Thursday, December 31, 2009

I rode today!

I rode Arabee again today! I went out to catch her, and she refused to be caught! So, I went back to the garage and put on my tall rubber chore boots (due to the ankle deep mud in places) and set about chasing her around the paddock until she showed signs of being willing to stop and let me catch her. Finally she lowered her head, and licked her lips, and I haltered her. Saddled up after scratching as much of the mud off of her as I could, picked her feet, and did the regular mini-longe session at the end of the rein - walk, whoa, walk, trot, walk, whoa practice in both directions. This gives me an idea of how attentive she is, allows me to tighten her girth enough after she quits bloating, and refreshes her voice cues.

I had terribly overestimated how long my stirrups needed to be - it's a miracle I was even able to get my off leg over her back, so I got off and adjusted them. They were still too long, but I left them as they were. All we did was walk, whoa, and turn, and thankfully we didn't do any spooking practicing, so the long stirrups were fine.

She did a fine job of halting to my body cues. Not such a fine job of turning with my legs, but that's never been one of our finest movements. It was very very low key, but a good beginning to starting riding again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Soaking and Cows and Walking

Went out to soak Arabee's front hooves yesterday. Brought a clean gallon milk jug half full of hot water, sprinkled some Borax into each soaking boot. Caught the mare, who was muddy halfway up her legs. Walked her through a puddle to try to clean her off a bit, then picked her hooves, and put the soaking boots on, and poured in the water, which was just pleasantly warm by this time.

I was grooming her when Matt and his dad pulled up in the pickup, saying one of the old cows had gotten out, the neighbor put her back in, but we were going to move them back to the home pasture. So I quickly pulled off her boots, and did some frog trimming. They really look very good, but there were some spots that could trap mud and manure, so I trimmed the frog in those areas. I turned her back out, and went to help move the cows.

It didn't take very long, so I haltered her again, and we took a walk down the road to the corner. A suburban drove by, a neighbor jogged by but it was otherwise uneventful. She wasn't nearly as squirrely for this walk as she was the first one we took. When we got back I picked her feet, took off her halter, and rubbed the itchy spots.

I had my husband weigh myself and my tack to try to determine what weight division we'd be for AERC. I had on my heavy carhartt overalls, heavy flannel shirt, thick vest, and rubber boots. We weighed my saddle, pad, girth, crupper, breastcollar, bridle, reins, pommel pack, and it was all sitting on the saddle rack. The pommel pack was empty, I plan on carrying some first aid items, some snacks, and two bottles of water, a hoof pick. I didn't weigh any hoof boots. I am still about 30 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. So...the weight we got between changing rider apparel and loading the pommel pack and hoof boots and hopeful weight loss is not what it will likely be come April - but it places us pretty soundly in the Middleweight Division.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

15 Minutes Today

Today my husband got home early, so I got to get outside while it was still light, and it wasn't just to do chores! I think he'll get to take a half day tomorrow, which will be even nicer!

So, I headed out and called in the horses from the pasture. I haltered Arabee and brought her out and picked her feet. They look really nice after the trim. It's clear that there's some loose frog that needs trimmed away (which can be an indicator of thrush) so it's a good thing I plan to do some hoof soaking.

After the hoof picking, we took a quick walk. It was clear that she's been used to being "wild and free" by how high-headed and snorty she was - glad we're taking the time to do some ground work before getting in the saddle! I made sure she stayed with her head at my shoulder and had good manners - she needed many reminders in the short walk we took.

I picked her feet again after walking on the gravel, took her halter off, gave her a good rub on the spots where the halter was, and that was it! Altogether it was about 15 minutes. We are starting slow, and not solely because of the horse - it's mostly due to my reconditioning after the pregnancy and birth. It feels so good to be active and outdoors again!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Closer

It seems the going is slow! After my last post, the next day I trimmed Jack's hooves with the hoof grinder as well, and he behaved well also. The fact that he's thousands of years old (ok...will be 30 in 2010) and can't hear probably helped! His hooves are black, and quite a bit more firm than Arabee's mostly white hooves, and took a few more passes with the grinder (or else the wheel wasn't as sharp after being used on Arabee) Either way, they were much nicer to look at after the trim than Arabee's - I'm going with the operater's skills had improved with practice.

Recently the temperatures have been much too cold for taking my kids outside, especially the baby, so I had been staying inside almost constantly. My husband and father in law have been doing the feeding chores (horses, goats, and our LGD) instead of me since before the baby was born, and we had moved the goats around and several have been born - I didn't even know what to feed my own animals anymore! So we took Cora and Luke to their grandparent's house last night and Matt taught me how to feed the animals again. It was fun!

My plan is that I will do chores at night, and work on soaking a pair of hooves at a time. When we trimmed them the other weekend, I discovered a bad case of scratches on Arabee, and I want to renew thrush treatment on Jack, to make sure he keeps the progress we made in the fall. I have a pair of Easycare's soaking boots, which are really nice - your ornery old gelding can't pretend he accidentally stepped out of the rubber tub you were soaking his hooves in - they are strapped to his pasterns!

So, the only thing I need now is a good tying spot. I got away with not having a place to tie my horses for several years, mostly because Arabee will stand ground tied, but if I'm going to try to soak hooves and be doing other things, I need a safe, secure place to tie.

Ideally, it will be all of these things:
  • Level
  • close to electricity and water
  • have footing that won't get muddy
  • be secure enough that if I have both horses tied to it, and they pull back at the same time that it won't come down
  • wither height
  • have a lighting source
  • be reasonably close to my tack room
  • free of obstacles/sharp things to get hurt on
Can anyone think of other important criteria to have in a tie area???? Let me know, I'd appreciate it!

I think I might have my husband really glad to have a good idea of something to get me for Christmas and my birthday, and I will be thrilled to get it! Until then, both horses are in serious need of mud and mane tangle removal, so it won't be a bad thing for me to babysit them while they soak.

So, with these cold temperatures, chores and soaking and hopefully handwalking is what I'll be doing with Arabee for the rest of December. I'm starting to really look forward to riding again, but my stomach muscles have a long way to go before they'll be strong enough to keep my butt centered in the saddle during a big spook, so the grooming and groundwork will be good for me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Begin Again!

Today was my first "real" day of doing anything horse related after Luke was born.

And it was a bit of a doozy!

I trimmed all four of Arabee's feet using an electric grinder! She handled it like she'd been having her feet trimmed that way her whole life.

I on the other hand have a bit of a learning curve to overcome on the machine. It works super fast and I love using it because I did the first hoof in half the time it usually takes me. The trim isn't perfect, but it will do for her current use, which is pasture ornament. Each hoof I did looked better than the last, so I'm at least improving.

After the trim, Arabee and I took a walk to the mailbox. She will have a lot of getting-used-to to do - she had a cow over the shed that the goats were in, the newly weaned calves in the barn, the replacement heifers in the pasture across the road, and the mailbox. I will have a lot of fitness to restore - my shoulders and arms are quite stiff, and will be sore tomorrow, and if the baby allows it, I'll sleep well tonight! So, a good (if not slow) start to getting back at work to building rider endurance.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birth Announcement

After much anticipation, our son Luke was born on 11/10/09, at 3:35am. He weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce, and was 21 inches long.

He is 2 weeks old today, and we're all getting used to being a family of 4, with 2 children under 2!

I am still way too sore to even THINK about riding a horse, but that will change with time!

I won't bore everyone with the details surrounding his birth here on this blog, but if you happen to be interested, you can read about it here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is it too early to post about 2010???

As I wrote in the last post, I have been itching to ride again! So I did the next best thing, I sat down and thought about what my actual goals are for riding in 2010.

Assuming our son is born November 1st, he's healthy and I'm healthy and I take it easy and focus on family only for the first 6 weeks, here is what I've come up with:

December - work in hand

goals: 2-3 times per week, build rider fitness, enhance horse/rider communication after time off, establish familiarity with trail network around home (i.e., come up with some trails....)

January - work both in hand and under saddle

goals for in hand work: One day/week continue with December's goals

goals for under saddle work: arena work 2x/week, to reinforce riding basics of steering, stopping, rating at all three gaits, and to teach lateral moves (sidepass, pivots) This is when I want to set the foundation for riding on a loose rein bitless before I take her out on the trails.

