Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Wishing you and yours a safe and Merry Christmas!!!

Each year we have a fun little barn party for Christmas.  We play silly horse games and exchange ornaments. We've had a costume contest the past two years so I've had an excuse to use my skilz.

This year I decided we were going to be Gingerbread!

I made a little skirt and vest for myself with glittery peppermint appliques.  For Huck I made a saddle blanket, breast collar cover, and "hair".  I also covered my headstall and reins in white. Huck was very patient while I decorated him. and didn't seem to mind the "hair" extensions at all!

I spend actual Christmas in Minnesconsin with my family (and I have a cat) so I don't get a tree or do a lot of home decorating, but this year I hung a wreath, lights, and pulled out some 2nd and 5th place ribbons for a little festive color!

Did you dress up your horse or home in horse-Christmas fashion?

Coming up, Equilutions 2017: A look back, and a look forward.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

September Ranch Show

This post is 6 weeks overdue...
Poor quality photo or "artistic"... maybe both.

Failed at photos from this show. :(

I must frame this post with a bit of a recap:
August 25, 2015- brought Huck home.
Early September - ended lease on Kevin and started working Huck back into shape.
December - stitches for facial laceration.
April 2016 - Staples for leg laceration.
June - SI joint injections
July - injection recovery.
August - A week of coughing, lost shoe.

So the longest we went without a complete restart was 4 months, and during that 4 months I was battling scratches.  Not that scratches are a huge deal, but THERE WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING.  And mixed in that is a string of lost shoes.  The tough part is that Huck tends to factory-reset to feral-pony when he's out of work. He's not awful, but when he's in regular work it's so much easier to keep him focussed on work and less jumpy and reactive.

If the August and September shows hadn't gone so well, and he wasn't the sweetest most affectionate fellow, I would be seriously considering selling this accident prone lemon of a horse. 'Cause guess what?  We've had MORE issues.  More on that later.

Back to the show:
It was a beautiful weekend.  I was very pleased with Huck.  This is our cancer awareness show so we are encouraged to wear pink.

August was a little crazy.  B and her family went on a trip to Africa for 2.5 weeks and left me to farm sit. I am grateful for the experience - just in case I had momentarily forgotten how much work running a farm is, this was a solid reminder.  Nothing major happened and thankfully the only vet call I needed to make was about my own horse.  One night he suddenly starting coughing up a lung while we were riding.  He is not a cougher and this sounded like a horror movie.  The vet said to watch it and he did get better each day and as we got closer to the show he stopped.  Not sure what it was, but probably mold exposure (it was the hottest muggiest month EVER) triggered some asthma.... add that to the list...

So a mere TWO days before the show the coughing was done, I got a shoe put back on, and got the okay from the chiropractor that he was in good shape to show.

On Friday night was the Freestyle Reining.  I threw a costume together for a nod at Gazelle (Shakira) from Zootopia including making gazelle horns and ears to add to a wig, and designing some makeup. I choreographed a routine in my head (it's a long drive to the barn and back and my ipod was set to repeat the song over and over), only being able to work pieces of it a few days before the show. I wasn't ever able to run it in it's entirety.  I used modern technology (videos of us riding/showing) to GUESS if the timing of my routine would actually work.  Thankfully the timing worked pretty well.  We ended up 4th, which was the best I could do considering how good the top 3 are, and we also won Most Creative Freestyle so I was even happier with that.  I'm a little embarrassed to post the video because the stops were awful, like cringe-worthy awful, but the rest is alright considering how little practice we got... and I don't believe in editing your life. ;) There's good things about this experience and I think the song was appropriate for celebrating this year...

Saturday's Show:

We won the Walk/Trot Ranch Riding (rail) class again!  I was very irritated after the class because the judge never called for an extended jog. I don't think you can judge a RANCH class without an extended jog and it also happens to be our best gait.  On the second direction I revved up our jog a little in case our regular jog wasn't enough.  6th in year-end placings with only two shows!

We WON the Green Reiner class!  I failed at getting a video which made me really sad, but such is life. Top 5 for the year with only 2 shows!

We didn't place in the Green Boxing.  I'd like to blame it on the quiet cow we had, but I really must blame it all on myself.  We didn't practice at ALL after the August show, not even on the flag, so I can't expect much better than that and besides, cow work really isn't my favorite thing. 7th for the year.

We were 3rd in the Conformation and ended up 3rd for the year-end as well, so we got one class in the awards!

Even though I practiced loading many many times, on Sunday morning Huck wouldn't load again.  I didn't let him escalate the situation this time, and instead worked his butt for a while and then got one of the big roper guys to help by putting a rope behind him.   I am grateful for knowledgable KIND horsemen who can gently convince a horse that his best option is to just get on the d@mn trailer.  For our next show (whenever that may be) I will ride/work him before I even bring him over to the trailer.

His refusal antics included his famous pony yoga...

Upcoming posts include Huck's latest non-life-threatening injury and my thoughts on how to move forward and improve our riding, working to understand his weirdness, and see what we might make of ourselves in the future.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Post About Pads

Allie over at Rocking E Cowgirl is on the hunt for a new pad, and on my last show post, she asked about what pad I'm using.

