Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas Wish (really, wishing, not actually thinking it'll happen) List!

HolyBully asked what's on our horsey Christmas wish lists ... weeeeelllll, I guess, if you're asking ... :)

More than anything, this 18" Hennig Sofa with short flaps at Maryland Tack Exchange:

A Hennig.  With short flaps.  And an adjustable gullet (by a saddle fitter; I happen to know an excellent one at English Saddle Fit in TN!!).  And a seat size I fit in.   And in a price range I could conceivably swing, if I ignored what I should do and did what I want to do with money that's supposed to be coming in

Like, this is the unicorn of saddles.  MT has one that somehow, magically, fit almost any horse and almost any rider.  I loved it when I got to ride in it.  I am so tired of trying to ride in a correct dressage seat in my jump saddle - which is lovely and perfect for jumping! - and I am anxious to get a new dressage saddle.   This new-to-me dressage saddle.

I'll need a new set of black 48" stirrup leathers; child-size to go with the short flaps, of course.

And another set of stirrups; might as well go with the neato ones!  I might swap these onto my jump saddle and put the flex stirrups on the dressage saddle, but ... nah.  These on the dressage.  Maybe.  If I tend to lose them the same way I did in my other saddle.  But these are the lowest priority; I have other irons I can use until I get the pretties.

I sold the girth, too, so a 22" Total Shoulder Fit girth to go with it:

Other than that ... my sister already got me a needed item: a new medium-weight turnout for Apollo!  Hooray!  He'll be wearing it tomorrow.

I'd love to have a stable blanket for him, actually, so his turnouts can dry overnight if needed.

And a show coat.   A Kerrits Kompetitor's Koat, or a FITS Zephyr coat.  Yknow ... something that I can wear in the heat and humidity without dying.

And a good raincoat.  Because apparently, based on my teacher's posts and other friends' posts, it rains at every horse show.  I'm going to have to get used to jumping in the rain.  :/

And several long sleeve technical, sweat-wicking tops.  A few short sleeve, but several long sleeve.  Because sweat happens even when I need a long sleeve shirt.

So that's my horsey wish list.  What's on yours?   :)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Inspired/Reminded by Chasing the Dream:

So I was reading through my blogroll, and I was reminded by Checkmark115 at Chasing the Dream of two things.  First, that I hadn't talked much about Apollo's relatively recent development:

He hates, hates the trailer I have available to me.

Like rearing and bolting when I tried to load him a while ago kind of hate.

This is SO unusual for this horse - he's so easygoing.  But after the first trip in the trailer, from my first barn here to Council Creek back in January, he decided he hated the thing.  The second time I tried to load him, we'd pulled the trailer into the drive, outside of the pasture where it usually lives.  He was hesitant and a little difficult, but we got him in with the longe whip.  After that, he got worse and worse.  I tried to load him and not tie him - nope, he flailed and bashed his head and freaked further.  I tried to load him and tie him but not close the divider - nope, flailed and freaked out.

I gave it a break for a while, then in late September started working on trailer training without any time pressure or place to actually go.  That was the full-on rear, many bolt, very leap, so pull back episode.  This was about 3 weeks before I got married, btw, and of course, I managed to sprain? break? somehow damage my left ring finger in the process.  Sigh.  Clearly I needed to change my approach, which had been punishing him for doing the wrong thing and praising him for doing the right thing.

I'd put a stud chain on his halter at first, but I realized I could use it better - instead of pulling on it to say "don't do that," which upset him a lot, I just let it do its thing when he pulled.  I changed my mind and attitude to be just patient - I decided I had all the time in the world, nothing he could do would freak me out or scare me (I did put my helmet on, though, just in case), and he would end up on the trailer.  Whenever.  We had time.   So the chain went on, I led him up to the trailer, he halted, I let the chain be a little tight, I kept my back to him and kept the pressure but didn't pull, and as soon as he stepped forward again I loosened the chain and praised.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The first time it took 30-40 minutes to get him loaded, clipped in, and divider closed, and the "lather" part was literal.

The second time, 15 minutes, no lather.

Third time, 10 minutes, no lather.

Thursday, 5 minutes, no lather.  It took more like 10 minutes, maybe 15, to load him back up at NT's place, but it was a low-key 10-15 minutes rather than a panicked shitshow, so I'll take it.  There was a lot going on, and it was dinnertime at NT's, so I can't really be too upset with Apollo not wanting to load.  Maybe I should be - yes, horses SHOULD be obedient and quiet at all times, and loading is important - but upset doesn't get me anywhere, as we've seen.  I also did it by myself, rather than having to ask for help.  That's actually really important to me, that I be able to load my horse myself, because I don't often have people with me any more.  So more calm, patient loading work seems to be in order, but I am pleased with how well he's come along.

The second thing ... I'm going to leave that for another day, because I need motivation to blog!  :)   Hint: it's made of leather.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Say this with a straight face, I dare you.

So we have a boarder committed to coming out to our barn - yay!  I think she'll be a great fit when she finds her horse and moves in.  I'm excited about it - it'll be nice to have someone to ride with, and she's got a great attitude.  Another boarder might come board with us, but no commitment yet.  I'm pretty pleased; more work for me = income!  And healthier me, and income for the property owners, et cetera.  The barn is, as always, a work in progress, but it's definitely workable and cool.

I took Apollo up to NT's yesterday, where we had a very fun, productive lesson.  We didn't jump high at all - it was all about communication and adjustability in stride and gait.  Apollo has been really stiff lately through his jaw, shoulder, and hip, so we worked hard on that by doing a lot of bending on circles before we started jumping, then asking for clear bend in the corners when jumping lines.  Eventually, Apollo released, and we could move the focus to getting me to take the emergency brake off and encourage him to come on a bigger, freer stride.

