Friday, December 29, 2017

winding down the year

Today is the last Friday of 2017, and the start of another long holiday weekend for me. Yesssss.

I won't be doing the standard Year in Review month by month recap, since I've already done a lot of summarizing where Charlie's been and what he's done since coming home in Sept 2016. Extended time out of the saddle certainly gave me plenty of time for that haha!

my husky trunk has been up above my locker for a couple months now. even with a ladder, the depth of the trunk made it basically inaccessible in this configuration. so.... it was not very convenient. and let's not even talk about that time a horse in the cross ties kicked the ever loving shit out of me (while on the ladder) bc she was so spooked by it. a barn mate suggested turning the trunk on its side so i could open the lid outward like a shelf. turns out, this is much more convenient!

From a competitive perspective, stats and links from every show, clinic and formal schooling he's done are on my Events Page(you'll also find a sneak peek of what may come in 2018!)

This post also discusses Charlie's progressive introduction to the sport of eventing, and how I had hoped these experiences would culminate in reaching my overarching goal set for the year: Novice by November. Obvi that didn't end up happening (bc surgery), but the plan's general scaffolding was solid. We were very close.

And this post dug into a deeper quantitative review of our dressage work over the past year and change. With a specific focus on the development in Charlie's gaits as he moved onto new and different tests. The analysis also highlighted a couple simple things I can focus on practicing that could potentially make a big difference in scores.

everything inside had to be repacked a little differently, and the internal volume isn't as easily maximized, bc you don't want stuff spilling outward whenever you open the lid. but now i can actually easily reach everything in there from a step stool instead of the big a-frame ladder!
I've also spent some time rounding up my favorite posts from 2017.

Part I included posts introducing Charlie as the new headlining star, with notes on his pedigree and race history; all the posts that discuss my philosophies in general on horsemanship and training; and my favorite show recaps.

Part II collected posts in categories such as "Just Plain Funny" (bc... there were a few lol); all things trailer training; posts describing the work I've done with Charlie on the ground and around trust building; and general progression / updates / planning posts.

There are a few more roundup posts I want to do - with topics on horse care (including nutrition and diet, farriery, and maybe some tack discussions); clinics, audits and tours; blogger meetups!; posts on dealing with confidence and fear issues; and probably a roundup of some of my favorite non-competitive outings of the year. Hopefully I'll get those together soon (and definitely let me know if there's a topic you think I'm missing!).

it does mean tho that i take up way more real estate on top of the lockers - almost all of those big buckets are mine (charlie eats a fuck ton of supplements). so far nobody has complained tho, so we'll run with it. my poor locker is just plain old packed to the gills these days - it has THREE saddles in it and i'm not even gonna count the bridles (ok, it's four bridles, plus like, a bunch of girths and some breast plates and a neck strap and and and....). 
And obviously, who could forget Charlie's two major 2017 video compilations: his Best Moments and the ever-popular Blooper Reel???

Both videos do a pretty good job of summarizing the past year for us haha: the good, bad, ugly and goddamn hilarious. Ahhh memories! Definitely check those out if you missed them.

sir gets what he needs tho!!! 
So from the perspective of actual tangible things that 2017 brought for me, we've got that fairly well covered. It's all documented here on ye olde blog for anybody who would care to read it.

And, as always and forever - I continue to be so grateful for those of you who do read, and who choose to comment and share your thoughts and experiences and ideas and encouragement and everything in between. It continues to surprise and humble me just how deeply meaningful this blog and community has grown to me. So. Thank you all!

bc he really is the absolute sweetest <3
The only last thing that hasn't really been captured in any of those summary posts (tho I touched on it from a more general perspective here) is reflecting on what it all really means to me. Mostly bc it's really hard to verbalize why horses. Why Charlie.

I can easily get so caught up in the step by step, day by day nitty gritties - the boxes that have to get checked off for each successive step. I'm a very process-oriented, systematic person. Putting events on a calendar then working backwards to determine what needs to happen to make those events successful -- that all makes sense to me. That's how I like to think about things.

