Thursday, 9 April 2020

Throwback Thursday - Where It All Started

I went over to my parent's house for birthday cake yesterday and my mom presented me with an old photo album of mine that she had found. In it were pictures of me on the first horse I ever rode!

Way back in 1983, my brother and I went to a week-long, away from home, summer riding camp. I don't remember very much of it, except the horse's names (of course). My pony for the week was Dolly, who was adorable. My brother rode Danny, who was blind in one eye and had a best friend Vinnie who looked out for him by always standing next to him on his bad side.

Although we went back the next year (when I rode a palomino named Pharoah) my brother did not enjoy it. I don't know if he ever touched a horse again after camp. Being quite allergic to everything associated with horses probably didn't help!

This started my horse bug, which my parents finally gave in to in 1986, when I started with weekly lessons and was leasing a pony about 8 months later.

Current me is horrified at the length of the chin strap on my helmet.

I don't remember riding bareback. But I do remember that the next year we went out on a trailride bareback, and I had my first canter (unintentionally), and I fell off and sprained my wrist.

I'm sure that this camp instructor's name was Karen Briggs, and I've always wondered if she is the same Karen Briggs who has written tons of horse articles that have been in many magazines. Also, I would love to have a pony this colour - that flaxen mane is amazing!

My brother on Danny

Each pony had two kids assigned to it for the week. I'm on the left with Dolly, and my brother is on the right with Danny.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Turn On to Turn Off

I didn't manage to get out to the barn at all last week. I finished my self-isolation on Wednesday and was back to work on Thursday, to work the next 5 days straight. I've got a crappy 1pm - 9pm shift for a bit, which doesn't leave me much time to do much out of the house in the mornings. I can make it out to the barn if I need to for a farrier or vet appointment, but I generally have to head straight to work and pick up lunch on the way - it makes for a very long day. Thus I tend not to head out to the barn on these days if I don't need to.

I'm off Tuesday and Wednesday this week so I plan to head out on both days. Not sure if I'm going to ride or not - Tuesday's plans include scraping off copious amounts of hair and letting the ponies loose in the arena to have a play. I'm not sure what I'll do on Wednesday with them.

Since I know I'm not going to be getting much saddle time, I decided to clear off my clothes hanger treadmill and start running again. And by running I mean many short slow runs with lots of walking in between. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.
The current temperature as of mid-morning on Monday. I'm staying inside for my exercise.
It's apparently still winter here so I'm staying inside. I bought a new tv that sits on the bookcase in front of the treadmill so that I can watch virtual running Youtube videos while I'm huffing and puffing. I totally got into it on my first attempt, to the point that when a maintenance vehicle came around the corner on the park path I was "running" on I moved my body on the treadmill to dodge it and shouted out. Can't wait to try a run through London!

I've tried to be a runner before. My brain loves it, my body hates it. My lower back gets tight, my right knee gets sore, and omg my IT bands. All similar problems that I get after riding, and ones that certainly don't help in the saddle.

I'm trying to be better about stretching and working out some of the sore bits on a regular basis. I've (mostly) embraced the foam roller and can now just whisper my curses instead of shouting them out.

Stretching and Foam Rolling; My New Strategy

I came across this video last week which made a big difference in my next run. It's got a couple of things to work on biomechanically to help reduce injuries while running. One thing was cadence - the amount of steps that you take per minute. I discovered that I was running way under speed - he started the guy on the treadmill at 8mph and he was still under the desired 180 cadence. I was generally running at just under 5mph. So on my next run I bumped it up to 6mph and as a result I didn't hurt at all afterwards. My back wasn't very tight, my knee started sore on my first couple of slower runs, but it disappeared at the faster speed. So I think that that's going to make a big difference. I'll just work slowly to increase the duration - it was hard!

The best thing I got from this video was a way to stretch your hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are a common complaint amongst riders so this one might have some application to equestrians.

