Sunday, May 31, 2015

What Would George Morris Say? Reviewing Wonder Woman's Equitation

Lynda Carter (yes, that Lynda Carter) posted this on Facebook the other day, and a friend tagged me when he shared it. It's apparently from the episode "The Boy Who Knew Her Secret." Despite being a huge comics nerd, I've never seen the original Wonder Woman TV series.

The longer I look at this photo, the more I see.

On the one hand, the horse is nicely relaxed and alert, she's got a nice soft hand on the reins, and she's riding with a ton of confidence.

On the other hand, George Morris would have a heart attack. No hairnet, much less a helmet! Riding in tights (imagine the runs?!)! Gripping with the knees and tipping forward badly - no real depth of seat, she's rocked forward on her thighs instead of sitting on her seatbones.

On the other other hand, as my friend pointed out, she's an Amazon. She can do whatever she wants!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are some great blog posts from the horse world of the past week.

Blogger TPR Challenge from Cob Jockey
I LOVE THIS. It hits all my Pony Club buttons. Check out this post, and get ready to compete in the challenge. TPR stands for temperature, pulse, and respiration, and make sure to check out all the other recent posts explaining how to check each one.

The Leather Doesn't Lie from Behind the Bit
Heh. Yeah. Raise your hand if you don't rotate your stirrup leathers as often as you should...

Change or Move On from Confessions of an Adult Amateur
Suzanne has dealt with so many challenges with such grace. This is a good thoughtful read, well worth the time and reflection.

Lost Reich Chancellery Horses Found in Warehouse from The History Blog
Aaaaaaaah this is so cool. The horses in question are bronze statues commissioned by Hitler, and presumed lost since the end of World War II. Enter smuggling, subterfuge, and eventually, the good guys.

Riding Mentality from A Gift Horse
Considering your own mental state before you get on your horse is crucial, especially for us amateurs who are so emotionally invested in our own horses.

The Characteristics of a Ride and Tie Horse from Boots and Saddles
This made me laugh really hard.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Every single wallpaper pattern in my new house

My new house was built in 1928, and it has a lot of classic, gorgeous features. I will share those another day.

It was remodeled in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It was a good remodel, with lots of money and lots of thought. The kitchen in particular is a work of art that I keep learning new ways to appreciate (even if it is a bit outdated).

The wallpaper, though...

So before I complain about the wallpaper let me say that the previous owners are lovely people, and the wife obviously put a great deal of thought and heart into choosing the wallpaper. It was professionally done, and the degree to which the panels line up and look great is astonishing. After 30+ years, it's barely peeling.

But ohmygoodness, is it dated. And sooooooooo not to my taste.

So, here, a sample of every different pattern of wallpaper in the house.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

People are insane


Swiss Offroad Kjöring frauenfeld 2015 from John Marti on Vimeo.

Heat Tolerance

I need all of you in southern climates to bite your tongue for a few minutes and try not to snicker too hard at us, ok?

It was 85 degrees yesterday - HOT! The sun was out, and the humidity was up a bit. Proper summer weather for the first time in weeks, maybe a payoff for the 29-degree late frost overnight on the previous Friday. (I take full responsibility for that, I had just planted herbs in deck boxes. Sigh.)

So of course it happened that, on a rare day off, I was at the barn at 12:30, right at the hottest part of the day. Whoops?

In fairness, it was actually a really good time to stop by for a lot of reasons. Tris was inside, and I always try to time my visits to the barn for when he's inside so I don't interrupt his turnout. There was a bit of a break in adult camp, which meant that while I groomed I got to listen in on the trainer demonstrating schooling half-steps in the passage and pirouette, and then heard her get feedback from another trainer who works out of the barn sometimes. Super cool.

Then we headed out to march up the hill.

Whoo boy.

Don't judge me too harshly when I say that at the end of our walk we were both a little winded and sweaty, ok? I mean, it was like...a  mile and a half. In 85 degree weather.

Yeah, okay, you can judge me a little bit. Does it help if I assure you that it was all either up or downhill on a decent grade?

Tris wasn't quite sweaty enough that I wanted to hose him off, but he did drink about half a bucket and I hung around for a little while longer to just make sure he was cooling and drying off fine. He was, of course.

