Category Archives: horse care

Things I Love: Part 1

I’m pretty frugal when it comes to purchasing horse items. I’m typically two years behind “the hot new trend” as I want to see if things last, and all the hype sticks around. Therefore, when I do make a purchase, and I love that purchase (whether new or not) I feel like celebrating it and sharing my love for it. So, here are three new to me items that I am over the moon about.

1. You all may remember that Amanda C kindly gave me her Lund bridle when she upgraded to a new one. I had been searching for a bridle that would fit June and not having much luck. Her bridle was in excellent used condition and it fit June really well. In the meantime, Lund ended up sending me a pair of reins to match the bridle, which was great, as I was riding around in non matching, black reins (Horror!)

When I got these reins, I instantly fell head over heels for the entire bridle. I now had a really nice bridle that fit my horse well and as an added bonus, it had really nice leather and looked great too.

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stock photo from Lund

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Cute pony, cute bridle

The leather always looks cleaner than it is, and it’s really soft. Plus, at the price point of under $175, you honestly cannot beat the bang for the buck. Honestly, I just love this bridle. So much, in fact, that I chose to ride in it, rather than my other new bridle, to June’s first Arena Cross event.

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Ignore side eye, she loves it too!

2. IMO no bridle is show ready until it has a browband with some bling. I’ve always been unimpressed by pre made browbands, and could never find one I was really excited about. When I found out about Dark Jewel Designs, and that you could make your own browbands, I was SOLD. I now have multiple strands and multiple set ups. Amelia is great to work with and most recently really worked with me when I wasn’t sure what size would fit June and my bridle. We ended up on a cob size curved band with snaps. The great thing about the snaps is it is SO easy to remove the browband and change it out. Plus, it makes it a little bit longer so you can slip wider bridles through the sides of the browbands.

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I credit our lucky 4 leaf clover for the success we had last weekend. It’ll be our go to xc browband for a while

Dark Jewel Designs browbands range from over the top blingy to a subtle hint of shine. I have both ends of the spectrum and love them all equally. And while I really love the newest ones I have, I find myself still loving the ones I purchased a couple of years ago. They last and keep their bling.

4. My Secret Santa this year hit it out of the park. I mean Michelle got me some amazing things, including an adorable purple tote with June’s name on it and  something else I really ended up loving:

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The Tough 1 Great Grips Brush

Sure, its purple. But that isn’t the main reason I love it. I love the fact that it bends! It’s so great for cleaning legs and other parts of the horse that aren’t flat. It’s my go to brush right now. Is it fancy and soft? Nope, but it’s perfect for getting dirt and mud off. It wraps around the horses legs so you can clean both sides at once! Hello time saving tool! I just love this simple brush and am so happy I now have one!

3. My biggest purchase of the past year was my horse trailer. Going from a tiny two horse with no tack room, to a much larger two horse with a full dressing room was a serious upgrade for me. But, beyond the size, I can’t say enough good things about how this trailer hauls. Despite being more than twice the size of my last one,  my truck pulls it without an issue. Even with two horses in there this past weekend, I didn’t feel a thing and the truck chugged along nicely. It’s so spacious for the horses and incredibly inviting. I’m so happy I made the upgrade and just can’t say enough things about how much I love it.

 

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When I first purchased it. It now has a level hitch

The dressing room has four windows and is HUGE and I’m looking forward to setting it up for show season so I can sleep in there. For me, this trailer is everything I wanted, and I’m just so excited to have a trailer both June and I love.

So those are the material things I love. I have lots of stuff I like, but it isn’t worth raving about. These items make me happy, stand the test of time and in my opinion, were super solid purchases.

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Two Years Ago Today

It was two years ago today that I retired Georgie as my competition horse. Man that day sucked.

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Our last event together- Training 3Day at Rebecca Farm

Being where I am now though, two years later, I almost feel like it’s ok that it happened. Don’t get me wrong. I miss riding Georgie. Especially when it comes to how safe and secure I felt going cross country.

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But, I get to see her and feed her treats every day. I can hop on her once a week and enjoy being on a broke horse. I care for her when her junior lessee is out of town, and she still uses a bunch of the tack I had for her. Honestly, she is still a part of my life on so many levels. Which is what I had hoped for when I stopped competing her.

And now I have this special baby monkey horse named June. Who is teaching me so much. And while she isn’t making anything as easy as Georgie did, I have to say, just like Georgie, she really does have a heart of gold. Sometimes I don’t verbalize how much I appreciate June and how much I love having her.