February - work under saddle

goals: Ride outside 2-3 times per week, continuing to reinforce the basics out in the open, while gradually building horse (and rider) fitness through longer trotting periods (long, slow distance).

March - work under saddle

goals: Ride 2-3 times per week, building up intensity, possibly trailering out for a training ride or two towards the last half of the month.

April - work under saddle

goals: Ride 2-3 times per week, continuing to build trotting and intensity, more training rides, and if all has gone well, our first slow limited distance completion at Chicken Chase!

After that, we'll see how things are going, and re-evaluate (although I'd be lying if I didn't say that I truly hope to ride in every ride in Indiana in 2010) Maybe a slow LD multiday at Top of the Rock in May, conditioning in June, Salamonie in July, conditioning in August and September, then Spook Run in October, and just maybe, our first 50 in November (cooler weather, having had all season to condition, taking it easy)?
We'll see how it goes, take one month (or ride) at a time. 2009 certainly presented it's share of obstacles between tack issues, injury, pregnancy, and now the abscess - we may not even make it to our first endurance ride at all, but one can dream and hope and plan, can't they?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Haven't posted in a while again, so I thought I might mention that Arabee is going sound again (yay!) but the hole in the bottom of her sole has not yet closed up, so she still requires a bandage to keep the dirt out until it closes up. So she's still in her stall, and not too thrilled about it, either.

This beautiful fall weather has me just itching to ride! But, of course I won't be doing any of that for a while, anyway, between being very pregnant and Arabee's abscess.

I finally had to give up trimming hooves myself, and now Matt has taken over. So far, he's only trimmed Arabee, and Jack is going to get his hooves done tonight. All in all, he's done a great job, especially considering he barely knew how to pick out a horse's hooves, let alone handle them long enough to trim them! If he could just take the hoof off and trim it, he'd do great, as it is, Arabee is especially good at testing him with her hind feet, and let's face it - it's disconcerting for anyone, let alone a beginner, when a horse jerks their hind legs at you!

With all the stall rest, her walls were plenty long, and we did try using an electric grinder on the hoof. She handled the noise and vibration well, but there was just too much material to take off to use it for a whole trim. I may be able to take back over the trimming if I use the electric grinder about once/week - just a few passes over the hoof should keep things in pretty good shape at that frequency. It's just that bending over for any length of time is not my favorite thing to do, and our baby doesn't like it either judging by how often I get kicked in the ribs when I try!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Arabee has an Abscess

Yesterday I hauled Arabee down to a new vet - not new to the area, but new to us. We/I decided it was a good idea to switch our equines to someone who specializes in equines, and I have to say it was a good experience yesterday. It was nice to deal with a vet who wasn't afraid of my "large animal" or who wanted to handle her like a cow.

Drove the almost 45 minutes down there, stopped in the office and found out I had driven too far, that I'd need to back up about 75 feet, around a curve, and then drive around the barn to the horse examining area. Interesting, because backing isn't really my thing! But, I was very slow, and actually VERY successful doing so! In front of us in line was a pair of gray geldings - the trailer hauling them in had Henryville, IN written on it, and Rocky Mountain Horse stickers everywhere. They were getting their teeth floated. They left, I pulled the truck and trailer up a little bit farther, and waited until they were ready to see us. (it's so funny...I'm used to taking my daughter to her well-child doctor's appointments, and I am using the same language as I am now talking about taking my HORSE to the VET! "...they were ready to see US")

So the tech came out and asked me what was going on, I explained that on 8/2, the rescue 20 helicopter had flown overhead very low, and that evening she'd come in pretty lame on the left front/right hind, so I figured she hurt herself trying to get away from that, but she had significantly improved the next day, and incrementally gotten better each day after that, so I assumed she was on the mend. We left for vacation on 8/8, got back 8/15, and she still had a slight lameness. Towards the end of that week, she was getting progressively worse again, and that weekend was very obviously sore on the left front. I called the vet and set up an appointment, and as soon as they could fit us in, we came.

She had me unload Arabee, and take her into the exam room. They had a stall, a tie area, two sets of stocks, and rubber floor mats. Another horse was in there, with his feet being soaked (for abscesses, go figure!). Arabee was glad to see that other horse, and quickly calmed down and stood quietly. The vet came out and had the tech walk Arabee so she could see - she was tense and hiding the lameness a little, but it was still obvious. Brought her back in the building, and felt her leg and hoof carefully, then picked up the hoof and started cleaning it, used the hoof testers, and started cutting sole away. I asked if she had a hunch of what it was at this point, and she was pretty sure already it was an abscess. She'd already found a little hole at the bottom of her sole that when she squeezed the hoof next to it with the hoof tester, would ooze liquid.

Apparantly an abscess is good news. While it does cause big time lameness, it's temporary, and she said that with this wet summer, that they've seen a LOT of abscesses locally. She said there wasn't much you could do to prevent them, aside from shoeing your horse, but even shod horses can get them. She asked who my farrier was, and I told her I'd been doing the trimming myself, and the hope was to keep her barefoot, and boot with easyboots or renegades when needed.

She slathered a piece of cotton with Magnapack, an epsom salt gel poultice-like green product, and then wrapped the entire bottom of her foot up to her pastern in cotton batting, then vetrap, then duct tape across the bottom of the hoof. I am supposed to soak her leg, bandage and all, in warm water with epsom salts once/day, and change the bandage every 3-4 days. So unfortunately for Arabee and for me, this means stall rest. Again! She just really hates that, and I do too, since it means hauling water buckets and manure, and hay. Oh well, if it will keep her foot clean which will get her sound faster, it'll be worth it.

I am seriously considering purchasing a pair of Easyboot Soaker boots. Not just for this application, but since I've been soaking Jack's feet for thrush once weekly, and probably will start doing Arabee's too, it'd be way handier to use these boots than try to get them to stand in that rubber tub.

I still want to do a thorough web search of how to treat abscesses, especially barefoot hoof style abscess treatment. If anyone has any helpful links or knowledge, send it my way, please!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

This little blog of mine has (waaaay back in July!) been awarded the Honest Scrap Award three times! Go Diego Go, If the Trees had Ears, and Endurance Granny all nominated me! Thank you. I'm honored, but haven't been blogging an awful lot lately, so it's taken me a while to get around to posting this!

When you receive The Honest Scrap award you must stick to some rules:

Recognize your award presenter and link back to their blog in your post.

List 10 honest things about yourself that others might not know.

Present this award to 10 admirable bloggers and link to their blogs.

Leave a comment on your recipients' blogs to let them know to visit your post to retrieve their award.

Here are 10 honest scraps about me:

  1. I am ridiculously excited about the birth of our son, who's estimated due date is November 1st. I cannot wait! Getting to meet him, to hold him, nurse him, bathe him, introduce him to our daughter, who will be 22 months old when he's born - I just can't wait.

  2. I am a stay at home mom, and I absolutely love it. I think if you are a mommy, that is the most important job that absolutely needs first priority over everything else. No one else can impact the lives of your children more than the person who cares for them most of the time, which ideally, is their mother.

  3. I really enjoy working in the kitchen. I've started baking our bread (have you had french toast from homemade bread???), we preserve a lot of foods that we grow in our own garden, I make my own refried beans - in my not-so-humble opinion, my family eats REALLY good, every time I fix dinner! And surprisingly, the more I cook, the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight - I guess less eating out is the key to that one?

  4. When driving my car, every time I see a nice little ditch, or woods, or farm lane - I picture myself riding Arabee, right down to the gait we'd be riding in, the feel of her motion, the smell of the horse, the sound of the saddle and her hoofbeats.

  5. It's a lot harder to come up with 10 things than I expected it would be!

  6. I don't want to be a "sheeple." As in, it's important to me to make decisions based on what is best for the situation, rather than what everyone else is doing. It may seem easier to just go with the crowd, but that isn't always the case.

  7. I'm firm in my faith, and that is what keeps things going. Without God, nothing is possible - but with God, all things are possible. There's so much more to being a Christian than just going to church on Sundays, and it took me a long time to realize how freeing it is to rely fully on Jesus for all things - I guess I'm still learning that.

  8. I've always loved animals, and horses especially - but I never wanted to be a vet, because animals don't like vets! They just don't understand the fact that that guy with the needle is actually helping them.