I do like the hill walking routine for both of us, though. We'll keep it up until such a time as I feel like I've gotten good answers from the vet and radiologist, and we can start under saddle again. The problem at this point is more that I can't keep his foot clean while riding - any duct tape booties get shredded after one ride - so hopefully sooner rather than later he can go nekkid again, and conditioning will start in earnest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adult Camp at the Barn

I never really went to horse camp as a kid. Not in the budget, really. I always wanted to.

My barn has an adult camp twice a year - a dressage intensive for older women who come, board their horses with us, get lessons every day and watch the other lessons, get their rides videoed and then analyze the videos over wine, learn about riding to music, so on and so forth.

I have hangups sometimes about the fancy things at my barn, which is that I just ride my horse and I love my horse and if he ever sets foot in a competitive dressage ring again it will be a pleasant surprise.

And there are a LOT of very nice horses at this barn, and they are aimed at Grand Prix, and they are purpose-bred, and they have a lot of money in their blankets and their tack and their vet appointments.

To be clear, the trainer, barn manager, owners, everyone, are the loveliest people and would never, ever judge or treat me differently. They know how hard I work with Tristan, and they love Tristan for who he is, which is all I ever ask. He is valued as the babysitter, as the level-headed sweetheart that he is.

But then people arrive and I get a pang and I think, I would like to spend the whole week in the company of these women, riding my fancy horse and drinking wine together and laughing.

And then I think, I can't afford it.

If I could afford it, my horse would not be up to it - not even sound, much less at the camp level.

If I could afford it and my horse were sound, I would never be able to get a whole week off.

And then? If all the stars lined up? I'd still feel the outsider. Which is all on me, for sure.

So this is always a weird week for me, of being the ghost around the edges. Last night I got there after it was all over and walked with Tristan up and down the hill, and chatted with the barn manager and another lesson kid, and marveled at the new fancy horses in the stalls.

I guess I don't have a point to this post, except that incoherent yearning, sometimes. I adore my horse. I am happy with the path we have taken together (well, ok, I could've done with fewer vet bills, but you get the idea). I don't have the drive, the money, the time to follow that other path.

But, still. Still.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are a few blog posts from this past week.

Product Review: Equiflex Sleeves from Cob Jockey
Seriously bummed that this was a huge thumbs down. I love the idea of the product. Anyone else have experience with them?

Fashion at the IHSA Nationals from The Legal Equestrian
Attending & volunteering at the IHSA nationals when they were last in New England was one of the cooler experiences of my horsey lifetime. I like this overview because it's a totally different world than typical showing.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others from Viva Carlos.
YES. Needed this.

Takes from the Trenches: An Epic Rant from Wait for the Jump

Those weird colored horses from The $900 Facebook Pony
'Fess up, you know you have a secret favorite horse color.

Myopia Hunt Club Spring Hunter Pace from The Maggie Memoirs
Gorgeous pictures, sounds like a really cool day! Myopia is a New England fixture and a piece of history; lucky to get to ride there!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shameless Plug Time

So! I have an adorable puppy. Well, young dog - she's a year and a half old now.

She loves to hike mountains, which is good, because my fiance loves to hike mountains too.

(I like to ride up mountains, but the going up on my own two feet is...not my favorite. I morph into whiny 5 year old about halfway up and the view is not enough of a consolation for me.)


Fiance is writing a witty, eloquent, and thoughtful blog about his adventures hiking with the puppy. If you're into reading about that kind of thing, I can recommend it with a clear conscience. (If it sucked, I would not be inflicting it on you, I promise.)

Here it is: Alpine Dawg Blawg

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Walking, walking, walking some more

We did more handwalking yesterday. It was 52, and overnight it dropped down to 37; it was still 39 for my drive to work this morning. SMH, as the kids these days are saying.

Please enjoy these really, really bad pictures of my horse, who could not decide from the buffet of options to be angry about: the wind, the cold, the lack of treats, my refusal to let him eat grass, wearing his sheet again when he thought he was done, you name it. He settled for being punky and grumpy about everything, which was by turns frustrating and adorable.

(Not a good picture, but this is a classic Tristan face, worried eye and slightly belligerent attitude. Oh, pony.)

He even had his mouth open. SO CLOSE. 

Dear Tristan: undo your Cushings and you can have spring grass. Fair enough?

