Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday-ish Greetings!

As per usual, the blog will be rather silent while I journey to the (apparently not yet) frozen tundra of Minnesota for some much needed family time and friend time over the holidays.

My back is not improved but we now know that I have two, yes TWO bulging disks between the S1 and L5 and the L5 and L4.  Super. It seems trying to "work through" the pain wasn't the thing to do after all.  I have another appointment after the new year to see another ortho-guy and I've been ordered to take it very easy and have been given some mild pain meds/anti-inflamatory drugs so if this post makes no sense you can guess why... The Pharmacist said "yeah, people really like this stuff."

All of this time off has sort of put a snag in my plan for really getting both Junior and myself back into shape.  It's a rare occasion that my motivation outweighs my ability and it's driving me a bit nuts.  But things could be much worse so I'm trying to stay positive. We were in such good shape last May before I hurt myself, darn it!

I have some riders set up to give the Junebug some exercise so he doesn't need to spend my whole vacation idle, as much as he would probably prefer that.  And as always, BM Sarah and BO Molly will keep an extra eye on The Bug to make sure he stays out of trouble.... as if that's possible...

Thank you for all the nice compliments on my locker sign!  I also made one for someone else, but shhhh! It's a secret!  I'll post about that in January. ;)

In January I'll also be resurrecting my annual Equi-lutions, both scoring us on how we did this year and confessing my goals for 2012, which will be conservative considering my back issue.

So after the holidaitus I will be back with bells on, I promise.

Happy Christmas!  Happy New Year! Happy Everyone!!!

I thought I'd to a Christmas Video this year instead of just the card:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Tack Locker Sign

It's a "thing" at my new barn to have a wooden plaque on your tack locker with your name and your horse's name.  The barn is nice enough to provide the plaque, we just need to provide a little craftivity.

I FINALLY got mine finished and hung today.

Ta da! 
A row of signs!

There is only a LITTLE bit of glitter on those pink letters.  :)

I chose black and silver with pink as the accent color - big surprise, right?  Not trusting I could free-hand it without messing it up, I used photoshop to create the layout and choose the fonts.  I used the pen tool to create the WP and HUS line drawings.  I then printed the whole image (backwards) on an overhead transparency sheet, you know, the clear plastic sheets we used before we had computer projectors in classrooms?  The  transfer sheet works like a rub-on transfer but comes out super light so I then painted over the lettering and the line drawings.  Lastly it got a solid, glossy coating of Polyurethane and took a good long day to dry.

So what do you think?

Friday, November 25, 2011

WTFriday #5


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stuff and Things

I'm dealing with my back.  It hates me and for the first time in a long long long time it actually hurts to ride. It also hurts to bend over or lift anything or get in or out of my car... but the fact that it actually hurts to ride is really awful.  It also makes me worried about my own fitness and if I can't ride I'm not able to keep myself in riding shape and then it's going to take longer to get back into riding shape and... anxiety anxiety anxiety....deep breath...sigh.

I rode last on Tuesday even though I shouldn't have. I can't toss my western saddle on his back so I had to use the English and we only walked and jogged around and worked on some turns on the forehand and horsemanship pivots.  It hurt to post so we just jogged. We also did some bridleless steering and jogged over a few poles scattered around the arena, but the poles hurt.  I can't tell you how aggravating it is that I can't just jump on and get into working on conditioning him.  I can lunge him, yes, but he's never been great at lunging and he gets SOOOO bored that he starts to ignore me because that's more fun.  Then I get annoyed and I do things like whip myself in the face and he laughs at me like that was his goal.... so that's not a golden solution.  I could have someone ride him but that takes $$$ and is not in the budget right now.  Besides by all accounts he and Bruin are getting a good deal of exercise together.

Today I gave him a good grooming which he desperately needed after being left since Tuesday.  Never buy a horse with white legs.  Just don't do it.  He tends to hate grooming but there was a lot of activity today and he stood relaxed in the cross ties while I squatted to attack his filthy legs and he let me scrub and scrub until they resembled white. I even gave his tail a coating of Vetrolin Shine and a good brushing out and was pleased to see how thick it's getting.

He continues to love his life there.  We moved him to a new stall today.  His old stall was fine, but now I'm right across from the tackroom and since the barn is busy enough that the cross-ties are usually full, I can groom in the stall more easily. The new stall is also right by the door of the arena so he can watch the lesson traffic and when the doors are open he can watch the lessons in the arena.  It's also got a window overlooking the outdoor arena so he has plenty of stimulation around him.  He's between Zip and an appy so he should be just as happy there.  Besides, the 1/2 Friesian girl he used to flirt with is gone to training for the winter so he has two friends now instead of one.

I don't remember if I ever thanked all of you for voting on my photos in that EquusNow contest a while back. We had two pictures selected and one can be seen on their used saddle page HERE.  So thanks for that!

Well, because I have no shame, they are having another contest and we've entered... of course.  So ENTER!!!  And also it'd be neat if you voted for me.  :)  Again, I have no shame.  :)  I'll vote for you, too!

EquusNow on Facebook

I THINK this takes you right to my entry...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Settling In

I'm sorry to say that there isn't much exciting to report.  Junior seems to have settled in really well.  He's been able to keep Bruin as his turnout buddy and they seem to get along great.

I've worked two Sunday afternoon feeding shifts at the barn so I'm getting to know the horses pretty well.  Of the 30 horses, about half are the new owner's lesson horses, and about half horses that were already boarding at the barn, and then there's 4 of us who came together.  So there are new faces for everyone.

I'm still trying to sell my tack box but I've only had one bite and we negotiated on the price and I'm waiting to hear from her to see if she will accept my lowest amount or if I have to keep it a while.  I'd rather store it somewhere than let it go for less than it's worth.  Too much time and materials went into that thing for me to just give it away.

