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.
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think I have found a place for Stinker. I have to wait another month before it is 100% positive. Right now it is sitting at 99% positive, but there is always that slight chance it will fall through. I knew about it about a month ago, but was too paranoid to say anything. Jinxes are real yo.
The weather was not so nice and the picture doesn't do it justice.
If everything works out, I will be doing the majority of his care and need to get a lot of barn essentials. So what are your favorite barn essentials? I am talking things like pitchforks, wheelbarrows, the everyday things that you don't necessarily think about.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby, I thought it would be a good time to share the adventures of shadowing a vet at Churchill Downs. All the way through college until the week before I was supposed to take the MCAT I was planning on going to medical school. One night when I was studying late, I realized people are really freaking gross and I really don't like them and I didn't want to actually be a doctor. Enter a neurotic life planner crisis.
I had already lined up a research gig in Louisville for the summer, but now I no longer had a life plan. I was considering vet school. So I found three vets to shadow one was at Rood and Riddle (Lexington), a second was at Hagyard (also in Lexington and my favorite because he let me do stuff), and the third was the racetrack vet at Churchill Downs.
I had never even been to a racetrack until I showed up. But it was hands down one of the coolest experiences I have had. My favorite part was on race day. There was this little old cajun man that drove the water truck and the horse ambulance. He was always hollering inappropriate things at me. I didn't understand 90% of what he said (probably a good thing), but the vet would always tell him to behave himself and he would cackle madly.
The little cajun man would cook behind an old shed that was just off the track. And he used "the real cajun spices mamma sent." Holy shit that food was delicious. I was a little leery at first, but after watching the vet dig in I decided why not. I have no idea what I ate, but it was always delicious.
My second favorite thing to do was to watch the jockeys get a leg up. There were some athletic maneuvers and one horse in particular was awful. As soon as any part of the jockey hit the saddle he started bucking. I mean rodeo bucking. I don't know how the jockey stuck, but he did.
All sass no buck
Honestly, I didn't learn much about being a vet from Churchill Downs, but I had a lot of fun and got to ride in the horse ambulance (not an emergency), the water truck, and eat some of the best cajun food I have ever had.
Sometimes I get frustrated, because it has been a very very very long road with Stinker. And quite frankly we aren't even really walk trot yet. I don't even want to think about tackling the canter yet either. It seems kind of crazy that I have had him for over two years and our claim to fame is we can walk.
But considering where we started (such a hot mess) and the whole EPM episode that basically stripped all of his muscle away, it is pretty good. During my last lesson my favorite dressage judge was so mesmerized watching him that she forgot to tell me what to do for awhile. During my first lesson with her, I am pretty sure she was wondering what the hell I had bought (she is far too kind to ever tell me that).
Just attempting to walk
Not a whole lot changed, until I finally was able to get a saddle that fit to his standards (they are high). Then slowly he started to settle and wonder what I wanted him to do instead of just panic and checking out. We still had our ugly moments frequently, but it wasn't 99.99999% of the time. Over the last year the ugly moments have been decreasing. And he is far less likely to have a temper tantrum. Sure he is still tight and reluctant to work over his back, but he acts like a horse now.
Immediately after new saddle
3 months after new saddle
15 months post new saddle (aka last month)
I absolutely swear by saddle fit now. The change in him was enormous. Then taking the time to do so much walk work really helped him relax and built up the trust. It sucked doing it and I get bored and wish things were moving more quickly, but the changes in him are proof that slow and steady is the way to go.
The final slot is from a show in a new place, and he was not nearly as settled as he is at home (I just don't have home video for comparison), but he is tracking up and far more relaxed than he was a year ago at home. It truly amazes me what this little horse has managed to overcome.
Stinker decided that since I wasn't worrying about packing/moving any more he would give me something to worry about on Friday. He kicked through his stall and scraped up his leg and it was puffy. He was still running around in the pasture, so I decided to go ahead with my lesson with my favorite dressage judge. My time with her is very limited, so I want to capitalize on it as much as possible. I figured I could learn something even if we just walked.
It was worth it. Because I finally figured out something she has been telling me since we got him calm enough to walk. I know I have talked about his natural crookedness and how he is always tight in his right poll and never truly lets it go. Quite frequently this causes him to twist his head when he is traveling to the right.
She has talked to me multiple times about how his crest isn't flipping all the way over and I need to make that happen. But I never really understood what I wanted to see happen because he would never release it. So basically I was blindly searching for something, but I didn't know what.
We started off with me riding him, and he immediately started working over his back. I was a little surprised because usually it takes quite a bit of convincing to get him there. Hopefully it wasn't a fluke and he is really starting to figure out what I want. After warming him up like that and doing some of the typical supple/improving his ride-ability exercises she asked me if I wanted to trot.
I decided to try him on the lunge first, because I wasn't totally convinced that he was 100% normal. Because he typically doesn't have swelling in his legs, and he has to be extremely sore before he will stop ramming around in the pasture. When he trotted he he had a bit of a hitch, so we did a bit of ground work to help him get his back swinging more (similar to what I had been doing in the saddle).
He responded really well to the work, so she had me reach up and start massaging his crest to get it to flip over to the right side. Nothing was happening then finally I felt things popped and it finally flipped over. It felt really gross, but he dropped his head and licked. We repeated it a few more times and each time he gave a little faster, but never held it for very long.
I think it is going to take awhile to be able to replicate the give while under saddle, but it is a start and now I at least know what I am looking for now. Stinker is giving me a new appreciation for ground work, and I am slowly learning how to use it appropriately to help him understand what I want under saddle. I am going to miss my dressage judge so much when I move. She has made such a huge difference in him. The first time she saw us he was a hot panicked mess, and slowly she has turned us into something that can be seen in public.