Tuesday, April 29, 2014

FITS Show Shirts

I know I mentioned that TOTD had my all time favorite FITS Claire show shirts on the site a while back.  They had weird colors I hadn't heard of listed, but I am so obsessed with the FITS Claire shirt that I already have, I didn't really even consider what the color options were, I just bought them.

My Grandmother always said, if you find a pair of fabulous shoes (read: heels) that you can wear for more than 4 hours, buy them in every color, even the green.  (I figure the 4 hour rule also applies to show clothing... if it's comfy all day, go for it).

By that rationale, I figure my two extra show shirts were hardly an extravagant purchase as they wear like iron and have proven themselves to be extremely comfortable in every horrid weather condition that inevitably happens on a show day.

Anyway, since I've already posted on this, I'll spare you my full schpiel, though you can re-read it here.

When the shirts arrived (in relatively quick fashion for TOTD), I really wasn't sure what "dove stripe" or "pink/white" would look like.  There was a very real possibility that had ordered one shirt festooned with birds and that the other would likely make me look more like a candy cane than a polished equestrienne.

Fortunately for me, the people at FITS aren't morons and the colors were lovely.  In fact I'm a little obsessed.  I even thought about asking my trainer if I could go in the leadline class at the next show just so I could wear one before next year.

My photos are a tad off in terms of color balance (damn you camera phone!) but you get the idea.  The pink is a gorgeous salmon with a thin white stripe, and the "dove stripe" turned out to be a white shirt with a grayish-lavanderish stripe.  Both look gorgeous with my dark gray coat and the pink also looks really sharp with my brown coat.  Plus somehow both shirts make it look like I actually have some color in my skin as opposed to the rather charming pale/translucent pallor that most Seattle-ites are rocking after a long gray winter...

striping detail
In terms of sizing, my original (blue) shirt is a M.  I typically wear a 30L breech (or 8/10 in normal clothes) and a 12T or 14T hunt coat (depending on how Euro the Euro sizing is..).

This time I ordered another M and an L because I figure I'm not getting skinnier.. and Medium was sold out in the pink :)

Obviously I tried them on (lol) and even 7 (almost 8?) months pregnant, I could hold the M together (given some serious amounts of double stick tape - god bless stretchy fabric!).  The L definitely gained some length in the sleeves (which is good for me), without getting too much extra bulk through the body, so they are definitely cut pretty slim (an L would be fine for me at pre-pregnancy weight too, definitely not too billowy).

In conclusion, even though these things are long gone from TOTD, I really can't sing their praises enough.  Great fabric, great ventilation, great quality.  BUY THEM. Show in them.  Love them.

I assume they ended up on TOTD because FITS is either coming out with new colors or using a new snap vendor on the collars or something.  Regardless, if I was in the market for a show shirt, I wouldn't balk at paying full price for one of these babies.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Praise (whoever-controls-horse-lameness)!!!!

Praise be to the horsey gods, or my vet, or whoever should get credit for Prair getting (and staying) sound.

Texted N to see how the ride over fences went, and this is the response I got:

That might be my favorite use of emoji in a while.  I think the repetitive smileys, plus the 'praise jesus' hands  perfectly represents how a horse owner feels when their horse comes sound.


That's about right.

Assuming all goes well, we're aiming for another show the 14th-18th back at the same facility.  In the mean time, I'm going to keep praying to the sound-horse-gods and shoving peppermints up her beak.  What a good mare she is for getting right back to business.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Big Sigh

Prair Beak
Well, we ("we", lol) took Prair out today to see how things were looking, and praise be to the horse-gods, the mare was sound.

Not only was she sound, she was a total rock star and came out of her (boring) stall totally ready to work.

That ended up being a good thing, because the mare got worked.  Lots of counter canter, lots of serpentines, lots of transitions.  Nice push from behind, much lighter up front and a return of the nice, pretty float that I was missing at the show.


Tomorrow she'll work over some small fences, so I'm holding my breath a bit until then - but I feel about a million times better about things with a solid, sound ride under our belts.

Thanks Mare.  Extra treats for soundness!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love & Loot

I was feeling itchy about having not seen the mare in... a week (!?) so I decided that even though I didn't have a good reason, I'd pop down to the barn and give her some scratches and kisses.

To make myself feel useful I did manage a to accomplish a few things - for one, I had another bucket of the SmartCalm Ultra to take down (read: dumbo's magic feather), plus I had finally put the new CWD bridle in a bag of Hydrophane overnight and having reached an appropriate color, it was ready to be put back to use.  At some point I swear to god I will remember to take a picture of that thing.  I keep forgetting, but I swear it's not on purpose.

Also, I decided that Prair should get to try on her Circuit Champion cooler from HITS.

Those are totally legitimate reasons to drive 45 minutes to the barn.  (so I did)

Prair looks good.  I can tell she's cranky on (mostly) stall rest.  She's still happy and snuggly, but she's just a little more fidgety than normal and a little less polite about standing still.  I've never had to stall her this long before, so to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect - but this seems like acceptable behavior to me.
let me ooooooouuuut

The only thing I didn't like upon seeing her was that her weird faux-diahrea is in full force.  I say "faux" because her manure is still formed... it's just accompanied by extra liquid, which is a little different than what I've had to deal with before.  It started when we switched barns, and has never really gone away so first step is that we are reverting to our old diet (platinum, alfalfa pellets and rice bran).  If that doesn't do the trick.. we'll keep looking at options.

