Tuesday, May 28, 2013

out and about

Ugh, when I'm not riding Lucy, I have so much more time to do the really annoying chores, like cleaning my tack.

Over the holiday weekend, I took home ALL of my leather tack to clean and condition it. It took me about three hours to do three bridles, one English saddle, one Western saddle, one extra set of leathers, one breastplate, one standing martingale, one running martingale, and one girth.

My poor Western saddle had been especially neglected, and it
really looked like a million bucks when I was finished with it!

I cleaned it all out on my back deck and really went to town with the soap, since I could make a mess out there and not really have to worry about it. I used "Supple", which did a great job getting rid of the grime and bringing out the shine! Hey, I should market that phrase.

I even used a toothbrush to clean the tooled parts of the Western saddle, and all of the other hard-to-reach places on my other tack. That HAD to have earned me at least some good leather care karma.

Good news is that my previously neglected-looking $5 breastplate that I got at a tack sale earlier in the spring now looks very fancy. The leather is lovely and rich. I don't think it was originally an expensive piece of tack by any means but it certainly looks like it's worth more than $5 now!

I have a few other items that I have lent out to various horsey friends since I am not using them during Lucy's vacation so I will do those when they get back...maybe ;)

I appreciated the feedback on Lucy's upcoming second attempt at acupuncture, with Ace. I spoke to a wide variety of people who had acupuncture done on their horses, plus two vets, and the consensus is that Ace MAY or MAY NOT have a detrimental effect on the effectiveness of acupuncture but it will not harm the horse in any way, so we are going to give it a shot. One of my friends said "You've already mentally spent the money, why not give it a try?" And that is so true, since the vet did not charge me for the failed first attempt.

Lucy has been going out on grass every day with her boy toy Brantley, now that he's home from training. They are in love. Well, Lucy is in lust. Brantley is in love with the grass. Somehow this works for everyone involved.

Kenny also taught me how to drive his motorcycle. My car is a manual 6-speed so I picked it up very quickly.

And finally, yesterday we walked in the local Memorial Day Parade with Cairo, as part of the local dog group. She soaked up all the attention and loved saying hi to the kids who were watching the parade. She was perfectly behaved and a lot of people asked what breed she was. One lady even said, "I know that dog! I saw a photo of her wearing a lion costume!" so basically, my life is complete.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My unappreciative horse

I had a vet out today to do some acupuncture on Lucy. I felt very hopeful that she would like this, because she is so well-behaved for normal vaccinations.

Well, I was wrong. She hated it.


She stood ok for the first few needles, but then got really, really pissed off. Bucking, kicking, etc. She was not having any of it.

The poor vet...he was so patient and kind with her, and I felt so embarrassed, but he assured me that he had dealt with horses that hated it even more than she did (I'd hate to think what kind of nonsense they pulled, because Lucy was pretty horrible!).

She bucked so hard that two of the needles actually fell out.

after causing the fourth and fifth needles to fall out

Lucy, you bad girl.

We are going to try again next week, this time with a bit of sedative on board to hopefully quell some of that reactivity.

I will say that before he started with the needles, he used a really cool laser that is apparently $5000 (!!!!) and as soon as he touched her with the laser, her head dropped into my arms, she yawned, and her whole body seemed to exhale. That was nice to see.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sleepy May

May has been blissfully quiet. The most I've done with Lucy is walk her down to the outdoor to watch Maddy ride one night, but other than that she has done nothing except go from her stall to her paddock, with the occasional session out in one of the grass turnouts.

She remains fat and happy. I groom her every few days, and her winter coat has completely shed out to reveal shiny, dappled, rich mocha velvet. I sat out with her in the grass paddock this weekend, reading a book while she happily munched away. We were both content.

She finished her 30 days of Doxy this past week, so we are all set with that until the next time she gets lyme! ;) We are about halfway through her "time off" and in a week or two I will be scheduling her follow-up 60 day ultrasound to see how her healing progress is going.

