Saturday, December 30, 2023

silly saturday

Happy weekend, y'all!! Just dropping in to share... the absolute silliest video of my grown ass gelding, hahaha. 

His vet greenlit a return to full paddock turnout with Royal, who you may remember as one of Charlie's best friends and frequent lesson / horse show companion. 
i don't even know what kind of dance move this is.... awkward bronto!!
Well, Royal has been on layup for over a year at this point, and is only now preparing for the gradual reintroduction to herd life. 

Given the timing with Charlie's wound and all, it seemed to make the most sense to reintroduce them in a paddock. And in theory, eventually, when Charlie no longer needs to be bandaged, they can return together to the larger group. 

absolutely ridiculous video, the sound effects seriously kill me
But guys. OMFG. 

Charlie was fucking hilarious hahaha.... Like, obvi it's been a while since they've seen each other. And Charlie's been all keyed up lately, giving his best impression of a 3yo stallion and busting down fences and all that.... 

But omg. OMG. This video. I literally could not believe what I was watching. And the NOISES omg. Omgggggggggg.

the frolic was short lived bc these are in fact out-of-shape middle aged OTTBs hahaha
So absurd haha, this silly goofy gelding of mine.... Fortunately, Royal seemed to be following along more so than getting too drawn into the madness. And ya know, eventually (after about 3min, let's be real), they settled in to nosh some hay. 

It was so cute, throughout the rest of the afternoon they were basically attached at the hip --- eating from the same hay piles, or standing alone side each other, nose to tail. Warms my heart to see them reunited!!

obvi got a little muddy bc the boot exploded in the mayhem... but, eh, that's why baby jesus invented soap
And obvi much better to see them being their normal calm and quiet selves haha, tho the fireworks were certainly entertaining! 

Here's hoping for better days for both of them in the new year! Happy weekend, y'all!

Friday, December 29, 2023

chairlift lad

Happy Friday, y'all!! Hope you're looking forward to a fun and festive New Years weekend!! I know I am :)

furious charles is furious
Anyway, tho, this isn't a fun or a festive post haha, just a bunch more pictures of Charlie (gradually descending into madness) and his hoof wound (progressively healing). 

things are getting serious now that the staples are out!!!
But ya know. Some of us are into wound pics haha, so here they are! 

furious charles made some poor choices and ended up with a boot full of mud... nbd, tho, we just cleaned it up again
Poor Charles, tho, he's really pretty fed up with his confinement. It doesn't help that our current shipment of hay bales doesn't seem to be super palatable, so it doesn't really occupy his interest even when he's a bit hangry.

released into the indoor to hopefully make better choices but still get his roll in
You might also recall I found a small paddock that wasn't too muddy for Charlie to spend some time in unsupervised. 

cute even when mad <3
Unfortunately... Even tho there's double fence with a broad gap to the next paddock, Charlie took his flirting with barbie dream horse Pride too far, and legitimately destroyed the fence, reducing multiple sections to matchsticks with kicking.... 

oh charles!
Ugh, naughty horse!! We heard the commotion from inside the barn (he'd only been out for like 15min, I was cleaning his stall), and when I ran out to investigate he was prancing around, neck arched like a stallion. Charles!

he's so lonely, he kept trying to make friends with the handsome gelding in the mirrors
Obvi we didn't want to repeat that mistake again, but paddock options are limited right now. And the indoor is nice enough for a roll, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly --- esp without food or neighbors.

helped me wipe dust off the mirrors too!
I tried putting Charlie in the little shetland stud paddock, but he didn't seem super settled out there either, womp.

more hand grazing... it's honestly never enough
Confinement is just so hard for a horse who basically feels completely hale and hearty, and who is generally used to spending half of his life loose in large group turnout.... 

damn tho, doesn't that look good?
But we're getting so so SO close with the wound healing, I just need him to be a little more patient, ya know? 

such a stud haha, at least he didn't kick this particular fence to smithereens!! 
I'm trying to be a little more zen about him getting the foot muddy, tho. Like, I have to change the bandage daily anyway bc his steel shoe wears through the wrap's toe that fast.

