Friday, February 27, 2015


I think I might be too much of a pessimist, or too afraid of jinxes, to publicly talk about my goals for my horses and for myself. But because all I can think about right now is what I WANT to be doing, as opposed to what I actually AM doing, here's a crack at some short-range plans for Spring 2015.

1. Get the right lead figured out. He's a left-lead addict. There's nothing wrong with him physically. We've gotten there before, where it wasn't a big deal. We can get there again. This means cantering a lot.
2. Get the transitions on both leads to happen without a big leap forward or a lot of fuss. I think this is mostly for me to work on.
3. Have a canter I can ride a bit--nothing serious, but steering would be nice. [Are we sensing a theme?]
4. Lose the standing martingale. I have nothing against standing martingales, but he's not going to be a show hunter, and I don't want to feel like I have to have it to keep my nose in place. I'm mostly still using it because the canter is such a hot mess, but once that's all fixed up I think we'll be fine.
5. Once he's in regular work again, quit lunging.

Kissing this nose a lot is a goal too.

1. Take him to that adorable hunter show at the end of March. I don't care what classes we enter; I just want us to have a good time and for him to settle in.
2. M told me the schedule for the spring but I forgot it already. I think we're going to the Maryland Horse Trials twice, the Middleburg HT, and something else. Mo will go in the elementary division, which is unrated. I'm not planning on switching back to eventing, but I think this will be marvelous for his confidence. My goals for these are to get him into and out of the dressage ring in one piece, and to give him a confident ride over jumps.

Remember his first ride over a course of poles? CUTE.

1. Get some fitness on him by hacking out regularly.
2. Establish a good connection to the bit in the trot work (he's broke, but he's a jumper, and so his contact can be a little... inconsistent). I foresee dressage lessons with M.
3. Canter over some small jumps every two weeks or so, once fitness has been achieved.
4. See if he'll go XC schooling or if he'll take one look at the water or the banks or whatever and head for the bloody hills.

I miss summer, dammit.

1. Whatever sounds fun. I don't have spring goals for him, other than I'd like to take him places, either dressage or show jumping.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mo Update: Still Cute

I'm in kind of a funny place right now with blogging, because I have regular internet access while I'm farm sitting at M's. But except for whining about the snow, I don't really have anything to say about the horses right now. I'm not riding because I don't have an indoor. So there are no lesson recaps, progress posts, riding photos, nothing. But today the horses stayed in because the ground is suddenly very icy, and so I had to put everyone in the wash stall while I was mucking. When it was Mo's turn, I pulled his rug off because I hadn't really looked at him without it in a couple days. Conclusion: He looks fabulous.

Hmm. Not the most flattering angle.
He's fat but not TOO fat (well, maybe close to too fat). He's quite shiny. And best of all...

Here's my cliche curry comb pic.
He is shedding! That has to mean spring is coming. Right? RIGHT??

As I said to Tracy when I was whining at her on the phone the other day, it doesn't do me any good if spring shows up but my horse is injured from the gross weather, or if my shoulder isn't functional (it's touch and go at the moment--a four year old child tackled me. Yes. He did. And now my never-quite-right, twice-surgical shoulder is screaming at me all the time).

But maybe, maybe, maybe we're getting close to the finish line here. And I really hope so, because there is a FANTASTIC looking show on March 21 that I really want to take him to. Check out the link and prepare to be amused by the class names. It looks relaxing and fun--the perfect first outing for him. But it's less than a month away now, and I want to have ridden him enough between now and then that he isn't totally feral.

Red is doing fine, too. He's adorable as always. Maybe I'll get to ride him next week, we'll just have to see.

Monday, February 23, 2015

More Snow Pics

I know everyone is posting snow pictures, and even though everyone else's are better than mine, I'm going to post some anyway. Because it's all I can see, and if I don't post these snow pictures I'll be forced to write about how in my attempt to get to M's on Saturday (I'm farm sitting for a week), I had to abandon my car, get my dad to drive me part of the way here, and then walk the rest of the way. Or about how when I tried to turn the horses out on Sunday, after they'd all been in on Saturday from the blizzard, I had to drug four out of five of them (only the pony was spared my needle) in order to get them out without anyone getting killed. Or through how all of this I was texting SB for moral support--because there's not a lot she can do for me from Idaho--and practically in tears. And I'm sure no one wants to hear about that shit.

