Saturday, March 31, 2012



12 hour horse-day complete.

I admit, it was awesome. But I'm now plagued by a headache and the need for a good sleep.

I have to say, that I think the day went really well. I ran a little behind on my plans to get to the barn, but it still worked out fine. Nice and muddy he was for me. Cleaned him up the best I could and then headed into the ring to warm up.

He warmed up well, barring for my own nervousness. I had pulled on my lovely new tall boots (love) and it was awesome to finally not have my boot tops (or chap tops) catch on the bottom of my saddle flaps. I've such long legs that they normally catch and it's beyond annoying. Tall boots = no problem!
He was "evil rabbit facing" a bit more then he's been in practice but I don't doubt that having me all tense and nervous up there didn't help matters.

Our first go through the test left a lot to be desired. Sharp corners, an early walk transition, a long hesitation at the arena door where he planned on heading out...then at W where he wanted a treat and then at another horse where he thought maybe he could get some action : P We also suck at centerline and were too far over on both our entry and exit.

Second time 'round, I was a bit more confident and we went better. W was pleased with his circles and I managed to keep him trotting where he wanted to lag. His entry and exit were both really good, and he transitioned pretty well when I asked him.

Biggest fault was his loose rein walk across center at a diaganol.
We were doing okay but I wasn't on a very loose rein. W called out "Let him stretch" and so I just sorta threw him away. Let go of the reins, too all leg off and suddenly we were drunkenly meandering across the ring. Oye. Straightened us out but it was too late!

All in all, I was proud of us. So proud of him. I honestly, love my Moon. I don't know if he was the best horse out there, I don't know if we had the best performance or I had the best ride. But I love riding him. And I could actually see myself LOVING to show him. Like LOVING it.

Yes, we went over what I messed up. But I knew I had messed it all up! So it's hardly hard to take! The *only* thing that's hard is the fact we'll be heavily dinged for his "evil rabbit face". And I know that. I knew that coming in. It sucks because we worked really hard to move past it, but we're not there. We might never be there. It might not be something that CAN be moved past. Sure, I could put a bandaid on it and just get him a flash noseband, strap it down tight and carry on. But I won't. I want to do this right, I want him to be comfortable. For him, it seems he needs to twist his jaw all over the place to loosen up. I've even watched him do it standing in his stall for minutes on end. Dunno.

So yes, it'll suck to watch marks come off for that, but that's okay. I still know he did his best and it's who he is.
After our mini show, I didn't want the day to end. I just love it. So I got ready to trail ride. One of the girls at the barn asked if she could join me, which I of course said "YES!" to. : ) I don't think she has a lot of people to trail ride with at the barn, and she clearly loves doing it. I think there's some history there that keeps her from riding out alone (and no kid should!) and since most of the barn horses aren't really 'trail' safe (and those that are are ridden by folks who don't head on the trails very often), so she doesn't get much opportunity.

It was a blast. She was really willing and we travelled all the trails in the back 40. We trudged through swamps, splashed through mud, and rode through forest and field. It was awesome. I could tell she was loving herself, and so were her horse, Moon and I.
We headed back since I had the boarders' meeting at 3 and I still wanted to do a bit of a photoshoot with Moon.

Moon's mane was braided in a running braid (which I think he'll sport for the show season) and he was shiny so why not!

We took a bunch of photos on the lawn and then one of the girls from the barn came out to chat. She even offered to snap a couple pics of us, which was beyond sweet of her! So I even have a few shots of us together, my sweet boy. And he looks TINY! So tiny. I'd start to worry that I must look huge on him, but I love him too much to care. Love him.
Then came the boarders' meeting which was also awesome. I'm STOKED to move to H's place!! Just stoked! The girls are all awesome (and btw, stalkers) and I'm really excited to be sooo close to the park. Plus, I found an early morning pre-work rider to join me ; )

And that's that. I'm EXHAUSTED. And SOOO happy with my pony I could burst!

Christmas Morning.

I realise that if I'm this excited about a practice day, that I'm going to be something equivalent to a five year old on Christmas morning when it comes to "real" show days...

I'm debating bring the "quality" camera (which means lugging it around *and* making sure nothing happens to it) or a cheap pocket one I can whip out at impromptu moments. : ) I know everyone wants photos and I kinda want proof that when the pressure is on, I at least stay on : P

The weather outside is gloomy and promising to turn beautiful. I've nothing all afternoon, and dreaming of a trail ride. Yesterday I punched more holes in his bridle, spiffed it up with some oil (it's been 8 months, so kinda needed anyway) and grabbed a cooler for him because he's been damp the last couple of rainy days at the barn and yet I never seem to have it on hand. Which is genius.

I wish Moon could find that awesome little round pony he gave me the last two days, but I know that means a quality warm-up and staying relaxed myself. Which let's face it, ain't happening! I wish my pony trailer was back in action, so we could hit next week's schooling show, but such is life.

No matter how it goes, I'm proud of my boy for coming this far. I've asked a lot of a pasture puff, he's endured training at the hand of someone who's only a little more experienced in these matters then himself, and he's taken it all in stride. His physical limitations might cause us some frustrations at time, but I don't doubt mine bother him as well. But slowly and surely, we're striding forward. He's already winning in my books. : )

Friday, March 30, 2012


It was the last of my Friday afternoon's off, so I scooted quickly across town to do a bit of grocery shopping and after ditching it at home, sprinted to the barn.

I was dreaming of recapturing Moon's movement from yesterday and was excited to see if it was possible.

I debated grabbing the video camera to try to get some proof, but changed my mind. For one, I don't like videoing others, so if there were others at the barn (and since it's spring break, there's likely to be kids around), I wouldn't be able to video anyway. Plus it just seemed like extra effort and time I wasn't in the mood for. Oh, and the fact that I feel pressured in front of the camera to perform and it all goes to crap : P

The horses were all in the barn when I arrived because everything was pretty flooded from the recent rainfalls. I thought that perhaps Moon would be in a great mood, since he really seems to love hanging out in his stall watching the world go by. Boy was I wrong when I took him out and he was dancing in the aisle. Pumped.

Gave him a good grooming, let his tail down, untangled it and tacked him up.

