Monday, March 29, 2010

Unexpected awesomeness

Yesterday I had the kind of ride I wasn't expecting, especially not after Princess Pony had a week off. She was lovely. So soft in the bridle, so happy, forward but not nuts, and for a moment there I forgot I was riding a green 4 yo.

We even schooled some lead changes. She got excited with the lead change thing but damn if I didn't land myself an awesome athletic non-crazy mare with natural auto lead changes. Thank you, God. I think a week of r&r was really good for her. She's also feeling much much better after being quite sore this week.

I am considering putting her up for half lease soon. It might be a little early but after yesterday's ride, she's definitely ready to start over some crossrails. I would probably do a 3 day/wk lease so that I could also ride 3x/week and she could have a day off. The leaser could take her over to Heritage if they wanted to show, there's the indoor, there's trails and fields, etc. I would have to vet people really carefully but I am optimistic. The good thing is that I don't need to lease her, but having the extra savings each month would be nice, at least until Kenny and I get married in September.

I also discovered that there's a network of trails on a town-owned land trust less than half a mile from the barn. In fact, I drive past it every day but haven't noticed it until this past week. Kenny and I stopped and read the sign that's at the trail head yesterday and I apparently need permission to ride on the trails, so I am emailing the necessary people today to see what the deal is. The trails look like they're really well-maintained, with access to streams and fields to ride through, too :D I can't wait to take Lucy there!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Crazy week.

While Lucy was having herself a leisurely week putting her feet in places they don't belong and giving me several gray hairs, I ran myself ragged trying to be a million places at once. All week I was getting up at 6 to be at the barn by 7 to check on her/wrap her/cold hose her etc, to be at work by 8 to be able to leave by 3pm to go back to the barn and check on her/re-wrap her/cold hose her etc. It was a loooooong week. I was so exhausted yesterday that I got home from the barn, fell into bed at 5pm, and didn't wake up until 8am this morning. I feel much better today, though, and so does Lucy. Her legs are still pretty banged up and the RH is kind of puffy, but with diligent cold-hosing and nice long walks, the swelling goes down with no issues. I've been treating her abrasions with antiseptic ointment and then slathering her hind legs with liniment and everything seems to be healing well.

The vet was out yesterday for the first round of spring shots (I actually was at work by 6:30 yesterday so that I could leave at 1:30 to be on time for the vet. This is not a lifestyle I am cut out for!!), and she was a perfect lady for him. She actually adored him and wanted to give him kisses the whole time. He had two assistants with him (one vet tech and one vet student) and she was not interested in either of them, but she just looooooved Dr. Murdock! He's a great vet; he did the original pre purchase on her, also, so he got to see the difference that just a few months has made in her condition. He told me over and over again how wonderful she looked, and that made me feel great. I did express some concern about ulcers with him, and he agreed. About a month ago I started feeding her a scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes with dinner and within just a week or two I noticed a huge difference in her condition. She started really putting on some weight (finally!) and looked much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I did some research and alfalfa has a high level of calcium in it, which neutralizes stomach acid much like Tums does in humans. For horses with ulcers, the symptoms can decrease when they are fed alfalfa. I think that's a solid sign that it might be worth scoping her. I don't want to be stuffing her full of grain (she gets 6lbs of Triple Crown Complete and 4lbs of Hay Stretcher a day plus supplements and BOSS, so that's a LOT of grain) especially when grain can actually exacerbate ulcers.

So I'm going to check with the insurance company to make sure they won't drop the coverage if I scope her and treat her with UlcerGard. I really have the insurance for colic, but honestly I can't afford to dish out $2k for the scoping and treatment so it's the insurance or it's nothing. The vet recommended just calling the insurance company so at least the claim's not a surprise; he said they tend to appreciate that.

