Sunday, March 29, 2009

Riding three? Crazy me.

Kaswyn's foot is really healing up nicely, and I've kept it unwrapped for a few days. Since it is almost healed I've ridden him twice, and he feels really good. He's picked up weight and is getting much stronger. He still has a ways to go, but I think we're on a slow uphill climb back to getting in shape.

I'm also riding Albert, but I'm not working on the flying changes. He just got himself so upset about it that his counter-canter got very tense and crooked. So I've been working on counter-canter with a simple change of lead through the walk and he seems to accept this as not completely scary. He's also really getting the hang of trot and canter half-passes. The trot half-passes are pretty good both directions, but he's having a hard time with the canter half-pass left. He'll get it though. And his trot lengthenings are getting really big! Good thing he likes to do them now.

I know I said that I couldn't possibly ride Kaswyn, Albert, and Fire, but of course I've been squeezing all three horses in. Fire's owner can't help right now, but Susan helps when she can (which I really appreciate!). When I'm done at the barn I'm really tired, but I think this is good for me. Building the horses up is one thing, but also I need to be able to ride both of them at Nationals and not be exhausted. At the last show I wasn't sure I was going to make it though the warm-up for my last class. My abs were screaming and I was just pooped. I said to my trainer's mom "I don't know how she (my trainer) can ride more than one horse at a show! I'm SO tired!" and she said "Well, she rides eight to ten horses a day, every day."That got me to thinking that I should suck it up if I can and ride all three. There will be days when I just don't have time, but I'm going to try and stick it out.

I had Susan video a bit of my ride on Fire on Friday. I'm putting these videos up with YouTube instead of the Blogger video tool. Which platform do you all like better? Blogger, or YouTube?

This is Fire trotting. He is trained as a saddle seat horse, so he is used to having his neck up in the air. He is probably also used to being able to use his neck to elevate his front end, so at times he tries to use his neck when he trots and is getting tired. That might be why he looks uneven and maybe even lame sometimes. Also he is just figuring out the whole "connection with the bit" thing, since he is also trained to back off of the bit instead of meet the rider's hand halfway. Still, at times he looks like h e has some potential.

Fire cantering. He's very wiggly and crooked, and the first time I asked him to canter in a circle I thought he would fall down! I'm sure he didn't canter in circles much. Also, saddle seat horses never pick up the canter from the trot, they always do it from the walk. This allows the rider to push the horse to the limit at the trot and the horse knows just to trot bigger and not canter. So I asked for the canter from the walk. I don't have any walk footage of him, but he has a very nice walk. MUCH nicer than Kaswyn's and even a bit better than Albert's.

So that's what I've been doing. I'm not sure how long I can keep it up, but I'm going to try.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Fire

Since I don't have Kaswyn to ride recently, I've been riding a new horse at the barn. His name is Fire, a 13 year old purebred Arabian gelding, and he was an Arabian English Pleasure horse at his last barn. His owner is a good Friend of Marge's and she moved Fire to our place because she was having issues with her previous trainer. She asked if I would ride him saddle seat, and I told her no, that I would do dressage or nothing. She hesitated, saying that he was fully trained in saddle seat, and Marge told her "Don't be stupid! Let her ride him dressage! It's not going to hurt him!". So the owner agreed.

My first ride on him was interesting. First, he is very out of shape, with a hay belly and a body full of hair. While I was grooming him, I went to pick his feet and when I stuck the hoof pick into the groove next to the frog, it sunk in deeply with a squishing sound and black smelly goo oozed out. Three of his four feet were like this, signalling a terrible case of thrush which I treated immediately. I tacked him up with Susan's old dressage saddle (which fits him surprisingly well) and Albert's french link snaffle bridle. I started by lunging him and he was totally freaked out. I felt so bad for him. He was scared and convinced that I was going to beat the tar out of him.

I spent a lot of time just talking him through the lunging and trying to get him to calm down a bit. I'm sure his last trainer wanted him all snorty and blowing so he would trot high, but instead of doing this with relaxed, focused energy he was doing it with anxiety and fear fueling his motion. When he finally seemed like he was at least able to handle the situation, I got on. Now, I always use the mounting block to get on a horse. Fire, however, was not used to this and wanted nothing to do with the mounting block. So that first time we just took a bit of time to look at and smell the mounting block, and then I (*gasp*) got on him from the ground.

