Friday, September 30, 2005


Shoot, I still have a backlog of stories to tell. This week at work has been hell. We started with a major system outage on Monday morning. It lasted until Thursday, and we are still monitoring everything closely, fixing all the little problems still hanging around. Ugh. The poor systems people, especially the DBA, had it the roughest. It was just bad.

I guess it's a good think I have a backlog of stories since this week was all about the system outage, and it rained a lot, and I couldn't do much with Jimmy and Zoe. But I am going to start with the recent stuff, which happens to be the most upsetting for me. Perhaps I never had a chance to bubble over about the fact that Zoe's heel completely healed and she was back to work. That has been the greatest. (Although there is a very BIG story in there that I have yet to tell.) Anyway, because of the rain, she and Jimmy have been in their stalls quite a bit this week. She is a youngster, as we all know, and has lots of energy, especially if she has had to stand around for days. Finally she was let out of her stall yesterday evening. I came to the barn after Pilates to clean stalls. When I had finished cleaning, I did my usual check of the horses. I brought Zoe into her stall and checked out her heel. And wouldn't you know it, she had ANOTHER cut on the same heel that just recovered from that kind of wound. AARRRGH! This cut wasn't nearly as bad, but a flap of skin was hanging. I almost burst into tears right then. Instead, I gathered up all of my medical supplies from the previous wound, brought her out of her stall, and cleaned up the cut. It was a fresh cut, luckily much more superficial than the previous cut. She likely was let out into the slightly muddy, rather small paddock and started running and bucking around like crazy. She either is interfering from behind, smashing her hind hoof into her front heel, or there really is something that she has a habit of hitting with her front right leg. Regardless, I am SO HAPPY that I am moving the horses to the new barn tomorrow morning. I can't wait. In the meantime, I am wrapping that foot again to give this a chance to heal. I really hope I don't have to do that for very long. Just long enough to get the wound closed so it won't reopen with movement.

Okay, now that this post has depressed me so far, I should tell the story that is really missing.

It has to do with finally bringing Zoe back to work. Zoe was staying at a friend's barn while I was gone for a week. I think I already posted about that earlier under "Equine Affaire". When I brought her home, her injury was completely healed. The next day I started working her. I entered with a plan to work her on the longe with side reins for 1.5 - 2 weeks and then to start riding her again. She did very well on the longe line. I had already had a great ride on Jimmy, so she was my last horse to work that day. I was so please with her, I thought what harm could it be if I just got on her back and walked around a little bit? She was calm and sensible in the side reins and had a chance to blow some steam. So I unhooked her from the side reins and mounted up. We walked halfway down the arena and then the ride got...uhm....faster. We were in the outdoor arena with all that tempting grass alongside it. She was not happy to be walking away from the grass. She started bucking. I started saying okay, go over here and let me get off...and she kept bucking until we got to a pile of cavaletti on the ground at the short side of the arena. She headed straight for the cavaletti that were spread about 4 feet across. As she neared them, I tried to get her to turn in towards the arena, away from the cavaletti. She kept going straight to the cavaletti. I prepared for her to jump, but then she stopped with her front and her hind end went up, my behind came out of the saddle, and as her back feet came back down she sprawled across the cavaletti. My behind came back in the saddle, but I was immediately thrown forward violently and then she must have twisted a bit and I fell off on the right side. I landed in the grass in a heap. I think I landed on my feet and then fell over a bit. But I didn't really have time to register how I landed. The most immediate thing my brain registered was that her hind legs were heading straight for me. In a split second I visualized her crashing into my spine or my head. My body automatically adjusted itself, positioning my right thigh in the path, a buffer to my back and other easy to break body parts. The next instant I felt 2 thunks on my thigh. It made my whole body shake THUNK! THUNK! Instant pain. I jumped up immediately, had a chance to moan "Owwww" and grab my leg, register that Zoe was standing a few feet away looking at another horse over the fence in a bewildered fashion. I limped over to her as my thigh smarted smartly and I realized my middle finger on my right hand was badly sprained. How do you sprain just one finger? I told her I should get back on her right away, but my leg hurt too badly. I instead grabbed the reins, which were still in the correct place, fixed the left stirrup that had swung over her neck to the right side (was my foot stuck for an instant?), and took her back over to the arena, limping. I grabbed the side reins and told her that if I couldn't ride her, then she was going to be worked A LOT more on the longe. I longed her until she was noticeably pooped. She was so good! Even though she was tired, every time I asked for more from her she gave me more! That made me feel pretty good. She didn't mean to hurt me or buck me off. I don't think she knew she could do that. And hopefully she knows she can do it, but if she does do it, it means a lot more work for her and it's not worth it to her.

