Friday, November 30, 2018

Lumpy bumps

Alternate title:  The Tale of My Horse's Zit

On Sunday Theo got his winter shoes on.  I'd been at a birthday party the night before and was feeling it a bit.  I was running on three hours of sleep.  While discussing shoes with another rider that uses my farrier (he now has four clients at my barn, go figure), I noticed that Theo didn't particularly want me to touch his nose.  That's super weird since Theo is usually on board with me touching his face.  Heck, he's usually pushy about it.  I messed with him a bit, tracking down the spot he didn't want me to touch.

You can just barely see it just below his right nostril

I found a spot just under his right nostril that was hard and he didn't want me to touch.  Once I knew what I was looking for, I could see where it was a bit swollen.  I got someone to hold him so I could work my fingers up under his lip.  He was not amused, but once he got used to it, he seemed content to have me working around his lump.  I did feel a little hard spot, but our attempts at taking a picture failed.  I really wish we had video of us jamming a cell phone in my horse's mouth to take a picture of the inside of his top lip.

Have I mentioned that my horse is a saint?  There were several of us with our hands jammed in his mouth and a phone.  He was mildly perplexed, but stood quietly for the whole thing.

We came to the conclusion that he had something like a splinter on the inside of his lip.  It wasn't big, it wasn't affecting his nostril or his eating, so it wasn't an emergency.  I waited until the next day to call the vet rather than eat an emergency call fee.

Fast forward to Friday.  The lump is really pretty boring.  It got slightly bigger, but he was actually better with having me touch his nose.  When the vet arrived, he did exactly what I did.  Poor Theo, more hands in his mouth.  Yup, probably a splinter that got infected.  No sign of anything in there now and the lump didn't have any spots where he thought he could drain it.  Basically an infection that hadn't decided if it was going to be an abscess or not.

I have dubbed it Theo's zit.

He says he doesn't get zits, he's 14 years old dang it 

He's now on 15 SMZs twice a day to get the infection down.  If it resolves on it's own, all good.  If it comes to a head, the vet will go back in and drain it.  Theo's quite happy, eating everything in sight, and working like a dream, so no need to get dramatic.  If it grows or becomes a problem for him, we'll get more aggressive.

My poor pony.  I have to explain to people that he has a big zit on his nose and it's sore, so he might not like getting pet as much as usual.  Just focus on the ears, there's nothing wrong with them.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Black Friday

I was NOT good this year.  What all did I get?  Well . . .

Theo has a new jumping bridle.  The Wellfleet bridle I got him didn't fit quite right.  I cobbled it together with pieces from his old bridle, but I wasn't happy with it.  The quality was fine, but Theo is hard to fit and it was rubbing right on the bones of his muzzle.  His head is short but wide, it was dragging the cheekpieces up.  I have a brown High Jump from PS of Sweden on the way, to see if I can finally get a bridle on him that he can't shake off when he thinks he's done with the ride.  Jerk.  I may have also tossed a green jump saddle pad in the cart as well.  I only own two jump saddle pads, I think I can justify a third.

At Chick's Saddlery I got a new black vest, two blanket bags to tidy up my blanket bar (I have way too many blankets), and a new blanket for Aura.  Being short of hair and low of fat, she's always cold.

I hit KJ Creations with a half off code for a lariat stirrup necklace and a pair of rainbow roller spurs.  Trainer A will be so delighted to see those.  I've always loved this type of coloring and I'm looking forward to adding them to my spur collection.

And finally, my piece de resistance:

I got that 50% off Equisense!  I'm so excited, I've wanted one since I saw it on A Enter Spooking.  I'm such a data junkie and this will give me some awesome data over the winter.  I love my ClockIt when checking for fitness, but it's GPS based and does me no good in my metal indoor.  It also struggles to get a heart rate with Theo in his full winter coat.  This baby will be focused on things like being symmetrical.  I need data to keep my ponynoia at bay.  I always think he's lame somewhere, it's exhausting.  I need a baseline so I can see truly aberrant data points.

