Thursday, April 30, 2015

Elisa Wallace & mustangs

I posted a video on Sunday of Elisa Wallace doing a mustang demo at Rolex, and then the Chronicle re-linked to this really lovely interview they did with her before her debut at Rolex.

This quote in particular stuck out to me:
You get addicted to the process and the journey that you go through with them. There is a certain sense of magic that’s a little bit different with them. I just really enjoy working with them and I’ve just become really passionate about them. It’s something I never thought I’d be spearheading, as far as being an ambassador and doing what I’m doing, but I really enjoy it and I really think there are some nice horses out there that should be given a chance. They love the job. They’re like any horse that likes to jump and compete, if you find one they’ll give you everything.
I mean, not every mustang loves his job, but yeah. They're horses.  And with them, it really is all about the journey. It has to be. Going into a relationship with a mustang with hard-and-fast goal is a crapshoot. They're not like a finely bred dressage machine, which has generations of breeding and conformation and environment telling it to be a certain thing. They are scrappy little mutts who behave as wild prey animals.

The director of the rescue I got Tristan from, whom I worked with for a summer, always said that you should go into everything with a mustang assuming it will take all the time you have, and then some. There are no quick lessons. There is bricklaying, backbreaking foundation work, over and over and over and over again.

I always tell people that the thing I'm most proud of with Tristan is not any of our riding accomplishments (which are paltry at best) but that he trusts me, and lets me lead him, and groom him. He seeks me out affectionately. That he went from wild animal to sweetheart still amazes me.

I love my truck

Driving a huge truck around never, ever gets old. I freaking love that thing.

This panel from Least I Could Do basically sums it up. Sometimes I sing "truck truck truck" to myself in my head when I've stomped on the gas and the engine roars.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eleanor Roosevelt is my hero(ine)

Really need this right now.

Right to Know and Rolex

The eventing world has been up in arms about public statements made about the euthanizing of Emily Cammock's Rolex horse Dambala - both the original statements and the kerfuffle about them on the Chronicle of the Horse forums.

I've read just about everything from both sides, and thought a lot about this in the last day or so. I've thought a lot about upper level eventing in general in the last few years as well, the risk factor, the trajectory, the public image.

Before I get to my opinion it might help you to know that the first and only Rolex Kentucky Event at which I spectated was in 2008. It was a weekend of incredible highs and unbelievable lows. I was at the starting box and the finish line to see Karen O'Connor ride Teddy around. I still get a lump in my throat remembering that pony, being able to see him in person. I remember Courageous Comet's gallop. I remember seeing Phillip Dutton's cross country position for the first time in person.

You know what else I remember that day? Walking up a hill and arriving at the crest just in time to see screens go up for The Quiet Man.

I remember a few hours later, walking up another hill, just about to crest it, and hearing screaming as Frodo Baggins flipped over the flower basket. That collective crowd-wide indrawn gasp, and then screaming. I didn't end up going over the hill - I couldn't face it. The friend I was traveling with that weekend was in the front row at the flower basket with her daughter. They watched Frodo convulse and die right in front of them, watched Laine get airlifted off course. I lay on the grass, my coat over my head to shield it from the sun, and cried, and tried to read. It felt like hours.

I remember standing at the Head of the Lake watching Boyd Martin take an unbelievably nasty fall into the water - it was not a drop that year, but his horse glanced off, he hit the ground hard and went into the water face-down, and was still. The EMTs, in one of the most impressive quick responses I've ever seen in person, were in the water with him in seconds, stabilized his back, and flipped him over so he could breathe. He came to within seconds (he may never have been fully unconscious, just stunned), and walked around a bit, and then tried to mount his horse again - this was before one fall and out. He couldn't find the stirrup with his foot. He stabbed his toe at it two, three times, and kept missing. I remember standing there and praying that he would call it a day. Please, don't get back on that horse. He didn't, and he withdrew his other horse for the next day.

I love eventing. I loved most of that weekend at Rolex. But I can close my eyes and still put myself in that moment, seeing the screens go up, hearing the screams, watching Boyd still in the water.

Which brings me to this year. An equine athlete died as a direct result of injuries incurred while eventing at Rolex.

Part of the deal any professional rider makes - in exchange for riding at the highest levels, in exchange for supporters and sponsors, in exchange for the world stage at a 4* event - is to put themselves in the public eye. It's unavoidable. It's a trade that many are willing to make. Perhaps 50, 75 years ago an event rider could come to a major event and simply be there that weekend, be in the moment and ride, and fade away afterwards.