When I got Stella as a teeny tiny puppy, I kept comparing her to my senior dog Montana. Montana was the easiest dog ever, and I kept wanting Stella to be just like her. As a young dog, there was no way Stella could meet the expectations I had for her if I wanted her to be like Montana who I had had for many years. I worried that Stella was less than because she wasn’t Montana.

And look how that turned out. Poor Siri…

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The two that can do no wrong

So, while I may compare June to Georgie, or be sad that I don’t have a solid Prelim cross-country horse anymore, I realize that what I do have with June is pretty damn special. She makes me laugh and smile, but she also makes me ride well, and be incredibly thoughtful in my riding. Where Georgie was easy, June is a challenge. But it isn’t a mean-spirited challenge in any way. We probably match each other equally on a scale of who is more opinionated. And just like Georgie, she’s game for pretty much anything. I hope I can keep her curiosity and willingness intact, as they’re two things I really love about her.

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AND she looks good in purple!

So, while two years ago I was pretty much in shambles, I’m happy to report that time did heal a broken heart. Along with a sassy young mare named June.

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When Your Child is a Phenom

You’ve undoubtedly met the parent who thinks their child is a phenom. The parent can be seen speaking in a muted voice,asking lots of questions about the upcoming show schedule, taking up a lot of the trainer’s time, and always thinking one step ahead. (Forgetting that horses are fragile creatures, and that thinking one step ahead leads to heart break.) We have had a few of these parents in our barn and I just roll my eyes at them.

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But then, I got June, and I BECAME them.

Except, my “child” is a horse. Which may be better? Or worse? Heck if I know.

I worry that June has too much talent. Especially for little amateur me. But then I get ecstatic about how easy the work we’re asking of her is. I laugh at how little energy she puts into jumping a 2’6 jump. I watch her trot and  swoon. Instead of listening to what Sarah is saying as she trots her across the arena, I think “man she is going to have a nice extended trot one day.” I’m insufferable when it comes to my phenom.

But then, fortunately, reality sets in. I get on my horse and she’s inconsistent in the bridle. I can’t pick up the right lead. Hell, I can’t even get her to trot over poles without falling on her forehand. My horse may be a phenom, but we’re not bound for the Olympics with me on her back. This team is as average as they come.

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Much talent. Much Phenom.

And, what I’m learning, just as those parents will have to, is that being a phenom doesn’t just happen. It is a hell of a lot of work, and more than just natural talent. It doesn’t matter if my horse came out of the womb doing pirouettes. If I can’t harness that, and work my ass off on all the other miniscule things that are important, we’ll never get around to actually performing pirouettes.

June is the fanciest horse I’ve ever had. And by fancy, I mean, she was bred to do the job I’m asking of her.  Even though the work isn’t as hard for her as it may be for other horses, it doesn’t mean she naturally engages her abs, rocks back and is light on her forehand. It doesn’t mean I can trot down centerline, and just sit there, hoping the judge will be dazzled by my horse’s incredible movement. Nope. Sure doesn’t. I have to continue to ride every friggin step. And lets not forget, June may be fancy by my standards, but there will always be a fancier horse and better rider out there. Always.

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Weird. I ride like shit, she goes like shit

 

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I ride well, she goes well

And this may sound obvious. And I guess it is. But up until recently, I’ve been half heartedly starting my horse. Dedicated to getting her ridden, but not asking for much. If she wants to pull through my hands I let her. She wants to be inconsistent in the bridle, that’s fine. In my mind, I shouldn’t have to work as hard  because she is a nice mover and talented. Image result for ridiculous gif

I’m not a naturally talented rider. I work hard and have good horse sense, which is my saving grace. But even if I was, I’d still have to work hard. Especially with a green bean. I watched Sarah ride her the other day, and she was working, working, working. Thinking, working,thinking, working. June looked great, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Even for a pro who is literally doing everything correctly at the exact right moment. So, ya know, like, the opposite of me. I kinda check out during rides instead of staying engaged mentally and physically the entire time. And that’s gotta change.

So, moving forward, every time we enter the arena, or have a lesson, we’re working hard. We’re only as good as the work we’ve put in. If June has phenom potential, well I better not look like I’m a waste of space on her back. My dream is to one day go Prelim with her. But for now, I need to concentrate on being able to do a 20m circle in a walk/trot dressage test. Cause hell, that’s going to take a lot of work.

