Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Four big thoughts.

Wow. Got my first ‘comment spam’ today! I feel like I’m finally getting popular enough to get those kind of hits!

More importantly, thanks to those who find Moon-pie interesting to keep reading our blog, we’re nearly at 1000 page views! That seems so cool! Thanks everyone for reading and commenting, it’s always appreciated.

I still have to call W to cancel on tonight’s lesson. I’m dragging my feet a little bit on it, mainly because I’d rather be going. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers. I also need to have another chat with her to make 100% certain we are in fact moving in at the end of the month! We spoke about it, she said she would set it up, and that was it...and I need to know 100% it's definitely happening, because otherwise I need to find somewhere else. We ARE moving at the end of September. I won't have it any other way!

Thus, 27 days till the big move!

Now, on to lineage...

So I’ve been thinking about lineage. A friend of mine owns a horse that looks a lot like Moon, so we dug out their family trees and discovered that they’re cousins, a couple of generations back. Ironically, the horse they’re related through, has a blaze very similar to both of theirs!

Someone on a forum had an AQHA gelding named Moon too. Which had me digging through Moon’s pedigree to see if there was anyone ‘notable’ in there. Keep in mind that Moon was a 12 year old, chunky, semi-retired trail pony when I met him. And certainly didn’t sell for a horse of any pedigree.


"Moon"


"Scooter"


On his father’s side…
His Grandfather was Top Moon.
Racing sire; AQHA Hall of Fame Inductee

Top Moon

His Great Grandfather was Moon Deck.
Racing sire; AQHA Hall of Fame Inductee

His Great, Great Grandfather was Top Deck.
Thoroughbred, unraced. AQHA Hall of Fame Inductee

Top Deck

His Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather was Man O’War.
: ) A thousand generations back, but STILL!

Back there is also champion TBs:
Equipoise, Peter Pan I, Broomstick, Sir Gallahad III.

He’s also got Three Bars back there a couple times over, another AQHA Hall of Fame Inductee. And yes, Three Bars was a TB.

Doing a lot of math, I’ve calculated Moon to be 26.5% Thoroughbred. : ) His pop was 53% TB, and his dam was 100% QH (or pretty close).


…in other news…

The saddle hunt continues.

I figured that since we’re not riding this week because of the injury, I might as well do some more serious saddle hunting. For the curvy horse.

I sent Rick Payne, our resident saddle fitter another email. I’ve emailed him previously about having a saddle fit done on Moon, however felt like it would be a waste of money if I didn’t have $1500 right then and there to put towards a brand new semi-custom fit saddle.

So this afternoon I sent him a very direct and pointed email explaining what I can and cannot afford to do (current max saddle cost of $600…more as each month passes), what I will or won’t do (won’t spend $400 on pads and cinches to make a $300 saddle fit), and what I ideally want from him (a list of saddles to find used and bring back up here to have restuffed/fit).

I’ve been told that the older Counties, Jaguars, Michael Stokes, Stubben Edelweiss, Harry Dabbs, Prestige and CWD saddles would all work well with curvy backed horses. But I’m nervous to spend a big chunk of change (yes, to me $800 is still a big chunk on a saddle) and discover it doesn’t fit right at all.

I’m HOPING he’ll email me back and promise that we can narrow down the list and I can truly start searching for our next saddle. As someone who’s new to the competitive scene, I don’t think I need a $3k saddle. But I DO think I need a saddle that fits me and my horse correctly, and I really want to put my old Blackburn on the shelf of ‘the past’ and move on to a serious dressage saddle. I’ll never sell the Blackburn because how special it is to me (been on every horse I’ve ever loved and the BF bought it for me…and it’s my first saddle…and it’s probably only worth $100 now), however I recognize that it just won’t cut it anymore.

I do believe, as I’ve been told, that the Isabell that I’ve been dreaming of and hunting for, will not work with my horse. Apparently they are very flat paneled and since I’ve heard this many times, and since my own Blackburn is designed off them, I think it’s likely correct. The Wintecs are out.

I do feel for everyone who’s been through this process. I always thought “My saddle fits great. Why do people complain so much?!”…now that I’m actually spending real time in the saddle, and expecting movement and action out of my horse, I can see how much saddle fit impact our horses. Perhaps Karma is teaching me a lesson?

So, I’ll let you know what Rick says back!

Lastly…

Gogo.

Not sure how many of you follow Eventingagogo’s blog. I’ve only been following it since the start of this year, and did go back through a lot of her old posts, learning their history. Unfortunately, after sustaining a chronic leg issue which has never left Gogo the same, Andrea (her owner) has worked tirelessly to try to get her rideable again, or at least comfortable and sound in the pasture.

After some more recent swelling, we were astounded to learn of a new injury that leaves Gogo’s future as even a pasture pony in question. Now her owner is left with a difficult decision that I think haunts many of us at night; and often during the day as well.

You can’t help but feel for them both. My own recent experiences with lameness makes my heart skip a beat. None of us ever want to be in the place that they are today, yet most of us will find ourselves there.

Let us all at least send our best wishes and thoughts to them, whatever the final outcome.

For those who have been following them and want to do a little extra, Denali’s mom over at Wildponybeast are collecting donations to buy a little something special for Gogo’s mom.

Many kind thoughts to both of you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Simply Red


The rain let up just in time for me to head to the barn before the sun fully set. In the faint redish glow that remained on my arrival, I *think* there's less of a lump on Moon's leg. Almost like it's elongated and flattened a bit. I've decided that's good. I need to believe that's good or I'll probably go a little crazy(ier). I put in another 15 minutes of cold hosing and an open poultice since I won't be able to see him until tomorrow night.

The other ankle seemed and felt fine. No heat, no swelling. But I poulticed anyway, 'cause it's not like it's a bad thing.

The home owners of the house I'm looking afte a back tomorrow, so I'll no longer be so close to Moon. Sad in that regard, but I'm SOOO ready to be back with my own dog, my own bed and my own BF. Er, a BF. ; )

I think I'm going to wind up cancelling on tomorrow's lesson, as I'd rather do it with Mr. Moon. Perhaps I'll see if I can squeeze it in on Friday instead? Assuming he trots out okay...

I broke down and ordered a pair of Cavallo boots for Moon. I thought of waiting and trying to track down a used pair, but after searching google and craigslist and emailing a few people, I realized it will likely take me a couple of weeks if not months, and really, Moon needs them sooner rather then later. The sale online from Cavallo made the price pretty close to most of the used ones I was coming across anyway, plus the shipping to the border was free. And no taxes either. So I said "to heck with it" and settled for a red pair. As one fellow said, at least if they fall off, they'll be easy to find!

So that means shipping boots on their way, merino fleece pad on its way and horse boots on their way. Oye. Didn't I say I wasn't going to spend any more money?!

I've found two potential Isabell saddles in my size...one would require a trip to Minneapolis, MN, which might not be out of the question. It's brown though...The other is an ebay option, which I'll have to watch and see where it settles out. I'm hoping in my favor, but lets be realistic here : P If any bloggers are competing against me on this one: "STOP IT!" : )

Oh, and enjoy my random pony wearing wraps pictures, since they wouldn't upload earlier this week. These are the last that I got off my camera before it bit the big one...

Are you calling me an idiopath?!

Driving back and forth to the barn is rather exhausting; despite the fact I’m a little closer right now then usual. Somehow, when one is travelling three times a day to a place, suddenly even 15 minutes feels like a long time. I suppose in all, that’s an hour and a half of driving a day.

The results of all this driving and cold hosing? Dunno. I can’t honestly say I see much difference at all, despite the ice packs, cold hosing and poulticing. But it also isn’t looking any worse, and he doesn’t seem sore at a walk, he lifts all feet just fine, he doesn’t mind it being poked or prodded, and he isn’t standing funny. Yesterday, his right hind ankle didn’t seem to have much more heat then any others, so I’m beginning to wonder how much ‘heat’ is in my head.

Detecting heat, imo is VERY hard. The longer your hand is there, the hotter it gets by just body heat. I’ve compared ankles a few times, and really don’t know what to make of it.

I had him looked at, and without ultrasound (not many doing that in my area, and the costs just sky-rocket to get them in), the belief is that we’re looking at an “idiopathic tenosynovitis of the digital extensor tendon”. Yes, I had to write that down! That’s not a 100% guarantee that it’s what we’re looking at, it’s the best guess I’m going to get. Seems to fit with my gut feeling of something like a windpuff, ie. Fluid in a tendon sheath.

Injection is an option, however apparently it just makes it visually disappear for a bit and then it can just show up again. Seems kinda pointless and I’ve already shelled over enough $$ to the veterinary world for the moment.

So right now, I just need to keep icing, limiting his exercise (but apparently some movement is okay and keeps circulation to the area…which is good since I haven’t anywhere to restrict movement), as well as poulticing or sweating. Not bad marching orders really. He’ll be kept to walking until at least Friday, when he can be reevaluated for lameness at a trot. Which means no riding lesson this week. : ( And it also means no more riding around in our hard lumpy arena at home.

How many more days till the move? 28!

If nothing else, I’ve come to appreciate my partnership with Moon more then ever. He is, a total snuggle bug. And completely trust worthy.

Take yesterday for example. I spent ½ an hour holding icepacks to his legs while he grazed. The flies were buzzing, the other horses were charging around, and he just stood there chewing. Sometimes he’d take a step or two forward. He never used his hind legs to kick at the flies. He was just calm.

Then when I went to cold hose him, I again, didn’t have a lead line on him, and when I first sprayed him, he got scared and bolted. 5 steps. Then stopped and looked at me. “Whoa! What was that, Sand?!” he seemed to be asking, and waited for me to bring him back over to the hose. The second time, no longer surprised, he stood quietly while I hosed him down, not even having to hold him in anyway.

I’ve found myself climbing under his belly. Standing behind his bum. Doing all sorts of things that really illustrate to me how much I trust this guy. And with all the crazy things he’s let me do, I can see that he too trusts me. Whether it’s meeting spooky saddles or wearing all kinds of crazy things, swinging leads ropes and plastic bags all over him, he’s just a good solid dependable horse.

Now we just need to get him back to 100% so we can continue building our relationship in the saddle…

Oh, and one more thing to shop for…horse boots. Unfortunately the Size 3 Cavallo’s I borrowed don’t fit Moon once his feet have been trimmed (they didn’t fit before, but his flares sort of held them in place), so I need my own pair. I can’t seem to find any used (or used for less cost then new), so I’m thinking I’ll capitalize on Cavallo’s current sale and buy him a pair of red ones from them ($99 on sale, choice of red or purple leather). I really do think that the hoof boots helped him out in the arena, even though he didn’t really have any sole bruising.

Always something to spend money on right?

Oh, speaking of spending money…my BRAND NEW $30 no-bows were ripped and partially melted in the washing machine on the weekend. : ( Just two days after I bought them! They’re salvageable with some patching, but it still makes me sad.

And better yet, the clip that holds the battery and card cover closed on my digital camera closed broke off, and it no longer functions to take pictures without shouting errors at me. Add to that, because it happened while processing, it seems to have destroyed my camera card. And the most recent pictures I took on it.

Oye.

I also borrowed a friend’s medium-wide gullet plate to change my saddle over, since apparently this is the correct size for Moon…and when I compared it to the medium gullet of my Blackburn saddle…discovered they are the same size! Which means it’s not the gullet size that’s the problem, it’s likely that it keeps riding forward on him. But with the boots, the diagnosis and treatment of his recent injuries, the soon-to-be move to a more expensive facility, a $1000 tuition for a course I’m taking this fall, plus all the gas I’ve spent driving back and forth, I don’t think I’ll be able to get a new saddle or even a saddle fitting, anytime soon. : ( I’m hoping the sheepskin pad helps a bit, but next goal: Rick Payne saddle fit. Guess everyone in the family just won’t get Christmas gifts this year. : P

The only good news of the weekend is that my sheepskin saddle pad and shipping boots should be put in the mail this week. Hopefully. And the fact we’re 28 days from an indoor sand arena…

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Down, and down and down like water...

That's kinda how things are feeling right now. Let's start with my sore throat, headache, fever and general malaise. Yup, I'm sick too.

Down further? Well, there's Moon's hind legs. Heat in the right hind fetlock, a squishy lump with heat in the left hind hock. And twice daily poulticing and cold hosing. Which hasn't yet done anything.

This evening, since I don't want to wrack up T's electrical bill, I gave ice pads a try...unfortunately, by the time I fed the horses at the place I'm looking after and got to Moon, they were just cool. So he had cool icepacks for 15 minutes this evening.

I did do 15 minutes of cold water in the morning on both his fetlock and hock. I do think his fetlock was cooler this evening, if that counts for anything.

Then of course, I'm standing there next to him with the icepacks, and he suddenly loses his mind. Pulls back like the devil on the leadrope like he was being attacked by something. Of course, I shout at him, and thankfully when he hit the end of the line, he stopped.

...um, remember that thing about never tying a horse tight because they can break their neck? Thankfully didn't happen here. And I DID have my leadrope knotted b/c Moon is an escape artist (he can remove his bridle too). I had to switch him to another lead rope so I could pull out a hoof pick and attempt to unknot the thing from the rail! Oye.

The benefit of these twice daily visits is that he gets his vitamins...

Don't know if he's lame or not. Seems fine at a walk, though once or twice he looks sore. I can't tell. Who the heck actually knows anymore. I'll let him relax till Friday and then trot him out to try and judge.

Honestly, the whole thing is exhausting, I'm exhausted and am so not wanting to caught in this chronic battle of heat and swelling. A terrible part of me just wants to ignore it all for a week and believe that will make it all better. Always seems like the more you care, the worse it is.

The only thing this has really done for me, is reminded me how desperately I want to live in the country with my horse in my backyard. DESPERATELY. Or worst case, at W's place where if I need, I can put him in a stall for the night, or I can cold hose him without concern, or heck, I could just pay them $10, save my time, my gas and my sore throat, and have them soak him. And could trot him out in a sand arena to check for lameness. Have the expert opinion of a couple more people. Even to have someone who'll check up on him a couple times a day, who can rewrap him is needed and to know that's he's getting all the nutrients he needs to perform his job.

I just don't know. I just want him better. And I just want to feel better.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Latenight visits...

Before going to my parents', I stopped by the check-up on Moon. No surprise, he was fine, standing there in the field almost exactly where I left him. I redid the tape on his wraps in a spiral, and seeing that he was content, left.

After dinner and visiting, when it was dark, I couldn't help but return to the barn. I remembered reading something about not leaving poultices on for more then 12 hours...we were at 7, and 12 hours would be 2 am. I'm crazy, but not that crazy.

It was pitch black out, and there's no lighting over the pasture or the tack shed. But to my luck, Moon somehow just showed up at the fence where the light once after I walked up. Perhaps he knew I'd come...

I filled a bucket with cold water b/c unfortunate I couldn't find the hose in the dark. I washed off the poultice and removed the bandages. I thought I felt some heat in his hind right ankle (sudden panic that I had infact screwed up standing wraps, though they weren't tight...), but after rinsing it, drying it and letting it sit at air temperature, felt no more heat. Perhaps it was just an accumulation of body heat under the no-bows.

His poulticed leg was hard to view in the dark, but I don't think that the lump went down at all. It perhaps was a touch harder to start, but I think that was the way his leg was flexed. What WAS different, was that there was a LOT more heat in the area. It was very noticable to touch compared to the surrounding tissues.

Aurgh.

I don't even know if that's good or bad. Does the heat mean that the poultice drew the heat from deeper in the area to the surface? Or that the poultice and wrap CAUSED the increased heat? Good or bad thing done here?!

I'm about 80% certain that what I'm dealing with is a fluid pocket and localized inflammation from excess strain/injury to his extensor tendon.

What I do about that well...tomorrow, more cold hosing. Twice/day. I reread the instructions for the sore-no-more poultice, and you can leave it on for 24 hours if you want. You can also leave it exposed to the air. So I think in the morning, I'll cold hose, open poultice. Evening, cold hose. See if that works better then wrapping...

I just feel completely awful that this is all about me overworking him. He's such a sweet and willing horse, and it just makes me sad and desperate to make him better. Why, why do they have to steal our hearts those ponies?

Rules shall be broken.

I'm sure I'm going to get a bit of flack for this one, but at the time it made total sense...now, well, I'm going to go check on him on my way to and from my parents and decide what I'll stick with...

The farrier came out today and trimmed Moon's feet. While she was at it, she had a look at his 'lump', agreeing that it was very much like windpuffs, but she'd never seen anything like it in *that* spot. We both agreed that cold hosing twice/daily (15 minutes or so) plus a poultice to draw out some of the heat (it was ever so slightly warm today, but it's hard to tell if it's just the sun on his dark hair). When she trimmed him, she noted that he wasn't at all sore on it, willingly raising and flexing it, as well as not minding if you poked or prodded the lump.

When she pared down his sole, we were both surprised to see only ONE tiny bruise. Just one. And tiny. His soles were also rock solid, making it really hard to pare them down at all. Hmmmm...

After we finished, I called around trying to find some poultice. The farrier had recommended a clay poultice, so I figured, why not.

...apparently however, everyone in the jumping community has horses with swellings. Because of a show this weekend, every store in the city and most of the surrounding country side was sold out. Aurgh.

I finally just drove to the one place in town that was busy and not answering their phone...and they had one! The liniment kind, called "Sore no more". I bought that and a pack of no-bows, for way too much money.

And then went across the street to a new farm and garden store that had just opened and found the same product for $6 less. I WANTED to walk back over and ask the first place for my money back, but didn't want to waste my time. I had a pony to poultice.

Back at the barn, I brought Moon in, applied the clay, wrapped it in a thin layer of newspaper to keep it off the bandages, wrapped the no-bows around and then applied the standing bandages.

I had read a lot of warnings about applying standing banadages wrong, but I've done sweat wraps on Polo ponies in the past, which is nearly the same thing. Just with saran wrap instead of newspaper.

Then, I was thinking "hmmmm...if he's not standing, will standing wraps fall off? What if he freaks out on them?"

It came to me that back in the polo days for the sweats, we'd wrap some electrical tape around the wraps to keep them from coming undone. So I did that. One at the top, one in the middle, and one at the bottom. Success.

Turned Moon out, he stood around. Munched some hay. Stood some more. Came and visited me...

I checked them once more, adjusting the tape to make sure it wasn't too tight. He seemed content and not moving crazy much, so I left and headed home, figuring I'd check him on my way back from my folks tonight, and once in the morning when I go to hose him again (yes, hosed him today too).

I do get this feeling that this isn't a first for him. He stood WAY too still the entire time the hose was on his leg, not moving at all. Even being wrapped he's a completely patient gentleman...strange if a horse has never experienced it before...

So I googled standing wraps on pasture when I got home, and learned that people are opposed to it. : O

Even to polos : O

Obviously I had just gone ahead and done it, and people spoke of serious tendon and bone injuries should the wrap come undone and the horse panic.

...My past experience with polo horses on pasture, was that this wasn't even a concern. And we used POLO's instead of standing bandages, likely cause they were already on hand, so the boss didn't have to buy more...

I remember sometimes they came undone, but then you'd just go find them in the field...The horses never freaked out or anything. Never got injured either. Was that just luck? My boss had been doing it for YEARS. And OTTBs that they use aren't exactly known to be the most 'calm'.

Now I don't know what to do. I definately DO NOT want him unwrapped and poulticed. And I do not want him no poulticed. Granted, I don't want him hurt either.

My decision? I'm going to rewrap with the electrical tape so it's in a swirl, instead of three circles. That way if the wrap comes undone, so will the tape. And the tape will help keep it from coming undone.

Horse ownership really is just a game of opinions and experience, isn't it? : P

Hopefully one way or another, Moon starts feeling better.

Friday, August 26, 2011

With Head in Hands.


Horses are stressful.

Rode Moon today, and didn't think he was lame at all. Granted, the ground is REALLY uneven in the ring and REALLY hard with deep cracks, so a lot of the uneven movement I felt I'm pretty sure is a result of that...since I myself was stumbling as I was walking across it.

I think we're officially DONE riding in the grass ring. I'm contemplating if I can ride him in the hay field next door, which is likely less packed...

Anyway, I'm noticing a more frequently occuring problem.

Head tossing during walk-trot transitions. I mean, that's the ONLY time I get this huge head toss out of Moon, and it's almost every time now.

My thought?

My saddle. I'm about 99.9% sure that it pinches his shoulders. I tested the fit with a Wintec gullet measurer, and there is NO WAY he's a medium gullet. It showed pinching, where the medium-wide sat perfect. On a good note, the girl I borrowed the measuring device off of has a complete gullet set, and isn't using the medium-wide...hopefully I can borrow it until we get a new saddle.

Unbelievably, the same girl owns the Wintec Isabell that I'm dreaming of. Curses. And no, she won't sell.

So, I'm convinced the head tossing is more then likely bad saddle fit. Okay, fair. I'm even more convinced, since I pulled off his saddle and rode him bareback for a few laps. Not only did he move better and more forward, but he also transitioned with minimal or NO head tossing. Coincidence? Considering the last 12 transitions were bad?

Let's add in that he had a TOTAL freak-out when he came near his saddle lying on the ground in the ring. Snorting, prancing, backing, side passing. Oye. And then the fact he puts his ears back and glares at me when I girth him up...And no matter how far back I move it, it creeps forward...

I think that's one problem identified, again. And yes, I'm hunting around for the wintec, trying to find one for about $600, hopefully with a gullet kit and a girth. Keep your fingers crossed and your eyes open!

Tomorrow the farrier is coming out to trim Moon and have a look at his lameness. I was convinced that we're just dealing with some sole bruising. No biggie.

...until after our ride today.

He had a "wind puff" like lump just below his hind left hock, towards the outside of his leg. I know windpuffs don't occur in this location, but it felt IDENTICAL. Soft and squishy, like fluid. No pain, no heat, no real 'swelling'. Just a little fluid bulge.

A lot of googling has me thinking it's: a 'curb', a bog spavin or a swelling of the bursa. All can be caused by riding on rough terrain, excessive concussion or generalised injury. Seems very possible.

Tomorrow I will begin cold hosing his hock once/day for a week, and hopefully it goes away or down. Unfortunately, it was too dark to start tonight. My experience with windpuffs is that it's typically in need of reduced work, cold hosing and easying going. That's what's on the list now.

The thing that does worry me, is that when I posted the video of him lame, I said that I thought it was his hind left that was bugging him. Guess which has the swelling? Coincidence? Could it actually be more sore then I thought?

I really do wish I had access to a sand ring already, so I could ride him on a nice, soft, flat surface and see how he goes. I love T, but I am SO READY to move and start riding him on decent terrain.

Why, why, why does this stuff have to happen? Fingers crossed the farrier gives us some insight and solutions. And the puff goes down.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Textless Thursday.

I promised. So I will deliver. Ignore this text. I can't help myself. And yes, we practiced today. But I'll shut up now...

Photos from last week's dressage show:

Kur (Musical Freestyle Dressage)








Rainbow during Dressage:


Serious Dressage Compeition:




New Bridle:


Spring vs. Now...any improvement?

Moon-Boots


Note the boots...


So I spent all night on Tuesday, and all day on Wednesday, worrying about my Mr. Moon.

Terrible thoughts of permanent, unknown disability circled in my head, as is expected of a chronic worrier. Who knew what could be the ‘real’ cause of his lameness? Never mind the fact that I have no idea of his history, and while he’s well-bred, he’s been a backyard pony for at least 2 years. Why? What dark hidden past does he have?

Getting to the barn later then usual yesterday, meant I didn’t have a lot of time to evaluate his soundness before making the call about whether or not to take him to my regular lesson. BUT, thanks to a very awesome horse-y friend, I was able to borrow a pair of “Old Macs”, the horse sneakers. I picked out his feet, saw what was either dark staining of his sole, or very prominent purple bruising and got his borrowed boots on.

Into the trailer, off to W’s, and unloaded. Walking up the gravel driveway he seemed alright…

Once in the barn, one of the boarders exclaimed “Moon Boots!”. I love it!

Lucky me (I do honestly consider myself lucky), she decided to warm up in the ring with Moon and I. I NEED opportunities like this to work him in the ring with other horses. I think we’re really going to like this pair when we move here in October.

Moon’s walk was fabulous, so we moved on to trot. Sound. Completely sound.

I’m not wanting to jinx it since it could still be something else, but I think there’s no more reason for overreacting. Just me being nutty is all.

After last week’s bracey-stubborn-resistant lesson, I was really hoping to pull it together this time around. Prove that our hard work was paying off.

Well it was. At a walk, we were awesome. Yes, it’s a walk, but we’re still very proud. Our serpentines and circles were spot-on, and we even managed some very, very nice leg yielding.

At a trot, things fell apart at first. Moon is learning to rebalance his body, soften and bend. This is hard. Imagine you’ve been walking and running around a certain way your whole life, and then someone takes you to this class where they tell you to move differently. And it’s kinda hard. Your body feels tight, muscles ache afterwards, and you feel awkward. It feels ‘different’, and different is wrong. You lack a lot of the balance and muscle required to move that way, and the muscling you do have, is all tight and locked up.

That’s what this is like for Moon. He’s 12 years old, and for probably 9 years at least, he’s been wandering around very braced. Tense. Anyone who’s seen him, can see the great big muscle on the top of his poll. It’s big and solid. And it’s the WRONG muscle to have developed. Strong muscling on the poll means that the horse is not engaging his back and hind, and failing to lift, hence, very little topline muscle development. It can also mean that they are over-flexed to the bit, but this isn’t the case with Moon, who is not very flexible yet.

So all of this for us, is physiotherapy in a way. Teaching Moon to move differently in a way that will build and strengthen his topline, allow him to work more effectively and loosen up. Make him feel better and more balanced while working.

(lunging without his head in the air...)

While learning, Moon tends to brace against me or try to avoid contact, since that’s what his past experiences have taught him works. Or makes the experience less painful. Easier.

So he’s was doing a rather good job of having a tantrum, throwing his head everywhere, snorting and shoving out his hips, sticking his nose way out…(W finds it a bit amusing, because he comes across as a bit of a lazy backyard QH, and then suddenly he wakes up and his appendix history starts coming out).

I oddly enough, I suffer from some of the same bracing faults, which typically just makes things worse. Yesterday, I finally got a good picture of my own failings in our riding.

While working him out of his stubborn streak, I was using the lifting and bending techniques W had taught me. I was determined to ride him out of it for once, instead of W having to get on and school him for me. As I’m going around, W yells out “Relax!”.

What?

He’s fighting me! Why would I relax?

W came over, pulled each of my legs away from the saddle in turn, and moved them all over the place until all the tension came out. “You’re bracing against him every time he braces against you. Ask, soften and release. Then ask again. I don’t care if there’s only seconds between each ask and each release. But DO NOT BRACE against him. When he gets resistive and leans against you, by leaning back (or in my case, fixing my hands/arms, holding my legs tight to him, stopping to follow with my seat), you GIVE HIM something to brace against. And face facts. He’s at least 1000 lbs. heavier then you are. Guess who’ll win? So relax. Become a fluid object. Can he brace against water? No. Move, flow, ebb. Give him nothing to get brace-y against, and he’ll have no choice but to soften too. “

We trotted off again. I told Moon that W told me to relax too. I did as W said, and let my legs become fluid. It was weird. Like disassociating them from my mind. Not that I couldn’t use them as aids, but they stopped being rigid objects and moved with Moon. When I needed them, they’d activate, apply an aid, and then go back to being fluid.

The result? Moon tried a different movement to brace/resist/run-out on every lap until he had no more options left. And then he softened. Then we rode our best trotting serpentines to date, and did some pretty awesome leg yielding. Our best yet as well. W called out “You’re officially training 1st level!”

When we came to a stop, I threw my arms in the air and let out a little cheer. I did it. I personally got him back and BETTER, all by myself (okay, W was there to help, but I didn’t have to dismount). We did it with another horse in the ring. We did it with some 1st level moves. Success.

We worked a bit longer at a trot and then called it a day. Moon had done leg yielding, serpentines, straight aways and even shoulder fore. He did it softly, listening and responding. And I FINALLY have started to learn that I too need to relax when riding. : )

Back in the barn, we were loving him up. W stood back and then looked over at me smiling. “He’s got topline!” Yup. Not a lot, but he FINALLY has some semblance of a topline muscle. And it looks good on him. Maybe after winter, he’ll have a whole lot more!

Time to go hunt down some “Moon Boots” for ourselves and a new saddle…Training is OFFICIALLY ON!

Moon's "chesty" fly sheet

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pony-Sore

I promised a "Textless Tuesday", but that will have to come later tonight when I upload a couple pics from the show this weekend.

Instead, I have a more important matter; Moon's "soreness". Below are two videos of him moving yesterday in the round-pen (10m?). Thoughts? Ideas?

My best guess remains (or my first hope really), that he's experiencing sole bruising from the hard ground and bugs, coupled with his flat-footedness. I'm awaiting word back from the farrier if she thinks there's anything we can do.

Does it look like anything else to anyone else? I'm trying to pinpoint the affected foot/leg, and *think* left hind?



Monday, August 22, 2011

Sorry Sore.

Tomorrow, the pics and videos shall come. Today, let me just say my pony is sore.

I hate to say 'lame'. Lame sounds to me like an injury or chronic problem. Granted, this isn't the first time he's been unsound in the last 3 weeks...

This morning I went out to put another training ride on him, and after picking up a trot circle, he felt off. I tried switching my posting diagnol and it didn't improve, so I knew it wasn't in my head.

He was also extremely obstinate when asked to change to a trot from a walk, falling in or pushing out on the circle. I could tell he really wasn't happy about me asking for a faster gait.

I took him into the round pen to determine if it was just me, and couldn't really see anything with my untrained eye. Thinking perhaps the arena footing (just grass) was too hard and concussive, I decided to take him back to the area in front of the shed like we rode last night. Where he was fine.

Still the same obstinate, not wanting to ride a circle at a trot, and just feeling off. I finally called it a day (other then that, he was very supple and on the bit at a walk), and checked his legs for heat or swelling. Nothing.

Got home and watched the videos from the round penning, and saw very noticable gimpy movements, especially when circling to the right, though it was there in both directions. : ( And he was worse whenever he hit the harder pack.

What do I do? I'm *hoping* what I'm seeing is a sole bruising issue due to the bugs and the hard ground from how dry it is. But I can't say for sure, and I know that I haven't anywhere 'soft' to ride him. What if it's something worse, that's only showing up because of the increased riding??!

I *think* I'm going to email farrier D the video and ask if she thinks it relates to the sole bruising she saw at his last trim (his first signs of lameness occured intermittenly after the Wednesday lesson that followed). Perhaps we will investigate some sort of pad to help him out?

I really struggle here, because I want a clear determination of the issue before I start chasing solutions which cost time and money. Some had spoken of a product called 'durasole', which costs just $12 a bottle and seems to work well, but it needs to be applied OFTEN, and I'm not there to do it. Coppertox is also supposed to help, but I'm not sure I can be around to apply it often enough? Perhaps this week when I'll be housesitting is the best time to do it?

Then there's just paying the extra for the special farrier sole stuff. More expensive, but if that is our issue, it's a convenient, easy and successful solution. Certainly better then those horse boots...

Tomorrow folks, I'm gonna need your opinions on my own first lameness video. I mean, soreness video. Poor Moon'er. We were just getting it together. No point boarding him this winter if he's going to start being sore every day. : ( Somedays I wish I had a history on my pony. Has he ever had any serious lameness or injury I should know about??!

*sigh* I'm hoping this is temporary and fixable, not a serious, chronic issue. : (

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Inspiration and Imagination

This weekend was truly enjoyable, since it including 2-days of dressage shows to watch, which by some miracle the BF not only joined me for, but enjoyed too!

Somehow, my camera was working properly this morning, and all of last night's pictures were saved! Unfortunately, the battery died during today's competitions, so I haven't pictures from them. And my camera cord is at work, so Tueday will be a photo-only day! I promise, no text on Tuesday!

After watching today's competition, we stopped by a very special horse for me (Sweet B) and visited with her owner, K. K is a very talented, hard working rider, who manages to squeeze it all in, even with two young children under the age of 3, a pony, and two riding horses (B, an 11 year old OTTB, and Hunter, an older retirey, with all the talent and experience in the world). She's been working crazy hard to get show ready this year, and after a dissapointing first show with B, came back to give it another go.

Well, she had a bunch of first place ribbons from this weekend, and improving dressage scores, so a total success! And a B that finally settled down and made herself a true show horse.

So talking with K, I really started looking forward to being in the shows with her next year. B is such an awesome horse, and K is such a kind-hearted, fun person to ride with, that I just think it'd be a blast. And it's always nice to find someone in a similar spot as you, wanting to do this 'dressage' thing, and having to work hard at home learning it. : )

This evening, inspired by the people I saw, met and spoke with, I drove out the barn to work with Moon. I also took 2 hours and sewed up a new fly sheet complete with belly-band for him, which he's wearing as we speak...here's hoping it stays on better then his fly mask!

T was having a lesson in the arena, so I thought I'd finally saddle up and work in the grassy area in front of the tack shed. Hmmm. I wonder how today would go?

Not feeling rushed, and knowing EXACTLY what I wanted out of this evening (to actually do walk-trot with connection and bend), we started warming up.

It was nice to not be hurried. We worked on it, and worked on it, and I tried to focus and feel for what I wanted. Heck, I even stopped and did the little 1-arm salute to the 'judges' I imagined!

Moon just came together for me. We did 3-loop serpentines and leg-yields and figure 8's, and he actually gave me contact, held it, AND we swapped from one bend to the other very nicely at a walk.

I put him into a trot on the circle, and there too, to the left, he was moving wonderfully. I was so proud! I was doing it, alone, at home and I think successfully!

Going right, he started to fall apart, come in on the circle, try to throw his shoulder and didn't want to bend. He'd also toss his head any time I asked for a transition to trot.

So I said to myself "Just be patient. It's there. Look for it".

And we circled, and transitioned, and I kept asking.

Moon grunted, and popped his head up and shook it, and thrust his head down.

So I followed with my hands, moved him, manipulated him, and kept trying. I didn't want to ONLY be successful in Coach W's arena. I didn't want to only be able to get him accepting the bit AFTER W's ridden him. I want our own success. I want to be able to walk him into that show ring next spring, and say "THIS is us. THIS is what we can do".

And then he found it. He gave me contact, he kept his head low, he chewed the bit and was licking, and he moved as I asked, and it was wonderful. It was like our wonderful moments in W's ring, just at home. Just without W there to yell out things I should be doing. I was just feeling it, and riding it.

I was THIRLLED.

Perfect square halt, and I dismounted. Even from the ground he'd flex when I touched the bit, and lower his head when I touched his poll. The best I could have asked for.

It's been proven to me now, that with Moon, consistent, regular work is the KEY to his performance. He's been ridden Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and now Sunday, and I have the most responsive horse yet. Yup, guess we're riding every day next week! : )

Do you know what made it even more special? T came up to me after to say that her coach had been watching us work and commented on how well he was listening and how nicely connected we were!! And how much he was chewing and *thinking* about what I was asking of him!!! Whooppiee! It wasn't just in my head! : )

T also said she can totally picture me and Moon'er in the ring next year competing, and is so happy for us. Yip, he's my special boy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Costume Classy.

The BF and I caught the fun portion of today's dressage show (I know, boourns to missing W and B), but it was still a total blast. I love any chance to explain to people about horses or dressage, and the BF was the perfect student.

It was pretty cool to watch the 'freestyle' class, which was dressage ridden to music, with or without a costume. Since it was a fun show, the class was open to all riders. Hence we had everything from walk-trot training level to 2nd level pros (yes, the pros go to fun shows too!).

Incredible.

The one pro looked amazing in her hockey jersey, riding to the traditional rink music! This girl is phenomenal in a regular show, and no surprise she even made a jersey and 'we will rock you' look beautiful! Her horse was a perfect mover, and it was great to show the BF some of the moves we'd someday like to perform.

There was also a really talented young rider, probably training level or one higher, who just had a great connection with her horse. The BF thought she did the best when taking into account her riding level, as even though there was no piaffe, all of her transitions matched the music perfectly, her tempo was great and she seemed to float with her horse.

The last horse was another one of these 'high schooled' horses, probably 2nd level again, but did NOT have the look of the first pro. This horse was over bent, it's nose tucked nearly to its chest. While the first horse had it's head on the vertical and was foaming nicely, this one looked unnatural and was pretty dry mouthed. Never mind horse #1 was ridden in a nice snaffle, while this one was in a double bridle (meaning leverage bit), curb chain and flash noseband.

You can imagine our sadness when the young rider didn't even place, the first pro got third and the horse with it's head cranked in scored first. Guess that's what happens when you get an audience to score!! : P

Unfortunately my camera card had a fatal error and now only gives me two options: power off or reformat. Um, what about, view pictures? Nope. And powering off just means that it asks me to reformat the next time I turn it on! : P

Hope to see W ride tomorrow, so I might wind up nuking today's shots and starting again. Confounded cameras.

: ) Oh, and the BF was really supportive of me and Moon working towards competing ourselves, having seen where we want to go. He used to always wonder why I was taking lessons when I know how to ride and Moon is rideable. He said what we watched today was way more impressive then any of the jumper shows we've watched live or even the pros on t.v. Apparently he can see how much effort must be involved to train and ride those moves (even what the young girl was riding). : ) It's nice to know your partner is starting to 'get it'! He even promised to come cheer us on next year, which is really special to me.

Now to watch some dressage on utube to finish the night!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Capture the moment.

After running around looking after 4 dogs, 7 horses, 6 cats and two tanks full of fish, I somehow managed to also go out to visit Moon.

My goal at this point, is rather then focus on having long riding sessions, squeeze a ride into every 20 or 30 minutes I can find.

So I skipped the saddle again, took him out to the arena and worked on bending, softening and contact. How'd it go? Meh. Not perfect. He fought me a good deal. But when we finished, I felt like I had the start of a half-decent leg-yield and had worked past SOME resistance. Not all, but I'm looking for baby steps here.

Granted, he tried to throw his head up on the trot transition twice, which did NOT impress me. Not sure why, since we've never had this problem at W's. Granted, I felt tense and stiff on his back, occassionally feeling like I was digging my seat bones into his back. *sigh* It's so hard to relax sometimes!

Oh, and I tossed him over my trot poles a couple of times, and was unimpressed when he just walked into the last little 18" jump. Seriously, he could have at least stepped OVER it! : P

Not spectacular, not amazing, not all that impressive. But it takes a lot of work to retrain a horse, and patience is something I have in plenty. And hey, it was nice to know I got 3 rides on him in a row.

The only 'ugly' moment was when I noticed an injury on his nose, and decided to spray it with the blue wound spray...yeah, he's a little head shy, and lunged backwards as the can 'whooshed' out the purpleness! My bad! And to get him over it, I sprayed him in the face with the bug spray without letting him leave! : P

And I also noticed another injury to his belly, further back and deeper this time. I'm starting to think I'm going to need a few more cans of the blue wound spray. I'm going a little nutty with this stuff! My poor purple nosed pony!

As for tomorrow, I'm hoping to catch the dressage show at BHP; best of luck to all my friends and their horses that are competing! Hope to see you there and cheer you on! For those going to the H/J schooling show, best of luck to you there too! I hope to get at least SOME competition pics this weekend! Sure wish I could find my video camera...

P.S. Only 40 days to the big move!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Before the storm came!




(Picture's should've been with last post, but hey, they only would upload now)
Went out late yesterday to the barn to put a bit of work into Moon. It was nearly 8:30 pm when I arrived and the sun goes down by quarter to 9! So I whipped off his fly sheet (my attempt at making a belly band didn't work...back to the drawing board!), and just rode him in his bridle.

...I didn't even bothering going to the ring! No time! Must ride before dark!

So we did a lot of circling, some straight aways and some leg yielding. It didn't start out the best, but I kept working on it, reminding myself to USE my outside leg. Not just let it hang there. And to engage him with my outside rein as well.

After a couple of minutes of circling, he started to really improve and I felt like I was getting the beginning of contact that was maintained. The leg yeilding was difficult until I started using ALL of me, and I actually think he came around and gave me some nice moves at the end.

I finished it off having him come to a halt without lifting his head or neck up. Stay on contact.

Guess what? He did.

More impressive? All this while lightening was illuminating the sky and thunder was crashing in the distance. Spooky. Like a champ, he was awesome for me right up until I closed the gate on the pasture. He went from standing there calmly munching his carrot to BOLTING across the field, kicking and running. I took that as a hint!

Turn off the tack shed light (it was DARK now), and caught a few quick pics of the last of the sunset. The lightening was even closer and I knew I'd best start for home...

...10 minutes later I was driving in a full out storm, lightening, high winds, heavy rains and hail. Did the trusted move of parking under an overpass till it seemed to blow over, but was caught by 3 more severe squalls. So bad you couldn't even see the lines on the roads and everyone (an ambulance included) had pulled over and waited it out.

Happy to say I still got home safe and sound, hardly even later then expected! The good part? It was our first rain in WEEKS. Too bad it was over 10 minutes after I got home!

Moon's "Owie"

Finding 'Home'

Moon and I have been searching for his winter home. As many of you can tell, the whole process is a bit stressful, particularly because I want him somewhere safe, where he’ll be well-cared for, but at the same time, I have a budget and a long list of requirements. This is also our first move together.

Today after work the BF and I went to visit S Stables; let's ignore the fact that while I was certain where it was, I got lost : P No, the BF wasn't overly impressed to say the least. Why don't I EVER get an address or even a phone number!

Nice place; family stable. Medium size indoor arena, flood lights, nice little barn that was cool inside. Fans at each of the stalls. Nice wide tie stalls. Good hay (they feed medium squares, store indoors). Tack room is unheated but in the barn so never below freezing. Lots of jumps and standards.

I really liked the care overall. Great owners. Things I didn't care for? They REALLY seemed to think that their way was best. Really didn't like the idea of me using my own farrier (she was 2 steps from saying that theirs was specially chosen not to be crap like the rest of them), she wasn't impressed that I only wanted lessons from an Equine Canada coach, loved the lecture on the efficacy of the West Nile Vaccine (hi, I'm a technician too!), didn't like the tiny paddocks, though it was nice they were hi-quall metal panels instead of hi-tensile.

Overall, it was a nice clean place, well kept, the horses were happy, the people were friendly, close to home and trails and had a ton to offer. Price was really good for the feed routine too.

But really, after all of that, I should tell you about yesterday...

Yesterday, while watching the ware-rabbit make his way around the ring with W, I was chatting with the lady who stopped to watch.

She asked me where I kept Moon…the perfect opening to explain my barn search to her, and inquire (without asking outright) if W only does box-stall board. No surprise when she replied that everyone was box stalled, though there IS a couple of empty tie-stalls in the barn she might consider using…”Ask her” the lady said.

So I did.

And explained how I was ideally looking for outdoor board, since there’s no way the BF would be okay with me paying as much for board on Moon as our mortgage (well, not that bad, but still $400/month in board is a lot when you have other priorities going on).

…W said she had thought about it…and if I wanted, she’d set up the front paddock for when he needs shelter, and then borrow some pasture off her neighbour for the rest of the turnout time! : O

For me??! “Well, sure!” She 100% understood and supported my determination to keep working with him over the winter, and also understood the financial constraints accompanying not only board, but then still trying to afford some lessons with her, which we not only need, we LOVE!

…She gave me a price for outdoor that made me smile. I could still afford to take WEEKLY lessons with her AND keep him at her place! If I REALLY wanted, I could cut lessons down and do the tie-stall for a great price too. But based on the ‘tubby’ comment he received when she saw him, we’re both certain he’s a really easy keeper!

Keeping Moon at W’s. I understand my initial apprehension, and I know it’ll be a longer drive then the other barn, but when I think about the quality of care (I mean, she calls him Moon’y!). She see’s how special he is to me, just like she sees how special every person in her barn’s horse is to them. And how special each of her horses, dogs, cats and rabbit are to her. She’s an animal lover. This is a place that HAND-WALKS every horse into the barn each evening. Who brings the horses in at the SAME time, not 10 one night, and not at all the next.

She feeds VERY high quality hay and rations, blankets, babies, and just adores each of them. If I had to chose someplace other then T’s that I KNEW Moon would be treated royally, it would be W’s. Of everywhere, W's feels 'like home'; it's comfortable and I just feel 'right' there.

So what if that means I drive a little further. And yes, I’m gonna feel like I’m being ‘watched’. But maybe that’s okay. What are shows, if not being watched??! What is coaching if not being watched?! Maybe this way, I can’t slack off, because she’ll SEE that! And see what we need to work on each week.

And maybe I can GET OVER MYSELF and stop being so caught up in ‘what everyone else is thinking’, every time I do something!

Yes. It was ‘right’ the instant W said she’d do it for me. And I knew I wanted it to be her, when she called him Moon’y in the barn that evening, when I found myself joking around with the other boarder, and when I caught sight of Moon’s soft, relaxed expression standing there in the barn. T’s place will always be ‘home’, but spending the winter at Aunt W’s is going to be very special.

Move-in date is October 1st (might sneak in early since we have a lesson there on September 28th anyway).

: ) Wow. I can’t believe I actually decided. And that this is going to happen!

Working itself out.

To follow up from last night's post, I went out to ride Moon for the first time in nearly two weeks. Yes, TWO weeks.

The last time we had this long of a break (Ottawa Trip), he really didn't show any change. Perhaps a bit more forward and fresh, but that's about all.

Yesterday?

He started out fine. We walked and trotted the circle. We did figure 8's (W threatened to make me a t-shirt that read "I love figure 8's" if I didn't stop whining about how much I hate them!). While it wasn't perfect, we were improving. I thought "We're doing awesome". Then W told me to leg yield down the quarter line.

...um...

...Moon threw his head up, balked, resisted, pulled and braced. We had Mr. Ugly-Rabbit-Face all over again. It was like in 2 weeks, he had regressed back to the horse he was in May when I first brought him to W. It was awful. I got frustrated. I fell forward. I stiffened. I pulled. I braced back.

W asked if I minded getting off.

I didn't. I was irritated and I know Moon felt. Which made him irritated. We're an awesome pair.

She put some laps on him, walk, trot, halt. Just working to get him to soften his poll. It was ugly.

One of the ladies who boards at W's was watching the lesson and said "Wow, does he ever brace". I smiled and let her know this was the 'ware-rabbit' face. : ) She was kind enough to try to make me feel better, saying I don't know how harshly he was ridden previously, she's new to lessons herself, it's great that I'm working him through it...

After 10 or 15 minutes, W had him reaching and holding contact and flexing. So she told me to get back up on him. I have to say, I was still stiff and frustrated, mainly with myself for not being able to bring him back there myself. I need to learn to be more patient, as I can't expect him to release in just 1 lap of the ring.

Back on him, he was much improved, and after a couple of minutes had begun holding contact for me at the trot as well as the walk. We didn't really get to do much (this is when he started being sore), though I see the benefit in the lesson we did have. But still, no canter!! : P

W said that while he braces and you can see him try to get his tongue over the bit, a lot of it seems to be his stiffness in his poll. He gets assured the bit is going to be harsh (or the hands more truthfully), and braces with his neck. He walks around constantly all tight and stiff, and when asked to something like leg yield, is too tight to accomplish it. So he resists more, instead of loosening.

It was amazing as by the end of the lesson, he was grunting as he started flexing and carrying himself properly on the circle. I had felt his poll after his 'episode' and it was ROCK solid, but at the end of the lesson is was a lot softer and he seemed more comfortable bending.

Even weirder? He had a snotty nose afterwards. I was concerned he was getting ill, but W told me that a similar thing happened with a boarder in the past. When they got the vet out, he explained that the horse carried SO MUCH tension in his poll and neck, that his nasal passages never had a chance to drain (even when out grazing, which is when it normally happens). So when the rider had finally gotten the horse to relax and release all that tension, BAM, all the fluid trapped up there was able to flow out...right through his nose!

Gross. But great to know that this is helping Moon, despite how upset he looks when he's bracing.

W and I both agreed that the time off was not good for him, though she believes in any opportunity to improve, only makes you better : P Still, I feel like I kept him from his weekly massage (or bi-weekly) by not riding him. To think that my riding has such a positive impact on his physical well-being.

That being said, W also said he looked chunkier then last week. He's the kind of kid that gets fat off a smartie : P

Now I've come to realize I type WAY too much, so I'll try to condense the last of this post. If you happen to still be reading... ; )

First, W thinks his soreness relates to A. The sand packing in his hooves when the contract at the trot, and walking removes the soreness b/c the sand falls out. Hmmm...how to fix?

Second, he's getting a belly injury from kicking. I'm going home tonight to try to rig up a temporary belly cover until I can get him a new flysheet. HorseLoverz has a sale on with free shipping right now...I also coated it in blue wound spray, and have a purple elbow now by accident. Whops.

Third, no trail ride tonight. There's an extreme drought in this part of the province (the other half is flooded), and they've apparently shut down all of the trails to prevent the possibility of fires. T is also working (sad face), so I likely won't get to visit with her either. Boo-urns. But Moon'er needs a ride, so I should get that.

Fourth, T emailed me back to say that she understands moving Moon for the winter. She knows how much I love him, and it means a lot to me that she gets it.

Fifth, I'm going out tonight to look at S Stables...might drag the BF along and hopefully the camera.

Sixth...I'm going to post that in a separate one, since it's super exciting and this post is WAY too long already! At least I have some pics!!!! : )

Anyone have any good flysheet w/belly band suggestions??!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Double and Triple Boos. : (

...off to bed for tonight, BUT I've got four things on my mind:

1) I emailed T about moving barns (I'm such a wimp, I know. I just needed to tell her and I express myself WAY better in an email. And since she wasn't at the barn when I was around today...which made me worry that she wasn't there BECAUSE of my email), so now I'm stressing that she's upset with me. : ( We're supposed to go for our weekly trail ride tomorrow, so we'll see what happens there... : ( I just really hope I didn't upset her. That's the last thing I want...

2) My lesson today was ALL ABOUT ugly faces. The time off was BAD for Moon, who was so stiff it was like our first lesson all over again. Boo. : ( Plus he was still coming up sore every once in awhile. Double-boo : (

3) Moon's causing some injury to his belly from fly kicking. Makes me worry as one horse at the barn already has a wound with proud flesh because of the same thing, and now seeing Moon's injury...he NEEDS a belly band for his fly sheet, which despite it being potentially hot tomorrow, I MADE him wear. Hope he's okay with it in this new herd. : ( And that means $$ to buy the new belly band-style sheet. : (

4) I have very exciting barn news...the only non-boo of the day!

The Big Q's...

Ah. Lesson Day. I love lesson days, and while Moon and I haven't put a lot of practice in, I'm still looking forward to tonight. Maybe we'll FINALLY get that canter lesson in?? : )

Last night the BF and I headed out to Oakbank for dinner with a friend as I'm (we're) going to be horse/house/dog sitting for them for the next 10 days. AND for her neighbour (horse/house/cat sitting). Oh, and my boyfriend's mother's dog and house too! Busy!

I was originally supposed to bring Moon out to stay at my friend's place while I was looking after it, however she has two new boarders and one of the geldings seems a little 'proud cut'. Still trying to mount the mares and whatnot, which has made things a bit chaotic until they separated him out with his gelding buddy. So this is going to be a fun couple of days, AND it brings me about 15 minutes closer to Moon, meaning more riding. : )

There's also a Dressage competition (Bronze level 'official' show PLUS a fun show with a musical dressage competition) on Saturday that both my coach and an old friend who bought Sweet B (the horse I loved and nearly bought 6 or 7 years ago) are both competing in. Actually, I think Sweet B is actually going to be there, which makes me super excited. Coach W is going to be great to watch as well!

Since we were out in Oakbank anyway, I decided to time the drive from S Stables to home; I wound up stuck behind a very slow driver (slow as in drives the speed limit) and was able to get a fairly accurate gauge for winter-time driving...

...13 minutes to my door. 3 stop signs on the way out, 4 plus a street light home.

: O

13 minutes!

I literally felt like it was a hop and a skip away. I never even considered that there could be a barn so close to home, and SO convenient. I could pop by on my way to the grocery store. To the bank. To get gas. On my way to my parent's house. I could be there and back in LESS time then it takes me to get to T's place.

Don't get me wrong. I love T's place. It's perfect in the summer time, I LOVE riding with her and hanging out, and if it wasn't for the loss of winter training time, I wouldn't move.

But the reality is that Moon and I need to keep training. And S Stables, of all of the places, is the closest.

Now I just have to wait for tomorrow when I get to visit it again and make sure it's to my liking. The BF keeps reminding me to pay what I need to in order to ensure Moon'er is well cared for, well fed and happy. : ) It's really special to me to know how important Moon is to him.

Provided the care meets my requirements, and provided the arena is big enough for schooling (I know it's smaller then a lot of indoor arena's, but we really only use just over 1/2 of W's when I'm working normally, and it's not like I need a full jump course in there), then I think I'm going to put a deposit on it. Well, I want the BF to have a look over too, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be the place.

I also decided, meeting all those other requirements, I'm going to get the tie-stall for Moon. The neighbour I'm horse sitting for had a couple of 4'x8' tie-stalls in her barn, and I have to say, they're pretty nice. Add an extra 1' for S Stables, and I think we have a really nice, warm and comfy place for those cold winter nights.

I'm SOOOO excited about this that it's not even funny! I'm beyond apprehensive to talk to T about it (I'm so not a talker and I hate the thought that she might be sad I'll be gone), but the actual winter boarding makes me thrilled. I love the thought of Moon having 'a space', being babied every day, me being out riding or visiting more because it's closer, riding in the bad weather in the indoor, still getting an occasional lesson with W, and meeting some more horse people. And being able to monitor and change his diet more. : ) I'm really, really excited about it. I'm even dreaming about how I'll fill and arrange my tack locker, about hanging my little tack and stall plaques up in the place and settling in.

This is part of what I dreamed about when I was a kid. Coming into a warm barn in the winter to see my pony. His halter hanging on his hook, his nicker when I approach. : )

I'm working on my list of Q's for tomorrow...if anyone has any more things I should be asking or checking on, lemme know!

THING TO ASK A NEW BOARDING BARN:
1) Deworming rules (required dates? products? owner's choice?)
2) Blanketing? (fees? how often? number of off-ons?)
3) Current lesson schedule?
4) How many active (riding) boarders + BO's family?
5) How many riders are allowed in the indoor at a time?
6) Is the barn ever closed? (Christmas, New Year's, etc.)
7) What are the barn hours?
8) Is the outdoor ring useable? In winter?
9) Does the barn group do any activities together? (trail rides, movie nights, gymkhana)
10) Are the horses turned out with their halters off or on?
11) # of times/day the horses are checked up on?
12) Type of fencing in paddocks? Perimeter fencing for escapees? Type of gate latches?
13) When are they brought in, and when are they let out in the morning?
14) Free-choice hay in paddocks? Quality? Number of piles?
15) Number of horses/paddock and paddock size?
16) Any possible 'escape' areas?
17) Hay provided in stall at all times, or twice/day?
18) Grain fed? How many times/day? Supplements? Other feeds? Added costs for special programs?
19) Depth of straw bedding in stall?
20) When are stalls cleaned? How many times/day?
21) Arena size for jumping?
22) Standards/poles available?
23) Any restrictions on jumping alone? Riding alone? Bareback?
24) Trails in area?
25) Pets allowed in barn? On leash, supervised?
26) Having visitors to the barn? Other's riding your horse?
27) Horses led in or chased in?
28) Can you use your own farrier? Vet?
29) Head-in or head-out tie-stall? Able to see/touch other horses?
30) Arena lighting for dark hours?
31) Wash rack available?
32) Heated tack room?
33) Size of tack lockers?

Sooooo excited to check it out tomorrow!!! And to wait the month and a half to move Moon there!!! : ) I SOO hope this is the place for us!!! : )

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Could it be True??!

So I've been emailing around to my fellow horse-riders trying to hunt down someone who has outdoor board or a tie-stall for about $300/month...

...and someone sent me this email:

Well my barns are all south of the city which I think is on the wrong end for you?? If I remember correctly you are in the North end of the city. I used to board at B Enterprises and am now at BV Stables. Your best bet may be WW Stables. I checked them out and seriously considered moving my horse there at one point. W does truly care about the horses and take good care of them. Outdoor board is $300/month and that includes Grow N Win everyday (which costs $40/bag!) and the paddock may be dirt but it is actually one of the largest I have seen and she has 2 or 3 separate feeders. She has great barn hours (I think 9am - 10pm) but the downside is the arena is reserved during lessons W is giving. She gives lessons to a couple of my English friends who ride there and they like it. T.C. goes there sometimes as well though I don't know if she has room for more. Oh, another plus I believe the arena is HEATED. I would definitely check out WW.


Uh...WW is my lesson barn! It's W's stable! wtf? I didn't even CONSIDER that she might offer outdoor board, since I always see all of the horses inside in box stalls. Is it possible?? : O

I'm not certain if the individual who emailed me has current information or if this is more from a year or more ago and maybe W has since changed her practices, BUT, if she DOES.... : O

Why wouldn't I go to W's??! Yes, it's a bit further then S Stables, and about as far as Barn F, but WW is...perfect. I adore W, I know they provide AMAZING care, there's no extra hauling or arena use fee, she's RIGHT there when were working in the arena with other horses (I could work with HER!), and I just LOVE the atmosphere there. They have small get togethers, like Dressage movie night, they go to competitions together, and just hang. Everyone I've met there is just awesome. And T.C. is an AMAZING jumping coach who started doing monthly lessons...little extra perk!

...now, do I call W this afternoon to get the scoop or do I wait until my lesson tomorrow? I think I'm too excited (and a little worried that she only does indoor now) to wait!

Fingers crossed everyone that I can just move to W's this winter!!!

****************

Time elapse...

...wait.

Is this a good idea?

Boarding at W's means I'm going to be constantly nervous (not that she's judging me, but that I'm going to feel like I'm being observed every time I ride), it's more expensive then a tie-stall and S Stables, and means I can't afford lessons with W even once a month...

...hmmm...

What do I do?

Then again, I adore her, I know she provides awesome care, she's fun to ride with, they have such neat get-togethers, I know the place...

...but not trails. And no lessons for me. No riding when other people have lessons (funny since I recall someone riding during my lesson...). No outdoor ring...

BARUGH! I HATE TRYING TO CHOOSE A BARN! WHY CAN'T MOON JUST LIVE IN MY BASEMENT AND I'LL RIDE HIM IN MY GARAGE???!

Aurghggghhhhgh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Curse you inflation!

Just got off the phone with the owner of S Stables in order to book a stable visit...going down on Thursday before my trail ride with T, though unfortunately then the BF can't come along to visit this one...

So apparently as of July 1st, S Stables raised their board rates...

Now outdoor boarding is $247/month, tie-stalls are $310/month.

What, oh what do I do?

$63 spread between them...do I shell it out to make sure Mr. Moon is cozy at night? Do I cheap-out and keep him outdoor because it's more affordable?? It's also 2 lessons with W/month...and indoors he'll probably need a winter blanket or two...(stable and outdoor)...

I hate decision making. And now I'm thinking St. A Stables is $10 less a month for a tie-stall with 1 extra foot of space...and a viewing area...or BHP where we'd get a box stall for under $300...

What oh what to do? Why can't someone just charge what I want to pay! : P

Now I don't know what to do again...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Next Steps

I'm pretty much 95% certain I'm going to be moving Moon in October, as I just can't miss out on the training opportunity. Both of my selected barns have openings for that month, and now I'm in the process of trying to choose between them...hopefully the blog world can help me narrow down the choice! I'm wavering back and forth as it is, and my hope is that the 'right barn' is so obviously the right one after I go for a visit, that it'll be easy to pick.

For ease, I'm going to call Barn #1: Barn F, and Barn #2: S Stables

The BF and I visited Barn F on Saturday afternoon, and I was really, really impressed. I often believe things come full circle in life, and it was really special to walk into a barn where I started taking lessons 10 years ago, and remember the stall my favorite horse stayed in, the lessons taught in the big ring, my first fall, and being the highest scorer on our Level 1 exam while my parents sat in the viewing room above.

The BF surprised me and was gung-ho that I book a spot in one of the box stalls ASAP. He even picked out the exact stall for Moon, based on location (#20). Unfortunately, I just can't afford to keep him in a big fancy box stall, and had to let the BF know. I couldn't believe how sad he was that Moon would have to keep living outside!

Barn F was in the process of being completely redone, and is going to be an amazing barn. It's HUGE. It has a 80'x200' rubber ring (shredded rubber footing instead of sand), a 80'x150' sand ring, and a smaller lunge ring. It has a heated viewing area with full bleachers, a second floor banquet room, 3 classrooms, a full resource library, an on-site tack store, bathrooms, showers, huge tack lockers, huge feed rooms, a separate bay for farriers/vets, on-site farrier, wash rack, about 30 box stalls (and the possibility for another 15 tie-stalls), and a lot of paddocks being put in.

They also plan on having regular clinics, shows, competitions and exhibitions...

We were impressed. For $297/month (after tax), Moon could be housed outdoors in a 1.5 acre paddock with 4/5 other horses, automatic waterer and 2 or 3 run-ins. Hi-tensile fencing, with additional perimeter fencing just in case. We would be in a very busy stable with lots of activity and other riders.

It's unfortunately too far for my current coach to come teach me, though I probably couldn't afford it with the added costs of boarding. They do have on-site coaches for those times when I have a few extra $ to pay someone to clean up my riding.

The drive would be about 30 minutes from home or anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour from work, depending on traffic. I have to say, the new owners were crazy friendly, very easy to get on with, great communication and knew their stuff. I love the idea of there being TONS of stuff to do, and a lot of like-minded riders to have fun with. I'm always dreaming of having 'horse friends' to hang with. Plus, this is one of those barns that when I was 17, I was crazy envious of everyone who got to board there. Is this my chance??

****************************

Then there's S Stables. I'm waiting for the owner to call me back this morning (rather embarrassingly I mistook her husband as her when he answered the phone...totally redfaced now! I simply got really nervous and spoke before I even processed anything! I mean, all he said was "Hello"!).

So S Stables is about 2.5 miles from a big Provincial Park with lots of trails and activities. You could probably just ride there for shows, which is where our Provincial Horse Park is. I went hunting for it on google maps, and came to a crazy realization yesterday...

When I was somewhere around 14, I had been offered a stable hand job at this barn!!! : O The name was familiar and as I was thinking about it, I remembered going to do the job interview at this really nice little barn with indoor arena. And an old farmhouse on the corner...I remembered my dad helping the husband with his 8N tractor, and the woman showing me how to hobble a horse and how to lunge one. I also remembered that she worked at the track and often boarded race horses when they were injured or over the winter time...

...turns out it's the SAME barn and the SAME lady (and man!).

Wow. When I was a kid and offered the job, my parents made me turn it down. I remember bawling like crazy and being SO mad at them. They didn't even care that their kid was so willing to get a job and work for the summer. They were scared I'd get hurt working with the horses and didn't want to have to drive me there every day.

: (

It took me 3 years to get to ride and another 2 more to get another horse job (granted, I DID get hurt : P ). It really was an opportunity missed, that reminded me of where I could be in my riding if I'd been able to start a little sooner.

And now, 12 years later, I'm going back there to look at boarding my MoonSox. Crazy. I still remember the look of the whole place, which amazes me. I doubt the lady remembers me though...

While I haven't visited yet, I know that they have a smaller indoor arena (70x100), and a large outdoor. They don't have a lot of stalls and at my best guess, probably not a lot of boarders either. I was originally worried about being able to get opportunities to ride in if you can't use the indoor when someone has a lesson, but I'm starting to wonder if that even occurs all that often...

This barn is an impressive 15 minutes from my place, and maybe 30 minutes from work in rushhour.

It's close enough that my current coach could come teach me when I need some help (though $10 arena fee), or the owner has a lot of experience and charges the same as my current coach.

Again, hi-tensile fencing, dry paddocks...the usual.

This is a smaller, quainter barn, with fewer people, not really any 'big activities', and just quiet. Assuming the price of board hasn't changed from a few years back (which it probably has) it would be $236/month for outdoor board...

...but here's the dilemma...

I could get him in a tie-stall at night in the winter for $289, slightly less then keeping him outside at Barn F...

I was pretty hesitant at first about the idea of a tie-stall, but they're spacious enough for him to lie down at night for a good sleep, and he'd be WAY warmer and cozier in the winter time. I could also blanket him in a light weight sheet indoors and a heavy weight outdoors so that he's not soaked after riding. Since I wanted to be out riding him at least 3 times/week since it'd be SO close, I think it's important for him to be warm and dry afterwards...

...now, this would mean needing two new winter blankets, but they would put them off and on for me...

How do I choose?!!! Barn F is high profile, busy, engaging and lively. Stable S would mean a warm bed, quiet rides and few people.

...I *think* that as much as Barn F is a place I always dreamed about boarding at, and sounds like a lively energetic barn with TONS to do, I *think*, if Stable S is what I remember it to be, that Moon will be happier at Stable S...

And it IS about Moon at the end of the day.

My reasons:
1) Moon is still very excitable when working around a lot of other horses. Barn F would be stimulus overload for him, and ring riding with 6 other people would be very nerve wracking for us both for awhile. While he NEEDS more experience working around other horses, I don't think that means throwing him into the excitement of a big barn. Stable S on the other hand, would provide the opportunity to work with 1 or 2 other horses in the ring at a time, which is what we NEED. Small controlled situations to build our confidence. Not being tossed in front of 10 other people! : P

2) As much as I LOVE the idea of a busy populated barn, I'm an extreme introvert. While I love the idea of interacting with 30 "like-minded" people, in reality, I'd be hiding in my tack locker every chance I get...

3) If I can't afford lessons with Wendy, I can't afford to pay for all the clinics and activities at Barn F anyway, and it's better to avoid the temptation. At least at S Stables, when I have some pocket change, W can come out to work with us. And I LOVE working with W and don't want a different trainer.

4) While I don't have any expensive gear, I don't like the fact that Barn F doesn't have locking tack storage. While I believe most riders are respectful and wouldn't steal from a fellow rider, with over 50 boarders and countless students and visitors, I'm pretty certain it's inevitable at Barn F. S Stables on the other hand, has the option to lock and so few people that it's likely not a problem.

5) Moon-pie is going to be 13 next year. He's lived at least the last 3 winters outside, it's cold and he's getting 'old'. Does he really NEED to be outside yet another winter if I can afford to let him snuggle into deep straw at night, and then run around all day in the paddocks? S Stables will allow me to provide him with this luxury, and with careful weighing, I think that nights in a tie-stall in our deathly cold winter would be much, much more pleasant for him. It's not like they're running around having 'fun' when it's -40 below anyway.

6) I can keep D as my farrier. : ) She's been doing a great job and I really like using her. Barn F would be again, too far of a drive for her.

7) S Stables is really close to home. Crazy close to home. Close enough that I could get in a lot of extra rides over the winter, and not have to worry about driving a lot of bad roads...While Barn F is still reasonably close to home, it's still further and there's a lot more rush-hour traffic to contend with.

8) S Stables is closer to T's place, and maybe I can convince her to come out and ride him once in awhile, since it's hard to get to ride her guys in the winter out there? I'd love for her to come out, and it's just a better place to be able to do that.

9) While Barn F has a great viewing area for the BF (and wireless internet access), and probably a lot of activities to entice him to come out to the barn, it's really not going to be enough to get him out on a weekly basis. And S Stables is close enough that I can picture him coming out. : )

10) Shorter trailer ride from T's to the S Stables...

11) Short trail ride to the trails of BHP, which I know (and Moon's been on) and love. Barn F is in an area I'm unfamiliar riding the trails of...

12) Smaller barns often have more personalized care. While S Stables has been a little slower to respond to inquiries, it's likely because the owner is more involved in working. Barn F is likely to have a lot of handlers, and while communication is great right now, wait till it fills up...

...hopefully tomorrow I can get out to S Stables and have a look. Maybe even put down a deposit, as I think it just might be our winter barn.

Wow. I'm excited. This is going to be the FIRST time in my life that I'm going to be completely independent in my horse ownership. I've never really felt like the one calling the shots or truly responsible for his care. It's so different thinking "This is my horse, and this is how I'd like him cared for".

...or for him to have his own stall, with his little plaque sitting out front... : )

This is going to be a really awesome adventure. : )