Friday, March 29, 2013

Birthday Teaser!

Happy Birthday Gusford! 

We still don't know a ton about Gussie, but we do have his USEF number and that number declares that he turns 16 (gasp!) today.  For his birthday he will be getting a bath, some treats and a trip to a schooling show where hopefully he will also be awarded some Birthday Ribbons.

Gus was also lucky enough to get some Glamor Shots taken by Supermom yesterday. 

(Supermom squeezed in a trip to the barn to take some great shots of a horsey before he goes to a new owner and we just piggybacked a little/lot)

Supermom happens to be at a show herself this weekend, so we won't see his finished Birthday Portraits quite yet, but we do have a few teasers.

Having taken Supermom shots with Pia, Prairie and now Gus I can hands down declare that Gus is the biggest ham/poser of the bunch.  Could not stop him from arching his cute little neck and pricking his fuzzy pony ears.  This old man definitely knows when he's getting attention...
Did you want a hug?
 Supermom got some fabulously adorable shots of Gus' cute face and nose, so we will have a full "beak shot" collection.  The Boy thinks that nose pictures are weird but they are some of my favorites!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Show Prep & Plans

Well I can assure you that a few weeks interrupted by Prairie's leg whacks and soreness along with my long weekends away has decidedly not done wonders for my riding...

I got back on the mare Tuesday, which was a gorgeous sunny, warm day that belied the difficulty and frustration of the ride.  Admittedly I had a 3:30 lesson which meant that while I wanted to jump around in the sunshine, Prair had every intention of freaking out about horses being brought in, her dinner that was waiting and pretty much anything else that moved (or she thought might move...maybe). 

I was off my game. 

I braced, I pinched, I got mad and unfair in my corrections and Prair took all of that and gave me a big "screw you."

She was spooking, bolting and threatening to rear whenever I asked her to stop and stand.

Finally I recognized that my frustrations were not helping to unwind either of us and I gave up and had S hop on.  I was slightly encouraged to see that Prair was being a pistol for her too (not all me I guess), but was relieved to see S defuse the situation a bit.  I finally got back on and finished our exercise (jumping two, 2' verticals, NBD) and called it a day.  However my sore back, calves and shoulders tell a story of a defensive rider using the wrong muscles... UGH.

Yesterday I had a slightly better ride even though I ventured the same dinner-time-lesson-slot.  We were inside, which made a big difference but I still got in a fight with Prair over cantering quietly to cavaletti.  We never got the jumps up to a respectable height, but more importantly we ended on a good note.

I finally had Prair up in front of my leg and steering from her butt.  She finally waited for the fences and I finally let go of her face (which I'm pretty sure is how we succeeded on the other two).
finally relaxed.
Afterward I let the mare enjoy some spring grasses and watched Gus go in his evening lesson.  He's the cutest.  He was doing figure eights over some poles on the diagonal and was supposed to be doing simple changes, but he's such an anticipater (anticipator?) he kept getting the change himself before transitioning down to the trot.
Blurry, but still cute.
We also made the call to put Gus back on the show roster.  He's full of energy, and happy to work long past his lessons which reduces my concern about his comfort level a lot.  Also, one of S's students was really excited for her first show in the walk/trot on him and since we have to make two trailer trips anyway, he doesn't really spoil the logistics.

Plus, I get the added bonus of taking him in a few flat classes on Sat while Prair does her big kid divisions.

Also I've been assured that he's way less lame than half the horses in the low level hunter ring (sad, but probably true) 

So we're all set.  The Trunk and two black ponies will be packing up for quite the Easter Schooling Show weekend.  What fun!

Trunk Lid Progress...

I should have known that if I spent time (longer than I'd like to admit) painfully making Paint diagrams to show the "plan" for the Trunk lid that Dad would have just banged it all together 8 hours later.


I popped my head into the workshop to see if any progress had been made and saw this:
He even already dug out some old whiteboard and mirror from the basement stash for the lid-flap.  The basement usually yields most widgets and pieces for projects but I thought for sure the whiteboard/mirror would require a trip to the store.  Not so.  The whiteboard and mirror will eventually be attached to the other side of the lid, so they are vertical when the lid flap is closed.

Anyway.  All that's left is to add the little "lips" on the front of the cubbies to help keep items secured and we'll be ready for the show this weekend.  I'm going to hold off on staining and varnishing until we decide what the final arrangement is..

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Matching Hardware & Trunk Organizational Theory

Trunk update!

I got my totally cool, really amazing monogram in the mail yesterday which meant that Dad and I compulsively had to affix it as soon as possible.  I wasn't 100% confident that a 14" diameter monogram was the right size but as soon as it hit the front of the trunk, I loved it.  Love love.

who's trunk is this?
 In real life the Monogram was a bit more copper than I had anticipated (I could have guessed from the "copper finish" I selected, but I didn't).  I really liked the color itself (and it compliments the wood nicely), but I didn't like the idea of the other hardware being mismatched in either stainless or brass for the hasp, handles, etc.  Both options seemed to clash or at the very least look a little back-yard-ian.

