Wednesday, June 30, 2021

heat sinks

One of these days I'll need to do a deeper dive into my current sense of goals / hopes / wishes / dreams etc when it comes to riding. Especially after not really feelin like doing the full cross country round at Shawan last month. 

vignette of horse and bucket
In the meantime, tho, there's been one sort of immediate and unexpected shift in our typical riding plans since realizing I'm not currently particularly motivated to embark on a 2,000m gallop across country over obstacles. Namely: our approach to fitness has changed. Uh, kinda bigly. 

charlie loves buckets and sniffing poo; and especially loves sniffing poo inside buckets
Like, obviously I still care about fitness because Charlie's lengthy career on the track means he's at his soundest when kept at a certain base level of condition. Motion is lotion and all that -- his muscles play an important role in keeping his skeleton happy haha. So ya know, we want to keep the muscles in reasonably good shape.

sometimes the driveway at this place feels endless
Given that Charlie's also a bit of a slug, he benefits from fitness by helping keep the work feeling "easy." That little bit extra in cardio fitness helps ensure that he doesn't run out of gas or feel like the work is too hard or punishing, and quit on me. Does that make sense? 

random old springhouse building
But ya know. He IS a thoroughbred. Keeping a base level of fitness on him is, uh, not challenging. And it most certainly does not require me pounding him into the ground. 

Learning how to get a horse fit enough for training level eventing was always kinda a weakness for me. The two summers where I was really seriously trying to move the horse up, we repeatedly ran into issues with sore feet and muscles. Plus, endless trot sets actually had a bit of a dulling effect on the horse too, or at least I thought so. 

hustling across the sun cooked field toward the cooler woods
It turns out -- proper conditioning really is kinda complicated. There's a real art and science to it. Sure, there are a million books on the subject and everyone has a certain method that they like for building horses up etc. 

But... it's also kinda a known thing that a lot of acute (and chronic) injuries occur during the conditioning work itself, rather than actually at a show or in a lesson. Which makes sense, when we think about it. It turns out.... poorly executed conditioning plans are maybe doing more harm than good. Altho like all things with horses, we all have to learn the lessons one way or another, even if sometimes it's by learning the hard way. 

pictured: refreshing relief from the heat!
Now that I'm stepping back from any immediate plans of running an XC phase (again, ~2,000m at speeds between 350-500mpm), it's like a whole low grade stressor has been lifted from my shoulders. Honestly I didn't even really realize how much that piece of the puzzle was constantly in the back of my mind. 

Are we fit enough? Is Charlie going to be mentally and physically sharp enough to cover my ass if I make a mistake at the end of a long course? What are the pros / cons to getting in these trot sets even tho we're in the middle of a drought and the ground is harder than concrete?? Am I going to permanently lame my horse or shorten his useful life bc I'm so freakin bad at this??? Real questions, y'all. I have them. 

we call it the snackamore for reasons haha
So I'm trying to adapt how I think about "fitness" in our riding habit. Namely, my focus lately has been more on variety. Variety in exercises we tackle, in how I expect Charlie to carry his body, in the terrain we work over, and the speeds we go. 

One big example: I'm doing more "proper schooling" rides out on grass. Whether that's in the cross country fields, or the small orchard paddocks the farm uses for warm up and a second court at events. Benefits include that the grass often feels cooler and is less dusty than the ring. And the relative terrain makes things just tricky enough that when we get back into the ring -- suddenly the movement feels way easier. 

Only real downside is the bugs haha. Ooooh, and Charlie's propensity to trip and nearly eat shit when he's being lazy about going forward. Ahem, lol.

back home again after a quick circuit <3
I've also tried to inject more "zest" into our trail rides too. It's so buggy out right now that Charlie honestly doesn't really want to walk anyway -- much better to outrun the biting monsters. But.... I don't have to get bogged down in precise details about exactly how we do it, ya know?

Like, there's this one little loop out in the woods that we've done basically a million times. Takes about 5min if you trot the whole loop. Maybe more like 15min if you only trot some of it (like the sections with fun fallen logs that Charlie LOVES jumping!). 