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Ulcer Update and a Porta Grazer Review

I’m a bit behind on both these things, but better late than never, right? Kristen recently did a Porta Grazer review and hers was similar to what I’ll have to say, except for one big difference. She keeps her horses at home. I board June, and therefore have a bit of a different perspective.

I don’t have great media, but essentially the Porta Grazer is a slow hay feeder and can also be used as a hay soaker. It’s a cylindrical hard plastic tub that has a removable top. The top looks like a large feed dish, but has holes within it. The holes come in various sizes, and allow your horse to pull the hay through the holes. The motion replicates what horses do when they graze. Here are some pictures from the website to give you an idea of what things look like:

There are three different sizes, and I went with the XL, which runs $299 (although there is an easy to google $25 off coupon out there). Shipping was about $35 I believe and it was FAST. But then again, the product is made in my state of Idaho.

The Porta Grazer was recommended to me by my veterinarian after we confirmed June had ulcers. And I can see why. It’s so much easier and neater than hay nets, and it really seems like the most natural way for horses to eat. There are some tricks to loading it, but the one I purchased can hold three flakes of hay. Much like Kristen’s horses, June had absolutely no issue with using it right away. I introduced it slowly, but she preferred it to the hay nets within the first day.

There are definitely more pros than cons to the product, IMO. Here are some things I have been happy with:

  1. No mess. I mean, there is so little wasted hay with this. It’s great!
  2. June’s meals last longer. At first, I was overly concerned that June wasn’t eating all the time. I would show up and she would be hanging out, even though the Porta Grazer wasn’t empty. It took a bit of convincing from Sarah, but I finally agreed that it’s fine that she is taking a break from eating. This is what horses do. They graze, hang out, walk around, graze some more. The fact that she isn’t hoovering her food down shows that she feels control over her food situation and can actually relax about it. The Porta Grazer is virtually empty at feeding time, which means she does eat it all, but she doesn’t sit there and hoover it all down like she was when she had free choice hay.
  3. Less anger at feeding time. June is housed next to Georgie. In the past they would kick, buck, rear, bite and put on a real show at feeding time. Some may call this being hangry, but what I’m realizing, is that it was not helping her ulcers. Getting that worked up at feeding time is not a good sign. Especially when you eat and then run over to the mare next to you and try to kick them through the fence. (I won’t say which one was doing this..) With the Porta Grazer, there’s some whinnying, but the anger has pretty much ceased (at least with June). I think knowing she will have food for hours, makes feeding time way less of an event for her.
  4. Hay stays dry and is out of the dirt. Right now the ground is wet, which means hay on the ground gets wet and gross. June’s hay stays clean and dry, so she can enjoy all of it and she doesn’t avoid eating it because it has turned into a soggy mess.
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Happily munching away

The things I don’t love with the Porta Grazer mainly have to do with living at a boarding stable and not being able to obsessively make sure everything is perfect, and I do think that if I had this product a home I would have ZERO complaints with it. But, in case you are thinking of getting one, and board your horse, some things to think about:

  1. I feed mix hay 2x a day and throw June a flake of alfalfa once a day. The Porta Grazer is really made for fine, loose hay. Our hay, while incredibly nutritious, is packed pretty tightly. Therefore, when it’s put in the Porta Grazer, sometimes it can bunch up and not come loose. Then it gets packed down at the bottom and really difficult for horses to access, as they can’t loosen it and get it through the holes. This is easily resolved by taking the lid off, and just shaking the flakes loose, and putting the lid back on. But, since I’m not there to do that, sometimes June’s hay just stays packed until I show up later. Sometimes she’ll work at it and actually put some effort into eating, and it works itself out. But I would love it if her hay got fluffed more. I mean, doesn’t everyone want that for their horse? And I throw the alfalfa flake on the ground as it can really be too coarse for the feeder.
  2. I don’t know how much June is actually eating. If the feeder isn’t empty at feeding time, is she still getting 2-3 flakes put in it? Or just one? By the time I show up, the weekday feeders have left so I have no way to tell. I fluff the hay and can usually tell what’s in there, but I have no idea what, if anything, was left from the morning feeding.
  3. The different sizes are confusing. I got the XL but now wish I had gotten the corner feeder. But the name “corner feeder” made me think I needed to have a corner for it to go into, and I don’t. It’s basically just a bigger version, with more holes in the lid.
  4. Not great Customer Service. The shipping and ordering were fantastic and easy. But I called to ask some questions, and their office hours are pretty limited and no one called me back. So, boo on that.
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Such a princess

I think this is a great product and I really think it has helped reduce (or eliminate!) June’s ulcers. Along with the Porta Grazer, I’ve also made some other changes that I think have really helped. As I mentioned before, I give June a flake of straight alfalfa everyday. Alfalfa has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of ulcers, and she already gets alfalfa/grass hay, I think this little bit extra can only help.

