Thursday, December 20, 2012

Getting There

It's taken me quite a few days, but I am finally starting to feel better and recover from having the flu.

Monday I stayed in bed all day and just rested and slept. Thank goodness N was able to take care of Emmy and Cool at the barn for me! Tuesday I still felt pretty terrible, but the aches and chills were gone and I was feeling bad for having N take care of two extra horses for 3 days in a row, so I dragged myself out to the barn to turnout and clean stalls. That about did it in for me, I barely made it through the stall cleaning before I was totally wiped out and ready to go back to bed. I think I've spent a half an hour every day since Sunday just soaking in a hot tub and trying to feel better, this has really been terrible!

Yesterday I was feeling sick in the morning but I started to feel better as the day went on. I managed to finish some Christmas shopping (its amazing what a hot peppermint mocha from Starbucks can do) and make it out to the barn to turnout and clean stalls. After all of that, I still didn't quite feel like death again yet, so I decided to push my luck and try riding. I set up a little 4 stride line of cross rails for Cool and rode him and jumped him through it. He was actually pretty good for having nearly a week off of work! He cantered the line in about 4 and a half strides when left to his own devices, so I held him back and made him do it in 5 strides instead (which was really tight but I don't want him learning to just RUN down the lines). That was actually the first line that I've ever jumped him through and I was very pleased with him! I've been having some trouble with his left lead though...I'm wondering if it's just s strength issue? Or maybe even something in his stifles? Like a weakness that is starting to come out because he's building more muscle else where? Some days are better than others...but Wednesday was definitely a bad day for the Lead Fairy. Either way, I was SUPER pleased with the way he handled jumping his first little line!

Of course, after riding I felt like dying again. Clearly, that was just too much to ask. I managed to make it through teaching my evening lesson on Emmy and then went home for a hot shower and some sleep! I think I was totally passed out before 9pm. Today I felt even better than yesterday, although my lower back has been killing me since riding. Am I really that out of shape from being sick/just in general? This is so pathetic of me...

I didn't ride at all today because my Thursday lesson (that I teach) asked to move their lesson up an hour and half, which was great for my evening but it cut into my plans to hack Emmy a little. Oh well, hopefully the world is still around tomorrow so that I can ride her a little, it's been way too long! Emmy behaved well for both of her lessons, it makes me proud of her to watch her tote around walk/trotters, even if she looks at me like she wants to kill me sometimes. What a good girl!

In personal news, my grandmother is still hanging on, which is good because I am going to try and go see her Saturday. I've been holding off because I didn't want to give her any of my germs and I wasn't feeling well enough to make the hour and some drive home to meet my mother to go visit her. My grandmother has been having good days and bad, but the doctors have informed everyone that there is nothing more they can do and its just time to keep her comfortable until the end. My grandmother said something to my mom the other night when she was upset, comforting her and saying that it was alright because shes "had a long life." What a dignified woman, even down to the very last. I hope that my siblings can all make it back in town in time to see her also, I know it would make her so happy.

Wishing you all the best of luck for the "end of the world" tomorrow...

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend Overview

What a weekend this has been...

I did ride Cool late Friday night after the horse show. E happened  to be at the barn as well so she hacked Emmy for me, which turned out to be a really good thing, because I didn't even leave the barn until midnight as it was. Cool was really good again, although he was much more tired after burning up all his energy the day before and so out lead changes were not clean in either direction. I went back to doing simple changes with him after blowing completely through the left/right lead change. The only thing that I can really think of is that he was either a) a little sore from the day before or b) just not as fresh and since he's really lazy by nature, he needs to be really fresh to get the changes right now. I know that Johnny was the same way when we first started with the right lead canter, he had to be really fresh in order to even pick it up. That's alright though, at least I know that there ARE lead changes somewhere in there! Cool was however, very sound to ride so that was good! I left his bandages off Friday night and told my friend N (who was going to take care of them sat/sun) to check his legs for swelling. She texted me Saturday morning that his legs looked good and I stopped at the barn briefly on my way home Saturday night to check them myself also. They did look good and tight. Hopefully a few days off this weekend will do him some good.

Early Sunday morning, I woke up at around 1:00am and was absolutely FREEZING. Literally shaking because I was just SO cold. Mind you, we have a gas well on our property, so we keep our heat at like 70 degrees all the time, so there was no reason for me to be cold. I stumbled to the closet for a hoodie and then tried to go back to sleep. The whole time though, I knew that I was getting sick.

When my alarm went off at 3:00am for the horse show I felt like I had been hit my a truck. Every muscle in my body ached, my head hurt and when I got up and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth I just sat on the floor for a little while trying to decide if I was going to throw up or not. The boyfriend woke up and asked me what was wrong. When I told him, he told me to say home from the show. Of course, I couldn't do that. I was the only groom working for this barn and I only had until 6:30 to lunge the horses before the show closed the indoor ring for lunging. My first horse showed at 7am. I had to go. I got ready, took some cold medicine, bundled myself up and got in the car to make the hour drive to the horse show.

I slugged through the morning lunging and feeding but all the while, I was freezing cold and in so much pain from all of the muscle aches. It's been uncharacteristically warm outside for mid-December and on Sunday it was about 50 degrees out (plus we showed indoors so it was about 60 in the arenas), but I just couldn't stop shaking! By 7am I sent my horse to the ring and curled up on a tack trunk wrapped in a wool cooler. When the trainer and client came back, I was sitting on a step ladder with my head in my hand. The client took one look at me and said "go home." The trainer agreed. "You are so sick" she told me "we can manage." I felt HORRIBLE leaving the horse show when I was the only groom there, but I was too sick to argue. I told M (the trainer) that I would never leave the horse show like this if I didn't think that I wasn't going to make it the whole day. Everything that I ate or drank made me feel like throwing up, I could barely tighten the girths on the horses saddles and there was no way that I was going to be able to move tack trunks later in the day. I felt so bad leaving, but there was no way I was going to make it. One of the grooms from my old barn of employment saw me walking through the warm up ring and pulled me aside and said that he would help M if she needed some assistance. "Go home mi hija" he told me and then followed it up with "you look like shit." Oh Javier...never one to sugar coat anything lol. I barely made the drive home and then went straight to bed. I've literally been sleeping for almost a straight 24 hours, aside from the boyfriend waking me up every 4 hours or so to make me take flu medicine. I'm pretty sure that I have the flu :(

Amidst all of this weekend chaos, my grandmother has also been in the hospital since Thursday and is really not doing well. She's been hanging on by a thread. I wanted to go see her today, but since I'm sick I can't :( I have a feeling that I won't get to see her one last time unless I can get better by tomorrow and she hold on strong. My poor mother is a wreck...this is the only grandparent I have left. Please say some prayers for my family. I don;t generally put a ton of personal family stuff in here, but I feel like some extra prayer are always welcome.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Lead Fairy Part II

Many of you may remember a few years ago when I called upon the Lead Fairy to come down and pay Johnny a visit, which said fairy so generously did when Johnny suddenly began picking up his right lead canter. The same Lead Fairy must have paid Cool a visit over the past week because

WE DID FLYING LEAD CHANGES TONIGHT!