It's not much -- but it's plenty to get his blood up, get him moving across varying terrain, and feeling like he's having FUN vs working. Plus, by the time you factor in getting out into the woods, and getting back home again, it ends up being a very respectable 35min ride. 

chillin out, literally, under the fan post-hosing
Very respectable -- and hella satisfying. Which is nice, bc when I was constantly worrying about "fitness and conditioning omg" it always felt like it wasn't enough, ya know? But... actually, lol. It IS enough. Probably always has been, let's be real. 

And it's definitely nice to not always be worrying about it. Bc lord knows I can obsess over controlling even the most ridiculous little details haha. And fitness plans lend themselves all too perfectly to exactly the sort of micromanaging neurosis I'd like to experience less of in my day to day life LOL. 

Has anybody else kinda had similar experiences with trying to figure out the right conditioning plans for your horses? 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

summer vibes

I had this really excellent (imho) plan going into the late spring competition season. Basically: Do all the things!! Haha.... 

That plan got kinda modified when I realized that, hrm, actually, I don't really want to do "all" the things. But some of them? Yes, absolutely. 

feel like i finally nailed the stall fan positioning this year -- the angle is just right so that charlie gets great coverage in all his favorite hangout spots in this enormous stall
So as usual, we adapted. We'd had a few lackluster jumping lessons over the springtime, plus some even less inspiring schooling sessions on our own. Basically, Charlie is kinda bored and a bit of a slug sometimes when it comes to "practice." 

But then we'd get to a show -- like our CT at Thornridge, and even the show jumping phase at Shawan a couple weeks ago -- and homeboy was on fire. In the best way possible. Professional Charlie attacked those rounds like the seasoned competitor he is, and felt like a much different creature than the lazy disinterested slug I occasionally find myself riding at home.  

he still likes coming out into the crossties tho <3
Thus: the new plan!! If Charlie wanted to be so bored about jumping at home or in lessons, but was such a good boy at shows.... Then, ya know, Fine! I can live with that haha -- let's just go to little schooling shows every weekend to get our jumps in!!

Sadly tho, just a few short weeks in and that newly revised plan is kinda in shambles now too haha. Y'all remember how the jump rounds somewhat infuriatingly failed to materialize at that one hunter show we went to. And since then, another Thornridge CT was rained out, and two other planned jumper shows got the kibosh when the weather looked nasty AF. 

actually asleep lol -- look at that lip!
And meanwhile, during all this time, our normal weekly lessons were on a slight hiatus first due to scheduling shenanigans all through May -- and then bc my coach had some unanticipated downtime due to injury. 

She's fine, fortunately, tho! And, even better -- is recovering and back to teaching. Yay!

"i said i was sleeping :( " -- charlie, probably
Like, I still feel like Charlie's kinda a harder horse to ride at home and in lessons bc he's just not the same as he is at a show. Especially when the jumps in our lessons aren't particularly big enough to be of much interest to him. 

But, eh. Whatever. I still prefer to jump at least once a week -- mostly bc dammit it's fun and I wanna haha. So we'll take what we can get. 

forever strollin
Lately that has meant just cruising around on my own jumping whatever happens to be set up in the ring. Typically, lots of random singles and lines set at unpredictable distances with fences ranging from little X's to every now and then a couple 2'6 options. 

hey look -- it's a pic of me on my horse!
This week, tho, we did finally have our big return to an actual lesson!! And it was just me and one of trainer P's barn rats who was riding a new-ish green red mare school horse. So they were definitely down to have a little fun. 

spying on the pony club kids learning how to gallop
None of the jumps have moved very much in the arena in recent weeks (again, see previous note about P's injury), and I already knew that most of the lines were set at extremely short lesson pony distances. Which ya know. 