I also rode her today for the first time all week, since as you've all read, she spent her week getting into trouble. I lightly hacked her on a loose rein around the ring at a walk and trot, and she broke into a canter a few times. She actually felt great, all things considered. She felt a tiny bit short behind but got better as the ride progressed, so she's just sore from her activities. She was very happy to be doing something. After our ride, we went for a hack through the woods behind the barn and she walked over a couple small logs, then we went back past the barn and across the street and walked through the little development over there. I am trying to teach her that we aren't done until I say we're done, so that she doesn't walk up to the barn and expect to be finished. She was a good sport about walking past the barn to the development even though I know she wanted her dinner. :)

So that's the story!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

and the verdict is...

She's sound, but she'll be sore tomorrow!

Everything looks superficial. I cold-hosed her legs and took her on a little walk, then watched her trot. If you're gonna be stupid, it's a good thing to also be lucky.

just keepin' you on your toes, mum.

When the barn owner calls you in the middle of the day unexpectedly, it's rarely a good thing.

Lucy was looking much better when I went to check on her yesterday, so I decided she could be turned out today.

Here are some videos from yesterday:

Trotting her around to see how off she was.

Loving the barn kitty.

So anyway, the barn owner turned her out this morning and apparently my little princess pony is feeling feisty. There is a gelding that sometimes goes out next to her and they usually get along famously. They make lovey faces at each other and share hay through the fence. Today, though, Lucy was not having it and instead of sharing her hay, she decided to share her back legs. According to my barn owner, she ran backwards and then started double-barreling the fence that separated her and the gelding and quickly ended up with BOTH hind legs stuck between the top two boards of the fence. What a moron. I am so grateful that the barn owner was there and got her unstuck quickly. He called to tell me that she was going to be a very sore girl and was all scraped up, so we'll see what the damage is like when I get out of work.

What has gotten into my horse lately??

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

just wonderful (sarcastic)

It's been raining here again and just in one day today, we got over 3" of rain. I happened to arrive at the barn after work during a dry spell so I tossed Lucy in the outdoor to let her stretch her legs while I did her stall. As I was mucking, I could hear her flying around but I didn't pay much attention to it. It started raining again but I wasn't done with the stall, so I brought her in and put her in the indoor while I finished up. She looked totally fine walking through the barn to the indoor.

When I was ready to put her back in her stall and feed her, I clipped the lead rope on and led her out of the indoor and heard "clip....clop....clipclop....clip....clop....clipclop". She was LAME. Ugh! It was her left front and I ran my hands up and down both her front legs for a few minutes but couldn't find any heat at all. Nothing in her knees, tendons, ankles, or feet. Both shoes were on and secure. I lunged her quickly at the trot just to make sure, but she looked off in both directions. I think she probably tweaked something while playing. I felt so helpless there in the aisle wishing that I wasn't all alone at the barn. Two horses left late last week and it's been very quiet there. I wished there was someone else there whom I could ask for advice!

I luckily bought pillow and stable wraps last month when I thought I was going to be moving Lucy, so I had those in my trunk. I didn't have any poultice but I had a bottle of Sore No More handy, so I slathered that all over her legs and wrapped her. On the way home from the barn I stopped in at Dover and bought a tub of poultice and some more pillow wraps so that I can change them tomorrow morning before work. I put a sign on her stall door saying she couldn't be turned out tomorrow, also.

Sorry for the bad cell phone picture!

I just hope it's nothing serious! I am taking it as a good sign that I couldn't find any heat or swelling.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Western pony.

Something new every day!


Who, me? Noooo....

Lucy was kind of a fresh baby yesterday. We did the same road/field/road route that we did on Friday, but yesterday she was really excited about it. She was very up the entire walk to the field (not crazy or spooky or really anything bad, but very tense) and she wanted to RUN when we got to the field. There were people down there at the far end target practicing with their rifles so I checked in with them first. One of them owned the property so I made sure that it was ok that I rode down there but he said "Oh I love LOVE horses! Come and ride here any time! Tell all your friends!" lol. It was very similar to the reaction that Dom and I got when we hacked to the other field when she visited, but with even more gusto. People around here are very friendly! Meanwhile, Lucy was finding it hard to stand still, so she had to learn the hard lesson of Patience. Tough day for her.

