Since it only rains about 6 times a year here, the wait for rain strategy doesn't work for us. What do you all do for dust control?
On the day before we left for Canada (blog post about that coming soon), the ranch owners did another application of their dust control product, ArenaKleen (by Dirt Glue). I blogged about this process before (and here).
Pretty much everything you'd want to know about the product is on the label above. If you read the label, you'll see that it's an organic blended severely hydrotreated dust suppressant. Yeah ... doesn't help me out much either, but who cares since the stuff really and truly works.
For such a hi-tech product, the application is super simple. You just spray it on with a garden hose. Getting it out of the container is the hardest part. The ranch owners used a portable, high powered water pump.
When the ranch owners treated the arena nearly two years ago, they applied four containers. Since it has held up so well, they only needed to apply two containers this time. With two hoses dispensing, both containers were emptied in under two hours.
When they were finished, the footing looked wet, but it was rideable that same day. Even when dragged, the footing will continue to be darker than the dirt outside of the arena. Before this new application of ArenaKleen, there was no dust in the air when I rode, but some low-hanging dust was beginning to form with each footfall. No more. I rode yesterday and there were absolutely zero dust poofs.
Since the arena didn't need all of the second container, they sprayed the round pen as well. I don't use it very often, but since Izzy hadn't been ridden in two weeks, I started him in there yesterday so he could blow off some steam. That footing was also dust free. Not just mostly, but completely dust free.
Since DirtGlue's website doesn't list the price per container, you know it's expensive. But really, what equine related product isn't? This is probably not a feasible dust control solution for most backyard horse owners, but if you run a larger facility, the price of ArenaKleen might be cheaper than your water bill - especially if you live in California where water is in short supply.
After years of dragging sprinklers around to ineffectively water my riding space, it is so nice to just hop on without having to water or deal with dust. My ponies better mind their manners because I am not getting kicked out of this place! I'll get new ponies if it comes down to it. Kidding. Not really.
Since it only rains about 6 times a year here, the wait for rain strategy doesn't work for us. What do you all do for dust control?
It's getting hot here; nothing like it will be, and so far nothing like it was last summer, but I just didn't feel like riding yesterday. Speedy and I are in frenemies territory, and Izzy is once again being a jackass - bit issues, but nothing that I can't overcome. Anyway, instead of riding, I started packing for this weekend's two-day show.
As I pulled in, I spotted a mama skunk with a bunch of babies in tow. It seemed a little late in the morning for them to still be out, but you know how kids are. It's hard to get anywhere on time when you have to take the whole family. I drove by slowly, I am cautious when it comes to stink bombs, but despite their ability to ruin my day, they were very, very cute.
#2 & #3
My dogs almost never go to the ranch with me as the arena is up by the road, and I don't trust them to stay on the property while I am riding. When I tugged on a pair of shorts (instead of breeches) and grabbed my purse, tails started wagging in excitement; they knew they were going. Even though it was unusual for me to take them, they didn't care. Cars and trucks are magical things, and they are always up for an adventure.
I parked my car and let them run around for a bit, but then we hiked over to my truck and trailer so I could hook up. I didn't want to call my husband telling him that I ran over a dog, so I loaded them in the truck with me while I backed up to the trailer. That really threw them for a loop, but like I said, cars and trucks are wonderful things and not to be questioned.
With heads hanging out the window, I pulled around to the barn to load up some of my stuff for the show. Dogs aren't always the smartest crayons in the box. When I opened the door, they leaped out excitedly, eager to check out someplace "new."
After I stuffed Speedy's hay bag with grass hay, I moved on to the alfalfa. As I was filling my half bale bag, I actually looked at it. I've owned that blue bale bag since 1997, but I never see it anymore. It's become as old and familiar as the 27 blue buckets I have laying around. Okay, maybe not 27, but close.
After I wedged it into the trailer, I caught what was written on the top and smiled.
Back when I was still competing in endurance races, and I am sure things haven't changed that much, ride managers had a lot of creative ways to entice riders to come back. For our winter desert rides, the three different race managers put together a three-show series. In order to compete for the series prize, you had to pay a small entry fee declaring that you were "in" for the Triple Crown.
