Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In the Arena #21 - Good to go

Looks like we're on for our trip to my trainer's this weekend - yea! When I went down to the barn this evening the mystery swelling was barely there and I couldn't feel heat anymore. I had my friend Capt. Sue come by and watch me trot Val on flat ground. She couldn't see that he was off at all, and when we switched I didn't see anything either. I'm guessing a bug bite was the cause... what a relief.

After one last cold hosing and a thorough grooming, we did some very nice work on the ground in the temporary arena. I noticed that even off my horse, when I'm leading him or working with him on the ground, keeping my gaze and focus on where I want to go is much better that focusing on my horse or looking down at the ground. I'm aware that I tend do this in the saddle and it's not good, but now have a larger connection with that concept.

In the past, it has been a challenge for Val to remain calm when we hang out in the back of the property. That's where deer, cats and turtles show up out of the blue... Today he was so mellow, paying attention to what I wanted him to do... including ignoring the grazing opportunities under his nose and not spooking or being distracted. Hoping we can start riding in the temporary arena soon - the sand in our paddock is too soft and deep these days - very laborious footing. I love my horse - what.a.good.boy!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the Arena #20 - Mystery swelling and three's a charm (?!)

While the farrier was working on Val yesterday, we noticed that his left hind was filled in; fetlock and ankle a bit swollen, and there is some heat. Hoof is cold. He does not seem to be off. When the farrier had his opposite hind up on the stand, he didn't react or favor. I do remember seeing a spot of blood the night before, which I figured was a particularly vicious bug bite, and I'm pretty sure certain it's not work related. I gave him bute and have cold hosed his leg... not really sure what else I should do.

A bit disappointing as the temperature has finally cooled off, and we're headed off to my trainers for a long overdue weekend of lessons. I'm hoping it's a minor issue and clears up in the next day or so.


On another note, more snake sightings. Our temporary boarders arrived just when the farrier did yesterday. Kind of chaotic timing... I got them settled in, and they took off on their first trail ride.

Maybe 20 minutes later, a cell call, followed by two more in quick succession. The panicky boarder had come across snakes in the trail. I told her that I usually keep a few pebbles in my pocket for running critters off the trail, assured her that the twice daily trail rides had no problems and suggested she throw something at them. I tried to get a description of the snakes from her, but she was freaking out by that point.

She returned to the barn and decided not to finish out her stay. Even after the recent snake experience we've had, I have a live and let live policy toward snakes, and find that if you don't accidentally step on one, there's no usually trouble, but many people do have excessive fear of them. If you learn how to identify the ones that are in your area and what their habits are, we can generally coexist. That said, I wouldn't tolerate on in my barn or hanging around close to the house, but I think they would really like to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them.

So, after finishing up with the farrier and comforting the panicky boarders, I sat on the tailgate, pulled my (very late) lunch from the cooler and got out my newest issue of Equus to read. What's the "special report" cover story this month?


    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    At the barn #21 - Odds and Ends

    Still waiting for the heat and humidity to subside here - it has been unbearable. Feeling so sorry for the horses, standing around sweating all day. Val has a shady stall, a fan and frequent cool rinses but when there is no wind it is stifling down at the barn.

    Did get in a fun bareback ride in one evening this week. Happily, my horse is very comfortable without a saddle. It was liberating to just throw on the bridle and clamber up without a lengthy grooming session. I concentrated on feeling how his back moved under my seat without a bunch of leather in between. Amazing how the saddle gets in the way of riding. Of course the leather and pads do keep the dirt and sweat off of you - my legs were soaked and filthy by the time we finished the ride. (I haven't gotten a bareback pad yet... it's on my wish list)

    I think Val would say that we're making great progress in our relationship. (me too!) For instance, I have finally figured out all of his scratching places - "arm"pits, belly, either side of the tail head, his poll and of course the withers. He hinted pretty hard until I picked up on what he was telling me lol. Several days this week he cantered up to the fence to greet me (!) and e-v-e-n rested his head on my shoulder while I gave him some good scratching. He genuinely seemed happy to see me, not just "Oh - here comes the lady to apply more fly spray" or "Finally - breakfast / dinner is here!". Very gratifying...

    One more thing - a quasi (and unsolicited) product endorsement. Val has been on SeaBuck Complete - a supplement made from the common sea buckthorn plant - for nearly six weeks. The latin name for the sea buckthorn plant is Hippophae rhamnoides which literally means "shiny horse". It is a hardy plant that grows in inhospitable climates, one of which is by the sea, because it can withstand salt spray. Seems appropriate since we live in that sort of environment.

    The manufacturers make these claims:
    • Supports a Healthy Digestive Function & Maintains a Proper Gut pH
    • Contains a Powerful Network of Antioxidants
    • Promotes Healthy Skin & Coat
    • Supports a Healthy Reproductive function
    And some other pertinent info:
    • Seabuck Complete is made from the nutrient-rich sea buckthorn berry.
    • Seabuck Complete is a natural whole-food product.
    • Sea buckthorn is backed by over 200 Published Scientific Studies.
    • Seabuck Complete has received a Certificatation of Analysis Containing No Foreign Substances.

