April 26, 2011

Tender foot

I've come to the conclusion that Rose has simply become tender on her front feet. After a couple weeks in her new, rather muddy, paddock environment her rock hard feet have become soft. I'm rather sad about this, as I was SO proud that she'd developed rock crushing soles. Oh well. At lest I have her Cavelo boots, and I'll just start putting those on her to walk her over the gravel drive to the barn from her paddock (It's a bit of a hike). With a little luck, once things dry up, she'll be back to her nice tough feet. The easy thing would be to put front shoes on her. It's something that I will certainly do if I can't make her comfortable otherwise. For now though, she's sound in the arena so I don't think it warrants shoes, just for walking up the driveway. As for her hock wound, it's looking good and the swelling has completely gone away. She keeps herself pretty clean, so with daily TLC she's healing well. In fact, I even longed and rode her tonight. She was stiff at first, but worked out of it.

Our only other issue at the moment is that Rose is now getting beat up by her pasture mate, Cody. It's not malicious. Cody is very sweet, but she's also much older than Rose, and likes her space. Rose is just completely clueless and wants to be near her all the time. Apparently Rose's desire to be with Cody is not deterred by pinned ears, biting, or kicking. She just stands there and takes it. She doesn't retaliate, which is nice. I would feel bad if she was aggressive, but at the same time I wish she'd figure out that she needs to move and get out of the other mare's space. Can you say, double barrel kick? Still, Rose won't move. She just stands there.

Oh, Rose, you really don't have to be the "dumb blood"!

Tonight, Rose is all alone in the paddock and Cody is temporarily in another paddock. Tomorrow we are trying a new arrangement, and hopefully we will have a situation that works for everyone and will reduce the potential contributions I may be making to my vet's kid's college fund...

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 24, 2011

Now what?

The Good:
Rose's leg is healing really well. The swelling in her hock is nearly gone, and the scab is already starting to peel.

The Bad: 
While we were walking her to the barn this afternoon she seemed a little bit off on the front. After checking for rocks (there were none) and then a careful inspection of her front limbs, I noticed that she has a small nick on the inside of her right front coronary band, right at the transition to the hoof. It looks to me like she might have stepped on herself. My big concern is that it is currently mud season and there is no way to keep her out of it for the next month. If it gets infected I'm not quite sure what my options are. However, I'm not sure that that was the source of her being slightly off. I decided to clean it up and do what I can for her for now and see how she is in the morning. Argh! Why do stabling transitions have to be such a stressful process?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 23, 2011

Here we go again!

Things have been going well since we arrived in Bozeman last week. Rose has been settling into her new barn and new routine nicely.

Then I got a call from the barn manager.

Rose scraped herself up getting either cast along a fence or messing about in the aspen grove. It has been 10 months since she last seriously hurt herself, which has to be some kind of record, so I should be happy about that I suppose.

The BM did not think it required the vet, or my immediate presence, so I finished up with the work deadline I was on and then headed to the barn. What you see in the picture is what it looked like when I arrived Thursday morning, after a hosing off. For the most part, it seems superficial; it did not go all the way through her skin, so no stitches were required. Aside from that, the only other damage was a swollen hock, most likely from banging on whatever she was caught up in. She is completely sound, and if I were not so nice, I suppose I could still ride her. However, I figured a few days off would be fine, to let the swelling go down and the scab to heal over. Right now, I put her on some bute for the swelling, and I'm cold hosing and cleaning it up daily. She is not a roller, which is handy in terms of keeping wounds like this clean. I have found that wrapping the hock area is somewhat impossible. So far, I am not too concerned about it, as the swelling is going down and she is sound. However, if the swelling gets worse or she goes lame I will be calling the vet ASAP. My biggest concern would be her getting an infection.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

April 22, 2011

Dry Cough?

