Saturday, September 28, 2013


So Thursday night I got to the barn for Tristan's massage, and the barn manager intercepted me and said that since Tristan came in, he'd been blowing up with hives. Got to his stall and yep, wow, hives everywhere - face, legs, belly, flank, you name it. Bad spots were masses of lumps; even the good spots had big lumps at 2-3 inch intervals. What the HELL. Nothing in his life changed at all - no idea what was triggering it.

That night we gave him 2ccs of dex, and the hives came down by the evening and were fading away through Friday, when he got a fly sheet for turnout. Today, got the call that he is blowing up with them again after coming in from turnout. 2ccs of dex again, and tomorrow he'll go out in a dry lot -  hopefully he's just rolling in something?

Tomorrow he'll get a full bath with some good shampoo, and hopefully we can break the cycle?

ENOUGH, already.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I'm about to head to the DMV for the third time this week to convince them to please let me register my trailer. Vermont has bizarre rules about registration and sales tax and I'm trying to prove that I've owned the trailer for more than three years and therefore have not bought it new and therefore do not owe them sales tax on it. (wtf, Vermont.)

In the meantime, my friends are off doing this.

Not. Fair.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Same old, same old

Not much new to report. Tris is in full work and slowly adding building blocks. Last ride we had a lovely bit of trot, coming up through his withers and forward and steady in contact. I also made the tiniest of breakthroughs in the canter, and if nothing else all the cantering about asking him to please for the love of God soften a bit is upping his fitness level.

Trainer leaves for Florida in 3 weeks so I am all of a sudden cramming to get a few more lessons in. Winter lessons will be a bit easier as there are several other very good trainers at the barn but I want to take advantage of R. while I've got her and get some more things to work on through the winter.

We did a long hack with a possible new barn buddy over the weekend, and Tris was clearly happy to be out with another horse and yet utterly chill in the face of the other horse's carrying on. Love him.

Winter is coming: his summer coat shedding is slowing down and poof, I can almost sink my hand into his fuzz. I washed the cooler and it'll be back in rotation for those days it's just a bit too hot to evaporate heat quickly yet too cold to just toss him back in a stall. Luckily he's never been a horse to run hot - I've never had to clip him over the winter, even in full work. I'd like to stick to that if possible. It has been below freezing several times overnight, especially at the barn (higher elevation than my house) and it snowed atop Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the state.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Product Review: Oster Mane and Tail Brush

Product Review: Oster Mane and Tail Brush

The first piece of horse equipment I ever bought for Tristan, almost ten years ago now, was a cheap hair brush at a CVS. I still have it, more out of nostalgia than anything else. It wasn't a great brush, though, and I basically stopped using it pretty quickly.

Tris has an incredibly thick and long mane and tail. I know people say never to brush them but if I didn't work on them on a semi-regular basis they would be nothing but dreadlocks. In fact, even with me grooming him every day and checking his mane and tail regularly he had a huge dreadlock in his mane that I had to pick out. Let's not even talk about his talent for picking up thistles.

To give you a sense of just how thick his tail is.
A smart friend recommended this to me as the best brush she owns. She's ruthlessly practical and not spendy, so I took her at her word and bought one myself. I. Love. It. It's tough to pinpoint exactly why, but in all honesty this is the greatest mane and tail brush ever. I am kind of picky about grooming stuff: my stiff brush has to be just the right stiffness, and I have 4 soft brushes of varying softnesses. I have small, stiff hands so they have to be easy to use. This brush? Is perfect.

I actually have a set of the other Oster grooming tools, too, and they live in my show/travel tack trunk in my trailer, but they're just brushes. This is magic.

Caveat: I never just straight-up brush his mane and tail. Thick as they are, that's just asking for it. But I always keep a bottle of detangler in my grooming kit, too - more on that in a future product review - and when his mane or tail are getting a bit gnarly I will apply liberally to the area, pick through with my fingers, and then use this comb. I always do it in pieces - for the tail I start at the bottom and work my way up, and for the mane I isolate a few inches at a time. Similarly, after I've used conditioner in his mane or tail when bathing I'll do the same thing. Yes, I pull some hairs out, but his tail after it's been cleaned and combed through is really wonderful.

In short, this brush is exactly as good as advertised.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Full Days

Yesterday. I began my morning seeing old friends and watching XC at GMHA, the perfect start to a crisp fall day.

Then I had lunch and picked up a new bulk bag of flour at King Arthur Flour, one of my favorite places on earth.

Then I headed back up to the barn for a lovely long hack that finished with a long gallop up the hayfield that almost turned a bit too exciting - I asked for the canter to start us off and Tris rocked back and took off. Our first few strides were just barely in control.

Today is a chill early fall day. And we schooled hard. I kept him going hard and kept asking more until he was leaden-limbed and then let him stretch and slow. I tossed a cooler on him and set up another White Lightning soak for his back feet. They are doing way better still but I had another bottle, and I want to be absolutely sure.