The left to right change wasn't very clean, but the right to left was almost perfect! I was SO proud of him!! This is the first time that I have ever really asked him for a flying change, lately it has just been simple lead changes. He was awfully fresh tonight, so I can only assume that this helped him a lot, but I was just SO pleased and amazed by him! We did a single canter pole, a 4 stride line of canter poles and then a set of 9ft bounce poles, followed by a small vertical on the diagonal before working on the lead changes. After riding, I fed him TONS of cookies and took him out for grass. After grooming him back off, I linimented his legs and bandaged them all just to be safe. His hind leg swelling has gone back to normal with a little bute, turnout, liniment, ice and stable bandages. I want to make sure that it stays this way! I didn't give Cool any bute today, so I am curious to hack him early tomorrow morning (before heading to the show again to groom) and see how he feels without the bute in his system. I'm wondering if he was so good today because he still had the bute in his system? I'll be curious to see...I think that he really need to see a chiropractor and get his back adjusted.

I didn't get to ride Emmy today, but that's alright because she was a LOON when I rode her the other night. Which is wonderful, because it means that my old lady is still feeling good, but she actually considered bucking me off! (Cool also threw a couple bucks in after jumping today...he was just full of himself!) I'm glad she feels so good, I can't wait to ride them tomorrow morning. I'm really trying to get back in riding shape...I used to ride so well and now my equitation is really terrible...and I haven't jumped anything of a reasonable size in FOREVER.

I keep taking my camera to the barn and then forgetting to use it...I wish I would have gotten a video today :(

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Busy week, but good news!

Sorry for the lack of updates! I have been busy the last two weekends grooming at horse shows. It feels good to be back making some money and getting my  "horse show" game face back on. It's been a lot of work, since I am grooming for a new barn now and am the only groom working, but it's also been good!

Here is some more good news: I had an interested party come to try Johnny last Monday and he was fabulous for them!! They came to try him at 3:00 and by 6:00 I had a phone call saying that they wanted to take him home with them the next morning. His new owner, is now the mother in law of a girl that I went to college with. I stopped by his new barn on Wednesday to drop off his contract and a collection of his blankets for her. He is living in a very nice, insulated barn that never gets below 50 degrees, even in the dead of winter. Johnny was laying flat on his side in a big, fresh clean stall, totally passed out sleeping. He was sooo happy! The new owners also had a REALLY good chiropractor come out and work on him. He is also scheduled to get his feet and teeth done soon. I have gotten text updates and pictures every couple days since then. I hope that this home works out really well for him. He seems very happy there!

Here are some photos of him:

Sleeping in his new stall...nice and comfy!

With his new owner at his new home!

I'm pretty pleased with his new situation, I know that his owner is going to body clip him soon to finish cleaning him up. I hope the situation stays this good!

In other news, Emmy sprung a shoe on Thursday running around in the pasture. The farrier came this afternoon to fix it and re-shoe both her and Cool. My friend, N, took care of Emmy and Cool all weekend since I was working, so I haven't seen them since early Friday morning. Cool's left hind leg was REALLY swollen today and kind of warm, but he seemed sound when I turned him out in the indoor arena (it's been raining for DAYS). The swelling went down a bit with movement, but it didn't go away completely. Another horse in out barn has been having swelling in all four of his legs (vet thinks a virus...blood work came back totally normal though? Weird...) That horse is on antibiotics, but I'm hoping that Cool isn't getting what he has...the girl who took care of them all weekend is the owner of the horse with the virus. I linimented and wrapped his legs tonight and gave him a gram of bute. I will ice it tomorrow also. Hopefully it will be ok! Johnny went through something similar a couple of years ago (read about it here). Interesting....

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Warmer Weather!

I've been away for a few days because of work, so sorry for the lack of updates. This past weekend (thurs-sun) I was grooming at a horse show. Every horse in our barn (except one) was either champion of reserve champion this weekend!

The trial with the leaser for Johnny went well, but my conversation with his current owner told me that a lease was more of a temporary "time buyer" versus a solution to the problem, which is exactly what I was afraid of. In the meantime though, I did have an old college classmate of mine contact me about coming to try him for her mother in law. Her and her mother in law are coming later this afternoon to try him out, which means that, for the 5th day in a row, I have to drive ALL the way back to a barn right next to the show grounds where I was all weekend. Don't get me wrong, I love riding Johnny, but I haven't seen my own horses since Friday and this barn is over an hour from my house. Hopefully though, we can work something out with John. I don't know that he is going to be a quiet enough mover for the mother in law, but we can at least try right?The leaser is ALSO coming tonight at like 6pm to try Johnny again...ahhhh!

As for me, I'm headed to go run some errands and then go take care of Emmy and Cool. The weather here is so warm today...currently 55 degrees and its only 11am! Cool is getting body clipped today...I'm tired of walking him out forever after I ride him! guess I better get headed over there to do that...I'll take some photos of Johnny and Emmy and Cool tonight.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Day of Reckoning

This evening, I am meeting with Johnny's potential leaser and the woman who currently has him in her possession. The potential leaser (PL) is going to give him a whirl and try him out. Normally, this would be good news, but now I don't know what to think since his current owner (CO) seems like she is wanting to maybe back out of the lease situation. I can understand to a degree because she is moving barns soon and is short on stalls, but now what do I tell this kid? That the lease fee suddenly doubled to something that I know he can't afford, even though all three of us had already agreed on a different price?

Over the holiday weekend I went home to see my parents and casually brought the subject up to my dad. For the second time, he completely nixed taking Johnny back. He makes a valid point...its not a financially smart situation to put myself in at this moment. I'm going to need a new car in a couple more years and I'm trying to start a life of my own without the support of my parents. Of course, he was a wonderful daddy and after seeing me freak out about my college debt and the lack of jobs in my industry right now, he took my college loans and paid them down monumentally...and is still paying on them as we speak. He made it perfectly clear over Thanksgiving that if I wanted to take Johnny back, that was my business, but he would no longer float me financially. Don't get me wrong, my dad doesn't wire money into my bank account or anything, but my cell phone is still on their family plan, my car is still registered in his name and my loan payments still come out of his checkbook. I understand his logic, that if he's going to try to help me out with some of the little things (cell phone, car, etc) its to help me save money and get ahead, not for me to spend all of my money on paying a second boarding bill on a 19 year old horse who needs foot injections. Never the less, I am heartbroken. Plain and simple.

I called J's old owner this morning and asked her if she wanted him back. That would be my ideal situation...for her to take him back and put him right back into the same field that I plucked him out of and I would never have to worry about his whereabouts or his well being ever again, I would just know that he was okay. Of course, that is never the case in how things really work. M told me what she's told me probably 3 times already, that she is trying to downsize her herd of horses, not add more. She did say that she would ask a few people that she knows might be interested. Ughhh.

I don't even know what to do anymore...I can't sleep at night because I'm tossing and turning and dreaming about calling people to find him a home. His CO keeps telling me that there isn't a huge rush to get him gone, but I know that she is moving barns in a couple of weeks and that deep down, she needs him gone by then. I've asked just about everyone that I know :-/

Standardbred friends of mine out there...would any of you like an absolutely amazing, perfect and wonderful horse? Even just for a little while?

I'll let you all know how the lease trial and conversation goes today.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Little Johnny Update

Warning: This is a mildly depressing post.

Johnny got his shoes put back on this morning, so I was told. I am hoping that the potential leaser can come try him Sunday or Monday, but we will have to see. Everyone keep your fingers crossed that we can figure out a way to work this out....I don't even know if the lease will really work. Still taking donations for the Johnny fund!

The good news is that I got called back for a second "work" interview at he vet clinic! Hopefully it goes well and I can pick that up as a part time job (at least it's something, right?) I know that if I had Johnny half leased with the leaser also taking lessons from me, that Johnny would actually cover his own boarding expenses...the problem comes in if I lose the lease. This is why I had to send him away to begin with :( I know that hind sight is always 20/20, but I wish I would have not been so freaked out about the finances and so hasty to find someone else to pay his bills. I would have never put myself in this situation where he keeps getting bounced around from person to person...and I'm far too attached to him to just let him go. Stupid me :(

I found this photo on my phone yesterday while going through my camera roll...I honestly can't believe that it was 2 years ago when I took Johnny to the CVPHA Classic and stabled him with the big hunter barn. This was the last summer that I got to call him mine :(


He's so freaking gorgeous. What did I do?


Peace.Love.Ponies.

P.S. Another little tid-bit of good news (because I really do try to be a "glass half full" kind of person, although I struggle sometimes) is that I did put Emmy back under saddle yesterday! She seemed happy to be groomed and not unhappy to be saddled, however she did clench her teeth a little for the bit. She was also sound! I didn't do much with her, just some light trotting interspersed with lots of walking and a canter each direction. Hopefully she is still sound today! I put her and Cool back on an MSM supplement, maybe it is helping? They are currently getting the loading dose, which is double the normal amount (20,000 mg versus 10,000 mg) Cool is also back on his Anihist. He hates it but if I mix it in beet pulp he eats it! It does seem to be helping with his breathing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Update on Cool

Cool's silhouette...such a pretty boy!

Cool's ankle (the right one) with it's swelling in comparison to the white leg (not swollen). Hopefully nothing is wrong with his suspensory...the swelling is in a spot that makes me nervous. After having yesterday off, N helped me flex test him today. I did distal (fetlock) flexion and carpal flexion and didn't get a real reaction in either. He actually seemed to be sound when N jogged him down the concrete barn aisle, so that was good. I'm still concerned with the filling in that right front ankle though. As far as I'm concerned, it shouldn't be there. I iced him for a little while today but it didn't seem to really help. Walking up and down the barn driveway did seem to help a little though. The above photo is from before his walk.

This photo if from after walking a little. I wish I had the other leg in it to compare. It's still a little puffy, but not quite as bad as the photo above. Hopefully it's just a tendon sheath maybe? I'm hoping that some long slow distance work (LSD work), maybe walking up and down the driveway, which has slight hills to rehab him. I think that for the rest of this week I will walk him in hand and after that maybe I will start walking him under saddle.



Out to graze while going for our walk.

Poor Coolio :(

I'm hoping to start Emmy back walking under saddle soon too. I started the LSD work up and down the driveway with her also today. She's seemed a little depressed lately :(

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Frustrated.

Yesterday started off as such a beautiful day at the barn. It was so nice and warm outside, Emmy and Cool both went out in the pasture with just their cotton sheets on and had a good canter around the field. It's so beautiful to watch them race each other down across the field and then loop back up and canter side-by-side back towards the gate. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight and the entire day kind of went down hill from there :(

I set up and short low jumping course for Cool, consisting of a diagonal cross rail, a single vertical on the long side and a low 3 stride line down the other long side that was a cross-rail to a vertical. I let him finish his dinner and digest, then tacked him up and went to go school him around and see how he was. I figured that if we were going to head out to the horse show today, I had better jump him around a little bit to see what I had.

Friday he just gotten turned out because I wasn't feeling well, so I figured that he would be ready to rock and roll Saturday.

False.

I got on him and started trotting him. To the right he felt fine, but to the left he was head-bobbing. Not really lame per say, just head bobbing and moving funny up front. It was the strangest feeling ever, like if I let go of the reins and closed my eyes his body wouldn't have felt lame, but he was clearly bobbling his head up and down. At first, I tried to ride through it a little, thinking that maybe he was stiff or the footing was bad (the ring hasn't been dragged in a few days, so it really is starting to alternate between hard and deep spots). I kept him off the rail where the sand was softer and tried to just trot for a while, changing directions numerous times and really sending him forward, then bringing him back. When that didn't help, I let him canter a lap in each direction to swing his back. Once again, to the right he felt fine, but to the left (which is already his bad direction) his canter felt terrible. Very up and down and choppy as if her were locked in his shoulders and just stabbing his legs at the ground. After that, let him trot another lap and then got off. On the ground, I took his boots off and felt his legs. Of course, everything seemed a little warm from the boots but nothing stuck out as being a major problem area. His right front ankle (what is it with my horses and right front problems? I SWEAR I work them evenly on both sides!) seemed maybe a teensy bit fluidy. This is, of course, the leg that he was lame in so badly over the summer. What he did to it then, I will never know, but maybe it was the problem again? I undid his running martingale, ran up my stirrups and proceeded to jog him in hand around the ring. He really did look funny up front, like he wasn't wanting to actually reach forward and extend his leg, but still not really limping.

Deflated and disappointed, I took him to the wash stall, stripped his tack, and started cold hosing. I mainly did the right front, but I honestly hosed every leg for a little bit. His hind legs have been stocking up lately too if he doesn't get bandaged in his stall...something that he has NEVER done before, even while spending multiple days in his stall at home due to weather. I don't understand any of it...and I'm starting to just get frustrated with horses in general at this point. I know that I don't own super fancy, expensive horses. I know that their conformation is not perfect and that their "way of going" is often flawed to some degree, but I also know that I give them the best care possible, the most turnout that I can, basic supplements as needed to support their joints and health, bandages/boots as needed (see above comment about their "way of going") to protect their legs during work but naked freedom in turnout so as not to make them "soft." I take care of them when they are sick or hurt, I ride them on decent footing and I don't ever push them to do anything that might compromise their health or soundness...for goodness sake, I barely even work them. And what do I get for it? Nothing but a barn full of lame horses.

Maybe I should be like some of the other riders at my barn and like other people I know and only clean their stalls every few days when they feel like it...and only turn them out when its convenient for me, and then ride them hard and incorrectly with big bits and naked legs. Maybe I should just do that, because those freaking horses never have a thing wrong with them. Meanwhile, here I am walk/trot/cantering my gelding for maybe 30 minutes and he's unsound? Seriously? Emmy I can understand...she's 25 years old and she's been through a hell of a lot in her life, but Cool? He's 8 years old and spent from ages 8 months to 6 years living in a pasture doing nadda.

