Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hamilton Settling In

It has been two weeks since Hamilton stepped off the trailer and walked right into all of our hearts.

He has continued to be the most easy going, sweetest horse I have ever had the pleasure of being around which was exactly what I was hoping for after two years of dealing with the Big Orange Butthead. 

A hiding Baby Moose

He is adjusting well to the semi feral life style though he isn't always the happiest about it. He is a bit of a weather wimp. During the hurricane that blew through the first weekend he was here, the other three were out in the middle of the cold rain grazing. I watched as Hamilton pinned his ears and grumbled his way over to the trees. He was not a happy camper. 

He completed his Powerpak dewormer and is half way through his GastroGuard. Dusty says he has gained close to 75 lbs already, maybe more like 100, and he is looking so much better. Nearly all his skin funk is gone with only a few remnants remaining on his hi bones and his back legs. The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend so I am hoping to sneak in a bath and get ride of the rest of the funk. I'm not thrilled with his dull coat (shiny coats are a personal pride of mine and even Eeyore shines these days) but I know it probably won't improve too much until his spring shed.

My farrier swung by and saw him last week and trimmed him up. He is better on soft ground, though lacks confidence, but is still super ouchy on any hard ground or rocks. Pathetically so, but I'm learning that he is just a big huge pathetic baby when things aren't perfect. Breaks my heart which I'm sure he knows full well and uses to his advantage. 

He has learned the routine and meets us at the gate for breakfast and dinner every day. He lowers his head to allow Wyatt to slip his halter on/off and leads like an angel for him. He is always up for social time in the pasture though he isn't as snuggly as Eeyore. He is a good middle ground between the aloof Gem and Pete duo and the obnoxious in your face Eeyore. 

My only issue with Hamilton is that he cribs, a bad habit I knew he was coming with but since Eeyore is 90% beaver I didn't really mind adding another. He cribs less violently than Eeyore but more frequently. Eeyore only cribs after meals - like a cigarette after sex. Hamilton will crib in the pasture so we tried a cribbing collar on him outside. Eeyore only wears his when left in the barn for an extended period. Well, Hamilton has very sensitive skin and quickly got a sore from it. I'm going to have to get him a fleece lined one though he is cribbing less and less outside and eating more as he has grown more comfortable in the herd. 

I have found myself staring at him longingly wanting to feel what he is like under saddle. His weight is improving but his topline is awful - something that riding long slow miles will remedy easily. Hopefully by the time I am recovered from my next surgery I will have found a saddle to fit him and can start a slow process of getting to know him under saddle.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Finding a Butt to Put in My Saddle

I'm in need of some suggestions and this is going to be highly annoying because I sorta already know the answer but I can't afford to do what I want to do so I am stuck in my own head in a very adult like mental pout. 

Mature, I know.

I need to find a temporary rider for Eeyore - probably 6 weeks and most likely around Christmas time when people's availability is low. Great timing, but not my choice. Well, sorta my choice but financially it has to happen before the end of the year. You see, I underwent a diagnostic laproscopy on Tuesday and they found a large mass in my uterus which has granted me a hysterectomy. My deductible is huge and this surgery met it, so I have to get the second one in before 2021. Plus, I want this thing out of me and I want to no longer fight the pain I've been in from it. 

Unrelated to break up text

I won't be able to ride for 6 weeks and I plan to stick to doctor's orders on that as I want everything healed and good to go once I'm cleared. I've been hurting for so long now that I don't want to do anything to prolong it at all even a single day. 

But...Eeyore will self destruct with that much time off and I'll be damned if I spent all summer rehabbing him just to have him rip his leg off in boredom and have to spend the spring rehabbing him next year. Not. Going. To. Happen. Do you hear that Universe??????

Which leads me to needing to find a butt to put in my saddle to ride him a few times a week while I recover. This is tricky because a) I am now broke and b) he lives at home so it isn't so easy as finding a barn rat to do it.

Can't be rusted for 6 weeks in the pasture

I'd love to send him to Trainer AB to put training ride son him while I am out, but that is $$$$ and I don't have $$$$ at this time. COVID killed my practice and while I'm functioning it isn't pretty and I don't have my typical cushion. I went back to work the day after the laproscopy so to avoid more time missed but I know I'll need to take 2 weeks off the next. This year has been awful. 

I plan to ask her if she might possibly be interested in having him there for lessons for those 6 weeks and that way his fat butt can work off his stay, but she doesn't really have a lesson program so I am not sure what the outcome of this will be. Fingers crossed this could work. 