I'm still dealing with back issues but I'm trying to ride as much as I can because we both really need it.  I'm trying to work him back into condition and it's much harder when riding hurts. :(  But we'll manage.  We don't have another show until spring.  Today after my chores I lunged him and had a pole out so he had to trot/canter over it each lap.  He was SOOOO lazy and it was very windy and in all my cleverness and coordination I managed to whip myself across the face, but luckily there's just one inch pink line on my cheekbone and not any worse.  Nothing quite like feeling pain and embarrassment at the same time to humble a soul.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time for a Change!! (Part I)

I remember reading (or not reading because I didn't find them interesting) articles in horsey magazines that dealt with boarding and the foreign term "barn drama" of which I had no frame of reference because I was a kid.  Now as an adult and after three years of boarding I get it.  And I know why it's frustrating and why it's the subject of many articles and forums.  I'm not sure if this is normal or not, but I've just moved to facility #3 in just over 3 years.

That's right:  We've Moved!!!!

The facility is only 4 years old so it's all pretty shiny still.  The new BO just moved her horses in on Sunday so there is still a lot of unpacking and re-organizing to do but I really like her and her husband and their dogs and everyone else I've met there so far.

There are 30 12x12 matted stalls and Junior has a window he can look outside and the doors have yokes so he can stick his head out into the wide aisles.  He seems really content so far and he got his feet trimmed this morning.

The tackroom has 30x30 closet sized lockers with two saddle racks in them for each boarder, So that's why I'm selling my tack box.  And I don't have a garage to put it in and I'm not sure I want to keep it in my apartment.  And considering the fact that I would build it differently if I did it again, I think it's okay to let it go.... IF I can find a buyer...

I'm not fully moved in yet, but the essentials are there.
Junior at the far end of the arena looking back towards the stall area.

The barn has a pretty good sized lesson program going on but she will only have 4 riders per lesson and she really has everything organized and streamlined.  I am quite impressed with her attention to detail and professionalism.  They compete on IEA team and do some nearby show circuits so I will still be able to get to the shows I want to go to, but will probably still be the only adult.  Oh well.

The arena is a nice 90x200 size and is insulated.  We had our first ride yesterday and we were able to ride during a jumping lesson so there seems to be plenty of room in there.  The outdoor is 125x250!  There's a heated lounge/viewing area with vending machines and a kitchenette.

She likes to have clinics and is willing to work with me on resurrecting our monthly dressage lesson clinics.  I'm able to continue a working-boarder situation so that is helpful for me financially as well as physically and mentally.

Junior went out today with a new turnout buddy and it seemed like a good match.  Junior was his bubbly annoying self and ran right over to Bruin, but Bruin seemed to be enjoying himself and not getting too annoyed.  There was lots of running around and some bucking and sniffing and some play biting, but by the time I left they were nibbling grass (though there isn't much) and stray hay bits next to each other and looked pretty chill.

Life is good. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bar-Bar's Blanket

I wouldn't call myself any sort of expert in the blanket repair area, but considering how rough Junior is on his jammies I've done my share of repairs.  And I've learned some things.

Old Man Cinnabar (Junior's former turnout baby-sitter) tore the leg strap connection off and lost some of the blanket fabric in the process.

The blanket has two layers at the edges; the pretty green outside, and a smooth nylon lining.  Both are sandwiched together inside the folded-over binding, and of course they were not torn evenly.  I chose to "patch" both pieces individually and then sandwich it all.  I have a stock of black super-heavy backed nylon I found at a fabric warehouse.  I've no idea what the denier is, but it's REALLY tough and REALLY heavy, heavier, in fact than what any of my blankets are made out of.  I also have a stock of black rip-stop nylon I used for the lining.  One nice thing about having chosen black as my signature color for all things horse is that this repair fabric matches EVERYTHING from his blankets to my tack bags and his hay net which is still in the repair pile. :)

Once I patched both sides I needed to decipher the actual shape of the blanket edge, which required some good-faith guess work in the end. Then I sandwiched the binding back on and gave it a few lines of super-stitching.  I needed to replace the dee-ring and used seat-belt webbing to do it.  Pretty much the strongest stuff you can find.  It's actually stronger than the dee ring.   The finished repair doesn't match, of course, but I don't think he'll mind.  Hopefully that'll last him a while.

Inside view of repair and new Dee-ring.

Outside view of non-matching patch, and you can see how much of the dirt transferred itself to the black patch.

Some things I've learned about horse blankets in the last few years combined with my knowledge of fabric/sewing:

1. Blankets are often more cheaply made than their prices reflect. This shows itself usually in popped seams.  If the lining in the blanket is not made with some extra "give" it tends to take stress poorly.  For example: take a look at the inside of a lined jacket/ blazer.  You will notice the lining is roomier than the coat itself.  You'll see this especially in the sleeves, and usually in a center-back pleat.  This makes it easier to move in.  The lining is there so you can slide yourself in and out and not much more.  Since lining is thin and inherently weaker that the wool of a jacket, the extra room means you can bend your elbow without being squeezed.  I wonder if one of those $400 Rambo blankets would be strong enough to withstand my pony, but that's a pretty big investment to have to keep doing repairs.

2. Blankets can cost nearly as much to repair as to purchase.  It took me about an hour to do the repair and I refuse to charge a friend with an elderly horse, even though she offered, but this repair would probably cost $40-$60 depending on how much they'd charge for materials.  Same with cleaning.  I made the mistake of having my first blanket laundered for me.  I was in a time crunch.  It was a $65 blanket and I spent $28 having it laundered.  Ouch.

3.  Some repair shops won't repair dirty blankets.  This can be a hassle for you, but please think of it from the shop's perspective: All that fine horse dirt and horse hair can do some serious damage to a sewing machine. I don't do a ton of this work so it's not going to kill my own machine to do it, but if my livelihood depended on the investment of my machinery working and not requiring costly and time consuming repairs I'd have made her wash it.  On the other hand, sometimes the agitation of the washing process can make a damaged area more difficult to repair, especially if the poly-fil is sticking out.  So having a consultation might be a good idea.  Ask the shop if they'll repair it dirty, or ask what you can do to minimize the potential further damage.