I also got some new conditioners from Smartpak for Theo's mane and tail.  I noticed some of his mane coming loose despite all of my armor, time to try applying products and making his mane slippery.  I've already made my reins slippery, so let's hope his mane decides to stay attached to his neck.  Note to self, do not apply gel detanglers to the mane with your hands before you ride.

I'm happy with my spending spree, but man oh man, I was very bad.  I may have to distract the hubby when some of these packages show up.  I probably shouldn't have splurged considering some of the trips that have been suggested for 2019 but the deals were too good to resist.

Full credit to The $900 Facebook Pony for the list of sales, especially the Equisense one.  I wouldn't have known to stay up without her list. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

The weather is ridiculous.  Yesterday I rode in reasonable November temperatures.  It was a bit chilly at 9am when I showed up for my lesson, but 30* is fine for a ride.  I had a jumping lesson (which I'll discuss in a non-Thanksgiving post).

This morning, for my 5k?  8* when I got in the car.  Single digits.  I don't even have words.  But I do have a funny picture of me just before my race.

My dad said I look like Gredo from Star Wars.  I'm annoyed that I agree with him.  The race was slow and careful as my first run since I took some time off.  It was fun to run with friends without any pressure or pain.  I think I'm ready to get back to the running thing, but this time at reasonable distances.  Which says a lot about my new frame of mind when I think three miles is a reasonable distance.

After my run it was time for Thanksgiving festivities.

Adulting with the best of them.  Now I'm doing the early Black Friday sales online.  I'll be up until 2am to try to nab a 50% off Equisense motion pack.  Time zones are rough.

So what am I thankful for this year?  Lots of stuff.  I'm thankful for an awesome pony that keeps me coming back to the barn, even when it's freaking cold out.

I'm thankful for a husband that lets me steal his sweaters when I realize they match my breeches perfectly.  You can't see it in the photo, but there's purple trim on the sweater and on my breeches.  They completed my h/j flashback look.  He also does things like turn my trailer around in the driveway.  So very thankful.

I'm thankful that we had fun this year, that we got to run around with friends and have all new experiences.  I'm thankful for many things that have nothing to do with horses and yet allow me to enjoy my time with Theo.

2018 was pretty freaking awesome and I'm thankful that I've got the joy back.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What my horses have taught me

As inspired by Viva Carlos, the lessons that my horses have taught me.

Terry (Open Gate Secretariat)

Terry gets a special mention because while I didn't own him, he was my very first equine partner.  From the age of five to the age of ten, this pony was my nemesis and my best friend. 
  • You can do more than you think
  • You have to do it yourself, no one else can do it for you
  • Never, ever look down at a fence
  • When in doubt, kick
  • Some days you're going to lose no matter how hard you worked for it and that's okay
  • Quick Silver should not be left on for an hour, it won't work better

Allen (All In Good Time)

My very first horse who arrived at the same time that I was discovering horse life as an adult.
  • Don't be afraid to let go of control, he's better at this than you are
  • You will get there when you get there
  • Schoolmasters are worth more than diamonds and gold
  • You don't dominate a horse, it's a team sport
  • If you get the chance to do something big, just go for it, you won't regret it 
  • Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway
  • Go.  FORWARD.
  • Never, ever pull to a fence 
  • If you get dumped in a fence, you probably deserved it
  • When the old man says he's done, let him be done

Fiona (Can't Drive 55)

My princess.  A Craigslist find for $800 that taught me all about taking chances.
  • Sometimes you've just got to take that leap
  • Listen when they say they don't want to do the job
  • Don't rush talented horses
  • The horse is more important than the discipline
  • Galloping down to a big fence is freaking amazing with the right horse
  • Chestnut TB mare is not profanity
  • Dressage is fun
  • Selling a horse is hell

Theo (Expect the Unexpected)

The former school horse turned show horse.
  • Things are not always as they appear
  • Experts can be wrong, horses don't read the training books
  • Inside leg to outside rein is more than something my trainer yells at me at random
  • Great mind > fancy moves
  • Amazing tails are overrated
  • People will never forget the past
  • When you know you've found the right horse, freaking buy it
  • Dressage is not about checking moves off a list
  • Don't forget why you started
  • Positive reinforcement works
  • Make time for random trail gallops, jumping, and hour long curry sessions; the dressage arena will still be there tomorrow
  • Black bay horses look amazing in every color

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Checking in

It's been a bit, huh?  Yeah, fall was pretty crazy.