(hasp not attached yet..)
My Etsy Master had shared the paint finish he used for the monogram, and since it was a simple can of Rust-oleum (in Hammered Copper) my Dad just picked up a bottle (spray paint, so simple) and gave the rest of the hardware (and screws!) a nice coating to match. The result is lovely.  The paint finished remarkably evenly, and the tone is just perfect.  I also really like how it looked classy and understated, but just a little left of normal. Plus I like that if something ever chips or needs to be replaced I can just touch it up with spray paint!

sprayed to match handles
After plenty of Oooooooh-ing and Aaaahhhhhhhh-ing we got to work designing the cubbies for the lid.  While my "paint skills" leave something to be desired, my drawing skills are even worse so here we go..

Since the lid is so deep, there's lots of space for legit storage.  The primary question is how do you keep all the stuff in the lid still in the lid when it gets shut. Solution for that is a flap that fastens either up on the lid, or lets down like a secretary desk and can be used as a table of sorts.
Brown thing hinges up or down
Make sense? 

So if the secretary-desk-flap-lid seals the lid, we still wanted some smaller cubbies so that stuff wasn't just rolling around in the big lid and then tumbling out when you open the flap.

Because the flap either blocks the main trunk, or the lid I tried to think of things "you need at the same time" to keep in the lid.  Ideally, "things that go on last" or what have you. 

So, this became things like my tall boots, bridle, helmet/hairnet/gloves, shiny coat spray, and horsey boots. 

Our current division of space looks like this:
Lid is 38"w by 22"t and approx 8"d
Turns out my tall boots just barely fit in the 22" height of the lid, but they do fit nicely.  22" is a bit short to hang a bridle, so we ended up laying the bridle down and giving a long 9"x18" space for that.  Above my bridle space is a 10" x 13" cubbie for my helmet/gloves/hairnet stuff which leaves a larger space in the middle that is tall enough for spray bottles or perhaps horse boots.  Not sure.  all of these cubbies will have a front "lip" which will help keep things from tumbling out when the lid is up and open. 

Dad is putting the shelves in such that they are easy to adjust and change if we decide this layout is difficult or I really want something else in the lid. Some of this is hard to guess until I use it a few times.

Then just as a kicker, we plan to put a whiteboard and mirror on the secretary-lid-flap so that when it is up and fastened there is a mirror for hairnetting (or assisting horse slime removal) and a whiteboard for notes/courses/etc. 

Pretty bad ass, right?

Hopefully it will make it's big (literally, this thing is a monster) debut this weekend.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One Good Field Trip Deserves Another...

Last week (before I escaped to the East Coast for a few days) I snuck in a quick field trip with S for our semi-monthly lessons at another farm.  I opted to have S ride Prair and I took Gus (GUS!) for my own lesson.  I cannot even begin to tell you how flipping cute the two black beasts look next to each other in the trailer.  But I guess I have to tell you since I totally failed to take pictures

They looked cute.  Real Cute.

Anyway,  both the kids hauled great, Gus got to steal some hay out of a borrowed stall while S and Prairie had their go and I watched as much as I could before tacking up.

S and Prair looked amazing.  When I think back to October when we first started hauling to this place for lessons, we were struggling (hard) with trot/canter transitions.  Which made it all the more fabulous to watch the pair float around the ring, wither balloons fully inflated in a soft, relaxed frame.


They did get drilled hard on a few things and we picked up some nice exercises That Prairie seemed to enjoy.  The first was on the flat, 20m circle at the trot with a counter bend.  When Prair softens (nicely), she gets to straighten and lengthen her frame and stride for a circle, then shorten back up for more counterbend.  The counterbend helped unlock her jaw and neck, but the combo with the long/low/long when she was good really loosened up her back and got her working over it nicely.

Over fences my favorite little takeaway was putting a pole out two strides after a fence.  The goal was to lighten Prairie's landings a bit, but the traditional placing pole one stride out seemed to rush Prair a bit and make her frantic.  Two strides out seemed to be less claustrophobic for her, but still asked her to sit back a touch and lift.

It got even more interesting as we condensed the pole to a short-two-strides.  Brilliant.

As for me I pulled The Gus out and got him all ready.  He was (obviously) adorable and drew rave reviews from the much fancier Hunters in the barn.  I mitigated their compliments with explanations of his chronic injuries but Gus was happy to accept the praise without contingencies.

Since we didn't want to beat up on Gus too much, the lesson just beat up on me.  I know S has been working in some Eq fixes but omg. I'm pretty sure George Morris possessed the body of our cute little instructor for that hour because holy hell.  I nearly died.

Aside from the first few minutes I never had my stirrups.  At a few points I had a stirrup (one, singular, uno) but never both.  I was stirrup-less and riding with one hand pretty much the entire time.  The other hand was (clearly) behind my back.  Naturally. why not!?