  9. Even before I ever met my husband, I always felt that farmers were the best people - hard working, honest, and trustworthy. I married into a farming family, and now I know that's true. Farmers were (and still are) the first to be good stewards of the land, have always wanted the best for the animals they raise, and even so, they catch a lot of slack for using the best management practices, from environmentalists and animal rights groups that simply don't understand the reasons certain practices are in place.

  10. My family lives in a home that was built by my husband's great great grandmother, built in 1902/1908 (exact year not certain) that we renovated in 2005, the year we were married. I love our home's charm, and have been really enjoying building flower beds and learning about perennials to add to our landscaping. I am taking forever to hang things on our walls, because I want to be sure it is just right! Barring flood (unlikely, since we live on a big hill) or fire, or tornado, we plan to live here forever, so I guess I have plenty of time to decorate.

And, here is my list of blogs I will nominate for this award. I'm going to keep it to the blogs I make sure I read every post on, but I do follow quite a few additional blogs that are also great, and I check in on others that I don't officially "follow" so please don't feel slighted if your blog isn't included here. I get a lot out of every blog I read, but I enjoy the ones I am listing the most.

  1. Generation Cedar - a Christian blog which has included several eye-opening and thought-provoking posts, things that make me question things I never really thought about before.

  2. The Equestrian Vagabond - often breathtakingly beautiful horse photography!

  3. Endurance Granny - I met Jacke at the 2008 AERC National Championship ride in Clarksville, and enjoy reading about her bitless, barefoot trail riding, and enjoy riding with her when we had the chance, and hope to do so again after this baby is born!

  4. Karen's Musings and Endurance Ride Stuff - this blog is full of information pertaining to endurance riding, especially interesting for me since I choose to keep my horses barefoot.

  5. The Barb Wire - Beautiful photography, amazing writing, and full of useful information that relates to the sport of endurance

Interesting Horse Watering Product

I found this website today for the H2orse Animal Watering System.

My first thought when seeing this waterer is that it may be the perfect solution to both hauling water from home, and watering back at the trailer when finished riding for when we haul out for training rides at various parks.

I'm picturing mounting the waterer directly to the side of the trailer where I tie the horse.

I emailed the inventor with these questions: Would the plugs hold up at highway speeds to keep the water in the tank and out of the drinking bowl? What are the dimensions of this product? What does it cost?
I'll update this post when I get a response.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adventures WithOUT Arabee

Last spring, I wrote about how I was able to use an indoor arena a couple of times to ride in. That's the same place I go now once each week to volunteer for a therapeutic riding program called Reins to Recovery.

It has been a really great experience. We have one rider at a time in a 45 minute lesson, and as a volunteer I help by grooming and tacking up the horse before the lesson, either leading the horse or being a "sidewalker" - someone who walks next to the rider to help make sure they stay on, and then untacking and grooming after the lesson. It's a pretty simple job, but it has been so much fun, and very rewarding. It's great to get to see improvement in the rider, and to be a part of it.

This Sunday, August 23rd, they will be having a fundraising event in Nashville, IN, from 1-5pm. A hog roast, a silent auction, dancing, live music, pony rides, games - should be a fun time that will benefit a great cause. I have some tickets to sell if anyone is interested in attending!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thrush Treatment

Well, now that I've been treating Jack's hooves for thrush for a couple of weeks now, I might as well post about what I've been doing and how it's been working.

First, I'll admit that I sat around and waited waaaaay too long and allowed the problem to get much worse than it ever should have. His frogs were in BAD shape by the time I got serious about treating it, and for that I am ashamed. But, late is better than never, and the treatment I've been using has greatly improved his hoof health.

Here's my basic strategy:

Pick hooves twice daily.

Soak a pair at a time in Borax solution. Fronts one day, Hinds the next day for 5-7 days, Applying "Pete's Goo" immediately afterward. Trim diseased frog away, to keep dirt and bacteria from getting packed in.

Continue twice daily hoof picking followed by "Pete's Goo" until frogs begin to appear healthy again

Continue twice or at least once daily hoof picking forever after.

Recipe for "Pete's Goo"
Equal parts of (triple antibiotic ointment plus) and human Athletes Foot Cream (1% Clotrimazole) applied with a syringe into deep parts of hoof.

Shopping List:
Big flexible rubber tub for hoof soaking
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Athletes Foot Cream - 1% Clotrimazole
Lysol or Borax

So, I began the twice daily picking of Jack's hooves the day of the July 7th post asking about thrush remedies. By Wednesday evening I had assembled all the stuff on the shopping list, and Thursday evening I soaked his front hooves for about 20-30 minutes. Friday morning I soaked his hinds. Then on Friday night I soaked his fronts and trimmed away extra frog on his fronts and applied "Pete's Goo". I had to trim away a lot of material, he had big cracks and the central sulcus was really really deep. Saturday morning I soaked his hind feet, and did the frog trimming and put "Pete's Goo" on them. Sunday evening I soaked, re-trimmed the frog, and "goo-ed" his front feet, and Monday evening soaked and "goo-ed" his hind feet.

After that the week got super-busy, and I didn't take the time to soak his feet anymore, but continued with the twice daily hoof picking, and put "Pete's Goo" on one pair of feet daily for the rest of the week. Now I've run out of the goo, but am still doing the twice daily hoof picking.

I have seen a lot of improvement in his frogs - the central sulcus is not nearly as deep, and the frog is beginning to grow back healthy and nice. He quickly began to be much more cooperative about picking up his feet, I think because it quit hurting every time I tried to pick the dirt out of them. It took a LOT of hard work to get to this point, especially with this big ol' belly I'm getting, but definitely it was my fault that they got this bad to begin with, so it was time well spent. I'm hoping to be able to soon cut back to once daily hoof picking, but I will wait until his frogs are 100% healthy again.
I'm glad that Jack's hooves are on their way back to healthy. At 29 years old, he's got his share of problems, and I'm glad that finally his hooves won't be one of them. Now if only I could just keep weight on him! All day grazing, twice daily pelleted Senior horse feed, and regular worming is not enough for him!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yes, I'm still here

I have a couple of posts planned, but first I have to find the time to do it! Been busy, and it's hard to come in and sit down and type when it's so nice out. All I want to take time for is to read the blogs I follow and then go do something!

But soon I'll write about how Jack's thrush treatment's been coming along. Mostly nicely.

I'll also write about some of my recent and ongoing "Adventures withOUT Arabee" but still involving horses.

Plus, I have received an award, and that requires it's own post!

But I have to first post about Arabee's mystery lameness, read about it here.

One and Three Quarters Sound

No, this is not good news. (although I'm hoping not terribly bad news, either!)

Went out to do chores last night, and as I rounded the corner of the barn, I found my mare holding her left front leg up. Uh oh. I poured Jack's feed in his bucket, and had her move to the other side of the gate as usual, and it becomes clear that it is not just the left front that is sore, but also her right hind.

So Arabee is hobbling around on two good legs. The 3/4 comes in because the right front is the hoof that she cut back in April, and the cut in the hoof wall is still growing out (a little over halfway through). She doesn't walk lame on that leg, but it sure is at least visually compromised, and likely if she were in work, she'd be touchy there.

She looks much better this morning than she did last night, and actually trotted and threw in a couple gallop strides on the way out of the gate into the pasture, but she is still CLEARLY lame.

I picked her feet, checked them and they're not hot at all. I picked up her leg and squeezed around on it, and there were no obvious signs for me to tell where she hurt it.

The only thing I can think of is that she was trotting around in the pasture yesterday, and found a slick spot, and strained/sprained that diagonal pair. Actually, the Rescue 20 helicopter flew overhead yesterday just as the dew was mostly dried off, and they were flying pretty low, I assume looking for their landing spot. I didn't notice any activity in the horse pasture, but then I was looking up in the sky at the helicopter. It wouldn't surprise me if the chopper scared her and caused her to startle, and slip.

My plan was to wait a day or two, since she is moving much better now than last night. I think she'll work it out on her own, without having to call the vet. Any other opinions?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thrush Treatment

I trimmed Arabee's feet over the weekend - they look great. I may or may not post the pictures I took....we'll see how ambitious I get!

Jack, on the other hand.....well, his frogs are in terrible shape. I need immediate thrush treatment on his feet, and it needs to be effective!

