Friday, January 29, 2016

Chunky Monkey

One year ago, I had to say goodbye to my dog, Forrest aka Chunky Monkey (it is impossible for me to have animals with normal names).  I adopted him my first semester of grad school and he was perfect for me.  I always told him he had to last me through grad school (he was 9 when I got him) and he did.  I still miss the little guy, but he had cancer and it was for the best.  RIP buddy I haven't forgotten you.  Sorry not sorry for the photo spam :)
PS I will have some more cheerful posts.  I promise my life isn't all doom and gloom and sadness.

He barely had any teeth left but he loved that toy

Apparently I wasn't feeding him fast enough

I would leave the window open so he could sit on the couch and stare out it.

Sleeping was also a major pastime.

He could also get sassy and would howl at me.

Who does't love a dog in a hat?

I had just bought him a 4" memory foam mattress with a gel cooling core, and he would sleep on the grocery bags...

Best road trip partner ever (even if he was banished to the backseat)

Sleeping on me=best thing ever (after food)

Not so chunky monkey at the end

He loved to sleep on my shoes

I would come home and find him on the coffee table...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don't Ask Questions...

I really need to learn not to ask questions that I don't want the answer to.  I am a very neurotic and goal oriented person and I have been having a bad gut feeling about my ultimate goals for Stinker.  I decided it was time to face the music and ask the vet the tough questions.

I don't know what he does to make his hood so wonky.

My ultimate goals for Stinker have been to get my bronze medal in dressage and low level eventing at least publicly.  I haven't admitted that I also was really hoping to get my silver medal and really go as high up in eventing as I can.  Keep in mind I am currently a little terrified of BN cross country fences.  Stadium doesn't really scare me because they fall down.  Either way, I don't have high goals for eventing mainly because I am a chicken shit and I am ok with that.  But the bronze medal is very reasonable and I think with the right coaching/horse combo silver is within my reach.  Gold medal would be awesome but I feel like that is a stretch for me to even consider.

Ever since Stinker was treated for EPM, I have been struggling with his potential.  Part of me says oh it will just take time and part of me says that he is permanently changed.  I finally got the balls (ok well not really since I sent it in a text to S who passed it onto the vet) to ask the vet if 4th level/PSG was going to be too much for Stinker.  Unfortunately, the vet gave me the answer I was expecting and didn't want to hear.  He does not think that Stinker will be capable of that work.  I didn't even ask about starting over fences.

So what does that mean long term?  Nothing is changing.  I have plenty of time to meet my goals, it isn't like my job in the future depends on my equine qualifications.  I am going to do the best I can with Stinker and see where this journey leads us.  He is happy and sound, which he wasn't the better part of last year.  Once I actually see where he tops out, I will revisit things.  Maybe I will be in a position to afford two horses.  Maybe I will be so broke from paying his vet bills that I can't afford anything.  Maybe I will have an awesome lower level horse and I can sell him to a good home.

I am just glad that I have the answers and while it wasn't the best answer, the reality of the situation is I am not any farther from my goals than I was before.  I had a training level dressage horse before he had EMP and I still have a training level dressage horse.  It isn't like I was almost there, so we are just going to keep on keeping on and see what happens.

I should add the vet wasn't all doom and gloom.  He thinks that Stinker looks the best he has since the start of the lameness late last spring, so we are doing things right.  He also stated that it was just his opinion and he could be wrong.

I am adjusting my goals a bit.  Before I was talking about showing training dressage this spring.  I am going to back off of that and shift it to the fall.  I really want to take the time to get his top line back to where D had it pre EPM.  I am hoping (it may be foolish but don't burst my bubble) that if I can get his top line back into working order, I can help strengthen his hind end up and hopefully extend his longevity.

Pre EPM Photos

Post EMP Photos

Monday, January 25, 2016

Parental Concern...

As I mentioned in previous posts, my parents are in town and my mom provides a great source of entertainment.  She is notorious for not reading when she goes to the grocery store.  The one day I came home and she started complaining about how expensive beef was and I just assumed that it was because I am not exactly in beef country.  I laughed it off, until I was in my refrigerator and saw she bought organic beef.  This made me laugh, because she thinks organic is the devil.  As I was chuckling about her buying organic beef and teasing her, I read the package more carefully and saw that it said, "raised on a vegetarian diet."  Say what?  Is there another diet that cows have besides vegetarian?

