from eating cookies and drinking tea, under the premise that I would obviously recover and be ready to ride today (which aside from being the ROYAL WEDDING, is also actually sunny).

My attempt at proactive care has totally failed and now I have a mare who barely got ridden on Tuesday, had Wednesday off and only has Friday and Saturday left before our fun vet consult on Sunday.

Not tragic, but I was really hoping to string together enough rides so that if anything on the mare is aggravated by riding but not standing/lunging/galloping around on her own, I wanted to be sure to bug it.

So, clever me thought "Oooh! I'll email BO, I can surely tack up and lunge the beast, and maybe just have her hop on to trot the beast around."

Sadly the BO (unlike yours truly) actually has plans for this fine Friday night.. so that brilliant plan was dead on the ground. (damn).

I'm still going out to the barn. And I might still even try to ride.  So far I've munched my way through about 2/3 a bag of cough drops, but if I start saving them, I might have enough to squeak me through a ride without convulsing in a coughing fit.

I'm a little cranky about it.

BUT realistically, it's sunny, I got to watch a fun wedding at an ungodly hour (maybe waking up at 1am didn't help the sleep function of healing..), and it's Friday.  Hard to complain about any of that, especially when I still get to go love on the mare for a bit.

In other news.. I continued my workplace stream of Rolex dressage and only had one person ask why I was responding so vocally to what was on my computer screen..

Really fascinating email...???  believable...?  no??  Dang.

eh. who cares.

Happy Friday! Hope everyone has a good weekend ride!

ps- I've enlisted my father to join me on Sunday so he can man the camera during our exam.  Hopefully it's informative on some level!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I rode!

Ok, well Thursday's Dressage is over at Rolex, so I guess I can post now...

Yesterday, I actually managed to get ON the horse.  (cue trumpets) So I'm feeling good.  We didn't accomplish much else, aside from getting SOAKED by the torrential rain on our (rather) short walk from the barn to the ring.

One other boarder was still riding so I threw P on the lunge instead of letting her scamper around at liberty.  I was expecting the extended vacation to result in P being a total hellcat, but she was remarkably calm.  Her canter was measured, but forward - and the only hint that her blood was boiling came from a few squealing head shakes.

I realized that P's calm was a direct result of having a friend in the ring, so I started my mental debate as to whether I wanted to stay the course with my lunging and let her get her kicks out, or take advantage of the calm and get on while we still had a buddy to work with.

I think I debated for another 10 minutes and when I finally decided to just screw it and get on, boarder #2 dropped to a walk, let her reins out and gave her pony a big, I'm-done-riding pat.  (crappers).

I politely asked if she would mind sticking around while I attempted our first ride in weeks, and god bless her for saying that she'd be happy to.

So.. I popped on the mare, who was definitely hot to trot, but not full on crazytown.
Suspicious mare doesn't understand why I'm getting ready to get on...

She was sadly... still sticky.  But when we did get moving (mostly down the longsides), she was cruising.  Her back felt great, she was really through my aids, and felt decent.  Her barrel was tight, and didn't have the soft, squishy "marshmallow" feel that I like, but that's ok.  We popped into a quick canter (no disaster!), then switched directions.  a few mediums, a few sticky spots, and a few transitions later and we were done.  I intended to get back to work when our buddy left, but P immediately started shooting sideways and freaking out when she realized we were alone.  In fairness, the wind was blowing, the rain was THUNDEROUS on the roof and it was dinnertime.  If we had been back to work for a bit, I probably would have pushed through it, but given her energy, the time off, and the weather - I just wasn't up for for the fight.

I didn't want her to think that she got off that easy, so I threw her back on the lunge and worked up and down the ring, making her move out whenever she tried to GLUE her ears to the barn.  After about 5 minutes she was back to being relaxed and mostly focused on yours truly.

I called that a win. and we cooled out together sans halter.  (good mare).

Not exactly a strenuous day back under saddle but, a) we worked, b) I got ON, c) I didn't get thrown off and d) everyone felt better.

well, mostly better.  I apparently am getting sick. but that's neither here nor there...

Also, got to sprinkle more vets monies because apparently the Frenchie has developed allergies.  They don't seem to be tragically bad, but her little face looks hivey and swollen and my parents guilted me into paying for a vet to tell me "Benadryl.  Give her benadryl."  Thanks mom!
How sad is that puffy face!?

Can't blog...

Streaming Rolex and pretending to be working...

I think I have the determined look that says "gosh I'm studying this excel spreadsheet intensely.."

But really I have an earbud in and I'm just hoping that no one comes in during a test...

So much drama! horses acting like Pia.. Boyd had an error? what's going on?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A perfect "6"

P was still in a sedative induced stupor when I found her last night.  She was hiding in the baby's stall while everyone was still turned out and simply bulldozed her head into my chest when I popped in to give her a hug.

