Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Life

When I moved two years ago, I also moved my parents in with me. My dad had severe dementia and Parkinson’s. He was to the point where he required 24/7 supervision. My mom was unable to get help where they previously lived so she was trying to do everything and it was no longer working.


All of a sudden going from being totally on my own and boarding a horse to helping care for my dad, having horses at home, plus my own work (which is not a typical job and I usually average 50-55 hours per week and sometimes 65+) made life a lot busier but we kept plugging along.


Back in January (when blogging essentially stopped) my dad fell and broke his hip. So we were staying at the hospital and then the rehab place with him since he needed a person with him at all times. He recovered from the broken hip and things were going along but both diseases continued to progress (as is their nature).



I went to LRK3DE and had a fabulous time but it was marred by the fact that my mom made the decision to enroll him in hospice care. Things continued to decline and he passed away May 20th. Since then it has been a whirlwind preparing for the memorial service, which was last weekend.


I can’t even put into words what it is like to watch someone go through something like this, so despite my desire to keep the blog about horses (because let’s face it that is why we click on the blogs) I am putting all of this out there for anyone who is going through this. It’s hard and it’s ugly but you can get through it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tough Choices

Back in January Stinker got his SI injected. The plan was to give him a six week break from riding and use the equiband to keep him in shape and working correctly. Unfortunately, shortly after my dad fell and broke his hip so I ended up trying to juggle helping with him, keeping my mother from having a total meltdown, and that little thing called a job. Stinker got put on the back burner. Then our weather turned to crap and I got slammed at work. When I was finally able to come up for air it had been four months since he had been in work.


Ever since the EPM he has had a hitch in his right hind. With careful hill work I was able to eliminate it. But with all the time off it came back. I’ve been struggling with what to do with him. He has terrible conformation which will probably result in early retirement but he is also a horse that loves to have a job. I’ve started him back with the equiband but I really needed to get him out on the hills. But since he is so chunky and out of shape and I’m trying to strengthen his back/butt I didn’t really think it was fair for me to start riding him right off the bat.


I got the bright idea of stealing Cowboy from my mom and have her ride Stinker. I wasn’t really sure how that would go because typically when he gets a new rider he gets really nervous and riding through that until he settles is super annoying. But she got on when he hadn’t been ridden since January and he was foot perfect for her. I am not sure I will be able to get him back from her but in the meantime he is climbing hills with her and I’m driving him with the equiband. I’ll see how he comes back and then make a decision about his future. In the meantime Cowboy is doing dressage with me.


I didn’t really think it mattered to Stinker if he had a job but he turned into a complete crank when I was doing nothing with him. Since I’ve had him back in work he has turned back into the affectionate playful horse I know. So long term he is going to have to have something to do even though f it is a slow wander around the park.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Barn Layout

I have always loved seeing how people have their places set up, so I thought I would share my set up. Our place is just under 5 acres (I believe it is 4.92 to be exact) and it was originally designed to have an HOA, but the market crashed and no HOA was set up. I suppose at some point in the future it could potentially be put into place, but that is highly unlikely plus it was always designed to be an equestrian area.

It makes me giggle that google maps labeled the barn as home

Our plot is a funky shape (the bare area in the picture), but the layout is perfect. In the top left corner is my dressage ring, it is the length of a full court and slightly wider. The barn is set up with three stalls that each have their own runs off of them. In the picture I have all of the gates open and latched against the fence. There are gates so the runs can open directly into the paddocks. In the right hand paddock there is a run in shed that is split into two stalls and on the north side there is a heated automatic waterer. I also keep a 100 gallon tank of water for them, since the horses prefer that to the automatic waterer.

The barn

One of the runs off of the stalls

The three sided run in shed

Automatic waterer on the north of the run in shed

Paddock with the shed

Ideally, I would like to put a second shed in the left hand paddock prior to getting another horse, but apparently that costs money or something. The paddock with the shed has sand around the shed and then transitions into the normal dirt around here. The left hand paddock is all dirt. As you can tell, we do not have grass. In order to have grass here you have to have irrigation, and that kind of land is very high dollar. So we feed hay year round and the horses have been doing extremely well on it. Stinker gets to have grass when I go to the fancy barn for lessons. If I am paying $15 to trailer in, he is going to eat that $15 in grass.

 

The barn is a metal barn with doors on the north and south ends and the stalls on the east side. The drainage is pretty good, but soon I am going to have to fill in a couple of low spots in the runs from where the wind has blown the sand away. The stalls are 12'x16" and have mats plus heated automatic waterers. The aisle is extra wide and you can easily drive into it. They actually pull the hay trucks in to unload the hay, which makes it super handy for them. Everything is light and airy for the hot months, but also can be closed up against the wind in the winter. On the lower left hand corner of the barn there is a wash pad with the same rubber pavers that are in the main aisle.

One of the stalls

Wash rack area
Across from the stalls there is the insulated tack room that has a heater, sink, and tankless water heater. And then the other two stall spots on the left hand side of the barn are used for hay storage. There is enough hay storage to feed three horses for a year based on what I have been feeding the two horses. I don't mind having the hay in the barn, because the horses are rarely in the barn plus we have a really good hay source.

Dark empty tack room
The layout is really functional and I have zero issues with it. The only two things I wish for are the second run in shed and that the wash rack had hot water to it. Neither of them are critical at this point and can be added relatively easily at a later date. One of my favorite things is if you go out our driveway and follow along the very right edge of the picture (equestrian easement) you can go directly out into the state park. From there you can cross the main road in two separate places to access the BLM. From the BLM I honestly don't know how many miles of trails you can access, but I know you can make at least a 50 mile loop. Plus the views are hard to beat.

