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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Success AKA OMG Can't Walk

I managed to suck it up and make it through 30 miles.  Despite doubling up on aleve, my legs paid dearly for it.  Tuesday was the first day I could go up and down stairs without wanting to cry.  That might be a tad dramatic, but my legs were so freaking sore.

Apparently I am hooked because I already agreed to do another ride.  Honestly don't ask me why.  Maybe pain induce sanity?  I guess that will be my story and I am sticking to it.

PC: Gore/Baylor Photography

Cola was fabulous and I learned a lot.  Not going to lie, waiting for the final vet check was so stressful.  You have finished, but that doesn't matter until the vet signs off on your card.  In the end we got all As and Bs on the vet card.  Some of the Bs were related to her age (20 years), but the pre ride vet check and post ride vet check grades were quite similar.  Hopefully, I can capitalize on the learning experience and do better the next time.

I did pretty well with taking care of myself, but I need to see if I can ride with longer stirrups.  I kept mine pretty short because Cola is tiny and if my stirrups get too long I can't grip with my calves and end up pinching with my knees instead.  I also really want to get caged stirrups because riding in tennis shoes and my MDC stirrups aren't the safest combination.  I have a few weeks to figure all of that out.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Status Go

It’s official. I sent in my entry for the LD ride. The first little grey mare I was going to borrow got beat up badly by a pasture mate. She is supposed to make a full recovery and the attack is going to have surgery to fix the source of hormone imbalance that is believed to be the cause of the attack. So I was offered another horse by a different person. Cola is a tiny (I keep forgetting when I hop off and slam myself into the ground) grey mare.

Cutest little mare

The best part is she is three blocks from me so it has been relatively easy to schedule several training rides. At first I was nervous that she wasn’t in good enough shape to pack me, but last weekend she really hit her stride and trucked along to keep up with the other mare when I wanted to hang back with two other horses.

Unicorn farting rainbow socks

I’m not sure how well I am going to come out of the ride, but I think she will be great. Plus it doesn’t matter if I’m unsound at the end as long as she is. This week I’m frantically trying to get myself ready. Because I also got the bright idea to take a dressage lesson Friday morning before I leave for the ride. The good news is it means Stinker is sound and I got his saddle fit fixed. I can’t believe how much he has changed. Hopefully I’ll be better about blogging next week so I can cover all my adventures.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

That Escalated Quickly

Originally I was supposed to help riders without crew at the endurance ride.  It was a short hold (20 min), so not all of the crews were coming to the hold.  When I showed up they needed an out timer, so after a few instructions I plopped down in the out timer chair.

Not a bad view for a few hours

I must say scribing for dressage tests is way more difficult than any of the jobs I have been given at endurance rides.  The hardest part was not losing papers to the wind.  Not to mention endurance riders are super friendly.  I had multiple people that drove past and stopped to thank me for the time.

There was one rider that had a mishap early on and was almost an hour behind the other riders.  I was talking with people while waiting and one lady told me she had nine horses and if I wanted to ride one I could.  I said I would think about it and immediately wondered how crazy you are to offer a horse to someone you hadn't ever seen ride.

Teeny little grey ears

I had friends point out that all horses aren't special snowflakes and some are even ok with all kinds of riders.  So after some pondering, I added her on facebook and asked if she was serious about her offer.  We met up on Sunday and I rode a fun little grey Arab mare named Cam.

She is such a steady get the job done mare.  I was cracking up when we were leading them down a fairly steep hill.  The plan was to jog down the hill, but it was steep and I am not the most coordinated person in the world.  I was kind of sort of half jogging half sliding and she was trotting next to me like a perfect lady, except she kept looking over me with mare glare.  Apparently my speed did not suit her.