While I appreciated the affection and her ever-adorable mood, I had to brace myself against her increasing tank-mare weight bearing down on me.  Once I convinced her that she could balance on her own, she got a few quick scratches before I popped out to gather up my things for grooming.

I snagged the BO, asked how's she's been in my absence (great- but cheeky), and we discussed our upcoming appointment with Dr. Finn along with what the farrier had to say about her feet (upon re-affixing her left hind shoe).  I was sorta bummed I missed this, because apparently, when he sloughed off the sole, there was some old bruising that was apparent.  That made me a little heart sick, but maybe that means we made the right decision in getting shoes put back on...

Anyway, the mare was a lover, and continued to shower hugs and kisses of sorts while I gussied her up.  I trimmed her tail (AGAIN) and got all the stall dust up and out of her newly revealed summer coat.  Her little mouth was still a little tender, but apparently she got great marks from our dentist and only had one big hook that was trying to form.  Otherwise P's teeth and gums are in great condition. (hoorray)

She did get a "6" on body condition which is almost an achievement at this point.  Since the mare has been threatening to lose weight all winter, anything remotely close to "fleshy" is perfectly fine by me.  I don't think its accurate, but I also don't have my medical degree... I was curious what factor might have tipped the vet to select a "6" on the Henneke Body Scale, and since my Pony Club brain has since replaced such details with inane facts on pipe and sprinklers... I turned to the Google.

Condition Neck Withers Shoulder Ribs Loin Tailhead
Moderate (Ideal Weight)
Neck blends smoothly into body Withers rounded over spinous processes Shoulder blends smoothly into body Ribs cannot be visually distinguished, but can be easily felt Back is level Fat around tailhead beginning to feel soft
Moderately Fleshy
Fat beginning to be deposited Fat beginning to be deposited Fat beginning to be deposited Fat over ribs feels spongy May have a slight positive crease (a groove) down back Fat around tailhead feels soft
Fat deposited along neck Fat deposited along withers Fat deposited behind shoulder Individual ribs can be felt with pressure, but noticeable fat filling between ribs May have a positive crease down the back Fat around tailhead is soft

Moderately Fleshy?  I guess that's ok.  I'm moderately fleshy too.

Just because I was curious how far off from a typical 6 Pia was, I poked around a little more and found some pictures:

Here's a "6"

This thing looks WAY softer than P...
that.... looks more reasonable.

and a "9"
It's unfortunate that I find obese ponies SO adorable.
Anyway, even if she is a true 6, its well within the boundaries of a happy, healthy mare doing moderate work.  Which I guess means we should get back to doing some moderate work..  Which is precisely what I plan on us doing today.  (YEEHAW)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BAAAAH (or how it is that I never ride the beast)

There aren't very many things that make me supremely pissy in this world (ok, that might be a lie).  But the sense that I'm not in control of my schedule, or that things are "getting away from me" is one of them.

Case in point. I haven't ridden my mare since April 14th, and even that was only for a few minutes with my vet.  I have only been home for two days since then, which is a legit excuse, but doesn't really change the facts.

So you can imagine my glee yesterday when upon walking off the plane and finally situating myself back into the office I realized that I had Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday evenings free to go see the mare and get back in the proverbial saddle.

Of course then the appointments started piling up.  Mare's shoe still isn't back on, dentist is coming to the barn and Dr Finn needs to be scheduled.

All good things, all things that need to happen, but I'm sorta annoyed that Miss P isn't in fully operational order.  However, I got on the horn today and both her teeth and her shoe will be done by end of day and Dr. Finn just got confirmed for this coming Sunday.  Which should still leave me Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and maybe even Saturday to remember how to ride :)

In the mean time I'm just going to have to settle for opening up my checkbook and making "clip-clop" noises while I sprinkle $$ all around the barn.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

OMG, a horse!

Turns out I have a horse after all!

Cute as ever, hoof looks fine, but she was a little ginger on it walking across the gravel. Sooo, we just played a bit, groomed her up and cooed at the baby (official name is Alastasia).

Back on a plane and up, up, up!

Happy weekends everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LAME! (well, not *lame*, but annoying...)

Pia is clearly punishing me.  Whether its for her extended vaca, or for making her get poked and prodded by the vet last week, she is clearly punishing me.

Between my insane trips scheduled for work, I have a grand total of 36 hours at home in 10 days (which I am currently in the middle of enjoying 29 hours of).  What that means is that today is the only day for me to play with the mare this week, which is currently scheduled for 4:30-8pm this evening.  I say "scheduled" because it is.  it had to be.  It's the only way I could get it in.  In fact, I declined a dinner with another vendor, because frankly, I'd rather see the beast.  :)
Note "PIA" scheduled in.. complete with stars and wiggles.
Anyway, my boots, breeches, and clean socks were all neatly packed this morning so I could dash out as soon as possible and head straight to the mare.  Then I got the dreaded text from the BO.  9am.  No good texts come at 9am.  The really tragic ones come at 11:30pm, but there's no way the BO was sending a friendly "hope you're travels have been good, can't wait to see you!" text.

