Friday, May 31, 2013


The speed and intensity with which my horse hoovers up grass is a source of constant astonishment to me.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Webb Family of Vermont

Subtitle: "It's Hard Out There for a Vanderbilt."

It is miserable and wet and cold and we are predicted for #@@%#@$@ SNOW on Sunday. Instead of complaining, have some photos. In the last few weeks I've visited both the Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms, both institutions founded by members of the Webb family, descendants of the Vanderbilts. Basically instead of building the Breakers or Biltmore, this branch of the family came to Vermont, built staggeringly gorgeous farms, founded museums, and were really, really obsessed with driving. They bred their own line of Hackney crosses and had dozens of carriages shipped back and forth between Vermont and New York City so they could drive whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted.

The Shelburne Museum, nicknamed the "Smithsonian of New England," is a really terrific museum but what caught my eye was its unbelievable carriage collection. Easily over 150, ranging from unbelievably luxurious to everyday delivery wagons. Not all of them were owned by the Webbs, but the majority of the more luxurious ones were.

Oh yeah, and they collected equestrian art, too. This particular statue is meant to be of a cowboy bailing on a horse that's just had enough. I hope it wasn't done from life.

One of the Webbs foxhunted and had a private hunt called the Shelburne Hunt, and there were a few dozen paintings of his favorite carriage horses and foxhunting horses & hounds.

Next up, Shelburne Farms, one of the most beautiful places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. This was the actual Webb homestead, the Olmsted-designed site of their mansion and breeding operations, and today it operates as a conservation education center.

I didn't do much looking about - I will have to go back for the Farm Barn and the Breeding Barn, the latter of which has an indoor arena that was used to exercise carriage horses in the winter, and is supposed to be the largest indoor space in Vermont. But the meeting I attended was in the Coach Barn, original home to some of the carriages that are now at the museum.

Interior of one wing, box and straight stalls, now used for storage for special events.

Central courtyard, main entrance.

View of the whole structure.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Rides

Last night was Tristan's fifth ride since August. We're still walking only, but in those five rides - one a day except Tuesday, which I took off to give him some recovery time - we've walked inside and outside, uphill and down, in the ring and out of the ring, with other horses and alone, within and beyond sight of the barn, and last night's ride was bareback.

He's been an absolute rock star. I've always known he has one of the best brains in the world, but on his first ride the barn cat leapt down from the arena wall directly behind him - and he barely flinched. Last night, when I was bareback, he kept focused when the tractor started up directly next to him, just outside the indoor. He also let me vault onto his back from the ground, with much flailing and some kneeing in the ribs.

The vet was there to see the pregnant mare (baby in July!!!) and I took him out to show off his awesome-looking foot, and she had me jog him out at the trot for a few strides and gosh, he looked good. Springy and floaty.

He was short in the hind end for the first few rides, but I've asked him in each ride to loosen a bit more, take a few steps under himself, sideways, into the bend - not much, just a teensy bit, and a few steps at a time, and he's unlocking there, stepping through bigger and more evenly.

I'm still pondering what our step up will be. I think on Saturday morning, before I head in to work, we'll move up to 30 minutes of walking, and do a bit more hill work (considering we are doing, at most, one hill per ride right now, so a minute or maybe two, we may do 5 minutes). I may add trot the week after that, and then increase our walking time the week after that, then add in more trot. There's no reason to rush; I'd like to get out fox hunting at some point this summer, but the season doesn't properly start until the fall, so it would just be hauling him over to the kennels to acclimate him and to hack out with my friends.

Best. Pony. Ever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The State of the Foot

I'm not saying I won't be checking back in with pictures of Tristan's foot as the last of the awfulness grows out, but these are the last for a little whole. Here's what his right front currently looks like, after the farrier worked his magic.


We had our fourth ride tonight, circles and one or two lateral steps in the ring then a walk up the hill and around the dressage ring, back down the hill and a few more minutes in the ring. He will get tomorrow night off, as he was a bit tired tonight, and on Saturday we bump up to 30 minutes.

Here's my view these days.

Saturday, May 18, 2013



For the first time since August 14, when I finished my weekly lesson with a feeling of disquiet and thus started our endless diagnosis/treatment cycle, last night I saddled my horse, put his bridle on, and sat on him.

He was good as gold. Even though I'd closed every door to the indoor and alerted the barn manager, he stood at the mounting block and walked off sensibly. I don't know why I expected him to forget everything he's ever learned in the past 9 (!!!) months, but he responded willingly when I asked him to stretch down, to have a teensy bit of bend in the corners, to go on a 20 meter circle.

We walked for 20 minutes in the indoor. I didn't ask for anything complicated, just to stretch down a bit into my hands, bend a little bit, access the inside hind on a circle. He was quite short behind but even up front - I couldn't feel a hint of a problem in that RF. At the end of 20 minutes I could feel him getting the smallest bit muscle-tired, but he was definitely better in the hind end.

I could have ridden forever, and got a little teary at one point. He is the absolute best, and I am so glad to be riding him again.

The plan is to stay at 20 minute walks in the indoor through the next week at least, then start hacking outside for 30 minutes, whether fields or road work. I am a teensy bit nervous about how his soles will hold up on the dirt roads, with all their rocks, so I want to work on getting them tougher before we do that - lots of Durasole.

Tonight, I'll take pictures of his new glue-on shoes, which are kind of funky looking. The farrier also used epoxy to clean the whole RF up, so it looks practically normal save for the scar tissue lump that's slowly working its way down the hoof.

In conclusion, \o/

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Patience, patience, patience...

