Sunday, February 28, 2016

House Post: Basement Excitement

Yay home ownership!

What a weird winter. Huge temperature swings this week meant that we got some absolutely torrential downpours on Wednesday and Thursday. Downpours that had nowhere to go because the ground is still frozen solid.

So of course that meant that the water should go into our basement.

This was stage 1: Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The water was coming from the wall in the front of the basement, where there is a crack that we already knew was problematic. We knew, from the inspection, that the slope of the grade all around the foundation was wrong and would need to be fixed.

A few minutes with a shop vac took care of the worst of it, and then I turned the dehumidifier on to turbo and headed off on a work trip.

At about 2pm on Thursday, I got back in town from my work trip and it was WAY WORSE. The wet spot you see above was gone, BUT!

See, it was still raining. And the ground was still frozen, except in places where it wasn't. And one of the places it wasn't was the ground around the well that surrounded the outside of one of our basement windows. The water pushed the well away from the foundation, and then filed it up. Completely.

Result? Water literally pouring in like a waterfall through the frame of the window, which is nearly 100 years old and was no way tight enough to prevent that.

(Sorry, no more pictures, things got very busy and hectic from here!

So yeah. Way, WAY worse. And luckily I was home to fix it before it genuinely flooded the basement.

First things first: set up the shop vac again to start siphoning the water, and then I left it running while I sprinted outside with a plastic cup and then bailed out the window well by hand, pouring the water into the street about 15' away so it would not just drain back in. I have no idea how many trips it took. Several dozen, until the water level was below the frame of the window. I checked back on the basement periodically - which required circling most of the house - and the shop vac was still going strong.

Finally, the water stopped pouring in, and the shop vac reduced the standing water to just a broad wet spot. The dehumidifier was going strong and had already made good progress. I finished by pushing some mud around to fill in the gaps around the broken well - ineffective, but at least something - and then got a sand bag from the basement to brace the mud and hopefully divert the stream of water stil coming down the hill.

Then I changed into new work clothes - the old ones being muddy and sweat-soaked, awesome - and headed to work for 2 hours. When I got home, the window well was muddy but empty of water, and the basement was well on its way to drying up. By Friday night, there were only a few damp spots left in the basement.

So, that bumps our summer landscaping projects way up the priority list!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekly Blog Roundup

Thursday, February 25, 2016


We interrupt this regularly scheduled horse blog to tell you that home ownership is THE WORST.

aka Vermont is seeing torrential downpours of rain that ought to be able - and the ground is still frozen, so it's not draining as it ought.


It's not *bad* bad, as these things go, but it is still worrying and moved the foundation regrading project further up the priority list this summer.

Also the new shelving & reorganization projects are now in high gear. Because I needed more to do.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Free Smartpak turnout blanket?

There's a catch, right? There must be a catch. The landing page is not terribly helpful.

The blanket in question is the SmartPak brand pink or blue plaid one

I've been considering starting Tristan on SmartBreathe as an experiment.

Stay tuned, I'm going to call the number they list and feel out the fine print...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

RTR Blog Hop: Training Exercise of Death

Racing to Ride wants to know: What's your least favorite exercise?


This is an easy one.

Warming up.

I fucking HATE warming up.

Tristan needs a long warmup, at least 20 minutes. He's old. He's lazy. He's creaky. He's usually pretty pissed off to be under saddle.

this picture was taken 9 years ago. it still applies.

The first 10 minutes of any ride, ever, no matter what, are really frustrating. He balks, he flips his head, he crawls along like a slug, he flings his shoulders everywhere, he slams me into walls and trees, he tries to turn back toward the gate or the barn, he sighs heavily and dramatically.

At 15 minutes, I see glimmers of hope, a little bit of softness, a little bit of responsiveness to my leg.

At 20 minutes, I have a normal horse, if lazy and not always thrilled.

Please understand that he has been this way since I first swung a leg over him. He's not in an undue amount of pain. He's certainly not being tortured. He's getting a basic amount of exercise that, once he gets into it, he really enjoys. Once he is warmed up, he can really be a ton of fun, and as the work improves and he gets better, he gets a certain swagger of confidence and pride. Trust me on this.

