Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Purpose

Ever wonder what I am training my horses for? What we *hope* to be able to do someday? Check out this video to view one of the Masters.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fred Comic: Episodes 1 & 2

My first Comic creation...

Fred Comic

Monday, August 21, 2006

How Important Are Teeth?

I took Zoe for a ride down the road with Lili. She was really awesome. On high alert at the beginning, but got braver as we went. We had to go by a house close to the road, with fences and trees, and children riding bikes. She was on alert for that, but kept going by without incident. We had 5 cars pass us by (strange way out here). One car was a big tow truck -- loud and big. She about jumped out of her skin with that one, but she wasn't too bad. Feet weren't off that ground for more than a split second. :-) On the way home we had to walk by the kid-house again. This time they had a go-kart zooming on the street (put it away before we got too close, thank god), a tractor started up as we approached, and 2 cars went by. Zoe did great. She stopped several times, but so did Lili (the experienced one). Zoe at least went forward when I clucked and squeezed. I think B. was having a harder time on Lili. To Lili's credit, she was picking up on Zoe's nervousness and reacting to that a bit.

During the rest of the beautiful ride, Zoe felt great. She was a bit crooked for much of it, but as she relaxed, she got straighter. I felt a huge, floaty trot. So nice. I wish we could have had a movie camera loaded on a truck following along with us, because I think these horses would have looked beautiful trotting down the road tonight. We even did some cantering. I could tell Zoe enjoyed it. She is funny, though; she didn't want to get ahead of Lili, even though we were on the opposite side of the street. If she got a neck's length in front, she immediately slowed down. Still, I was very proud of her (and me) for being so brave. I need to tell you about last night...

This probably deserves a post of it's own, titled, "Gunshot and Gunshy, but still riding".

Chiropractor came out -- only did a health certificate for Zoe for the show in Kentucky September 10 -- but I was at the barn and had time afterwards, so I decided to ride. Thanks have to go to my dear husband for making that happen. His adventure with horses was cut short because I had totally forgotten about the chiro coming and we were there for him to have his first ever ride on Jimmy. We had to cut it a bit short. Pure coincidence that we were at the barn the same time the chiro showed up. [What is happening to my brain, by the way??] But S. did SUPER. I did break down laughing once when he got a bit off balance and almost fell off. It was his reaction that I thought was funny. He was laughing at it, too! He did a great job of rebalancing himself and staying on. It wouldn't have been funny if he had fallen. Self-preservation does kick in and let you do some amazing things...

Anyway, I am supposed to be talking about Zoe.

I decided to take a spiin on Zoe. Well, the crazy neighbors 1/2 mile away were busy shooting guns for some reason. So there were big pows! and bangs! happening every few minutes, which had Zoe on edge. Several times I thought it wasn't the best idea for me to get on her, but I kept going. She got a bit crazy when I put the bridle on, wanted to bolt for an instant, for example. Then to mount her I had to work with her to stand still. I got on (with her standing still, by the way), but as soon as we I wanted to move out after mounting, she went up into a rear. Stood on her hind legs for what seemed like minutes. That girl has some balance. It wasn't scary, but when we rounded the side of the barn, Lili was excited and upset in the paddock. I thought it not wise to walk Zoe next to that with a narrow path between the paddock and the apple trees. So I got off right there and walked her out to outdoor. I walked her all around the arena with the gun shot going off until she started to calm down. B. came out, too. That gave me some confidence. When I thought she was calm enough, I decided to mount. Okay, so I had my dressage whip in hand at the time. I got one foot in the stirrup, stood in the stirrup, put my right hand (with the whip) up and she immediately wanted to take off. I took my one foot out of the stirrup and stopped her and jumped to the ground (or jumped to the ground and then stopped her). Did that twice. Then I decided I better do a small mounting exercise with B.s help. B. held her while got on and off (without the whip in hand). Then B. let go and I got on with no incident. So I walked around. Good. At that point I had built enough confidence to keep on going. We had a little ride, walk/trot/canter. She wasn't that great at the canter. Kicked out (a high kick!) picking the canter up to the left. I was tending to scrunch down with my upper body. I hate it when I do that. As soon as I had better form, so did she. So we had a nice turn in the arena with the gunshots going on. I tended to stay away from the south end of the arena, the side closest to the gunshot. Why puch my luck??