Gus was a good boy and tolerated my fumbling and bumbling and not so subtle curses from his back with grace.  I did push him out into a more forward stride than he typically gets to go in, but it seemed to work well.  He seemed more even and more comfortable with a bit more RPM's in his motor.

I was far from even or comfortable, but we worked on some nit-picky equitation stuff that was valuable and helpful for me getting my seat back.   What I wouldn't give for the position I had when I was 14...

It was a fun (if painful) outing and we all piled back into the truck/trailer a bit sweatier and a lot less energetic than we had come.

There's another B show this weekend at our favorite schooling grounds so I think Prair is going back to defend her Pre-Green crown.  I was going to take Gus and put in a flat class on him and let one of S's students take him in the Walk/Trot but we ended up deciding to give him a bit more time just hacking around home and get another trim in on his feet first.

I will also be riding Prair, it's just unclear if I'll take her in the Adult division on Sat, or do the Modified or Pre-Adult division on Sunday.  If Prair is a super good girl for S in her Pre-Greens I don't want to run her into the ground with another 3' division... so I might just hold off till Sunday...

Mostly though lots of S's younger students are going and so we'll have a serious contingency in the walk/trot and cross-pole divisions.  Cannot Wait.  So adorable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Gus.

Gusford the Great
 Ok, a slightly more expanded post on Gus:

Usually I am not a fan of "giving" people things that need food and water and $$, but clearly we were going to help Gus out no matter what, and the fact that we were pretty sure M2 would love him only helped the decision along...

Gus has a long (vague) story with what I hope is a very happy ending.

I don't have many details on Gus.  I have his old USEF number and some hints as to where he came from, but his registration and papers didn't follow him from home to home so there are lots of gaps. 

Gus is a 15 year old Trakehner gelding who was bred to the hilt to be a fancy Hunter.  He lived somewhere "back east" and belonged to a wonderful owner who had more than my net worth invested in horse flesh.  When Gus was about 8 he suffered an injury to his DDFT, but his wonderful  owner spared no expense in his surgery, rehab or experimental treatments.  Sadly for Gus the treatments didn't return him to full soundness and his days as a prize winning fancy thing were over.

But his wonderful owners looked far and wide for a good home where Gus didn't need to be fancy (or sound over 4' courses) and he found a new family who just wanted a nice, happy gelding to love.

At this point I'm not sure if Gus changed hands more than once or not (I think he did), but eventually he ended up at our boarding facility with a very nice, but not very horsey family.   At that point Gus had already been behind on his regular maintenance and was suffering a bit for it.  His family loved him but didn't really know how to manage his old injury or how to care for a middle aged horse.  Eventually they moved states but Gus stayed behind with no real "plan" or provisions to pay for him.

In December a couple months after his family left, S stepped in and at least got the poor boy's teeth done and feet trimmed in exchange for getting to use him for lessons, but didn't have the authority to do much more than that.

I watched him go a few times with kids bobbling on his back and totally fell in love.  It was clear Gus needed some more aggressive care to address his feet and to support the old DDFT injury but S's hands were tied and I was pretty convinced the last thing I needed was a

Finally word bubbled up that the former owners were considering sending him to auction ("auction") because they owed too much in back bills and had no ability to ever pay them off (let alone accrue new ones).

Which is when we started brainstorming... and Eric came up with his grand plan to let Gus pay for himself with lessons and then also be a good boy for his Mom.  This was of course contingent on the fact that S could actually use him for lessons and that he would actually be a good fit for his mom...

I opted for a "30 day trial" with Gus to really vet out how horrid his physical state was (super horrid) and how good his brain was (super good).  S threw all sorts of riders on him.  Big, small.  Young, old.  Beginners, better beginners... etc to test his patience and his calm.

I made The Boy ride him (remember that post? more as a test to see how patient Gus really was) and I spent some time on him as well. There are a few pics on the blog (on trails or whatever) that look like I'm on Prairie, but really it's Gus' big butt that I'm on taking him for test spins.  We even hauled him out to that schooling day I took Prair to a couple times in order to see how he hauls (trots on the trailer) and how he was in a new facility (exactly the same).

I got on him about once a week to see how he felt, and also how deadened of a school horse he had become.  I was expecting him to be the typically slow, pokey, moderately grumpy old lesson boy, but holy cow Gus has some serious training, and no qualms about showing it off.

I tested his lateral work. 

Shoulder in?  BAM.
OK, what about a leg yield? SOFT. 
Half pass?  YUP. 
Turn on forehand, done. 
Turn on hauches, easy peasy...

Okay... how about a.....flying change? AUTO

How about..... collecting? responsive (but I could tell it hurt a little).

How about a canter pirouette... No prob, Bob (WHAT??)

Fine.  What's next... tempis???

4's - yes

3's - yes

2's - yes

1's?  not quite...

BUT HOLY COW.  What a dude.  He's totally out of shape and his body is locked up but what a hard worker he was! You should have seen the grin on my face while I was testing his limits.

His lengthenings are non-existent but I don't blame him given the state of his feet.

Speaking of his feet, here's a before-shot of a hind.  Well a semi "before" shot.  They were worse, but this was after one shoeing from a regular farrier at the barn, but nothing overly "corrective."

This is how Gus' feet looked in Jan when I started working with him.

I know there are worse feet out there, but this was by far and a way the worst foot I've ever had to work with personally.  His heels were halfway down the foot and totally collapsed.  TOTALLY.  nothing to work with.  Nothing to trim.

We took x-rays to confirm what angle the coffin bone was broken back to and then went to work.  I'll do a follow-up on his feet but they were obviously step one in getting him more comfortable behind and able to move again.

Additionally, Gus' RF has lots of scar tissue around his old injury and he has done a great job of compensating for the loss of motion. As a result, he's rather locked up and his spine has turned into a board instead of a undulating cable.

His first few bodywork sessions focused on adjusting the right shoulder, lots of acupuncture, and some neck adjustments to limber him back up again (complete with associated massage, ahhhhhh).

There isn't too much to be done for his hind end until we get him some hooves to actually stand on, a process that's already going really well.  I'll take some updated pics for comparison.

When we first looked at Gus in January my vet gave him a 2.5-3/5 on his Right Front.  That improved to a 2/5 and last week at his checkup he earned a solid 1/5.

Here's a quick video from January when I tested Gus out on the trails briefly.  It's fuzzy phone video but you get a sense of how he was in the beginning, and also how uphill this horse still wants to be (even without hind feet under him). 

Initially we thought light W/T/C  (like four days a week) would be the limit of his workload, but now my vet is making whispers (very quiet ones) that she thinks he'll be sound and comfortable enough for some (very small) jumping (SQUEE).  That's something we won't push with him but the notion that he could be that comfortable and that healthy is astonishing and encouraging.

I think he's on the right path so far... Just imagine what more hugs, kisses and love will do.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Giving Paprika a Go

Last year, P2 bleached out so much that I think I'm going to try Paprika.  She hates her fly sheet so I know that's not a solution for 100% of the summer, and realistically we live in the Northwest.  I could stand naked outside all summer and end up soaked from rain long before I risked a sunburn...
mmm spicy.
But I digress.  I know Paprika tests, and we'll have to pull her off before shows and whatnot, but I'm curious to see if it makes a difference. 

I found five pounds of the stuff for $10 which I think is pretty decent, here.  I guess we'll add it to grain baggies (Gus is black so he'll get some too) and see if they'll object. if they do, i guess ill be cooking a lot of smoked paprika chicken... or making one billion deviled eggs... 

Trying to avoid this chic summer trend...

You're Never Too Old For Your First horse...

As a kid I always had a (not so) secret fantasy that some Christmas my Dad would (magically) surprise me with a pony in our driveway.  Deep down I knew that he was way too pragmatic to even attempt horse shopping without me, let alone to justify the expense without extracting priceless promises from his adolescent daughter in exchange.

I never got the surprise horsey with a bow around his neck, but today The Boy fulfilled that fantasy for me.  Well - not for me, but I was there at least.  He did it for his Mom, which is probably sweeter on the  consideration continuum, and honestly was pretty fabulous to witness.  
Gus (the one wrapped up in a bow) has been the "second big announcement" that was a holdover from my post a few weeks ago.  His story justifies several posts itself, but suffice it to say that The Boy talked me into rescuing him to (at the very least) provide him a safe and humane euthanization.  Turns out Gus is a former six figure derby hunter who after a big injury to his DDFT had some bad luck and uneducated owners which left him waiting for a trailer to take him to auction.  

Flash forward two months and he's happy, healthy (and if not 100% sound), perfectly pleased to bop around with anyone on his back and take care of them.  

Enter The Boy's Mom (or M2) who rode for years but never had a horse of her own.   She hasn't ridden in several years but she has been a dedicated fixture at our shows and loves any chance to visit the barn to give carrots and kiss noses.

When we saw how well Gus was responding to some basic vet care and maintenance we knew that putting him down was no longer on the agenda. Then, when we also saw how wonderful his brain was we knew that he'd be a perfectly patient partner for M2.  

So, while we've been slowly rehabbing the Gus, M2 has been out of town, which meant that we had to keep Gussie a secret (SO HARD) until she got back.  

But back she is.  So The Boy conned her into visiting the barn where he presented her with her very first pony, bow and all.  It was awesome.

Gus was a doll while we got him all cleaned up.  S pulled his mane so he looked like a respectable beast, I polished hooves and tried to wipe off a layer of dust.  S's mom made Gus a big red bow for the occasion and while I was slightly concerned that Gus might try to eat said bow, it was like he knew he was getting ready for a show and naturally he won a ribbon without even trying.  Cutie pie....
Big Red Bow courtesy of S's Mom - Gus courtesy of The Boy...
The Boy waiting with his surprise while I met his folks in the parking lot...
Leading him out for the Big Reveal...