But.... that's not why I ride. And it certainly doesn't explain the pure, uncomplicated, child-like joy that has suddenly become accessible to me again now that I have Charlie.

naturally we gotta get our quota of fun time spent gallivanting around the fields with charlie's favorite gray mare too, bella!! santa brought bella the zilco flower hackamore thingy for christmas and she really likes it!
More than anything else, 2017 for me has been somewhat of a "proof of concept."

Isabel was a very special horse who came into my life in the most random, serendipitous circumstances. And I was lucky enough to recognize and capitalize on the opportunities she made possible. She's not a horse I would've ever chosen for myself, but yet she continues to be the horse with which I've had the most amazing, rewarding, and incredible experiences. 2015 was a hell of a year for me as a horse person, and found me doing things I never dared dream of.

To see that all fall apart in 2016 was... crushing. And incredibly demoralizing. It was easy to think that maybe I had just gotten lucky with Isabel. That it was a fluke.

charlie mostly just likes bella, but he puts up with me too <3
But I'm finally, finally, really starting to believe again that maybe that type of riding, those experiences, those goals, those thrills and that joy, are still within reach. Still attainable.

Choosing Charlie was honestly a bit of a gamble. But he showed me in 2017 that he is absolutely the horse to take me where I want to go. And probably farther, should I be so inclined. He gives me courage and lends me his bravery and uncomplicated approach to tackling new challenges. He is consistent, honest and reliable. And capable. Plus a downright pleasant horse to be around.

And I'm just so freakin excited about the future. Here's to a great 2018!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

improvise adapt overcome

High school was an angsty period in life, right? It was easy to feel overwhelmed by the world, and easy to realize just how little control we had on the environment around us.

Obviously I was not magically immune to this. But I tried to come up with a sort of "rule" or guideline for how I let that angst affect me. It basically boiled down to "don't complain unless there's nothing you can do to fix the situation."

happy pony on a cold, raw early morning
The idea there being... some things really really suck. Like when your horse breaks a useless, vestigial bone that serves no goddamn purpose but can still get infected and abscess and need to be surgically removed. That's just kinda a shitty situation that I can't really control, other than reacting to and resolving it once it's already happened.

Other things also really suck, but could be mitigated by the choices we make, actions we take.

trotting around kinda cute for him lol
Of course, sometimes there's no easy choice. Sometimes we can fully evaluate a shitty situation, all possible options or scenarios, and still conclude that we're on the best path for whatever reasons even if it's a crummy path. And.... that's when we kinda just keep our heads down and keep grinding away.

A.... LOT of horse riding and training can feel like this haha. Especially when we factor in limitations by budget, resources, facilities, or other external factors like jobs, families, weather.... whatever. You know what I mean.

still sassy about that canter tho... always sassy about that canter.
But then there's yet another category of crappiness that can sometimes be easily (or relatively easily, all things considered) improved or resolved altogether. That, by taking a step back, or a fresh look / new perspective / creative attitude / whatever, we can figure out how to make things better.

So every time I find myself feeling a bit down in the doldrums, or feeling at loose ends, or lacking motivation or energy, or feeling bitter about some external circumstance complicating things.... I try to figure out which of the above categories the problem falls into. Bc let's be real... for as satisfying as it can feel to let it all out, vent and complain about all the woes that befall us.... it doesn't really do much to fix the situation.

it's such a nice canter tho, totally worth pushing through those shenanigans!
Over the past months I've complained a LOT about feeling like Charlie and I are constantly playing catch up. That we keep getting sidelined by what ought to be small, inconsequential hiccups. But that it's turned into months and months of us just not quite getting where I want to go. For a lot of reasons that felt completely out of my control.

Now, most of the "real" issues (*knocking furiously on wood*) have been more or less resolved. And I'm free to jump back into the fast lane as I see fit, including taking matters into my own hands when possible.

Except.... it's winter. It's dark. It's cold. Chaotic holiday scheduling. Poor ground conditions. Dimly lit or crowded arenas. A sour horse that doesn't want to circle endlessly in said dimly lit arenas.

call me biased but i just will never get tired of his expressions while jumping
I am so tired of all these excuses. While simultaneously hating that they can zap my motivation. Hating that I could make the ~2hr round trip in rush hour evening traffic basically just to check my horse's blankets, refill his supps, and tell him he's pretty -- Bc I just couldn't bring myself to do a third evening in a row of blah nighttime riding in sub-optimal conditions.