First, I need to start cleaning out his hooves daily, or twice daily, no exceptions. Typically, after a trim I start out good the first week or two, then forget the daily hoof cleanings. Daily hoofpicking is a must.

Second, I'm hoping to find a "safe" thrush treatment I can apply to his hooves. I don't want to use a harsh chemical since I'm pregnant, but his thrush has gotten to the point that it NEEDS attention. Has anyone tried anything that they recommend? I'll be doing an internet search later on, but would love to hear suggestions if anyone else has tried something that works well.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bloodlines in Endurance - Just Curiosity

So I was re-reading the December 2008 copy of Endurance News which showed the 2008 award standings for horses and riders in the AERC, both endurance and LD.

I was surprised at the absolute absence of any Varian bred Arabians. I don't believe I saw a single horse listed with a "V" after its name. I could have missed them, but I looked pretty carefully.

My previous experience with horses was geared towards the show ring. It didn't matter western, hunt, country, english, halter - if it was Arabian showing, I was interested. I've mentioned before that one of my childhood (and teenage) goals/dreams was to be an Arabian breeder/trainer and make it big in the show ring. (I'm glad I've come to my senses!!) Anyway, it is my understanding that Arabians with Varian breeding are the ones that are winning, and have been consistently winning in the show ring. I thought it was something like 40-60% of all winners were Varian bred (obviously I'm too lazy to look up the actual statistic, but they do a lot of winning). I had a chance to go to Varian Arabians out in California sometime in high school for the Summer Spectacular, where we saw the breeding stallions, went on a mare walk, saw the performance horses and prospects for sale, and I was very impressed. I have had the opportunity to ride and work with a few Varian bred horses and liked them very much.

So, I was surprised that none of the horses high in the award standings in endurance riding were Varian bred. Does anyone have any insight as to why?? It's not pressing - I am NOT in the market for a horse AT ALL right now, nor will be in the near future, but I am curious.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teamwork and Partnership - On the Ground to Down the Trail

For the next several months, any work I do with Arabee is going to be done from the ground. At this point, I am not concerned about fitness. Baby's not due until the very end of October, maybe first part of November, and then I'll have another 6-8 weeks before I'll really be ready to get back in the saddle. So, we're looking at not starting riding again until mid-late December. If I make Chicken Chase 2010 my first LD completion goal (which should be sometime in April) I'll have enough time to get her ready for a slow LD even if I don't start riding again until January. I have a much better idea of what it will take to do this now than I did before. I have most of the equipment I need, saddle, pad, saddle pack, hoof boots, rump rug, sheets, etc - I should be good to go to jump back into training mode when the time comes.

I don't want to just sit around this summer though and wait. I'm still scouting out good deals on water tubs, rain gear, horse camping equipment, winter riding wear. I'm really working hard on keeping Arabee's feet perfectly trimmed. We're taking walks around the farm - I have several routes figured out: the hive, the river, to the red barn, down to the Polly field, the mound...each ranging from 1/2 mile to hopefully 2 miles (I have yet to actually measure distance). These are the places I'll be training at for the first couple of months until baby is old enough to be away from me. I won't haul out for any training rides until baby is at least 12 weeks old, and then I don't want to miss more than one feeding, so it's important I set up a good network of riding places around home. So far, these walks have been good for us, and have actually improved bonding somewhat, but I want to do more.

Arabee wears her rope halter, I clip on one of the leather split reins, tie a knot in the end and stick it in my waistband - I am hands-free and she sticks to my side without interference from me whatsoever if she behaves well (which 97% of the time she does). If I turn my shoulders towards her, she stops. If I turn my shoulders to face her, she backs. She keeps her head at my shoulder always, if she lags, I give her a tug on the rope, if she gets too far ahead, we stop abruptly and she has to back several steps. I want to be able to have the same "feel" under saddle - traveling along on a loose rein unless she needs correction, otherwise moving from my body and voice cues. I don't want to have to mess with her head unless she spooks, or decides she doesn't need to listen to my seat and legs.

I put the surcingle and long lines on her a couple of weeks ago, and we did some long-lining around the barn lot. She did well, was very responsive, framed up really fast and stayed that way most of the time. But, basically the whole time the lines were "in contact" - she never got a release unless she rooted down with her head to pull the lines loose - this is not behavior I want to reinforce! Since it's important to me to be able to ride with basically no rein contact, I think I will have to nix long-lining. We don't have a round pen or arena, and I really don't want to just chase her around the paddock since I'm not really concerned with improving fitness at this time. What I really want to do is some sort of ground exercise beyond just going on walks to improve our communication, improve the bond, improve our teamwork so that when I am ready to get back on and ride things go more smoothly.

I'm drawn to the idea of using TTEAM this summer. It pretty much sounds like a low-stress, hands-on way to work with my horse, that could have helpful meaning for vet checks later when the time comes. Has anyone out there used any TTEAM ideas/methods with their horses, or heard of someone else who has??

I'd love to hear your input on not only TTEAM, but if you know of other similar ideas that I could try out this summer, with the focus on building a better partnership with the horse. Thanks in advance!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Top of the Rock Crewing Story (with pictures!)

As I mentioned on Saturday, I went down to help crew for Michelle Detmer and Laura (and Michelle's horses - Jazz and Stormy) for the LD at Top of the Rock at Clark State Forest. Left a little later than I'd hoped, and had to get gas (and a gas station cappuccino!) but was still there right at 6am. I asked management (Lois) if they had checked in yet, and some other kind person asked if I was looking for anyone in particular, when Lois spotted Michelle's truck, right up close.

They were grooming, working with the hoof boots (Jazz had easyboot epics on front, Stormy was going to wear renegades on front - both bare in back) and we talked - Michelle introduced me to Laura. It's hard to go anywhere without talking about babies (for me, anyway!) so we talked about each other's kids, and also the horses - what a great combination!!! :-) L & M went to check in, while I stayed with the horses. The 50 was to start at 7:00am, and the LD at 7:10, so we had plenty of time to get ready.

So we went up and they vetted in the horses, grazed the horses, and electrolyted the horses, tacked the horses, and other last-minute things, and headed up to the start. Both Stormy and Jazz were quite calm - if Arabee is that calm at the start of a ride jext season I will be VERY happy! I think there were 28 horses (or so) in the LD, Michelle and Laura were BB and AA, the last two rider numbers (letters??) to have checked in. The start was controlled, since they had to follow the road to get to the trail, so they all stayed behind letter "O" until the last horse was off the pavement.

At that point, I just hung around at the start for a while, got my chair and lunch out of the car and brought it back to the trailer, and waited. The first loop was 15 miles, and I was glad I got back to the in-timers when I did, because I was surprised to see the first group of 5 horses coming in! I am not sure of the exact time, but it was somewhere between 1 - 1 1/2 hours for the first loop. Michelle and Laura were in 2nd and 3rd, and Jazz pulsed down in first place, but Stormy took a little longer (I think 3rd or so), but still just fine.

Both mares drank, then they were vetted in, but both needed improved gut sounds, so the main thing we worked on was getting them to eat. They got hay, beet pulp and grain, water, and as much grass as they would eat for the whole hold. It was pretty muddy, so some tack got washed off at the hose, and parts of the horses too. I know I'm forgetting some things, but at the end they headed back to the out-timer a few minutes past time, and had a slower second loop of 10 miles. Michelle said that they were pretty much just running the whole time for the first loop except for they'd trot if there was a "cliff"! Must have been pretty exhilirating! There won't be much chance of me Top 5-ing for a looong time, I like to walk and trot too much!

After M and L left, I saw several other riders coming in. Some 50 milers, some LD riders. I saw Chris E. and her gelding, Toby, and talked with her, and her riding buddy, whose horse's name was Strider, I didn't get her name though! After Toby and Strider left, the first place LD horse had just come in, and I knew it was possible that Michelle and Laura wouldn't be far behind, so I stayed up front with the sponge and a lead rope so I wouldn't miss them. Turned out they were somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes behind the first place horse, Laura in 4th, Michelle in 5th. Only the Top 5 can show for Best Condition judging, and they decided to go for it.

So they took the horses back after a good, long drink at the trough, and untacked, then had to weigh in while the horses ate hay. Then Jazz and Stormy got the mud hosed off, and we offered more grain and beet pulp and hand grazed them. I held one horse or the other so Laura and Michelle took turns eating lunch. Then the 1 hour was up and it was time to vet back in for BC. I'm not sure who actually won BC - I left right when Laura and Michelle did, before the results were in.