(Foot progress: vet will jog out today, x-rays going off to the specialty radiologist this week, looks sound to my eyes, we'll see.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why do we do this again?

Dear universe,

Fuck you very much.

Sometimes I think that time is marked by the loss of wonderful horses. I feel like I went years blissfully oblivious and in the last two years the number of horses I have known and loved that are now gone has numbered in the double digits. So many of them gone for shitty, stupid, flukey reasons.

Godspeed, Skylar.

(Tris is fine. I feel like I should probably start posts like this the way the barn manager starts all phone calls, but - yeah.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Limbo Lower Now

So, let's recap.

Tristan comes in lame with a blown up RF. Yes, the problem foot.

Vet diagnoses abscess, and we go into full-blown neurotic mode: wrapping and poulticing for a week, with SMZs for that week. Wrapped constantly after that. X-rays are taken and minutely examined.

Two weeks later, it still doesn't seem quite right, and he is just not using that leg as he ought.

Two days after that, the vet comes out and he longes perfectly sound. Vet says keep on keeping on.

One week after that, he gets his feet trimmed all around, and the farrier is iffy about the foot. He thinks the abscess goes deeper, and it's not done yet. He takes out more foot to try and chase down the poor hoof quality channel, and then fills the hole with putty.

Five days after that, aka yesterday, I went out to the barn and had a come to Jesus moment with myself.

When Tristan first came in lame again, and it was an abscess again, I was not in a good place. I was by turns terrified, depressed, and foolhardy. I couldn't settle on a way forward, so I bounced between options. I felt nauseated and anxious whenever I thought about it, imagining a repeat of that terrible 9 months that ended in surgery. I couldn't believe this might be starting all over again.

Uncharacteristically for me, I backed off. I followed the vet's instructions to the letter, but did not go above and beyond. I immersed myself in other things - work, the new house, training the dog.

In a way, I let Tristan down. I don't mean to say that he wasn't meticulously cared for. This is hands-down the best barn I've ever been at for noticing things and maintaining horse care. They are truly extraordinary, and I'm grateful for that every day. I haven't worried even for a moment that they would not be on top of things. Trust me, I realize how lucky I am to feel that way!

But I didn't do anything extra for him, either. I would go and pet him on the nose, re-wrap his foot, and bug out. When his shipment of new vetwrap got waylaid and delivered to the barn owner's house instead of the barn, I sort of shrugged and trusted that it would arrive eventually. It did, but in the meantime I got dangerously low on wrapping supplies and honestly almost ran out.

I hosed off his hind legs when he spent a few days sleeping in his own pee, but not until weeks later. I just hosed them off, I didn't scrub them down to help the skin out like I should've.

I didn't really groom him, other than a cursory brushing and one or two sessions with a shedding blade.

I honestly can't remember the last time I cleaned my tack, which is a good way to fill downtime. It's been at least 9 months. Maybe more. (I'm sorry to all of you who just cringed!)

I didn't really hang around the barn, either. I was completely surprised when the horses arrived back from Florida, because I hadn't been chatting to people daily. I was surprised when the grain room relocated to its new (better, more organized) location. things have been passing me by.

As you can see, I haven't been as on top of blogging as I'd like to be.

So yesterday, I tried to get my head back in the game. I gave myself permission to move on with a minimum of self-loathing.

I groomed Tris thoroughly, until he shone, and instead of a quick re-wrapping I carefully picked out any tiny bits of shavings with my fingernails, tested the white line and the sole, examined everything. I used my hands on him in addition to the grooming tools, feeling his body for any new bumps or irregularities - you know, the basics. I used to always follow the brush with a hand to constantly update my mental reference points on his body, so I would know what's new.

Then I put his halter on, and we walked and walked around the fields. I figured the grass would be less abrasive on his duct tape bootie, and that I really needed the exercise too. He dove for grass for the first few minutes, but then he was clearly so happy to be out and about. It was quiet and peaceful and sunny and it felt good - if pathetic - to feel the burn of hiking up the long gallop hill. Tris licked and chewed, and dropped his head to stretch out over his back as we went up.

It was only about a 20 minute walk, but it was good for both of us.

The vet will be at the barn for other horses tomorrow, and she'll jog him out so we can continue to keep an eagle eye.

