Sunday, November 15, 2020

Farnam Giveway

 I like to enter some of the random drawings on Facebook. I'm not particularly lucky, but here's to hoping right?

Well apparently  I got lucky and won the Farnam End of Summer Giveaway.

It was very exciting and very unexpected. The box contained a nice variety of products I am excited to try including Leather New Total Care, Equi-Spot Tick and Fly Repellant, Dual Defense Fly Spray which is for both humans and horses (how handy!), Next Level joint supplement, Sand Clear, Laser Sheen, a couple tubes of electrolytes, some wound cream and spray, Sand Clear, and a couple tubes of electrolytes.

Definitely a fun variety of products and some items I wouldn't have purchased on my own, but I am very curious to try and see if they help. Laser sheen which is a coat shine spray has never been in my lineup but I'm always game to see if it's better than my preferred products!

Anyone else been lucky lately or won a drawing like this?

Any favorite Farnam products that are always in your lineup?

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Lesson Recap

 The weather outside has been stunning and very unlike normal weather here in the frozen tundra in November.

I have been trying to take advantage and riding outside. The only negative is with daylights savings time and the fact it is now dark at 4:30.

Friday, I left work about an hour earlier than my typical end time. I've accrued a bit of overtime just from normal "everyday" crisis things occurring now. The great thing about leaving is that I made it out just in time to squeeze in a ride before pm chores. Chili is still easily distracted and can be kind of an idiot if there is too much going on for her little peon brain to handle at one time. Show environments, she can be better if she doesn't go over the threshold, but at home, she has a particular routine and she doesn't care for it to be adjusted.

I lunged her in the outdoor arena for a few minutes. We have sometimes had trouble in the outside arena with sticking and worrying about horses running in turnouts right adjacent to the outdoor. However, she seemed pretty quiet about the whole affair so we had a pretty nice ride.

I have been super tight, tense, and sore, so our usual routine starts with a bit of two point, since that's about the only thing that doesn't make my tight hip clamp against her in the saddle which just quite frankly, irritates Chili and causes her to jig and be annoyed.

After our usual warm-up routine, we just did some basic walk, trot, and canter work and then trying to work on leg yields on the spiral.

Saturday, I had a lesson. The weather was once again very nice and warm, but quite windy. I couldn't decide if I wanted a jacket and risk overheating and dying or just a polo shirt. I ended up with unzipped jacket, but that's how it goes.

We started off the lesson with my usual warm-up routine of two point and variations on that to try and regain some mobility in my left hip. Once I was feeling a little more comfortable and Chili let me know that she was ok with my status, we moved into work. She was feeling rather lazy, which is often quite unusual for her, especially with sometimes strong wind occurring.

My instructor had me working on keeping my body straight on the rail with minor jaw flexions left and right until it felt Chili would take both reins evenly. She has such a flexible neck that she can often evade and resist taking one rein.

Once the flexions felt better and we had a little more power at the trot and quit jog trotting, we did some spiral leg yields. I have often struggled with nagging her. One thing I can often do is turn my heel into the horse which annoys her. My instructor wanted to play around with some concepts to see what Chili would respond best to in the current circumstances. While going counter-clockwise, my weak and tight hip was on the inside. Instead of just putting my leg on and trying to send her over, I played around with the idea of almost picking up and "bouncing" my inside seat bone while sending my energy from the inside seat bone to the outside oblique muscles. I had also dropped my left stirrup and kept my right one to try and see if gravity could help correct some of my muscle memory and postural issues.

The difference in Chili's ability to comply and understand was pretty profound. We practiced this on the quarter-line a few times too and had some very nice crossing over front and back. Historically I had always struggled with her being so crooked, but now looking back, I wonder if I never really gave her back enough space to swing up, through, and over.

The other direction, going to the rail left, means that my hip is now tight on the outside. I have usually been much better on spiral circles this direction, but as always, struggle on the quarter-line.

What we ended up finding that worked better was to have my bad hip just a little bit forward that what is ideal. Too far back and my hip locked and Chili was resistant to moving over and neutral was a fairly similar effect. It's hard for my brain to process sometimes what is proper equitation isn't going to work for myself as a rider and secondly, what feels correct usually isn't anyway!

We had some really nice leg yields with good power and it seemed like such a strange feeling on her. Her rideability and my ability to sit comfortably just improved as soon as I could tweak it to have her accept the outside rein, not block her with that seat bone, and to try and not pick at her.