She's totally hydrated, and it appears as though she's gaining weight, so I'm not too alarmed.  Mostly just annoyed and empathetic when I wash her gross tail and hocks off.

In my poking and prodding, everything else looks good.  Legs are cold and tight (though they were when she was lame too..), back is rock solid, fungus is totally gone, hooves look great, butt looks a bit.. rounder, ribs are nowhere to be seen.  All good things.

Her coat is frigging glorious too.  All shed out and glossy, glossy, glossy. Such a pretty bird.

So it was on to important things like trying on her pretty, pretty cooler.  The thing is a 78" - which is not exactly Prairie size, but her other prize coolers (bah, love that she has multiples) are all 81's, which isn't too far off...

I must say, while I like the cooler, it isn't my favorite.  Oddly, it looks a bit more casual than the Division Champion coolers from HITS, and I'm not sure the fit is as flattering.

literally the best pic I could manage, Prarir wouldn't stand far away from me
 I'm almost thinking this might become our "home" cooler.  The outer fabric might repel dust and dirt better than our other traditional fleece coolers, and I'm just not sure I think it's a pretty/fancy enough look for shows.

I do love the idea of walking around with a circuit championship cooler, but I also love the idea of wearing our "Sunday Best" when at shows.

(of course all of this is predicated on the fact that we will actually be returning to shows this year...)

So, that's our exciting update.  I'm not riding, Prair's not working... we're moderately boring.

Tomorrow is the official day we take her out and see how she's doing.  Points for fat and shiny, bonus points for actually sound....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gus's Day at the Track

We've had some seriously gorgeous spring weather in Seattle (interspersed among the rain..), to the point that I just can't not ride.  I just can't.

I can deal with not riding Prairie, but I figure Gus can trundle me around safely, and god dammit I want to ride.

So, I did.

I threw on my "thermal maternity breeches," which oddly... fit ok.  They are getting tight across the tummy, but still perfectly acceptable through the hip/thigh and headed to the barn.  
28 weeks, *barely* still in breeches.
Gus and I started in the indoor just walking and trotting around.  His RF feels a bit worse than normal, but it's so hard to tell what is body stiffness and what is leg lameness.  He tends to feel more even and supple with regular (light) work, so it's not too surprising that he feels lurchy and uneven after a few months mostly off.  My fab vet who does all the bodywork is currently in Florida, but when she's back, Gus is getting a once over from her which will hopefully help a bit.

After about 15 minutes of hacking around (and some light lateral work to supple the big guy up) we headed outside to stroll around on the track.  

I had previously led the man around it a few times from the ground, but we hadn't explored it with me on his back yet, and he is decidedly less confident about things when you're on him.  He doesn't spook, and he doesn't spin or misbehave- but he does... stop.  he likes to stop and stare at things and evaluate his world.

So, we got about halfway around the track (walking away from the barn/pastures/herd) and he just stopped.

I think his objection had more to do with leaving the safety of the other horses because he wasn't looking at anyway in particular he just decided we had gone far enough and we should stop and probably go home.

Since he wasn't being naughty, we just stood there for a few moments, then turned around and went the other way around the track.  At almost exactly the same point on the other side, his herd radar kicked in and we stopped again.  

Again, I just stood there, patted him, then eventually turned around again.

This time Gus just marched the whole way round (a bit more energetically when we turned home) and was perfectly happy about it.  We made a few more laps on a nice loose rein then called it a day.  
Go Gus, go!
I really love the idea of using the track for most of our rides (weather permitting) since it gives us longer straightaways where I don't have to burden his RF with too many turns.  Of course, I'm not sure how many rides we'll log before baby-kins arrives, but we'll see.  It did my soul good to spend some time on his back, and physically, I felt totally fine - so that's nice too.  

Baby woke up as soon as I got off and started kicking up a storm, so maybe she already prefers to be up on a pony's back.  (once can only hope!).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gus' New Bachelor Pad

Man, for not riding, it sure seems like lots has been going on with the horses for the last couple of weeks.. P sold, Prair went lame and Gus got a brand new home!

Last week I ventured up to D's to retrieve Gus from his lavish country life of big green pastures and fun trail rides.  It was just time for him to get close again and it's been more than a year since D has been without the burden of at least one of my horses, so at some point it's good to not impose constantly :)

Gus moved to a great facility that's literally 15 minutes from my house and a whopping 3 miles from M2's.  That basically means that Gus gets more treats and more attention than he deserves, but he's certainly not complaining :)

The farm is primarily run by a Therapeutic Riding program that I used to volunteer with and manages about 30 (?) horses for their use.  They have a second aisle of stalls that, until recently, was occupied by a local H/J trainer, but since thheir new facility is finally finished - those stalls have opened up to general boarders and cute horses like Gus.

Gus gets a nice big stall on the end, with a nice big window along with a nice paddock that he goes out in from 7 till 2, every day.  There is one indoor ring reserved for the boarders exclusively, and another indoor and outdoor ring that the program utilizes during the week, but boarders can use on the weekends. 
Perfectly picturesque
Finally, there's an old racetrack leftover from a former life that is open to walk/hack on which is kind of a fun alternative to trotting around in the small indoor... (Gus likes it, though he could do without the geese nesting in the infield).