Except, c'mon Emma. Winter has only just begun. All these sub-optimal conditions are gonna get a lot worse before they get better. And I'm already fatigued by them??? That won't do!

So it was time to reevaluate. Consider my options. Take some sort of action rather than being a whiny victim of my environment. As such, I've come up with a new plan.

he thinks he so freakin clever jumping through all those poles lol
My basic needs are: More daylight riding (even if the ground is still so crappy we're still stuck inside). And schooling over fences more often.

And behold, there IS an easy enough solution to this: one day a week, I'll adjust my work hours so I can ride in the mornings instead of the evenings. My supervisor is cool with this, and a midweek schedule means I'll never have to do more than 2 night rides in a row. Boom.

A final layer to my ideal wish list: I felt at my absolute best as a rider when I took two jump lessons a week: one with trainer P, and one with Dan. Logistics have not gotten any easier for scheduling Dan tho, and I've just got to accept that for now, and find an alternative.

So. There's an upper level event rider at the farm who teaches lessons during the day at OF (she taught the xc lesson my friends did while Charlie and I just hung out on the periphery for his first ever xc field trip to Loch Moy last year). Would this trainer be available for midweek early morning lessons? Turns out, YES, she would be.

Thus I'm hoping we're starting a new chapter by adding a fresh perspective to Charlie's training, while simultaneously helping me get the extra reps I need to feel more on track with my goals.

Our first lesson was this week, and Brita got to participate too since she was off from work. It was very much a "getting to know you" type lesson, where we worked on simple grids in the small indoor bc of below-freezing conditions outside.

Charlie was on point too - we really cannot get enough gymnastics lol, tho I actually don't think he'd ever seen bounces before. He liked them tho! Plus, trainer K was able to quickly get a solid read on what kind of horse Charlie is (a thinking horse, she called him "methodical" haha. yup!) and how I can adjust my riding to set him up better.

Of particular interest, she observed that Charlie doesn't really, uh, pay much attention to the ground and where his feet will be going - he's not really reading stuff farther out in front of him until a little too late. This.... is accurate haha. So we talked a little bit about raising his head through the grid so that he's seeing the jumps from the bottom of his eyes (thus allowing ground farther ahead of him to stay in sight too).

yep, this is the face of a horse who wants more jompies in his life!
Simple as it is to just work through grids inside the small dusty indoor, I still feel really energized from the lesson. I liked a lot of what trainer K had to say about Charlie and what he needs from his rider. It jives with what I know about the horse and myself, but is also given a fresh twist just by nature of being said differently from what I'm used to hearing from other trainers P and C. 

So here's hoping my new plan of adding this second jump lesson to our normal weekly routine will help us feel a little more balanced and excited about riding and working. While also allowing me to get that practice and repetition I crave. And hopefully warding off the blahs of cold dark winter just that little extra bit. 

Have you ever tweaked your schedule to accommodate seasonal blahs? Or shaken up the routine to inject more energy or motivation into things? Or, alternatively, have you faced down a season of continued crappy conditions and just decided that maybe some time off was the best option?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

workin on my mojo

The early days with Isabel were marked by a pretty significant degree of independence in my riding and schooling. The only trainers at her farm just did up-downers or natural horsemanship. Neither were very interesting to me.

Sure, I had over a decade of formal training by this point, and was in a weekly lesson program at a different h/j barn... but I'd never actually had a lesson with Izzy during the first two years.

And yet, we progressed. I rode 4-5x weekly, just as I do now, and often set up jump exercises and small courses. Always trying to improve, and keep growing as a rider while bringing Isabel along into something a little less wild lol. I wasn't necessarily any more brave then than I am now... It was just that if I wanted to jump, I had to make it happen for myself.

surveying options
Fast forward a couple years and my entire riding landscape looks pretty different. I'm at a different barn, have a different equestrian partner, and have since figured out a training and coaching program that works really well for me.

Somehow tho.... in all this, I seem to have lost some of that "independence" in my riding that was a hallmark of those early days with Isabel. Actually, even toward the end of my lease with her we'd still set up fun stuff to work on at home (like this awesome jump course Brita and I built out of "found objects" around our barn lol).

But with Charlie? I can probably count the number of times I've really honestly jumped him myself outside of lessons (not including his earliest cross rails bc.... those don't really count right? lol).

skinny trot poles! these..... were surprisingly challenging for charlie lol
And it's not really clear to me why I'm so reluctant to do so. Like maybe I've been worried about messing something up. Or something? Idk. It doesn't make a lot of sense when I sit down and really think about it. And actually... given what I know about my own mental state as a rider, I'm really at my best when I'm jumping twice a week.

With Isabel, we got into a fantastic routine where I had two weekly lessons: one with trainer P where we got our miles and repetitions in over interesting courses; and one with trainer Dan - who really zeroed in on technique and style. In the absence of that second weekly lesson with Dan, I've kinda often felt a bit adrift with Charlie.

canter ground pole that we circled off both leads. notice how our tracks were always on the outside of center lol
Especially considering how much time we've lost, how many lessons we've missed, bc of random bumps, bruises, or dings in Charlieland. In a way, it's almost like I've cheated myself by not feeling empowered to be more independent and make schooling happen on my own when possible.

Like. It's kinda ridiculous. We've been at this awesome eventing facility since July. Charlie's schooled the xc course like.... once since we moved here. Sure, there were extenuating circumstances. Cancelled lessons. Weather delays. And, ahem, fucking surgery for the horse.... But still. Likewise, Charlie's been cleared to jump for a couple weeks now.... but before the ride from these pictures, we had jumped twice since coming back to work.

simple verticals in fore- and background, and swedish oxer in the middle
So one of my big new resolutions looking forward is to be a little more in charge of my riding, of making things happen. Making choices, being active instead of passive. Ya know? I want some of that independence I used to have back. And I want to get a better grip on some of those persistent, pesky nerves.

Since Charlie seemed to (somehow) be no worse for the wear after his tangle with barbed wire, I bucked up to school the damn horse over fences. Then almost lost my nerve when I saw what was set up in the arena haha... sigh. It's stupid too, bc had this been a lesson I probably would have felt like the jumps were too low lol, considering they were all 2'6 and below. My mind is a funny cruel place sometimes.

and a mini corner!!
Anyway tho, I pushed ahead and got the horse warmed up. Taking advantage of trot poles that were set up that Charlie kept trying to jump and canter through.... Goof. We had to work a little more over those than I expected but finally Charlie figured out how to just trot on through.

Then we circled over a ground pole at canter for a while on each lead, with some breaks in between. I focused on trying to not micromanage. My job was the size shape and balance of our circle. Charlie's job was finding the ground pole. He was a very good boy - even on the left lead too! Maybe we're finally getting some strength back, yay!

Finally, nothing was left to do but actually jump things. So.... we jumped some stuff. I trotted in over a couple lower verticals first and Charlie stepped right up. Then we just started piecing things together - a figure of eight with one loop over another vertical ridden from both directions.

I had to force myself to aim Charlie at the swedish oxer lol. Idk why. He was fine tho. Well, let me temper that : we kinda ran past our distance so I just threw the reins at him and hung out in the back seat lol.... But we came back to do it again and I actually rode like somebody's taught me, and he jumped it beautifully.

charlie's pleased with himself. he's a good horse, guys
The only other "big" fence left in the arena was the mini corner - probably a hair under 2'6 since the poles were resting on the side of a barrel. Nothing about this jump should be imposing to me, but I can come up with excuses all day long.

Luckily tho, it's just so easy to believe in Charlie. So easy to trust him. Sure, he can be strong and fast and very careless.... But he's a good boy. He likes jumping, he wants to jump, and nothing seems to impress him. Certainly not this little corner arrangement (his first!!!). And he was just up and over like the easiest thing. Bc... uh, Emma, it *is* easy for him.

first time using these boots in mucky conditions. they didn't budge or rub. we'll see about drying times but so far they seem promising!
So idk. Not sure exactly what my point is here, except to say that looking forward, I hope to be more purposeful, more intentional in making things happen with the horse. I need to just force myself to trust the horse, and trust myself and my training.

