Thursday, 28 October 2021

Drug Money

 A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of the offer from Boehringer Ingelheim and took Phantom to the vet for a free PPID blood test. It was one of those things where I've long wondered if she maybe has Cushings based on her winter polar pony coat, but I didn't really want to have the confirmation because then I'd have to react to it - meaning, she'd need daily medication.

Sure enough - she tested out of range. Drugs for life it is!

"Just one more hit" says the pony crack whore about homemade horse treats.

I have yet to pick them up - I was supposed to grab them today but I had a couple of very long days this week and frankly was just exhausted today on my day off. I'll head over to the vet clinic tomorrow after work. 

It's a good thing I already pulled Phantom's shoes - that's where the money for the Prascend will be coming from. The plan was to save the money and put shoes on both horses next summer, but Phantom has decided to make it all about her. Typical princess behavior. 

Little old moi?

Prascend (pergolide) is about $100 per month if I buy a 2 month supply, or about $84 per month if I buy it in a larger quantity of 160 pills. I'm going to grab the smaller supply for the first batch, and if all goes well I'll plan on getting the larger quantity when I get a refill. 

I still have to get the logistics of getting the pill into her daily sorted out - she lives out in a mixed group paddock 24/7 and I would prefer to keep it that way. Hopefully, she will eat it out of your hand with a small amount of food like she does with Previcox. I've talked to the barn owner about supplying baggied servings that can be given to her by hand - if she will eat it.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Feeling Annoyed

Well, I'm glad that my horse has been wonderful because other stuff at the barn has been pissing me off this week.

First, there was a last-minute announced jumping clinic at the barn that had the arena booked from 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday. Whatever, it happens. 

Because of the arena use, I didn't ride on Sunday as I didn't want my first ride in over a week on a fresh horse to be out in the field (when I was still low on energy from my head cold) and I had to be up early the next morning for work so didn't want to ride in the evening. I got the horses tails done, it was all good. 

But then they left the jumps up from the clinic, which include a course with a line along the track on one side. And because I'm working early, I'm heading out right after work to ride, which is when lessons are happening. 

On Monday I had to try to ride around two people jumping in a lesson, another person in the same lesson working on flatwork, a different lesson with a nervous beginner on the lunge line, and someone who was only circling at one end. 

On Tuesday I checked to see how big the lesson was before tacking up - it was only two people, and there was no one else getting ready, so I rushed to get into the arena before anyone else showed up. It was much better than the previous night until someone else came in, who is a bit of a green rider, and I could never be quite certain where they were going. 

Nonetheless, I managed to pop Cisco over a few of the little jumps once the lesson was over. Really, I just said fuck it, called a line, and made people get out of my way. The benefit of warm-up ring experience!

The constant transitions that I had to do to not get run over were quite beneficial to Cisco, and I was quite happy with how he went, considering that it was all start-and-stop.

However, people annoying me didn't stop in the arena.

Our barn doesn't have a designated grooming area. You just tie your horse in front of a stall down the aisle. The aisle is a bit too wide to cross-tie, so they are just tied to the stall front. 

There's lots of space. It's a long aisle.

But people feel the need to tie their horse as close to the end where their tack is as possible. Even if there is already a horse tied there. 

It drives me insane. There is no sense of safety - the worst culprits seem to be the ones that get hurt most often. 

I will happily tie my horse half-way down the barn if it means that I can have space to myself and be out of everyone else's way, and will walk back-and-forth to my tackbox and schlep my stuff back to where my horse is parked. I'm older than almost everyone else, and probably put in way more steps in a day, and I have no problems walking a bit further to keep me and my horse safe.

But even then, someone will park their horse right next to mine, and say "isn't it nice that they get along?". Grrr.

The worst is that they tie two horses that they have to feed on opposite sides of the aisle, and since these horses get a ton of grain and take like 30 minutes to eat, the person wanders away and isn't near the horses. So when you want to lead your horse through, no one is there to move horse butts to the side and make sure that eating horses don't get snarky.

Oh - and they park them in front of the main overhead door that you have to stand in front of and wait for it to open.

I need to put my bitch face on and tell them to move their horse. The barn owner won't do anything about it - she walked right through some of the worst of it on Monday night and didn't bat an eye. 

