Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Moar Rain

This rain is the worst. I can't teach lessons, I can't make money, I can't get new tires for my car. The jumping ring is totally under water. But there has been some fun!

In a break in the rain yesterday I hand-grazed Lex for awhile. She's so perfect.
Dr. Slim was there!

It's hard to see in this pic, but she's hella dappled.

 And today, Lex learned something new!

Gimme that muck rake!

I can clean my own stall!
I mean, if it keeps her occupied!

Zephyr has been having fun. Last night I crashed the other instructor's lesson because it was happening in the field, not the jump ring for obvious reasons. It was a group of advanced riders and they were all happy to have Zephyr along because he's so pretty and cute and everyone loves him. Considering it was his first ride out of the ring that I know of, and he was with a group of five other horses, he was very very good. I mean, he wasn't rideable exactly - he was doing his best giraffe impression and he thought standing still was stupid. He'd paw at the ground, turn his head around to look at me (he has a very long neck!) and nibble on my toes. But! No explosions of any kind. The canter was sideways as often as it was forward, but he didn't buck, spin, or bolt. You know? I'll take it. He's no Lex, but he's a'ight.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Zephyr Hearts Puddles

We have been getting a disgusting amount of rain here in Florida. I have a whole bunch of greenies to ride. This combination isn't always great. Yesterday, Riley wouldn't go in the ring because it was too muddy - it took Kris and I awhile to get her in there, and then she spooked at every damn thing she could think of. Shadows, footing, lawn mowers, horses kicking walls in the barn. I love her, but jeez.

By contrast, today I was hand-grazing Lex and a huge branch fell out of a tree. I was standing right where she could jump on me if she'd wanted to. She just watched the branch fall, hit the ground, and was like, "Huh." Back to grazing. You can't put a price on a brain like that.

Yesterday's ride on Zephyr was also interesting - someone keeps taking the stirrup leathers off the dressage saddle I'm using on him. I was in a huge hurry, I grabbed the leathers I thought were mine, and... they weren't. They were children's leathers, and even on the longest hole, they were like jockey-length. Sooooo I made the questionable decision of taking them off the saddle and riding the enormous green six-year-old with the 17-foot canter stride without stirrups. My legs hurt real bad, but he was actually really good. I got back on him today and the ring was a swamp, but he had a LOT of fun splashing in the puddles. I didn't make him work long, it didn't seem fair. But I was very encouraged by his bravery with the water - maybe we'll make a cross-country horse out of him yet.

Lex is getting so close to the end of her stall rest! Today when I said goodnight to her after finishing the evening feeding (which takes over three hours, it's insane), she was all sweaty, poor thing. It's insanely hot. The vet also recommended I keep a fly mask on her to keep all the dust flying around in the air from getting in her eyes, but I think it makes her hotter. She's got a fan and three water buckets. I'm not sure what else I can do for her. I'd love to not worry constantly about that horse!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Your Horse Doesn't Act Normal"

"She acts like a person."

That's what my vet said today, and it's totally true. Lex really has a human quality. She's funny and smart, and I know she's bored out of her skull and sad that she doesn't get to go outside much. I'm hoping she feels better soon. The vet said I can really probably hand-graze her for longer than ten minutes at a time, and that it might be smart to do it in the round pen so that when I turn her out in there, she won't be like "WHAT IS THIS NEW PLACE?!" She's a smart lady.

The vet came out today to do a hyaluronic acid shot in her stifle, which is a bit puffy. Nothing to worry about, just trying to prevent synovitis. The vet sedated her to work on it, and she enjoyed the opportunity to have me hold her head. She's such a good girl.

I rode Riley again today, and she bucked a lot at the canter. I think it's because she hurts. She's only 17 days off four months of stall rest. I'm not 100% sure she should be doing all this stuff, but what do I know. The barn owner and her husband are vets. I love getting to ride her, but I don't want either of us getting hurt doing stuff she's not ready for. I won't have a chance to ride her tomorrow, so we'll see what her owner says if she rides her.

Also, lovely commenter and fabulous friend Shellian posted this video of Pal in the comments yesterday, and you should all see it because he is really cool. I think he just needs some consistency in his life.

Sleepiness is taking over, but I thought that what the vet said about Lex was too adorable not to share. I have a ton of lessons tomorrow so I'd better get a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Trailer

Today my mom told me that Rocket is 13.2hh at the withers, 14hh at the croup, and string tests at over 17hh. I won't be at all surprised if she gets over 17.2hh. That'll be fun. Stacey at Behind the Bit has a fun post on foal height from a few years ago.