When we started to walk, the poor boy was beside himself. He was champing at the bit, and not in a good chewing the bit kind of way, but seriously champing with his lips curled back, mouth gaping, with his head bobbing and neck straight up in the air. I tried to stay out of his mouth as much as possible and we just walked for a long time with me patting him and scratching his withers. Eventually he put his head down and I praised him a bunch. Soon he was putting his head down for short periods of time and he would get big love from me.

When I thought he could take it I asked for the trot on a 20 meter circle. We had gone twice around when he stopped suddenly and stomped his back foot forcefully at me. I asked him to trot again, and after another circle again he stopped and stomped at me. Not cool little horse, but I'm not going to do what you expect me to do. I had no spurs and no whip, so I just nudged him forward. He trotted a few steps this time, and then I got another stomp. I nudged him again, but this time instead of trotting he threatened to rear. He didn't actually go up, but he raised his shoulders and hopped his front end up. That time what he got back from me was a two legged 4-H type of kick (you know, the kind of kicks that you see kids giving their stubborn ponies?). Message received, he trotted on like a good boy.

I've done three more rides on him since then and they have all been really nice. He's had his feet done and the thrush is just about gone, and I can now use the mounting block. That first ride I wrapped him with polos on all four legs, and since then I have left him unwrapped. Perhaps the stomping was because he's not used to being wrapped. Since then there has been no more stomping of feet at me, which I like. Mentally, Fire is really coming along. He doesn't get the whole "go to the bit" thing yet, but he doesn't have his head in the air anymore and isn't scared to work. In fact he is curling away from the bit a little too much, so I have been very giving with the reins in hopes that he will stretch to the bit and meet me halfway. We'll see how that goes.

When I start riding Kaswyn again I know I won't have time to ride three horses in one evening, so someone is going to have to go. It's probably going to have to be Fire, unless is owner can come out and help get horses ready for me and put them away. I don't know if she can do that, so I don't know how long I'll be able to ride him. But this little horse has a lot of potential. He has a very nice walk, lots of movement in his back end, and as soon as he learns to free up his shoulders he'll have a lot of movement up front. It's too bad I won't have time for him. He seems sweet and very fun.

Too many horses, not enough time! Isn't that the cry of most horse people?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Small but mighty

Since the show I've only been lunging Kaswyn so I can get his heel to finish healing. It's coming along nicely, thanks to some miracle products. The first one, called Derma Gel, was recommended to me by my trainer who used it on at least two horses at her barn that had some type of hoof/foot injuries. She came over the night before the show when I thought that Kaswyn's heel had exploded outwards. When she saw the foot, tried in vain to get a vet out that night, but ended up running back to her barn to get the Derma Gel. The next day it looked like a whole new foot. Let me tell you, the stuff is amazing. She says it's expensive, and I got some the next day from the vet, but I haven't gotten my bill yet. I'm sure that will just be lovely.

But regardless of what it costs, the Derma Gel is worth it. I can see differences in the healing process overnight. Every day I go out to the barn, lunge Kaswyn, and unwrap the foot. I clean the area with sterile saline and nolvasan solution (iodine solutions should not really be used on broken skin, but I used betadine when he first hurt himself because I had no other scrub available), and rinse with saline. I dry with sterile gauze, and apply the Derma Gel. Then I scoop some SSD cream (silver sulfadiazine - it's primarily a burn cream) on some more gauze and cover the wound, wrapping the whole thing in a roll of vetwrap. Then I cover the bottom of his hoof with strips of duct tape, and wrap one pice of tape all the way around the bottom edge of his foot. It's getting close to being healed, and I think I'm going to give it one more week and then I'll get back on and ride.