The view from the barn yesterday.
Pretty, you say? Bah. HUMBUG.

I stuck my foot in this water trough to see what was going on in there (no, not the broken foot--I was hoping to break this one in the process so I'd have a matching set).
Snow over ice. Quelle suprise.

I had to shovel snow to get this paddock gate closed. Thank fuck I realized I wouldn't be able to close it BEFORE I had a horse in my hand. The hilarious thing is, though, that I didn't turn any horses out here, because it's the farthest paddock from the barn and they were all acting like FUCKING PSYCHOPATHS so I chose a closer paddock and carried water to them in buckets all day.

Hell yeah arm muscles.
WTF vulture? He was like this for a LONG time.
Perhaps alerting other vultures to my immanent demise.
I did, eventually, get the motherfuckers out.

My darling Mo, background, was THE WORST yesterday. Rearing much?

Spike, next to the water trough, has given me five heart attacks per day over the last three weeks.

*shakes fist*

Bailey thinks he's at the beach. It was legit warm, like 46, on Sunday.
I'm sure you're just EXHAUSTED from doing FUCK-ALL, black dog.

 Sigh. Jumps. I miss you.

I do a whole hell of a lot to be able to jump these pieces of wood

SuperMom is on her way in a 4WD vehicle to come get me (let's not talk about my car--it's fine but I'm annoyed at it for not being a good snow-driving vehicle). I'll be right back here tonight but at least I can talk to another human, go to work and make money, and wear civilian clothes instead of the same gross barn gear I've been in for days.

I hope everyone is having a better winter than me. Maybe I'll just move back to Florida and panhandle (get it?).

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Fresh Hell is This?

Here's another "winter sucks" post. These will end when winter bloody well ends.

So: I haven't had running water in my barn since... Thursday or Friday of last week, thanks to the goddamn cold weather. Mom and I were smart enough to drag a big trough inside, clean it out, and fill it up, and to fill our little heated muck tub (meant and used only for water) so that for a few days, I didn't have to fill a wheelbarrow with half-full buckets and gallon jugs and drag it back and forth across the ten-acre farm in service of my neurosis about all horses having ten gallons of clean water in front of them at all times--a neurosis which, I can tell you, has saved me from more than one colic. But then that ran out, so wheelbarrow and buckets it was. This was okay until we got five inches of snow, which added a significant cardio element to my day.

Red's reaction when I opened the barn door the other morning
and there was a shit ton of snow.
The plan now is that I take a bunch of buckets and jugs and the things that need to be soaked (Red and Ink both get beet pulp and hay cubes) to the tiny apartment behind my parents' garage, which is heated and has running water. I've taken it over now.

Filling all this stuff out of a kitchen tap takes about 30 minutes.

 Then I got home from work last night and my dad was like THERE IS NO WATER IN THE HOUSE, so we ran out to the barn, and it was flooding. Burst-pipe city!

Water, water everywhere.
And not a drop to drink.
So now I'd gone from not having ANY running water in the barn to water running EVERYWHERE in the barn. Thinking fast, I grabbed some clean buckets and we managed to put them beneath the burst pipe and fill them, and I was refilling horse buckets and our heated tub as fast as I could. That was... gratifying, in an odd way?

Love a soggy tack room.
I just KNOW I can grow mildew in here!
I was already Grouch Level Ten, but I think I broke the scale on this one. Mom and I had to move every goddamn thing out of the tack room and half the "office" (where we just store feed bags and random crap), dump shavings down to soak up the water, and then sweep it up. Only one horse stall flooded and we have a spare so that's okay. But with a low overnight of 10 degrees, we really didn't want the barn to be any more of a skating rink than it already was.

By the time the plumber fixed the pipe, we took advantage of having running water to refill all our troughs and shit, and we cleaned up the water, we were too worn out to put everything back where it belonged (let it dry a little more overnight, we told ourselves) or to sweep the aisle or anything.