We finished out our ride with some canter work. My instructor wanted us to begin exploring the idea of balance in the counter-canter so while on the rail and on the circle, asked to flex her to the outside, straighten, and bring her back on the correct bend. Baby steps. Chili wanted to break to the trot if I was changing bend a little too quickly as I was also disrupting her balance. I practiced a little more today with the concept and she seems to be catching on. 

All elementary things, but to be honest, it's nice to have her be so willing and sound so that I can work on having instruction to keep filling in some of these gaps.

I rode with a couple other people in the arena the past few days which was also excellent exposure. Chili has been a little too coddled at times with not always having riding companions and in our past, we almost always rode alone so she gets frazzled when other horses are doing things. Plus, it was nice to hear from the other riders on what a nice moving horse she is. 😁

Hopefully work will keep itself in check and I'll be able to schedule another lesson shortly. Here's to hoping! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Good Things

Sometimes it can be hard for me to take a break and realize there are still good things.

This year, by far, has been incredibly stressful. I'm a microbiologist by trade and this year, have been plunged off the end of the universe. What I originally thought would be a couple month endeavor in terms of Sars-CoV-2 testing and so forth, has now been an almost 9 month marathon. 

I remember being a little flippant back in February, long before it was on most people's radar, while talking to an infection prevention nurse. He asked if I was really concerned and I said no, not really, as long as the person in charge could actually keep his act together.


Now back to the positive things. I'm hoping to expand on a few of these topics soon enough if I ever have a few minutes to catch my breath.

First of all, I was absolutely shocked I placed second in the 2ptober challenge! I only rode a handful of times due to work and my older mare having pneumonia.

Second, I was quite surprised when I won a basket of Farnam items! 

One of my work supervisors surprised me and paid for my coffee the other day. I also received a small bucket of Halloween candy while I was at an area hospital doing some training work. :)

So hurray for free coffee and excessively sugary snacks.

So what good things have been happening to you lately?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Where have all the Morgans gone?

 Where have all the Morgans gone?
Also known as a discussion on breeders subsidizing their products.

I see this discussion come up quite frequently on social media as well as in-person for people looking for specific horses.

One common breed I see discussed quite often is the Morgan. There aren't many Morgan breeders left in the United States and there are not many foals registered each year. Many of the Morgan breeders left are breeding foals for the Saddleseat type market or are Amish type breeders looking for a flashy road horse.

This has lead to many people that frequently post on groups lamenting on the loss of the historical old style Morgan.

My personal opinion is that many of the historical type Morgans were overfed and underworked and that a fit, sport type Morgan could be almost all "historical" bloodlines, let still look different.

But also in addition to that what I have found is that people looking for a sport or classical type Morgan rarely want to pay what it costs to put a foal on the ground. Ten years ago, I bred for my first and only foal and my costs were more than five thousand dollars at the time, not including the cost of the mare and so forth. Some of my costs could be reduced if I had done more of my own veterinary type work, skipped ultrasounds, and so forth, but let's admit that to breed horses with a level of personalized care without just throwing a mare and a stallion together in a pasture, there are certain fixed costs.

I have yet to find someone that wants to pay the costs for someone to produce that foal, let alone a little bit extra to keep a breeder going in years of unexpected expenses.

Thus, why would a historical type Morgan breeder keep producing foals at a loss?

I have also encountered a number of breeders that can produce foals relatively inexpensively (perhaps using aforementioned pasture breeding), but there is still lack of capital to put these foals undersaddle, show them, or to market them to build a market. These horses still don't reach their target market who want that well broke, historical type Morgan.

I don't blame breeders that create Morgans for the saddleseat or show market that actually sell. It makes financial sense. They can continue to reinvest in their animals and take care of the stock they have.

I personally wish more people would understand the costs that go into producing a young horse and that to find a well broke XYZ breed at $1,000 meant that someone(s) have taken a substantial loss.

Please feel free to replace Morgan with any particular breed of your choice. This is just a common one I've seen recently.

What are you thoughts on this? Should there always be the expectation for breeders to do this for the love of the breed and take a loss? Should historical breed type preservation be a bigger priority and how should it be accomplished?

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Donni has been improving day by day. I have been somewhat impressed with my skills to administer her daily intravenous antibiotics. While I had previously utilized my skills to draw blood, it's been years since I've done it with any regularity.

Donni has been less than enthusiastic about being a pincushion after her stint two months ago with Potomac Horse Fever. Fortunately, my barn owner was able to help and we were able to get Donni to cooperate. The intramuscular injection was met with much more protest with her rearing up and at one point trying to sit on me, so we ended up using a chain on her with a towel over her ears in the arena to get that done.