The entire vibe at the place is just so chill, everyone is friendly and all of the employees and volunteers are there because they love the horses and they love the program.  So far it's been a very easy culture to integrate with.

We haven't been there for long yet, but his stall has been spotless, (clean, dry, plenty of new pellets, scrubbed water buckets etc.) and he's settled in to his new routine nicely.  The proximity makes it easy for me to bop out to see the old man, and I think it'll be a great long term fit!
Enjoying the sun in his paddock (after a small fight with the electric fence)
There is a possibility that Gus will get to "work" in the program a bit, but I want to spend a few months with him first, evaluating his leg, and seeing how he does with some low key regular work.

My Brain is Rotting (and a belated birthday)

Apparently whatever part of my brain used to meticulously bake horse treats and make carrot/oat/molasses mashes for my horses' birthdays has totally deteriorated, as I no longer am able to even manage an on time birthday peppermint..

I definitely forgot the mare's birthday in 2012...

An attempt at cute, belated birthday photoshopping
And then managed to forget again in 2013....

A sadder, less sincere attempt at belated birthday photoshopping
And, because why stop a good trend? I totally spaced on it yet again this year.

Prair's birthday was on Monday, and she turned a grand 'ol NINE.  NINE! that's a grown up horse age. She sounded so young and spry when I bought a relatively green six year old in 2011, but nine?? How did that happen?

Nine is time to grow up and get some shit done.  (which admittedly would be easier if she was sound and I was riding...minor details).

Because I was feeling particularly guilty about missing the Big Day and because the poor mare got poked and prodded by the vet instead of fed peppermints and birthday goodies, I even took the time to edit a new birthday picture.  Astounding, I know.

facing the other way and everything!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Prair's Left Front (as opposed to "My Left Foot")

Great movie... anyone? No? okay... moving on.

Met the vet Tuesday morning to reinspect Prair's sore tootsie.  Since it's been taking a while for the lameness to present, I tacked the mare up, handed her to an exercise rider (literally, from the track), and stood back to watch.

Maybe not the best person to be in the irons, as she had Prair really running and let her stay heavy in the bridle, but we were getting the job done.  Just about 10 minutes into trotting/running around, Prair started to look a bit guarded on the left front, and even though a head bob wasn't showing, when she changed from the right rein to the left rein there was a marked difference in her way of going.

(for the record, never before have I given the instructions "Ride her till she's lame."  Typically I aim for not that result...lol)

Anyway, I grabbed the vet, who popped in and started watching what we were working with.  Big circles, small circles, changing direction, trot, canter... all that good stuff.  The good news is that the lameness stayed way less pronounced than it was at the show, which the vet thinks helps rule out any major soft tissue damage - the theory being that a serious strain or sprain wouldn't heal significantly in five days off....

That makes sense to me, but I'm also totally willing to accept anything that helps rule out major soft tissue damage... She could be saying "well, there was a Blood Moon (whatever that was) last night, so that really helps rule out major soft tissue damage" and I'd be nodding my head all "totally, yeah, makes sense..."

(so I can't really be trusted in that department).

Anyway, feeling slightly less nauseous about Prair's leg rotting off, we talked about next steps.  Her "most likely" diagnosis is that Prair tweaked her coffin joint (likely landing funny or slipping around, or something similar), and the lameness was presenting as a result of inflammation around that joint, which would explain the increase in lameness with work, why it blocked out in the hoof and also why we weren't seeing any heat or soreness farther up the leg.  Additionally, Prair showing more discomfort when the leg is on the inside suggests an "impact" soreness as opposed to a "push off" soreness which would typically show stronger when the leg was on the outside...

Vet suggested that we x-ray the hoof to rule out any major bone/joint issues and then (assuming nothing weird) inject the coffin joint and give her one more week off.

So we x-rayed.  And everything was really, really pretty.

Part of me always gets nervous taking pictures of what's inside a horse, because if you look hard enough you will always find something... and that makes me a tad queasy.
 a surprisingly cooperative mare...
But, never fear, the x-rays looked great.  No arthritis, no remodeling, the navicular bone looks beautiful, the joints all look balanced and clean.  Her outside wall looked just a tad tall, but not to the point of impacting her lower limb alignment... worth showing to her farrier (I think x-rays always are) but not much of a correction to be made.

The only thing we did see on the x-ray, was a confirmation of what the Vet mentioned when we were poking and prodding - which was a slight swelling right above the cornet band, in the middle of the hoof.  She said that fluid there indicates inflammation in the hoof capsule, often without any heat associated with it.  It was impossible to see, but a few pokes of the finger could tell that the left front was just barely squishier than the right front in the same spot.

The x-ray showed this "squishiness" as a slight bulge right about the cornet.  the pic isn't the best since I took a phone picture, of the x-ray... on a laptop.  (a picture of an image of a picture... how esoteric).

I don't even want to talk about how long it took me to get an arrow on this picture.
We didn't ultrasound since Vet confirmed what my internet readings had said - which is that it can be rather tricky to ultra sound that low on the limb with any certainty, and that an MRI would do a more reliable job of identifying any issues....  Since we don't currently think we have a *major* soft tissue injury, she suggested that we wait and see if more diagnostics become necessary before going down the MRI road...

To sum up:

We don't *think* it's major soft tissue.  (but we can't say with 100% certainty)

We *know* it's not in the bones (the x-ray helped that, though that doesn't rule out some sort of bruising...)