We joined a visiting rider and Moon's stall-neighbour in the ring and warmed up with basic walk-trot. He wasn't awesome, but he was decent and that was good enough to start. I figured things would just keep improving and we'd find yesterday's "awesome" again.

Wrong again.

He started to fight me. Then, when all the other horses left the arena, he started calling. Then tried racing. Then surged, braced, pulled, contorted and every other misbehavior he knows.

I told myself to breathe. I started murmuring little songs to myself, as cheesey as it sounds, because it's REALLY hard to maintain a song rhythym and tense up. I'm pretty sure that it has to do with the fact that singing requires breathing and breathing keeps you relaxed.

So I murmured ('cause I'm too tone deaf to actually sing in public) as I rode, reminding myself to just keep asking. Over and over. And he kept calling.

Murmur, murmur, murmur. Trot-walk, serpentine, leg-yield, serpentine, circle, circle small, circle large, straight, counter-flex, trot-walk, etc. Moon thought fight, brace and race. I thought murmur, murmur, murmur, ask, ask, ask.

And then it happened.

It clicked for him.

He started getting soft.
He started getting round.
He started transitioning beautifully.
His trot became rhythmic.
His head lowered.
His mouth softened.
His lips lightly chewed.

And I couldn't dare ask him to stop. I'd sat there patiently for 40 minutes waiting for this to happen. I kept thinking, like yesterday, "Maybe this isn't it?". But it sure seemed right. And genius me, didn't bring a camera to prove it to myself.

I kept working on it. As W said to me this week "Ride every step". So I did.

We spent 20 minutes at a trot, that was incredible for him. I ACTUALLY felt like if we did this enough, like THIS, he'd be gaining topline and muscling.

Sometimes he'd come out of it, sometimes he's brace, sometimes he'd pull down. But I'd murmur, ask again and he'd come back to me.

Over and over again.

It was some of the best 20 minutes of our dressage career to date. I felt like someone standing on the sidelines would actually think "That's a dressage horse", instead of "There's a quarter horse trotting 'round".

By this point, it had been an hour at least. He was sweating, he was keeping his awesome round form, and I was sooo proud of him that I called it a day. His halt was perfect.

I undid his girth and walked him out by hand, knowing that he deserved the time. We worked through the struggles, and it felt great.

So tomorrow we're slated for our practice show date. It's not going to be anything fancy, just a chance for those showing this summer to try out their tests under the premise of being judged. I'm hoping to bring out the tall boots to start breaking them in, and will probably swap my blue-jeans for a nice pair of breeches. Moon's mane will get a nice running braid, his tail will hopefully de-crinkle by tomorrow and I'll give him a good brushing to get him shiny. Since I haven't any real plans for the day, I figure, why not ; ) Wish I had some clippers to trim up those fetlocks and carve a bridle path in his mane!

I brought his bridle home to buff and punch some holes in (yes, I admit I just tied a knot in his throat latch to get it to fit...proof again that's he's not a horse : P ).

I also measured and brought home his fleece 1/2 pad to give consideration for a Thinline pad. I honestly can't decide what to buy. I also have a pad that's shimable and am considering the much cheaper option of just buying thinline shims and using them in that pad. Who knows.

Since I have lots of time tomorrow afternoon between the practice show and the new barn's boarders' meeting, I might just haul out my tack box and start organizing for the move. H's given me approval to start moving my gear over and what better to do on a nice Saturday afternoon? Other then a trail ride...which we might sneak in too!

Wish us luck tomorrow!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rain drops keep falling on my head...

I wandered into the tack room this evening, rain still pouring down outside (occassionally turning to snow), and felt water dripping onto my head. Except I was inside...

And my tack box was wet. And my brush box...and the floor was soaked...the saddle on the rack was wet...

...and the ceiling was leaking. : O

So I moved the saddles under the leaking spot to new, dry racks, placed W's saddle pad which had absorbed most of the moisture (better then a saddle!) where it could dry off, and scooted my tack box over enough to get it out of the drip zone.

And then trudged back through the mud puddles to the house to let W and her dad know.

Boourns. W senior (he's a W too...) showed up at the barn by the time I led Moon out of his stall (yes, they spoiled him and brought everyone in for the icky weather!). And quickly identified that the vent flaps on the canvas building (that lovely canvas arena also covers the viewing room, tack room and side entry) were wide open, and with the east wind, the rain was streaming in for most of the day.

: ( He got them all closed and cleaned up as much of the water puddles in the barn as he could. I felt pretty bad for him, as the weather wasn't nice and it's a royal pain in the arse. But at least they knew about it now, rather then the next morning or later that night.

Mr. Moon was muddy, and after a good brush down (and me breaking a sweat) I decided against "jazzing him up" in prep for show day. Largely because tomorrow he'll be running around in the mud again, defeating the whole purpose : P TOMORROW, I'll start working on getting him prepped, and then spiffy him on Saturday morning.

I had stopped at H's to grab her spare medium-wide gullet and after borrowing a screwdriver, I swapped Moon's wintec over to the wider gullet (from the medium that was already in it). I put it on Moon and stood back.

...hmmmm...I *think* I like it better. I'm not sure I have enough clearance around his wither when I'm sitting (it might be *just* enough), but I think I love how it reangled the saddle. His girth didn't seem to be cutting into his shoulder as much and sat a bit further back then before.

When I got on in the arena, I almost felt like my position improved as well. My legs felt more under me, or at least, easier to put under me. Anything less chair-seat-y is for the better!

I figured, well, let's send Moon out and see if he's any improved.

After a couple of circles, serpentines and changes of direction, I wanted to dismount. Quit. Get off. Bail. Drop the reins and stop riding.


He was awesome. So I had either tacked up the wrong horse, or it was too good to be true (and I best quit while I was ahead!).

Now, we're not talking headed to the Olympics awesome. Let's put this in context people. Yes, yes, he'd win hands down if there was a competition for "sweetness", but there isn't. Which reminds me, W senior informed me that his granddaughter *loves* Mr. Moon. Because he's such a sweet, kind, gentle and pleasant horse. My heart swelled.