Yeah, I didn't push my luck last night, but I guess I did tonight. After a wonderful ride down the road, we got back to the barn and started to untack. I had Zoe in the cross tie area. I was taking off her bridle. To do that, I have the reins over her neck, the halter in the left hand ready to slip on after the bridle is off, and I take the bridle off standing on her left side with my right hand under her head on the right side and my left hand, with halter, on the left side to slip that side off. Somehow, and I have no idea how this happened, Zoe managed to get the rein through her right leg. I really don't know how this could have happened. I supposed that she could have suddenly pulled her head down, maybe to wipe her mouth?, pawed with her right leg at the same time, came back up with the rein around her leg. I suppose that could have happened. Regardless, she got the reins around her right leg and freaked out. She started pulling her head up and feeling the pressure. I was just about to get the headstall over her ears when she pulled up, which yanked the bridle out of my hands, and she probably felt pressure from both sides, top and bottom. Freaked. At that point, I just had to tell her "easy.." and hope she didn't hurt herself. I don't really care about the bridle. I pretty much hate the bridle anyway. I like the fancy browband (made by friends of ours who are starting a fancy browband business, Simple Change Browbands), but the rest of it is a piece of crap. She/we got the bridle off. I thought she must have broken it, but it was fine.

As I was gathering up the bridle and getting Zoe back to face the front of the cross ties, B. asked if she hurt her tongue. She thought she saw blood. So I took a closer look. Yep, lots of blood, but nope, not the tongue. I saw immediately that she was missing her third incisor on the right side. Sigh. I looked on the ground and found the tooth. Great. My horse is going to have a big, rotten spot in her mouth now, I thought. Figures. She's fitting right into the family of animal misfits with medical bill after medical bill. Needless to say, this brought me way down after an excellent ride down the road. I came home and started looking for equine incisor information. Looks like the permanent 3rd incisor doesn't come in until the horse is 41/2 to 5 years old. That could be good news. Zoe is only 4 (in May). It could be that she was losing that baby tooth anyway and that's why it came out. Boy, am I hopeful that that is the story. I do feel pretty confident that it will be something like that. She had no trouble eating, drinking, etc. I looked at some pictures online of baby incisors that were pulled, and to my untrained eye, they looked pretty similar to the tooth I had from Zoe! So I do feel much better now. It's a pretty small tooth, and I bit the root is still down there, so tooth will emerge. But I am concerned about possible infection, etc. I'll call the vet in Arthur tomorrow morning to see about having her checked out. The more I think about it, I feel more and more sure that this was a baby tooth that she was going to lose anyway. I guess just keep your fingers crossed. Will she be a mutant that fits into the family, or are we the luckiest girls around today?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Clinic vs Allergies

It's a toss-up between what I should focus on with this post. If I posted more often, I wouldn't have this problem, but I pretty much let things build up until I have too much stuff to write about. So I will focus on the clinic first.

D.B. was here last weekend. At last, the weather was perfect for riding. They also finished the expansion of the indoor arena to a whopping 172 ft.! Since we were all so excited about the large indoor, and it had been raining all week, I rode inside. I was afraid the footing in the outdoor would be too deep/muddy. I guess being conervative was my mistake. I had an awful ride on Jimmy. He was in a mood all week, and I didn't have one good ride on him the whole week leading up to the clinic. I wasn't looking forward to riding him in the clinic, actually, because of his mood. I think he had a lot of reasons to be grumpy. Zoe moved out the week before (the allergy story), and the love of his life, Flo, is staying in her place. He really loves Flo. He loves her so much that he can't stand to have her out of his sight. She is also attached to him. So you can imagine me trying to take him out of the paddock without her. Yep, she had to come, too. Then you can imagine when she was in a stall and couldn't see him in the cross ties, and vice versa. Yep, I had to move her to a stall closer and in direct line of sight. So I had to ride him in the indoor, which was in several stages of expansion. Wall up, wall down, sand suddenly to dirt, etc. All of those factors put Jimmy on edge. The first ride was impossible. He kept trying to look at Flo, Flo kept calling to him, and I had a horse who was stiff and tense every step. Argh. The second ride was marginally better. Flo had to be in the barn, but not in direct line of sight. Jimmy was slightly more relaxed, but still felt like a stiff board with an iron jaw. The third ride I focused on relaxation. We walked and walked and walked. He was relaxed and stretching over his back. We went into trot. Slam! An iron jaw. A stiff back. I tried and tried to get him to relax and stretch. On no, none of that was happening. We cantered. A stiff board, leaning one way, then the other as we changed direction. Head up, jaw clamped. I went back to walk. And we walked and walked and walked until he was relaxed and stretching again.