I'm sure we've all done this stretch - you put one knee on the ground, the other foot on the floor in front of you with your knee at 90 degrees, and you try to stretch your hip. When your flexors are tight you feel the burn, right?

This stretch starts the same way. But instead of trying to actively stretch the hip flexor, you engage your glutes for 3 seconds on the side that the knee is on the ground. Then release, then repeat for 10 sets.

The video should be cued up to start at the part about the hip flexors.

Holy crap, it works. You will start to feel your hip flexors release, and every time you finish squeezing your glute the front of your hips will just sink forward. It was amazing.

I think the idea is that you have to turn one on to turn one off. To turn off your hip flexors, you have to turn on your glutes. Because this is being used in a running application the idea is teach your glutes to fire so that they do the work instead of your hamstrings.

For riding, we probably don't want to engage our glutes all that much - tight butts pop you out of the saddle. However, as a way to stretch out those oh so tight hips, I would totally recommend it.

I'm also thinking about how these theories can be applied to horses. Is there an ideal cadence that the horse should be moving at? Is a slow trot harder on joints and muscles? How can I encourage something to turn on to allow something to turn off? Time for some research!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Life This Week

So, how's Coronavirus treating you?

I woke up Monday morning with a slightly sore throat. At any other time, I would have thought maybe I'm getting a cold, and then forgotten about it and gone on with my day.

Not now.

I had to call my boss, say I have a minor sore throat (doesn't hurt to swallow), and I didn't know what I should do. Long story short, I had to call the 811 number, which led to me staying home for 10 days on short term disability.

I felt perfectly fine by the end of day two with no more twinges in my throat. It's going to be a long 10 days.

Thankfully I had stocked up my freezer. That's not how I normally shop for groceries - I'm much more of the buy enough for only two days type of shopper. I was trying to eliminate the amount of shopping trips I was making so I bought extra. Not crazy hoarding extra, just enough for a week or so. I guess I'll find out this week if I bought enough!

I hadn't gone out to the barn much the previous week. Both horses were ridden on Tuesday, then I didn't get back out until Saturday evening. It was partly because of my work hours, which are going to be a sucky 11-7 a few days a week (but hey, I'm still working! Well, not this week, but I'm getting paid), and also because I feel kind of guilty for heading out.

My province hasn't locked everything down as of yet, though I fully anticipate it happening shortly. The national and provincial equestrian federations, as well as the major insurance companies, have recommended that equestrian facilities close down to everyone but essential workers.

Locally, there is a bit of a mix as to how barns are handling this. I think that the majority have stopped lessons with the non-horse owning students. Some barns are open to boarders, some have to schedule times so that there are no more than two people out at a time, and some are completely closed to everyone but workers. Should we end up in a lockdown situation this will likely change.

My barn is still open. I think that some lessons are still happening, though there is a very small lesson program. It tends to be fairly quiet except on two lesson nights. The majority of the horses live outside 24/7 so they are always able to move around, although we still have lots of snow and frozen poop everywhere.

I don't know what the right option is. I think everyone has a duty to do their part and sacrifice some activities that bring them joy. We all know what horse people are like - do I trust that everyone at the barn would stay away for 10 - 14 days if they just have a sore throat or a sniffly nose? Nope. Nor do I trust that commonly touched items are getting sanitized properly. A bit of spray on a paper towel is probably not enough to kill any virus that may have been transmitted to a surface.

My fellow Canadians will understand why this is so fantastic.

Once I get out of my self-isolation next week, I'll see what I decide to do. I'm pretty sure that I'll be limiting my time at the barn to maybe two or three days a week, which may end up just being days of letting the ponies going for a run in the arena. Of course, there is a very good chance that my decision will be made for me by that time and I'll be stuck at home.

As for the next week of my exile - I'm trying to do a beginner yoga Youtube video every day. I have more than enough things in the house to keep me busy - if I feel like doing them. I've been enjoying having the time to cook for once (I don't think I've ever made my meals for a full week before). I've spent far too much time on the computer/tablet/phone and watching Youtube/Netflix/Acorn/Amazon.