It's not always like this, I just happened to be out on Monday and Tuesday when the certain people who are culpable for this were out. They just happen to have multiple horses so it seems like it's more people than it really is.

The arena thing - total first-world problem. It's annoying because it's out of the norm. I get it, it's short-term.

The barn thing - someone is going to get hurt. Probably one of the people who always get hurt. 

(Vent over)

Monday, 18 October 2021

Winter is Coming

 This weekend I saw a sure sign of impending cold and snow.

It's not the sub- zero temperatures that I've been waking up to most mornings. Nor the fact that I've consequentially had to turn on the furnace in the house.

The forecast for when I get up tomorrow morning.

It's not that I've already had to wear thermal underwear, a winter coat, and a toque.

Farrier morning a couple of weeks ago.

It's not that I've seen the flocks of Canada Geese making their way to their winter homes in the south of the continent, or that the hares that breed like, well, rabbits, and are found everywhere in the city, have started to change from brown to white coats.

It's not the fact that every horse I've seen seems to have a sprouted a ominously wooly coat - even the tb's that usually stay pretty sleek.

The sure sign of winter that was sighted this weekend - 

my horses white tails have been cleaned and put up, not to be seen again until the spring.


and wrapped (in suitably themed duct tape).

Winter is coming.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Return of the Arab/Saddlebred/Llama Stallion

I managed to get out to the barn last night. I didn't have enough energy to ride - my ears were still plugged up and my sinuses were dry and uncomfortable, but at least I didn't have to blow my nose every 20 minutes.

The barn wasn't very busy for once on a Thursday night. The round pen was open so I decided that I would throw each horse in there for a few minutes so they could blow off some steam.

It was the right decision.

Cisco wasn't in there for very long before he spotted a couple of horses from the neighboring property being ridden towards the road. Cue instant arab/saddlebred/llama stallion.

His head was high. His tail was flagged. His snorts were ferocious. His canter resembled that of a French skunk.

Phantom wasn't a whole lot better. She took her time in the beginning looking for a place next to the fence to roll but made the smart decision not to. It just took a single flick of the whip to send her into a gallop. She hadn't had any Ventipulmin and was breathing pretty heavy so I had to end her fun well before she wanted to.

By the time I had gone for a short walk with each horse to cool them out, fed them their grain, and put out some more hay, I was done in. An hour and a half of fresh air sapped all the energy out of me.

I'm hoping to get on this weekend but there is a clinic both days during the day. I'll probably get their tails washed and put up for the winter instead. It looks like this might be the last weekend of double-digit temperatures - positive ones, at least.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Throwback Thursday - Way Back to June

 I'm on my 5th day of being stuck in the house with a head cold. My Covid test was negative, so my stuffed up sinuses are definitely just due to a cold. Problem is, in these pandemic days, I'm legally required to stay quarantined until my symptoms have subsided. With my negative test (and vaccinations) I just have to wait until I am symptom-free and then can leave the house. 

Not that I would want to go anywhere with cold/flu-like symptoms - I'm pretty sure everyone would treat me like a leper.

Since I have had so much time on my hands and little incentive to do anything useful, I finally managed to edit some video I've been putting off.

Cisco's first gymnastic line!

We did it way back in June. And haven't jumped since. Sigh.

Overall, he was a very good boy on this day. I tried to keep it short - he went through a couple of times, and we would start on the next jump. 

I used my brain and set the line up so that we would jump it out of the scary end towards the main door. He likes to suck back heading into the scary end and I didn't want to give him a reason to think twice about jumping. Unfortunately, our turn into the line was not as straight as I would have liked on many an occasion as he dropped his shoulders in an attempt to GTFO of the corner as fast as he could.

This was also my first time jumping anything with related distances in something like 8 years. I was just happy I stayed on and didn't fuck up too much!

I should have had the line a bit tighter so that he didn't have to reach so much if he backed off. I have no idea how long his stride is, but I'm pretty sure that it's not 12'. I mean, the jumps were tiny, so there was no need to be anywhere close to 12' (and they were set as such).

I was just about to raise them a wee bit when he got a bit worried and started thinking about his options. We went through one more time with him being a bit more forward again and called it a day. I was quite happy with him and didn't want to risk things going backwards. 