Anyway, for a Moon, he was awesome. And for a Moon coming back from time off, after a gallop trail ride, a half-a$$ ring ride and a miserable lesson, he was spectacular.

I felt like something changed or clicked, more then anything.

I wondered about that change in gullet. Seriously wondered.

He was maintaining a lovely low head carriage and really rounding over his back. By the end of our ride, he had that lovely *woofing* at the trot. And his head carried so horizontal, his movement so rhythmic, his responsiveness improved.

I even felt like I could maintain a nice level of contact with him. I just kept staring at his head, amazed.

Did the change in gullet actually make it easier for him to round??? Seriously, was he understanding the concept of what I wanted from the start, but physically unable to do it? Or was today the result of yesterday's lesson? Or the time off? Or did I ride different? Was the gullet change a placebo? Was it spending the day warm and dry inside?? The fact he was with his buddies? Was it even real? Did I envision it as more then it was, to feel better about our crappy lesson???

I don't know yet. But I'm excited to find out! And very hopeful.

Boy, I hope he performs on Saturday like he did today!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Crazy-Horse Moment

Thankfully, the sun is out today. As short lived as that is likely to be.

Yesterday, as you may recall, was riding lesson day. Perhaps my last for awhile, but I'll get to that a little later...

For starters, it seems that many of the men of the world are suffering some seasonal-affected-disorder (SAD) or as I think more likely, limited-off-roading-disorder (LORD). Hence, in my life at least, the male was irritable and I sought the quiet peace of the barn instead of watching him growl at youtube videos of motorcycle engines. Seriously. And yes, I'm sure he'd have a rant about me, but he doesn't blog, so BLEH!

The rain that had fallen all day had turned into wet snow, but I didn't really care. I wanted a good warm up on my pony and have an awesome lesson. I was focused. Despite the miserable weather outside.

Boy was I surprised to find a horse trailer and truck in the driveway at W's. Boo. And then two more vehicles in the drive. Aurgh. So much for peace and quiet. Lovely ol'Spring Break.

I could see from the distance that Moon was standing in the now flooded paddock (it was *nearly* dry last Saturday), his rain sheet soaking wet and clingy to him. He looked sad. I suddenly felt SO good that I was smart enough to grab his winter blanket so I could take his rainsheet home to dry (nothing really dries in the barn because of the humidity and the fact it's not really "hot").

The barn was busy. We found a corner and I started taking off the layers of wetness. Thankfully his schneiders liner was dry! At one point while I was undressing him, he started poking the cats that were standing on the stall door in front of him. At the same time, a boarder was trying to get her rather stubborn horse to walk forward into the arena. She was working pretty hard, trying every tactic she could think of, including a light tap on the rump with the lead rope. I suddenly discovered how very easily people can misinterpret things without you meaning them at all!

You see, as she was tapping her horse on the butt, and as Moon was poking the cats, I said aloud "If you keep that up, he's gonna rip your face off".

: O

Okay, to me, totally innocent comment to my horse. You keep poking the kitty, you'll get a mitt-full of claws across your face. Silly horse.

Let's just say that the horse owner thought I was talking to HER!!! : O

Yup. As in "If you keep trying to force your horse to move, he's gonna go nuts and rip your face off lady."

So of course, she spun around and said "EXCUSE ME?!" looking rather perturbed.

I stared for a moment, realizing how grossly mistaken she was in thinking the comment was directed at her!!

"I was talking to Moon!" I hurriedly said, realizing how awful it must have sounded in her mind! "He's poking the cats and they're going to claw him in the face if he continues".

...needless to say, I'm not 100% certain she actually believed me! And I was actually a little irritated that she might think it had been directed at her. Then again, I was kinda just irritable period, so it probably had nothing to do with her.

Dried Moon off as well as I could and then tacked him up. Stood back and looked at his saddle fit again...

H is lending me a larger gullet to try, and I think that'll help things a little. I'm also hoping to pick up a thinline saddle fitter pad from the US. I'd love to get away without it, but it's the best pad I can find for easing back pain, and I really want to do everything I can to help him feel better. The recommendations for this pad are awesome and I potentially found an awesome deal on a used one online. Plus it's shimmable, so I can potentially make small saddle fitting improvements where needed.

I also suspect that adjusting the saddle will help my position, but only time will tell on that one.

Once ready to ride, I dragged Moon into the arena and was greeted by a busy ring. One horse just finished being driven but still hanging around, and two riders in a group lesson?? Never met any of the horses before, and Moon was a bit looky but keeping his head in the game. Wasn't even spooking in the locations where their horses were finding it scary.

Despite the rain that was blasting outside, the strong winds and the snow sliding down the side of the arena, we seemed to be holding things together. Until suddenly he started calling.

He turned into Mr. Stud. Was strutting his stuff for the ladies, calling and prancing and snorting. Gotta admit, his snort was pretty cute. But the calling was annoying.

We kept working and I thought he'd come around once they all headed out of the ring. W was set to start teaching when another horse came into the ring on a lunge. Owner asked if it'd be a problem is she lunged him during my lesson, just for a little bit.

I thought I'd be nice, and said yes.


Not the owner's fault, but the horse was kinda young and excited.

So there I was, intent on a gorgeous lesson on softness and contact and straightness and we were starting out rough but okay. Moon was still calling but we had moments of beauty. And after 3 weeks off, it was great.

...until Crazy Horse on the lunge line got stupid.

ZIPPING around his owner, bucking and kicking and having a tantrum.

Now Moon, in his wonderful nature, felt he should stand stock still the faster the other horse careened around his owner. Except when I'd bump him with my legs to keep him moving, and he'd SURGE forward then stop again. Then crazy horse kept getting crazier, Moon was bug-eyed and concerned looking, occasionally spooking as crazy horse would come around the corner at the same time he did (crazy horse was being lunged in the middle of the arena, so our two circles touched at one point).

I mumbled to W "I take it back. No lunging". : P

Of course, Crazy horse didn't want to stop. Took awhile to get him settled back down and then they headed out of the ring. Moon was still calling himself "horse" (hahaha) and I was pretty frustrated. Then he seemed deaf to my leg aids, refusing to walk on the wall and outright ignoring my cues to trot. My legs were tired because I myself haven't ridden much lately and there's ZERO fun in bumping a horse at EVERY step.

