And poor Speedy. He has earned himself some HUGE bonus points for putting up with the endless pinching, tugging, pulling, and conking that he has endured this past week.
Holy freaking hell, people. This double bridle thing has simply been exasperating. I cannot, CANNOT, tell you how many times I have dismembered that double bridle in an effort to get the p e r f e c t fit.
And poor Speedy. He has earned himself some HUGE bonus points for putting up with the endless pinching, tugging, pulling, and conking that he has endured this past week.
Since we've been battling that abscess, I've taken the time to get him accustomed to the feel of two bits in his mouth before he has to work with them in his mouth.
Speedy loves his interactions with me, so when he is benched for any length of time, he's quick to feel left out. Bringing him out every day to not only check his abscess but play around with the double bridle lets him feel important. He doesn't really care what kind of attention he gets, so long as he gets some.
Like all double bridles, this one has what seems like an infinite amount of adjustments. After ruling out the baucher as the snaffle bit, the hanging rings made everything just too busy, I decided to use a regular bradoon as the snaffle. The next thing I had to decide was which bit to hang from the removable strap that goes over the crown piece.
My first instinct was to use that piece as the bradoon hanger. After more research though, I saw that many bridles that have this removable piece use it to hang the weymouth. So I gave that a try. That was an epic fail. I switched the bit back around so that the bradoon hangs from that strap and the weymouth from the fixed strap.
I also spent several days raising and lowering the snaffle and another few days raising and lowering the curb. Finding that happy medium where the snaffle rests just inside of the curb has not been easy.
The weymouth bit itself is a tricky beast. With shanks that rotate, it is very easy to slide the leather of the cheek piece into a shank that has rotated 180 degrees. If you're really inexperienced, like me, you might find yourself asking why the rein is attached to the front of the bit instead of the back.
Like most bridles with a crank noseband, convincing the noseband to maintain a round shape is not always easy. Every afternoon, I may have cursed a few times as I've tried to wedge the noseband in between the cheek pieces to "train" it into maintaining a round shape. The booger just won't stay where it's supposed to.
A week later, I think I finally have everything adjusted to where I like it. Of course, things may be different once I start actually riding Speedy with it. He may hate it. I may hate it. If so, we can always go back to a regular snaffle.
I don't think that's going to happen though. Speedy's a pretty good egg who tends to go along with whatever new thing I've come up with. For a few cookies, he's usually in.
I have far more to be thankful for than I probably deserve. I have a loving family, a nice house, a job with great hours and excellent pay, two dogs that know they're loved, and two horses that I adore.
On this day in particular, I'd like to say thank you for being a part of my everyday life. I write because I like to write, but it's the connections that I've made with other equine enthusiasts that make this little space so dear to me.
Thank you for stopping by and letting me part of your life.
Getting rid of a car (and a truck) and replacing it/them with a new truck is a lot like moving. You have to pack, sign A LOT of papers, swap out keys, unpack, and then figure out your new routine.
I think I am finally all settled in, but just like moving into a new house, nothing ever goes perfectly. I've had to make a few little adjustments over the past week. Figuring out my keys took longer than anything else.
Juke had a keyless ignition, one of my favorite inventions of all time. There was no actual key, just a fob, and as long as it was in my purse or pocket, I could start the car by pushing the button. I could also unlock my door by pushing the button on the handle. The best thing was that I couldn't lock my door if the fob was in the car, and believe me, I tried. About a million times.
We have an alarm system at our house. To deactivate the alarm, you enter the code at the door that leads from the garage into the house. Entering the code also unlocks the door. All of that means that I have been living a keyless lifestyle for four years. It has been fantastic.
As luck would have it, a few days before Newt arrived, our gage door suffered a fatal injury which meant replacing it. It's been ordered, but we can no longer use it until it is replaced. That means that I have had to park outside and can't use the keypad into the house. I now have to unlock the door with a key. It has been more than a little irritating to have to schlepp all of my stuff (work, barn, groceries, you name it) through the front door as I hear, "Disarm System Now... DISARM SYSTEM NOW... DISARM SYSTEM NOW" in an ever increasing tone of urgency.