Not anymore. The world is bigger, and it is more connected. It is more expensive, with a bigger stage, higher sponsor demands, and more opportunities. I'm not lauding or lamenting that; it simply is. Eventing has been moving this way for some time now. It can't be a niche sport and survive. It has a passionate fanbase, and an increasingly internet-savvy following.

When a horse dies on course at Rolex, questions need to asked. Period. When a rider issues an initial statement that seems to imply the decision to put that horse down was made based on whether or not he would continue to have a career, that looks bad. Really bad.

Should we trust Emily Cammock implicitly? Should we always assume that riders at Rolex have their horse's best interests at heart, and of course they explored all the options before making the decision to euthanize?

I would really, really like to. But we can't. No one is immune; not on that stage. If we stop asking questions when the worst happens, then we let it happen unscrutinized. Does it cause some pain to those who have had to make those horrible decisions? Yes. But that's part of the trade. You lose some of that anonymity and that privacy when terrible accidents happen. If we're going to make this sport better, safer, and more responsible, we need to know what happened. I'm not saying we hound someone, or pre-judge, or behave in any manner that is not kind and respectful. But we need to ask questions.

In this case, the follow up statement clarified the decision, and said what we all hoped: that retirement was considered and even planned, but wasn't possible.

Look: I would love to live in a world where terrible accidents happen at Rolex and we can assume that everyone involved does the best they can, makes the best possible decisions, is altruistic and selfless, and that the accident itself was a pure accident. We don't. We live in a world where people do terrible things to horses, and too often no one speaks up.

Can you imagine if something happened and we didn't ask questions? If we just treated it as the norm? If we accepted horses dying, injuring themselves, being euthanized, and just shrugged if off and said "I'm sure everyone is doing the best they can" and moved on? No. That's not honest, and it doesn't help anyone.

Bad things thrive in silence, in quiet, and in obscurity. We can't contribute to that by throwing our hands in the air and looking the other way when something terrible happens on the biggest day of eventing in America.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No news is not necessarily good news

I'm sure you've noticed my lack of up-to-the-minute updates with Tristan.

He finished his course of antibiotics + poulticing on Friday. He is sound at the walk to and from turnout, and happy just hanging out.

I rewrapped Friday night with just plain gauze. I checked it through the weekend but it was holding up just fine, so I left it in place.

I rewrapped on Monday just to air the foot out and take a look. The abscess is still draining, and the drainage hole actually opened up a little wider. There was still heat in the hoof.

I'm really discouraged right now. I don't know what else to do or say. I'm just tired. I'm communicating with the vet about what our next steps are, but I'm barely mustering the energy and willpower to fight this on a basic level. I'm packing, under enormous amounts of pressure at work, hyperventilating at the thought of a mortgage, handling a puppy who is having a resurgence of separation anxiety, trying to support my fiance as his job gets increasingly stressful.

This week I have three (THREE) separate potlucks to make food for, an apartment showing for the landlord tonight (24 hours after giving our notice), a 16+ hour day scheduled for Wednesday, car work on both vehicles, and a myriad of little things to follow up on that keep slipping through the cracks.

Oh, and it fucking snowed again this weekend.

So I am re-poulticing and re-wrapping and talking to the vet and trying to take my cues from Tristan. He is happy and fine. We are on top of it as best we can be. After we move I will be 8 minutes away and traveling out to rewrap him at 10:30 at night will be marginally better.

I'd just like to be a person who rides horses again, instead of a person who thinks about, writes about, and cares for horses.


Remember how I stupidly left my truck to sit all winter? and the brand new battery died? and it seemed like it was out of warranty?

Well, today I found a wrench, and took the battery out of the truck, and schlepped it to four (count 'em) four different auto parts stores, and then to my mechanic, and they examined it, and then 5 minutes later came back with a new battery - under warranty, for FREE.

I brought it home, and put it back in its little cradle, put the bolts back in, and my truck started up!


Alas, this victory will first be applied to moving, instead of hauling a trailer, but baby steps!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


(side note, there used to be an upper level event mustang named Must Tango. Get it? Must-tango?)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

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

Trail Conditions from What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
PREACH IT. Mud season trail concerns are a huge problem and something all equestrians should be aware of.

FCE Blog Hop: Favorite Prize? from Fraidy Cat Eventing
Cool blog hop idea!

Welcome Baby from The Reeling

Building Your Spring Arsenal from The Legal Equestrian
Definitely a couple of good suggestions in here.