On Saturday afternoon I decided to check on Rose and introduce her to the indoor arena. She was adjusting well to her new digs, and Cody has established that she is the boss. Rose needs to learn how to live in a herd eventually, so I'm glad to see that she's respecting Cody's boundaries. I pulled her from her paddock and led her up to the barn, amid a ridiculous wind storm. Rose was completely calm about the wind and didn't even care about it. She was understandably a wiggle worm in the wash stall, as it is a new place and she hasn't had to have her legs hosed off in a while. She somehow managed to get mud all the way up her legs and on her belly. It was dry and crusty like concrete, so there was no way that a brush would remove it. After removing the mud, I put her in the cross-ties in one of the grooming stalls. She was still a bit wiggly, looking around at everything, and wanting to sniff all the new horses. Right about then Cody and her mom came out of the arena and went into the stall next to us. This settled Rose down a bit and I was able to get on with tacking her up.

Rose and I in our new heated indoor arena!
As per usual, once i got her saddle on her she calmed down entirely and went to work. She was a gem in the new arena, bellowing whining wind and all. The only thing that concerned me was as soon as I asked her for a trot she'd have a coughing fit. I was planning on keeping this ride on the easy side anyway, but I wasn't expecting that. She had no other symptoms of anything, so my assumption was that it is a dry cough from the new environment. We are up at 4,600 feet, and everything is dry here. Dry ground, dry hay, dry air. I decided to give her Sunday off and just monitor her cough.

On Monday, my friend KH came to the barn with me to check out the facilities and watch me ride Rose. To my delight Rose was completely settled in and calm. She was entirely back to her usual self. She was also mud free this time. Whew! I tacked her up and took her to the arena. She coughed once at the walk and that was it. No coughing at the trot or canter. BIG RELIEF!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 21, 2011

Showing off

Look at me! I'm so fancy!
Friday morning was the big day. Rose got introduced to her new pasture-mate, and adorable little palomino Morgan mare named Cody. We brought both girls into their big turnout paddock, gave them each a pile of hay and let them look at eachother from a distance. Then, as all was calm, we took off the halters and waited to see what would happen. Nothing. It was very anticlimatic. Rose however realized that she was in a big field, something she hasn't seen in a while, and decided to prance around and do her best to show everyone how super fancy she can be. Through all of this there were occasional nose an bum sniffs with Cody and they both seemed to get along just fine. I didn't hear a single squeal from either horse! I'm so happy that she gets to live outside with a buddy.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 20, 2011

The Long Haul - Day Two

Rose giving kisses to
the most friendly cat ever!
Thursday morning we pried open our tired swollen eyes and drug ourselves out of our beds and headed back to the overnight barn to load Rose. She greeted us happy, content, and in one piece. She'd eaten all 5 flakes that I'd left her with overnight and was certainly in the mood for more. Before heading out we let her stretch her legs in the round pen, and she showed us her best acrobatics. This was my first time with her in a round pen, and since the purpose was to let her stretch her legs I let her play around an be silly. For one I got to watch her as a spectator and she was hilarious. After she cooled off and drank some water we were prepared to have to convince her to get on the trailer, but to our surprise Rose loaded right up.

The rest of the day went much like the previous, although she was much quieter at the rest stops. She appeared to have accepted that this was her fate and what we would be doing for the day. Driving, stopping, eating, drinking, repeat.

Um...what's this white
stuff hitting me in the face?
As soon as we crossed the Montana border, it was time for a break, so we pulled into the Lolo Pass rest stop area. To our dog's delight there was snow on the ground to roll in. To Rose's surprise there was white stuff hitting her in the face when she stuck her head out her window. She was most definitely perplexed. I know that she's seen snow before, in small amounts, but she must have forgotten about it.

We carried on without much trouble for the rest of the drive. The roads were clear and the weather was perfect for hauling. The only mishaps we had the entire trip was that the battery on our Trailer-eyes monitor camera died after one hour, thus making it useless, and on several occasions as we came to a stop and proceeded to turn our trailer's tack-room door would come open. This was a locked door by the way. It was still in the locked position when it was flinging around open. Any ideas? It's kind of a problem that needs to be fixed. Fear not though, as we were driving in caravan I would pull up next to the trailer, throw my hazards on, and my copilot KH would jump out of the car an slam it shut. No tack was lost!