Not only do I now have to use a key to unlock my front door, I also have to use a key to start my vehicle. First World problems, I know. Newt has a regular ignition, regular except for the shape of the key. It's a "switch blade" key. With the press of a button, a long narrow key pops out of the fob. Newt has keyless entry, but no one at the dealership where I bought the truck knew the code. Normally, I wouldn't have cared too much except that I have grown incredibly fond of not needing a key in my hand to unlock my door. I was also ridiculously concerned that I was going to lock my keys in the truck since I had grown lazy about knowing where the keys were. Juke wouldn't let me lock the keys inside, so I never thought twice about hitting the lock button.
Even after a half a dozen calls to the dealership in Paso Robles, no one could find the door lock code. Ultimately, I gave up and called my local dealership who immediately reassured me that they knew how to retrieve the code in fewer than 5 minutes. All it took a was a quick scan of the barcode located beneath my steering wheel. Suddenly, I was once again keyless - at least for locking and unlocking the door. I still need a key to start the engine, but at least I can liberate my keys if I accidentally lock them in the truck.
Besides getting the keys sorted out, there have been a few other getting to know you moments. I had to find a place for my Trailer-Aid to live. I had a great storage compartment behind Blue Truck's backseat, but Newt has under seat storage instead. The Trailer--Aid was too big, but it does fit nicely behind my saddle rack in the horse trailer.
I also had to find a place to store my road/travel kit. It has jumper cables, a mini air compressor, first aid supplies, flares, a flash light, and on and on. It's a handy thing to have, but it too lived behind Blue Truck's back seat. I am not sure I love where it is, but my choices are limited.
Just like moving into a new house, I immediately wanted to change the flooring on Newt. Blue Truck had a rubber floor, something we paid extra for. My husband had purchased WeatherTech FloorLiners for my Juke, something I can no longer live without. Newt has carpet and carpeted floor mats. Yeah, no. In fact, that's a hard no. Before Newt had been in the driveway for 48 hours, I was already clicking options to determine my floor's configuration on WeatherTech's website.
Rather than two mats, one for the right and one for the left, WeatherTech makes a single liner that stretches from the driver's side over the center hump to the passenger's side. As you would expect from WeatherTech, the liner fits precisely and snugly.
Since I go straight to the ranch after work without stopping by the house, my barn boots and clothes live behind my seat in the truck. No matter how well I rinse my boots before tossing them in the back, they're still dirty. No matter whether I touch a flake of hay of not, it still finds it's way to the truck. My back floor mats get dirtier than the driver's side mats do. I had to have a rear floor liner, too. Like the one for the front, this one is also a single piece that stretches all the way across the floor. I am insanely happy with how well both liners fit and look.
Were they cheap? No. The set, with tax and shipping, cost $266.86, but it was totally worth it. They fit better than the standard mats, and they really keep the dirt under control. I can either do a quick vacuum, or when they get really dirty, they pop right out and can be hosed off.
Newt and I are still getting to know each other, but I already love her. Nothing against Blue truck, but it's amazing how quiet "new" can be. Sirius Radio, Navigation, Blue Tooth, back up camera, and a dashboard computer that reads like a NASA switchboard don't hurt either.
I am looking forward to our next show so I can really flex Newt's engine muscles. That's the real reason for getting a truck like this, power. And I ready to start wielding it!
Speedy is "sound," but he's still recovering from last week's abscess.
Last week, I poulticed his foot until I found the abscess. When he seemed sound a few days later, I wrapped it with a Betadine compress for two days and then left him to finish healing on his own. A day later he was lame again.
I got out the hoof testers yet again to confirm that he was still sore where the first drainage hole was, and then I got to work with the hoof knife opening the hole up even wider and deeper. I repacked it with a Numotizine poultice and left it to percolate for three days.
I pulled the poultice, scraped it clean and put the hoof testers on again. He was a tiny bit sensitive at the hole, but you know, HOLE in his foot. I asked for a quick trot out on the pavement. He was a bit off, but then he jogged out sound on the grass. Hoping that the abscess had cleared, I packed it with gauze soaked in Betadine.