charles! this is why we can't have nice things!
So, might as well let him frolic a little bit, and then just change the wrap right after, right? And finally a paddock became available that he hasn't tried to destroy -- tho it's definitely quite a bit muddier.

that's better, hon
Given the horse's increasing misery, tho, we'll take it. And ya know, I also reached out to the vet to ask about whether there might be any advantage to going ahead with his hock injections right at the tail end of this stall rest stint. 

same shit, different day
She agreed that it might be nice to minimize the torture by not requiring Charlie to come back in for stall rest again in the near future. So we set a date for that too, yay!

making progress!
And I ended up buying a few bales of nicer high quality hay from a barn mate so that Charlie wouldn't break my heart crying at me about his sadness every time he sees me lol.

most recent pic
Gotta say, he GREATLY APPRECIATES our efforts at appeasing his appetite with the hay!! Not quite so much appreciation about our clever plans re: the hock injections, tho. 

actual photo sent to the vet. this fucking horse. 
Bc obvi the morning of his planned appointment, he had some new scrapes -- presumably from the rock wall in his stall. The scrapes aren't serious.... but his aim was killer..... 

vet asked for a new angle --- bc, yep, turns out that's the EXACT injection site for his intended hock injections. sir, WHY?
I shot the pics off to the vet bc... Eh, I just kinda had a feeling she wasn't going to want to stick a needle into the joint capsule in such close proximity to fresh wounds. And turns out, she agreed! 

found a super nice leather halter in good condition at the consignment shop. odd name***, but pretty sure charles will eventually need some sort of special motorized chair or conveyance to get around if we don't get his hocks done soon!!! ugh haha 
So. Eh, we canceled the appt and at least managed to save my vet the trip... It's not really a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, and certainly not worth the risk of joint injections going badly. Tho it does mean Charlie will have to do time in his stall again whenever we reschedule lol. 

In the meantime, his heel wound is healing so much better than I expected, and we're hopeful that it'll only be a matter of days before he can go back out again. Cross your fingers for us haha!

It'll feel good to close the books on Charlie's 2023, that's for sure. So ya know, here's to a Happy New Year!!

(***Obvi I googled the name "Chairlift Lad" and turns out he was a fixture on the eventing circuit c.15yrs ago, including running at the same events as my friend Scott and Freebee (remember that lovely retiree**** I got to ride during the Covid lockdown?), and Allison Springer and a young up-and-coming Arthur, AND running at the farm where Charlie lives now! It's a small horse world here in Maryland haha. Rest in peace, Lad, Charlie will wear your lovely halter with pride!)

((****Both Freebee and That Red Horse continue to enjoy their retirement, now down in South Carolina <3 ))

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

12 Days of Doozmas

Hope you are all feeling festive and enjoying the holiday season!! And hopefully with minimal family drama lolz......

will stand still for #snacks
If there's one advantage to Charlie's wound, it's that his daily bandage change requirements make for an excellent excuse to insist on escaping to the barn each day! 

i don't get to observe farrier appts very often, but was nice to see her behave herself nicely!
And I've been trying to really maximize my barn time, too. Each year I burn up the remainder of my PTO with a nice little #staycation the week between Christmas and New Years. Late December in Maryland is frequently still pretty mild, so it's awesome to enjoy so much daylight at the barn during what would otherwise be very short days. 

marching toward the unknown
Doozy and I started the #staycation with a lesson on Thursday afternoon, but I'll write about that some other time. It was GREAT, with a lot of really good feelings. But it's all pretty micro stuff that I want to unpack a bit in our focused schooling rides to understand how to write it all out. 

only big field that doesn't currently have horses turned out
Bc in our rides since the lesson, we've been pushing the envelope in different directions.... More, wide open directions. And I'm not gonna lie, it's been kinda riiiiiiight on the edge of my comfort zone, even as Doozy has really impressed me. 

#NotBolting despite heading toward the gate, good girl!
It's weird bc... I want to do these "scary" things... But I also kinda don't LOL. Like, one of our talented juniors (who is home on break from her freshman year at college, omg they grow up so fast!) invited me to hack out with her and her saintly little lord of mischief, Loki. 