Heading down the final pass.
Seven hours after leaving Spokane, we arrive at our new barn in Bozeman. Rose quietly unloaded and got busy eating her dinner in her stall for the night. Relief washed over me as I realized we were home, at long last, and the trip went off without a hitch. Hauling long distances really isn't as big a deal as I thought it might be, so long as you take plenty of breaks and don't rush.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 18, 2011

The Long Haul - Day One

This past Wednesday was the day I've been waiting for for a long time. That morning I gleefully locked our back door from the inside, leaving the keys to the rental house resting on the kitchen counter. As I covered my head with my hoodie I sent a smirk skyward at the drizzling rain that was just beginning to grow heavier. Contentment overcame me as I reveled in the fact that I would no longer have to deal with the Portland drizzle. I blinked my eyes, to clear them of the tiny rain drops that collected on my eyelashes and easily slid into the drivers seat of my husband's car. Without a glance backward we headed south to the barn to load Rose.

Saying goodbye to
Green Meadow Farm
A half-hour later we arrived at Green Meadow Farm and found a quiet barn full of horses contentedly eating their morning hay. Rose happily met me at the gate to come in from the rain. After a quick grooming session and loading my remaining tack into the trailer, it was time to load the girl and head down the road. Rose was a bit perplexed by the shavings in the trailer, but stepped right on and investigated her hay and water bucket while she quietly waited for the back door to close and for the truck to get underway. As we drove out of the drive I gave one glance back at the barn and felt a sadness come over me. We learned so much at that barn, Rose and I, and we had some wonderful barn-mates. I would miss GMF, this I knew, but I looked north towards the mountains in anticipation of returning to a life and a home that I have desperately longed for.

Rose learning about
rest stops and air breaks
As planned, we hauled Rose loose in our two horse slant as a box stall and stopped approximately every two hours for 20-30 minutes to give her a break. At the first stop she anticipated getting off the trailer and seemed a bit mystified by the rest stop and lack of other horses. Amid a few calls she manage to drink and eat a bit before we were underway again. The rest of the day went much the same way. In total with our breaks, it took us about seven hours to get from Sherwood, Oregon, to our overnight spot in Spokane, Washington.

Rose relaxing in her
stall for the night.
Rose stayed at the Spokane Sport Horse Farm in an overnight stall. I would definitely recommend the place for overnight stabling and will use them again. The rate was fair, $20, and included shavings and an automatic waterer. The stalls are well built and safe, and even have paddock runs. The only criticism I have of the place is the absolute lack of customer service. They were terrible about returning calls, but I did get better response on email. They didn't tell us where/how to pay them, nor did they greet us when we arrived at about 6:30pm. In fact, I never did meet the barn manager/owner. The staff we did meet the next morning were great, and I'm sure had I met any of them when we arrived I would have felt more comfortable with the situation. I just thought leaving my horse at a barn where I didn't meet any of the staff or any boarders was really weird.

Relaxing after a long drive!
As for the humans and dog, we checked into our luxurious accommodations at the Motel 6 and then went in search of dinner and a frosty beverage in downtown Spokane. We settled on the Steelhead Bar & Grill, and thoroughly enjoyed excellent atmosphere, great service and tasty dinner.

Stay tuned for day two...

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 10, 2011

Getting Ready

Yesterday the girls (and a couple husbands) had a really sweet going away party for us at the barn. I was very impressed with the wheelbarrow + hay-bale turned buffet! There were lots of tasty treats and wonderful company. I am REALLY going to miss my barn. It is quite honestly horse nirvana. However, I'm trying to focus on the positive and I am excited for our new barn in Bozeman (certainly for the heated arena during the winter). The barn manager there seems like an awesome lady, really on top of her game, and not crazy. Not crazy, is one of my general requirements of any barn manager/owner. I think we will be in a good place at the new barn, but only time will tell.

We are pretty much ready for the trip. Trailer tires are full of air, shavings are sitting in their plastic wrapped bags ready to be piled all over the floor, first-aid kit, water buckets, hay, and feed are ready to go. Overnight accommodations are sorted at the halfway point and all of our paperwork is squared away and in hand (coggins, health certificate, and trip-permit).  Now all that's left to do is load my tack and Rose and head out. Wednesday morning can't come soon enough!

