Friday, June 23, 2017

Road Trip Day 1

Miles Traveled:  756
Hours Driven:  12.5
Ponies Ridden:  2

I managed to get out of dodge before the tropical storm really created a mess, but I believe that we have had around 10 inches of rain.  Loading my car in between down pours was tons of fun, but I managed to get everything crammed in and was off to invade Leah's place.

Sad wet pony when I left

The first hour of driving was mostly a heavy downpour and at a whopping 45 mph.  After that I only hit a few showers and it was smooth sailing.  The stretch from Memphis to Saint Louis drug on forever.  Probably because I was trying to beat rush hour traffic and I really really really wanted to see the dramatic Spanish mares.

I arrived safe and sound around 5 and we immediately went to the barn.  Cinna has the cutest face (of course I forgot to take a picture).  Teal presents were given, ponies were ridden, weiners were played with, and pictures were taken, but I don't have them yet so it will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Road Trip Time

Tomorrow, I leave on my grand adventure road trip.  According to google maps it is 39 hours and 2,587 miles.  And to make things better we are right in the path of the tropical storm.  Thanks gulf coast, love you too.

I am taking a slightly longer way so I can play with some dramatic spanish mares.  I mean so I can spend the night with and internet stranger and not get murdered (fun fact don't tell your mom that you are staying with an internet stranger and you won't get murdered because she is teeny).  What I really mean is I am going to be visiting Leah and her lovely mares.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Final Lessons Part 1

I was stalking the weather all week, because we have been getting a ton of rain.  And it isn't nice little showers it has been coming as giant downpours.  The weather was not looking good 80% chance of rain everyday and a high probability of thunderstorms when I was supposed to have lessons.  Luckily the predictions were incorrect and I mostly managed to avoid getting soaked.  Mostly I didn't want to get my tack drenched.

Super fun weather

Ever since the last vet visit and Stinker's extended vacation, he has felt really really rideable.  Hopefully, it is here to stay this time and we don't have a backslide and loss of ride-ability again.  I had given him Thursday so Friday evening he was ready to go.  But it didn't have a frantic feeling, it just felt like he felt really good and was ready to work.

My favorite dressage judge was quite impressed with him.  He was working the best she has seen him.  We even worked on the trot some and while he is still quite tense and gets locked up in the trot, he got better the longer he trotted.  He is still quite weak behind and can't maintain things for very long.  And when he is traveling to the right he dumps me to the left and does his best to bump me off the correct diagonal.  So for now while he is still gaining strength it is fine for me to post incorrectly and not load the right hind quite as much.

Thanks for painting your socks bud

I have zero media, and honestly the majority of it wouldn't be that pretty.  He is very much a work in progress, but he is giving me glimmer of the future.  We spent a little bit of time discussing my future plans for him and long term goals.  I told her my plan was to get the trot solidified in the next year, then the following year would be for canter.  Then once that was done, we would probably be ready for first level.  She is thinks that it is a very reasonable plan and then we discussed the best way to try and manage his longterm soundness.

Stinker has a horribly put together hind end and it was ok pre EMP, but when he lost all of the muscle it has been a struggle getting it put back.  Because he was so weak he started compensating in other manners which stresses his body.  Hopefully, I will be able to continue to manage it and get the muscle back, because that is key to him having a long and enjoyable life.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Starting To Say Goodbye

I have less than a week left here.  To say it is weird is an understatement.  I didn't have a horse prior to moving here and now I have to leave all the professionals I love and start over.  This weekend is my final set of lessons with my favorite dressage judge and I am gutted over it.

She has made such a huge difference for us and I am not sure how on earth I will find another trainer/coach that gets us quite so well.  She has always had total faith, even when we were hot hot hot messes.  The thought of finding a new person is terrifying enough.  Having to be so careful with Stinker's brain basically doubles that.  He can take some pressure, but too much and he loses his brain.  Finding the just right amount is an artwork in itself.

