Thursday 30 November 2017

My 1 Hour Visit

My second Black Friday purchase to arrive was Cisco's new bridle from Solo Equine. It arrived on Monday, but I couldn't haul my butt out of bed until Wednesday evening to try it on him. Review to come once I have a bit more time.
He's sexy and he knows it.

He and Phantom are back out in the big field with more horses and seemed to have settled in nicely. The last couple of times that I went out to grab him he was with someone other than Phantom, which is what I wanted to happen. I don't like that he's so reliant on her. Thankfully, nasty grey arab from the summer is no longer there, so it has been a much smoother transition than it was this summer.

One disadvantage to being out with other horses - Cisco's suit of armor has taken a few hits. He's got a few dents in it. And by dents, I mean chew marks, since a Kensington fly sheet can't be dented. Obviously.
Those marks are new.

I'm definitely keeping an eye out for a deal on a new one. I have a feeling I might have to put a new Kensington in my annual budget every year for a while.
And so are two of these three.

Good news is that the suit of armor is still doing it's job, and no chew marks were seen on his new Shedrow blanket. And yes, I do realize that I've jinxed myself by saying that.

Cisco came in just to try on the bridle. Phantom came in just so I could slap on more leg goop and let her slurp up her beet pulp soup. I had a whole hour to spend on two horses. Then it was off to work again to make money to pay for these creatures!
Phantom did a crap job with contouring her face this morning. Not so heavy on the bronzer Phantom! (And you might want to change up the poo colour.)

Monday 27 November 2017

Greenhawk Shedrow North Combo Turnout Blanket - Initial Review

One of my Black Friday purchases this year was the Shedrow North Combo Turnout blanket from Greenhawk. It is a turnout blanket with a liner system that changes the warmness of the blanket, like the Rambo Duo. But way, way, less expensive.

The blanket retails for $249 (+ tax). I picked it up at a great deal on Black Friday for 40% off, which brought the price down to about $150. The liners are $80 or $90 depending on the thickness. I bought the 300 gram fill liner for $54 at the same time as the blanket.

I've never been a huge fan of the Greenhawk blankets. Mostly because they just haven't fit my horses well in the shoulders. Farly had really big shoulders, and the best fit for him was Bucas. Phantom has a bit of a low set neck, so I think that's why they don't fit her as well as I would like.

In the 7 months that I have owned Cisco, he has been pretty hard on his blankets. Trust me - he could be much worse. But he is definitely the worst horse that I have owned when it comes to blanket destruction. So I am not willing to spend a lot of money on new blankets for him. He's not getting a Rambo anytime soon.

$150 is about what I was happy to spend on him. So I thought I would give it a try.

Here are my initial impressions.

The blanket is made from 1200D fabric. It's a charcoal grey colour, with bright blue binding. It's an okay colour. I'm sure it will hide the dirt nicely. The shell has 100 grams of fill, and comes with a 200 gram liner. It also includes a detachable neck cover. There are reflective strips on near the tail
Yep, the reflective stripes work!

I would say the blanket fits true to size. Cisco seems to be good in 78" blankets, and this one fits him fine. The drop isn't terribly long though, so if you have a horse who is really deep in the girth area, this could be a problem.

It does seem to be a bit bulky across his back - he looks like he has no shape across the top. This could be just because it is new and stiff, and my guess is that it will relax after it's been worn for a bit.

The fit around the neck is okay. It sits in a good spot on the withers - not too far back. It sits okay on the chest - not too high or too low. It's just not shaped as nicely as Phantom's Rambo from withers to chest.

The liner (this is the 300 gram one) seems to fit shorter, but when the top layer is on it attaches without issue. Like the Rambo Duo, the liner attaches to the shell with velcro tabs at the top of the neck, and with clips next to the tail cord. The fabric is a bit stiffer than the Rambo liners, but again, this could be just due to newness. There is a sheepskin patch at the withers.
Ummm... your butt's hanging out Cisco!

A nice touch is that the liner has the weight embroidered on the velcro tab on the chest. The Rambo liners don't have this, and you have to find the stitched on tag to find the weight. Bonus point to Greenhawk.

The shell has two surcingle straps that crisscross underneath, no leg straps, and a rubber covered tail cord. With the 300 g liner on, there wasn't a lot of strap left. Cisco isn't narrow by any means, but he's not that fat either. When the liner was off the strap length was no issue.
The straps with the liner on.

The neck cover is a bit of an issue.

It's really long! Cisco looks like he's a giraffe wearing a turtleneck. There's a lot of extra hood after the velcro straps. I think I will have Pony Grandma work some magic on it and get it to fit a bit better.
Folded back about 3 inches is a much better length.
The neck cover attaches to the blanket with velcro strips on either side of the withers.

My initial impressions are good. Overall the blanket seems to fit okay (minus the neck cover). I need to see that it doesn't twist while being worn since there are no leg straps before giving it my full approval. Cisco will continue to wear his suit of armor (his Kensington fly sheet) over it to make sure it survives the winter, so I won't really be able to attest to its durability. Unless he kills it of course.

It's definitely no Rambo Duo, but at a quarter of the price, it seems to be a pretty good substitution.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Canadian Black Friday Sales

We don't get the same deals as those south of our border. Unfortunately, even with great deals, after the exchange rate and shipping (and possibly customs) ordering from the US doesn't save us any money.

To help my fellow Canucks spend their horsey money on Black Friday, I am going to try to compile a list of Canadian places that are having deals. This list will be only online deals (except Greenhawk, since there are so darn many of them).

Have anything to add to the list? Let me know!

