Saturday, February 28, 2015

TOABH - Costly

Beka's latest blog hop topic in anticipation of Archie's 18th birthday asks us to do what I'd really rather not lol. As I commented on L. Williams' post on this topic, I kinda hate looking back on money spent bc of that whole hindsight being 20/20 thing... but simultaneously it's foolish not to have a realistic understanding of the costs involved. 

What has been your horse's most expensive injury to date? Let's exclude maintenance things, like hock injections and the magical monthly package of MSM. What single episode blew your savings or left you boiling ramen? If you want to get technical about it, time is money, too. 

Isabel has not had any serious injuries during my lease (knocking on wood!). The worst was a wound on the inside of her hock, and we treated with bute and SMZs (and no vet visit). 

About six months in to my lease, tho, Isabel was diagnosed with Lyme disease and treated with Doxy. I am happy to report that I don't have the slightest idea what that cost (except that the test alone is $92). She received a follow up treatment after a few months, and again, none of those costs reached me. 

Early this winter we suspected she had ulcers. My trainer outlined a very reasonable treatment plan (including generics and ranitidine), however Isabel's owner was more comfortable seeking a vet's opinion. The vet's recommended course of action was significantly pricier (naturally), and we agreed to split the costs - $250 each.

'i'm worth it' - isabel

In the grand scheme of things, I've made out pretty well, I think - tho that's mostly a function of my non-owner status. 

'Maintenance' is where my dollars really go (chiro, gastric supps, saddle fitter, farrier etc) and there are a few additional things I would like to do to mitigate the risk of future big vet bills... But alas, these are not my decisions to make. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

we found love (in a hopelessly dusty arena)

We got to ride!!!! Finally!!! The stars aligned and B and I managed to haul our ponies over to FV for a little fun. Which meant, of course, that Isabel got to wear her new Ambitious Equestrian bridle charm for the first time:

Isabel's Charm

This was my first time seeing it actually on her face and I couldn't be happier! Don't forget to enter FCE's first contest to win one of the charms below for yourself!! Entering couldn't be easier - just comment on that post saying which charm you prefer (or list multiples to be entered in multiple drawings). 

contest charms, from left to right:
green gem & swarovski, blue bead & flower, golden angel wings

Anyways, it was so nice to get out. My truck looked so sad all snowed in - it wanted to be liberated! Fortunately even with highs back to the low 20s, Sunday's glorious 45* melted off quite a bit of snow and cleared the roads - so no concerns about getting stuck. I kinda laughed at myself about how similar the weather was to that time I whined about it being too cold to haul out... Funny how 2 months can change things.

The only bummer about the melt followed by below-freezing temps is that all the walkways are iced over now... But hey, that's what used stall shavings and manure is for right?? Our BM covered all the paths with this dirty concoction and it works perfectly to make everything nice and safe. Just not very nice to look at... 

not that I'd ever spare you from a picture tho lol

Back to the ride tho - I think the horses were happy to get out. Isabel was on FIRE! I really focused on trying to be tactful and not fight with her - while also coaxing her into some real work. This meant trying not to get her 'stuck' or feeling boxed in - I really wanted her to stretch and loosen up (esp after over a week off). 

We walked for a loonnng time and focused on rhythm rhythm rhythm, while trying for almost-shoulder-in down the long sides, serpentines, a few steps of leg yielding here and there, circles and changes of direction. Isabel understands all this - but tends to 'run' through it. So I really wanted her to keep exactly the same rhythm and stay relaxed. 

I also tried to focus on my own seat and upper body position, and think of 'pushing' my hands forward asking her to reach forward into the contact. Not entirely sure we were successful there - but we WERE successful at keeping a lid on it and not getting into any fights. And Isabel agreed to use all her energy and fire and power for good rather than evil. I'll take it! 

it was soooooo dusty

Our transitions (both up and down) still need a lot of work - but are maybe satisfactory about 50% of the time, a definite improvement. Right lead canter is still our same crappy right lead canter, but I really didn't push it in this ride - just asked seriously for a couple nice steps with correct bend and left it at that. Since that's where we're most likely to fight, I don't want to push it when our riding is so infrequent...