Anyhow, I haven't ridden Kaswyn, but we've been lunging and doing what I call our sitting exercises. Years ago I was told by my first dressage trainer that Kaswyn would never do the upper level because he didn't know how to sit his back end down. I decided I would try to teach him, so I stuck him on the lunge line on a small circle. Then I took the lunge whip and tapped the top of his tail, making him tuck his tail under and rotate his pelvis. It took a few tries to get him to do it without running, but eventually he figured out that all he had to do was put his butt down and sit. We do this both at the trot and the canter. I'm not really sure if this helps at all, but it looks like he's rotating his pelvis and sitting to me. I'll get video of it and you all can give your opinions. Kaswyn seems to be building muscle from all this lunging, and I think he's even muscling over his butt a little.

I have been riding Albert, and boy has that been a challenge. After the show I decided that we'd try some new things and put some pressure on him so that the other stuff seems easy and not stressful for him. We are doing a little shoulder-in, and some trot half-passes. Also, my trainer had worked with him on flying changes years ago, so I decided to start that work again. We first did simple changes across the diagonal, and that worked just fine. So I put him in the counter canter on the 20 meter circle, then changed the bend and asked for the flying change.

It's been years since he's schooled the flying changes, but he remembered the training from my trainer. However, he was totally scared about it because it's something new, it's hard for him, and it's something he doesn't quite understand totally yet. So he did what Albert always does in these situations - he sticks his big strong neck in the air and bolts.

Now Albert is only 14'3" (if that). But let me just tell you how strong this little guy is. He can pull me out of the saddle without even trying, and I have not doubt that if he wanted to buck me off, I'd be eating dirt. But he's not malicious this way, so I'm really not worried about him purposely trying to unload me. What I don't like is his reaction to new things. We simply must get through this somehow.

So we worked on the 20 meter circle, trying to go from counter canter to true canter via the flying change. In an effort to control the bolting I made the circle smaller when I was going to ask for the change. This made it better because he couldn't go as fast, but he still took off a little with his head in the air and neck very tense.

However, he was doing the changes some of the time. But last night he bolted on me, and then kicked dirt on the wall and spooked himself, and I wasn't sure if I was going to get him stopped before he hit the wall or fell down. Luckily we did stop, but when I got off (after a few more tries) my back was wrecked. I had shooting pains across my lower back and down my right leg. I called my trainer to tell her that I need her to come out and help me with this, because I can't have this little guy crippling me every time I ride him. And I know that if he's bolting like that I must not be doing this right.

So that little horse is many things. He is smart. He is talented. He is a blast to ride. He is scared of new things. And he is as strong as an ox.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Show Videos and Test Sheets

Finally, what you've all been waiting for! Show videos with test sheets. This is a long post. Enjoy.

A note about the videos - Albert's owner took the videos for the first two days of the show, and she is self-admittedly not a very good videographer. Some of the videos are hard to watch because she had a hard time holding the camera still, plus it was really cold for some of the tests and her fingers were frozen. I brought our tripod but she didn't use it. So, sorry for the shaky videos!

For non-dressage people - the tests are broken up into separate movements, each of which are ridden for a score from 0 - 10. 0 is not performed, 10 is excellent. In my years of doing dressage I have gotten a few 0's, and two 9's. I have never gotten a 10. Most people are very happy with a 7, and thrilled with an 8. The scores listed in the box called "Collective Marks" are scores for the overall impression of certain attributes of the horse and rider.

Lets start with Albert and Training Level Test 1

Now, this is NOT Albert's first show. He is a very accomplished show horse, having many Regional titles and a Reserve National Championship in First Level, as shown by my trainer. And he's 17 years old. So he's experienced and level headed. I'm just lucky enough to be able to show him.

Score = 66.087% Place in class - 1st. Judge's comments - "Well ridden with flow. Work to develop better bend in canter but steady with hands and connection."

In general I don't complain about the judging, and I think it was pretty accurate this show. Even in Kaswyn's tests, which he didn't get good scores on. Anyhow, for his first test since 2005, Albert was fantastic for me!

Albert and Training Level Test 2

Score = 67.143%. Place in class - 1st. Judge's comments - "He looks a bit tired. He is fairly steady but should maintain more energy and straightness in canter for more 7's."

For this test I took her advice and tried to get him to bend more at the canter. But in the process I made him a little crooked. Oops. And he was a little tired because this was his second test on Friday night. And it was cold! Brrr!