And we are proceeding under the assumption that we are dealing with a tweak (or minor soft tissue) that should resolve itself in short order.  The injection should help get rid of the inflammation immediately, she'll stay on some anti-inflams for the week to help finish that job, and will be getting 30 minutes of Eurosizer or hand walking until we attempt to resume full work next Tuesday.

All in all, a pretty good update, not too scary and hopefully we are back to normal in no time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A New Home for Pia

I've been totally silent on the blog about Miss Pia for the last couple weeks mostly because I didn't want to jinx anything, but I think it's time for an update.

The Boy and I mentally committed to finding P a new home before the baby arrived in an attempt to curtail some of the horsey expenditures since people keep telling us that kids are spendy too... (what?)

The fact is, re-homing P is a hard thing.  The control freak in me had a hard time even writing that dreamhorse ad and contemplating someone else being in charge of her.  But one cannot collect all the horses all the time (damn), so the ad went up and I got LOTS of responses.  Most of them were not great for one reason or another (one lady wanted P for her 6 year old grand kids to ride..) but a few sounded like good homes capable of working with a Pia.

One in particular jumped out at me and seemed like a good match.  An Adult Ammy, looking for their next low level eventing partner, who has her horses at home, in a pasture all together, no stalls... She trail rides, hauls out a couple times a week and all in all sounded like a good amount of variety for a mare with a clever brain.

She came to try P (P was good) and we loaded her up for a trial.  I agreed to a three week trial because a) she lives 4 hours away and it seemed mean to make someone haul back and forth for anything shorter.. and more importantly b) I really wanted a long enough trial that someone would get to know the mare and have a chance to see her be good, but also maybe deal with some of the challenges.

P settled in great, and in during her trial was able to haul out for all sorts of lessons (including some jumping) and the only misbehavior that I heard about was the mare pulling the lead and running away on the ground a couple times (a trick she tries on EVERY new person).

Anyway, long story short, it was a good match and P has officially found her new person!  They had another jumping lesson this past weekend, and it sounds like her Eventing trainer thinks that they are a good march and will enjoy each other.

Honestly, I'm so relieved to have found her a home I think she can succeed in, and I'm so thrilled to see her being a good mare and getting to work.  I know how quickly P can get sour if she's in a bad environment, so I think that if she weren't happy (or relaxed) we'd know it by now.

So, congrats P.  I'll miss your pretty red face and your clever brain.  You brought me back to horses as an adult and taught me how to trust my gut again, ask for second opinions and adjust my expectations.  I'm a better owner, rider and person for having had the last four years with you and I can't wait to see what you do next.

And because I don't want to post pics of her new owner without asking, I'll leave you with some of my all time favorite Pia pictures.
Pretty bird (before I got her)

First ride! March 2010

When supermom delivered her

first ride at the Dressage Barn

Mare love

stoic black and white :)

such a pretty face

Valentines 2011

Grumpy face

Summer Camp Snack

My favorite face!

Mountain Trail 

Field Gallops

Tackling the teeter totter at Mountain Trail

Our First/Only Beach Ride

Mountain Trail 2012 with Prair too!

Summer Camp :)

Cowboy Man and Summer Camp


Back to work (briefly)

Up north at D's
Such a brilliant mare.  I hope I continue to get updates from her new person and that they stay on the happy, positive path they started on!

Monday, April 14, 2014

(Emotional) Consolation Prize

I didn't Prair this weekend, she's on lock down/stall rest and well... That's sort of boring (for all of us).  

To ease my pouting over missing the second week of showing, the Ribbon Gods smiled and saw fit to send me our circuit awards from Thermal. 

Not quite as exciting as ribbons freshly won, but still. Satin nonetheless.  The streamers are excessively long.  The ribbon whore in me says that "fancy" ribbons should have more elaborate rossettes and more streamers.  Three 36" long streamers almost look puny on the normal sized rosettes.  

(not complaining, just saying if I am ever in the enviable position of ordering ribbons, they will be bigger and fluffier for things like circuit awards.)

oooohhhh, ahhhhhhhh
 For her Second Half championships Prair got embroidered saddle pads which will be great for schooling.  They aren't gorgeous, or even all that impressive, but they are functional, fairly large (good for the ogilvy), and they say "SECOND HALF CIRCUIT CHAMP."  So that's sorta bad ass.

For her Grand Circuit Championship, Prairie got a *gorgeous* Horseware cooler. It's dark gray with white piping and Hunter trim - which I think will look fab on Prair's black coat. 

Also, it's fleecey on the inside, but more of a smooth tech fabric on the outside.  Kinda slick...

Might be our new dress sheet for shows. :)

In terms of the show itself, the barn cleaned up.  I think every horse that showed got at least one tri-color, and some of the divisions were 30+ horses, so that's no joke.  Our head groom takes so much pride is showing off the ribbons, he ended up putting up two extra strings for all the tri-colors and first place ribbons.  It was a little absurd, but looked impressive. 

The horses all made it home yesterday, so hopefully Prair doesn't feel like she's still in solitary confinement.  Vet it out tomorrow so we'll take advantage of a split farm call and see if we can replicate the lameness again... and if so... PICTURE TIME.  pricey, pricey, picture time....


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Better/Not Better

Cautious optimism is always a dangerous thing with horses...