Tomorrow I might just go for a drive-by and look at my ponies from the road. I want to get out of the house, but can't go anywhere where there are people, so might as well go look at the kids from a distance like a creeper.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Aye Carona!

What a difference a week makes in the world.

I'm talking about the coronavirus, of course. It's all anyone is talking about.

The number of confirmed cases rose overnight by almost 50% (from 39 cases to 56). Still not that many overall, but it's just starting.
Mother Nature went off the wagon again this weekend and the temperatures plummeted back down to the -20's. The kids had to wear their puffy snowsuits again.
Some of these new cases are not due to travel, as all of the other cases have been. So, as I'm writing this, the province has new restrictions in place.

All school classes are canceled until further notice. Also daycares and out of school care are to be closed. That's going to cause some problems.

No gatherings of over 250 people. This now includes places of worship, though shopping centres are still exempt.

I do not have a job that I can do from home. So I'll still have to be dealing with people face to face on a daily basis.

Horsewise, how it has already affected me:

The restriction on gatherings went into effect on Thursday. I was supposed to attend a tack sale on Saturday to try to sell some stuff - that was canceled. No extra income for me.

I had picked up a weekend of teaching when the regular instructor took some clients to a horseshow next weekend. The show has just been canceled. No extra income for me.

I'm pretty sure that the Mane Event at the end of April will also be cancelled. This was my only planned "vacation" away from home this year (a whole 1 day) and I was going to be substitute teaching again. No extra income or extra fun for me.

I bought a bridle online, sight unseen. Retail therapy. Extra expense for me.
Cisco may regret his decision to molt this early.

I can justify that one (in my mind, at least). It's at the local consignment store, which is moving at the end of the month. So there was an additional 15% off sale.

The bridle is a Bobby's English Tack black double bridle, new with tags. I so don't need the double bridle aspect of it, but I've been keeping an eye out for a spare bridle in black as all my other spare tack is brown. It has a normal cavesson noseband which I like, but it doesn't have a monocrown, which I would prefer. However, I really liked the price - $78 with tax.

I'll just remove the bradoon hanger and find some different reins to put on it and it will be good to go.

I sure hope all these restrictions don't last too long. My inner introvert is loving this whole social distancing thing, but I must not let my inner tack ho take control!

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

We've Found Stuff to Work On

14 hour days are not conducive to getting the house cleaned, groceries shopped for, or blogs about horses written. Add in having to get up at 5am for work some days of the week (it would be easier if it was every day instead of only some days) and not much has been getting done. It feels like I'm either at work, the barn, or sleeping.

But the ponies have been getting ridden! At least a couple of rides a week. In theory, the days that I work at 6 am would leave me lots of time to get horses ridden in the afternoon. In reality, I don't get to bed early enough, and end up going home and having a nap, which may or may not leave me with energy to do anything afterwards.

The super long days have been affecting my body. I spend most of my work day on my feet - I get anywhere from 13,000 to 18,000 steps in during a regular shift. Add going to the barn afterwards, where I am either on my feet or on a horse for the 3 to 5 hours that I'm there, and my step count hits 23,000 to 29,000 steps (I let the riding count as steps as I work far harder when I ride than when I walk).

My body occasionally needs a break. One where I barely get off the couch for the day. That was Thursday this week.
We have a barn cat who is very vocal and demanding. She is older and constantly seeks warmth. People have taken to putting her on their horses back while they are tacking up to keep her quiet and happy. This is her perched on her favorite horse, Khan. She comes running when his owner brings him in.
Cisco was ridden on Monday and Tuesday this week, Phantom only went on Tuesday. Weather and work didn't allow for me to get into the saddle in the later part of the week.

I was quite happy with my ride on Cisco on Monday. I really want to start jumping him this year (I know, I've been saying that for a while). However, I haven't really done a lot of flatwork geared towards jumping. Specifically, I haven't done a lot of cantering over poles, and I haven't done much any 2 point.