    We give SeaBuck Complete the thumbs up. Val loves the taste of it... I put it into his beet pulp / bran mash every night. He is indeed shinier, which is hard to achieve on a grey horse. He has also put on the bit of weight I thought he was lacking... just a tad too much rib and kind of hollow in his haunches. It is a little pricey but seems to be a safe way to supplement the essential fatty acids + antioxidants, and to keep a calm, happy horse.

    Will update after the trial period is over :)

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010


    So, exciting news... last night I got the nicest surprise - Grey Horse Matters has honored me with this illustrious award, which I absolutely love the name of: The Resolutely Courageous Intrepid Riders Faction. I will aim every day to deserve being included in this "Cohesive Minority... (picture me clapping and jumping up and down). Grey Horse Matters is a beautiful blog about a gorgeous farm, the happy horses that live there and the kind, thoughtful horsewoman behind it all. Thank you so very much. You made my day.

    Another plus is that I found my way to All Horse Stuff... Kacy, of the creator of this award's blog. Last night was my first visit and I for sure will be back. Kacy and her lovely mare are avid and adventurous trailriders, and her blog is delightful.

    So, a condition of receiving this award is that I must pass it on to another (only one) blogger. I would like to recognize Golden the Pony Girl. She and her adorable Halflinger recently moved to Canada from Florida - I hear the hay is good and plentiful up there!! Golden the Pony Girl's blog thoroughly and entertainingly chronicles the training of her young pony... liberty training, clicker training and dressage are some of their pursuits. She is an excellent writer (as well as a talented trainer and horsewoman) so I always take away some good info after I visit. Put it this way - I would happily leave my horse in any of these bloggers hands :)

    I'm going to follow Grey Horse Matters' lead and reprint the info about this award from All Horse Stuff blog....

    There are not many rules with this award...JUST :
    1)that you give it to only one person
    2)link back to this post, so they may have an understanding to it's true nature
    3) You may use any or all of the below written descriptions, with the award picture

    ~INTREPID RIDERS FACTION ~We strive to go where others only dare to go with our horse loves...healing,being respectful of the horse, riding, playing, camping, jumping, swimming and traveling down the trails of life. . . . with the horse in Heart ~ Overcoming many obstacles and sometimes weather, to ride!

     This Award is dedicated to those Horse lovers and riders that inspire others to go deeper in ability, knowledge and understanding of the Equine(s) they have been entrusted to.The good of the horse is the ultimate goal apart from pressures to achieve ribbons and fit into lesson schedules.

    ~Some of These riders are fearless, when it comes to weather conditions and the forecasting of them...being with their horses, fills these folks' soul and takes the cares out of daily routines.
    ~They are unconditionally loving to the horse and may have rescued it from known ailment or living condition.

    ~Others have researched and purchased/ acquired their horse, to find a difficulty in temperament or a physical burden within the animal. Yet, Being dedicated , they have persevered to proudly be in partnership with their horse, lovingly striving for deeper awareness's between them.

    ~Some horse lovers may have been riding for years and suddenly, had an accident that takes them away from the great joy and freedom they have, being aboard such a magnificent animal. ~They have allowed the healing horse to rise in their hearts once again, and beckon them back!

     (And this is my favorite part)
    Fear is not my normal response to things ... just a desire to achieve higher understanding of what may lay ahead of me with my mare, that truly is a gift to my heart and soul. I always seek out knowledgeable and caring individuals to assist me, in any quest I may look into.
    I am taking with me the good I have gleaned from caring individuals that have shown great single minded LOVE to the horse, and am leaving the dust of the bad behind me, not allowing it to fetter my supreme desire to be all I can be : as a rider to my mare and also - to allow- her to be the Equine athlete she truly is!

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Giving thanks

     It's been another grueling week. When it wasn't too hot or humid to ride, it was pouring rain. Had a touch of heatstroke on Wednesday. Plus I had to postpone the trip to my trainer's this weekend to keep from getting behind at work. It has been miserable for the last month - the worst summer since I've lived here.

    To avoid the pity party I was fixing to have, I decided to remember what I am grateful for. Here's some of my list:

    1. Even though I'm starting to feel my age, I have my health.

    2. I have a fulfilling job that, besides paying the bills, keeps me fit and outdoors most of the time. And I have a great relationship with my business partner, who happens to be my Dad.

    3. In the past eleven months I've made two dreams come true - finding my awesome horse Valentino, and purchasing a piece of land of my very own.

    The more I thought about it, the more things there were to add to my list. A good meditation when you are feeling sorry for yourself. An excellent attitude adjustment.


    Today was barn project day. I created a window in Val's stall for cross ventilation and to have a safer spot for the fan. Val mostly ignored the construction, but the reciprocating saw cutting the new window hole was a bit much for him. He sulked out in the far end of the paddock for a while... I had interrupted his breakfast after all.  He returned to give a final inspection :)

    Oh, and I'm especially grateful that Cowboy has made a speedy and full recovery from his snakebite.