Prair looked great when I got to the show yesterday.  I threw her on the lunge myself just to take a peek before we bothered tacking her up and all looked grand.  No heat, no swelling, no lameness.

Warm up also looked grand.  Her trot was back to normal - free through the shoulder and lofty.

Her jumps looked good and patient.  Nice and slow, very relaxed.  All. Was. Well.

So we went to the baby ring for a 2'6" round to see what we had.

(she looks all Friday-Casual without braids in..)

Anyway, the course went well for Prairie standards.  For the first course of the day, in a sloppy, puddley ring after basically a day off, locked in a show stall... that's pretty chill.

So that's neat.

But after she came out we decided to head back to warm up before her second class and trot her out again to see if anything changed.

She started totally sound - but by the end of the first lap, that god damn head bob developed again and she was the teensiest bit off on that LF.

In a disappointed huff I sent Prair back to the barn, and myself back to the office to scratch the rest of the show.  It's always super fun to write the show office a $500 check for the pleasure of having shown in two classes.

(UGH).  Horses.  their timing is the worst.

I don't know what sort of weirdness only comes out after 20-30 minutes of work, but whatever it is I don't like it, and we're not showing after two days in a row of the same thing.

I feel terribly for her Half Lease Lady (who's birthday it was, doh!) but I just can't in good conscious keep Prair at a show (even for flat classes) when there's a big giant question mark regarding what this is all about.

Fortunately for me, everyone on the team feels the same way so there was no disappointment, or guilt from anyone, just concern and support.

So we loaded up and headed for home.  She loaded and hauled like a champ, though she was slightly concerned that none of her friends got on the school bus with her.
gorgeous day to drive, and all 14,000ft of Mr Rainier was out in the sun

Back at home she seemed to be a bit confused as to why the barn was deserted and no one else was coming home.
where is everyone!??
So we'll spend the remainder of the week/weekend at home, in our stall not playing in the pasture or at the show.  Stall Rest.  Monday we'll see what we have on our hands and decide if the vet comes out for more diagnostics.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vet Visit and Morning Update

So, after a couple hours of not-that-productive work at the office I headed back to the show grounds to meet the vet and poke Prairie a little more.

When I arrived, it appeared that the mare was thoroughly enjoying her light duty day and thought that 8:15am was exactly the right time to be done with braids and showing for the day.
Snoozey Mare says she's taking a sabbatical 
When the vet got there, we threw her on the lunge and the slight head bob was about as apparent as it had been in her flat class (that is to say, noticeable, but not holy-shit-someone-call-a-doctor bad).  Prair then decided to be absolutely uncooperative and played her "lunge? how do you lunge?" game which involves her politely scooting her butt away every time you try to start her up.

Great yielding of the haunch, but totally terrible lunging manners.

What a brat.

We moved her onto the concrete to see a smaller circle on hard ground and her no-lungey antics got worse, to the point that I was thinking if something wasn't wrong before, something would be soon if all the scrambling and chasing on cement kept up...

Fortunately nothing bad happened, we finally got a couple trot circles out of the mare (yup, still lame) and then moved on.

Our vet didn't feel an elevated pulse, but she rechecked with hoof testers anyway and got the same result of nothing.  She also didn't see or feel any obvious injuries higher on the leg and Prair didn't react to any palpation.

Her first assumption is that we're dealing with a stone bruise, or a weird tweak.  Apparently a stone bruise (or bruise from overreaching) can sometimes not show up with hoof testers, but still be sore from the concussion of impact.  I've never heard that explanation, but it kinda made sense and I so desperately wanted to hear "stone bruise" and not "soft tissue" that I nodded enthusiastically and hoped that was the case.

Without any other sensitivities or symptoms, we moved on to blocking the foot in order to see if that erased our mystery lameness.

It did.

And I should have videoed the second lunge session because HOLY HUGE TROT, Prair got all excited about something and was floating around like a magician.  It took a minute for her adrenaline to wear off, but when she resumed a (more) normal trot, the head bob was gone and she seemed perfectly fine.

So, the vet left us with instructions to wrap the hoof overnight (why not) and see how she looked in the am.  Vet thought there was a 50% chance she'll turn up sound on her own in a day or two and a 50% chance this little lameness lingers, in which case we'll wait until next week for further diagnostics to try and pinpoint what's going on.

She was pretty adamant that given the schedule of events (crash friday, sound for long days sat and sun, day off monday, lame tues) that it's highly unlikely that Prair did something crazy during that stumble on Friday.

She thinks it's more likely she found the one rock in the warm up ring, or stepped on something during her hand walk monday, or just took a funny step.  I like when she says things like that, so I'm ignoring other, scarier possibilities until I can't....

SO, this morning - Prair was apparently sound on the lunge (!!!!!) which is great news. I'm scratching her from the remaining Pre Green classes, since she doesn't need to jump 3' and there's no reason to chase points or anything else.  The plan is to potentially add her into some 2'6"ish stuff this afternoon if she warms up 100%.  I don't want to work her super hard, but we do want to get her moving and see if it represents or not. If she's not off, she definitely needs to get out of that show-stall and move her tootsies around a little.

Obviously we'll be super conservative, the point is to have a long term sound horse, not collect a couple extra ribbons in an open 2'6" class.