I next wrapped that in brown gauze. I find that the brown gauze stabilizes the Betadine soaked gauze pads and gives the whole thing a tiny bit more of a cushion.
Next, I use about three-quarters of a roll of a cohesive bandage like Vet Wrap or Co-flex, whatever I last bought on sale. This just keeps everything in place.
The last step is to secure the whole thing with duct tape. The more the better. I can't stress this enough. Use more than you think you need, and then throw on a few more strips. Personally, I use the wrap it around and around method followed by layers of strips. I like to do a layer running east and west followed by a layer running north and south. Sometimes, I then do another wrap around layer, or 4.
We're due for some very heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday. Even if Speedy looks sound this morning, I am rewrapping it through the weekend until the mud dries back up. Our December show is already off the table. I'm going to do my best to see that we make it to a spring show.
Keep your fingers crossed for us. We're in need of a little luck.
I have never been a bumper sticker type of person. In fact, I like my vehicles to be pretty nondescript. While I like subtle colors, we have had a couple of "loud" vehicles. My red Juke comes to mind as does our fiery red Honda Accord (sold long ago). The rest of my vehicles have been dark green, dark blue, dark gray, and Newt's color which was described as magnetic metallic. I insisted that that is NOT a color; it's an adjective, but whatever, it's subtle.
A few years ago though, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, gave me one of her Team Symphony stickers. Suddenly, I was a bumper sticker driver.
And then Chemaine gave me another one.
And then Chemaine gave me something for my license plate.
With that, it was on.
My Riding Warehouse sticker was first.
The Dressage Pony Store was next. If I need it to fit, this is where I am looking.
When I received that sticker from SaddleBox, I knew right where it was going.
Newt came to me free of any tags, so I remedied that right away.
Now I need another sticker from Chemaine for Newt. I sure hope she has some!
Well, I was right. Speedy's recent lameness was due to a baby abscess. After leaving the poultice on for two days, I pulled off the wrap and used my hoof testers to see if I could find a sore spot. Instead, when I squeezed the testers, I made a little hole. I practically squealed in delight. I knew those things were going to come in handy!
I quickly grabbed my hoof knife and pared away the softened sole to reveal a nice little hole. I dug around some more and found a teensy tiny black line which was the abscess track.
After trotting Speedy out to check for soundness, I gave my vet a call. He suggested I make the hole as wide and deep as I felt safe doing. The bigger and deeper the hole, the higher the probability would be that I opened it up far enough to let it drain all the way. I dug it out a bit more, and then on my vet's recommendation, I packed it with gauze soaked in Betadine and rewrapped it. A poultice serves to draw out the infection, while the Betadine serves to kill the infection.
Thankfully, my wrap held on through most of Wednesday's downpour. And even though the wrap came off a few hours before I got there, the gauze was still stuffed into the creases of the frog which protected the hole for just a few hours longer. Since Speedy was shivering in the rain, I took him for a walk to warm him up - I also had to blanket him for the first time in years. Walking him gave me a chance to do a soundness check though. He trotted out 100% sound on both the grass and the hard-packed driveway.
I would have liked to rewrap the hoof for another day, but his "dry" pasture was a lake. There was no way a bandage would stay on in that mess. Given that he was sound and the hole had filled in considerably, I left it to finish healing on its own.
And then on Thursday ... To be continued.
Peggy Klump is a former CDS president who lives in in my showing area. I've taken two lessons from her, and she's been my judge at least a few times. I am also very good friends with one of her former students. Since Peggy and I are "friends" on Facebook, this popped up on my feed on yesterday.
My Friend Jen puts on at least a dozen USDF-rated shows throughout the year. When USEF added the Safe Sport training to the list of things she had to verify for each competitor, her workload got even heavier. Having proof of training right there on the card will certainly make the job easier for show managers.
I haven't renewed my membership yet; I'll do it in December, but I am looking forward to a card that sports more information. Has anyone else already seen this?
