Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good News, Bad News, Interesting News

I'm too worn out to think or breathe, but I have a diagnosis.

The good news: What Lex has is treatable. She should, in fact, be totally fine.

The bad news: What Lex has requires surgery.

The interesting news: What Lex has is not in her back.

Those of you who saw the hitch in her left leg (and I'm glad I taped that lunging because I could see it better on screen than I could in person) were right - she has osteochondritis in her left stifle. Arthoscopic surgery and stall rest should do the trick. She should return to full work within a few months. I haven't scheduled the surgery yet, but I'm going to call a few vets tomorrow and see who can do it soon.

I am trying not to freak out. This is actually good news, because we can do something about this. I can make more money. The vet school has a payment plan. Time passes. We'll be okay.

The vet I used today is amazing, I totally love her. She, like me, is not at all into acupuncture or chiropractics (you do you; I'm a skeptic and I like research). It also helps that she complimented Lex repeatedly for being beautiful and sweet and well put-together. Lex was a sassafras much of the time because she's not feeling good and doesn't want to be touched in ways that make her uncomfortable, and because she's a thoroughbred mare and is quite sensitive indeed. Anyway, the vet evaluated her on the cross-ties, on the lunge line, on the packed-dirt driveway, under saddle, with flexion. That hitch in her left leg got more apparent as we went on and she flexed positive only on that stifle. All the other joints were fine.

I'm dizzy with relief and concern. All day I've asked myself, if I had known she had this when I was thinking about buying her, would I have? Or would I have let her go? Finding OCD in a stifle is the very definition of failing a vet check, but every other time I've vetted a horse they weren't going to go to slaughter. Would I have let that happen over this?

I don't know, honestly, but I do know that I'm so glad I didn't have to make that call and that I have her now. In three months she'll be back up to speed, and in the meantime she will be spotlessly groomed, carrot-stretched, and when she's ready, hand-walked all over the place. A Lex with an ouchy stifle is far, far better than no Lex at all.

She takes my breath away.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lunging and Some Cute Stuff

Y'all are such wonderful people. I really appreciate all the kind comments on the last blog post - they brightened my day.

No real Lex updates today. I tried to tape some of our lunging session, just in case anyone looks at this and a light bulb goes on over their head, and because it's good to keep tabs on this kind of thing. Note that our ring is relatively un-level and I picked the least level corner of the ring.

I don't know. I don't see anything super noticeably wrong. She seems pretty happy to go lunge. I can't tell if there actually is tightness in her back or if I'm imagining it. I have a vet coming to look at her on Wednesday. That should be helpful. On the fire ant front, the fly sheet seemed to work. She didn't have any welts on her today. I'm almost disappointed! I don't want to be That Kid with the fly sheet! But I also don't want her covered in welts, which can only be contributing to her discomfort. Plus if she's rolling all the time to scratch her back, that's probably not good for any pain she has there.

In other news, my mom sent me some cute pictures of my old man, Ink. I love this horse so much. I wish he was here with me.

He's always had that look of kind intelligence.

Not bad for 31!
 And finally, a new Rocket video! The horse right behind her is TJ, who used to live with me here in FL. The next one is her dam, Somara.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

UlcerWatch Update

My poor little Lex, y'all. I just want to snuggle with her all the time.

Before I get to that, thanks for the kind words on yesterday's post. I actually don't think the kid wanted to switch, I think his mom wanted him to. I haven't talked to my boss about it again but I will. I wish people were required to get an education on the myth of the gender binary and also on feminism in the 21st century, but what can you do.

Anyway, yesterday when I got on Lex, we didn't even get to trotting because she seemed so upset at the walk. I'm not a fearful rider, but I was concerned that she'd explode at the trot and if her back hurts, that's the last thing she needs. Today I just lunged her, which I know isn't what Chris said I'm supposed to be doing, but lunging doesn't seem to bother her and I just couldn't bring myself to make her unhappy when I'm not totally convinced it's accomplishing anything good. I've only had this horse for three months (as of yesterday, three months exactly) but I really don't think the problem is that she just doesn't like to work. Lex is such a wonderful horse in every way and I just want her to feel better.

I'm trying to put the pieces together here:
1. On May 17, she balked at the ring and clearly did not want to ride in there. This was the first ride after our first lesson with Chris, in which she worked but not exceptionally hard and didn't have to do anything unreasonable. But I'm glad I keep this blog, because I forgot that I had a little bit of concern the day before the lesson, too.

2. By May 22, I was quite convinced that something was wrong. We had a horrible ride on May 23 and found a slight swelling on the right side of her back (it's still there). I started her on Bute. On May 26, my farrier put the hoof testers on her and said she thought Lex's back hurt and we talked about saddle pad options.

3. The next day, she turned up with a bruise or an abscess. I decided to move her to a different barn, hoping getting to rest in a stall during the day and be turned out with just two other horses would calm everything down. She stayed on Bute and we added hoof soaking and back icing to the treatment regimen. I became awesome at hoof wrapping.

4. She got a terrible eye injury. Treatment included several topical medications and also banamine. She threatened to colic but didn't. Life was hell.