I've been riding a chestnut QH mare, whose name is Mollie. She is in her mid-teens and lives at a close-by farm that is really a beautiful facility. This horse did some eventing in her younger days, but mostly goes in a dressage saddle now, so I have been doing my best not to flop around up there with the long stirrups and deep seat of the dressage saddle.

Mollie is a very funny mare. She hates having her face pulled on and will only set her jaw and pull back, which quickly morphs into a pulling match between horse and rider. The best way to ride her is to sit back, and I mean BACK...very strange for me! I have to "hold" her with my stomach muscles, or what's left of them anyway. My hands are only there to lightly support her. She is a very cute mover when I ride her correctly, but best of all she is fun and safe. It is very generous of her owner to share her with me.

Some of you asked who the dappled grey mare that I rode for the RISPCA ride was. She belongs to a friend who volunteers with the RISPCA, and allowed me to ride her that day, since she was caught up running the event. Don't I have the most wonderful friends? Angie, the mare, is a Percheron/Warmblood cross. She was so much fun to hack around on. I very rarely get the chance to just sit back, relax, and enjoy myself, but this was a horse I could do just that with! She piloted me all around the forest that day and was an absolute pleasure to ride.

I am trying to get back in shape by running, which has historically been one of my most hated forms of exercise. I have crappy knees, my back is screwed up, and I have torn ligaments in my left shoulder, so running usually causes me a lot of physical issues, but for whatever reason I have been doing quite well at it this time around, and I haven't had any problems. I ran 1.5 miles on my first day, 2 miles on the second day, and 1.5 miles this morning. Not too bad.

out for a run with Cairo and her little friend Cooper, whom
I was dog-sitting for

tough life!

I've also been biking a lot, and last week my company sponsored a "bike to work day", so I biked about 11 miles round trip with my mountain bike to and from work. Not exactly the type of riding I prefer, but I was proud of myself!

my route home from work

out on the trails with Kenny and Cairo
Most of all I am just thrilled for my friends, who are making great progress with their horses. Lauren battled through a tough winter with her horse Charlie, who had a serious knack for rearing at the drop of a hat, and was very fresh under saddle. In the past couple weeks, though, something has clicked in that baby brain of his and all of a sudden he is going beautifully. Surely this is a testament to Lauren's hard work, horsemanship, and determination, which were all part of what made her such a great match for Lucy!

My friend Amanda and her horse Image are going through a bit of a rough patch soundness-wise, but she is developing a good partnership with him on the ground while they sort that out. I know exactly what it feels like to deal with a vague mystery lameness so I wish them the best of luck with that!

Maddy and I picked Brantley up from his month of boot camp yesterday. You may remember that Brantley had some very severe trust issues and shook like a leaf any time someone got on him (if they even got that far!). He went for 30 days of pretty comprehensive ground work and came home a changed pony. Maddy rode him the last two days he was at the trainers, and she was able to actually stand on his back, something you could not PAY me to do but I will happily watch her do it (and take pictures!). She is over the moon to have him home and is looking forward to enjoying her summer with him.

Maddy and Brantley yesterday at the training barn

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Exciting things in the world of Lulu

"Hey Lucy, what have you been up to lately?"

"Oh hey, minion! Not too much. I've been taking it really easy...I don't
want to risk re-injuring my back!"

"I've been working really hard on maintaining my gear. I simply don't know
why my right bell boot fell off the other day, or why my fly mask is developing
some big holes in it!"
"I have been sooooo helpful. Don't you like when I inspect
every morsel of hay you put in the wheelbarrow when cleaning
my paddock?"
"I'm sorry you can't ride at all right now. I guess it must be hard
for you, but honestly it's kind of awesome for me!"
"I do feel bad that the only things you get to do are pay
my bills and clean up after me! At least you also get to admire
my endless beauty from the ground."
"Don't worry, minion, your hard work and waiting will all be worth it when
we can have adventures together soon."
"In the mean time, try to hang in there, you know, all this work and no riding
must be horrible!"

This post marks 600 posts about Lucy. :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

horsey insurance - the post you guys have all been asking for!

Many people have asked me to share some details on my experience with insuring Lucy. This is all what I have personally learned, and I am not an insurance professional. Feel free to read through this and take into consideration what I suggest, but always talk to an insurance professional/agent before purchasing a policy.

