Aren't there rules about that sort of thing? What's the time limit anyway?
You get three guesses, one for each braid, to figure out why I would be braiding Izzy's mane. Yep. We're going to a show on Sunday.
When Speedy didn't make it to RAAC, I realized that my biggest goal for the season, earning our Bronze Medal, wasn't going to happen (yet). In light of that, it didn't seem like there were a whole lot of reasons to take him to the final Tehachapi show of the season as it's only CDS-rated. While Speedy and I might have earned two more scores for our annual plate, I was more interested in getting Izzy some show miles.
Back in 2016, I took Izzy to 4 schooling shows and a CDS show in Tehachapi. He kept his act (mostly) together for those shows, but his tension was so high that we scored solidly in the 50s. We even earned a 49%. Twice. Once Speedy was recovered from whatever injury he had in 2016, Izzy went back to school and hasn't shown since.
Speedy's not injured, but it's finally time to start doing something with Izzy. When I sat down to fill out the entry form, I entered all of my association numbers and wrote Izzy's RPSI name in the horse section. As my pen hovered over Level and Test, I paused. For a really long time. I paused for days actually. I just didn't know at what level we should show. He has a pretty nice half pass. His stretchy trot is lovely. He can do simple changes when he's really connected. His medium trot is still developing. Basically, we're schooling many of the movements from First to Third Level.
Then it dawned on me that my purpose isn't to show off anything. I am not trying to get a judge's opinion on the quality of any of the movements. I don't really care about his canter through trot at X or whether his trot lengthening showed a difference. All I want to see is if he can get in the ring and not lose his marbles. I decided that he can reliably do all of the movements at Training Level, so we're doing T1 and T3.
I have no idea how we'll do. At home, I can now work with him even when he's tense and anxious. When he's relaxed, which is most of the time, he's Mr. McDreamy. When he's tense, he looks it, but at least he'll still play ball. Hopefully our first ride time isn't too early because we're going to need a long warm up.
Aren't there rules about that sort of thing? What's the time limit anyway?
I wanted to be unimpressed. I wanted to be disappointed. I was neither. Holy smokes, people, the Haas magic is real. It's a thing, and I am now under the spell.
I needed to spend just a few dollars more on a recent Riding Warehouse purchase in order to get free shipping, so I searched through their collection of Haas brushes until I found one that seemed like it would suit my needs without breaking the bank. I ended up choosing the Haas Fellglanzburste Grooming Body Brush. The list price is $16.95, but with a 15% discount code, I only paid $14.41. I've spent more on lesser brushes for sure.
Out of the box, there were no sparks or love at first site. It wasn't as soft as I was expecting, and the handle felt sturdy but not magical. Haas prides themselves on the quality of their bristles, so I was a bit disappointed to notice that one of the holes on the edge was missing its bristles. It didn't seem worth sending it back though, so I tried it out on Yellow Dog who thought it was the best brush she'd ever felt. I was reserving judgement.
My favorite grooming tool of all time is a jelly scrubber, those plasticky things that run around $4.00. I have several that are now old enough to be super flexible. Both of my horses like them, and they work equally well in winter or summer. They are the first tool I grab, and sometimes the only tool I use.
Since Speedy was particularly crusty on Saturday morning, I dug into his coat with the jelly scrubber. I can scrub pretty vigorously along his neck, shoulders, belly, and hind quarters, but I have to use a much lighter touch across his back. Here's what the jelly scrubber lifted out of his hind end.
After a solid going over with the jelly scrubber, I took out the Haas Fellglanzburste. I am not going to lie. Within about three strokes I was hooked. I cannot explain it, but the brush felt ... alive in my hand. I could feel the bristles working their way through Speedy's coat, almost like my own fingers. But best of all was that he let me use firm pressure all over his whole body, including his back!
It was almost addictive. I brushed and brushed and brushed and brushed removing layer after layer of deep dirt. Speedy never fussed or grew tired of the grooming session, and he's not the biggest fan of being groomed. The brush worked equally well on the larger areas as it did on his legs and even his face (I was quite gentle there).
I found that shorter strokes helped lift the dirt from his skin, and then a gentle flick sent it off his coat without settling back down. After grooming his whole body, his coat felt clean and soft, almost as a good as after a shampoo.
I also used the brush on Izzy who responded in the same way. He is slightly less picky than Speedy, but he does let me know if I am too firm with the jelly scrubber. He never flinched with the Fellglanzburste brush.