5. Her eye is all better and she was cleared to work, but her back still hurts.

That about brings us up to today. I'm quite convinced that she developed ulcers in there somewhere, and it's possible she's had them for awhile. But the swelling on her back isn't from ulcers and it's still there, although she doesn't mind it being touched or rubbed. She's also got hives all over the damn place - from the fire ants, I'm assuming, though who the hell knows at this point - so today I put topical steroid cream on some of the spots to see if they'd look better tomorrow and threw her fly sheet on just before she went out. We'll see if she has any new spots tomorrow.

Here are my thoughts now:
1. I'm keeping her on UlcerGard for now. The Bute alone probably caused ulcers, plus she's got lots of ulcer symptoms. Seems like a no-brainer.

2. I want to talk to a vet about giving her a steroid shot, since she just seems so inflammatory in general right now. I'm not sure if she can have one while she's on UlcerGard, but I'll find out.

3. I also want to try Robaxin, which is a muscle relaxant, in case her back is just tense and not injured, or in case it helps an injury resolve.

4. I do not want to do an ultrasound right now, but it might come to that. There's a vet in town who is excellent with stuff like that, but he's way out of my price range, especially as a first option. He apparently did a 45 minute PPE on a horse without x-rays and it was $700.

5. I added a handful of black oil sunflower seeds to her breakfast awhile back. I think I'll take that out. I like how it makes her coat soft and shiny, but I seem to remember that BOSS isn't helpful when they're dealing with inflammatory stuff.

Do any of y'all have thoughts or ideas?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ulcers, Fire Ants, and Gender Panic

Well, if it ain't one thing, it's another. That's horses.

I got on Lex again on Wednesday and she was like, "Walking is fun! BUT TROTTING IS MAKING ME ANGRY AND YOU WOULDN'T LIKE ME WHEN I'M ANGRY!"

And I was like, well, fuck.

So I called Trainer Chris and he came out the next morning to take a look. Lex lunged fine - to the left, and pretended she had never been lunged to the right, which earned me a reprimand I totally did not deserve - and neither Chris, his excellent wife, nor I could see anything at all wrong with her movement. Chris had me hop on, and she walked well, but then Hulked out at the trot again. I'm glad she did, because if she'd trotted around like a little lamb, I'd have probably really gotten an earful.

Note: I love my trainer. He is a fantastic horseman and a good, kind person, but the sarcasm force is strong in this one.

Anyway, we're thinking there are two things going on: 1. She has ulcers (probably, she's certainly a good candidate, considering all the Bute/Banamine she was on, and not being able to eat the coastal hay while on the Atropin, being stressed, being a thoroughbred mare); 2. Her back is sore from not being in work, and from whatever hurt her back before, where she still has a very slight swelling.

To deal with ulcers, I'm giving her a third of a tube of UlcerGard before our rides for the next six days to see if that helps. I'm also putting her back on the hay cubes in addition to the coastal hay. For the back, well, Chris thinks I just need to keep her in light, consistent work and get her to build her strength up again. He thinks she'll be feeling better after a couple weeks. I really hope he's right. It's hard for me to keep trotting when she's like "RAWR," not because she scares me - she doesn't, at all - but because I know I'm asking her to do something she doesn't like. I talk very soothingly to her and pat her on the neck and try to be as quiet and light as possible. Chris said I'm the most sensitive rider he's ever seen in his life, which is some comfort right now, but only a little bit. If I'm the problem, I can fix it. But it's not like I can even find her a different rider, because there isn't anyone who will do this any better than I'm doing it. Argh.

We did the first UlcerGard ride today, and it was no different, really. She stretches occasionally, which is a good sign, I think. My friend E was riding her wonderful gelding at the same time, and she was like, WOW, because Lex is the quietest horse to lead in and out of the field in the whole barn. She falls asleep on the crossties. She is not the horse you'd think would come out and be all HulkSmash, but here we are. The thing is, I know she's not like this. She's hurty, and we're gonna figure out what to do to help her. If this UlcerGard and training regimen thing doesn't work, I'm having the vet out again. We could still try Robaxin.

BUT ALSO, it wasn't just the ulcers and sore muscles! The silly horse rolled in fire ants and is covered in ant bites. COVERED. I should have taken pictures. Fortunately, the welts are not actually where any of the tack goes. Maybe that should be "unfortunately" because that would be an easy answer to the "why is she being a dragon" question.

Sigh. I love this horse. She is going to be great. I don't think I've ever believed in anything as much as I believe in this mare. We ARE going to get through all of this.

In other news, we have a new instructor at the lesson barn, and he seems like a cool dude. I haven't had much of a chance to talk to him yet. However, he nabbed one of my students. I don't think it's really his fault, but I'm bummed about it nonetheless. The barn owner went out of her way to say that the kid really loved taking lessons with me but he wants to ride with a guy. That shot me right in my little trans-masculine genderqueer heart. I'd rather have heard I wasn't any good. I can get better but I can't ever have my gender read accurately or not have whatever people think my gender is be seen as a deficit. I'm never enough of something, whether it's masculine or feminine. The "don't let it get to you" advice doesn't work in cases like this. I know that my gender is illegible to people, and most of the time that's awesome and something I really like, but hearing "He wanted someone more convincingly butch than you" is owie. Because that's the only real difference between me and the other instructor. Gender is a made-up thing, and it only has meaning because we give it meaning. My genderweirdness is one of my favorite things about myself, but I can't pretend it isn't hard sometimes. To be clear, I don't think the student switched because I'm kind of weird looking; I think he switched because I wasn't sufficiently male, and that... it bums me out.

