Sunday, June 30, 2013


I did my first full set of barn chores this morning, something I haven't done in...five years? Maybe a little bit longer? Whew. Turnout, stalls, water, sweeping, bringing back in, topping off water. A little over 4 hours, which puts some time in the bank for lessons when Tris is ready. I watched lessons while eating a granola bar, including a faaaaaaancy Andalusian gelding working on his trot, and then took Tris for a road hack that would've been longer had the bugs not discovered us halfway through.

Since I last swapped barn work for lessons, I've divested of some of my barn work gear. In particular, the rubber muck boots I used to use are long gone; they were $10 boots from Walmart to begin with and they leaked constantly, so I chucked them a few moves ago. I have no idea what happened to my work gloves. My raggedy jeans have too many holes even for the barn. I did chores this morning in my riding gloves (I use the leather palm/crochet back kind) and Ariat Terrains and a new pair of jeans that I've retired from daily wear to barn wear. Only the jeans worked out. The Terrains, much beloved as they are, are not built for chores and my feet were swampy and swollen and aching by the end of the day. The riding gloves did reasonably well but the way the stitching was done my fingernails kept bumping the tips of the fingers and now my fingertips hurt quite a bit. (*world's smallest violin*)

That puts me in the market for some new stuff. I stopped by Tractor Supply on my way home, hoping to pick something up since I'll be working again tomorrow morning and since I had a 10% off coupon. I tried on all the boots I could put my hands on and every.single.pair. was too big for me. I do not have small feet! I wear an 8 or 9! And yet, everything was women's size 10 plus. WTF, people. Ditto again on the gloves: all the kinds I liked were floppy and too long on my hands. (Admittedly, I have short stubby fingers and small hands, so that is not unusual.)

I struck out again at Agway in the boot department - though they had some, none worked for my feet and if I am going to spend actual money on these and do hours of chores in them I want them to be comfortable, not barely adequate. I did much better with gloves, picking up a pair of sturdy but kind of cute teal/beige gloves that will suit nicely, for under $10.

So: any suggestions for good chore boots? I may go back by Tractor Supply and find a salesperson tomorrow afternoon - everyone was jumping around busy on this summer Sunday and I wanted to get home - or I may widen my radius a little bit and try a few other hardware stores; there must be a few more farm supply places around that I just haven't found yet.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Slowest rehab ever?

I'm beginning to think I might be overly cautious in my rehab schedule. (Which will not shock anyone who knows me...)

Tris is 100% sound, and we're not worried about rehab-induced re-injury; it's not a soft tissue problem. His hoof has healed over, the bone has sealed, etc. Our only limitation is fitness: muscles, wind, and old-horse joints (he is 18 this year).

So here's our schedule, followed 5 days a week with 1 day completely off for recovery and starting this week, 1 day of a long road hack with hills. We are about to start Week 7.

Week 1: 20 minute walk
Week 2: 30 minute walk
Week 3: 15 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 10 minute walk
Week 4: 20 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 15 minute walk
Week 5: 15 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 10 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 5 minute walk
Week 6: 15 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 10 minute walk, 5 minute trot, 15 minute walk
Week 7: 15 minute walk, 7.5 minute trot, 10 minute walk, 7.5 minute trot, 10 minute walk (Day 6: 60 minute road hack @ walk)
Week 8: 20 minute walk, 7.5 minute trot, 10 minute walk, 7.5 minute trot, 15 minute walk (Day 6: 60 minute road hack @ walk)
Week 9: 15 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 10 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 15 minute walk (Day 6: 60 minute road hack @ walk)
Week 10: 15 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 5 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 5 minute walk, 2-3 minute canter, 10 minute walk (Day 6: 60 minute road hack @ walk)
Week 11: 15 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 5 minute walk,  10 minute trot, 5 minute walk, 5 minute canter, 10 minute walk (Day 6: 60 minute road hack @ walk)
Week 12: 15 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 5 minute walk, 10 minute trot, 5 minute walk, 10 minute canter, 10 minute walk

