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Friday, 29 July 2016

Answers

Henry ended up seeing the vet yesterday instead due to some scheduling issues.  So I've been trying to remain calm since last Friday when the vet told me that his splint bone was likely fractured (I'm googled - I'm weak!). 



Yesterday we x-rayed the swelling on the splint bone, both fetlocks and did one lateral view of each hoof. 

I was hoping to share the films today but I haven't received them yet.  Hopefully next week!

I'm pleased to report that we got some very happy answers!  I'll break it down by body part.


Swelling on splint bone - No break!  The vet was a bit shocked.  It's a very bad splint that is still setting.  We're going to keep a close eye on it and give him two weeks off.  She's hopeful that since he hasn't been lame at all that the suspensory is likely ok.  If anything changes soundness-wise we will ultrasound.  This was pretty much the best case scenario I could have hoped for.  Fingers crossed that it sets fairly soon and doesn't cause any other problems.



Fetlocks - Both normal.  I really was expecting something weird here.  She said one is shaped a bit differently that the other and both are working fine with no signs of early arthritis/other issues.



Hooves - Both normal.  She thought my farrier was doing a nice job.  These images are not fantastic as we had a hard time keeping him on the wooden blocks.  But she said everything looks normal and he has a nice amount of sole.


YAY!!!!  Excited for the splint to set so I can ride Mr. Henry again.



I hope everyone has a great long weekend!  I'm frantically preparing to leave for a country music festival for two days with one of my best friends and my husband.  Hope to be back with some x-ray images soon :)

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Hearts and Bones

So Henry has his X-rays tomorrow afternoon.  Good vibes appreciated :)

It turns out we will be x-raying something else too (besides the fetlocks). 


Anyone else have the most fun with the Prisma app?  I am!  Because I am an #artiste



He had a scrape and a small amount of swelling on his left front a few weeks ago that didn't seem to be healing properly.  I sent photos to my vet's office after two days of cold hosing (with no change/improvement).  He's totally sound so the vet wasn't too worried and told me to keep cold hosing every day and monitor it.  Initially I had planned to wrap him but he's so destructive I didn't think the wraps would hold up to life with Henry (the vet also told me that it likely wasn't necessary).  After another week I wasn't happy so I decided to have the vets out.  Now the theory is that he has broken his splint bone.  Sigh.  Unfortunately due to a miscommunication the vets who saw in him person on Friday didn't bring their x-ray equipment.


Henry's injury, a day or two after initially discovered.  Even less noticeable IRL. 




I'm trying really hard not to freak out and google too much.  At his current property there isn't really a great set-up for stall rest/limited turn out.   The smaller pens are quite muddy after all the rain lately and I honestly think it would do more harm than good.  There are stalls available but he would be the only horse inside, and I think that would be pretty upsetting to him. 




I chatted quite a bit with the vet on Friday about his history, his occasional off-ness on his right front with the trainer (that I don't feel at all when I ride him) and his fetlocks (I showed her the tiny lump that has always been there) and she recommended x-raying his hooves also.  He trotted for them on a hard surface and then I free-lunged him for her in the arena.  She agreed that he looks super sound.

This is all a little hard on my heart.  I was trying to avoid #mysterylamenesslife when I bought baby horses, because at least I would know all of their history.  And I am so surprised at how much I LOVE riding Henry, he's so weird and annoying on the ground but he is such a blast to ride.  I am really missing riding him.    


I'm not sure what to hope for, I want clear answers so I can make a proper treatment plan.  But I am somewhat limited time-wise and budget-wise in terms of what I'm able to manage.  Cross your crossables for me and Henry!  Will share the x-rays as soon as I get a copy.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Mystic and Her Tiny Friend

After Henry's wild stallion impression he swapped places with Mystic (at my trail riding friend's place).  Mystic is fitting in a lot better and my friend loves her! 

Mystic and Dolly (who is an adorable Welsh pony) were immediate BFFs.  Mystic has always gotten along well in every herd she's been in but I've never seen her groom another horse before or be so attached to another horse.  It's pretty adorable!


Had to share the extreme cuteness!



In the pouring rain, still grooming eachother rather than going into the shelter...
 





Chillin with the new fam!  







Dolly can't quite reach Mystic's back to return the favor!


Friday, 22 July 2016

Wheatland Equestrian Centre Fun Show – Recap!

