Monday, September 26, 2016

What's the grooming decision you've ever seen?

Everyone has different preferences for grooming and presentation.

I leave Tristan's mane long and on the "wrong" side; I'm too lazy and I don't give enough fucks to either pull it or train it over. It's been ten years. It's not going anywhere. Plus, I do have some backing on this: mustangs are typically left with long manes. His is full and grows long enough not to look awful. (Though, opinions differ: I had a trainer who sighed heavily and looked pointedly at Tristan's mane on a regular basis.)


Sometimes, though: sometimes there are grooming decisions that are less personal choice and more atrocity.

Some years ago, I was helping barnmates get ready the night before an event. We were at the event stabling when a friend from another barn came over and asked for help braiding her horse's mane. She was of the "own a horse but not do tooooooo much of the hard work myself" type. She had the money to pay for top notch care and didn't feel like braiding, so a barnmate who was a former H/J rider and had braided for A circuits agreed to help.

We got over and discovered that instead of pulling her horse's thick, drafty mane, she had half-roached it. And by half-roached, I mean zipped right down the center line of the horse's crest. We stood in horrified amazement for several very long second while the woman chattered about what a great idea she'd had!

But I have a new worst story, told to me at my current barn a few weeks ago.

The person who told it was a working student at a very, VERY high end dressage barn many years ago. It was his second or third week, and there was a new groom. Said groom was an extremely experienced horseman, and had come to the dressage world from a polo barn. The head trainer pointed out one of their FEI horses and said that there was a buyer coming that afternoon; could the groom get him turned out to the nines for the sale?

Cue four hours later, the horse was turned out immaculately and brought out of the barn for the buyer...with a roached mane.


Any other good stories out there?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Things that people apparently buy

This is a "squirrel feeder," according to the label.

You put a cob of dried corn on the spike part, and the squirrel sits on the horse's saddle and goes to town.

Why you would want to attract more squirrels to your yard is only one of the questions I have.

On the other hand, I bet it looks hilarious.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Visiting the Danish Royal Stables

I'm not sure I'll get up a full post or even series of posts about our honeymoon, but here's a start, for a sort of Wordless Wednesday placeholder. One of the first places we visited was Christiansborg Palace, in the heart of Copenhagen. We saw the kitchens, the royal apartments, the excavated old castle underground, and then the royal stables, which were all part of the same complex.

Apparently the Danish royal family really likes their carriage horses. They used to use a breed called the Frederiksborg horse (named after another of the royal palaces) but they stopped doing that in the late 19th century. The breeding pool was too small and it led to some really inferior horses.

Now, they have Kladrubers, a Czech breed - a whole stable full of gorgeously bred grays. The stables used to hold quite a few more horses, but they have about 15-20 now. We weren't there at the right time to get a behind the scenes tour - in which they would've shown the tack rooms and the indoor manege - but we did poke around the stables themselves and see the carriages.

Stuffed Frederiksborg horses

They did love their swallowtail pads.

That is in fact the King of Denmark riding an Icelandic pony.

Leopard spotted Frederiskborg, stuck caprioling forever.

The label accompanying that horse. Assholes.

All of the stalls were originally standing stalls - you can see the originals on the left - but at some point an animal cruelty law was passed in Denmark making standing stalls illegal, and even the king had to change his barns around!

This guy had such an awesome derp face. We bonded.

This guy slept through multiple families with obnoxious toddlers yelling at him. Good on him.

The names varied in dignity. Derpface above was Extracta. Note the Favory - the Kladrubers are closely related to Lipizzaners.

Fanciest wash stall ever or fanciest wash stall ever? Please note the bottle of Vetrolin whitening shampoo on the back shelf: some things are universal.

Old grain carts.

Six-in-hand livery.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer obstacles: hives

If you've followed for a little while, you know that Tristan has struggled on and off with hives over the last few years. I'm pretty convinced that it has to do with his Cushings diagnosis - his immune system just can't cope as well as it used to.

This year's bout held off for a long time, since we were proactive - he's been wearing fly gear and getting a low dose of OTC cetirizine all summer - but when they hit, they came with a vengeance.

First appearance was, of course, about a week before I left for the honeymoon.

These blew up in less than two hours: he was totally fine when the barn manager left after grain, and covered all over when I got there to ride at 7pm.

We started with IM benedryl, a dose that the vet had left with us after last fall's shenanigans with his tail tumor (because one of the possible side effects of the chemo beads was anaphylactic shock or a lesser but still serious sudden allergic reaction, isn't Tristan FUN?). (For those playing along at home, this was per the vet's instructions while on the phone with her and after having sent her the above pictures.)

That helped, but they were back the next day. So I spent a few days giving him a bath every night with long rinses of cold water and a sensitive skin shampoo. In the meantime, no more grass for him; he was sent to a dry lot with tossed hay.

(We also did some work trying to isolate other factors, but nothing had changed for him, and he wasn't getting anything that was not shared with other horses, from hay to grain to water to shavings and so on and so forth. Our best guess was that something was blooming or going to seed in the pasture - which even then are of course mowed down regularly - and that was setting him off.)

Yeah, he LOVED that.

That helped but it did not actually solve anything. Next up: the vet. I couldn't be there when she was, so after some phone calls and emails back and forth, during which I was able to dig back into my obsessive notes and document for her the dates and duration of Tristan's bouts of hives for the past three years, we went forward with a course of treatment.

First: since he is Cushings but not insulin-resistant, and because his Cushings is under control and responsive to pergolide, he was a candidate for dex. So he got a shot of dex at the vet visit and then 5 more days of decreasing dosage, which made a big difference.

Second: he had been getting 20mg cetirizine 1xdaily as a preventative. He was now to go up to 200mg 2xdaily as a treatment.

Except by the time the cetirizine order was called in to Wedgewood I was in Europe so the vet dropped off a supply from her own stores and that took a little longer, so in the meantime the hives came back. Which meant that he didn't get ridden at all while I was away - so basically he did not get ridden through all of August. I didn't want to irritate the hives, or rev up his metabolism in a way that would make them worse in case this was an allergic reaction that went deeper.

Once he got the higher dose of cetirizine on board, the hives receded and - knock wood - it's been almost 4 weeks and they have not returned.

In the meantime, the Wedgewood order came in and we are leaving the danger season, so I have a fresh bucket of cetirizine ($$$, sigh) in the fridge to keep good until next June, when he will start on it and stay on it through the summer and we will hopefully not monkey around with this bullshit again.

I swear, I keep telling people that he used to be an easy keeper and they don't believe me.