I researched supplements and I’m so on the fence about them. I’ve used Smartpak supplements in the past, but June isn’t eligible for ColicCare currently as she had a bout of mild colic this fall which I ended up calling the vet out for.

After we scoped her, my veterinarian ended up recommending I put June on Purina Outlast. Never having heard of it, I assumed it was a feed, but it turns out, it’s really more of a feed topper, or supplement. You give your horse a measured amount depending on body weight prior to exercise or any stressful event (such as trailering). It’s advertised as a Gastric Support Supplement and you can purchase it as is, or purchase a Purina feed that has it added to it. Since June doesn’t really need grain right now, I just purchased the supplement and I feed her 1 cup before I ride or trailer her. While the ingredients don’t make me think “YES! This will definitely work!” there is research behind it and it is getting good reviews. It’s incredibly inexpensive, June loves it, and so far, I’ve been really happy with it.

Lastly, I plan on giving June Ulcergard prior and during travel, even if it’s just a couple of hours down the road. I think trailering is hard on her, even if getting somewhere new doesn’t seem to bother her at all. And in the summer I hope to get her out on pasture more, as I think that can really help.

So far, I’m really pleased with how June is doing post 30 days of Gastrogard. I did not have her re scoped because I’m pretty much broke, but she seems like a different horse. She’s eating well, she’s happy to go to work, and her general demeanor just seems back to its curious, happy, self. She hasn’t bucked under saddle and I have been increasing her work and asking more of her. Overall, I would say she’s doing great! My hope is, that with continued thoughtful management, we can keep her healthy and happy!

 

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When a Pony Ride Cures What Ails You

I had a really craptastic day Tuesday. After getting some really bad news about a family member, I went out to my car and found this:

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God Damn you, Siri. I had started letting her out of her crate when she was in the car because she had been doing SO WELL. We were about 6 months post crate when she decided the passenger seat of my Subaru was really tasty. I about lost it and considered just leaving her in the parking lot and driving away.

But, instead, I put her in her crate in my car and drove to the barn. Being sad while also fuming is a weird emotion to try to describe. I tried my best to let it all go, as I had a jump lesson on June in 60 minutes.

Thirty minutes later, as I was tacking up June, I was still a bit of a sad/angry mess. So, before starting to lunge June, I asked Sarah if one of two things would be possible. I explained my current state and how I really didn’t want to get on June and have an explosion of emotion. So, would she consider riding June? And if that wasn’t ideal, could we just jump a grid or something simple where I didn’t have to think “turn here, remember your course?”

Sarah was game to ride June, but also game to set up a straightforward jump exercise. Since June has been feeling great, and I really, really, wanted to ride, I decided to hop on her.

And I am so glad I did.

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So happy with herself

We’re almost three weeks into the Gastrogard and for the last couple of rides, June has felt like a different horse. She is calm on the lunge line, but really forward under saddle. It’s really lovely. She used to be a bit of a kick ride, but recently I’m having to execute half halts and do lots and lots of transitions to get her to listen to me and not just trot as fast as she can. I never knew I would enjoy a forward horse this much, but it’s been really fun. Also, the buck, while I am sure it is still in there, seems to have gone on vacation. I ask for the canter and she canters. Our transitions are smooth and just not an issue.

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We even worked on cantering a circle over this pole all on our own!

Excited to do some jumping in our lesson, we started by working on maintaining a nice rhythm as well as staying straight through a set of poles on the ground. Sarah brought two flower boxes out and set them up at the third pole in the line. She asked me to walk up and over it. June’s ears shot forward as we approached it but she didn’t waiver. After doing this a couple of times in each direction we then approached it at the trot. She gave it some room as she jumped over, but it was calm and lovely. She landed in the canter and was easy to bring back to the trot.