Albert and First Level Test 1

Score = 66.333% Place in class - 1st. Judge's comments - "Showing clear basics and consistent connection with closed quiet mouth. Try to develop better bend and consistent connection to outside rein. "

Since this is first level I tried to elevate the frame just a little without holding him up. I think he did very well here, even though he was really on the muscle and was pulling a little at the canter at times. Still, a very good boy!

Albert and First Level Test 2

Score = 66.389%. Place in class - 1st. Judge's comments - "Not quite as consistent (referring to the rider's effect of the aids) today, but overall balanced and willing. Wonderful pair."

Wow, three 8's in this test! He did get a 4 when he broke from the canter down to the trot when I asked him to come back to working trot from the lengthened canter, but other than that it was a great test. So proud of him! I remember thinking during this test that I might not make it through because I was so tired and my abs were super sore.

Albert did win all of this classes, and there were at least three horses in each of his classes. The show was small, but regardless of his ribbons he got very impressive scores. He's a peach.

Kaswyn and Fourth Level Test 1

Score = 57.907%. Place in class - 2nd. Judge's comments - "Lots of potential. Leaning right throughout. Horse must develop more lateral suppleness for the level. The self carriage is good, but horse must respond better to right leg to develop correct bend and position."

In this test I had an error when I turned right instead of left in the beginning of the test resulting in 2 points being deducted from my final score (not the %). I even had my trainer reading the test for me and I turned the wrong way! I have an excuse, though. My mind was completely blown by the way Kaswyn was acting. He was so excited to be back in the show ring that he couldn't even think straight. He was higher than a kite and was running through my half halts and completely unable to focus. Also several times in the test he thought he knew what we should be doing, and would just start the wrong movement. He was tense, over-adrenalized, and it was not a very good ride. Our score was very fitting and the judge fair. There were only two horses in this class, and Kaswyn got second place.

Kaswyn and Prix St Georges

Score = 55.000% Place in class - 4th. Judge's comments - "Unfortunately, fairly rigid in this test. Not able to bend (suppleness) or develop much reach. Quietly ridden but needs to develop more suppleness."

For this test, Kaswyn was sore. It's evident from the unevenness in his trot strides. He did score poorly on a number of movements in this test, and got the scores he deserved. I think his soreness was a combination of his heel injury and the fact that he worked while he was so tense the day before. Kind of disappointing, but he wasn't 100% ready for this show considering the heel injury. But I'm glad I took him anyway, since the show was paid for.

One last video - on Friday night, between his two classes, Albert somehow got his mane loose. Just as I was about to get on for his second test he shook his head and his whole mane came out of the braid. We did a quick braid job in the stall and then I went to warm up. The braid didn't hold and came out on the warm-up ring, so it had to be re-braided. My trainer started at the top and I started from the bottom. Nothing like a little added stress right before you enter the ring!

All in all, it was a great show. Albert got half of the scores needed to qualify him for Nationals (he needs scores from two different judges I think) and Kaswyn got his whole "Oh boy! We're showing!!!" thing out of his system. He is finally putting on weight and has good energy, so I'm happy. I really miss showing. I'm hoping to hit some schooling shows this summer so I can keep Kaswyn's head in the game. We can't have another over-excited test at Nationals. You don't get second chances there!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Working on it

So yeah, I'm working on getting the videos and test sheets posted here.

I'm stupidly busy at work (with regular work plus a special project that I am on which will probably cause me to work late a few days this week), still trying to clean up and do laundry from the show, and trying to get to the tack store to buy a boot for Kaswyn so that he will keep his foot wrapped when he gets turned out. Oh, and work horses and clean the house too.

Seriously, our house is way out of control. Craig decided to implement "Operation Re-Claim the House" where we clean the house for an hour or two each night. I usually just bust out and clean the whole downstairs in one evening, then the upstairs the next night, pretty much exhausting myself in the process. Craig's idea is a good one, but it's going to take days to get done. I'm just going to be patient and wait this thing out. I hope the places that we clean stay clean until we get to the rest of the house.