Then we hopped around the jumps for a little while - with everything set between about 18"-2'3" again. Isabel was CHARGING the warm up crossrails that we trotted, and I had to grab mane a few times to avoid getting super left behind...  But she cantered in really nicely to everything else, maintaining a steady rhythm and finding pretty good spots. We got deep to a few (as usual), but nothing super chippy and no real 'splat' moments. 

you can see where i brushed the dust off - i swear i groomed her!! 

I spent some time schooling single fences on the center line, turning different ways each time and trying for the lead. Isabel figured out how to land on her left lead when we started riding indoors consistently (I think the tighter space and turns helped there), and she's pretty handy now. Hopefully we can keep it up outdoors too! 

And she didn't look at anything today either - no 'impressed' leaps over the fences, and no stops. We did the same bending line from red gate to white gate that we did last time (when the red gate was 3' and then she stopped at the white gate twice in a row). The fences were both about 2'3" this time and she didn't look at either once. 

But we kinda botched the bend a few times in a row - getting 7.75 strides over and over again. If I had better instinct for the jumpers I would have sliced the red gate and rode it straighter in 7. But... instead I added more curve to fit the 8. Whatever, it worked and I was happy. And VERY happy with Isabel - she's pretty much my favorite :)

dusty smiley face lol

Thursday, February 26, 2015

shave & a haircut

Our lesson on saturday was canceled at the last minute when trainer P got word that her house lost heat. This was obviously a bit of an emergency given the extreme cold we've faced. And naturally we couldn't really resent an excuse like that... but it was still a bummer.

The disappointment was compounded when the nearby farms that allow haul-ins were all busy with lessons, so no riding for us :(. It was ok tho - the snowstorm we had hoped to beat rolled in earlier and heavier than we expected, so it would have been a dicey drive anyway. But we still pouted a bit haha. 

'so, um, i see you have apples?' - isabel

The optimist in me actually thought it might be educational for Ms Thing, tho. She came out of the field to see the trailer ready and waiting in the parking lot, as usual. And we went through our whole pre-travel routine. All signs pointed to her having to get on to the trailer and go somewhere. But - when it was all said and done, she ended up back out in the field stuffed with candy canes and apples after not working at all. 

'mmm yurmmy urpples...'

We were still at this point hopeful about showing the next day (whomp whomp) so we took advantage of the free time to trim whiskers and bridle paths. Isabel is a total pro about clipping (and presumably was familiar with clippers in her previous life) but I'm decidedly amateur... 

'soo delishus'

I decided to take off her beard too - and am pretty pleased with how much nicer her whole face looks - pretty tho it naturally is (that's a fact, too, btw - not just my opinion lol). The clip job does not, uh, bear very close inspection haha. But it's good enough and she's starting to shed anyways so whatever I missed will be gone soon anyways. 

'no pics while i'm eeting!!!' - isabel

I also attached all my new nameplates and tags, which was kind of exciting. Part of me was a little concerned about hammering into my saddle... and I was pretty sure that the nameplate on the bridle's crown piece would end up off-center and drive me absolutely nuts while riding (since, ya know, Isabel's ears are usually all up in my face lol). But it was all fine, and I'm pretty pleased with how everything looks. 

For those interested, this is the configuration I settled on for the girth tag. I would have preferred to attach it a little lower on the buckle, or on the side... But the rest of the buckle parts were too wide for the little ring. It's yet to be seen if this will drive me nuts or get in the way of buckling/tightening the girth haha. If that's the case, I'll probably pick up a bigger "S" hook from the hardware store. 

Updated: Here's the attached saddle nameplate too. It's at least the 3rd or 4th plate that's adorned this saddle lol. 

Hopefully the outline of past plates will diminish over time - esp bc the previous plates weren't level, so mine looks uneven in comparison. The darkest spots came off easily with soap tho and I'm conditioning like crazy, so I remain optimistic. If it bugs me over time I'll just reattach the plate higher. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ww - snow joy

It's kinda hard to enjoy the snow when it keeps ruining all my well-laid plans...  Except when I see how gleeful the horses get about rolling in fresh snowfall. 