As the lesson progressed, June got a bit stronger in the bridle. She began to anticipate the jump and would quicken through the turn and hollow as we approached. So, as often happens with green horses, we stopped worrying about a jump lesson, and instead worked on remaining calm with a consistent rhythm. And while I love that June appears to love jumping, the last thing I want is a horse who is like “WE JUMP NOW! MUST GET TO THE JUMP!” And moderately loses its mind. Instead, I want a horse who thinks “We’re jumping? YAY! Ok, fine, I’ll maintain this rhythm, ok, I’m adjustable, ok, fine, your way works.” That’s the hope, right? We worked a bunch on approaching the line of poles to the jump in a walk, trot, circling, and just asking her to relax and listen to what I was asking. In the end, I have to say, she was really great and I am loving this forward horse I have, especially as she begins to listen to my aids and understand what I am asking of her.

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I’m also loving how she just voluntarily stands for a conformation shot

Our second to last time over the flower boxes she did this funny little hop on the backside. I wouldn’t call it a buck, or even a kick, it was more like she was trying to swap leads and just hopped. Instead of pulling and clamping  I laughed and just kept going. Guys, I didn’t freak out that she was going to buck. Sarah, asked me to come through the line one more time. So, we came back to the trot, appoached the line calmly without having to circle first,  jumped the flower boxes, and cantered on the back side without issue. It’s like if I stay calm, she stays calm.

This ride, although simple, was the highlight of my day. If I can ride June this calmly even when my mind is racing, it must mean that she makes me happy. Because even when we had to work through her hollowing and quickening, nothing escalated. We just slowly worked on understanding what was expected. She never got pissy or naughty. She just acted like a green horse. And I reacted kindly and fairly. And it was SO FUN.

Sometimes, a ride on your pony really is what helps.

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Dressage Tests and Ulcers

Despite the fact that we had a dressage schooling show coming up, in my most recent lesson, I opted to jump. And while I have no media as proof, June was really fantastic. I gave her a day off afterwards and got a text that June didn’t seem very interested in her hay. I went down to the barn to find June in her shed with a tub of uneaten hay. Banamine was given, she was lunged lightly and fingers were crossed. She wasn’t any better the following morning, so Sarah gave her some more Banamine and I stopped by to check on her. She was bright and alert and seemingly normal. If she was colicking, it must be mild. But then, why wasn’t the Banamine working? Just as I was thinking she might have ulcers, I received a text from Sarah that said “Ya know, I think she might have ulcers and this isn’t colic.”

I drove over to the vet’s office to see about having them come out and happened to catch her veterinarian between appointments. She agreed, ulcers seemed likely. I have her scheduled to be scoped on Thursday, and in the meantime have begun her on the crazy expensive Gastroguard regime for 30 days. I will admit there was a part of me that was like “How does this horse have ulcers??? I haven’t even asked anything of her yet?”

But in thinking it through, and reading a great article Sarah sent me from horse.com (along with some others) it seems it doesn’t take much for most horses to have ulcers. And probably the biggest contributing factor to her ulcers (which at this time I can only assume are the problem) are that she is “meal fed” as my veterinarian called it. Meaning, June gets two meals a day, and that isn’t great for a horse’s gastric health. Now, I love the barn I board at. But, do I love that my horse spends hours upon hours without anything to eat? No. Especially since I grew up with horses who never had any issues with colic or ulcers and spent their days out on pasture, eating all day long. So, this is tough for me. And clearly, it’s tough for June too. But the good news is, I have some solutions to keeping hay in front of her for longer periods of time, without having to change how the barn feeds her. More on that, later.

 

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More of this please!

Having suffered from an ulcer myself this summer, I knew how painful they can be, and also, that eating actually makes them feel better. Along with Omeprazole. I also knew the meds can take a few days to work, and actually, if she doesn’t have ulcers, they would not help a bit. But, by the next day, she was already eating a bit more. And while she wasn’t her complete sassy self, she was feeling well enough to at least get excited about feeding time.  And while I had initially thought I would scratch from the dressage show, on Saturday morning, seeing as she was feeling better, I decided to go ahead and ride in the show. I mean, we were doing a walk/trot test and it was at our barn. Stress levels should remain low for all involved. I made a deal that I would keep spurs off and that I wouldn’t fight with her. We’d just go into warm up and see what mood she was in. If she was willing to work, we’d work. If she felt crappy, I’d scratch.

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So cute!

She actually felt calm and relaxed. Perhaps a little duller than usual, but with lots going on around her, she was curious, but not anxious. And she handled the little bit of atmosphere like a champ. I definitely could have been smarter about my warm up. I could have done more transitions and worked on getting her to listen to my aids. I did some work on 20m circles and trying to be straight up centerline, which was fine. But I think in general, I just need to go into warm up with a plan, rather than figuring it out when I am already on her back. Especially with a young horse. I was overly concerned with symmetry instead of quality of my gaits. Therefore, our circles were ok, but June was dragging me around, and not listening to my aids very well. Lesson learned. There is a lot of work on transitions in our future. I was also overly worried about connection, instead of riding forward and with rhythm. Rhythm before connection, Nadia. Remember that next time.