W finally handed me a crop. I admit, he got one smack that was harder then I intended, but we got a LOT better response after that. Granted, he still refused to ride along the arena wall, especially since the snow kept sliding off.

I know W could tell I was frustrated. I wasn't angry at Moon at all. I was just REALLY disappointed that our ride was NOT what I wanted. You can give me all the bull-crap, feel-good lines about "try your best" or "don't expect perfect" or "think about everything that went well", or "don't expect too much" or "appreciate the journey" or "there's a lesson in everything"...

Don't care.

Can honestly say, I didn't give a crap. He was ignoring me, fighting me, we sucked, the arena was spooky, he was calling like an idiot, I was hot and not riding well, he was stiff...

Oh, and I was irritable to begin with. And please, don't bother with the comments about having patience, or relaxing, or pressure or any other things that are supposed to make someone feel like it's not okay to just be irritable and frustrated with a crappy ride. I actually said to W at one point "I just want to beat him into it. But I suspect that's not an approved method of training".

Let's face it. I'm never going to beat him into anything. Ever. But I felt a bit better to confess my frustrations.

So, we rode. I felt kinda proud of myself at times for how cool and soft I stayed in the saddle despite his antics. There's definitely a time when I would have been irritated a whole lot faster and been stiff and resistant in the saddle. Up until the Crazy-Horse moments, I was actually feeling pretty level-headed and patient with the whole thing.

We worked and worked. He spooked occasionally (which means taking a step sideways) and only once lost his mind when a huge chunk of snow slid off the roof directly in front of us in the arena and crashed to the ground. He stopped on a dime and I wound up on his neck : P

He gave me some good moments. Moments for a horse out of work as long as him, were awesome. And when you add in the nasty weather, barn full of anxious horses (you could hear them kicking their stalls and biting each other) and nervous energy in the arena, he was pretty spectacular. W said he's come such a long way from last year, and he's starting to find a frame and work through himself in moments. Yes, there were a great many moments in that ride that sucked. LOTS. And I got stiff and bracey and he got stiff and irritable and all that. But who cares. It's always going to be an issue for us. And it's probably always going to irritate me. But that doesn't make me love him any less.

I'm doing alright by him. A couple more weeks and we'll easily be back where we started and continuing along.


I might be calling an end to my riding lessons.

The trailer upgrades are going to come at a price, and the easiest place to pull the $ from is my riding lesson allotment. I've weighed the decision and while it sucks (I LOVE getting Wendy's advice and help), it's a good choice. We're going to struggle a fair bit on our own, but you can't have help forever. Let's see what we can do on our own for awhile and enjoy the spoils of our choice by hauling out as frequently as possible.

So I've got two days to practice for our practice test on Saturday (I'm dining for my birthday tonight, so no riding). I've pretty much got my test memorized, but I was shocked to learn that the intent is for us to judge one another. YIKES! : O

Yup. I'm thinking this week I should try to break in my tall boots under saddle (ike, scuffing?) and I might get up early on Saturday to primp Mr. Moon for the "fun show". I mean, why not?! Braid his mane, polish his shoes, put on a clean white pad and ham it up!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Birthday Post

Well, my birthday is nearing to a close. They seem to lose their excitement as we get older (despite my best attempts) and since it was supposed to rain anyway, I didn't set out with much of a plan.

I had the day off work and the weatherman predicted a mild but windy day. I dragged myself from bed shortly after the sun rose, made a list, did some quick internet research over breakfast and then started on my phone calls.

I got a reasonable quote for sandblasting the trailer and drove out to get a new key made at the locksmith's. Who was closed until mid-April. The trailer parts dealer was too inept to measure the part I *specifically* asked if they had in stock, so it was too small. Then he told me if I had removed the jack foot in the first place, it wouldn't be lost. was me who lost a 40 year old jack foot... : P

I did manage to get a couple of small things I needed at the local RV parts dealer, and priced out some "last boxes" of oak flooring for the back doors. I actually think I can get away with a single box, and can get it for $40 at the local refit center. And I'm good with that. Now I just need to pick a width, color and buy a box.

I stopped by one more local sandblaster and got a quote from him. Then he told me he not only painted trailers, but also that he probably has a can of that beautiful GMC blue I was looking for...I could tell he was laughing just a little, as I stood there professing how I wanted it blue, while standing in my GMC blue jacket (seriously, he color matched it!), in front of my blue car, in blue jeans. : P I'm one of *those* girls...(well, I kinda am...H has a box-o-blue stuff for the trailer stashed for me, I've dressed Mr. Moon in all blue and the trailer will be pulled by a blue truck...).

I'm gonna give him a call back in a couple of days to find out if he has the paint. The price he quoted me (he gave me a "not more then, but probably less then...") was not unreasonable, considering it included labor and materials to sandblast, prime and paint. Essentially I'd drop the trailer off and get back a brand new trailer. At least after we re-epoxy the roof and get new tires (on backorder because my BF got a little carried away shopping for motorcycle parts instead...). Granted, he did rig up some replacement steel panels for the trailer today, so I couldn't complain too much that he worked instead of hanging out with me all day. Though he sprinted out the door to drive them to my folks on his motorcycle. No worries, I'll stay here with the dog and research trailer mats... : P

My dad hunted around locally for some checker-plate rock guard and can up nil. A little quick googling later and I found myself a supplier. Nice thick stuff that's protect the trailer and goes a little higher up then the old stuff. I figure if I cave and do this full-out, I might as well keep the paint from being chipped to heck. And since they have minimum sized rolls, there'd be enough to also checker plate the wheel well and the back doors...

I confess, I'm probably going to cut back on some lessons, eat a little more kraft dinner and wave goodbye to my tax return to do this thing right. The Blair Trailers are nearly extinct. I've found the daughter of the maker and even her trailer isn't in as good of condition. I have two choices. Spent a handful of change and get it in servicable condition. It'll last me 5 to 10 years before needing a lot more TLC. I'll put in about 150 hours of man-time, plus. It'll be ready to go by August.

