I've got a few posts in the works, including a DIY Tutorial, Christmas Festivities, and stuff about our foster pony, but for now all I can give you is this montage of a month worth of progress on Junior's head wound. As you can see, there is HAIR!!! Nearly everywhere!!! Woot!!!! The growth is approximately the same as in the area he scraped the hair off of just below his forelock, so I am finally breathing a sigh of relief that Junior will not be COMPLETELY mangled forever. I know you all told me he'd heal fine, but I was a doubter.
Hard to imagine this was the bloody flap of skin just 6 weeks ago!
***** Hey! Thanks for visiting my blog! This post has been very popular and I'm so pleased to hear about all of you making your own bit warmers! I have created a pattern and tutorial for an updated and improved design of my popular bit warmer! It is for sale on my Etsy page: Or you can read about the launch at this post: Bit Warmer Pattern. You can also Buckstitch Becky's on Facebook! ******
Here is the original post from November 10, 2010:
How do you warm up YOUR bit in cold weather? Are you a hand holder? A jacket-tucker? An armpit squeezer? A breather?
Or perhaps one of these:
I am usually the girl that wears the bridle around her neck inside her jacket/vest while tacking up, which is easier with my western bridle than my English because the reins snap off/on and there's no browband. It works, but I find it somewhat cumbersome. And as much as I'm okay with "takin' one for the team" when necessary, if that bit is too cold to put in his mouth, it's probably too cold to put inside my jacket. To me, a $40 electric bit warmer is not necessary, but I do want to get that bridle out of my coat.
So I made a microwaveable and reusable bit warmer. And I will now show you how I did it. I hunted around for a tutorial but couldn't find one. I found lots of tutorials on homeopathic hand warmers and sort of modified what I saw there with what I saw in ready-made bit warmers.
Please bear with me. I've never done this kind of tutorial before. PLEASE feel free to ask any questions. You can comment or email me at email@example.com. If you click on the photos they should open larger in another window. The black on black makes it hard to see, sorry.
I used a scrap of polarfleece, 2" of sew-on hook-n-loop tape (velcro is a brand name... this was cheaper), rice, and my sewing machine. I suppose you could do it by hand if you really wanted to. Don't use anything with glue/adhesive, especially the hook-n-loop tape. It won't stick so you'll have to sew it and sewing through that sh*t is a one-way ticket to frustrationland... trust me on this one.
Fabric: Be wary of synthetic fabrics as they can melt if they get too hot. Plain weave cotton is actually the safest, but I wanted more insulation and I already had the fleece in my stash. It seems to be just fine after a minute in the microwave. The other bonus of fleece is that you don't need to treat the edges as they will not unravel, so you can be cruder with your construction techniques. For instance, you really don't need to turn the seams inside, but you would need to if you use woven cotton.
Filler: Flax seed, Rice, field corn, and oats were all suggested on some of the tutorials but I also found warnings that flax seed can burn. We had a "salt bag" when I was a kid and I think Kosher salt would work, just heat thoroughly in a dry pan first, before sewing into the bag.
1. Decide what size to make it. Most bits are around 5" or 5.5". If you use a ported or otherwise bulky mouthpiece, you will want to consider that, too. Then add for seam allowance. I cut my fleece 6" x 9" and used approximately 1/4" seams.
2. Place your velcro. It will be much easier to sew without the rice involved! Keep the velcro inside of where your seams will go, about 1/2" to 3/4" from the edges. The "male" (rougher & pokier) side goes on TOP. Don't ask me why, I don't make the rules I just teach them. I just did a box stitch, but you can give it an "X" through the middle if you want extra stability, but this won't be under much stress.
3. Place your two pieces "right" sides together and stitch along the sides and bottom. Clip your corners and turn "right" sides out. With the Polarfleece you COULD place the fabric "wrong" sides together and eliminate the step of turning right sides out - it's up to you.
4. Double check to make sure the velcro lined up correctly. Use pins to mark where the bag will fold. This is where you will stitch to form two rice filled chambers, and one flap.
5. Add rice to the bottom of the bag. I think 1/4 cup is good for each chamber in this size. I didn't actually measure. I filled the bottom one too full on this first trial run. It works, just have to pull it tight to close.
