Monday, December 30, 2013

Memory Monday: Like A Fish Out of Water

Last winter, I had a really enjoyable task set before me: I had the pleasure of helping a friend search for her first horse.  I love horse searching because I like the chase of a good find, but more importantly, if I am helping someone else search, then I am not doing the actual buying.

Very good indeed, especially from the point of view of my pocketbook.

So last winter, the goal was to find an eventer and I dutifully sorted through all kinds of classifieds, memory of random horses I knew, and more.  I had found a couple promising leads in a nearby state so one day, I got off early from work and off we went.

The gelding of interest was a seven or eight year old Thoroughbred.  I don't really remember the details, except he was supposed to be a nice mover, experienced at jumping, and was in the expected price range of an eventer.

As I found out, there were several surprises on this trip. 

The first one was when we pulled into the barn.  We had been to several other barns already and I have been in a plethora of facilities over the years.  However, this one was different.  It looked like a movie set with perfectly groomed paths, plants, and the rare well groomed and blanketed horse standing in a all weather paddock.  Never mind, that it was the middle of winter in the Midwest. 

We were escorted into the barn which was heated to a temperature warm enough that I felt compelled to peel off the five extra winter layers I was wearing.  Then I noticed the custom artwork on the walls of the barn.  This was the first barn I've ever been in with leather furniture and artwork in the barn aisles.  It was absolutely magnificent. 

And I was more than outclassed at that point in my work clothes complete with barn jacket and winter boots. Nevertheless, we continued on as my friend tried out the horse.  I made myself cozy in the enormous indoor arena, settling like a lizard under the heat lamp.  This was also the first heated indoor I've ever been in that had heat lamps available for spectators.  Amazing.

Another spectator made himself comfortable next to me, as he watched a lady school a upper level dressage horse in the indoor.  He kindly told me that the attached lounge had a Keurig and bagels if I was hungry.  Well, I do share an insatiable love of coffee and food, so I wandered in to look at the surroundings.

As expected, the lounge was majestic.  Leather furniture, beautiful artwork, carefully placed magazines made for another picture perfect image.  Were there really horses on this property? 

I carefully stirred my coffee and enjoyed flipping through a few magazines.  I was a little surprised when another person stopped in, introducing herself politely and asking me if I was capable of using a Keurig or if I'd ever seen one before.  I was a little surprised.  I wasn't Keurig class that day.  :) 

I do actually own and use a Keurig at home.

That aside, I made myself back at home under the heat lamp, basking away happily while videoing the bay Thoroughbred.  My lizard like happiness was once again interjected by another visitor asking me if I needed help finding someone and if I had something to do. 

Note to self: dress code is a little more formal than I had expected.

Back to the Thoroughbred.  He ended up being a bit of a strong horse.  Maybe more like a runaway nut.  In such a pristine environment, he was a difficult ride and seemed out of place.

On the positive side, I did happen to see the cutest short stirrup pony.  I was informed by the other spectator that it was one of the top ones in the country.  Good thing I have good taste in coffee and ponies.

My curiosity got the best of me when we were back driving home.  How much for such grandeur? 

$1200 a month, not including extras.  


Back to the semi feral life for me.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Five Ways to Frustrate Barn Staff

1.  Refuse to move horse from cross ties when equipment needs to be moved through the aisle to muck stalls.  Stalls need to get cleaned right?  Horse can go to the other aisle.  It's a thirty second walk.

2.  When heavy equipment is being moved through the aisle, also a cue to move your horse.  Not to lead more in and cross tie them and go in and warm up in the tack room.  Barn staff are cold too and wouldn't mind finishing up work.

3.  During turnout or turn-in times, also a good idea to not hang out in the cross ties or to act surprised that that horse that is always at the end of the row...needs to go to the end of the row right through where your horse is parked.

4.  If you can't follow or don't know how to do follow up care from a horse's injury, it is awesome to ask.  Together it will be figured out.  Barn staff (usually) love caring for your horses and don't want to see them injured from improper bandages or incorrect injections or so forth.  Even though the staff don't pay the bills, there is often a lot of emotional investment.

5.  Don't say thank you if there is a major problem or issue.  It's a small thing, but after an hour of walking a colicing horse on a cold night, or fixing fence because a naughty horse destroyed it again or so forth.  Simple thanks is a major thing that is often forgotten. 

Anyone else have some frustrations to share?  I know that I didn't always realize how some small things became major frustrations until I was on the other side of the fence so to speak!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Semi Ferals and myself

And for those thinking of their equine friends on this day as well, here is something to read. 

The Horses Prayer
 (Author Unknown)

Feed me, water and care for me, and when the days work is done, provide me with shelter, a clean dry bed and a stall wide enough for me to lie down in comfort.

Always be kind to me.  Talk to me.  Your voice often means as much to me as the reins.  Pet me sometimes, that I may serve you the more gladly and learn to love you.

Do not jerk the reins, and do not whip me when going uphill.  Never strike, beat or kick me when I do not understand what you want, but give me a chance to understand you.

Watch me; and if I fail to do your bidding, see if something is wrong with my harness or feet.

I cannot tell you when I am thirsty so give me clean, cool water often.  I cannot tell you in words when I am sick, so watch me, that by signs you may know my condition.

Give me all possible shelter from the hot sun, and put a blanket on me, not when I am working, but when standing in the cold.  Never put a frosty bit in my mouth; first warm it by holding it a moment in your hands.

I try to carry you and your burdens without a murmur, and wait patiently for you long hours of the day or night.  Without the power to choose my shoes or path, I sometimes fall on the hard pavements which I have often prayed might be of such a nature as to give me a safe and sure footing.

Remember that I must be ready at any moment to lose my life in your service.

And finally, O Master, when my useful strength is gone, do not turn me out to starve or freeze, or sell me to some cruel owner to be slowly tortured or starved to death; but do thou, my Master, take my life in the kindest way.  And your God will reward you here and hereafter.  You will not consider me irreverent if I ask this in the name of HIM, who was born in a stable.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Memory Monday: Another Good Horse

I tend to write as if I am accident prone.  Or just lucky.

And now that I think about it, that is probably the case.  

It was summer.  The herd was in a far off pasture filled with several steep hills.  I don't remember why I chose the horse I did.  I think it was because he was new to the herd and easy to catch.  The older ones tend to get a little smarter and go hide in the trees instead of waltzing up to you like "Hey, you got a carrot?"

But I do remember scrambling up and down some of those hills.  The horses were being obnoxious and were more like herding cats that day instead of herding cattle.  I could see his bright copper ears perked forward.  He enjoyed this job.  I was happy to see him settling into the herd.  