OR, I can get it completely refinished, put in 20 man-hours on the "finishing touches" plus the roof refinishing. It'll cost me two handfuls of change (maybe $700 more), and I'll have a trailer that will last quite likely another 40 years. It's just not possible to give a quality de-rusting job with a wire brush, and it's not possible to give a quality prime/paint job in your back yard. That's the reality. Instead, this way it'll be essentially brand spanking new, rust free, best possible painting job, protected from stone chipping and really, rather beautiful. And should last and last...

I could realistically sell it for about what I put in, based on comparable trailers in the area. To the right person, maybe a touch more, the wrong person, a touch less.

I kinda wanna be that person that brings this trailer back to life. So that 40 years from now, when it needs its second overhaul, I can look at that person and say "She's given 80 good years. You find a trailer that can do that." Oh, and so I don't have to put in the effort every 5 years scrubbing the rust off it and wondering how much longer till my pony pops out the side... : P

She'll be customized, protected, beautiful and strong. She'll embody all the great innovation of the Blair family, and it'll be a trailer I can hopefully use for my entire adult life.

Ah damn it. What's another handful of change?



So after my adventure deciding to truly pimp my pony ride was completed, I picked up some groceries (what an exciting birthday) and then headed over to the barn. I rode through our dressage test for Saturday once (yikes) and then spent another 40 minutes bickering with Moon.

He's stiff. He is soooo resistant to bending left again, it's painful. And frustrating. Like we made sooo much backwards movement coming into show season. So I just focussed on trying to get him soft. Over and over and over. So much just at a walk, it was painful. He was lazy. When I pushed him, he'd surge and then fall back.

And of course, for not riding in so long, I'm stiff and sore and ache all over. I can still feel Saturday's gallop and I'm not too happy either. Oh, and all of yesterday's work on the trailer too.

After 40 minutes, I called it a day. I told W that she'd best get us working tomorrow. She only replied "He's just stiff". Yeah, but that doesn't make me feel better!
His left hind had some noticeable heat in it, so I threw a poultice on before letting him out. I'm seriously going to have to start wrapping him as I'm not happy about this leg.

I redid his tail knot to keep it from the mud and threw on his rainsheet and liner.

And then bit back a tantrum.

I know they're horses, but I desperately want to bite Curly-horse in the arse.

Moon's rain sheet had a hole in the shoulder. Nice. And a ton of bite marks on the rump, most which didn't rip through. THIS is why I cheaped out and spent $30 on it.

But his liner, his nice Schneider's liner, has two HUGE holes in it. One in the front where it would have been bit, and one a continuation from the bite in the rain sheet. I just threw it on him, closed my eyes, and sent him out. AURGH!

I'm gonna be doing a LOT of sewing come springtime.

Lastly, I dropped off my April board cheque and then left a note to W letting her know this was my month's notice. It's probably for the best, since she was lamenting about how many horses she had in the barn now and how many more would be arriving this spring.

Honestly, if it wasn't for the expected bouts of rain and the wonderful-ness of having an indoor arena, I'd be volunteering to head out early. I love the care, but I'm itching to move on. Be closer to the park for hacking out, which I'm learning is way less frustrating for me then trying to soften a stiff pony. Even though he needs it and I'm sure it won't take forever to get back in the game.

Wonder if my trailer will be ready to haul out at the end of the month??? : P

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Small (okay, LARGE) Divergence...

Most of you will hope for an assessment of our Thermal imaging event in this blog. But it isn't. Only because it's already late and I haven't begun putting too much more thought into it. Why? Because today was "Operation Pimp my Pony Trailer".

I walked into it thinking this would be straight forward. We'd haul the trailer I bought in January over to my dad's, weld on a patch for the back door that had rusted through, pull out the old wood to replace and I'd be all set to start rubbing the rust patches out with a wire brush over the week. Mid-April I'd put some coats of Rustoleum on it, and voila, refurbished pony trailer.

You remember, this one:

Well, I should've known better. My dad is Mr. Talented. My boyfriend is Mr. Perfectionist. When you make the mistake of putting the two of them together for a Celebratory Sunday Birthday where you begin operation "Pimp my Pony Trailer", you wind up with serious pimping.

....except pimping takes time and $$. And who would expect them to understand show season the way a horse-obessed girl would??

Let's start with my dad grinding the hinges off the trailer. Yup, from the back doors.


Well, he was pretty convincing that I might want to have removable rear doors. You know, in case the horses load better without them. So off with the hinges I say!

We pulled out all that rotted wood in the rear doors and found some "cancer" (aka. rust roles) in the bottom of the left door. So we cut the bottom of the door off. And Dad doesn't want it looking like a half-a$$ job, and since the other door has the beginnings of rust as well, we hack that one down too.

All the wood needs to be replaced. So tomorrow, I'm off to hunt down some replacement tongue and groove solid wood to replace it with. I suggested I buy some end of stock oak flooring. The BF thinks it's a great idea. I joke I'll get some excess and line the tack area with hardwood floors.

The BF thinks it's a great idea.

See any future issues here?! I've begun on the path to serious pimping.

So we've got the doors off. We pull the old plate off, since Dad can weld the holes and I can make a new licence mount (with the light I bought) for lower on the trailer. Sweet. We pick a spot to mount the brake module later on. Sweet.

Dad asks who the idiot was that welded patches over the old open stock sides. I don't know. A chisel comes out. The patches are easily hacked off. Dad proclaims: "They were sh*tty welds anyways".

The BF says he's gonna do up some sweet opening windows to replace them. I put my head in my hands.

The crummy weld job has left a fair bit of crud and rust around them. No perforation though. The BF suggest new rock guard since the old stuff is battered. So Dad pulls the old stuff off...

And we find 4 small patches of rust perforation, since the rock guard was added by a later owner and not properly sealed. Dust got behind it, collected moisture and it rusted. BAD people! So Dad's going to weld some new patches there too. And the BF will rig them up.

Dad tells me to buy some weatherstripping for the door. Then removes the handle and the window. The BF promises to polish the window so it's clear again. And buff the stainless. Dad gives me the  handle to take to the locksmith tomorrow to have a key made.

We remove the old tow-chains. They're rusted and have been lengthened with chain too weak to hold the weight of a full trailer of horses. I'm given instructions to purchase replacements.

