Friday, May 4, 2018

keepin up with chuck

So I came back from Kentucky 18 different kinds of motivated and inspired and eager to get back to work. Mostly bc I'm a creature of habit and missed our routine after having a quieter-than-expected April. But also bc... ya know, it's fun and I love it.

charlie and his doppleganger enjoying that lush lush lush grass
But a couple things happened this week that kinda had us sticking to a lower gear. Thing #1: I wormed Charlie, which I'm not convinced makes a difference, but with Sir's sensitive soul, anything is possible.

Thing #2: O.M.G. it got reeeeeal hot here really suddenly. Well, ok. Not like, July hot. And not obscenely humid yet either... But after a lot of very pleasant 50s and 60s, we were a tad unprepared for temps shooting up to the upper 80s and low 90s. Charlie isn't even fully shed out yet! (not that you can notice with his baby fine coat lol....)

yup, werkin hard on that grass baby!
On top of that, barn mgmt has begun transitioning Charlie's herd to grass this past week. Last year at Charlie's previous barn, there wasn't such a distinct transition from hay to grass since they just stayed in the same field and began eating the grass as it grew.

At this farm, tho, he's been in a sacrifice paddock on a round bale all winter, and this attached grassy pasture has been resting and growing and is now LUSCIOUS.

then walkin it out, bc homeboy felt like a bloated regretful kid after a birthday party after wayyyy too much cake
And Charlie is definitely feeling the effects. I can only guess that he gets out there and gorges himself like a fat kid in a donut shop. Or, ya know. Like a skinny TB who's sick of hay and has been smelling all that sweet sweet grass growing just out of reach for weeks now.

In fact, I'm pretty sure his extreme desire for grass is what has led to all these dings, the recent puncture, and that little splint on his legs. It's about 95% certain that he (and others...) have been trying to climb the fence to get to the grass. So. Ya know. I'm glad to see an end to that....

nice easy slow hack, pretty sure that extreme dip half way through are from crossing a deep natural ditch in the woods
He definitely doesn't feel good tho when he comes in off the grass. Kinda standing parked out with a leg in each corner looking pitiful. Not colicking, fortunately, but clearly uncomfortable. Like, third trimester grass baby uncomfortable. And has been reluctant to finish his dinners.

it's an ice loop - counter clockwise out around charlie's summer pasture (bottom right corner, up along the road, then through the woods, down another fence line, then the woods again before cutting back to the barn through another pasture
But that's ok, big guy. We can take care of your bloated belly. As much as I would love to do like, a nice flat school or maybe jump a couple fences, it's kinda been feeling a little too hot for that anyway.

Nothing feels quite so refreshing and irresistible as a carefree hack through the cool, shady woods!!

ok i still don't have pics from all my rolex shopping, sorry. you'll get those when we finally get dressed again for a real dressage ride. but here's a sneak preview for now!
Which, conveniently, seemed to agree with Charlie perfectly. He was happy to walk out on his own for a quick little loop through the woods, and chose a very pleasant yet active pace.

I used my new Altitude Profile app again (which will be a recurring theme for a little while, until I get bored of it, probably haha) to get a better sense of distances. This loop we did is one of the shortest but I was still pleased to get a measure on some of the gentle inclines, like that long straight line at the top of the satellite map - that's a nice flat fence line path and is great for a trot or canter too.

very pretty, yes? super lightweight too, and omg those spikes are so so grippy
Once we got back to the barn, I let Charlie nose through his dinner leftovers for a little bit, but he still wasn't super interested so I pulled him back out for a quick rinse off in the cooler evening temps. Luckily a barn friend was able to check in on him later in the evening and confirmed that he did finish his dinner by then.

Plus I left a note for the morning folks to keep an eye on him and he was totally fine by breakfast.

sir looking far less pitiful after his post-grass, pre-ride hose off
Same story tho the next day. And actually he was apparently so pitiful looking after coming in for dinner that a couple other boarders reached out to the barn owner and manager letting them know Charlie might be in distress.