I discovered that the key to coming through the course well was having Apollo round and engaged in the Very First Corner - which, of course, I knew intellectually but hadn't really learned physically.  And then, after that first line, I needed to really swing my hips and allow him to keep cantering forward and freely instead of locking my seat up and putting that brake on.  Finally, once we got the brake off, I felt like I was back in the place I was when I left Idaho.  I felt like I had control and confidence and calm, despite Apollo shouting "Vive la resistance!" at every opportunity.  Must, MUST go up much more often for lessons!!

Amusing: for a clinic with Sinead Halpin, the working students had set up a vertical with dressage letter cones under it.  The cones spelled SPAM. No new phenomenon - at Aspen Farms, they often have a jump with their letters and spell ASPEN.  :)  So in K's lesson before mine, NT would say "okay, canter up the 3-stride cavaletti line, then the crossrail, then the vertical in the middle, then go all the way around and come up over SPAM."   However ... when a friend of the barn, who has a wicked sense of humor, came out and watched for a bit, she rearranged the letters a bit and added R and M.   For my lesson, I got "okay, canter up the 3-stride cavaletti line, then the crossrail, then the vertical in the middle, then go all the way around and come up over SPERM."

*dies laughing*  

Apollo gave the cones a hard look on the first approach, much like he did in a lesson with Gary one summer, when he would. not. go. over. a vertical with black dressage-fence-pipe-holders under it.  But this time, I just sat up, put my leg ON, and told him GO.  And he went.  :)  SPERM ain't no thang, people.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Brief thoughts on horsekeeping

1. Comparing horse keeping to mommy wars is insulting and inaccurate.  Insisting that stalls be cleaned daily instead of weekly isn't prissy - it's basic health. Poop or pee in stall?  Take it out.  Period.  It's like not changing your kid's diaper but once a day.

2. Flake shavings - we hates them forever, precious. Yes, they *look* all fluffy and soft to human eyes, but they're difficult to clean, and they don't provide any more soft places to sleep than a more horse-friendly bedding. Like pellets. We love pellets, precious. They clean easily, are soft, last a long time, and compost well.  They don't look golden and fluffy, but I swear, they're a better choice. Especially for a barn that doesn't have a big shed where truckloads of sawdust or fine shavings can be dumped.  Pellets store easily.

3. Yes, we do have mice, despite the cat's best efforts.  If you leave bags of grain out, they will get nibbled. We have a chest freezer for your very own grain storage; I know it might take a minute of thought on how to arrange the bags of grain in it so all five fit, but I swear it can be done. Even without opening the bags and just storing the grain in the freezer.

4. Those who say it can't be done should probably get out of the way of the person doing it.

5. Logic is good, mmkay?  Woo-woo has its place, but that place is after thinking rationally and functionally.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tae Kwon LEAP

All righty - I'm going to use this little survey as a springboard to get myself back into blogging!  So, survey, and then a few updates on the state of the 'Pollo Pony.  :)

Four names that people call me other than my real name:
1. Rinsie
2. Rinz / Linds
3. Hon
4. Babygirl

Four jobs I've had:
1. Programmer
2. Editor
3. Technical Writer
4. Technical Support Analyst

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. Clue
2. Real Genius
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original)
4. A Room With A View

Four books I'd recommend:
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
3. Young Men and Fire by Norman McLean
4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Four places I've lived:
1. Atlanta, GA
2. Kuna, ID
3. Saratoga, CA
4. Austin, TX

Four places I've visited:
1. Guatemala
2. London
3. Machynlleth, Wales
4. San Juan Islands, Canada/WA

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Bed
2. Barn
3. Road Less Traveled Eventing, Lenoir City TN
4. Mittleider Eventing, Kuna ID

Four things I'd rather not eat:
1. Bell peppers. Love hot peppers, bell peppers are gross.
2. Boeuf Bourgignon
3. Hot dogs
4. Capers

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pesto
2. My mom's chocolate chip cookies
3. Seafood in general; low country boils and sushi in particular
4. Dim sum

Four TV shows I watch:(recommend, really)
1. Firefly
2. Criminal Minds
3. Daredevil
4. The Flash

Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
1. Going home for Christmas
2. Riding a lot
3. Things getting better at work (or the alternative)
4. A new dressage saddle

Four things I say a lot:
1. Okay, good deal.
2. Oh, for shit's sake!
3. What a good [boy / girl]!
4. Hm. I don't know. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

So at last update, we'd just diagnosed Apollo with mild navicular in his RF.  He then spent two weeks up at NT's while I was away on a work trip.  He got fed and fed and fed, and NT rode him for the two weeks.  He ALSO got a bodywork appointment, which was awesome.  The upshot of this two weeks was that he came back all tuned up, much stronger and more muscled, albeit with terribly past their shoe-by date feet.  Ready to rock and roll!

don't stop ever

Then, while trying to load him up to take him on a trail ride at a friend's barn, he got stupid, unseated his RH shoe, and *stomped* on the clip and nail.  Blood (his), tears (mine ... okay, I'm exaggerating), whole nine yards.  (Sparing you the photo.)  I got it clean and wrapped up immediately, which I think saved me an abscess from hell.   My excellent farrier came by a few days later, trimmed him, and shod him with pads and soft packing up front to cushion that navicular and prevent any development of the same in the LF.

NT came out for a lesson, since she was in the area, and I had an asthma attack.  Less than fun.

But we've been working on getting him pushing from behind, really engaging his hocks and getting that inside hind to really track up.  This is our constant battle, honestly.  I feel like he might benefit from hock injections or from something like Adequan, but right now the next two things on the Buy list are hay and stall mats/bedding.  So I ride him with a huge emphasis on that power and push on the flat, and I'm working a lot of gymnastics and Circle of Death for jumping exercises.  Power and push for him, position for me.