Could it be that he just bucked a little too hard in the field and maybe pulled something? Absolutely, and I really hope that's the case...either that or an abscess blowing out. I know that freak, unexplainable things happen; I know that a horse can simply take a bad step and bow a tendon at the walk. I have personally watched a (very expensive) horse with the absolute best care possible, trot across a diagonal on perfect footing and break a hind leg. I know that it doesn't take always take hard work and extremes to make a horse lame. I know that it can happen anytime...but still, it frustrates me none-the-less. Not even for missing the horse show, but just for the simple fact that another one of my horses is (at least kind of) lame.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photo Update

As promised, here are some of the video stills and photos from this past week at the barn. Sorry, they aren't stellar quality :(





I'm interested to see how he jumps when the fences get to be something larger than just a big canter stride, but I'm a little afraid to over face him! Past experience with Emmy and Johnny tells me that it's a very easy mistake to make and a much more difficult mistake to correct!

Sleepy after his ride!


Peace.Love.Ponies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Show schedule update and a ride on Johnny

Getting ready to maybe take Cool to LEC this Sunday to do some low schooling jumpers (by "low" I mean LOW...like maybe cross-rails at the maximum! lol)

He has been SO good lately...I don't know what's wrong with him! Hopefully he's finally just growing up and becoming a big horse and not a baby anymore.

I have been flatting him lately in his waterford D-ring and a running martingale. I came across the combination just as a test and I really like him in it! I also have switched from a crop to a dressage whip (also something that I came across just by chance) and it's been a really good combination!

I've mainly just been working on riding him forward at the trot and canter and getting correct leads. We did a few simple lead changes the other night and jumped a crossrail. He was really good! I haven't really started much lateral work with him, but I think its about time to start thinking about it. I did start to get a little stretch in the trot, which is super good for him! His neck was so upside down when we first got him that it's been an accomplishment just to get him to carry his neck level around the arena. I have been encouraging him to relax and go long and low before asking for any collection.

Unfortunately, I have also been getting some fill in his hind legs the day after rides, which is baffling me a little. It's all just stocked up fluid (I think at least...) nothing seems to be warm or injured and it goes down with turnout. Most of this week I have kept bandages on his hind legs and ridden with polos on behind. With the stable bandages, his legs stay tight. Last night, however, I left them off after I just hacked him w/t/c and today he was a little stocky again. His legs aren't HUGE, but they aren't normal either. He's never stocked up before...even on the rainy summer days at home when he stayed in his stall for 3 or 4 days straight. I'm not really sure what to make of it...I'm really not working him that hard! I did however, notice him fall out behind/trip behind a few times this week (on different occasions/days). Could there be something brewing in his hind legs? I really hope not.

I took some videos of him but I have yet to upload them. I'll try to do it this weekend! They aren't very good, since there was no one around to take them and I just set the camera up on a barrel in the arena.

I also put together a schedule of some of the upcoming shows. Obviously, we are not going to all of these, but here is the list none-the-less



NOVEMBER
18 - Lake Erie College ICTA Schooling Show (Jumpers) – Painesville, OH

DECEMBER
            1 – South Farm Jumper Show – Middlefield, OH
9 – Blue Lakes Farm Pleasure Show – Newbury, OH
            22-23 – Chagrin Valley Farms Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show – Chagrin Falls, OH

JANUARY
            5 – South Farm Jumper Show – Middlefield, OH
            6 – Andrews Osborne Academy Hunter Schooling Show – Mentor, OH
20 – Blue Lakes Farm Pleasure Show – Newbury, OH
            26-27 – Chagrin Valley Farms Hunter/Jumper Schooling Show – Chagrin Falls, OH


 I also rode Johnny today!! I miss him so much and still don't know what to do about it. I actually cried on drive to see him, pathetic I know, but it's true. He still has his right lead canter!!! He's so out of shape and started off really stiff, but I put him on a loose rein and made him trot really forward and he felt better.
 He nickered though when I came in the barn and said hi to him and he was relishing all of the grooming that I did with him, especially when I brushed him in his favorite place under his chin! He seemed really happy to be ridden again since he's been sitting basically since June. Oh why can't I just have a money tree that grows in my backyard? Or to win the lottery? Is that too much to ask?

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ups and Downs

Alas, my poor little Moo (aka Emmy) is still not sound :( Not only that, but she just seems so...depressed lately. Nothing interested her except going outside in the field. In her stall, she stands with her face along mine and breathes into my ear as though she's trying to tell me something, but I just don't know what. I take her out to groom her and she stands in the cross ties with her ears flopped sideways like she wants nothing to do with it. I did tack walk her on Monday for about 15 minutes. She didn't make a sour face when I brought the saddle out, but she definitely did not look excited. Normally she LOVES to be ridden, but not lately. When she's in her stall, she hangs her head over her door and just pouts.

I know what needs to be done, she need x-rays and probably some injections to make her comfortable again. The only thing I can think of is that she is in pain and therefore just generally unhappy unless she can go outside and eat her sorrows away in grass. I just don't have the money right now to do all of the diagnostic work...she's lucky that she is getting boarded out at a nice barn that feeds her 3x a day and has an indoor arena for rainy day turnout.

The good news is that Cool has been fantastic lately (KNOCK ON WOOD)...I've been riding him strictly English (save for the lesson that he gives to a little girl once a week, western) and started him with some pole work and jumped him over a little cross rail Monday. He was perfect over the cross rail!! Trotted right up to it, jumped over and then cantered away through the corner in a perfect balanced canter like he'd been doing it his whole life. This Sunday I am taking him back to my alma mater college for a little combined test. We are just going to do the "jumpers," if you even want to call it that...haha. They have a ground pole class and a cross rail class, I'm not sure which one we will do just yet (probably the ground poles) haha but it should be a good experience for him!

The other good news is that I had a "meet and greet" first interview today at a vet clinic for a part time job. Keep your fingers cross that I get called back for a second interview! I really need some steady income so that I can put some money towards the "make Emmy feel better" fund (also still accepting donations for the "take Johnny back fund" as well.) I seriously think that for Christmas I am going to ask all of my family for donations instead of gifts.

Poor Emmy :(

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Right-Front Plague

It seems to me that I am plagued by horses with right front leg problems.

After a few days off, a couple romps in the pasture and a gram of Bute, I groomed little Emmy up yesterday afternoon and took her for a trial ride...she was, of course, still lame and actually may have felt worse that she did before. Tracking to the right, she feels okay (not perfect, but acceptable for "cold weather Emmy") but to the left she feels terrible. It's not consistent at all, making the lameness hard to pin point. Down the long side (aka on a straight line) she feels fine for the most part. Not actually "lame" per say, but I do occasionally feel her want to bulge her left shoulder in. On a circle though or around a corner (to the left) on a loose rein she's pretty much dead lame. She's dropping her left shoulder terribly and trying to wheel herself around the turn. If I take up my rein contact and ask her to go round and actually lift her shoulder, she does feel better and no longer limps, but she still doesn't feel right...it's almost like she's not connecting through her body at all. If I could picture what she looks like, she would have an arched head and neck and a dropped spine still. Plus, she trots about 20 feet and then wants to walk...which is SO not like her. Emmy is an off the track Thoroughbred and she's always been HOT to ride...especially when she hasn't been in work lately. I know that she's an old lady now, but I also know her personality and she's just not been right lately.

Probably five years ago, Emmy started with a mysterious right front leg lameness. It happened the year before I left for college, back when I was at our old barn (where we met Johnny, although this was long before I ever decided to ride him) which had no arena of any sorts. I was riding Emmy out in the grass when it started to rain. Being big-bad-young-and-dumb me, I decided that we were going to tough it out and keep working on our striding over some poles. The grass got wet from us cantering over it and turned into mud. We finished our ride and I dried her off and put her away. The next day, she was dead lame in the right front. I can't remember if there was heat in her foot or not back then, but there was definitely no swelling anywhere. It took almost the entire winter to make her sound again (this was in the fall). The vet and farrier (without xrays) couldn't find anything wrong with her. The next year she was fine and went to school with me, where she was first half leased by E. However, the next late spring/early summer, it happened again. She was lame all summer and I started to ride Johnny instead (who also had a bad right front leg, go figure). Near the end of the summer, she just one day went sound. That fall, I left her home and took Johnny to school with me (E leased him) instead for the first semester, thinking that it was just time to retire Emmy. Come winter break, she was right as rain and my parents were tired of taking care of her...so she joined Johnny up at school. She was fine for the rest of that year and E eventually switched her lease back to Emmy for the rest of the school year. That next summer, Emmy fractured her hind splint bone (doing god knows what) and again, spent most of the summer sitting out. I focused my attention on Johnny and near the end of the summer (July-ish) Emmy was back in work and doing great. School came around again (Junior year) and I took both Emmy and Johnny back to school with me. E continued her lease on Emmy until, once again, Emmy went lame late in the winter. She bounced back fairly quickly this time though and everything was fine until E dropped her lease for good due to financial reasons and I was faced with finding Johnny a new home.  Emmy stayed sound for the rest of the school year and in April, with Johnny happy in his new home, the bf bought Cool. We finished out the spring at the boarding barn, renovated the barn at bf's house, put up fencing and brought the two horses home. Summer came and Emmy was lame again. This time, I called out our new vet to look at her. She found Emmy to have a mild loss of flexion in her right front ankle, but an actual flex test came back negative. Out of my own curiosity, I had the vet draw a lyme tester, wondering if perhaps Emmy's sporadic lameness was actually the symptom of illness. I was actually praying that it was going to be. It wasn't; the tester came back negative. By the end of the summer, she was sound again though. This time it lasted until the next spring, when after a day of light jumping, she was dead lame.

At that point, after years of dealing with this lameness issue, I was both fed up and heartbroken. Again, I consulted a veterinarian who offered four different options that we could take to try and resolve the issue once and for all. Option 1 was to take an xray, ideally of both the fetlock and the hoof and check for bony changes. Option 2 was to do nerve blocks to localize the area of pain, since we really didn't know if this was a deep hoof issue or a fetlock issue. Option 3 was to inject the fetlock and see if that helped. Option 4 was to do options 1-3 (although not necessarily in that order).

Obviously, if money were unlimited and not an issue, I would have taken the fourth option to do nerve blocks to localize an area, then xrays to check the bones and then inject as necessary. But, as for most of us horse owners, the budget is not unlimited and option 4 was off the table right away. My next thought was that just willy-nilly injecting the fetlock was probably not the best use of my limited money, so that option was off the table also. What if we injected the fetlock only to find out that the problem was actually in the foot? Xrays were kind of in the same boat for me. While the correct way to diagnose would be to take an xray, we still didn't know what area we were even supposed to be looking in, so the xrays for both the ankle and the fetlock would eat up my entire "Emmy Vet" budget, leaving nothing left for any type of treatment. In the end, after a lot of debating and calculating, I decided that blocking out her foot would be the best use of my money. It was the most cost effective method of actually finding which area we should even be treating. Two nerve blocks into her foot would render the entire region below her fetlock numb. If she went sound, we would know that the problem was in her foot. If she was still lame, we would know that the problem was in her fetlock. (I entertained the idea of xrays for a little while until I decided that I had nothing to compare them to...no previous xrays of either regions to even know if what we were looking at was something new. Who knows what that horses fetlock looks like? And whose to say that it hasn't always looked like that?) It took me about a week to decide all of this (meanwhile Emmy was on stall rest) and when I finally made up my mind and called the vet, Emmy miraculously decided to be sound.

Everyone knows that nerve blocks don't work on a sound horse.

So that was where it ended. Emmy was back in business again, I showed her twice and jumped her and she never took a lame step.

Until now.

And here we are, back to square one. Since I don't have ultra steady employment right now, the nerve blocks and injections are off the table for a while, and little Emmy and I are back to bute, bandages, ice and poultice. I still have no idea what I'm even trying to treat, but I am trying.

I'm wondering if she maybe has a floating bone chip in the fetlock that occasionally gets stuck? Or if there is a ligament in the foot or fetlock that she strained back in the mud those 5 years ago and just keeps re-injuring? The farrier took a look at her last time he was out and put money on a ligament strain in the fetlock from hyperflexion of the joint. I'm still not sure, but it's always a possibility.

Ugh.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Post-Sandy Check In

Well, we made it through Superstorm Sandy alright here in Ohio! Monday we moved Emmy and Cool to their winter boarding barn, despite the pouring rain. Everyone got there safe and sound, although a little soggy! The boarding barn lost power for two days and our house lost water for one night but otherwise that was really the worst of it. It rained for 7 days straight though!! I'm glad that we moved the horses when we did, because at least now they have an indoor arena to get turned out in. I did let them out in the big pasture Friday for a couple hours. Cool was soooo excited to go out! He cantered laps around the field for about 5 minutes! I started them both back under saddle this week and they have been pretty good. Cool has been SO quiet standing in the cross ties and in his stall its been unreal. I think he must still be sick haha! Emmy is mildly unsound tracking to the left but only occasionally in the corners. I'm not sure if its just that shes out of shape and stiff or if her right front is starting to bother her again. I really need to get them both back on a joint supplement, I don't think that Emmy's devils claw/yucca blend is doing enough for her when it gets cold outside. I will update with some photos!

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad Luck

What a week we've been having here...I'm hoping that the bad luck fairy has finally finished up and has vacated the premises. Someone once told me that bad luck happens in groups of threes, and I am inclined to think that said person was actually right.