So, crewing was a good experience. I felt like I didn't do very much, but both Michelle and Laura were very appreciative! I hope I didn't spoil them for the next ride when they don't have someone to hold a horse or take a jacket back, but it wasn't a very hard job for me, but it was so great to be at the ride and get more experience! It really was just right amount of exertion for me though. It was a lot different than volunteering for the actual ride like I did at Chicken Chase - many more people talked to me at Chicken Chase than this weekend, which made sense, because when I was scribing I came in contact with a lot more people, especially the vets! So, I missed a lot of interaction this time, but it was definitely a very good experience to see a different side of a ride. Big thanks to Michelle for agreeing to let me come down and hang around her and Laura on Saturday!! (and Michelle, if I left anything out that's important, feel free to correct me!!)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Crewing Today

Well, here I am, eating breakfast, getting ready to head down to Clark State Forest to crew for Michelle Detmer (who comments on here pretty often) and her riding buddy Laura at the Top of the Rock. It's about 4:30am. I have packed my lunch, my rain gear, a change of clothes, plenty of water, and a chair. I think crewing will be just the right amount of exertion for this prego!

I hope to be there about 6am, when Michelle plans on arriving, and helping them leave camp for the LD. Then, I will sit and rest! Not sure if the vet check is away or in camp, but I will help during that. And then, I will sit and rest. :-) I'll help them at the finish, then drive home and take a nap! Are you noticing a trend here? Things that normally wouldn't bother me much have been tiring me out big time, but I should have no trouble recovering while the girls are riding. I think it will be just right.

I hope some of the people I met from the Chicken Chase are there today, and if they are, that I actually remember their names! I am soooo bad at remembering names. Pretty fair at remembering faces....just not names.

Hope to take pictures, maybe you all will get a ride report later on (but probably not today!).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hoof Trimming - Front Feet

I actually did this trim a week ago, and am just now getting to posting the pictures. Memorial Weekend was very busy with farming, and I just did not get the time to post them before now!

Left Front "Before" picture, from the side:

Left "After" picture, from the side (Any red you see on this mare's feet is a result of the red paint wearing off from the jack stand I use to rest her feet on!!):
Right Front, Sole View. This was after I rasped the heels down to sole level, and after I rasped the outside hoof wall sole level. The inside hoof wall is untouched, other than the heels. Again, the red marks are worn off paint from the jack stand.

Left Front Solar View, "Before":

Left Front Solar View, after I rasped both heels to sole level:

Left Front Sole View, "After" - This is the finished trim.

I need to work on being more even side to side for each trim. I also have noticed that I need to rasp a bigger breakover on Arabee's hind feet in the toe. Slowly getting better all the time. Comments/Suggestions will be appreciated!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hoof Trimming Pictures - Arabee's Hind Feet

Okay, so I trimmed Arabee's hind feet yesterday.

Took before, after, and during pictures!

This picture is of her left hind - The first thing I did was rasp both of the heels level with the sole from the bottom of the hoof. Then I turned her leg around (instead of out behind her so I can see the bottom, I pulled her leg in front and propped it up on the jack) and rasped from top. I rasped starting where I had stopped at the heel from underneath, then worked my way around to the toe. Here I have only done half of the hoof (except the heels have already been done on both sides). The scrapy lines you see around the frog on the sole are just from the hoof pick...I did not rasp her sole at all.

This is the "before" shot of the right hind sole, after I cleaned it out with the hoof pick.

Here is the after shot of the right hind sole. I followed the same procedure: heels level with sole, trim from the top one side, trim from the top the other side, make sure the mustang roll is smooth. (pardon the tail hairs in the was windy!)

Here's the before shot of her left hind foot resting on the ground from the front. Arabee toes out in the back quite a bit.
And here is the after shot, of both her left hind from the front, and the right hind from the side angle view, makes it easier to see the way her conformation makes her toes point. I'm pretty pleased with the way this trim came out.

I've re-started walking with Arabee up and down the road, which has really helped give her work on hard ground, and has improved the concavity in her hooves. (I had stopped this practice when the pasture was finally dry enough and tall enough to allow turnout for Arabee but am glad to start it again) It's also going to keep me from gaining a bunch of weight!!! I want to measure out exactly how far I am estimate is that Saturday we walked a little under 1.5 miles....but that's just a guess. We started at the barn, headed North to the 90 degree turn, came back, rounded the corner, passed the mailbox, and turned around at the bottom of the hill where the ditch goes under the road, then back down to the end of the barn lot, and back to the pasture for Arabee. I know that the barn lot is 1/10th of a mile one we for sure did at least .2 miles on gravel, which I think will help with Arabee's feet wearing better on their own.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shoo Fly!

So I want to know:
What do you all use for fly spray???
My experience with fly spray has been poor - usually horse flies ignore it, but it does help with the smaller flies that swarm around the face somewhat. I just have not been satisfied with any products I've used - do any of you guys have fly sprays that just always seem to work well??
My horses don't enjoy wearing fly masks. Jack ran through an electric fence wearing one (I guess he just didn't see it!), and Arabee just seems VERY spooky when she's wearing hers out on pasture. Seems as though wearing the mask diminishes the eye sight enough to put her "on edge" and I think she'd prefer shaking her head free of flies than being nervous about the stuff she thinks she can't see.
So I'm curious - does anyone have specific products they use that they swear by??

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Ride

Here are some pictures of the ride we had today. I decided that today will be my last ride for this pregnancy. Over the last week my belly has really "popped" out there big time, and I felt pretty off-balance. It's not often you see pictures of pregnant women riding horses, I thought they were funny!

I just wanted to get the pictures up...I'll write more tomorrow about what we actually did....and how Arabee was trotting off...kind of lame, actually. So bottom line is that it's a good thing for Arabee that tonight will be my last right until after Baby is born.

Well, it was really no biggie what we did - I caught her, saddled up, and Matt and I were just going to go for a quiet walk down the road. Right away after I settled into the saddle I was just like, "Whoa! This big belly has got me off-balance!" and I already told Matt that this was going to have to be my last ride...I was just too much "off" to be well-balanced and safe much longer.

Arabee was super-super looky. So I told Matt I needed to trot her a bit to get her "fresh" off before we tried walking down the road again. There were calves now turned out in the pasture I'd used to ride in, so we had to keep to the barn lot driveway (gravel). After about 5 minutes of trotting, I started noticing her feeling "off" and then it was just obvious she was having problems when her head was gently bobbing (or was that just her mane flopping? was pretty discreet, but it was still there) at the trot. Not good. So I asked Matt and his dad to tell me which leg it was. I suspected it was her injured RF, but they were having a REALLY hard time being able to tell me for sure. But that was the leg they settled on. Shoot!

It could've just been the gravel and she may have stepped wrong, since she was fine for the first 5 minutes or so. Since this was going to be our last ride though until probably December or January, I decided we'd go ahead and try the nice quiet walk down the road originally planned. She really wasn't any calmer, and was just really hooking her neck and blowing and looking all around and essentially "forgetting" all about I hopped off and we called it quits.

Riding horses you really just have to forget about the risk of falling off and just RIDE.....but being as I am carrying a precious baby, my mind was pretty in-tune with the idea that falling off was not an option. So rather than ride all wishy-washy on a spooky horse, I felt that the best thing was to just hop off and play it safe. Kind of a disappointing way to "go out" for the year, with a spooky, inattentive mount and a lame horse, but that's the way it was!

I still have all kinds of plans for doing in-hand work with her for the rest of the summer, this won't be the last you hear from me by any means, but I just won't be riding! I'm actually pretty glad it working out this way, I should be able to allow her plenty of rest to allow that coronet band injury to grow out before I try serious riding again, she should become super-familiar with the local area I plan to handwalk her in this summer, and I should be able to perfect her barefoot trim, hopefully.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tuesday's Ride

Okay, so I have to admit I have a great big grin on my face as I just typed the title to today's post. :-) I hadn't ridden since the 18th of April, and it was really good to ride yesterday.