My gut was right, and it was one of those "Pia threw a shoe, no real damage, already called farrier" texts.

WHAT THE CUSS.  Threw a shoe!? doing what? stepping on yourself until it came off? you have no mud, no uneven terrain, and haven't been exerting yourself in any way since I last saw you!

Clearly, she is punishing me.

No matter.  I will still scuttle out to the barn and love on her.  I'm a little reticent to actually ride if her shoe hasn't been tacked back into place, but we'll see.  Just getting some mare time in will be good, but I'd really rather get back to busy.  I mean really.  April's almost over and we've hardly had a chance to enjoy it. 

Oh well, once I'm back from NYC, I'm here a whole TEN DAYS before having to jet off again.  Hopefully Pia will remember that sometimes I get on and ride her and sometimes she goes round and round in the arena. 


Friday, April 15, 2011

Sound is as Sound does... (+ Martha Stewart (?!?) )

Well.  That was fun.  It's always nice to get a clean bill of health from your favorite doc...  Pia appears to have passed with flying colors. 

It was the sort of exam you theoretically want.  No tragic consequences, no scary questions - mostly just a vet who is impressed with how P looks compared to a year ago, along with some total shoulder-shrugging regarding any short stride or reluctance to go forward.

We started by palpating her back, neck, and legs.  (no reaction).

Then the hoof testers came out (no reaction).

Then we lunged in the ring... she was short, but not "SHORT." definitely better than she has been.  Both ways, walk/trot/canter. (nothing)

Then we jogged out on the hard gravel (nothing)

Then we jogged out on the asphalt (nothing)

Then we lunged on the hard gravel (nothing)

Then we did flexions on all four.. (NOTHING) (yay!)

Then we decided to tack up and see what happened under saddle (gulp).

Of course in my head I'm thinking "gee, I'm in work jeans, a cardigan and nothing resembling a sports bra. OH, and this horse hasn't been worked in 10 days AND she was "lunged" for a total of 5 minutes.  This should go well"

I don't know WHY I didn't have more gear in my car, I should have known he'd want to see her under saddle, especially when I specifically told him "it only really shows up under saddle."  duh.  

Oh well, on went the boots (over the jeans) and up I went.  P walked nicely, and actually trotted immediately when I asked.  She was sticky, and totally behind my leg, but she never actually stopped, so my vet didn't have to witness the circle-whap-whap move.  He agreed with what I felt, thought that it could be attitude, but as she started to work out of it, he was more convinced that maybe it's not.

His solution?  BONE SCAN.  Oh.  of course.  The only imaging process I haven't forked $$$ out for yet.  Why not?

His reasons behind the scan are prudent.. We'll see things like kissing spine or degenerative joints better than just with x-rays, blah, blah, blah.  Of course, I feel a little silly dropping another $1,500 on an image for a horse that just passed its physical exam with flying colors.  I understand that "in theory" this is exactly when you take the fancy picture... but at this rate my entire house will be decorated in very expensive wall art consisting entirely of Pia's x-rays, myelograms, and scintigraphy.  Not exactly what I would call a traditional art collection.

So I'm thinking.  I'm thinking I'm going to wait a few weeks and see if this goes away at all without the Regu-Mate, with regular work, and with more and more time with her shoes on and new hoof supplement.  We're not in any rush.. so if this crap is going to disappear in another month, I'd rather not take the picture.  Also, I think I'll give Dr. Finn a shot at taking a look at her as well.

However, I was WILDLY entertained when I googled "horse bone scan" that one of the first links was to Martha Stewart's blog (jigga what!?).  Convinced it would be an entertaining google snafu, I clicked the link, then walked myself through the world's most BORING slideshow on one of her Friesians getting a bone scan.  I highly recommend it.  My favorite caption is "The back doors are closing."  Lol, I can just HEAR it in her perfectly metered voice.  Anyway, thanks for the info Martha! Ever the helpful resource!
Cute horses Martha, but terrible captions...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vets - or a symphony of schedules

I am one of those people who lives by their day timer.  My life is in there.  Not only would I have no clue about my schedule if the thing were to vanish, but I'd lose gift cards and coupons and security passwords, and contact info, P's resting pulse and respiration, random notes on rides, airline confirmations, friend's birthdays, anniversaries, tickets for upcoming plays, concerts and lectures.  You know.  my life.

Anyway, long story short - I consult this bible of sorts for NEARLY everything.  if only it could somehow inform me about weather patterns, I'd be able to totally do away with my computer :)

So, you can imagine my surprise when yesterday as I was sitting down with The Boy to ask whether he wanted to hitch up my trailer before work (it gets a little boxed in during the workday) or just wing it around lunch when I needed to go load Pia up for her "healthy-baby-checkup" - He got all pale looking and just said "shit."

