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Thursday, 26 February 2015

March Manifesto

I have a lot of big/crazy goals for March.  Maybe it’s because I just drank a huge can of red bull. But whatever, I’m rolling with it!




I officially have a sound horse to ride and will soon have a proper fitting saddle.  I’m going to use March to tackle all the other things that have been bothering me.  Honestly most of my thoughts lately have been revolving around Apollo’s soundness issues and now I need to move on to something constructive.

Here goes:

1)      Dress for Success
I seriously look like a slob most of the time.  I feel so much better if I put a little bit of effort into my appearance and I’m going to make that a priority this month at work and at the barn.  My barn has no mirrors in the arena but there is a full length mirror in the washroom for me to take a pre-ride or post-ride selfie (for proof!).

I’ve been in kind of a grump because my full seat breeches are still too small.  I have two pairs of non-full seats that I can ride in right now with two more pairs getting very close.  Not being able to ride in my favourite fullseats is not an excuse to wear sweatpants all the damn time.

2)      Ride and Workout Every Damn Day*
My barn is 15 minutes from my house.  The gym is five minutes from my house.  The gym is also free to use because I work there.  I also have recently reduced my days of work so I can have more free time.  There is no reason for me to be parked on the couch so often watching crap on TV that I don’t care about.  I finally have a sound horse and a free gym....no more excuses.

*I don’t necessarily plan to do this forever but I need a jumpstart to get myself into a proper routine.

3)      Daily Blog Posts

I have so many half-written posts that I gave up on.  Some of them are a bit controversial or soapbox-y so I backed out of posting them.  The vast majority are just incomplete.  I’m going to post daily and finally participate in some of the cool blog hops that I’ve been wanting to join.

I don’t think that plan to post daily in the long term but in addition to catching up on incomplete posts I can keep myself accountable for my other two goals this month.



March is going to be my month! :)

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Adjustments



I have been happily away from the blogosphere for the last week and a half (I even missed Monday Bunday....gasp!).  I have been working really hard on getting some running in and have pretty much spent every moment I’m not at work at my barn...and let me just say for the millionth time that I am REALLY happy to be back there.  

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the last week and half.  I have like 10 half written blogs posts about this but I’m just going to briefly summarize the updates instead!

Saddle Update

My western saddle arrived!  It seems to fit pretty well and he looks rather cute in it!  I had a few of the western riders at my barn have a look and they gave it a thumbs up for fit.  I’m going to have the bodyworker give it a once over at the follow-up appt on March 1st.  I still need to get a cinch/pad/head stall for it.



 
I bought the western saddle for occasion trail riding because I thought that was all Apollo would be able to do. But when I found out that I should be riding him a lot (as per here) I wanted an English saddle that fit him like a glove.  Preferably one that I already owned!  

After the disappointment with the last saddle fitter (who did a crappy job re-flocking my DK, so it hurt Apollo’s back) I decided to seek out someone different.  

There was one name that kept coming up whenever I asked for saddle fitter recommendations but I had never been able to get a response back from her (I will refer to her as DM).  So I basically annoyed the crap out of DM until she came to my barn.  And she was absolutely wonderful. 
 
I’ll just quickly summarize her notes on my two saddles:

DK Saddle – She could not believe this saddle was ever custom for Apollo and I (tell me something I don’t know!).  She said it would never fit him.  The billets are in the wrong place and she didn’t want to waste my money by trying to make it fit.  She works with DK and has the saddle press to adjust it but she didn’t think anything she could do would improve it.  She saw Mystic in the field and suggested that it would likely work better for her build. 
 
Verdict:  I’m going to keep the stupid DK and eventually I will have this saddle fitted to Mystic by DM.  If I don’t run over it with my car first...!


Schleese Wave Dressage Saddle – I refer to this saddle as my “cloud saddle”.  I have only ridden in it on the back of my couch but I freakin love it.  It feels like I am sitting on a cloud (hence the name!).  I got it for a good deal and I intended for it to be Mystic’s saddle eventually.  I had recently decided to try and sell it because the funds from the sale would have helped out in further lameness investigations for Apollo.  DM also is a Schleese rep.  And she was able to get it to fit Apollo!  The flocking needed to be redone and she recommended someone out of town to do that.  So the schleese is currently on a road trip and I hope to have it back in early March. 