I’m pretty excited to be writing my ever first ever show recap!!! :)



It was quite last minute for Apollo and I to attend this show.  Coach D mentioned it to me a few weeks ago but I was kind of hesitant.  Our mounting block issues have been resolved (I discovered the root of the problem – post to follow) but my own “trust bank” with Apollo was a bit low.  Last week at our Wednesday lesson she talked me into it.  



I decided just to do the trot poles class.  Apollo has never been to a show and I haven’t been in like a million years.  I wanted to have an easy positive first outing together.  Originally I planned to do some of the equitation classes in the afternoon but I woke up with a sore throat and cold on Saturday and decided that I needed to have a short show day.  


Show prep at work the night before!




 
The morning of the show was kind of a nightmare!  The trailer I was borrowing had an entire apartment of boxes inside of it.  The directions to the show (which worked the night before) did not work when we were getting ready to leave.   I got a huge coffee stain on my breeches.  I forgot Apollo’s beard trimmer.   One of my cats peed on my show pad, and I didn’t notice until I arrived at the show.  Coach D was sick and wasn’t going to attend (although she did come after all).  My husband was hauling the trailer for me and was able to keep me fairly sane.  




The people who ran the show were so wonderful and everyone there was so nice.   There were a lot of adorable children on tiny ponies in my trot poles class (they also kicked my ass).  Our first round was trot poles equitation.  I didn’t get to walk the “course” and didn’t know it was posted.  So I watched one pair go and then it was my turn.  Luckily the jumps were numbered and I figured out I needed to go over the blue numbers.  

 


Apollo was so good!  His pilot only sort of knew the route and although he was feeling a bit forward he didn’t break out of the trot.  I could see him look at the pile of haybales, judges table, and spectator window but his feet didn’t step out of line.  I felt like I was quite tense as I rode and definitely stopped breathing.   But nothing major.  We got a lovely 4th place ribbon out of 8ish riders.  I legit almost cried when I got my ribbon.  

Our next class was trot pole match-the-clock.  I was a lot more prepared for this class but I totally turned the wrong way after one jump and it was kind of ugly.  Apollo was very forward and started trying to canter all the poles (trying to add a little excitement to his boring poles class).  I feel like I was less tense and rode better but somehow my first round was a lot straighter/nicer looking.  I thought maybe we would have a chance for a higher ribbon in this class because we would be faster than the slow moving ponies...but no, too fast.  Another 4th place ribbon, which I’m still very proud of!



And then we were done.   I gave Apollo a big hug and took off all his tack and let him graze around the show grounds while we waited for my husband to come back (he was meeting up with a guy to buy us a raft).  People kept coming up to me to tell me how handsome Apollo is and asked about his breed.  Such a nice group of people!

Coach D arrived (missed my rounds sadly) and offered to ride Apollo in the cross rail class for me but I decided to let him be done.  He was a good boy for me and I kind of just wanted to go home and relax.

I'm very proud of my big pony.  I will definitely be better prepared for our next outing and can hopefully avoid a few of my "rookie" prep mistakes. :)


<3!!!


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

From the Husband

My husband, Todd, is a huge supporter of me being a horse nerd.  He has his own hobbies that he does too, so he isn't physically at the barn very often but he will always help me if I need it.

He had pretty much zero horse knowledge when we started dating but has picked up a lot of things along the way.  He sometimes drops these random thoughts about horse-related things that are usually spot-on or hilarious.




On the Eventing 101 clinic:

"Everyone else looked like they were having fun.  You looked like you were having a root canal."

Yeah OK, I take things a bit seriously.

"Mystic doesn't seem like the right kind of horse for this.  Henry seems more athletic and open to doing weird things. Why don't you make him do this instead?"

Fair enough.

"I started to run over to you after you got bucked off, but your mom told me not you.  She said you might yell at me."

Accurate.





On Apollo's trail ride last year (after trailer loading issues previously):

"It's good you broke his spirit first by making him ride in that tiny trailer."

Because Apollo was humiliated to ride in a tiny trailer for some reason.

"Apollo was good.  That other horse was afraid of nothing, for no reason.  What a douche bag."

Well...



On riding in general:

"Seems easy enough, you just stay on.  I don't really get why people take lessons."

*sobs*

"You should give other people riding lessons.  You seem to know how to stay on."

Sure.... thanks.




Once Apollo is going a bit better Todd will be riding more, I'm looking forward to a few more quotable moments!






Monday, 11 July 2016

Notes from Henry's Trainer

After 90 days of training, Henry was ready to leave the trainer’s and be my summer trail horse.  RK did a really nice job with him.  I could not have found a better fit for a trainer for Henry.  I’m not sure if this is a warmblood thing or not…but Henry is kind of an enigma.  He’s the most sensitive horse I’ve ever worked with but also can tune me out better than any horse I’ve known.  I also have to be really careful that my own energy is in the right place before I even get out of my car at the barn.


RK wanted to have a few hours with me and Henry before he left so he could show me what Henry has learned and chat with me about my plan for him going forward.   I sent RK three questions that I wanted to go over in our last meeting.  I really wanted to make sure that if he did end up being for sale that I found the best possible home.  I know Henry on the ground really well but I am just getting to know Henry the saddle horse.  I felt RK could provide better insight in this area.


1)      What would be the ideal workload for Henry (ie. 4 rides a week for 30 mins each, 2 rides a week for 60 mins etc) He didn’t have any specific recommendations for workload.  He said that Henry still had some growing/growing up to do so a summer of long slow trail riding miles would be ideal.  I had actually already planned to do this (which is a bit spooky!). 


Nature Henry!


2)      What discipline would Henry enjoy most? RK thinks Henry would excel as a hunter.  He's trained a few hunter horses and he felt Henry had the right attitude and look for the discipline.  Henry doesn’t like to speed around like maniac (I feel you bro) and he isn’t afraid of natural obstacles.  RK doesn’t think he quite brave enough to be an eventer, which is kind of a bummer as that what Coach D had in mind for him.  He said that Henry might get there with a lot of patience.  As I thought about it more I kind of agree with him.

3)      Any qualities that I should look for in a potential owner/home? As verbatim as my brain can remember: “Someone who will be patient with him – number one.  This is exactly the kind of horse(introverted) that people push into doing hard things too early because he’s athletic and fancy-looking, but he will not ever be safe with that kind of training and riding.  Some horses can handle that kind of pressure, he can’t.  Someone who will accept his quirks.  Someone who is calm and is willing to take the time he needs to figure things out…..  Someone like you actually.”  Well then.



Following RK across the scary metal bridge



The hunter thing was surprise #1.  I am about the least “huntery” person that has ever lived.  I look like a complete slob most all of the time (I ride in rubber boots very regularly - as evidenced by these photos).  I can’t even ride in a half seat.  I have taken dressage and jumper lessons but I don’t even know who specifically coaches hunters in my area.  So this would be a huge departure for me if I decide to explore that option with Henry at some point.  Surprise #2 was that he thinks I’m a good fit for Henry.  I actually don’t feel like Henry and I click very well on the ground (he drives me insane) but under saddle we are really on the same page and have a lot of fun.  So I guess we’re a better fit that I realized.


The last surprise was not a good surprise.   RK told me that Henry occasionally takes an off-step on his right front at the trot with a rider.  I don’t feel it at all when I ride him, but I weigh less than the trainer and haven’t been riding him in the arena much (it seems to crop up on a circle, and we don’t circle much on the trail).  It doesn’t get worse or better throughout the ride and seems to occur randomly.  I took a video of RK riding him in a circle at the trot, will be sharing it once I can make it  a bit shorter.  RK felt it was more of an “uneven-ness” more than a soundness issue, he does not feel that Henry is in pain.  It’s very minor and barely noticeable or I would be investigating it a lot sooner.  RK feels like front shoes would probably solve the problem completely.

I let Coach D know about the weird soundness issue.   At this time I’m not comfortable selling him until I’m able to investigate it more.   I don’t think the timing for a horse purchase was exactly right for her either.  Also considering that she is an eventer and I’m not sure Henry would excel at that, it might not be a good fit.  I have booked a full soundness exam and xrays for both front fetlocks (and maybe other things if required) in July.


When Henry was 6 months old his right front was overgrown and almost looked clubbed (it’s not).  Now it just flares out a bit more than the left when he’s at end of his time between trims.  There is a slight difference between the size/shape of the fetlock joints so I suspect maybe something is off in that area.   If the xrays/soundness exam doesn’t give me any answers then I will investigate further and will likely shoe him. 

Hopefully will have some answers soon and then can put a better plan into place. :)

Monday, 4 July 2016

Renegotiating

Apollo and I are currently renegotiating our relationship. 


Last summer 
 




I fairly shocked that my 17 year old gelding who has been a wonderful partner for 9 years is the herd member currently giving me the most trouble, by far. 