On that night I broke down a few jumps and set some of the poles into random spots. I didn't realize until I got on that I did a crap job of it though. I set one pole on a diagonal with nowhere to go on the landing side, and there was only a single pole on one long side because I didn't want to move the 6 poles on the other side out of my way (I'd have to put them back after my ride). Thus I only had 5 poles to work with.

Cisco has cantered a single pole a few times, but not often, and not in a while. The goal for the evening was to put together a mini course of 4 or 5 poles in a somewhat decent manner.

We managed it. With a whole lot to work on.

He actually surprised me by very quickly looking for the next pole. The turn might be a bit ugly, but once he saw the pole he locked onto it. To the point that he dragged me over the pole on the long side when we were supposed to go past it and turn afterwards across the diagonal.

His pace wasn't terrible, and he mostly listened and we had a lot of good distances. There were a couple of courses when he settled partway through into a nice canter that made the turns easy and I was able to ride forward out of the turn.
Phantom's back is just as comfortable.
But he was oh so wiggly. Which I think was mostly due to me being up in a 2 point. My position isn't super strong (it's been years since I've done it for more than a few strides at a time). I tried really hard to make sure that I wasn't using the reins for balance. Cisco had to find his balance with me in this position, so I think that was what mostly contributed to the wiggliness.

Our corners need some work. I mean, they need work at a canter on a normal flat ride, so I wasn't expecting miracles on this night. But my expectations when jumping are to use the whole space and ride a straight line after the jump/pole and deep into the turn. It's not like he was ducking sideways right after the pole or anything, but our turns were a bit more scrambly and disorganized than I would like. Being able to ride deep into the ends will help this significantly.

Since his time off due to his puncture injury, Cisco seems to have lost his canter transitions. The couple of rides before his holiday we were having lovely step into the canter transitions. Since, they have been atrocious. I plan to make sure I school these every ride with many transitions through the ride.

I was a bit worried that I was going to have problems getting over the pole on the center line at A, which is the scary end of the arena, and has been especially scary as of late. I was also worried that he would slam on the brakes after the pole on the quarter line as we headed in that direction. But he was good about it. The poles may have given him something to focus on.

Overall, I was really happy with him. There's lots to work on, but nothing that I didn't expect. I'm hoping that the "jumping" canter will help him find his balance and his forward in our regular flatwork. And most importantly, he really seemed to like it.

Now, I just need to put my big girl pants on and raise those speed bumps!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Annual Signs of Spring

Spring is coming.

Cisco says so.
Cisco hair pre-ride.

More Cisco hair post-ride.

This is also time for my annual panic that Phantom has Cushing's. She gets very fluffy during the winter and I swear that she's the last horse on the property to start shedding every spring. Thus, every spring, I fret that this is the year she'll be diagnosed with Cushing's. She'll be 17 this year, stuff is going to start to pop up.
This is where Phantom was groomed. If you zoom in really, really close, you  might manage to count the 50 or so hairs that came off her body.

Inevitably she starts shedding in earnest sometime in April. And emerges with a normal summer coat. And I can forget about Cushing's until the next year.

Friday, 14 February 2020

His Leg Hasn't Fallen Off Yet

I was a bit worried that Cisco's leg may indeed have fallen off as I couldn't get out to the barn on Tuesday due to a snowstorm that made driving rather treacherous. I counted seven collisions/cars in the ditch on my way home from work - and that was on a city freeway. I wasn't going to try the county highways.

I made sure I dashed out on Wednesday morning before my doctor's appointment and work. The leg was still fat, with some fill moving into his lower leg. But it didn't seem to be any fatter than it had been on Monday. I hand walked him for about 10 minutes, then squirted a couple of syringes of Betadine water into the hole. It was -20 outside, so I had to use minimal water because I didn't have time to let it dry.
Wednesday legs that I almost forgot to take a picture of. You can see a bit of fill around the knee.
I had more time to spend on him on Thursday, with the main goal being more exercise to see if I could get the swelling in his leg to come down. After a few minutes of hand walking I popped him on the lunge line.