And I was like, Ehhhh I dunno. I had a million reasons why it might not be quite the right circumstances. Luckily for me, tho, Sophia had a million and one solutions for each of my worries. Gotta love that gentle but ultimately stubborn perseverance! 

getting pretty good at the micro-hacks!
So we just did a nice little jaunt around a New-to-Dooz field that contains some of our farm's best hills for conditioning, but that is also fenced and relatively safe. It was good. Dooz was good. Sophia was like, "Wow she didn't even need Loki!!" To which I obviously exclaimed that **I'm the one** who needs the babysitter LOL let's be real here. 

oooooh made it to the dressage ring again!
Anyway, our next ride continued the same theme of pushing my comfort zone a little bit in riding Doozy outdoors in places that have challenged us in the past. This time with the dressage ring! And our friend Amy was already up there schooling Punky when we arrived, already in the thick of cantering and riding figures and going this way and that way and all that. 

coped with varied company, including trotting and cantering horses
Our buddy Rosette accompanied us for a couple laps just to make sure I had my head on straight... And in my own defense, Doozy did pull a funny little dance move lol. But she was honestly fine. So Rosette peeled off to do her own thing, Punky kept going doing his on thing.... And Doozy just.... Ya know... went around like she goes around. Good girl!

and was even able to do a little trotting herself too, good girl!
I wanted to use my time constraints as an excuse for not pushing for more.... Except eh, Emma. Trot the friggin horse!! Lol... So we went ahead and trotted a few little circles. And it was fine, obviously lol. Like, tense and spurt-y, and I rode a bit more rigidly than I do in the safe confines of the indoor. But gotta start somewhere, right?

speaking of things that kinda scare me lol
Last big ride of my 12 Days of Doozmas 3 Days of Scaring Myself, we took another big step toward independence: we rode out alone from the barn up to the jump ring, did a little bit of work up there, and then rode back again. All alone!! Including starting to learn about opening and closing the gate!! (Tho couldn't quite latch it this time, so it sorta blew open again lol)

And Doozy was honestly the best for this ride! Like, our "little bit of work" wasn't particularly good. But it checked off enough boxes for me to feel like we accomplished the bigger task of "Doing The Thing" --- riding alone to the jump ring.  

barn panther Icee!!
She was super relaxed about the whole process tho --- the hack up to the ring, and also the hack home. Sometimes with this horse, my worries revolve around all the sorta "in between" or "incidental" moments, ya know? Like, point her at a cross rail and she's a super star, but everything else can be a little iffier haha. 

he's tricky bc he generally wants something, and will eventually bite if you don't meet his demands
Except... She's learning! She's getting used to it, more familiar with the whole farm, more familiar with the rhythms of a ride. I think she trusts me more, and lord knows I'm trying really hard to trust her. At a certain point I need to not focus so narrowly on "protecting her" and curating her experiences... and just, ya know, trust her to rise to the occasion, trust the training. 

sometimes, tho, all he wants is water. at least he's communicative!
One little step at a time, right? In the meantime, tho, I might return to the indoor again for our next ride just to make sure we get in our more freely forward moments and that I give us both a chance to release some nervous tension in a safe space. 

In years past, my friends and I have often tried to get in one last Year End Adventure --- usually to school the arena xc at Loch Moy (like last year! legit the day before Charlie's injury sob). That's not in the cards this year, but that's ok. I'm honestly really happy with how 2023 is closing, after what was otherwise a pretty monumentally shitty horse year. 

Anyway. Hope you all had a nice Christmas and are getting to enjoy some nice time off with your ponies for the holidays too!! 

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!

And Happy Holidays, y'all!

wishing all the best to you and yours <3

Friday, December 22, 2023

friday foot fotos

Happy Friday, y'all! I'm officially finished with work until the new year, hallelujah!! Well, ya know, except for the little bits of work I'll be doing in the meantime lol... But, eh, not having to be 'online' and 'responsive' is reward enough, right? 

my sweetest bronto <3 <3 <3
Anyway, not much going on around here at this exact moment --- tho Mondeuse had another (excellent) dressage lesson yesterday --- but I want to stay on top of Charlie's heel bulb recovery bc we officially transitioned to the next phase. 