If you are thinking of buying insurance, or trying to decide if you need it, let me ask you two simple questions:

1. If your horse required colic surgery to survive, could you afford $10,000 out of pocket to provide that for the horse?
2. If you could not, would you be ok putting that horse down and not receiving any financial reimbursement to help replace the horse?

If your answer to either of these questions is "no", I highly recommend looking into insurance. As horse owners, we never WANT our animals to be hurt, but I can tell you I sleep very well at night knowing that if Lucy needed some crazy expensive surgery tomorrow, I would never have to think twice before shipping her up to Tuft's and letting them save her. It was also really awesome when the vet was out for the third time recently, trying to pinpoint her mystery lameness, and he turned to me and said "is she insured?" and I said "yes", and he said, "well what are we waiting for? let's get her a bone scan". Less than a week later, we had a solid diagnosis and a great prognosis.

Most insurance companies offer a few different types of policies, and I will do my best to explain them in layman's terms, and hopefully this will help those of you who are considering insurance for your horse.

The two main policies are Mortality (M) and Major Medical (MM). If you want to purchase a MM policy, you are going to need to purchase a M policy also. However, if you only want to purchase a Mortality policy, you do not need to purchase Major Medical. Keep in mind that if you only have Mortality coverage and your horse colics, some companies require that colic surgery be attempted on the animal to try and save them. If you do not attempt to save the animal with surgery, the company will not pay out on the Mortality claim. This prevents people from opting to put the horse down prematurely in order to get the insurance pay out.

MM will cover costs associated with veterinary care, including diagnostics, exams, hospital stays, and medications. They will not pay for a vet's farm call fee, and there are some treatments like stem cell injections, IRAP, etc that most companies will not pay for.

M policies help you recover from the loss of a horse in that you will be given a cheque for the monetary worth of an animal after it has passed away. If Mortality is a huge issue for you, check the fine print of your policy - is it an "agreed value" policy or not? Agreed value means that if you insure the horse for $5000, you will get $5000 if the horse dies. If it is not an agreed value policy, the insurance may question the true value of the horse and require you to provide proof of training/competition results to justify the value. Mortality premium costs are calculated according to what the horse is insured for.

There are also colic rider policies you can purchase that will provide a bit of extra coverage for instances of colic.

When I first bought Lucy four years ago, I paid less than $1000 for her. I had her insured within a week for $5000, because that is the lowest policy I could purchase. I personally don't care about Mortality payouts; my major concern was and still is being able to provide the best veterinary care for Lucy. My insurance company at the time, Great American, calculated the premium for the insurance policy based on the value of the horse being insured. I chose to purchase insurance from Great American because they allowed $10,000 of Major Medical coverage for my horse even though she was only insured for $5000. Be careful when shopping for "cheap" policies. Generally the cheaper policies only provide as much MM coverage as Mortality, so with Lucy valued at $5000, some insurance companies would have only provided $5000 of MM. This would have only paid for about half of a colic surgery if she had needed one - NOT GOOD!

I used Great American for three years, until this past year, when they decided they would no longer provide Major Medical policies on horses valued under $15000. I decided to shop around for a different company, and chose American Equine Insurance. I chose them because they would give me $10,000 of MM coverage even if my horse was insured for only $5000 under her Mortality policy. I could have even bought a $15000 MM policy if I had wanted to. They also have NO co-pay for diagnostics, which is HUGE for me. This entire saga with the mystery lameness came out to about $4000, give or take a few dollars. I should be getting all of it, minus the farm call fees and my $300 deductible, back from the insurance company (if my vet ever completes his report and sends it to them!!!).

On that note, one very important thing to realize is that the vet hospital doesn't care if you have your horse insured or not. Unlike human insurance, the hospital will require that you pay the entire bill before you get your horse back. I had to do that with Tuft's and yeah, it sucked to write a cheque for 75% of the projected bill when I dropped her off (just shy of $2500), and then write another $800 cheque when I picked her up. Um, ouch! But they don't want to wait for you to process paperwork with your insurance company so unless you work out other arrangements like care credit or scheduled payments, expect to be writing a fat cheque to the hospital or vet, regardless if you intend to claim it against the insurance policy.