    Saturday, August 7, 2010

    At the barn #20 - Super fly

    So you know those outrageously giant horse flies.. the ones as big as your thumb? The ones that must hurt like mad when they bite because even the tiny ones are fairly painful?

    While Val was in the cross ties this morning getting ready for a nice cool rinse, one of those mutant flies kept buzzing him. It eventually landed on his rump. I took a swipe (which functioned much like a karate chop), and the fly fell to the ground in two separate parts. That in itself would have been cool enough, as I love to kill these guys but try to avoid splatting them on my hand or my horse. But I digress...

    So the two parts are laying on the ground in our wash rack. The legs on the back half are still wiggling... then I catch out of the corner of my eye another giant mutant horse fly buzzing around. I go to swat it and  - check this out - it was the front half of the karate chopped fly crawling and flying to beat the band. This continued for over twenty minutes before it finally kicked the bucket. Amazing - and very creepy :)

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    At the barn #19 - Holy s@*#!

    Well I was only two days into my barn owner / landlord role and what happens? I arrived at the barn for evening feeding at about 5:30. As I began to clean Val's stall out I heard Cowboy calling out to me in an urgent way. He hadn't come to greet me as usual so I went over to investigate. He was very lame with an extremely swollen leg. I called the owners, got some bute out and started cold hosing the leg. He had had some swelling in the same fetlock just a few nights before which confused the issue somewhat.

    The confusion was cleared up pretty quickly. While cleaning his pen we discovered a very dead water moccasin, who had gotten the business end of a hoof or two. He was frozen on the strike posture and cut nearly in half.

    Now comes the fun part. While the owners came to grips with the reality of the situation, I contacted the nearest equine vet. I got hold of the doctor on call (of course it was after hours) and she walked me through the options. Nearest anti-venom was located about a six hour drive away. This presented several problems as it was questionable how effective anti-venom would be that many hours after the bite. It was also questionable whether we could even get Cowboy on the trailer at all, but especially without him getting agitated. We tried for about 15 minutes but it wasn't happening. The (very accommodating) vet agreed to call in the meds he would need to our "local" practice (still 1 1/2 hours drive) , walked me through how to care for him overnight and what to look out for until we got antibiotics in him.

    I dreaded going down to the barn this morning, but was ecstatic to find Cowboy, super hungry, standing on the bit leg and looking bright and alert. We were able to get the im penicillin in him to my relief... besides not loading well he's also bad about shots. And you should see the size of the needle - I'd want to avoid that shot myself.

    His leg looks pretty terrible but the swelling seems to have peaked. The owners have a complicated treatment and recovery to look forward to, but if we avoid infection he should be alright.

    Big thanks to Dominion Equine in Suffolk, Va. for giving us the assistance we needed in an emergency. We will be recommending them in the future. (but I hope I can avoid needing their services!)

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    The deed is done

    Well, despite some serious incompetence - (for example, less than twenty four hours before closing we discovered the wrong parcel number on all of the paperwork ) - I closed on my farmette today (!) Kind of anticlimactic compared to all of the drama leading up to the closing. I'm relieved to move on to the next phase which will include the new arena and some improvements to our run in shelters... I'd like to put in a window for cross ventilation and to build a removable panel to partially close off the opening and provide more protection when we get the inevitable tropical storms / hurricanes that come this time of year.

    I have been pondering names... so far I've got Pie in the Sky Farm, suggested by my boarders because in March I told them I was considering buying the property but it was a pretty "pie in the sky" idea.
    Also in the running is Dreamweaver Farm. I'm still thinking on more fact - I'm off to sleep on it. :)

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    At the barn #18 - And a good time was had by all

    Despite the closing on my farmette being delayed until next Tuesday, I'm moving ahead with improvements, namely a new full sized arena. I envision 100 x 250-ish, comparable to what I work in at my trainer's place. I have cleared and mowed the area in preparation for the tons (literally) of sand that will be needed to bring it up to grade. It was a pond at some point in the past, and has been a marsh more recently, but is thankfully very dry at the moment. This will have to be done bit by bit as finances allow.

    In the meantime I'm researching arena footing and have set up a temporary area to work in... especially for Cowboy and Lorraine to do some jumping. It will be a good project for Val and I to transition to working outside of our paddock as well. We also used up a stack of leftover lumber for the boundaries. Gotta love free materials and recycling :)

    Val and I had a nice cool morning ride yesterday. We worked on transitions, not avoiding the suddenly scary corner (that was fine on Wednesday?!) and did our share of turns on the forehand. After evening feeding there was a cookout at the barn celebrating our new situation. There were burgers, dogs, marinated portabellos, some adult beverages (!) and plenty of carrots. FYI -  neither Val nor Cowboy care for potato chips. We hung out until the mosquitos tried to carry us away.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...