If you got pulled from any of the three races or you weren't able to compete at all, you lost your money. If you completed all three races, you earned the prize. In 1997, it was a half bale bag. You'd think it would be an easy accomplishment, but it was much harder to do than you would think. I was really proud of that bag and the accomplishment that it represented. Seeing it yesterday brought back some fond memories.
I've already shared how Izzy's coat fades pretty dramatically over the summer. I am not sure my strategy to prevent that is working very well, but his coat did catch my eye yesterday.
His barrel is definitely lightening up, but that's not what I noticed. Izzy is registered with the Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) warmblood registry and sports their brand on his left hip. I can rarely see it unless he's all shed out.
I always think of his brand as a secret tattoo that only I am allowed to see. He's actually the third branded horse I've owned. Montoya DSA, an Arabian, was freeze branded on her neck, and Sydney, a New Zealand Thoroughbred that I previously owned, was branded on both shoulders.
In general, when I am at the barn, I ride. I have to say though that it was kind of fun just puttering around without riding. There's a lot more going on than what you'd think.
Wow. Yesterday's post about konking my noggin generated a fair amount of discussion. I am glad for that actually. Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog post about having open discussions when a concussion has occurred. You can read it here.
I've been an avid helmet wearer since the mid-1990s. Before that, I didn't know they made helmets for equestrians. Since buying my first helmet, I've worn one religiously ever since. While a helmet has saved my butt more than once, I've stilled had a few concussions.
The first one happened in the mid-1980s. I was galloping bareback, something we did every day, when my mare took a hard turn. I tumbled over her shoulder and landed on my head. I blacked out, and when I came to, I was at a friend's house with amnesia. I knew who I was, but I had no idea of what year it was or how old I was. I was taken to the emergency room, and after a few days, most of my memory returned.
The next one, while not formerly diagnosed as a concussion, happened while I was picking out a mare's feet. I was bent over when she snapped a hind leg up to her belly to knock away a fly, whacking me in the process. I didn't hit the ground, but I definitely blacked out for a moment. While I had a sore spot on my head, I was otherwise okay.
The same mare, her name was Montoya, gave me yet another bang on the head when she kicked me in the face when I opened the trailer door. She let fly with both feet catching me in the face, chest, and arm. Not only did she whack my head, she cut my cornea and bruised the hell out of my arm. My ears rang for quite some time after that impact. I went to the emergency room for that one.
Speedy has given me two pretty good bumps on the head. The first time, he spooked, bolted, and launched me into a metal pole. My helmet was crushed in the back, my shoulder was separated, and I was pretty beat up. My husband hauled ass to the emergency room yet again.
The second time Speedy tossed me on my head was at a show. We had the first ride of the morning, and besides being quite fresh, he was young and stupid. I swung my leg over and he bolted before I could get my butt in the saddle. I hung on for a while as he bucked and bolted, but he eventually got me off. My head hit the ground hard enough to tear up my helmet, but I never blacked out. My butt took the worst of the impact.
I share all of these mishaps with you to let you know that I don't take getting bashed in the skull lightly. With that said, it's happened enough times that I feel pretty confident about when I need to see a doctor. From Saturday morning until Monday morning, my husband kept a very close eye on me. We spent Sunday driving to the beach for lunch, and then hung out by the pool on Sunday evening. I never had any of the symptoms that many concussed people feel. Other than being very tender to the touch, all systems were normal.
Concussions are a big deal and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) add up. I get it. I worry that the next time will be the last time. I wear a helmet every time I am in the saddle and when I am lunging. While it would be safer to wear a helmet the entire time I am at the barn, I don't want to live in a perpetual state of worry.
Accidents just happen.
In case you haven't seen it yet on social media, Riding Warehouse is offering two different kinds of gift cards if you buy fly stuff. The website doesn't say how long the sale is going to last, so I placed my order over the weekend.
