Friday, October 30, 2009

Bad Tidings Come in Threes...?

Don't worry, Junior is just fine. He's fat and loving his life as a lesson pony. He digs the attention, has stopped cribbing, is playing with his Jolly Ball (I found it full of water the other day...impressive) and seems to be in a lovely mood every time I see him. Today I forgot my boots and had to ride in my Chucks. Did you know western spurs just don't work on Chuck Taylors? I do now! So I rode without spurs during KAT's lesson of newbie college kids so it was good practice for busy warm up pens. He was fine, just had to move my feet around more to get him to respond in his normal manner. He had already had a lesson and turn out so I didn't ride hard, but I did make him do a nice true lope for me. It was 72 degrees and sunny today so we went for a walk outside in the breeze to dry off the humidity induced sweat. He's a little terrified of dry cornstalks in the wind. He was not sure about it when it was green and now that it's brown and very loud in the wind he would have nothing to do with it. I think we'll do some tarp work in the spring when it's windy....

So the Bad Tidings. Max, Junior's BFF is on stall rest for a really bad cut on his coronet band which he received in turnout. He's doing just fine, but it'll be a while before we know if he's going to be 100% afterwards.

Bad news #2 is that our only Arabian in the barn had to be euthanized yesterday due to a compound fracture of her pastern. She was 22 years old. She did that in turnout, too. Both of these accidents happened when my horse (and Zippy, too) were with them. Neither of these injuries are consistent with a kick from another horse, so there's nothing to make me think that my horse is at fault, and he's not aggressive but he will encourage other horses to run and play. Though lately when I've turned Jr. and Max out, Max is the one running around and Junior is calmly eating his grass, so I know I shouldn't feel responsible in any way, but KAT said he, Zippy, and the injured mare were all running together when she saw that something had happened. The Arab was running on three legs. Aside from the tragedy of any sweet, bomb proof horse having to be put down, she had been purchased by a family with a 7 year old and a 4 year old .... just one month ago. This mare was also a lesson horse (the first horse I myself rode at this barn) so there's also the life lesson for all the little lesson girls.

So the third? Not happened yet, or hopefully we have already forgotten the first, and the mare's death is actually the third.... we can hope.

So what is the overanxious horse owner to do? She hugs and kisses her own pony and says a little prayer (to whomever will listen) to keep that silly pony (and yours, too) safe. These are "fragile friendships" and we are nearly guaranteed to outlive all of our 4 legged friends. I think the triumphs outweigh the tragedies, but it's still terrifying to be reminded that accidents can happen at any time. We do our best to protect, but tragedy can always happen.

This is a video I had watched ages ago. This woman's dedication to her horse was inspiring and frightening. Her words "your horse has come in acutely lame from the pasture" still echo in my mind.

Luckily this horse seems to have recovered enough to be a useful mount. If you watch her latest video, though, she hasn't had to best luck either!

Tomorrow will hopefully be nice enough to turn Junior out long enough for me to really get his stall cleaned. It's kinda nasty after being ignored by me for two weeks..... I can SOOO tell the difference when I get all the wet out on Saturdays and when I do not. I took two tubs out tonight so there will be a few less tomorrow. Oh the joys of horse ownership. No really, it IS a joy. I am constantly grateful that I get to be a horse owner.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day at the QH Congress

When I decided to take the job in Columbus, Ohio and move far away from my life in Minnesota, one of the silver linings to that black cloud was the realization that QH Congress and Rod's Western Palace were IN Columbus, and Schnieder's Tack was just up by Cleveland. Ohio has proven to be packed with horses and packed with very high quality Quarter Horses. Even the small open shows I go to have Congress quality teams. Boarding is expensive here compared to back home and horse property? EX. PEN. SIVE. But I'm lucky enough to get to enjoy a trip to Congress each year, and that's one of the small things that keeps me satisfied with living in Ohio.

Today two of my college students and I spent about 9 hours at the Congress. We started off by shopping, of course. There are TONS of vendors. I refrained from any outlandish purchases, but I did manage to find some new show gloves, a big Jolly Ball for only $10, and some new work reins. I went back and forth about reins, almost buying some from Rods but decided to check some other places and ended up with a $20 pair of brass snap-ends from Dee's. They were the cheapest I found and I almost didn't get them because they were 7' I thought my show reins were 9'. Luckily my show reins are only 7' so it's a good thing I didn't get the 9' as I can barely maneuver the 7'! Having the same style of work rein should help me be more comfy with the show reins.