At Week 12, I'll feel comfortable chucking the more rigid timing and going back to work based on feel. Right now the trots are mostly straight lines, with him in the bridle but not really properly on the bit, more focused on rhythm and softness and rideability than dressage. Last night, we trotted up a small hill, and I'll continue to incorporate that and poles and other strengthening exercises as he feels able. We should finish the second week in August. At about that time we might introduce some hand gallop in the ring. I'll have to do some thinking about a proper gallop set; there isn't really anywhere flat with decent footing for this nearby. All the good fotting is on some sort of an incline, and all the flattish stretches are on hard-packed dirt road, so it will depend on how he feels in hill work at the trot and canter. We'll also take jumping as we see fit; certainly not until this schedule is complete but it may be that we take advantage of the dressage trainer before she goes back to Florida and hold off on jumping until the eventing trainer comes back to clinic in the winter. Then again, I might get too tempted by the jumps in the upper ring before then and pop over a few.

eta: I might also add lessons in at Week 10, once a week, to focus on re-starting the canter right - that's always been our challenge and it would be good to have some help from the beginning.

What do you think? Most pointlessly over-cautious and slow rehab in history, or a sensible, gradual plan?

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I gave Tristan the night off last night after the barn manager texted to tell me he looked fine to her.

Got to the barn tonight and walked, then trotted him out in the indoor: 100% sound, tracking up, etc.

Well, okay then! I'm just going to smile and nod and move on.

He's really starting to get into a rhythm with his trots, and I'm introducing a few steps of leg yield here and there. The 40 minutes of walking we do feels excessive right now but starting next week we will swap it for trot, 5 minutes at a time.

I'm going to start working at the barn now and then to pay for lessons as soon as he's fit again, and I've gotten advice from friends about a fitness plan for fix hunting this fall. Basically, we'll aim for BN fit with lots of road work and we'll be fine. I'm looking forward to it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

God Damn It.

Last night I wasn't quite feeling it - it had been pouring rain all afternoon and I mostly wanted to go home and curl up with a book - but I headed out to the barn, tacked up, and got on.

We did 15 minutes of walking, then 5 of trot, and while it was stiff to start off with we really hit a nice rhythm by the end. I'm focusing hard on rhythm more than anything else, and in the last few rides we've really nailed it. This was the first ride we nailed it in the first trot.

Then we walked again, and about three minutes into the walk, he went lame. No funny step that I could feel. Literally from one step to the next he went from ambling along on a loose rein to stumbling drunkenly. I pushed him through a few strides, then got off and walked him in hand to watch, then put him on the longe line.

Definitely off, definitely left hind. His right front, his surgery foot, was totally fine, but his LH was not tracking up and was swinging to the outside. It was far worse tracking left, and he was head-bobbing. He looked alllllmost ok to the right. When I halted him he rested the LH.

I brought him back to the aisle, untacked him, and ran my hands down every inch of his leg, palpated all over, compared with the RH, did everything I could possibly think of to detect ANYTHING, and nothing. No heat, no swelling, no nothing. He kept picking up his foot when I poked at his fetlock but that is SOP for him (it's his favorite foot), and while it had some fill it matched the RH fill and again, not at all out of the ordinary for him. (Front legs were clean and tight all the way down.) I rubbed some Biofreeze into the fetlock because I had some samples and I wanted to do something, however likely useless it was.

Ok; I walked him up and down the barn aisle to see if something had resolved, and again, not quite tracking up, swinging a bit to the outside, and when I turned him in the aisle to the left to go back he stumbled - like when he put his weight on that LH to swivel he couldn't balance on it.


Hopefully he took a slightly funny step, tweaked a muscle, and just needs a few days of rest. All of our work has been focused on building up his hind end, so he may have been a bit overstressed. The barn manager will let me know how he walks out of his stall today, we'll keep an eye, and he'll have a massage on Monday that will help with assessment and possibly treatment. If there's no improvement or clear cause, we'll get re-acquainted with our vet next week.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Liebster Questions

Hannah tagged me for the Liebster Award that's going around, so here you have it. 11 random facts about me, followed by 11 questions.