So that's the gig.  Feeling cautiously optimistic that perhaps this was something simple and stupid, but only time will tell!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lame! (literally, lame)


So, I got up extra early since Prair had an Under Saddle first thing this morning.  All told I was sorta happy about it, I mean, there are worse things than leading off with a nice long hack in the spooky indoor before her over fences rounds, so that part was cool.

Prair had a pretty big day scheduled, Large Hunter U/S, all three rounds of the Large Hunters over fences, two rounds of her Pre-Green Division and a late Under Saddle for the PG's.

She looked great in warm up, definitely less tension in her eyeball, and N confirmed that she felt like (much like Thermal) Prair was much more settled to start week two and significantly less impressed with the atmosphere.

When the class started (pretty big, about 18 horses), Prair looked good and N was definitely able to float her reins a bit more without sacrificing her shape, but about half way through the first direction, I noticed that Prair wasn't really moving out like she normally does.  Less float, less toe flick, less of all of it.  Then, I thought I saw the slightest trace of a head bob.

When N trotted by she raised an eyebrow at me... I raised one back and kept watching.

The canter looked good, walk was nice and relaxed... but the second direction of trot was about the same.  Lackluster and borderline off.

Somehow she still pinned 5th.  Somewhat shocking, but whatever she's still pretty :)

We walked straight back to warm up to see what was what, but when N moved her back up to the trot she was seriously off - significantly more so than she had been in the class, so I went to the office to scratch the rest of the day, and N took the mare back to her stall.

N thought she could feel a bit more pulse in her LF, so we grabbed the farrier to use the hoof testers and see if maybe possibly (hopefully) she was blowing out an abscess.

I couldn't find any trace of heat or fill or anything suspicious on any of her legs, so when she was negative to the hoof testers we called the vet and now I'm in wait-and-see mode till she arrives later this afternoon.

Fingers crossed it's something super simple.  I'm worried it's something from her crash last Friday, but since she was totally sound and happy all weekend, I'm hoping that's not the case.

Bummer to miss out of so much of her showing, but hopefully we're back in business later this week. If not, I'll haul the mare home early and let her relax in the pastures.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Inaugural - Amateur Days

In sprite of my insipid mood and fury over the inevitable frustrations of showing in a subjective sport, the show rolled on.  

Friday all of the Equitation Divisions ran, leaving Sat and Sun for the Hunters and Derby.

I skipped the show on Friday, thinking that a) I don't actually need to drive to/from the fairgrounds (45 min) every day to sit like a hormonal bump on a log and throw tantrums about judging, and b) Since it was Half-Lease-Lady's first day of showing with Prair I thought she might appreciate said hormonal-bump-on-log not hovering directly over her the entire time.  

I know if I was leasing a horse I wouldn't want a hovering owner adding to my first day show jitters.  

So I spent the day actually working and then formalizing the whole Nursery Plan for our house (we don't actually have a good room for a nursery, as our second bedroom is two flights of stairs removed from ours.  My charming father made a suggestion that we utilize the elevator as a nursery ((which we do actually have, since we anticipated that my grandmother would be living in the house..)), since he thinks it would just be neat-o to send the crib (and baby) to whatever floor of the house you were on.... )  Instead, I made the executive decision that we will be constructing a wall to enclose an alcove/corner thing that was a sort of home office area but could easily be a baby-space, and unlike the elevator, has windows. But I digress...

The report from the show grounds Friday was ambiguous at best.  I looked at results online in the evening and saw that Prair and HLL won the Eq on the flat (yay!) but showed no placings for the rounds over fences.. curious since there were like 8 in the division and everyone should (presumably) get a ribbon.  

When I finally got the full story, it sounded like Prair was a very anxious horse in the indoor, and there was an alignment of all things bad that resulted in a moderate crash during the first round of the Adult 3' Eq.  

They scratched the second round, headed outside and started just adding Low Hunter rounds to get in the ring and build up height.  they literally went in the 18", 2'3', 2'6" and 2'9" rounds and by the end both HLL and Prair were back on task and locked in.  They either won or placed second in all those classes, so I think the recovery was swift.  

Later that evening they returned to the indoor for a cool Equitation Challenge thingy.  They placed 2nd in their age bracket which moved them into the top 12 from all age divisions. Sounds like the judge just kept calling for things (lengthening of stride, counter canter, dropped stirrups, etc) and would pull you into the center of the ring when you screwed up.

Well, Prair had a fit about the indoor and wouldn't stop flipping her head, so they (sadly) got pulled first and then had the pleasure of standing in the middle of the indoor for 20 minutes while the class ran and Prair proceeded to wig out.  

Silver Lining?  A big, pretty NECK RIBBON for the effort.  
Pretty purple-ish for 12th place
Given the semi-disasters in the Indoor, everyone decided to change divisions and show the Low Adults at 2'9" outside for the weekend.   

That was a Good Decision.  

Everyone seemed happier and they totally kicked ass.  Over fences on Saturday they took a 1st and a 2nd, followed by a 1st Under Saddle.  Not a huge division (maybe 5 or 6?) but still some really nice horses, including one that we showed against down in Thermal and regularly beat us.  

Sunday they came right back with another 1st and 2nd over fences which claimed a Championship and saw our Barn-mate take reserve.  

Pretty Prair, her lovely Half Lease Lady, and their COOLER
This week it all happens again, except Pro Days start tomorrow at the crack of dawn.  Prair will have to face facts in the indoor and suck it up for the Large's and Pre-Greens again - hopefully we continue to see improvement!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Well, That's Horse Showing!