If that doesn't work out...then what? I can't afford to pay someone to come out 3x/wk and ride him and I don't even know where to begin to find someone I would trust to ride him who is hungry enough for saddle time to ride him for free. 

So....hive mind...help me out. Any suggestions on what to do here? Currently surgery is scheduled for December 30, 2020 but I am hoping that can get moved up a few weeks. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

History Earned

 I'd like to formally introduce you all to the newest member of our herd.....

The cutest GOOD BOY face I have ever seen

History Earned...AKA Hamilon...had 15 starts with 1 first, 2 seconds and 1 third finish and a total of $23,000 in earnings before his lack of speed earned him a retirement from the track. 

My personal favorite was "H.E. was devoid of speed"

Hamilton has been a pleasure to have at the farm since his early, pre dawn arrival Monday morning the 5th. He stepped off the trailer after an arduous 17 hour ride and led into the barn without hesitation or concern. He was exhausted, dehydrated and needed time to relax and come out of his shell. 

He has an old man soul that speaks directly to my heart and the kindest big brown eyes I have ever seen. He needs a lot of groceries and his skin is funky but in the 5 days he has been here he is already showing a difference. It won't take long before we have another fatty on our hands. 

I adore his kind heart above all else. The third morning he was here Wyatt wanted to bring him in from the pasture. Hamilton is MASSIVE. I've been calling him Baby Bullwinkle which shows my age if you understand the reference. Anyway...Wyatt can't reach his head. Not even close. So there Wyatt is flapping around and jumping inches from Hamilton's face in the morning dark trying to get the halter over his head. My other three would have disappeared faster than you can blink, but not Hamilton. He stood there patiently staring at Wyatt and not moving an inch until Wyatt managed to get the halter on and then led quietly into the barn for breakfast. 

Slowly but surely his personality is beginning to show through as he settles in and comes to terms with his new life. He remains calm, unflappable and easy going. We have been dosing him with a dewormer in the morning and Gastrogard in the evening and let me tell you Baby Bullwinkle HATES IT. HE HATES IT. When we first got Gemmie 11 years ago (holy crap where did that time go?!?!) we ran her through a power pack and it took three of us rodeoing with her to get it in her. Little mare could rear. Hamilton could easily be even more difficult since he has a neck the size of a giraffe and god help me if he ever rears. Know how Hamilton shows his displeasure? He lowers his head so I can dose him, then gives me a look of heart wrenching betrayal that pierces my soul and hides his head in the corner of his stall. All of 30 seconds later he peaks over his shoulder and upon seeing me still there his ears perk up and he comes over for a hug. 

Learning where all the good spots are to get out of the rain

Hamilton is currently barefoot but he is sore footed. My farrier is coming out next week to look at him and make recommendations. I'd love to try to keep him bare and see if we can't get him more comfortable as his hooves adapt but I also know that no matter how and what we tried for Eeyore that guy just can not go without front pads and shoes all around so I am open to water he needs. I'm hoping to make it to the local tack store before they close today and see if they have moose sized boots. He doesn't come close to fitting in Eeyore's pair and regardless of barefoot or shod I want a pair on hand just in case. They have saved Eeyore's feet numerous times over the last 2 years. 

I need to go saddle shopping at some point for him though I have no plans to get on his back until he has gained some significant weight and his feet are comfortable. No rush.  I have no experience in saddle fitting high withered, slender horses since all mine over the years have been wide backed with no withers. It will be a learning curve but there are a few nice consignment shops I can utilize when the time comes. He is only 4 so I have no interest in investing any real money into a saddle until he is fully grown and filled out. I only need something to get us by for a while. 

My bigger need is a larger trailer. Our hopeful plan is to get Hamilton trail ready. Not sure if it would be me or the Hubby riding him versus Eeyore but the the idea is to shove Wyatt on Gem between the two chestnut geldings and have fun on the trails. We need a trailer big enough for all 3 horses to do that. No real rush on this. I want to do a lot of ground work while he builds weight and then expand to the trail making sure he won't panic or bolt while we are out there. Nothing about his current demeanor has me worried but you never know what 500lbs will do to a horse. If we can start family trail rides in the spring I will be happy. If I eventually decide to start eventing him, that would be even more amazing but baby horse has no real role here other than being kind. We will see what the future holds for him and at 4 he has all the time in the world to grow up before I ask much of him. 

I mean - he can't be any worse than this weirdo

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

An Open Letter To Those Who Wish Me Ill

I’d be naive to think that everyone who follows my life on this blog or on other social media platforms wish me nothing but the best. I’m well aware that many read solely to watch me crash and burn. Being aware of it and having it shoved in your face are two different things though. 