Porky Little Princess

It was such a fun ride, and now I have the option of doing a 30 mile ride with her.  If I don't chicken out and I can swing it with my work schedule, I am hoping to do one in October.  I am excited but kind of terrified.  It is a bit of a toss up who ended up fluffier from Stinker's long break, so hopefully I won't die.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

No Patience

I have been waiting not so patiently for the farrier to come back out.  Because Stinker had the pad on, I couldn't see how anything was healing and it was making me crazy.  I had no way of knowing if I was keeping things clean enough or if I needed to be doing more.  I had myself half way convinced that his foot was going to fall off when the pad was removed.  #nologic #justparanoia

Thankfully, everything looked good.  It is slowly growing back, but he didn't show any sensitivity on it, so the pad was left off.  I have mixed feelings about that, because he is stepping short in the trot which means it is bothering him, but at the same time I like being able to see it.

I guess I will see how it goes.  I am still waiting on the new head plate for my saddle so I can widen it.  Once that comes in we can start doing walk rides (sadly no trail rides) to start building his fitness back up.  In the meantime I am hoping that I can sneak in a couple of rides on some borrowed horses.

It totally blows my mind that endurance riders are like SURE COME RIDE MY HORSE!!!!  I guess not everyone has particular weirdos that mind strange riders.  Either way it will be good for me to ride other horses and hopefully I don't make a fool out of myself.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Holding Steady

Stinker is mostly standing around and getting chunky, which isn't the worst thing in the world for him.  I got a new toy to help keep him in shape since he isn't really rideable, but I have been so busy with work that I haven't had time to play with it much.  Eventually I will get around to using it and write about it.

I gave up on getting the saddle fitter that comes through this area to fit my saddle.  So I sent pictures off to my old saddle fitter (she is a total wizard), because I thought I may as well do it when I am not riding in case I have to ship my saddle off.  Turns out that he just needs a different head plate in the saddle (which I am fine swapping out), so that is coming in the mail.

Shockingly, I really haven't been too much of a tack ho.  Probably because even that seems like too much effort.  I almost bought the long Kerrits coaches coat, but I have two of the shorter ones (one barn and one work).  I really need to buy some boots for winter.  My old pair have split at seam on the heel.  I haven't bothered with it because it has been dry, but eventually there will be snow so I do need to do something about that.

I am also casually looking for a trailer.  The old stock trailer gets the job done, but eventually the age will catch up to it and essentially any repairs on it would cost more than the trailer is worth.  I can't really decide between a two horse and a three horse, so it will probably end up being whatever falls into my lap.

I am helping with an endurance ride this coming weekend, so maybe I will remember to take pictures and write about that.  Life is pretty dull without lessons and riding.  Next week the farrier will be back to see how the foot is healing.  Fingers crossed that everything looks good, because I am going a little nutty not being able to see if I am doing ok at keeping it clean.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Leave It To Stinker

Last spring I started feeling something a little funky in Stinker's hind when I was riding.  I was unable to see anything from the ground, but it just didn't feel quite right.  Eventually I had the vet out to do a full lameness evaluation on him, but she also couldn't see anything.  A few days after the vet was out he came up super lame and proceeded to blow out a massive abscess.

I chalked the funky feeling up to the abscess coming on and then he proceeded to have a couple more at fairly regular intervals.  I justified those with the thought that it was because the previous one hadn't grown out and that provided an opening for another one to start brewing.  I finally got everything grown out and thought it was all good.

Then he acted like he had another one, but I never saw it open up and the soundness resolved.  I started getting worried, but decided as long as he was sound I shouldn't freak out.  A couple of weeks ago the same thing happened.  There was zero reason for him to have an abscess and even less of a reason for it to happen in the exact same place.

My farrier thought that he had deep thrush in the central sulcus.  I didn't understand how that would result in thick whitish pus repeatedly (the farrier never saw the pus).  Regardless, we both agreed that I should get the vet out.  I was super happy with the vet.  I sent her a short text asking for an appointment, she called me back quickly.  Then immediately called the farrier and we had a time set up for everyone to be there.

After the initial poking and prodding without many ideas, we snapped a couple X-rays to see if any space or foreign bodies showed up.  Thankfully, nothing showed up.  The next step was to start opening up the frog and seeing what was there.  The end result was at some point he had severe central sulcus thrush and it eroded the connection between the frog and the digital cushion.  When it healed the tissues were unable to reform that connection.