These pictures are from Sunday morning, after the horses had been cooped up inside all night (again ugh) bc of snow and freezing rain. But Sunday's forecast called for a beautiful day despite the early fog - so the horses even had their blankets off for the first time in a while. 

Their joy was palpable, and while I only snapped pics of my barn mate's arabian Julius (below), pretty much every single horse followed exactly the same pattern of rolling immediately (complete with grunts and whines of joy) followed by a bit of frolicking :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

postponed again

Thanks for everyone's well wishes about the fix-a-test show! I planned to go right up until mid-morning when it was finally postponed again bc of the weather. Grrrr  

It made sense - our farm was a total wreck bc of the snow storm too - but the warm temps (45*!!!!) and strong sun meant that the roads and everything were pretty clear. Oh well - it's rescheduled for March 7, which as a lesson day isn't exactly ideal... but we'll figure it out. 

'caution - cute horses!'

Isabel didn't escape entirely, however, tho I didn't ride. It was tempting to gallop around in the field - but I ended up being too worried about getting into a fight with her in risky footing... So we went for a little lunge instead. 

Ms Princess had already frolicked around in the field a bit when she was turned out that morning - and it was SUPER cute bc she almost never plays (she's much too dignified, obvi). But it was also short lived, so I figured a little extra work wouldn't kill the mare. 

Cagey mare that she is tho, she walked away to the far fence line when I started calling her name and made me trudge all the way over... boo haha. I didn't even bother taking her into the barn for a grooming tho (but had a hoof pick in my pocket just in case she had big snow balls) and went straight up to the field. She was immediately pretty curious and interested in the change up. 

The sun was super warm and strong too and it was all very relaxing. Isabel was practically dozing on the line haha. 

She was good tho - and trotted around quite politely when I asked. Never mind that she hasn't worked in over a week. I guess this is what it means to be a sensible and broke 13 yr old horse? But who knows, maybe when I finally DO get back on she'll be a little more nuts haha. 

I just had her walk and trot around, changing directions somewhat frequently and not trotting for very long extents. The deep heavy snow combined with warm temps meant she was blowing pretty soon and I didn't want to wear her out - just keep her mind engaged. 

There's a distinct difference between tracking right and left tho. She can keep a pretty reasonable circle shape and stays at the end of the rope to the left. 

When going right, tho, she usually pulls toward home and comes in off the circle on the 'away' side. So I have to add more pressure to keep her at the end of the line, and her response to pressure isn't to move away from it (like I want her to) - it's to go faster and become further imbalanced. 

kinda love this pic - esp the shadow! - but wish her tail wasn't cut off

We have the same problems under saddle and I'm definitely trying to work on it... but it's frustrating to still face this same lateral imbalance after focusing on it for so long... Ugh. The biomechanics clinician comes back in March tho. I love riding with her but I think our first lesson will have *her* in the saddle to see if she can guide Isabel to straightness and balance so that it'll be easier for me to do afterward. 

All said, Isabel lunged for maybe 15 minutes. Then we hung out with some parents watching their kids' lesson and Isabel became bffs with one mother who had peppermints lol. 

Then it was back to her pasture - having never actually stepped into the barn. The horse was kinda shocked, I think, at how it all went. She stood at the gate kinda incredulous, like 'that's it? really? don't we normally hang out for hours?' and stood around up there like maybe she thought maybe I'd be coming back for her. 

It was actually really adorable to see her waiting there - and got the attention of quite a few other folks, who then gave her even more treats and were snapping pics of her lol. I don't mind that at all, haha - if it means she'll come to the gate instead of walk away, it's all good by me! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

new bridle charm + FCE's first contest!

T.A. Eyo ¥ of The Ambitious Equestrian introduced her handmade bridle charms last week and I knew immediately that Isabel had to have one. In purple, naturally. 