I took advantage of this offer before, and if I remember correctly, they sent the gift card as long as you bought something fly related. This year, you have to actually purchase a full $50 or $100 worth of fly stuff. I know because I checked. I had a fly mask and fly spray in my cart along with one or two other items that brought my total to just over $50. No gift card was listed. Hmmm ...
Knowing that I go through fly spray like it's water, I updated my cart to include a second bottle of fly spray. That bumped my total of fly products to $52. Suddenly a $10 gift card was applied to my cart.
You can't blame a girl for trying!
I am sure you know exactly what I am talking about. Now if only car manufacturers could install a flip-up saddle rack, we'd all be a lot happier.
My trunk's live-in occupants are pretty few compared to some trunks and back seats that I've seen. Even so, grocery shopping always requires a bit of planning. The brown bag, two coats, and boots live in my trunk. I go straight to the barn after work, so it's easier to just store that stuff in my car.
What lives in your trunk?
I hate to complain about our cold. Our heat though? I'll gripe about that all day long. Sixty to seventy days of triple digit weather sort of gives you that right. It was in the low eighties last week; my boys were dying. Yesterday? it dropped down into the 30s with an arctic wind. I don't know how you all do it.
I had yesterday off, thank you, President Washington, so I was able to head to the barn in the morning instead of after work. It was so cold though that I waited until it warmed up to the 40s.
My typical winter barn attire includes a long sleeved t-shirt, breeches (regular weight), and a vest which I frequently ditch while I am tacking up. Yesterday, I had to wear my one and only thick pair of socks, my regular breeches (I don't own winter weight), and a jacket! I even zipped it up and wore gloves while I was grooming. I felt like that kid on A Christmas Story.
I was so worried about the cold that I dug out a fleece cooler and left it near my saddle rack in case either horse got sweaty from our ride. I've been hosing them off the past two weeks; it's been that warm.
I finally warmed up enough to hang my jacket up, but I quickly replaced it with my vest. And even though it was zipped to my chin, I was still a bit cold as I walked up to the arena. By the time we got to work, I warmed up just enough to stay mostly warm.
Even with a solid 30 minute ride, both boys came out of the arena warm and dry. I didn't need the cooler after all. The whole week is supposed to have cold weather though, so I think I'll leave that cooler right where it is. I might still need it after a late afternoon ride.
The main reason that I left my last barn of more than five years was so both horses could have even bigger living areas than they had before. And it wasn't like their last stalls/paddocks were small either. While neither boy could get up a gallop or anything, they could play pretty hard. At the ranch, they can gallop. They can also woohoo or amble. Just being able to stroll from here to there all day long seems to prevent any build up of excess energy.
Even with all of that room, Izzy has adopted one particular section of dirt right next to a fence as his sleeping area. I'll admit that the footing there is softer, but that's primarily because he has spent a lot of time digging and rearranging the dirt.
Over the past two weeks, I've caught him getting stuck when he rolls or takes a nap. He's dug quite a big hole (just to the left of the photo) that he likes to lay in. The problem is that it's rather difficult to hoist your 1200 pound self out of a hole once your legs are higher than your head. I recently had to rescue my brown turtle by rearranging his legs to give him better traction. Another day, I waited anxiously as he grunted and groaned but finally heaved himself upright.
Sometime during the night or early hours on Sunday morning, Izzy laid down in or near his hole and got stuck. By the time I showed up on Sunday morning, he had managed to right himself but not before gouging up his right hind and left front legs.
As soon as I saw the damage Izzy had done to his legs, I texted the ranch owner. She came out and looked Izzy over with me. I cold hosed his legs and then walked him out while she looked for any wonky steps. Other than having two hot and swollen legs, he looked fine. He was eating happily and looked sound at the walk.
We locked Izzy in the far side of his turnout and hashed out a plan to encourage him to sleep somewhere else. Today, the ranch hand will drag all of the soft dirt to the middle of the paddock and re-stabilized the fence, lifting it out of the dirt in the process.
Why Izzy needs to sleep right next to the fence is a mystery to me. Sometimes, I think they like to hurt themselves just to spite us. I am pretty confident that the swelling will be down by the time I get out there this afternoon. And in two or three days, he'll be good as new minus a bit of hair.