First of all, I've been dealing with all sorts of nonsense with my car's exhaust system...tomorrow will be the FOURTH time that it has gone back into the shop to get re-adjusted. Why can no one seem to get this right? I'm seriously getting fed up.

This past weekend I spent grooming at a local A circuit hunter/jumper show for a trainer, M, that I used to work with at the "Big Show Barn." Back then, she was the assistant trainer but she has since branched out and started (or maybe re-started? I'm not really sure...) her own barn. I've worked for her a couple of times since then and I've always really enjoyed it. It's much nicer to only have 5 horses to deal with and prep in the morning verses 17 of them! Anyway, I had a good weekend at the show, but (as always) it just made me want to show my own horses really bad! Maybe once Cool gets going a well I can stall with her at some of the local A circuit shows? It sounds like fun to me. I had a pretty easy weekend grooming, although on Sunday I did end up having to re-hang one of our ponies fake tails. One of the professional braiders hung it originally, but it really looked terrible (which is not typical of this braiders quality of work...) so anyway, I asked M who had hung it and she told me with the comment "I don't know what's going on with it, but the braid is sticking out and you can see her name sticker through her hair!" In defense of the professional braider, let me mention that this is a SMALL pony...like tiny...with a medium pony length tail, so hanging it the correct height so that it's not dragging on the ground is difficult. Said pony also has a really terrible top to her tail, so the hair is thin and hard to hid things in it. Anyway, I asked M if she wanted me to cut the tail out and re-hang it myself? I've always hung my own horses fake tails and I did one for a friend once, but I've never done one at a show where it really mattered, like a rated show. She gave me the green light and said to go ahead. So there I was, stopped on the ground behind this pony re-hanging the tail when the trainer from the Big Show Barn walks down the barn aisle and sees me. She stopped to look at what I was doing and was like "Oh wow, I didn't know you could do that!" I did feel a pretty proud at the moment, but I told her "Well, I'm trying at least!" She said that the tail looked good and then carried on her way to the show office. I've braided forelocks for Big Show Barn before (usually on the ponies if we leave their braids in overnight) and they have always looked good. When the pony went out to show, I asked M if she thought the tail was alright (it took 2 tries to get it at the right height, but in the end I thought it looked stellar) and she was like "Wow! It looks great!" I was pretty excited...I guess I do have a few more talents than I thought?

That was pretty much the end of the excitement though because Emmy decided to puncture her hind leg over the weekend also. I have NO idea what she could have hurt it on...our stalls and paddocks are totally Emmy-proof and there is literally nothing for her to catch it on or hit it against. Ugh. I cleaned it up and was bandaging it while she was stalled until tonight. The swelling is down so I want to see what it does with the bandage off. She seems to be sound on it so far and the wound is drying up and starting to close. I hit her with some SMZs just to be safe.

This morning I open the barn door to find Cool standing in the aisle surrounded by a mess of, what used to be, the horse grain buckets. Every night I make up the next day's feed and supplements, that way it can easily just be dumped into the horses buckets, regardless of who is around to feed. Normally, I keep the buckets stacked inside the big tote where I keep the rest of the grain, since our barn has no feed room. Of course though, I recently just got grain, and the buckets don't fit inside when the bin is totally full. So, I mixed them up as usual, and left them sitting on top of the bin with a towel over them to keep flies out. The horse's stall doors are impossible for them to open from the inside, unless the latch is not fastened all the way...which of course, only ever happens with Cool's stall door. Occasionally, if you don't push the latch all the way through, it will "latch" but not really be seated all the way to be secure. A couple of pushes with wiggle it right out, and I must have accidentally left his door like that last night. It's totally my fault...for the door and for leaving the grain out in a place where he could get to it. I was so mad at myself when I found him standing there surrounded by empty buckets this morning. All day I was have been watching him for signs of colic or founder. I put ice on his feet right away and kept checking his pulses, then pumped him full of mineral oil and walked him at half hour intervals. He pooped this morning and then again early this afternoon, so I think (knock on wood) that he's alright as far as impaction goes...but I'm still concerned and his feet still worry me. I opened his dutch door this afternoon and let him go out in the run pen behind his stall. It was muddy but there's no grass and I figure that standing in mud is kind of like standing in poultice and would help draw any heat. Finally, in the evening I put Emmy's grazing muzzle on him and sent them both out into the paddock. Poor Emmy had to be cooped up all day because I can't separate them without Cool throwing a fit, and I really didn't want him working himself into a tizzy today. OH MAN was he mad about the muzzle. He tried to rub it off a few times before realizing that he was stuck and after I turned him out he just stood by the gate and stared at me as if to say "you're kidding right? like seriously, this is a joke..." to which I told him that this is what happens when he decided to eat more than his fair share of grain. They were out for maybe 2-3 hours and I don't think he moved more than 10 feet from the gate the entire time. When I brought them back in, I checked his feet and pulses again. So far (knock on some more wood) everything seems alright, but I'm going to definitely keep monitoring him and if he thinks that he's getting grain tomorrow he's kidding himself. I have him just a little hay tonight to keep his digestive system going...and to keep him from throwing a fit...and made sure that he had lots of fresh water to drink. Hopefully he will be alright...it was so stupid of me to leave feed out.

So, like I said, I'm really hoping that the bad luck has passed. I've really, really had my fair share I think.

Peace.Love.Ponies.

**EDIT: A little aside of good news that I forgot...I finally picked out my birthday present! I celebrated a birthday at the beginning of the month and the bf told me to pick out something that I really wanted as a gift and he would buy it. Some people might think that this is kind of the "cheating" way out of him having to pick something for me...but honestly, I don't mind it. It means that I get exactly what I really want :)

And so, here is what I chose:
http://www.doversaddlery.com/wool-dress-sheet/p/NC-24040T/

It's a new wool cooler for Emmy! Very fancy and nice (and it was on sale!) I have always had fleece coolers for my horses, but this summer I let another horse borrow it at the county fair and he ripped a huge hole in it. Cool has a fleece one, but its WAY too big for tiny little Emmy. So, we got a wool one! I'm also getting it monogrammed...I can't wait!! I kind of wish it was in grey, but black is nice too...and for the price, I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Johnny

I haven't updated about this yet because I wasn't exactly sure (and am still not exactly sure) what to do about the situation.

Last weekend Johnny's current owner called me and told me that she is thinking about retiring Johnny from her lesson program. Not because he isn't working out, but simply because she has run out of kids who are capable of riding him...and the ones who are capable are wanting to start attending schooling shows in the hunter divisions, a place where Johnny unfortunately does not win ribbons. I completely understand where she is coming from and I honestly figured that this might happen sometime soon. I know that Johnny has barely been ridden at her barn all summer...and in a lesson business, a horse that is not paying his bills generally doesn't get to stay.

She's taken wonderful care of Johnny over the past year...she's put money into him in vet bills that she knew she would never get back out of him all in the name of being a good horsewoman who takes care of her horses. It breaks my heart a little bit that she really has no use for him anymore...I was really hoping that this could be a forever home for him.