I'm down to one saddle now.  I sold both Collegiates, jump and dressage, in the last week.  The money goes into the New Dressage Saddle fund. I have about half-ish of what I need for a nice used saddle now, and any minute now I'm expecting paychecks for freelance work. Anybody who wishes to contribute may contact me directly.  *grin*

HOW many horses have you got in there??  Where do they all fit??

We also finally have the arena up and running!  Lovely thing.  There are some tweaks to make - like putting some landscaping fabric around the kick board so that the (#@*&% footing doesn't run out when it rains ...


Harrowing the arena is both easier and harder than I expected.  I have to admit that the tractor is kind of intimidating.  It's old and a bit rickety, and it takes holding your mouth right and the wind blowing north-north-west (like madness) to get it to lift the bucket, drop the arm, go into neutral, etc.  Just when I thought I had gotten the hang of it, this happens:

I was wondering why it felt funny.

I'm really hoping for a four-wheeler or something instead; tractors be scary, yo.

That's all I have for the moment.  I'll try to be better about updating, but no promises.  :)

Seriously, he's looking way better than he was, even
though he's filthy in this pic.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The verdict on horse stress.

So as it turns out, my horse stress was a little warranted.  Apollo came up lame two weeks ago on Sunday, when I'd taken him up to NT's over the Fourth.  I jumped to hot nail or abscess, since he'd just been shod that Friday.  Farrier came out, pulled the heel nails in his RF, and I scheduled the vet to come do radiographs - if it was an abscess, I felt like he'd abscessed a few times on that foot already, so it was time to see what was what.

He was rather sounder on Wednesday for the vet but not totally sound, so hot nail was the diagnosis.  Rads didn't show any abscessing, buuuuuut ... he does have mild navicular disease in that RF.

Sigh.  Now, navicular isn't the doom it was 20 years ago, but it's not nothing either.  Fortunately it's mild, and he did come back to sound after I buted him for several days.  So we have a treatment plan that includes pour-in pads, avoiding hard or irregular footing (XC isn't necessarily irregular; I'll avoid the dry, rutted pastures though), and close monitoring.  If he deteriorates to a point at which he can't jump without pain any more, then we won't jump any more.  If he deteriorates to a point at which he can't be ridden without pain any more, I'll retire him.  And if he can't move at all without pain, I'll take the pain on me and let him go.


Signs point to successful management right now.  So we're not going to consider the worst case scenario, just know what we'll do if it comes about.

We also did a titer for EPM, which came back kind of bafflingly - two of his levels indicate non-problem, one is elevated.  His inflammation marker was high, but then again, we know that he had some inflammation going on based on the rads.  Pedal osteitis, is what the vet called it.

So the plan for that is "wait and see."  More like wait, keep him as healthy and fit as humanly and equinely possible, feed him until he pops, and if he shows symptoms or deteriorates inexplicably, then start treating.

And yes, feed him.  Vet said she thought the roach in his back was a combination of inflammation and needing weight on.  Apollo is very much enjoying the heaping piles of food he's getting now!  He now gets:

Pasture 24/7  (not really good quality, but green growing forage, as much as he wants)


3 qt Strategy Healthy Edge
1.5 qt beet pulp, soaked
1.5 qt alfalfa pellets
1/2 scoop electrolytes
2 scoop Cool Calories
2000 IU vitamin E


4.5 qt Strategy Healthy Edge
1.5 qt beet pulp, soaked
1/2 scoop electrolytes
2 scoop Cool Calories
2000 IU vitamin E
1 scoop Nu-Hoof Maximizer

2 flakes alfalfa hay in a nibble net
grass hay to fill out the nibble net

This seems like a LOT to me ... but he is perking up, seeming shinier and more cheerful, so I think he's feeling good.  He's sound again, which can't be hurting his attitude either.   I'd be interested in recommendations for supplements, especially herbal, and must have science to back it up, that help reduce general inflammation.

And I'll be getting alfalfa to feed him through the winter, too, rather than just the grass hay.  I just don't think he does as well on grass hay.  *shrug*  This might be my horse-owner idiosyncrasy, though.  Everybody's got at least one conviction or habit or practice that's considered weird in their area, and alfalfa hay is mine.  The idea scandalizes people around here, that horses can just eat alfalfa.  SMH.  I'll own it: I'm weird.  

But my horse won't be thin any more.  :)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Enter a contest!

Contest time at All In!   700 entries ... Karley is really good about blogging regularly, and she and Henry are a great team!   Go read her entry, and check out this contest!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Two things:  first, like everyone else, I'm sending all my love and best thoughts to Lauren.  If anyone reading this hasn't seen the GoFundMe for her, here it is:  Gift for Lauren.  I only wish I could give more.

Second, thank you all for your supportive words to me.  I'm getting a lid on the crazy, mostly, and a good look at Apollo's legs tells me that yes, my fear of ringbone is ridiculous.  He does have nicks and dings and scar tissue from cutting himself - his skin keloids up like it's its job - but he's sound.  I do think, though, that I should probably consider hock injections sooner rather than later.  I think that would make him more comfortable in work.

As for the jumper's bump, yeah, it's there.  Slight, but there.  I'm imagining things.  It's not a jumper's bump, it's a slight roach.   Part of the problem, I think, is that he needs another 50-75 pounds.  He's got good muscling, but he needs MOAR.  So - plan is to continue schooling and exercising and doing horsey calisthenics to strengthen and build muscle, and I also picked up some Cool Calories to give him a better fat layer.  I never had this trouble in Idaho, and he started perking up significantly when I started him on alfalfa.  So ... apparently alfalfa is what he eats.  Can do.  It's just money, right?   (*cries as little moths fly out of wallet*)

Looks like I won't be able to run River Glen at the end of July.  Not because of crisis of confidence or anything like that, but because I have to be in Manhattan for work the week before.  I might could do the Starter on Saturday, but the possibility of having to work through the weekend is significant.  So ... later in the year it is.