Anyway, I'll get the videos up. Eventually. But I might have to clean toilets first.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Show - Day 3

Whew! I am so tired. And sore.

I think Kaswyn was also sore today due to his antics in the ring yesterday. He was very uneven behind in his trot work. I couldn't feel it, but my trainer told me about it after my test. It was bad enough that she thought the judge might ring the bell and excuse us for lameness. We did Prix St Georges and he got a 55%, but not because of the uneven strides. He got a low score because we had quite a few yucky movements in the test. He got a 6th place out of 7.

Albert was wonderful again today, winning First Level Test 2, his fourth class of the show. He also ended up winning the First Level high point award, so that's really great! It's amazing that he won all four of his classes this show. It blows my mind.

More details later. I have girls to play with right now. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March Show - Day 2

Again, a quick update tonight. More details tomorrow or maybe Monday when I get some time.

This morning I showed Kaswyn Fourth Level Test 1. He was SO excited to be back in the show ring that he couldn't think straight. Although he was sound, all of his adrenaline was clouding his brain and he just could not focus or concentrate. He wasn't naughty, though, and I had to laugh at his behavior. I also had some bad behavior and went off course, causing us to get an error and lose two points. We got a 57%, and second place (but there were only two of us in the class).

Albert was a star again for his First Level Test one ride. He was a bit strong at the canter but I was able to manage it into a nicer stride, and he ended up with a 66% and another blue ribbon!

Tomorrow Kaswyn does the Prix St George and Albert goes in First Level Test 2. I have Kaswyn's test memorized, but not Albert's - good thing I ride Kaswyn in the morning and I have until 2 in the afternoon to memorize Albert's test!

Friday, March 13, 2009

March show - Day 1

Here is a quick recap of the show.

Kaswyn went to the show because the vet thought the foot looked fine. If he's sound on it tomorrow like he was today then he will show Saturday and Sunday.

Albert won his Training Level Test 1 class with a 66% (the second highest score of the day).

Albert also won his Training Level Test 2 class with a 67% (the highest score of the day).

I will post video and my test score sheets so you all can watch the tests and read what the judge had to say. But that will have to wait until tomorrow because right now it's 10:30 and I have to feed in the morning, so I'm going to bed. Cause I rode four times today (worked both horses then showed Albert in two classes) and I'm TIRED.

But let the record show that I'm very proud of Albert. He is awesome.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wow, talk about a bad decision

Unwrapping Kaswyn's foot was a huge mistake. The foot looked like it was closing up and healing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but today it had completely broken open and is now bigger than before. Dr. B said it was a tissue granulation process and will make the wound bigger and might produce proud flesh if I don't keep it pressure wrapped. He needs to stay with his foot wrapped for 3 to 4 weeks. During that time Dr, B says I can ride him and he can get turned out in the arena, just not in mud at all. He said I could even show him if he was sound on the foot, but that it was up to me.

My trainer looked at the wound and agreed with me that he should not show. It's one thing to take a horse to a show with a minor scrape somewhere. It's quite another to ride into the show ring on a horse that has a obviously open would. And the thing is like four inches long so it's not like it's small.

So far I've been taking this latest development in stride. If I were to think about it too much I'd become overwhelmed with sadness and then I'd just weep and feel sorry for myself. Since neither one of those things gets me closer to my goal if riding the best dressage that I can, I decided not to let this get to me. Sure, I'm sad, but I refuse to be buried by the sadness and "what if's".

At least I have another horse to take. Albert should be a blast and we will be riding at 5:38 and 8:09 (PM) on Friday, around 12:43 on Saturday, and 2:16 on Sunday. If you're' in the Northeastern Ohio area feel free to stop by and heckle me as I ride!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tiny glimmer

Tonight I went out and rode the boy. I spent some time in the stall doing some stretching exercises with him, and then gave him a good grooming - he's shedding like a monster! His foot is looking much better, which is a relief. For our ride I decided to go with the snaffle bit instead of the full bridle, since I planned on doing a lot of stretching and bending and thought the snaffle bit would be better for that.

