Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A close call

I walked into t he barn again this afternoon around 3:30 with plans to ride Johnny and do some more canter work with him. The barn lights were off, so the stalls were dim, but as I came in I could just make out Johnny's silhouette. He was sprawled out on the floor of his stall. "Oh how cute!" I thought to myself "He's sleeping!"

This is a usual habit for Johnny. He sleeps a lot during the day, and so I thought nothing of it until I walked over to his door and he didn't get up as usual when he sees me coming. Instead, he let out a low moan when he heard my voice and I suddenly realized that his sides were heaving like he had just run the kentucky derby.

"Oh how cute" suddenly turned into "Oh shit." I flung open the door and he picked his head off the ground to look at his side.


Sliding my finger under his lip I checked his capillary reaction time. His gums were pink and his CRT was normal...a good sign meaning that he probably had not been down for too long. "I'll be right back" I told him. He just grunted and put his head back on the ground. Into the tack room I went, flinging open the cabinet doors and hauling my meds box down from the top shelf. Electrolytes, tranqs, bute, vet wrap, cotton....where the hell was it? From the bottom of the pile I pulled out the banamine, measured a dose and went back to the stall.

Johnny got up when I came in, and I admisinstered the banamine, then slipped his halter on and took him out to walk. We only made it a few laps around the barn before he started to try and go down again. No way was I going to keep a nine hundred pound horse on his feet by myself. I took him back to his stall and he collasped into the shavings.

For almost two hours I sat with him, listening to his shallow breathing interspersed with grunts of discomfort. I was flashing back to Emmy last autumn when we almost lost her to impaction colic. I remembered her shallow breathing, the way her eyes became slits and glazed over for a moment, a moment when I am certain that my horse was standing at the pearly gates of the big pasture in the sky, and suddenly decided that she wanted to live. Johnny wasn't nearly as bad. He was resting quietly in his stall, all 16 hands of him sprawled out and yet looking like a little puppy crumpled at the foot of a bed. His eyes closed as he layed his head back in the sawdust, and together we waited for the drugs to kick in.

An hour later there was still no improvement. I went back to the tack room, and dosed him again, watching silently as the minutes ticked past on the clock.

Forty minutes later, his eyes suddenly snapped open, and he rolled up onto his knees, flung out his legs, and heaved himself off the ground. When he stood up, he shook the shavings out of his ears and put his nose into my lap. "Your welcome" I told him. The brightness was back in his eyes, and he ambled over to nose at his empty feed bucket. Then he turned his head sideways, slapped his lips together and asked if he could please have dinner now.

Early mornings

The air was luxeriously cooler this morning when I went out to feed the horses. I believe we are hovering somewhere around 60 degrees, which I think is a perfect temperature for riding. There is very little bug activity to bother the horses and neither one of us end up covered in sweat. I've started Johny an 1/2 gram of bute in preparation for the upcoming horse show this weekend. The day we are showing is unrated, so having a little bute in his system wont be a problem. He's going to be doing quite a bit of jumping at the horse show, so early management of his front legs is essential to keeping him comfortable.

I was throwing hay in the stalls this morning when I saw two little ears prick up over the window of Emmy's stall. It was, of coarse, Emmy and her little fox ears peeking in the window to say good morning. When I told her hello she lifted her face and nickered her usual greeting. The horses spend the night outside in the summer because the night air is always so much cooler, so when I finally opened the back doors, seven sleepy horses ambled inside. Johnny was surprisingly among the first to come in. Him and Emmy usually hang around near the back of the group and wait their turns, but this time only Emmy was left standing outside. When I went to get her, she was turned facing up the hill and watching the trees at the far end of the pasture. I called her name and she shook her head and trotted in. Breakfast was its usual chaos (usually caused by Emmy) with the banging of buckets and the excitement of hungry horses. Each horse has their own little quirk when they are hungry. Johnny turns his head sideways and slaps his lips together, Mandie the haflinger just stands and stares, still as a stone at the feed room, Emmy looks like she's having a seizure with her ears...they flick forwards and backwards then forwards and backwards until she sees her breakfast coming, at which point they stick straight forward and she starts to drool and nicker a low "ho ho ho" until you open her stall door. Mike the pony wiggles his lips back and forth and pretends like he's chewing, the donkey sticks his tongue out and Doug, the other standardbred, tries to whinny and just ends up sounding like he's blowing air out of his throat. It's very funny to watch them all...like being at a circus of one-trick ponies.

The horses will sleep until about noon, at which point I will probably head off to go ride Johnny. We are working on his right lead canter some more today. I will let everyone know how that goes.


Monday, June 29, 2009


Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my equestrian blog which will be documenting all things associated with the training, riding and showing of my own two horses, as well as my competitive equitation season as a part of the Lake Erie College equestrian team. A little background of my own riding is that I starting taking lessons at age ten with a woman named "K" who I still call "my trainer," despite the fact that I only ride with her once every 6 months or so. I started being trained as an eventer, but after a few scary stadium jumping trips, I decided that my OTTB mare and I were no longer having fun fighting each other around a show jumping coarse. After a year of doing dressage and flat work, I came back to jumping as a hunter rider and my mare and I excelled. Unfortunatly, a bad fall through a 3'3" oxer ended my mares career as a three-foot horse, and severely shook my confidence for the second time. I rode a steady school horse for a summer to re-gain some of what I had lost, and then packed up my mare and myself and headed to college. At school, I compete in the Intermediate Division of our Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team. I entered college in the Novice divison under the guidence of my new trainer and coach "M." My first year was fabulous and I excelled, being crowned champion at our Regional Qualifiyer, Reserve Champion at Zone 6 Finals and finally riding to 5th place at the National Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. Summer brought about a whole slew of new horses to play with, and after my mare damaged her tendon sheath playing in the pasture, I focused my attention on a new gelding; an off the track Standardbred named Johnny. You can follow his training and my riding here in this blog! Look below to read each horses bio!

In Vogue "Emmy"

"Emmy" is my 22 year old Thoroughbred mare. I got her for my thirteenth birthday when Emmy was already 16 years old. She had little training, and a long history of abuse and negelct behind her. We've spent 7 fabulous years together and have just about been through everything together. She finally retired from jumping this summer (09) after tearing her tendon sheath playing in the pasture. Until then, she was jumping 2'3" at C rated hunter shows still! This picture was taken just this spring...she looks good for 22 huh? She's my baby and my sanity during the tough times. I still ride her on the flat and do some dressage with her.

Walk The Line "Johnny"

"Johnny" is my new project this summer! He is a 16 year old Standardbred gelding who had a very successful racing career as a trotter. An injury to his front legs ended his career on the track, and when I met Johnny last spring, he had been sitting in a pasture for five years. He was unbroke and lame, but had the sweetest puppy dog eyes and a personailty to match. We took care of his feet, got him fit and manage his old injury daily with liniments. Today, he is fit, healthy and sound...not to mention happy! He canters and LOVES to jump. At his first undersaddle horse show, he won a first and two seconds, and has continued to keep amazing me everyday.

Tantrum Force "Tantrum"

This is one of K's sale ponies. She is a 6 year old Sport Pony with a medium measurement card. I've been riding her a bit for K and am currently in the process of producing a sale video for her. She's a fabulous little hunter pony, and she's for sale if anyone is interested :)
Keep checking back to follow the story of these horses and our adventures in the schooling and show rings!