And ... plans for the new arena at our barn are UNDERWAY!    SQUEEEE!  Good footing!  Dressage training!  JUMPING!   *dies*

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sudden stress.

So I'm suddenly consumed by horse stress.  So many stresses.  Self-doubt, really: am I taking the correct care of my horse?  Am I riding him correctly?  Am I actually injuring my horse?  What is this lump?  Do I need to call the vet?  Is he neurologic?  Was that a normal stumble or toe-dragging?  *pulls hair out*    Yeah.  Stress.

Last week, I arrived at the barn to discover that beloved ponykins had knocked over the panels in front of the barn designed to keep horses out of the barn.  I discovered him with his head in the pelleted feed bin, munching away; all three feed bins (beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, and Tribute Kalm n' EZ) were open, as well as the bin holding the cookie bag.  He'd also eaten several flakes of the compressed alfalfa bale I'd bought the week before.  ARGH.  I checked him out, and he seemed to be fine; vet recommended 3 days of Banamine just in case, and cold hosing his front feet, again just in case.  He didn't get *too* much more feed than he gets, total, in a day, and he hadn't had breakfast that day, but still.

Oh, and?  He'd pulled both his front shoes, likely the day before but possibly that day.  Gah.  One hell of a party in the pasture - no shoes, trash bin knocked over, panels over, eating straight from the carton ...

Temp, pulse, respiration, gut sounds, and manure were all good, no pain in his fronts, and they stayed that way.  So no real stress there, just a Thing That Happens Sometimes With Horses.

But ... I'm all freaked out that he's got a jumper's bump.  And that he's too thin.  And that he has no muscle.  And that he has ringbone.  And that he might be neurologic.

I mean, seriously.  These worries are, in order, probably silly; enh, he's a TB, he doesn't really do "fat;" patently silly; unlikely because he's sound, his x-rays never showed any hint of it, and the vet never mentioned it; and unlikely.

But at the same time ... part of me wants to collapse in a neurotic weepy pile with worry.  If he's got a jumper's bump, WHY?   HOW?  Did he always?  I'm looking for older photos of his back.  I know I have some.  And I always do horsey situps with him - getting him to tuck his hindquarters by running spurs lightly down the back of his quarters - and tummy tucks, and leg stretches, all to keep his topline strong and his back, hindquarter, and ab muscles strong and supportive.  I do carrot stretches with him too.  Am I imagining things?   And it leads into ...

Jumper's bump?  Or just my mind playing tricks on me?

Am I riding him correctly, working to strengthen his muscles and his correct carriage, the way I intend to ride?  Am I getting enough hind leg engagement?  (Almost certainly not, but I work at getting more and more.)  Is working on this uneven, unlevel surface - his pasture, with somewhat hard footing - hurting him, rather than helping?  I had thought that it'd be good for him, that he'd improve his balance - if we can be balanced and engaged on THIS surface, we can damn well be balanced and engaged in a nice dressage arena, was my thought.   But is it not helping?  I can't see his hind end, so am I imagining any improvement?  I watched the video of last year's derby, and I realized that I rode pretty well.  So I *can* ride ... or I *could*.  Can I still?  AM I still?

And on this unlevel surface, he does of course stumble.  He sometimes stumbles in the fancy arena at NT's place, too, but not nearly as much.  Do I need to worry?  Is he neurologic?  He jumps fine, doesn't get tangled up in himself ... I think.  Is his constant desire to have his head rubbed and his rubbing his face on his legs as soon as I dismount a symptom of Head Shaker Syndrome?  Are the various lumps and bumps on his pasterns ringbone?  They didn't show up on his rads when we took them, but did I cause it?  Does it develop late?   IS MY HORSE DYING AND I JUST DON'T KNOW IT???


And THEN ... there's all the stress about whether we can and should get out to school XC and then go to a little jumper show this weekend.  I need to get the trailer mats organized tonight, and I hope that will help Apollo's loading issue.  I honestly think that mats plus not squshing him in with the divider will solve the issue - I think he was feeling really unstable and like he doesn't have enough room as it was.  The trailer *is* a bit too small for him.

Do I suck as a rider?  As a horse mom?   Suddenly I feel the way I imagine first time parents must feel, especially if they don't have parents of their own still living.   Like, totally adrift and wondering what I'm screwing up today.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Before Enlightenment

So.  The health saga goes on (and on ... and on ...) but I am determinedly focusing on a solution, not the problems, so I'll gloss over that.  Suffice to say that even if I don't feel 100%, I'm busting my ass to do all my normal stuff.  Including ride, do barn chores, work on improving the place, all that good stuff.

I'm working on developing Apollo's hind engagement - one of those things covered in "chop wood, carry water" - and he's doing well!  Lots of transitions between and within gaits, making sure that I don't school shit.  Today's plan, if it's not raining, is trot sets.  Tomorrow's plan, if it's not raining, is hack, then Sunday, if all goes as planned, up to NT's place for a dressage lesson in between barn chore shifts.

That barn chore shifts thing is something I'm really excited about.  Hang out with excellent people and learn from them by osmosis; get exercise doing something I enjoy; and work off lessons.  How could this be bad?  :D  The only drawback is the drive up there, but ... it's workable.  Especially if I'm working off lessons.  So some number of Sundays during the month, I'll get to hang out with the team.