The sun was at least shining for Prair's second day of showing.. so at least we had that going for us.  I got to the show earlier than I did Wednesday and got to watch a few more of the other horses from the barn go.  I missed our 1st year Green horse, and all the High Performance stuff which was too bad, since the Big Girl classes are always entertaining to watch.

Prair appeared to be pleased that I showed up with cookies and gave me lots of love when I went to visit her and give her scratches (and cookies, obvi).
Oh Thank God. You Brought Cookies.
 N did the other Pre-Green horse first, and he looked great.  Spot on, cute jumps and no major (or minor, really) mistakes.  Prair was standing by patiently waiting in her dress sheet, and doing a remarkable job of not freaking out over the cacophony of noise being made by apparently every trash container being loaded and unloaded repeatedly on concrete next door to the arena.  It seriously sounded like giant metal robots were fighting some sort of intergalactic battle.  Some of the horses were not very excited about that.  Thankfully Giant Robot Battles are apparently not as scary as children in the stands, as Prair didn't seem to mind at all.

When it was Prair's turn, warm up was somehow empty (??), and she stayed much calmer and less tense than she had been previously.  Her jumps looked better - more willing to stretch her neck down and really break over, so that was nice to see too.

As we were finishing up over fences, more people we flooding into the ring so we cut it a bit short and got out before Prair let herself get stressed out about other horses.

Her first two rounds were again for the Large Hunter Division.  She came out better than she finished on Wednesday and I was thrilled to see her staying relaxed.  Here's her second round.  Her first round was maybe even a bit better in terms of relaxation and style over the fences, but we'll talk about that in a moment.

Prair placed 7th in the 4th round - Definitely respectable given a 20 horse class and some really nice, really seasoned ponies putting down some nice rounds.

She didn't place in the 3rd round (which, objectively is fine), and I didn't really bat an eye since (again), the class was big and there were some nice horses.  I was thrilled Prair came out more focused and relaxed than Wednesday and I like Purple Ribbons, so that's all dandy.

Then it was on to the Pre-Green rounds.

11 horses in the division, and literally a repeat of the placings from the Larges.  No placing for the third round, and a 7th in our fourth round.  I was a little disappointed at the placings since... well, I don't think Prairie was in the bottom 25% of the class, but I got FURIOUS when I realized that the horse that placed 3rd (in the third round) had pulled up before one of the lines, halted, backed up, circled, then continued.


I had heard a few people making comments that the judge's head seemed to be down more than it was up, but um... how does one miss the 30 second, stop, circle and start again?  How is that possible!? Yes he's a lovely horse (and typically pins top 3), but that's either lazy note taking, extreme senility or craziness (or all three I suppose).

So, when a horse with a refusal is pinning third, I stopped trying to make sense of Prair's placings and just collected my additional purple ribbon and headed back to the barn.
Prair (feeling proud) likes to poke out of the grooming stalls

The thing that's particularly disappointing to me is how much I let that judging crap affect my overall enjoyment of the day.

Thus far I'd say I've been pretty good at remembering that Hunter Land usually makes sense, but sometimes it doesn't.  There have definitely been judges that love Prair, and we pin higher than I think we deserve - and certainly shows where we are not what the judge is looking for and we pin well, behind stiff, downhill, inverted TB's.  (I love TB's and I still think they are some of the nicest hunters.. but holy crap there are some horrid ones out there showing and beating us, lol).

This however, just threw me overboard.  People are paying good money to present their horses and show in rated divisions. So to have the judging be that off the mark is frustrating to say the least.  I'm pretty sure my horse-illiterate husband could have pinned the class more accurately than that.   Argh.

So that was the day.  And that's Horse Showing!

With a night of sleep (and more girl scout cookies than is healthy), it's easier to feel great about how Prair's doing and why we're there.

But GOOD LORD.  Judging.  Sheesh.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Inaugural - Pro Day One

Well, i certainly won't e forgetting cookies.  Ever.  Again.  (mares hold grudges).

I shouldn't say that... realistically Prair was a very good mare.  But... she probably could have been better, ya know... with cookies.

I got to the show just as Prair was getting pulled out to get ready.  I immediately tried to make cookie amends, and got a mare sneer in response (uh oh).  I also immediately went to check out the TAIL.

The tail looked AWESOME.  Not over the top, but nicely filled out and you couldn't discern the wig at all.  Just as I proclaimed "WOW, that looks GREAT!"  N informed me that the braider didn't like the top on Prair's tail so she used someone else's wig.  frowny face.

argh.  So the tail hunt continues.  I emailed Kathy's Tails to see what options they have... so the wig saga continues.  I can only hope it will be a much less exciting, less lengthy adventure than the saddle saga.

Anyway, the rides.

Prair got pretty anxious in warm up.  She was listening, and she was trying, but it was crazy and there wasn't much room between the warmup fences and the rail and she gets claustrophobic with other horses... so she was extremely worried.

It didn't help that a (very) large, (very) beautiful Gray kept swishing his tail at her and sending her into orbit.  Soooooo..... not the best mindset to start.

Her jump was also a bit lackluster.  instead of rounding up and over, she was really squatting and shooting over the fence, more like her old method of jump-launching.  Not sure if that is because of some soreness (hope not) or the anxiety.