This morning when I got out to the barn, I was overchuffed to find that we STILL had running water (how, I don't know), but the barn looked like a train had run through it. It took me five hours to do my normal morning chores (made harder by winter anyway) AND to move everything back where it belonged, and to sweep the aisle, and to generally get my barn looking like it isn't managed by the gnomes in The Hobbit.

Oh wait. I forgot one thing: I broke my toe and almost certainly stress fractured a metatarsal last night. Was it in heroic attempt to save my horses from a dehydrated icy death? No. It was walking past a footstool in my perfectly warm, clean house. So you can imagine how much extra fun THAT introduced into my chores today, hobbling around with my foot all taped up and griping to myself about how I should have chosen long distance running as my sport of choice. Or maybe I should choose some adorable hobby, like knitting.

Winter can eat a bee.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Owls Approve Blog Hop: Nicknames

The weather here in Virginia is DISGUSTING. Disgusting. We're under a snow emergency right now, so I probably won't see Mo tomorrow, though I might take Red on a snowy hack around the fields if my school is closed. So in the meantime, I'm left to think about how cute the little bugger is. A nicknames blog hop is the perfect thing.

Mo first!

JC Name: Go Big (which is also his show name or M will kick me out of the barn)

Barn Name: Moses (which I was lukewarm about when I bought him. On the one hand, Moses was a liberator, and I'm down with that. On the other hand, as the story goes, he spent 40 years leading people through the desert and then died JUST before they got to the Promised Land. Bad times.)

Nicknames: Mo, Mosey, MoMo, Stripey Face

And for the big guy:

Registered/USEF Name: Amato Rosso

Barn Name: Redmond

Nicknames: Red, Dragon (I need to get his dragon face on video for y'all), Ears, Monster

I love my darlings. Fingers crossed the snow melts and it's in the 60s or something lovely before too long. My dad keeps telling me this is only going to be bad for a couple more weeks, but right now we don't have running water in the barn and I have to drag a wheelbarrow from the house through the snow, so even a couple more weeks sounds like the worst thing. Ugh.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Horse is Cute

Man, that week got by me fast. Minor crises around the farm seem to have mostly slowed down; major crises are on a temporary break. The good news is, I have a beautiful niece, so another horse obsessive in the making for me!

In addition to cute baby humans, I've been spending this week seriously appreciating how cute my baby horse is. He got most of the week off, but on Friday, M and I hauled him and one of her horses over to a friend's indoor to school. I made the mistake of leaving the door open when I had him in there alone. Lesson learned: next time, the door gets closed. He spent a solid 30 minutes bucking on the lunge line, and then M came in and closed the door and he was fine. So I hopped on, and while it took some effort on my part to get him in front of my leg, once we were cruising he was great. So: first ride in an indoor, checked off the list.

 Yesterday I rode him at M's, because the weather broke and it was in the 40s. It hurts my Florida-grrl heart to say this, but it felt a bit warm. So even tho there was no one around, I felt confident getting on. Not only was he a total delight warming up, we even slipped into the right lead canter with no fuss. I didn't over-prepare, and I didn't over-bend him (M's critique of our canter work). I did my best to look straight out through his ears and keep the reins soft. It wasn't a canter I'd want to do in front of a dressage judge, but for where we are, I was thrilled. And the left lead was good too.

After I hopped off, I let him stand around and feel admired while I took his picture. I miss having people around to take riding pics. Maybe when I end up boarding again I'll have a picture buddy.

 Did I mention I have a sinus infection and can't talk? Right. So today I hauled my sick butt out to M's to ride again because it's still above freezing. Mom was nice enough to come along and help me get my chores done, and then she came up to the ring while I was riding Mo. The footing was a bit harder than I'd expected, so we mostly walked today. But since he's been ridden three times in three days and then not more than once every ten days for the month before that, I think it was okay for him to just have a light day. We practiced walking over poles. We also practiced our national anthem/winner's circle training.

OMG I love him. I grin the whole time I'm riding.

Gotta be able to stand still through the Star Spangled Banner
in case we go international. ;)

"We are men of action! Standing still does not become us!"

"Unless I can chew on your boot, then I'll stand here."

 Mom got a few shots of us trotting around a little, too. Nothing fancy today, on blah footing, but it was a pleasant ride.

I must have been reaching forward to pat him.
Who wouldn't?

Relatively fancy for as casual a day as we had.
I even got what I believe is my first between-the-ears shot on him.You can see how adorable his expression is. It makes it hard to end a ride, let me tell you.

So anyway, that's the boring update, but at least there are some cute pics. With any luck, we'll get a run of mild weather and be able to get some lessons in and then I'll have something to report.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Why I Often Lapse on Blogging: An Example

I. Bloody. Hate. Winter.

"But it's PRETTY!"

A) As much as I love Antares tack and beautiful horses, and I do, don't let that lead you to believe that I will sacrifice function for appearances, because I will not. Ever.

B) Everyone who wants to remind me that winter is pretty is not primarily responsible for the care and feeding of ten asshole horses at two different farms thirty minutes from each other, one of which is on top of a mountain (M's) and the other of which has the least logical paddock layout in history (mine).

C) Nor have they had to take a horse in for an enucleation lately.

Friday was an example of a day that I just wanted to lie down in the ice until I cried myself to a frozen death. My wonderful old horse had to go in for an enucleation because we just couldn't get the eye healed and we were all very worried that it was going to rupture. He's okay-ish now. His eye doesn't hurt anymore, but I think the whole thing is pretty uncomfortable as it heals. He's tough to dose (though not as tough as Red) because he's a pro at spitting stuff out, so I'm not entirely confident that he's getting the bute, which he won't eat in his feed. He's not happy that he's in and he's a bit off his feed. I'll be worried for a few more days but as the surgical site heals, he should feel a lot better.

Still walked onto the trailer like a champ because he's the best ever.

I should say that there was a lot of logistical difficulty in GETTING him to the vet--the roads were a touch wintry, and I don't feel confident pulling the rig in imperfect conditions (especially when I don't know where I'm going). My mom was on call. I had to feed our horses and M's that morning. Mom ended up taking him in and being two hours late to work, and I feel bad about that, but even if I did feel better about my driving, I couldn't have gotten him there on time without ten horses colicking for missing breakfast.

I fed our horses and turned them out, and then rushed over to M's. Her horses had been in all day and all night because of the rain/snow, so the stalls were a mess. It took me three hours to do the barn, and it's only five stalls. So I hurried home from there to do MY stalls before I had to go to work, and found that my little Italian greyhound had had his sides ripped open by my mom's lab. So I called in sick and took him to the vet practice my mom uses. He'll be fine (no internal injury as I feared) but he's pretty miserable now. And scared. I don't blame him. So there's lots of dog-management happening in addition to horse management.

Doesn't do it justice. He's a very pathetic FrankenPuppy.
Plus I got really upset at the way the small animal vet talked to me. I don't know her, she doesn't know me. I showed up in my filthy barn clothes holding a bleeding dog, and I think she assumed I was a shithead and/or stupid. I am not a shithead and I'm not stupid. I love my animals as much as a person can love animals. I spend ALL of my money on them. I'm also a very smart person. So the way she treated me, just jumping from assumptions and not listening to what I was telling her, was unacceptable. Time to find a new practice altogether.

The thing is, while Friday was an unusually terrible day, it wasn't that unusual. Maybe a faculty job will open somewhere with sane weather, like South Carolina. I can handle insane political scenes if it just isn't WINTER ALL THE TIME. And while I love horse management, my old shoulder injury could use a break from mucking.

This coming week is supposed to get worse, but the good news is, my sister-in-law is having her second baby. While I doubt sincerely that anyone can be as cute as my perfect nephew, so far she and my brother are batting 1000 on flawless offspring. So I'm excited!

We took him when we looked for a saddle for Mom.
He kept trying to pull adult-size saddles off the wall
and saying he wanted "just one more."
Finally we talked him into this Beval Junior.
(Which we didn't buy him, because he is two,
but I think I have a budding tack ho on our hands.)