Earlier today I received a wrong number text from someone I know. While I could screen shot it and blast it here, I’m not that type of person and will keep the involved parties anonymous. They know who they are. Anyway... person A saw a post I put on FB of a new arrival at the farm and took the time out of their day to screenshot it and send it to person B. Person B then took the time to find a text I had sent them about this new addition, highlight a comment I wrote and text it with a snarky comment. Unfortunately for them, they sent it to me instead of to person A. I called them out on it and it stopped there on my end. Who knows what fun they had once the message was re sent to the intended recipient. I’m sure it was a barrel of laughs. 

Here’s the thing. I honestly don’t give a rats ass what anyone outside of my husband and my trainer think when it comes to anything horse related. Certainly not some strangers I met through a blog and whose only knowledge of me is what I choose to share on various social media platforms. And especially not those who wish me ill, want to watch me crash and burn and who have nothing productive to offer. Nobody outside of Dusty knows me entirely and nobody knows what I’ve been going through these past few months which led to a decision that apparently raised some eyebrows. A decision that effects precisely nobody outside of my immediate household. And perhaps my trainer. 

I invite everyone to follow the parts of my life I choose to be public about.  The small group who are my cheerleaders. The slightly larger group who are my vocal haters. The silent majority who follow solely to see me fail hoping my next post will prove them right and show how much of an idiot I am. Please follow along. I’m sure I’ll give each group something to hang their hat on. Understand this though: I live my life for myself, not to please you or get your approval.

Everyone gets one ride here. One moment to shine and maybe I have a different perspective since I work with the elderly all day, but damn folks. Time is short. It goes by so damn fast. Spend less of it being mean to others and more of it being kind. You’ll enjoy life way more that way. 

I’m done with this topic now and moving on. I’ve dedicated all the energy I care to on this. I’m going to return to my love/hate relationship with Eeyore, who by the way is back to jumping finally, and start my new adoration of Hamilton, the 4 year old emaciated OTTB who arrived at my farm at 6 am Monday morning after an arduous 17 hours in a trailer and has been the kindest, most gentlemanly creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. Even the Hubby, who typically only puts up with the horses, has fallen head over heels for the ginormous moose of a baby TB.

More to come in a happier introductory post for the big sweetheart. Until then...please be kind to each other. You honestly don’t know what others are going through and how a single mean or kind word could effect them. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

No Better Drug Exists

Feeling down?

Not sleeping well?

Brain moving too fast to keep up with?

Go ride your horse.....Better yet, take a lesson with your favorite trainer. Even better yet get to add ground poles back into your life. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Virtual Tevis Week 4: Robinson Flat And Beyond

 Life is not slowing down at all around here and I'm worn out. 

Last week's Tevis attempt didn't go as planned. We managed two walks in the neighborhood at night but the second one was cut way short when our neighbors ambushed us and held us hostage for over an hour. I've managed to not meet any neighbors except those at the top of our property for nearly 3 years now and have lived in blissful solitude this entire time. Yeah, I know I'm real nice like that but folks, I'm naturally introverted and spend all my day small talking with strangers and it wears me out mentally. At night all I really want to do is throw my ear buds in and lose myself in the effort of walking and trying not to embarrass myself by singing out loud to my favorite tunes. 

No hiking pictures this week. Instead here is Fluffzilla after his grooming appointment Friday. He always comes back looking like a different dog

Anyway...walking the same route at nearly the same time must have caught the attention of the neighbors in the neighborhood nearby and one night last week as we went down the hill out came a neighbor lady nearly running to stop us. At first I though something was wrong but nope....she wanted to be nosy and started asking all sorts of not really her business questions like what animals do we have, what do we do on the farm, what upgrades are we planning, oh you own a medical practice...are you hiring...here is a laundry list of my qualifications...sure you aren't hiring...etc...Just as I thought we were going to extricate ourselves from this encounter another neighbor showed up with his wife and everything started over again. 

Meanwhile, my extroverted and much more friendly husband was having the time of his life chatting it up with the men who weren't using it to gather data or try to get a job. Sigh. By the time we finished it was dark and past Wyatt's bed time so the walk was cut way short.

We managed to catch back up on Saturday though with a relaxing 5 mile urban hike in downtown. We hadn't been to the city since before COVID started back in March. Wyatt rode his bike along the urban trail between downtown city center and the zoo. The weather was gorgeous if a bit hot still.