I tried to snap a quick phone video... it's not the best but the gist is there.

So much more to come on the adventures of Gus and M2, including how Gus came to us and details his rehab over the last few months (needles, acrylic hooves and more, oh my!)

Bah! So obsessed with Gus, I want to ramble about him forever, but I'm putting my horse-ramble muzzle on now.  The details can wait.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bad Mare, No Biscuit.

BAH! Frustrations abound. 

Between weekends away and Prairie's damned footiness, I've been missing my rides on the Big Mare.  I've caught rides on a few other beasts in the meantime but it's not the same and she's looking so fabulous with a freshly pulled mane, sleek summer coat and all her muscly goodness that I've been just itching to get back to work.

As it turned out my vet saw my farrier in between me freaking out about Prairie being sore and having my farrier out to take a peek.  They are both (thankfully) massive hoof nerds so I was pleased to hear they had an extended conversation about Prairie, how her body has developed, the history of her feet etc, prior to Mr Farrier showing up at 7:30 (cough, gasp) on Saturday morning. 

We chatted a bit and I made the call to tack on shoes up front.  I know that I could have made do without them and tested my mettle in terms of managing her bare hooves myself, but since my vet is 2 hours away and I don't have great local support (aside from emergency stuff) the paranoid "don't-break-your-horse" voice came out and I took the perceived safe road. 

On a positive note, Mr. Farrier was super impressed with Prarie's feet and how I've been trimming.  I'm always a little apprehensive to have professionals evaluate my work, (eager for the feedback, but nervous I've been doing something obviously moronic..) So I was particularly relieved to hear that I got a passing grade.  In fact, Mr. Farrier didn't even touch her hinds saying "they looked great" and there was nothing to correct.  (two gold stars for me, woo!).

I am feeling small pangs of guilt for shoeing her pretty front feet, but the fact that she immediately trotted of without any wincing or ouchy-faces made me feel better.

For a while.

I did throw polo wraps on the mare just in case she whacked her legs while she adjusted to her shoes in turnout while I made grain baggies and puttered around the barn.  Then I brought Prair in to groom her and fuss a bit before turning her out for one last hour of freedom before coming in for dinner.  But I forgot to re-boot/re-wrap when I put her out.

Cue text from S when she brought Prairie in for the night saying, "Prair has a small nick on the inside of her RF.  Doesn't look bad but I cleaned it and put some goo on just to be safe."

I immediately scolded myself for forgetting to put some sort of leg protection back on but didn't think much else about it.

Until the next morning when I got a picture of said small cut and the extremely puffy leg to go along with it.


You'll note that you cannot see the nick.  That is because the nick is very TINY.  I asked S if it was possible the nick was really a puncture, but S was pretty sure it was not.  She hand walked Prair for a few minutes, noted that Prairie wasn't off (yet) and that much of the fill dissipated pretty quickly.  Both reassuring things.

The mare got a support wrap put on and was put in a small (dry) paddock until I got there a few hours later.

When I pulled the wrap, the leg was nearly back to normal.  I jogged Prairie out and could barely see any favoring but I still cold hosed and scrubbed the leg.  Just to be OCD I clipped the hair around the scrape and did a pretty thorough examination (complete with flashlights) to help rule out any puncture point or splinter/foreign matter that could be contributing to the swelling.

Good News: No sign of anything shoved up her leg.  Also, scrape is in the middle of the inside of her leg, no where near her susepnsory (you might remember when P whacked her leg and managed to bruise said suspensory...leading to lots of ultrasounding and lots of time off).

I opted to tack up and go for a light hack vowing to get off immediately if I felt any increased pain on that leg.  Prair felt even, so we had a nice W/T/C (outside no less!) until some asshole on a dirt bike started SCREAMING by back and forth on the road popping wheelies which sent all the horses into outer space.  There's a special place in hell for morons who do such things on public roads, especially in FULL VIEW of an arena with multiple horses freaking out including lesson ponies and small kids.  But I digress...

I shoved some bute (again) down her gullet and left a standing wrap on overnight.  I'm hoping that when I get out there today the heat and swelling hasn't rebounded to full effect but we shall see.

If by some freak accident my horse managed to seriously damage herself with her new shoes I will be very upset with myself....

Also - to address a few of the suggestions/questions from the previous hoof posts, Prairie was still sore on the (super) soft arena footing.  That's partially what drove me to put shoes on so quickly.  If she was only ouchy on the rocks (or a hypothetical trail) I wouldn't have acted so quickly.  But since her discomfort extended to very accommodating footing I was a bit more motivated to fix it as quickly as possible.

I also fully admit that as an owner I'm really bad at "waiting and seeing" for anything.  If a vet (especially my favorite vet) says "I think you should do X" I pretty much already have my checkbook out.  I definitely suffer from the delusion that changing course and spending cash is the path of least resistance.  It's like if I can't know everything (which I can't) I won't let my lack of education get in the way of speedy treatment.

This defense mechanism definitely backfired on me with Pia and the initial Wobblers exploration, so clearly it's not a foolproof plan.  I will never (ever ever) put any of my animals under anesthesia without further thought. Ever. 

Fingers crossed that front shoes are less of a devil than the myleograms and anesthesia were for P.

Want. To. Ride. The. Pony.

Trunk Monogram

The Trunk isn't making much progress this week due to semi-retirement taking the official-trunk-maker on a ski trip instead of keeping him locked in his trunk-making-shop, but I am pushing forward myself.

In a search for a nifty big monogram thing I turned to Etsy (savior for all things fabulous and surprisingly affordable) and found ENC Creations. After a few messages back and forth with the shop owner to see if they could try to match the "K" style of monograms from Dover (which is what I always select for my few monogrammed pieces) I recieved 4 different mock ups to choose from and then we went into production.

The end result is rad.  It's a 14" diameter, cut steel piece that has been finished with a copper tint.  I even remembered to mention I wanted to mount it on said trunk so it will arrive with pre-drilled mounting holes. 

For $50 it is more unique and much larger than anything else I could find.  I think it'll be a beautiful main ornament for trunk.

The shopping/design/feedback process was all speedy and efficient.  If I decide I need more giant metal monograms (for more trunks, duh) I would absolutely return to ENC.  And I'd wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone else..


Friday, March 15, 2013

P2's Feet - the plan

I have a tendency to obsess a little whenever a horse is "out of commission" even if it's only for a few days.  Prair's feet already seem less tender but I think she's totally just taking advantage of an unplanned vacation for herself. 

Per my vet's recommendation, I'm currently awaiting a shipment of Hawthorne's Hoof Freeze.  

As far as I can tell it's pretty similar to most traditional hardeners, but I always like my vet's product recommendations and since no one in my state carries the damn stuff we are currently awaiting a ground shipment since the stuff is flammable. 

In the mean time, Prairie is just getting good 'ol fashioned iodine and a bit of bute.  I'm fairly certain that if past experience is any indication either Prairie will be done being sore, or will be shod by the time the reportedly magic Hoof Freeze arrives on my door step.

But such is life with beasties.  If nothing else I'll be glad to have the new hardener on hand and remember to proactively treat her a bit earlier in the season next year...

The fallback is still to put front shoes on if necessary.  I think my farrier is coming out tomorrow.  I never say I know, because with farriers you never seem to know for sure (although since I .  But assuming I do actually see him, I'll get his opinion as to whether or not we are making progress or if shoes are a good alternative right now. 

I would really (really really) love to not nail shoes on, but Prairie is really (really, really) efficient at drawing tension into her shoulders and getting all locked up.  We've spent nearly a year freeing those silly things up and I really don't want to set her up to regress in that department. 

Yesterday I had a great Eq lesson on Not-Prairie, which totally kicked my ass.  S nit picked (in the best possible way) my bad habits and we worked through lots of my typical issues.  It was quite a bit of fun, though I'm feeling the burn from some extended half-seat sessions.... ouch.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Soggy Hooves

While I was gone last week Prairie had some bodywork done by my vet who noted all good things (mostly).  With the two notable exceptions of:

a) Prair being a bit footsore on the hard gravel


b) a strained muscle across her right croup.

The muscle was why I called the vet out... mostly because I was getting concerned over the increased "cheating" going on with Prairie's right hind.  She doesn't like to step as "under" herself with her right hind as she does with her left hind and my brain spiraled into a panic that something hideous was going on.

Well, it doesn't look like something hideous is to blame (knock on wood everywhere) but rather a general disengagement of Prairie's hind end.  My vet noted that she's using her butt way more than when we got her, but she's got a ways to go.  When I asked about the left/right discrepancy she didn't have a clear solid answer.  One answer could be that since Prairie tended to carry her tension in her right shoulder that perhaps the left hind was forced to strengthen in order to compensate, and since the right hind didn't, it languished a bit and she's been able to cheat.  I like this answer but of course there could be other things going on.  I choose not to think about them until necessary.

For now we are doing more rein back exercises and emphasizing our lateral work that asks for frequent shifts of balance. 

The hooves hadn't been an issue until recently(though admittedly I haven't been walking her across the gravel drive to the outdoor much and the soft indoor footing hasn't bugged the big mare). 

After Prair's exam on Friday, she had a day off before being ridden by S on Sunday which went well.  I managed to make it to the barn on Monday but couldn't ride so it wasn't until yesterday (Tuesday) that I tried to leg up.  When I did the mare was head bobbing lame at the trot. 

I got off, lunged a few circles, couldn't really tell which foot hurt, then jogged her on the gravel which clearly showed that ALL the feet hurt.  Or at least both fronts did.

I nixed the ride, shoved some bute down her gullet and called it a day.

Today, the mare was still lame, and after chatting with my vet we think it's just the warm, wet weather wreaking havoc on her pretty bare tootsies. 

So, she's getting a hardener applied for the next few days and if that doesn't help.... (gasp) I'll be putting front shoes on.

I'd rather not, but I L-O-V-E my new farrier and how he trims so I'm not worried about her hoof shape getting all screwed up by a few months in shoes.  Not ideal, but the fact is I live in a soggy, wet place and I want to ride my horse :)

SO, we'll see.  She's on 1g of bute a day because I'm pretty sure it's not an abscess (in which case I'd stop the bute and let her blow it out).  Since her discomfort seems spread across both fronts I'd rather bute, and try to keep Prairie from compensating in her shoulders or screwing something else up trying to manage the pain.  It's taken too long to mobilize her shoulders and back to let the mare tie herself up in knots....

That's it for now.  

Anyway, we shall see.  I'm hoping I don't have to tack shoes on, but I'm ok with it if I do.  It's a constant struggle in our area to keep bare hooves tough enough in the winter and early spring - so I know I'm not the only one nursing squashy feet.  I thought the dry lot paddock with good gravel would help avoid this issue, but apparently not. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trunk Updates

Well the trunk is coming along nicely.

It is trimmed and stained.

The hinge is on (with catch chains until the gas shocks show up).

Casters have been firmly attached to the bottom.

And Dad finally figured out how to make a decent saddle rack that's "removable" when I don't want to be taking up half the trunk with a saddle.

The color came out dark than anticipated, but I like it.  The photos make it a bit green/gray but it's really more of a dark brown.  Not your "traditional" coloring by any means but really close to the dark stain that I love in my parents home.  Not too surprising that I like it on the trunk then..

The trim is beautiful.  but apparently the trim strips available at the lumber shop were not quite what Dad was thinking... so he machined the trim out of larger planks and then beveled the edges beautifully.  He also put a trim piece in where the hasp will eventually be mounted.

  Then, in a fit of inspiration he mounted a "saddle rack" which I think is just brilliant.  Originally we were thinking of making a saddle-rack-shaped-box, so that you could store things in it, then set your saddle on top.  But instead this is what Dad came up with:

The brackets are mounted into the trunk, but then the dowels just nest into slots.  This means that either the dowels are held in place by the weight of the saddle, or can be easily lifted and removed to open up the space entirely. 

SO CLEVER.  I love it.  Even when a saddle is being held in the rack, there is plenty of space below for blankets, boots, whatever.  Brilliant and simple.

Next steps are acquiring hardware (hasp, handles etc), installing the gas shocks to support the lid and continuing to brainstorm on internal organization.

I think the trunk will be "operational" enough by our next show to give it a test run and then have notes for any changes that need to be made...


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A bit of blogging on bitting..

I stumbled onto The Bit Bank Guru's Blog When I was researching the legality of Prairie's Boucher for dressage.

Not only did I find the following article interesting, well written and informative, but the rest of the blog is pretty great for tack ho's and gear heads alike.

Enjoy. (And forgive the crappy formatting I'm posting on the fly as we look at a couple of farm properties (squee!))

Happy Tuesday!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 11, 2013

Operation Tack Trunk

So my darling Father recently (mostly) retired from our family business. I think I've mentioned his new found excess of time as one of the motivating factors for a "farm" search but if I didn't, it is.

In the meantime however, under severe threats from my mother to "keep him busy" I have been making a wish list of projects that I can use his help on.  A few weeks ago S mentioned that she's always wanted a nice bit box, so BAM - he made a bit box.  It was super pretty, classy hardware and the inside organization makes it easy to have four rows of bits, or to divide the box into half bits, half random crap.

Dad is also the creative force behind the barn tack locker remodels.  He's done two of mine and then got pimped out to other barn ladies to help makeover their own lockers.

These are the sort of projects he adores.

Anyway, he was asking for another task and while I was considering asking for a smaller bit box for me, I decided that why not dream big and get a big girl tack trunk.

I sent dad a couple of websites and pictures of "things I like" in a tack trunk and two hours later he sent me this:

oh hey box.
It's... 32" tall, 40" (ish wide) and 24" deep.  He sorta compared the average measurements, then did his typical "how can I maximize the pieces of wood I already have" drill and hammered this out with only one additional sheet of plywood purchased.  The result is a good sized trunk that I think will be REALLY useful.  It's on the larger side for a trunk, but since it's primary purpose will be to "hold everything" at shows (as opposed to be useful at home) I think bigger is better.  I'd like to be able to lock a saddle in it when possible, which basically means that our chosen dimensions are about as small as we dare go...

Last night per his request I dumped off some extra tack (boots, saddle, bridle, wraps, pads, etc) so that he can play around with the inside configuration.  His vision is something that can stow everything for a show (including a saddle) but then when it's open it sort of flips and folds out so that you can hang things on the outside of the box for ease of use.

