Monday, September 24, 2012

Less drama, more fun.

So before the day before Steady's successful attempt to get out of spending the past weekend at Come Again Farm in lessons and having a blast schooling XC, I took my daughter and a fellow Pony Clubber/student(S) of mine to an open show that had a small XC course to play around on.  It was my daughters first open show and first time ever schooling XC and they were both firsts Lily also.  It was such a great day.  Loooong, exhausting but good.  My daughter and Lily did awesome schooling XC.  I am still nervous about letting them go out in the open so it was great to have S there to be her buddy.  They did all the starter size jumps 18"-2' with no issues.  There were two that Lily really questioned but my daughter eventually got her over them, once getting jumped completely out of the tack which was a new experience for  She landed on Lily's neck then proceeded to jump off.  She went back and got her over it nicely then they even strung 3 jumps together and then we called it quits.  The two of them are just a bundle of cuteness.  Lily puts in the minimal amount of effort it requires to get all for legs over any jump and my daughter loves that pony with all her heart and Lily can do no wrong in her eyes.

For the show my daughter did amazing.  Her best class was the Hunt seat equitation class.  She did the pattern(which I completely forgot to have her memorize so she did it by watching those ahead of her) perfectly and in a class that had many older kids and 13 total she got 2nd place!  I was so proud of them!  The show was drawn out so long and they didn't do their last class until 6:30pm.  Lily was tired E was tired and Lily being drafty when she gets tired it is reeeeally tough to get her going, let alone asking a tired 9 year old to get her going.  Their last two classes were their two jumping classes.  They did well, my daughter remembered her courses but Lily took out a rail and didn't bother picking up her back legs AT ALL for the last fence on both courses, oops!  She didn't just knock a rail she plain ole' took out the whole jump.  I wasn't hard on either of them about that cause they were just pooped.  Lily didn't want to get moving and my daughter was too tired to get her moving.  What can you do?  Over all I was SO proud of both of them, they had such a great day and learned a ton and got some great experience!

In other news I am now the leader for our Pony Club, yikes!  I told the current leader that I was happy to help out and I knew that she had done if for many years and was looking to get out so I said that eventually I would be willing to take it on.  Well we had a meeting yesterday and she happily handed it over to me now!  I am kinda freaked out but I know it will all work out.  She is staying on and helping but she wants me to take over the decision making.  I guess it will be a learn as we go and we are a small club so I think it is a good place to start.

Steady is doing ok.  No signs of a temperature and I have completed the round of antibiotics and today the wrap is coming off.  He is not a 100% on his foot yet which has me a bit worried but the vet said it could be 2 weeks and it is just 1 week out today.  I was supposed to be at Lee Ann's all weekend having multiple lessons and it was tough looking at all the photos she posted of everyone schooling this weekend, that was supposed to be me...sigh. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rusty old wire debacle and a shrinking farm.

We are on day 3 of anibiotics and still  no sign of a fever or infection!  He is walking soundly on all fours, YAY!   I am now capable of giving medication in the vein and into the muscle.  Something I feel I probably should have been able to do before now but never had done.  I am actually very glad to know, though I was quite nervous about doing by myself the first day.  Here are the x-rays of Steady's hoof.

My farm is shrinking.  I have mixed feelings about all of it.  I know in my head downsizing, especially before a winter when the hay is scarce and $$$, is the best thing to do.  But it does not stop my heart from the sadness of having to say good bye.  This week my little Snappy sold.  I have owned him for 8 years!  He was my first horse that I owned as an adult.  I got him as a yearling and he was also the first baby that I trained myself.  I officially own 5 horses and while my husband thinks that is five too many we agreed upon keeping 3 which I can, in my head, reason that that is the best decision. 
We are really going to miss the little furry dude.