In the meantime, I'll keep with the handwalking, I guess. Keep on keeping on.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

In lieu of content

I swear, I do have things to say, but I finally unpacked my computer...and left the wifi stick in the old apartment. Sigh. When I get that I will sit down and write things out.

In the meantime, my office is coming along!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are some interesting blog posts from the horse world this past week.

So You Want to Blog? Part V: Traffic from She Moved to Texas
This has been a really good, thoughtful series all along, and I like this post especially. Lauren may have convinced me to set up a Facebook page for this blog. Anyone else?

A Good Steward from The Owls Approve
Love, love, LOVE all the thoughtful consideration and numbers and really everything about this post.

Things I Love and Hate about How Horse Trials Are Run from The $900 Facebook Pony
Lots of things I honestly hadn't thought about before!

The Perfect Barn: A Squeeze Stile from Auf der Autobahn genius. Sheer genius. I had heard of a stile before, but not of a squeeze style. Check it out, you'll be impressed.

I Smell a Rat: Barn Hunt 101 from Team Unruly
WHAT. I had no idea this sport existed.

First Aid, Dental Care, and a Dinner from Not So Speedy Dressage
The basic message about having a first aid kit is important but maybe even more so is

Connor's Niece and Nephew from Cob Jockey

Jersey Fresh: Overall Tack Impressions from Stories from the Saddle
I am about as far from a tack ho as you can get but this is actually really interesting!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Happy

This has nothing to do with horses, but it is making me smile this week, so I am sticking it here, because basically nothing about horses is making me smile right now. Sigh.

(I don't mean to vague-blog but there is literally nothing conclusive I can say right now other than "still up in the air," so. Yeah. Have fun dancing instead.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

House pictures: before

In lieu of horsey content (soon? maybe? hopefully? he's getting his toes trimmed today and fingers crossed he will be more comfortable and the farrier will pass positive judgment on the abscess), have some "before" pictures of the house. As you will see, it needs fairly extensive cosmetic work throughout.

Living room

Sun room



Upstairs hallway & bathrooms

I have more pictures, but you get the idea. I think I am going to become intimately acquainted with the art of wallpaper removal over the next few months. (Years?)

The first real renovation, the master bedroom, starts this weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


So my whole life is in two places right now, with moving. Last night, I stopped by the apartment to pack a few more boxes and get mail.

One of my letters was from Wedgewood Pharmacy: Tristan's pergolide was being recalled. One of the ingredients it was compounded with had been exposed to penicillin, and the entire lot needed to be sent back.
Great. I made a mental note to follow up, and then because my life right now, forgot it. Then I got a call from the barn manager this morning following up: all the other horses in the barn had gotten the recall notice too. She didn't feel comfortable feeding the pergolide they had until we got more.

Well, shit. Withdrawing from pergolide is not a good thing. It's meant to be a longterm, daily, maintenance medication. Horses can go downhill very quickly, from metabolic crashes to foundering. Is there a chance he'd be just fine? Yes. Was I willing to take that chance? HELL NO.

Next call, back to the pharmacy, to try to make absolutely sure that Tristan's pergolide was on the recall list, because I'd left the letter at home. They didn't have that information. The rep could not tell me whether or not the prescription they had on record for me was part of the recall. What the fuck?

Fine, I said, I'll just order a new bottle now. I explained that it was a crucial daily medication, and that I was more than a little bit frustrated that they had not provided any avenue for replacing the drugs. They were nice but didn't actually provide any help.

Finally I got them to agree that they would waive shipping charges, but wait: there was no refill on my account.

So I called my vet, who said yeah, I just got the letter and I read through it and followed up. The recall was because one of the ingredients that Wedgewood used to compound the drug had been exposed to penicillin during the manufacturing process. Not the end of the world, probably, but still recalled, still had to go back.

Vet was less than pleased at how Wedgewood was handling things, too. She called in the script, and said that if they gave me any grief to let her know and we would switch to a Vermont-based compounding pharmacy that she's starting to work with. In the meantime, she felt confident that because the horses had all been getting doses of this all along, they could get one more dose today.

I texted all that to the barn manager, then called Wedgewood back, who placed the order for the new bottle of pergolide. I told them it needed to be here overnight, for dosing tomorrow morning.

The rep did a whole song and dance about how they were only planning on waiving the standard shipping fee, not the overnight, and I would have to pay an additional $23 to ship it overnight.

I explained to him in no uncertain terms, using small, precise words, that this was a crucial daily medication, that it was their screw-up, and that I was beyond frustrated that they had pulled the medication with no backup plan. I told them I would not compromise my horse's health for their mistakes. I was polite but very firm.

Finally, he agreed to waive the overnight fee, and submitted the prescription right away.

That does not fix the fact that I have to be in three places at once tomorrow when the prescription arrives at my front door, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it and figure out a way to get it to the barn in time for evening feeding.

In short: really, really shitty customer service. You would think that a pharmacy, of all places, would understand the concept of important daily medication and would have plans in place to deal with the fallout when they recalled said medication but NOPE. You would be wrong.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Interrupting the silence

Life is about 12 steps beyond insane, but I did want to mention this here:

At the closing, it came up in conversation that I have a horse. I indicated where I kept him, and our lawyer - whose name I picked randomly off a list of recommendations provided by our real estate agent, mostly because she was the only woman - started laughing.

"We own Twinkie!" she said.

Twinkie, the semi-retired pinto lesson pony who lived three stalls down from Tristan.

I don't know if this is a "horse world is small" moment or a "Vermont is small" moment or some bizarre intersection of both at once, but I laughed pretty hard too.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Never mind

I went out yesterday afternoon and curried Tristan, and fussed over him, and reinforced the toe of his duct tape boot with some more tape.

Then I jumped on bareback, intent on repeating Sunday's ride: 30 minutes of walking, plus some loosening up.

Within a few minutes I got That Feeling. You know the one.

The barn manager was teaching at the same time, and I asked her to watch him. "Is he sound?"

Long, long pause. Too long, as we walked on.


We agreed between us that he wasn't in tons of pain - he wasn't head-bobbing, or obviously favoring that leg.

He just wasn't landing right on it. He wasn't using the leg the way he should've. Guarding it, maybe, just a bit.

I jumped off, led him back to his stall, put away his tack, went back to my car, and cried. A lot.

Then I called the vet, who will be out today or tomorrow.


Monday, May 4, 2015


I rode my horse yesterday!

Just for 30 minutes at the walk, but it was enough to get him loosened up, to ask for some acceptance of the bit, to do a few tiny leg yields and to reassure me that he has not forgotten everything.

the actual cutest.

He felt sound. At the same time, however, his duct tape boot split at the toe, after just 30 minutes. So I am not sure if we can do anything more than walk around for a little while until he can have that foot open again.

I re-wrapped. There was a slight sheen of moisture inside the hole. I can't decide if it was drainage or the last bit of saline from the last time I wrapped it that just didn't evaporate. So this time I rinsed it with saline and then dried it with a cotton swab, then packed the hole with gauze and added more gauze on top of that. I'll ride again today and rewrap and then we'll see.

I also groomed him for the first time in, um, about three weeks. I've been that busy, discouraged, tired, whatever. He was under a sheet the entire time. So yesterday it was in the low 70s for the first time since early October and he was nekkid and I thought oh my God my horse looks like a homeless ragamuffin.

That is my size 8 Ariat Terrain for sizing purposes. That pile is halfway up my shin. o.O

He was so happy, leaning into it. He had clearly been itchy. I'm the worst horse mom ever. But I fixed it, so that has to count for something. I'll go again today and scrape more off, and ride again, and maybe, maybe we will start to get back on track.

I'm staying in touch with the vet about the toe, and right now the plan is to wait until midweek next week when the farrier comes. We'll have him trim the toe (which is long, and I think putting some pressure on the open area), and see what he thinks. 

We discovered while riding that there is a new banner in the arena and that Tris is apparently one of the new mascots for the local university riding team. He was used in one of their shows once and was apparently such an exemplary citizen that he offered up a polite, balanced canter when one of the walk-trot riders put his heel too far back. Ha.

I laughed and laughed. L-R that's Skip, Tristan, Portia (I think? too many grays!), and Prince. They don't travel for IHSA yet so I think they had a limited number of photos to choose from, and apparently Tristan's beggar-face made the cut.

So, spring. Even with all the insanity, hope is returning.

Spring in the foreground, winter in the background.