Plus, things are shaping up at the home barn.  SO exciting there too.  BO and I went to Tractor Supply last night, and it's amazing how much difference a good manure cart makes in keeping things tidy.  It was downright fun to clean the stall.  (The refill of PDZ helped too.)   The push broom makes me happy, and I'm bringing a leaf style rake from home.  We also picked up some 3/4 inch matting for the trailer floor.  I think this, plus changing the way I buckle Apollo in, will make a huge difference in Apollo's willingness to trailer.  The mats will need trimming and Tetris-ing to fit precisely, but that will happen Saturday.  That way they'll be ready to go for Sunday early.

Next, a few loads of gravel to level out the stall Apollo's in, then I'll get actual stall mats for his stall, and bed it appropriately, and things will be MUCH better come winter.  And now, but yknow.  Winter is a big deal.  Just need to figure out how we'll schedule letting him out in the mornings.  A bridge to cross when we get there, really.  Just things doing better and better.

Oh, and - I had decided to skip the River Glen Horse Trials in July/August, thinking we weren't ready ... nah.  If we can get onto the course a couple of times and work hard in the meantime, we can at the VERY least do Starter, if not BN as planned.  Excelsior!

Today: Trot
Sat: Hack
Sun: Dressage
Mon: Off
Tues: Longe in side reins
Weds: Dressage
Thurs: Dressage
Fri: Off
Sat: Jump
Sun: Jump? Dressage?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


To add insult to injury, turns out I'm allergic to sulfa.  The allergy manifests as hives and swollen, painful joints.  Fun on its own, I'm sure, but I had spent the day clearing brush ... at some point I must have twisted my ankle a little and strained the ligaments.  The sulfa allergy took that minor strain and turned it into a one-legged-lame, wake-me-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night pain.  

So before the doc yesterday, I looked like a one-footed leper who'd been in a fist fight.

After the doc and a shot of dex, I look like a slightly gimpy, less itchy leper who's been in a fist fight.

But at least things are on the upswing.  I get to see my pony tonight, if only to feed and fly spray, because I'm still in early days on healing bone, and that always means I'm in need of sleep.  Matt calls it the regenerative coma.  :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Great weekend! Awful end to it.

Apparently it was not a good weekend for trailering and noses.

But let me start at the beginning.

I went up to NT's place to help clear the trail that goes around the property - it's a cool thing, but it was all but impassable in a few places because of all the brush.  So the call was put out for volunteers to help clear it.   Well, heck, thought I, I'll kill two birds with one stone and go do work in the morning, then ride in the afternoon!

So I hooked up S' truck to her trailer, packed the trailer, and went to head out Saturday morning.  Apollo is turning into kind of a brat about the trailer.  I honestly think he just doesn't like it - it's a 3H slant with just a wood floor, no mats, and it's relatively small, so he's squnched in (totally a word) when the divider is closed.  So I think he finds it an unpleasant ride, even though it's open and airy.  And I am pretty sure he has my number on this, because he refuses to load when it's just me, but when I get a second person behind him with a stick in their hand to help load him, he walks right on.  No stick even needed.  And he tries to turn around in the trailer and walk out forward as soon as possible when I unhook the lead thingy.

Trail maintenance went well!  The trail is really pleasant, and with those steep hills it'll be good conditioning work.  Clearing brush was quite the job, though ... oof.  If it weren't for a couple of ladies and their power tools on the first pass, we'd have had a much harder job.  Once we got the path cleared enough, the bush hog went through.  Woot!  I brought enough to drink and didn't dehydrate myself this time, too.  I am still exceptionally sore today.  Although, as you'll see, that might not just be the work ...

Then I had a lesson with NT.  At first, I was having trouble getting Apollo on the compressed, powerful trot step he needs, just going back and forth over a gymnastic.  I got the trot right, and we started working on Apollo really using himself over fences.  He had been jumping a little flat, just pushing off with one foot, not really making any effort.  So even though there was a great course set up, including a little liverpool and a shark-tooth that I would have liked to jump, we just worked back and forth over the vertical.  It was all about Apollo, and he had to do his job.  He hit the fence once, and he really did NOT like that.  He hit it, stumbled, and then spooked.  Poor kiddo!  When he finally got it - push off with both hind feet, bascule for days, and knees to nose, we called it a day.  It was pretty damn fun to ride, and NT said it looked great.  I have to say, it was nice to have my position squared away and be able to focus on the horse for once!

So after more loading shenanigans, we headed home.  Got home, pulled the truck and trailer into the pasture as usual, closed the pasture gate, and parked so I could unload the pony.  Opened the rear door, got on the trailer (no escape door), undid the divider, put Apollo's lead rope on his halter, and unhooked him from the trailer lead thing.  I was about to unload him when he swung his head around and bashed me in the face.

Y'all, I have never seen stars like that before.  Ow ow ow ow.  I am not sure if I unloaded him or if he unloaded himself; I don't really remember.  My nose was bleeding, my hat was knocked off, my glasses were hanging off my face, etc.  I knew this had actually broken my nose.   So I staggered over to Apollo, took his halter off, and walked up to the house for help - S *is* a doctor!  They weren't home, though, so I called Matt and told him I needed him to pick me up and take me to the emergency room ... and then I fed the horses.  Because it hadn't started to really hurt yet, and I knew that it would start, so I better get on the stick in a hurry before I couldn't any more.

X-ray confirms the break, but no displacement - yay.  Seriously, I did NOT want to go through setting it.

So I look terrible, all swollen and a nasty black eye (red, actually, since my skin is so pale) and a cut on my nose.

Sigh.  Bad juju.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: Woof Wear Smart Event Boots

NOTE: Video entry one back ...

So I haven't had a pair of cross-country boots yet.  I kind of had my heart set on a set of white Dalmar event boots, but the money didn't really work out, and I didn't want to pull the trigger too soon, etc.  I'm not so much of a tack ho as TSB, but I have to acknowledge that Apollo has a lot of boots.  (Note to self: need a replacement set of petals and a strap for the black petal boots)  So I've been holding off.

