Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday. So close to Friday.

Things are ramping up around here, but nothing exciting enough is happening to warrant a separate post, so here are some random goings-on!

My friend and her horse are back for the summer to board at my place.  She brought her trailer over last weekend so I could practice loading Fred.  He is star and jumped right on after a couple of minutes of sniffing and looking around.  I think he will be a good candidate to self-load!

Spencer on the left and Bailey. 
My tulips are flowering and they are so pretty.  I've been able to get a bit of work done on my gardens the past few days.  Not sure why this place has so many flowerbeds tho - why would you want all the extra work when you already have horses? Sheesh.  #notagardener #blackthumb
My horses have it pretty good here - I don't do much with them in the winter except feed and groom them.  My barn is set up where I can just let them into their stalls without haltering and leading them in.  They all know that routine, but in the spring, when we start working and changing things up a bit, I get some grumpiness and attitude - even from little Copper! 

The big guys are out on grass for about 8ish hours a day now, but Copper can't handle that much.  He would be so fat! I can't find his grazing muzzle, so until a new one arrives, I keep him in during the day and then at dinner time, I shut the gate to the pasture and they all go back out to the small paddock. 

Copper follows me to shut the gate, so I've been bringing a longe whip just in case.  He DOES NOT LIKE being told where to go, so man have I been getting some attitude.  It is hilarious, of course.  After day 3 of some manners, he now stands and glares at me while I close the gate. I had to get a picture, because it is so funny. 

This is f'ing bullshit!  Copper, probably.
I tried lunging Fred last night and it went as well as could be expected with a giant 4yr old with gangly legs who hasn't been worked since September.  hahaha  And it is hard to get pics while lunging - I'm not that coordinated yet!

I decided to try him with a rope halter since I didn't feel like farting around with the cavesson and surcingle.  Turns out his "whoa" didn't work well with the rope halter either.  Needless to say, we have some refresher work to do!  The mosquitos were vicious, so I'm going to need to work him with a fly mask or something so his brain doesn't melt out his ears BECAUSE ZOMG MOM THERE ARE BITEY BUGS ON ME!!!!!!

Bugs in my ears!!!!! 
I also started teaching him the basics of showmanship pivots.  Why, you ask?  Well, I think it would be fun to do something else with him.  I may try him in showmanship at the schooling shows this summer.  Assuming I can get my ankle healed enough to you know, like jog for a few steps? Sheesh.

We ended our session, just before the mosquitoes carried us away, by standing at the mounting block and me hanging over his back.  He really didn't care, as long as I was helping swat bugs.  No pictures of that since I didn't want to test my luck too much! 

I'm looking forward to doing some regular work on the longe with Fred - I really want to try long lining him and ground driving as well as get him working in tack! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Slow news week - Qs and As

Things are a little slow around here this week.  I even published this post without pictures the other day by accident. Sheesh.

L found some questions from DoubleRegistered on tumblr.  I am borrowing the idea from L to have some content to post!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?
Depends on the time of day - am its get hay - Spencer does NOT tolerate me doing other stuff. He needs hay asap.  In the evening, I get grain ready and put it in their feeders before letting them in.

2. Is their a breed that you would never own?
Well, ok, an arab.  I've owned two and one arab/qh mare.  None of them have been a good fit for me, so I would be hard pressed to own one again as a riding horse.  I also wouldn't want to feed a huge draft like a clyde or a brabant!  And I don't think one of those would fit in my barn! lol

3. Describe your last ride?
Err...tricky question!  I think it was in July of last year?  Maybe?  I have no recollection of that ride or how it went.  Kinda sad, really.

4. Have any irrational riding fears?
I have a lot of fear, actually.  Maybe that is why I'm not riding as much.  Who knew these questions would be so therapeutic?  I have a fear of falling in a ring or arena and hitting my head/back on the rail or the wall.  I'm also nervous about falling off in a gallop in an open field. 

5. Describe your favourite lesson horse?
I haven't taken lessons on a lesson horse in ages.  For the sake of this post, here is a mare - I think she was an appendix... - that I took some lessons on years ago.  I tried to learn to jump and she put up with me.  Although, I didn't ride at that place very long for some reason or another.

6. Would you ever lease out your horse? Sure - it would have to be carefully monitored though. If off-site, I'd want to do checks on the facility etc. as I've heard some scary stories about off-site leases that didn't end well for the horse.