I gave him the one-eyebrow-remember-when-we-scheduled-this-and-you-said-I-could-use-the-truck-that-day look.

"I just scheduled an emergency repair for tomorrow and I need the truck.... "

This is when I realized that although I keep our lives TOTALLY organized and scheduled in my stuffed, overflowing, totally wonderful planner - he does not.

I knew scheduling this appointment was too easy, I just knew it.  So I fired off an email (since this was of course, after hours), saying I could either haul in later (when the truck was back from its real job), or meet Mr. Vet at the farm for our check up, which is FINE but not as fun, it's more expensive and limits our options for any additional testing/imaging should we want it.

Of course about the time this all starts going haywire, I start exchanging texts/calls with a barn mate who is bringing in a pretty damn cool vet at the end of the month to look at her old guy.  Dr. Finn practices integrative vet care with a focus on movement, bodywork and hoof care.  (ding ding ding!). Her whole process starts with a 2-3 hour consult, trying to find issues that "other vets missed" then she (usually) works out an ongoing routine to adjust bones/muscles/feet over the course of a few months.  There's traditional western medicine involved, but also Chinese herbs and acupuncture, so who knows.

It sounds like she's had quite a bit of success with cranky mares who used to be on Regu-Mate (sound familiar?) in terms of addressing underlying problems that cause their cycles to be extremely painful, or just moody enough to flip out.  Anyway, it's up our alley and we're scheduling a visit to our barn for the last week of the month.  I'm really excited to just hear a different perspective and watch her work on not only Pia, but a few of the other beasts at our place as well. Finding a day for her to trek over to the mainland (she's on an island) that corresponds to a day I'm in town (apparently I'm gone more than I'm here this month) is a little tricky.  Usually I'd be ok with having the BO supervise a visit, but this sounds like something I want to be a part of and learn from.

So, we'll see what our normal vet has to say later today, who I want to follow-up with re: Regu-mate anyway (10% chance that the truck is back in time to haul over), and then we'll see what Dr. Finn has to say in a couple weeks.  It's only money right?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Luscious Locks

Yesterday I got out to the barn with every intention of riding.  Of course, when the BO meets me in the driveway and informs me my mare is "on fire," my resolve to actually ride the beast is always a little diminished.

P was definitely all sorts of hot and bothered when I showed up.  She was in the process of "running" her fence, which is a new trick she apparently learned.  I say "running" because the mare's fence is only about 5 strides long, which makes for 3 big gallopy strides, then a sliding stop, spin and three gallopy strides in the other direction... As I walked out of the barn I shouted her name with that "what the hell" tone and she immediately stopped, nickered at me, then went right back to running whatever imaginary race she had going on in her brain.

She didn't look panicked, or even really all that agitated.  Every time I walked up to her gate, she'd stop and come say hi, then when I walked away she'd go back to running the fence.  (weirdo).  I felt a little better when all the other horses seemed to be displaying similar issues (though not as dramatic), so maybe something was just in the air.  Whatever it was, it was more than enough to deter me from making it our first day back under saddle without the Regu-Mate.

I eased my guilt by saying I should have a day of free lunging and normal lunging prior to a ride... oh, and I should definitely wash her tail and trim up her whiskers prior to our vet visit on Thursday anyway

Of course, as soon as I pulled the mare in and started grooming, she acted like her energy was at an all time low, just licking and chewing with soft ears and eyes.  When I turned her out in the arena to get some bucks out, she just ambled around and sniffed the mirrors before finding a stray leaf to munch on.  When I finally CHASED her, the jets turned on and there was some serious steam to burn off.  I spent the whole time mentally debating whether I was glad to not be riding, or if I was a total chicken-dork for not saddling up (I still have no conclusion).  Either way, we free lunged for about 20 minutes, then I threw her on the line for another 20 for some better/more consistent trot work.

Afterward, I felt like we needed to "accomplish" something, so it was spa time.  The tail got a good washing and I doused it in show sheen so that I could comb through the thing while it was still a little damp.  I was somewhat horrified to realize that P's tail had been SO TANGLED, that when I actually brushed it out, her it was a good 4" longer than before.  I kept trying to make the mare stand up, since when she cocked a hip it was actually dragging on the ground.  Not quite sure when P started pumping hair out like a god damn Barbie Grow 'n Style, but apparently along with running her fence.. it's a new feature.
Seriously, this thing was above her fetlocks pre-wash
 P also got a good face trimming.  Bridle path (which I notoriously neglect out of laziness), whiskers, eyes, throat latch... all trimmed up and looking sharp.  P's gotten rid of most of her winter coat now, so she's looking sleek all around, but there were a few straggling hairs that were driving me a little nuts.