In the state park

From the back yard

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Blogger Secret Santa: Pi Head! Edition

I love the blogger secret santa that Tracy does each year. I always have so much fun picking things out for people, but it is also fun to see what people do with my terrible instructions. This year Jen absolutely nailed it. Of course I was so excited that I didn't take pictures of things.


Stinker got a thinking cap aka Pi Head! I am a massive nerd and pi is actually my favorite number (which I don't think Jen actually knew) so this makes me giggle. Probably more than it should. She also included some amazing socks (no pictures of them because they are on my feet and dirty) and candy (that has been eaten already).

Monday, December 17, 2018

Still Not Wednesday

I was so proud of myself. I was going to do a wordless Wednesday. It takes minimal effort and zero ability to type complete sentences. Then I realized it was going to be published on Tuesday not Wednesday. I think the fact that I don't even know what day it is ought to explain the lack of blogging. I have been slammed with work and then when I am not crazy busy there I am trying to catch up on everything that has been neglected at home.

Stinker looks feral and possibly acts like he has never been groomed in his life, but we keep plugging along in lessons. We actually ran through a training level test in the last one and it wasn't terrible. There is plenty to clean up, but considering walking used to be a challenge and cantering was a bolt or not happening I will take it.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Whoops We Did It Again

Shortly after the first endurance ride, J (owns the horse I ride) texted me and said she wanted to try another one.  She rider optioned at the first ride and really wanted to end the season on a positive note.  If I am 100% honest, my legs hurt like hell and I had zero desire to do another one, plus the timing was pretty crappy and it was 3.5 hours away vs the under an hour for the first ride.

I forgot to buy my pictures so they are coming in the mail

But I like J, so I stupidly said yes.  Work was totally insane the week leading up to the ride and I barely got away (despite coming in at the ass crack of dawn) in time to make it up before dark.  I had no desire to try and find ride camp and the right trailer in the dark.

At the ride meeting we got a lovely little surprise.  The 30 we were going to ride was actually bumped up to a 35.  I wasn't very excited about that, plus I discovered that I had forgotten my pommel bags and had no way to carry water with me.


The next morning we were off.  There was one vet check away from camp at about mile 18 with a 30 minute hold.  There was also a trot before the vet check.  I am not sure what it was about this trail, but it was very demoralizing.  It felt like we had been moving at a good speed, but it was a struggle to find the trail.

Endurance seems really simple.  Look at the map and then stay on the trail and follow the markers.  Unfortunately because of the last minute trail change the maps were not accurate and to top it off there were ribbons of every color all over the place.  The ride manager wasn't able to use specific colors for loops because you are hard pressed to find a ribbon color that wasn't already out there.  Our instructions were something like red to pink to red home.  Needless to say, we went off trail a couple times.  Plus I think we accidentally did a loop that was for the 50 milers.


By the time we hit the first vet check I was struggling.  I started out tired because of work, I got behind on my hydration (key to keeping me happy; I can function without food, but water is a must) because I didn't have a way to carry water with me (my own stupidity and a mistake I won't be making again), and my horse was feeling sluggish.  She wasn't drinking well and was pretty much being pulled along by J's horse.

Thankfully, the vet check had amazing volunteers.  While I was standing in line for vet check someone brought me water and refilled it for me too.  Vet check went smoothly and we let the horses eat for awhile.  It was only a 30 minute hold, so by 40 minutes we were back out on the trail.


The trail back to camp was more of the same.  Thankfully part was a repeat of the first and J's horse locked in and took us home.  My horse was essentially pulled along.  Eventually we made it back to camp and it took my horse a bit to pulse down, but she did and both horses did well at the final vet check for another completion.

J is already making winter plans, so I guess I am going to keep doing this endurance thing.  I will say one thing, it is getting me in shape and helping to improve my balance.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We Are Back!

Poor Stinker had a very busy weekend.  I think I actually managed to make him tired for the first time ever.  For the most part he has been in no to very light work.  For a large portion of it, he wasn't self exercising as much as he typically does because his foot hurt.  He was standing around and porking out most of the time.

These birds love sitting on the horses

First we hauled up to trainer's place instead of the fancy barn where we usually lesson.  It is just under an hour to her place.  He had a bit of a meltdown on the trailer and was dripping in sweat when I pulled him off.  Thankfully that took the edge off the dragon.

Cowboy was looking for cookies, but I was playing with my phone instead

He is actually most excellent in new places.  The stallion was screaming and raising hell but Stinker calmly started eating his hay and stood like a champion.  In the ring he was all business.  Several of the problems I had been having was me.  I felt like he was leaning really heavy on his left shoulder, but in reality I was pushing him onto it with my rouge right hip.

As soon as I got my hip out of his back, he felt great.  We ended up cantering a bit and the left lead transition was beautiful.  Zero drama.  He just stepped up into it like he is an actual trained horse.  The right lead wasn't as smooth, because he was anticipating and his idea of anticipating at the moment is hollowing and trying to zoom into it.

Best fuzzy little ears

The next day I took him out on the trails.  I wanted to get him climbing, but I also wanted to keep him out of the rocks to protect the frog that is still healing up.  That left one option that has several steep climbs and very deep sand.  He wasn't entirely sold on the whole climbing thing, but I let him take his time (and he was actually taking care of himself for the most part) and made it through the four big climbs.