While we were shopping I stopped by the model horse booth and a nice older gentleman introduced himself as Peter Stone. Yes, Mr. Peter Stone himself, there to sign models. Though I like his sculpts a lot, I have stopped spending money on model horses when there's a real one who needs shoes! Mr. Stone was incredibly nice and we talked mostly about how he's gone back to school at Notre Dame for a PhD in Peace Studies and Theology (or something like that!) and how he's actually in the middle of mid-terms right now! He also gave me a pamphlet about their "Design a Horse" when I told him his new foundation Quarter Horse would look just like my Junior if he had the spots.

I also ate a huge plate of "ribbon fries" and a Stromboli, but not at the same time, of course!

We watched lots of Pole Bending and Barrels and all the splits of the Amateur Select Horsemanship. We didn't stay to watch the finals because we felt like we had seen all the outfits already and were a little blinded by the crystals. Some of those ladies were so sparkly they looked like they were covered in those old "twinkle" Christmas lights! I kept thinking that if the point was to sparkle that much putting battery powered LED lights in the blouses wouldn't be so off base! Poles was Novice Youth so the kids were lucky if they got a clean go-round, but the Barrels were really great times so it was exciting to watch, but it was chilly in the Colosseum.

My iPhone was super helpful. I was able to find out when the HMS was starting in the other arena by checking the live video feed. When we were watching the Horsemanship we were debating on who was doing this one part correctly and I was able to go onto to see the actual pattern they were doing.

Then we all became exhausted and I didn't realize until I got home that my feet were freezing! Dry fuzzy socks and being wrapped in a blanket has not broken the chill yet.

I saw a lot of ugly tack, some I drooled over, some show clothes I thought should be banned, and some I recorded into my memory for use in later designs. The funniest thing we saw all day was an advertisement all over the Colosseum. Not only did they get their own phone # wrong and had to fix it, there is a lovely spelling error that makes them look like professionals! I photographed it for your viewing pleasure. I have blackened out the # to protect the stupid.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My training question was answered on Mugwump Chronicles!

For those of you who don't read Muwump's blog, here's a link: Mugwump Chronicles. Today she answered a question I emailed her in mid August about Junior and his mouthiness. I really like what she had to say. As I think I've mentioned on here, he's doing better with the mouthiness and the ADHD, but on days when he doesn't get out due to weather/no lessons, he goes back to the behavior. So we'll continue to work on it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

BooBoo Progress

I've got a busy week at work ahead of me, but thought I'd quickly update with Junior's leg. He's fine. The swelling was nearly all the way gone when he came in from turnout, he had a lesson at 3pm, then when I arrived at 7:30 he was a little puffy again but better than Sunday. The scrape itself looks quite healthy. He wasn't tender anywhere and I could push on the scrape and the swelling and he didn't register any discomfort. He rode really well and KAT was happy to see how well he was moving. He's really improving every day now that I'm better at being consistent with him. After our ride his swelling went back down again. I'm not planning (because of busy week) to go out again until Friday so I asked KAT to keep an eye on him and if I need to come out to call me. He'll be turned out when the weather is decent and he's loving his lessons. He's a barn favorite among the college kids and the experienced show kids alike.

So worry is over. We'll continue to monitor, of course, but it doesn't seem like any more than a hard scrape that's continuing to heal. Thankfully it's improving.

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Boo Boo.

These are the days when I wish I had either: A) A vet's knowledge of Equine injuries/illnes OR B) Enough money to burn that calling the vet out just to have him say "Um, yeah, your horse is fine, that'll be $100" will not mean I don't get to eat for two weeks.

I'm sure he's fine, but I wouldn't be the Overanxious Horse Owner if I didn't freak out about everything. So here I am freaking out because on Saturday when I brought him in from an hour of turn out I noticed a big black spot on his left hind cannon area, right over the suspensory ligament and the flexor tendon, or at least right about where #46 is pointing to.