This brush is of a medium stiffness, but it worked great on both of my horses' fine summer coats. I don't know how it will do on heavy winter coats, but now that I've tried one of the Haas brushes, I will definitely be adding more. And fortunately for me, there is a huge selection from which to choose.
Which ones are you using?
Speedy has had 4 abscesses in the past 8 months. He's 15 years old but had never had one before this past winter. There is no doubt that the abscesses are directly related to his Cushing's Disease diagnosis.
I tend to be pretty proactive in the vet care department. When I know I can't treat something, I call the vet immediately. But by keeping my med kit well stocked, I find that life is a lot easier. For one, emergencies are a lot less stressful, and two, I can pretty effectively treat most run-of-the-mill injuries, and even some not so basic issues, all without the need for a visit from the vet. Izzy's recent eye wound comes to mind. There is still a small area that needs to finish healing, but having saline solution and an irrigation syringe handy probably saved me a vet bill.
When Speedy developed a hoof abscess earlier this month, I was thankful to have had plenty of bandaging material and Numotizine in my med kit. While I didn't use all of the Numotizine, I put a pretty big dent in the tub. So much so that the next time he abscesses, I'll only have enough for one or two wraps.
I was also unbelievably lucky that my farrier showed up while I was on the phone with the vet. Within 10 seconds he was able to diagnose an abscess which saved me a long trip across town and a vet bill. He was able to make such a quick diagnosis because he had hoof testers and a hoof knife at his finger tips. I'll give you a quick guess as to what now resides in my med kit.
Yep. I bought myself hoof testers and a hoof knife. While there are many hoof testers on the market, I reasoned that I didn't need a professional grade pair. I won't be using them that often, and with any luck, never again, so I went with a modest pair. I ended up ordering the Tough 1 Pro Hoof Tester 13" from the Riding Warehouse. At $29.95, less with a 15% coupon code, they're perfect.
Not wanting to be a total chick about my new tool, I cut away the wrapper and actually made sure I knew how to use it before a crisis strikes. I poked around at both Speedy's and Izzy's hooves trying to determine just how hard I need to squeeze. I eventually realized that I can squeeze as hard as I can without getting a reaction on a healthy hoof.
You'll notice that I also bought a hoof knife. It's a fairly cheap one, but again, I don't plan on needing it very often. It's a stainless steel, double edged knife that feels good in my hand. It seems sharp, but I didn't test it out. I actually hope I never need to use it. At $3.95, it's practically disposable anyway.
And since I was prepping for future abscesses, I decided to restock my dwindling supply of Numotizine. My last tub was half this size and cost $40 (from the vet). This tub, a full 3 pounds, ran me only $33 including free shipping from Amazon. Amazon Prime is the best "club" we belong to.
Here's to hoping that neither of my horses ever abscesses again, but if they do, I am armed and ready!
I recently saw this meme on Facebook and spent a ridiculously long time pondering which button I would press. I can be quite literal, so even though I regularly play the I Just Won the Lottery; What Would I Buy? game, I had a hard time choosing which button to press given my current living/financial situation. If I had my own horse property, the answer would be easy, but I don't, so here's why only one of those buttons works for me.
The Red Button - How would this work if you board your horse though? Where would I store it? Does it mean I get free board? The hay might be free, but the horses I would want to feed aren't. I have to skip this button.
The Yellow Button - Unless I am getting free hay, I don't need another horse. Can I get Valegro and then sell him and use the money to buy a new truck and an African Safari? Probably not. Does the free horse come with its vet bills and board paid for because if not, I have to decline. Sorry, Valegro.
The Orange Button - Unless I get to spend the million dollars buying my own property, this option would only be fun for about 45 minutes. After that, I would run out of stuff to buy. Even $10,000 would be hard to spend. I have to say no.
The Purple Button - Yes please, oh my stars this would be AMAZING! In our brutal summers, I could easily charge people for a shaded place to ride. But when I change barns someday, do I get to take it with me? No? Then never mind.
The Green Button - Shows aren't that expensive, and I am nearing 50. How many more years do I have left to show? Not enough to make this option even a possibility. A hard pass, thank you.
So which button does that leave? Yep, the blue one. This is the one thing that I can take with me wherever I live. And in fact, as I get older, I am going to need a lot of free training to start the next youngster who makes its way into my barn. And with free training for life, who needs a free horse? With enough training, a young project will hopefully turn into the "free horse" that everyone else wants.