And he definitely was.... very sad looking when I got there just a little while later. Very sweaty all over his eyelids and forehead and ears and neck and shoulders. Basically, a hot mess. Emphasis on hot. Esp since the winter windows are still installed in the barn, so there's limited air circulation.

remembered my lovely bonnet from Liz + Snappy this time, bc Sir has FEELINGS about gnats
Again, tho, not colicky. Just... uncomfortable. But he turned around to greet me as soon as he saw me approaching, and was happy to eat his new favorite treats that were given to all FMF entrants that he's pretty sure are made of pure uncut horsey crack cocaine (Purina's apple + oat biscuits, if anybody is curious).

the woods are so so pretty this time of year tho, and so refreshing during this current heatwave
And again I just pulled him out immediately to our lovely al fresco wash stall for a quick rinse, and to dry off in the breezy shade while I brushed his mane and tail. This revived him significantly (see above pic where he looks pretty normal) and by the time he was dry, another barn mate was ready to head out for another quiet hack through the woods.

the bugs are getting worse out in the fields but it's still nice to get out! also, anybody remember that green rolltop?? lol...
Charlie's a lovely horse on the trails, whether in company or by himself. I think he prefers company tho - don't most horses? He will lead or follow comfortably, too, mostly choosing to lead if other horses are going slower than him.

Sometimes tho I think he likes following. He's generally a very thinking horse, but it feels like when he's got a horse in front of him leading the way that he just... will turn that off and follow along kinda mindlessly. Almost a little bit trance-like, he just follows right along.

my hacking buddy on this ride has been at the property for years and clearly knows how to work the hills!
It's kinda nice, honestly, and I think he enjoys being able to take a break from thinking and enjoy some mindlessness. It's certainly nice to have a horse that can turn off like that too, considering some horses, uh, just... ya know, don't. Like, ever.

she also showed me a few new places in the woods, and knew how to really use all the available space
It was also nice getting to ride with this barn mate since she's been at the farm for many years and knows the trails like the back of her hand. Plus she does all her conditioning in the woods - being too bored by endless loops through the fields and appreciating that the ground stays softer in the woods. So she really knows how to capitalize on all the hills.

Actually, a couple hills (like the field in the top left corner) she had us tackle differently: going diagonally across from right to left, bottom to top, instead of hugging the upper tree line like I normally do. This makes for a longer, tho slightly more gradual climb.

Anyway, tho, by the end of this ride Charlie felt like a million bucks. After the hour long ride he was warm but not particularly sweaty, and marched happily down the driveway back to the barn. Then tucked immediately into his leftover dinner once back in his stall. Perfect!

Naturally we'll keep an eye on him over the next few weeks and I'm hoping barn mgmt will agree to continuing the gradual transition to grass. But I'm also gonna maybe experiment with muzzles, at least for a couple weeks. I have very low confidence that Charlie will agree to wear a muzzle, since he has declined every fly mask I've tried... But we'll see.

Does your horse struggle with seasonal changes? How have you managed? Do you get to control their introduction to spring/summer grass? Or kinda just hope for the best with whatever plan your barn adheres to?

23 comments:

  1. Man, Chuck, your grass antics are making me relive the last time I stuffed myself sick on macaroni and cheese. Not pleasant, man. Though... you know? I could really go for some mac and cheese right now.

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    1. mmmmm mac and cheeeeese.... now that you mention it, i'm about 97% positive that, much like the fat kid in a donut shop, charlie would still try to eat that mac and cheese despite having already chowed down on everything else in sight lol

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    2. I was going to make a similar analogy with a different kind of food. The struggle is so real. YOLO.

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    3. so real omg. charlie wouldn't have it any other way haha

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  2. Our paddocks grow a little grass so it's a gradual transition for us. But, I have seen Mr. Duke gorged to the extent that you describe on hay. I feel bad for him knowing he's uncomfortable but at the same time have little pity since he did it to himself. Those rides can be tough but he always feels way better after moving around. And it was NINETY here on Wed. WTF? I'm not ready for August yet.

    And OOOOHHHH! Are those the Tech Athena? I have the Iris for jumping (same but with drainage holes), and just got the Aphrodite for dressage. Also bought my trainer the Venice. I LOVE mine and Ronan loves his. I am a total convert to this brand. I adore my stirrups and find them worth the cost. I hope you like them as much as I do!

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    1. omgosh yes charlie definitely felt so much better after moving around in the fresh air and cool woods. gotta keep those guts active!!!

      and actually the stirrups are stubben maxi grips, but they look like a super similar concept to the tech athenas! i've never really had "fancy" stirrups before but the circumstances that led to these becoming mine were such that i couldn't resist! i've only used them this one time tho, and just walking through the woods, so probably i'll have more to write later once i've used them more!