But for whatever reason, Tristan's outlook on life has always required spending the first 10 minutes of every ride telling me I can go to hell.

I admit, it really tests my motivation some days. Ok, lots of days. I often put on music and set my emotions aside and just KICK. And then we get to the other side and it's fine. But I do have to pause for a moment and grit my teeth before I swing a leg over.

Monday, February 22, 2016

People who just don't get it

Some years ago, maybe seven or eight, I had a standing weekday dinner with friends at a dive bar in Boston. They had a selection of mediocre chicken sandwiches that were 50% off on Wednesdays, so we went and paid $2.50 per sandwich because we were broke post-college twenty-somethings. There could be anywhere from four to fifteen people there.

One night, conversation turned to a "what if" scenario: would you give up your cell phone permanently if someone paid you a large sum of money to do so?

I didn't even hesitate: yes, I said, I'd do it, but I'd want to have a pager or beeper or some other method of receiving emergency messages in case there was a problem at the barn with Tristan.

One person at the table rolled her eyes and said, "Or you could just fucking let him die. He's a goddamn horse."

Which should tell you basically everything you need to know about that particular individual. (Plot twist! She's now my sister in law. That's among the milder things she's ever said to me, but it sticks out, for obvious reasons. The universe is a cruel and fucked up place sometimes.)

So what I want to know is, are there people like that in your life, who go above and beyond the usual "I don't get it, horses do all the work and can't you just give them the night off"? They've actively said nasty things, or judged you unnecessarily harshly for the time and money you spend.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekly Blog Roundup

An actual conversation that happened this morning.

Me: If we ever have kids, just know that we're going to need at least two or three horses.
Husband: I mean, we were already going to have two or three horses.

Good answer.

Here are some blog links from this week.

So you want to go to horse college, part 2: pros & cons from Because Pony

Horse Shopping: Prospective Mustangs from DIY Horse Ownership

What does it mean to be a trainer? from The Reeling

Learn to ride using sports psychology from Poor Woman Showing

Is natural horsemanship ethical? from The Journey to 100 Miles

Life with a PSSM horse: Big Mike's diagnosis from The Charming Farmer

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Goals

Ok, I'm putting this out there.

I'm going to take Tristan back out to some dressage shows this summer.

Nothing recognized. Probably not even traveling (unless a ride presents itself).

But we're going to do at least one, maybe two, of the schooling shows that my barn offers. Training, I think. (We've never been First Level; probably no way we'd get there now.)

Our local schooling series has some appealing additional options, if anyone else is going. We'll see.

I realize this goal is...laughably small compared to many of the other goals floating out there in the blogosphere. But it's ours, and it's been a tough couple of years, so setting sights low is fine by me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cold is cumulative

Maybe it doesn't work this way for other people. Lucky you.

We had our first true cold snap of the winter this past weekend.

Yeah. That's actual temp, by the by. Wind chill was much closer to -40.

We've been lucky so far, I am not going to dispute that.

But it seems like once the cold settles in my bones, like it did this weekend, it takes a long time to dislodge. I need more layers. I need to psych myself up much more before heading outside.

And so, I find myself, two days later, on a dramatically warmer day (it wil hit the 40s this afternoon!), shivering underneath blankets and doing house chores instead of getting my ass to the barn.

Hopefully this wears off, but I am not liking even the little taste of true winter that we got.

Monday, February 15, 2016

TRM Blog Hop: Barn Pet Peeves

Thanks to Catherine at That Red Mare for this one, which I have been pondering for some time, trying to separate out the petty things from actual legitimate concerns.

What is your biggest horse related pet peeve? (Try and keep this one more about the horse itself. Things like spooking at nothing, dirty stoppers, refusing to load, etc.).

Horses with no respect for a person's personal space. I include in that list horses who ram into you while leading them out, horses that crowd you at the gate in pasture, and horses that lunge at everyone passing by from their stalls. The mare next to Tristan haaaaaaates me, and lunges at me teeth bared almost every time I walk past her, and she managed to get her teeth on my shoulder a few weeks ago. NOT OKAY. 

And secondly, what is your biggest equestrian related pet peeve? (This is less about the horse and more about the people in the industry. It can be anything from hating the aisleways in the barn not being swept, the wait times between classes, or even things like rollkur).

Being invisible.

Let me clarify: I am at a barn that in many ways has a weirdly split personality. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, it's sleepy and quiet. There aren't that many boarders that ride regularly, and 9 times out of 10 I have to turn on lights when I get there and I'm the only person in the ring, because I ride after work.

Then, late spring through early fall, the barn becomes home base for the trainer again, and it's bustling. There are a lot of people with a lot of money and very fancy horses - and I become invisible. For them, the barn is a place where they come for lessons, or keep their horses in training and visit occasionally, or come for camp, or lots of other things, but most of them temporary. The majority of them - even the ones who come for months, or regularly for years - don't know my name.

I'm also a bit conscious that they don't particularly want to interact with me, so perhaps I reinforce this in a way - I'm friendly, cheerful, and try to be approachable but I'm clearly not part of their group, and I don't ever want to butt in, so. There you have it.

The barn staff is awesome. Generally I get to know the working students as well. There are a few other boarders who are around more during the summer, and there's a local college that rides out of the barn now. I know and like all of those people. It's that extra layer of people who have $$$ warmbloods that they send south to Florida for the winter, and - I guess I have hangups. (I've written about this before, in regards to our barn's adult camp.)

(Oh, and people who talked to their horses in baby talk. I get cute nicknames, I get a certain change in tone, but for the love of God the cutesy faces and mincing gestures and the high-pitched squeals JUST STOP ALREADY.)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekly Blog Roundup

So you want to go to horse college, part 1: Experience vs Degree from Because Pony
I admit, I don't think terribly highly of equine programs. I think that a lot of the people who go through them end up terrific because they were already great - not necessarily because the program taught them so well. I think this is a good start to a good series and I'll be interested to read more.

Wellington Part 1: Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
Wellington Part 2: Rubbing Elbows with Dressage Elites from Hand Gallop

10 ways to get along at the barn from Oh Gingersnap!

FCE Review: World Class Grooming by Cat Hill and Emma Ford from 'Fraidy Cat Eventing
I've been eyeing this book for a little while and this is a great review that makes me think I want to buy it.

Haiki Ride Recaps from Guinness on Tap
These are amazing.

Do you spoil your horse with tack? from Contact
I honestly don't. I think I may be in the minority, though? I've done my share of cycling through pieces of tack to make sure Tris is comfortable, but I am not usually a person to go out and buy the next biggest thing. On the other hand, Tris is not what anyone would describe as a sensitive horse, so maybe I've just been lucky.

Mental Toughness from The Jumping Percheron
My mental toughness has been decidedly lacking lately. This is a good post and a good reminder for me personally.

300th Post & Giveaway from Life of Riley
Have you SEEN Niamh's papercuts? Go forth and try to win one!

Virtual Adventures and Real Ones Too from Oh Gingersnap!
This is basically the coolest idea EVER.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Product Review: Helmet Helpers Polarfleece Original Cozy Riding Cover

As part of my big overall effort to upgrade my winter riding experience this year, I ordered a Helmet Helpers Polarfleece Original Cozy Riding Cover as part of my big Christmas order.

It retails for $38, and I paid $23.96. I bought it in black.

The idea is that it goes over your helmet and helps block wind and keep your head warm. I am a big believer in keeping your head covered during winter; the human body loses some astonishing percentage of its heat through the head, and it can make a big difference to keep a hat on. It's for that same reason that a vented helmet can make a big difference.

My beloved new helmet is very much vented, and in the past I've gotten nasty earaches from riding in the cold, so when I learned that something like this existed, and it made sense for my budget to pull the trigger, it was at the top of my list.

First impression: LOVE LOVE LOVE.

More details:

I was quite frankly surprised at how quickly and easily it went on my helmet. It was snug without being too tight. I was actually imagining it would go on like those rubber bell boots and STAY ON, but that is very much not the case. It slides on and stays on firmly. The trick was to start with the brim and then pull the rest down. It's well-stitched and sturdy, and does not necessarily rely on elastic to cling to the helmet, just good snug fit.

Make no mistake: this is not a fashion statement. It might be with the right fabric or whatever, but though it is relatively sleek and unobtrusive, it is still a big piece of fleece covering your helmet and your entire face.

photobomb by Tristan; he was pretty sure I was taking a picture of him so he started mugging

But does it work?

Ohhhhhhhhh yes it does. It really does. It works in two ways: first, as a windblock, it keeps cold breezes from going through those lovely vents and taking away my body heat. Second, it traps the heat that is generated by my body and keeps it from flying out those vents. All of that means that it works during warmup and then again during my ride itself.

It is really, really good at both of those things. My ears stay warm. My chin stays warm. I stay warm overall because of it. Honestly, at the end of my ride I often have to undo the velcro strap around the chin because I am a bit too warm. (I think at least part of that is this weird tropical winter we're having, to be fair.)

If I could say one bad thing, it would be this: the chin strap bit is not as functional as it should be. The velcro is a bit thin, and is placed a bit too high up. I have a fairly average head. I should be able to get the velcro on immediately, every time, and it should cover itself by at least half. Most of the time when I'm doing this it takes me one or two tries, and then I only catch the end of the velcro. It has not come undone, but it's definitely a design flaw.

you have no idea how much I did NOT want to share this photo, but for the sake of completeness, here's what it looks like from the front.

In summary: if you ride in the winter, you need one of these. It works as advertised, and works well.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Eating crow and why the internet is awesome

I am really pleased with the way Tristan is going right now. He's really sound, he's working well, and he is getting slowly but surely more fit. After a long and tough ride on Monday, he was quite tired but his vital signs returned to baseline much more quickly than they have before.

I'm working mostly on a day on, day off schedule to ramp up work and then give him time to rest. He's always been a horse that has benefited mentally and physically from rest days. On days when I am out there back to back, I do another kind of work with him - I longe or we hack out.

He's still very slow to build muscle. The Cushings has just really gone after that part of his metabolism, for whatever reason. It's been a solid six weeks of very good work now and I'm only seeing the most incremental changes in his body. Physically, he feels like he should have more muscle than he does. I'm not sure what to do with that yet.

On Monday, I took some photos to show how his neck is developing basic muscle, and also to show how far we have to go.

As always, it does look better in person, but you can see some things. His crest is doing better, and he's filling in just in front of his shoulder a bit.

There's a problem, though. I couldn't quite figure it out until I read Jenj's recent blog post and put two and two together.

Can you see it now?

Yeah. He's developing a funny muscle bump in response to the way I've been asking him to bend. Exactly as described in Jenj's blog post.


Knowing is half the battle, right? Back to boot camp for both of us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My favorite internet game: BLM adoption photos!

I am not really one for window shopping horses online. I can count on one hand the number of times I've browsed Dreamhorse. I occasionally look at listings for Lippitt Morgans and just shake my head. I don't even really look at flyer at the local farm stores.

I do make one giant exception: the BLM Wild Horse & Burro Online Adoption galleries.

Mustangs, you guys. Even though I stumbled into them, apparently they have a giant hold on my heart.

So here's my favorite game: who would you take home?

Here's the online gallery to browse through. Comment with the number of and/or link to your picks!

Right now, I'm loving #5641

And I am head over heels for #5696.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How my horse says fuck you

Tristan is a very good communicator.

He's more perceptive of body language - both of horses and people - than many horses I've known. He makes his preferences very clear, both on the ground and under the saddle. He has a remarkably expressive face that can convey a wide range of emotion in just a few seconds.

Here's one of the ways Tristan says "fuck you, mom."

Yes, that is a picture of my horse drinking water. 

Let me explain.

Tristan is fully aware that I will never, ever pull him away from water. He's not a great drinker, and he has a colic history. I keep a very close eye on his water intake, and have a very firm rule: if he's drinking, I do not touch him.

It started on trails: he would drop his head and slurp from whatever puddle or stream was nearby. Ok, fine: he grew up in the desert, and he took advantage of every possible opportunity.

But then it started happening in his stall, in very specific instances. Sometimes I'd put his bridle on him and start to lead him out of his stall. He'd pause by his water bucket, then start drinking. And keep drinking. And drinking.

Sometimes he'd flick an ear and turn an eye toward me, very clearly saying, "Yup, I know you're waiting. That's the idea." Sometimes he'd pick his head all the way out of his water bucket, and I'd ask him to walk on, and he'd shove his head back in the water bucket. He'll drain half the bucket that way.

Last night, we had a terrific ride - a good, hard 50 minutes, with quality work interspersed with lots of walk breaks during which we practiced turning corners, serpentines, and lateral work. In the trot we worked on consistency in the bit over trot poles. In the canter we worked on going from straight long sides to circles on the bend, while keeping his head down and driving from the hind end. He was terrific. He was very, very tired.

pony & poles

So I put him back in his stall, and went back out to get his cooler to hang out while I put tack away. He wasn't overly warm, but he was not cool yet, and it was just cold enough I didn't think naked was the way to go.

When I stepped into his stall, he looked at me, and shoved his head into the bucket. He slurped and slurped. He picked his head back up, looked at me, and shoved his head back into his bucket. This was not "oh I'm so tired and thirsty." He'd been in the stall for several minutes with ample opportunity to take a drink, minutes he'd spent rooting around for hay scraps and licking his grain bucket.

He picked his head up and put it back in the water bucket several times, each time looking at me while I stood holding his cooler and waiting.

Then he finally stepped back, walked over to me, and shoved his head through the neck hole of the cooler and let me put it on him.

I have never known any other horse who more clearly needs to have at least the illusion of control over everything he does. He needs to be able to tell me to fuck off, then make his own decision about what's going to happen next. He has been exactly this way since day one, ten years now. Probably he was that way before he was mine and a domestic horse. It never ceases to amaze and amuse me.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Habits are hard.

It seems that whenever I think on mine, I can't come up with any good ones.

I can name a million bad ones, though - I bite my nails, I reach for bread as my first line of snacking, I too often smile and nod instead of asking real questions.

I'm working hard on my 2016 intention of focus. I'm drawing a clear line and leaving work on time most days, so I can get to the barn with no excuses. I'm riding more regularly than I have in a year (2015 was many wonderful things, but it was not a year for steadiness or reliability.)

Yesterday, I intended to ride in the afternoon, but I didn't. I napped on the couch and re-read two books and watched the Super Bowl. Then I slept until 10:45 this morning, my regular day off. I tell myself that I clearly needed downtime and rest, after a fairly stressful couple of days - my in-laws are visiting, and while they are lovely people, for me, having (most) house guests is an exhausting performative exercise.

So, today: back on the horse.

In line with my focus goal: can anyone recommend a smartphone locking app? I have an iPhone. I need something that will give me access to phone, text, and email, and allow me to choose which other apps to block. If it came with an option to block everything but phone for periods of time as well, that would be ideal.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

House Post: Now is the winter of our basement (organizing)

We really haven't done anything upstairs in quite some time, but have instead been focusing on a part of the house that was previously left to the metaphorical wolves: the basement.

It's been a slow but steady process since. First, we framed out and then insulated a new wall splitting the basement in half so that we can eventually use it as the garage it was intended for. (It's apparently dangerous to just park in your basement, what with fumes and oil leaks and so on.) I'll do a longer post on that at a later date.

Then, the electrician came and we rewired the new garage area, added some lights in the non-garage area that was now dark from the wall, and added some new outlets upstairs.

in one part they had put up this gross old particleboard ceiling

I had to pull every goddamn nail to get it down


can we just talk for a minute about how pulling this old insulation might be in my top 5 least favorite things I've done on the house so far? I wore a full tyvek suit and facemask and goggles and gloves and I still showered for 30 minutes afterward and coughed for quite a while. AWFUL.

Anyway, once the electrical was done we did some organizing. This consisted of moving some things upstairs to the attic once they had been consolidated (extra clothes, Christmas ornaments, camping supplies), organizing other things into tupperwares and labeling them, and throwing stuff away.

Throwing LOTS of stuff away. Dump run, ahoy!

We're by no means done, but we made huge strides toward making it a functional & usable space. That will continue slowly but surely for the next two months, and we'll also be slowly finishing that wall. Hopefully this summer we'll have a clean, organized basement and a usable (and insulated) garage space!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Weekly Blog Roundup

Friday, February 5, 2016

Product Review: SSG 10 Below Riding Gloves

As I have mentioned, this is going to be my winter of figuring out my cold weather riding glove problem.

Whenever I Googled or asked around about riding gloves, the SSG 10 Below gloves came up. They're the warmest things you can ride in! people said. They're the only thing I'll wear in the winter! people said.

Those people must not live in Vermont. Or actually ride in the actual winter. Or...I don't know...use their fingers when they ride. Or their hands. Or their wrists.

But let me start at the beginning.

These gloves retail for $43.95, and I bought them from Riding Warehouse for $26.36. Which puts them among the most expensive riding gloves I have ever purchased. (Hi, have you met me? I'm cheap.)

As soon as I put them on, my heart sank. These gloves are huge. They give bulky a bad name. They are so thick I felt like each individual finger had tripled in size. They were so thick I could not really wiggle my fingers, let alone flex them.

Making a fist required actual exertion.

Holding the reins with them was an exercise in frustration. Not only could I not really feel the reins, I couldn't get a good tight grip, either. The reins kept slipping out from my fingers, and I couldn't tell it was slipping, and forget when Tristan tried to yank the reins out from my hands. When he coughed they fell out of my hands.

sorry someone was in a zippy mood and would not stand still for photography

Oh, and what's more: they're not warm. My fingers were cold and numb during the warmup until my actual body warmed up and then blood flow got to my fingers. Which, for those of you following along at home, is exactly what happened with the other SSG gloves I bought this year for 1/3 the price.

the below-mentioned elastic strap in action

I will give them this: they are well-made. The stitching is tight, the fabric is tough, and it's got sticky stuff (like sprayed on neoprene or something?) in the right place. It does have a particularly clever design in which there are elastics inside the cuff that you attach before you put on the gloves, so you can pull off your glove but not lose it. Which is good, because there was no fucking way I was doing any buckles while wearing these gloves. Or even reaching into my coat pocket. Or...well, you get the idea.

In summary: seriously, whose hands do these gloves fit?!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Costs of Owning a Horse, Part 1: January 2016

in summary

In part inspired by Karen's excellent series on her blog, Not So Speedy Dressage, but I have been thinking about putting this together for some time now.

Throughout 2016, I am going to track, monthly, every penny I spend on Tristan. It should give you an idea of what it costs to keep a horse in my specific circumstances.

So, for context, my circumstances are thusly: I keep one horse in central Vermont. He is boarded at what is for the area a higher-end facility. He has a stall and turnout during the day, hay and grain provided. The farm has an indoor, two outdoors, access to dirt roads and some trails, trailer storage, excellent full-time staff, and a choice of resident trainers that are all also excellent. I have access to a tack room and more or less unlimited storage (within reason, but I have two saddles, two bridle racks, a large tack trunk, etc.)

I am not charged extra for blanket changes, feeding supplements, giving basic medications, holding for the vet, holding for the farrier, etc. The barn schedules the farrier and routine vet appointments in conjunction with other horses who use those same professionals, but it's very much my choice to use those specific ones (the barn works with other vets and other farriers in the same way).

I am charged extra for extra shavings (only used when Tris was on stall rest after his surgery), barn-supplied medication (like Previcox), or more involved medical care like soaking his foot.

In terms of the horse, we'll describe Tristan as a senior horse in moderate work, with some health conditions that require ongoing medication, slightly more frequent than average veterinary care, and ongoing supplements that I've found do help him. He goes barefoot and is trimmed every 5 weeks.

In short, I totally and completely lucked out and have basically the best barn ever, because on top of all that, they're all awesome people.

What does all that cost? Here's January's breakdown.

Board: $550, base price
Farrier: $45
Medication: -
$109 - 1 50ml bottle of Pentosan (8-9 month supply)
$96.00 - 1 200mg container of Pergolide (6 month supply)
$6.75 - shipping
$69.95 - 1 8lb bucket of ReitHoof from Horsetech (60 day supply)
$125.95 - 1 25lb bucket of High Point Grass Pellets from HorseTech (60 day supply)

January 2016 total: $1,002.65
2016 total so far: $1,002.65

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Horses and Health Insurance

No, not health insurance for horses, but rather for people.

I feel extremely lucky that there has never been a time in my life when my health insurance has really been in doubt. There have been short periods when I have not had insurance, but always when transitioning between jobs. It was more a question of getting the paperwork in order than scrambling to find something else.

That said, I'm sorta-kinda in that place right now. On January 1, I transitioned to my husband's insurance - which has opened up all these weird dependency anxieties like I am all of a sudden not my own person and a functioning, independent adult, THANKS A LOT BRAIN.

His 2016 insurance cards haven't arrived yet, and I'm off my own plans, so I am in a weird place where if I had to go to the emergency room and they said "what insurance do you have?" I'd have to say "ummmmmm..." The answer is out there, somewhere, but it would require calling around to find.

All that is by way of a possibly TMI and almost definitely boring intro to my main question.

If you have gone without health insurance in your life, has that impacted your horseback riding?

On those occasions when I have been sort of in-between coverage for two weeks, or once a full month, I did not ride. Maybe I was being overly cautious. I have a much, much higher degree of risk-aversion than the normal person, I know. But my feeling is that riding is a genuinely dangerous activity, and that I cannot predict with certainty that I won't be injured while doing so. If I were to take a bad fall and needed to go to the emergency room, it would cause real problems, especially if the paperwork hadn't cleared yet or whatever. Like I said, really risk-averse.

That said, I'm riding a lot right now, even though my insurance card is floating out there somewhere. Maybe I've become slightly less risk-averse. Maybe I'm feeling more confident that all is settled since technically my husband has last year's insurance info and it's more easily figured out than if we were on something totally new.

Either way, now that I've typed all this out I'm going to nag him again to call his insurance company and figure out what happened to those cards.

So - what about you? Have there been times when you've been between health insurance? Have you chosen not to ride, or ridden anyway? Has it ever caused you problems?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Joint Support Verdict

the actual cutest.

Previously, I mentioned that Tristan has been stiff behind, and that the barn manager mentioned that something called OsPhos, which other horses in the barn were getting, might be a solution for him. I was a bit wary, based on my research in the COTH forums.

Then, I read Austen's excellent overview of her use of Estrone for Guinness's stifles.

That spurred me into action, so I emailed my vet and asked her about both OsPhos and Estrone for Tristan.

Being the sensible and clear-headed person that she is, she said she'd want to take a look at how he's actually moving first before prescribing things. (grumble, grumble, stymied once again by the intelligent professionals around me) She wasn't wild about either of the things I suggested, though.

I tried to describe as best I could how Tristan was traveling, and what my concerns were. I told her that bute hadn't made a huge difference, nor had our Previcox trial. He was actually overall going really well and looking great, but I just wasn't thrilled with the way he was using his hind end, and the stiffness starting off.

A few emails back and forth later and we had a surprisingly simple solution that I was really happy with.

It turns out that many vets often recommend doing a loading dose of Pentosan annually. So in addition to the monthly injections that he's already getting, once a year Tris could do a month of weekly injections.

Pentosan works out to be about $12 a dose, and I already knew it works well for Tristan. SOLD.

So, this past Tuesday, Tristan was due for his monthly injection, and that will be the first of four weeks of regular injections. I re-upped his prescription at Wedgewood to make absolutely sure he had enough (though he still had probably 5 doses left in his old bottle). We'll see where we go, but I'm really optimistic. In the past I've been able to feel pretty clearly when he was getting ready for some help, and the idea that we could get back to a great baseline makes me really optimistic!