What about you? Which button would you press?
I wish I had new pictures or video of Izzy working. That boy is really starting to come along. Of course, part of that might be just that it's hot. We'll see how how I feel on the first crispy day of fall/winter. I might be whistling a totally different tune by then.
For now, I am very happy with how things are going with my big brown, er, buckskin horse. Our work routine begins with long and stretchy, followed by work hard, and then finished off with longer and stretchier.
To keep him listening, I alternate between the ported correction bit and a dressage legal snaffle. He goes in the ported bit after he's had a day or two off - I like to remind him that I have brakes if I need them. Otherwise, he goes in the dressage legal bit.
I wish that the rules on bits were a little more lenient. Izzy loves, loves, loves the ported bit. He slurps it right up, and packs it around so quietly. He's soft in his neck and poll and practically sighs as he sucks on it like it's his own thumb. I hook the chain loosely so it never actually connects. He just likes how this bit feels.
The loose ring snaffle, the second one from the bottom, is the legal snaffle bit that he's been going in over the past year or two. While he accepts it, he's not in love with it like he is with the ported bit shown at the bottom. And lately, he's gotten a bit stiff in it and leans on my hands. On a whim, I decided to try another of my snaffles to see how he would do. He absolutely grew to hate the one at the top, but I had never tried the one below it.
While they appear nearly identical, there is actually a lot of difference between the two, which I never noticed before. When I compared the two bits side by side, I realized that the lozenge is positioned differently in each bit. The lozenge in the top bit lies flat on the tongue, while the lozenge in the bottom bit is angled up. Also different is the change of metal. The top bit is a Mikmar with a Cupreon, a copper alloy, mouthpiece. The second bit is a stainless steel JP Korsteel with a copper oval link.
The first day I rode him in the Korsteel, he was actually quite happy to pack it around, but he did chew on it nonstop. He was even better the next day slurping up the bit as though he had worn it daily for months. I've now ridden him in that bit at least a half dozen times, and he's just gotten happier and happier with it.
Un like the mouthpiece of the loose ring, the mouthpiece in the JP Korsteel moves making it easier for me to isolate one shoulder or the other. He also gives me better lateral flexion in his poll and neck.
I can't say that this bit is the solution to all of our problems, but for now, he seems pretty happy in it. And as a bonus, it's dressage legal.
Not like we're showing or anything. Or are we?
Moving Speedy to live next door to Izzy was the best decision I've made since ... well, since the last good decision I made. Sometimes I make good decisions in quick succession, other times, it takes me a really long time to figure out a solution.
Before moving in to the other half of Izzy's dry pasture, Speedy lived just a few feet behind where I was standing when I took this photo. For the first two years he lived at the ranch, he and Willy alternated who got to be out in the pasture and who stayed in their paddocks. They always shared a fence line. Over the past year, Willy left, Pixie, who lived in the adjacent pasture, was moved to live with Archie, and then Rocky also came and went.
Even before all that coming and going, Speedy was never all that happy living where he did. He paced and whirled if anyone left his sight. He walked the fence line at night. He just seemed anxious. Now? He still walks the fence line, and he still whinnies, but all the drama and angst are gone. Now he meanders and whinnies in that drawn out do I need to call you a wambulance? kind of way.
Given the depth of some his trails, he must do a lot of his walking at night because I never see him doing anything other than standing at the fence line with Izzy. And up until this week, I was at the barn for at least 4 hours every single day. Here's a close-up of the trail above.
When we first moved in, the ranch owner wondered why I didn't put the two horses side by side. Truthfully, I worried about them becoming even more herd bound than they already were. In the end, Speedy got what he wanted. No surprise there.
Having Speedy next door has made Izzy happier too. He's a lot quieter - he doesn't kick and bang on all of his toys or the fence or the gate anymore. Resting his toe on the rung of the gate while tapping it loudly used to be one of his favorite past times. Well, that and stomping on his over-turned feeder. He still digs, but the holes are for rolling and aren't nearly as numerous or as deep.
Who knew that bringing Speedy into the middle of everything would make him so much happier? I should have known better. Speedy always needs to be the center of attention. He now has Izzy next door, 3 horses to his north, and 4 horses to his south. He can see and be seen by every horse on the ranch. He lives to be admired, and if not by me, his peeps are the next best thing.