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    2. Ah ok! That makes sense as mine are branded a bit and I didn't see that on yours. They look extremely similar and I'll be once you get rocking and rolling with them you'll love them :)

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    3. yea i'm really excited, actually! i've had compositis on my jump saddle for the last couple years but just plain old school fillis irons on my dressage saddle and have been vaguely considering updating. for now, my plan is to keep these new stubbens on the jump saddle and move the compositis to the dressage saddle, but i'm gonna feel it all out for a little bit!

      i definitely appreciate the lighter weight tho - you never realize how much heavier old school fillis irons are until you're constantly schlepping saddles around to and from the trailer....

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  3. When Amber was on grass pasture in Texas once spring hit....OMG. That's the fattest that horse has ever been haha. She seriously looked ready-to-foal pregnant lol! We left shortly after and she lost the weight with more consistent and challenging work but wow was she huge lol. So glad Charlie is still doing okay tho! Like a kid with a whole birthday cake that horse haha! I know Amber would have as many dings as him trying to get to all that new grass too lol

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    1. omg haha isabel is the same way. just sniffing that grass makes her balloon to the size of a house! the spring grass last year was a real boon for charlie bc that's when he finally turned the corner after crashing post track. tho.... uh, it also coincided with his feet falling apart.

      so. ya know. it's a balancing act. i'd be cool with him gaining a little weight right now, but i'm already obsessing over his feet..... it's always something with these horses!!!

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  4. Sorry, the "third trimester grass baby" made me lol. Bridget is definitely one to overindulge and then feel kind of awful. Not that she learns...she's like "UGHH I feel so gross, I must need to eat!"
    I've used a grazing muzzle on her before, but it was getting hung up on pretty much everything and she went a little bit Hannibal Lecter as she couldn't actually bite the other horses in turnout and they mocked at her for it - it was kind of weird, lots more fighting and aggression from her. Anyway, if you've got a horse that is accident prone, I'd be cautious about making sure it really is easily breakaway and safe.

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    1. lol i'm glad you got a chuckle (lol puns) out of the grass baby joke. that's exactly what he looked like tho!!

      and yea that's a great point about the muzzle getting hung up. isabel wore a muzzle often but she was an infinitely careful mare with excellent self preservation. charlie is.... well, none of those things. i fully expect him to try to take it off bc that's what he's done with literally every fly mask i've put on him, but i guess i'll need to walk that line between "hard to rub off" and "will actually get him stuck horribly in some way that only he could devise...." really tho i'm thinking this is just a phase, a transition period, and his belly will get used to the new diet soon!

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  5. Ha! Poor Charlie. Moderation my man! Gemnis a fat cow right now but thankfully she is out on grass year round so never really gorges. I switched her to antation balancer and she is angry. She knickers at me every time she sees me and tries to get brought in for food every chance she can. Mare is on 30 acres of grass but she apparently thinks she is starving.

    Gem turns her brain off when we follow on trail as well. It is nice for her to get a break from her constant doing wheel.

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    1. lol moderation indeed. unfortunately i'm pretty sure charlie's an all or nothing type horse tho haha. also gem sounds like isabel - who also only got a ration balancer except when we were at our competition/training peak. i remember once she had to be on SMZs for something or another, so she was getting twice daily meals to facilitate the meds. but when she finished the antibiotics she also lost her second meal and was MAD about it lol

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  6. So jealous of green grass! Everything is still brown here, and with little rain in the forecast it might stay that way for a bit.

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    1. oh man, we've had like... a green *tinge* to things for a while now, but it's really just in the last week that everything has erupted into full on lushness. it's honestly kinda crazy!

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  7. Kiiiinda hoping horsey boot camp is gonna keep Cessa from doing her normal "ok, now you jiggle" spring routine.

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    1. haha we can only hope right?? this time of year is both amazing and reeeeally challenging for some of these ponies haha

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  8. Poor Charlie! Hopefully the grass is eaten down enough soon that he won't have to rely on his willpower :P

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    1. yea.... i'm thinking they'll probably mow it at some point in the near future but the grass just plain old exploded in the last week or so. it's not gonna disappear any time soon tho, esp considering there are two more pastures resting and waiting for his herd!!

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  9. Oh man I feel you with the over-indulgent fat kid! Dino has been just a little “blah” this week too between the heat and the boys getting out on grass for the first time. Hopefully everyone will adjust soon!

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    1. yea it's always an adjustment period for sure. luckily charlie seems to have made the transition reasonably quickly, but it's never fun seeing them so blah!

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  10. He had the horse equivalent of the meat sweats.. the grass sweats

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