Bc it turns out, it's pretty worth it! I really do love to jump - and jumping Charlie in particular is really its own brand of special. We really ought to be doing more of it. I've got all kinds of ideas and plans bumping around my head for how to get back to that sweet spot of two weekly lessons (fingers fucking crossed), but in the meantime - I've got to be more responsible and accountable for utilizing the resources we have available to us. So. No time like the present!

Am I the only one who feels this way or has to deal with these mental acrobatics just to make myself do the things I truly love doing? Do you ever have little arguments with yourself, or sit yourself down for a stern talking to about not making excuses? Or maybe it's always been really easy for you to just go out and do whatever strikes your fancy at that exact moment?

Monday, December 25, 2017

merry christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Hope there's lots of good food involved, and maybe some pony time too :)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

on the first day of christmas, santa brought for me.....

A pair of black dressage saddles!! And a beer bottle cap telling me to stop being such a pussy!! And an extra special puffy fat fetlock!!!!

natty boh beer bottles have a puzzle in the caps. this one was special just for me, apparently.
In no particular order, let's kick off Christmas Eve in style, yea?

hey look, it's another barbed wire induced puncture wound!!
My day 2 evaluation of Charlie's gnarled limb uncovered additional wounds. 24hrs marinating tends to have that effect on wounds - they puff up and present themselves for closer inspection. This is generally a good thing. Each wound I doctored the day prior looked good, thank god - including the puncture previously inhabited by an actual metal barb.

The whole back side of the ankle is slightly warm with some puffiness, but nothing localized to those already-known wounds. Rather, there was another puncture that went unnoticed originally, right at the back of Charlie's fetlock that now has about a marble-sized swelling underneath it.

this one right on top of the sesamoids. it has me slightly squeamish but i still think we're maybe ok here
Again, tho, it seems very localized. It's warm but not hot, puffy but not generally swollen. Idk. The consensus with vet is that we stay the course: antibiotics and bute. And let the leg tell us what it needs to say, whether it's just going through the normal healing routine or if something worse is bubbling beneath the surface.

mmmmmmm bute
My zen in all of this is Charlie. He is happy as a clam. Totally relaxed. Cool with the poking and prodding and scrubbing and squeezing. Wished he was turned out yesterday but was also complacent with his overstuffed hay bag and bute-stuffed cookies.

He's still got his neighbor Maggie, after all - the long term rehab case who was his neighbor throughout his own surgery-induced convalescence too. He's got a thing for gray mares <3

bein honest here, i'd eat that lol
So. I'm taking my cues from him. Until and unless he tells me differently, I'm operating under the assumption that he's not brewing a massively infected joint. We're not amputating yet!!!

So....... In the spirit of Christmas, let's move on to happier thoughts!! Dressage saddle shopping!!!


"i would also eat that" - charlie, who did in fact eat that 
Some back story: Charlie wears entirely hand-me-down tack. His jump bridle previously belonged to another awkward large bay ottb with a weaving problem. And his dressage bridle was previously Isabel's, and Courage's before that. Both saddles were also Isabel's. The jump saddle was the product of many months searching. After finding the Bates of my dreams, I impulsively bought a second Bates as my dressage saddle.

Both saddles have suited nicely, esp given their adjustable gullets. But Charlie gained weight on stall rest and we hit an issue with the dressage saddle in particular - it doesn't have enough clearance in the gullet channel any more. Can't make it wider bc it will sit farther down on him, can't make it narrower bc it pinches. A conundrum. Considering Charlie had started standing up (literally) for his rights, it was time to move on.

sits well, naturally wants to sit back a bit - gives the shoulder an absolute fuck ton of room
Turns out tho, Austen was also at a crossroads with her saddle, for opposite reasons. We theorized that perhaps Pig and Charlie have a similar build. Charlie is generally a large creature, but damn if Pig doesn't have some shoulders and a wither too. Bast seems to be built a little less.... thoroughbred-y.

charlie is a nosy mother fucker sometimes haha
Perhaps Pig's saddle (pictured above) would work for Charlie? And Isabel's would work for Bast? Worth a shot, right? So we traded saddles and I'm honestly a bit heartened by the initial picture this saddle presents. It may be a touch narrow through the channel, and obvi I have yet to ride in it, but it looks like it's worth a trial ride (or three).

It wants to sit way back behind his shoulder, and the panels seem to evenly distribute pressure. I'm no professional, but after trying actual oodles of saddles on Isabel, I've got a sense of what will no way no how work. This looks passable. Professional input will be forthcoming soon!!

meanwhile, Bast shows off Charlie's old saddle
And in the meantime I was tickled to see my own Bates look like a similarly passable potential fit for Bast! Obvi I'll let Austen tell her own stories, but it's always reassuring when a trade feels relatively even.

and omg but that ear fuzz is so cute, i die
I say "relatively" bc... uh.... my dressage saddle should not be confused for anything nice. It's.... not. It's slippery and barely leather. But it's suited me well enough all these years, and nobody will argue if it can serve as at least an interim solution for Austen and Bast. Who remains, as ever, too goddamn freakin cute. And also really looking like a dressage horse in training!!

back to charlie, trying my trainer's hulsebos saddle. it has clearance galore in every dimension. perhaps a titch wide
Anyway the other contender in Santa's stork delivery (that's how it works, right?) is my trainer's first ever custom Hulsebos. She now has approximately one zillion custom Hulsebos saddles (one of which she sold to Brita last year, and Brita is now officially an absolute dyed-in-the-wool convert), but this is her first ever and she has a strong attachment to it.

Not least because it's made specifically for a large thoroughbred: built for a horse with a peaked back, instead of flat. And loads of wither clearance. For these reasons, it's not actually clear that she'd consent to sell it. But she's considering it, and has offered it to me on loan indefinitely.

doesn't sit down on him when i ride tho
If anything, this saddle is a titch wide on Charlie - but he's gone well in it so far when we ride. The Hulsebos rep comes regularly to our farm per my trainer P (and nobody else is allowed to touch this saddle) so we could potentially reflock it for him. And in the meantime, the fitter I already have scheduled can eyeball and assess it, she's just not allowed to alter it in any way.

unimpressed poneh is unimpressed
So. Ya know. I feel grateful to have options ahead of that visit. Especially all options with wool flocking. Even tho I kinda hate all saddle fitters and think the whole business borders on subjective sham-fulness..... Too harsh? Mebbe. lol....

Hopefully tho I'll have a chance to ride a couple times in Austen's saddle, and perhaps a couple more in the Hulsebos too for the sake of completeness. And to get trainer P and dressage trainer C's input. It would be nice to have more fully fledged opinions before the fitter, if possible.

But. Ahem. I also hope my horse doesn't fester into full blown joint infection in the meantime too. We can dream, right? And in the meantime, Merry Christmas Even, y'all!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

nails on chalkboard

My first real job as a teenager - the first one where I drew an actual official paycheck with taxes withheld and the whole nine yards - was at my first barn. It was a small, fairly isolated place owned and operated by an extremely old school horsewoman who was fiercely protective of her fuzzy wonderful sainted lesson ponies.

She had a very strict view of her world's order, and was convinced that not only was her way the right way, but it was the only way. While I didn't learn much about the wider world of horses outside of the universe at her barn, she did teach us an awful lot about horse care and management.

dis how dark legged horses tell you there's a problem
Just like at any barn, our horses there had their own share of random accidents and injuries, ranging from benign to fairly catastrophic.