But with the xc schooling scheduled for last week, I decided I needed to pull that trigger.  And in order to get them in time for schooling, I needed to order from Amazon Prime.  I couldn't find the Dalmar boots at the time - of course, NOW they're back in stock! - and the Woof Wear Smart Event Boots had the same attributes: lightweight, solid protection at the critical points on each leg, perforated neoprene to not hold water or heat, venting, and good velcro. They have good reviews, too, and I didn't feel like they'd rub.  Plus, they'd show up in time!  So ... trigger pulled.

Front boot
It's a little odd that I chose the Woof boots, because I really, really hate their brushing boots.  I know.  I'm the only one in the world who doesn't like them.  I just hate the way they wrap - it seems backwards to me to have the back part wrap over the front, then the elastic from front to back.  I don't like their shape, I don't like that they don't come in white (okay FINE they come in white), I just ... I don't like them Sam I Am!

Anyway, I tried them on Apollo, and the Medium fit perfectly.  I felt like they didn't pull quite tight enough at first, but I adjusted them a bit and for the rest of it I reminded myself they're not supposed to be TIGHT, just secure.  And they were.  Apollo didn't object, didn't try to rub them off with his nose, and just chippered right along.

We tested them over stadium fences, rather than the planned xc, so I don't have a full review yet, but over stadium they worked beautifully.  We did klonk some fences, and he didn't have a single bobble afterward.  The boot barely scuffed.  When I took them off, his legs weren't any hotter than they are in open front jump boots, and he hadn't sweated his cannon bones off.

If there was one drawback, it was that they did take off a bunch of unshed hair.  ;)  So not a drawback at all.
Exactly what they looked like when they got here,
except mine said M ...

Overall, I'll know more when I finally get out on the xc course, but preliminary review is that they're worth buying.   I'd recommend finding a better deal than full price, but I'm pleased nonetheless.

Photos of Himself himself wearing them coming soon ...

Video as promised

Only a week late ... !!

I have caveats: I wasn't riding well!  Yes, the jumps are low, but height wasn't what we were going for.  Apollo was starting to get tired and hot.  I know I need to do better folding at the hip.  Just ... don't judge.  :)  Look at the pretty horsie!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Change of plans

So!   This weekend happened.  Not quite as planned, but productive anyway.   I hauled up to NT's barn on Saturday afternoon - later than I'd planned, but we got there - so as not to have to haul all the way up to the home xc course at ungodly o'clock on Sunday morning to ride at 10:30.  The theory was that I'd be able to load up and head out with the rest of the team and follow them over.   I swiped some leather cleaner across all my tack before going in for dinner and sleep.

After staggering out to make sure Apollo was fed and happy on Sunday morning, I discovered that the xc schooling had been canceled based on the weather prediction - storms rolling in and more on the way.  Bummer.  What I really should have done right that second was go grab another hour and a half of sleep, another two liters of water, and food, then go see about a lesson.

What I did was surf Facebook groggily, then go volunteer for a jump lesson in the covered arena.  Note the lack of water and food ... this proved to be a bad decision in the long run.

I rode terribly over the first set of jumps.  Like, worse than NT has ever seen me ride.  My muscles felt like spaghetti, and my body just felt dull and heavy and energyless.  My legs were not answering my brain, and I'm not sure my brain knew what to ask of my muscles in the first place.

Fortunately, another student/helper/organizer came in with coffee for NT and information right then, so I took the opportunity to grab a bottle of Vitamin Water (with calories, important) from the truck.   Half the bottle later, I felt better, and I was riding a bit better.  The whole bottle later, I actually started to ride well, lock my lower leg in, and, yknow, steer.  Sheesh.  I need to remember how to hydrate in the Southern humidity!

I think the best run at the gymnastic (bounce to one-stride) came when I focused on Denny Emerson's advice on the approach: ALLOW the horse's movement to fold my hip and knee angles and push me into the question mark shape over the fences.

I came away from the lesson with a few thoughts/homeworks:

  • Apollo needs to be stronger through the hind end, able to maintain a compressed, powerful trot on the approach to the fences.
  • I need to develop more rider fitness and endurance.
  • Apollo also needs more fitness and endurance.
  • I need to think not only of Denny's question mark but also of not falling back into my pattern of riding with my upper body too upright.  Even slender, I'm ... ah ... top-heavy, so I tend to overcompensate.
  • Hydrate correctly next time!!

So alas for no xc, but hooray for gymnastics!  As soon as I get the video from the student/helper/organizer, I will post it.  :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I hope I have time to start updating more regularly.  I have time today, so here's an update!  I apologize for the lack of photos, and I'll try to correct that.  Photos of me riding will be few and far between, but I'll try.

The mud is abated.  Sing hosanna!  The pasture situation is still less than ideal, but I'm coping.  I'm riding just outside the existing arena - the footing in the little arena, such as it is, is rutted, inconsistently wet and dry, and full of weeds.  Plus, it's quite small.  So I'm riding in the sloped, also somewhat rutted flatter area in front of the little arena.  This is not as ideal as riding in the pasture I had designated as riding space, but it works fine for now.  I can jump the natural ditch and the natural bank, and as far as dressage goes ... if I can get Apollo round and balanced up and down the slope and over the ruts and rough ground, he can be balanced and round anywhere.  It's good for his muscling, too.

So that dressage and work on muscle and round happened yesterday.  I'm not pushing him terribly hard just yet, even though it's almost mid-May.  Footing hasn't been good enough to ride consistently until recently, so we're working, but not going to failure or anything.  Still, he broke a good sweat, and by the time we finished, I had good, connected work both directions and all gaits.

I'm trying to remember to "not school shit," as Kelly would put it.  If I ask for a transition, I want it to be a good transition, or at least the transition I asked for.  I want a marching walk, a responsive trot, etc.