Going to miss this guy too

Then there is my barn.  The people are absolutely fantastic and I would be totally lost without S.  I am going to miss having the social aspect so much.  Hopefully, my awkward self can make a few friends horse friends once I get settled. I am going to try to make myself be social instead of avoiding people unless interaction is forced.

Finally, there are the professionals that I am probably not going to see before I leave, but they have been huge.  My main vet who is amazing and managed to get me (and Stinker) through the EPM.  The wonderful acupuncture vet who can laugh at the fact my horse was a giant asshole the first two times she met him.  And went to the extra effort of asking for specific treatment plans for him in her courses.  The farrier that lets me pay him in beer.  At the beginning of the month Stinker pulled a shoe.  We couldn't find the shoe and he ripped his foot enough that the nails weren't going to hold.  The farrier came out just for him, fitted a new shoe, epoxied his foot, and when I asked how much I owed him he said, "a beer surprise."

Hopefully I am able to get through this weekend without too many tears.  The horse people here have made it for me.  I know I wouldn't have made it though the first year with Stinker without the help and support of these amazing people.  I don't know how to express my gratitude to them, so I am writing it on a blog that they don't know exists.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What To Buy Wednesday: Tack Room Must Haves

Right now my tack room is a blank slate.  Well minus the little bit of junk I let my mom put in there because I didn't have the heart to tell her no.  Oh and the mini fridge because hiding in the barn and drinking is going to be a thing.  I know I need some storage solution and I am planning on stocking up on things when all the back to school sales happen.  But in the meantime I need a few other items.

1)  Saddle racks.  I am going to need at least four of them.  I also don't really want to mount things on the wall because I am not sure about drilling into the material that insulates the room.  So free standing is my preference, but I don't really want to do all individual because that would get cluttered quickly.  Do the multi saddle standing racks work?

2)  Blanket storage.  I have a shit ton of blankets.  Anyone want to buy 75" blankets, because I still have some I need to sell.  I need a way to hang a couple blankets to dry, and I figured I would just use tubs for the ones that weren't in use.

3)  Bridles.  Like the saddles I don't want to attach them to the wall, so I need to think of a way to hang them.  Thoughts on command hooks?

4)  Shelving Units.  What is your favorite width/style of shelving units?  I was thinking that I would need one the size of large tubs (blanket storage and what not) and then a smaller one for grooming and medical things.

5)  Any thing I am missing?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hot Tamale

Hot tamale, pocket rocket, ticking time bomb, and any other name for a horse that is hot as hell is what I had on Friday.  Apparently it was bad for my horse to get almost three weeks off.  It started off with him spooking at the saddle pad.  Then he was snorting and a general pain for the rest of tacking up.  He had a meltdown at the mounting block.  I finally got on and he promptly went into to OMG panic can't walk  mode.  He tried to bolt.  Felt like he wanted to buck.  And continued to have a meltdown for 20 minutes.

Not me

Finally, I got him to do some semblance of a walk.  He "walked" about five steps, stopped, and peed.  After that he was much improved.  Pretty sure my horse had a 20 minute meltdown because he had to pee.  The work wasn't great.  He was still rather tense, but I at least was able to regulate the tempo of the walk and we had an actual walk.

Sometimes you just have to chew on the fan

Saturday, I was so exhausted and stressed that I didn't even go out to the barn.  I wasn't in a mindset to deal with anything so I skipped it.  Sunday was better and I ended up lunging him at the end.  Much to my dismay his trot still looked a little wonky.  He wasn't lame or even truly off, it just wasn't as fluid as I know it can be.  He cantered really well both directions which made me happy.

I couldn't disagree with the location

This morning I drug my ass out of bed and out to the barn to ride.  He had a freakout over a vacuum when I was tacking him up, so I walked him awhile to settle him before I got on.  He was really good.  The tension decreased from the previous rides and he was more willing to stretch.  After some good walk work, I popped him on the lunge.

For the first time since he stuck his leg through his stall he looked 100% at the trot.  He wasn't perfect, he still is twisting and not releasing to the right.  But there wasn't any hitch in his stride.  Everything was fluid and even.  Then he proceeded to canter like a boss both directions with lovely transitions.  Fingers crossed that he stays like this and I can stop being neurotic for 30 seconds.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Barn Tour

As requested here is the barn tour.  The photos are my standard crap, but at least I had the excuse of a storm rolling in and making it difficult.  At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.

The barn is relatively new (I think it was redone in 2013 when the lady bought the property).  Right now it has three stalls, but a couple more could be put in if desired.  I don't have the desire, because really I don't need a barn full of horses.  (Remind me that I said that when I have a barn full of horses in a couple of years.)

The aisle has the super fancy rubber cobblestones, which are really cushy and amazing.  I could seriously sleep on them.

There are two areas for hay storage.  It is a little less than ideal to store hay in the barn, but it will work.  My awesome uncle sent me with some grass hay from last year.

The stalls are quite large and equipped with automatic heated waters.  They have dutch doors on the back.  The fronts have a door to open for feeding.  The actual stall door has the bar slider that tricky ponies can't open (huge plus because I don't want mine to learn how to unlock doors).  They have rubber floors and in general are amazing.

Each of the stalls opens up into a run and all of the runs connect down to the paddock.  You could potentially leave it so the horses can come and go as the please, paddock only, run only, stall only, or any combination in-between.  All without having to catch and lead.

There are two large paddocks.  One (pictured) has the shed in it and the other is all open.  The one downside is there is no grass.  I am considering trying to get grass into the open paddock, but I don't know if it is worth the effort.

This is the open shed in the paddock.  Not much to say about it other than the orientation of it is spot on from what I have seen of the weather so far.  I am honestly considering just using this and skipping the stalls unless there is going to be a blizzard.  I will see how that plays out.

Another heated automatic waterer on the side of the shed.  I am still going to supplement it with a large water trough, but it is nice to have.

The barn has a wash pad next to it, which is amazing.  I don't think I will need to turn it into cross ties, but I have the possibility.  And the way the pad was poured, there shouldn't be any worry about drainage or settling.

The tack room is a bit of a mess right now, so be prepared to be spammed with all sorts of "How do I organize this shit?" posts.  Either way I have a mini fridge in there (fully intend to stock with beer so I can hide down there and drink when my mom makes me crazy).  It has a sink with hot and cold water (tankless water heater).  There is a heater for when it gets cold.  She says she just sets it to low and hasn't had to worry about things freezing.

I absolutely love this barn and I haven't figured out anything I don't like about it yet.  Everything seems to be really well thought out and convenient to use.  I am sure some little things will pop up once I have horses in it, but I am so excited.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Surprise: Home Sweet Home

Last week took an unexpected turn of events.  Originally, I had planned on visiting my parents to help my mom prep for the move (planned for July) and then flying to close on the new place.  Unfortunately, my mom was struggling to manage my dad's care and we decided on Tuesday that we would go ahead and move my parents plus the basics over 1,000 miles.  But based on my time line we needed to be leaving Wyoming Saturday morning.

Wyoming Sunset

Luckily, I was flying Southwest so I could easily change my tickets and my bosses were ok with me extending my trip to help my parents settle in.  But my flight on Wednesday night was super late.  I didn't get into my hotel until 3 am (3 hours late), then I only slept about 2 hours that night.  My sister drove me up to my parents.  The packing madness didn't start until Friday, but we were frantically packing all day.  Then in the evening we loaded up the stock trailer with their stuff, and my awesome uncle loaded up the tractor, tools, and my mom's rock collection on to his flatbed.

The next morning we got up bright and early, finished loading the odds and ends and rolled out by 8 AM.  I was trying the diesel truck (standard) and trailer.  Neither of which I had really driven since 2009 and that was just a trip from New Mexico to Georgia, so really it was more like 2005 since I had driven either with any regularity.  My mom immediately started grumbling about me driving slow.  For the record we were still on their narrow dirt driveway and I was driving 20 mph.  It also might be the first time she has ever grumbled at any of her kids for driving too slow.

Baby tractor and hay!

Despite my nerves, the driving wasn't too bad (other than when I established that I can not back up a gooseneck anymore to save my life).  The first day we made it across Wyoming (pretty), Utah (salt, salt, and more salt), and part of Nevada.  We ended up having to drive an extra hour because all the hotels in the town we planned to stop at were full.

The next day seemed to drag on and on and on.  I was ready to be done with driving, plus it got to be windy and I was struggling with the trailer and the wind.  We were able to arrive in the late afternoon and get the trailer unloaded.  The next day my stuff arrived and it was unloaded along with the hay that my uncle sent on the flatbed.

One paddock

Everything is almost ready for Stinker to arrive.  I am still working out the details on getting him a buddy and also on when he will arrive out here.  I have to go back to Alabama for a couple more weeks, but then I will be out here.  I am so over this packing an unpacking and moving, but I still have to finish getting work moved and unpacked.  Then I have to go to my parents' old place and get everything ready for the movers.  But the moving is at least half way done.

Fancy ass barn

I am super excited about the new place.  I feel so relieved that I am able to manage his care and he can have as much turnout as he would like.  I am still pinching myself that we got so lucky to find this place.  The buying process was so stressful.  We had to write a contract before we saw it and there was another offer on it.  Luckily, the previous owner left us tons of directions of how to make everything function.  I have a remote to turn on sprinklers for the ring.  The ring has a mixture of sand and rubber footing.  It is crazy nice.

Full Sized Ring!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sass Monster

I got lucky with the weather and was able to ride on Wednesday before I left town for a 10 days. Stinker felt pretty good at the walk. He was relaxed and working well. I was thinking that he was feeling much better after his time off. I decided to hop off and lunge him.

He was short behind both directions on both sides. I let him trot a bit to see if he would work out of it.  It sort of improved. But he was still very sucked back. I decided to try and canter him and see if that helped work out the kinks. He tried to buck and well he sucks at it. I laugh every time and luckily I caught it on camera.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What To Buy Wednesday: Tools

What are your favorite barn tools?  I have the standard, hammer, wire cutters, pliers, and screwdrivers but I am sure there are a few things I am missing.  Additionally, I would like to get a small cordless drill, but I have no idea which brands last/have good batteries.

Thunder=worried saddlebred eyes

Stinker is getting some time off while I work on my packing skills, but hopefully things will settle down and I can enjoy life again.  And maybe it will stop raining so I can actually ride.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Rain Gear

Since we don't actually get winter here, I stocked up on rain gear when Riding Warehouse was having the sales around the holidays.  The two main things I got were a Kerrits rain jacket and rain boots.  I was waiting until I got caught in a downpour so they could be well tested.  Unfortunately, I waited so long that the jacket has been replaced with a similar style and the boots are steeply discounted so I am guessing they are going to be disappearing soon too.

The jacket is the Kerrits Outsider Waterproof jacket.  It wasn't the one I really wanted, because I wanted a longer coat that would cover more of the saddle.  But I couldn't find exactly what I wanted and this one was on sale so I bought it.  I absolutely love it.  It is waterproof but still breathable so you don't automatically feel like dying when you wear it.  Also, it's light enough that I can wear it in the rain here (probably won't be doing that in the summer) because it doesn't cool off when it rains.  I have room to layer under it when necessary.  Finally, it passed the downpour rain test like a champ.