It wasn't a great ride - Arabee was being sort of a turd. "What's that, you want me to pay attention to you?!" She has an independent mind, that's for sure! Walked for a few laps in the barn lot, trotted a few laps there as well, then wandered across the road to walk some calm laps in the pasture. Or, that was MY plan, anyway. It looked vastly different than the last time we'd ridden there - grass was knee-high, and once we stirred up a young rabbit! She kept breaking into a trot, and single-rein-stops weren't really changing her tune any. So I started circling her each time she tried trotting, focusing on keeping my seat deep and at a walking rhythm. I'd circle her until she slowed down, then we'd walk on, circle some more, walk on....finally she gave me one pretty much full lap of walking.

Headed back to the barn lot for some more trotting. I focused on being able to quickly get her to flick an ear to me, which meant we did some "fancy" work, since she was pretty well ignoring me. Trot, halt, back, 180, trot off.....various little exercises to remind her to pay attention to me! It payed off, she was relaxing and paying attention to me instead of looking out for herself, so we went back across the road into the pasture again, and got one nice lap of walking in. At this point we'd been riding for 35 minutes, and I had been aiming for 30, so I quit. If I get to ride again this week, I expect she'll be much more responsive after last night's session, since really I didn't work her hard, except that she made it hard for herself by trying to trot and then having to circle, or ignoring my polite requests for attention and having to do backing and turning.

I was surprised how sweaty she was when I hopped off! I put some water in a bucket and sponged her off, and wiped the tack down - She was wet and lathered! Also I discovered part of why she might have been fussing me in the pasture - the grass had been rubbing the cut on her RF leg, and it had fresh blood on it. I felt pretty awful for asking her to turn so much, since I'm sure that was what caused the fresh bleeding - she walks around all day on her own in the pasture, but not a lot of turning, so next ride I will avoid the grass until she is fully healed. But I'm glad I worked on the respect issues in the pasture, not the road, since if I can't ride in the grass, I'll have to ride on the road a bit more.

Can't wait to get back on and ride again! The end of May I will be 18 weeks pregnant, and the doctor only OK'd me to ride until 18-20 weeks, so I better get some riding in while I can!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hoof Trimming

So this week's task was updating the barefoot trims on Jack and Arabee.

((WARNING: at the very bottom of this post is a picture of Arabee's injured hoof. So, if you don't want to see it, don't scroll down too far! There are 2 pictures of Jack, and 3 pictures of Arabee before the injured hoof shows up.))

Here is Jack's "Before" shot of his fronts from his right side taken on Thursday evening:

And shown here are his "after" shot taken on Sunday afternoon:
I've had Jack since he was 15 years old, he is now 29. He has ALWAYS had front feet that quite resemble a ski slope - long and flared toes. When we still lived with my parents, we went through quite a many farrier. He usually wore shoes during the summer show season, and went barefoot through the winter. He's not been ridden regularly since 2002, not been ridden at all since 2005, and although he always enjoyed going for a ride, just 5 minutes at a walk was all he could handle due to arthritis. Jack has been known to look long right after being trimmed, and was doing okay hoof-wise with the same farrier since 2005, but I've seen great improvement in his hoof shape since I started taking the rasp and doing his trimming last August.

This last time I really worked on backing up the toe, and hope to continue bringing his toes back gradually until he no longer has that "ski slope" look. I am also working on a long-time battle with thrush with him, which I think will improve now that we're able to have the horses on pasture and not in the "dry" (usually muddy all winter) lot. Improving his frog health should probably help his overall hoof shape gradually. I'm currently using a chemical that I bought at the local Tractor Supply Co., green, and I am interested in trying a more "natural" thrush remedy. Any suggestions??

I only have "after" photos of Arabee. I did her fronts on Saturday morning, and her rear feet Saturday afternoon. All pictures were taken on Sunday afternoon, after I hosed off her muddy feet, which is why her legs are wet looking.
This is her front feet taken from her left side:
I need to try to wait a week between trimming Jack and Arabee, since their feet are so different. I feel like I got way too carried away with the left front hoof at the toe, almost like I was still in the mindset of trimming Jack the Ski Slope. I felt awful after the trim with the LF, since I actually rasped so much wall away at the toe that she's almost totally walking on her sole for the front 1/4 to 1/3 of her hoof. But the longer I look at the pictures, the more I start to think that the LF is the more correct trim, perhaps not quite enough of a roll on the RF hoof. Maybe I didn't rasp quite enough on the RF because of over-doing it on the LF. She is sound, I longed her a bit right after the trim and I could not see any "off" movement. Any input on this??

The bottom of her right hind hoof:

Another shot of her front feet, showing the difference between the RF and LF:
The LF is resting on the sole for the front 1/4 to 1/3 of the hoof. The RF has some wall touching all the way around the hoof. Which is more correct? I am thinking perhaps somewhere in the middle.
She's lost some concavity in her hooves since her stall-rest and not being ridden. I hope to get on and ride some this week if the weather cooperates, and I might have found someone who will ride her a little this summer, Matt's cousin who's in high school, but I know she might get busy. Anyway, I hope her concavity returns with some work, either under saddle or in hand.

Okay, last warning! Next picture is of Arabee's injured RF hoof.
It shows me holding it up. At the top of the leg you can see some scabbing, that has nothing to do with the actual injury. I suspect it is scratches, unfortunately. Below the scabbing is the actual cut on her pastern, which went through the coronet band, and into the hoof about an inch. You can see the ring around the top of the hoof where it has started to grow out. At one point, her leg was so swollen and puffy that her hoof started to curl away from the coronet band, so it looks like it's starting to grow back well. I am still concerned about the part of the coronet band that actually got sliced through - I hope that hoof growth returns to normal there.
For now I have been trimming as usual, just restoring the mustang roll around the wall to the level of the sole. While her hoof is healing, is there any sort of trimming I should be doing differently?? Especially as the injured part grows down and out.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

1st Saturday in May

Well, my two horses apparantly know what day it is today.

Usually when I open the gate to the pasture, they gallop out to the middle then give me a few strides of that big floating, tail over the back Arab trot, then stop to quite calmly eat grass after the initial burst of speed.

Not this morning!

They made not one, not two, but Three big, all-out galloping laps around the pasture, plus some of that pretty trotting, and plenty of snorting. Jack somehow managed to get out of the gate before Arabee, and I have never seen her run so fast, but she caught up with him, then lapped him.

I love getting to watch them move at liberty so freely like that! Such natural-born athletes, so talented and graceful!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beautiful but Very Windy Days

It has been such wonderful weather for spending time outside! Sunny skies, warm spring air (in the 80s!) and plenty of breeze (or should I say gusting winds!) to keep from getting too hot.

Unfortunately, I haven't done ANY riding!

I am still allowed too, though. On Tuesday I went to the OB for a regular checkup (everything is normal!) and asked again about whether riding was safe, and for about how long could I keep doing it. He surprised me by saying it was fine until about 18-20 weeks! This is much longer than I expected to be "allowed" to ride by the Doctor, so I am pleased to hear his response. In reality, however, I know the only real risk in riding while pregnant is not in the riding, it's in the falling off, so I am being super careful not to take any extra risks.

And, for me and my horse, that means choosing not to saddle up on a really nice weather weekend, since wind tends to make normally in-animate objects unpredictable. So here's hoping the wind dies down some!

Arabee's cut still isn't completely healed yet, although it's looking much much better. I'm still concerned about how the slice through the coronet band is going to heal - it's too early to tell yet whether things will be normal again with that or not, but overall she is healing well. The paddock finally got dry enough all over to allow her 24 hour turnout again! This equals a MUCH happier horse! (and a happier stall-mucker who's now gladly w/out a job shoveling poop!) So if ever the wind stops blowing, I'll have plenty of places to ride, since the ground is dried up and her cut will stay clean.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our ride at home Today

Matt and I rode Arabee today. I went first, then when he got tired of walking, he rode. We stayed on either gravel or the road to keep dirt out of her cut, and she did great, though we didn't ride very long at all. It probably took longer to tack up and untack than we spent riding!

I made sure to wear the shirt I was given for helping out at the Chicken Chase!

I decided Matt needs a bigger horse and a bigger saddle of his own! And his own helmet - he had to adjust the chin strap on mine. (I'm pretty sure he hasn't bought into the idea yet!)

I'm happy w/ the new saddle pad, though it does add a lot of bulk under the leg compared to the Skito. The saddle flap panel hangs over a little at the back, but not in a problematic way, it's just not as visually appealing, but no problem!