This is pretty much a summery of my childhood
(I am the smaller one 
and the bay is the only reason I am still alive,
he took excellent care of me.)

Last year when they came, I took them to a recognized event.  I wanted to go watch and I figured that I could convince them it was fun, since my mom loves jumping.  I ended up volunteering and mostly leaving them to their devices.  By the end of cross country day, my mom wanted to know what were going to be my cross country colors and when Stinker and I were going to be doing this.  At this point I had purchased him, but I hadn't ever seen him.  He was still with D.  Also, it should be noted that I hadn't started jumping either...Some times I wonder if my mom is trying to get me killed.

Fast forward to this year, my mom has been bugging me for months wanting to know if Stinker would be jumping by the time they got here.  I kept telling her we weren't there yet and she was missing the subtleties.  Part of this is I have been down playing all of his EPM issues, because I know her answer would be sell him and get a new horse.  She doesn't get that I am attached to this horse and quite frankly I would be concerned that he would end up in a bad spot if I tried to sell him at this point.  Not everyone wants a horse that doesn't walk and halt consistently.  Since Stinker and I aren't jumping I assured her, she would get to see Pongo and I jump.

What I was hoping she would see...

Well, I had a lesson and was jumping Pongo and my mom got bored.  She ended walking around the pasture looking for birds and not watching.  Despite saying she was.  How do I know she wasn't watching?  Well Pongo and I were attempting a two stride, and I lost his right shoulder and he drifted right, so on landing we were headed straight towards the right standard of the second jump.  I never thought about stopping or bailing on the jump even though, that would have been easiest.  Instead I pop him on his right shoulder as he was thinking about bailing and we ummm took the second jump.  I honestly am not sure how we managed it, but he did it and while it pulled a rail he didn't stop or even hesitate after the pop.  It was not pretty, because it was long and crooked and I lost a stirrup.  My mom didn't even comment on this and I know she would have made fun of me for losing my stirrup if she had been watching.

My face she would have seen had she been watching...

Last year, I asked my mom if she wanted to take a lesson.  I know she rode a little english as a kid, but that has been 50 some years, and they don't have horses any more so I thought it would be fun.  This year I asked her if she wanted to do another lesson and she announced that she would only do it if she could do a jump lesson on Charlie (who she rode last year).  So stay tuned for more comedy of errors.

Please don't kill my mother by getting overzealous...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Moving Up

S's mare has been having some medical issues (off and on lameness and what not), but she was doing really well last week, so S entered an event.  Well, that has gone down the crapper and S was trying to figure out a backup plan since she already paid and can't get a refund.  Enter Pongo.  If her mare isn't ready/sound/whatever Pongo is going to go and run Beginner Novice.

While, I really hope her mare is better, part of me is super excited that she thinks Pongo is ready and capable to do a recognized event at Beginner Novice.  I also think that if she really focuses on dressage, they have the ability to do well together.  He does need a bit of a tune up, so he looses up through the left side more.  But he is more than capable of doing the jumping and with her confidence they shouldn't run into any problems.

I will keep everyone updated if they do go (I have mixed feelings.  I want Pongo to go, but I don't want S's horse to be lame either...).  Either way, I am so happy that she feels confident in what I have done with him to take him to a recognized event.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Stinker Meets the Parents

Pongo pulled a shoe, so I didn't get to do my jump lesson on him yesterday.  I was a little bummed about it, because my parents are in town and jump lessons are way more fun to watch than dressage lessons.  I am a little surprised that they came and watched my dressage lesson.  It was fairly chilly and my dad has Parkinson's and doesn't do well in the cold, but he said he wanted to come watch so they did.

Keep that shit on Pongo!

My parents grew up on beef cattle ranches and while my dad is a veterinarian (think old school farm vet) they mostly ranched for my lifetime.  They see horses as a commodity for working, not as pets, and a lot of the things we do for performance horses seems a bit ridiculous to them.  For example if a horse came up lame and my dad couldn't easily identify what it was, they were tossed out to pasture and reevaluated at a later date.  If a horse started getting arthritis their work load was reduced (turned into a kid horse or only ridden once a week).  If a horse had a more long term issue (like Stinker's EPM), they would have been sold.  My mom actually told me I needed to sell him, which didn't go over very well...

He isn't weird at all...

The point of all of that is I was very curious what they would think of Stinker.  It was actually quite funny, because my dad said nothing.  It isn't that surprising because he never talked a lot, but as the Parkinson's progresses he talks even less.  My mom is the one that made me laugh.  I asked her what she thought and she said, "He sure knows how to pick them up and put them down."  Ummm....thanks?  I think...maybe.

Such a Goober

Anyway, after they actually saw me ride him, I think my mom kind of likes him.  She still thinks he is funny looking (Saddlebreds vs. Quarter Horses...), but she decided he was quite flashy and looked like fun.  I think Stinker likes having an audience, because he was a total rockstar.  We even managed to work on walk trot transitions with out a melt down and to make it better we got some decent ones.  They were quite good for us, but decent for normal horses.  And to make it even better S thought he looked good enough we should be on track to do a training level dressage test this spring.  I am going with Stinker got the parents stamp of approval.

How can you not love this face?

Monday, January 18, 2016


I am a little surprised that D and S are still talking to me, because I feel like I am being totally nutty.  My latest is that Stinker has ulcers.  Its either that or my brand spanking new saddle doesn't fit.  Thankfully, everyone is leaning towards ulcers, which while not great is the lesser of two evils.

Normal Stinker

There is actually some reasoning behind my madness.  First, based on my reading it isn't uncommon to treat horses for ulcers after they have been treated for EPM.  He has been on a gut supplement as a preventative measure since I started him on supplements (middle of last year).  I think the stress of traveling to Florida was too much for him and it triggered a flair up of ulcers.  Secondly, he has the majority of the symptoms.  Changes in attitude, girthiness, and so on and so forth.

Current Stinker.  So grumpy.

I feel so bad for him, he is terrible in the cross ties and his sweet attitude on the ground is gone.  He is also super grouchy in his stall (kicking, lunging, trying to bite).  He doesn't even want to be groomed and normally he loves it.  I have gone over his back a million times to see if it is actually sore and he doesn't react to my hand, but the brush is another story.  Right now the plan is to try a week of omeprazole and see if there is any change.  Fingers crossed that it gets here soon.

Hopefully, we will be back to this soon.

In other news my jump saddle finally shipped.  I should get it in the beginning of February.  Hopefully I have all of this straightened out and can actually evaluate it durning the trial period.  I am super excited for it, but I am also terrified that it isn't going to fit him.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pongo The Pogo Pony

I had a lesson on Tuesday on Pongo.  We were working over ground poles and getting him soft, supple, and adjustable.  He was feeling quite sassy, so it was a little interesting.  At first he was trying to spook at things.  He lives in the jump field he spends 14ish hours out there every day.  I was not amused (ok it was a little funny, but really??).  Once I convinced him life was harder when he tried to spook, he gave that up and moved on to other tricks.

Pongo tries to say he doesn't have any tricks.

He actually felt pretty good, although he sort of reverted back to his habit of tucking his head between his knees in the canter.  This move makes me so nervous, because I am always afraid that he will launch me.  He has never tried to buck, but this position gives me zero leverage and therefore makes me nervous.

We worked through a set of trot poles multiple times, because he kept getting over zealous and rushing.  Finally, we got him nice and balanced both directions.  Then we moved onto a set of canter poles.  S wanted me to trot them first, just to demonstrate that he was listening to me.  Mr. Sassy Pants was trying demonstrate that he knew it all.

All poles should be cantered according to Pongo.

Every time we tried to trot through it, he would start pogo sticking it.  He was never rude or barging, he stay on the bit and then start hopping through the poles.  I was at a bit of a loss at how to ride it (partially because I would start laughing...S was laughing too for the record).  Eventually, we got things figured out and were able to move on to canter.

I seem to always end up with the weirdos and I love them for it.  Hopefully, next week I will actually get to jump and have more interesting things to write about.  I am really pleased with how well Pongo has been retaining his knowledge.  Every week it is easier to get him working nicely, even though I am basically riding him once a week.  He is a smart little cookie and lots of fun.

He is a little weirdo, but I love him!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back On Track

Early last week I had a couple of terrible rides.  I was attempting to follow the walk only program and Stinker was not on board with the plan.  When we were in Florida he did two days of walk and was great.  No trying to jig, or giraffe mode.  That did not carry over to the home turf.  In hindsight, he was either tired or withdrawn in Florida.  When he first moved down here he was quiet, as he settled in he got a lot more sass.  Either way we were in full sass mode.

He wasn't ever bad, but he made it clear he was not down with walking.  We had jigging, we had inverted piaffe, we had his head in my face, and pretty much every other evasion he knows.  The first day, I didn't handle it well.  I got upset and bought into his BS.  I ended up trotting him and making him give both ways and got off.  I was pissed at myself for losing my cool.  I was pissed at him, because he wouldn't freaking walk.  I was also pissed at the world...and this pretty much summed things up (I am a little ashamed to admit it).

After getting the ok from the vet (and feeling ashamed for making mountains out of mole hills).  I had a regular lesson with S.  This was my first time really riding in my new saddle.  All I had previously done was walk.  And I loved it.  I can feel everything.  When he leaves his butt out behind, I can tell within the first few steps.  When he is braced I can feel it so much easier.  It is amazing how much more I could feel than in my previous saddles.

I would love to say that everything was kittens and rainbows and sunshine...But the part I am most excited about is that he let me put him together.  Before, we always kind of stumbled into it, but I actually gave him the aids and he responded and brought his butt under and pushed.  I was so proud of him.  And he even had a bit of foam at the end of the ride.

We still have a long ways to go, but he gave me the ride I needed.  I am paranoid that I am going to hurt him due to my ignorance when it comes to performance horses.  What I was told, while I was in Florida, played directly into these fears.  I am so thankful that I have people like D and S to bounce things off of and I am pretty sure they should get a bonus for putting up with my crazy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

What Would You Do...

If you won the powerball?  I for one have zero chance of winning.  I have never purchased a lotto ticket for myself.  I think I might have bought one for someone else once but I can't really remember.  And if I am totally honest, I wouldn't want to win.  The idea of having to make decisions like that stresses me out.  Not to mention the people you would have to deal with.  It all makes me cringe.  But in my hypothetical world where I can win and no one knows I won, what would I do?

First, I would invest it in a variety of things.  Not all in the stock market because my mom has drilled into me not to put anything in the stock market that you can't afford to lose.  While it isn't fun and exciting, it would create money flow so I don't blow it all on all things pony.

Second, I would donate to a variety of charities.  Some research groups, some horse groups, and possibly create some scholarships.  Third I would set up a couple of training grants to try to help people like D and S.  Ones that are just setting out and haven't had the financial support to get the exposure that young riders provides.  This one would be tricky and needs more thought on how it would actually work, but it's all hypothetical anyway, so it would work perfectly.

For me, I would get a housekeeper.  They could clean and do dishes for me.  I will do pretty much anything to avoid doing dishes.  It is terrible.  I would also probably get a personal trainer.  I need someone to kick my butt, so I can actually get into shape to ride.

Now to get in to the more interesting pony/me stuff.  I would get a second horse and he would get custom saddles.  Maybe even Pongo, because I am quite fond of him and we could dabble around low level eventing while I get Stinker back in line.  Maybe I should make a trust fund for Stinker's vet bills... ;)  I would also get a truck and trailer.  I would buy into an upper level event horse.  I don't know who, but that would be pretty awesome.  I don't know if I would go in on a dressage horse unless it was with D, because the US riders don't capture my attention the way the eventers do.  Either way it would be awesome!

The things I would not do.  I would not buy a farm, but I would probably move (that is already in my plan so it doesn't really count).  I grew up on a ranch and that is hard work.  There is a reason I'm over educated.  I have the utmost respect for people who want that, but it isn't for me.  I would not quit working.  I've worked too hard to get where I am to just stop, plus everyone would get sick of me if I stopped working.

So what would or wouldn't you do if you won the lotto?

Conclusion of Stinker Drama

The vet came out and checked Stinker out.  He said that Stinker looked the best he had seen him (remember the vet really hadn't seen him pre EPM)...well I felt silly.  The vet did say Stinker is weak in his stifles and a little sore in his hocks.  I am going to keep working him and get him out on the hills more and hopefully get the hind built back up.  The vet will be back in a couple weeks and he will recheck his hocks.  Depending on how that goes Stinker may get his hocks injected.

In an effort to monitor his progress, I am going to start taking monthly confirmation pictures.  I am stealing this from Emma and I regret not starting it back when I first started bringing him back.  Oh well, you live and you learn.  I think he looks a little goofy when he is just standing, but I love his movement.