1. I have had colic surgery. No, really. A few years ago I wasn't feeling great and went to bed early, then woke up with excruciating abdominal pain, then went to the emergency room, then went in for exploratory surgery when they couldn't figure out what was wrong from the tests, and when I woke up they told me that an abdominal adhesion, a bit of scar tissue, had wrapped around and tied off my intestines. Which is basically exactly what happens in a torsion colic.

2. I once held Bruce Davidson on course. True story. Read all about it. I was quaking in my boots. (No reason to, he was perfectly nice, but the guy has a statue at the Kentucky Horse Park, for crying out loud.)

3. I used to live in a nunnery in France. I'm not even a little bit Catholic, but that was the housing my college arranged for the three of us who chose to live in the random provincial French city instead of Paris. It was awesome, except maybe for the bells for the 7am mass every day.

4. Speaking of France, I also rode for a year at the equestrian center there and I'm fairly certain the French system of equitation is basically the Thunderdome. If you live, you are a damn good rider. We would routinely have 20 horses in two circles in their large indoor, doing these insane lessons, WTC. Picture the worst warmup ring you've ever been to and now imagine riding in that every day.

5. I am a third generation Star Trek fan. My grandfather owned a set of collectible original series Franklin Mint plates and displayed them on the den wall and now they are a legit family heirloom that I hope to inherit someday. There is at least a 1 in 2 chance I was named after Spock's mother. (The other option being the Doberman my mother's family showed when she was a child.)

6. I studied medieval military history in college, and wrote my undergraduate thesis on the crossbow. I had so much fun doing it. My advisor - with whom I am still close and see a few times a year for dinner or coffee - still talks about it at dinner parties.

7. I am NOT a cat person. I am such a curmudgeon as to push the barn cat off my lap when he settles there while I'm watching a lesson. (And yet, I live with one. Sigh.)

8. I have gout. Yes, the same thing that fat old man villains in eighteenth century novels get. My body does not process uric acid effectively, and so it builds up in my joints instead and eventually causes pain. The incidence rate in pre-menopausal women is a fraction of a fraction of a percent, but it is also hereditary, and apparently I lost the genetic lottery.

9. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in history, and I actually use them! I've been lucky to piece together a career in museums and I'm very deeply involved in the field. I serve on national and regional committees, blog professionally, and a lot of my travel is museum-related.

10. I was on the board of the Save Farscape campaign. Yep. Insanely geeky and yet it taught me SO much about community, advocacy, and passion.

11. I have an almost paralyzing fear of driving on bridges over water. I break out into a cold sweat almost every time, especially if we're high up or the water is wide.

Here are my questions:

1) Why did you choose your current horse sport or discipline?
Compromise; I wanted to focus on dressage after one too many falls on my head, and it turns out Tristan really likes to jump and run cross country, so we event.

2) What is your horse-related Big Goal, if any?
I'd like a small farm some day. My dream is to be able to retire Tristan to my own land.

3) Pick a horse-related thing about which you have changed your mind. Why?
Rope halters. When I first started Tristan, I liked them a lot and while I never bought one I always had plans to, and I would do ground work with him in them. Now I haaaaaaate them. It makes me twitch to see people tie with them, especially, because if a horse pulls back against them it's awful. All those pressure points!

4) Favorite apocalypse?
The EMP kind - where all technology is obliterated at once. Probably not a coincidence that that's the one I think I'd best be able to survive, what with all my living history/agricultural experience.

5) Horses and riding as social outlet: pro, con, or it's complicated?
Complicated. Some of my best friends and my favorite people have come from barns, but my real reason for going to the barn is to see my horse. He's my motivation, not a social scene - which is good, because right now 90% of the time I'm at the barn I'm alone!

6) What's the oldest piece of tack you own?
I have this beautiful, wonderful dressage saddle from the 1940s. It was a gift from a friend who has since passed on, and she rode in it on her horses when she was my age. It's caramel-colored and flat as a pancake. I'm fairly certain the tree is broken and in any case it would need a lot of work to be usable again, but I love to look at it.