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 7, 2011

Canter Poles

Ever since Sunday's experiment with ground poles I can't stop thinking about taking Rose over an ex. She's ready for it. For little jumps. Nothing big, nothing demanding, not until next summer when she turns five. Basically, I want to know that she can jump a log before we come across one on a trail this summer.

How I set up my canter poles. The standards are just there
for Rose to get used to going through them.
When I'm starting a horse over fences I like to know two things (and a few more...see Side Note below):

A. That the horse can get over a jump. This was confirmed on a couple occasions by longeing Rose over a small ex turned vertical.

B. That the horse will go over ground poles willingly. This was confirmed by practicing trotting over poles, then cantering over individual poles. Once I achieve nice straight willing gates over the center of the poles (no trying to bow-out) it is time to move on to the next step.*

Working on point B, I decided tonight that I would take Rose through a set of canter poles, to see if she could put her distances together and figure out where her feet went. The results were stellar, and quite honestly, if anyone had been at the barn tonight, toward the end I would have made a little ex and popped her over it at the trot a couple of times. Alas, I was all alone. At least I got video though, so enjoy!

*Side Note & Mini-rant: Getting a green horse to the point that they are ready to go over a jump requires a lot of flat-work and training. I believe that there is truth in the statement that jumping is 90% flat-work. Unfortunately too many people rush young horses through their flat-work and plop them over fences too big, too soon, for their own personal gain (be it to sell a young horse or because jumping is more fun to them). If a horse has aptitude for and is physically capable of jumping, one shouldn't have to force it over a jump. Once the horse is balanced, rhythmic, has impulsion, has steering (from the leg & seat), knows half halts, knows leads and simple changes, trusts its rider, and is generally confident with flat-work, jumping (small jumps at least) shouldn't be a big deal to the horse. However, if you try and skip past the flat-work and make a horse go over a jump before it has built any confidence under saddle you are just going to scare the poo out of your young horse and create a slew of problems for yourself that would have been avoided if you simply waited six more months and worked on the flat, developing the horse's skills and creating a mutual trust and confidence.

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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April 1, 2011

Ground Poles

I am aware that Rose has been frustrated with her more demanding workload as of late, but she's working through it and beginning to accept it more and more and fighting with me less and less.  As a reward, I decided to give her a mental break and something different to think about and put down two ground poles, one on each quarter line of the arena strategically placed at "S" and "R". This placement allows us to do our circles, diagonals, etc without the poles being in the way. Also, I think it is best to start her off with one ground pole than four. In the past I've tried to ask her to do several, and it resulted in a stumbling brain exploding near-disaster on Rose's part. Granted that was last summer and she's learned a lot about balance, rhythm, and tempo since then.
Ground poles set on quarter line at S & R

Our rides started out as usual, but after the warm up, I decided to nonchalantly canter her down the quarter-line and right over the center of the poles. She saw the pole, I asked her to maintain contact, and kept her straight, and over it she went. She saw her distance, adjusted, and beautifully went over the pole at a lovely canter! She didn't hit the pole with a single hoof once! Assuming the first time might be a fluke, I tried again. Same result. So then I asked her to do a roll back to the second pole. Same result. In-fact, after a few times she started jumping the poles!


I was so excited, not only can she see a distance, go over a pole, turn tightly in a roll back maintaining a mostly balanced and uphill canter to go to a second pole, but SHE LIKES IT! All of this gets me very excited about starting her over little ex's this summer. So far my 2-year dressage to fences plan seems to be coming along as planned. I am certain that it is the dressage that has allowed her to be able to do this so well already. It seems like a simple little thing, but this was a huge moment in my book, indicating that a hunter/jumper world is indeed in our future. Don't misunderstand me though; I'm fairly certain dressage will still be on the books for a long time. Can you do dressage three days a week and jump once a week? I intend to find out! I wonder how my two-point is after not riding in my jumping saddle for 2-years? Hummm...

Happy trails and swooshing tails!

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