4.  Laundromats HATE horse blankets.  They hate them for 3 reasons (actually the same reasons you don't want to wash them in your own machine) and I've got a fix for each: 1. They are FILTHY. They leave muddy furry residue inside the machines.  The filthier they are the harder they are to get clean anyway - you end up washing them in mud, so hose them off and let them dry, or better yet, take your stiffest horse brush and brush as much of the dried dirt/poo/hair off the blankets, or throw them over a clothes line and beat the crap out of them.  2. TOO BIG.  Find a laundromat that has the 50lb or 75lb capacity front load machines.  They are awesome and actually have enough room for the blankets to move around and get clean.  3. BUCKLES can cause some damage banging around.  Worse yet the T buckles can get themselves caught in the drum holes which is also bad for the blanket.  My ingenious plan for this: Infant socks and a tagging gun.  Cover those little buckles with silencing padding.  I'm pretty proud of this one, actually.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

FOR SALE: Custom Tack Cabinet

Yup.  It's for sale.  And WHYon earth am I selling it after all that work!?!?  
That's a story for a whole 'nother post, but you'll have to wait a week or so for that one.

Stay tuned!!!!!

Handsome Custom-Designed Tack Cabinet For Sale
Built September 2010
1/2 Plywood with 3/4" bottom and Door
Casters on bottom and also under the Door for stability and smooth opening/closing
Stain and Outdoor Spar Urethane (Varnish) inside and out.
Saddle Racks for 2 English or 1 English/1Western Saddles 
Saddle Racks are carriage-bolted through 1.25"reinforced back wall - very stable, and also removable.
Hooks inside right side of box for additional hanging space.
Door is deep and has 2 bridle racks and storage for sprays, bandages, etc.
Bottom Sections sized to fit specific Elfa (Container Store) Baskets (Not included)
Key Lock Hasp Closure (2 Keys)
Outside Dimensions: 30" wide x 36" deep x 58" high (not counting casters)

You Move.
$800 Cash only. Offers considered.

Cabinet Exterior - Newly Built, August 2010
Interior Newly Built - September 2010

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What The Friday?!? #4

Sometimes the research I have to do for my job leads me to strange things...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Photos courtesy of Chloe Faure Photography.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is Thin In?

Does my horse look skinny to you? He's the one on the right, in case you're just joining us.  The other one is the Mustang who thinks Junior belongs to her. Photos courtesy of Max's Chloe.

I look forward to quizzing TJ on her BCS skills on Saturday morning before we spend the day at QH Congress. 

Knowing the BCS needs to consider the whole horse, I cannot see the ribs, can you? I can certainly feel them, but not see them and if the second photo with the awesome sunset lighting didn't pick them up more than a hint then they're not too bad. I think the topline is obviously bony with the hip points and the sacrum being most evident.  He still has a fatty spot behind the shoulder, though. 

Poor guy is built funny.  He's got a big strong chest but such a wussy hip.  He's missing balance between those bone structures.  It was pretty well masked when he was Fatty Boombatty, but not so much anymore.  

I'm also a terrible muther for the lack of real muscle building exercise he's been receiving.  

Anyway, plans are underway to fix it, I'm just looking for opinions on the visual.

I showed my mom the same pictures and her immediate response was "He's so skinny!!!"  Now, keep in mind that my Dear Mother had QH's in the 60's when horses like Wimpy were king.  BULK! So she can't be my only source of outside opinion.  She thought Junior looked good when he was an 8.5 on the BCS.  Eeew. Sorry, Mom, done picking on you now. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Teachable Moments

I took advantage of the blustery day today and saddled up and headed to the woods.  The sound of wind through drying trees makes the woods a lot scarier than they are when they're quiet (Thank you, Captain Obvious)  so if that was the biggest problem yesterday that made the difference between walking calmly through a 100 foot path and freaking the heck out, we needed to try and re-create that situation, removing the 30 second timer and working through things thoroughly.  Junior grew a hand when we were out and he gave me lots to work with, including when he refused to go any further and we got to have the same type of moment we had when he refused to go further into the woods yesterday.  We happened to be along the driveway when he refused so I definitely knew it was disobedience more than real terror.  I was able to work him until he went past the spot, but it took us a while to get very far as he insisted on playing the same game every 5-10 feet.  He did give up on heading for home, but when we got to the bottom of the trail loops and turned for home he tried to trot home so we took some time convincing him he wasn't allowed to do that.

Then I REALLY tortured him by making him do the creek crossings several times.  We even got to do a deer spook and had to keep traveling around the spot the deer jumped up from until that was tolerable. Then I REALLY REALLY tortured him by making him go into a very muddy and deeply standing water spot.  You know the kind where if you stepped in with a boot you'd probably step out without it?  The kind that pulls shoes off... the scary kind.  We were not wearing shoes and his instinct was to stay the hell out of that kind of mud but I made him do it and stand in it, shaking, until he sighed and I let him walk out... and then made him walk back through which he did on a moderately loose rein, licking his lips.

I ended up with a calm and content looking horse who stood nicely for me to rub him down well and pick his feet.  He was rewarded with a nice thick flake of Timothy hay so I think we had a very productive day. We ended calmly and were rewarded with yummies.

I have to admit that when he refuses like that and spins around and does mini-rearings I get a little nervous, but it seems we are finding a language that doesn't make him MORE upset and eventually he gives in.  His protests are heard and then patiently and kindly overruled.  I think he is working through his fears and trusting me more and more, just as I'm trusting him more and more.

Such a better day than yesterday.  :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cowboy Challenge #3

"Now is the time to find out whether the lessons you've given him have sunk in, whether he's ready and willing to depend on you as a master and to follow what you tell him.  If he does, you'l know your work has been successful.  If he doesn't, you'll have learned where the weakness lies.  In any event, at the end of the day you should know a whole lot more than you do now, which, to my mind, is the real purpose of going into Trials such as these."   - Margaret Cabell Self,  "The Horseman's Almanac"1946, In reference to Hunter Trials

Even though I went into the day with the above quote in my mind, I don't really think I learned a thing, but... I am afraid my horse did...