 How Snappy got choosen as the one to move on to a new home?  It was the process of elimination.  Steady was obviously staying, then my daughter getting older and wanting to get into eventing Lily was the best choice for that.  Then there are my other two daughters who ride for fun here and there but their main thing is 4-H in the spring.  Blaze is really best for my 5 year old to do her first year with just like he has done with my other two.  The horse is seriously a saint.  Then my 7 year old can share with Lily because she is still in Mini 4-H.  Blaze is getting up there in age and to me it made the most sense for Snappy who is young enough to last a long time for someone yet old enough to be safe for young ones.  It just made the most sense.  When I knew a potential buyer was coming the idea of it was quite sad for me but after meeting them and seeing what a great home he was going to it really lifted that sadness.  So Snappy is sold, then yesterday someone came to buy one of my baby goats.  Just two weeks ago we counted 13 animals on our farm we are now down to 10 and the goal is 6.  The lamb is a given since he will be butchered in just a couple months.  Then we have two kittens and a cat that need new homes.  I would be happy to get to 7.  Snappy is going to a great home where his owner is a vet tech and he will be truely spoiled and they are not idiots who will throw their 4 year old child on him and let him go.  That was my biggest fear with a mini getting an uneducated person who would just do something stupid then blame it on him.  For some reason with miniatures people think they are not dangerous like horses.  These people were horse people and I am very happy with where he is going.  He is a great little guy.  We have been through a lot together and I will miss loving on him.  These people just recently had to put their beloved mini down and I know he will fill that void for them and do a great job at it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

SON OF A %&$#@!*&&%$@#, &^$#&!!!! UPDATED

I am in tears writing this.  I have to come here and write it because my mind won't stop and I need to do something.  I am supposed to just sit here and wait for the next two &%*$*$# hours until I can load up and take Steady to the vet.  TWO #$*&%@& HOURS!!!!  I am NOT happy about that but what can I do but come when the vet tells me to.  Why do I need to rush him to the vet ASAP???  You may ask.  Get ready for a self-abusing post.  I am SO pissed off at myself.

Here is the story.  Yesterday I sent my daughter out to feed Steady his breakfast as I got ready for church.  We went to church, came home at lunch then friends came over.  At about 2 pm my husband was sitting on the new deck we just built and when I walk outside he says, "you know your horse is walking on 3 legs??"  I am like, shit!  I go out and look at the leg and it is the same one that was giving us issues a couple weeks ago.  I didn't think a whole lot about it because it looked the same as last time.  I mean I was worried but no need to have an emergency vet call.  So I made sure he was comfortable had food was completely covered with his fly gear and spray.  We had friends over that are quite the city folk and I didn't want to spend much time out in my field messing with the animals since they don't enjoy those things and we never get to see them.  So I proceeded through my day.  I checked on him that evening and no change had been made but I guess now I can see  when I go to turn him out in the back pasture for the night that that he was favoring a bit more than last time.  I thought I will give it over night then make a decision in the morning as to what to do.  I woke a few times throughout the night worrying about it and when I couldn't get back to sleep at 4 am I made the decision that he needed to go the vet to be checked out.  The first time it got better pretty quickly but he came out of it nicely and was completely fine within a week but the fact that it recurred this soon after I had suspicions that this could be more serious. 

So I was eager to go check him out once it was daylight and the kids were off to school.  So I go out there this morning and was VERY disheartened when I saw that not only had it not gotten any better but it was actually worse.   I immediately knew something was very wrong because if it was the same issue as a few weeks ago it would have not gotten worse over night.  I then took the time to investigate further.  All it took was picking up his hoof and my heart sank and ran to the house to grab my phone and call the vet as fast as I could.  What was it that caused such an immediate response?  A rusty piece of wire embedded into his hoof crease of his frog.  My heart is sick with worry and guilt.  The heat in his leg has moved up and I am so afraid of how far it has gotten.  I am almost certain it is infected and now it is just a matter of how seriously.  Blood stream??  Oh I feel like a big stupid *^%$!  It gets worse.  Now I am thinking back and realizing this could have been in there since Saturday.  I fed him Saturday morning and I then took my daughter and a lesson girl to a horse show all day and didn't return until that night and I had the girls give him his dinner.  So that means the last time I had actually stopped to take a good look at my horse was Saturday morning.  I am such a stupid idiot!  I am so pissed off at myself right now and the tears that are flowing are half because of my anger and myself and half for fear of my poor horse.  UGH I want to throw up.....

My two hundred dollar Monday morning surprise!  The short side was the part in his hoof.  It was about 1 1/2 inches deep.
So called the vet back and said I was freaking out can I please bring him in before noon??  He said, "yes, bring him right now".  So that is what I did.  Upon further looking it was piece of old rusty fencing that most likely worked it's was to the surface of the ground and found it's way into Steady's hoof.  After x-rays to see exactly where it was, he came out with the good news that it did not touch the navicular bone.  But it was close and very close to the tendon but didn't appear to do any damage with any major areas.  THANK GOD!  He cleaned it pulled it, cleaned it again, cleaned it some more soaked it, packed it and wrapped it.  Gave antibiotic Genamiacin and Penicillin to cover all the bases.  Steady did not have a fever!  So no signs of infection as of yet, more good news.  So he showed me how to administer antibiotic into the vein and muscle and he will be on them for 5 days.  I am to repack and wrap in four days.
All doctored up.

My sexy boy is all gimpy :(

Thank you ALL for all of your well wishes and assuring me I should not start banging myself upside the head for this.  It helps that there was hopeful news from the vet.  We are by far not in the clear now it is a watch and wait.  Just to clarify I do not believe that there random lameness a few weeks ago had anything to do with this.  That they are completely separate incidents.  Thanks again everyone!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Walk/Canter Transitions.

This will probably be a "what's the big deal" kinda post to a lot of people but for Steady and I it is a huge success.  We have never had Walk/Canter transitions and to be fair I really have never put much effort into getting them.  I mean I hailed from the Hunter/Jumper world that every horse had that installed along with flying changes but that was years ago and I was not the one who installed said abilities.  Eventing is different, it seems that certain things are added as a progession as you move up levels.  If you never move passed Novice then Walk/Canter transitions are never really required.  So I focus on the things that are required.  Well today I went out with one goal in mind and that was to work at the canter.  I realized that I spend a majority of my time working at the trot.  I never really even thought about that until today.  I need to spend more time cantering.  More time on canter transitions up and down, the quality of the canter and the adjustablity of it.  So that is what I did.  We troted for a brief warm up and then it was on to the canter.  Upward transitions were mostly good with the exception of one in particular.  He was feeling very uphill at all gaits and I thought his walk felt good enough to possibly get a hop into the canter that is needed when transitioning from a walk.  I was right!  He did a walk to canter twice in both directions.  I am quite pleased with my horse today and that makes for a good start to the day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Goals, dreams, aspirations and otherwise...

Anyone that knows me well will readily tell you that if Amy wants something Amy will do what ever whe has to do to make it happen.  And if Amy says she will do something, she WILL do it.  I would say they are right.  There are different terms and perspectives on these attributes.  To one it could be stubborness, bull headed, opinionated which have a negative incinuations but to another it could be considered tenacity, strong or dependable.  I have not made a decision as to which description suites me better possibly a mix of both at times.  Like stubborn yet strong, or opinionated but dependable.  Which ever way you look at it I git shit done!  So there is something I want, I would even say need but many may disagree with that.  There many reasons why I feel strongly that I need this thing and I could make a list.  Actually I think I should make a list.  That is why I am here this morning because I feel like this needs to be written down.  Cause once it is written unless there are some unforeseen extenuating circustanced it's gonna happen.

I want, need and plan to get an arena in the near future!!!  There it is in black and white for the world to see. 
Reasons why:
My horses' legs!
training without being a slave to the weather/footing
My Horses' legs!
Ability to jump on a regular basis.
My horses' legs!
Giving lessons. Trust me beginner lessons are always more interesting without an arena and interesting is NOT what you are going for with beginners.
I can reach my training goals more effectively
and lastly my horses' legs!

I had a realization a while back that my goals of getting to Training in the near future could not happen without an arena.  I just could not do the required work for anything more than Novice without one.  And at any level it is a serious challenge without one.   And when I am 100% subject to ground that is too muddy, too hard and too frozen it is really quite difficult to get anywhere.  I believe I have my spot picked out.  Now I just need to get the money, the easy part right? (rolls eyes)  But now it won't be as difficult as before since my girls are all in school it opens me up to find some work.  I have applied for a substitute teaching position in the area schools.  They made it clear that they were VERY happy to have me so just a couple more steps and I will be back working after nearly a decade of staying at home with my girls.  I still am doing the food co-op but that ends with the produce season at the end of October.  So I will work 2-3 days a week until then and then hopefully up to 4 after that.  After 10 years of living off of one income now the extra income is not "needed" and my husband has given me the go ahead that he is happy to let me use the money I make for "extras" that I would like.  He was actually the first to mention the word "arena" which got my mind going.  I have done the math and by next spring I should have the money needed to get it done!

Yes please, thank you, I will take one of these!
Now to start saving.  Saving is not one of my strongest areas so this will have to be a very concious effort.  Maybe you all can help me keep focused!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It feels so good!

It feels so good to be back on my horse again, even if it is only for about a 20 minute ride, he felt good and that is the best news of all.  After how he walked off a week ago I was scared it would be a very long time until I was going to back on him again.  Thankfully that was not the case, he can still hold his amazing soundness record.  75 starts and 2 and a half years in eventing and still as sound as the day is long.  GRATEFUL! 

Steady all princessed up with his new fly sheet.

I put any plans on hold until I could see how this was going to turn out.  I have just been flip flopping and not real driven or have any real serious goals for the remainder of the season.  I mean my HUGE dream and goal was to compete at a recognized HT and that happened twice.  I would say I am pretty well satisfied.  What can I say I am easy to please.  I was considering doing another schooling show before the end of the year but after doing another recognized HT  I don't know that I am all that concerned about that.  A little Novice derby would be nice but I am just not dead set on making that happen and I don't know that it is even necessary.  The step up to Novice just is not that intimidating to me.  And I feel like we could just make that step next spring.  Now if I could find a CT or Derby within an hour of me I would go in a heartbeat.  So unless I find something like that I am most likely going to be focusing my efforts and finances toward lessons.  I am thinking of a weekend at Lee Ann's squeezing in a few lessons with her, or something like that.  I have an email in to her about that I will probably hear back next week since I am sure she is preparing for her show this weekend.

Today I finally got in my first real training ride on Lily.  Considering I am the person who has trained her from square one including her saddle training that is not all together a true statement that it is my first training ride.  But this is the first time that I have felt she was ready to start the beginning steps of dressage training.  You know when you do it right, when you take all the right steps and be sure the horse is "getting it" when it is time to take the next step in their training the next step is no big deal.  It just seems to be a smooth and natural progression.  It is not some big stressful situation for the horse or the rider.  There is no "breaking" so to speak.  It is just the next step.  And that is what today was like.  Lily was obviously ready for the next phase in her training and it couldn't have gone any better.  I got on with two goals in mind 1)make this enjoyable for her 2) start to help her understand the concepts of contact.  Both of those goals were met wonderfully and that meant I even got to add in a few more things, like relaxing and stretching and moving off of leg pressure.  She is such a great little student and the ride was quite enjoyable.  I never did more than trot and that was the plan.  Canter will come down the road.  I love that she naturally enjoys stretching down it will definitely be a help in this process.  We will be working on being able to keep her stretched down but that will come with the understanding of contact. She did struggle with the concept of contact and likes to open her mouth and brace against the bit.  I found that if I kept my hands very low and wide and am consistent with the contact that she quickly started to accept the bit.  Then I could move my hands up for short intervals.   I started to get her to move off of leg pressure and she did seem to respond nicely so we went into baby leg yields at the walk.  Just asking to leg yield for 4-5 feet moving to the rail.  She did quite well to the left and got confused to the right.  That was a reality check for me that my fault of collapsing my right side will effect any horse I work with and that is even more reason to work even harder at correcting it.  Once I consciously used my body correctly going right she significantly improved.  All in all a lovely successfully ride.  I popped her over a cross rail and a couple logs for good measure and the pony got pats and apples.