Again, isn't exactly my favorite bc while practicing on short distances can be a very useful exercise -- Charlie already knows that game inside and out. He's long since realized it's easier for him to just slug along behind my leg, vs getting into that bouncy impulsive collected type canter. 

oooooh jumpin innneresting exercises -- this 90* set up is actually a bounce
But. Eh, whatever. While our plans have adapted and evolved over the spring and into early summer, and my interests in various outings have waxed and waned... One detail has remained consistent. Charlie *must* move forward off my leg. Always and forever. No excuses, no fussing. No sucking back allowed. 

more fun exercises -- two of my all time favorites: a simple 60' line for practicing adjusting your canter stride; and another line of 9'-18'-9' for practicing footwork
So we kept that mantra going into this ride: The lines would be easy, the jumps would probably be small. And I wasn't going to drill down crazy into the details or make him repeat anything a zillion times. But. But. He *must* stay in front of the leg haha. 

"somebody call peta i'd like to report a horse murder" -- charlie, definitely
After a few first lazy efforts, tho, Charlie was actually 100% on board!! Yay good boy!! 

So we got to practice all sorts of fun related distances: 2- 3- 4- and 5-stride lines. A nice triple combination with one segment bending away. A surprising number of technically challenging short turns out of the corners. And, a fun little bounce combo made from verticals set at right angles. 

he is the sweatiest foamiest horse i swear to god
Honestly, I swear -- Charlie lives for fun interesting puzzle type exercises. He's a grid-savant, and has really come so so so SO far in his footwork. 

Like, obviously we introduced the horses to the bounce gradually so that they understood it. But even in our last course where I definitely had him a little too close to the narrow side, making it a VERY short bounce, Charlie still figured it out. Good boy!

It was kinda a nice reminder too that the horse really does like it when the jumps are just a little bit higher. So much time spent jumping on my own means that I'm lazy and go with whatever's set up. But trainer P did put a couple up slightly higher in this lesson (and by "slightly higher" I mean mayyyybe N height. maybe). 

And obvi Charlie just ate them right up lol.

brave horse navigating death alley on the way to his turnout...
Somehow this year, I've become a complete baby about the weather (on top of my existing obsession over ground conditions for Poor Mr Delicate Toes), so it's anybody's guess how much we'll get into now that things are getting properly hot around here. 

I swear, I used to be so much tougher haha.... Used to go on epic 2pm cross country clinic rides at Windurra in 95*F; used to compete in the middle of summer as if salty B's like me were immune to the heat haha.  But now it'll crack past 88* and I'm like, "ooooh, better not, it's gross out" haha.... 

until next time, buddy!
Oh well, tho haha. Maybe this is what it means to get old? Or turn into my mother?? LOL ok don't actually answer that.... 

For real tho. I've got a couple ideas for how to keep getting out even when it's gross. CTs in particular seem really attractive right now bc: 1) ride times (sorry h/j land, this matters) and 2) committing to a 90sec jump course feels a lot more realistic right now than a 5min xc run haha. For, uh, many reasons, ahem. 

So hopefully something will work out. In the meantime, it feels good to keep getting in some low key and enjoyable practice sessions!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

saying goodbye is never easy

Gosh, it feels like only yesterday when we first welcomed the 17-year Brood X cicadas into our lives... These screaming bumbling thumb-sized missiles came storming onto the scene around mid-May, and have endeared (??) themselves in no uncertain terms.

charles + his "foals," wishing it wasn't so freakin buggy out tho omg
Well. Ok, "endeared" is the wrong word for sure LOL. Just ask my teen barn mates who shriek like firecrackers every time they get dive-bombed by one of the things. Which, uh, is often lol. And, true story: one barn mate even started donning a bee bonnet as an extra layer of safety haha.

houston, we have a hitchhiker! 
But ya know, we've gotten used to the bugs. They're literally everywhere, on every surface, in every tree and shrub. Plus -- since they're such heavy poor flyers, they're always looking for a surface to land on. Preferably: right into the side of your neck when you least expect it. 