Verdict: YAY!  I get to ride Apollo in my cloud saddle!!!



Henry modelling the cloud saddle in the summertime

 
DM also sells Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girths – so I bought one.  I’m excited to try it out when my cloud saddle is back in town.  My only small concern is that it’s quite wide and Apollo has a weird cowlick on his tummy that can be irritated by wider girths.  



Ulcer Update

I have started the gastrafx treatment.  I waffled a lot on this because several people told me not to bother with gastrafx and go straight to omeprazole.  I have never treated ulcers before so I do trust the opinions of others who have.  My vet doesn’t sell the generic product so I would have to buy gastroguard...so that would cost like $1400 (ack!).  Originally they said that I needed to have an appointment with a vet before they would give it  to me (and preferably scope him).  But when I called with a few more questions they said that I didn’t need an appointment.

The recheck with the bodyworker (who found ulcer stresspoints) is in 10 days.  I’m going to see what she has to say then and will likely proceed to a proper vet visit and gastroguard course after hearing her recommendations and monitoring his behaviour carefully until that time.



Apollo Soundness Update

He is sound!!!  And seems much more like himself.



Work/Financial Update

I decided to drop my one week night at my job at the gym.  I will still work Saturday evenings but it is too long of a day to work 12 hours and squeeze in feeding Apollo’s gastrafx in there. 

We are focusing on being more budget-conscious in our household.  I feel a bit silly after my recent purchases for overspending. 



Running Update

I run like the wind. 
 


Lesson Update

My instructor at the dressage barn has agreed to come over to my barn and teach me one evening a week.  I even have a cloud-like dressage saddle to ride in!  I am still figuring out how to fit lessons into my new budget - will have an update on that soon.


Cute Mystic


I'm excited to catch up on some blog readin' today :)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A Good Curveball

I had my favorite bodyworker (chiro/massage/accupuncture/reiki/other neat things) out on Sunday to check the whole herd.  Mostly I wanted her to check Apollo but since my current barn is outside of her current driving radius I decided to lure her with three appointments.  As for her findings and recommendations for Apollo....I am still kind of in disbelief/shock!

Cute pony!


I’ll just do a quick breakdown of her notes on each horse:



1)      Henry
He got to go first because he was standing at the gate.  His pelvis was out/rotated a little bit.  She was able to correct this but would like to re-check him in 3 weeks.  She also gave me follow up stretches to do with him.  I couldn’t figure out how he did that to himself but then I remembered that he had quite a bad fall on the ice last winter, so that may or may not be the culprit.  He was better than I expected for the appointment (he has had ants in his pants for the last month for some reason).  I need to teach him to trot in hand...he was SO not into that.  For his first time seeing a bodyworker I was pretty proud of his manners.



2)      Mystic
Mystic saw this bodyworker back in October.  She had a few things out (I can’t remember what exactly) and I had some follow-up stretches to do with her.  I did the follow-up stretches initially but I kind of let Apollo’s soundness issues take over my life and eventually quit doing Mystic’s stretches.  I also had a follow-up appointment for Mystic & Apollo in November that was cancelled due to dangerous road conditions.  Well the wonderful news about Mystic is that she was perfectly in alignment and needed no adjustments!  Which was pretty awesome considering I kind of crapped out on doing her stretches.  The bodyworker did recommend lengthening stretches for her neck (which is definitely in the “short neck” category).  The type of neck she has is prone to overmuscling and muscle bunching.



3)      Apollo
I was apprehensive about Apollo’s appointment.  I was hoping to get to the bottom of his soundness issues once and for all.  I was pretty afraid she was going to find something seriously wrong.

After the bodyworker treated him in October he had the most lovely canter in all our 7 years together.  And then two weeks later he was an absolute mess (I saw him fall pretty hard after trying to get up after a roll...my theory was that he pulled something).  The vet exam and subsequent fetlock injections provided more questions than answers. 

I told her that he just hasn’t been himself lately and expressed to her my worries lately about if I should be riding him.  I mentioned our saddle fit issues and how difficult it is to treat a mystery lameness.  She went about her initial exam and this is what she found....