Arabee's cut is healing up very nicely, I think. Since Saturday morning she's been on grassy turnout during the day, then I bring her back in, hose the cut clean with cold water, then hand walk her until it's dry, then wrap her leg and put her in her stall overnight. I am SO grateful it's finally time to start turning the horses out on pasture! (and so are the horses!)

Chicken Chase I - Clark State Forest

Some photos from Friday of the 55 and 30 mile rides.

Will likely post more text later! Too nice outside to do more now!

**Monday morning update:

Arrived at ridecamp at 5:30am on Friday. Still dark, as evidenced by the photo of the closed gate. No activity, even though I had thought the ride was supposed to start at 5:30.

Turns out, the 55 miler started at 7am, and the 30 miler at 9am. Once people finally started moving around (a truck and trailer pulled up behind me and I was unfortunately blocking their path to get into ridecamp) I found the ride manager and introduced myself. We'd been communicating over email so I wasn't a surprise, and she put me to work finding out what riders were what number. There were I think 29 entered in the 55, and all but three riders were going to start at 7. The group of three was planning on going out after the main group.

They had a controlled start, where all riders had to stay behind the first horse until they crossed the road. Ridecamp is on the other side of the road from where the trail started, so rather than having crazy racing on the pavement, they had the controlled start. It was BEAUTIFUL watching the sun rise through the trees at ridecamp. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture to share.

All vet checks on Friday were to be away from camp, and I was sent along with a group of people who headed over there at around 7:30am. We unloaded crew bags and buckets of the riders who didn't have crews, and my job was to be the scribe for the vets. I mostly scribed for Maureen in the morning.

The first riders came in after the 20 mile first loop, horses totally wet with sweat and steaming a good 15 feet up into the cool morning air. I have to apologize to Maureen, since she had to put up with a learning scribe, but I like to think I caught on fairly quickly. (hopefully!)

I feel like I got the hang of what the hold looks like at a ride: ride in, get in-time, pulse down, get official pulse taken and start the hold time, vet through, take horse back with a cooler over the rump, water, water, hay, come back if vet noticed a concerning issue, tack up and saddle up just before hold is over, then alert the out person that you're leaving, and head off down the trail!

After the majority of the 55-ers came in, the first of the LD riders starting coming in. I believe there were 26 riders in the LD, they got letters instead of numbers. It got pretty hairy there for a while, lots of nervous horses milling around in the pulse area waiting to be vetted. I was glad when they finally filtered through since I was a bit nervous of taking a hoof or getting run down. But everything was fine. A pizza delivery person came and brought lunch for the ride workers, and that was a welcome treat! Around 1 or so, a group of people headed back to ridecamp where the finish line was for the LD, and I went with them, since LD is where I want to start with Arabee so I wanted to see what went on. Just before we left a group of 3 riders had come in too quickly to have finished the 2nd loop of trail - they had missed the Shaw and Wildlife loops and had to backtrack. So since they hadn't done the second hold yet, it was going to be a while before Maureen could leave the away vet check.'

We had a bit of a wait before any riders started coming in, so several people had chairs set up in front of the pulse in area and waited for the first riders to come back in. Mike was the vet at ridecamp, and who I scribed for the second half of the day.

The LD horses didn't get their finish time until they had pulsed down to 60 or below. Of the first group of two horses in, the first rider had a tough time getting her horse into the pulse area, made of step-in posts and yellow tape - he was pretty nervous about that tape fluttering in the wind, so unfortunately that caused her to lose the first place to the other horse (but I don't think she minded too much, but probably a little disappointing). This last picture has the first two horses in for the LD on the left side (not great, since you can only see their hind ends, but still, that is them!)

About the time the top ten LD finishers came in, one rider and her chestnut horse came slowly walking in horse in-hand. They'd had a wreck, but thankfully the rider was okay. I guess on some of the really steep uphills the saddle had started slipping and caused the horse to unseat his rider, and he went bounding down hill with his saddle upside down, and got some "rope" burns on his legs. They thought he'd be fine, but he was pretty sore. Disappointing for them, but the rider was genuinely concerned about her horse and was going to take great care of him it seemed.

About then the first of the 55 mile riders came in. The finish line for that ride was somewhere else down the trail, just out of sight of ridecamp. Someone sat at the finish line and took the times for the first 12 or so riders, and after that the finish times were taken in camp. For the 55 milers, their finish times are taken right away, they don't have to pulse down first, but they do have to within a certain time frame. So shortly after they got in they did go to the pulse takers and then vet in for completion. Because of the staggered ride times the 55 milers were being judged for BC about the same time as the LD horses and riders were coming in for completions, which made things somewhat confusing (for me) but I really enjoyed watching the process of Best Condition judging. Someday I want to be able to stand for the BC judging, but not for a while. I'll get some good completions on Arabee before I ever try to top 10, but the more thorough vet examination would be very valuable information. It was surprising to me to see many of the top 10 finishers turn down the BC judging - not sure the why's on that one, to me the more in-depth check you can get the better.

About when the BC judging was finished for the LDs, and wrapping up for the 55s, more riders were coming in for completions for both distances, plus people were wanting to vet their horses in for Saturday's ride. Not only that, but there was a horse who was tying up, and then later a horse was colicking and needed attention at its trailer. So it got pretty busy there for a while with only one vet at ridecamp, since Maureen was still out at the away check. Shortly after Mike came back from the colic, Maureen arrived, and Mike scored the BCs, and Maureen took over the vetting. Things started calming down, and both vets mainly vetted in the next day's horses, with an occassional completion coming in.

I had planned on staying until the end of the 55 mile ride, but that was when I thought it would be finished by around 6pm. I got a call from Matt around 7:15 wondering what my plans were, and I decided I'd better head home, with our little girl at home and home being about an hour away. I started saying goodbyes, wishing I could stay, but I was WORN OUT! I didn't do much but take notes all day, but still I was tired. I learned so much about the sport in one day that I hope to get to most of the rides in Indiana this summer to do more volunteering and learning and meeting people. I really appreciated all the people who went out of their way to talk to me and make me feel welcome, and I am very much looking forward to next April when hopefully I can come and compete on Arabee!

I walked down through ridecamp once to see if I could find Jacke and her horse - there were a LOT of trailers and horses there - it was jam-packed full. There were supposed to be 50 riders in the LD alone on Saturday - so a lot of people on the trail! I talked to Jacke for a while and it turned out she had all the help she needed for Saturday, so I headed back towards the car. I wasn't planning on coming back on Saturday, but since I knew there was a chance she'd have to crew alone on Phebes first ride I wanted to make sure. Got stopped by Cindy and she asked me if I learned anything - a resounding YES! Just can't wait to do it myself. It was a VERY GOOD THING that I did not try to take Arabee to this ride, even if she hadn't had the cut on her leg - I would have been clueless about what was going on. Now I feel like whenever I finally get to be able to compete that I will be much better prepared for the goings on and be a better guide for my horse.

I found myself really wishing I would have driven down again for just the LD on Saturday. There were quite a few people I actually knew for that ride, plus those I had just met the day before, but I was just beat after Friday. I can sure tell a difference in my energy levels with this pregnancy! Plus, this time all the vet checks were in camp, and so I wanted to see what that was like, but there will be other rides I can try to get to this season. My family had a wonderful day together at home on Saturday, working with the cows and then moving them out to pasture, and I cleaned Arabee's stall, and walked her, and then later on we rode (much fun!) then had a cookout just the three of us. Tried looking for mushrooms (morels) but it was too dry. Still fun walking in the woods and seeing all the wildflowers. A really great weekend overall!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Got My New Saddle Pad

My new saddle pad came in over the weekend. Back in February, I ordered a demo Skito pad from Trumbull Mtn. Saddle shop, since they are a dealer for both Skito and Toklat pads. I figured they’d be an unbiased source, and they suggested I try the demo before I purchased a pad.

I’m glad I did, because while I did find the Skito to have several very nice qualities, I had a hard time believing it was truly worth the price tag. I called them back and ordered a Toklat pad – a Coolback pad, based on their recommendations, and they said it would take about 3 weeks to get it from Toklat and then to me. Graciously, they allowed me to continue using the demo Skito until my new pad arrived.