I've come to the conclusion that this mare loves clippers.  Anything else that comes within gnawing distance gets instantly slurped into her mouth for examination, thoroughly chewed/licked/rolled around, then spat back out... but with clippers she stands dead still.  Perfectly quiet.  Not a lip tremor or flinch even when I've got my hand in her nose to get the right angle on that last pesky whisker.  It's bizarre, but it's also really convenient, so I don't mind :)  Whatever Supermom did to get her to respect the clip... it worked.

Finally, since P's tail hadn't been clean enough to warrant trying out our new tail bag (courtesy of the every talented Denali's Mom), I busted out our new three tube bag to lock up P's locks and see if she was capable of destroying the thing overnight.
The purple is really more of a magenta, so it compliment's P's wardrobe nicely :)
 I also got confirmation this morning that the tail bag made it through the night (even with the lacquer of show sheen... ).  This just reaffirms that when I do bag a tail, I like three tubes.  They take an extra 30 seconds to put on, but since the bag is what gets braided, it basically holds itself on.  Love.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Layin Low

This was not the horsiest weekend ever.

The Boy and I have been passing like ships in the night for the past few weeks (between work travel and a few solo weekend trips to see old friends) so we took the chance to getaway for a totally relaxing (albeit brief) getaway.  Foruntately for me the getaway was just past the barn, so I asked politely if we could pretty please stop to give P a treat and pat the baby's nose.

He politely obliged so I got to give a quick kiss to both noses before kicking up my heels and enjoying some delicious wine and over the top meals. (yum).

I figured that my general neglect of the mare was justified on a few accounts

1) wine.
2) my theory to give her the week off while her hormones rebalanced.

P didn't seem to mind.  In fact I think she's relishing her new job as "treat eater" and "paddock protector."  As defending her turf appears to be her only major responsibility (apparently she's taken to charging at every horse getting walked past her gate... charming, P).

The time away was lovely.  Just enough distance between us and our normal routine to feel like we unplugged for a few precious hours, although the blood pressure spiked back to normal with an early morning text from the BO saying "I don't want you to worry, but...."

God bless her for knowing to start any voicemail/email/text with that line, but I still wasn't exactly the picture of calm while I waited for my phone to slowly open the rest of the message...
"I don't want you to worry, but Pia seems to have fallen and managed to scrape up her left knee pretty badly. everything else is good. Cut is rinsed and smeared in ointment"
Ugh.  Really mare!? you fell?!  I don't even know how that would be possible, but it can't feel good since you're on gravel.  What did you do.

It didn't sound serious, but still, I wasn't comfortable with scrapes and cuts that I hadn't personally seen and confirmed to be non-life threatening, which is why I was grateful when The Boy suggested we swing by to take a look on our way home.  I was thankful for his willingness to stand aimlessly in the barn while I poured over Pia looking for any other nick or scrape (there were none...) and then clomped around in her paddock (in adorable flats, a light suede blazer and a new spring scarf) looking for signs of scrapes or hair or blood that would somehow explain P's mystery scrape.

Oh, PS - the scrape was gross.  I didn't take a picture, but it resembled the bloody knees of last summer when P fell on the concrete after her second myelogram...

How she managed such a significant scrape on only ONE knee is still beyond me.  but there was no sign of scraping anywhere in the paddock.  nothing in her shed, nothing on her fences, nothing on her mats or her slow feeder.  About the time I started wandering back and forth in her paddock looking for the gravel patch where she may have "fallen" I realized I was being a wee bit ridiculous and realistically, the joint wasn't warm, there was only a little puffiness around the scabby grossness and it didn't look like it was turning into anything complicated.  So I threw another layer of goo on top and threw the mare back outside.

I left feeling pretty sure the scrape wasn't going to kill her (although it is pretty gnarly looking) and VERY sure that her hormones are fully back in business.  I say this because when P was in the crossties by the baby's stall, mama mare went BALLISTIC and starting trying to chew through the bars in order to murder Pia (who, btw had no idea what was going on).  Then, when I finally turned the mare back out into her paddock, she nickered to every single gelding (she's never done this before) and proceeded to STARE at her favorite boyfriend, while he hung his head aimlessly over his gate.

What a hussy.

making a racket (no one else cares)
All eyes on Riley (and he really doesn't care...)

Out to the barn today to hopefully get back on her back..  Something tells me she'll be feeling pretty fresh.

Oh, and Thursday we haul to the vet for our general checkup and hoof eval... fun fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

bad-asses amoungst us

Admittedly, I used to ride (and train) with some seriously renowned folks, but it's been a few years (*cough*) since I've been actively training in anything resembling that capacity.  That's not to say that the people who I've worked with, or for, since my glory days haven't been accomplished, capable folks.  But, there's a difference between really, really, good riders (or coaches) and the people who are actively pushing the max in the discipline of their choosing.