Anyhizzle, Lex is my darling love, and I can't wait to see her tomorrow. Horses are my peaceful place, even when they're the primary source of stress. To close, here are some pictures of Rocket the Giant Filly. She's apparently excellent, curious, brave, and loves to be curried. Sounds like my dream horse!
I feel like Lex makes this face a lot too.

I'm insane about her ears.

That's a 4' fence she's standing next to.

She's even cute when she poops!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Only for ten minutes, but it was TEN REALLY GREAT MINUTES!!!!

I am so happy.

 This morning, my wonderful friend J, who is a horse person and a vet student, came to the barn with me. She determined that Lex's eye was responding to light normally, which I thought it was, too. I had to be at the lesson barn before too long, but she talked me into tacking up and just seeing what happened. So I did! And what happened was fun.

She didn't act sore in the back at all (though I had one of those Roma pillow pads AND her new Equifit half pad, so I'm surprised she could feel my seat - we can't keep up that level of padding all the time). She was happy and relaxed and stretchy. She walked and trotted all over the ring, past all the jumps and stuff, and was just perfect. She really was. I can't wait to get on her again! Tomorrow I might just lunge her, but Thursday we'll definitely be under saddle again.

She also got a new fly mask. It looks, well...

You have GOT to be kidding me.
She looks like a beekeeper. Or like an old Southern gardener lady.

She hated the nose part SO MUCH. It was hilarious, she kept snorting really hard. Fortunately, the nose part is detachable and she doesn't have any white on her nose that needs to stay covered, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't get it off quickly. Poor tortured pony. But at least this mask will keep stuff off her eyes!

Here's a fun postscript. Mom got a video of Rocket bucking, apparently on command. Enjoy.

Liebster Blog Award Thing

L. Williams tagged me for this Liebster thing. Thanks, lady!

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
 11 Random Facts
1. I have celiac disease, so no gluten for me. And NO, it IS NOT an allergy. It's an autoimmune disease. And yes, I am "that sensitive" - everyone with celiac disease is equally sensitive.
2. I have an Italian greyhound named Eddie, a yellow lab named Ella, an orange cat named Jonesy, and a grey and white cat named Ripley.

Ripley keeps me company while I write.

Jonesy critiques my work.

Toy Hoarder lite.

Smeagle in her castle.
3. I'm a queer community organizer, although lately the dissertation thing has been dragging me away from that. The horse commitments don't help either.
4. I'm writing a dissertation! I should have a PhD by the end of the year. I HOPE. My dissertation is on the emergence of LGBTQ student visibility on university campuses in Florida in the 1970s-80s. I love it, even though it has nothing to do with the equines.
5. I'm also a teacher - I teach at my university. It's a challenge, because a lot of the students come from a tradition that says it's okay to be homophobic to someone's face.
6. I don't really believe that all opinions are equally valid, when some of those opinions are that we're not all equal and deserve equal rights.
7. I used to play roller derby. My name was RuBrawl, because RuPaul is my muse.

Too fierce for words.

8. I was/am a drag king (I'm kind of on sabbatical from drag right now). My drag name is Maguire, but I might change it when I make my comeback next year.
9. I think white wine is gross but red wine is DELICIOUS. I'm a Malbec fan.
10. I find it hilarious when people mistake me for a dude, but it can also be scary. It depends.
11. I'm turning into a comedy nerd against my better judgment.

11 Questions from L. Williams

1. Favorite type of Jump
I like jumps that make me think - that have a technical question of some kind and are big enough that I can't blow them off. I appreciate an intellectual challenge.

2. Favorite Professional Rider/Horse Team
Can't deny Eric Lamaze and Hickstead.

As for pairs in which both partners are living, I'm super into Becky Holder and Courageous Comet...

 as well as Jessie Phoenix and Exponential.

3. Favorite Riding Exercise

4. Least favorite Riding exercise
Well, generally, I hate focusing on dressagey stuff for too long. I'm not talking about helping the horse learn to carry herself correctly, but when it comes to spending four months fine-tuning a 10m circle or getting juuuuust the right angle on the half-pass... shoot me. Or throw a jump in there somewhere.

5. Where do you see yourself next years (horse/career/life)
How many years?
Horse: I'll get Lex into the hunter ring for awhile while she learns the ropes of showing. Once she's ready, we'll start the jumper career in earnest. In three years or thereabouts, Rocket will start under saddle, but I have no idea what her job will be. I'm hoping to be riding a lot of different horses. Not sure whether I'll still be teaching lessons, it depends on where the other career goes.
Career: I guess I'll be getting a job as faculty at a college or university somewhere. If that doesn't work out, I think I'll stick with the horse thing. We'll see.
Life: Gosh, I dunno. Probably depends on where I live. I'm sick of dating in this town. I don't really care if I have a legally-recognized relationship (and it isn't legal now anyway), and I emphatically do not want children. So this is hazy for me. I just want my horses, my dogs, and my cats.

6. Advice you would give yourself 5 years ago
Do NOT do things because that's what other people want or think you should do. Take the breaks you need.

7. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I can totally change my name whenever I want, right? Just gotta fill out some paperwork? I don't think I'd change it at all. 

8. If you could train with anyone who would it be and why?
The question doesn't say anyone living! :D

Vladimir Littauer, because I love Commonsense Horsemanship.

Sally Swift, because I love Centered Riding.

Bill Steinkraus, because I love Riding and Jumping.

9. I'm giving you $5k what would you buy?
Entirely horse stuff, I'm sure. Maybe a new saddle, or I'd put it towards a truck and horse trailer.

10. Give me the recipe for your favorite dish you can make
I make this amazing black beans and rice thing but the recipe isn't mine - it's my BFF's. Saute chopped jalapenos in canola oil for just a minute. Add black beans, mustard, and honey to taste. Let it simmer on low while you cook the rice. It's one of those things that sounds weird until you try it, and then you'll get hooked. I'm a vegetarian but when I go home, my meat-eating family clamors for me to make this for them.

11. Dream vacation destination?
 New Zealand! Maybe I'll move there.

11 Questions
1. Would you rather ride a mule or not ride at all?
2. List your three favorite books about riding or horsemanship.
3. Have you ever used the Clinton Anderson or Buck Branaman methods to teach a horse groundwork?
4. Do you know any gay riders (besides me, if you know me)? (Duh, I'm obviously going to ask this.)
5. What's your favorite discipline to watch that you don't compete/train in?
6. Totilas or Blue Horse Matiné? (There is a correct answer! Ha!)
7. Who is your favorite thoroughbred racehorse of the last ten years?
8. Biggest pet peeve on horse blogs?
9. The Black Stallion or Black Beauty?
10. Would you rather ride in the heat or the cold?
11. Your area of the tack room or your bedroom: Which is cleaner?

Choose 11 Bloggers with under 200 followers:
[Disclosure: I just quickly checked the numbers of followers based on surface-level stats, so if you have way more than 200 followers and I'm a dummy, sorry! Love ya!]
1. Pampered Ponies
2. Cob Jockey
3. Eventing in Color
4. Charlie and Me
5. Show Ring Ready
6. Pia's Parade
7. Diary of a Horse-Obsessed Girl
8. Grey Brook Eventing
9. The Longest Format
10. Tucker the Wunderkind
11. Simply Horse-Crazy

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Product Review: Horse Quencher is MAGIC

Today was a pretty good horse day! I got to hang out with Lex this morning, and her pupil is going down, though it still isn't responding to light normally. I have a feeling Tuesday will be our riding day. Thursday, maybe. If it's next week, though, I'll survive.

 Now for my new favorite horse thing. After last week's near-colic scare, I got myself some Horse Quencher. (They didn't send me this, I bought it from Valley Vet. This review is entirely unsolicited.)

You guys. GO GET SOME OF THIS STUFF. I should have taken a video of Lex drinking the water right down. Yesterday, I put a scoop of this stuff in a bucket, filled it with water, held it up, and her eyes (well, the one I could see) lit up like a kid's on Christmas. She put her perfect nose in the bucket and sucked it dry. Today I tried it again, just for fun. I wanted to see if it was a fluke, and I wanted to watch her drink a bucket of water in one go again. It worked! This is too expensive for me to give her on the daily, but I'll reserve it for the times when she needs it - trailering, shows, super hot days, times when she doesn't feel good. But it will always have a place in my tack room, especially now that I'm obsessed with horse hydration.

Speaking of horse hydration, do you have opinions on electrolytes? Horse Quencher isn't an electrolyte, but now that it is summer and Lex is about to get back into some serious work, I'm thinking of adding SmartLytes to her SmartPak. There's not really a downside. Anything I can do to keep this girl happy and healthy is okay by me.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We Are Still Here!

Hi, y'all. Sorry I've been MIA. Truth be told, things got a little dark around here for awhile, and I was tired of writing posts that made it sound like I was competing for Worst Week Ever. I think "everything that possibly could go wrong, especially horse-related, did" about sums it up.

Leaving aside horribly naughty school ponies and disappointing humans, Lex had a very bad weekend last week. She stopped drinking, stopped eating, stopped caring about life. Atropin, the medication that dilates her pupil, can cause colic. So can coastal hay, which she gets in the field at night. She never actually colicked, but I had to spend pretty much the entire weekend in her stall getting her to drink a slurry of Gatorade and alfalfa cubes. It worked - she didn't colic, and the vet didn't have to pass a tube through her nose, and she came out of it. She's not only didn't colic, but...


The vet gave her a clean bill of health. Now we just have to wait for her pupil to respond to light normally and then we can take off the Mad Max Mask and go back to riding.

I wound up in a pretty awful spot of depression, which has been known to happen, but now that Lex is better - and she isn't going to be blind or lose her eye - I feel ten million times better. Aren't horses supposed to be our stress relief?

And in other fun news, Rocket is two months old today! Mom sent me a bunch of pictures of her, and here is a video of her being adorable:

And now for a photo dump. I know that the defining characteristic of Rocket is that she is HUGE, and she is - and growing incredibly fast - but she's also beautiful and sweet and laid-back and smart. I think she's going to be great when she's all grown up. I've never wanted a drafty type horse, but I love this one!