While cantering around the field after my chat with the owner, I had a little day dream about what it would be like to let that horse run. I feel like letting an ex-racehorse gallop is kind of taboo. I've heard lots of things like "they'll revert back to being a racehorse and will be really difficult to handle!", and other such stories. I know that for now, I don't feel comfortable letting her run simply because I don't think I'd be able to stop her. She gets very very strong and heavy when she wants to go and I really have to sit deeeep in the saddle and tighten my core muscles and pick her up, and that's just at a quick canter. I can't even imagine what it'd be like to stop her from a gallop.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I wasn't planning on riding today but Lucy looked at me with her little ears pricked like, "what are we gonna do today, mum?!" so I tacked her up, put on my bright orange reflective vest, and we hacked out on the road and went exploring by ourselves :D I know I'm being kind of ballsy with this horse but she hasn't given me a reason to be cautious, and today she impressed me so much. She wouldn't be able to show me how awesome she is if I didn't take risks and give her the chance to shine.

A bunch of cars passed us and she was totally fine with it. One even passed us at about 45 mph around a curve and I had to yell at them. I feel like today was National Educate the Idiots Day between that and me having to call the cops about a dog that someone locked in their car in the hot sun today at work, but of course I thanked all of the drivers who went past us at a reasonable speed with a smile and a wave.

The first thing we did was "make friends" with the trash cans that people had at the bottom of their driveways. Last time we were out on the road, she didn't like the trash cans and I was already kind of pushing my luck with her, so I chose my battles carefully and left the trash cans for another day (which was today!). I gave her as much time as she needed to investigate them, and she no longer is scared of them.

We explored down this little path that runs off the road that I've always wondered about, and it led down a big hill and to a huuuuge gorgeous field. Lucy was really excited! She's adorable. She spooked at a couple things but I took my time and eventually she sniffed everything and was cool with it. There were a couple piles of old rusty metal back there but they were confined to one area along the path, and there weren't any objects on the trail or in the field. We had a nice little trot and canter around the field and when we were heading home, I let her canter up the hill and she LOVED it. I felt so alive. When I was horse shopping, it was really important to me that my potential horse be able to hack out alone, because it's rare that I ride with someone else who also wants to go off the property and I don't want to be held back by that. Lucy is just so brave. I have to give her major credit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sometimes you just have to compromise.

You win some, you lose some. Today I compromised with Lucy and had to tell myself it was better than conceding. She had it in her brain that when we circled at the far end of the arena, we needed to actually change direction. We'd come out of the turn and she'd switch to the right lead and try to muscle me across the diagonal, instead of completing the circle to the left. Eventually I just booted her with my right leg and growled at her, but she didn't want to switch back to the left lead, so we had to go back down to the trot and then start again. It was kind of an exhausting ride.

We did have a few nice moments :)

And then she put on a good show!

And showed me just what she thought of getting a bath.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to make your human REALLY glad she's not riding you.

Ok, this one's not so bad but doesn't she look lovely?

Today was simply glorious. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. The outdoor was LEVEL :D.

I showed up to the barn after work with about three layers off, and immediately peeled everything but my t-shirt off. It was so nice and warm out. Lucy was covered in mud on one side of her body, which can only mean one thing: she spent the afternoon sunbathing. Smart girl!

We rode in the outdoor and she seemed much happier outside than she does in the indoor. We got some SUPER nice soft trotting and cantering. After we were done in the ring, we went for a little hack across the street to a cute development. Lucy was so chill about the whole thing: crossing the road, walking past a little stream, but then we got to a guy chopping wood in his driveway. He wasn't chopping any wood as we were approaching, and then as soon as we passed his house, WHAM! he chopped a piece of wood and Lucy was like WHATWASTHAT!!?!?!?! and did a little dance. He said "oh, sorry!! I won't do it anymore if you don't want me to!" but I assured him that she needed to learn about wood chopping sometime (??) and so I made her stand there and watch him chop the rest of the wood for a few minutes. Pretty soon she was falling asleep to the sound of WHACK! plop. WHACK! plop. Good horse.

Lucy and the pink ball

I didn't have time to ride last night but I had bought Lucy a $2.50 pink ball from Wal-Mart and I put her in the indoor to see what she thought.

I was hoping she'd play with it but she wasn't quite sure what to do. I kicked it around a bit with her and she got a bit rowdy :)

Here's the video.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Horse Ride design

I double-checked with the event organizers for this year's RISPCA Horse Ride and they were fine with me posting the finished product, so here it is!

More info about the event is available here.

If anyone would like to pre-order a t-shirt, email Denise at and she will set one aside for you :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

it's bright and sunny (somewhere else).

Yeah, that's all rain out there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Art inspired by Lucy


Lucy had a ton of excess energy today, moreso than usual. She spent about twenty-five minutes romping (and I mean romping!) in the indoor and it took me about twenty-four of those minutes to decide that I was actually going to get on her. She had a lot of fun, squealing and bucking and running around. At one point she went to inspect the door to the arena, where a fellow boarder was standing. Since she was so rowdy he did not want her to get to close, in case she spun around and kicked, so he waved his hand at her and said "get away!". I think she was a little bit offended because she tucked her head in and jumped literally five feet up into the air, and then took off at full tilt around the ring.

So I had this mental image of her tearing around, her haunches spring-loaded for action and her ears pricked foward, looking for the best route. I love her playfulness and I hope she never loses that, even when she gets older. I also had been thinking a lot about forward energy, and how the energy for a horse comes from behind and goes in a circular motion, making its way through the horses back, shoulder, up the neck, through the jaw and then back towards the haunches again. I drew this tonight while the image was fresh in my mind and now I have to figure out how I'm going to finish it.

In the mean time, enjoy the work-in-progress, a memento of twenty-five minutes of orchestrated chaos.

walk work

I think Lucy was a bit sore from her dentist visit yesterday because she shook her head when I picked up contact and seemed to get very worried. As a result, we did just walk work on the buckle yesterday. Frank had talked about lengthening and shortening the stride with just my seat in our lesson and I practiced that. She's very sensitive in her back and quickly caught on to what I was trying to do. I had her extend for a few strides by tilting my pelvis back, and driving her forward with my seat bones. Once she got a few good extended strides in, I would gradually tip my pelvis forward, and stop the forward energy from going beyond my seat, thereby shortening the stride significantly.

I also worked on steering her with my seat and balance, which she did so well with. I would keep my upper body tall, but rotate my pelvis just slightly and look where I wanted her to go, and she would circle without any contact with her mouth whatsoever. What a clever girl.

There were a couple of poles set up in the ring and she has a tendency to do the baby wiggles when approaching poles, so we walked over them a number of times each direction (again without any contact with her mouth) and I practiced keeping her straight between my legs. The first couple of times she still tried to wiggle out of it, so I had to guide her a bit with the reins, but only lightly.

We also did a ton of stretching :)

This weekend's forecast promises 2-4" of rain so the horses will be in all weekend, which means I need to make a shavings run!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

lots of good things, unless you're a mouse or Dave's finger

What a great week so far!! On my way home from work, I stopped at Schartner's Farms. This is a really small family-run place and Kenny and I love to go there in the fall to pick our pumpkins and buy apple pies. I stopped there today to see if they had any "reject" carrots and look what they sent me out the door with!! These are gorgeous, fresh home-grown carrots that may have had a little defect and not been ok to sell. Lucy's eyes bugged out of her head when she saw me arrive with that bag of goodies!

I walked down the barn aisle feeling like Santa on Christmas Day, and had a smile from ear to ear until I almost stepped on this:

O.C., that cheeky little cat, laughed to himself from the rafters. Of course he thinks it's a present and was clearly proud of himself, coming down for a "good job" pat after the photo was taken:

So the real news today is that Lucy was seen by Dave Ribeiro, of From the Horses Mouth NE, for her 4 y.o. dental check-up. Dave was telling me that he had just been to see another horse who gave him a lot of trouble, so I was secretly praying to the horse gods that Lucy would behave herself. After all, I got a message while at work today that she was acting like such a nut job in the paddock that she had to be brought in early (sigh). I let her out in the indoor when I first got to the barn (after she had some carrots, of course) and she had lots of energy to get out, but I still was worried she'd be naughty for the dentist.

I picked Dave to come and work on Lucy because he has a fantastic reputation, was very highly recommended, and does the work by hand vs. using power tools. I also heard from several people that he is very calm and patient with the horses he works on, and since I wasn't sure how Lucy would be, that was very important for me in case she needed some reassurance.

Dave and I were both pleasantly surprised by Lucy because she was so well-behaved! In fact, Dave said that if he could clone her and have every patient be that cooperative, his job would be super easy. That made me feel really good about her. She really is a fantastic horse. He said he found issues that are typical for a 4y.o.: a few hooks, some sharp spots, and some unevenness where her adult teeth are still growing in. It was nothing major and he was able to smooth everything out. We'll have to see if she's any different under saddle.

The only bad thing that happened was that Dave had his hand in Lucy's mouth checking to make sure everything was smooth and she managed to (accidentally) bite one of his fingertips and she actually took a chunk out of his finger! OUCH! Let me just say I'm glad I'm not an equine dentist!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

spring time events

In a little over a month, the first show of the season will be here. I am trying to decide if I want to take Lucy to that one or give it more time. I think if I can continue to afford lessons, we'll progress enough to go to the Heritage Farm April 18th show. If we're not ready by then, though, there's always the May 2nd RISPCA Benefit Ride, which is an annual horse ride in Warwick at Goddard Park to benefit the RISPCA. I designed the t-shirt for them last year (above) and was really happy to have the honour of doing it again this year. I sent the finalized design for this year's ride to the event organizer last night and it turned out really well! It's in a different style than last year's, but I'm sure it will be well-received. I will be donating the original piece of artwork again to be auctioned off at the event.

Other than that, Lucy has been doing well. We've had a week of glorious weather that's gearing down towards four straight days of rain this coming weekend :( I guess it had to end some time! It looks like I'll have to make a trip to stock up on shavings, because rainy days always mean totally trashed stalls since the horses are kept in all day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

QOTD: if she's going to do that, at least she does it in a straight line!

What a day, what a day. It was 60 degrees and simply beautiful outside today.

To start, I had a FABULOUS lesson. I had wanted to ride outside but the frost heaves did a number on the footing in the outdoor and there are still a bunch of really deep divots, so it's not usable right now. We had some significant breakthroughs!! I almost got launched at one point; I'm not sure if Lucy spooked or just had a "I don't wanna!!" baby moment, but as the title of the post states: if she's going to do that, at least she does it in a straight line!

Here is a video from today.

After the lesson was over, I had to walk Lucy out. I untacked her and led her outside past the cars, but realized I left my helmet on by accident. I was hot, too, so I took the helmet off and for some reason, left it by my car's right rear tire. I think my rationale was that I'd see it before leaving, but as I said it was by the passenger REAR tire so when I was done at the barn, I hopped in my car and started it up and backed right over my helmet. I did a number on it,'s basically trash. The whole thing is all bent out of shape and there are several cracks in the shell:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

the blanket dance

March is right about the time where we start getting some really nice days weather-wise here in Southern New England, but at night it slips back down to colder temperatures. Today, for instance, was 55 degrees and very sunny. Lucy would have been a well-cooked pony if I made her wear her blanket all day, so I went early this morning and took it off of her. I had to work a 12-hour shift at the ambulance today (blah!) but I am sure she spent a lovely day rolling in the mud and sunbathing, as any self-respecting young horse would do.

Tonight, though, it's only 32 degrees, and I know she'd be cold without the blanket, so it had to go back on. Luckily my barn owner is awesome and he was willing to put the blanket on when she came in, since I was at work until 9pm.

Since I am a rough boarder, and will normally be responsible for blanket changes, this zig-zagging of temperatures is going to mean having to go to the barn basically twice a day instead of once.

Still, I'm REALLY glad it's finally warming up a bit! (and now watch, because next week we'll probably get a snow storm).