Big Black Spot was between the size of a dime and a nickel. Upon further inspection Big Black Spot was a scab. Too old of a scab to have happened during the hour of turnout.... there's nothing sharp (that I know of) in his stall....Oh yeah, I had to re-mount 1/2 way through my Friday night ride because my iphone launched itself off my belt and after I remounted he tripped over the mounting block, flipping it over. He's very graceful, don't you know? I think he must of scraped himself pretty good and I feel like a terrible person for not noticing until the next day. In my defense it was very dark out and the lighting in the barn is not stellar, plus he didn't seem to ride any differently and it didn't bleed much, just in the area of the scrape. Still, I should have noticed it. He's got white legs after all!

Anyway, back to Saturday. He didn't seem lame at all. He didn't freak out when I touched it but he did try to take his leg away. He didn't seem to be in pain when I picked up all his hooves and made him put weight on the hurt one. BUT, there was a little swelling and warmth below it so I opted not to ride, just to let him rest it and I put some wound salve on it.

Well, today the swelling was worse and most of the outside of his cannon all the way down to his fetlock (#26) was warm and swollen enough that the tendons were not visible. I washed the wound with warm water and put some more salve on it. He still didn't seem to be ouchy to walk, but the worse swelling makes me nervous so KAT will look at him tonight after she gets back from the show. I gave him a little anti-inflammatory to help.

Again, he doesn't seem to be painful, but this is more swelling that I've seen on him before and I've not yet experienced swelling/heat getting worse rather than better.

On a lighter/better note, no one (knock on wood) has heard any cribbing since the feed tub was removed so hopefully that'll continue!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Toy - with Update

Enjoy a moment of Junior's new toy, a rope bone/giant tennis ball combination. He took to it right away, smacking himself on the face with the ball a few times, even going to investigate it after I tossed it back into his stall. We'll see how long he stays this interested....

UPDATE - I went to ride tonight and didn't see his toy anywhere on the floor of his stall. Then I found it.... it his water bucket. I took it out and he came right over and took it away from me and put it back in his bucket. While I had him tied to groom/tack I pulled it out and set it on the ledge. After the ride when I untacked him he grabbed the rope again and put it back in his bucket.... oooooookaaaaaaaay. So I guess he still likes it. Puppypony.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bored This Month?

First, about Junior; had a nice ride yesterday. I could tell I hadn't ridden since Wednesday and that I have been riding a lot fewer times per week than I had been doing over the summer. I didn't ride that long and I only did 5 muck tubs up into the honey wagon and hauled 8 buckets but my back is rather tender today.

I discussed the Boy's nasty little cirbbing habit with KAT and she reported that she hears him crib more often now. So even with near daily turn out, near daily riding, and SmartCalm (not that I think it'll help with that but you'd think a calmer horse would crib less but what do I know) he's cribbing MORE than before. We've tried the McNasty but since he cribs on a plastic (non-porous) thing the McNasty doesn't last long. I know collars work, but I am hesitant to use one for a few reasons. First, because my old lesson buddy, Rip, wore a miracle collar and he had white haired scars where the straps were. I don't want that. Second, with Junior in the lesson program, there is a possibility that the collar could be put on too tightly or incorrectly and that could be painful for Junior. I know KAT will check him each evening after lessons, but it considering how many halters I've seen put on upside down/backwards, you-name-it, I would rather not expose him to that if it's not necessary.

So what's my next step? Following advice from one of my readers, we are removing his mounted feed tub, which is, so far, the only thing we've seen him crib on and using a ground tub for feeding. The ground tub is purchased and is sitting outside of the stall waiting for the old corner mount to be removed. If he starts cribbing on his buckets or on the walls or something else we'll move on to a collar...with fleece covers and with the correct holes marked so if anyone puts it on besides me they will know how tight to make it. I will periodically check the fit, of course, and adjust the markings as necessary. That's the plan, anyway.

SOOOO, if you are bored at any time before the 25th, you could entertain yourself by watching live feed from the All American Quarter Horse Congress right here in Columbus, OH. I will be spending the day there on Saturday the 24th, shopping and watching some classes. If you've never been there it's pretty incredible. The show is absolutely HUGE. Rod's Western Palace has a sales tent there that is actually bigger than their store and I think the same might be true for Schneiders. Last night I was watching the HUS Maturity rounds and was reminded why I hate AQHA HUS. Yes, I realize it's the style I'm attempting to emulate, but MY horse doesn't carry his nose at his knees, act like he's a robot and have an illegally altered tail. I think it's still an AQHA rule to disqualify horses who carry their ears below their withers for more than 5 strides (or something like that) and nearly every horse I saw should've been disqualified. Yuck.

But anyway, there are two streams so when the HUS creeps you out you can watch the jumping or barrels or whatever interests you. This link takes you to the Home page, the links for the feeds are on the right side and the schedule is on the left so you can see what's in the rings.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's All Relative.

Tonight I just did a quick ride. He was good all around. I was riding during a jumping lesson (just the 1/2 that they were on the flat) and I was pleased to realize that while we were loping we were not catching up to the trotting horses. Well, we caught up to a 14.2 horse eventually, but for the most part we were staying in speed with them all. When I ride alone, especially, I have a hard time feeling if we're loping slowly enough. I really don't like to go "fast" anymore at all so everything over a collected canter feels like the Derby to me. (Wuss, I know.) I got a comment on my last show video complimenting my ability to collect Junior into a lope. I also thought while watching my videos that I could (and probably should) let him stride out during the English classes at the canter and that my lope did look pretty decent. It's nice to be around other horses and NOT catch up to them to remind me that we're not going as fast as I think we are! I'm going to keep working on slowing him. I don't make him go slow all the time. His canter is much smoother than it used to be and he never really rushes or anything anymore so I usually let him canter a few laps before I start to ask him down. I'm going to try to translate our success at jog-posting trot-jog into lope-canter-lope next. We'll see how that goes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Junior becomes a Guinea Pig

One of my student-friends (Equine Science major, President of the college club I ride with, 2 time Intern at the Gluck Center), we'll call her TJ, is using Junior as her subject for a Rations project in her Equine Nutrition course, taught by my friend, Dr. Vet. In a nutshell, the students gather information about the horse and it's food stuffs and work out the ideal feeding plan. I AM SO LUCKY to have this done at no cost. So far, TJ and I have gathered pasture samples, cored bales of hay with a nifty tool that takes a tube shaped sample out of the middle of a bale of hay, took grain samples, and yesterday she weight taped him and felt him all over to do a body score. His weight (tape weight made more accurate by Dr. Vet) is 1150lbs and TJ scored him at a 7 (dear god) and KAT said she would say a low 6. This is TJ's first time scoring, but she had to make a call based on what she has learned already.

The weird part is that the BO is nervous that if our feed stuffs are lacking that I will run screaming through the barn telling all the boarders that their horses are being starved or something. Though I think we ALL have a right to know what our horses are being fed nutritionally, I will not be very loud about the outcome. Most all of the folks in the barn who know anything about equine nutrition feed their own feeds already anyway, which is probably a clue that the barn feed is crap, but we'll just have to see. I'll be able to compare the analysis of the grain to the feed tag and see if the tag is accurate. I've already told Max's Mom that I'll be sharing the info with her (she already feeds her own grain) but I won't go spreading it around. If the analysis is REALLY bad I might share the info with the BO, but knowing what I know about them and how they treat complainers, it'll be a, just-so-you-know offer, not a "YOU NEED TO FEED BETTER" demand. Pick your battles. In order to stay with KAT, I have to stay at this barn. Period.

So what if the analysis IS really bad? Well, the project should give TJ a plan for how to counter-act any deficiencies in his feeding and I'll have to decide what to do with it. If it means buying my own grain, then I'll buy my own grain. If it means another supplement, then I'll feed another supplement. I don't know the first thing about procuring Hay so I hope I don't have to deal with that, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

So I'll be updating you with whatever info I get from TJ and her Rations Project.

Had a nice lesson last night. He was very good and he surprised me when KAT asked for an extended jog on one long wall and he was super easy to extend and super easy to bring back down. He kept his frame perfectly on the way up, but did pick up his head on the way back down. I could use very subtle cues and I wasn't expecting it to be so, but I guess beginning most of our rides with a jog to posting trot and back down again have made this smaller transition better, too. Neat!