I stalked around her shop for a little bit to get a sense of which design I wanted before settling on this. It's subtle and small - but eye catching with a hint of sparkle. I chose the gold metal over the silver bc we already have a bit of a mixed-metal thing going with Isabel's brass clincher browband and HS bit. 

hmm something is missing here - must add sparkle!

No pictures of it actually *on* the bridle yet bc winter ugh (and lack of computer at home boo hiss) - but they'll be posted soon! 

In the meantime, I'm super excited to introduce 'Fraidy Cat Eventing's first ever contest! Winners will receive one of the following Ambitious Equestrian bridle charms!

blue flower charm - silver metal

golden angel wings - gold metal

green gem & swarovski - gold metal

To enter, leave a comment saying which of the above charms you like. Each charm will have its own winner drawn at random. You can include multiple charms in your comment to be entered in the drawing for each. Also, leave some way for me to contact you if you don't have a blog!

Entries close Sunday, March 1, with winners announced on Monday, March 2!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

show time!

So today's supposed to be the rescheduled fix-a-test dressage show. Our entries got in just in the nick of time - bc this show filled up FAST (another barn mate was not so lucky...). 

Good thing they didn't exclude us bc I got the entry fee wrong... oops! The times are perfect too - since we'll be doing the morning chores at our farm before heading over.

The temperatures are expected to reach a balmy 39* (the highest in recent memory), except it could be raining most of the morning... Plus, we, uh, got some *more* snow and ice yesterday.... which (at the time of this writing) means it's still possible that we'll scratch if the roads are bad.

Also not sure what that's going to mean for footing in the outdoor warm-up arena, but we'll find out one way or another, I guess. 

Hopefully the roads will be clear and the rain will stop when expected, while still softening up anything that might yet be frozen! 

Wish us luck - both in our classes and in even getting to the show at all!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

FMNM Blog Hop - The Fear

Four Mares No Money has come up with a new blog hop - and super awesome art to go with it: 

She wants to know:

What has been the most fearful moment you have ever experienced with a horse?

I've been fortunate in avoiding any truly hair-raising moments where I feared for my life or well-being. Honestly - my lack of confidence stems more from taking 4 years off and trying to build back up, rather than from any deeply negative experiences. 

And as a 'fraidy cat, I generally avoid 'scary' situations - so if a situation is clearly escalating beyond my abilities, I simply stop. But of course, with horses - sometimes bad things happen when you least expect and it's only after the danger is past that you realize how scary it was.

So my answer isn't necessarily a moment when I was quaking with fear and the 'danger' was very short-lived. But it's also a memory that has stuck with me over time. 

Years ago I was riding a 4yr old QH named Jack for the first time with the plan to get him going for the lesson program. He wasn't bad, just a super uneducated (duh, 4) freight train with no steering who proceeded to exit the arena while we were cantering. It's kinda hard to describe so here's a bird's eye view of what that meant:

two indoors under one roof, separated by an aisle

We were tracking right in the lower ring, and Jack pulled out across the aisle and into the upper ring. Except, his line wasn't very good and he dodged the wall at the last minute. But I didn't dodge and managed to hit the back left side (how?) of my head on the wall, cracking my helmet (must have been curled up in the fetal position, but thank god it wasn't my face!). 

sorta like this - Jack dodged to miss the wall and i didn't

It all happened very fast - and was over before anybody quite realized what had happened. 

Riders in the upper ring said I did a handstand on the horse's neck (he blessedly halted immediately upon impact) and I landed on my feet facing forward like it was an intentional dismount. And honestly, if I hadn't landed on my feet it would have taken a while to get up...

I wasn't hurt, but very badly shook up. But being on my feet I hopped right back on in auto-pilot mode to continue the lesson. And proceeded to cry the entire time. 

Everyone was very solicitous and eager to make sure I was ok - and I WAS ok physically. Mentally - not so much. But we carried on and did the full lesson, jumping and everything (and the horse was FINE, exactly how you'd expect a willing but thick-headed QH baby to be) - I just couldn't stop sniffling or shut the tears off... lol?

Fortunately that particular incident didn't have any lasting effects... but tho it wasn't a bad wreck physically, it definitely takes the cake as the most mentally upsetting!