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But connection can look so pretty!

But overall? Overall I was thrilled with her. She was focused and willing and a really really good girl. I think with a better warm up plan, and using warm up wisely, I could have imporved a lot of things, but I came out of both tests just thrilled with how it went and thrilled at our potential future.

June seemed unfazed by all of it, and was completely ready for treats when we were all done. And while she never gets treats unless she is in the horse trailer or her paddock, I made an exception and was happy to see how eager she was for them.

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So, all in all, a mixed bag week. I’ll keep you all posted on her scope this Thursday. I guess at this point, fingers crossed we find ulcers? Blerg. But, as always, I have a plan in place and we’ll get through this.

 

 

 

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Back In Business Part 2

When I arrived at the barn the day following June’s vet visit, I had already heard from barn management that she happily ate all her breakfast. I had relayed very specific instructions about PM feeding, but when I arrived, they hadn’t been implemented, which put me into a bit of a tizzy. But, in taking June out for a walk, to assess how she was feeling, I realized all would be well. Back to her usual antics, she immediately tried to pull me over to the grass pasture as we walked the property.

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Back to normal!

And then, as we got farther away from the barn, the wind picked up, and June started to feel a bit fresh. When the neighbor’s horses whinnied to her, she about lost her mind and began fancy prancing with her tail over her back, as if she was now a Paso Fino.

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Mom do you hear them? They are calling for MEEEEEE

While I had strict instructions to just take her out for walks for a couple of days before putting her back into work, I knew mare had some steam to blow. And rather than have her get silly in her paddock, I decided to let her blow it off in the large outdoor arena.

Oh I am glad I did

After that, I knew she was really feeling back to normal. As Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs said after seeing the video “What do you think when she does that? Yay she is feeling better or oh crap I have to ride that?”

Definitely a mix of both???? lol

Fortunately, when I rode her a couple of days later, she was a very good girl. I didn’t ask for much at all, we mainly just walked around and then picked up the trot for maybe 5-10 minutes. I had lunged her beforehand, and she was forward but not silly, always a good sign. In the trot under saddle she would reach for the contact and while it was inconsistent, I was happy she remembered a bit about leg to hand and what the expectation is.

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Thanks to Michelle at Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit I have a new barn coat to keep me warm!

I’m excited to be back at it with her and hopefully we’ll enter a schooling dressage show next month!

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Back in Business. Until We’re Not.

A week ago I made the drive to pick up June and bring her home. I would be bringing her home in my new to me trailer and was nervous, as she had only driven in it twice, and those were very short trips. This would be a solid 5 hour drive. But, she seemed comfortable in the trailer thus far, and fingers were crossed we wouldn’t have any issues.

When I arrived to pick her up she was happily eating hay with the other horses. She heard my voice as I approached her and she turned, pricked her ears and looked at me. While she didn’t come running to me, it was cute that she recognized my voice and didn’t run away.

She loaded right up and we were headed out. My truck pulls the trailer incredibly well, and the stabilizer bars on the hitch seem to really help. I didn’t feel any shifting in the trailer, and unlike most times when I haul her, I allowed myself to relax a bit. I stopped about 3.5 hours into the drive to get fuel and check on June. She was happy and comfortable. While she did paw a bit once I opened the door, she wasn’t wide eyed or frantic. Success! I have to say, I’m really in love with this trailer! And it seems June is too!

Her first week back started out well. She had been living on about 50 acres, and while I imagine she did quite a bit of walking around, she’s pretty, um, plump, so I figured she’s pretty unfit. Tuesday I did some round pen work and she was very good. She definitely got bored quickly, but I didn’t ask too much of her in her first day. Wednesday I just ran her around the arena and spent some time grooming her. She got Thursday off, and Friday we went for our first ponying trail ride!

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She and Siri had a quick discussion

Thanks to my friend Meg, I rode Smokey and ponied June. June was really, really, good. Not a foot out of place, and she soon realized Smokey needed her space and wasn’t messing around. I was really happy about the entire experience and think June enjoyed herself.