He started off pretty poky at the trot. I figured that maybe he needed a chance to stretch that leg a bit so I let him jog for a few laps. Eventually he started trotting more forward. To the left he looked pretty good - this is the side that he seemed to look worse on last week when he was lame before he got poked.

To the right - I think the main problem is the leg with the hole in it. There was a slight head bob at the beginning. but it went away once he loosened up. I asked him to canter to the right and tried but didn't want to get the right lead (left lead looked great). So I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to stretch that leg forward too much.
Thursday after cleaning.
He was a bit of a turd about cleaning it - he did not want me to touch it. It's in an awkward place on the inside of a leg, so it's easier to see what I'm doing if I stand on the other side. But then he gets pissy and takes a step and pushes my hand that is reaching across his other leg away from the cut. So I had to work on the same side and go in blind.

Because he doesn't really know how to be really bad, he lifted that leg up to paw, which allowed me to hook my arm under it and easily slide the syringe into the hole for a flush. We did that three times in a row. I appreciated the easy access he unintentionally gave me.

Overall, I think the wound looks pretty good. It's clean, not oozing anything odd coloured, and the hole is staying open easily. The swelling did seem to go down after his exercise. I'm not concerned about infection at this point. I need to pick up some Dermagel though and see if I can get it to start scabbing over.
She was sleeping when I went out to give her the Ventipulmin. Thus brunch in bed.
And then Phantom got a quick ride, with a quick canter each way, which she wanted to get silly about but managed not to. And then I dashed home through yet another snowstorm to get changed and headed out to see Dear Even Hansen (which was fantastic and I totally recommend).

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Proof Or It Didn't Happen - Coaching Edition

There are some people who are great riders, but terrible teachers.

There are some great teachers who are okayish riders. Maybe they are older and their bodies don't work as well as they used to. They can't get on a horse anymore and show you that they know what they are doing.

There's nothing wrong with that. They often will have a long list of credentials that are easily verified and are probably well known in your area.

But let's say that you are meeting someone new that you are considering taking lessons with or sending a horse to. Maybe they even have a website and a short bio of what they've done in the horse world.

Do you take the information that they present to you at face value without question? Or do you do some research?

The horse industry is largely unregulated. Anyone can hang a shingle and claim that they are a horse trainer or riding instructor. There are no tests that one has to take, no piece of paper that they have to frame and display on the wall to show that they have found to be knowledgable in the field of which they practice. And no penalty for claiming credentials that aren't true.

If someone says that they rode Grand Prix or are a Certified Coach (in Canada), here are some ways to get confirmation.

Coaching Credentials

I believe that there are two organizations that are recognized for certifying coaches (again, just in Canada).

Equestrian Canada has paired with the NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) to certify coaches from Instructor of Beginners through High Performance levels. A master list of coaches can be found here on the Equestrian Canada website.

If you don't find a person who claims that they are a certified coach on the list, contact your provincial federation and ask to confirm if this person does indeed have the stated credentials and they will be happy to assist you. (Coaches files are managed by the individual provinces.)

The second organization that certifies coaches is the Certified Horsemanship Association, or CHA. They are more US based, but are recognized by Canadian insurance companies (or at least the one I use). Find a list of certified coaches here.

Does your coach or trainer have to be certified? Absolutely not. There are many fantastic coaches and trainers who have never bothered to seek certification. Certified means that they have put time, effort and money into their craft and found to have acceptable skills. They could still be crappy business people, terrible teachers, or burned out with no desire to do this anymore.

However, should someone say that they are certified and their name does not appear on one of the lists above, that should be a red flag.

Somebody wasn't telling the truth.

Riding Results

Someone doesn't have to have gone to the Olympics to be a great teacher. Too bad, because those results would be easy to find. What if you are looking into someone who's Facebook page has them bragging about that jumper class they won last weekend - do you feel the same when you discover that they were the only person in the class?