I had a chance to work her on the longe only once since then. This was after I audited a clinic with a well-known trainer who has trained many of the young horses in this area. I couldn't afford to take Zoe to the clinic ($250 right now was way too pricey). But I got to audit, practice on other people's horses, and go home and try it all on Zoe. We covered a lot of ground work exercises that gets the horse to pay attention to you and help you get control over the horses direction and movement. Zoe did quite well with the exercises. Since then I haven't had a chance to work with her much. It has been raining a lot and the indoor of our current barn is horrible. It's hardly lit and is never watered. So it is a dusty, suffocating place. On the rainy days I let Jimmy and Zoe run around in there, and I even 'cowboyed' them once -- meaning I did a lot of ground work with a tarp, plastic grocery bag, etc. That was fun, but it's not the fitness work they both need. It's no wonder that after a week of that Zoe was a nutcase out in her tiny drylot. Again, I couldn't be happier about moving to the new barn with big pastures and daily turnout in big, open spaces. They also have a great indoor with new footing and an outdoor that's almost finished with new footing (if only it would dry out a little so they could finish it!).

Those are the significant happenings this week. My next post will be after the move into the new barn. I hope I am gushing with excitement about it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Equine Affaire

I'm a bit behind on my writing. I was out of town last week at a conference. That trip alone has a monolithic post behind it, but I am not sure I want to get into it. Suffice it to say that my employer insisted that the large number of staff going to this conference must take a chartered bus on the 10 hour trip and that although this was a money-saving tactic, it turned into a nightmare when the bus broke down 3 hours from home. We were stranded in the bus for an additional 5 hours, at the side of the busy freeway with huge semis roaring past us. It was dark outside. We crawled home at 2:30 AM. Oh yes, and I got a terrible cold that night.

My second trip of the week was a planned fun one to the Equine Affaire event in Louisville, Kentucky. I unfortunately had to go with a bad head cold, stuffy nose and sore throat. I found out that you can't buy 24 hour Sudafed off the shelf anymore. You haven't to get it from the pharmacy window due to the overwhelming number of meth addicts who buy it up. Since I never got to any store during pharmacy hours, I was stuck with the huge, take-every-four-hours pills that they still sell on the store shelves. They worked, but I felt like I was constantly taking pills.

My favorite part of Equine Affaire was watching the George Williams dressage clinics. He is a really great instructor, and the horses in the clinic were just beautiful. My favorite session was on preparing the horse for piaffe and passage. George rode one of his horses, Marnix, in the demonstration and he gave instruction to a demo rode who rode beautifully and had a gorgeous mount. I can only hope to ride that well one day. We sat only a few feet from the arena. What a treat to be so close to these beautiful animals and talented riders.

The evening event "Pfizer Fantasia" was really delightful as well. The highlight for me was the musical freestyle ridden by George Williams on Marnix. However, there were many other talented riders and entertaining acts. Some incredibly well-trained horses performed tricks and stunts that were really unbelievable that a horse would do that. I also enjoyed the Kentucky Miniature Horse Club performance with their minis pulling them around in little carts choreographed to music. Now I know what I can do with my mini once I get one.

There is so much more to talk about from Equine Affaire, but I am too short on time to record all of it. It was just great being surrounded by horses of all kinds for 3 days. I had a great time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I made a decision last week to move Zoe and Jimmy to a new barn. I haven't been looking for a new barn for them, but the right circumstances came up. New owners came to town this summer and bought a previously Western barn. They are dressage riders and are trying to recruit dressage riders to the barn. They also sold their California property and have resources for making some excellent improvements to the barn. The place has 37 acres for turnout. They are putting in new footing in the indoor arena (which is larger than indoor at my current place), and grading and putting in footing in a new outdoor arena. They will also have a light for the outdoor.

Possibly the best news for me is that since I am at the barn with my horses for several hours a night almost every night, the owner is offering me a free stall! I can be there for the final barn check and just be around in the evening in general. It is nice that this is worth something to the owners. The biggest change for me will be that I won't have to clean any stalls or do any chores!! I won't know what to do with myself at the barn now. Seriously, though, I will actually have time to devote to both of the horses consistently. What a wonderful thought. I plan to put a lot of time into working Zoe this winter, so this is really important to me.

Another attraction to the facility is that this place will likely host clinicians, eventually shows, AND they plan to build a full, regulation size indoor dressage arena next year. What a luxury this will be! Turnout on pasture every day, stall cleaning included, indoor/outdoor arenas, new tack rooms.... How could I not move? I am very excited about it. We move in October 1.

The sad part of all of this was telling Sam that I am leaving. I know he relies on me, but I have to do what is best for me and the horses. Luckily I told him I was leaving before another boarder who boards 2 horses there told him she is leaving on October 1 as well! So Sam is losing 4 horses in October. Ouch. I promised him I would pay full board for one stall for October. That only helps a tiny bit, but at least it is something I could do for him. Despite all of that, I am still excited about moving to the new place.