We started out on a long rein with him long and low. I made him stretch his neck out and give his back at the very beginning, then I picked him up a bit and asked him to alternate between extended gaits and working gaits, which I think really helped him get over and through his back. Finally when I asked him to collect a little he felt pretty decent. Not perfect, but worlds better than last night.

Since last night he's been on one gram of bute and I've been putting Surpass cream on his left front leg, so maybe that has something to do with him feeling better. Luckily I'm only giving him one gram of bute twice a day, and that should keep us well below the acceptable limit for showing (bute is a legal drug for use at shows, but only if the plasma concentration is under a certain amount, and it must be given no less than 12 hours before your show time).

Tomorrow night my trainer will come out and watch him go, then we will make the final call as to whether he will go to the show or not. I think he'll go. Albert will certainly go, and I'm happy about that, but I really want to show my boy again.

Two days until show time, and they still have not posted the ride times! Frustrating...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Show season 2009 - Over before it even began?

Times are tough right now. The economy sucks, everyone is worried about their investments, their jobs, and how much stuff costs. Things just got scarier for our little family today. Craig's work has been laying people off rather steadily for months now. He's been able to dodge the bullets so far, but the problem is we never know when it could happen to us. We have been through this three times in the past, so we know that we can make it through again if he were to get laid off. But we'd really like for him to keep his job, thank you very much.

Today they laid off four people is his department. He wasn't one of them. But this is getting too dicey for my comfort level. That is why I've made the difficult, but realistic, decision to not show the horses this year. The show this weekend is paid for, so I'll be going for sure. But I had planned to go to one other show in April, Regionals in June, and Sport Horse Nationals in September.

Since Kaswyn is already qualified (for life) for Nationals at Fourth Level and Prix St. Georges, I could conceivably go to just Nationals if he's ready. Albert will probably get half of the scores he needs this weekend, so he would just need one more show to qualify for Nationals. Susan said she could afford one more local show this summer, probably in August. So the plan is to wait until entries are due for Nationals and see where our finances are. If things look okay, then we'll go. But if the situation gets worse and our financial situation is in bad shape, then I stay home this year.

And, if that wasn't bad enough, I don't have high hopes of Kaswyn even making it to the show this weekend. His foot looks a lot better, but he was moving really funny up front and was super stiff from not doing anything for a week. I was supposed to have a lesson but he felt so bad that my trainer got on him instead. She agreed that he was stiff and moving funny, but she hasn't lost hope quite yet. I'm going to ride him tomorrow with lots of bending and stretching, and then Thursday she will come back and evaluate him. So that is the make or break point for him - if he's going well then he goes to the show. If not, he stays home. Albert, as usual, has been a super star and was blowing us away with his trot lengthenings tonight. That little bay horse can trot if he wants to! So at least I'll have one horse to show this weekend.

Both of these situations make me really sad. Not only will Kaswyn most likely miss the show this weekend, but he may not get in the ring at all this year. I know I should be happy that I still have the money to keep him (and I am) but is it so wrong to want more?

Monday, March 09, 2009

The decision made

I decided not to wrap Kaswyn's foot tonight. After I hand walked him I unwrapped the foot and it looked very wet, but it didn't really look infected. It did have a funky smell again, so I wiped it clean with sterile gauze pads. Once I got all the goo off of it I could see that some of the flap was adhered back to the foot, while some of it was not. I cut off the parts that were not stuck down and then pressed on the wound with the gauze to get it as dry as possible. Then I gave it a good coating with Aluspray.

I bedded his stall extra deep tonight - something that Susan is going to HATE tomorrow because my horse is a total pig in his stall and is much worse in deep bedding. He tends to poop and then walk through it, dragging it all over stall and burying poop under clean shavings. He just makes a huge mess and it's gross! However, I need to make sure the wound stays clean so he needs extra bedding. I'll probably end up cleaning his mess of a stall tomorrow anyway, so it's just more punishment for me.

Anyhow, if the wound looks good tomorrow and Kaswyn is sound I think we'll have a lesson. Here's hoping.