On Saturday I stopped by the barn after work, so everyone had left for the day. June was in her shelter despite there being hay in her feed tub. June is typically a hoover, so I was surprised she wasn’t eating. I took her for a walk over to one of the alfalfa fields to see if she’d want to eat. She didn’t, which was unusual. Highly unusual.

I brought her to the indoor to see how she would do on the lunge line. She pooped right when we got in, which is normal for her, and stood quietly as I groomed her. She was ok on the lunge line, but a bit lazy. When I took her back to her pen, she went right to her feed tub. I watched her for a moment and figured I would get a call if she was off in the morning.

I didn’t get a call and so I was surprised to show up and once again find June in her shelter and hay strewn everywhere. Clearly she had not been eating.

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Hmm… suspicious

I called the barn manager and she agreed that June hadn’t been eating well. Frustrated that no one had thought was strange, I called the vet. Because I really missed emergency vet visits.

The vet arrived and initial exam showed good gut sounds on the left, but not the right.  Normal heart and respiratory rate. The veterinarian sedated June and gave her Banamine IV. Fecal exam had some dry feces at first, with softer, more normal feces further down. Then she had a naso gastric tube inserted so she could get all sorts of goodies pumped into her. She was a good, dopey mare for all of it

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I was instructed to remove all hay from her paddock and see if she would eat a flake in the AM. She was already much brighter heading back to her paddock, whinnying to her friends and stepping out. She was PISSED when I tied her so I could remove the hay, and when I untied her she immediately went to her feed tub and then looked at me like “mom! WTH!”

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A much happier June walking back to her paddock

I’ve given instructions to the barn’s staff to call me if she doesn’t have an appetite in the AM, but I think (as does the veterinarian) it was a mild impaction, and we are on the road to recovery. Poor mare got hauled here, put back into (light) work, new hay, new feeding schedule, all sorts of weather changes and she can’t walk and graze all day long like she was. Sort of the recipe for a colic. The biggest bummer is that I hadn’t started her on Smartpak’s Colic Care yet, so now will have to wait a year in order to sign her up for the program. (If they have a record of colic, they need to be colic free for a year prior to signing up for the benefits). I’m considering getting her insured sooner rather than later, and am considering insuring her for major medical rather than going the ColicCare route. Any thoughts about experiences with great insurance would be appreciated!

So there you have it! June’s first week back was anything but boring. I’m hoping to get back in the saddle for some walk rides this week, and hoping we will pick up where we left off (minus the falling off) again soon!

 

 

 

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Remembering Why I Ride

With June on vacation, and me still healing, I figured there wouldn’t be much interesting content to write about. But, since I’m feeling better, I’ve picked up two weekly rides. One on Georgie, and one on Tommy. They’re both different rides (Tommy is an Intermediate eventer who I am just getting conditioning rides on), but I’ve come to enjoy them both a lot.

Today it was 60 degrees out and sunny with no wind when I showed up to ride Georgie. I realized it was the perfect day to ride her out in the jump field. I’m riding Georgie partially for me- so I have something to ride until June returns, but also partially for Georgie. She’s acquired some “I’m ridden by a junior and asked nothing” habits that could probably be schooled a bit.

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Georgie when she realized we were headed away from the arenas and out to the field

So, my plan for today was to work on half halts and not letting her run through turns. We worked on this for a bit. I would execute an S turn and not let her run through the change of direction at the trot. It went pretty well and she began to listen to my aids and do what was being asked.

But, instead of drilling it into her, I decided that since it was so beautiful out, we should probably just enjoy being outside.

I walked Georgie to the edge of the field and her ears flew forward. She knew what was coming. I gently put my leg on and said “canter.”

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The moment she realized half halts and S turns were a thing of the past

And there we were, cantering along the field, on a crisp fall day, in the sunshine. I remembered why I loved this horse.

I love her because I feel safe. I love her because I can canter and just enjoy it. No spooking. No antics. Just wind in her mane and my face. She could go as fast as she wanted and it would be fine. She wasn’t going to run away with me. I was safe, happy, and enjoying everything horseback riding should be.

In my post ride recap I told Sarah what a good time I had, and how nice it was to gallop on my #1 mare. But then couldn’t help myself and launched into how Georgie’s canter is like it was the first day I ever rode her, and how I saw her shorten, shorten, shorten to the jump at the schooling show this weekend, and how a half halt takes a lot of work on her again. She clearly isn’t the mare she was when I stopped riding her, after years of work together.