In other huge-horse news, Zephyr has been kind of a butt lately. Yesterday he broke the cross-ties AND his bridle when he took off after I'd put the reins over his head. I'm just glad the camp kids weren't in the barn at that moment. It was scary, watching all that stuff dangling around his very expensive legs while he galloped away. The thing that really made me mad was that he wasn't scared or anything. He just decided he'd rather go graze. I caught him, R fixed his bridle, and then I lunged him for awhile, and rode him as long as I could. He was great under saddle, he's just a moose on the ground.

When he is good, he is very very good, but when he is bad, he is horrid.
Today I got the chance to ride a very good horse who I've been in love with for a long time but for one reason or another, never got to ride: Duchess's four year old daughter Riley! She belongs to the lady who owns the barn where I used to board Lex (I still work there).

Before I bought Lex, I was sure I could never love a horse as much as I loved Riley, and I hadn't even ridden her. It never worked out for me to get on her, and then she was on layup for four months after she had an ultrasound-guided injection into her stifle to treat her subchondral cysts. What is it with me and bay fillies with stifle issues? Anyway, she was awesome. This was only the third time she'd been under saddle after coming off stall rest. She's got a great mind and will be a very good horse for someone who has a whole lot more money than I do.

Then I hopped on a gelding who belongs to Kris's friend, Pal. I don't have any pictures of him, I'll have to try to get some. I wouldn't call him a handsome guy, but he's a sweetheart. He's a cremollo with blue eyes. We're interested in him for the lesson barn, so I'm going to see if he'll be a nice solid citizen. He was spicier than I expected, which I like. Kicking isn't my favorite game.

Speaking of spicy, I also got another ride on Sahara, that palomino pony we're trying at the lesson barn. I haven't used him in any lessons because I don't have any riders who are both small enough and big enough. I think I'm much too big for him, which is too bad, because I adore him. I'd snap him up if I was about 40 pounds lighter and a few inches shorter. Alas. I don't think he'll work for us, because he's too hot. He's not a kid's pony. If anyone wants a FANTASTIC pony jumper prospect, please call me. He's wonderful. He's stopped his bucking, but he did bounce a horse-length one-stride the other day in a lesson with the other instructor. He's got the athleticism, enthusiasm, and the intelligence. He's just too small for most adults.

Last but the opposite of least, all Lex wants to do is snuggle. I spoke too soon about her puffy leg, which was a little puffy again today. The vet is coming out tomorrow anyway for some follow-up stuff, so she'll take a look. I was almost alarmed at how cuddly she was today - I hope she feels okay. I'm sure she's depressed. She started whinnying when I rounded the corner into the barn. My poor girl. I'll be out there for hours tomorrow because I'm doing the evening feeding, and I'm looking forward to being around her more.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Three Months, Rocket!

My little girl is three months old! It's weird - instead of being all "I can't believe she's three months old already," I feel more like, "She's only three months old? It feels like she's always been here!"

Without further ado, here are a ton of pictures my mom sent me this morning. No, that's not a yearling. That's Rocket.

I am a mysterious lady.

Rocket and her uncle TJ, who is the size of an elephant.

Pretending to be demure.

Head over the fence: Done. Over the gate? Getting there.

Please note also that her butt is higher than the fence.
Ol' Knobby Knees.

The End!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jump Chutes!

I've had the opportunity to do a lot of cool things with horses over the years, but one thing I'd never done until this past weekend was put horses through a jump chute. It was a really cool experience, and I got to meet Teddy O'Connor's breeder and put her pony Cash through the chute several times!

We took Fynn and Zephyr to the clinic. Fynn showed some talent but got really nervous. Zephyr crashed through a bunch of jumps for awhile and then seemed to figure it out.

It was a well-run clinic. The lady running it had me walk the horse through to sniff all the poles and see what he was supposed to do, and then she started building crossrails - there were three jumps, and the first one stayed a crossrail, the second became a vertical, and the last an oxer. The heights varied according to the horse's fitness and abilities. Neither of our horses got to jump anything huge, which is fine. They'll get there.

Me and Zephyr waiting for our turn in the chute ring.
There's nothing handsomer than Zephyr.
Fynn overjumps a bit.
Fynn is adorable but it took us like 10 minutes to get this shot.

Zephyr eventually figured out how to tuck his knees. Good boy!
The photos above seem to be choosing their own order, so sorry if they don't make sense.

Lex is doing well. She enjoys her handful of minutes of hand-grazing every day, and tomorrow she's getting cleaned up. She's pretty gross from lying in her own poop all night, and sometimes brushing just isn't going to be good enough. I took her stitches out yesterday, though, so I can finally give her a bath. Also, I haven't seen a return of the puffy leg. YAY.

Without taking away any of the snuggling I'm giving Lex, I think I'm gonna commit to bringing Zephyr along, especially while she's on layup. He's a very nice horse, and he can be my project for the next few months. Maybe he'll be an eventer, who knows.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pony Games

Pony camp, y'all. It is the most draining thing I can think of. TWELVE children. ALL day. For a week.

I need your ideas for mounted games that kids can do without having to hold the reins in one hand because I am running out of ideas. Oh, and they can only walk so far. Yesterday we had a relay race in which they'd go to the end of the ring, circle the mounting block, and come back. Today we did "pole bending" and "barrel racing" around jump blocks. We aren't going to be doing bareback rides.

I also need your ideas for not strangling know-it-all kids who yell at me when their horse doesn't stand like a stone statue or doesn't walk at mach 3 or whatever.

In other news, Lex is doing well. She has a new best friend. His name is Slim.

That's DOCTOR Slim to you.
Slim likes to supervise hand-grazings, excursions into the tack room, and water bucket filling. He is 90 million years old and a mangy flea-bag and I adore him to pieces. He reminds me of the cat from Coraline. I imagine that he sits on Lex's window ledge and talks to her at night.

After her ten minutes of grazing, I took her back into her stall and unwrapped her standing wrap so I could re-wrap it. I was standing with my back to her while she munched her hay. The next thing I knew, she'd sidled up next to me and leaned her shoulder into my back. I scratched her chest, rubbed her head, and just hung out there, for a long time. She was really snuggly last night, too. I think she is really starved for contact since she doesn't get to hang out with her buddies in the paddock at night. I also think she likes me. My trainer said to me one day that he thinks she's a tough horse, and that we have to make sure she's tough for our team. I have a feeling we'll be able to accomplish that. She's such a good horse. All of this mess is definitely worth it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hold Whatcha Got

I'm working hard to beat the blues these days. Things have gotten so gross around here that it's hard for me to find a bright side to look upon. I feel like I spend most of my time lonely, sad, frustrated, disappointed, and overwhelmed. Most of this is because of Lex's situation. At least, without that going on, everything else would seem more manageable. The thing is, though, I don't regret buying her at all. I am not sorry I own her. Every day - multiple times a day - when I get to the barn to see her, and I walk up to her stall, and she looks at me with her adorable, beautiful, sweet face, my heart skips a beat. Every time.

I mean... Look at that face.
Yesterday R helped me give her an Adequan shot because I was having issues and my hands were shaking (she needs seven, one every four days... $$$) and was talking to her: "Do you know how lucky you are? Your mom loves you soooooo much." But really, I'm the lucky one. I get irritated at her when she insists on pooping in her water bucket every other day, but she's like this amazing cool being that I never thought I'd be awesome enough to get to hang out with.

Riding her was like hanging out with someone I've known forever.
I hope we get to do it again.

She is being such a good girl on stall rest. She gets wheelbarrows full of hay brought to her on the regular. I'm back to seeing her 2-3 times a day. This morning I was at the barn for three hours just working on getting her feed bagged for the week (she's on 30 very hard, large pills a day. My pill crusher can only handle one such pill at a time), cleaning her stall, hosing her puncture-wound leg, etc. Then I was there for another four hours this evening to work on her some more and do evening feeding. I worked on my dissertation for one hour. This isn't good. On the other hand, when I'm at the barn, I'm usually pretty calm and content. It's when I'm at home that I start to fall apart.

I'm glad she's being so sweet though. Today she got to hand graze for five minutes between rain storms!

Precious grass! I have missed you!
She was awesome - just stood in one spot just outside the barn door, stuffed her face for five minutes, and then went politely back into her stall. 

Eatsing grasses.

After our foray into the wilderness of the first five blades of grass outside the barn door, I took off her stack wrap and determined that her leg is still too stocked up for my liking and that cold hosing and wrapping aren't doing the trick. I texted the vet, and she was like, "Put a sweat wrap on. If that doesn't work, it's more pills."


I am a top-notch wrapper. That stack wrap you see in the photo above had survived overnight on a horse who likes to lie down and roll and is very hard on her clothes. But sweat wraps are my least favorite thing. It's not the wrapping itself, really. It's the DMSO. Have you ever had to use DMSO? It's made of Satan. Get it on your skin and you will have a garlic-death taste in your mouth for the rest of the day. And you WILL get it on your skin.

The first step is to mix equal parts Furazone and DMSO. WEAR RUBBER GLOVES.

Spread a thin layer of this on whatever part(s) of the horse you're wrapping. Then take regular old plastic wrap and put a couple layers over the area you just put Satan's Own Mixture on. I did separate wraps over her leg and her hock.

Then, cotton batting. You can use your standing wraps but I just get the disposable stuff if I'm going to be using DMSO because that stuff is nasty. I just measure and cut so it's the same length as my regular quilt. I did one wrap on her leg - just like a regular standing wrap - and one on her hock, again.

 Then, rolled gauze! I like brown gauze but I couldn't find any today so I just used regular rolled gauze. Same story - one roll over the leg, one roll over the hock.

Then, everyone's favorite, Vet Wrap. I actually did the batting, gauze, and vet wrap as a regular standing wrap, and then I did all three over the hock. Then I took a third roll of Vet Wrap and went back over the whole leg to keep it secure, making sure not to cover the point of the hock.

And finally, Elastikon around the top and bottom to keep dirt out.


Pretty proud of this.
Cut out the point of the hock if you can - it helps prevent hock sores. The last thing this horse needs is another excuse to blow her leg up.

I always worry with wraps like this that she'll become uncomfortable, but I'm going to make myself leave it on for 24 hours. I really don't want to throw more pills at her. She's already on antibiotics, so I don't think it's infected. If she could go outside and walk around, that would probably clear it up. Thoroughbreds love to stock up!

Anyway, I'm glad I could do something for her. That always makes me feel better.

Friday, July 5, 2013


But not the kind in the sky.

One of those "awkward moment" kinds of pictures...
I do not ride like this.
We got a new pony to try at the lesson farm and no one had gotten on him yet, so since R was there yesterday, I said I'd hop on him.


This little guy is six, and he has Opinions. Our ring is a pond, and he was like, "Uh uh honey, I am NOT swimming today." He attempted to leap out from under me sideways at the last minute several times at the trot, but I'm handy with a crop and I have strong legs, so we reached an understanding. He did some cute trot work, and so I legged him into a canter. He was flying around the ring. We would have made time on prelim xc. I didn't feel like I was being run away with, he was just really going places, and the idea was for us to see what his default settings are under saddle, not for me to finesse a hunter eq round out of him. The kids have to be able to ride him.

What he really, really didn't like was when I asked him for a circle, probably 30 meters, at the canter. He got super into bucking, and he picked the wrong rider to try that with, because he found himself galloping around the ring while I held the reins on one hand and the crop in the other looking for the mildest hint of anything sketchy. He also had to slow down when I asked, circle on my whim, and canter through the damn puddles. He was much much better after that, and walked nicely on a loose rein for awhile. I popped him over a couple little jumps, and by the end of that whole experiment, I really liked him. We'll have to see if he can fit into the lesson program, but damn, it was fun to ride a bucking pony.

Lex update: She is on the mend, and super snuggly. She wants me to hang out with her in her stall all day and hug her. I think she'd also really like to go outside. In one of our sixteen thunderstorms of the day today, right before I got there this afternoon (second visit of the day), she was hanging her head out her stall window. Her whole head was soaked, but when I dared to cold hose her hock, she acted like I was throwing acid on her. I'm glad she's not angry about her stall rest yet. I can hand-graze her tomorrow for five minutes as long as she'll be quiet. Usually, if she can eat, she's a happy girl.

What are your recommendations for entertaining a silly young horse on stall rest?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Surgery: A Success!

Hi y'all! Just a quick post to let everyone know that the surgery went fine, and to thank everyone for their kind words on the last post. I promise, things are gonna be good again soon and I won't be complainypants all the time. I really appreciate y'all who had stories about how they thought they broke something and they didn't. I've decided that I also did not break my foot. If it still hurts real bad Friday, maybe I'll do something, but I can't handle having a broken foot.

Anyway, I was very, very proud of Lex this morning. She got on the trailer in the dark. She settled right into her stall and ate hay. She was an excellent patient for the catheter in her neck, for the x-rays, for everyone who handled her. I got to hang out with her until she went for surgery, watch the surgery itself, and then hang out with her until R got back to pick us up. She was excellent the whole way through.
How come we only get alfalfa at the hospital??

Excellent window. And yes, I realize she is underweight.
That's an aspect of recent weirdness I haven't even touched on.

Watching the surgery was really cool. I got to see the whole thing on the ultrasound screen. When it was done, the surgeon turned to me and kinda did this little half-bow/half-shrug thing. After she came out of the anesthesia (by far the scariest part) and she was awake enough to handle it, I went to hang out with her. She was groggy and out of it.

Is this real life?

She also pretended to eat hay, even though there wasn't any hay left.
No, Mom, I'm toooooooootally normal. I promise.

After we got home I got her settled back in and took her hock wrap off. Her hock looked great, so I put more goop in her eye, kissed her on the nose, and left for awhile. I had to be at the lesson farm to meet with some peopel Of course, when I got back this evening, it was all swollen again. I called the vet and picked up the antibiotics she called in, came back, gave her the pills, cold hosed her hock, and then wrapped it again. I can't even tell you how tired I was. Am.

The view from the hosing position.
Was there ever a more unflattering neck angle?
She was a really good girl for everything. I just hope we've got some improvement tomorrow on the hock and that she gets through the night okay. I'm too worn out to function, so I'm off to bed. Thank you thank you for being so great. I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are You Fucking KIDDING ME WITH THIS?!?!

Okay. You guys.

I have alluded to, and in some instances addressed directly, how crappy the month of June was. I felt good that we had a diagnosis and I figured the month of July would start with some healing.

That's what I get for getting my hopes up, I guess.

I figured that today I'd be writing a post about how I'm nervous about Lex's surgery tomorrow (which I definitely am) but how I'd feel better once it's over (I still think this will be at least partially true), but let me tell you about some parts of my day. I'm going to omit the entire saga of my dog issues except to say that my little guy, Eddie, kept me up all night with a horrendous case of diarrhea. I mean, his gut sounds were so loud I couldn't even sleep through them, so that wasn't a good start to things, and he's still sick, poor baby.

In other news, the weather has been apocalyptic lately. The rain has ruined the footing in all the rings in the state and the horses' hooves are not holding up well. The paddocks are mucky messes. I taught a lesson early this morning and had a 90 minute break til my next lesson, so I decided to ride Zephyr.

Public Enemy #1.
He was a good boy while we were riding, but when I turned him out, he STOMPED on my foot and now I think it might be broken. So that really fucking sucks, though I probably won't be able to get it checked out until Thursday, unless I want astronomical ER bills, which I do not. I already have increasingly-astronomical vet bills.

After my second lesson, I got in a fight with my small animal vet's office (a story for another day) and went out to visit Lex. She'd stayed in last night because of the storms, and the farrier thinks her feet are getting too soft, so I wanted to put Keratex on her feet and love on her a little. The terrific girl who works on Tuesdays had turned her out for awhile for me. I brought her in and started to groom her and... her right hock is HUGE. Like a basketball. I called the vet immediately and told her I thought I saw a puncture wound, so it was probably cellulitis, and I started cold hosing. I cold hosed her hock for 40 minutes waiting for the vet, who arrived about 15 minutes before I had to leave for my last lesson of the day. I fervently hoped the lesson would be rained out, but it wasn't. I had to leave ten minutes before the vet was finished. She agreed that it looked like a puncture wound had caused the issue, but we couldn't figure out how the hell she did that in the first place, as the girl who worked today said that she looked like that when she went out (she'd heard Lex was having surgery and assumed it was on that hock so thought nothing of it). It gets more fun, though: Lex at one point whipped her head around and managed to scratch her eye on the cheekpiece of her halter.


I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

Anyway, now she's in a huge wrap from her stifle to her pastern over a Furazone sweat, so it'll be fun for me to get my horse out of her stall before dark and load her onto a step-up trailer while she can't move her right leg and my right foot is probably broken.

Sorry for the horrible picture. It was dark and storming and I was crying.
I went back out to the barn after my last lesson, and feeding the dogs and grabbing a quick bite myself. I had to take out some hay cubes and put gunk in her eye, because we're back to doing that four times a day. The rain was really unbelievably torrential, which made the whole thing all the more depressing.

Ugh. The depression's getting legit, I have to say. I need something actually good to happen right now, because the hope that things will get better soon isn't enough anymore. There are no guarantees that she'll be okay after the surgery, or ever.

Anyway, do you think I'll be able to talk the vet into doing some x-rays of my foot?