Next time, Dude, get up on the right side of the bed!
I am not even kidding. I almost didn't ride yesterday afternoon. It was 71℉ at 4:00 in the afternoon! Since I don't blanket my boys, they have full on, polar bear winter coats. When I went to get Izzy, he was sweating. It's January. What the heck?
It seemed silly to waste such a lovely day however, so I saddled up anyway. I know I've been filling this space with My Horse Is Now Awesome types of posts, but I have to add another one.
Even though the gardener was using a wood chipper to dispose of some piles of leaves, Izzy only gave him three seconds of a hairy eye-ball, and then shrugged it off.
Since he was so relaxed and already kind of sweating, I made the executive decision to keep things at a walk and trot. Feeling that he was ready to be pushed a little though, we did all of the walk and trot work from Second Level (except the turn on the haunches).
He's got a sweet shoulder in, and his travers is way better than Speedy's! We did those fun little 10-meter half circles, and for the very first time ever, I was able to get a baby trot lengthening.
When we were finished, he was actually drier than when we started. I think some clouds rolled in, and we picked up a small breeze. Either way, I decided to make sure he got a good drink that evening by giving him a dose of electrolytes with his dinner bucket. It was supposed to be in the 30s over-night.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, will be here for another clinic this Saturday. I sure hope he keeps it together, but if not, I know how to help him put his brain back in. And if I can't, Chemaine knows how to kick his butt even better than I do!
After all of the fires that have plagued California over the past few months, you might not remember the two we had here in October that killed at least 30 horses. I wrote about them here and here. Out of the Cottonwood fire, a stallion named The Boss and a mare named Rias were both saved. The Boss was severely burned, but is still alive. Rias, also badly burned, turned out to be in foal by The Boss.
A few weeks ago, against what seemed like staggering odds, Rias delivered a very healthy and very spunky filly. Meet Ember.
The local media was so excited to hear about such a cutie-pie being born after such a disheartening tragedy that as soon as they caught wind of the birth, they swooped in to tell her story. Watch one of the news videos here.
Over the weekend, Cecile invited me to come visit Ember. Holy moly is she ever a pistol. As I entered the stall where she was napping, I walked around her very carefully so as not to startle her. I shouldn't have worried. The second she realized she had company, she leaped up and jammed her face into my leg, chewing on my clothes and boots. Within no time, she was whirling and launching her little hooves at anything she could connect with.
She kicked at everyone and everything in her vicinity. She chased off Cecile's dogs and then gave momma a whack just to demonstrate that she could. Even though we were there for more than an hour, she barely suckled. She'd dive in a for a quick sip and then charge around shoving her way into everyone's space.
She is definitely a spitfire. Ember suits her well!
Winter finally showed up yesterday. I hope I am not jinxing anything, but we finally got a little rain. I know the rest of the country is probably sick of winter by now, but as usual, California's been languishing in (mostly) dry weather. And in some areas, like mine, our temperatures have been quite pleasant.
All of that changed over the past two days. We were hit with extremely high winds and record rainfall, for here anyway. We saw 0.75" officially which was a record for the date (according to Miles Muzio, meteorologist). Various parts of town saw a bit more, up to 1.08" in downtown Bakersfield, and Ventura County, home to the recent fires, saw more than 2".
I got to the barn hoping for massive puddles; we really need the rain. While the horses were standing in some goop, most of the ground was fairly solid, with deeper puddles only in the low places. As always, the arena footing was excellent with only a slight puddle.
Knowing that a second wave of rain was due to hit, I saddled quickly and got in a ride. It was not a perfect ride, more on that in a day or so, but at least we got some work done before the next storm hammered us. As I was feeding and watering, the skies grew black as thunder and lightening raged overhead. Thicks drops started to fall. As I pulled out of the driveway, a late afternoon deluge hit dropping another .25" of rain on my side of town.
Here's hoping (not hoping?) it's dry enough for a ride this afternoon!