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I’ve always loved galloping on her

And after I said it, I got upset with myself. Because, really, who cares? She is still the honest horse with so much heart that I fell in love with. Who cares if she isn’t prelim ready? Who cares if she carts a junior around safely but doesn’t look fancy? She is having a good time, and she deserves it.

And those moments where I get to gallop her along the fields in the crisp autumn sunshine? All I need to care about is how lucky I am to still be able to do that.

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The New Trailer

I sold my last trailer almost exactly a year ago. I sold it out of necessity. It wasn’t going to work with June, and seeing her climb out the window through the manager, while driving down the highway at 55 mph, was something I never ever wanted to see again.

And, as it seems to happen, I wasn’t really looking for another trailer. I wasn’t NOT looking, but lets say I wasn’t actively shopping. But then one day, driving by my veterinarian’s office, I saw a trailer for sale. I pulled over to check it out, and it was pretty much exactly what I’ve always wanted as a bumper pull.

  • Two horse,
  • Straight load (no mangers!)
  •  huge dressing room.
  • Aluminum
  • a ramp
  • Extra tall and extra wide.

It’s a Trail Et New Yorker Eventer (which is pretty coincidental since I’m an eventer from NY…). Floor boards are in great condition, mats are in great condition and it is structurally in great condition. There are 6 windows in the horse area which means lots of great ventilation too! As an added dork bonus, the trailer originally belonged to Adrienne Lyle (Olympic dressage rider) and there is a dustpan in the dressing room with A.Lyle on it…

I knew the seller and knew she took good care of her stuff. But, sadly, the price tag attached to it was out of my budget.

Now, before we move on  I realize that some of you are throwing your palm to your forehead and asking why in the world I got another straight load. Well, let me start by saying, I grew up with straight load trailers. I personally believe horses travel most comfortably in straight load trailers. And, this particular trailer, doesn’t have mangers. If June wants to jump around, there is nowhere for her to go. I firmly believe had I bought a slant load with mangers, she still could potentially misbehave. This trailer is also incredibly airy and spacious. It’s nothing like my last trailer besides being a straight load.

Ok, so back to it being out of my budget…

I tried to forget about the trailer. But I wasn’t do a good job of it. After seeing it sit for quite some time I decided to call the owner and ask if they would accept a lower, much lower, price.

And, um, they accepted!

Since I was buying it locally, they let me take it for a test drive. Obviously I wanted to make sure June would be ok in it. So, expecting some sort of trouble, I asked a friend to help me load her, and decided to bring  her bestie, Georgie, with us. I figured June could see how calm Georgie was, and maybe emulate that….

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Georgie got to eat out of the manager hay bag and she really approved of it

I loaded Georgie first, and she immediately got to eating. June typically aborts on the first try at loading, so I was prepared for that. Especially since she hadn’t ever done a ramp. But, she gave it a sniff and then walked right in.

Once I closed up the back, she stood in the trailer and just looked out the door. I closed the door and waited to hear what would happen. No sound so I looked in the window. She was just munching her hay.

So, I hopped in the truck and hoped for the best.  As we drove around I didn’t see any trailer swinging. My truck pulled it well, and  because it is so long, the seller told me she had some stabilizer bars she uses with it and I could have if I purchased it.  A 15 minute drive down the highway and I was beginning to believe it was going to be a good fit for June.

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June did NOT get a manger hay bag, but instead got a hay bag by her head….

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Georgie looked adorable in it, which is important too…

Once home, I opened the door to June’s stall and she was just hanging out. Standing there without a care in the world. YAY! She wasn’t anxious to get out and politely let me untie her and get her butt bar down. She backed out carefully, but once she realized there was a ramp, took normal steps backwards.

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Rear view. So tall and roomy

And so, I decided to make the purchase. I hope to do lots of short trips with June at first, but the good news is, it can easily be converted to a box stall, so if she wants more room, and is naughty about the chest bar, I’ll just convert it to a box stall.

I’m excited to start getting accessories, too. I’ve already purchased a hay net, but also want a water tank for the dressing room, and probably trailer eyes.

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So happy and calm while I walked around taking pics…

I’ve never had a trailer with a dressing room, so am SO excited. There are FOUR windows in the tack room, so I am TOTALLY going to be sleeping in there at shows. It will definitely fit me, my sleeping pad and the dogs. Plus, I can get a fan in there if needed and maybe some curtains for the windows if I totally want to dork out.

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It’s really hard to take pics of dressing rooms

 

Anyway, I’m super excited and can’t wait to go pick up June and get her traveling in it. In the meantime, I’ll just stare at it lovingly.

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