The Pelvis and Bend from Cob Jockey
Thinky, thinky biomechanics post. I liked this a lot.

I think there might be a sex club in my office from Ask a Manager
Not horse related, and no, you didn't read that wrong. Hoooooooooly shit. You need to read this.

You don't own me from DIY Horse Ownership
I think we've all been in this situation. I tend to find ways to let kids approach Tristan, but he's as chill and steady as they come, and definitely not everyone can do that.

The Ultimate Question from Racing to Ride
I love everything about this post! Fascinating, quirky horse and a real insight into the work of the racetrack.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stayin' Alive

I guess. Mostly.

Crazy work travel this week. I do love my job but I am so very tired and my brain is so very full.

Scrambling to get the last information necessary for the house closing which is oh, two weeks from today. Holy shit.

Tristan is sound again at the walk and has been going on turnout with a boot since Monday. I last checked on him on Tuesday; I'll see what he looks like tonight. Today is scheduled to be his last day on poultice + antibiotics. Then he just gets his foot wrapped for another 3 weeks.

I have to decide whether to ride him during that time. It's not a straightforward decision.

Riding means I will have to be neurotically careful about that foot. I have to keep it slow and simple to make sure the wrapping stays on, or doesn't wear through. I may be cleaning it out and re-wrapping it after every ride.

Not riding means we get set further back in our fitness goals, but his foot will stay cleaner. I may have the offer of another horse (or several horses) to ride in the meantime. I'm also incredibly, painfully busy in these next 3 weeks.

Just have to think more.

Oh, and it snowed overnight again. Enough to stick to the grass in the mountains, aka at the barn.

And it's 34 degrees and windy right now.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

FCE Blog Hop: Favorite Prizes

Really nice blog hop from Fraidy Cat Eventing.

What is your favorite ribbon / prize / award that you've won in relation to horses? Is there a story behind it? Or was it a bucket list prize you'd been chasing for ages? It doesn't have to be from a traditional horse show, and ribbons that are the favorite bc they are the prettiest are just as awesome as awards with a great story.

Here's my favorite prize in a purely materialistic sense. At my old barn, the barn manager was a wonderful potter, and she would gift these amazing mugs as prizes in the schooling shows. I won this one for a combined test on Tristan. Not our most spectacular day ever, but I remember it as fairly workmanlike, which is basically our wheelhouse.

The mug in question, last winter.

I may have to think a bit more on this question, though, because I have a longer story about another ribbon. I need to get a picture of it and pull some photos together to tell that story, though.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Five Equestrian Facebook Pages You Should Follow

Let's assume I'm taking it for granted that you should follow the Facebook pages of your favorite blogs. Many of them have really great FB pages - so check out your blog roll and see what's listed!

(If you have a blog-related Facebook page, comment here with the link if you'd like to so that people can find you.)

I'm focusing here on organizational pages that I love seeing on my Facebook news feed every day.

1. The Countryside Alliance

This is an organization in Great Britain that promotes "countryside" rights, which most often means some type of hunting. They post tons of gorgeous photos of foxhunting horses, gun dogs, foxhounds, and beautiful vistas. Totally worth the follow for your daily taste of British life.

2. The International Museum of the Horse

They don't post as often as I wish they would but they post really cool stuff - vintage photograph, fun facts, and in general interesting history. I always learn something new.

3. Barbara Wheeler Photography

Best photos on Facebook, bar none. She posts the most utterly amazing photographs of mustangs out west - endless gorgeous photos of wild horses being truly wild. She has a comprehensive knowledge of their personalities and family bands, too, and you can read the captions and follow a whole storyline.

4. Kentucky Horse Park

Kind of speaks for itself! They have photos of the horses that live there, the activities that go on, and they often share the photos and updates from events taking place in the park, from every discipline.

Friends of Ferdinand is a Thoroughbred retirement organization, and they post updates on racing, retired racehorses, and all sorts of cool things. It gives me a nice boost to see horses doing well in their new homes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What the Vet Found

Apologies for the delay - the last few days have been very full and I have not felt much like self-discipline. See also, the frozen pizza I had for lunch.

So, the vet came out on Friday, and we got to work figuring out what the heck was going on with Tristan now. (As mentioned previously, he was lame with a badly stocked up RF leg.)

We walked him out and he was still lame, though not falling-down three-legged lame as he had been on Wednesday and Thursday. The vet had me walk him in some small circles, and then brought out the hoof testers. Immediate strong positive...right where we didn't want it to be.