I received a call last week saying that they received the pad, but that rather than being black, as I had requested, it came in as blue. Apparantly Toklat misread the abbreviated “BL.” She offered to either re-order the pad, or give me a discount on the blue pad. I went ahead and bought the blue pad, since after all blue is my favorite color (sky blue, although the pad is more of a royal blue), and I love a good discount!

It won’t clash too terribly with the 2 Jade green Renegade hoof boots I have, and maybe by the time I get ready to order a second pair the company will offer blue ones – it might be kinda fun to have the trotting diagonal pairs matching colors – Green on left front, right hind, and blue on right front, left hind. I plan on selling the used pair of Easyboot Epics I bought, since I do like the Renegade’s so well and I won’t be using them at all until next year anyway, I thought I’d let them find some usefulness somewhere else. So, if anyone is interested in a pair of size 0’s, just let me know!

I hope I do get to ride a few more times this summer. I’m afraid though that by the time Arabee’s healed enough to ride, I will be too big and pregnant to get on board! Arabee’s cut is looking worse, but even so I think it is healing well. Sometimes injuries start to look worse even though they are getting better. I just wish the ground was dry and I wouldn’t have to keep her in her stall to keep her wound clean – in addition to the swelling around the cut, all four legs are stocking up slightly, adding to the awful swelling around her coronet band. Poor girl. I’m going to give her a few minutes of hand walking pretty soon, then get her out again for a longer walk this evening to try to keep the swelling down to a minimum. Hope it’s not pouring down rain now like it was earlier!
**Update: I walked Arabee for about 10-15 minutes briskly, put a fresh pillow wrap on her leg, and it looks *much better* than it did last night. I didn't put any nitrofurazone/dexamethazone on last night, or today, and I think it was good to give her a break. Seems the oozy wetness of the ointment might have been irritating the surrounding skin. Her cut looks good, and is closing up well. Still open flesh, and still predicting rain, so it is hard to say when she can be turned out, but until then, things are improving!


So I still plan on going to the Chicken Chase this coming weekend, although not as a competitor. I’ll be volunteering and learning as much as I can by “absorption.” It should be a good experience for me, and Arabee is well on the mend, although her wound is not closed well enough for me to allow her to get muddy, so still no riding at this point.

Even if Arabee’s cut would have healed before the ride (it's healing well, though) she would not have been fit enough to try to tackle the 25 miles with so much time off, so there won’t be any competing for me and Arabee this year, although I will continue to work with her. My goal is to start logging competitive miles in 2010.

Why the long wait??

I’m so excited to announce that my husband and I are expecting our second child around the end of October, first of November. While it can be safe to ride while pregnant, it is certainly risky to do so, so I won’t be doing any competing with Arabee, just pleasure riding until my belly gets too big to make it comfortable, and after Arabee's cut is healed.

Hope to jump back onto the conditioning trail by the first of January, 2010, and perhaps Chicken Chase 2010 will be our first competition. In the mean time, my family and I have lots of exciting things to be looking forward to!

pregnancy calendar

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stall Bound . . . Mostly

Arabee has been in her stall mostly all day and all night since Friday when she got her cut. At first she was pretty tense, and I could sense she was seriously considering rushing over top of me when I opened the stall door to get out. Thankfully she didn't do that, and has calmed down. She gets at least (usually much more) 10 minutes of hand walking and jogging every day, and I'm changing her bandage every 2 days as recommended.

I'll change her wrap again this morning very shortly. I'll first hose it clean, and I plan to trim the long hairs around the edge of the cut this time. Before it seemed much too tender for her to allow me to do this, but I am hoping now she'll allow me to do that. It looked much improved already on Monday morning, so I am hoping for even more improvement today.

Last night my husband set up a temporary fence in a grassy area for Arabee. I wanted to give her the chance at some unrestricted movement (Freedom!) after being stalled for so long, but the pastures are not yet ready for hoof traffic. It's much too soft and any large animal (horse or cow) moving over it would just tear up the grass, and pasture management is important now - the better you take care of your grass the less hay you end up having to feed in winter. So we set up the temporary fence in a section of a field entrance that is close to 1 acre that has well established, never been grazed (since no real fencing) grass. It is sturdy enough that her hoofprints wouldn't have hurt it, and at the same time, all we'd been doing was mowing that section anyway, so any grazing we get out of it would be good.

You can see the lane at the right, and there's woven wire fence along the tree line, and a good section of woven wire along the road, and a gate at the lane. We put up a single strand of 1" wide electric tape (which you probably can't see in the picture) with a few step-in posts and made a triangle. I stayed out w/ Arabee for about 20 minutes (it was COLD and WINDY last night!) and if I wouldn't have chased her around I do believe she would have stood in one spot and ate all the grass there.

She was pretty greedy - huge mouthfuls of grass, and when she'd lift her head up to stop to chew (it's a wonder she ever did!) I'd ask her to trot out a bit. Then I'd say "easy" and she'd immediately drop down to a halt and stuff as much grass into her mouth as possible. She wound up getting decent exercise - more freely than if she'd been on the end of a lead rope, and I think she greatly enjoyed the grass!

Off to go dress the wound!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Friday's Story

My original plan was to ride at daylight Friday AM, but with it having been pouring down rain all night, and winds gusting to 40+ mph, I decided to postpone since the forecast showed the winds laying down a bit later in the afternoon. When I finally decided I couldn't wait any more, at 4:30pm, it was still plenty windy, but not as bad.

I decided I needed to use the rump rug since I'd planned on putting a good hour of trotting in on her, which would've gotten Arabee nice and sweaty, and I didn't want her to chill with that wind. She acted as though she'd never seen it before! I always flap it around her while she walks a circle around me to make sure she hasn't forgotten what it looks like when the wind catches it, and she finally was okay with that, but on the walk to where I'd planned on mounting up (about 100 ft) she spooked 6 or 7 times from the wind catching the rug! This mare if she's spooky on the ground, you can count on her not paying a LICK of attention under saddle.

So, rather than risking my neck, I decided to free longe her for about 20 minutes in the paddock with all her tack on, getting the fresh off since she was so jumpy in the wind and hadn't been ridden in about a week. She was nice and calm - obeying perfectly my walk, trot, canter, whoa commands - calmly and without rushing. We'd been going this way for about 15 minutes, and I was about to call it quits and hop on, when out of the blue she just took off - tucked tail, ears flat back and she RAN away. I have no clue what it was that caused her to do that.

When she got to the end of the paddock at the full out run, she slid into the fence panel, then I kept her going a round or two at a canter. All that running had caused the stirrup to fall off the saddle, so I stopped her to put it back on, and when I did that the bright red mud down by her foot caught my eye. So she'd been cut, but I couldn't tell at all how badly, since she had mud up to her fetlock, so I brought her out to hose down the leg, and it was pretty nasty. (I decided not to post the pictures up, but if anyone really wants to see, put your email in my comments and I"ll send the pic to you. it's ouchy looking).

At the same time I discovered the "red mud" my husband called me and said there was a heifer that needed help calving - he and his dad were able to get her in, but it was obvious she needed help with the calf. Since Arabee's wasn't life threatening, after I hosed her leg and took her tack off I put her in her stall until we were able to pull the calf (he was BIG!) and then we took a better look at her. The last post said we planned to take her to the vet Saturday AM, which we did.

I felt silly, since all he actually did was pretty much what I would have done: nitrofurazone on gauze, wrapped with cotton, then held on with vetrap (only I would've used my washable quilts and a leg wrap). I just have never dealt with a hoof injury before, so I was unsure of myself. He did also give her tetanus and penicillin, and we brought Jack along and they both got their annual vaccines, so it was good we went. He did also mix something (dexamethasone??) with the nitrofurazin ointment.

She's been in her stall since then, and has NOT been a happy camper about it, either. I just can't let her in the lot with that fetlock deep mud at this point. I'm supposed to change her bandage every 2 days, so right after I post this I'm going to go unwrap, hose down, hand walk her for at least 10 minutes for exercise, then re-wrap her leg.

Fortunately, she has not been favoring that leg, but I just can't see trying to get on the trail since I know there will be spots with really deep mud that would just grind into her cut. So conditioning is on hold for now. The ride on April 18th is absolutely out for me bringing Arabee, but I am going to see if ride management needs any volunteers so I can still go and learn that way.