Super quick post - I am officially back to work as of yesterday, but it seems as though both horses are over their individual maladies. Universe, I am knocking on wood, so please refrain from sending me some other inconveniently irritating issue with which to contend.
When I got to the barn yesterday, Izzy had some dried tears on his face, but otherwise, his eye was clear with no swelling or obvious irritation. The cut in the corner looked much better. I didn't bother with syringing it since it looked perfectly healthy. I did cover his face with Swat though.
Yesterday, Speedy, who has walked through about 10 miles of duct tape over the past week, looked like he was ready to be ridden. I trotted him in hand over grass and the hard packed driveway on Saturday, and he looked 98% sound. I actually considered loading him up for the drive to Paso Robles to try and make Sunday's portion of the show. Sunday is the RAAC. And then common sense reared its very adult head.
The silver lining was that Speedy looked sound even if it was two days too late. I packed his foot with Numotizine over the weekend just in case there was a bit more of the abscess brewing.
I saddled him up yesterday afternoon even though it was 95*. I did our usual walking warm up which now includes lots of half passing. When he felt sound, I asked him to pick up a trot. It was flat and lazy, but it was even without the hint of a hitch. My plan was to do as much as he was okay doing. Before I knew it, we did a few medium trots across the diagonal along with some shoulder in to half pass. And just to really check his soundness, I asked for a canter with some flying lead changes.
And darn it all if he didn't nail them perfectly! While the October show at SCEC was only on my calendar as a back up plan, I am now planning on going for sure. It's a two-day USDF show, so it gives me another chance at earning a Bronze Medal score.
And then there's that show in December at El Sueno ...
Every summer and winter, Izzy's coat gets super light. This summer, I decided to try and keep the luxurious seal brown it gets in the spring and fall. I don't even recognize this horse. I don't think he's been that color since 2015.
This spring, I started topdressing his feed with Horse Guard's Flaxen Flow, a cold-pressed flaxseed oil. He's been on it for 5 months. It didn't keep his coat dark, but his coat is a lot shinier and softer than in summers past, and he has even kept some of his spring/fall dapples.
I now suspect that this color, this buckskin-esque blond, might be his natural summer/winter color while the seal brown is his spring/fall color. His RPSI Pferdepass (passport) lists his color as dunkelbraun, which translates as dark brown or black brown. Or in Izzy's case, just brown.
In other news, the big dunkelbraun horse really did a number on his eye over the weekend. There should be a rule that owners with more than one horse will never be required to medically treat more than one at a time. With Speedy's abscess needing daily packing and bandaging, it is not fair to also have to syringe and scrub out Izzy's eye.
The reason I have to keep such a well-stocked medical kit is because I need it at least three times a week. Someone is always whacking or scraping something, usually both at the same time. On Friday, Izzy probably laid down too close to the fence because his left foot had some gouges near his pastern and his left eye looked as though he'd been in a fight in which he lost. He has a small cut in the corner that's below his ear.
After hosing off his face and then scrubbing it with a soft towel, none of which he appreciated, I repeatedly syringed his eye with saline solution. He didn't appreciate that treatment either. I hand-grazed him for a while and realized that his eye wasn't affecting his soundness or his appetite, so I saddled him up and rode. Afterward, the eye was less swollen but still oozing.
The next morning, the ooze and swelling were gone, but the cut in the corner of his eye looked a bit more pronounced. I syringed it with more saline solution, and then I rode him. He seemed just fine. Eye injuries can quickly turn into something scary though, ask my friend Sarah whose gelding fought for three months to keep his own eye, so I am keeping a careful "eye" on things.
And finally, do you remember the photo I posted a few weeks ago of the new bunny who moved in? Well, he's getting tamer by the minute. He now comes running when he sees me pull up because he knows he's getting a handful of senior feed. Izzy introduced himself by pressing his nose deeply into the bunny's fur and taking a big long whiff. The poor bunny just hunkered down praying that Izzy wouldn't carry him off as breakfast. And that was it. Once Izzy satisfied his curiosity, the bunny was welcome to share his feed.
Life with horses is definitely not dull. There is always something to celebrate, medicate, or simply contemplate. It's what keeps me coming back for more.
Yep. We qualified for the California Dressage Society's Central Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) on the very last day. It's this weekend. Like I said in an earlier post, I was fine with not having qualified. I had already decided that it was too expensive anyway, and my money would be better spent on Speedy's vet bill (I kid you not, that thing is STILL sitting on my credit card).