Last week I told you that I ordered a double bridle for Speedy. Yes, I know that I had said we would continue on at Third Level in a snaffle bridle, but Speedy didn't get that memo. And as someone recently said to me, "What are horses for, if not to prove us wrong at almost every turn?"
I also told you that I ordered the double from The Dressage Pony Store which is owned by my friend, Valerie. I don't get any kickbacks from promoting her site by the way, but honestly, if you need something, check out her store. While her focus is on smaller equine athletes, she does carry a lot of stuff for the big guys, and her prices are truly hard to beat.
As soon as I unwrapped the bridle - Valerie always packages everything so prettily, I started oohing and ahhing. For $135, this bridle is a steal. It's from Harry's Horse, a European tack supplier that carries absolutely everything ever made for horses and riders. I can't speak to the quality of the rest of their products, but if they're even half as nice as this bridle, I'd definitely try some of their other stuff.
Admittedly, $135 is pretty dang cheap for a bridle, especially a double, and at that price point you can't expect much. Even so, this bridle delivers. The leather is much softer than I was anticipating, the stitching is tight and even, and the buckles and other hardware are stainless steel.
The crown piece, crank noseband, and browband are all nicely padded. The crank noseband tapers along the side, which is perfect for ponies and smaller horses. I ordered the cob. The noseband is also finished with patent leather, something I wasn't too sure I'd like. But as Valerie reassured me, it's actually pretty subtle, especially since the noseband is tapered.
The noseband, both bit hangers, and the throat latch are all rolled leather, which helps keep the bridle from overwhelming a smaller face. If you have a big guy, you probably don't even think of these things, but with ponies, Arabians, and other smaller breeds, the double bridle can cover a lot of real estate, something these smaller guys don't have a lot of.
The bridle also came with two sets of reins, one for the curb and one for the bradoon. I never expect a bridle's "free" reins to be anything worth keeping, especially so when the bridle costs about as much as a nice pair of reins. I was pleasantly surprised by what came with this bridle. Both sets are leather, and one set is lined with rubber grips. Both sets of reins are ¾" wide, and the final 18" - 19" are rolled to match the cheek pieces.
While the bridle is quite lovely, fit is really the key. So how did it fit Speedy G? Take a look.
Poor Speedy; he was not a fan. He didn't fight me over anything, but he worked those bits furiously. All double bridles have a lot of buckles, but when you're not experienced at positioning everything, the process takes a while which didn't make it any easier for Speedy.
I actually quite like the gray stitching which pairs nicely with Speedy's white coat, and the patent leather on the noseband is subtle in a good way. I am not sure whether I'll use the baucher as my bradoon which is how I have it set up now, or a traditional bradoon which I also have.
I'll feel better when Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has a chance to make adjustments. For now, I'll spend the week just putting it on and taking it off so Speedy can get used to having so much hardware in his mouth.
And of course once the new browband comes in, it'll look really nice! Thank you, Dressage Pony Store!
I rode Speedy on Thursday, gave him a visual inspection on Friday, and then tacked him up on Saturday morning. On the walk up to the arena, he took a few funky steps, but I waited until we were in the arena to ask for a trot out. Yep. Lame. But of course. I just bought him a new bridle.
The older (and presumably wiser?) I get, the less this stuff freaks me out. Don't misunderstand, I am not happy he's lame, but I also know that this too shall pass. Or it won't. Worrying myself sick about it won't change the outcome.
There's no heat or swelling or sign of an injury, so it's most likely an abscess, which has happened many times before, or it's a bruise. The only thing that will heal a bruise is time, so that's an easy fix. To check for an abscess, I pulled out my brand new hoof testers and squeezed for all I was worth. I have no idea how hard you really have to squeeze, probably harder than I can do, but he didn't react. I did notice that he didn't want to land on his heal during a trot out though, so I am guessing it's a brewing abscess.
Bandaging, whether it's for an abscess or a wound, is one thing that I am really good at. And the good thing with applying a poultice is that it can't hurt if there isn't an abscess, but it will help if there is. Speedy's been down this "sudden onset lameness" road so many times over the past few years that I feel pretty confident that an abscess is the issue.
And if it's not, well, then it's not. Either way he's definitely getting a few days off which is easy to do when you work full time and it's dark by 5:00.
Fingers crossed. Although for what I am not sure.
All my life I dreamed of owning my own truck and trailer. Every single time I passed a truck and trailer motoring down the road, I stared longingly with envy, certain that the driver had to be the happiest human being on the planet.
When I was 29 years old, we bought Blue Truck, our second truck, but the first truck big enough to pull a trailer. A few months later we bought the trailer, a two-horse with living quarters. I really and truly thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I could not have been happier. The very first weekend that we had that trailer we went to the Sunland 50-mile endurance race. Having my own transportation meant I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
My childhood dreams did not disappoint. Having a truck and trailer has been been just as awesome as I always imagined it to be. In the mid-2000s, my first trailer was stolen, so I replaced it with the model I have now, a Silverlite three-horse with living quarters.
That 2000 F250 Super Duty 4x4 with a Triton V-10 engine was still around though, doing her job with nary a complaint. The second trailer was bigger, but even at 15 years old, Blue Truck did her job. As you already know, last week I finally decided to trade her in for a younger model. A less likely to break down model. Something with a 100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty.
When I told my students that I was trading in Blue Truck for a new truck, they laughed and said I should call the new truck, NEW TRUCK, because it rhymed with Blue Truck. Kids are funny. And often times right. Instead of New Truck, I shortened it to New T, or Newt.
While Newt is new to me, she's actually been around the block already. Newt is a 2019 model with only 22,000 miles on her. Buying slightly "used" saved me about $15,000. Newt is a Ford F250 6.2L Power Stroke Diesel. She has four-wheel drive, a crew cab (which seats 6), and an 8' long bed.
Before shopping for a new truck, I made a list of absolute must haves, things I wouldn't compromise on no matter what. On my list was a Ford F250 with a diesel engine. It had to be no older than 2018 and have less than 30,000 miles. It also had to have Blue Tooth, navigation, and a built in trailer brake. And I needed all of that for around $50,000.
Surprisingly, it didn't take me long to find almost what I was searching for, and actually, I got a lot more than I needed. Newt came with four-wheel drive, something I didn't need, but it's nice to have. Newt checked off all of the boxes except for one. There was no navigation system. Paso Robles Ford was interested in a sale though, so they got creative pretty quickly.
It turns out that replacing a Sync system without navigation for one with navigation is pretty simple to do. In fact, it only took a few hours. With the navigation installed on a 2019 F250 diesel with well under 30,000 miles, I signed on the dotted line. Since the navigation unit had to be ordered and installed, I asked that Paso Ford also arrange for the installation of the gooseneck hitch. I am super pleased with how that turned out.
The truck is now ready for hauling. The ball is installed and a wiring harness was also installed in the truck bed. The truck comes with the wiring for the plug at the bumper, but that doesn't work too well for gooseneck hitches, so now I have one installed in the bed itself.
Yesterday, I hooked up to the trailer. It took me a minute as I needed to get my bearings; Blue Truck had a short bed while Newt has a long bed, a difference of about two feet. After a few back and forths, I had everything lined up. I've been hooking up by myself for almost twenty years. Newt might be longer, but the process is the same.
After adjusting the mirrors and checking that the lights and brakes were working, I took the trailer for a short drive. All I did was drive the trailer out through the neighborhood and back, but that short little jaunt left me feeling quite impressed. I couldn't even feel the trailer back there.
After unhooking, I took Newt to the gas station and topped off the tank. Blue Truck's tank was around 25 gallons, but its fuel mileage was so poor that I had to get gas before I hit 200 miles. Newt's tank? It's HUGE! It will cost a fortune to fill it up, but at least I can get to a show and back without needing to stop for diesel. Twice. Sorry, Blue Truck. Your mph kind of sucked in your old age.
All that's left to do is actually go somewhere.