One instance that will always stay in my memory was a morning when every herd in every field seemed to be lit up. Like they all had the wind up their collective butts. Esp the adjacent mares and school pony fields - they were just running around like loons. Pretty innocently tho, it seemed, so we let them be.

seems innocent enough
Later, after things had quieted, I went out to grab Penny for a lesson. She had been running around earlier but stood politely for me to catch her. Nothing seemed amiss. Except.... I noticed some drops of blood on her hoof. Further investigation found a somewhat minor but very fresh wound on her cannon. And.... she was lame.

but what the fuck charlie?!? this was embedded in his pastern
That was one of the longest walks of my life - leading her up the hill out of her low lying pasture (by a stream bed for water) and up to the arena so the owner could examine her. Penny was a champ - she never fought being asked to move. But it was slow going.

wahl mini cordless clippers = useless + will be returned
It turned out she had fractured a hind leg. Who knows how.. she never told us. Luckily for all involved, it was not a fore leg, and she was a reasonable patient. Not the best patient in the whole world.... but she accepted her fate of being consigned to stall rest for a very long time. And - miraculously - made a full recovery.

still looks remarkably innocent tho for that blood and the goddamn mini spike
Ever since then, tho, I always feel a spike in heart rate whenever I see blood on a hoof. Sometimes it's just innocent droplets form when the flies and gnats are savaging a horse's belly. Every now and then, tho, it speaks to a worse injury.

hard to even see the spot where the barb was buried
Charlie didn't say a word about feeling ouchy anywhere as I brought him in from the field (in daylight! on a warm day! for us to have FUN and JUMP THINGS! on my first of FIVE DAYS OFF!!). Nor did he fuss as I brushed around his legs. But.... then I saw that bloody hoof and just fucking knew he had done some shit. Ugh.

lacerations seem superficial. i'm not even sure why they bled so much, and how the blood splattered where it did
My immediate gut feeling was that he had done a Dino and lacerated all around his pastern. Initial poking and prodding supported this, since the area was crusted with blood. I went to gather my supplies: hot water, betadine scrub, sponges, etc; and set in to clean this puppy up and see what we were dealing with.

there's the one and only puncture. appears to have gone sideways instead of deep in toward the joint. praise be.
But my heart just about stopped when I felt something hard and metallic on the back of his pastern. It slid out easily enough, tho -- what appeared to be a bent nail. Or perhaps a broken off barb from barbed wire? I'll probably never know for sure, bc Charlie's staying mum about the whole thing, but based on the lacerations and suspicious metal object, I'm guessing he somehow stepped in some old barbed wire somewhere. It's an old farm. Who knows what's out there.

charlie, for his part, was very nonchalant about the whole thing
In any case, the resulting puncture in close proximity to a joint immediately set off every alarm bell and red flag in my mind, and I called the vet. Who talked me off the ledge, saying that Charlie's soundness and complete lack of any type of reaction suggested we probably escaped a serious injury here.

lacerations covered with liquid bandage, puncture left open
She instructed me to clip the area and clean it up really well, and send pictures. I was directed to pull apart the edges of every lacerations looking for other holes, and spray everything that didn't have a puncture with liquid bandage. The only puncture was where the barb had been, and it seemed to go sideways instead of deep in toward the joint. Thank fucking god.

mmmmm drugs
So now Charlie is back on yet another course of antibiotics and a "wait and see" protocol. He got to return to his field on this day bc it was pretty dry out, but stayed in today bc of rain and mud.

"you mean that's it, no ride??"
It's hard to believe but he might actually be totally 100% fine -- the lacerations are all very superficial and that puncture seems to have not actually gone anywhere. Just a big, spiky splinter. In my mind, an ideal situation would be for the puncture to split open so the whole thing can air out and heal more quickly.

"bye felicia!"
Naturally I was pretty disappointed - again - bc, you guessed it, I had plans and stuff for this weekend. Five days off from work, and all my holiday stuff is local. And of course the weather is turning to true winter this coming week, but today and yesterday were in the 50s. Goddammit, Charlie.

"cute how you planned a five day weekend full of riding, haha. hahaha."
He, however, seemed quite tickled with himself lol. Got to come in from the field, get loved on a fussed over with lots and lots of treats to encourage him to keep being a good quiet boy, a whole extra meal (laced with all them drugs he never seems to notice), and then back out to his friends again! All with no riding!

Sometimes, I swear, he does this shit on purpose. Oh well tho, I can't help but feel grateful that the injury wasn't worse. And am hoping there aren't any complications with it healing. Wish us luck haha! And in the meantime I hope everyone is having a safer start to a holiday weekend, whether you're celebrating or not.