7) Is the glass half-empty or half-full, with what?
Half-full, but it could turn half-empty in the blink of an eye, so you should be ready at any time! I am a prepping, have fifteen plans maniac. I drink almost exclusively water, so we'll go with that as the liquid.

8) Time to colonize some other planet! It's a one-way trip. Do you go?
Not unless I can take Tristan with me. I might've gone to grad school in England except Tris couldn't have come. If he can come with, I'd probably do it.

9) What's the best horse-related time- and/or labor-saving trick you know?
I dunk my bit in Tristan's water bucket after every ride, and keep a towel tied to the front door of his stall to wipe it off. It takes 2 seconds and it works like a charm. There's very little horse-related that squicks me out faster than a bit with dried foam and bits of hay stuck to it.

10) Recommend me a poem.
Margaret Atwood, The Loneliness of the Military Historian, which strikes rather near to home, as you can imagine.
My trade is courage and atrocities.
I look at them and do not condemn.
I write things down the way they happened,
as near as can be remembered.
I don’t ask why, because it is mostly the same.
Wars happen because the ones who start them
think they can win.

11) What's on your keychain?
Half-lanyard, flashlight, keys to my vehicles and home(s), a bottle opener (though I don't drink so I'm not sure why), the key to my tack trunk that I have literally NEVER locked, and the key to my great-great-uncle's dump truck, because we found it when we were cleaning out his house and I think it's awesome.

So, um...I'm not sure I can fill out 11 blogs with less than 200 followers because I'm still kind of new to reading horse blogs regularly. So how about I write 11 questions and if they strike your fancy, steal them and answer them. That work?

1. How old were you when you started riding?
2. Favorite season, and why?
3. Most memorable moment on horseback?
4. Do you have an affinity for a particular breed of horse? Why?
5. Favorite cheesy horse movie? (Feel free to pick a non-cheesy movie, but I'm not sure there are any.)
6. What living rider would you most like to emulate in style?
7. What's the furthest you can imagine yourself going in your chosen sport? IE, how high do you want to jump, or how big or often do you want to show?
8. What's one country you've always wanted to visit but haven't yet?
9. Marvel or DC?
10. What's your guilty pleasure meal, ie the one you eat totally for comfort after a long day?
11. Have you ever played an instrument?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Change of Plan

SOME PONY decided last night to throw an offroad bucking fit through a stand of apple trees.

I'm not naming names, but it might have been certain bay roan mustang who lost his brain and subsequently made poor life choices.

I was staying inside, right? Last night I brought Tris into the ring and, as always, dropped my stirrups and tightened my girth in the middle of the ring, and on the way over to the mounting block he made so many sad, pathetic, longing looks outside that I said ok, fine, we'll walk on the roads for a bit and then do our trot work in the outdoor ring. He was so very happy and springy!

Then when we were walking on the road back to the barn to work in the outdoor, a big commercial rig pulled up alongside us, and I asked Tris to step a little bit off the road to let him pass. The driver stopped and asked directions to my barn, which was barely a quarter mile over the hill, and Tris got antsy next to the big truck. I finished giving directions, and the horse on the rig let loose a double barrel kick and Tris LOST. IT.

I was never in danger of falling off, but oh man I was pissed. When I got four feet on the ground again I let loose a decent crack with my dressage whip to send him straight and forward back home. In the meantime we were up-and-down-and-spinning through several apple trees just off the road, and I was wearing short sleeves. My arms were white with scratches and I had leaves in my helmet and stuck in the saddle.

We walked back to the indoor and I asked for a 5 minute trot, by the end of which he was huffing and puffing like he'd come off XC. We walked out for a looooooong time and when he'd recovered we trotted again just for 2 minutes or so, and while he was walking out and recovering from that we went to investigate the rig, walked all around it, sniffed it, and generally discussed being a nicely mannered pony with an ounce of brain matter.

Oh, pony.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I am, by nature, a worrier. In case you couldn't tell that already from reading my previous entries. Most of the time, it's nothing; sometimes, it ends up helping.