A few gnats settled down on his ears and he shook his head.  Oh crap.  This gelding just had one of those heads that crownpiece would slide right off.  And off it slid. I froze for a second to see what would happen.  He ambled along, just doing his job.  I waited to see how long he would hold the bit in his mouth.  He seemed oblivious to the fact that he was pretty much free to do the whole Man From Snow River Impersonation without any say from me.

But he didn't.  He was a good boy and quietly stopped.  I managed to reach forward and wrangled the bridle back onto his head and finished the job.

Note to self: different bridle for that horse.

Secondary note to self: How on Earth do I manage to have these experiences?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Streptococcus Equi ssp equi

Streptococci.  Sounds like an impressive word. 

Most people recognize it by it's layman term of the disease of which it is associated in equines: strangles.

But what about it?  Many of us have seen horses with strangles and know the ideas behind quarantining new horses, bastard strangles, the debate on the vaccines...

But let's talk about the bacteria itself.  Why not learn more about the basics and then sound really clever when talking with other horsefolks? 

First, it's a bacteria.  This is cool because it means that it can be susceptible to antibiotics.

I think it's kind of a cool bacteria because it forms chains or these cute little pairs.  It is a gram positive bacteria, so it takes up crystal violet, that purple stain that many people remember from their biology lab days...

Positively adorable

That purple dye is taken up by the thick peptidoglycan layer of the cell wall.  This layer helps hold the cell together, so to speak.  This link has an awesome way of explaining it and its function.

So, awesome.  It's gram positive, likes to hang out in chains, and now what. 

Different antibiotics target different elements of bacteria.  Some antibiotics are bacteriocidal, as in they actively kill targeted bacteria.  Sounds great, but sometimes killing too many bacteria at once is a negative.  Some antibiotics are bacteriostatic, where they just prevent the bacteria from replicated.  A little slower way to go about things, but good to help prevent shock from overwhelming the immune system with dead bacteria.  Some antibiotics work better on gram positive bacteria; other are more successful on gram negative.

So let's say we are looking at this Streptococcus and all it's gram positive glory with its peptidoglycan layer.  Perhaps we should look at a way to interfere with this protective shielding.

This of course is the basis of an antibiotic which is very commonly (and excessively) used: Penicillin.

Penicillin binds to an enzyme used by the bacteria to try and rebuild/regrow their cell wall.  They cannot successfully do so and subsequently, the cell wall is shed and the bacteria will die.  

Not to evolve this into the treatment of Strangles, but typically, healthy horses do fine without jumping the gun and running for antibiotics.

Interestingly, I was reading a study talking about trimethoprim-sulfadiazine (SMZ), where it did not indicate one way or another that it efficiently or effectively worked against S. equi spp equi.  Just food for thought.

But in case someone wanted to know a little more about the bug behind the Strangles name, here you go.  There's obviously a lot of literature and a lifetime could be spent thinking about it, but I think it's worthwhile learning a little bit more about common bacteria, viruses, antibiotics, and vaccines used in the equine world. 

Then again I'm wearing a shirt that says "I heart Nerds" so that pretty much defines my position.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Memory Monday: A Lucky Day

It seemed to be a very unlucky week indeed.  The red filly had choked the day previous and I had the vet out since I get a little paranoid about respiratory inhalation during choke and the subsequent infections.

But fortunately by the time SuperVet came out, the choke had resolved and her breathing was clear.  Good news indeed.  Apparently I just had a super talented horse that was choking on hay/pasture (read: special).

The following day, I went out to feed her the evening grain to watch her chew.  I had her in the barn eating, when I noticed the semi feral mare laying down.  During dinner time.

This was a problem.

My father was out with me, so he went and brought her in and I realized she was colicing.  She had in the past, an occasional gas colic, usually from her skill of consuming food in massive quantities in a very short time.  She is the only horse I've ever seen eat a bale of hay in an hour.  Seriously.  More than once.

So this time, I thought it was probably another gas colic.  She looked like a beached whale or at least a ten month pregnant Arabian mare. 

Another individual at the barn is a vet tech and took a quick listen to her gut and we realized that there were no gut sounds.  Cool.  I had already called the vet, given banamine per orders, and was walking her as she was a little uncomfortable.  At least with banamine on board, she wasn't trying to lay and roll.

Her gums began to pale.  Her head dropped to the levels that would make any western pleasure Quarter Horse proud.  She stopped caring about walking over the nefarious garden hose/snake. 

I don't exactly know when I realized this was something else.  That this was no longer simple.  I called the vet again, who was on her way.  It was late on a Friday evening (of course).  

Verdict: Still hydrated, no organized gut sounds, pale gums, and apparent large colon displacement.  The unfortunate thing is this is usually surgical.  The Semi Feral Mare is nicknamed this for a reason.  Mostly because things like extended stall rest (or even stalling post hock injections) don't go over well.  Staying in one place doesn't necessarily go over well. 

I didn't think she would ever tolerate surgery and the post care, in addition to the obvious finances of it all.  So we decided to go ahead and try the "bumpy trailer ride" route.  Sometimes a jarring trailer ride can displace enough gas or shift enough to cause everything to revert to its proper place.  This of course, required the mare to load onto the trailer.  Despite the fact she was feeling quite dopey, she wasn't particularly interested in loading onto a pitch black trailer at nine thirty at night.

Reason number 765 I love my vet.  She stayed and helped me load that mare on the trailer.  I can load a horse, but sometimes, it's just plain helpful to have someone else.

One bumpy trailer ride later, I had a slightly irritated horse, but still no reduction in gas or manure passing.  Damn.

By this time, the superfriend J had arrived.  I was reaching a point when I realized this was going to be very ugly indeed and despite being involved in the veterinary industry for a while, when it's my own animals, emotions are certainly at play!  J was definitely a good rock that night.

The vet tech friend stopped home and brought sleeping bags so we didn't freeze to death and a couple drinks to ease my nerves.  ;)  We settled into a routine of sleeping in the barn aisle and walking, chasing, lunging, and pretty much anything every hour or so to see if anything would make a difference.

I think it was about midnight when I pulled up her gums and I saw they were red.  I tried mentally to prepare for the worst.  I didn't see the end for this, but at least with enough drugs on board, the mare was fairly comfortable.  She wasn't rolling, she wasn't upset.  She just stood there and stared at us.  

J decided to go get the giant horse soccer ball.  A few years previous, I had attended a clinic involving the soccer ball and it became apparent that is the one thing of which this horse was deathly afraid.  She had run backwards so quickly, she actually ended up laying down.  So perhaps, the soccer ball could scare her out of death.

We went ahead and were kicking it around the arena.  One end of the arena was a little wet and slippery from where an individual always dumped her water buckets.  J went ahead and kept kicking the ball and the mare slipped hard on that slick spot.  She slid across part of the arena, acquiring impressive road rash.  She stood up, shook herself off a bit, and literally began to deflate.  