So, this is the third time now that Johnny has been offered back to me. It seems like every person who takes him keeps him for about a year and then decides that they can't use him anymore. It's frustrating really...not because I don't want him back, but because each time I think that I find him a suitable home (although the second one was NOT suitable and I was happy to take him back) something falls through. This was probably one of the best situations/places for him...why does this have to fall through also?

And of course, it's the time of the year where the bf and I are getting ready to move Cool and Emmy back to a boarding barn for the winter, which means that we now have to pay board each month. While the boarding barn we are going to is reasonably priced, it still is more money that it would cost to keep the horses at home, plus with them at home we can spread out costs over the course of the month versus having to pay a lump sum all at once.

Needless to say, my big dilemma is: what do I do now? I know that its my fault that I keep ending up in this situation...rather than selling Johnny I have continued to send him out under contract that I get the first right of refusal to take him back in the event that he can no longer be kept by the current owner. I have no obligation to take him back, just the option. I refused to sell him years ago because I was worried about where he might end up...he's the worlds sweetest horse, and since he was given to me by someone who knew I had his best interest in mind, I could never live with myself knowing that he ended up in the wrong hands or at some cheap auction somewhere. I feel like I chose to take on this horse as a project and take him out of the barn where he could have lived peacefully for the rest of his life...and now I feel responsible for where he ends up. Of course, each time this has happened before I have contacted the woman who gave him to me and asked if she would like him back...each time the answer has been "not really." I suppose than, it's not totally my fault, but I still feel like it is. If I would have just left him alone to begin with I would have never put him in a situation of an uncertain future.

So here is where I'm at right now: without a steady, substantial weekly paycheck from a reliable job, I absolutely cannot afford him. Honestly, I can barely afford Emmy. She is going to be paying for half of herself this winter by being a lesson horse to a teenage girl whether she likes it or not and she is advertised everywhere as being available for a half lease as well. I've been putting in applications and calling places all summer. Short of going to work at Walmart or a freaking fast food restaurant, there just aren't many jobs to be had. A few of the equine jobs that came my way earlier in the summer I turned down a) because the bf didn't like me working weekends and b) because I thought I had something worked out with the barn of my previous 6 year employment...which of course, also ended up falling through. Since then, I have been putting in non-horse job applications and working every part time horse job that I can get...a few days a week for one trainer, teaching a couple lessons at one barn during the week, a day of lesson on the weekend at another, and grooming at horse shows whenever I can, but that's not enough to support two horses and the weekend job is going to go away in early November as that barn shuts down its lesson program for the winter. This past weekend I emailed my resume to another small animal vet clinic out of desperation...and would you know that they actual emailed me back and asked me to stop in and fill out an application because they were hiring? Of course, I did this first thing Monday. I'm still waiting to hear back about an interview (if I don't hear anything by the end of the week I am going to go make another appearance and follow up with them). I am praying to God that his one pans out...someone out there please align some stars for me? The bf is furious with me for even considering taking Johnny back again. He thinks that he's old and worn out and a pile of vet bills just waiting to happen. This has caused numerous fights between us already...sometimes I even think that I'm ready to call quits on the whole relationship, but I know that he's just trying to put the big picture in perspective. Johnny is 19 going on 20 years old. He has uveitis in one eye and the beginnings of navicular in one foot which requires maintenance (although I want to see the xrays myself and get a second opinion on that). It would be one thing if we had a huge field with a run in shed and three stalls. He could come back and live at our house no problem, but we don't. We have two stalls with a small run pen attached to them, one 100x200 grass paddock and 25 acres of untamed wilderness with no substantial money available right now to add another field (that was supposed to be the plan this summer until my full time job fell through). As the bf told me "It's not that I don't want you to have him...it would be one thing if we had a big field that he could go live in with a shelter and that would be that, but I know that you can't do that. You're problem isn't that you can't take care of all of them, its that you can't not take care of them. You do it too well, you can't ever just leave them alone to be horses. They always have to be sound and ride-able and show worthy  no matter what. For god sakes...look at Emmy. She's 25."

Honestly, he's probably right. It's not that I lock my horses in stalls and never let them be horses, but I take pride in them...I want them looking their best and feeling their best no matter what; don't we owe that to them as their owners? I'm proud that I can still jump and show Emmy, that at 25 years old she doesn't look a day over 10. I tried to argue with him, telling him that if we had those things (a big field and a shelter) it would be a different story and I would let them be more "like horses" as he says and maybe not be so control freakish over them. In reality though, even if we did, I don't know how much I could really "let go." All I grew up with was Emmy...one horse who was already 16 years old when my parents bought her for my 13th birthday. She was already old, she already had problems but I had to make it work and make her work for me because she was all I got. There wasn't going to be another one or a better one or a younger one, it was just her...and she liked to get hurt...a lot. So, I got crazy about her legs, crazy about keeping her sound and healthy...I had to. I had to preserve what I was given and make sure that she felt the best that she could feel all the time. It's the only way I know how. And if that's the case, than all logic points me in the direction of helping to find him another place to live, other than with me...but can I be honest here? I MISS HIM. I miss the crap out of him and for some reason he just keeps finding his way back to me no matter where I send him. Does that count for anything?

Here is the good new though: I already have someone who is very interest in leasing Johnny should I decide to take him back. This of course, is pending his trial ride on the horse, but he's interested none-the-less. The other good news: we have a WONDERFUL boarding barn owner who just so happens to love Johnny from when he lived there previously. I contacted her about the situation and she offered me a slight discount on his board, which is very sweet of her to do, especially since she is reasonably priced to being with and doesn't generally offer multiple horse discounts. The discount, plus the half lease would mean that Johnny could potentially pay for more than half of himself (as long as we don't lose the lease....this is another one of my worries and fears.) A fellow STB friend of mine also has a kid who has been bombing around on her horse and is interested in moving up to taking some lessons. She said she would be more than willing to send him my way (she's already sent me two lesson kids). I've done the math and with a half lease and 1 lesson a week, Johnny would literally cost me $5 a month to board. The shoeing expenses I know I can deal with, but its the unexpected bills that worry me; the vet, the loss of a lease or of a lesson student. Of course, none of this is happening if I don't get that job...and then his current owner and I will be stuck trying to find him yet another home.

So what do I do? There isn't a huge rush to get him out of his current barn, so I am exploring all of my options at this point, asking friends to keep their ear out for anyone interested in a pasture buddy, trail horse or low level jumper (his right lead canter problems don't matter there!) I also contacted the woman that I got him from (again) to see if she wanted him or knew of anyone who did...so far I've gotten no response and I'm honestly not sure that I will. Any STB friends out there...do you want or know of anyone who wants a 19 year old Standie? Or would you like to contribute to the Johnny fund? I'm taking donations as we speak.

Peace.Love.Ponies.



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big Dreams

As many of you may or may not know, the All American Quarter Horse Congress is currently underway here in Ohio. Saturday started the over fences events, which I have been watching like crazy on the live internet feed provided by the Ohio Quarter Horse Association. You can view the live feeds by clicking here.