The day proved to be cold and wet.  I'm doubtful we broke 50 degrees and the wind was bitter.  I was layered in UnderArmor and Thinsulate so I was mostly comfortable, but the wind was determined to kill us all.  We got to the Park at about 11:30 and there were only a few other trailers.  The Youth Challenge was supposed to start at noon, but they were holding off to see if anyone else showed up.  B and I were riders 2 and 3.  I think we started the 7 riders about 1:30pm and by then we were cold and the horses had been thoroughly spooked by a combination of mini horses pulling carts, a pair of lovely grey Percherons pulling a big green covered wagon, and someone's giant rain shelter tarp blowing off of their trailer.  Junior was on high alert and snorty but I wasn't worried.  We were under control.  Didn't seem like he has much experience with carts, but we were okay.  Much better than poor Zip who nearly crawled out of his skin.

It was a shortened course and didn't look too difficult:

  1. Step Down
  2. Woods
  3. Hay Feeder
  4. Water crossing
  5. Mound of Dirt
  6. Bridge
  7. 2nd Bride with plastic wildlife all around it
  8. Rope Plastic Calf
  9. Pick up trash bag and hang it on the 2nd T post
  10. Gate
  11. Step-up
  12. Dismount and pick up Right Hind foot.

I knew we'd have issues at the gate again. I worked 16 hour days all week and had no chance of practicing.  There was also the roping of a plastic steer but aside from my aim being sucktacular he's never been bothered by ropes, and he was so good last week I wasn't worried at all.

I was the first rider to go.  Just before they called us to start he started hopping around and being an idiot.  I am clueless as to why.  It took some convincing to even get him onto the course.  The announcer even had to grab the bridle and lead us in.  We got about 10 feet from the group out towards the step down and he spun around and refused.  We argued about it for a while with several more spins and false starts until another rider led us down the step.  We headed off towards the woods; the same exact path we took last Sunday, but this time the wind was fierce and he was shaking and snorting.  After some spinning and threats of rearing I eventually got him into the path but when he got to the low muddy spot he refused to go further and after some spinning tripping over the brush on either side of the path the whistle blew and we had to skirt the woods the rest of the way.  Even the hay feeder he snorted at.  He refused to go into the water.  We got over the hill and the bridges fine.  When I was handed the rope he started dancing around and I almost didn't get him stopped in time to throw the rope at the head.  Missed it, of course.  Then we went to pick up a black trash bag full of cans from the first T-Post and that did not bother him at all, of course.  We deposited it on the 2nd post.  We got the gate open fine but didn't get it closed again.  Back up over the Step-Up was fine but he tried to take off while I dismounted.  Lifting up the RH foot was fine.

Aside from the rider who DQ'd we were DFL and not at all surprised.  I didn't bother to look at the scores. We wouldn't have bothered to stay for the results, but I didn't want to seem rude.  It's best to clap for the winners even if you're freezing and know darn well you didn't place.  The guy that won the buckle was the clear winner and seemed pretty nice and had a cute little girl in a helmet on a been-there-done-that large pony.  She ended up with 3rd, I think.  Everyone's horse had an issue with something or other, but aside from the DQ'd horse (went so far off course she just called it quits) we were the ones with the most trouble.  It felt like last week never happened.  I guess we should have left it with that.

The part that's hard for me to swallow, is that he might have just LEARNED that if he refuses long enough he doesn't have to do it.  Because they give you a 30 second time limit on each obstacle you have to move on if they blow the whistle. You can't stay and school the thing, you have to move on.  I get it, of course, but I'm not sure if this will have bad effect on our training.  We've been doing so well with the woods!  So we only got half way through the woods, and he we didn't go into the water at all.  He refused long enough and I had to turn him away. He went through those woods last Sunday on a loose rein with no problems at all, so I know that going there and practicing at the site when it's quiet won't help.  He'll go when it's quiet, but I can't re-create the situation we were in today.  I know the wind was too much for him and he hadn't been worked all week, plus with the rain he's been inside most of the week.   Excuses excuses excuses.  Just not our day.  I fear that we're going to have to spend a good deal of time in our woods this fall in the scary scary wind and see if he can get over it.

Ugh.  What happened to that wonderful trail pony I had last week!?!?! There is no video evidence of today's ride, and believe me when I tell you that's a good thing.  It was not pleasant to watch nor to experience.

The only good part is that he got on the trailer like a grown-up both times so if nothing else, it seems we've made progress there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cowboy Challenge #2

The equine gods were smiling on us Sunday and B and I were able to head up to the Cowboy Challenge at the Knox County Horse Park.  We had some trouble getting him into the trailer again, but I managed to stay calm and intent enough on getting him in so we managed.  It was a gorgeous day, weather could not have been better.  You may remember that we went to our first challenge last year at this time and we had so much fun.  We failed a few of the obstacles and Junior got about 3 feet into the little wooded part and spun around and ran out and I could not get him back in.  I was pleased with that first time but made it one of my Equilutions to place in a Cowboy Challenge...

This time we were able to enter a Novice division so there were only 7 competing as opposed to the 25 that were entered into the open division.  The course was the same.  

Junior was a such a good boy.  We had some issues getting lined up for the gate and he wasn't sure he wanted to stand still by the barrel with the water bucket when he could see his two favorite girls and his buddy Zip up in the arena.  We're still working on the separation anxiety, but he was great on the course.  He was calm and brave and I got lots of compliments on the ride and on how pretty he is.

After we competed we went on a nice trail at the Park.  Junior was really awesome.  He took the hills and the tight spaces and the deer all in stride.  Who knew he'd turn into a decent trail mount??!?

One of our friends won the Open on her mare, Rio, who Junior is very much in love with.  Ivy, a new red roan in the barn was there too and he couldn't decide who he was more in love with.  Adorable.

JR: "Hey, how YOU doin?"
Rio: "Whatever."
Rather than give a play by play I'll just show you.  It's a big course so it's hard to get a clear shot of it all, especially the parts behind the trees.  Back there we had to stop at a mailbox and raise and lower the mail flag, then we had to go through a round-bale feeder that's on it's side and buried.  It's a tight squeeze for us so it's a good thing he's not at all worried about it.

You can watch the video with the sound ON if you want to hear the wind, the commentator, and B and B.  I captioned the obstacles so you can watch in silence if you want.  Ignore the camera shaking due to Zip, the video I took of B and Zip while sitting on Junior was way worse.

And the outcome?  We got a 106 out of 120 and placed second!  He went right into the trailer for the way home so maybe we crossed back into the dimension where my horse trailers like a good boy and not like an idiot.  We shall see because...