I need to buy a new jack plate. And I'm told they're no longer made in the size I need, so I'll bring it back to Dad's and he'll weld it up to fit.

We pull off the old canvas rock guards on the wheel wells. Those will be replaced with some checker plate as well.

We remove all the old reflectors, which will be replaced with nice metal trimmed ones.

The mats are pulled.

My dad suggests we recoat the fiberglass roof with a nice white gel coat resin. It'll stop the caulky lines that keep running down it and allow it to last longer. The BF, poking around, discovers that some of the rivets that attach the roof have let go. Dad and him stand around agreeing they need some membranous grommets under them or something.

Suddenly the decision is made that the roof will come off. I mean, it'll make it easier when I get it sandblasted.

Say what?

Yes. Tomorrow I'm off to get a quote to have the trailer sandblasted, head to toe. To something called "White Steel"? Or something.

After all that, and a long discussiong regarding the painting process (yes, rustoleum is no longer good enough), I'm on my way to getting a quote from Maaco to have the whole thing repainted as well.

And after removing the rock guard, we saw the original color. BEAUTIFUL color. An awesome blue with small bits of shimmer. Sigh.

Yup. We'll investigate putting it back to its original color. 1974 Chevy Blue.
I believe this is about the point when we called it a day. Everything that could (and in some cases, couldn't) be removed from the trailer, had been. I was given a long list, including door holders (smart, to keep the doors from swinging closed into the horses during loading), and every other part we had mentioned to pick up.

Then my mom, my wonderful mom, hands me a birthday card, lightly stuffed and a whispers "for the trailer". She knows. I know. We don't do things half-a$$ around here anymore. Happy 13th Birthday Moon, this is all you're getting, you spoiled pony!

For my birthday tomorrow, I'm visiting 2 sandblasting businesses to get quotes. I'm stopping to get a quote from Maaco for a repaint. I'm speaking to the paint company about getting the metallic Chevy blue paint. I'm going to Princess Auto and Metro trailer sales for a handful of parts. I'm stopping at the locksmith to have a key made. I'm searching out a distributer of checkplate rock guard, as well as a slide window that will fit.

I'm getting some weather stripping and new plastic to recover the bum chains.

Yup. And my trailer sits half naked and kinda sad looking on my folk's driveway. To be honest, I still haven't tried fitting my pony in it! At this point, I'll jam him in if he doesn't fit. I'm now nearly in for full restore, barring insane prices for the sandblasting and repainting. Though it very well could be finished (including my gorgeous saddle racks, and hardwood tack flooring : P) by May.

Yup, operation pimp my pony trailer is in full force. And to be honest, I'm thrilled about it. My dad and BF are stellar at refurbishing, and I know it'll be incredible when it's finished. Anyone ever see our camper rebuild!?

Anyone wanna lend a hand???!

And finally, our before (as in, the day I bought it), and Now (as in, after the special projects start...)
(Now...Note, there aren't any DOORS!))


Seriously, this is going to be an INTERESTING adventure. You know, with 4 day until our first practice show, 3 weeks out of saddle, 4 weeks to our first travel adventure and a whole lot of scouting going on tomorrow!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Heat Signatures

As promised, (consider it an early birthday present), the BF and I headed out to the barn this evening to thermal image Mr. Moon. The weather has cooled WAY down and was raining all day, which almost made for a perfect time to do the thermal imaging.

Largely because any heat produced would be as a result of his own body and muscles.
(Moon, before being ridden. We can see the marks left by his girth (I think the dirt was clinging to the cooler areas since he was let out yesterday still damp). We can see a mark where my calf would have rubbed just behind the girth marks. We also see some heat in his lower back, which we'll examine further).

We looked at all of his hooves before exercise and it was pretty uninteresting. His hooves were relatively cool, he had no abnormal heat signatures on his legs (all heat was uniform in pattern, and therefore from blood flow), and his back was relatively uninteresting as well. We saw some minor increases in heat where his rain sheet was rubbing around his neck, as well as heat where his winter blanket had taken the hair off his chest.

(Stock image of uneven heat signature in hoof)
(Stock image of even heat signature in hoof)

(We see even heat in Moon's hooves post-exercise. Yellow patches were all sand stuck to his hooves!)
(Again, uniform heat signatures. This time, pre-exercise so they're cooler. The heat in his legs was uniform on both sides).

I saddled him up and went for a 15 minute ride of walk-trot-canter (screw leads) around the arena to warm up his back and body. The intent was to look for abnormal or inconsistent heat signatures on his saddle panels, so he was ridden with no pad between his back and the saddle.

I rode him straight back into the barn, we shut the door to keep the drafts out (wind, not the horse), and infrared'ed him.

From there, we captured images of the panels of his saddle. THIS was pretty interesting...
(Stock image of proper fitting saddle)

(Moon's saddle. As you can see, pretty uniform heat across all panels (our color range is set a little higher then the stock image, so more white patches).

(Again, nice uniform heat across all panels.)

We also captured numerous images of his back and using the laser pointer built into the camera, were able to pinpoint exact heat spots.
(Heat spots over his back where the rear panels of the saddle sit. Note slightly more heat on his right then left side. Image is looking towards his rump).

 (Same back showing heat from rear panels, looking towards Moon's head this time)
(Again, looking towards Moon's head. Slight cool spot on his left side (bridging), and extra heat on the rear right panel).

We saw very little excess heat from his shoulders, and the obvious increase where my calves had been on his sides. Ditto for my butt and legs in the saddle.
(You can see where my calf rubs. Interestingly, this same spot was hot (even to touch) BEFORE he was saddled and ridden. Perhaps left over from my leg rubbing during our gallop yesterday??)

The images of interest??

For starters, the back of his saddle panels are pressing on his back. I had seen some rubbing in these same locations when he was being ridden in the cotton pad a month ago (and some hair loss), and in the infrared we could easily see high heat spots in these areas.
He had minimal heat over his shoulders and a nice cool line down his spine.
(Hot spot on back panels, showing cooler down spine (to left of image)).

His hooves had all warmed up with the exercise, but overall they all had the same heat patterns. There was a bit more heat in all of the grooves, leaving me a little suspicious about some premature thrush growth in the areas.