As for companies, the ones I see most frequently recommended are Great American (for horses valued at $15k or over only), Hallmark, Markel, and American Equine. When shopping, here are the things you should be most concerned about:

-is this policy an Agreed Value policy?
-does the policy require you to do "reasonable treatments" for your horse in order to get reimbursed if the horse dies? for instance, if the horse is colicking and you decide to euthanize, will the insurance pay out even if you don't attempt to save the horse with colic surgery?
Major Medical
-does this policy's value only go as high as the Mortality policy, or is it good for $10k? $15k?
-what is the deductible that you have to pay before the insurance starts covering things?
-is there a co-pay for diagnostics? some companies require a 20 or 30% co-pay for diagnostics. when you're talking about a $60 x-ray, that's not a big deal, but when you're talking about a $2500 bone scan, that's a lot of money!
-if the horse is diagnosed with some kind of a long-term issue, such as Cushings, that requires medication for the rest of its life, what type of coverage will your MM provide?
-if you make a claim on your policy, will the company then exclude that going forward? for instance, if your horse has a RF lameness and the vet determines that the horse has a small bone chip, and then the insurance company pays for the chip removal surgery and the horse recovers fully, is that RF then an exclusion on your policy? if yes, for how long? just a year, two years, or for the rest of your horse's life?

I absolutely 100% recommend going through an AGENT, not directly through the COMPANY. An Agent will act as your guide through the insurance process. A lot of times, they can get you a better rate than going directly through the company. They will help you decide which type of insurance to get, how much insurance you need, and which company to choose. Someone with a $100k show hunter may benefit from using a different company than someone with a $20k Novice level eventer. When shopping, ask questions -- lots of them!! Most agents work with a few different companies so when you're ready to call for info, make out a spreadsheet that you can fill in with values as the agent tells you about various options. A good spreadsheet might look like this:

Horse's name:
Insured value:

Agent's name:
Agent's contact info:

                                               Company 1          Company 2          Company 3

MM Premium
M Premium
MM Deductible
Diagnostics Co-pay
Mortality: Agreed Value?

So that is Major Medical and Mortality. Other types of policies are loss of use, which would reimburse you if your level 4 jumper were to pull a suspensory and never be able to jump again. That type of policy is VERY expensive because horses are stupid and they hurt themselves all the time. Beyond that, there are liability policies, farm policies, etc.

Hopefully this was helpful. Insurance can be scary, but if you are smart about the purchasing process, you will save yourself a lot of stress and money if your horse needs medical attention that you couldn't otherwise afford.

Monday, May 6, 2013

five very clean ponies, coming right up!

Congratulations to the winners of the Absorbine Try Pak contest:





and Kat!!

(yes, I can't count...there were five Try Paks in the box, not four, so we have a surprise extra winner!)

I've emailed all of you but if you didn't receive the email, let me know!

I had a pony-packed weekend that I need to update about, wahoo! After not riding for quite a while, my body is SORE this morning, but I am so happy I got some saddle time :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Absorbine Giveaway!

Surprise! Another giveaway, courtesy of Absorbine. I have four Showsheen Try Packs to give away to four lucky Lucy fans :)

These little bottles are PERFECT to take to a clinic for a quick touch-up, or a show, or even every day use. When you've used all of the product in each bottle, you can re-fill them instead of having to juggle big bottles of shampoo when you're bathing your horse.

To enter, leave a comment with your name and an email address, along with a link to a photo of your favourite horse looking shiny and lovely. If it's a Facebook link, please make sure it's public so we can all admire your beautiful ponies.

Contest ends on Sunday at 5pm! :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

straight out of a fairy tale

gorgeous light, gorgeous colour, gorgeous pony
her dapples are incredible this year!

oh hello there

and goodbye...

she got her feet done today and wanted to show her new kicks off ;)

she always has a little yahoo after she rolls. it cracks me up.