6. Stitch the chamber closed, backstitching at each end. I found it helpful to pin a "seam" about 1/2" to keep the rice away from where I was sewing. Repeat for the second chamber.
7. Fold in the top of the flap and sew closed. If you left the seams on the outside in step 3 you can do so here as well.
8. Ta dum! You have a bit warmer! And a happy pony! And a happy YOU!
My test run in the house proved the bit to be warm in less than 5 minutes, and was still warm after 30 minutes. After an hour it was barely warm. My first test run at the barn was successful. I put it on the bit, went out to the field to get Junior, brought him in, groomed and tacked him and the bit was about perfect when I went to put it in. My second in-barn test failed, but it was MUCH colder in the barn and I spend goodness knows how much time effing around with a potential christmas card costume for Junior. By the time I tacked up it was stone cold. I guess you really have to get to in within that 30 minutes!
Microwaving the rice produces "moist heat" and you might notice moisture on the outside of the bag or condensation on the bit.
Do not expose to excess moisture - this is NOT washable.
This bit warmer will not last forever. It is important to allow the bag to cool and dry after each use.
If the bag does get wet, or a musty or otherwise unpleasant odor, toss it and make a new one, or just open your seams, let out the rice, launder, and re-fill.
Do not microwave for more than 60 seconds.
Future plans: Develop a WASHABLE microwavable version. A company called "LickityBits" claims their corn filled ones are machine washable but I would be hesitant about that. Some of the bit warmers use plain old hand warmer packets but the disposable ones cost money each time you use it, and the reusable ones have to be boiled to be recharged. Why can't they make this hot/cold pack as small hand warmers?!?! The best thing would be to find microwaveable hand warmers that can be removed from the bit warmer and placed in your pockets/gloves. Once the bit is warm you warm your hands. Plus, being able to remove the packs would make the fabric part washable. Not sure if you've noticed, but I like "washable" a LOT. Someday when I'm rich and famous/win the lottery I will have a huge commercial washer and dryer in my barn ... and I would probably ruin the waterproofing by washing them every week... :)
This is my 4th Thanksgiving since moving to Ohio. My school schedule makes it difficult to travel home to MN for Thanksgiving. We have finals through the day before Thanksgiving, I need to be at meetings next week to plan Winter Quarter, and being the busiest travel time of the year, flights are very expensive. Instead I opt to spend a few weeks over Christmas and stay here for Turkey Day. The first year I made a whole Turkey dinner for myself and just quilted all weekend. It was kind of fun, but I decided it was too much work, too much to clean up, and WAY more leftovers than I could fathom eating. The 2nd year I made a Pumpkin Pie and at a Hungry Man TV dinner. That made my mom cry a little, but I thought it was sort of funny. Last year I was given an opportunity to catch a car ride with two friends from work who were headed up to northern MN for the Holiday. I decided to keep it a secret from everyone but my Mom. I would have loved to surprise her too, but I needed someone to let me in the house at midnight when I got to my sister's house! We left Wednesday as soon as we were done with our finals and started driving. We got to my sisters and everyone was sleeping. I called my mom's cell phone to have her let me in the back patio door. I crawled into bed in on the futon in the playroom and could hardly get to sleep. I felt just like a kid too excited to sleep on Christmas Eve! Early in the morning Mom brought Dad in and said "I got you a Thanksgiving Present" and my Dad's eyes bugged out a little with disbelief. Then we all went upstairs to surprise my sister. There were a few tears and lots of hugs. I was always close with my family, moving 6 different times before I graduated High School, but since moving I have more fully realized the importance of appreciating the people in your life who love you. In this world where there are so many people out there who would do you ill, it is a wonderful gift to have people who love you unconditionally, without hesitation and with reckless abandon.
I miss my family today, but I will be there in 3 weeks. Today I have the gift of a dear friend who drove from MN to spend the Holiday with me. Yesterday we made pies, and today we'll make a Turkey dinner... if he ever gets up.... But first we need to head up to the Barn to give Junior his Holiday apple and get his stall cleaned.
I am thankful for so many things. My job, my health, my fuzzy pony, my dear friends and my wonderful and silly family.
I. Am. Exhausted. I am embarrassingly out of shape. I may be very very painful tomorrow. Not only did I clean 5 stalls but we had our first jumping lesson today. That's how out of shape I am. It was pretty sweet, though. He was a superstar. He just took in all in stride. He never spooked or got hot. He was willing to go and willing to stop. She had me do a gymnastics line over and over and adjusted as we went. Each time she had me finish the line by stopping at the wall to teach him to listen and be calm after jumps. He certainly bumped a number of rails (mostly with his rear feet) and knocked several down, but how could he not with an unbalanced blob on his back?!? I was such hard work trying to stay in the right balance. I was smacked in the ass with the cantle a good number of times. But you have to start somewhere, right? Monet was very pleased with him, gushed about how perfect he is for me and how much she likes him even though he's not a warmblood. :)
I couldn't help thinking about how surprised I am that I'm doing this. Where did this set of cajones come from? Now, I know that to the few of you who jump normal grown-up fences know that this is kiddie stuff, but it has been about 10 years since I jumped and you know I lost my nerve somewhere in there! I jumped as a kid and wasn't afraid of it, but just the thought of jumping has freaked me out until very recently. It wasn't so long ago that I was nervous to canter him by myself. Loping over ground poles would terrify me 6 months ago. Granted he used to trip in the front a lot, and he hasn't done that since we moved barns.Doing the obstacles and going out on the trails across the creeks and over logs and down the steep hills has been good for us. He's finding his feet a lot better I guess, and I'm not interfering as much. I was all over him while jumping, of course, but I'll get better. There is work to be done!
At this point on the whirlwind tour of "What to do with a Western Pleasure Reject" we have done Trail Riding, Cowboy Challenge, Dressage, and Jumping. (If only we had a cart!) Is it okay if we like it ALL?!
*Disclaimer: This is NOT the safest nor smartest way to introduce your horse to anything as potentially terrifying as a tarp. I know this. I knew the entire time that something could have gone dreadfully wrong. Do not try this at home, kids. Or, if you must, do it in a much safer manner such as in a roundpen or with a rope halter and lead, NOT in a snaffle bridle and reins, while recording it at arms-lengh with your iphone....
A Tarp. I have a tarp. Ever since Junior refused to go near the scary cornfield in our 2nd fall, I've been meaning to try desensitization techniques with the tarp. I finally got around to taking it to the barn today. I wasn't sure how I should do it, if I should put it in the roundpen and just let him discover it? When I got to the barn I set the folded tarp in the arena on a chair. And then I forgot about it. I groomed him ground tied in the aisle and he was an angel. I tacked him up and brought him out to the arena. Oh yeah... the tarp. So I led him over to it and picked it up. He didn't care. I began to unfold it and it made noise. He didn't care. I unfurled it. He didn't move. I lay it on the ground and he walked right over it. I backed him over it. I picked it up and shook it. He practically yawned. I threw it over him. He reached back and tried to chew on it. I pulled it off, threw it back over his face so he couldn't see. He backed up slowly while I pulled it off. I threw it back on and made him walk around until it fell off. He didn't care about it at all. I then left it in a heap in the arena, mounted and rode around and over it several times at a walk. I guess the obstacles and trail rides we've done have helped? Or maybe he'd been tarped before? He sure didn't give me that impression when we first encountered the rustling corn, or the small tarp blowing in the wind at one horse show.
After the tarp fun, we spent about 10 minutes trotting in 2 point and posting and I had to quit. I am embarrassingly out of shape. Tomorrow I have my 2nd lesson with Monet and I think we're starting the jumping process... not sure if that means we'll actually go over small cross rails or what. I've never taught a horse to jump, I'm not sure how slowly and carefully it needs to be done, but that's why I hire professionals. SHE intends to turn us into eventers, but I'm fairly certain if 10 minutes of trotting is tough on us, we are certainly not athletically inclined enough for eventing.... oh, and by WE I mean ME.
Ugh. It's beginning to look a lot like...Mud season. We had a good deal of rain yesterday and since it's fall the ground vegetation is sparse and it's prime time for mud. Junior decided to take full advantage of it. I know you horse people have seen this before in your own barns, but I had nothing else to share today. You've seen the video of him rolling in this stuff when it was dry. It's the kind of mud that dries quickly but turns into super fine micro-dust when you go to remove it. I was totally covered in it. Definitely a Neti Pot night! I found that my Shed Flower is perfect for this kind of mud, at least on the fleshy parts. It just billows out and clouds around and the bigger bits jump off and smack me in the face. Ick. I REALLY need to try out that shopvac!
Doctor J was out today to look at Mac and he took a peek at Junior's face and said it looks good. He said he'd like to see more hair, but if you look at the area below the place the skin tore, you can see more hair in today's photo than in the one from 11 days ago. I still hope there'll be more growth, but it's a start. I'm just still SOOO thankful it wasn't worse, he didn't rip his stitches out, and that it healed very well.
Just for funsies, I have put together a video tour of the barn. I started filming just after pulling into the driveway. No, I don't drive that fast, it's 400% speed. Other parts are 200% speed, just to save some time. The only thing missing is the barn cats. They were off somewhere being lazy. I was the only human there, too. It's so gloriously quiet there.
We have a new horse that the barn. All I know is that his hame is Rocky and he's a rescue. He's been in foster home. Not sure what he knows, how old he is, or anything else. He was a bit uneasy today since his arrival this morning. BM said he had great ground manners coming off the trailer. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's like. Cinnamon the gaited pony has gone somewhere else for the winter, and I heard Rugby is leaving in a few weeks.
You never know what you'll find while using Google Image Search. Today, while looking for "50's Airline Ad" I found this gem of American History:
Yup. You can mail order a real Mexican Burro! And a "Mess Less" pet, aka a rabbit-fur cat toy. Oh Spencer Gifts. And I thought inflatable dolls, Bongzilla, and Christmas Pornaments were your only seeds of poor choices.
Now, to be fair, I myself have mail-ordered many a living thing in my day. Namely, bunches and bunches of fuzzy day-old chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery. It seemed strange the first time Dad picked them up at the crack of dawn from the post office and brought the softly peeping box home. We would gently lift each one out of the shipping box and dip each beak into the water and then into the feed and then set them free into the refrigerator box in the basement, complete with brooder lamps. We only had one "bad" order where a few of the poor things perished on the journey. Other than that they were usually wonderfully healthy, bright, and alert upon arrival.
But a DONKEY!?!?! Mail order?
"What years of pleasure this real live Mexican Burro will bring you and your children. Loveable, huggable, long-earred, extra tame, extremely intelligent. Friendly to other animals. Easily hitched to a small cart. Economical to raise. Eats anything-straw, hay, alfalfa, corn, oats, grass, bread, etc." BREAD!?!?! Oh that's where the weirdos on Animal Hoarders got the idea. Easily hitched to a small cart? Easily HITCHED, yes. Easily trained NOT to run your children through a barbed-wire fence or into traffic? No. Safety was clearly NOT first here.
AND the best part is that they suggest a 3 month old BABY burro for "Children up to 5 years", and a Yearling for children up to 10 years. And I'm sure that didn't result in any injuries to child or burro!! I wish these ideas of "growing up together" had never started. That is a great idea for the family dog, not so much for the family Equine.
And my curiosity got the better of me and I HAD to find out if there were other examples of the insanity of mail-order critters and I found these...
Strombergs is still in business. My dad and I even visited them once in Pine City, MN. I can't remember if we bought anything. Ducks maybe? Sadly they are no longer in the endangered Ocelot business. That 1970's catalog of monkeys and anteaters placed the business in Fort Dodge, IA, but the logo is the same.
You're right, that IS a Skunk! And it IS just the thing for Christmas gifts! Thank heavens Ebay banned the sale of live animals!!!!! Can you imagine!?!?
I am somewhat speechless about today. But it's hard to keep a blog audience if you don't talk about the good stuff, too, so here goes.
Sometimes my horse is awesome. Sometimes he is an amazing creature who makes me happy to be alive, makes me proud of him and proud of myself. Sometimes he earns his keep.
Today was one of those days. I got to the barn around 4:30pm. I went out to the field and as soon as Junior saw me he began walking with his ears pricked towards the gate. I groomed him. He is SOOOO dusty right now I want to vacuum him. I might ask to use the barn shop vac pretty soon! I got out our showmanship chain and led him out to work on that a bit. He's been lazy to pick up the trot so I did get out a short whip for some encouragement. He was so good. He tried to bite me a few times. Playfully, of course, but still received swift "bites" back, and other than that he was great. We did everything, including a 360 DEGREE PULL TURN!!!!!! That earned him a HUGE "Good Boy" and big series of rough neck slaps (he seriously LIKES it) and the immediate removal of the chain to symbolize the end of the session. Using the chain for practice has helped him understand that it's work time.
Then we tacked up and headed out to continue our WHOA work. I got one foot in the stirrup and realized I didn't put my spurs on. I contemplated walking back to get them since he usually sucks at refinement without them, but I got on anyway, hoping I wouldn't regret it. Much to my surprise, he. was. awesome. He listened to my feet, he listened to my voice, and he even listened (a bit) to my seat! His pivots were super improved WITHOUT SPURS!?!?! He never played Giraffe once. He was just so awesome. So relaxed, so willing to listen to my aids. It was the perfect storm of RIGHT.
This kind of work is very encouraging. I'm glad that I have a horse I can work on different styles and different situations and he just does it all. We're not aimed for the olympics or the World Show, but I think this next year of showing will be even better for us. I am a little anxious (you've met me, right?) wondering how we'll do at shows without constant lessons. We've only taken 1 lesson since July and it was Dressage! My HOPE is that I'm creating a calmer, more adaptable horse and not just ruining the refinement I need for the open (stock type) shows I like. Days like today give me some hope!
It seems the worst is over for this particular injury. It has healed well, there is absolutely no swelling left and he is not sensitive in the area. It's hard to tell how much will remain hairless permanently, but there does seem to be more hair growing than I expected, so that's good. Since Dr. J said I didn't need any more aluspray on I cleaned most of it off so he's a bit easier to look at. :)
We've been working on showmanship. I checked in with KAT and I was having him move his front feet incorrectly for the pull-turn so we fixed that. In our riding we have been focusing on one thing: WHOA. Specifically a WHOA when asked and also keeping body kept round and in balance instead of sticking his head straight up. You know, stopping from the hind end. I'd LOVE for him to do that all off of a cue from my seat, but we're no where near that. For Horsemanship (and somewhat Equitation) you want to be able to stop with minimal rein action. If you watch good modern reining, their sliding stops don't have much rein contact at all. In the Horsemanship world, a "spur-stop" has been developed to get a quick, solid stop without using the reins. I am not interested in the "spur-stop." If I can't get it done with my seat, I'd rather use my reins. That's just me. It just seems that I can throw my weight around and he doesn't notice. Might be because he's learned to ignore the unbalanced riders on his back. Might be because he's never been taught. When he's tired and wants to quit (we rarely get to that point lately, though) he'll respond to my seat when I "quit" riding, but at a simple walk or trot or when he's willingly going forward he could care less what I'm doing in the saddle.
So first I worked on getting a whoa from a verbal along with the reins and seat. Now we're on to a whoa with a verbal and seat... if he's paying attention.... he pushes my buttons on purpose, I swear. Hopefully with a bit more work he'll learn to pay attention to my seat, too.
I'm doing all this because I still want to show and we really need increased refinement in order to be competitive. Ugh... SO much to work on. :)
Last Wednesday PBS premiered a documentary series called simply "Circus" about the Big Apple Circus. I don't want to ruin it for you, but in the first episode, during a rehearsal for the Equestrian act, a lovely bay paint took a tumble and cut his face open similarly to Junior's. I THINK THIS IS HIM. The episode showed him back in rehearsal and you could see a black shiny scar. Just so you know, when you google image search for "Big Apple Circus equestrian pbs" you get ALL sorts of random weirdness!
Weird little day we had today. I arrived at the barn to find my awesome farrier ready 30 minutes early. We got his feet trimmed and scheduled his next appointment.
Since we were done very early, I had some time to kill before Dr. Johnson came to remove the stitches. I didn't want to ride incase he came early so I decided to practice showmanship. While working, I decided to try the pull-turn. The "pull-turn" is essentially a counter-clockwise pivot where instead of pushing the head away from you, you are pulling the head around towards you. I'd attempted to do this before but had no luck. This time, however, I was able to keep his attention enough to get him to go one front foot at a time (with a lot of "goooood boy" with each correct step) and as soon as I saw weight removed from the pivot foot I'd say "No" and stop, then rock his weight back and ask him to move the front feet again. Once he figured out what I was asking for he would do the whole 90 degrees! KAT told me the judges are not "allowed" to ask for more than a 90 degree pull-turn but I don't know whose rule that is so we only worked on 90. We're slow at it, but he's doing it correctly and the speed will come after the accuracy.
Dr. Johnson came and very quickly removed the stitches. Junior was an excellent patient and didn't need any sedation. He just stood and let him do the work. He got a little annoyed about half way through but after a little break he was fine for the rest. There's some scabbing under where the stitches were and it's not looking promising for hair re-growth since those follicles will not grow back. There's still some pink under where the scabs were so maybe we'll be lucky. I'm just glad he didn't re-injure it before it healed. Things could be so much worse. If it looks really bad when show-season comes I'll just have to use my touch-up spray. :) Dr. J. said we can act like it never happened. Yay!
As a hopeful preventative measure I installed a rubber floor mat around the post at the front of his stall. Forgot to take a picture of the finished product. I found a small rug at Target for only $10. I had to cut the edges off to make it fit then attached it with 3/4" staples that I flattened with a nail punch and a hammer. He didn't seem to notice or care what I was doing.... made me wish there was a horsey version of cat nip. :) Hopefully he finds it, finds it pleasurable and STOPS RUBBING HIS FACE ON METAL!!! *Sigh* I won't hold my breath.
It's Halloween today. Halloween is somewhat of bittersweet holiday for me. Why? Because I'm a costume designer. It's what I do for a living. So as much as I LOVE the idea of dressing up and dressing my horse up and showing off my skills.... do you really want to WORK when you get home from work? Do accountants go home and balance their checkbooks for fun?
I have LOTS of ideas for costumes, but really I have no place to wear them. I also would be ashamed to do any costume half-assed so if I'd do it I'd have to do it up right and I just don't have the money and don't want to spend the time. But that's enough of my lame excuses. On to the fun.
I once made 5 different costumes so that people would come to my Halloween party even though they said they didn't have a costume. It was a fun party, but I was very tired. Anyway, here are some fun pictures of horses in costumes and a few inspirations I have for future costumes... Enjoy!
This sheep costume is my favorite EVER. I have no idea who this kid is, she RULES.
And how about some of these ideas! My BO has a white (yes I know he's grey) gelding, wouldn't he look adorable with a rainbow mane and tail and her kids dressed up as Rainbow Bright and two Sprites!!??
For only the most daring of us...... there's always Lady Godiva. I'd do it, but it's rather chilly in October...
Okay, so this isn't a horse's costume, but how adorable is that!!! SheRa! Princess of Power! You could totally use THIS as a base! LOL!!!
Today was another lesson day with Monet Phelps. I didn't ride today, but Max's girl, Sarah, rode Junior so her sister, Chloe could ride Max for her first lesson with Monet. It was cool to watch him go through the whole lesson. I REALLY like Monet and look forward to our next lesson. She's a very honest teacher. She'll push you to work hard but she makes it fun. She explains things really clearly and is quick to reward good work.
Junior's face still looks excellent and I rode him yesterday to remind him what contact feels like. Monet said he she could feel his back working more than last time but that he's still weak in the hip. She was highly complimentary about him again and said she'd like to turn him into an Eventing pony.... I laughed, but she was serious... we'll see about that! I kind of feel like I'm simply too lazy not athletic enough for real dressage. :)
Here's just some pictures from the day:
This is my Barn Owner on Ranger. BIG stride for such a little guy!
Sarah on Junior with Monet using the lunge line as a torture device teaching tool. :) Monet on Junior. Hopefully his cute frame will distract you from her Uggs. This is Monet's dog, Jack watching her ride Gunner. Poor Red was given the role of Dress-Up-Pony for the kid's Halloween party. He's such a tolerant little fella! Chloe on Max, participating in one of Monet's humiliation tactics bizarre but effective teaching techniques. We all sat and watched each other's lessons and enjoyed laughing at everyone's funny exercises and cheering when they got good results.