Here are some sites that you can check. I am sure there are more.

Equestrian Canada - keeps a record of recognized shows for all disciplines. It looks like a lot of the results from older shows have been lost, so depending on how far back you want to search, you may or may not be lucky. - has some smaller local shows submit results. The nice thing about this site is that you can search by trainer and get an idea of how their students did. - some of the larger hunter/jumper venues in my neck of the woods post results to this site.

Fox Village - seems to be the go-to for dressage scores. Records go back to about 2011.

Startbox - for eventing scores.

Also, you could check with your local organizations to see if they keep annual results.

If someone is making claims about what they did in their youth before everything got put on the internet, there might still be hope! I was recently talking with a Pony Club leader who told me that you can confirm if someone was on the Young Riders team for up to 25 years. She often had to do so in confirming the credentials of prospective Pony Club coaches.

Again, champion show results don't mean someone can take your riding to the next level or have your steed doing tempe changes within a month. Many trainers have no desire to show. But if they say that they've jumped big, and all you can find are 4th place finishes in a 2'6" class at a schooling show, make sure you are going into the relationship with open eyes.

Another question that I doubt many people have ever asked of their potential trainer, is are they insured? With a coaching insurance policy? And if they said yes, have you ever followed up to verify? I know I sure haven't.

However, in my neck of the woods, insurance went up quite a bit this year. I have my NCCP certification and first aid (thank you real job), so my coaching insurance only went up by $5 to cost me $230 for the year. Someone I know contacted me to ask me how much I pay as she was quoted quite a high number. Sure enough, when I looked to see what getting insured without certification or first aid, it was $1100 for the year. That's a lot of money for someone who does this on a part-time basis.

If I knew that someone wasn't certified and had to pay this much to get insurance, would I check up on them? I'd be tempted. I might be reluctant to leave a horse in their care otherwise.

These things are all easy to check out. There's a good chance a quick phone call, email or internet search will confirm or dispute someone's claims of their accomplishments.

Should you care?

It's up to you.

You may know someone through somebody else and have a good sense going in as to what you are going to get. If I have a friend who is riding with someone and her riding has improved by leaps and bounds and she and her horse are happy with the training they are getting, I wouldn't care if that coach has sought certification. I have seen some results and they'll speak louder than anything else.

If I've discovered that they aren't certified as they say, and haven't ridden to the level that they claim, I would question their ethics and business practices. There are many other trainers out there. It might be a better idea to use one of them.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Not As Bad As I Feared

It was good news for Cisco from the vet. The hole (that she stuck her finger up in. Ewww.) seems to be just a pocket under the skin and it already felt like it was starting to heal. There was no sign of infection (or smell apparently, as she smelled her finger) so I just need to flush it daily. He'll get a couple days of bute to hopefully bring down the swelling in his forearm and he's supposed to keep moving.

By the time this gets sorted out in a week or two, I'm hoping that whatever else is going on regarding the Thursday night lameness gets sorted out. Maybe the few days of bute will help.
The right is twice as big as the left. But it's all above the knee so far!
I was hoping that Phantom would be drafted into my Number 1 horse for the next couple of weeks, but in reality, I probably won't get much riding in. At least this week.

The weather is changing yet again. The temperature is supposed to drop over 20 degrees Celsius overnight Tuesday, not to mention 5cm of snow. My drive out to the barn after work on Tuesday will not likely be fun. And I'll have to do all over again early on Wednesday morning, as I will need to be at the barn by 9am, leave by 10:30 for an 11:00 doctor appointment, then straight to work. Those days look to be the worst of the cold, so I can hopefully get my butt back in the saddle on Thursday. There's a clinic at the barn this weekend so I'll have to ride around that, but it should be doable.

Phantom got ridden on Sunday and she felt pretty good. Her trot felt even right from the get-go. I had put my baby spurs back on for this ride - maybe that helped convince her? We're going to up the trots to 3 minutes on our next ride, for a total of 15 minutes of trot. Sadly, I'll probably be far more out of shape than she will.