And then I got a wild hair and threw caution out the window. I downloaded the premium and realized that entries had closed the day before. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? I filled out the entry, paid my late fee, and started packing (mentally anyway.)
And then on Tuesday, Speedy trotted off lame. I shook my head in disbelief. It was hard to be too mad about it, especially since I had only just decided to go to the show a week before. I pulled his tack and got on the phone with the vet.
The only way to get even part of the entry back, which was a hefty one, was with a letter from a veterinarian. Just as my call was answered, my farrier, who was not supposed to come on Tuesday, pulled up the driveway! I quickly explained to the office manager that Speedy was lame, but I was going to have the farrier take a look, and I'd call her back.
My farrier put the hoof tester on the right front, and wham-o! Speedy flinched pretty hard. A quick flick with the hoof knife revealed a small abscess track. My farrier dug down until a bit of blood appeared, but the abscess didn't drain. He was certain that the infection was higher up near the heels.
A summertime abscess here in the land of baking heat is not so common unless your horse has Cushing's Disease. Before this past winter, Speedy had never abscessed in his life. It was three abscesses in quick succession that suggested to my vet that we should test for adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Speedy's numbers came back just above normal, so we started him on daily Pergolide (Prascend). My farrier was certain this abscess was related to Speedy's Cushing's Disease.
After some back and forth discussion, we decided to pack the hoof with Numotizene and cross our fingers. My farrier said it just might drain in time for the show, but if it got worse, I was to call him so he could clean it out some more.
Sadly, it didn't get any worse, but it hasn't improved either. Yesterday, I sent an email to the show secretary telling her that Speedy and I had to withdraw. I attached the letter my vet had provided. I'll get most of my entry fee back, but I may need it to pay for this damn abscess if it won't drain on its own.
I've already called my farrier and asked if he can come back out to dig deeper, but I haven't heard back from him. Hopefully this thing resolves over the weekend. I go back to work officially on Monday, so it's going to be a lot harder to get Speedy into the vet to deal with this.
Hell's bells; it's always something.
Those two things are what I now think about during my rides on both Speedy and Izzy. They seem like such simple ideas, but I am suddney feeling them at a whole different level. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has said each of those things to me (A LOT) - consistency of frame and self-carriage, over the past two months. In this sport, you only realize how much you don't know once you learn, or in my case, feel something new.
Revisiting the purpose of a level is something I like to do occasionally, especially when we get stuck or find ourselves plateauing. For Third Level, the purpose is:
Before I go any further, I have to explain that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. quote. We were watching Sunday's NASCAR race at Watkins Glen when we heard Dale Earnhardt, Jr. poke fun at Kyle Petty. Before the race started, Kyle Petty, a retired driver, took Olympic diver, David Boudia, on a "joy ride" around the 2.5 mile track. At the corners are these really bumpy sections called rumble strips. They can wreak havoc on a car's suspension if the drivers hit them wrong. Dale Jr. had suggested that Kyle Petty hit them pretty hard to give Boudia a taste of what a real lap at Watkins Glen feels like. When Junior saw the "joy ride," he quipped to Petty, "I am not too proud of your commitment," referring to Petty's soft approach to the rumble strips.
I just about died laughing. It was hilarious and struck me as something that trainers, especially mine, would say to a half-hearted attempt at anything. I can just picture Chemaine's face as we come through the corner hitting those "rumble strips" softly instead of half halting and revving up Speedy's engine.
So what was I saying? Oh, yeah - self-carriage. I know what that means of course, but now, Speedy has to actually DO IT, and I need to show some commitment by insisting he DO IT. For us to bump up our scores to the 60s, Speedy needs better engagement. He cannot rest on my hands. Instead, he has to start carrying even more of his own weight, especially since I now feel what that means.
For so long, Speedy has felt that a half halt was me saying you've done something wrong. Chemaine pointed out that means I need to be doing a lot more of them so he figures out it simply means he needs to rebalance himself.
When the half halt goes through correctly and he actually sits down a bit, the canter is a totally different thing. And now that I've felt that more collected canter, I want it all. the. time. When he shows more engagement in the canter, his shoulders lift which makes the canter half pass much easier.
We haven't fixed everything this week, but simply riding with the need for self-carriage in my mind is definitely improving everything. I am already looking forward to next year's show season. We'll have all winter to get really confirmed at Third Level.
Especially if we show some commitment.