Exciting thing of the week is XC schooling on Sunday!  Yay!  Going up to the local home course with NT and a bunch of students, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Ride on!

Monday, April 20, 2015

My name is mud.


Mud mud mud mud mud.  I am so unspeakably tired of rain and mud.  It's just not safe to ride right now, because I don't have a sand arena to ride in.  Just ... mud.  Non-grassy mud or grassy mud, take your pick.  Eight inches of it.  Even Apollo's stall is mud.

Seriously, this rain has got to stop.  Send it to California or Idaho!  They need it!  We do not.  We are flooding.

I suppose I could be tack walking, but honestly, I'm not sure even that is safe.  I do not in any way want to jeopardize Apollo's hooves, tendons, ligaments, stifles ... anything.   I suppose just walking is workable.  Maybe.  If it's safe, if it's not too slippery, at least walking will build muscle.  Apollo needs more push behind, and it's purely a strength thing.  

So all that said, I did haul Apollo up to New Teacher's place yesterday and over that initial weekend.  We had a ball over that weekend, even though it was (say it with me) RAINING.  Apollo was very good, I sort of remembered how to ride, and we got to hang out with NT and her buddy the saddle fitter.  I'd known her buddy from CotH, and I'd always thought she was engaging, so I was glad to meet her too.  Anyway, NT and I worked on regularity, push from behind, and bend on the flat, and we worked on reminding my body how to ride over jumps.  Yknow, basics like line, pace, speed.  Important stuff like that.  

Yesterday, we continued work on my position.  Mostly keeping my leg on and heel down.  I think that's the thing we all need to work on most, the thing we hear from our teachers most often!   We worked back and forth in a figure 8, trotting over a vertical with placing poles. It was first set around 2'3 and then NT raised it as I settled in and Apollo got moving.  Much with getting him ahead of my leg in the trot, too.  NT decided that I'm confirmed and no problem over 2'3-2'6, so she nudged us out of the comfort zone and put the fence up to 2'9-3'.  No real problem, but I have to work my leg even better at that height, because Apollo has a nice bascule over fences.  Straightness is an issue, too - this will start getting better as both horse and rider get stronger and jump a bunch more jumps.

We moved to doing a much smaller outside line, which pointed out the straightness thing and reminded me that I have to keep him going and going to really have the impulsion and energy we need.  Then NT added in a last vertical off a short right turn.  Suddenly leads were important!  Also, that last vertical had a dry Christmas tree under it to brush it out a bit, and this conversation ensued:

NT:  Does he care about brush or fill or anything like that?  Some horses care, some don't.

Me: Well, he might, but I'm going to sit in the back seat and say JUMP! when we get there, and he should.

NT: Good!  Do it!

And I did, and he did.  :)  He took a hard look at it before the fence and in the air - I think that peeking through the knees thing is pretty hilarious - but he jumped it no questions asked.  We could have stood to be much straighter and have picked a better line, but we got that sorted out in the end.

The best part of the lesson was honestly the fact that we had both improved since that first weekend.  I find that a little surprising, just because we haven't been able to ride much, but I'm pleased.

I also hauled Apollo up and back ALL BY MYSELF.  No help.  Rawk!  I didn't get the Hook Trailer Up achievement, but still.  This is the first time I've ever hauled by myself.  I even had to stop for gas.  :D  And back up.  Nothing was damaged, no mailboxes taken out, nothing.  Hehehehe.

So ... yeah.  Right now, my world is mud.  And my riding pasture has been taken over by a couple of horses, so even if I had an arena, I couldn't ride.  Unless the arena had a fence, which would be ideal.  With any luck, I'll get a few rain-free evenings this week to at least walk Apollo and tell myself that slogging through the mud slowly is good for his muscles.  If not ... well, there's always horsey situps and calisthenics.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Very briefly ...

Immediate-term goal: if riding pasture is safe, start dressage tomorrow, poles Sunday, trot Monday, hack Tuesday, off Wednesday, jump Thursday.

Short-term goal:  Get up to RLT next weekend to ride with New Teacher!

Middle-term goal:  Go to River Glen July 31-Aug 2 HT and compete BN.

Also: I am SO OVER all this weather.  Ready for dry ground and no water falling on me now please.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New digs

So!  Apollo and I are moved into the new place.  We're boarding with a friend of mine, the same friend I boarded Reveille with when I first got her.  There is a LOT of open space, as I'd mentioned, which means a lot of fencing to look over.  And then replace with tape.  And a lot of brush to clear from the fences.  I'm actually looking forward to the work, to tell you the truth - I'm feeling sluggish from not cleaning stalls daily, and I could use some physical work!

Apollo's also made friends with his new pasture mate/mates.  Things are set up such that Apollo and Hank, the closest pasture mate, don't actually share a field, because Apollo is of course the low horse in the herd.  He's just not interested in making any points or challenging anybody, really - he just wants to be friends, be everybody's little brother who's simultaneously lovable and irritating.  So when Apollo got there, Hank said "buddy, you can live here, but I'm in charge!"  And Apollo said "yes sir! Certainly I'll move away from this bucket mostly full of my dinner, sir!"  

Thus, they're next to each other but aren't able to get at each other, just for feeding time purposes.

Did any of the rest of you do gifted & talented education in school?  Do you remember those puzzles that were like "Draw a line through this REALLY COMPLEX FIGURE so that A and B can't interact but that they each get an equal share of this resource"?  I have a real life one of those now. I think that there's no way to actually make it work out with the conditions we have, so I'm going to need to come up with another set of conditions to make things work out right.