The boots are RockFish Wellies.  While I like them because they are holding up well, I don't like that they are unlined rubber.  They get really hot when it is warm and really cold when it gets cool.  Some of that can be mitigated by having the right socks on the right day.  I am going to keep wearing them until they stop being waterproof, but I wouldn't buy them again.  They are cute and do come in fun colors, plus you can get them for $56 right now.  If you want something that is waterproof and will only be worn between 50-70 degrees they are an excellent boot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What To Buy Wednesday: Washing Machines

The new place is going to need a new washer/dryer.  My last washer was awful.  It was an LG something or another (middle of the road) that had high ratings on consumer reports.  I had clothes come out dirtier than they went in.  In order to get white polo wraps back to white, I had to soak them in oxyclean.  Then wash two full cycles (with double rinses) on hot with more oxyclean.  Then do an extra rinse cycle.  That was about 4-5 hours just to get polo wraps clean.  Do not want to go there again.

Also don't want to be doing that

What washer do you love for horse laundry?  Any particular style that works better?  I would like to stay in the middle price range because this move is getting really expensive really quickly.  I don't intend to wash blankets and stuff in it, but it needs to be able to handle saddle pads and wraps.

Monday, May 22, 2017

You Make Me Crazy

After I decided to scrap the show, I was signed up for two lessons with my favorite dressage judge.  One Friday evening and one Saturday evening.  The Friday evening lesson was one of the worst rides I have had on Stinker in quite some time.  Add in the fact that the DJ was doing her best to work her magic on us it was awful.

He would never settle and relax.  There was much jigging and avoiding.  We never got him truly through.  She finally started quizzing me about what the acupuncture vet has been working on and asking me if he had had any physical problems lately.  Her biggest concern was that with all the time and energy I have been putting into him, this shouldn't still be a problem.  She even went so far as to suggest that maybe I should think about teaching him to drive and not ride him.

Of course that really hurt to hear, because I have poured so much into this horse.  Not to mention I don't know if I have the skills to teach him to drive.  He was so panicked with the saddle and rider for so long and I would be willing to bet that he would have a similar reaction being driven (seeing as how the people that had him first said he was broke to ride and drive).  I at least knew what I was doing with the riding.

I managed to get an acupuncture appointment scheduled for tomorrow, because his next appointment was going to fall when I am out of town.  I didn't see the point of doing it if I couldn't ask a billion questions.

Then the weather didn't cooperate and Saturday's lesson didn't happen.  But luckily she is amazing and she said if the weather was ok we could have a lesson at 7:00 am on Sunday before the show started.  I was a little nervous because Stinker had been in for 24 hours due to the storms.  The whole point of the lesson was to determine if he had a bad day on Friday or if there was something actually wrong.

I hadn't really considered him having a physical problem and had been writing off his increase in tension as me being stressed out and him feeding off that.  I wasn't sure if Sunday morning was going to be any better because he had been in his stall for so long, thunderstorms always make him anxious, and I am still a neurotic stressed out mess.  Luckily he came to play.

DJ got after me for being too passive, which always happens after tense rides.  I revert and hang in my aids but never make the changes that are necessary to get him to release.  But despite my questionable riding, he was really good.  So the conclusion was there isn't a new physical problem and I am just making my horse crazy.  Sorry dude, just another couple of months (maybe?).

Friday, May 19, 2017


I have firmly been on the struggle bus lately.  I lost the majority of April due to travel, being sick, and moving out of my house.  Then because I was sick I was unable to do the work I desperately needed to get done before everything had to be shut down for the move.  So when I was finally feeling better I had three weeks of work to do.

Needless to say my energy level has be low at best.  Not to mention my dad's Parkinson's has been progressing rapidly and my mom is struggling to care for him by herself.  Unfortunately, due to where they live hiring help isn't a viable option and they live too far from family to depend on their assistance.  We are working on fixing this, but it will be another two months before anything really firms up.

How does any of this relate back to Stinker?  He requires quite a bit of energy and mental power and sensitivity to ride.  I have been lacking all of those things, so I have been telling him he is pretty frequently and not actually working him.  The time off hasn't hurt, but it also hasn't done anything to build his strength.