It's not a terribly exciting video - the jumps are tiny, and I didn't come anywhere near falling off. Sorry!

I'd like to jump once or twice again this month before I stop riding Nov/Dec due to work - but I need to get rid of this stupid cold first. I'm hoping to head out to the barn this afternoon, but don't think I'll ride. I should be able to get back in the saddle this weekend though.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

New Pivo Pod X - Kickstarter Deal

If you have been considering getting a Pivo to video your rides, here's your chance for a deal!

Pivo just released a pre-order on Kickstarter for their new Pivo Pod X. They claim that it is smoother than their other versions, and due to a nifty ball mount for your phone, is able to track up-and-down, not just side-to-side.

They are offering Early Bird funding specials that amount to 49% off the retail price. That's a pretty sweet deal! But you will have to act fast - the Early Bird deals will expire soon!

They're only a couple of hours into the release on Kickstarter and just a few thousand below their funding goal. Current expected shipping date is January, 2022. Ask Santa to do his shopping early!

Click here to find it on Kickstarter. 

Is the Pivo right for you? Here are a few things to know about it to help you decide.

  • It tracks you via an app on your smartphone. For horses, it looks for a rectangular shape (the body of the horse). It is not able to differentiate between different rectangle shapes, thus, if there is more than one horse in the ring, it will follow the most recent one that passes the camera (the last rectangle shape that it saw), and you might end up with video of every horse in the ring except yours. (You just need to ride past it again to get it to pick you back up.)
  • It needs to constantly see the shape in order to maintain tracking. I've had issues with it losing me behind a pile of jump standards. Also, it has a hard time when the light changes from bright to dark, as when I pass an open overhead door when riding inside during a summer day. If you ride a dark horse in a dark arena, you might have problems.
  • Due to the processing power that the app requires, it will only work with newer, higher end phones. You can find a list of approved phones on their website.
  • The zoom is only as good as the zoom on your phone. Same for video quality, although most phones these days can produce amazing video.
  • Whenever your phone does a system update, there is a chance that it will affect the app and give you problems when you try to record video. The developers are very good at releasing fixes, but it can take a few weeks. 
  • You will need a tripod to go with it.
I quite like my Pivo Pod, and as long as you know its limitations (don't plan on videoing your ride during a group lesson)  I think it does a really good job. This new version might just be coming my way in the new year (I'm at home with a head cold. Online shopping is inevitable.)

Monday, 11 October 2021

Last Week in Review

 It was a bit of a busy week last week. I had a doctor's appointment, the ponies had their first appointment with their new farrier, and Phantom was hauled over to the vet clinic for her PPID bloodwork. Thus, I didn't get in as much riding as I would have liked.

I got out into the big crop field again with Cisco. He was a little more up than the previous ride out there - but since there was a horse trotting and cantering circles around us (as is needed when you haven't ridden your horse in a month) I don't really blame him for being a bit more excited. He was still a very good boy, I just didn't quite trust him to be on a long rein in the beginning.

The footing out there actually wasn't too bad. The ruts were still soft and not overly deep, so we did a little bit of trot and an easy canter. He was lovely and barely even threw his shoulders around.

Phantom is officially semi-retired as I had her shoes pulled. She has worn front shoes all year round for probably the last eight years. She won't get ridden much for the rest of the year (I should be working nights starting at the beginning of November) and any riding we will be doing will be inside. If I pull her shoes for the winter, I can afford to put shoes on both horses in the summer, when I will want to do more riding on ungroomed footing. Both horses tend to have thin soles and are not happy on rocky ground.

Before the farrier visit, I was back and forth as to if I was going to pull them. If I did it now, the ground is still soft and it will give her a chance to let them harden up before everything freezes and she has to walk on poopsicles. But, I had to take her to the vet two days later, and she would likely not be at all happy about being expected to walk across their dirt and gravel parking lot.

And then I remembered I have hoof boots for her. 

Thus, her shoes were pulled!

Phantom wore her sneakers to the vet for her blood draw. We'll find out in 7-10 days if she has Cushing's or not - fingers crossed that it's "not"!