cruisin through the jungle
Honestly I was surprised by how chill the horses are with them. In my mind, the cicadas look and sound like horseflies on steroids. Considering how twitchy and panicky horses get in the presence of those big biting flies, I legit expected they'd lose their shit completely upon getting pelted by yet another wayward cicada. 

pictured: ALL of the cicadas. all of them.
But... Somewhat amazingly, that hasn't been the case. The bugs stupidly fly directly into the horses -- into their flanks, their faces, their ears, whatever... And the horses don't seem to mind or even notice lol.

every little tree branch - and i do mean every - is covered
It's been loud tho. Like, the kind of constant humming background noise that you almost (almost) forget about, right until it switches off and you realize just how deafening it had been. Like that moment when the timer switches off on a barn full of fans and suddenly everything falls silent....

which square on apocalypse bingo do these count toward?
I wonder if the noise has been having an effect on the horses tho -- sorta like how the noise from wind can make them more spooky since they can't hear approaching tigers or whatever (lol, beware the tigers of the Maryland wilds!). Maybe the horses are a touch more on edge bc of the constant screaming?

"omg" - charles, probably wondering why he suddenly can't hear anymore given the deafening cicada screams
It's hard to say, really. In any case, tho, after weeks of incessant buzzing and dive-bombings.... It's suddenly, quiet again. 

"the end times are definitely here" - charles
Almost like even the birds are a little subdued -- their weeks of gorging on the plentiful protein are maybe catching up to them with hushed little food comas lol. 

i spy with my little eye, another buggie along for the ride
It was blissfully rainy and cool yesterday -- with the steady drizzle rinsing most of the remaining little crunchy cicada exoskeletons off all the tree trunks and branches. But even in today's warm sun, there's just.... quiet.

let's definitely pretend like it's the cicada that scuffed up my nice french leather, and not my neglectful care lol
They're still here, of course. Lots and lots and lots of the cicadas. Bc dear lord, I really cannot impress upon you just how many there really are.

"just takin my pet cicada for a pony ride!!" - charlie, the bestest boy
But... It's apparent that their days are numbered. The plague is ending haha. The cacophony is coming to a close, for another 17 years lol.

for real tho, get offa me!
And I gotta say. I'm gonna miss the little buggers haha. 

cruisin death alley with another, screamin murderous warnings into his ear, no doubt
They're so weird and bizarre, and also, of course, completely harmless. Well. Ok, mostly harmless lol -- luckily this year while I know a few folks who had unfortunate surprise visits through open car windows while driving, I haven't heard of any actual accidents haha. 

did i mention, when you touch them, they scream at you?? lol
And it's kinda been a fun game to observe random strangers suddenly busting out aggressive dance moves, and guess "Hm, surprise cicada attack, or actual crazy person?"  

looking forward to a more peaceful - and quieter - day once they're all gone!
But ya know. All good things come to an end eventually haha. So long, Brood X, and god speed. See ya again in 17 years, if we should all be so lucky!!

Monday, June 7, 2021

in which we are judged accordingly

So.... Charlie and I have a pretty spotty history with schooling dressage shows. And by "spotty," I mean... abysmal lol....

Who could forget that time I took a very green Charles to a small local show back in 2017, when the dressage judge scolded me for attempting such advanced tests as ... BN-A with a horse who obviously needed to go "back to the basics." Like. Ma'am. This is the basics. The basics *is* this. What the ever loving fuck do you think we're doing here??? 

Ahem. Cough cough. 

let's just pretend charlie always trots like this, m'kay?
More recently, in 2019, we came back to the same show the day after participating in a gallop clinic. And the judge was *horrified* by the state of Charlie's soundness. Literally appalled that I, an on-farm rider who literally paid $20 for some mileage in the ring, would dare to present my horse to her in such a condition. Refused to provide any feedback whatsoever, and requested I scratch my second test. 

Which, obviously, I did. I also went ahead and complied with her second (unspoken) request by having a full on meltdown existential crisis over failing this horse that I love more than just about anything else in life.  