Almost nothing.  She did some very minor adjustments but didn’t find anything major.  She will recheck him when he checks on Henry but she said he doesn’t really need a recheck (but since she will be at the property anyway).  The only thing that she suggested is that I treat him for ulcers.  She found some minor stress points for ulcers and suggested this might be part of his recent sluggishness/dullness.  That was quite a surprise but is certainly an easy fix.  He was previously getting hay twice a day at the other barn, now he's on a rolled out round bale so he can eat 24/7...which is exactly what he’s been doing since he’s been home.  She noted that he seemed much happier at his current barn. 

Here’s the part that shocked me, I’ll try to quote her verbatim for this part of the recommendations:
 
The most important thing right now is fitness.  You need to ride him.  He needs to build strong muscles again.  I know it’s been hard to know what to do with his soundness issues but his body feels fine, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be riding him and working on improving his fitness/strength.  Even if he has a bad day here and there I would encourage you to ride through it, within reason. “




Well. That is not what I was expecting. 

So I guess my next step is developing/executing a fitness plan for my big boy.  He had 48 hours off after his appointment but now we are good to go!  I bought him some GastroFX and he’s just started on that. I'll give that a try and if he still shows ulcer signs at the recheck on March 1st I'll bite the bullet and get omeprazole.  But I'm pretty much bounicing off the walls with excitement that my instructions are to ride him! 

Monday, 9 February 2015

Monday Bunday! Introducing Topher

Well, it's Monday Bunday again! :) 

Introducing...Topher!



Topher joined our weird little family in September 2012.  One of my co-workers kids found him in their neighborhood and offered him to me as companion for Lucky.  Her kids were very attached to him (and named him for me!), I still send her photos to share with them sometimes. 

I took him to the local SPCA just in case he was missing from a family.  No one claimed him and after the 10 day hold was up I happily adopted him!  He also was neutered and was given his vaccinations.  The vet at the SPCA aged him at 6 months.  He was very tiny!  I wish I had pictures from that time, I'm pretty sure they were all on my cell phone that I lost. :(


Spartacus is obsessed with the rabbits!


Sadly, even though they are both neutered Lucky and Topher are definitely NOT friends.  Topher is very aggressive around Lucky.  After multiple attempts to bond them - my husband and I decided it's best to house them separately.

Topher is a very active and brave bunny.  He wants to go, all the time!  It was very challenging to snap a non-blurry picture of him :)




Topher’s Likes: Greens, hay and running around!
Topher’s Dislikes: Fruit (he'll eat it eventually but he's more excited for greens) and staying still!
 
Topher is such a character!   We love him to bits :)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Gone Country

I made my final payment on Wednesday morning so I guess it's official.....

I'm the proud owner of a western saddle!  I purchased a used Circle Y Sheridan Trail saddle.  It has an 8" gullet and a 15" seat (so 17" in the English world).  It also has upgraded "softee" leather.  My hope is that it's a suitable fit for Apollo and if it's not perfect I can pad it up a bit.  Western saddles seem to fit him better - so I was happy to find one with an 8" gullet but a smaller seat size.  My husband also indicated he would be more interested to ride in a western saddle.  I thought it would be suitable for trail riding and would fit more people than my weird DK saddle (just in case other people would like to ride sometime!).

I have to give HUGE kudos to Melanie from Ride On Saddles.  She helped me find the perfect saddle and allowed me to make payments on it.  My saddle is from Ontario and will arrive in Alberta.  I would recommend her to anyone looking to get a saddle.  The selection is mainly western but there are few english options also.  Here is her website: http://rideonsaddles.blogspot.ca/

Here it is!!!:









My first exposure to the horseworld was definitely western - through my dad (and his cowboy friends).  I sort of know the gear (cinch, headstall....look at me go) but don't know anything about technically riding western.  My parents bought me an english saddle when I was little because I couldn't lift a big western saddle by myself.  Kind of rolled with the english thing from there.

I also had a pair of these awesome things before I got my little english saddle.  After a google search I learned they are called "buddy stirrups"...who knew.


Note, this is not me!





Thursday, 5 February 2015

Home Sweet Home & Goals

My herd is now all back together at one location!  The move happened yesterday morning.  :)

This barn feels a lot more like home to me.  I took my wedding pictures there for goodness sakes!  It is so nice to know where everything is.  And there is something to be said for the peace and quiet at a smaller facility.  It isn't perfect (or I wouldn't have left in the first place) but man I am glad to be back.