Next step, looking at the foot itself. The vet cleaned the bottom of the foot off, and then began carefully paring away at the toe. There was still a nasty defect at the white line from scar tissue; she cut that out and almost immediately saw a spiderweb of cracks underneath it.

I was super nervous about cutting away that foot that we worked so hard to grow, but she was being incredibly careful. She'd cut just a little bit, then clean it out. She went back to her truck and got a dremel to keep the edges smooth and pare just a tiny bit at a time. She followed her instincts about where to trim, and slowly but surely the cracks faded out until there was one, and then with one last tiny paring - pus welled up.

Abscess. Again. Some more.

I was a bit discouraged, I admit. The vet, even though she'd expected it, was somewhat resigned. We talked options. I brought up the idea of a regional perfusion of the limb, ie, get whatever is in there the hell out NOW. She got what I was saying but said that she felt that was too aggressive right now, and was really very painful for the horse.

We kept talking while she got out her equipment to x-ray, because of course. That foot, seriously. We couldn't take any chances.

Thank God, the x-rays came up clean. In fact, the coffin bone looks pretty darn good. I'll put them up here in another day or two when I pull them from the flash drive. You can see the abscess drainage hole, but it's tiny.

Vet used a needle to get betadine way up into the crack, and then did a final cleaning up with the dremel.

If you click on this photo, you'll get a blown up version. Look within the pink of the sole, that's within the betadine stain. Now look just off center, to the left: there is a tiny black pinprick. That's the drainage hole.

If we can keep this draining freely, and keep it clean, we should be ok. Tris is on sulfa antibiotics for a week to be neurotic, and I am poulticing every day for a week with sugardine, then wrapping the foot for 3 weeks after that.

ready for battle.

It's been a few days, and a few things are evident. First, he and I remember our foot-wrapping dance very well. After one brief heated discussion, he's stood patiently and quietly, and my hands have remembered the motions. Second, he's practically sound again, thankfully. We seem to be on the right track.

So, I am obviously bummed that this is another setback, that it's still related to that initial disaster in his foot (2.5 years and counting!), and that I can't ride and get him legged up and back on track for the spring like I'd planned.

But I am glad it's not what it could've been. His leg was so hot and fat I was worried he had done something truly dire to a tendon or ligament.

Just wrapping. I can wrap. And waiting. I'm getting pretty good at that, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Does my Coggins photo make me look like a donkey?

Yes. Yes it does, Tristan.

Or maybe more accurately like some bastardized poorly conformed zonkey. Who even knows. At least his face is still cute. Good grief.

I've never had a Coggins with actual photos before. I think I prefer the elegance of that basic outline with all the little squiggles and doodles on it as vets attempted to show his freezebrand and roaning.

Maybe Coggins photos are like the passport photos of the horse world.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are a few fun posts from the horse blogging world.

Good in a Crisis from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management
Really, really good overview of how to be the best you can be in scary, dangerous situations.

Pick Your Rolex Fantasy Team from Eventing Nation
I have long hoped someone would bring fantasy sports to eventing - and it doesn't hurt that you can win a DuBarry outfit, too!

Review of Three Budget Friendly Breeches from Sprinkler Bandit
Right in my wheelhouse. I haven't ever spent more than $50 on a pair of breeches.

NTW Sunrise Ridge from The Reeling
This is sooooooooooo cool. I am going to do combined driving in my next life.

Baltimore's Arabbers from Fraidy Cat Eventing
This is just cool - I had no idea!

Zipper's Story from The Maggie Memoirs
So much love.

Friday, April 17, 2015

In honor of poetry month: Robert Frost and a Morgan colt

Thanks to stupid privacy restrictions, I could not embed this video, but if you want a Friday break, click on the link above to see the poet Robert Frost with a lovely gangly-legged chestnut Morgan colt, about a minute and a half in to a 2:30 video. Frost had a summer home in Ripton, Vermont, literally two houses down from where I lived some years ago right after college, during that long first winter I owned Tristan. (Because, Vermont.)

Watching it put me in mind of one of my favorite Frost poems, "The Runaway."

ONCE when the snow of the year was beginning to fall,
We stopped by a mountain pasture to say, “Whose colt?”
A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall,
The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head
And snorted to us. And then we saw him bolt.        5
We heard the miniature thunder where he fled,
And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and gray,
Like a shadow across instead of behind the flakes.
The little fellow’s afraid of the falling snow.
He never saw it before. It isn’t play        10
With the little fellow at all. He’s running away.
He wouldn’t believe when his mother told him, ‘Sakes,
It’s only weather.’ He thought she didn’t know!
So this is something he has to bear alone
And now he comes again with a clatter of stone,        15
He mounts the wall again with whited eyes
Dilated nostrils, and tail held straight up straight.
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies.
“Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When all other creatures have gone to stall and bin,        20
Ought to be told to come and take him in.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Frying pan, meet fire

So, as I mentioned yesterday, the barn manager let me know that Tris came in from turnout with his RF fetlock swollen again and quite lame.