Horse show in four days.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Trying to decide

I went out to the barn this afternoon and walked Kaswyn around the arena. Well, I got on him bareback and walked him because he's such a pain in the butt to hand walk. After the walking I unwrapped his foot. I think the flap of skin might actually stick down and not leave a gaping hole in his heel. There is still an open wound, but it's more like a slash instead of a hole. It was awfully wet and soft, and the heel around it has started to soften up as well. It didn't look like it was infected, which is probably because I started him on oral doxycycline Friday afternoon as a precaution. It did kind of have a funky smell to it though, and Kaswyn kept sniffing it which made it hard to work on it. I put more Nolvasan on it and wrapped it again, but now I'm not sure if that was the right thing to do.

I'm torn. Should I unwrap it tomorrow, spray it with Aluspray, and let it dry out? Or should I keep it wrapped to keep it clean? What do you all think? I'm leaning towards unwrapping it....

Five days until show time!

Friday, March 06, 2009

I love my horse. However...

...sometimes he is an ass.

For some reason my horse has gotten into the bad habit of running into his stall when he is brought in from the pasture at feeding time. This happens every now and then, and I'm usually able to fix this problem, or at least make it a little better. Yesterday Susan brought him in and he started to run into his stall. She stopped him, but he got all antsy. She thought she had him under control, but at the last second he leapt into his stall.

This is the result of his action.

What you are seeing is the back of his foot, more specifically the heel area, of his right front foot. He must have stepped on the heel of his front foot with his back foot, and tore his heel open. There is a nice flap of skin hanging off, but since it's on his heel it's not something that can be stitched closed again. Stitches just won't hold in this area.

The reason I know this is because Kaswyn has done this many times before. Usually I don't worry too much about it, but of course he had to do it EIGHT DAYS before the show.

Well crap!

I called Dr. B. He called me back and said "Okay, here is what you need to do. Amputate at the ankle and let it heal as an open wound."

I said "Can I duct tape a brick to the stump so I can ride him?"

He said "Sure, but you might have to put some extra steel on the other front shoe to even out the weight of the brick and make him travel level."

Then we got serious and he confirmed that stitches would not hold, so first I needed to clean it really well. Then he told me to put Nolvasan on it - it's a topical wound cream. He said get it down as deep as I can in the wound, and on the outside as well, then wrap it up really tight. With any luck the skin flap will stick back down and the whole thing will heal quickly. I got to the injury pretty soon after it happened, so it's possible that this will work.

He wanted me to keep it wrapped up for as many days as possible, but I'm going to have to unwrap it today because my farrier is coming today to reset Kaswyn. Perfect timing, horse! So the plan is to unwrap it for the farrier, clean it again, slather it with more Nolvasan, and wrap the crap out of it. He won't be allowed to get turned out, so he'll have to be hand-walked, which will hopefully help keep the wrap on. Then, if the wrap is still holding up, I'll ride him on Tuesday.

After that, I'll just take it a day at a time and see where we stand by Friday. Unless he's lame, or the wound just looks too bad, he's going to the show.

Seven days until the show! Horse, heal thyself! And quickly, please.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Freak me out, why don't you?

Yesterday the ponies had the day off so I showed up early to get the chicklets from school. They deserved a special treat because they had been getting good reports from their teacher and Macey had been eating all of her dinner (without time outs - this has been a struggle). I decided that we'd all go get Slurpees.

So we're all sucking down our Slurpees in the car on the way home. Just as I'm approaching our house and pressing the garage door opener, I see a man standing across the street from our house. He's dressed all in black, with a black knitted hat on, and an orange jacket. He took particular interest in watching me pull into the garage. I watched him write something down on the clipboard he was carrying, and then he slowly approached the house.

Doing a quick memory check, I didn't remember seeing any kind of utility truck around the neighborhood. I also didn't see any logo on his jacket to indicate that he was representing a company or selling something. I closed the garage door and picked up the phone.

Yep, I called 911. I wasn't panicked, but I wasn't about to leave my car with a strange man approaching the house. Although I'm short and I think I'm pretty tough for a chick, I don't think I'd be any match for man-strength. Truthfully I'd be less worried about me than I would for my beauties. I don't have confidence that I'd be able to keep them both safe if this guy was some kind of lunatic.