Stopping for sushi while on a hike is never a bad thing

By the end of the week were were sitting at 42 miles and had made it past the first vet check hold at Robinson Flat. I had hoped to make it to the half way point, but this is proving more challenging than I thought since Wyatt has returned to school. Still we are 11 miles up on the bare minimum so I am pleased with that. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Teaching "Lameness"

Saturday morning I tacked Eeyore up figuring we could at least walk around for a bit and stretch ourselves out. For completeness sake I will say here that I have been dealing with some pretty significant depression all summer which has zapped all my motivation to do much beyond be irrationally angry or cry all the time. My head hasn't been a great place to be in for several months now. I have an answer to it and a treatment plan which I'm glad to finally have after several doctors had written me off and refused to take the time to listen. Hoping that relief comes soon.


Eeyore felt really great going right, his bad direction, but when we switched and went left at the trot he felt near head bobbing lame on his good left front leg. On the verge of yet more tears, I went right again and let him canter because if he was broken why the hell not? He cantered just fine and when we went back to the left he felt normal so we cantered left too. Now confused about what was going on, I texted Trainer AB to see if she had time Sunday to hop on him and figure out if it was a me or Eeyore issue.

Fluffzilla joined us to play in the puddles on Saturday. I told Eeyore "Fluff is having more fun than you"

Trainer AB hopped on him Saturday and put him through his paces a bit then looked at me and said he was fine...maybe it was a me issue? She had me hop on (I had thankfully planned on this being an option so I had dressed in riding clothes and brought my helmet) and uh..yeah it was me. 

Ever since rehab began I have been dealing with a very different Eeyore. Pre rehab his response to life in general was to CANTER! GO FASTER! WEE ISN'T LIFE FUN! and so my rides were focused on slowing his roll, balancing him and getting him to relax without the constant anticipation of potential canter work. Apparently the never ending walk and trot rides did just that - too well. Now he was sucking way back behind my leg and barely moving so what I thought was a lameness issue was really a lack of forward issue and what I was feeling in his trot was a more vertical choppy motion as he sucked way back. 

Once I booted his butt forward he felt lovely. 

Took him for a short ride through the woods behind her arena after the lesson. It felt nice to be in the woods again

This was then the theme of the ride. Trainer AB said he was being extra tricky because even with her onboard his response to her aides wasn't correct. Anytime she touched the reins, he'd go "ok...I'll stop then" and dive to the forehand and let his legs go out the back of him. He would use that as an excuse to not collect up at all so she'd have to keep her hands steady and boot him forward. He is a smart cookie and picked it up quickly with her but then it was starting all over with me. 

This was particularly apparent in down transitions where he'd just plop on his face and call it quits. Keeping him moving in a trot after a canter was next to impossible. Part of this was my doing. I was so OCD about his rehab that at exactly 2 minutes, when my timer went off, we would walk again. He quickly learned the buzzer sound and would slam to a halt and since it was 2 minutes I did nothing to keep him going because I was told 2 minutes and I refused to go a single step beyond that. I should have kept him trotting for another 10 -15 seconds, but oh well. Hindsight. 

So anyway..once I got his feet in front of him and his weight shifted back a bit things felt good. We began canter work to the right which has been tricky to get lately. I have the tendency to lean into the canter which isn't correct and is worse going right. Well he picked it up just fine but then dropped to a trot before I asked and then refused to get it again. I did what I generally do which is to slow his trot back down, rebalance and ask again which can take a few circles to get. Well, AB said nope...pony club kick him if I need to but get that canter right away. Even if it is ugly. She said that he knew full well what I was asking him for, he knew it was the canter cue and was just not doing it. Like I said, he is a smart cookie and she said that he knows that he will get to slow down, trot and get out of it so make him canter NOW.

He broke his beautiful teal halter so no he gets the back up mustache one until I get to the store

It was ugly, but he gave in and we cantered around nicely. He was blowing pretty hard at that point even though it had been all of 15 minutes of work time. We took him to the hose to get cooled down before returning to the ring for the left canter. He picked the canter up nicely but was very stuck behind my leg. Trainer AB said "Good boy" and he let out a series of huge bucks. Good thing he is as wide as a couch and easy to sit. AB told me that again his legs get going backwards. He heard the GOOD BOY and celebrated but since all his weight was on the forehand and his hind legs were running out the back of him, he had every chance to playfully buck. 

The end analysis - MORE FORWARD. MORE LEG. No excuses. He is sound, he is capable and he knows what I am asking of him. Of course he is also a very large and out of shape potato and I have to be careful not to push his cardiovascular system too far or he won't be able to do it. To that end I have acquired a heart rate monitor from a fellow endurance rider and will be using it for a while on my rides to ensure that I'm asking enough but not too much of the Orange Beast. Come September I am allowed to add trails and ground poles back into my life so that should really help as well.