Based on this information, you could possibly surmise that the same general pattern emerged in my lesson. Yes, I got to pay $60 to ride a horse that wouldn't relax, wouldn't cooperate, and felt like an iron bar underneath me. David finally let me stop trying. After 40 minutes of telling me to "supple him" and me finally getting so mad that I really did use my spurs and dressage whip (which, by the way, always makes Jimmy even more tense), and me about to burst into tears on Jimmy's back because he was being soooo belligerent, David did say, "Okay, I guess that is all we are going to get from him." Yes, David, that is all. Otherwise I would have cut him up in pieces and left him strewn around the arena. Most definitely, my most least enjoyed clinic lesson ever.

Okay, so let me fast forward to Sunday's lesson. I had a totally different feeling about Jimmy going into Sunday. I could tell he (Jimmy) was in a better mood that morning. I also decided to ride outside, which usually helps Jimmy calm down. So Sunday's lesson was much better than any ride that whole week. He wasn't in top form, but he was cooperative, loose, and supple. We had a nice ride. My good Jim ended on a good note. David isn't back until December. I decided that weekend to retire Jimmy. I wouldn't ride him in any clinics unless he was doing really well and someone needed to sell a lesson. I am going to have my saddle refit for Zoe. No more shows for Jimmy. And I have decided to look for someone to lease Jimmy, to ride him a few times a week and have fun with him. This was a really hard decision for me. It has actually taken me this past year to acknowledge this decision. It's hard to retire a horse that I have such a great relationship with. But Jimmy is telling me he wants to be retired. On top of that, I need to devote my attention to bringing Zoe along. She is doing fantastic, and is finally looking like a grown horse. It's time to make the switch. I love you, Jimmy.


On to the allergy story. Read the Dr. Doom post to get the background if you don't have it already. Bottom line is that I moved Zoe to B.'s place and she is doing great. She came back to A.W. for the clinic and B. was planning to take Flo back home. However, within 10 minutes of being in the stall, Zoe started having her allergic reaction. Hard snorting, wiggling her nose, and even her eyes looked swollen, like she could barely keep them open. She started flipping her head. When I got her on the cross ties to tack her up, I was almost in tears watching her. It was obvious that I really could not keep her at A.W. anymore. I was sickened by the thought that B. was going to leave her here.

I owe B. so much. She saw Zoe and said, "we cannot leave her here!" We took Zoe home that night. For the Sunday clinic, I left her out in the paddock and she was fine. It has to be an allergy to the shavings, maybe the old hay....okay, we don't really know. Shavings are on the high suspicion chart. I'll test that by taking a bucket to B's this weekend to see if she has a reaction when she smells it. B. is letting us move the chicken coop out of her third stall into the garden, so Flo can come home and Zoe can stay. Thank god. Thank my lucky stars. That does leave Jimmy at A.W., and it is near impossible to have two horses in different locations. Another reason the timing is good for Jimmy's retirement. If I can find someone to ride him, love him, and clean his stall, I'm set.


The bottom line really is that I need to get my own place set up ASAP and get my horses home!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Vet Report

Doc came out on Monday and checked Zoe out. Remember, his nickname is "Dr. Doom". His diagnosis was that Zoe is having a bad allergic reaction to something in the barn. He was amazed by the severity of her symptoms when the fan was on in the stall. His advice -- move her out right away. He was not very positive about other treatments -- medication will only treat the symptom, not the cause. The cause is in the barn somewhere. His other advice -- get my barn set up yesterday! Sigh. I wish. The current quote for just the supports, 2 windows, and covering the back walls of the stall is $6,000. Doesn't even include stalls. Ugh. Doesn't include fencing, either. So I was really depressed after Doc's visit.

B was extremely generous when she heard the news. She offered to switch one of her horses out of her barn to let Zoe go stay there for a trial period to see if the symptoms disappeared. So I moved Zoe on Wednesday. All of her symptoms disappeared within 24 hours. Good, but not good. It means it really is the barn and not something in the atmosphere in general. I told Doc I may not be able to move her that quickly on a permanent basis. He suggested I take her back to PRF rather than keep her at AW. And as long as she is at AW, she should stay outside all the time, according to him.

This is depressing me again, so I better stop here and just go to bed.