Last night at midnight, after getting back from my 15 hour workday with a program in another part of the state, I checked on him.

RF was swollen and hot from fetlock to knee. No definition to the tendon sheath. Three-legged lame.

Fuck. Everything.

I paced, and checked it again, and paced some more, and finally left the barn. I couldn't cold hose, since it was still going to be below freezing overnight and the hoses wouldn't run. I didn't have ice, and it was midnight - I couldn't get any. I thought briefly about liniment, but that felt like flicking drops at a fire, and I didn't have any Sore No More - only Absorbine, which I kind of hate.

While I was driving home, I formed a plan that I carried out this morning. After about 5.5 hours of sleep, I returned to the barn. I stopped for iced coffee and a bag of ice on the way, and when I got to the barn filled a gallon bag with ice, added a little water, and wrapped it on to his leg with a snug polo wrap.

He was turning up his nose at his grain - he really hates his new bute - but chowing down his hay and happy and cheerful otherwise. I was struck by how much his leg looked like it did back when he had his first abscess. You know, the one that started the year of misery and vet bills and surgery and rehab.

On the one hand, of all the personal nightmares I do not want to revisit, that one is pretty high on the list.

On the other hand: if it isn't an abscess, there is something very, very wrong going on in his fetlock. That has all sorts of possibilities that I don't want to think about right now.

The silver lining is that I am so maxed out on stress with the house and work that while I am worried and upset and stressed about this, I am not quite freaking out. Yet.

Barn manager, who I am nominating for sainthood as soon as I can figure out the paperwork, is negotiating with the vet right now for an appointment today or tomorrow for Tris as well as another horse in the barn. She'll pull and periodically re-ice through the day today, and I left it up to her discretion whether to put him in standing wraps otherwise.

Onward, I guess. I just wish I knew where.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Aaaaaand here we go again

By what black magic do horses know that you have just - just, as in, within the last 24 hours - finally achieved your modest, short-term goal for their emergency fund?

Tristan's fetlock is blown up again and he's lame on it. Lameness vet will be out by the end of the week. He's on stall rest + bute until further notice.


How to sell me homeowner's insurance...

...first, can I say how much buying a house sucks? Like, a lot? Like, A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT JESUS CHRIST I HATE IT? Here, have a hoop. Here, have another hoop. Whoops, we moved this one while you weren't looking. Now hurry up and wait some more. Now as quickly as possible I need your signature on these 15 pieces of paper, why yes, piece #12 signs your life and firstborn away to three different possible people if you look crosseyed at a turtle on a Wednesday, ignore that, just sign it, NOW!


While Tris is chilling and getting over his gimpiness, I am trying to get the last of the house stuff done so we can stay on time for closing. This week, that means finalizing homeowner's insurance, which means, because I am me, reading 8 million articles to figure out exactly what this stuff all is and what it means and how to compare rates and what I really need.

So I chatted with a representative yesterday afternoon, and she took my vehicle information to pull quotes for that as well to see if combining them gets us a discount.

So I said: 2011 Honda CR-V, and then 1991 Chevy 2500...and she paused and said, "You have horses, don't you?"

The whole rest of the phone call was a split between oh yeah we should actually talk business...and hearing about her horses and the trail riding in her part of the state.

She has a Morgan/Haflinger cross! I can't even.

Oh, and so far she gave us the best rate, too, but while that's a good practical reason, my gut says "imagine actually liking your insurance agent and getting to talk horses when you have to deal with her?" and that is a small consolation in this whole convoluted process.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Same old, same old

Really not much going on in my life. Yesterday, I made banana bread, did the dishes, packed several boxes, took Arya to the dog park, researched homeowner's insurance, made an appointment with an electrician, opened windows for airing out, watched the new Game of Thrones, planned meals for the week, and so on.

What I did not do: ride my horse.


I stopped by the barn, and checked on him in his paddock. Swelling is down to more or less normal. It's not terribly unusual for him to have slightly puffy fetlocks, so what I check for is evenness. His RF felt exactly the same as his LF. That was after his first 24 hours without bute, so I'll take it.