Monday, 10 February 2020

It Was A Good Run

It was a good run, Cisco. Almost three years with no injuries or lameness to speak of.

He is now trying to make up for it.

I hopped on him on Thursday night. He was great at the mounting block and stood rock still after I got on. I savored that for a minute or so before asking him to walk. I knew immediately that he was going to be lame.

I couldn't really figure out where though. I walked him for a few minutes, then tried a trot before a friend left the arena. I started on the right rein down the long side, he definitely didn't feel right, but by the time we came out of the second corner I thought he didn't feel too bad.

Then I went left.

Oh yeah. He was lame.

Not really anything shouted out at us though. I definitely think its the left front/right hind diagonal pair, but my friend saw left front, I felt right hind. There wasn't a significant head bob, so I'm sticking with my hind thought.

I walked him under saddle for about 20 minutes with some leg yielding to see if he loosened up then tried another quick trot to the left. It actually felt pretty good. I just did one short end and hopped off and took him back to the barn. I tried some carrot stretches with him to see if that also helped. It may have all been too much as he seemed worse after standing when I led him back outside.

My plan was to hand walk him for the next few days. It's expected to get a bit chilly later this week again for about 4 days, so I thought I would wait until after the cold to try to hop on him again. I didn't go out to the barn Friday (work) or Saturday (abdominal pain on my drive home).

On Sunday I grabbed him from the field, took his blanket off and we went over to the arena for his walk. And I saw this.

Big fat upper leg, with a lovely gouge out of it.

And yay! (sarcasm font) The gouge is a puncture wound. You can kind of see the hole on the top right. I grabbed a syringe with some betadine water and crossed my fingers that it would all squirt back at me, but nope, it all disappeared up into the hole.

Thankfully, Cisco is a far better patient than Phantom is. I'm pretty sure she would have attempted to kick me in the head a multitude of times. Cisco stood at the end of his lead rope and wasn't really happy with it, but his feet stayed firmly on the ground.

I didn't go crazy with flushing it out as the water wasn't draining - I don't know much it would be safe to use. The vet is coming out in the morning to look at another horse so I sent her an email and hoped that she will have time to look at him. I'm guessing he'll need some antibiotics, and I'd like to know just how deep it is if possible.

I guess I'll be doing daily visits for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully by the time the front leg heals whatever else he did manages to sort itself out. No point in a lameness check now because he only has two good legs at the moment - I don't know which leg is more sore at the moment.

I thought that the original lameness was related to having a new horse in his paddock and the hijinks that inevitably occur. I figure that he tweaked something.

When I saw the gouge, I thought that I was a terrible mother and missed it when I rode on Thursday and that was why he was lame. But I guess there were some more hijinks in the wee hours of Friday morning, and his turnout crew pushed a fence down, so it is likely related to that. His blanket covers it (and has a bunch of blood on it) so you wouldn't be able to see it without looking under the blanket.

I'll see what it looks like for the vet on Monday morning. I have a feeling it's going to be bigger - his leg wasn't full-on stovepipe when I left, but I'm not going to shocked if it is when I arrive in the morning.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Phantom Ride - With Pixio Video!

My repaired Pixio robot arrived Thursday afternoon! I had to pay a customs fee for it even though it was a warranty repair which should be exempt from duties. I can make a claim for it though to get my $35 back. Should be easy since it said right on the document that it was a warranty repair with no value!

I picked it up on my way out to the barn so I wasn't sure if it was going to be charged or if it was my original one with the correct camera drivers installed. Everything seemed to be good, and the arena cleared out by the time I was ready to ride, so I figured I might as well put it to the test.

I set it up in the center of the arena to test that the 360 was now working. Since I now know where my beacons need to be placed everything paired up right away and I walked a full circle around the tripod - and the camera followed me! Yay!
She always looks right as I'm about to get on. Every single time.
It wasn't perfect. There are seemingly a couple of bogey spots in the arena where it likes to momentarily lose me. For the most part I didn't realize it until after the ride and I reviewed the footage. I'm not sure why, but it was mostly in the same spots when going the same direction that the robot wandered. Still, most of the footage was viewable. I'll just continue to play with the placement of everything and see if I can get different results.