One day I will learn to look up and not stick my butt out

At the last show my favorite dressage judge commented that his right hind is still really weak and he struggles to carry himself correctly on that side.  She told me to trot him every day for short periods to build that up.  Well I immediately left town, got sick, and blah blah blah.  It has now been over 6 weeks and I have worked on the trot maybe four times.  And all of that has been in the last week or so.  Not really conducive to building strength.

I have decided not to do the show this weekend.  It doesn't really seem fair, plus I would rather take a couple lessons vs getting my last place ribbon.  And for the next month or so that I have left here I am going to be working on finding my mojo and not freaking out about moving.  I will probably have an easier time finding my mojo than not freaking out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Old Slipper

Denny Emerson wrote the following on his Facebook page (and I am stealing it because I have nothing interesting to write about).

"I have had lots of nice horses, but not all of them were easy to ride.  There is a saying, "Comfortable as an old pair of slippers." Or gloves, or shoes---The point being that you can relax and take that sigh of relief.  Some horses give you that old pair of slippers feeling, and those are the most fun to ride on a daily basis.  They may not be the ones who bring home the most ribbons, but they are the ones you would choose to just go ride."

Hey what's up!

Stinker isn't to the old slippers quite yet *especially of late* but I am currently ignoring his attempts to have a mental meltdown.  But on his good days it feels like coming home.  I guess I am a bit backwards considering he is far from an easy ride, but there is something that just feels right.

He is such a fun little horse.  And he tries so hard, I can't help but love him for it even when his trying so hard makes things more difficult.  Things just feel right with him even when he is a pain in the butt.  Plus I get him.  I get anxious and don't deal with things well.  He gets anxious and flails.  I get a little overzealous trying.  He tries so hard that he becomes a neurotic mess.

Two neurotic peas in a pod

Then just when you are totally frustrated with him, he leans over and nuzzles you.  It is like he is saying, "I am so sorry for being neurotic."  (Yes I realize I am projecting, but my pony my thoughts). Either way he is well on his way to being my old slipper.

Monday, May 15, 2017

When You Just Can't

This weekend Stinker was having a case of the can'ts.  Relaxing was way too much for me to expect.  Walking was sporadic at best.  Right bend was cause for a meltdown.  So I got some mediocre work at best and gave up.  Instead he got a spa day.

I finally gave him a bath.  It took two scrubbings before he finally stoped turning all the soap brown.  His very yellow/brown socks ended up pretty white.  Not quite as good as I wanted but he still has skinned up spots from the kicking incidence so I didn't want to really scrub them.

I finally got around to trimming his tail (it was dragging on the ground) and his feathers.  I didn't bother with a bridle path because bonnets.  Also because his forelock is stupid short and needs all the help it can get.

Then I got my saddle and girth cleaned and conditioned.  So they are all shiny and prepped for the show this weekend.  I swear my horse knows to always forget how to horse right before a show.  Regardless of his mental state we will at least have a fabulous outfit to match our fabulous meltdown.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chicken Or The Egg

I have gotten into a bit of a cycle with Stinker and my position.  He gets upright and flails and my position slips.  Once my position slips it is difficult to get it back and without getting it back it is difficult to get him back.  Then I tense and ride backwards and he says WTF and gets even more upright.

His build does not do us any favors.  He is capable of dropping his back about six inches below his withers.  Even with an appropriately fitting saddle when he drops his back like that it automatically tips me so my legs slide forwards, my upper body comes forward, and I grab with my hands.  Obviously this causes him to drop his back even more and it continues until I get my shit together and remember to ride.

Even so, we are slowly getting more consistent.  Yesterday was a bad day, but we still managed to grab some nice moments.  He still curls behind the vertical when he lifts his back, but again it is more of a strength thing.  He just doesn't have the muscle support to properly carry correctly for very long.
I also need to let go with my lower back.  I carry a ton of tension there.  And he is quite susceptible to tension in my body.  If anyone wants to watch a five minute video of us fumbling through the trot, you can see that things start off pretty rough, but he settles, then he starts to get tired and we struggle a bit more.  The right is also much harder than the left, but it is alright when I get him straight.