The best part is that we get to do it again next week because it's a makeup date for the one in May that was rained out!  It's only Open, though so we have to compete with the big boys and girls, but it'll still be fun!

Your Anniversary Giveaways are FINALLY in the mail and on their way to you.  Thanks for entering!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Anniversary Give Away - THE WINNER!

Remember when I said "Junior will randomly select the winner"?  Well, when I wrote that I hadn't yet devised the method for which that would actually happen.  I briefly envisioned Junior pulling a piece of paper out of a bucket full of entries.  But the more I actually thought about the logistics, the more I realized that things that go IN Junior's mouth rarely come OUT, unless of course the thing is un-chewable metal and is attached to a bridle. I considered writing the names on baby carrots and seeing which one was eaten first, but thought I should avoid feeding Sharpie ink to my horse.  Max's Mom suggested I carve the names into the carrots.....  um... no.

So I'm sorry to say that Junior randomly selected the winner means me putting all the entries in a bowl and pulling one out.  Not nearly as exciting, I know.  You can feel free to imagine what it would be like to watch me wrestle the winner's name out of his mouth if it makes you feel better.

To recap, the lucky winner will receive Bick 4 Leather Conditioner (That's YOUR "Leather Anniversary" part!), Vetroline Shine, a blog Magnet and Bumper Sticker, and choice of English Velcro Spur Straps or Western Spur Tie Downs.

And the winner is:

Congratulations to Laura of littlekeebler!  Laura's looking forward to using the Vetrolin Shine on her new mare!  You MUST send us a before and after photo when you start to see results!  It's "Teflon for Tails!"

I am terribly sorry, but I couldn't stop with just one fabulous winner.  I needed to pass the fun around!  And by "fun" I mean those bumper stickers I don't know what to do with!!!  So another lucky 4 winners were drawn:

Paint Horse Milo, Mare, Jan, and in2paints!!!!!!! You each win a bumper sticker!

The Winners!
If the five of you would like to claim your fabulous prize(s), please send your snail-mail address to and I will make it happen! Laura, don't forget to choose an English or Western spur helper!

This is how those Rubber Spur Tie-Downs work, btw.

Thanks to all 10 readers who entered!

Also, a big "WELCOME!!!" to our newest subscribers!  As of this moment we're up to 109 subscribers!  According to my "Stats" this blog gets over 2,000 page views per month.  That sure seems like a lot!

Next up: We continue the spoiling of Junebug with a visit from our wonderful chiro/massage lady!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leather Anniversary Part II

Aw come on, did you really think I was going to let Junebug have all the "Leather Anniversary" fun?!?! Did you?!?!  I'll be breaking these in for our upcoming Cowboy Challenge!  I needed some modern western boots I could ride in and wear to events without worrying about hurting my show boots or looking like a newb in my lacers.  I finally found exactly what I was looking for.
I LOVE square toes!

Yes, I do love my Ariats.  I seem to have better luck with them than many.  I now have 4 pair of western (two are the old-school lacers), a pair of brown RT paddocks, and some Crown field boots.  I love them all.  I've been hunting for a pair in this style for a while and I LOVE the subtle pink/purple stitching and the brown distressed leather is lovely.

I highly recommend Their prices are the lowest I've found and I've always gotten free shipping.  If you use "topten" in the coupon code you can get $10 off your order.  Only weird thing with them is that the "check order status" on their website never seems to work, but the shipping time isn't bad - took 8 business days to get from WI to OH with the free shipping. This is my second order from OnlineBootStore and I will be back... but hopefully I can hold off for a while!!!

Dr. J was out again this morning to check on the Thrush I thought we had, and again I fail at diagnosing my horse's issues.  He has no thrush, but he did have some sole cracks that were letting in enough poo/mud/bedding/etc. to make them goopy and yucky. Possible he HAD thrush in there but keeping him in and dry for a week was enough to get rid of it.  So all that is cut away and he can go back to his regular turnout schedule, a fact he was QUITE happy about today.

Don't forget to enter our Anniversary Give Away!!!!  Details Here.  I'll be cutting it off at 7pm Saturday September 17th, so you've got TWO DAYS left!  Thanks to all who have already entered!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Anniversary Give Away!

Three years ago today I brought Junior home. I was so doubtful that making this "thing" I had wanted my entire life into a reality was a smart decision.  I worried about finances. I worried about illness and injury and I was terrified I didn't know enough to become a horse owner.  Something bad was sure to happen at any moment.  That's why I became the Overanxious Horse Owner.

The first few weeks were hell.  I never wrote it in the blog or even said it to anyone, but I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I had wanted a calm, broke, horse.  I brought home the opposite.  He was pushy in the stall, had horrible ground manners, and he was hot and too forward under saddle.  He paid no attention to me.  He barely ever looked at me.  We had no connection. I was heartbroken.

But I trudged on and focussed on the good moments because I am just not a quitter.  I didn't want to give up.  Over time we got his mental state cleaned up through increased turnout and decreased grain and things started looking up.  I started thinking about showing and setting some goals for us.

Junior gets a pedicure on our Anniversary.
Now it's three years later and we've come an awful long way. I learned to be the kind of leader he respects and obeys, and he learned the boundaries of human-pony interaction.... well, mostly.  I once thought of sending him back, and now I cannot fathom the idea. Monet even thinks he's my equine soul mate.   Even though he's an accident-prone houdini who knows exactly how to push each and every one of my buttons, giggling all the while, he belongs with me.

Have you seen Tangled?  I swear they used Junebug as research for Maximus. People tell me they love watching us interact because he's so funny.  I've even had someone say "He actually looks like he's laughing sometimes!"  And I am SURE he is because he's way too smart and way too silly.  BTW, I picked up the handle "Sillypony" over 10 years ago when I started needing an internet handle.  I had no idea that one day I would OWN the Silly Pony and that I would turn out to be the Serious Girl.  He drives me nuts, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

New Wenglish Showmanship Halter
New Did you know that the traditional 3-Year wedding anniversary gift is LEATHER!?!?!  Yes, I KNOW we're not married - eeew.  But I like traditional things so I looked it up out of curiosity and couldn't help but use it as an excuse to get us a new leather halter and lead we can use in Hunter Showmanship.  We've been using a bridle up until now because that's "correct" but more and more open shows are allowing the halter and since he works SOOO much better in a halter we're jumping on that wagon!