Both fetlocks felt equally warm, because he has black legs and he was standing in the sun. No difference between them, though, which I'll take as good.

He looked and sounded even at the walk.

I brought him in to the indoor and jogged him briefly. Juuuuuuuust a teensy bit hesitant spinning left on a tight circle. A little bit more spinning right, putting more torque on that RF.

Then he took off like a lunatic, hit the end of his lead rope, and farted in my general direction. We discussed his poor life choices, and when we walked back out to the pasture, he was a bit painful on that RF.


I do still firmly believe that he just tweaked it doing an Old Horse thing. He would've been much more acute if it were anything truly serious, and he wouldn't be recovering so quickly.

Regardless, now is not the time to push. If he were headed to Rolex, or even a local show, there would be things I can do, but none of them will work better than rest and time.

I will go today, because it's my day off and it will be the warmest day of 2015 so far, even into the 60s. I'll scrub winter fur off of him and evaluate that fetlock again, but I probably won't jog him out. It's been 5 days, so he's earned himself a longer respite between checks. I'll jog him again at the end of the week and we'll see.


In the meantime, I'm going to try to write up some movie and book reviewing so I still have interesting things to talk about that aren't my own lame horse.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here's a few posts from the world of horse blogging that caught my eye this past week.

Healthy Horse Infographic from Equine Nutrition Nerd
Love this. Lots of basic information, well laid-out.

Europe Part 3 from Flying Free
I've loved all of these photos, but oh, the Spanish Riding School...!

How to Do Horse Laundry from Fly On Over
Some of these tips I knew, and some are new to me. Nice wrap-up.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Except I don't even know what this is karma for...

Thing the first:

Got a call from the barn manager yesterday while I was on a work conference call. Tristan went out for turnout, rolled, and stood up lame on his RF. Mild swelling in the fetlock, a teensy bit up into the tendon sheath, no heat except the barn manager thought she might have felt a bit of heat at the coronet band. They iced and buted. I worked until 11pm.

I'm back at work this morning and waiting for an update. I'll cold hose tonight.

Fingers crossed he just tweaked something.

Thing the second:




Please respect my pain and do not post any pictures of yourself doing the following: wearing t-shirts, riding your horses outside, bareheaded, wearing cute sandals, or with any green in the background.


fuck everything.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Radio Silence

I wish I could blog about all the awesome horse stuff I'm doing, but honestly, this week I'm working literally every moment that I am not asleep in my bed.

I assume my horse is still alive, as I got a vet bill for his second round of spring shots. Also, no one has called me to tell me otherwise.

In the meantime, I would like a caffeine IV and the promise of something, anything, going right.

Since neither of those things are possible, I would maybe also like a day off. I have high hopes for Sunday. Don't let me down, Sunday.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Genius moment: An easier way to apply Durasole

I don't want to take too much credit, but it's just possible I'm a genius.

Raise your hand if you're always too lazy to wear gloves while applying Durasole.

I am as guilty as the next person, and then I had a brainstorm. See, about two years ago, a vet gave me a formalin + iodine mixture to apply to Tristan's feet. I followed instructions for a few days, but hated the stuff, so I tossed it and just stuck to Durasole, and everyone was happier.

When Tristan went barefoot, I pulled that out again for a day or two and confirmed I hated it, but realized that its application was genius. It was contained in a small jar, and the cap had a brush stuck to it. Unscrew the cap, apply the stuff, no muss, no fuss.

I started hunting around for what might be a similarly useful tool with which to apply Durasole, and I hit on this: Big Horn Glue Bottle With Brush Applicator. I ordered it, crossed my fingers, and last week it arrived.

I squirted the last of my current bottle of Durasole in it, and crossed my fingers.


Holy crap.

All you have to do is give the bottle the very lightest of squeezes to get it started, and then just paint the brush onto the bottom of the foot. It comes out nicely, but doesn't explode at all - just the right amount comes out. It takes just a few seconds to do the bottom of the foot, and the long brush means you can stick it right down into the frog crevices.

The cap fits on snugly, and I haven't had a single escaped drop yet. The inside of the bottle is sort of slippery, so all the Durasole pools right at the bottom, not along the insides like it does in its own bottle. 

The bottle holds 8oz, so two bottles of Durasole, and it minimizes the amount of wasted liquid to a truly astonishing degree. It lets out just the right amount and then it all drains back into the bottle.

You do have to be a little careful putting the cap back on but so far that's honestly the only drawback.

So, if you use Durasole, BUY THIS NOW: Big Horn Glue Bottle with Brush Applicator

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exciting news: Tristan is barefoot again!

I've been keeping a bit of a secret, horse blog world. Tristan's odyssey with his feet is no secret, and for the past 2.75 years or so he has been wearing front shoes to help support that RF as it continues to try and grow normally.

Every few months, I've asked the farrier if he thought maybe, this time, Tris could go barefoot? The farrier is not a shoes-at-all-cost guy. He is an excellent farrier whom I have seen praised entirely independently on the COTH forums, and, you know, that NEVER happens.

The last time I asked was this past fall, and when we pulled his shoes as part of that vet visit, the toe still wasn't right, which was discouraging. That was the same vet visit at which we pulled blood to test for Cushings, and that came back positive, and I started hoping that maybe the reason he (still!) wasn't healing 100% was because of the Cushings. I figured I'd ask again in the spring.

Well, two weeks ago, I asked, expecting to get a sigh and a shrug again.

Instead: the farrier pulled off his shoes and was thrilled. My horse had foot again! Proper foot! There was no reason he couldn't go barefoot. To say I was excited was the understatement of the century.


You can still see the abnormality at the toe, interfering with the white line, in the bottom of the foot, but it's entirely possible that will never go away. 

Are they perfect? Gosh, no. We've got some work to do on shoring up the heel and rehabbing the sole. In particular, I'm pained by the white line - but I saw the same thing when we pulled his hind shoes, and I know how to fix it. We've already spent quality time with Durasole, and a nice long White Lightning soak is in our near future.

The best part? I gave him a few days off, with some handwalking and long grooming sessions, and he did not look even slightly hesitant when I walked him back and forth, even on the harder aisle. The barn staff confirmed that he wasn't in the slightest bit tender on the pebbly, hard dirt road to get to turnout.

So four days later, I longed him, and he was raring to go, bucking and farting and giving big sweeping trot strides. I longed him again the next day, and when he still looked 100% sound, I got on him. And rode him. And I've been riding him consistently, at the walk and trot and a bit of canter, without a single problem. 

On Friday afternoon, I took him out on the dirt roads around the barn, which afforded a great test; they were waterlogged and soft, but not yet gravelly. Harder than the indoor footing for sure, but nowhere near the rock-hard summer roads. He was terrific, and even jigged around a bit.


Seriously, how did he wear shoes for 2.75 years, sustain a major injury + surgery, and then come out of that so beautifully sound? I have to go find some wood to knock on.

And so, the saga of Tristan's shoes ends: August 18, 2012 - March 25, 2015.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are some great posts from the horse blogging world this week.

Hardcovers from Streets of Salem
This is more of a history blog, but I loooooooved this post about old covers of Black Beauty. (Speaking as someone who owns four different copies; five if you count the ebook.)

Flying High with Artistic Flaire from Eventing Nation
Cute, talented Morgan! Enough said.

This is how trail riding should be done from Not So Speedy Dressage
My jaw was literally hanging open while reading this post. I want to go to there.

Behind the Scenes: Packing the Tack Trailer from Hand Gallop
I LOVE blogs because they show me super cool, interesting, behind the scenes stuff like this.

Reviews: The Battle of the Breastplates from The $900 Facebook Pony
I love breastplates for their functionality and how sharp they make an event horse look. This is a terrific overview and thoughtful dig into how they work and how they should work.

Product Review: Feed XL from The Legal Equestrian
I freaking love the idea behind this, but I've never been able to make myself cough up the money for it. What a cool product, though.

How do you learn? from Not So Speedy Dressage
Outstanding overview, lots to think about.

Rider Review: Smartpak Sunshield Shirts from Stories from the Saddle
I have coveted one of these shirts for a very, very long time. I'm really glad to see this review.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Conversation last night between me and the barn manager while she was doing chores in the aisle and I was riding in the indoor.

Me: Ow! Hey, [BM], I just broke my nail on my saddle!
BM: Oh no! Wait, your fingernail or your saddle nail?
Me: My fingernail, it caught on the pommel while I was gathering rein.
BM: Oh, well then, get your damn hands out of your lap!

...she's not wrong.

YOUR WINNER: The Black Stallion

It was a nailbiting finish, but in the end, The Black Stallion finished as the ultimate Horse Movie March Madness champion.

Like many of you, I had no idea how strongly I felt about The Black Stallion until it was threatened. That's not to say I wasn't still rooting for the horse movie of my heart, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, which is still the greatest horse movie of all time no matter what this poll says, but wow, did I want Black Stallion to crush all the other comers!