Possibly tomorrow off - if I do ride, it'll be light and easy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Product Review: Sore No More Gelotion

Product Review: Sore No More Gelotion

This is not exactly a ground-breaking review, but I am committed to talking about things that I use regularly and love, and the Sore No More Gelotion is absolutely tops on that list. I keep a bottle in my grooming kit at all times. For that matter, when a bottle starts to run low it comes home with me for personal use - and Tris gets a new full bottle.

If you somehow haven't heard of this stuff, it's liniment, meant for easing mild soreness and inflammation. It won't erase the pain of a broken leg or un-bow a tendon, but wow, will it significantly improve everyday strain and stress from work.

I've used many liniments before. For a brief time I boarded at a barn with a wash stall with a communal jug of Absorbine. Tris got a liniment wash after work every day and we both smelled fresh and delightful all the time. I've had bottles of other stuff from time to time. This is the one that I keep coming back to.

Why do I prefer it? A couple of major reasons. First, it's a gel, which I think is crucial for any liniment. Liquid ones are great for adding to buckets for a wash, or maybe for a back, but for legs you are just asking for frustration if you want to apply a liquid. It goes everywhere but where it needs to.

Second, you can apply it under wraps. It won't burn or blister. I lover being able to really rub it in and then wrap ice over the leg, or a standing wrap.

Third, it smells AMAZING. The first few times I put it on, Tris tried to lick it off. He always sniffs at his legs the whole time I apply it.

Fourth, it's herbal-based, which is important to me because I have lived in Vermont for many years and am part-hippie at this point. No, seriously, though, when I have the choice I err on the side of herbal stuff, especially when it works so well. I always keep arnica around for myself and I love that it's the main anti-inflammatory component in this.

Cons? It's expensive, more so than regular liniments, and it can leave a bit of scurf if you apply a lot of it. Nothing you can't brush off once it dries, but it's not 100% clean.

I usually apply generously, by drizzling down and then rubbing it in against the hair so it has contact with the skin, until the whole area is saturated. I find it most useful on legs but I've also rubbed it into back and haunches after a hard XC school.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Music Break

"A Girl and Her Horse," Carbon Leaf

You lean forward to go
You pull back to go slow
These are the horse basics you should know

It's no use to wait
A girl and her horse will never separate
You were done before the gun at the starting gate

And away she rides
To the great unknown
You can wave goodbye
You can spend some time on your own
And wonder why

Sometimes we find we fall far behind on the course
Some things are best left between a girl and her horse

There's no words to say
A girl and her horse can communicate
'Cause notion is motion and nothing's up for debate

And away she rides
To the great beyond
You can wave goodbye
To a girl and her horse
With a bond you can't deny

Sometimes we find we fall far behind on the course
Some things are best left between a girl and her horse
Sometimes you find you can't cross the line on the course
Some things are best left between a girl and her horse

You lean forward to go
You pull back to go slow
The rest is anyone's guess, don't you know

And away she rides
With the best in show
You can wave goodbye
The girl and her horse have a bond
You'll never know

And away she rides
With the best in show
You know, unicorns don't exist, of course
But every girl in this world has a horse

Sometimes we find we fall far behind on the course
Some things are best left between a girl and her horse
Sometimes you find you can't cross the line on the course
Some things are best left between a girl and her horse

Yep, that's about right.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


No time to write much but: vet cleared Tristan's left front after ultra sounding and he has a spiffy new set of shoes and a close trim in back. He goes back into work tomorrow. WHEW.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Product Review: White Lightning

Ask two horse people, get three opinions, right? Everyone's got their favorite stuff for use around the barn. I'm especially picky and I'll often burn through several possibilities to get just the right thing for my problem. With that in mind, I'm going to do occasional product reviews of things that I've used and loved for years. None of these are endorsed unless I mention it up front.

Product Review: White Lightning

I've talked a little bit about our recent struggles with white line disease in both of Tristan's back feet. I've been paying too much close attention to his front and it wasn't until he started chipping excessively in the back that I took a neurotically close look at his hind feet and bam - clear indications of white line problems.

I was first introduced to White Lightning by a barefoot trimmer that I loved, who worked on Tristan for about a year and was a friend of my first trimmer in Vermont. She recommended it for a touch of thrush that he had going on at the time. Since then, I've always kept a bottle on hand. I tend to think of it as big guns: it can be a pain to apply and use, but whoo boy does it live up to its labeling.

The gist is that White Lightning is a chemical that reacts with vinegar to produce chlorine dioxide. For small, short applications such as the mild thrush that first led me to the product, you can mix equal parts White Lighning and vinegar in a spray bottle and then thoroughly spray the bottom of the hoof. It needs to be mixed new each time, as the chemical reaction is what counts. You don't need much at all if you're using this method - just 2-3 tablespoons of each liquid.