(Right fore hoof, with suspected bruising/abscessing. Not that there's more heat on the one side of the hoof. Heat around the frog was consistent in all hooves, after exercise).

The only other thing of note was his hind right cannon, which had a small patch of high heat. It was just around where he had that swelling last summer that had him lame for a week, and it only appeared after exercise.
(Looking toward's Moon's rump at his hind legs. Note the heat spot on his left cannon).

(Closer view of the heat spot).

This is also the leg that the farrier thought he had been sore on.

I suspect that he's probably got some chronic, long term issues with the tendons on this leg, probably confirmational in origin (let's face it, he does toe out a bit).
(Moon, under saddle. Note that we can see the increased heat along his back). 
(Me, Moon and a barn cat. Yes, he climbed up there. Guess everyone wanted to be imaged!)

(All stock images thanks to: (All of Moon's thermal images thanks to my awesome BF!).

So what does this all mean?!

We'll get into that tomorrow. And apparently, I'll also cover off how freakin' awesome the BF is...cause he wouldn't stop complaining if I didn't promise that... : P

Friday, March 23, 2012

Back in Action

I snuck out of work early. It's true. After spending 3 days out of the province, working long days (till midnight once!), I thought I deserved a little me time. Okay, that's a lie. I thought I deserved a little pony & me time!

I fled from the office building just before noon and raced out to the barn. Moon was happily chowing down on his hay, and didn't seem bothered when I dragged him into the barn. Quick grooming and into the arena for some lunging. Let's see if he's sore barefoot.

Nope. Totally sound at a trot on the lead line.
I hoped on and trotted him bareback.

Yup, he's got a sore back. It's not noticeable really right now, but when I bounced too much (I seriously was letting myself bounce just to test my theorem) he would hollow and then get sore for a few steps. Which makes me pretty happy I took some well offered advice and emailed a quality saddle fitter. Time to bite the bullet and do something about it.

Knowing he was sound in hoof and leg, I took him back out of the ring.

And I cleaned him up properly and put his saddle on for the first time in 3 and a half weeks.


I dragged his sorry pony butt outside and mounted up.
And we rode. Through the back field, across a dry marsh, through a soggy marsh (Moon was less then impressed with his hooves being sucked into the mud!)...through a forest and across a field.

It. Was. Awesome.

You can only appreciate your time with your horse fully when you've had time apart. Or time not riding.

So I found a big field. It's the local community club's soccer pitch, which wasn't in use (there's two nicer fields set up) and nicely mowed. Dry too, so I wouldn't have to worry about leaving dents (THAT would be rude).

And I asked Mr. Moon if he wanted to run.
Any guess what he replied??!


We ran.

He did 4 laps of the field, loving every moment of it. And yes, he bucked once! Not in a mean way, but in a happy, free, horse sorta way.
On our last run down the long side, a woman was driving up her driveway that ran beside the field. Moon and I were just trotting along, so I thought she might enjoy him cantering alongside her. Well, he switched to a nice canter until her vehicle started pulling ahead of him...

And then he shifted gears and surged even faster!


I couldn't help but laugh, even though one of my feet came out of the stirrup and the inseam on my jeans were rubbing my calves raw.

Can't say we won the race, but he was sure enjoying trying!

And then we trotted a bit to make sure he wasn't showing any lameness (none) and walked back home, letting him dry off as we went (he was soaking!).
The only *weird* part was when we were walking back down the road in the ditch. And there was an elderly lady out for a walk getting her mail. No biggie, we're quite rural and it's horse country. Or so I thought...

She was staring. I admit, as a horse lover, I stare at ponies too. So I smiled, waved and called out "Good afternoon!" to her.

She turned on me. Glared. "Is your horse going to attack me?"

(Evil front of the beautiful Cooks Creek Church. Where folks still pilgrimage to...only you know, instead of on foot, in huge luxury buses. But still, we made our own pilgrimage on horseback!)

I stared. I seriously just stared for a moment, Moon halted and relaxed under me.

"Um, no. He'll be standing right here where I tell him. He listens to me." I replied, trying to figure out if she was joking.

She wasn't. "I'm scared of your horse" she replied.

I sighed. "Well he's a good horse and is a big sweetheart. No reason to worry".

With that, I urged him off in a walk as fast as he could, bewildered how ANYONE could think my horse, or any horse sedately walking in a ditch could POSSIBLY be compelled to ATTACK a person.

Seriously, did she think he was an oversized guard dog??!

Oye. I reminded myself that some people are scared of horses. I mean, if we can be scared of harmless little bugs, why not 1000 lbs of muscle and speed? Even when they look like this:
So that's that. At the moment (today) Moon's sound and happy. I cooled him off on the lunge line (ooo, free hot walker  ; )   ), and he still trotted out sound!

I'm also waiting for the BF to bring home (hopefully today) an infrared camera. You might recall that last summer we used it on Moon's hooves to make sure they were healthy (and we got great readings) and general heat sensing.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to save any of the images last time, so I could only post examples. BUT this time hopefully we'll be able to do it pre- and post- ride, as well as save the images that we collect.

I'm *hoping* we can detect spots where his back is sore, as well as where his saddle might be pinching or causing pressure points. Lastly, to scan his limbs for any signs of injury that might relate to his recent bout of lameness.

With a heat signature from the saddle, I can hopefully come up with a short-term correction to improve saddle fit (be it change gullet as planned, riser pads, etc.). Anyone promote the thinline pads? I'm wondering if that might help a little bit, as they're well reviewed.

(This one's for you Allison! Moon's Haffie bud!)

This afternoon I also bought a little organizer for my horse trailer, and will start filling it up over the next couple of weeks. For my birthday my dad is spending Sunday helping me start the trailer upgrades, so I know it's going to be a fun, pony filled weekend!!

(Moon says: "Get this human off of me!!")

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Away Again.

It'll be a few more days before I get to see this cute face again. Though, does anyone else think he looks a little like a holstein cow, in the face? I totally see it....

Anyway, I'm set to fly out to Edmonton on business this afternoon, and desperately wish I could be visiting him right now instead of packing. Though a huge part of me wants to just pretend he's not sore, go away and come back to a sound pony.