It all started about 3 weeks ago. 

I had taken my girth home to clean it and ended up forgetting it there.  It was a beautiful evening and I really wanted to ride outside.  I don't usually ride bareback outside but I have a few times and it hasn't been an issue.  There isn't a proper mounting block outside, so having stirrups just makes life easier.  Usually I mount up from either a plastic chair or these large wooden boxes that I believe were meant to go underneath jumps but haven't moved in years. 

I threw my bareback pad on Apollo while thinking "It's so nice to have a 17 year old horse that I can ride outside bareback and not worry about."  HA!


Proof!



 

Let me back up a little -

I have always felt a little nervous at the mounting block.  It's a vulnerable place to be - in between horse and solid ground.  I read somewhere that like 80% of horse-related accidents happen at the mounting block. 

I have seen two very bad wrecks that happened at the mounting block or shortly after (one person got bucked off into a wall the moment after mounting and another tripped and was dragged/stepped on from the mounting block). 

Because the universe likes to fuck with me I have had two small incidents myself at the mounting block, both with Apollo.  In both situations he proved that he is worth his weight in gold (and he weighs a lot).  The first time I was using a small plastic chair to mount him outside.  As I swung my leg over the chair broke and got stuck to my foot.  So I was sitting on my horse with an entire chair stuck to my foot.  Apollo didn't care (although I sensed he was rolling his eyes at me).  The next time I hadn't attached the stirrups properly on my weird treeless saddle.  As soon as I put weight on it the stirrup snapped off.  I fell backwards and the stirrup iron flew off and hit me in the chest.  Apollo didn't move a muscle (except for eye-rolling muscles).

In the last year I have finally stopped (after 8+ years) having to give myself a mounting block pep talk that consists of me chanting "I trust my horse" over and over again in my mind.  I was genuinely no longer afraid at the mounting block.  I owe to this Coach D helping my confidence and for wonderful horses who haven't pulled anything silly with me reinforcing that everything is fine.






So when I mounted my sweet older gelding three weeks ago and he bolted into a frantic gallop before I was all the way on... I got kind of angry.  I was angry because he knew better.  I was angry because my weird mounting block nervousness is something I've worked really hard to get over. 

And so as I was clutching onto his mane for dear life.  I started swearing.  I held on for a very long time (across the entire front lawn).  Eventually I realized that I wasn't in a position to pull myself all the way on and I needed to bail.  So I did.  I almost landed on my feet but my right foot got twisted.   I landed in a surprised/angry heap.  Apollo tentatively walked over to check on me.  I yelled at him to fuck off, so he ran away.

Anger gets so many things accomplished.  Not.






So I found some random girth in my collection and put his saddle on.  I lunged him  in the indoor arena and then rode him outside.  He was fine.  His usual self.  I figured that something must have frightened him outside.  It was a one time thing.

So the next week when I went to hop on in the indoor ring in my bareback pad I was not expecting him to bolt.  But he did.  And this time I landed on my head. 

This time in my state of being in a surprised/angry heap I decided that I needed to drop the anger.  He probably genuinely was frightened the first time he bolted but now he was just afraid of me.  When I fell off this time he didn't come to check on me, he ran to the other side of the arena because he knew he was in trouble.

I decided that my 17 year old horse being a turd was actually kind of hilarious.  And I started laughing.  And I started thinking about how grateful I am that he's sound.  There were a few times last year when I was genuinely unsure if he would be sound. 

I re-approached our work together with a sense of humor and kindness.  I put his saddle on but this time I ground-mounted him.  We went for a long ride, with lots of trotting.  And then I got on and off from the mounting block three times.  He was fine. 

After my recent humbling falls from my senior citizen horse I realized that we're renegotiating our relationship. 

For years I was so scared all the time, and he took care of me.  I also spent a lot of time riding him very tentatively, trying to determine if there were any soundness issues (there often were). Now I'm not scared and he's very sound.  I'm asking him to do a lot more (jump things, go into the contact etc).  I didn't truly appreciate how hot of a ride he can be.  After treating his ulcers and finding a saddle that fits him like a glove - he wants to GO!  We are getting to know each other again.



2008!