When I was pad shopping in the fall of 2014  I read a few research articles and I decided that wool was the way to go.  Note, it's pretty tough to find research that isn't presented by a manufacturer of pads, but I do recall reading one University study that pointed towards wool. Honestly I can't remember all the reasons why, though wool didn't appear to hold as much heat, and being a natural product seemed the right choice.  Formerly I had used a felt/neoprene pad (a cheapie from Rod's) for years with Junior, and I had been using a well-used second-hand Impact Gel pad with Kevin.

My equine chiropractor recommended Diamond Wool as they are very economically priced and are high quality.  Sometimes I don't mind buying things online without seeing them first, but I wanted to feel the pad so it needed to be a local purchase. Rod's didn't have a great selection of Diamond Wool pads, but I found a Mayatex pad there that I liked well enough. I was riding Kevin at the time so I knew I didn't want a black pad.

Two years later and I'm still pretty happy with it.  I use it to school and when I show I throw a blanket over it.  I really like the convenience of just using the pad when I'm schooling and saving wear/tear on a blanket only for showing or maybe clinics.  The pad feels the same to the horse and I've never had an issue with the blanket slipping out of place.  I can even keep my show number on my blanket between shows.

I admit it's dirty, but I've been using it for almost 2 years, and well, yours probably looks like this, too, right? I always like knowing how things hold up to use, so I'm showing you my dirty laundry, so to speak.

I've never washed it, but I've brushed hair off of it with my rubber curry.  It does wick sweat from the horse, so while it's been SOOOO humid here I've been turning it upside down in the sun to dry whenever possible.

My most-used show blanket is one I purchased around the same time as the pad, but I got this one down at QH Congress.... yet also from Rod's.   Rod's store at Congress is actually BIGGER than their Columbus location!   I have a friend who makes chaps and for $20 she added chap-leather wear leathers to the blanket to make it look nice longer. This is the blanket you've seen in oh ALL my show photos for two years.

I also have a solid black show blanket and a multi-pink blanket (both Mayatex).  I'll use the pink one at my September show because it's a cancer fundraiser show and we are all encouraged to wear pink.  I haven't used the black since I had Junior, but it might make an appearance if I decide to do a freestyle reining class at the next show.... don't hold your breath.

My friend/BO Brenda has a lovely 5-Star pad with fancy wear-leathers.  It is a much higher quality wool than the Mayatex, but it is also a much higher price.  She sometimes shows at our ranch shows in just the pad, and sometimes adds a blanket like I do. She picked it up at Congress last fall, but I can't remember which vendor.   5-Star pads have come highly recommended to me by several people and I can see why, they just aren't in my budget at the moment.

Now for MY "window shopping" for pads!

If I had a few hundred extra dollars to spend (lol) I would add a custom Mayatex blanket/pad to my collection.  You can go online and pick your weave and colors and actually see a preview of your blanket.  You can purchase just the blanket, or have it made into a blanket/pad combo.  I think I would like to have a blanket/pad combo for things like clinics, or when I want to look a little nicer without having to deal with the blanket and pad separately.  I would get all neutral colors to match Huck's coat, so no matter what I was wearing it would look good.   I've also played around with adding some teal or turquoise in, you know, if I had another few hundred extra dollars to spend.

Lastly, I'd add a fleece-bottom pad to my arsenal.  When I had Huck body-clipped in the spring, I had some issues with skin sensitivity.  I kludged it with a western baby-pad because I didn't think I could find a fleece pad with the combination of affordability and support I wanted.  Budgets are real. 

What's your favorite pad?  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Two More Ranch Shows!

Last Sunday I took Huck to a Ranch Schooling show, and this Saturday was our August club show.

I just love that the Ranch type events are increasing in my area.  I know I've said this before, but I really found a home in the ranch riding world.  No, I'm not really interested in running a cow down a fence, but I love the ground-covering and finessed world of the Ranch Horse.  I love the variety of classes between rail, patterns, trail, and a little cow work, but I don't have to change clothes/tack for each one like I did in the pleasure all-around world.

The schooling show on the 31st was about an hour's drive and at a place we'd never been to before.  The place does a lot of barrel racing events, but are looking at doing more ranch type shows.  It was a nice indoor venue, with a lot more room than I envisioned.  Footing wasn't ideal; really packed down rail along the rail and REALLY deep middle.  BUT one of the things I like about the ranch horse is that they can't be arena babies and only be able to work on smooth, even ground.  They have to have enough self carriage to cover all types of ground.

B and Ledger showed in the Open division, and Huck and I entered the Amateur division in Conformation, Showmanship, Ranch Pleasure (rail), Ranch Riding (pattern), and Horsemanship (pattern).  I think there were around 7 in the halter classes and around 11 in the riding classes.

We both won our Conformation classes!

1st in Conformation
2nd in Showmanship - Huck's first time!
6th in Ranch Pleasure
3rd in Ranch Riding
2nd in Horsemanship

I was very happy with him considering where we are post injections. We've been doing a ton of walk/trot and extended trot so all of that was great.  Our lope work felt a bit out of control, or at least it felt rough.  I sadly didn't get video so I don't feel like I know how it really went.  I was surprised we placed at all in the Riding and Horsemanship patterns, but since it was a schooling show, lots of riders had problems, too, and several of them chose to go 2-handed to school so they weren't placed.

I was especially proud of the Showmanship class.  As far as I could tell, he'd never been asked to set up or pivot or trot with a handler before I got him. He did really well and set up really quickly. Our two flaws were that he trotted off with his hip out and backed crooked.