Part of what I love about my current barn is that no one is trying to push the limits.  No one's training 8 hours a day, no one is working 18 different jobs to pay for an international campaign, or so obsessed they can't sit back and enjoy down time at the barn.  That is to say, while I respect upper level riders in any sport, I also really, really enjoy that our barn is everyone's escape.  It's everyone's hobby - and no one's job. 

Occasionally I miss the buzz of an active show season, I love watching horses progress from event to event, and I love cheering on barn mates.  But, the flip side offers benefits too.  No one is stressing out, no panicked searches for that suddenly MIA running martingale attachment, Saturday mornings are more often spent riding out on the roads and trails than shoving an increasingly less organized mass of trunks and boxes into trailers to haul out.  (somehow I always started the season with a place for everything and everything in it's place.. then after four or five shows, I'd end up digging through bins of loose tack that more closely resemble tangled Christmas tree lights than careful packed equipment).

However, I recently felt that little spark of curiosity that comes when talking to a barn mate about their latest dressage test or xc run.  That compulsive feeling that you could not possibly do one more thing without hearing all the details. 

The closest non-horsey equivalent I can think of is when a roommate would come home from a first date. 

"Tell me everything."  was usually the first thing out of my mouth.  Same reaction with a barn mate.  I want to know everything.  Every gallop, every approach, the flower box under every stadium fence, each transition in your dressage ride... everything.

Anyway, the resurgence of the "spark" came when chatting the other day with our newest boarder.  H is potentially the nicest (least crazy) horse person I've ever met.  She rolled in from Colorado a couple months ago where apparently she ran her own training outfit, though I've heard remarkably few details on it.  She brought an adorable Connemara/TB cross whose shaggy coat and diminutive stature belie her true athleticism.  When H is gone (presumably on business), her delightfully charming (and geeky, and British) husband attempts to groom and hand graze her pony (CUTER) while he politely asks for tips on how-in-the-hell-do-you-make-them-pick-up-their-feet. 

H is also meticulously groomed.  Meticulous in that "oh gosh I just throw this on" sort of way, not in the over dyed, over preened, over-jeweled DQ sort of way.  She's always in some sort of adorable stripped button down shirt, with an adorably contrasting bright v-neck sweater... perhaps with a small kerchief should the temperatures warrant it.  (essentially, if there were a j.crew catalog for riders... she'd be wearing it).

So about a week ago, we were chatting about former horses and former horsie lives.  H casually mentioned that one of her old horses is sponsored by smartpak now.  While this is obviously cool (and financially excellent), I assumed that maybe this was because she blogged about smartpak, or wrote lots of reviews, or her horse had some insane recovery using their products or something.


It's because her horse is currently on the USEF team, currently entered in Rolex and maybe one of my favorite US eventers currently gunning for London 2012.

He's not the most winning, or the fanciest, but Destination Known is DARN cute and my jaw about hit the floor when I learned she was the one who rescued him from a kill auction and rode him up the ranks. 

So that's when the spark hit.  Tell me EVERYTHING.  Tell me about your eventing, tell me about Destination Known, tell me about going advanced, tell me about your fall, tell me about why you stopped, tell me about your pony, tell me about EVERYTHING.

It was great to hear her story, and great to see her enjoying just having a little pony to bounce around with.

What a bad ass... I love my barn.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Goals (& an attempt at Confirmation Pics...)

Holy crap its April.  In business land I'm crapping my pants because it's already Q2 and in theory my sales curve should be shooting up like a hockey stick.  Of course, the PNW continues to dredge itself in the cloudy damp blanket of winter, which sorta slows down the demand for high end irrigation systems (fortunately our drainage sales are doing JUST fine)..

April.  Last April I thought I'd be doing some schooling shows.  Total shows to date? wellll.... zero.  But that's ok.  Things went a slightly different direction than we anticipated for a bit, so no ribbons for Miss P yet (though I don't think she minds).

This April, the goals are limited and concise:

1) Figure out hormones.

2) Figure out feet.

I'd like to be headed into May with a clear understanding of how we're proceeding with hormone options (more Regu-Mate, stay natural, rip out ovaries..) even if surgery or more meds aren't immediately happening.

I'd also like to know what the crap is going on with P's feet.  There's a vet at the barn today for another pony, so he's putting some hoof testers on the mare to see if there's any response, but I'm having my vet come out next week for a general physical anyway

Why pay a farm call when she's not "off" and nothing seems to be objectively deteriorating?

Well, The Boy mentioned that we haven't hauled to the vet in a while and he's bored (just kidding).  But in reality, I haven't really had a vet bill in a while (apparently I've repressed the memories of ultrasounding P all September), so I'm feeling like there's money to burn.