I ended up videoing my ride on Phantom. It's not a very exciting ride - we're currently doing five 2 minute trot sets with 2 minutes of walking in between. But it was a good opportunity to figure out the Pixio.

As you can see, Phantom's natural way of going is very level. She is a stock horse - APHA, with her dam side all being TB. She is not built to do high level dressage (neither am I). Lifting her sternum is hard for her.
Born for western pleasure.
She has a hard time until she gets fit and stronger. Thus, in the beginning, I don't worry about it too much. I'm happy if she voluntarily gives me moments and I keep them short and sweet. At 16 years of age, she knows her job - she just needs to be physically capable of doing it. And I have to ride her properly.

Old lady warmup trot

She's been starting off a little shuffly the last few rides. I try to ignore it for the first trot set. She seems to work it out by the end of that trot and is good to go for the next trot.

A little bit better

Her tendency if I push too much when she's not strong is to want to curl and get behind the bit. I'd much rather she keep her nose out a little - it took years to get her out of the curling habit she came with.

My watch signaled the next trot set to start while I was hanging up my jacket. I wasn't ready yet!

With her asthma, we spend quite a bit of time at this point on a loose rein during the trots. It's hard to work when you can't breathe, so getting some fitness is a bit more of a priority to me than schooling.

We'll just continue to dabble along slowly. She's not in a rush.

(I'm posting this just as I am leaving for work - if the videos aren't working (as appears to happening) I will fix it when I get home. Check back this weekend!)

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Life Hack - Jar Salads

I have no interesting horse stuff to share from the last couple of days, so I'm going to share one of my favourite meal hacks that works great for us busy equestrians.

Jar Salads.

They're basically salads that you make up in a mason jar, suck the air out of the jar with a vacuum sealer, and stay fresh for about a week. Super convenient to grab in the morning to take to work or when I get home late at night and need to eat something but don't want to cook.

There are quite a few recipes available online with fancy options like quinoa and chickpeas. I don't like quinoa and chickpeas, so I stick to staples like lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. My protein changes depending on what's on hand, but it's usually chicken. Add in some feta or parmesan cheese, bacon bits (if Costco has the type I like), and some dried fruit or a salad seed mix, and a 750ml jar contains a full-sized meal. Sometimes I'll add hard-boiled eggs, rice, or carrots, but I usually keep it simple just due to time.

The recipes usually call to add salad dressing to the bottom of the jar, so you need to stack the contents in layers so that the most absorbent items are at the top of the jar and don't soak up all the dressing. I don't add the dressing until I eat so it likely isn't a requirement to layer, but I do it anyways. I like the look.

I generally make up four jars  once a week and take at least three of them to work for lunch. Prep takes no more than 20 minutes (not counting cook time for the protein if needed). I got a Food Saver vacuum sealer for Christmas a couple of years ago and I use the accessory attachment with a mason jar attachment that sucks out the air from the jar. I've had no problems with them being fresh for a full 7 days in the fridge though they are usually eaten before that.
A small selection of images from Googling jar salads.
If you use lettuce in the jar, it has to be a lettuce without high water content or it will go mushy pretty quickly. I tried a spring mix once and it only lasted a couple of days, so I stick to romaine.

I love eating these salads for lunch. I've had many comments from co-workers about how it looks so much better than the burger they picked up. I keep two or three salad dressing options in the fridge at work so in the morning I just have to throw the jar, a fork, and some sort of plate into my lunch bag and I'm ready to go.

I don't know how long they would stay fresh if they aren't vacuum sealed. If you find this type of meal attractive, then I think a Food Saver (with accessory) would be a worthwhile investment.

Do you have any simple go-to quick meals for when you get home from the barn late and haven't eaten?