I popped her in the arena on Saturday evening to see how she looked without her shoes. Shockingly, she looked great. I expected her to be mincey and short in front, but no, she was stepping out nicely.

The plan was to hop on her on Sunday. That changed when I woke up Sunday morning with a scratchy throat, that made me cough when irritated by talking or sometimes breathing. I was hoping it was just allergies, but after waking up with it again on Monday I called the public health line and asked what I needed to do. Since a scratchy throat couldn't be differentiated from a sore throat, I could either get a Covid test (which, if negative, meant I could leave my house once symptoms are gone), or I would be legally required to quarantine at home for 10 days. 

The swab has been stuck up my nose (not as bad as I thought it would be) and I'm stuck in the house for at least 1-3 days until I get the results. My mother was kind enough to leave me a care package on her step with a doggy bag from last night's Thanksgiving dinner that I had to miss and a whole bunch of chocolate that I picked up on my way home from the testing center. I just wish I had known this would happen so I could have brought my tack home to clean!

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Fall Riding

The barn that the ponies live at is surrounded by crop fields. I love the quietness of the area. 

Unfortunately, they don't make for usable hacking locations for most of the year. For some reason, farmers aren't appreciative of horses tramping down their crops, and thus, their hard-earned money. I mean, we do offer to fertilize as we go as payment, but it's still a no.

But once fall hits, and the crops have been removed, the fields start beckoning. 

I finally got out there on Monday with one of my barnmates. Both of us prefer to meander so it was a lovely ride. (Someone else had said on the Facebook post that she might join if we went for a gallop - not my thing in a field I don't know.) 

It was probably one of the last really nice days of the year, and by the time we went out the weather was just perfect for riding. 

The horses both behaved themselves nicely - well, until the turn for home for the other horse. He got a little bit dancey, but Cisco happily remained walking on a loose rein.

Nights are coming faster - it's now completely dark at about 8pm. I'll have to try to get out as often as I can over the next month as we will be stuck inside for 6 months all too soon.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

The Try-Guy

 A couple of weeks ago I had a proper schooling session on Cisco and told him that he actually had to make an effort at canter and not go around like a llama. 

Always a llama for the first pass at the end of the arena.

I wish I knew what magical words I whispered to him that night, because ever since then, he has been fantastic.

He hasn't turned into Valegro or anything like that. But something has clicked and he's just become very rideable. He's super willing and has been trying really hard to work with me.

The reason for that schooling session was to figure out if I had broken the right lead canter, the better lead for both of us. 

Ever since that day, the right lead has been lovely. I could ride the right lead for hours.

There's got to be a dressage test where you only canter one way, right?

To the left... well, it's a work in progress.


The canter at the beginning of the ride. The right shoulder isn't flinging out, but I've got no bend to the left.

The alternative method of left lead canter - the right shoulder bulging out.

Unfortunately, it's the tougher side for both of us. For me, I have the left-hand-itis - the left hand that loves to hang on the rein like a dead fish, and a much weaker left leg (also the leg that I pulled the adductor on last summer).  For Cisco, he likes to push his shoulders to the right, so the struggle is keeping that right shoulder falling way out in the circle, while getting him to bend around my left leg. Of course, if I could keep my left leg on reliably, and turn my fricking shoulders to the inside, it might be easier for him. 

Getting better. It still needs more left bend, but he's not dropping onto the left front nearly as much.

With the flinging of the shoulders to the right, it also means that he doesn't fill up my right rein, which means I don't have a very effective half-halt when tracking right. All around, the left lead is more of a struggle than the right.

I think there might actually be a bit of lift on the left shoulder!

But it's coming. I've been keeping the left lead canters shorter with the intent of getting a chance to re-organize before the wheels fall completely off the bus. It's generally easier to start with and keep a good canter than to fix a bad canter. It also gives me a chance to reposition myself in the saddle to give the poor horse a fighting chance of doing what I'm asking of him.

I'll take this trot. (It would be better if I would shorten my damn reins!)

It's working. Every ride we manage to get a few more strides of a canter with a left bend that I can steer off my outside aids. When I remember to put my inside leg on, he tries to bend around it. We'll probably lose it after a few steps, but at least I'm getting the desired response. 