LOLZ in case you thought our days of seeing "labored" in the judges comments were over
Now, sure. It's not the judge's responsibility to consider any sort of environmental or external factors when evaluating the horse put before them. 

There is zero expectation that a judge be understanding in the case of a rider who is just learning how to integrate gallop training into a fitness program, and therefore might not realize how it impacts her horse's delicate feet.

But... Call me crazy, but I think there is an expectation that judges do what is asked of them upon being presented with a dressage test: provide feedback. 

aw honey, what a good boy. ahem, emma, fix yer wrists wtf
And by "feedback" -- I don't mean tell me whether you think my horse or I have a future in dressage. Or whether you like my horse or not. I don't really care how Charlie compares to a purpose bred warmblood, or whether I ride in the style of Charlotte or not. Bc, spoilers: that's not why we're here. 

I go to dressage shows bc.... Honestly? It's something to do with my horse. It can be a fun way to spend a day with friends. 

To get show experience that is often lower-key (and lower-risk) than jumping classes. To mark a day on the calendar. Get dressed up, and gussy the horse up too. And go out and do the thing, possibly walking away with some nice pictures, maybe even a ribbon, and -- importantly -- feedback on where things are with our training. 

pictured: what our trot normally looks like in those 10m half turns....
And when it comes to deciding what tests to ride at a show.... Honestly, as a jumping rider who must consider our likely safety in jumping certain heights and combinations, well... Let's be real. The idea of blowing a leg yield in a dressage court sounds pretty low consequence lol. So I often see schooling dressage shows as an opportunity to "level up," so to say.

On this particular day, actually -- it was even simpler than all that, tho. I had "Free Ride" credits with the local dressage association from being secretary for them last year. And the show was at home haha. 

AND. Most importantly: I've had the pleasure of scribing for a few judges who struck me as.... let's say, 'good stewards for the future development of the sport.' By which I *do not* mean they were adept at identifying the next CDI campaigner or whatever. But rather, they took each rider and horse as they were, and judged their tests with an eye toward helping riders continue on their path. Whatever that path may be. 

big horse did a great job in his canters, at least as far as he knows
Because -- I know this might shock you, but.... Sometimes, riders who show up to do low level dressage tests at a schooling show are... exactly that. There to ride a low level test, and should be judged according to the level's standard - and nothing more. Intro level riders aren't 2nd level riders. And 2nd level riders aren't PSG riders. It really is that simple.

As far as I can tell, the VAST majority of english riders will never ride above 1st level or jump above 3'. Most don't even do that, let's be real. Tho ya know, feel free to chime in if you disagree with my anecdotal observation lol.

Anyway, one of these "good steward" judges has been on my list to ride with for basically years now, but it just never quite worked out. When I saw she was judging this weekend tho, I was allllll over it. Not bc I thought she'd give us inflated scores or whatever (tho probably she did). 

charlie can look quite compact from the right angles lol
But.... Bc I figured, at the very least, she probably wouldn't fill my soul with doubt, or make me question every single choice I've ever made with this horse. Rather, I expected she'd likely give us useful feedback. 

Which, naturally, she did. Sure, none of it is groundbreaking --- she wants the same from Charlie as every other judge and dressage trainer wants from him. More engagement, more power from the hind quarters. More push for bigger more quality gaits. 

And, in scoring the test, she did exactly the thing I generally expect (rightly or wrongly) from dressage judges: provide feedback on a score-by-score basis.

his face tho <3 charles murray, just doin his job, ma'am!
There were some movements I thought went better than others. Did the scores reflect that distinction? Yes! -- but, only in places. There were some movements I thought I really went for it (like our canter lengthenings), but... the comments indicated there's still more needed there. 

Some movements that felt better than others -- like the leg yield left vs the leg yield right -- did in fact score better, but she also identified some issues that need fixing even in the better side. 