Anyway. Yesterday, I got up early and was saddled up and starting with our walk by 7:30 a.m., so that I could go to a staff meeting at work and then have my day free to run errands. (My second office, in the admin building of my organization, is only 10 minutes from the barn; home is closer to 25; if I was going to go in for the meeting on my day off it made sense to combine the trips.)

Walk felt fine, though he was a bit ticked about working before he'd even had grain. The trot felt, quite frankly, awful for the first 3 minutes or so. I couldn't get a consistent contact or bend, and he was tripping all over the place. I was worried enough to get off and jog him out and watch the RF.

He's totally sound on the RF, but he was overall stiff and a bit wonky. At the time, I worried, and I'm still not thrilled, but I've reasoned it out: he'd been in his stall all night; Sunday is a shorter turnout day because of the barn staffing; he's been working hard to build muscle and he's probably low-level sore.

Sure enough, in our second trot he was much more even and fluid, and when I had him actually moving forward and on a bit of contact he felt like a million bucks. It was when I let him go behind the leg, or when I dropped the contact that he got uneven and a bit trippy behind. (Once or twice when I asked for a bit of bend it was like he'd forgotten how to coordinate his back legs, went for a teensy bit of crossover with his hind legs on the turn and whooooooosh, goodbye hind end, as in it dropped out from underneath me as he tripped. Sigh.)

This week, our pattern is 15 walk - 5 trot - 10 walk - 5 trot - 5 walk, for a total of 40 minutes. We'll stay indoors so we can work on flat, even, forgiving surfaces and resume a bit of hillwork next week. If it weren't so bloody cold and rainy I'd be giving him some Vetrolin or other liniment rinses after work, but he'd stay wet the rest of the day if I did that. Summer seems to have forgotten about Vermont.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ho Hum

We had a really lovely ride Thursday, all around the big hay field, a long peaceful walk with Tristan munching on the one bite of long grass he snatched at the beginning, grass brushing almost at my knees at times and the mowed path just barely discernable in spots. The edges, alongside the creek, were squelchy and soft and there were one or two steps that sent my heart to my throat keeping my fingers crossed for his shoes, but he did fine. (And now I know not to repeat that ride until we've had a few more days of sun!)

Then up to the outdoor ring for our trot set, which went reasonably well though we had discussions about wiggliness - flinging his shoulders in the direction of the gate, speeding up with the barn in sight, blowing off the far corners. Not an unusual conversation to have with him for his first few rides in the outdoor. He also offered up about a 10 second temper tantrum - 2-3 big arched-back bucks, which I kicked him out of, which led to a high-headed bolt of 2-3 strides, which I stopped by turning him hard and kicking him off one leg to interject bend, then 2-3 decent-sized crowhops which subsided when I pulled his head back up and sent him forward.

I'm not sure whether he took a funny step, had a momentary flash of temper, got divebombed by a bug, or got spooked. (The last would be out of character for him.) Once it was over he went back to well-behaved and orderly and we had some nice trot circles.

Last night, Friday night, was not so good. I was running late from work and unsettled from the things that had kept me there, and he had just finished his (bare handful) of grain, so I balked and moved slowly changing and getting his tack. When we set out he was very looky at the farrier's trailer, which lives next to the back barn, and which he's passed a dozen times. He was sluggish and uninterested in hacking out, and I wished I'd brought a whip for our trot. It was shorter overall - only maybe 30 minutes. Maybe he was a bit tweaked from our long pasture ride and his bucking fit, maybe he didn't want to play after dinner.

It's not out of character for him to have slower days, though, and I watched the shadows of his legs like a hawk on our road ride, paid careful attention to what I as feeling, and he was moving soundly and evenly, if a little short and lazy.

He'll get the weekend off as I travel for a family thing, and Monday morning we'll bump up to 30 minutes walk, 10 minutes trot, and see how he handles that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Doing the Math

If you follow the COTH forums long enough, you'll see multiple threads about horse budgeting - and in every single thread, at least one person says that he/she never actually looks at how much it costs to keep a horse.

I don't understand that attitude at all. When I first got Tristan, I was making just under $20,000 a year. I knew where every single penny went - most of them into him. I am doing better now, but I work in nonprofits. I'll never make so much that I don't know how much I spend on him.

With that in mind, here is the end result on a project I've had in my head for a little while: start to finish, how much Tristan's coffin bone chip cost. The period in question is June 8, 2012 through May 16, 2013, when he got his fancy glue-on shoes. I've broken it down by categories:

Veterinary Care - vet calls and treatment (hands on care)
Farrier Care - shoeing, which he would not have had had he not gone off
Diagnostics - x-rays, mostly
Medications - bute, antibiotics, sedatives, specific supplements
Supplies - epsom salt, vet wrap, duct tape, and the like

I could also do a category called opportunity costs - for the scratched Valinor and King Oak entries, for the 7-8 lessons I pre-paid and left behind when I moved to Vermont, and I'm sure for other things if I thought about it. Easily around $500 or so.


  • Veterinary Care - $2,037.59
  • Farrier Care - $990
  • Diagnostics - $1,070.75
  • Medications - $1,313.70
  • Supplies - $688.05
Total: $6,100.08

Some of my separations were silly; I split the surgery up several ways (vet care, board, diagnostics, medication) when the two days of hospital care, surgery, and drugs cost $2,189.20, which is DIRT CHEAP if you ask me. I am also certain that I missed a few epsom salt and duct tape purchases in reviewing my budget numbers, so that category may be off by $50 or so.

The medications column ended up being the longest, and it was mostly sedatives for his farrier issues. The big ticket items under supplies were his EasyBoots, the two regular sizes and then the third larger size he had to get at the vet clinic. The diagnostics were entirely x-rays, four different sets of them and the one radiologist consult.

Out of all the vet visits, if you look at each visit as a cohesive cost unit, the surgery cost the most, obviously, but after that it was that first visit, the one on June 8 for the first abscess diagnosis that was the most costly. (In more ways than one, since that was the one that sent us down the wrong track!)

In conclusion, this seems astoundingly low to me. In my head it was closer to $10k. Paying for it has still emptied three savings accounts (Tristan's, my farm down payment, and my tax return) and put a serious dent in my emergency fund. Still, it's a testament to those early days living on noodles and sleeping in all my winter gear on the couch in front of the wood stove because I couldn't afford to turn the heat up that I was able to cover it all and that I could pursue the problem to its final solution.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cooling Off

This hasn't been a problem in Vermont yet, where half the barn is still blanketed overnight and it's been raining fit to build an ark, but I did enjoy this SmartPak article: Cooling Out a Hot Horse.

At my first barn, when I was eight years old or so, we cooled out after lessons by walking down a fenceline, around the pole at the end, and back up the fenceline, a total trip of about 50 yards or so. At the starting point was a huge tub of water. We were to offer the horses water each time we reached the tub, and to keep walking until the horses spurned the water.

It's a simple if not ideal system. The horses were almost never worked hard enough to be breathing heavily, and they were all fit lesson horses anyway. I can't remember ever sponging or hosing off a sweaty horse.

Now I'm lucky to own a horse that isn't much of a sweater and cools down fairly easily. We always end our rides by walking for at least 10 minutes anyway, more for the muscle recovery than for actual cooling down strategies, though on rare occasions I've walked him longer than that when I feel he's warmer than normal.

He actually usually sweats and dehydrates more because of mental factors than physical ones - when I first started working with him, we'd spend 10 minutes in the indoor at a time, and all I would do would be to groom him slowly and gently, pick up a foot and put it down, and talk to him. He'd go back to his paddock after those sessions and drink and drink and drink. Like a nervous public speaker in front of a crowd of thousands - he'd get an equine form of cottonmouth.

