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.
And then on Thursday ... To be continued.
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.
Oh, boy, do I hate it when I am wrong. To my credit, I usually admit it, albeit begrudgingly, but I do at least make the acknowledgement. So what am I wrong about this time? Well ... the double bridle. And it's not that I am wrong exactly; it's more like I seriously miscalculated. I was certain that Speedy could work his way through Third Level and maybe even Fourth in a snaffle bridle. Go ahead. You can laugh.
We've been doing "okay" in the snaffle bridle. Our struggles felt more related to my lack of understanding the level. There was also the assumption that Speedy just found the movements too hard. None of it seemed related to the bit.
After I asked for some feedback though, some of your responses started to resonate, especially those about the flying changes. After one particularly frustrating ride where Speedy would not let go of the inside right rein, it occurred to me that if Izzy had behaved that way, I would have popped my correction bit on him for a quick little reminder.
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I realized that it might do Speedy some good to go in a curb for a ride or two. He slurped up Izzy's correction bit like it was his daily driver. What is it with that bit by the way? Both of my horses love it. All of a sudden, I had a half halt and a half pass and changes that didn't include a woohoo-buck and bolt combo.
For my next lesson, I used the correction bit and asked Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, if she thought Speedy was finally in need of the double bridle. Based on what she saw, she agreed with my "realization."
Having friends in the tack business can be a real advantage. I looked around for inexpensive double bridles and came back to my friend Valerie's shop, The Dressage Pony Store. She carries a few different bridles in a variety of price ranges, but it was the Grand Prix Double Bridle that caught my eye. At $135, it seemed too good to be true. What are friends for though if not to call when you need advice?
I sent her an email with a few questions and then called her up with a few more. She assured me that the bridle looks and feels way nicer than the price would suggest. She sent me a photo of her pony Clooney wearing the bridle, and then she put on one of the browbands I had ordered to check the fit of that. Mine aren't here yet since they're being custom made somewhere in Europe. So, along with two new browbands, I now have a brand new double bridle on its way. It's scheduled to arrive tomorrow.
Good thing I don't mind eating crow.
In all the hubbub of finding a new truck, I completely forgot about my newest dressage score. I mean, I know I earned it, but waiting for USDF to see that I've earned it feels like an eternity. On Monday, after I rode Speedy, it suddenly popped into my head that USDF had probably updated their scores. I barely made it in the door before I was checking my scores. I told you I'm a score stalker.
In case you can't read the pinkish box, it says, "Two scores at Third Level, must be awarded by two different judges. Rider has one qualifying score at this level." Rider has one qualifying score; that means I only need ONE MORE score for a USDF Bronze Medal.
If you've checked my scores, no offense taken if you have, and frankly, I'd be disappointed if you haven't. How can you weigh the veracity or relevance of anything I say if I don't have the credentials to support what I write? My mediocre scores should prove to you that I am indeed what I say I am - a struggling adult amateur on a horse not bred for dressage but who is doing it anyway.
I am kind of surprised by the sheer number of USDF scores Speedy and I have earned, 81 at last count. And those scores don't include schooling shows or CDS only shows. We're at well over a hundred if you toss those in. What we may lack in quality, we've made up for in volume.
I know a lot of people will look at my scores and tsk, tsk them. Yes, I would like my averages to be higher, but showing is how I get better. I don't have access to weekly lessons. Shoot, sometimes I am lucky to squeeze in a monthly lesson. Over the years, most of my feedback has come from judges. I ride a test, I read what the judge thought, and then I try to improve on what we did before. If you go back to review all of my scores, you'll generally see a progression from low to at least higher within each level.
Once Speedy and I earn that last score for the Bronze Medal, we're going to hang out at Third until I feel that he has developed more lightness in his collected work. And that half pass has to improve before we even think about moving on to Fourth Level. Frankly, I need to get better, too. This level is requiring a lot more balance on my part as well.
I know I tend toward self-deprecation, but it's said in all earnestness. Seriously. If you have a goal, go for it. What I lack in talent and natural ability, I make up for in grit and determination. Most of the time, it ain't pretty, but it gets the job done. Dig deep, friend, and it will happen.
At least that's the pep talk I keep giving myself.
One of the reasons that Newt, my new truck, didn't make it home on Saturday was because she's getting a gooseneck hitch installed. Blue Truck had a B&W Hitch with a roll-over ball. You pulled a pin, and the ball flipped down beneath the level of the bed. The safety chain was hooked to two large eye bolts that screwed in and out. With the ball flipped over and the eye bolts removed, the truck's bed was flat and ready for use.
There was no way in hell that my husband and I were going to install the new hitch, even though B&W provides a great video with instructions. Instead, I opted to have Paso Robles Ford use their local company to get the job done before I even brought the truck home.
B&W has made a ton of improvements over the past two decades. They've changed the way the ball appears in the bed while (hopefully) improving its performance. To move the ball out of the way now, you pull a pin from under the wheel well which releases the ball. You lift the ball out of a 4 inch hole, flip it over, and drop it back in on its head - so to speak. Then you re-engage the pin.
Since I traded in both Blue Truck and Juke, Newt will serve as both my hauling vehicle and my daily driver. Having a cleaner bed with nothing to unscrew and remove will be pretty convenient.
While I was perusing B&W's website, I found a great video that explains how they designed their gooseneck hitches. If you're at all interested in buying a trailer or you have a new one, it's worth the two and a half minutes. They also have a long list of towing products including bumper pull hitches.