Overall, the detailed commentary - combined with my memory of the tests, and the video footage (snagged by a very saintly ring steward -- thanks!) - allows me to take a thorough clear look back and say, 
"Yes, this felt good and scored relatively well compared to the rest. That felt like it needed work - and the judge identified xyz as the problem. This other thing felt atrocious but actually the judge liked where it was going."
Which.... is a long-winded way to say, it felt like an effective temperature-check of Charlie's flatwork, and that the judge's comments added definition to my understanding of how it went. 
(also omg the screaming deafening cicadas omg)

It's not groundbreaking stuff -- nothing earth shattering. As we've known for a while, the tune we hit in our "lengthenings" is actually probably right about where our "working" gaits need to be. For reference: the stretchy trot circle at the end of our test when I felt like I was getting run TF away with, that's where the judge said she wanted our frame and energy ALL the time*.

(*I'd note here tho, for my own record: In that moment, he doesn't look super downhill, tho obviously he's not very uphill. He FEELS hella downhill, tho, and the way he feels in that moment is 100% a feeling I never ever EVER want at the takeoff point to a jump... so... my instinct has been to err on the side of "but can we jump from this balance?" even when it means sacrificing some of what a dressage judge wants. Excellent riders can make it all happen in one neat tidy package. For me, tho, I've got to pick my battles lol....)

Charlie's also obviously not super round in any of the movements -- which makes sense when you consider I haven't ridden the horse on the bit in our practice for damn near a year at this point LOL. Tho, notably, the comments don't dwell on the connection. 

gosh it's so easy to pick ourselves apart in pictures like this (like wtf am i doing with my shoulders tho?!) but i love what a tank this horse has become <3 <3
So. Overall. I feel like I finally got the experience out of a dressage show that has been so elusive for so many years: We got in there, rode a test that's probably a little beyond our pay grade, and got feedback on where we're doing ok and which parts need more attention. 

Incredible that this feels like such a win haha. But ya know. Maybe your mileage has varied?

Friday, June 4, 2021

state of the charles

Happy Friday!! For a short week, this one really dragged on lol..... Anyway, Spring is officially wrapping up around these parts, with a full blast of 90* summer headed our way shortly. So it feels like a nice time to recap what all Charlie got up to wellness-wise this season.

"we ride at dawn"
#1: The State of Charlie's Feet. 

Guys, omg. I don't know exactly what the difference is this year, but we're in a completely different place right now with Charlie's hoof care compared to this time last year. Obviously the covid lockdown last spring really took a toll, but I think there's more to it. 

charlie's front feet at 5wks on the last day of May
Finally this year -- finally -- I feel like I got a head start on things. Obviously that could all change at any moment (and yes, writing this post is certainly jinxing me in one way or another) -- but I think a couple things made an early difference.

knocking on all things wood, bc i'm honestly so happy with how they look
First :: Charlie switched into his leather pads up front in March this year. Normally I've waited until May or even June to do that, and have always felt like I waited too long. Like the horse was already a little sore by then. 

This year, it felt like we got him into the pads well before hard ground became an issue. And I also suspect the pads help reduce chipping. 

pictured: self serve buffet grass
Second :: I've been zealous with Keratex applications since basically February. My farrier recommends applying as close to daily as possible, since apparently the polymers build up and bond together on the hoof's surface, improving elasticity and strength? Or something like that haha. 

Idk, but applying more often than the 2-3x a week I'd done before seems to make a difference. 

pretty !!
Third :: Fly boots. Charlie's been living in these Shoo Fly boots up front all spring. Yes, he has little spots of rubbed off hair on his heel bulbs. But... that's it. There's never any irritation or constriction around his coronet band, pastern, or fetlock. Even in wet or muddy conditions. 

But the boots 100% keep the flies and biting insects off his lower legs, drastically reducing stomping. It's probably even odds whether it's the shoe pads, keratex, or fly boots making the biggest difference. I don't really care tho -- I'm continuing all three. 

noshin on the go!
#2: The State of Charlie's Guts. 

Charlie started a course of Ulcergard at the beginning of May. I picked up 2 boxes (12 tubes) of the liquid gold from Big D's (which often has the best price for the brand name stuff) and dosed Charlie with a full tube daily for 9 days, then tapered through the remaining tubes. 