The Lid is 8" deep  and the thought is it will have a "locker" for two bridles (mirror on the front for hairnetting), a couple smaller boxes for spurs/gloves/small things and then a place for tall boots.  The main trunk will have a saddle rack (with storage under) pad hanger, brush box, (removable) bandage box and possibly a tray on top.  He's been playing with a pegboard to figure out how to make the components attach to the outside of the trunk without gumming up the aesthetic appearance too much with extra hardware.

Anyway.  When I expressed a concern that perhaps I should "do more research" and potentially "decide what I want."  I was met with a scrunched up face and assurance that if this wasn't the perfect trunk he'd just keep making more prototypes until it was.

Ah brilliant.

Let me know if anyone wants to be on the wait list for rejects ;)

Stay tuned for updates....

Friday, March 8, 2013

Safely Settled

Aside from some miserable rain, P's move on Wednesday went fabulously.

Well- it went fabulously once we were on the road. The mornings at the barn was another story. P ran me over, ran away and spent the entire morning reminding how big of a twit she can be. She was in flaming raging heat which explained her behavior but in no way mitigated it.

The only "good thing" she did was scamper onto the trailer without a second thought. However once we were on the road she hauled quietly and behaved.

After 90 minutes off crappy sloppy highways we made it to my friends farm and unloaded without ado. Pia walked off calm and alert but not crazy. All of the stalls have runs attached and open fronts (no bars) which lets the horses nose and talk and see each other without trying too hard. Pia immediately nosed with her neighbor and peered suspiciously out into her run.

After about twenty minutes she was happily walking around, munching hay and making friends.

After catching up over a nice long lunch I headed home (and the out of state again) but have gotten lots of pictures of P's first few days.

Right now P gets to play with another "difficult" war blood mare, an adorable little welsh gelding and an even more squeal inducing 9 month old welsh colt.

Thursday was the first day they all got turned out together, and after thumping the colt a few times everyone settled into happy grazing.

So far all seems well. P is calm and happy and behaving socially. Which is really all I want for her.

She's such a pretty, fabulous girl when shes in a good place.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Prepping P1

Life has whipped back up into a maelstrom and I'm not 100% how time is flying so fast, but it is.  Feels like I just started Pia on the GastroGard and yet I'm packing her sleepover bag and getting ready to move her tomorrow

After a weekend away, I busted out of the office a bit early and headed to the barn to hopefully ride at least one mare, and make their grain baggies for the week.  Somehow the sun managed to blast through the clouds so I pulled blankets, grabbed P2 and tacked up for a light hack.  I forgot my spurs and after spending 10 minutes trying to kick, thwack, beat her into a productive dressage school I just stopped, unzipped my jacket for the first time since November and hacked out on the buckle in the sunshine. 

It was the correct decision. 

Afterward I grabbed P1, shoved her GastroGard down her beak and prepped grain baggies.  But I still had a few precious minutes before my evening meeting so I threw tack on, hit the indoor (not quite brave enough for the outdoor) and had a speedy, but super lovely WTC ride on the red mare.  I haven't really been thinking about the fact that Pia is leaving again, or that I won't see her nearly as often, but it hit me yesterday as I was walking her around and she was doing her best to be a happy, normal horse. 

Her new spot is about 2 hours closer than Summer Camp though, so I know there will be plenty of opportunities for visits and a few trail rides..

But yesterday it was nice to have a few quiet moments with Pia.  That is, until I tried to put her blanket on for the night and she promptly attempted to take a bite of out me...  Sigh.  Mare needs some more turnout.  Stat.

Anyway, I think the GastroGard is helping.  Pia seems to be way less bitchy about me touching her girth area and in general has a bit softer of an eye.  Yesterday she was less obsessed with Prairie being gone, but she is also in raging heat so the gelding next door was commanding all of her attention.

Anyway, today I get her stuff organized figure out what blankets should go, etc and then tomorrow Pia has an early pedicure before we hit the road! I'm excited to see how she does at her new home.  I feel like the GastroGard is helping and since she still has a week or so left, she shouldn't immediately redevelop ulcers from the stress of changing barns. 

Fingers crossed that this proves to be a positive change for the mareface!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ready for her (tiny) Closeup

I escaped the rain for a long weekend in Deer Valley... So while I'm lamenting the lack of ponies, the presence of wine, good friends a roaring fire and an insane ski in/out lodge right on the mountain... I think I'll survive :)
Anticipating lots of good cozy couch time I stocked up on magazines including the random horsey newsletters That have been piling up on the coffee table yet. Among the pile? Warmbloods Today - which is about the right mix of pretty stallion ads and medium interesting profiles on random riders.

Anyway, there's a teeeennnny tiny picture of Prair and her last baby (Real Prada) in an ad for the farm I got P2 from. She wasn't bred there, but rather was imported for her big gaits and black coloring both of which were good assets to the breeding program.
I've seen this picture of second baby before... But I'd love to see more as she grows up. Her coloring is wild!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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