Chili had her right hock injected in all of this as well. Since her left hock showed clean on the bone scan and the CT scan, the vet decided that we only needed to address the problem. At about the two week mark, Chili looked markedly more comfortable.

Too bad I'm headed into a miserable Midwest winter ahead, but I am looking forward to trying to get into a regular lesson schedule once my finances have recovered a bit.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Series of Unfortunate Events

 Sometimes life just seems like a series of unfortunate event, which could also be used to describe 2020 in a nutshell.

There seems to be so much to update on, but at least let's update the most significant change in my life.

Meet the original semi-feral equine. This gal has been featured on this blog since it's inception. She's also been so very unlucky. In my thirteen years of owning her, she's fractured a splint bone, lacerated an artery in her hind leg, survived a hind colon displacement, had aspiration pneumonia from a choke, a couple of tendon injuries from kicks from other horses, and most recently, had Potomac Horse Fever two months ago.

Well, one can guess where I'm going. Donni choked on Tuesday. I don't mess wait and see with chokes because of her previous pneumonia history. She has a number of melanomas on the underside of her neck and I've often wondered if it has created a stricture in her esophagus. Since her pneumonia choke, her grain has been wet down, however, that didn't stop a choke episode last year. The vet that attended that choke said it's the most difficult choke she's ever cleared and took about 15 gallons of water to clear.

The good news is the choke on Tuesday only took about 7.5 gallons of water to clear. The vet and I decided to preemptively put her on oral antibiotics due to her previous choke history and the amount of discomfort and respiratory distress she was in during this choke.

Unfortunately, the oral antibiotics weren't sufficient. She started running a fairly high fever while I was at work on Thursday. I called the vet clinic and asked them to come back out and evaluate her. While ultrasounding her, the vet did notice several abscesses in the upper part of her lungs. Despite our effort, she developed pneumonia.

So our current routine is banamine twice a day, depending on if the is running a temperature and how uncomfortable she is, IV antibiotics once a day, and a longer acting injectable intramuscular antibiotic every four days.

Crossing fingers we will see an improvement. Today she ran a fever in the morning without banamine on board, but she is back to picking and eating at her (very wet) equine senior, chatting up a storm asking for more food, and being bright eyed and perky while being turned out. All very good signs, but this horse is so incredibly stoic, it's always been kind of hard to gauge where she is at with these things.

Her condition is cautiously optimistic and I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, despite my pocketbook being so very tapped out since her Potomac Horse Fever adventure two months ago.

Sunday, October 4, 2020



So the last few weeks have been some ups and downs. Just dropping my horse off at the veterinary school was a rough experience. It was cold and raining and the process was to pull into the parking lot, they clip a lead rope on your horse, and off the student goes.

Chili is a bit of a sensitive soul so the idea of not being able to check in on her was a bit nerve-wracking.

I wasn't incredibly impressed with the communication from the facility. I didn't hear anything until day two after I had called several times for an update. Day one, they were just injecting her with drugs and the imaging was to be performed the morning of day two. Evening of day two, I called on the way home from work. Still nothing.

The attending veterinarian finally called back around seven and they stated that during the bone scan there was something on the right hock, but they couldn't tell if it was a fracture or traumatic arthritis. They asked for permission to perform a CT scan and I asked if I could call back in the morning after I had talked to the insurance company, as insurance had approved the bone scan and I wanted to know if they would approve the standing CT as well.

Fortunately insurance did approve the CT scan and the end result was no fracture and there appeared to be a spot of (probable) traumatic arthritis on one of the right hock bones. It's hard to say if it is solely a result of the accident in April or something else, but on the plus side, everything else imaged squeaky clean.

At the end of day three, one again in the cold rain, I picked up my horse from the vet school. While I think they did an adequate jobs, there was definitely some more issues with communication that I was not pleased about overall. I was also not happy about the big shaved spot on her neck that I wasn't informed was going to happen, along with at least six different venipuncture spots.

Chili seemed pleased to be home and quite a bit more lame after having not been hand walked or even out of a stall, except for imaging for three days while away. Poor thing! She's definitely not used to being confined and certainly not alone without buddies in sight for that long. She loaded and uploaded like a champ and I walked her around for a while after we got home.

What I found somewhat sweet was that I was currying and scratching her neck after putting her back in her stall at home and she kept nuzzling and nickering to me. She's not an extraordinarily affectionate horse, so maybe she really was telling me not to drop her off alone again. ;)

The suggestion from the imaging at the vet school was to inject the right hock joint, so I saved that for my primary veterinarian. Here's to hoping that this really is the final answer and light at the end of this mysterious lameness tunnel.