It's not to terribly surprising, though, right? The book itself is nearing 75 years old, and the movie is nearing 40 years old. It speaks to a really deep, powerful horse myth: the magical horse who bonds with one boy, and they survive together. (We'll pretend the alien shit in the later books didn't happen, ok? Ok.)

In the end, aren't we all pretending, at least a little bit, to be Alec and the Black on the beach when we gallop our own horses?

Thank you to everyone who voted, that was a lot of fun. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

SFTS Blog Hop: Happy Place

What barn and/or horse chores put you in your happy place?

For some of us, it's the feeling of methodically and meticulously cleaning tack. For others, it's the repetition of braiding a mane. For others, it's the quiet moments of filling the water buckets or sweeping the barn aisle after everyone has left for the night.
I love this particular topic, and actually I was thinking about posting about it this week anyway!

For me, it has to be sweeping the barn aisle. The first barn I ever worked at was ob.sess.ive. in its attention to detail in that way, and I would sweep 3-4 times while doing chores to make sure I cleaned as I went. I found a rhythm and a happiness in the way I worked. There was a particularly awesome Lab mix dog at that barn, too, who would chase the little bits of hay if I swept particularly vigorously. We made it our little game.

Even now, there is something absolutely hypnotic about a good broom and a long barn aisle. Getting the turn just right, getting the finish flick just right, overlapping your strokes in just the right way. I love it.

VOTE: Final March Madness Round

Our two final movies, The Black Stallion and National Velvet, are neck and neck. They are basically the Affirmed and Alydar of this tournament.

The poll will be open until 2:00 pm this afternoon, so if you want your voice to count, VOTE NOW!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Horse Movie March Madness Conclusion: National Velvet versus The Black Stallion

I put off this post for a little longer to wait for the tight race between Black Beauty and National Velvet to end precisely on time - and it was close right up to the wire.

This may be our most difficult matchup yet, between two movies that held off all the other competitors.

There can be only one. Which horse movie emerges from our endless rounds of voting as the 2015 champion?

Early Spring Cushings Update

When last I updated on Tristan's progress with Cushings, it was late November and we got the great news that his ACTH levels were back within normal limits.

Once we realized that he needed to be blanketed for cold this winter, because the disease was playing havoc with his temperature regulation, he went into his full blanket rotation. That worked really well. I checked on him constantly, and had lots of ongoing conversation with the barn manager about how he was coping. He trucked along beautifully in his assortment of blankets, and we figured out his parameters for each blanket, about which more later.

After his first full winter of being blanketed, he only developed the slightest hint of the beginning of a rub from once blanket, and we just swapped it out. Problem solved. He's got a spot on his mane that is less than ideal, but it's also very far from rubbed out - just a little thinner & shorter.

He gained both muscle tone and weight through the winter. Not enough of the former, a bit too much of the latter. The barn worked really hard in this unbelievably cold weather to get them as close to free choice hay as possible, and we even ended up cutting out the alfalfa pellets from Tristan's diet and scaling back his ration of Carb Guard.

Right now, he's actually borderline too heavy for my own preferences. I've always kept him on the lean side, because he's such an easy keeper. He's also waaaaaaaaay out of shape, even with the improved muscle tone, because of this #$@&#$ winter.

He is alert, happy, and shedding like crazy right in sync with his normal shedding time and amount.

He saw the vet late last week for a physical, teeth floating, and vaccinations, and here's what she had to say in her report:
Haircoat appropriate length/thickness for season and there is no topline wasting or other subjective signs of Cushing's disease. 
Body Condition Score = 5/9. Perfect!! Ribs can be felt easily but not seen unless in the right light. This is an ideal body weight for your animal. 
Excellent teeth with shiny pulp cavities and no evidence of diseased teeth or feed packing. Sharp points all arcades and M3's have small ramps. Reduced all sharp points and ramps.
Atta boy! He turns 20 in 2 more weeks, so I couldn't be happier that the vet was thrilled. :)

We will keep him off grass until the spring growing has finished, and then transition him on to the least lush grass and keep an eagle eye. Hopefully he'll get some time out on the grass when it's least dangerous for him, and hopefully with careful monitoring we'll be able to get a good sense for his tolerance. He still does not show any signs of more general metabolic disease, so there's no clear reason to think he won't do well on grass.

Now that it's spring, we'll get back in shape and here's to a great summer. :) I really think that so far we are in the best case scenario for a Cushings horse.