The time is ticking. Between believing we're dealing with something self-repairing and no big deal, and believing it's something more chronic. Next Tuesday is 3 weeks from when I first discovered him lame, and he's been worse, he's been better and he hasn't given me any real sense of what's wrong. Just some suspicious bruising that's hoof tested positive. And there IS some data suggesting subsolar bruising can take awhile to heal. But if I can see the bruise, doesn't that make it an old bruise??

I left a message with a local vet, to discuss what she would suggest as far as diagnostics. "My" (aka. the only vet who's looked at Moon) vet doesn't do any sort of diagnostics on horses (beyond hoof testing) and refers out to the local vet anyway. So I'm just gonna skip the middle man in this process.

I hope today to also chat with a popular lameness vet from the city and get his opinion as well.

Where do I go from there? I get my trailer fixed up (hello tax return) and I haul his bum out to the vet. The only issue is that the weather is being a typical March Mad Hatter. Seriously. Yesterday I was totally bummed that it was going to rain all Sunday and then Monday be freezing rain. NOT condusive to trailer repairs. Nor condusive to dragging a trailer out of a wet and well-treed property.


Today they're saying a slight chance of rain on Saturday and dry the rest of the weekend. The BF and I modified our haul-out plan and he's gonna peek in on the property Thursday. If it's dry, we'll haul Mr. Trailer out on Friday evening. Which means I might even get to start ripping it apart on Friday when I'm home!

Which means if Moon continues to be lame over our schooling show weekend, I'll book him in to the vet for my day off on April 2nd. That'll be the mark of 4 weeks of lameness, and long enough to warrant at least some nerve blocking and an xray.

I've scheduled a lesson with W for March 27th and if Moon's still sore, will see if she'll give my lesson on the Black Stud and let me use him for the practice show.

So I have a plan. Oh, and I called up Durasole yesterday and wow. Small company or what? Anyway, they were supposed to call me back in the afternoon to let me know where I can buy it in Canada. Guess I'll give them another call today. I figure I'd best get on with the hoof hardening in case sole bruising is our beast. Plus with (hopefully) lots of trail riding coming up.

The other company I've been chatting with is Fiske's. After Moon's allergic reaction, they let me know they've never seen that in any other healthy horse. One was immunocompromised, the other had a different product already on the area. Strange.

They asked me to play detective and reapply to a healthy area, which I'll do later this week when I'm back. I AM a scientist at heart ; )

I went out on a limb (totally not the normal me) and asked if they would refund my purchase price. Since I bought the 1L container for nearly $40 and now can't possibly use it. And no one at my barn is gonna buy it off me after what happened to Moon!

And they said yes! Yippee! I have to say, they've been great to deal with and if I got another horse, I'd give Fiske's another try. Moon is just a little freak (kinda like his owner) and I certain can have faith in a company that stands behind their product. And is interested in investigating the "odd" occurences.

In other news, I'm going to slowly start moving my gear over to the new place since we're just a month away from the big MOVE. Hoping Mr. Moon will be sound by then. I've had a great email chat with one of his future paddock mate's owner and she's awesome. The one who graciously lent me her horse for the trail ride this past weekend. It's going to be a cute and funny little herd, as they're all M's. Moon, Manny and Merlyn.

I really desperately want to start de-fattening Moon and know I'm just a month away from the start of the program. H, the BO makes everyone in the back pasture use Hockey Nets for feeding hay. They're like portable slow-feeders that people use in stalls, and work amazing. Her guys have all lost a ton of weight over winter, instead of being chunky like mine : P When I picked up our orders in the States a couple weeks back I told her I'm moving with mine!! It's just pure genius and they last a fair while at only $60 bucks a pop. A bit of a pain to fill (at least they'll almost be into grass season when we move) but certainly better then dealing with founder!

H and I are also going to start Moon's vaccination program when I'm home, so he's all set-up when we move over. He'll get the regular 3-way, plus West Nile, Tetanus and Influenza. If he goes to the vet, I'll get him poked for Rabies as well, or hold off until a vet comes around.

I'm not sure I made mention of my Sunday afternoon visit with Moon, but he'd recovered completely from the hives. He was worse at trot then Sunday, especially when I was riding him bareback. Swapped him over to a halter and lunged him (he's more like his old lunging self then he was a week ago) and he was noticeably better. Strange. No head bobbing at lunge, head bobbing when ridden.

Something to investigate for sure.

This of course, was with boots on, so I'm gonna try him with, without and with pads the next time I'm out.

My proudest moment when I was out in the arena working with him, was when a couple of the kids that work at the barn were goofing around. I don't fault them for being goofy, it makes the day more enjoyable and most of the horses were outside in the paddocks anyway. But at one point I was lunging and they were charging up and down the stairs yelling at one another. Wooden stairs. Big, loud and noisey. And Moon was a gentleman. Just a little wide eyed, but totally sane. I gave him a great big kiss for being such an awesome boy!

So that's that. Everyone cross your fingers that the weather holds out this weekend, the ground dries AND that Mr. Moon finds soundness!

Last thing. Any suggestions on saddle pads that help alleviate back pain?


Wait. Just got in touch with the local vet...

She says based on Moon's history, there's a good chance he's just dealing with a sole bruise which needs time and some shoes. However, with the length of lameness, a lameness exam might be warranted.

So $75 for exam, $25 per nerve block, $30 per xray (4 per joint) and travel time.

Guess I'm sticking to the plan and will begin my investigative procedure upon my return. The plan:

1) Moon on concrete, barefoot.
2) Moon on concrete with Moon-boots.
3) Moon on concrete with Moon-boots and pads
4) Moon on sand, barefoot
5) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots
6) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots and pads
7) Moon on sand, barefoot, ridden bareback
8) Moon on sand, barefoot, ridden with saddle
9) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots, ridden bareback
10) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots, ridden with saddle
11) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots and pads, ridden bareback
12) Moon on sand, with Moon-boots and pads, ridden with saddle

Then call vet if the Moon-boots (and/or) pads aren't making a difference (bruising), or if he's the same with or without saddle (sore back).

Now, I should probably start packing... ; )