I chose a Billy Royal set from Schneiders.  I like my western show halter of theirs so I thought I'd try this.  I didn't want to spend a ton and I like this color.  It's a little more workman-like than the fancy stitched/padded ones, but I like it.  The cheek piece could be an inch longer, so I need to check Schneider's new sizes to see if another size would fit better.  The lead is beautifully weighted for the proper coil while showing.


 in honor of our three years together, I'm giving away a box of our Favorite Things.  Don't get TOO excited, I'm not Oprah; I have a budget.  And yes, these are NEW items, not my old used stuff.  :)

The Box Contains:
  • Vetrolin Shine: so your pony can have a tail as lovely as Junior's and all your friends can say how soft your pony is.
  • Velcro Spur Straps: so you can have quick in-n-out access to your spurs without buckles.  Easy to use, easy to maintain.  ** If the winner is a non-English-Spur-wearer, I can trade this out for: Rubber Spur Tiedowns: The best thing for keeping your spurs from become anklets, especially if you swap your boots around.  Keeps them right in place without having to crank the spur straps down!**  Or if you don't wear spurs, I'd be happy to keep them and use them for you. ;)
  • Bick 4: Because once you go Bick you never go back.  
  • A Diary of the Overanxious Horse Owner Bumper Sticker & Magnet!  So you can boast your allegiance to the world! (or just hang your grocery list on your fridge)
How to win?  
  1. Become one of us!!!  You must be a public follower of the blog, so join up if you aren't already one of us. 
  2. Leave a comment about your FAVORITE post/story/thing about reading this blog AND which of the giveaway items you are most excited about!  
  3. On September 18th Junebug will randomly select a Reader who will be notified via a blog post on that day.  
  4. The lucky lucky winner will then email a mailing address to me and your prize will come to you!  So easy!

So think of your FAVORITE reason to read this blog, greedily plan how you will use your plunder, and comment away!  Good Luck!!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trail Ride!

** Pictures have been reposted.  Comment if there are more viewing problems.  Not sure why that happened. **

Quick Updates:
  1. Thrush is essentially gone.  Some lingering moments of it in the rear, but I think we're out of that danger zone we were in with the RF. **I spoke too soon.  Another cavern in his RH.**
  2. The grain transition went smoothly.  Thankfully that horse has proven to be pretty sturdy of gut, limb, and wind.  Knock on wood...  And I no longer have to haul my own grain so that's a nice bonus.  I'll keep you posted of any noticeable long-term effects of the change.
  3. The mold has stayed off of the tack I treated with Leather Therapy Wash (WIN) but the box is showing signs of it again (FAIL) so another round of bleach-water will be happening today.  The humidity is going down so hopefully we'll be done with it soon. Hope.
  4. My camera is malfunctioning.  I don't recommend dropping it lens first into the arena footing.  I do recommend the "accidental damage" warranty on anything you'll be using around horses.  So you must settle for iphone pictures until Best Buy makes good on that warranty.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled post:

On Tuesday we checked off one of our Equilutions for 2011.  We trailered to a local park and did our very first "real" trail riding!  Brenda and her horse Zip trailered us and Steve (another boarder) brought his adorable paint gelding, Skip.

Thankfully we have no fun stories to tell as everything went relatively smooth.  The only minor mishaps were caused by me.  Surprise.  I tried to use a head bumper on my rope halter but it was hard to get it to fit correctly and Junior managed to slip the halter while he was in the trailer.  I had to unload him with just a rope around his neck since I couldn't get it back on inside the trailer from his off side.  It took me a bit of maneuvering to put it back on while he nervously attacked the grass, but we managed.

In the unloading process he stepped on and pulled out a small chunk of his tail.  Not enough to notice, but enough to make me sad, and I have plans for it.

Once I got him tied to the trailer where the couldn't see the other two horses he started yelling but that's normal for him.

We got tacked up and I worked him for a minute in the little ring they have just to make sure he was listening and that the buttons were sill functioning.

We headed out.

He actually prefers to lead, which I find contradictory to his nervousness but he likes to set the pace and if the horse in front is too slow he'll be in his lap if I'm not constantly pulling him back.  So the lead is actually less stressful for us both.

There was one odd looking brush pile he didn't want to get closer to but it was easy to convince him to keep moving.  Once Steve and Skip got too far ahead and I had to have a bit of an argument about who gets to decide the pace but I won pretty easily.

He took a good long while before he totally relaxed and dropped his head along the grassier area, but I am very pleased with how well he did with the amount of wooded sections.  There were snorts and blows and tension, but such a huge improvement from his complete refusal to go into the woods at last fall's Cowboy Challenge.

It was a wonderful way to spend the last weekday I was on summer break.  Now it's back to teaching and designing and advising and committee meetings and less lazy riding days. :(

We really need to spend a day loading and unloading.  He wasn't great when I got him but KAT had a come-to-jesus moment with him and he was fine up until May when he scared himself by bumping the butt bar on his way in and he's been a turkey ever since.  He was better loading to go home but he was pushing against the butt bar really hard in anticipation of getting out.  He listened to me and quit so I could get the bar undone safely and he came out relatively calmly.  Just like everything else with this boy, we need mileage.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Equine Nutrition - Here we go Again!

I wasn't planning on changing feed, but this morning I made a discovery that made changing feeds a necessity....

At the end of June, before heading to MN for a month, I bought enough Safe N Lite to get him into about mid August.  Today, upon realizing I had only about 3 feedings left I headed up to the Drive-Thru.  For those of you who (like me) don't know what a DT Feed store is, it is a something else!  You drive in, tell them what you want, they load it up and run your card, bring you a receipt to sign and you drive away.  Oh, and they nearly always are Feed and LIQUER.  Yup.  I'll have two bags of that and a six-pack of that, thanks.  It's real. Still can't get over it.

Anyway, So I get there and guess what?!?! They no longer carry it!  And neither does anyone else in the area.  I checked.  Sonnuvah.....  Not much to be done about that but move on!

So with only about enough grain left for 3 feedings, I need to act fast.  Ideally you transition a horse over a week.  I'm gonna have to do it in just 3 days. Certainly not ideal, but I'm left with no choice.  I came home and pulled out the old Nutrition binder and went to work.  For those of you just joining us, you can check out the posts under "Equine Nutrition" on the right-hand side for the epic saga that has been Junior's grain journey.

Rather than get myself into trouble again by finding a feed that is difficult to acquire, I decided to look at our two barn grains.  Currently the barn feeds Tribute's Kalm N EZ and Purina's Strategy Healthy Edge.  KEZ was one of the feeds Jess analyzed for me way back when, but SHE was not on the market yet.

Remember back then we were dealing with a hot, obese horse having very limited turnout?  Now we are dealing with a generally calm horse on the slender side of good weight who is getting ample daily turnout.  He wasn't even hot when he was in his stall for almost a week when the thrush was so bad.  That seems to be gone, now, btw.

So we're looking at a different situation: and a much more "normal" horse with fewer "special needs." Hopefully it wasn't JUST the feed that made the difference.  I suspect turnout has made the biggest difference, along with a brighter stall he can stick his head out and feel like he's in a herd rather than a dark lonely box.

Below is the comparison of the main things I'm interested in with regards to feed analysis.  All 3 are considered "low sugar/low starch" but I couldn't find the starch percentage for KEZ.  There's of course a lot more factors to equine nutrition, but for the most part all the main brands offer complete nutrition so I'm not getting into the Ca:P ratios or anything that would make my brain hurt more than it has to.

I think I'm taking a gamble with either feed since each is above or below on each line.
-KEZ has better fiber content.
-SHE has nearly the same mcals so I can feed about the same size ration.
-SHE has lower protein - we found most feeds contain more protein that a horse needs based on the NRC guidelines, but I don't mind having a slightly higher number there since he could use muscle, too much though and they just pee it out and make the stalls smell worse.
-Fat is higher in the SHE and some research suggests that has a calming effect on some horses.

As of tonight's feeding I'm going to substitute 1/4 of his ration with Strategy Healthy Edge and by Tuesday PM feeding he'll be totally on the SHE.  I have a thing against Strategy but I've heard much better reviews of the SHE so hopefully it'll work out.  Or it'll be back to the drawing board!

Just a parting shot for you:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Product Review: Amigo Mio Fly Sheet

 We've been using our Amigo Mio for nearly a whole summer now. I purchased it at EquusNow on sale for less that $60. Horseware Ireland's website lists it for $73 and says:

"Horseware® Amigo® Mio Flysheet with attached hood. Soft knitted polyester, patented front Leg Arches™ for freedom of forward movement and two criss-cross belly surcingles make this ultra breathable flysheet a favorite at a price anyone can afford! "

Being the bottom of the line that Horseware offers, I suppose it's a case of "you get what you pay for" but I am not dissatisfied. It seems to be doing it's job, but I think it has design flaws.

Here it is fresh out of the package:

My only previous experience with a fly sheet was a Kensington style sheet with harder, stiffer plasticky mesh I bought at a tent sale for $10. It was full of holes after one summer and gave him lovely patches of broken hair, including the top of his tail.

Sizing: The sheet had ample coverage. Junior usually wears a 78. I thought it was a bit roomy at first. It comes in 3" increments. 

Hardware: Is only nickel plated so the buckles are chipped and rusted after only a few months.

Velcro Closures: There's a reason you don't launder velcro with your Zocks, right? WHY did they use velcro when the fabric itself snags relentlessly on it!?! In just normal wearing, there are snags and pulls all over the areas of velcro, and anywhere else the "male" side of the velcro touches. So even when you fold it up to hang on the blanket bar it gets stuck to itself.

Neck Cover: Is not removable, which I like because he can't lose it. It seems built for REALLY thick necks, though and I'm not sure if that is on purpose or not. Junior has a thin neck comparatively. 

Fabric/Construction: Considering that my horse is tough on clothing it seems to be doing fairly well... probably shouldn't have said that outloud. In addition to the velcro damage, there are a few tears in various locations on the body.  If velcro can snag the fabric I can't be surprised turnout buddies and fences can tear it, but a few could be stress/strain on the fabric. The binding and straps appear to be holding up well, but one of the belly straps has torn the fabric, and the lining at front closure has pulled away from the stitching line, which seems to be stress rather than abrasion. The lining is not a strong enough weave to stand up to the stress of turnout.

Maintenance: I have washed it once in my standard home machine.  I saw no damage or change in the materials after washing in cold (twice) with a scentless detergent (I usually use Schneider's Blanket Wash but I'm running low) and it dried very quickly on my deck. It is not as shiny as it was and didn't wash up "like new" but it was cleaner and smelled better.

Overall: I think it does the job it was intended to do, but will probably only last a few seasons. The damage to the fabric and the few tears do not yet prevent the sheet from protecting the horse, but could eventually.  For the first time, Junior is not covered in hives and though many of the other horses  have exhibited welts from the horse flies, Junior's only had one small one on his neck below where the cover ends. He was also put on Smart Bug-Off this year, so that probably helps, too.

Recommendations: If you need an affordable sheet, your horse is kind to it's clothing, and you don't mind cosmetic damage, this might be a good buy for you.

Velcro damage to fabric:

Hole in Shoulder, hip, and stress at belly strap.

Friday, August 12, 2011

WTFriday #4 - Curse You Perry the Platypus!!!

Phineas and Ferb.  If you've not seen this show you probably don't have kids between the ages of 1 and 10.   But you SHOULD.  Should see it, I mean, not necessarily SHOULD have kids... that's none of my business.

I started watching the show with my nephew and neices and it is a great show.  The show wasn't designed for children, but it didn't exclude them as an audience. The creators believed in the concept so much that it took them 16 years of tweaking and pitching before a network (Disney) would pick it up.  That's dedication.  And no matter your feelings about the Disney empire, they made a good choice on this show. Clever plots, recurring themes, fun music, and laugh outloud quirky humor make up each 1/2 hour show's 2 episodes. The boys are on summer vacation and each day they do some crazy outlandish project.  Their sister Candice tries to "bust" them and always fails.  Then there is a subplot of their unassuming pet platypus, Perry, and evil scientist: Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.   You can read a lot more about them on the web, I recommend the ease of the Wikipedia page.  They're on Disney Channel on Fridays, but they're also on Netflix.

So what on earth does this have to do with this blog?   Well, I happened to be watching an episode where the kids were riding horses.  And for a second I thought WTFriday is on their heads!?!?!  And then I realized that they had HELMETS under their cowboy hats.

I jumped up an cheered (metaphorically) and praised the person in that office that decided to portray the kids, even though they are cartoons who do all sorts of unrealistic death-and-gravity-defying acts, utilizing this important safety tool.  Granted the boys' have no chin straps but I'm over it.

So check out Phineas and Ferb and their crime-fighting pet platypus, Perry.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Skip to the end question if you don't want to read all of my ramblings today...

So much humidity! There's no escaping it and with humidity and in addition to creating a comfy environment for Thrush, here comes every tack room's best friend: MOLD, or MOULD if you are so inclined. Even my purty tack box has fallen victim. Max's mom was too quick to tell me there was no mold in there while I was gone. I found it when I got home. It wasn't too bad at first glance but once I dug around... Not only was it on leather, it was on my clipper bag, the entire inside of my LamiCell helmet, my old Aegis helmet, a stray treat, 2 rolls of vetwrap, my earmuffs, and my bit warmer and I was not at all pleased to see it growing ON THE WOOD ITSELF. Dang. AND I opened up my blanket chest to find it on my newest winter blanket. Double Dang.

To war.

The washables went into hot water wash with vinegar and dried in the sun. The clipper bag didn't fare so well in the wash but I can fix it. The helmet is still a bit ripe after vacuuming, dabbing with lemon juice and a generous dousing (or two) of Lysol spray. Might need another approach if it's going to be wearable. I tossed my old Aegis helmet since It won't adjust anymore anyway and that's just not safe. That was actually hard. It was my first approved helmet! The blanket is airing out while I make a plan to take it to the laundromat. More on that later.

After a bit of research I chose a bleach/water solution and wiped out the box. And even though the Lysol can says not to use on polished wood I used that, too, then set a fan in front of it and left it open for a few days. Then I bought a 2-pack of Damp Rid containers and put one in the door closest to the bottom compartments where it was worst, but I think I need to add the other one into the main compartment. The container says "up to 45 days..." we'll see about that. The wood is still clean today... I shouldn't have said that outloud. Blerg! I've removed most of the contents of the compartments for the time being.

It seems to like my English saddle and my western headstall the best, as well as the franken-halter I made out of parts of one leather halter and one nylon halter. You might remember the photos from last year. Not that bad this year, thankfully. I cleaned them with Saddle Soap and used my Bick4. That BTW is the best stuff EVAR, but today the mold was already back so it's not the best at mold prevention. Triple Dang.

So time for more research... It seems there are two leather care products that claim to be anti-fungal. One is Leather Therapy and the other is the Belvoir line from Carr & Day & Martin. Both have a cleaner and a conditioner. The Belvoir also comes in wipes.

The Leather Therapy claims to be the only one, but Belvior says it too. Equusnow carries both of them so I can get them right on my way to the barn.

Adding to my list of things to consider if I ever build my own barn: TACK ROOM WINDOWS that create tons of ventilation and let the mold-killing light shine on in.

So, Dear Readers, have you tried either of those products? Something else? I'm a little worried about the winter blanket because the tag says to wash on cold but I think I need it warmer to kill the mold.... ?? Thoughts??

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What The What is THAT?!?

Part ONE of what's been occupying me since my return was that upon grooming my pony on Monday, I found this curious hole-thingy in his RF heel:

See it there on the bottom bulb? And YES, I cleaned out his feet after I shot the photo. I took him in to the arena. He seemed perfectly sound so I didn't worry much. The only thing we could think of was maybe an abscess exit? I did get news that he was a bit "stiff" when he was ridden on the 25th but nothing noticeable. Perhaps it blew out on it's own? I've never had an abscess before (KNOCK ON WOOD) but I've read about them (including on some of YOUR blogs!) and seen other photos and articles.

So yesterday we hosed it out and we found this:

So there's kinda like a HOLE in either side of his heel and I got a little freaked out. Doesn't look like the abscess holes I've seen, it looked more like some sort of flesh eating virus! The lower one is DEEP and creepy. So I sent the pic to Doc. While waiting for him to respond we treated it like an abscess and wrapped it. Doc said he'd like to see it and happened to be coming today.

So today, after deciding that he was sound, Doc took the wrap off and poked around. The whole area was black and nasty. No abscesses, instead, it's a really really really nasty case of Thrush that embedded itself so deeply that I saw no evidence of Thrush when I picked his feet on Monday or yesterday, but the wrap must have given the thrush a nice 24 hours of moist heat to thrive in. Ooopsie.

Doc exposed and cut out all of the nastiness. Then he gave him a bit of sedation to make it easier for me to soak it in a hoof bag for 45 minutes, dump the solution out and let it "work" sealed back up for another 45 minutes, then apply a good dose of Thrush Buster.

Awww sleepy soaking pony.

All cleaned out... with a little bit of shavings because it's hard to wrestle a leg out of a soaking bag and take a picture of it without the slightly sleepy pony insisting on putting the foot down. :)
Still looks nasty but I covered it all in the purple-power and he will need to stay picked and dry for a few days. We'll see how it goes. Luckily he doesn't seem painful about it but that barely alleviates my guilt. Not much I could have done to prevent it. I didn't see it and neither did Max's girls when they picked his feet for me. But I still feel bad for him. :( While he soaked I sat a chair outside his stall and we shared some quiet time together. It's amazing how soft his muzzle is when he's not trying to eat me with it! He actually put himself as close to me as he could and I just scratched his face and rubbed his nose and shooed the flies from his eyes. Reminded me of a sick kid who just wants to lay on the couch by his mom. And yes, I'm anthropomorphizing, but it was still adorable.