This past weekend was our August Ranch Horse Show.  Huck's been holding steady since the schooling show so I was trying to stay positive and not let my anxiety about all the "what if's".  Will he get sore?  Am I doing to much?  I've been working mostly in walk/trot but we've been loping more and trying a few stops and lead changes.

We hauled in on Friday and I decided to school in the arena when it was warmer because there were fewer people than would be later when it was cooler.  He.  Was. So.  Good.  Very unlike the May show when I felt like every time we loped he was trying to do a rundown.  He was a little concerned about the tarps and cows, but didn't do anything big, just some twitches.

Friday night it poured down rain so Saturday started with a VERY wet arena.  They'd added new footing since the last show and now every hoof print was full of water.  I took Huck in to school during the cutting class just so I would know what he'd think of the arena.  When I took Junior to this show in 2013 we had wet footing and that arena baby just couldn't deal.  Huck was a trooper.  He didn't seem to mind the splashing at all.

My first class was Walk/Trot Ranch Riding.  It's really Ranch Pleasure 'cause it's just rail work, but since American Ranch Horse Association (ARHA) is still calling it Ranch Riding we do too.  I opted for the Walk/Trot since we've been doing mostly that for a while.  There were 17 in the class.  Huck worked really well.  His transitions were smooth and he help a nice frame.  We were faster than a lot of other horses so I stuck a bit to the inside.  His extended trot felt awesome.  When they called the placings (we place to 10) and got to 4th place I thought I hadn't placed, but I was still happy with the ride, so it was okay.  We ended up getting called for 1st place!

Notice the splashiness of the footing?
Reining was next.  I was trying so hard not to be nervous, but our last reining run was such a disaster.  Our lope circles were poorly cadenced, partially because of the footing, and partially because we are still working on loping more in our schooling rides.  But we got our two lead changes, three stops, two roll-backs, and our back-up and our single spins. (Ranch does fewer spins than usual in reining).  He stayed with me and didn't rush around or try to decide what we were doing, and best of all, he didn't flip out like the May show!  It was a huge change from our run in May so I was thrilled.  I couldn't believe we ended up with 2nd place with a 71.5! There are so many things we still have to work on, but I finally feel like we're somewhat on the right track to get there... probably shouldn't say that out loud...

Next class was the Green Boxing.  We hadn't been on a cow or even the practice flag since May.  I did stand in the line during the cutting for a bit so I could watch some friends do their runs and so Huck could watch the cows a bit and remember what they were.  Some of the cows were just so dead and some were total runners.  I ended up with a great little bald-face and Huck worked really well, especially for not having done so much as work a flag since May!  We ended up winning the class with a 74!  We even beat the people from the big cowhorse barn!  I'm sure there's a million things wrong with my ride, but for our 2nd time out I'm really happy with him.  He's very "cowy". ;)

Last class was Conformation at about 11:30pm.  We won!  I could not believe we won THREE classes and were 2nd in our fourth class!

Recap for those of you who are scrolling:
1st Ranch Riding Walk/Trot
2nd Green Reiner
1st Green Boxing
1st Conformation

Now the bad stuff, 'cause with this horse there seems to always be a bit of bad with the good.  Three times on Friday while I had Huck tied to the trailer, he jumped backwards.  He's jumpy anyway so I didn't think too much of it. He didn't pull away or freak out, just jumped back like he got stung or something. I check over everything but I didn't see anything that looked sharp or weird. But on Saturday, one of our friends was leaning on the trailer and realized he was getting an electrical shock from the fender!  We're still not sure what was causing it, but the trailer was hooked up to the RV which was plugged in to the RV elec. hookups, so there might be a faulty ground wire somewhere.    I accidentally let him get shocked one more time (though you think he'd stop touching it after the second time) while I was tacking up for my boxing class so we stopped tying to the trailer after that.  It's nice to be able to keep all of our tack in the trailer and tie there to tack-up rather than hauling all the tack into the barn. The door to the barn is just behind the trailer and our usual stalls are right there by the door.

Before we realized there was an issue... he stood quietly like a pro. :)

So Sunday morning he refused to load.  He's not been a good loader yet, so we'd spent the week before the schooling show going in and out of the trailer multiple times every day. Ledger was already in the trailer but Huck would NOT go in and got more and more agitated about going near the trailer.  I tried all the same quiet methods we'd worked on but he got more and more upset and eventually started kicking out.  I took him into the arena to lunge him and he was bucking and kicking on the line.  I made him work until he was asking to stop.  I didn't sweat him all up, but just got the edge off so he stopped offering to buck when I asked for the lope.  We ended up having to get two guys with a rope behind him to help encourage him and he finally jumped in and then was fine.  I HATE when that happens with a bunch of people watching.  Guess we'll be doing a lot more trailer loading  practice before the September show!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

June 2016 Ranch Horse Show

Since Huck was benched for the June show, I was granted the privilege of showing B's Barbie Horse, "Heath Ledger". Swoon.

Stephanie Moon Photography

I rode Ledger only one day at home.  Easy peasy lead changes and stops. Friggin Unicorn.

We took Ledger to a local open show and I won the Adult Horsemanship and was 2nd in the Adult Ranch Pleasure (rail).  The judge came over and said we really should have won but she saw two breaks of gait and just had to lower my score.  She was pretty much apologizing.

The Ranch show was pretty awesome.  Ledger was a Unicorn and placed high in every class with B. I rode him in the Green Reiner (with no warmup) and we scored a 73.5!  WHAT!?!?!

So now I get to show him at the last two shows, too.  It may actually be possible for us to be in the Top 3 for year end, but I'm not counting on that with only 3 shows under our belt, and the fact that I'm lousy with math.  It will be interesting for me to show two horses in the same class, though.  We'll see how that goes...

We are Riding!

Where have we been!?!?!

Well, as per usual, I took a little vacation in June/July to visit family and friends in Minne-sconsin.  It was a wonderful time of recharge and refresh as well as just getting to spend time with some of my favorite humans.

When we last left you, Huck had just had his SI joints injected.  He then spent three days in a stall (which he did NOT appreciate) but then was able to go back to 24/7 turnout.  We then spent about 10 days doing only light walk/jog rides every other day.

Our first "real" ride was choppy but fine and he'd had his last dose of muscle relaxers that morning.  Two days later I had what I think was the best ride we've ever had.  He was fluid and smooth and happy to work.  He licked and chewed after the few stops and loped circles with his head down.  I was thrilled....

And then the next day his lumbars were very sore.  Not as bad as they had been but after ONE RIDE?!?!?!  Swearwords. Did this mean we needed to inject MORE?!?!

The vet was scheduled to come out in about a week to see a barn mate, so we took it easy for the week.  A miracle occurred and I was able to get BOTH the vet and chiropractor out at the same time.  I wanted both of their opinions and for them to agree on the next steps.

Much to my surprise and relief, they both agreed that what he needed was more time and physical therapy and they were both confident that the injections helped a lot.  They suggested a few weeks of walk, long trot, pole work, back-up, hill work, etc. to build up his back/butt muscles. Now that he wasn't in pain he needed to remember how to work correctly.  They also suggested a massage therapist.

Of course that timing coincided exactly with my 5-day work trip and my 2.5 week planned vacation in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  I solicited the help of B and our recent friend K to ride him a few times a week while I was gone.  I was able to schedule the massage therapist for the weekend between trips.  He also managed to lose a shoe, so I pulled the other shoe, too.  I figured it'd be better for him to not have sliders on for a while.

I returned home on the 13th.  I've ridden half a dozen times since then. Each ride seems better than the last.  There was one day he was a little reactive to my fingers on his back, but I've been massaging him and trying to be really careful.  We started out pretty inconsistent and choppy, which doesn't surprise me considering he hasn't been working properly (without pain) for three months.  But as I said, each ride seems to get a little better.

Yesterday he had his shoes (slide plates) put back on.  I asked for three stops, none of them with any sort of build up, just a stop.  He licked and chewed afterwards.  I was not able to get a bad reaction to his back test!

Hopefully this means we are on the right track.  I'm scheduling the massage therapist again soon.

We are also trying a different bit (correction) and it seems to be going fine.

We have a possible schooling show on the 31st and our next Ranch show is August 6th.

Fingers crossed we get to show!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Much Do Horses Cost? Everything.

Since the show, I've been trying to figure out what's going on with Huck.  Is it attitude?  training?  physical issues?  We've taken days off, done tons of stretching and flexing.  We trail rode.  We rode inside. We rode outside. We massaged. We ground worked. We researched. We've employed the help/opinions of the farrier, trainer, chiropractor, and vet.

Today we injected both of Huck's Sacroiliac (SI) joints.

Both chiro and vet agree this is the way to go so I am hoping they're both right.  I had my lower back/sacrum injected a few years ago so I can somewhat understand what's going on.  I also have crappy SI joints. Pretty tired of my horses mirroring my issues.

Obviously this puts a hold on show season, but clearly the showing wasn't working anyway.  Perhaps this will give us a chance at some success in the future.

This also puts yet another strain on my very thinly stretched horse budget.  In 9 months we've had a facial laceration, forearm laceration with infection, and injections.  We also had proud flesh, scratches,  and he has a swollen lymph node in his right forearm (vet says it's probably fine and that the steroids will likely take care of it.) Seriously though. WTF. This "affordably priced" horse has turned into a money pit.  I sure hope there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  This is supposed to be fun, right?

Seriously though, I have some things for sale:  or if you've ever thought about my decals, now's a great time to support small business and Huck's vet bills.

He's in a stall with muscle relaxers, bute, and hand-walking for two more days.  On Saturday he can go back out to turnout and be ridden lightly at the walk and loose-rein jog for 10 days.  Then we can start loping and stopping and see where we are.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 2016 Ranch Horse Show

I'm still processing this show.

This was our first club show of the season.  This is the club/shows I won the Green Ranch Versatility buckle at last year with Kevin.  

This was the first time I showed him in REINING, and his first reining class after a two year pasture potato solo vacation.   

So I had some reasons to be.... anxious... about the show.

Friday we loaded up and drove the 2 hours to the show with the RV and trailer.  We got our favorite stalls right by where we park and where we park is right next to the in-gate.  We really have the best seat in the house.  I can sit in my own chair, near my own fridge and bathroom, right next to the arena, and just walk 30 feet into the barn to get my horse.  This really helps me relax and enjoy the show. 

Huck was chill about everything, but he did jump once when the wind hit the tarps on the cattle panels.  He was fine after that.  Practice ride was challenging.  He didn't do anything totally stupid, but his attention wasn't on me and he wasn't listening.  Sometimes he was lovely.  Sometimes we got in a fight about who was calling the shots..... I realized I've gone from riding the quiet pleasure horse to the uppity fast one... oh crap.  Nobody wants to be "that guy" but at least I wasn't the worst.  I didn't end up on the ground and we didn't run into anyone....

We ended up helping as a turnback during the cutting practice since you need 4 people to hold a herd while someone does their cutting run, and the show organizers don't actually organize that.  So I started helping because no one else would..... I realized I've gone from having the horse who didn't give a shit about cows, to the horse who seems most relaxed while mooving cows around.... see what I did there?  So I got to do some free practice. :)

We tried to ride out on the grass trail course and it wasn't great, as I expected.  Some antics, but generally did the things.  

I have been debating in my brain for ages whether to stay in Green Reiner or move up to Ranch Reining.  I mean, my horse is AWESOME, and only one of the two green patterns has a lead change and I felt like I was wasting the experience. But the last week or so has really let me know we are not ready to go beyond Green Reiner, and that even that might be above us right now.

Aaaaaaaand I was right.  Thankfully I decided Friday night to stay Green.  I realized we weren't going to do very well and I'd rather be a terrible greenie than a terrible open rider.  

Our places for the Day:
Horsemanship: NP
Trail: DQ - Judge wrote "Unruly" on my scoresheet...
Ranch Riding: NP -  31 in the class
Green Reining: DQ
Green Boxing: 3rd out of 24 - this was the highlight of the day
Conformation: 5 out of 10

Yeah, that's a DQ in reining, you know, the thing he was professionally trained for.  I'm not going to show you the video.  Maybe someday, but I want to get past this first.  If you're unfamiliar with how reining is scored, you enter the arena with a score of 70 and every maneuver is scored as a minus, zero, or plus.  The plusses and minuses can be in increments of 1/2 up to 1 1/2 on each maneuver.  You can also get penalty points of varying degrees.  A score of all zeroes means everything was "correct".   You want to be better than correct, but like dressage, that's a long term goal.  You can win a class with a 65 if everyone else was worse, so it becomes more about personal bests than ribbons. 

So what did we do wrong?  All the things.  Okay maybe not all the things.  We minused every maneuver. The first set of circles were fine.  Still got -1/2.   Then everything went down hill from there.  First set of spins was delayed because I couldn't get him to drop his head which made me super nervous and then he started moving around and anticipating but I didn't know how long I could wait or should wait so I just let him spin and the spins were AWFUL.  Second set of circles he picked up the wrong lead but changed as soon as I asked him.  Second stop looked like a spook. Second set of spins was maybe a hair better than the first but still awful. Lope off was fine, stop to rollback was fine but he picked up the wrong lead and again corrected when I asked.  The final sliding stop was a complete WTF.  Instead of stopping he threw up his head and spun around in what looked like a cartoon giraffe making fun of a dressage horse doing a pirouette.  That spin meant a DQ.  The backup was actually fine but still -1/2.  If you click on the scoresheet you'll be able to see all the various faults you can earn.  I don't know what the z or 2 is in the first penalty box, but he didn't end up counting it.

We were 615
LL 2C = 2 Circles to the left, left lead
2SL - 2 Spins Left
RL 2C - 2 Circles to the right, right lead
2SR - 2 Spins Right
LL RBR = Left lead lope, Roll Back Right

After our run I immediately went into the indoor and made him drop his head.  Took a bit of a fight, but he eventually dropped and we did some nice spins in both directions.  We then loped off and did a poor but obedient stop.  WTF.

Horses are hard.  


All of that was written BEFORE the chiropractor came out and BEFORE I watched the video multiple times in slow motion - yes that was torturous, but necessary.

Huck hurts when he stops.

It's clear to me now and of course I feel guilty for not realizing it sooner. It's his SI joint (sacroiliac).... oddly enough I have SI joint issues, too.  So I feel even more guilty because when mine flares up it's hard to even walk or stand let alone do anything as athletic as reining!  After the diagnosis I showed the Chiro the video and he agreed with me that his behavior at the stops is consistent with SI pain.

Chiro adjusted him and taught me some new stretches.  He also recommended I get a consult with one particular vet for possible injections.  He said his adjustment will help for a week or so, but that injections would probably be a good option for long-term.

Anybody want to sponsor me so I can afford this horse's never-ending vet bills!?!?!?  I don't have any idea what this will cost me.

We haven't ridden since the show.  I wanted him to have some days off before and after Tuesday's adjustment.  I'm planning to ride today and see how he feels, but NO stops until my trainer comes next Tuesday.  Chiro said I could stop him to let him feel that it's okay now, but I'd rather let the trainer do it correctly than me fumble it.

From the video... we almost look like we know what we're doing...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Show that Almost Wasn't - Part II

Part I is here. 

Saturday early afternoon we loaded Huck and Ledger - wow they are both so easy to load/unload! and headed down the road.

I'd only been to this fairgrounds once last spring with Kevin for a Ranch Pleasure clinic/demo, which I don't think I posted about.

The show arena is decent sized, the warm-up is small and there is another small warmup arena that wasn't drug.

The show is a pleasure circuit, but this year they added 7 Ranch/Performance classes to the end of the day.  I was sad to see, once we arrived that there were patterns posted for the two Ranch Pleasure classes, even though their rule book describes the classes as rail-work only.  Thankfully the office people assured me that they were, in fact, rail-only and since this was their first time offering the classes they were still figuring things out.  The patterns were tough, too!  Both had lead changes and extended lopes!

The western classes were going on when we arrived and I really don't miss all those crystals.  To each his own, of course, but I don't miss it.  They allowed cross-entry from Western Pleasure to Ranch Pleasure so we didn't know what the mix would be in our classes.

The mix was definitely a mix. There were the two of us, who I would call serious Ranch people, a few reiners that were clearly there just to school, some pleasure-trained horses with work tack and manes growing-out, and some contesting kids.

Note to self: don't go to a horse show without fly spray.  Oopsies.  Luckily I had Tri-Care so I could get the flies away from his wound and B found some roll-on repellent in the trailer.

I was very nervous and shaking while I tacked up.  Huck was fine.  He was looky and wasn't holding still, but he wasn't crazy or screaming.  We rode in the crappy warm up for a while and I tried to convince him he didn't need to go as fast as possible and maybe should consider relaxing his topline and ignoring the show atmosphere.

We eventually got to a point I felt he was "with" me and we had about 30 minutes before Ranch Conformation would start so we stripped his tack and got ready to show.

We started with Ranch Conformation.  Huck was much better behaved than I feared he'd be.  He jogged off when I asked and set up pretty well.  He did move at one point but he obeyed when I re-maneuvered him back to square.

The judge stopped and looked right at his staples.  I was so worried she was going to excuse us.  She could have been totally insulted that I brought an open wound into a halter class.  If she had asked about it I'd have shown her the text from the vet okaying us to show. :)

Places were called and we were 2nd!  B and Ledger won the class.  Take that pleasure horses!  I showed in my vintage buckstitched halter.  B has a cool new rope halter that's pretty much the same color as Ledger.  I have a new brown rope halter on order so I can be as cool as her.   You can see why we call Ledger the Barbie Horse.... And you can purchase his image Here.  And as a unicorn here. 

These are the only photos we have of us showing.  Looks like the photographer didn't stay for the whole Ranch division.  :(  B and I were both too busy managing our fresh horses to take photos.

There were two trail classes and open reining that B was showing in,  so I tied Huck to the trailer and sat where I could see him.   I did get up and walk halfway to the trailer at one point but he was fine and I returned to my seat.  He didn't stand quietly like a gentleman, but he wasn't pulling or freaking out.  I think he was just mad that he was standing on grass but couldn't eat it.  The hay just wasn't as awesome.  I wanted to see if he could handle being alone at the trailer and yes he can.  Yay!

Our first riding class was a Ranch Pleasure Jackpot. Huck did about what I expected.  He's not the mover that Kevin was, but we're working on it. He minded my instructions and didn't seem bothered by anything. We ended up 4th of I think 6.

Horsemanship was next.  Our practicing of this simple pattern was ridiculous.  Huck was sure that loping from a standstill meant that he should go really really fast, as if we were speed roping or something.

He was better in the class, but we overshot cone C.  He stopped much better at D.  He picked up his leads well and he we did the reiner thing by moving his hip before asking for the lope. He always backs easily.  No one wanted to go first so we volunteered.  I feel the judge gives extra points for the one brave enough to go first.  ;)

She had us do rail work after the patterns and that went fine.  We were called First!!! I can't remember how many were in the class.  At least 6.  B and Ledger were 2nd.

Last class was another Ranch Pleasure class.  Not sure why they have two open Ranch Pleasure classes.  The first was Jackpot so it was $2 more to enter and had a higher payback.   I could tell Huck was getting tired.  The worst part of the class was that there were, I think 12 in the class and I had a hell of a time trying to find a spot on the rail.  There were a few in the class who, in my humble opinion, should have been excused.  I've been there, trust me, so I get it, but it made it really difficult to show my horse well.  I was cutting the corners and short sides of the arena a lot, just trying to keep my cadence while others zoomed around or bucked, or kicked out, or stopped short.....  I was happy with how Huck just went where I pointed him and didn't seem at all phased by the commotion.  This is good because our rail class at our ranch shows can sometimes be a shit show, too.

We ended up 4th again, and I think B was 2nd.

Since this was our first time at this show, we were thrilled to discover that there were paybacks for each class!  I think the show cost me about $3 after getting my payback!

I suppose I can say Huck earned a paycheck, right?

I feel SOOOOOOO much better about going into our show season, now that I know how he is at shows.  He's fine.  I'm sure he'll be even better when we have more time to adjust before actually showing.  I was most worried about the reining, which we didn't get to do, but I think we'll be fine.

I felt really guilty making him show with an injury, but his leg is good now.  The swelling is nearly nonexistent and the wound is dry.

He was a little back-sore on Tuesday.  I blame him being stalled for 4 days and the shit footing in the warmup. In hindsight I should have gone to the other warmup, but it was full of people standing around.  Next time I'll be bossy and tell them to get out of the way.  

Huck saw the chiro Tuesday afternoon and got two days off with a little bute and liniment.  Hopefully he's less sore today.  We have James Cooler back tomorrow-Sunday for a three-day horsemanship retreat.  I'm very excited to show him how much better we are at moving hips now!


The Show that Almost Wasn't - Part I

Well that was a roller-coaster of a week!  Warning; TLDR possibility.

On Tuesday Huck came in with a cut on his right forearm.  We are thinking Ledger kicked him, but can't be sure.  This is a risk we take by putting our shod reiners in turnout.  We know this.  We also know we do not like stalled horses.  We like free-roaming, socializing horses with lower colic risk.  I've already gotten a lecture about this, thank you.

Anyway, so B calls Tuesday morning to say that there was a lot of blood but he wasn't lame. She said she'd clean it and when she called back she said it was worse than she thought.

I headed out and took a look and decided we were going to need professional help or this thing would not heal properly.  It was too deep and too wide. Luckily our vet was able to come pretty quickly.

The vet cleaned it out and stapled it shut.  Two days in the stall on bute but take him for walks, and then we can go back to work.  He even said the show would probably be okay but maybe not do the reining..... great.  The biggest reason I wanted to get him to a show before our first circuit show was reining.  Poop.

The only reason I was upset about not showing was that this was the ONLY show before we do our first Ranch circuit show in May. New horse, new sport, and I knew I'd be super nervous.  I wanted to get that first one out of the way BEFORE we were going for year-end points.

We go from bad to worse...

Wednesday it was swollen and a bit stiff.

Thursday Afternoon
Thursday the leg was even bigger, even down to his hoof on the interior side and he was hot and lame.... and spewing pus from the wound if I touched his leg..... another vet call.  It was disgusting (seriously like projectile pus) and terrifying.  I mean, the vet wasn't terrified, but you know the name of this blog.  Also, while I was walking him, the 6 vultures circling overhead were unhelpful.  They just live here, but still, they weren't helping.

It's hard to see in the photos, but there were zero tendons visible on the interior side of the leg.  Though, to be fair, you know the name of this blog, so I may have been more frightened than necessary.

Thursday Afternoon
The vet returned to drain and flush and he left a few staples out.  We added antibiotics to the regimen.  I was convinced the show was a no-go and also pretty much convinced my horse was going to die.  I didn't sleep well.

Then Friday morning B texts to tell me the swelling is much better and he's not lame.  I go out midday to give bute and walk him and it looked SOOOOOO much better!  I could see tendons! I sent photos to the vet letting him know there was still some drainage.  He said good and that it'll get better with work.  I asked when we should go back to work and turnout and he said "Now.  Show okay if he's sound."

Friday Afternoon

And he was sound.  Just like that.  Well shit.  I would have been spending this week preparing for the show but I didn't!

I made a second trip to the barn Friday night (I had to go back to work in the afternoon) to see if he was sound to ride.  He was, and he seemed happy to work.  By the end of our ride his swelling was down further.

Okay, so now I have to make a decision about hauling to a show on these Overanxious thoughts:
New horse, hasn't been shown in over 2 years...
No idea how he is in a show/crowd situation...
Or tied to a trailer...
He's got an open would on his leg...
Will we insult the judge taking him in Ranch Conformation with that wound?..
Will I hurt him if I put him through the trailering and showing?

So I decided to go because of these thoughts;
This is a "dress rehearsal" show - it's schooling. (It's a real show but not one of my circuits)
I NEED for my own sanity to know what he's like at a show before we go to big show May 7.
Vet said he should work.
We can do just a few classes.....

....To Be Continued...

Part 2 is here.

Monday, April 11, 2016


A quick update on our facial laceration. It's looking really good!

The scar is much easier to see now that we've been body clipped, but it's really not as unsightly as was expecting, and it'll probably continue to get better.

Body-clipping was a necessity because this boy sweats like nothing I've ever seen.  Even a 30 minute ride in 55 degree temperatures causes him to be soaked just like he was here.  I did a modified bib-clip myself but that really wasn't enough so we went all out.  I didn't do a bridle-path, the inside of his ears, or have his whiskers cut.  I've always trimmed whiskers, but I've been reading a bit about how some people are re-thinking the importance of whiskers.  That being said, I have yet to find something that looks like a scientific study giving strong evidence one way or the other.  The ranch people seem to like them.  I'm undecided.

My friend/former student/former barn manager did a great job clipping, and aside from now looking like a scarred-up dun, he's looking rather slick. I can see his muscles now. I'll have to get a better picture to compare to what he looked like when I first got him and he was a pasture potato.

Our first ride after the clip was probably the best ride we've had so I'm sure it's the haircut.  We did lead changes on a loose rein!  I might be learning how to ride my horse after all!

He looks really dull in the after photo, but after just a day he's starting to have a bit of a shine... which is good because.....

...our first show is Saturday..... Yikes!




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When in Rein...

When in, you get sliders!

Since I have a reiner, someone suggested I actually DO the reining thing and put sliders on my horse.

So I did.

It's a whole neeeeeeeewwwww wooooooooooorld!!!!!

We just got the shoes on March 8th and we've had limited rides since then because 6 days were spent on a work trip.

Our trainer/farrier spent a few hours with us after the shoeing to make sure we felt comfortable.  He helped us with some exercises for stopping and lead changes.  Mostly that day we were lead changing in the corner out of a counter-lope, but today I was able to do a few straight along the long-side, and even a REAL flying change from one circle to the next without him charging or cross-firing (or BOTH!). Still loads of work to do, but there's a glimmer!

I am LOUSY at stopping but we are getting better.  I know Huck knows how and he's much more in shape than August, so it's truly a matter of me learning how to ask him and how to SIT it.  Each of these two photos is of the last slide during a ride after many failed attempts each.  When he actually sticks both feet evenly it feels pretty darn cool. When one slides and the other bounces it feels like I'm going to be launched across the arena.  I have to remember to keep him straight, look ahead and SIT DEEP.  When he truly sticks it, he gets to be done for the day.

So, maybe there's hope for us yet!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Cleaning! Blog Hop! Product Review!

Who loves spring cleaning?!?!

I do!

Allie over at Rocking E Cowgirl invited me to do a blog hop about spring cleaning.  When I first got the request I simply wasn't inspired. It didn't feel like spring yet.

Luckily, Tuesday was 100% SPRING in central Ohio!!!

There's something so satisfying about shaking off the dark damp dust of winter and preparing for the "summer."  Summer in this context means those glorious months in which you can ride without worrying about driving in the dark on snowy country roads to get to the barn, or your horse spooking because it has a week's worth of pent up energy, or whether or not it's possible for your fingers to actually fall off.

My favorite thing to do for Spring Cleaning is the first bath of the season.  I'm spoiled rotten that we have a Insta-Hot in the barn and we had a perfect day for a good long ride (more on that later) and a real bath. It was 70 degrees, sunny, and a warm breeze was blowing.  It was a PERFECT day for a Spring Cleaning Bath!  Huck is the sweatiest horse I've ever known. For weeks we've been going through towel after towel and our cooler has gotten a ton of use.  I gave him an amateur kindofa "bib clip" a few weeks ago which helped a little, but not a ton.  Other than the small area I clipped, he's got a full fluffy winter coat.

Sweaty boy!
In addition to loving baths, I love grooming tools. This winter I splurged on a pair of Hands On grooming gloves from Schneiders.  I couldn't believe someone convinced me to buy a $25 grooming tool, but they were worth it.  I used them for the bath today and I LOVED how I could work the lather into his coat. I discovered I could use the side of my hand as a squeegee and relocate suds to where they were needed. Just as promised, I was able to open bottles and use the hose with ease while wearing the gloves.

Only two things make them not-quite-perfect.  First, that the smallest size is still pretty big on my puny hands and I'd like to have a closer fit so they wouldn't slide around as I worked.  Secondly, that I wouldn't dare use them on his mane or tail.  They have just enough gription that they would most certainly stretch or break the long hairs.  Easily enough problem to avoid, so no big deal. I discovered I like them better for bathing than for normal daily grooming, though they did take a good amount of hair off of one of the resident Basenji's and she seemed to enjoy it.

Overall, the gloves are a winner, and I'm really glad to have them in my grooming arsenal!

I could not believe how milky-white the first spray water was as it began to loosen months of salty sweat from his blanketed coat! I hated all those days that he got sweaty and I couldn't hose him off, only towel and brush, towel and brush.  Crusty.

Huck seemed to enjoy the bath and was standing quietly (he is known to paw and disturb all the mats in the wash stall), licking his lips the whole time.  He even let me spray his face, like his WHOLE FACE just like you see the racehorses do.   He lowered his head and closed his eyes.

After the bath and a good spritzing with coat moisturizer, he got to spend his drying time out eating new spring grass.

Snackin' in a Bathrobe like a Boss

What is your favorite part of spring cleaning?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My Crazy Cow Horse

My horse is not crazy.  He's actually quite level-headed, BUT I'm blaming his attentiveness, his reactiveness, and his worry on his cow horse breeding.

I've ridden all of his spooks and he's never bolted or reared or anything.  Just bug-eyed flinches and quickened stride.  He's been that way since day one and to my own surprise, it doesn't make ME nervous.  I don't love this part of him, but he's never put me in danger, not even a little. Junior was way more dangerous in his spooking than Huck has been.  It's like Huck's starts some days on level 3 alert and may turn into a 5-6.  Junior, by comparison, was normally at Zero but would surge to an 8 without any warning.  Like the time he left me at the pond.  He seemed like he was fine with the geese being there and then he was gone and I was on the ground. At least I can read Huck. I was going with a 0-10 scale there, sorry if that was confusing.

Also nice is that he's never run into me or away from me and seems to look to me for assurance.  When I make loud rope-swing noises (he hates it...) he is calmer if he can hide behind me.  If he's tied to the rail (and being particularly nervous about life) and I walk away, he tries to follow me.

Huck's not lost his head over anything and we've thrown some pretty fantastic challenges his way.  You saw some of the visual/physical stuff we've done in my last post.  We've also done many audio challenges including live gunfire in the arena and yesterday we used a game-calling device to play all sorts of loud sounds from a vole to coyote pups and whitetail fawn to a "raccoon fight."  The device even played a cow.

Huck was interested in everything and mostly stood quietly at stiff attention, but the cow made him start moving around to look for the cow!
Why does Ledger sound like a cow?!?!?!
When I only ride him once or twice a week he is a lot more jumpy and reactive than when I ride more often.  Thankfully my theatre show is done and I can concentrate on riding for a while!

His face and leg are pretty much just scars now.  I hope with the spring shed he evens out.  I'm somewhat confused about the way the hair is growing (or not growing) back in the shaved places.