Lately, I've been paying more attention to strength than to heat/dehydration. It's tough to find a flat surface to walk on so we've been doing more hill work than I had hoped for, and at the end of our trots (still 5 minutes) I am feeling just a teensy bit of wobbliness. I'm compensating by taking our overall progression more slowly and by making sure he has recovery time - he's getting tonight off, for instance. There's already a marked improvement in how eager he is to move out at the beginning of our rides each night.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bromont Picspam

Here's a smattering of pictures I took this weekend. My photography skills aren't the best, but I tried to take enough to get a good overview! (They're not really in chronological order.)

Friday dressage, with the 1978 Olympics logo on the hillside.

Selena O'Hanlon on Foxwood High sporting some nifty quartermarks.

VIP viewing area.

XC vet box with the VIP tent and some of the course in the background.

XC course.

Front end water.

Backside water.

One of the combined driving obstacles across the lake from the front side of the XC course.

Galloping downhill into the arena.

Last jump on the course.

Buck Davidson taking the 2* drop.

Sharon White on the 2* showjumping. Check out her stirrups!

Team Canada walking the 3* showjumping course.

Jessica Phoenix on Pavarotti, who was an incredible, extravagant jumper.

Will Coleman and Phillip Dutton on their joint victory lap. 
Long view of part of the XC course.

Sloppy morning showjumping in the 1*.

Oxer over a liverpool; these rails came down all day and in fact two of them broke and had to be replaced.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bromont Stadium

Rails, rails, everywhere, and more Han a few riders who wanted a drink.

I don't think I have ever seen such a decisive series of show jumping rounds. Lots of very tired horses, dropping rails every which way. There were only a handful of clear rounds across all the divisions, and several major changes in standings.

A few rounds stood out in particular for me. Selena O'Hanlon did an absolutely beautiful job with her CCI3* horses, looking cool and elegant over fences that had rattled nearly everyone. I loved Jon Holling's horse Zapotec B's extravagant jumping style - I've been eyeing that horse all weekend, in fact. Gorgeous.

Will Coleman's singleminded focus was really something to see. He was the last rider off the course walk, leaving practically as the first rider entered the ring, and his ride on Obos O'Reilly was a portrait of intensity.

One beautiful grey in the CCI2* pulled up just a few fences from home after tripping a bit in front of the jump and them coming up practically three legged a stride or two after landing. It was worrying to see. Eventing Nation is speculating it was a twisted shoe. I hope so, because it's scary to see a horse go so off, so quickly.

Tonight I'll work through my pictures from the trip and do a bit of a picspam over the next few days.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bromont XC

Whoooo, cross country day!

We got to the parc equestre just as the 1* division started, the first of the day, and got on course just in time to wait for a very long hold that ended with the rider taken away by ambulance. (She was ok, and I am 99% sure we ended up sitting next to her later that day to watch the water, based on eavesdropping...)

We wandered a bit of everywhere for thy division and then settled in by the back water, and stayed there for the beginning of the 3*. Then the arena, then the drop, then the front water, where we stayed through about half of the 2* division - until it started raining in earnest. 

Now we are in Montreal, full from a dinner of poutine and tired from walking several miles exploring the Grand Prix atmosphere.

I will put up photos and talk more about cross country when I get back home - I decided against bringing my netbook on this trip which means no uploading photos for me!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bromont Dressage

Some really wonderful rides today - despite the weather, which is vile. Cold, cloudy, and rainy.

My highlight of the morning was Kyle Carter's ride on Madison Park, which was a really beautiful example of perfect harmony. This is the horse that came back from slipping a tendon off his hock on XC, and Kyle was clearly thrilled with the test, giving a huge hug after the final salute. Just a really wonderful accurate, fluid test. Real partnership.

Highlight for the afternoon was Lauren Keiffer on Veronica. Holy mackerel, what an amazing test. I know there has been grumbling on the COTH forums about how often the mare has run, and she has been around an awful lot, but she looked phenomenal today. I was holding my breath for the last minute or so for her, because it was obvious that if she continued as she was, she would win the dressage - and so she has!

Now back at the campsite to warm up and rest, and possibly do some looking about and shopping, and then tonight to a brew pub for dinner and to watch hockey, where my boyfriend will attempt to get himself shanked by being That Bruins Fan in Quebec...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

WHOO, Bromont!

At the end of my workday today, I will hop on a bus to head up to Burlington, meet my boyfriend, and we will continue driving up and across the Canadian border for our trip to spectate at the Bromont International Three Day Event.

I'm really excited - it's just started to sink in today. We went a few years ago and had a wonderful time, and since then Bromont has gotten bigger and better. There will be some serious names there riding some serious horses, and the event itself is much friendlier to watch than Rolex or Fair Hill.

Saturday night we'll head into Montreal to soak up some of the Grand Prix atmosphere and stay in a hotel instead of a tent, and then we'll head home Sunday night after showjumping.

I'm looking forward to beautiful event horses, poutine, and Tim Horton's, though not necessarily in that order. (Poutine might be winning right now.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Track My Hack

I downloaded the Woof Wear "Track My Hack" app several months ago in hopes of using it once I started rehabbing. Tonight I used it for the first time! Here's our initial walk work; after I turned the app off we went into the indoor for 5 minutes of trot work. This whole ride was bareback.

Do you have any apps you use for tracking trail rides?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Busy, busy, busy!

Sunday I spent most of the day at the barn. I started off scribing for a schooling show, with this gorgeous view:

Then I headed down to the barn to get ready for Tristan's noon massage appointment. I had some time to kill, so I organized my tack trunk under supervision of Barn Cat Squirt:

Then I got on Tris and did 20 minutes of walking and 5 of trot. He was a bit tired and wobbly after the trot, but felt even and sound and generally very good. His massage went well - he was in need of work but no hot spots jumped out.

After the massage, back up the hill to eat lunch and run tests from the judges to the scorekeepers, and then to watch the last few tests - a few second levels and a western dressage test. I am not sure what to make of the western test; it looked pleasant and steady enough but was supposedly a first level test and I didn't see anything like what I would characterize as first level dressage work. I think I'm just not sure what to look for.

Just as the last test was ending, we were put under a severe weather alert. Those mountains, from the photo above, started disappearing as black clouds headed our way. We put everything away as quickly as possible, I went down to the barn to bring Tris back inside (I'd left him out in a paddock with some hay) and got in my car to head home. The storm was already in Montpelier, but I thought I'd be able to cut a corner of it and be ok.

Nope! In fact, I never got more than a few miles from the barn - trees and branches down everywhere, wind buffeting my car, unbelievable dark skies and clear lightning bolts. I turned back around, parked at the barn, and helped the trainer batten down the hatches and fill water buckets before we lost power.

The storm blew over fairly quickly, but it was intense while it lasted. Another 45 minutes or so and I headed home, determined to wind through back roads now that driving was safer. I did have to go offroad around one tree, but once I got back on state roads driving was fine.

Monday I put a saddle on and we explored some of the dirt roads, doing about 20 minutes of walking, and then headed back to the barn to do some trot work on better, more level footing. Another student was doing a little fake course - poles laid out on outside lines and diagonals like a hunter course - to practice riding with intent and remembering a course. The barn manager, who was teaching the lesson, asked if I could be a "competitor" to show the student how a different person might ride the lines.

I entered the ring, circled to set up an approach to the first "jump", and asked Tristan for a trot. His brain clicked in, and he pretty clearly looked around and said "Ohhhhh, I get it, we're riding a course! For courses, we canter!" So he gave me a stride of canter - correct lead, no less! I cracked up and brought him back to a trot. He offered another stride when we turned from long side to diagonal. Other than that he did great and it was fun to ride even over a pretend course!

Tonight we did some bareback hacking up dirt roads, and then trot in the indoor ring. At some point today he rubbed dirt into his left eye, and it was a bit more swollen and weepy than I wanted to see. It's not unusual for him to grind things into his eye; when he rolls he really rubs his head hard, and his tear ducts have always been extra weepy. He's had outright eye infections before, but this time it was swollen but not frighteningly so, weepy with clear tears, not any kind of pus, and still itchy - not painful - so I flushed it with saline, applied a hot compress for a bit, and they will check on him in the morning. If it's still iffy we'll get the vet out again. Of course...