Besides a new hitch, Newt is also getting a navigation system installed. Newt came with Ford's Sync option, but it only allowed for music, voice, calling, and entertainment, not navigation. That was a deal breaker for me. One of the things I most wanted in Blue Truck's replacement was GPS. Newt will have it in the next few days.
Hopefully at least one one of these things is being installed today. Monday's holiday slowed down the shipping process, but I was assured that deliveries would be made in two days, and that was as of Saturday. I'm a realist though, so the truth is that Newt is probably still sitting on the lot awaiting the arrival of either the hitch or the navigation system. It's no biggie. I can wait.
To be continued ...
I am a Stitch Fix girl, although you would never guess it. I hate to shop. I hate to try clothes on. And I used to hate most everything in my closet. Riding clothes excepted. I love shopping for those. It's sad when your selection of breeches and riding tops are the most expensive and nicest things in your closet.
When I found Stitch Fix on Facebook a year and a half ago, I gave it a try and have been looking forward to my monthly fixes ever since. I LOVE getting my box full of new stuff, and I almost always keep everything. So when Phil Van Treuren, owner of SaddleBox, reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in giving SaddleBox a try, I jumped at the chance!
If you haven't heard of SaddleBox, it works like this: You sign up for a monthly shipment for just under $35 a month. Each month, you get a box full of mystery horsey items like gourmet horse treats, grooming tools and tack, and gifts for the horse owner.
I have to say, the "Christmasy" element of the box is really one of the coolest things about it. When my husband brought the box in with a quizzical look on his face, I rubbed my hands together in glee and tore it open on the spot. It was really fun digging through the contents to see what I had received.
My box contained 8 items:
I LOVED some of the items ...
You can never have too many rolls of elastic bandages or hoof picks. That Carat Cake looks good enough to eat myself, and while I have tons of soft brushes, I hoard them so another one is always welcome. And that sticker needs no explanation. It's my favorite thing in the box.
But some of the items just weren't in my wheelhouse.
Speedy used to LOVE peppermints, but since stuffing his Pergolide in various treats, he's grown suspicious of anything that I can actually afford. Izzy might like them though. Speedy would also kick the crap out of me if I tried to use a metal blade on any part of his body. Izzy's not much of a fan of metal either. I only use long clinician style lead ropes since my boys can get a bit (cough cough) fractious at times, so the 8-foot rope is too short for my needs.
However. I definitely would consider sending a SaddleBox as a gift. No horse person that I know would say thanks, no thanks to a gift like that. How many gifts are easy to pick out while still being fun and creative? Not many.
If my budget had just a tiny bit more padding, I'd be all over a monthly SaddleBox. I love NOT having to shop. I LOVE having things delivered to my house. I LOVE horse stuff.
Please sign up for one, and if you do, let me know. I am happy to live vicariously through your monthly box of joy. And if you get something that doesn't float your boat, I'll take it!
This weekend was a bit bittersweet. I finally let go of Blue Truck. I am not going to lie; it was hard to do, and I got pretty emotional about it. I am Blue Truck's original owner, having had her for nearly 20 years. That's longer than many of you have had your spouse or kids.
After our first house, Blue Truck was the most expensive thing we had ever purchased. That body style had just come out, so what we were looking for wasn't yet sitting on a lot. We took a lot of time custom ordering her. She had a Triton V-10 engine, four-wheel drive, beefed up differentials, a tow package, no carpet (for which we paid extra!), and a crew cab body style to accommodate two rowdy Labrador Retrievers. Blue Truck also had power everything from the windows to the door locks. And this was when windows were still rolled up with a crank handle. Oh, and we had a CD player.
We spared no expense on that truck knowing that we would have it at least ten years. Little did we know that it would exceed our expectations by another decade. We ordered Blue Truck in the late winter, but didn't get to drive it home until the end of May. We were living large, that's for sure.
In the beginning "the truck" - she didn't yet carry the moniker, Blue Truck, belonged to both my husband and myself. There was a lot of arguing over who got to drive it. Eventually, we settled on a weekly rotation. My husband drove the truck one week, and I got to drive it the next.
Eventually, the newness wore off, and our lives changed. In 2005, Blue Truck officially became mine alone. We even changed the title to reflect my sole ownership. Somewhere along about that time I started calling her Blue Truck.
I've been contemplating replacing Blue Truck for more than three years. New trucks are expensive though, and I am still waiting on that money tree. I didn't suddenly inherit any money, but I finally came to the conclusion that Blue Truck was probably approaching the point where my chances of getting stranded were getting pretty good. Last weekend, I started internet shopping. I found something that looked right, so I made a few calls and threw in my perky, super-fun Juke for good measure.
Over the weekend, we drove both vehicles to the Ford Dealership in Paso Robles, a two-hour drive. It seemed unusual to me, but the dealership was quite used to taking multiple vehicles in on trade. Apparently it's done with some regularity.
I did all of my searching and then negotiating through the internet, emails, and texting. How weird is it to negotiate for a vehicle via text? Not that weird apparently. When the sales guy and I needed to find a text I had sent, I had to look over his shoulder to help him spot the right part of the message, and he had to scroll through a LOT of texts. Selling cars through a text message is his normal.
New Truck, Newt, for short, didn't make it home with us though. Newt needs a gooseneck hitch and a navigation system installed, so we drove home in a loaner. If everything goes to plan, which only happens sometimes, Newt will get delivered on Friday. I thought last week was long. This week is going to take forever.
To be continued ...