A nose! A tufty forelock! Hearts.

She's finally losing her foal fuzz! Mom tells me there's black hair under there.

Uh oh. Feathers.

Her butt is juuuuust higher than the fence.

So pretty!
I love how squiggly her star is.

Duchess is loving being at the riding school, and she's doing great. Everyone loves her, and she gets tons of attention. I'll try to get pictures soon.

I'm starting to feel like a normal person again. The world hasn't ended. My girls are all in good shape. Deep breaths.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lex Gets a Present

Tack of the Day is going to kill me.

Here's a deal that I couldn't pass up: this Equifit T-form contoured pad. In honor of her recent back soreness and moving onwards together with riding soon, I went ahead and got her this given that it was more than 50% off. Go get you some.

She's got TB withers. Whatcha gonna do?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

60 Equestrian Questions

Because why not? We're in the middle of Tropical Storm Andrea and I'm low on horse news, finally. Lex seemed better today, although she broke her halter, the silly girl. She also insisted on standing around with her head out the window, getting soaked. Ah, well. The vet said it's okay and won't hurt her eye.

Without further ado, here are the questions from Eventing in Color.

1. dish face or roman nose? why?
Who cares? You can't ride the face!

2. mares or geldings? why?
MARES. I mean, I've had some geldings I love, and I would own a gelding again, but I am a mare person all the way. I feel like my mares have tried harder for me. Plus I own the SuperMare and the WonderFilly now!

3. Do you think warmbloods are over-rated?
Well, that's not how I'd put it. I had a warmblood I loved and I'd have another one. Wait, do I have one? Is Rocket the Mutt technically a warmblood? But I really love OTTBs and I think they're under-rated. I'd love to see US equestrian get back to its roots.

4. Describe your dream horse.
Sweet, brilliant, excellent scope, a will to win, good mover, sound. I think I might have my dream horse now - we'll see! :)

5. What kind of bit do you use and why?
Right now, Lex is going in a loose ring French link, because it's my favorite for starting OTTBs in their retraining. It's kind and communicative. I've used all kinds of bits, though. I think educated hands are more important than the bit itself, though the wrong bit can create problems. Rocket, obviously, is too young for a bit. I'll probably start her in a loose ring, too, though I doubt Lex's will fit her.

6. Stock horses or sport horses?
Sport horses, but that's mostly because of the discipline I'm in. Stock horses are great, too.

7. Favorite horse color?
Oh, who can pick just one? A beautiful, healthy, shiny horse is always a sight to see.

8. Least favorite horse color?
I guess I wouldn't want to own a grey or a cremollo because of the cleaning/sunburn/cancer issues. That doesn't mean I don't think they're beautiful, though.

9. Dressage or Jumping?

10. Favorite stock horse breed?
Who doesn't love a good old quarter horse?

11. Favorite Hot-blooded breed?
Thoroughbreds, duh.

12. Favorite cold-blooded breed?
I have a soft spot for Percherons.

13. Dapple grey or Fleabitten grey?
Dapple, but they turn fleabitten a lot of the time, so...

14. Most expensive piece of tack you own?
Well, my saddle is the thing I can least afford to replace, though I'm not sure what its market value is now. I love it though, it's a 16 year old Crosby Prix de Nations.

15. When did you start riding?
When I was four I started taking lessons. Mom had me on a horse about as soon as I could hold myself in a sitting position, I think. Thanks, Mom!

16. Leather or Nylon halters?
Leather. Always, always leather.

17. Apples or Carrots?
For me or the horse? I'd prefer apples, Lex wants carrots.

18. Chestnut or bay?
Nope. Not taking sides.

19. Palomino or Buckskin?
See above.

20. Lazy horse or Hot horse?
Hot! I hatehatehate kicking!

21. Have you ever been trail riding?
Many, many times, though not on Lex yet.

22. Have you ever had to put down a horse that you loved?
Too many.

23. How many saddlepads do you have?
I'm a saddle pad junkie. I probably have 10 at least.

24. How many bridles do you have?
Ummmm... 3? Plus some spare parts? But at the moment I'm only using one of them. I have a white leather horse-sized bridle with a flash for sale if anyone wants it.

25. Favorite saddle brand?
I haven't tried that many different brands. I love my Crosby though.

26. Beige or White Breeches?
Beige. Does anyone like white breeches?

27. Least favorite discipline?
That I've ridden in or that exists? When I was a kid in 4H I did a bunch of Western stuff that just wasn't really my thing. But as far as disciplines that exist, I don't like anything that's mean to the horses. That can happen in any discipline. I guess I'd be least interested in trying driving but I don't think it's cruel. Just not my thing.

28. Do you own a horse?
Yup! Two, and they're the best girls ever.

29. Do you collect breyer horses?
Not since I was a kid, though I have a pretty big collection at my mom's house still. I do have an Afleet Alex Breyer horse though, because he's Lex's daddy.

30. Favorite color of saddle pad?
Oh jeez, whatever is clean, right? I always appreciate a sparkling white pad. Lex looks good in colors without a lot of red in them. My colors are navy, grey, and white, so I'll take any saddle pad in any combination of those colors.

31.Private barn or Boarding stable?
I'm at a boarding stable right now, but mostly have had my horses at private barns. It's a tossup. Private barns means you can never go on vacation, boarding means you have to live under someone else's rules. Private means you can take care of everything just as you like, boarding means there are people around more often - which, in itself, can be a good thing or a bad thing!

32. Opinion on spoiled riders?
Whatevs. I just don't like giving them lessons.

33. Have you ever ridden tackless?
Oh, sure, as a kid. Pickles, the best pony ever, was my mount of choice for tackless riding. He was awesome.

34. Have you ever stood up on a horse?
No, and I must confess that I don't understand why this is some peoples' goal, but to each their own!

35. Overo, Tobiano, or Tovero?
Again, I am Sweden when it comes to horse colors.

36. Favorite face markings(s)?
I don't think I've ever seen a face marking I didn't like. I'm a fan of Duchess's beautiful blaze though. And there's an adorable foal at the lesson barn named Ichabod who wears his first initial on his face with a star and a strip.

37. Why you started riding?
You know, I don't know. It's all I've ever wanted, since before I was conscious of it.

38. Does anyone in your family ride?
My mom does, which is such a great thing, because she has definitely always supported me in my riding and horse obsession.

39. Have you ever owned a horse?
Many! I have Lex and Rocket now. Before them there was Faust, Flo, Ink, and Pickles, who were all mine. My family also had/has Tucker, Oliver, Grayson, Billy, TJ, Somara. I'm a lucky kid.

40. Something you want to improve on?
Right now I really want to get my eye for jumps and distances back.

41. A bad habit you have?
Turning my head too much to the inside - if I can fix this, it'll help with #40.

42. A bad habit your horse has?
Getting injured!

43. How high have you jumped?
4'6" when I worked at the h/j farm. Loved it. Gotta get back up there!

44. Have you ever had a dressage lesson?
Zillions. Recently, even.

45. What really makes your horse spook?
Lex hasn't spooked at anything yet. Not sure Rocket has, either. They're two level-headed horses, although I'm sure we'll encounter some kind of dragon eventually.

46. Trail riding or ring work?
Ring work. I'm kind of a workaholic.

47. Indoor or Outdoor arena?
Outdoor, though indoors have their place. I haven't ridden in one in awhile because no one in Florida has one.

48. Colorful or plain saddle pads?
For home or shows? At shows, I like plain. At home, though, have fun.

49. Do you like horses with blue eyes?

50. Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer?
Not my current trainer. I can't remember if I've gotten in a fight with a previous one. If I did, it was probably because I was an anxious teenager and cried pretty easily and I had a couple trainers who were frustrated by that.

51. Light bay or Dark bay horses?
Gawd, stop trying to make me choose sides!

52. What is your equestrian dream?
I want to ride in a Grand Prix. Don't tell my mom.

53. Long mane or Pulled mane?

54. Opinion on fake tails?
I mean, it's whatever. I understand that they make the horse look more balanced, and Lex has the thinnest tail evar. I guess if someone gave or loaned me one to use at a show, and we were going to be in the hunter ring, I'd try it. I can't afford stuff like that, and I'm wary of the rabbit hole of buying just this one more thing that will really polish the look etc. I'm not made of money.

55. Least favorite thing about your barn?
Well, I'm brand new to the barn so we're still in a honeymoon stage. I guess I'd say I don't love the hay they feed - it's coastal hay, and I wish we had orchard grass or timothy instead.

56. Favorite thing about your barn?
At the moment, it's the lovely people who work there.

57. Have you ever ridden a stallion?
Yup! I showed an OTTB stallion named Marty on the HITS circuit. He was awesome, won everything and never gave me a moment's trouble. I think his owner only gelded him a few years ago.

58. socks or no socks on a horse?
I think socks are pretty, but I live in a climate where horses with white legs get scratches and take a lot of maintenance, so I could go either way.

59. Favorite horse names?
I like my girls' names (Afleet Alexia and Gravity's Rainbow). Faust was Comic Relief, which suited him to a T. There are more good horse names out there than I could possibly list, but in my mind, this is the definitive guide to naming a horse.

60. If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? why?
I would ride Touch of Class, because she was a tiny, hot, OTTB mare who won Olympic gold. Blogger is being stupid about putting in videos, but you can see her brilliance here - she's the second horse.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Real Life is on the Horizon

A quick, photo-free post:


I am so happy right now.

The vet came out and said the ulcer healed, so now we're down to treating the weird shadowy thing, which is getting better. She's staying on Atropin (the medication that dilates her eye) for another week, and gets the other stuff too but only once a day. My baby ponynose isn't going to be blind and she isn't in terrible pain anymore. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself now that I don't have to spend hours in the car every day. Tonight I'm just going to chill out but tomorrow I'm going to try to get back into some kind of routine involving writing my dissertation and, you know, riding horses.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Is This the Apocalypse?

That's a semi-serious question. At 6:30 this morning, when I was taking the dogs out, we got attacked by a bird. Just a regular bird. I don't know, y'all. I think I should have taken that as a sign to get back in bed and catch up on Mad Men. Then I came back in and found that one of my stupid cats had pulled one of my half-chaps off the rack and peed on it.

Lex was a good girl this morning. I did end up giving her a bath, because she was so sticky and gross that all the flies and gnats were swarming all over her. Despite her mild protests over the water touching her precious hide, I think she felt better when it was over, if the huge sigh was any indication. She just stood in front of her fan and let it cool her off. It certainly made me feel good, at any rate. Spending time with her this morning was, without question, the highlight of my day.

In the afternoon when I was giving lessons, the skies opened up in a classic Florida deluge. The students wanted to keep riding, which is fine, but about 30 minutes later the thunder and lightning rolled in, so they had to get off the ponies and head for cover. By that time, though, I was soaked to the bone. My fingers were pruny like they are when you stay in the bath too long. Then I had to hop immediately in the car and drive over to Lex's farm to put the goo in her eye and give her banamine. I figured the banamine was probably the most important thing, because (thanks to the WONDERFUL girl who works there on Tuesdays) she'd had the goo three times already. But I couldn't handle the idea of her being in pain all night just because I was soaked and it was raining.

I'm glad I went, but the roads were treacherous for my little car. My hands were shaking by the time I got to the barn, which was empty of humans. I gave Lex her medicines, checked her water buckets, gave her a good hug, and skedaddled. I had to get back out before the roads flooded beyond my car's capacity to travel. PS: I need a truck. I left her in for the night, because the thunderstorms were horrendous and she looked so happy, warm, and dry in her stall (and clean!). I'll just try to fit in a good long handwalk tomorrow and maybe she can get some time in one of the paddocks that's empty during the day. If not, it won't be the first or last time she's had to hang out in a stall this long. She WAS a racehorse, after all, and I figured it might not be good for her eye to be in a deluge - one which is ongoing, by the way. I just hope the roads are dried out enough by morning that I can make it back out again. But, you know, hell or high water. The vet's coming out tomorrow so maybe she'll tell me we can downshift the treatments.

In happier news, Mom sent me two new Rocket pictures!

This is Rocket and Ink, my 31-year-old QH cross. I love this shot.

He's old enough to be her great-great-great-great-great grandpa!

She has grown SO MUCH. I love that amazing curly mane. I'm glad my mom is enjoying her and/but I can't wait for her to be old enough and for me to have enough money that I can have her around all the time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lex's New Hat

Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my last post. I really did feel like I was nearing the end of my rapidly-fraying rope. Despite the fact that I've had at least three crying jags today, I'm actually feeling a bit better. Mostly I think the crying is because I need to get more sleep, but I also hate it that she's been in pain for 1/3 of the time I've had her. That said, seems to be in slightly better spirits today, and is definitely more settled in. I think she's learning the routine (in during the day, out at night) and she likes her new fan!

My former barn owner, who I still work for and adore, gave me an optho mask to help protect her eye better while it's healing. I am SO grateful, and Lex is probably more comfortable in this than she was in the fly mask with a sweatshirt sewn in (and I'm leaving it that way, in case another horse needs it and we don't have an optho mask handy). I think it kinda looks like a racehorse mask.

If she can eat grass in it, she'll wear it.

She's half a bug.
She desperately needs a bath, but now's not the time. I'm gonna wait until her eye is less painful before I start torturing her with water, which she thinks is acid.

Things don't feel normal. I don't groom my horse, or clean my tack, or go for rides. I just want to get in a routine. I love getting to see her so much every day, I really do, but I'm also looking forward to feeling like it's okay if I only see her once a day because she's fine and in a good place, and if that once a day includes some grooming and saddle time and a happy horse, that would be ideal. I really like the new barn, it has lots of great people who have been so sweet and helpful with Lex.

Aaaaaand even though it isn't even 9:30 yet, I'm going to sleep.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


My poor baby horse, you guys. I scrambled back to the barn wayyyy before the morning feeder got there and could tell that there was something wrong with Lex's eye. I brought her in, called the vet, and long story short, she got hit in the eye by something. She's got a shallow corneal ulcer and also some other injuries to it, all of which we're treating. The vet bill was basically a million dollars, but it's her EYE. There's no price on that.

Lex is hurting a lot. She has to wear a fly mask with an eye patch, too, which is hot. This morning after the vet left I just put a bunch of duct tape on the inside of it to shield her eye from the sunlight (one of the medications she gets dilates her pupil), but that just trapped the heat all day, so that side of her face was super sweaty when I got back out this evening. I got her a box fan this evening, so she can at least stand in front of that tomorrow, and I spent forever sewing in a cover on the fly mask that should be at least somewhat more breathable than duct tape. I didn't finish it, actually, so some of it is still duct tape. I'll get it done tomorrow. At least she's mostly outside in the dark.

I just don't have it in me to write a lot right now, or to craft interesting paragraphs. It's been a shitty day. I also got in a car accident (some asshole stopped on the road and backed up and slammed into me, despite the fact that I was laying on my horn) but that's the least of my problems. I'm fine, my car's fine, and that guy is lucky he wasn't picking up his teeth with broken fingers, given that I was on my way to get Lex some more medicine.

I just want Lex to feel better. She hurts, she's confused, and there's so little I can do except treat her eye four (4) times a day (and the barn's not exactly next door). I was telling my mom all of this and she reminded me that if I hadn't bought Lex, she'd be dead by now, which just made me cry harder.

Tips for sanity maintenance? I just want my happy, healthy horse back, please.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Moving Day!

First, I am so tired that I could throw up.

Moving day was today. I got up at 6:30 because I couldn't sleep anymore, and puttered around the house until 9 when I decided to say "screw it" and went to the lesson barn, where I was meeting Regina to lead her to Lex, a little early. I pestered the farm assistants and snuggled with horses until Regina arrived. She hitched up, and off we went. I was super, super anxious. Anxiety is a major issue with me, and pretty much the only time I'm totally free of it is when I'm actually on a horse.

When we arrived, the girl who fed the horses had left both Lex and Duchess up for us. Why Duchess too? Well. Last night, Kris had told me that if I ever wanted to do anything with Duchess - like take her anywhere or use her for anything - that I could do it. So just before we left the lesson barn this morning, I mentioned to Regina that she might want to look at another horse while we were there. So I pulled Duchess out for her and explained about how she's the best horse in the world, and that I thought it was worth seeing if she might be able to earn her living by doing some light lessons at Haile. Regina was game, so I called the barn owner to confirm that it was okay, and she said, "YES OH MY GOD TAKE HER," basically.

So it turned out to be twice the moving day it would have been otherwise, which definitely contributes to the aforementioned exhaustion. I was really happy to get to bring Duchess, because I'll get to see her every day now and keep a very close eye on her, and the horses at the lesson barn are cared for beautifully. We dropped Duchess off first. I felt bad because I couldn't stay with her long, but we made sure she was in a nice paddock with water and hay and that the farm assistants would look after her.

Then we zoomed up the road to take Lex to the boarding barn. When we got there, the poor baby was totally drenched in sweat, so we took her right to the wash stall for a shower. She was afraid to go into it - she was shaking - but with some gentle coaxing, she did go in. I held her while Regina gently sprayed her off and scraped her, and then we got her settled in her stall with a huge pile of hay and some water. She went right to work on that, which was great.

The pony approves of the service at this establishment.

I let her relax for awhile while I unloaded all our stuff and set up our little spot in the tack room (and it's little! I'll have to figure out how to stash all my stuff more efficiently). Then we went for a little hand walk and she got to check out the sights, including the ring, which she rolled in. I didn't realize what was happening until she was down, and then I had a brief "is she colicking?!" moment, but no - it just felt good.

They make grass here, too!

Once she was back in her stall and munching hay (I stayed to watch her for awhile, and she kept coming to check on me, like "Are YOU okay?" which I took as my cue to leave) I went home to let my poor dogs out and eat.

No, seriously, Mom. You can go.

I tried to take a nap, but that wasn't happening - too anxious about my girls settling in. So before too long I went back to the lesson barn, and checked on Duchess, who was doing just great, sniffing the other horses over the fence and generally being her usual adorable self. I gave her a bath and let her hand-graze for awhile, and she was perfect. I love that girl.

Post-shower Duchie!
Back to the boarding farm! Unfortunately, it's much farther from where I live than where she was, but I think I'll feel like I don't need to check on her every second of the day - eventually - so that will be good. The good news is, the lesson farm and the boarding farm are both in the same direction from my house, so at least I'm mostly only heading west.

She seemed a little anxious when I got there, but I fed her and she ate up all her grain. I'd have liked for her to have consumed more water, but what can you do. We tried putting her in one paddock with two geldings, and she did great with the first one, but the second one was tormenting her. Both the geldings' owners were standing next to me, so I asked if the boys had back shoes, and they both did. I was like, "WELL, that will never do," so I pulled her out of there and we put her in a paddock with one mare and one gelding, and that was much more peaceful.

All is well, I think, except that when I was leaving I stopped to check on her and her right eye was kinda swollen and runny. I couldn't see any problems with it, so I'll check on her in the morning and see what she looks like. If it's still bad, I'll call the vet. I just really hope it's nothing, because if I moved her to a place where I thought she'd be safe and she hurt herself somehow, or another horse hurt her, I will never get over it, heh. I'm such a worrier with her, and I don't want to stay up all night worrying that she's going to be blind in that eye. She'll be FINE. She probably just got some hay in it.

I'm glad to have this day over. I was talking to my mom on the phone on the way home from the barn, and I was almost in tears because I was so tired and hungry and worried about Lex's eye. Mom pointed out that I've had a WHOLE LOT of change in my life in the past couple months, starting with buying a horse nine weeks ago out of the blue, and I just need to get settled so I can relax.

I never used to worry about my horses this much. I did not freak out when they were injured or spend all my time getting myself concerned that they were going to be disabled for life or feel like I had to check on them constantly. I'm not sure what switch got flipped in my head, but I need to un-flip it. My BFF said today that my worrying about Lex is taking all the fun out of owning her, which is entirely true. It's probably annoying the hell out of him, too, because he has to listen to me all the time!

Deep breaths. I'll go check on her tomorrow, see that her eye is fine and she's happy, and then go ride Duchess and introduce her to the lesson ring. It'll be great fun.