When I started to explain the situation to the 911 operator it dawned on me that this wasn't an emergency and I should have probably just called the police department. I mentioned this and she said yes, please call back on the police departments number.

Still in my car, I called the police department. Luckily the girls were quiet because of the Slurpees and I could talk to the police dispatcher. She asked if I could get into the house without going back outside, and I said yes. She said I should just go in, and even if he rings the bell I don't have to answer. Not that I would anyway, since I never ever answer the door if Craig is not home. So I went inside, and he was ringing my doorbell.

This was not at all surprising, since he watched me pull in and knew I was home. I whispered to the dispatcher "He's at my front door!" and she said "Just don't answer if you don't want to. If he doesn't go away call us back and we'll send a car out. Right now he hasn't really done anything so we can't really do anything for you." We ended the call but I continued to clutch my phone and peek out the front window, being careful not to be seen.

Sure enough, in about two minutes he went on his way. I called Craig immediately and asked when he'd be home. Hearing the strain in my voice he asked what was wrong, so I told him. He said he'd be home in less than ten minutes. As we hung up the house phone rang, and it was the police dispatcher. She sent an officer over to check the guy out, and he had a permit to solicit door to door for the phone company. Oops. I didn't really want him to be hassled by the cops. Well, at least he was legit.

Craig was taking more than ten minutes to get home, and I was getting a little nervous. About what, I'm not sure, but I just wanted my man in the house ASAP. When he finally came home he told me the man's name and what company he worked for. I asked "Did you drive around the neighborhood until you found him?" Craig said "Yes. When I found him I pulled over and asked what he was selling. The guy walked up and said 'Did you call the cops on me?' and I said 'Well, you kinda freaked out my wife' ".

Great. Now I got the guy pissed at me, and he knows where I live. Ugh.

However, he gave Craig his sales pitch. Turns out he works for our phone company, and as loyal customers we were eligible for a special deal, blah blah blah. Craig said the guy didn't seem mad or anything, which is good cause then I would not want to be home alone again for some time.

Everything worked out just fine, and next time I see something like that I'm just going to drive right past the house. Better to be safe than sorry. Craig didn't even make me feel dumb for getting all paranoid. That's just bonus points added to his valiant deed of driving around the neighborhood to find the man who made his wife twitchy.

Now that's love for ya.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Excited times 2

The first excitement of the day...

After many years of trying to find my first riding friend, Jean, I have finally gotten back in touch with her. It's scary how easily you can fall out of touch with people and then have no way of reaching them. Even in this age of technology, some people are just not findable. Well, unless you pay a fee to some people finder service. And that is too much like stalking for my taste.

The last time I spoke with Jean I was married to my first husband. Two more husbands and two kids later and we shall finally talk again. Wow, how things have changed!

I'm also excited for my lessons tonight, although I suspect they will be challenging and tiring. I'm always tired after working a full day and then riding two horses, but throw two lessons on top of that and I'm going to be whupped. I forgot my video camera so no lesson footage - Susan is working late and can't make it to the lessons to run the camera anyway.

So today I'll leave work with a smile on my face, and probably come home the same way. With sore abs added just for fun.

11 days till the show! I have to start finding, organizing, and packing all my horse show junk!

Monday, March 02, 2009


My trainer cancelled our lesson. We're going to try again tomorrow at 5:30.

Besides that, both boys have been working well. Albert is ready for this show. He's fit, supple, and knows what is expected of him. He just gets a little excitable at home, and if he thinks he's made a mistake he gets tense. Now he just needs to calm down a bit and listen in the show ring and we're all set.

I rode Kaswyn in the double bridle yesterday for the first time in probably four years. He felt pretty decent, and we worked on elements of the Fourth level and Prix St George tests. I had to give him a bit of a spank because he was late four times in a row for the flying change from left to right. My left leg is much weaker than my right and he gets into the habit of blowing it off. We were doing really well there for a few weeks but he's back to being way too casual about it. When I ride tomorrow I'm going to have to be firm about his reactions to my left leg. Otherwise I know we're going to miss a change at the show and that will really annoy me! He knows better than that.

So here's hoping I get my lessons tomorrow. 12 days until the show!

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr