Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cool Horses are Cool

Day 2: No Catastrophes Yet.

Hey, we gotta set the bar somewhere, right?

Lex munched on her breakfast in the round pen this morning, nibbled at grass, and stuck her head over the fence to survey her kingdom. She was quiet, calm, and happy. It was hard for me to make myself bring her back in, but I didn't want to press our luck. She was definitely more interested in staying outside than coming back in with me, but we're going to work her up to two hours of turnout in the round pen (I will bring my computer and revise dissertation chapters while I watch her) and then we can try one of the smaller paddocks. Baby steps.

And wouldn't she look cute taking baby steps in a new leather halter from Horze? I think so, so I entered the Horze giveaway on Lauren's blog at She Moved to Texas. Check it out!

There wasn't anyone around to supervise when I got around to Jethro today, and I only had an hour break between lessons, a good chunk of which was eaten up by a kid who took FOREVER to get her horse turned out. So I didn't ride him, but I did do ground work with him. He was veryveryveryvery good. Within minutes, I could walk all around the small ring with plenty of slack in the lunge line and he just followed me, nose to the ground and licking his lips. I love that for an amateur's horse. He's going to be super easy to bring along, and that will be fun. I love baby OTTBs! Hopefully I'll get some pictures of him tomorrow. He really needs a makeover: hair cut, better nutrition, some serious currying, a topline. Once he gets all that, he'll be a knockout. Anyone want a really cool four year old?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Quick Round Pen Update

We survived Day One of the round pen turnout. Lex looks dopier than I'd like for her to be. I have never been one who enjoys being inebriated, and I'd like for my horse to feel like herself, too. But we have to both be safe and get through the next few days, and then I'm hoping we can scale back on the Reserpine. I might even try hand walking her again tomorrow - my arm feels a lot better, and if she's going to be chill, it's worth a shot. The good news is, she's not so drugged that she doesn't enjoy eating grass. She managed to find plenty to munch on in the field even after she finished the snack I made her with hay cubes and grain.

Come on, girlie. Get us through the next couple of weeks with no catastrophes and we'll be good to go. Please please please.

The New Guy

Just a quick, exciting update: I've got a new sweetheart!

He's not mine, really. He belongs to R, who I love, and who has offered to give him to me for free. Unfortunately, a certain lovely lady is costing me everything I have right now and I can't afford to take on a new one.

Without further ado, this is Jethro.
He is a four year old OTTB, JC name Wasalcoholinvolved. He's a tremendous sweetheart, and very quiet and calm. I am in love with him. I obviously can't ride, so we took along M, the girl who lets me ride Calvin. She's never ridden a horse so recently off the track with no retraining, and he was a very good boy. He never offered to get strong and tried very hard to figure out what she wanted (which wasn't much, I just wanted to see if he'd walk and trot around the paddock without doing anything weird). When we got him back to the lesson barn, he hopped off the trailer and R put him in a stall. He was a little bit like, "Hey, lemme look around!" So M took him for a little walk, and he ate grass and settled in like a pro. He probably thought he was at the weirdest track ever.

I think my arm is better enough that by tomorrow I'll be able to start ground work with him and should be able to get on by the weekend. I don't think he's going to cause me any particular issues. I wish I could keep him, but that isn't how life works. I always end up keeping my resale projects, so it's good that he's firmly in R's custody and I don't get tempted.

Speaking of our new horses, Veronica is officially ours! She has a quarter crack which is going to need shoes, and she desperately needs her teeth done, but the lady who was selling her agreed to give her to R for free because it's going to cost a lot to get her going again. I'm so glad. I love that big-eared redhead.

Today we're trying to put Lex out in the round pen again. Please cross your fingers. She's on an unusually high dose of Reserpine now, so that should do the trick, but of course I am terrified. At some point, the horse is going to have to go out again, and the longer we wait the worse it's going to be.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ain't That a Kick in the Arm

Things keep getting increasingly Dada-esque 'round these parts.

The vet came out yesterday and said that Lex is looking great - and she really does. Fat, shiny, very well turned out, happy. The vet wants us walking 15 minutes twice a day, gradually upping that over two weeks, and then to 40 minutes once a day. At which point we were going to start doing short turnout sessions in the round pen again, on the theory that she'd be stronger and more able to handle it if she bucks a little or something.

If you caught the tense shifts in there, congratulations on being a good reader.

This morning I went out to do our first 15 minute walk. Three minutes in, the mare - who is on a relatively high dose of Reserpine - bucked. And caught me right on the arm, just below the elbow. I watched as my arm swelled to the size of a baseball. I called the guy who owns the property and he came down and helped me get the mare back in her stall. I got to the emergency room, and after the x-rays and the physical examination, they said they don't think it's broken but that if it still hurts this much on Monday, I'll need repeat x-rays.


I know Lex didn't do it on purpose. She wasn't aiming at me. But how is bucking happening on Reserpine? It turns out, the girl who fed the horses last night didn't give her the drug (it gets mixed into her feed) and neglected to tell me that until after I was out of the ER. So her meals will be bagged forever because now I don't trust anyone else. I don't want her missing Cosequin doses either.

Maybe one day one of us won't be injured. For like five seconds. I talked to the vet today more than anyone else. We are gonna have to do things differently - we were kind of treating her like she has a soft tissue injury, which she doesn't, but we were on the "better safe than sorry" route. Now it's going to be about turnout time and gradually working her up from a small turnout for a short time into her regular field overnight. R just bought a portable paddock. It is perfect for this - we can change its size and location. I'm hoping this does the trick.

Anyway, the good news is, Lex is sound at the moment. Her joint capsule should be healed. We just have to get her strong again, and we will find a way to do that, even if some people for whom I do not have words do stupid things like not give her the drugs she needs to keep us both safe. But we will be okay, my arm will heal one way or the other, and someday, someday, I will ride my horse again. I see all these pictures of other people riding their horses and I just want to cry.

In order not to end on a bummer note, here are some pictures of me and Mira splashing around in the puddles in the field. I love this horse and I'm so glad I get to ride her. I wish, though, that that was Lex I was having fun on and forming a relationship with. For now, I'm just riding all I can (or I will, when the arm heals a bit) so I can be ready to be the best I can for her whenever we get to ride again.

 I'll post bruise pictures of my arm once the bruise comes up. It's quite swollen but I think it will turn pretty colors soon. I'm also planning to take full advantage of the fact that we have several Western-trained horses at the riding school who can neck rein! Also, pretty proud of my bones for being able to take a horse kick and not break!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hunter Prince Blog Hop

Sorry, can't self-identify as a princess! :)

I also can't self-identify as a hunter. So, can this be the jumper prince post?

My DREAM division for Lex is Grand Prix, but a slightly more realistic goal is the 1.30m. I think we've got that in us, at least. You know, when she's allowed out of her stall. I also really, really want to do a jumper derby with her.


Okay, just kidding. That's the Hamburg Spring Derby, the most difficult jumper derby in the world, and it gives me the spins just to watch it, but a kid can dream, right?

I'll have Lex news and other fun stuff tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I Like Small Thoroughbreds

But I have big warmbloods coming out my ears. I'm not complaining, though. While my own small TB is on layup, I'm so grateful to have horses to ride. I just really, really hope I get to ride Lex again. I'm still filled with dread about it. Today I was expressing that to R, and she was like, "Have you taken a step back and looked at her lately? Because she looks FANTASTIC. Like she could walk out of her stall and onto the grounds of an A show." It's true. She's plump and shiny and bright-eyed. But I still think there's something wrong with that left hind, and I feel sick about it. My vet will be out in a week to talk some sense into me.

ANYWAY. Enough of me being a big dumb Eeyore. If I can will her to soundness, I shall. In the meantime, I got to ride three great horses today.