Friday, March 5, 2010

a pleasant surprise

Lucy has had most of the week off because I have had a horrible time with my neck and back. I really wanted to ride today and naturally I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to ride bareback. Alone. At night.

I was expecting three things: 1) theatrics, 2) possibly being tossed, and 3) shark-fin withers. I am happy to report that she was SUPER well-behaved, I didn't get tossed (or even feel unbalanced at all!!!) and she was actually really comfy to ride bareback! The only time I had an "issue" with her withers was when we were trotting around and she started to get heavy in the front end and I kind of got dragged forward (um, hello abdominal muscles!).

All said and done, though, she is AWESOME to ride bareback. Her trot is really really smooth and I was able to relax my legs around her and to my surprise, we got about five strides of really nice trot in there. I was feeling brave enough to canter so when she was going nicely, I gave her the cue but then monster pony came out of hiding and that idea was promptly replaced with "woahhhhhhhhhhh. woahhh!!!!!!" and small circles.

Before I got on, I had given her the chance to run around a bit but she really wasn't interested. After I rode, I gave her another chance since she had been so up about the canter cue, and she ran and bucked and squealed for twenty minutes. It was very entertaining! Then I spent probably half an hour grooming her and got a lot of fluff out of her.

We also did some stretches tonight before I rode, and when I had her turning her head and neck around to her hind end to stretch for the treat, her neck adjusted itself on both sides.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the healing touch

It's been another week of questionable weather, which for me means cleaning Lucy's stall with a shovel, not a pitchfork. She is such a little piggy in her stall. I should have called her "Blender".

Since she destroys her stall on a nightly basis, I have been hesitant to use a bunch of shavings. At over $6/bale, they aren't something I enjoy throwing away, but Lucy makes it so that there isn't much salvageable in the middle of her stall! Anyway she developed small hock sores about a month ago, so I have been bedding the stall deeper since then. I have been treating the sores with an equine antibiotic cream, and they'll almost heal over, and then I bring her in from the paddock and she's somehow reopened them. This cycle went on about three times so while at the feed store yesterday, I asked one of my friends who works there if she had any suggestion. She and one of the other employees recommended Well-Horse Antibacterial Resin. It looks like Betadine, smells like crap, and you spray it directly on the wound after it's been cleaned. My friend and her coworker just could not say enough good things about this product, so I decided to dish out the $25 for the small bottle (yikes!) and give it a try.

Lucy had just reopened the sores yet again, so I cleaned them with a warm wet compress and sprayed the Resin liberally on her legs last night. Today when I got to the barn, there was already a very decent scab on there, which would normally take about three days to form. I am hoping this stuff will be the key to get the sores healed up for good!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

de-fluffing, and going to work with hay in your hair

Michael Gill is back in the news in a Boston Globe article that was posted on their website today.

Read it here.

He seems to have an answer for everything, doesn't he? I want to know if he only retired those 173 thoroughbreds (sorry--"sold" for $1 each) because I doubt with a string the size of his, those would be the only horses not to make it to the next season.

I've been toying with the idea of clipping Lucy, because lately it has taken me up to an hour to cool her out after a ride. Last night, however, I arrived at the barn after work armed with one of those Farnam grooming blocks that look like hard, compact sponges, and I went to town. I got so much fluff out of her! I couldn't believe it. She was not pleased but I tried to be as gentle as possible. You can bet I'll be at the barn on the first 60+ degree day we have (typically late March/early April) armed with shampoo and a sponge, and that should move things along even more.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how much darker her summer coat is than her winter coat! She looks almost black (but it could have been the poor lighting in the barn).

In other news, I was at the barn bright and early this morning to meet the hay truck and help unload some gorgeous second cut grassy hay. This stuff looked GREAT. I have about seven bales of first cut left so I'll start integrating the new hay with the old hay in a few days, so her tummy doesn't get a shock with the much richer second cut.

Of course I had to go straight to work after helping to stack the hay, and I arrived at my office with hay stuck in my hair, on my shirt, and in my boots! Lovely.