peeled a bit of scab this day, so there was more blood. starting to see staples moving around tho
So far, so good. I could tell we might be entering a bit of an 'ugly phase' when one of the lower left side staples seemed to migrate a few millimeters overnight on Day 7....

at least one staple is gone, and the flap finally fully detached
Tho it proved to be Day 8 that caught my vet's attention: the staples had done their job, served their purpose. Been the bandaid we hoped they'd be, but the flap finally gave way. 

seems happy tho?
All that was left was kinda a goopy mess of seemingly happy, if not messy, tissue. My vet was already on the books to see Royal on Day 9, so she suggested adding Charlie to her docket to remove some, if not all, of the staples.

talk about happy haha, this horse, i swear, it's in it for the #dorm
Obvi Charlie required sedation bc let's be real, he's a drug-seeking junkie. Like, he's not mean, or "bad" --- but he's just BIG and Busy. Much safer to have him dialed down to a snore, and honestly that's where he prefers to be anyway lolz.....

staples plucked, scab boogers cleared, onto phase 2 of recovery!
Once he was out for the count, vet opted to pluck all of the remaining staples, plus cleaned the whole wound up a bit. It's still pretty gnarly, not gonna lie. Plus she warned that with the coronet damage, he might try to grow some sort of weird "thumb"-like protrusion of horn. Not sure if that's what we're already starting to see above?

as a reward for sticking around past the gruesome --- here's my cat's head in a box. kinda has Seven-ish vibes, eh? what's in the box! lol sorry, ahem, merry christmas!
Regardless, we're into a new phase of healing. Staples are out -- which gives me some relief. Charlie is about finished with his course of SMZs too. But the stall rest and daily bandage changes will persist for the foreseeable future. 

So ya know. Haha. Merry Christmas, lol. I know it's a busy weekend for a lot of us --- but I seriously hope you all have a truly wonderful holiday season!! Stay tuned for more soon ;) 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

the latest in lessons

As promised, here are notes from our most recent dressage lesson. It's been a bit of an up-and-down process lately with our lessons, which are occurring at a frequency slightly more often than once a week. We've had some really great moments, and some serious frustrations too.

mondeuse and her ponies <3
And I think that's kinda just the way with horses, ya know? Not just 'green' or 'new' horses, either... Just... horses. Like I remember some of my last 'serious' rides on Isabel were replete with major swings on the satisfaction scale, from an amazing clinic ride with Stephen Birchall, to an irritating and exasperating solo ride trying to recreate the magic. 

cutest shark attack ever <3
It's just cyclical, I guess. Like, at first, everything is hard bc the horse doesn't really know what you're asking... Then there's the breakthrough 'Aha!' moment, the lightbulb, the thunder bolt. 

And then... ya know, back to a place of resistance again bc it turns out it's actually hard, and sometimes horses say 'No' bc they're uncomfortable or uncertain (or experimenting bc #green); or, more often, bc the rider is doing something wrong or confusing to the horse. Crystal clear parameters, and all that....

goofy mare
My objective as a rider right now isn't actually to eliminate that cycle either, but rather... to kinda embrace it. Be a bit more scientific about it, vs emotional. Enjoy the great moments, and explore the rest. 

Q: Am I not getting the response I want from Doozy bc something in my position is off? A: Go through my 'rider checklist' and make adjustments. 
Q: Am I not getting what I want... but actually this is a good enough effort for now? A: Accept it and move on. 

still kinda in disbelief that charlie's gorgeous french monoflap is kiiiiiinda working --- we're playing with my Prolite foam halfpad right now, might try shims eventually too
In other words, right now all the accountability is on me in being strong in my position. And in this lesson, I had a few good 'Aha!' feelings as we worked through our warm up. 

it's a little wide on her, to be expected, but so far so good!
We started the ride with constant turns -- building off the last lesson's concept of 'always finding the bending line' in our line of travel. 

This time, tho, the constant turning started to take the form of legit figures and movements -- a 3 loop serpentine, ridden back and forth again and again... Tear drops ridden off the diagonal, and also off the wall. Full half turns from wall to center line, or center line to wall. And broken lines from diagonal to center line (like the exits from the eventing Starter and BN tests). 

went for daylight walkies around the farm with a couple friends (behind us)
The idea was to be constantly turning, but SLOWLY. Taking my time. Focusing on my position. 