Do you recognize that horse? That's Veronica II at Devon! The very definition of an uphill trot. She's soooo fancy. The good news is, I think her issue is a quarter crack in her hoof. We can fix that! I'd like to get her teeth done, I think she'll be happier, but she's so pretty and lovely and I can't stop smiling when I ride her. I think she's the best mover I've ever sat on. She is just so, so cool. I let her hop over a little crossrail because she kept looking at it, and I could tell she really enjoyed herself. The farrier is coming out Thursday to take a look at that foot and tell us what our options are. Yay!

Next, I rode Mira, who just weaned her baby a few days ago. LOVE. Love love love. This mare did the 1.30m jumpers before she started having babies. I'm not sure why she retired, because she's sound and loves to work. I think she likes working more than having babies, to be honest, although she was eying Peanut as we went past. R came down to the ring to tell me how thrilled Mira looked, and that made me super happy. I love her, and I told R that I have plans to sneak her to some jumper shows. Oh, and guess what? She has the same sire as Hickstead. Can't beat that!

Zephyr, rolling with his homies.

Then, of course, my little Zephyr. He was very good, but lightning struck very nearby just as we were hopping over a crossrail, and that was the end of the ride. We're working on forward forward forward. He's not a horse you have to kick a lot, really, he just worries and slows down in the corners, so I'm teaching him to balance himself and use that inside hind leg to power us around the turns instead of shrinking his stride. He's coming along! Of course, the lightning meant a thunderstorm, which meant rain, which means the big ring is pretty flooded again. I hope it drains fast, because these are three big horses who don't have the balance and muscles they need for the little ring.

I'm so lucky I get to ride these cool ponies. And I'm so lucky to own Lex, the coolest of them all. Tell me a story about a horse whose soundness you worried about who turned out okay. I'm collecting them as bedtime stories for myself.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I love the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, what can I say? But I didn't runnoft. I've just been to busy for words. Literally?

Lex is doing okay. She had a bucking fit in the round pen one day and now I'm terrified that she's reinjured herself. The vet came to see her and suggested I start her on Reserpine to help get us through the next couple months. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided to go with oral rather than injectable Reserpine, because I am a huge wuss and it isn't the world's safest thing. That said, I'm not sure it's working. Instead of turnout in the round pen, I'm supposed to hand walk her for ten minutes a day, and the Reserpine is supposed to make that manageable. The thing is, it isn't really. She's still a six year old OTTB who wants to runrunrun, and she has more energy than she knows what to do with. Unfortunately, my vet went to Ireland for ten days so I'm just here by myself trying to figure all this out. I'm not going to pretend like I'm not a little discouraged. I just want my sweet, happy, healthy, calm horse back.

Zephyr is being good on the whole. I've jumped him twice - well, "jumped." The horse actually steps over things like they're cavaletti until they're over 2' tall. So far, it's just one jump at a time, down the long side, with trot poles spaced five feet apart for his colossal step. We're working on forward and straight, and that's all, big fella. Eyes on the prize. Forward is interesting on him, because his stride is so big that he feels like we're going somewhere when we're not. I think he's going to be really cool when he grows up. That huge stride will help get us out of some sticky spots, I'm sure! BUT, R and I spent three hours trying to get the silly horse on a trailer the other day. I don't know what got stuck in his craw, but we missed a dressage lesson with my favorite dressage instructor and I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated. Anyone got good trailer loading tips? I've never not gotten a horse on a trailer, and I tried everything I could think of short of drugs.

Veronica, sadly, is not sound, so we're not sure she can stay. I gave her a week off (for reasons that will become clear) and then got back on her yesterday, and she was super forward and amazing but seemed a little off still. I dunno. I love her, I think she's sweet and really fun to ride, but if she's not sound, we can't keep her as a lesson horse. Fingers crossed, please!

I've also been riding a cool horse named Calvin, an eight year old unraced TB who is being leased by one of the girls at the barn where Lex lives. Trainer C has come to give me a couple jumping lessons on him, and it is great fun. He loves Calvin, as do I. He's a good jumper with some gaps in his education that we're trying to fill without ruining the things he's good at. It's very generous of my friend M to share him with me!