Getting a well-deserved cookie at the end of the ride. I tuck it into his cheek - it's kind of adorable.

Cisco has always been a horse with a lot of try. I've been trying to alternate rides between proper schooling sessions and hacking so that I don't give him a reason to lose his willingness. It seems to be working!

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Canadians Senior Horse Owners - Free Offer!

Canadian horse owners - do you wonder if your senior horse has Cushings? 

The only way to know is to have bloodwork done - and bloodwork is never cheap.

But - you might be in luck - your horse might qualify for a free blood test!

Boehringer Ingleheim is currently offering free blood tests (performed by your veterinarian) to see if your horse has PPID. You can go to their website, learn about PPID, and fill in the request form. If it's approved, they will pay for the bloodwork. You'll still have to pay for whatever else your vet charges you for at the time (like travel), but hey, it's something!

Now, it's not all altruistic on the part of Boehringer Ingleheim - after all, they are the manufacturer of the medication Prascend which is used to treat Cushings. But if you are like me, and have a senior horse that is always the last horse to shed out in the spring, it might be a good opportunity to find out if your concerns are justified.

Phantom did qualify for the free test, so it looks like a trip to the clinic will be coming up in the next month - the offer is only good until October 28th. 

Click here for the link!

Wednesday, 15 September 2021


 Guess what this is?

This is a horse who, for the first time ever, came off the trailer totally dry! No sweat at all!

The car rides are working!

Cisco was still a bit sticky about getting on. I schooled the loading before putting his travel buddy on, and that was definitely a good idea. Once he's been fully on once he's pretty good about being loaded and unloaded, the tricky part is just getting him to get past the half-way point.

I think this was also the first time that he partook of the hay net. Phantom is hit or miss as to if she eats from it. Tonight she started munching on it while I was loading Cisco. For whatever reason he decided to join in on chowing down, so I let them sit there for a few minutes before closing everything up and heading out. I was happy to see an empty net when we returned home and dropped hay on the floor in front of Cisco.

Cisco (on the right) looks taller than Phantom - but I think it's just because he's totally got his butt squished into the butt bar. Though I might measure him to be sure!

I truly didn't think he would get this much better this quickly. As of four car rides ago he came off soaked with sweat. To come off dry and happily munching hay is a huge improvement. 

We still need to work towards traveling solo but I'll probably leave that until next year. I want to do a few more trips this year, maybe some longer drives, and try to get him getting into the trailer a little smoother. Hopefully his reduced stress will help with that.

Friday, 10 September 2021

The Canter Struggle Bus

Cisco's canter has been on the struggle bus as of late. He's been picking up his leads with no issue, and in general the transitions have been prompt and without drama. 

I got some usable Pixio footage (lots of non-usable footage). It's taken forever to be able to get on this horse and walk around on the buckle at the start of the ride.

But once we get into the canter, he's a llama. A left-bending llama.

It's a little dark, but this moment totally shows our struggle with dropping the right shoulder tracking right.

I've been wondering if it's a physical issue, a tack issue, a training issue, or an idiot rider issue.

One training hole that I know we have is not being able to get flexion at the poll without following with his shoulders. I spent so much time trying to get this horse to go on a straight line forward that I kind of neglected to work on getting flexion at anything other than a walk. We've been working on it, and I'm pretty sure that this will help our canter immensely.

On a ride last Friday I decided to tackle the canter. I only wanted him to give me some bend, and not carry his head straight up in the air. Was a decent ride lead canter something he couldn't do, in which case I'd have to look into getting a vet workup done, or he didn't want to do (because it's hard)?

I like the uphill moment, but would like the neck a bit longer and my butt to stay in the saddle.

We went back to doing lots of transitions on a circle. The first couple of canters were ugly, but it slowly started getting better. He started softening his back and allowed me to influence and ride the canter, rather than just sit on top and steer.

Magic colour change pony - he's now a palomino!

We made some progress in being able to ask for some flexion and have him reach down into contact. There were also some lovely, soft transitions into canter.

And then we had an amazing trot around the arena! Forward, straight, even contact in both my reins - it felt fantastic!

I would like his neck a wee bit longer here, but I was starting to ask for some right flexion. Also - as evidenced by these pictures - I can't sit up straight anymore.