Also on Wednesday the herd got their hooves trimmed.  Henry was a bit of a brat but Mystic and Apollo were very well-behaved.  After Mystic and Apollo were finished their pedicures they both hopped on the trailer like rockstars.  I have owned a difficult loader in the past and I am over the moon that my current herd loads so well *knock on wood*.


Mystic having a beet pulp snack while she waits for the trailer to come




Henry looking cute

I totally forgot to recap on my January goals so here goes:

1)       Stick to new life schedule.  Pretty much!  I will need to re-create it anyway now that the horses are all at one place again today.  I do like having a schedule and will continue to work at this.
 
2)       Figure out 2015 goalsThese will be posted shortly!

3)       Lose two pounds.  Okay, I have to give myself huge kudos this month.  I was sick for 75% of January.  And I managed to lose one pound, which I am very proud of.  I can never remember if you starve a fever and feed a cold or feed a fever and starve a cold.  So I just stuff my face.  I got back on track during the last week of January and am really ecstatic that the scaled moved a bit for me.  Sitting at 145.4lbs now! 

4)       Get Apollo a shoulder relief girth (with sheep skin). Continue savings for BOT products with hopes to purchase in early February. Still working on BOT savings.  I’m going to see which products the bodyworker thinks would help Apollo the most when she sees him on the 8th.  And as for the shoulder relief girth...we're making some huge changes in the saddle department, soon to be discussed.


February Goals
1) Develop new horse/life schedule.
2) Get into the 143s (so lose at least 1.5lbs).
3) Sign up for a 5km race in March.
4) Work on Henry's farrier manners.

Also, I'm so happy that Monday Bunday was such a hit! I already have some pictures ready for next Monday :) 


Monday, 2 February 2015

Monday Bunday! Introducing Lucky

I’m just getting the ball rolling on my weird idea of Monday Bunday, so I'll be introducing my bunnies in the next two posts.

Introducing...Lucky!



I met Lucky when I was out walking my dogs in March 2011.  I saw him multiple times over the course of a week (but obviously I couldn’t go up to him because my dogs are nuts).

One day I came home from the barn (sans dogs) and saw him sitting near my parking spot.  I, of course, had a bag of carrots so I went up to him and gave him a carrot.  He happily scarfed it down.  At this point I figured he was someone's pet who has escaped from an outdoor hutch.  I noticed some red spots on his nose and on him bum, I was worried he had been injured by a cat/door/wild rabbit.
  



I have never been close enough to touch a rabbit before so I was kind of terrified of him.  I tried to catch him in a Rubbermaid tote....no joke.  When my husband got home we decided that I would herd Mr. Rabbit towards my husbands and then my husband would snag him.  It worked!
We put Mr. Rabbit in a cat kennel and made plans to bring him to the local SPCA so he could hopefully be reunited with his family.  There is a 10 day hold while they look for found animal’s homes through various sources.  After that if he wasn’t reunited with his family then he would go up for adoption.  

I called to check on him a few times and was sad to hear that no one had claimed him.  My last phone call was the day that the 10 day hold was up.  I had no intention of adopting him but a few of my friends with rabbits had expressed interest.  However....on that last phone call the vet tech disclosed to me that Mr. Rabbit had Rabbit Syphilis (aka Vent Disease).  He would be euthanized rather than risking sharing syphilis with the fairly large rabbit population at the SPCA.  The red dots I noticed on his face and bum were syphilitic lesions.  I offered to pay for the syphilis treatment...and if I did that would they let me adopt him?  Yep!  He was neutered as well and they aged him at around 3 years old.

We brought him home in April 2011.  He is now approximately 7 years old and I hope to share many more years with him.



Lucky’s Likes: Bananas, carrots, hiding in towels/blankets
Lucky’s Dislikes: Being surprised/cornered by strangers (he growled at my friend’s fiancé) and fruit or veggies that are not perfectly fresh (high maintenance bun is high maintenance)



He has been the perfect rabbit for someone who is terrified of rabbits!  He mostly just likes to sit around and has never once offered to bite me.  My husband did 100% of the rabbit handling for the first month or two and I slowly realized that Lucky was a pretty chill bun. :)

I took all these pictures tonight on Molly's new dog bed that my good friend made for her (it's fancy memory foam).  All the animals are obsessed with it! 

My fat cat joined him for a bit!

Thanks for sharing Molly!