It had happened.  Somehow in that fall, she was replaced the displacement and moved enough gas around.  She brightened up.  I felt a flutter of hope.  Could it be?

The night was still long and cold.  Like clockwork, we woke up and peeked at her in the stall at short intervals during the night.  As dawn broke and she got restless and pacey from being inside, I knew that she was certainly feeling better.

What a lucky day for a mare.  Who knows how long things may have progressed before being spotted if I hadn't been there checking on the filly's choke?  Don't know, but like to think that early intervention and care (and a slick spot) made a difference.  :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What A Sassy Day

Some days are just sassy days.  Things are proving to be a little more difficult than originally expected.

I did barn chores today, which was fine.  The horses were all well behaved, which is always a plus.  Sometimes, as we head into winter, some horses forget manners and start to be dolts in hand: rearing, striking, occasionally pushing, and pulling.  As just a stablehand, I don't really want to be responsible for training said beast and let alone be accused of hurting furface when he is striking and accordingly gets shanked, backed up, or what have you as a consequence, but sometimes it happens.  But at least that didn't happen today!

But what did happen was the water was out of commission.  The spigot that turns the water on and off was shut off/cranked too tightly by someone, crushing the washer and some other apparatus inside that keeps it from leaking.  So this morning, the barn owner tried to fix it.  Unfortunately the repair kit for said spigot didn't include the properly sized replacements.


Usually, I like to have all the chores done in the morning if possible.  Turning out horses, cleaning stalls, filling water troughs, dumping and refilling inside buckets, putting hay/grain in stalls, and so forth.  The whole water detail was sidelined.  Also a major bummer was a different spigot on the property was busted, so when the original spigot was fixed, water was going to have to be bucketed out to fill an outside trough.

Fortunately, spigot was fixed.  Buckets were filled.  It was late in the afternoon and started getting cold again, but all was well. Just an unexpected deviation from what my original plan was, so instead of spending approximately five hours at the barn, I was there about eight.  But that's how it goes.

When I finally finished doing all of the PM type turn-in and so forth, I waffled on whether or not I wanted to ride.  I haven't ridden since the temperatures plummeted, so I think it's been about a week and a half.  Or maybe even two weeks.  I did, however, have another person at the barn, so I figured if I decided to be not so graceful, at least someone else would be there to scrape my human putty off the wall.  A bit of an exaggeration of course, since I don't really plan on unexpected translocating anytime soon.

I went and fetched the Semi Feral and turned her loose in the indoor.

Oh dear.

A little sassy indeed.  No shaking, whip, or prodding involved to get a whole lot of snort and blow.
(If you have no volume or can't hear, she ended up being a doofus and snorting and blowing for probably ten minutes while I had her in the arena.  She will, occasionally, but this was consuming her whole years supply in those ten minutes, I think!)

I went ahead and rode anyway.  She did pretty well for having been out of work for a short while.  A little tense at first, but then settled in.  I had on her new back on track dressage pad and not sure if it was the pad or what, but her trot was really quite soft and nice.  I can't wait to try riding her again for a longer period of time when she's feeling a little more connected and I have time to work her harder.  our ride was a little short as I didn't want her to get sweaty since I was running out of time to go from the farm to the veterinary clinic where I needed to check in.

But even short rides have their merits.  I am glad I went ahead, despite all signs on a "sassy" day to just take the easy way out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Say "Ah"

Pretty drive down the barn driveway

It was a lucky day in the life of the semi ferals.  They got to see the vet.

OK, maybe they didn't feel so lucky, seeing as how they were sedated and had dental work done.  But hey, at least they get to have a goofy "trip" while having dental work done!  There are times when I'd like a little "pain free" dentistry too.

I am quite fortunate in the fact I have access to some wonderful veterinarians, including one that has advanced work and interest in dentistry.  I am also grateful that she maintains an open mind and a keen eye towards current literature.

The semi feral mare has a few dark colored spots on her gumlines above her incisor teeth.  This can be indicative of "Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis" which is quite the mouthful, but essentially, the front incisors "rot" out.  I have kept a careful eye as well as my veterinarian.  We are checking for signs of dental pain, loosening of the incisors, or a swelling on the top of the gums.  Fortunately, the Semi Feral Mare received an A+ in this category today with no major issues.

Next, were the cheek teeth.  The mare is getting a little older and has the beginning of a wave mouth, but the vet and I decided on a conservative path to balance her mouth, without smoothing down any excess.  In late teens, there isn't much more dental surface that will be "erupted" so aggressive floating can prematurely remove dental surfaces needed to chew food later in life. 

A small pocket/gap was noted in one area, but no real inflammation.  Good thing to check and note.

One thing we tried a little differently today was that she wasn't "hung" in the typical dental halter.  She was put up on the padded dental stand and did quite well.  Usually she is very heavily sedated and fights the dental halter, even when she is so drunk she could belong on a college bar on Friday evening.  So just getting the evil eye was a major improvement in my book.

This came about from an observation that she tends to be "sticky" and stiff in her poll.  We chatted a bit about possible cervical/neck arthritis causing her to be uncomfortable while hung.  The vet seemed please on the semi feral mare's much more civilized behavior and was optimistic about trying the stand on some other tricky horses that also were difficult to hang in the dental halter.

Then we did the little red filly.  Really, I made the appointment for her.  She quietly waited while we heckled and harassed her mother, chewing on the crossties the whole while.  Little turkey.

She was a cheap date.  So far her mouth looks pretty good for a young horse's mouth.  The filly had to be a little goofy and decide to shed premolar caps before the front incisor caps because well..she doesn't do anything on anyone's schedule.  Including being born.  But she is a redhead after all.  ;)

Wolf teeth pulled, teeth floated a little bit to adjust some pretty sharp points that were causing a bit of discomfort in her mouth and we called it a day.

I'm not sure the filly was pleased about the day's adventure.  Usually going into the barn is cool things like grooming and running around like a spunky loon.  Not being drugged and having cold metal gear placed in places when it's arctic temperatures outside.

What the heck happened today???
Good day.  Mostly because it was the horses having the dental work and not myself.  ;)

How often do your horses get dental work done?  Vet or equine dentist? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013


It seems there are quite a few topics hitting across my newsfeed on Facebook.  One is that blanketing horses is inherently evil.

Two is vaccinating horses is inherently evil.

And I will tell you why I am "evil" and vaccinate my horses.  I'd love to sit down when I have a bit more time and expand on various vaccines and their mechanisms of actions if people would like to know.  I personally geek out on things like this, but I am a bit of an odd nut I know.

1.  The vaccines are more cost effective than trying to give supportive therapy for the majority of acquired diseases, i.e., West Nile Virus.  Ever try to deal with an ataxic horse?  Not cool.