Step 1: Remove sharp stuff from pastures (including old gutters or metal flashing that was knocked down in a tornado and then stacked along a fenceline and a flat metal gate that's in rough shape - replace with panelling gate).  Step 2: Rework pipe corral panels in pasture 1 (where Apollo and Hank are) to make better sense.  Step 3: Clear brush from pasture 1.  Step 4: Lay out jumps in pasture 6, mark arena.  

There's some interim stuff in there, like moving the chest freezer that holds the sweet feed for Hank, Tango, and Eli into the space I've designated Feed Area; replacing the big water trough; getting a set of dressage letters; getting a three-step mounting block; rearranging the tack room (again; I did it once, then a little more, then a little more when I created the Feed Area); and generally making plans for more boarders.  Yknow.  Stuff.  Work.  Things I need to know much, much more about.

Anyway, for the moment, Apollo has a cut on his RF pastern that's healing fine but precludes riding, unfortunately.  He doesn't seem to be in much pain at liberty or on the longe, but he was uncomfortable at the trot under saddle, so yeah.  One painful step is all it took; I can imagine how working with a cut like that would feel!  So we're waiting .... waiting ... for ... Vizzini ...  Again.  :)

I don't have too many pictures yet, but here are a few:

Poor kid - the day after he got there he had to have his teeth floated.

Looking west from the little arena by the main barn behind the house.
There's a neat little pond behind the hayrack, and beyond that
is pasture 2; beyond THAT is pasture 3.

Looking mostly north toward the house from the same little
arena.  Beyond the house and its front yard are pastures 5
and 6; I've claimed pasture 6 for the arenas because
it's the flattest and best drained.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What, more changes?

It appears to be time for my quarterly update.  :)

So.  As the title implies, there is more upheaval coming my way - has already arrived, mostly.   The teacher I've been riding and boarding with got the job offer of a lifetime in Santa Fe, NM.  Of course, the job requires that she *live* in Santa Fe ... so the barn we've been at is closing as of the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the new job needed her there like, yesterday, so she's been gone since Jan 31.  Her husband went with her, only to have to turn around and go on a long business trip - poor Teacher!  So ... at the barn now, that leaves ... um ... me.

I've been enjoying the hell out of being in the working student position, cleaning, feeding, and generally doing barn chores on an intermittent basis.  I'm now enjoying the hell out of being the barn manager - feeding, cleaning, tidying, sorting, washing, grooming, turning out, bringing in, handling emergencies, and generally doing work every day.  Even on the hard days, like yesterday, it's the best work ever.   Granted, I'm tired - physically and emotionally, because worrying about the horses when I'm not right there is draining - and I want a day to sleep until I don't feel like sleeping any more, but it's still the best work.

It's very strange to find myself in the "manager"ish position.  I would say that I don't know shit about shit when it comes to running/managing/being in charge of a barn.  I would say that with great certainty, especially having seen how TW et al managed the barn in Idaho and how I made (many many many) mistakes there.  So far, the learning curve has been steep, to say the least.  How things happen, what needs to be done to keep a barn the way I think it ought to be kept, what I can change, what I can't change, what I'd like in an ideal barn, how much work it is to do all of this ... etc.  Teacher tells me to not underestimate myself, my knowledge, and my skill - heh.  I know what skill is, and I ain't got it.  But I don't suck?  I guess?   All I can think of is MT telling me "you just need miles, lots and lots of miles," and the general fact that I don't know crap.  I'm learning.  So far, no horses have been hurt as a result.

Of course ... there WAS a scary colic episode with Apollo two days before Teacher left for NM.  Stress colic, I'm sure, but not fun.  I had to have the vet out and everything.  :/  If he hadn't started looking more comfortable when he did, we might have had to haul up to Knoxville to get him into the UTK vet clinic, or we might have been able to run IV fluids at the barn ... either way, super scary.   He's fine now, but of course I'm stressing about the fact that everydamnthing at the barn is frozen.  Water, pipes, everything.  I'm hauling in water, but it's still scary.  Especially with Apollo colicing recently.   Tennessee isn't really good about burying water pipes deep enough, because hey - it's Tennessee! It totally doesn't freeze here, right?!   Sigh.  So I'm hoping there will be water this evening when I get there, because the temperatures are rising ... there should be water tomorrow, I would think, and if not tomorrow, Sunday, but I DON'T LIKE IT ONE BIT.  NOT EVEN A LITTLE.   Heated buckets would be great, but that would require water to put in the buckets.  :/

Anyway, yeah.  Stress-ville for me with the freeze.  The bathroom building is heated, as is the pump house, and it's been tempting to sleep there.  Just ... because.   Yknow.  Watching over horses.  (This is one of the things I've decided is necessary if I ever actually run a barn, which is vanishingly unlikely - if I were to do it, I would want to live on site.  I hate leaving the horses alone.  Even in their stalls, I hate it.)

So yes.  The new situation will be boarding with a friend at her house.  She has many many acres of pasture, including a flat area that will do nicely as a riding spot.  It's got good drainage and is comfortable, and we're talking about expanding into more boarding and generally upgrading things.  It's a blank slate, really, and it might be fun to see where we can take it.  Lots and lots of room for pasture, lots of room for a home XC course, et cetera.  It'll just be a LOT of work.  Which I'm happy to put in.  (Another thing I re-realize is that physical work is seriously good for me in all ways.)  So we'll see.   It's hard not to compare things with the barn in Idaho, but that was 30 years' worth of work and investment.  And it's still developing.   So ... we'll see.  I don't know that I have 30 good years in me at this point, but I'm going to assume I do.  At the very least, Apollo will be safe, happy, and comfortable, and I'll have lots of space to ride in.  I'm buying Teacher's jumps, too, so there will be plenty of jumping.  :)

Finding a new teacher ... we'll see.  I'll update as I can.  

So yeah.  That's the info dump for now.   More later, as usual!