This left a gap between the frog and the digital cushion and that space continued to abscess.  The best way to rebuild this connection was to remove the frog until it was connected to the digital cushion and then allow it to grow back naturally.  Poor Stinker had the majority of his frog cut out (which he was a total trooper for and was really good for the farrier).  It was then packed and we went with a leather pad for protection.

It is going to take quite some time for his frog to grow back and he is quite sore.  But he is fine at the walk and can have his normal life.  So right now he is getting a bit of a break and I am only doing groundwork to keep him from being too bored.  Sadly he isn't going to be able to go on the trails for quite awhile (until it is totally healed because there are so many rocks) and hopefully in another week or so he will be ok to ride (vet said its fine to ride now, but I want to wait until he is fine trotting at liberty).

The good news is since we took x-rays of his one foot I asked the vet if she saw anything of concern. I have always been concerned about his right hind (foot in question) and I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.  She said that she did not see anything concerning and there was the possibility of maybe kind of sort of something in the fetlock, but without more views she couldn't say anything for sure.  She followed that up with "I really wouldn't worry about it.  He looks better than he did in the spring, and he looks way better than a horse with his conformation should.  The best thing for him is to keep doing what you have been doing."

So we will keep on keeping on and hopefully be right back at once he heals.  I am hopeful that this will clear up the lingering funky feeling I got in the hind end.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mine All Mine aka Its Went Shopping

I was supposed to have a lesson on Saturday, but there was so much smoke it got canceled. Obviously that left my day open but the smoke left me little desire to do anything outside. Then I remembered that Kastel Denmark was having a warehouse sale. I looked up the location and it was a reasonable distance.

I love my Kastel shirts and wear the first batch I got (off of eBay when they had the super cheap lots) all the time. I already had 11 of them, but a few are starting to show the wear (2+ years of regular use) so I figured why not if they were cheap.

I was like a kid in the candy store when I got to the warehouse. They had boxes sitting out all marked $15. I don't mind if I do. I dove into the L, XL, and XXL box and immediately started sorting through everything. I *might* have gone a little overboard and bought everything in fun colors in my size and a couple in the next size up, bringing my grand total up to 21. But even the merino wool shirts were $15 so I really couldn't pass that up.

But really the purple shirt was an absolute necessity because now I have a shirt that matches my pad and I can have a full purple and grey outfit #winning

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Super Trooper

Stinker and I set out on an adventure.  After my misadventure last fall with following the endurance ride I decided I wasn't going to do that loop again (white line on the map).  But there is a lot of country in that area I haven't covered yet.  So after stalking google maps satellite images and putting together what I knew from both ends of my loop that I had covered I came up with a plan (blue line).

Misadventure vs adventure and yes that one place was quite steep on the misadventure

I honestly wasn't sure how far it was going to be or how big of a climb it would be, but Stinker is in pretty good shape and I could putz along on some of the steeper climbs to give him a breather.  Although he gets very frustrated with my omg can't breathe I'm dying pace.  He will put his head on my back and push.  I really should figure out how to tail him.

It ended up being a really pretty ride and we could see quite a ways in all directions.  Stinker got a little tired on the second climb (the first is cut off the map), but it is a pretty long and steady climb no matter how you slice it.  Essentially all of the climbing is in the beginning and it was about 2,300 feet.

It took us about 4 hours to go just over 15 miles (mostly because I am too much of a chicken to let him trot).  I keep telling myself that we can start adding in some trotting, but the paranoia is still too strong.  I try to remind myself that he is a healthy horse now, but I still treat him with kid gloves and I am really over protective about his legs and the wear they get.

There was lots of sign of the wild horses, but none of it was fresh so I think they hang in the area a lot in the spring time, but as the water sources dry up they drift into other areas.  I am still pretty leery and prefer not to get up close and personal with them.

By the time we got home I was very much omg so hot and tired.  Stinker was not the least bit tired.  He got hosed off and then I turned him loose.  He immediately rolled, tanked up on water, and then started chasing Cowboy around.  After he got bored with Cowboy, he dug into the hay and looked quite happy.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Logic or Emotion

I had two very good lessons (all the media is from one of them) and then I had a very rough lesson.  Logically, I know Stinker is a very tough ride.  I have watched trainer get on him and have similar issues (she is much better at correcting them more quickly, but the problems don't magically disappear).  Emotionally the lesson left me feeling totally incompetent.

After the fact I realized it was essentially all a physical issue on my part, which didn't really help with my emotional butt kicking.  His back used to curve to the right, so his hips were always trailing to the right.  My tendency is to collapse my right side and I really sink my right seat bone into him.  Which was magnified when I was trying to correct the haunches.  Now that he is straight, I can't break myself of the habit.

Sometimes I do better than others, but when I sit too much at work (especially when I am doing technical things that require full focus) I start sitting heavier on the right seat bone and it spirals from there.  Poor Stinker was suffering from me telling him to move his hind to the right while shoving it to the left with my seat bone.  He did not appreciate my mixed signals and got quite frazzled (I don't blame him because I get quite frazzled when I get opposite instructions).

I got a lot of inverting and flailing as my poor horse tried to tell me he wasn't capable of doing what I was asking.  If I get my butt out of his back and give him room to work he is totally capable.  But he is not the time to ignore one signal in favor of another one, he tries to do any and all plus some extras most of the time.

After much struggle we finally got some semi ok work and let him end.  After we talked a bit I suggested that the next time trainer gets on him, since she is crooked in the opposite direction going to the right is much easier for her.

On Tuesday I schooled at home and really focused on getting my right hip lifted and coming forward and the work felt really really good.  Hopefully I am able to recreate that feeling this weekend and find out if it looks as good as it felt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Progress In Pictures

In all of these pictures he is standing on level ground and I tried to take them from a similar angle.  Keep in mind my pictures are not the best because I don't have a lot of patience for taking pictures and someone *ahem* Stinker lacks patience at standing still and reasonably square.

May 2015: I knew something was wrong but didn't get a diagnosis/treatment plan for almost another month.  I stopped taking pictures after this point because it was not rock bottom and he continued to look like shit.

July 2016:  We had been on the walk program since the beginning of the year and he was starting to settle down a bit.

September 2017:  He was really settling in after the move and had started gaining weight with all the hay he wanted.  We had been taking lessons with trainer for about two months.

July 2018:  We've been here for a year and I had three separate people on different occasions tell me he wasn't as dropped in his pasterns.  I didn't believe it really until I put these photos together.

I am totally amazed at how much he has changed and recovered.  I still feel like there is a long ways to go, because he would prefer to prance around like a giraffe (side effect of having your neck and withers tie in mid back?).  But it is nice to be able to remind myself that yes we have made a ton of progress even if it feels like we are light years behind the curve (maybe because we started way way way back there).

Friday, July 6, 2018

Quiet 4th of July

I decided earlier in the week that I was going on a trail ride on the 4th. Poor Stinker wasn’t nearly as excited as me. In fact my excitement made him quite skeptical. But I gleefully strapped on my camelback and tacked him up. He was pretty reluctant and tense to start but after a couple of miles he settled into his normal stride.

I have been wanting to try a new road but I wasn’t sure how long my adventure would take me so I had been hesitant to try it when I had a deadline. Once we were four miles in we hit a long steady climb and he was huffing so I started walking. Pretty soon I was huffing and he was trying to hustle me along. But I made it to the top.

I double checked google maps satellite to make sure I was on the correct road (there were four options to take and two were in the direction I knew I wanted to go) and off we went. After a ways we popped around a corner and there was a water control pond and storage tank. I was quite surprised by that but the biggest surprise was a little further on.