2.  I try and eliminate stress and suffering on my horses.  Subjecting a horse to a Clostridial infection (i.e., Tetanus!) is just plain unpleasant.

3.  When my vets come and vaccinate, it is a good time for them to give solid, physical exams on my animals and to build a solid, reliable patient-client-veterinary history.  It makes my awesome veterinarians more likely to crawl out of bed on these cold subzero nights and come out when I have a crisis, compared to a client they say once five years ago for a different crisis.

Vaccines aren't a miracle thing.  The immune system is fickle, in horses and humans.  Vaccines vary quite a bit in effectiveness.  But for the core vaccines recommended by the AAEP, they are safe and generally quite reliable. 

Why do horses react when vaccines are given?  It depends.  

Some vaccines are modified live vaccines (like the intranasal strangles) so they do actively infect the horse.  The goal is just to give the horse a more mild form of the disease so it can stimulate the immune system into making sufficient antibodies and so forth, next time it encounters the disease.

Some horses react to the particulates in the vaccines themselves.  Vaccines carry "adjuvants".  This is what I usually see people saying is evil on Facebook.  One type of adjuvant has a minute amount of a mercury compound.  But truth is, people contact much higher levels of mercury in their life than used as an adjuvant.  Sorry.  But for some horses, humans, and so forth, there is just a stronger reaction than typical.  Just the same as most people in the world eat chocolate.  But I don't, I have an unpleasant reaction.

Most horses will have some residual stiffness, soreness, maybe a bit of fever, or so forth.  In my mind, this isn't a bad thing.  The goal of a vaccine is to stimulate the immune system.  If not stimulated, the vaccine isn't going to be successful.  Fever, stiffness, swelling are signs of an immune reaction, so not in themselves a bad thing in moderation.  

So there you go.  Plenty of people don't vaccinate and maintain horses just fine in that fashion.

However, I only have a small herd (two) of horses and I love both very much.  I would much rather do what I can to prevent illness, pain, and suffering, and in doing so, I carefully weight the pros and cons.  One pro in my mindset is core vaccinations.

So how about you guys?  Vaccinate?  Or not?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Memory Monday: In the Presence of Masters

A year and some months ago, I was a lucky person.  It came about by being friend with an even luckier person that wins a lot of things.  Seriously.  I have never won a raffle or drawing to save my soul, but J does.  But as it comes about, it has its perks.

See, J and I had attended the horse fair together and entered every drawing we could pretty come come across.  My husband came along too with the sole purpose of trying to win things (and I'm pretty sure, to make sure I wasn't whipping out the credit card).  Husband went and had labels all printed up with the information for the three of us so we could go entering contests in record style.

But as it turned out, only J won that year.  As I recall, won two drawings.  One, however, was a breeding to a stallion that she didn't use.  But the other drawing was for attending a symposium.

I am not sure I had ever been to an official "symposium".  Clinics, sure, but I had no idea what was in store for us.  It was supposed to be similar to a clinic with live horses working in various disciplines with "masters" interacting and teaching the riders, but more importantly interacting with the audience and showing us cause and effect on these horses and what we could do at home with our own horses, our own habits, our own lifestyles to improve whatever the scenario was.

I also didn't really know most of the people presenting.  OK, so I had heard of Richard Shrake and Lynn Palm.  I had vaguely heard the name Gayle Lampe referred to by the saddleseat folkst of the world.  But sadly, I had to google who Denny Emerson was. 

I was really missing out there.

The symposium was wonderful.  The hosting facility was beautiful and it was neat to see a mixture of saddleseat horses, dressage horses, eventing horses, hunters all being critiqued and educated by four people across disciplines.  Multiple forms of input and even Gayle with her masterful saddleseat knowledge could look at the hunter and offer some suggestions in fixing a little of this.  Lynn Palm was pretty insightful showing how correct saddle fit affected the movement of a pretty little gelding, and so forth.

But by far, my favorite part was talking to the "masters" during dinner.  J & I were a little shy.  It was just the riders, the hosts at the farm, the masters, and ourselves at this dinner and I pretty much wanted to be a fly on the wall.  I am not usually outgoing in a lot of situations and this was a good example of one where I didn't know how to go about and say anything. 

But the farm host was very sweet and gracious.  She tracked down Richard Shrake, sat J & I down and told us to go ahead and talk.  OK, that's cool.  Now what.

But he was a very nice guy.  I don't know a lot about his industry since I don't really participate in the stock horse side of things, but I could appreciate the candid conversations we had about the state of the horse industry, past trainers, our current horses, where the horse industry was going and so forth.

We ended up talking to Denny Emerson at some point as well and he was great.  I have to say, I think he is my absolute favorite of the crew to talk to.  Anyone that can break his neck and then be back on a horse in their 70s is my hero.  There are some days that I have to think about crawling up on a horse in my mid twenties.  Talk about an absolute idol.

But he was very candid and humorous as well.  We talked about how he did the Tevis cup.  He really likes referencing how doing endurance on an Arabian is like pole bending without the poles.  Probably true some days!

He was pretty insightful about offering his opinions on the increase in falls in cross country.  The decline of riders overall.  The lack of horsemanship seen in different situations.

I came away with a whole new respect for someone I had just briefly met!  I then discovered his book "How Good Riders Get Great" and enjoy reading that as well.  Almost as good is subscribing to his updates on Facebook.  He is certainly is a person with opinions, but a lifetime of experience to back it up.

Plus, how often can I say I met a Gold Medal Olympian?  Ok, not too many.  However, an algebra teacher in my old school was a bronze medal wrestler if that counts.

Back to the subject.

Lynn Palm was also very passionate during dinner which was interesting.  She could seem a little more distant during parts of the symposium, but during dinner she was very involved in all the conversations.  The Rita Crundwell/Dixon embezzlement case had just broken, so we were all discussing that for a while.  Some interesting insights on that.

But what was sad to me was how candidly abuse in the show ring was being discussed at the dinner table.  I mostly follow one breed circuit and there is a very bad rap for aspects of it, but just listening from multiple stock horse judge's perspectives (Shrake and Palm) about finding people just causing bloody marks on horses and so forth in warmups and stewards or new judges looking past it due to intidimation.  How much "credit" do you have to have in an industry before you can be like Lynn who stepped in (while on a judging assignment) and told a person that it wasn't appropriate, while the other newer judge with her was clearly uncomfortable and didn't want to exist.

Gayle Lampe was also adorable.  I don't know how else to describe her.  Her absolute zest for all things saddleseat and educating the majority was easy to see.  She brought some beautiful footage of Saddlebreds and was more than happy to talk to all of us about them.  Plus, she has such colorful phrases.  I wish I could remember them all, but my favorite was talking about a lower intro type show horse as being a "nickle pickle" type of horse.

A "nickle pickle" horse

Love it.

I also had some insight on J's mare's pedigree.  She is a half Arabian/half Saddlebred and while I know the Arabian side, the Saddlebred side was news to me.  Good news is that that side had a very famous, very athletic stallion.  Bad news is that he was a bit of a handful.  I say that lightly.  Apparently he required multiple people to handle at any point on the ground.  Egads.  Good thing J's mare is a very sweet, former youth show mare.  :)

So, quite the memory from a happenstance.  It was a great weekend adventure and good thing I have a lucky friend to take me along on such adventures!

Denny Emerson and Richard Shrake center

Friday, December 6, 2013


The things we do for our horses.  It was another very long work week, but that was OK. 

However, the weather swung from a warm, wet, rainy fifties type thing to now plunging into sub zero temperatures.  I am one of those people that chooses to blanket my horses.  However, it means paying attention in these weather shifts.

It also means that with my current schedule, that I sometimes have to crawl out to the barn at 10pm at night.  In my work clothes.

Which usually is OK, except for last night.  I thought just for a quick run in the indoor arena and blanket changing, I would be fine in my light winter jacket, thin winter gloves, and jeans.  I was wrong. 

The horses, however, had a great and brief time in the arena.  The Semi Feral mare, despite her name, is pretty reserved in the arena.  She loves to do a few laps and then gets her roll on.  The filly, on the other hand, thinks it is an absolute free for fall.  She bucked, she reared, she made me wonder why I want to ride her. 

I decided to then run around the arena too in a futile attempt to stay warm.  I then realized that I had a horse stalking me.  Danged red stalker filly.

I decided to go hang out on the (very tall) mounting block to see if the filly would come over and say hi.  She impressed me and decided to line herself up right next to the mounting block.  I had been working with her in hand on lining up to the mounting block, so she would be ready and comfortable for actual riding, but the fact she did this loose at liberty was pretty cool.

I decided to cut this a little bit shorter and brought the heavier blankets out.  The filly saw hers and galloped over across the arena and dove into them.  Good progress, I think, as she used to be uncertain about the crinkling noises of windbreakers and horse blanket turnouts for the first year or so of her life.  Glad to see her just growing up so well.  Plenty of things to work on, but plenty to be pleased about.

The semi feral mare was pretty polite and happy about having her clothes back on too.

Today was supposed to be the big dental day for both horses, but I received a call this morning asking if I would reschedule. 

Absolutely a bright idea as I wouldn't even want to think about floating a horse's teeth when the water would be freezing on the float.  We'll see if we can keep this appointment next week instead.

So while it is pretty cold, I'll see if I get out to ride or work with them.  I still like to brush them and check on them, but I don't feel it's fair to exercise them in subzero temperatures.  Even though I have an indoor arena, it's still quite cold in there.  

How about you?  How does your winter riding regime change? 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's the Deal with Biotin?

In a world filled with glossy magazines and internet ads promising miracle solutions to all the problems in our lives...and our horses, biotin is often an additive touted to "fix" things.

But what exactly is biotin?

Biotin is a water soluble B vitamin (specificially it is B7).  Other B vitamins which may be familiar include B9 (folic acid) and B1 (thiamine).  There are several more as well.  Vitamins are organic materials required in small amounts. 

So, what exactly is the deal with biotin?  

In horses, it is touted to help with hooves specifically.  Out of curiosity, I decided to go crawl PubMed to check it out.  So many supplements suggest they do something useful without purported research, so off I went.

One interesting study I found was "Hoof horn abnormalities in Lipizzaner horses and the effect of dietary biotin on macroscopic aspects of hoof horn quality" which was published in 1995 in the Equine Vet Journal.  It basically is a study where they visually inspected hooves of 152 Lippizanners where they discovered that the majority had soft white lines and crumbling fissures.  Sounds a little troubling indeed.  The researchers then went to the Spanish Riding School and created a double blind study (where neither researcher nor person feeding the horse exactly knew if they had biotin or the placebo) and created a regime where some of the horses received 20mg of biotin daily and some did not.

Cool to find that the stallions receiving the biotin had "significant improvement".  However, this was nine months later.  Positively though, the good effects were seen after the study was ceased as the positive hoof growth continued down the hoof wall.

Cool, I think!

There are a plethora of other studies out there regarding the positive effects of biotin.  It seems that most suggest between 10-30mg a day to be effective with a longer period of time before the positive hoof growth can be seen. 

So if anyone is on the fence about adding biotin to the diet for a horse with slightly troubling feet, then why not? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

That Inside Rein

Lesson day today.  Probably a little overdue, but sometimes life gets busy.  :)

I didn't grow up having riding lessons, so a lot of things is correcting habits that have been instilled over the years.  One habit that became apparent today was dropping the inside rein.

The version of my commandments based on today's lesson:

Thou Shalt Not Drop the Inside Rein

Thou Shalt Stop Leaning Forward and Putting Horse On Forehand

Thou Shalt Tip Inside Shoulder Back to Actually Make It Even

Thou Shalt Keep Riding the Horse so It Doesn't Relocate Unexpectedly

Thou Shalt Remember To Keep Control of those Haunches on Turns

OK, sounds like a pretty basic list, but it always seems like back to basics is my theme now while riding.  Some horses are able to rise above my flaws, but the Semi Feral Mare is much more honest.  She doesn't always understand, so she looks to my posture, riding, and abilities to guide her. 

We had some good moments today working on that wonderful left circle.  I actually have a better idea now of how to fix it.  When riding, I knew I dropped my inside (left) shoulder, which I damaged while I was a swimmer. So I would try to pick it up, but it wasn't a sure fix.  I guess what feels "up" and "straight" to me, isn't actually so straight.  So I have to physically think "up" and "back"to get my body back closer into alignment where it should be.  

Then it became apparent when working on turns onto the centerline the other habit I have.  I grew up pretty "legs off" of the horses.  I would guide the semi feral mare onto the centerline and her haunches would end up swinging out.  Same type of issues with any changes of directions.  Anything requiring my left leg made this haunch swinging more evident.

So a bunch of centerlines and so forth later, I feel like I am almost exaggerating catching and supporting her with the other leg.  Of course, seems basic to some people, but something I never had pointed out to me, nor certainly something I learned while growing up!  Too bad, I never had a dressage basis in childhood.

Then again, I have a lot of good things to be thankful for with the horseback education I have.  There's something raw and primal about learning how to ride horses bareback, over varied terrain, in storms, rain, mud, and good weather too.  So while I may not be aware of my legs, at least I could control my seat.  :)

Towards the end of the lesson, we ended up working on leg yields, which were successful to a certain point.  I didn't originally have much lateral control of the semi feral mare and there are still a lot of times when she thinks leg means "go" and "anxiety", so for leg yields to be done fairly comfortably with a constant pace is a good win to me.

So another day in which the semi feral mare did good.  While I have had the privilege of riding many horses that are fancy and make up for my flaws, there's something to be said about trying to learn to successfully teach and ride an older, sometimes cranky broodmare who is an exact reflection of me. 

Except the broodmare part.  I don't usually do children without ketchup.

So what are the basic things you are working on?  Sometimes it seems some of the easiest things are in fact, the hardest to do correctly since we take them for granted.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Black Friday

No, I didn't go out into all the black Friday shopping madness.  To be fair though, I did go ahead and order some things online.  Terrible I know.  Just wait until the packages start showing up at the house on what the husband says then!

I had a doctor's appointment this morning.  Should have been fairly straight forward in evaluating my back injury, doing paperwork and so forth to bring to my lawyer handling my workman's compensation case.  However, in the midst of answering basic questions on how I was doing and feeling, the doctor stopped, looked at my MRI again, and left the room to go speak to radiology.

He came back, complete with a medical student (resident?) to show her some of his findings.  Cool, I always love being interesting enough for more than one person to take notice.

But what he thinks he found upon evaluating my MRI again is a cyst in my spinal cord.  Not exactly good news. 

So now, I get the process of trying to figure out which insurance will cover an additional MRI with contrast to see if the cyst is still there and more MRI to image my neck/skull as he thinks I may have Chiari's, upon examining more of my past history.

I have to be honest, I am usually a pretty cool person, but this is a little unnerving to me.  My husband worries a lot, so I told him a bit of what the doctor said, but not the full ramifications if it is Chiari's.  I'm hoping it's just an artifact in the imaging or something easy and then I'll just be able to go on my merry way. 

Definitely one of those days where I needed a little horse therapy, after trying to wrap my head around this afternoon.  I went ahead and rode the semi feral mare who was pretty good.  Thankfully not so goofy, which is good.  We even had quite a few more good trot circles to the left.  The cantering to the left was not so good and I need to make a mental note to work more on transitions the next time.  Or should I say, more work on the half halting into the transitions. 

I then lunged the little red filly tonight too.  I should go ahead and get her driving stuff back out and work on driving her again, but sometimes it's just easier to lunge and go.  But I did put down trot poles and she did those easily.  I put up cavaletti and she was lazy, lazy.  How are you so lazy horse?  She is bred pretty "hot" in terms of having a lot of park/English pleasure horses in her pedigree, but she just wanted to jog along.  Hah, I look forward to seeing what she's like under saddle.  Silly filly.

So here's to hoping that my Black Friday really wasn't so bad after all.  We all have bumps in the road, so I suppose I'll just keep going down that road. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I am naturally not an optimistic person.  But I have made a concious effort to try and remodel my mode of thinking.

So while today is Thanksgiving, I am going to try and list a few things I am thankful for and am positive about.

  • I have a job.  Well, I have more than one job.  But I have enough employment in this economy.  
  • I made enough money today working in one day to pay both horses' board.  That's something positive for sure.
  • I am grateful that the Semi Feral Mare survived her large colon displacement this past July.  That was as close to a miracle as I've ever seen.  So grateful to everyone that helped me while I was literally climbing up the walls.  
  • I am grateful to my husband who puts up with my shenanigans and my overwhelming desire to turn our house into an extra large tack room.
  • I am thankful to have some awesome friends that can jump in when things matter most.  Not sure how I manage to get such nice friends.  :)

    I'm sure there is more, but after eleven hours at work today (short day!), I can't think on my feet exceptionally well. 

    Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!  I am planning on having a quick T-lunch with the husband tomorrow!  Due to the crazy work schedule, I haven't actually seen him this week.  Egads!

    Yep, grateful for even this accident prone pony.  Too bad I don't work for for an equine vet to get discounts on her. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Small Victories

For those that have never had the childhood experience of riding bareback, I am sorry.

I look back at how many wonderful rides I had bareback and the incredible sense of balance I developed.  I also developed some bad habits too, but still, there's something great about that keen sense of knowing where the horse is underneath you while he is galloping in a group or going down the side of a hill or over an obstacle.  

Even better are the memories of trying to get on said horses!

In my experience, there are generally two ways to mount a horse bareback.  One is what I would call swinging up, where you grab some mane in the left hand and swing, using your momentum to get up and onto the horse.  Generally the graceful way in which people get up and it enables you to get on taller horses.

Then there is what I call bellying up.  I don't know what other people call it.

It's like doing a giant pushup on the side of the horse, flopping and pushing yourself up, onto, and over the horse.  Unfortunately, since physical strength is required to push your own mass up onto the horse, it is often delegated to the smaller animals.  In my experience, fatter horses are also harder to get onto using this method.

But once upon a time, I wanted to prove that I could belly up onto an even bigger horse.  This horse was 16.2 1/2 hands. 

The first time, I tried I ran flat into his side. 

The second time that also happened.

Here was the third try.  

Not sure why I did that weird dolphin kick.

But here you go.  Blog proof that I have been on a horse before.

And I am also (not so) secretly congratulating myself on figuring how to download old video I had and then make it into that animation.

Small victories, you know.  That's the life of a semi feral rider.  Can't get too tame or overly ambitious.

How about you guys?  Anyone enjoy riding bareback?  How do/did you mount your willing steed?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Little Freedom

I am working a crazy week again.  Go figure right.  Including two different jobs on Thanksgiving.  The shift this week is the 4 AM shift which is not spectacular because of the whole 4 AM part, but the good part is getting to leave while it is daylight out.

I went ahead and beat the crazy traffic and went out to the barn.  :)  

The semi feral mare was pretty good.  A lot of trot work and a few canter circles.  She didn't even sweat, which is good because I don't relish the thought of drying off a wet hairy horse with an arctic type windchill out there.  We even had a few strides of a good balanced canter to the right, so I called it quits on that and just went back to the walk for a while, asking her to relax and not be so uptight. 

She must have been tired enough or finally catching onto the idea that my goal isn't to snatch her in the face every forty-five seconds, because she relaxed down and seemed to enjoy waddling along like a bloated walrus.  OK, she was actually moving like a very elegant, winter weight walrus, but still progress.

I bundled her back up and tossed her back outside to the wolves--err--wind and cold.

I wanted to spend a few minutes with the filly too.  We've been taking it easy for the most part.  I need to still schedule an appointment to pull her wolf teeth, but haven't gotten around to that.  She has so many changes in her mouth lately, that I don't really want to bit her up we usually just lunge a little and play around with halter type things.

Tonight, I let her have her freedom instead.  Sort of, anyway. 

We are able to turn horses loose in the arena when it isn't in use and the horses certainly seem to enjoy it.  

The filly looked more than feral tonight out there.  Bucking and having a good time. It was nice to see her moving freely without interference (lunge line), since she tends to be a little lazy on the lunge.  She is finally growing up I think.

She blew off enough steam and was happy to come back down to earth for a while.  I think it can be hard on the horses to not be able to enjoy good footing or do a whole lot while it is so muddy, icy, and miserable outside.  Right now we don't have enough snow to cushion the frozen mud, so it's just an invitation for sore and bruised feet.  :(

The filly seemed happy enough to come and say hello when I asked her to come over.  She then decided to stand up in hopes of a treat.

So hungry.  See, I'm already chewing with anticipation.

Such an abused little animal, isn't she?

Too bad, she's taken to sleeping in the show ring.  At least that should be more beneficial undersaddle.

How about you guys?  Can you turn horses out loose in an arena or on good footing when the weather is bad?  I've never boarded at a barn where it wasn't permitted, but was surprised reading online that so many places, it's strictly banned.  

The poor little filly would be so very sad under those circumstances I think!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Memory Monday: The Compromise

It seems that a lot of my memories are about falling off.  And that's true, because they all seem to be memorable occasions.  Good thing there aren't that many falls, so folks, there will have to be a new topic on Mondays.

But without further prolonging my inevitable agony.

Remember Alex, the cute Arabian gelding I liked to ride?  Yeah, he is once again the star of the show.

It was a run out to the far fields again.  Alex loves to lead and so leading we were.  The thing about leading is that it's not always as simple as it seems.  A fast enough pace must be maintained to keep the horses from slowing down and grazing, but slow enough that the slower horses don't wonder where the leader went and quit running.

Add in a further run and fields with some grass between point a and point b and the level of difficulty increases.

So, off we went as leaders.  Unfortunately, I lost half of the horses partway through and had to turn around and run back to the field where we left half the herd

.  Part of the run was through a heavily forested area.  There were clear paths that the horses often took with thousands of hoof print etching themselves onto the roots.  There was one fork where someone could turn left or right and essentially go around the same tree.  

Not the actual tree

I wanted to go left.  Alex wanted to go right.

We compromised.

And hit the tree dead on at a full gallop. 

I don't actually remember hitting the tree.  I remember the "Oh crap" thought about .02 seconds from impact.  I then remember hearing my walkie talkie crackle with people asking me where I was.  I am fairly certain that there was a time lapse in between.  Actually I know there was lost time. 

To my amazement, Alex was still standing next to me waiting.  I jumped on and we continued our run back out and finished the job.  Little did I realize later with the one heck of a back-and-headache what had actually happened.  Then, the following day, an astute kid pointed out there was a hoofprint on my sweatshirt, which happened to be the one I was also wearing the day before.

What is with horses stepping on me??

But my sage advice is this:

When you come to a fork in the road with a horse and there's any sort of speed involved, let the horse pick!  Compromise isn't always a winning solution.

Friday, November 22, 2013

They Still Have Four Feet

It's been one of those weeks, where at the end of the week, I still hope the horses have four feet since I haven't been able to do justice and do anything with them.

Between the twelve to thirteen hour workdays and another little snafu, I haven't been able to go out to the barn.  Unfortunately, running out there at 11pm isn't in the cards for me.

Enter, my little snafu

She doesn't have a name yet.  We picked her up from my SIL last Friday and she supposably came with a clean bill of health from the animal shelter.  This is the short version of a much longer, sadder story.  But regardless, I realized my new to me kitty had some problems.  She wasn't eating or drinking and had developed a pretty severe respiratory infection.

 One positive thing is that one of my part time jobs is working for a veterinarian so I am able to access medications, fluids, and so forth for a much more humane cost.  Unfortunately, I still get the luxury of paying full price for the blood work that was sent out.  I love it when free things aren't really free.

But that was OK.  At least it looks like after many, many hours of force feeding, running fluids, and so forth that this little kitty is turning over a new leaf (or catnip?  What would a cat turn over anyway?  A mackerel?)  She ate about half a teaspoon of food last night, which has left me on a cloud high enough, it would be the equivalent of really nailing a riding lesson.  Also on the positive side, it appears her antibiotics are beginning to work. 

Hurray.  I could now go to the barn for a few hours without worrying that I was going to find a not so lively kitty.  Plus Friday was my day off, which meant the whole work thing wouldn't be so interferring.

I found that the semi feral mare had indeed managed to return to a state of feralness (not a word, but now it is).  She is also in heat.  One of those things may definitely correspond to the other.  She danced, she pawed, she was generally obnoxious.

I have been trying to get away from the need to lunge my horse (ala Arabian style) before riding because 1.) my horse needs some TLC on her legs now post injuries and 2.) she often goes into auto lunge mode and doesn't watch her footing so she has a tendency to slip and slide on the arena footing.

But tonight was one of those lunge-before-riding-to-assess-the-brakes kind of nights.  She was a bit of a dork, once again, so lots of transitions and a bit of CTJ.  She is a really sensitive horse, so I always feel like a bit of jerk when she is harshly corrected and looks at me with those big doe eyes, but hey, if you're an idiot, expect to get corrected.

So, I decided to go ahead and saddle and ride the critter.  I did go for the western saddle just for extra fun though.  Also, I was wearing snow pants (seriously) over my breeches since I apparently don't own any winter breeches despite living in the frozen tundra.  I really just didn't want to take the snow pants off to ride either on what was probably a frisky horse.

She really wasn't too bad though.  A little bit of dorking around and not wanting to be soft or give to the bit.  Lots of good circles to the right and then her brain work up a little.  Left still was not so warm and fuzzy looking, but we did a couple decent looking circles before calling it a night.  Walked down on a loose rein, even on the scary end of the arena. 

Why is it that horses associate with having a scary end of the arena anyway?

Since they are calling for a massive drop in temperatures overnight and blustery winds tomorrow, it was time for an outfit change.

So I now present...

The headless horse.  Just kidding.  She still has ears.

Not to be forgotten, the little red filly had a workout too.  She was pretty good, despite her cold weather spunkiness.  She just seems to enjoy working and interacting with people.  I have her tail up now to try and see if I can get it to grow to an appropriate Arabian-style length.  I took it down and maybe it's just my imagination, but it looks longer (and certainly) cleaner than the usual status of her tail.

Giving a new conditioning spray a try...My husband won some Equi-Spa leave in conditioner a while back, so I put that in the filly's tail and put it back up.  Anyone else have experience with Equi-Spa products?

So all in all, good night and good end to a crazy week!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Memory Monday: I Spotted A Problem

And it was an Appaloosa.

Don't get me wrong.  I think Appaloosas are adorable in an old grandpa type of way.  I love their crafty, thinking ways.

But this particular day in my life, there was a particular spotty problem in that leopard Appaloosa gelding.  I needed a comfortable horse to ride to go check the fences and gates on the pastures.  There is quite a bit of acreage and I was going out bareback with a pair of friends.  My friends had chosen a couple of my favorites: an Arab and an Arab cross, so I settled on the Appaloosa.  He had a smooth canter and gallop and had a wide, flat back which is much better than riding a shark finned, narrow horse.  If you've never had the luxury of riding a shark finned horse bareback, try it once.  You probably won't try it again without some extra padding.

So Appaloosa in hand, I mounted comfortably, clipping a walkie talkie to my belt.  We typically carried walkie talkies while out and about in the far recesses of pasture in case of emergency or trouble, we could radio up for help.  No big deal.

Or in this case, it did end up being a slight problem.

I comfortably galloped along with my friends and realized my horse was a little fat and slow compared to the Arabians.  It was OK though.  It was a beautiful May day and my spotty fellow was trying his hardest to catch up.  And then the problem.  My walkie talkie dislodged from my belt and started falling through the air (or possibly accelerating towards the Earth in a way that would make my physics professors proud).

The Appaloosa spotted this out of the corner of his left eye.  What then transpired was something like this.

I too, apparently needed a lesson in the laws of physics and the effects of gravity on my mass.  I remember thinking on how much that was going to hurt before hitting the ground and seeing his bedazzled hiney six feet away before I hit the dirt.  He took off towards the other forty acre pasture like my coworkers leaving work after a twelve hour shift. 

Too bad it was a nice warm May day and the dirt couldn't have been say...a little softer than rock hard.

What then transpired also belonged in a cartoon.  As I lay there trying to figure out where my arms and legs were, as I had somehow landed in a pretzel formation, I realized something.  He was back.  Oh cool, my ride was back and I wouldn't have to hoof it all the way back on foot.

Or not.  He was back already.  Back long enough to run me over and then run away again.  No lie, I still have an indentation on my calf where he hit me and then he took off.  

Fortunately, he did catch up to those Arabians in the other field and my friends realized that there was a horse without a rider and came back for me.  I got back on and we rode again, finishing up our jobs.  At the end of the ride, we stood talking with a neighbor who was lameting about her new horse: a half Arabian.  She eyed up our mounts, stating on how she would definitely prefer to ride the one I was on.  Hah.  Too bad I wasn't too witty at that moment.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I did have a fairy severe concussion that I paid for the next morning, along with realizing how classy my road rash and bruises were.  I also learned what one of the functions of the cerebellum is, as I apparently bruised it.  My lack of coordination was more than a little amusing.  But hey, I always got the questions regarding the cerebellum right in my later anatomy and physiology classes...

So there you go.  Once upon a time, I spotted a problem when my spots spotted another problem in the form of an innocent walkie talkie.

How's that for a tongue twister. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five Things...Equine Style

I'm sure most people on facebook have seen the number of things about me going around.  Something along these lines.
"My number is 5. These are 5 things you may not know about me. Like and I will give you a number. Then copy & paste with your own "things" on your wall."

So in that vein, here are some about myself and the horses.

1. The filly was born with three white feet.  I noticed this past year (seriously) that she now has a white freckle on the fourth foot.  Where the heck was that hiding for a year and a half?

 2.  I can remember my first horse's birthday (and birthyear) off the top of my head.  I am still confused on what day my mother's birthday is on.

3.  The first foal I had a chance to be around and help raise was a black Quarter Horse mare named Lola.  I still have a soft spot for that bloodline of Quarter Horse.

4.  Lola was the first horse I learned to do a jugular blood draw a two year old filly.  She never even flicked an ear.

5.   My first fall was off of a galloping Paint mare bareback.  It was a bit of a hard fall, but hey, I lived to tell the tale.

Sweet Lola.  RIP little lady.

How about you guys?  Anyone want to do this equine style?  :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Contest Giveaway

I am new at this blogging type thing, but I am quite excited to find things like contests on blog communities.  Seriously.  I never win anything in my life, so this gives me hope that one day, I too, could possibly be a winner.

Once, there was a drawing where everyone but one or two people at the gathering would win a prize for attending a clinic.  Guess who didn't win?

Anyway, I digress.  The contest that I think more people should know about is hosted by Hillary at Equestrian At Hart  She is giving away a Cinnamint Scented High Standards Leather Care Saddle Soap. 

I have actually been coveting ordering some, so here goes.  If I don't win, I suppose what my next step will be.  Just don't tell my husband.  I've been sizing up the Fox's Vanilla Lavender personally.

So, if you are looking for a new saddle soap to try or are hard luck in the contest world like me, go take a stroll (or a mouse click) and go check it out.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shiver Me November

OK, so it wasn't really so cold today, but still cold enough.  I definitely need to start digging out the colder weather horse gear.  

The semi ferals and myself are based in the frozen tundra. This is a good thing at times since in winter, we no longer have bird sized mosquitoes to carry us away.

The downside is the know frozen tundra part. 

But hey, I finally had time to make it out to the barn this evening.  My other shifts this week have barely let me out before 10 pm which isn't really conducive to barn hours and riding.  Today, I was a kind soul and covered for a 4 am shift.  I came, I saw, and conquered enough microbiological testing for a small army and hurrah--I found myself on the way to the barn.

The only downside is that when I was up, blindly fumbling for my coffee pot at 3 am, I didn't really plan ahead on what I needed for appropriate barn wear.  But, it's been a couple hours since I've been home and I think I found my toes again.  Sad thing is, it's still pretty warm here.  Good grief. 

Semi feral mare after she was undressed.  She's busy checking out her beau.

Since my hours have been so long, semi feral mare has been well...semi feral for the last week or so.  Weather is cool, so I decided to just go for it and hopped on.  Usually, I would go for the good old standby and lunge her, but I thought that a.) I can actually ride so why not and b.) I would probably freeze lunging two horses since I still had the filly to work.

Mare was actually pretty good.  We spent probably five or six minutes walking like a drunk giraffe until we settled down to business.  Good trot circles to the right, drunk trot circles to the left.  The left is our bad side, given her injuries and mine, so I know we need to keep on working.  I think I need to look into a few more exercises to start working on to keep strengthening her side and I know that I need to keep up on my strength and core training to help make up for her inadequencies.  

But something I finally noticed tonight, which of course, is trivial to many people with more advanced horses, is that tonight was the first night that she seemed to be responding to the idea of leg being lateral without her immediate reaction that had been drilled into her of leg=speed.  I like doing variations of spiral circles and she was truly starting to understand with the leg associated with it.

Small baby steps. 

Even though we will never get to a high accomplished level, if I can learn to be a more effective rider on a horse that is honest and shows my flaws, then I can be an even better rider on a horse that will carry me higher.

How about you guys?  Any particular exercises or adventures in working the one sided horse?  I worry about drilling so hard on left circles since she did fracture part of her left hind a couple years ago and had a flexor tendon injury last spring and so forth.