Since purchasing Cool (who is actually a registered and well bred from halter horse bloodlines) I have transferred his AQHA registration into my name and joined the Association as well. While there are some aspects/practices within the Quarter Horse industry that I will never agree with or understand the exact logic behind, the over fences and equitation divisions really do interest me.

For a little while, I was wanting to show Cool western as that was the style that he was started (and by "started" I mean someone threw a western saddle on him and w/t/c around a round pen...kind of haha) but since I come from a hunter jumper background with a few years in 4-H as a child, the extent of my pleasure riding knowledge is a) outdated and b) not at the level needed to actually train a horse into a discipline. So, as usual, I went about learning all that I could. I watched videos, attended some clinics, took a couple lessons on a broke western pleasure horse and asked about the training techniques and opinions of people that I knew within the AQHA industry who showed western. I had two friends (one who shows western pleasure and one who shows in the trail classes) ride Cool a few times. I even took a job working part time for a local QH trainer so that I could see what all went into prepping a locally/nationally competitive horse. It has been a very interesting experience. There are plenty of different ways to train and prep a western pleasure horse, but the same basic principles seem to appear in just about everyone's training programs. There are just as many good trainers and good ways to do it, just as there are bad and I have been lucky enough to work for a trainer and have friends to give input who seem to do it more of the right way. In all honesty though, the more I learned about the western riding, the more I knew that it just wasn't for me. Not the western pleasure part anyway. The horsemanship (western equitation) classes are something that still interest me, but the rest of it is out as far as I am concerned. Not only do I think that Cool won't hold up to do western pleasure (he has a longish back making it really hard for him to collect and go slow at the lope) but I just don't think that his type A personality would tolerate what goes into making a competitive western pleasure horse, plus the prepping of these types of horses is just such a far deviation from the world that I know and what I've grown up doing that I don't know that I could bring myself to do it. Let's just say I'm like an old lady who's set in her ways!

Basically, I took into account Cool's strengths and weaknesses (mentally and physically) and my strengths and weaknesses and decided that the western pleasure events wasn't the route that would showcase either of our talents properly. Why try to smash a round peg into a square hole right?

So one night just recently, I had turned out Emmy and Cool into the field and was organizing some things in the horse trailer when I heard farting and pounding of hooves. I looked over to see Cool galloping around the pasture, leaping into the air and bucking. Holy crap does that horse get air...thank goodness he doesn't buck like that when I ride him (knock on wood) because I would be TOAST. I mean, that horse gets vertical! Anyway, after a few galloping laps, he slowed down and and was actually loping roll backs and figure 8s in the pasture...complete with lead changes and sliding stops at the gate when he felt it necessary...then he would wheel around on his haunches and take off galloping up the fence line again, only to slow in the corner, do an lead change and come back the direction that he just came. It was breath-taking and beautiful. (Emmy this whole time was standing in the middle of the field grazing...completely oblivious to Cool...I think she's getting selectively blind and deaf in her old age ha!) And right there I made the decision to never make him do anything that stifled his natural movement. He's not a very graceful or fancy horse like Emmy...he doesn't flick his toes or seem to float in mid-air when he gets that big trot and he doesn't snap his knees to his eyeballs over jumps, but what he does have is consistent control of his body all the time, something that, despite all of Emmy's fanciness, she always had a hard time maintaining. Despite her AMAZING jump and her gorgeous movement, I had to hold her hand all the time in the show ring. And maybe part of that is just their personalities as horses? Emmy absolutely NEEDS me to survive...when I first went to college she worked herself into such a fit that she colicked once a week until I finally took her to school with me. You can look at her the wrong way and she flattens herself into the corner of her stall because she knows she's in trouble. Cool doesn't really need anyone. He's independent, he couldn't give a crap if you brushed him or petted him. When we first got him I had to carry a crop all the time when I went into his stall or was walking him because he was just so pushy and rude. A slap of your hand when he was bad or dragging you around got you no where with him. He barely even blinked. He and Emmy were raised so differently and in such different environments and I think that it really shows in their personalities and interactions with people. It is both a good and a bad thing respectively. While Cool can be an absolute PITA on the ground, I can sit on his back and canter him around with no reins and he just never changes. He doesn't need me to ride him. He just needs me to sit on him.

This is the reason that I think his forte is going to be in the equitation (flat and fences) and maybe the hunter hack. I took him to a local A circuit trainer last winter for a lesson and she had some really good things to say about him, including the fact that she thought he would be competitive on the local A circuit in the low hunters, mainly because he's so bold and just so consistent, and let's face it, the hunters are all about consistency. I think that the equitation divisions will let him shine since he doesn't jump ultra round. His longish back actually is an asset there because it makes for an incredibly smooth ride on him. I mean, you just can't look bad on that horse. Plus, equitation is my forte too. Remember what I said about combining our strengths? I was placed in the top 5 nationally in intercollegiate equitation as a freshman at my college...something that hadn't been done in 13 years. And so, with all of this in mind, my goal is to get him to the Congress in two years. It's going to be a long road with plenty of set backs I'm sure. But if I can maintain his soundness and his breathing, I don't see any reason why he can't do it.

If you're free tonight check out that live feed from the Congress, the hunter hack classes (2 fences + a flat class) are going on tonight. Someday, we will be in them!

Peace.Love.Ponies.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Vet Visit

Good news! The vet came out this afternoon to check out Cool. While it looks like he does have a little bit of an infection maybe going on, he doesn't have any lung noise (no crackling, no wheezing etc.) and the vet thinks that his illness is actually part of his allergy problem.

We used a different vet than our usual because she is out of town until tomorrow, but I think it was actually good to get a fresh opinion, and the vet that did come out is one that I've had some experience with and I do respect his opinions. He checked Cool all over and listened to his lungs, like I said, no lung noise, no swollen glands, no pain anywhere and his temperature was 99.8 so back within the normal range, even if it is still slightly high for Cool's "normal." This vet went a little more in depth with me about the allergen process. He said that he would prefer to call Cool's condition "airway inflammation" versus just "allergies" as allergies is such a broad term. While it's not technically COPD, Cool could potentially develop it in the future. Horses  with allergies can occasionally go through phases of airway inflammation, which is what Cool has been dealing with lately. Apparently it is not uncommon for these horses to have a mild cough, some nasal discharge and a low grade fever (102 is considered "low grade") especially with the crazy up and down weather that we have been having lately. A 10 day round of antibiotics should help to clear up his airways but the vet doesn't believe that he has anything contagious like influenza or anything. I'm going to continue to take Emmy's temperature just to be safe, but he vet thinks that everything should be alright. The vet also told me that I had beautiful, clean stalls and to keep up the great work with managing Cool's environment (ammonia is REALLY bad for horses, especially those with allergy/airway problems; it keeps the respiratory system from being able to clear itself) so yay for that!

I'll keep you all posted, but it seems like Cool should be just fine and that this is just going to be something that we have to manage carefully from now on.

Peace.Love.Ponies.