In all seriousness though, It's been 11 months since the initial Wobbler diagnosis and I'd like to do a retest of P's nuero exercises, along with a check-in after 3 months on Regu-Mate.  Mr. Vet Man hasn't seen P since she smacked her tendon - and I figure before we start x-raying our toes, we might as well get a workup and see if anything else is jumping out at him for possible explanations.

I mean, why not.  It's only money

In another twist of fate, when I sent in an email giving a quick synopsis of P's behavior with the Regu-Mate, other considerations (new shoes, bodywork.. etc.) and my current thoughts - my vet wrote me back right away.  No nasty front desk lady, no runaround, just a quick prompt reply.   So maybe I should make that a goal too, just so that I can check it off

Goal #3) better communication with Vet office - CHECK!

Anyway, I went to see the beast yesterday just to pat her on the nose and she how she's enjoying her week off and first cycle of the new year.  P was in full lover-mare mode and was as quiet and sweet as she ever is.  She stood sleepily in the crossties while I curried a weekend's worth of mud and gunk off of her, yawning and licking the whole time.  She's remarkably less girthy than she has been, I'm thinking that might have something to do with the slow feeder? who knows.  She's obsessed with that thing...

I ambled the mare out to the ring to chase her around a bit, but she didn't seem to have a ton of energy to burn off.  She free lunged perfectly.  Stayed on a 20x40 oval around me, cantering for about 10 minutes before she listened to my request for a change in direction (I wave whip, she changes direction..). Her trot looked pretty good.  Not as mincy as last week, but still not as big as it was before her trim.  She's looking consistently more balanced and uphill to the right which is new.. maybe all of our work on that side is starting to pay off.

There's something about a good free lunge that leaves me feeling so completely satisfied and connected with that mare.  She's so responsive, it's ridiculous.  Perfect transitions (you only ask once), she adjusts her stride within a gait on command, and she didn't miss a single change of direction (which I really started playing with since she was being so good).  We halted, we cantered, we walked, we lengthened, we halted... what fun.

She does get a little annoyed at having to keep walking when she's tired - Instead she just stops, looks at you, then comes in for a scratch.  I sent her back out to walk on a circle a few times before relenting and agreeing to walk with her while she cooled out.  Since she was so chill, I thought it would be a good opportunity to attempt some confirmation pics, but the mare was trying to be good and stick to my shoulder, which made posing her a little difficult.  Here's the attempts:

Not a bad start.. but not a perfect angle..
She got tired of standing by herself apparently..

Try again mare...
Still bored....
please look at me?

Or the ground...

yeah ok, we're done.
Anyway, probably didn't help my case that I had been encouraging her to stay pinned to my shoulder while we were walking, but who cares.

Oh, and in my boredom I attempted to document P's halterless leading with the iphone.  Fair warning - this is blurry and might give you motion sickness, but if you can identify us in the mirrors, you'll see that the mare is actually fairly decent at this.

I think I confused her with trying to hold my phone up... she didn't like the adjustment in my body language, but she figured it out.  Mostly...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Holy Creep Factor

(Warning - total tangent post...)
I'm not sure if it's the lingering sense of P's toes hurting her, or the fact that I spent way too much time in the sun and way too much time traipsing around in ridiculous heels this past weekend, but I have been having totally bizarre horsey dreams.

The first totally-creepy dream has happened a couple of times in the last month and involves the last two horses I had at my old home/property that I grew up in.  Basically I spend the whole dream panicked because I forgot to let Star (the gazillion year old pony) and Dollar (my old trusty pony club mount) out of of their stalls and into their pastures for the day.

Of course, over the course of the dream, the situation warped from leaving them in their stalls (where presumably they would have been munching on their breakfast and had plenty of water..) to somehow leaving them in my car (weird), with the windows rolled up (even weirder).

Both times I've had this dream I manage to make it back to my car, which is of course parked in front of my barn (why the horses were in the car and not the barn is beyond my understanding of my own brain) just in time to watch Dollar poop in the back seat.  Mind you, while maybe (if absolutely necessary) I could have shoved Star into a car... I'm pretty sure there was no way that Dollar's gangley mass of limbs could have ever been folded into my back seat...let alone both of them at the same time.

The other dream was creepier and starred Pia, who  for some reason I had dropped off at a fairground (maybe we were showing?) and put her in a portable stall.  I then promptly left her (maybe I have abandonment issues??) without hanging water buckets, putting down bedding or giving her hay.  In spite of the fact that I wasn't initially concerned with my lack of care for P in her new stall, as soon as I left the fairground I went into a full on panic- and spent the rest of the dream trying to get back to P in order to water/feed/bed her but unfortunately I ran into a Zombie mob who was eating people and generally making the return trip to the fairgrounds totally inconvenient. 