For bigger stuff such as a whole-hoof treatment for persistent thrush or white line disease, you need to get more involved. Clean the whole hoof - even powerwash it if necessary - but the idea is to give the stuff access to all the problem areas. Mix equal parts White Lightning and vinegar, and then the whole hoof needs to be soaked in an airtight bag for 45 minutes. White Lightning recommends 2 oz of the stuff to 2 oz of vinegar, or about enough to get a little ways up above the hoof wall.

It is a pain but thankfully Tris is great about soaking after our abscess extravaganza. Drop a flake of hay, untie him from the crossties, and he. will. not. move. For horses that get more antsy, duct tape is your friend. Cover the bag, and get it nice and tight around their pasterns, too. (For the horse that truly won't tolerate soaking, this stuff probably won't work for you, alas.)

It really works. It knocks stuff out cold. For really persistent problems my strategy is to soak at 1 week intervals but I promise you will notice a difference, especially if you keep things at an even keel in the interim - stay on top of picking the feet out, etc.

Caveat: many people find that their horse's hair can be bleached by the gas that the mixture produces. I've never run into this problem but I'm sure it's possible.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday, Sunday

My original plan for this Sunday was to spend it at home, catching up on chores and such that I haven't done in...well, six weeks at the very least. Ugh.

But the barn asked me on Friday night if I could help out at the show on Sunday, and I am constitutionally incapable of saying no. So while I did get to sleep in and do a few things this morning (tried out a new waffle recipe!) off to the barn I went.

First things first, I did another White Lightning soak of Tristan's hinds.

Then I headed up the hill to get started on scribing. It was a gorgeous day today, if cold. Fall is here with a vengeance - look over the truck on the left-hand side of the picture and you'll see an early tree turning scarlet. 2-3 weeks and this hill will look like it's on fire.

Then I settled in to scribe about an hour and a half worth of tests, including Fourth 1. It's been a long time since I scribed above Second Level, holy mackerel they go fast.

Our dressage ring is gorgeous but believe it or not I've never worked up the courage to ask about the rules for riding in it. Which I realize is stupid but it is so fancy and I have an indoor and another perfectly lovely outdoor to ride in plus all the dirt roads and the fields,'s not for lack of space!

Last but not least I scribed a western dressage test. I am not sure I "got it." I kept reading the judging comments and...I dunno. Maybe I'm a snob. The pair that rode this test were rather nice - the horse was a Fell stallion with a really pleasant look - but not what my eye would call First Level.

Then I headed back down to the barn and applied Durasole liberally to Tristan's back feet. I can always tell when it's started to catch and improve his feet as less and less of it will soak in. There are a couple of spots where it's made a huge difference already, and a few spots where I'd like to see a tougher, thicker hoof.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


La la la, I'm ignoring everything and just doing a meme. So there. This is from Viva Carlos.

1. Whats your horses name and how did they come by it?
Tristan's Bel Joeor. I gave it to him. He came to me with the barn name Big Red, registered BLM name Toiyabe Yomba. I hated both of those, so renamed him (after much deliberation) Tristan, and then a few months later decided on Tristan's Bel Joeor. "Bel Joeor," which means "beautiful player," in Old French, is the name of the knight Tristan's horse in Malory's Morte d'Arthur, one of the earliest recorded versions of the Arthurian legend. Also, hi, I am still a medieval historian at heart.

2. What are your favorite breeches?
On Course Cotton Naturals. Love 'em.

3. Tall boots or paddock boots and half chaps?
Tall boots. Not even sure I own paddock boots and my half chaps have been buried in a box for many a year now. Sometimes I'll hack out in just my Ariat Terrains and breeches but 99% of the time it's tall boots.

4. What brand of tall boots do you have(if you wear them)? If you had an unlimited budget what would you get?
Sigh. I have cheap-o plastic tall boots but truly they look like proper leather ones. They're the Saxon Equileather Field Boots. They've actually held up really well so far. I tried on everything in the store >$500 last time I had to buy new boots and the budget just wasn't going to stretch that far. My winter tall boots are the old version of the Ariat Bromont Winter Boot.

If I had an unlimited budget I'd get custom Dehners. I also seriously covet a pair of Dubarry Galway boots.

5. Favorite Helmet
I love Internationals, as they fit my oval head.

6. Shows or no shows?
While I've never had the burning desire to show, I'd like to be able to show more often. It sometimes feels like the times I'm able to get training, soundness, finances, and time all in a row to get to a show have been the exceptions rather than the rule.