She got a few good jumps in and we headed to the indoor for some rounds.

The rounds were... not our best!  though they definitely weren't our worst - so that's good.  they were just rather tense, and Prair was pretty worried about all the noises going on around her.  She was particularly unhappy with scraping tables on the floor, clapping, doors opening and encouraging "whoops" from bystanders.

N opted to stay in and ride her second round back to back thinking Prair would settle, but it seemed to only let her worries increase - so after the two Large rounds, we thought maybe it would be better to let Prair diffuse and take a break before riding the Pre Green rounds, so back to the barn she went.

(note, my brother took my good camera on his honeymoon to japan, so I'm stuck with iphone vids... also, I got a call halfway through so you miss out on a stressed-scoot during the closing circle).

After about an hour for a mental break, (and a quick lunge with her belly band), Prair came back and looked much happier.  Warmup was less hectic the second time and she seemed to be quieter before even entering the indoor again.

The Pre Green rounds were much better.  Prair looked less on the muscle, and had some great moments (though not consistently) in each round.  Mostly the ig victory was to see her freak out, take a break, and come back with better focus.  That recovery is really encouraging and helpful.

N also noted that she didn't feel like Prair was ever *not* listening or being bad, she just felt legitimately terrified in the ring.  So... that's good?  I mean, terror is obviously not good, but it's better than malice?  Hopefully two weeks of working in that ring will take some of the tension away and we'll see an improvement there.

Finally, Prair had both flat classes, which was great since it gave her another 20 minutes to hack around the ring and get used to things in the safety of a relative herd.

the first Under Saddle was the Large Hunter division, which had 20 in it, so there was some crowding, but Prair was good.  She looked relaxed and lovely and pulled off a blue in a rather competitive class.

The Pre-Green hack was right about when her egg timer went off and I could tell she was a little spent both mentally and physically, but she held it together.  She pinned second, and I think we lost the blue in our canter.  The horse that won maybe wasn't as big of a mover, but he had a beautiful shape and balance, something that we have to still manufacture a bit, and when Prair gets tired... doesn't really happen.

But, she stayed soft and tuned in and was a good girl, so that is a huge improvement from this division last year!

At the end of the day, Prair had her 1st and 2nd ribbons from her hack, and a 4th and 5th for her Pre Green rounds over fences (11 in the division). Today she has two more rounds for the Larges and two more Pre Greens to finish her pro days.

Go team go!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Schooling Day (from the ground)

After a few (rather productive) hours at work, I zipped up to the show grounds to pet Miss Prair and watch her school.  I will say that schooling day isn't quite as... energizing when someone else is doing the riding and also you have grooms.  I am not complaining, but I do sort of miss the cathartic process of sorting through equipment, organizing tack stalls and getting situated for the week.  Since the horses were already happily settled and Prair was getting fluffed and buffed by her guys (I think there were four of them buzzing around her at some point, so she's definitely closer to the Beyonce life than I'll ever be...) there was just a lot of me opening and closing my trunk feeling like I was supposed to be doing something.

I ended up parking my (expanding) butt on a comfy chair in the sunshine and watching all the pretty horses walk to and from the rings.  Not all that bad of a pastime, but I can tell that this "spectator only" thing is going to take some mental adjustment on my end.

When it was Prair's turn to take a spin, she walked out pretty calm. No lunging, no perfect prep, just some earplugs and the pelham as defense against this crazy new world.  N started in the outside ring (what runs as the second Hunter Ring) and while I could tell that Prair was a bit interested in life around her, she looked great by Prairie standards.  Her ears were fairly pricked and I could see her eyeball a few things but her stride stayed forward and loose and N was able to almost always keep at least one rein totally soft.

Last October I tried to warm up in that same ring and it produced a full scale meltdown that ended with us crab walking (cantering?) sideways across the arena and slipping out the gate before anything worse happened)....  Anyway, lots of serpentines, lots of long and low, lots of changes of direction.  When she did start jumping (fences were probably 2'3"/2'6"?) Prair looked calm and only got worried a couple times from longer spots.

Then we headed into the big echo-y indoor to school at 3'.  Prair walked around once to see the sights, but honestly, didn't seem very put off.  If anything the relative quiet seemed relaxing for her.  N didn't waste too much time moving her up to the canter and putting courses together.  Prair looked like she was listening well - rocking back, slower off the ground, landing balanced etc... but she still looked a little loose to me in terms of her form.

I don't know how else to describe it.  She's definitely holding her shape over the fences better than she used to, but we've got a long ways to go to get to a tidy, tight Hunter bascule.

Afterwards Prair walked (calmly) back to the barn on a nice loose rein and waited for the dispensing of cookies.

(I opened my trunk and looked for cookies)

Um.  Where are the cookies

Mare's cute cookie face slowly morphs into a stink eye.

Holy Crap, my trunk has more storage space than a minivan and I don't have any cookies!???

Mare's stink eye sharpens and she bites the bars in warning

I don't have any cookies

I tried to make amends by giving her a nice long wither scratch and rubbing her ears, but make no mistake, the mare knows she didn't get cookies and I don't think she'll be forgetting that faux pas anytime soon

The "no-cookies-I'm-so-disappointed-in-you-face"

Cookies will be acquired on the way up to the show today... 4 rounds over fences (2 Large, 2 Pre-Green) and both flat classes today... woo!
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