When I finally got back to P, she wasn't in a stall (but in something more like a storage unit) and she had magically turned into a goat, which distressed me greatly.  Not because she was a goat - But because I was trying to tack up for a dressage test (no idea where the zombies went) and her bridle no longer fit.

Moral of the story?

1) Three nights in Vegas is at least one too many.
2) Apparently I'm secretly terrified of abandoning my horses in totally inappropriate situations.

I'd very much like to return to the horsey dreams of my childhood which resembled some sort of amalgamation of National Velvet and The Black Stallion...  They were significantly less stressful

What the cuss.

My curiosity got the best of me so I looked up Abandonment (others) in the Dream Dictionary and it said this :
To abandon others in your dream, suggests that you are overwhelmed by the problems and decisions in your life. 
 Under "Horse" it had this (I deleted the non-relevant situations):
To see a horse in your dream, symbolizes strength, power, endurance, virility and sexual prowess. It also represents a strong, physical energy.  You need to tame the wild forces within. The dream may also be a pun that you are "horsing around". Alternatively, to see a horse in your dream, indicate that you need to be less arrogant and "get off your high horse".
To see a black or dark horse in your dream, signifies mystery, wildness, and the unknown. You are taking a chance or a gamble at some unknown situation. It may even refer to occult forces.
Finally, Zombies apparently mean this:
To dream that you are attacked by zombies, indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed by forces beyond your control. You are under tremendous stress in your waking life. Alternatively, the dream represents your fears of being helpless and overpowered.

Okaaaay... so I'm overwhelmed, arrogant, strong, messing with the occult and helpless?

Or maybe I'm just nervous that P's toes hurt and I haven't seen her in a few days.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Two rides to report on - Wednesday and Thursday.

P had a few days off on Wednesday, so I was expecting her to be somewhat off the walls (which she was), though I was pleased that her outbursts were contained and totally manageable.

Instead of bucking, she just sorta hippity-hopped a few times in the canter

Instead of taking off while "bucking" she responded immediately and positively to a strong half halt and firm "bad mare."

Instead of being a total nit-wit with her stickiness, she kept moving (albeit barely), and worked through it.

It wasn't our best ride by any means, but it was a productive one given the excess of energy we were dealing with.  I was disappointed that the stickiness seems to have resurfaced or at least increased significantly - But the fact that it is showing up when she's hyper and feeling naughty, along with the fact that it's always near the gate have me thinking that I've been too lenient with my corrections.  O

nce we were through the sticky portion of the ride, she was decent.  I didn't get total relaxation, but I did manage to get P firmly in my outside rein, and she was more responsive to changes in bend than she usually is, which was fun to play with.

She was trying to freak out at everything in the ring (branches, mirrors, shadows...) so that was obnoxious, but I got after her each time and she seemed to accept it and move on.

The really fun part of the day was when I let her free lunge a bit before tacking up.  Maybe it was the extra day off, but holy LORD she looked like a million bucks.  I've never seen her move that well, or with that much freedom in her shoulder.

Her trot was stellar, her canter was really uphill and light... it was all very, very pretty.  Maybe we're on a good path physically? I certainly hope so..

Thursday.  Thursday the farrier came again.  I was lucky enough to catch him still at the barn so we talked about P's feet.  He's still not happy with her hinds or her heels - but things are progressing.  The right hind is starting to even out, though it still has a bit of flare on the inside edge which I'm anxious to grow past.

The good news, is that P didn't try to snack on the farrier when he put her away today.  The bad news is I was terrified she would come out with her little baby-mincing steps again.  We tacked up (she was bratty), and got ready to go. I think she was all out of sorts because getting her toes done meant she couldn't play with her slow feeder non-stop like she has been, but who knows ;)

I threw her on the lunge and yup.  Mincing.  This is the second time she's been short post-trim.  I can't tell if I'm imagining it, or if it's real, but I don't like it.  I know the farrier is really highly respected, and P's feet weren't abnormally warm.. so I can't think of a good reason for her to be backed off on the lunge.  She worked right out of it (like usual) after some cantering, so I kept going.

I hopped on and decided that if she felt short under saddle, we'd just walk for a while and stretch her legs for 45 minutes.  When I asked for the trot, she moved right into it, but then stopped.  The Sticky was back, and even bigger than before.  Chest bite, hopping on her front legs and pinned ears.

Not what we've been dealing with.

So, two thoughts.  Either A) her feet hurt and they made her stickier. or B) the sticky has been on a progression for the last week and this was just the next step.

Regardless, I didn't want to let her get away with it entirely... so we worked through it with more difficultly than there has been and got about 15 minutes of decent work in.  Little bit of canter, little bit of trot, some stretcy trot and a few lenghtenings then DONE.

Now the mare has the weekend off while I zip away for a bachelorette party for a friend.  Her regumate should be running out today or tomorrow... so curious what will be there when I show up next week :)
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