7. Jumping or flat work?
Flat all the way. I am a secret DQ at heart.

8. Hunters, Jumpers, Cross Country or Derby's?
If by cross country we mean eventing then yes, that.

9. What other disciplines have you ridden?
Dressage, I guess. I did hunters (IHSA) in college

10. Dressed to the nine or whatever you can find when riding?
Depends on whether I'm lessoning. If I'm just schooling probably slightly grungy (breeches, horse t-shirt) but if I'm in a lesson always newly-clean breeches and a nice polo. Never a belt, always tall boots.

11. Where do you shop the most for you? Your horse?
At the moment, it's an even tie between Tractor Supply and Smartpak. Tractor Supply because there's one on the way to the barn and I can pick up quick things there, Smartpak for other more specialized things, especially with all the medical supplies of this past spring. Really can't remember the last time I bought something for myself. It's been at least a year.

12. When was the last time you rode and what did you do?
Last night, 15 minutes of walking to get his leg down with a smidge of trot to see if he was sound in it.

13. What tack do you use every ride/day?
Stubben dressage bridle, Albion dressage saddle, whatever saddle pad is cleanest, and a gel pad covered by a pillow case.

14. What are your horses color(s)?
Black/white/gray. I wish I could've been more colorful but he's loud enough to take care of that on his own.

15. How often do you clean your tack?
Not nearly as often as I should.

16. What kind of bit do you use?
Loose ring french link on the dressage bridle, full cheek french link on the jumping bridle.

17. Mares or Geldings?
Geldings, every day and twice on Sundays.

18. What is something you want to improve on in your riding?
I don't have anything resembling a natural feel. I have to work really, really hard to sense and then interpret what's going on, particularly in his gait. I desperately envy people who can pinpoint the slightest bit of crookedness through feel, even if they can't fix it right away.

19. Favorite horse themed quote?
"A canter is the cure for every evil." - Winston Churchill

20.What was your most recent equestrian purchase?
A salt block. I'm so exciting.

Can't catch a break...

So, updates, finally.

Last Saturday night I left work and got to the barn, saw that the farrier had not trimmed Tristan's back feet to even out the chips, and decided to take matters into my own hands. I gave them a really truly good cleaning out with hoof pick, hose, hoof pick again, you name it. As I kept cleaning I started getting a sick feeling and when I finished I confirmed it: white line disease in both back feet, hence the chipping and crumbling of the hoof wall. It was pretty bad. So I did a full-on White Lightning soak on both back feet and picked out his stall to the nines so he could go back to a clean dry place for the night. I then proceeded to drive to New Hampshire feeling about two inches tall and like the worst horse owner in the whole world. The next morning I texted both the farrier and the barn owner to let them know what was going on. As of today I still haven't heard from the farrier. Sigh.

I returned from vacation on Tuesday night, pulled Tris out of his discover that his left front was hot and blown up to the knee. Let's review: surgery  on the right front for a broken/infected coffin bone, white line disease in both hinds, and now his last remaining good leg was definitely not good.

I jogged him out and to my eye and to the trainer's eye he looked only sliiiiightly off at the trot. I was pretty sure I could feel a knot of tougher tissue on the inside of the leg, just above the fetlock, so the working theory was he knocked it in turnout. I clipped around the knot area just to make sure it wasn't a puncture wound, then cold hosed for 10 minutes, then rubbed in Sore No More, then walked him for 15 minutes under saddle, then cold hosed for another 10 minutes, then rubbed more Sore No More, and then the barn manager did standing wraps on his front legs because, shameful admission time, I have never learned how to do a standing wrap. Then I added a gram of bute to his evening grain and his morning grain for the next day.

The next morning his leg was, per BM, tight again, but when he came in after turnout and stood in his stall it went up again, though not nearly to the previous night. Repeat previous night's routine save the wrapping - I hadn't paid close enough attention the night before and was terrified of bowing a tendon. The next morning he was still up and it didn't go down with turnout, so I worked on it Thursday night, same routine, and the barn manager taught me to do my own freaking wraps, so I wrapped him. Down again overnight, up again in the afternoon, just a touch better Friday night. Lather, rinse, repeat. I added just a touch of trotting in last night and he moved out well, felt sound to me and looked sound to the assistant trainer. Plus he has zero compunctions about pawing like an idiot on that LF constantly, so it can't hurt that much.

I checked in with the vet on Thursday and if the leg was still up on Friday I said I'd have her out on Monday, so hip hooray for another vet bill! Hoping it goes down over the weekend and this is a formality, but at this point - I would've thought 48 hours and out for a good knock and I'm terrified that he may have strained or torn something.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I could stomp and fuss and wail about the state of Tristan's hind feet (definitely white line disease) or the fact that I got back from a few days away on Tuesday night to find his last remaining non-problematic leg swollen up to the knee, but I will save those stories in favor of some comforting pictures of my Wednesday morning work trip up over the mountains. I live in the very best state.

Oh, here, have a picture of the doofus pony wrapped up after two hours of cold hosing and walking and rubbing liniment: