Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forward, Forward, Forward

Short dressage school last night; started out not great and progressed to decent, which I'll take.

Upping the Pentosan frequency was the right decision; he was much more laterally supple than this time last week, and the hopping in the trot into canter was virtually gone.

Only about 35 minutes: 15 minute walk warmup with leg yields & shoulder-in, then 15 minutes of trot/canter work. The idea was to get him forward and through and the trot had some nice moments. The canter never really got unstuck but it is still lightyears better than before the training rides, so I'll take it.

I was hanging on to his face waaaaaay too much, and had to keep reminding myself to release. I was sad and frustrated at how much better he went when I sank deeper into my seat & stirrups and stopped flapping my legs around. I need my own fitness back to help him go better.

Today's plan was to hack around the fields, but they are predicting severe thunderstorms complete with hail, etc. Many places are canceling outside activities starting at noon. We'll see what it looks like, but tonight might be a quiet one at home. I'm setting a new rule about not schooling in the indoor two days in a row; it's too nice outside and he gets too sour too quickly.

Vet scheduled for next Wednesday. Not sure how I'm going to pay for it yet - but I'll figure something out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ode to a Fly Mask

Until last week, this was the only fly mask Tristan has ever worn.

It has held up through eight years: games of halter tag, rainstorms, endless rolls, six barns, countless different turnouts. It has been retrieved from mud and puddles and knee-high grass and once, when he had an eye funkiness going on, snow.

It's a Wrangler Fly Mask, and had I my choice, I would never buy another kind. I bought it almost by accident at first. I wanted something with a better edging over the nose, since it hits exactly at his halter scar, and this has a line of nicely stitched neoprene at the nose.

I had bought a replacement for it years ago because I loved how well it held up. They were not easy to find even a few years ago, and given that a Google search now turns up only some scattered Ebay listings, they're no longer made.

I rode out one last time to find this one, and located it quickly in the tall grass, but upon picking it up and examining it, realized it was probably time to retire.

I won't throw it away, because I have Issues, but it's no longer in active use.

Rest in peace, best fly mask ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Friday Afternoon Hack

Not too many words here, just the beautiful place that is Vermont.

I borrowed the barn's bareback pad to keep those short summer hairs from working their way into my breeches and I'm thrilled with how it worked out. I'll ride a few more times in it and then see if I can find one with more of a cutaway for his withers.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

Vermont has this awesome website called Front Porch Forum. It's basically an online bulletin board, and it is a source of constant awe to me. I love reading through it, even when I don't need anything, because it's absolutely fascinating to see what's going on.

My favorite day until now was the one in which 5 subsequent postings tracked a loose/lost dog by street, the sixth said "Caught him, he's in my garage!" and the seventh said "Thanks so much everyone, he's home now!"

I have a new favorite day: last week, I saw a posting for someone who was giving away a whole bunch of horse stuff. Not just crap, either - good stuff. Side reins, half chaps, saddle pads, selling a nice saddle for a great price.

Top of the list, though, the thing that caught my attention? A Nunn Finer Hunting Breastplate, cob sized, in black with nickel fittings. FREE.

I have wanted a breastplate for Tristan for years. I bought him one about five years ago, in a horse size, and it just swam on him - way too big.

I replied as soon as I saw the posting, waited with baited breath, and then got an email: "Sure, I'd be happy to get it to you - I think it will fit Tristan beautifully!"

Turns out the person giving it away rides at my barn, and recognized Tristan from my email profile picture! Small, small town.

I picked it up a week ago and it is in gorgeous shape, fits perfectly, and is exactly what I have wanted. The black will not match our XC/jumping saddle but I could not possibly care less.

Love a horse who ground ties. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pupdate with Picspam

So we've had Arya for 3 months now, and she turned nine months old on Tuesday. I thought I'd do a happier update for a Friday afternoon.

In general, she is absolutely wonderful. She's smart, sweet, and happy. She seems to be My Dog, and follows me from room to room. She loves playing with other dogs, frozen stuffed Kongs, and sleeping.

She think she loves the cat but she's not entirely sure, due to him being a cat and therefore an asshole 50% of the time. Sometime he is very very nice to her and she gets excited and wants to play and then he flips a switch and smacks her around and hisses and leaves her very confused.

Her only real flaw is that she will. not. stay in a crate. She destroys them. See evidence below: she bites the bars of the door, pulls the bars off their cross-bracing, then either slithers through the hole (crate #1) or shakes the latches loose (crate #2).

Leaving her loose has not been without its flaws, either.

In fact, this week, the day after I got the call about Tristan's new drama, I came home to find that Arya had knocked down an extra doorbell ringer and chewed it up a little bit. I couldn't find the battery. She'd also eaten an entire bottle of dog breath mints. Cue an afternoon spent in the waiting room at the vet trying to slide into an appointment spot for an x-ray, and 30 minutes on the phone with a poison control hotline checking the ingredients of the breath mints.

She's totally fine, and she charmed everyone at the vet office. We had a long conversation with a behaviorist on staff, who says we are doing everything we possibly can in regards to crate training, and she does not present as an anxious dog, just a smart and willful one.

So we are now considering options: keep puppy-proofing in succession, or start a from-scratch separation anxiety program of 4-6 weeks, during which time we'd board her during the day and work on counter-conditioning and positive reinforcement when we're home with her. Decisions, decisions.

She loves the beach.

She loves my parents' dog Willow.

And boy,

does she




Hell of a week so far.

Tuesday night, I was so upset about the possible keratoma news that I couldn't force myself to go to the barn. I played with the puppy and read and puttered around at home and had a good crying jag.

Wednesday, I put on my big girl boots and went to the barn, determined to at least sit on him. It wasn't anything fancy; I kept making myself put one foot in front of the other, do the next thing.

We ended up having a rather nice school: 30 minutes of dressage work, with some nice moments in the lateral work, some nice work in the canter, and just a generally harmonious ride.

Last night, not as much fun but I tried hard to read the horse I had underneath me. I had intended to do another 30 minutes or so of dressage. It was SUCH a gorgeous night I couldn't bear to be inside, even though I knew he would not be nearly as rideable. Often, we get to the outdoor ring and he just wants to canter madly around on the forehand, which benefits exactly nobody.

We walked all around the field and when we headed into the outdoor I immediately saw that a) he was not going to cooperate and b) the footing had been rained on, hard, and not dragged in a while. It was not dire - we probably could've managed just fine - but it was enough to push me into going in to the adjacent field instead.

Nothing fancy: walk and trot around the field, working on rhythm amidst terrain and elevation changes, staying focused. A few strides of canter. A hack up and down the dirt road to finish.

I set the date for his vet appointment: August 6. We'll do a trot out for the vet (he does not feel off on that foot, but since his comfort level will largely dictate how aggressively we move, it makes sense to get a baseline), pull the shoe, do an x-ray, and have a long chat with vet, farrier, and myself.

Tonight, road hack; this weekend, a wedding out of state, so no riding for me. Pentosan today. Onward and upward, I guess.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vermont Moonlight 100

As I mentioned, this past weekend I crewed at the Vermont Moonlight 100 for Hannah.

I'll let her tell the whole story of the ride (so watch her space), but here are a few photos and thoughts from my POV as a crew member.

First, I am sad to report that Hannah did not let me put one single, solitary flake of glitter on Tucker all weekend. I offered repeatedly. I believe I offered just about as often as I offered food and water. Denied, every time. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Vermont Moonlight is a ride with a couple of neat features. First, it is meant as a ride that finishes in the dark, and riders (there's a 100, 75, and 50 mile race; Hannah did the 50) depart so as to finish late in the night. I sat at the finish line for about 45 minutes from 11:15 pm - 12:00 am and people came in every 2-3 minutes. They light the trail with glowsticks, and for the final path, glowsticks in water jugs that create a sort of runway feel.

Second, it's run alongside a 100 mile ultramarathon run. Yes. Endurance horses racing alongside people who are running 100 miles - and not just any old 100 miles. Twisting, hilly dirty roads up and down the southern Green Mountains. Many of the runners doing the 100 mile race also had pace runners, who would come in and do 25 or 30 miles with them. You know, for fun. Holy mackerel.

Ride camp, looking up toward the tents.

Milling around before the 50 mile start.

Some more hanging around before the 50 mile start.

50 mile start. ZOOM, off and down that long hill.

My nest for the day - not that I spent a ton of time in it. The back seat of my truck.

The first hold (or 4th hold for the 100 milers). Very crowded, very busy! The guy to the left and I made good friends over the course of the day - his riders were on a very similar pace to Hannah's.

More of the first hold, basically my view across. Perspective is a bit forced here - it's only barely 20' across from me to the buckets.

My hold setup, looking at the timers. Horses went in and out there.

Unbelievably gorgeous farm for the first hold.

Heading out for the second hold. You can see my pass on the dashboard and Hannah's number on the windshield. They were being VERY careful and strict about crew vehicles, in part because the holds were so small.

After this hold, everything started moving very quickly. I dashed down into Woodstock to get some dinner for myself and more water for both of us, then made it to the second hold in time to get everything set up just as it became dark. So, no more pictures after that.

I was very glad to be there to support Hannah and really did have fun meeting people. I did not expect to be quite so busy, though! On paper, it all made sense that I would have time to hang out and read at each hold but in practice that was soooooo not the case. I had the most break time before the first stop & go, which was in ride camp, but after that I was either cleaning up, driving, getting lost, driving incredibly slowly (5mph) around horses or runners, setting up, fetching water, helping other people at holds, or watching for and then helping Hannah and Tucker. All the holds were pack in, pack out, and I had to set up a ways away from the truck, so there was a lot of back and forth with many buckets.

I met some amazing people and horses, learned a TON, ate myself sick (I bought a truly appalling amount of food and seemed dedicated to eating 100+ calories for every mile Hannah rode, good grief), saw some gorgeous places, and I am in absolute awe of everyone who even started the race, on horseback or on foot.

The weekend was not without its complications and adrenaline rushes (see Hannah's write-up for more) but I am glad I did it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. If I had the right horse, I'd do the ride myself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Hoof Drama That Never Ends

[insert primal scream here]

Farrier did Tristan yesterday, and the barn manager called today to have a chat.

There is still an abscess hole in Tristan's toe. It's been nearly two years. That abscess hole should NOT be there.

Farrier suspects that there is now (or perhaps always was?) a keratoma at the coronet band, and it's causing the abnormality down to the toe. Could've happened when the original abscess blew out, and grown back now that the scar tissue from that has gone. Could've caused the orginal abscess, coffin bone chip, whole ball of wax.

So, what next? I'll call the farrier and talk to him directly. I'll probably call my vet and do an x-ray when he gets his next trim.

If it really is a keratoma, we may be in for another invasive procedure and hoof resectioning. More time off. More rehab.

I just...really kind of numb right now.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I think I mentioned in an aside a few days ago that we were on foal watch. (I mean "we" in the most general sense; my only contribution to the effort was chatting with some people as they set up their cots and eating their M&Ms.)

Baby was born early on Tuesday morning. Mom is a large, big-boned mare - I believe Warmblood of some type. (Either that or one of the heavier TBs.) Dad is UB-40.

Baby will be faaaaaaancy! Here he is at 12 hours old.