The formalin/iodine mixture wasn't doing the trick on Tristan's scar tissue, so last night the farrier cut the tissue out and then cauterized the wound. He also took away a bit of Tristan's hoof wall to make sure the final bits of abscess hole are oxygenated, and that we have access to the last bit of healing tissue to clean it out regularly. I have to say, even with a little crescent cut out of the front of his hoof, this is the best it has looked in months - almost a year, in fact. I forgot to take a picture from the front, but here it is from the bottom.

The best part? Tris behaved for the farrier to do all of that without drugs, and without me even there! He texted me that he was going to go ahead and cauterize (which was something we'd already discussed as a possibility on Monday) and then when I got there he had just finished and said Tris was fine. This from the horse who back in November tried to kill the farrier when he tried to trim and shoe him. WHOO!

He should be getting his shoe on this morning. I made the extremely poor life decision of going to a midnight showing of Star Trek last night and registering for a 5K walk tonight, so even if I have enough energy after that walk my lack of sleep will still force me straight to bed.

Tomorrow, I pack breeches. \o/

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Eighty Dollar Champion

Heads up: this is a GREAT book, and it's on sale this month for $1.99 for the Kindle edition.

The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, the horse that inspired a nation by Elizabeth Letts

I read it last summer after a recommendation by my boyfriend's mother of all people, who is lovely but not horsey at all. It lived up to her recommendation - it's an engaging read and a good telling of a good story. It gets a bit repetitive in spots, but that's really its only flaw. Go, read!

One shoe down...

This morning, after much waiting and gnashing of teeth, I met the farrier to glue on Tristan's fancy new shoes.

I tranq'd him, and it took forever for it to kick in, because we moved him to a different barn and he was very snorty and fussy.

Then the farrier pulled of the duct tape booties and showed me the trim he did over the weekend. Tris stood great for the trim and for a CleanTrax treatment over the weekend, and his foot looks WAY better.

The farrier used a dremel to really, thoroughly clean out Tris's foot, getting the last of the dead sole carved out.

He also did some regular clean up trimming.

Then he started to glue on Tristan's left front shoe.

It took a long time set because it was so cold outside it was actually snowing, and even through the tranq he started fussing because he was so sick of holding his leg up - his shoulder was trembling for the last minute.

Then when we looked at his right front we saw that the small bleeding that had started in his scar tissue was still going. The vet who was there looking at other horses took a look, and we jointly decided to hold off puttin the right shoe on for a few days to heal and toughen up the scar tissue. So he will get a formalin/iodine mixture painted on the tissue for three days, twice a day, and hopefully by Wednesday it will be ok to take the shoe.

So I just have to be patient for a few more days...

Tris was still drunk when I left, leaning against his wall and napping pathetically.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

King Oak, Day 2

The second day of fence judging started out overcast and cold as we drove into Northampton for breakfast. Because we'd done the briefing the day before - and innumerable times before that - we cleared it with the coordinators to join them in time to pick up our assignment and head out.

Breakfast was excellent and we arrived back on the farm to find that we had an excellent Prelin fence: two offset, slightly narrow houses, not huge, but a good rhythm and straightness question.

One rider on a greener horse glanced off the B element, and a few others scrambled over the first, but overall it rode well.

We then relocated for SIX Novice divisions. Whew. We were at the second fence, a fairly straightforward roll top. Several horses veered off or refused: inexperienced horses who weren't locked in on course yet. Most jumped it just fine.

Everything finished up on time and with no major incidents - almost boring! In te best possible way.

I was home by 8pm for long desired shower and Game of Thrones. Good end to a good birthday weekend!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ahhh, King Oak

Where else would I spend my 30th birthday weekend than jump judging and cheering on friends at King Oak Farm's spring horse trials?

Uneventful day and only one refusal at our jump, last BN rider of the day.

Here's the morning Training jump, just after the water:

And the afternoon Beginner Novice fence, logs with mulch between them meant to mimic a ditch:

The rain held off until the last few riders, and then it started coming down pretty good. We hopped the fence to the Opa Opa Steakhouse for a filling dinner and I had a martini with vodka, chambord, and white chocolate liqueur, because on the extremely rare occasions I drink, I like it to taste as little like alcohol as possible.

Prelim and Novice and my actual birthday, eep.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Patience is a virtue, right?

Auuuuugh how is it that Tristan's new shoes were overnighted in Monday and they're STILL not here?

I'm going to try to take Friday afternoon off to meet the farrier. They'd better be there by then. The suspense is killing me.

Trying to stay productive by tack cleaning. The bridle I did last night soaked up a really obscene amount of oil. Oops...I guess letting it sit since August was a bit too much.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So close...

The farrier is back, and after consultation with the vet he wants Tris in fancy, custom glue-on shoes. They should arrive Wednesday morning, and then go on Wednesday night. If all goes well, I will be riding this time next week - fingers crossed.

I have been cleaning tack in very lazy, very slow stages for about 2 weeks now. For example, this is what our bathroom sink has looked like for the last week. It's a good thing my boyfriend doesn't notice clutter...

Friday, May 3, 2013


First things first: this website is the devil.

I've picked out my dream house. Come visit me if you want.

It's in "pristine" condition, with 10 bedrooms, a professional kitchen, around 50 acres of preserved park.  It's a short drive from the French city of my heart, Poitiers, where I lived and rode for a year. Here's the best part:
An elegant, 19th century stable block stands approx. 200 m (219 yards) away from the chateau. The 2-bedroomed caretakers’ cottage, adjacent to the property entrance, is in a very good state of repair.

Which castle/manor house on that website would you move into?

Thursday, May 2, 2013


The vet sent me an invoice for Monday's appointment and I realized that for the first time in a very long time, I don't have another appointment to look toward. This is it. It's not going to be normal to see her every two or three weeks.

I'll probably still see her around on a regular basis, but it won't quite be the same.

It's funny how you get into patterns like that and what was once normal now seems weird and uncomfortable.