I figured... If I noticed any difference in Charlie's general demeanor through the first 9 days, I'd get another box or two and carry on for a full month. There was no difference shown tho, so we stuck with the 2 box plan.

iggy's trying to understand how charlie ended up on the wrong side of the fence lol
Honestly, Charlie is not at all an ulcery type of horse, and doesn't show any of the characteristic hallmarks. But.... he travels on the trailer frequently. So I always like to do a sorta test treatment about annually -- and it had been a while since we'd used the "good" stuff. 

It felt like a good box to check off the list, so no regrets... but it wasn't really anything ground breaking either.

pc Amy Flemming Waters
#3: The State of Charlie's Skin. 

Oof, Charlie is an itchy SOB throughout spring and summer. Most of it is probably just fly bites. But..... I'm not convinced he doesn't also have mild allergies. Especially after he stuck a leg through a fence (to gruesome effect) itching himself, I've kept OTC allergy pills on hand to help him out. 

i spy with my little eye, an itchy pony
Various folks recommended Cetrizine (active ingredient in Zyrtec), so I keep a bottle on hand for Charlie's itchier days. He'll sometimes eat the pills right out of my hand, but usually I drop them into some grain. 

gotta admit, i reeeeally thought we'd see another case of anaplasmosis from this guy
Also of note in the skin category -- it's still early days and I've already pulled a shit ton of ticks off Charlie. All sorts of varieties too -- the typical deer ticks, a dog tick, and even the above which I suspect to be a lone star tick (the type that often carries anaplasmosis). 

lol behold, charlie's .... stuff
They've really been getting all up in Charlie's junk too, the poor guy. Luckily, tho, no big reactions like swellings or fevers or anything else that might suggest tick borne illness.... But I'm definitely checking often just in case!! 

Also of note: all that bloody scabby nastiness on Charlie's sheath. Like, kinda sorry-not-sorry for the pic, but also... Damn these gnats are vicious. I've got some pink Swat headed my way (recommended over the clear stuff) to help -- but now that Charlie's back on overnight turnout I'm hoping he'll get more relief anyway. Poor dude.... :(
mikey supervises the chiro / acupuncture appointments, per usual
#4: The State of Charlie's Body. 

Charlie had another visit with his favorite chiropractor / acupuncturist a couple weeks ago (sorry no pictures), and she declared him to be doing quite nicely. Was also very happy with the state of his feet (thought they were freshly done when in fact they were at about ~3wks), and felt the back soreness we'd seen last time was majorly reduced. 
another friend snapped these lovely shots of charlie!! <3
Over the years I've had a hard time keeping Charlie on a body wellness schedule when there isn't anything like.... acutely concerning to me. But I'm really gonna try to keep this particular program up. Bc honestly, at the end of the day, Charlie loves it and I always feel like this practitioner can give me a really good read on where Charlie is in that moment. 

So. There ya have it. Everything in Charlieland is kinda hummin right along at the moment, the horse seems to be doing quite well.

I've also tinkered a little with his feed -- reduced the volume of alfalfa pellets and replaced with his Nutrena Pro Force Fuel feed, since he was occasionally not cleaning up. And actually recently pulled the DIY shims back out of my sheepskin half pad, after feeling like maybe we were better off without after all. So far, so good on both accounts.

fun decals spotted on a trailer at loch moy last week LOL -- i love it!
For now, at least, we're in a place of stasis. Things can always change haha -- but honestly it feels good to finally feel like I've got the cadence figured out for our normal seasonal adjustments. 

It's the sort of thing you don't really think about until you own your own horse -- or at least, I never really thought about it. But with Charlie, it felt like Spring constantly caught us off guard in what should have been predictable ways. Here's hoping -- maybe we got it right this year? 

Does anyone else have any major seasonal issues that you have to stay in front of with your horse -- feet, feed, medicines, other wellness issues? How do you keep track of it all?