One epiphany moment I had today working with Lily is that my biggest regret with Steady and something that was a big hole for a long time for us, of all the trainers that worked with us from the very start none of them ever emphasised the importance of "long and low" nor did they ever teach me the concept or how to ask for it.  It was never presented to me and I feel it should have been one of the very first things presented and taught to two greeeeeeen beans at dressage.  The trainer I worked with for the first few months only ever emphasised "the frame" and now I see the huge error in that but at that time I knew no different.  We live and learn and now I can do better because I know better.  What a great day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Soundness update a some stuff.

The lack of photographic content has been in part due to the fact that I lost my camera charger a while back.  The ones here are taken with my phone so the quality is crappy but it is something.  Since Steady and I are at a stand still until he is healed up I keep thinking I need to video some of my daughters lessons with Lily the halflinger.  I am trying to decide if Lily's progress should be documented here or on a blog that is seperate.  What do you think?  Would you enjoy hearing about her training also or stick to just Steady?  I am thinking one blog would be easier as long as you all enjoy reading about her progress also.  I have a goal to get 2 training rides in on Lily each week along with my daughter riding her in a lesson 2 days a week.  I think she would start progressing much quicker then.  And now that Steady is out of commision that should be even easier.

The horses are enjoying the softer footing and the mud that the rain has brought.

Update on Steady: He is not 3 legged lame anymore which is great.  So I am confident that it is not anything serious.  He is using in normally for the most part but he is taking too many off steps for me to be comfortable to start riding him again.  I think more than anything this cement hard ground is what is making it take so long and the flies aren't helping.  He is so thin skinned and when a fly lands on him he hates it.  Just a few days after the initial injury I was out with him and he stomped so hard at a fly with THE leg that he held it up touching his belly for a good minute.  It must have hurt.  I am now thinking that he would be best covered head to toe in fly sheets.  I am not one for babying horses but with the hard ground and flies combined it may just be the right thing to do for the time being.  We will see what this rain does for the ground and I will at least be spraying him more often with fly spray.

Here is a picture of The Dude after a nine mile trail ride that my daughter and I went on last Saturday. 
He can be a pita but he sure is sessy!

It was Lily's first time out on a trail ever and I had some apprehension having my daughter be the first one to take her through the trails.  Though that pony is the most level headed horse I have met and I was 99% sure she would be perfectly fine.  I decided that I would go ahead and let my daughter do it.  And wouldn't you know she was perfect.  Like she had done it a million times.  Steady was the idiot and he was really getting on my nerves.  Every dead branch was there to kill us and required him to stand completly still or turn around and run for home.  I had to get off 2 times to lead him past a spot but other than that we worked through it so we could mostly enjoy the ride.  To give him a little credit we have trail ridden very little this season and the times we have it has been with others who led the way.  Steady unfortunately is not a fearless leader on a trail.  The cross country course he is fearless and eager which I find funny that a trail would give him so much trouble.  Horses?

We are in the process of building a deck that Steady is ridiculously afraid of, especially when we are sitting on it.  I will hopefully be starting my training rides on Lily this week so unless someone opposes I will update her progress here.