But why did I give Veronica the week off? Because I was on foal watch for six nights in a row waiting for the world's CUTEST baby. He's a tiny little thing. He's the offspring of a mare boarded at the lesson farm. She's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she took to being a mother instantly. I got to help with the delivery (she wasn't smart enough to lie down) and watch as he stood up for the first time. I'm in love. He doesn't have a name yet, so I call him Peanut because he's itty bitty.

And speaking of babies! Rocket is four months old already! Bananas! And she is huge beyond all reason. Mom put the stick to her and saw 13.3 but she's going to have the vet measure height and weight tomorrow.

My mom is about 5'6", just for reference.

Does that look like four months to you?
I'd never believe it if I didn't know for sure.

Her face is so refined considering her size!

That shoulder angle makes me squee.
She looks so... sane.

Well, maybe not.

Rocket and her BFF, Gulliver.
I'll try to get some pictures of the other kids soon. Send your soundness vibes this way, please!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lots of Fun Things! Not Much Time!

Hi y'all! Sorry it's been a minute. All sorts of entertaining horsey goings-on have been afoot.


With the ever-faithful Dr. Slim

Lex is doing well, and it's only two more days until she can go out in the roundpen for thirty minutes with some Ace! YAY. She has been excellent with hand-grazing, standing on the crossties to be groomed, and dealing with life in general. I am so impressed. Also, she is done with her stupid Adequan shots, so now I only have to inject her when she needs Ace. Which, given that she's so chill, I'm hoping isn't much, but better safe than sorry.

Sooooo handsome.
 Zephyr has continued to be a very good boy, though I think I won't keep riding him in the field. His canter is TERRIBLE, and the field just gives him too much room.  He needs to be made to balance himself. So he's spent some time on the lunge line, but I think I'm getting carpal tunnel and using the lunge whip hurts, so trying to get him cantering on the lunge line is tough. We're aiming him at a schooling show at the end of August. R wants us to do Training 1 and 2, but I'm not sure we can canter and stay in a dressage ring at the same time. I'm especially concerned because he's been Abscess City lately and we haven't had a chance to ride every day for a few days. He popped one abscess out of his coronet band, which is normal, although he wasn't ever lame. He also popped one out his crest, which I have never seen. I kinda went hmmm. Then today I was feeling along his crest and found another spot that seems like it's an abscess about to pop. What in the world is this? R thinks he had some whack to the neck of some sort and the trauma just went two directions. I hope she's right but he doesn't seem to be feeling like himself. I went out in the field to check on him and he just wanted to snuggle. It was cute, and he's always a friendly guy, but he doesn't feel good. I'm hoping tomorrow he's better. If he were my horse, I'd have the abscess cultured, but Regina wants to wait and see, and I don't blame her.


Best. Horse. Ever.
 Duchess is doing great. Everyone loves her. This week she's the camp horse for a really cool 12 year old and they're getting along famously. And I got to try riding side saddle, which was weird but fun. I'd try it again! But only on Duch, because she's so good, she does what you want and keeps doing that until you tell her otherwise, so you don't have to make constant corrections. Love her.

The New Kid

Meet Veronica! R and I picked her up the other day. She's a VERY fancy Dutch warmblood who has been sitting in a field doing nothing for years. She's made some pretty babies too. So we're hoping she can be a lesson horse/broodmare. When we went to try her, the lady pulled her out of a field with weeds that were actually taller than her, and she's big. I tried her on a driveway full of rusty farm equipment and she reared a little. It was nerve-wracking, I really hate rearing, but she really has the best trot I've ever seen in my life. We've been calling her "Dreamy Trot Mare" because no one really likes the name Veronica for a horse. Anyway, R and I decided to sleep on it and the next day we told the lady, who knows R well, that we want to try her at home for a little while. So she's at Lex's barn and I'm riding her every day for two weeks to see what happens. So far, she's been great, although she definitely acts like she needs her teeth done. She's unhappy in the bridle. We'll see how she does tomorrow, but I'm enjoying riding her. She's going to be a good girl.

I think that about gets everyone caught up! Also, congrats to Sprinkler Bandit for her new OTTB!