Here are the new "terms" for me:

1) Ride him 4 (or more) times a week.  No excuses.  He needs consistency.  This has been a weak spot for me and I know I can do better.  Riding my super hot horse once or twice a week doesn't cut it, that doesn't set either of us up for success.
2) Don't check out mentally, be present.  Do not go on auto-pilot.  You are training or un-training all your horses all the time, no matter how old they are.
3) Listen to him.  Be tuned into your horse, he will give you clues if something is bothering him.
4) Approach all rides with a sense of humor and kindness.  Anger accomplishes nothing with horses. I likely created a bigger problem by getting angry the first time he bolted.


So that's the new plan for the big guy.  We will be spending some time at the mounting block for sure.  I know that it's not okay with me that he bolted, but I know that I could have handled it a lot better.  He has been a really solid citizen for me for these past nine years, I should be paying attention and not taking him for granted.   

We are working on arranging some lessons with Coach D soon too, so far scheduling has been a bit tricky.   In the meantime I will be digesting Apollo's humbling lesson of "pull your head out of your ass".

Horses keep us humble!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Feedlot Warmblood: Part Two

After a long strange trip down the wormhole of finding out Henry's bloodlines - I have a four year old Canadian Warmblood gelding who is a wonderful partner. 


Love the view between these ears! 




When I began my search for a second horse I decided that I wanted a draft cross filly to be a trail buddy for Apollo.  I like draft crosses for their size/temperament and Apollo gets along better with mares.   I didn’t have any specific disciplines in mind, mostly was just looking for a young horse that will be eventually be tall enough for me!  I began my search at local rescues and eventually it expanded to Canada-wide (mostly by accident, but still).


Bay-bies



I made a huge departure from that plan when purchased Henry.  Although I am very happy with the outcome I do feel that I made a few mistakes in the process.  It’s too late for me (ha!) but maybe someone else can learn from mistakes.  I think these are not uncommon mistakes in the horse rescue world.  Here goes:


  1. I made an emotional decision.  I saw a baby horse in a feedlot.  And my bleeding heart took over my brain.  Choosing a horse, whether from a rescue or not, should be a carefully thought out decision.  I responded emotionally to the phrase “will ship by Friday” and crossed out the list I initially had for my next horse (filly/mare? halterbroke? draft cross? nope nope nope.)
  2. I did not choose a reputable rescue.  I am grateful that my interaction with NYNE brought a weird wonderful Henry into my life.  But there are other rescues that deserved my money a lot more than they did.  They are essentially a broker for a meat buyer.  I’d rather pay more money and know that an organization has the horses best interests at heart and have registered charity status.  Mystic was $650 from a reputable rescue.  They had me fill out a detailed application, they did two phone interviews with me, requested three references, and had a volunteer do a “home inspection” at my barn.  They made sure I was a good home for Mystic.  I understand Henry’s rescue organization is up against the clock, but I think a lot more could have been done. 
  3.  I could not afford two baby horses.  I have been working a second job (and sometimes a third and fourth job) since I bought Henry.  I genuinely could not afford it, but I made it work.  And continue to make it work.   I cannot deny the additional stress and financial hardship that I caused myself but committing to two young horses at the same time.  I don’t own my own property so I’ve paid board, vet, and farrier bills for three horses for over three years.   I think people need to be honest with themselves about what they can afford.  I’ve seen a lot of people rescue a horse or two, only to turn around and re-home them in a short period of time.   Which does the horse no favors.



I don’t totally suck!  Here are some things I did right :) :
 
  1. I registered my him.  I am of the opinion that all horses that can be registered – should be.  Papers don’t mean a lot to me personally (as I’m not seeking a grand prix dressage horse, for example) but they do mean something to a lot of people.  Papers are one more thing that keeps a horse safe from the meat pen. 
  2. I increased his value.  When Henry arrived he was an unhandled baby.  Now he is a four year old, greenbroke horse.  I increased his value by providing regular farrier/vet care, handling/working on ground manners, paid for 90 days professional training and continue to put miles on him myself on the trail.  If he ever leaves my care he has these things to bring to the table at a new home.  I think it’s truly a disservice to claim that you’ve “rescued” a horse and do nothing to increase its value.  Keeping a horse alive for a longer period of time, but without any care/training is not truly rescuing a horse. 
  3. I loved him. Henry became a member of our family.  I put my blood, sweat and tears into him.  The reality is that one day I may need to sell him.  But if I do I will make sure I find him the best home possible. 

I am over-the-moon that Henry is my horse and that we ended up together.  If I was going to add another horse to the herd tomorrow, I would seek out a more reputable rescue.  But my heart is sure happy that I belong to this guy.

<3