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?Neigh so far, with one exception: I had a pony mare as a kid and she was great - opinionated and bossy - but a great trail horse.  So far as an adult, I owned one mare and it ended poorly.  I do sort of daydream about "connecting" with a mare and having a good relationship.  Clearly I read to many horse books.
haha this picture is hilarious!  It was scanned from a scrapbook.  I think we rode in a parade in like 1987 or something. This is Tar - a welsh pony/appy x mare.  The only mare I've ever liked!
8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?
I'm so lucky - I see them many times a day, every day.  Having horses at home again (I had horses as a kid) is a privilege for me as an adult.  And I get to catch them doing funny things:

Spencer and Bailey playing with a feed dish
9. Favourite thing to do on an “easy day” with your horse?
Sit in the barn and listen to them all chewing on their hay.

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?
I'm not a conformation expert, but a long back is something that I notice and don't like.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?
All of it? LOL  I'm pretty rusty in the riding department.  I'd have to say my weight is a factor - I'm pretty self conscious about that and how I look in the saddle.  I'm also worried about leg position and the dreaded chair seat.  As a testament to this, I can't find very many pics of me actually riding.

 My goal for this post is to include as many funny pictures as I can! I must've tried one of those apps that only colours part of the photo!  Likely to try and hide the lady in the background - I have no idea who she is!
12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?
No, but I probably should!

13. What is your grooming routine?
It is pretty lax, unless I'm prepping a horse for a show.  Quick curry, body brush, hooves and fly spray.  Spencer really doesn't like being groomed, so I've just become used to doing the bare minimum with him.  Fred and Copper love any attention, so I tend to do more with them when the weather is decent. It is hard to do much in -30C.

I do NOT need to be groomed.  
14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?
Eat, poop, watch the neighbours.  :-)   Whinny at me to bring out more hay.  Rinse. Repeat.

15. Favorite season for riding?
Winter!  hahaha, just kidding. Have you seen the snow and ice where I live?  I'd have to say spring.

16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?I prefer riding outside, but an indoor would be so awesome.  It would be amazing to do a bit of work year round instead of 6 months of fitting everything in and 6 months of sheer depression and misery winter.

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?

Well, riding in an English saddle itself is pretty impressive. I really suck at that!  I'd have to say jumping and XC are pretty impressive.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?

 I'd have to say head-to-tail Harris!  Show saddle, work saddle, bridle.    The saddle below is used, but it must've been a custom one.  It is selling for $14, 495.00 USD!  It even has short fenders, so it was pretty much made for me.  ;-)

And for Fred, a sterling overlay Kathy's halter with green stones!  We have a plain silver plated one, but the sterling is the fancy one!
Image credit: Kathy's website
19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?
I think I own at least 12 blankets between all 3 horses.  I blanket in the winter, fly sheets sometimes and nylon sheets overnight before a show.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?
Copper - anything and anywhere.  Dude loves treats and scritches.  :-)
Spencer - peppermints and his face and sometimes his chest if the bugs are bad.  The rest of the time you can leave him alone, pls.
Fred - is a bit picky about treats until he tastes one and then mobs you.  lol  A lot of show barns do not feed treats, so he isn't used to it.  He is an attention ho, so scratch away!
Treats??? Copper, probably.
21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy? The hired help is terrible!  Lazy and slow.  hahaha - since that is me, I feel I can say that.  On a serious note, my barn is a bit small to store hay for 3+ horses.  I luckily have a hay person that delivers throughout the year. 

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?
Pulled or at least trimmed.  And I use scissors. Sorry L!  I think flowing manes are a ton of work and the horse has to have the right texture of hair.  Spencer has terrible coarse hair and it rarely looks nice, regardless of what I do!

Exhibit A:  Copper's bowl cut (from several years ago).  I use a thinning rake on him now which looks a bit better.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?
Neither! But I'd likely do better with a buck.  At least the first one and then I'd be off.

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?
Bucks or rears?

25. Favorite facial marking?
Sigh - I really don't know.  A big blaze?

Phew!  Those questions were more work than I thought.  And it took a while to find all the old pictures - note to self: organize and back up photos!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Goings on...body clipping, farrier

Since spring is sort of, kinda here, I've been working on getting stuff done around my place.  I have a lot of work left on gardens and fencing, but that will wait until next weekend.

We had a long weekend and I took an extra couple of days off on top of that, so I managed to get a few important things done.  The farrier was out for all 3 boys, I got some hay and grain and most importantly, little Copper was body clipped!

He has a super thick coat and it just doesn't shed out nicely. I'm going to have him tested for Cushings when the vet is out next.  In the meantime, he was getting really itchy and always rolling and rubbing.  Poor little guy!

It took 4 sessions and 3 sets of clippers and blades, but he is all done now!  He is so good and loves attention, so he just stands there while you clip him.  It took 4 sessions because the clippers kept overheating! 
Fred isn't sure he wants to be part of this clipping business...
By Sunday, I had set up a little clipper hospital in the tack room - to keep the blades clean and the clippers cooled down between rounds.  I'm going to collect all the blades and take them to be sharpened so I'm ready to clip again if needed! 
I was determined to take all 3 clippers apart and figure out how they work!
Then, it rained and was cold overnight on Sunday!  I woke up wide awake at 5am, worried about Copper being cold now that he was partially clipped and all skinny!  I was right - he was shivering and wet when I went to the barn.

I have a little purple cooler for him, but it turns out that it is way too small somehow.  So, he got to wear his big brother's cooler!  lol

mini burrito?
He didn't mind being wrapped up like a burrito for an hour or two - I gave him some hay and let him wander around the barn and he warmed up quickly.
Must. bite. that. little. butt.  Fred, probably.
Copper is tricky to take pictures of because he wants to be in your lap and have you scratch all his itchy spots.    And, once I got down to be able to see skin, I found some old rain rot spots. No wonder the poor guy was itchy!  I washed and treated the spots every day this weekend and will keep at it until it clears up.  Weird how he has never had rain rot and then this year he gets it...  Annoying!  
Do you like his dress?  A properly fitted cooler is now on my shopping list!
How was your weekend?  I think this weekend coming up is a long weekend in the US.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Why breed shows and halter horses?

I've sat in front of my computer several times over the past month trying to write this post.  I think I'm on version 6 or 7 at this point.  Emma's recent post had me thinking as well, so I went back to editing yet again. 

Why do I show halter?  Why would you show halter in the breed world?  Don't those horses all look weird?  Wouldn't you rather ride?

All valid questions that I ask myself daily.  And the answers are complicated and vary day to day and year to year - life throwing a wrench in the works, motivation fluctuations and resources. Always with the resources when it comes to horses.  I do still ride a bit, although it is hard to work full-time, ride one horse and fit a halter horse, on top of other commitments, you know the hubby, eating, etc.  ;-)

I bought Spencer a few years ago looking for an older QH (he is 18 now!) that could do western breed type classes (western pleasure, horsemanship, trail, showmanship and maybe hunt seat) at the schooling show level. I had a lot to learn, so didn't feel the need to jump into the breed show world at that time. I had sort of planned to learn with Spencer and then buy something a bit fancier in a couple of years.
Me - having fun at a local fair.  Spencer, not so much.  Likely totally embarrassed by his human.
I did well with him the first year we showed and then life happened.  In a nutshell:
  • my coach retired,
  • there aren't any other western coaches in my area,
  • there aren't any western shows above the schooling show level (including fairs) that aren't breed shows,  
  • I have "issues" that rear up at unfortunate times (confidence, anxiety, fitness/health)
  • my husband got really sick (and is fine now, thankfully)
  • and our finances took a big hit. 
With all of that stuff going on, I had to remind myself that my love for horses covers more than riding, showing - I love doing stalls, fixing fences, feeding, mini scritches, etc. 

One of my favourite pics - this is my friend's horse - he is so handsome!  I didn't even know the photographer took this one, probably why I like it!! lol
I had showed friends horses in the past and kind of got hooked on the sweet show schedule - most halter classes are first thing in the morning and then you are done!  Grand and reserve ribbons are kinda sweet too!
stand still, mother fucker!  me, probably, circa 2016
Once my life stabilized a bit, my friends encouraged me to get a halter horse so I wouldn't have to worry about the riding/trainer/gear issue.   I was on board with that idea and the search for Fred began.  Admittedly, I don't love how halter horses are supposed to be examples of excellent  conformation and yet most that are winning big shows are post-legged hypp n/h creatures that don't have much of a future as a riding horse.   This applies to many horse-related industries though - sadly, there is no shortage of this type of stuff in our beloved horse world.
almost to Fred's farm in Kentucky
I feel that you can still be part of a breed/industry without supporting the worst parts.  Think of all of the amateurs across the board that feed into shows, breeding and the horse industry as a whole. There is a lot of good out there too and fun, let's not forget the fun!  And, to quote Emma from her awesome recent post "But the great thing about these animals is that one size does not fit all. There's room for everyone."
Showing a friend's horse in 2015...?  This is actually a showmanship class at a fair, but I showed this guy in halter at AQHA shows one year.  He is 19 now!
Now that I have Fred, I now try and look at how I want to show and take care of my horse with a view to learning, doing the best with what I have and trying to have some fun along the way.  Would I someday like a fancier horse to move up some levels and win at some bigger shows? Yes, I can't lie, I would like that. Is it in the cards for me? Who knows.  And I'm ok with that.
This has been my motto lately...
The important thing is that I don't need those things to enjoy what I have now.  And that is 3 horses, my own little barn and lots of opportunities to learn and have fun.  It is so hard to not get caught up in the points and awards and the dream of travelling to far-away shows, but it is more important for me to enjoy myself and remember that love of horses that I had as a kid. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Ankle-gate: The plot thickens...

Alternative title: OMFG I hate sprained ankles!

Ok - so this is the last ankle post, I promise. 

I had a physio appointment last night and he was really concerned that I still had a lot of pain while walking.  He pondered the problem and tried a couple of diagnostic methods on my ankle to try and isolate the pain.  He frowned, then mumbled "uh-oh".  The conversation went like this:

Me:  Did you just say "uh-oh"?

Him:  Uh, yeah.

Me: ...

Him: Uh, well, it seems that you have a secondary sprain, above the ankle.

Me: whaaaat?

Him:  Yeah, that happens with a severe injury.  The lower inversion sprain and the pain and swelling that causes disguises the secondary sprain.

Me: So, since it is secondary, it isn't as severe and will heal up quickly. Right?

Him: no.

Me:  Uh, so how long are we talking here?

Him: *mumbles*

Me: ???

Him:  it can take months.

Me: Mother fucker! OMFG!  (then I realize there is a young teenager around the corner)
Him: so, we can tape it for a couple of days to help, but since you can't really exercise the tissue in between the tib/fib, it will just have to heal on its own.  A brace might help too...but...

Me:  *sigh*

So, for those of us that are sort of fascinated by injuries (horse, human), I had to look up a "high ankle sprain"  to read the gory details.  Luckily mine seems to be minor.  A severe high ankle sprain can result in the ligament pulling away from and fracturing the bone and requires surgery!
Started with this...
It a nutshell, a high ankle sprain causes the tibia and fibula to pull apart (gross!) a bit.  From Wikipedia: "A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain (SAS), is a sprain of the syndesmotic ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula in the lower leg".

and then this, for good measure!  All in one quick fall.
If the ligaments are injured and are not adequately holding the tibia and fibula tightly together, then they can start to splay apart with the high load of weight bearing, leaving the ankle unstable and painful when walking, which is what I was experiencing.

On that note, this is the last we will speak of the ankle.  I'll leave you with a picture of Copper zooming through the snow a couple of winters ago. 

zoom, zoom!  Copper, probably.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Monday - I got nuthin'

Man, Mondays are tough!  I'm still grounded by my physio, so very limited time doing anything but sitting around.  I did another round of "please let all of this winter hair shed out now omg" on each horse and then parked myself in a chair on the lawn while I hand-grazed Fred.  That was about the extent of horse-stuff!

I did catch Fred and Copper playing last week and got a few pics. I had to take the pictures from the house, because if I went outside they would immediately stop. 

These two play a lot  and it seems pretty fair. I'm always worried about the little guy getting hurt, but in reality, Fred is the one that gets picked on the most.  He has quite a few bite marks from this winter that are finally growing in new hair.

Sorry about the photo quality - I need a bigger zoom lens - put that on my shopping wish list!

Farewell Rip and Spunky (alternate title: What a f**ng awful week)

 I've had another spell of radio silence here.  This time for good reason. On Wednesday, October 20th, I lost Rip to colic.  He had just...