I aimed for a really really fixed position -- stabilized core and spine, with my shoulders kinda like the crossbar on a "T" -- not moving. But my spine rotating from my hips/seat like a swivel. And elbows hanging down heavy from my shoulders. 

So as we moved through all these turns, basically nothing above my waist ever changed, tho I could rotate my torso in the direction of travel, and let my thighs kinda work in unison.

explored some new riding spaces --- like the Orchard, that pristine paddock that charlie's spent time in lately, that is also used as the warm up dressage ring at our farm's horse trials. it's a nice riding space!
Importantly, tho, we worked on finding the 'softness' in the stability, not a rigid unforgiving hold, but like a neutral bit of scaffolding that could be built up if needed. 

have also started dabbling in cantering bounce poles! doozy is basically a #childgenius 
Doozy responded really really well to this consistent reliable steadiness. Especially in the moments when I tried to sorta 'slow down' the turns. It felt like she really started filling up in a good way (vs the backward rising tension I felt last lesson), and started pushing into the contact, vs me pulling back on her. 

ever feel like you're being watched??
The trot work was.... still not quite so good, haha... But much better than the last couple lessons in that we could actually trot in a semi stable rhythm lol. So ya know. Progress haha. 

i've been letting charlie get an hour or two of unsupervised turnout in our smaller barn yard paddocks. they're way muddier, but i time it so that he gets a fresh dry wrap immediately after coming in
Working on the transitions seemed to help the overall picture too. For both up and down transitions from trot, MP wanted me to try to find the leg yield feeling, try to find the bending line. 

This was a bit easier for the up transitions, and significantly messier for the downs... which were themselves pretty slow to develop. But, eh, some of that is a strength thing, ya know? 

jealous pony.... heal your heel and this could be you!
We also worked on finding those moments where Doozy felt really "full" in her body, filling the contact and puffing up (softly) in front of my leg, for our upward transitions. To really develop that 'pushing' feeling. Again, harder to recreate going to the downward transition, but a good feeling to chase. 

omg and the ponies went christmas caroling! it about blew dooz's brain to see candee in the barn lol
The last sort of really specific exercise we worked on related to the transitions between free and medium walk. And MP broke this down to basically a specific "Order of Operations" for Doozy. Which ya know, means it might be slightly different for your horse, right? 

lol toodles was enthoodles haha <3
But basically, in free walk I should still have a some feel for contact on a longer rein. Don't be slack on the buckle, but do let arms get more loose and forward in front of the saddle. Then for the transitions, with my arms still in front of the saddle (ie, elbows pushed forward), start to establish the rein length I'll ultimately want for the medium gait (which should be a length from which I could strike off into trot or canter or whatever). 

Next, start reintroducing the the full stability of posture, starting with stable back and shoulders first, and only then start to let my elbows become heavier and eventually sink back to hanging down from my shoulders vs floating out in front. And at this point, we should now be in medium walk in full contact.

loki and candee on their way to join the parade
We repeated that exercise a few times, and it'll basically be how I go about picking Doozy up for work for the foreseeable future. Right now I'm kinda slow in going through the process haha, but eventually it should only take a few steps.

meanwhile this one just went back to her field haha --- we're plenty Red + Green right now, just, in all the wrong ways for caroling LOL
Last key notables from the lesson --- we rode in Charlie's monoflap jump saddle instead of either dressage saddle - my old Bates or MP's lovely Custom. It might be a fluke that Doozy was less tense this ride, but, eh, I don't really think so. We'll probably still ride in the Bates intermittently, since it is a pretty neutral "starter" dressage saddle, but the Custom was returned to MP, maybe to be tried again in a year or so. 

Also interesting -- we had multiple moments in the lesson when Doozy became distracted or tense, like when unseen horses outside the arena started screaming, or folks in the attached barn were singing and going about their chores and whatnot. In each case, however, Doozy was able to recover and return to concentration. 

And so far, she never seems to lose her swinging slinky over-tracking walk, even when she's kinda a mess. So it's all good stuff, all good practice. And I'm looking forward to time off over the holidays to get in more daytime practice!!