I ran my first half marathon.

2.5 hours of running.  Can't say I recommend it, but the medal is mine and no one can ever take it away from me.  I'm very proud of my achievement.  And then I totally stopped running for a month because ugggggh, my knee just doesn't like runs longer than six miles and it was weeks of training to get ready for that run.  I scaled back on my riding since the combination of long runs and riding was making it worse but then it dawned on me.  I run to improve my riding, not the other way around.  If anything is going to get paused, it's the running.

I scraped plans to run another half marathon, took a week off from everything to let the body heal, and boom, I was back in the saddle with a vengeance.  Amazing how much more fun it is when there's no pain.  Well, no joint pain.  Plenty of muscle pain because I?  Am a show off idiot.

I also love to dress up my horse.  Can you believe I found those polos in clearance a year after I bought the pad and browband?   Even the trim on them matches! My friend's expression matches Theo's opinion.  So many people humor me.

I needed to make up some lessons so I joined in on a random Saturday lesson with a couple of teenagers.  Oh, and it's no stirrup November.  Most adults get a pass on that nonsense but not me.  Never me.

My stirrups were popped off my saddle after about 15 minutes of warm up.  I then played follow the leader, giving the teens a lead through a serpentine.  They worked on steering, I worked on correct changes of bend using my seat bones.  Then I worked my counter canter and what will become my collected canter.  The teenagers couldn't stop laughing as Trainer A was yelling 'lift him with your crotch!' and I was grunting while trying to not swear.  And then I whacked the pommel, curled up in a ball, and walked.  For the finale, I demonstrated that yes, you can post without stirrups.

I'm dumb.  I'm also too old to post without stirrups for any real length of time, especially when I had mi papi powering along with a real trot.  Ow.

November is also 'Shear Your Yak' month

November is still a thing and my thighs/abs/butt are still aching.  Riding without stirrups is hard.  For my second Saturday lesson (thanks, winter storm Avery) I didn't get a saddle at all.  I adore my horse.  It's cold, breezy, snow is falling off the roof, and I'm practicing without a saddle or a care.  He's grown up so much.  I haven't had video of him since March and when Trainer A offered to record us, I practically threw my phone at her.  With no saddle, I wasn't exactly asking for a lot out of him.  I was mostly focused on my leaning problem, getting my leg back, stuff like that.  I didn't want him truly powered up because I would bounce off.  When Trainer A handed me the phone to check my position, I almost cried.  Look at him carry himself even when we're being chill!

His canter is starting to noticeably improve as we spend more time on it.  Getting his hocks done was a complete game changer.  He's not a fancy mover, he never will be, but his hocks are now flexing and working.  He's much more correct and does have an uphill tendency, at least in the moments where he's not being ploppy pony so his very silly girl doesn't fall off.

Found this very familiar face in Equine Journal with the results of the Northeast Western Dressage Championships

Other than working on his canter and acting like I'm still a teenager, I've spent most of my time managing Theo's mane.  I'm determined to grow it out, but the New Hampshire weather is not cooperating.  Wearing a  neck rug rubs out half of his mane.  We're getting down to 7 degrees this week.  IN NOVEMBER.  So I've had to take desperate steps.

This faceless sleazy goes under his blanket and neck rug to protect his mane.  It was the only pattern they had in stock.  I couldn't wait 4 to 6 weeks for a more sedate pattern.  It's under his blanket so it's not that bad but you know a pattern is hideous when I'm embarrassed to put it on my horse.  So far his mane is looking good, hopefully we'll be able to get through the winter with his mane intact.

He will look so good with a running braid.  His mane is almost long enough to stay braided.

For the winter, our goals are to do twenty meter circle figure eights without changing leads (or either of us turning into an overreacting, bracing alien), protect the mane, jump once a week, and find some sort of system for my ridiculous collection of saddle pads, boots/polos, and browbands.  I might love the matchy match game a bit too much.  I gave 8 saddle pads to the lesson program and I still have 10.  It's not healthy.