The wind had picked up because I was on top of the hills but I periodically thought I could hear faint livestock calling. Sure enough once I got around to the other side there was a massive herd of sheep. They were mostly past but I waited for about 10 minutes for all the stragglers to get caught up. I needed to cross their path and I wasn’t going to be the asshole that scattered sheep by trying to ride through them.

Poor Stinker was convinced that he was going to be murdered by them. Granted they were making a lot of noise and kept popping out from behind bushes. I mostly laughed and teased him that he was going to suffer from a death by lambs. I kept thinking that I would see a herder or dogs or something but I never saw anyone/anything with them. Eventually we got a break and I cut across.

After that he realized that he was headed home and got super excited. I tried a new way to get down off the hill but it was pretty rough and I don’t think we will take it again. We did a little over 10 miles and he wasn’t even tired. In fact he was so excited about going home that he earned a few minutes in the ring. He gave me some very nice trot work and the canter was excellent. The trail ride had taken the edge off enough he wasn’t pulling as much as usual and I was able to maintain a softer contact and steadier rhythm.

When I hosed him off I discovered that both hind shoes were loose. Thankfully my farrier said he would come out this morning. Hopefully they will still be on since we can actually hear fireworks. The county I’m in doesn’t allow them but unfortunately the sound is carrying over from the next county and it sounds like a professional show.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Vacation and Staycation

It has been forever since I have taken a true vacation.  What time I was able to get off work last year was basically all directly related to moving myself or my parents which is decidedly un-vacation like.  Before that I typically used my time to visit family and with my dad's health it wasn't exactly a relaxing vacation.

Breakfast on the deck

But this year my mom and I went on a real vacation.  She has a long time friend that lives up by Flathead Lake in Montana which is really close to Glacier National Park and Rebecca Farms (for all of you eventers).  Sadly we were there during the week and there was nothing going on at Rebecca Farms.

Somewhere before St. Mary's Lake

Originally, my plan was to hike from Logan Pass (at the top of the going to the sun road) because my mom is obsessed with mountain goats, but we didn't get up early enough to get parking up there.  Plus by the time we made it up there in our borrowed behemoth vehicle I was kind over going to the sun.  The road is narrow and the drop offs are steep steep steep.  I have been over some narrow winding steep roads, but this one beat them all.  The views are stunning and well worth it, but I don't suggest doubling your vehicle size for the trip.

Starting up the going to the sun road

Once that plan was shot, I decided to try and find a place to park along St. Mary's Lake and hike from there.  We were lucky enough to secure a spot at Sun Point and hiked along the lake to the falls.  It was only a little further to Virginia Falls so we decided to go there too.  The trail was packed and there had been a fire in the last couple of years (actually allowed for more viewing).

St. Mary's Falls

The next day, we were too late to park at our original plan (my mom really really really wanted to see Quartz Lake because she loves rocks I think?).  I am really not sure at the reasoning behind it, but I aim to please.  We headed down another road that had several trails coming off of it and didn't look like much traffic had been down it.  Eventually we settled on the Logging Lake trail.

St. Mary's Lake and a shuttle boat dock

There was basically no one on it, which was a nice change but I was also quite nervous about bears.  We did see some sign that horses had been up the trail not too long before us.  The mosquitoes were so so so terrible and my hands (the only part showing) had tons of bites.  Sadly, there were not the amazing views because the forest was quite dense.  We ended up hiking for about 4.5 miles before we turned around.

There were tons of flowers along the Logging Lake Trail

I actually wore my mom out that day, so our final day we hung around Flathead Lake and actually went out on the boat.  I love boats, but my mom can't really swim and doesn't love being out on the water.  Luckily she is a good sport and after the initial nerves I think she had fun.  I was too big of a baby to actually get in the water and try out any of the toys.

Restaurant on Flathead Lake

After we got back, I did boring things like routine maintenance on my car, laundry, sleeping.  I did squeeze in a lesson and a trail ride.  I did not give my horse a bath or get all of my tan cleaned like I had planned.  I am very glad I went ahead and took the extra time off to recharge from my vacation.

Lake house on Flathead Lake