Greenhawk - 40% off Shedrow and Supra blankets, 40% off Tempo Equestrian and Aerion apparel. Friday Nov 24 in-store only, Monday November 27 online only.

Solo Equine - 30% off entire store. Friday Nov 24 - ?

Pleasant Ridge Saddlery and Western Wear - select brands on sale. Nov 24 - 27

Wilton Tack - Save $100 on in-stock Rambo blankets. Sale on many other items. Nov 24 - 26

Eaglewood Equestrian - 10% off bridles and saddlepads. Nov 24 - 28. Coupon code BlackFriday2017

Sprucewood Tack Shop - select items on sale. Nov 24 - 27

Bahr Saddlery - Save the tax. Nov 24 only!

Willow Equestrian - 20% off storewide. Coupon code BLACKFRIDAY. Nov 24 - ?

Bridle Path Tack Shop - 15% off storewide on online orders. Promo code BFCM17. Nov 24 & 25.

Herbs for Horses - 20% off and free shipping. Promo code BLACKFRIDAY. Nov 24 - 27.

I'm Going To Be Bad

Because it's Black Friday tomorrow!

It's so hard to balance out the wants and needs when it comes to shopping.

Who am I kidding, horsey wants are all needs!

I am going to need about four C4 printed belts (30% off).
Space cats are a definite yes.

Cisco needs a new turnout blanket, likely from Greenhawk (40% off).

And he might also need a black bridle from Solo Equine (30% off). This is somewhat legit - I own a bunch of brown bridles, but only one black. Well, two if you count the Micklem that I can't figure out where I've put. I made Cisco a lovely new browband in black that he hasn't worn yet. And he's going to be wearing a black saddle and breastplate for a while. So he needs to match. And he looks much better in black.
This will look smashing on Cisco. Plus, it's the only one they have in cob size.

And I have to pick up a clip for Cisco's suit of armor that he broke.

Phew, a purchase to not feel guilty about.

Monday 20 November 2017

He Likes It! He Likes It!

Sunday night was my night off, so I had a bit more time to spend with the kids. Unfortunately, by the time I hauled my butt out of bed mid-afternoon it was dark and cooling off. I was hoping to take some pictures outside but no luck in the dark.

I finally had time to spend with Cisco. He's been getting ignored this week as I have just been treated Phantom's scratches and then going home for another nap. The joys of working nights!

I popped him into the arena with the hope that he would play a bit. He was much more concerned about wanting to leave - he just paced the fence line near the gate. If I stood in that corner with the lunge whip he would go out a bit larger - like a whole third of the way down the ring. Beyond that was the dark abyss where land sharks and killer kitties reside, and he was not voluntarily heading down there.

Since he wanted to only go back and forth along the fence, I decided to make it a bit more challenging for him. I set up a cavaletti for him to jump along that fence. It was the same one that I had used a couple of weeks ago when I lunged him over a small jump, so I was hoping that he would like it as much as he seemed to that night.

Sure enough - he did! He went over it pretty well every time, and got a bit more relaxed about it the last few times. Didn't overjump it quite so much.

Here is a short video clip:

Of course, there was the time he forgot to pick up his legs.
Phone in one hand + whip in the other = crappy video

Phantom came in for her leg goop application. The fatness has gone down. There are definitely some crusties on her pastern. I can't say if the goop is making it any better, but it definitely is not getting any worse. I'll give it another week or so before I determine if I need to seek professional help. She's still a cow about letting me rub the goop on it, so if I can avoid the vet I will (vet will mean sedation and possible blocking if they want to really examine it). Although, I have to figure out what to do if it isn't better by farrier day, which is in about 3 weeks. I'm thinking bandaging her leg will likely be the best option. And maybe a twitch.

Friday 17 November 2017

Fantasy Christmas List

Christmas is coming. And I don't need anything for the ponies. But there's always something that I want. And these things usually cost many $$$. So I'd never expect anyone to buy them for me. Including Santa.

But if Santa had unlimited funds? This is what would be on my list.

At the top of the list would be the Pixio Robot Cameraman.
About $1000 CDN
I love to have my rides videoed. But there isn't always someone to do it for me. This would solve the problem! I might need a new video camera to go with it, and probably a bigger hard drive for my computer, so it would probably end up costing more than just the price of the Pixio unit.

Next on the list - the Equisense.
This would cost Santa about $600 CDN.

For those not in the know, the Equisense is a sensor that attaches to your horse's girth and records a bunch of information during your ride, which is then tracked on an app. It tracks things like gait symmetry, cadence, the number of transitions, amount of time spent going each direction, and the number of jumps. I'm a geek who loves this kind of information, so this would be totally appreciated should Santa pop it in my stocking.

What else?
I would take some new half chaps and paddock boots. Probably in navy. Cavallo does make a set, but my short, wide legs probably wouldn't fit in them. Which would mean custom. For the set, I would imagine easily $800, and likely more.

Both of the kids could use new Rambo Duo blankets. About $1100.

And lastly, Santa could just leave me a cheque for about $12 000. That should cover a new saddle for each pony. I need custom flaps (super short legs), Cisco will probably need custom to fit his shoulders, and if Phantom hears that Cisco is getting custom you can bet that she's going to insist on custom for herself. The Princess must have the best! (No idea what saddle I would buy, but I figure $6000 should get me something decent.)

Only 8 items. I don't want much. Surely Santa can bring me 8 items, right? I mean, they're only about $16,000. I'm sure if he shopped on Black Friday he could knock it down to, like, $15,400. Totally doable from the fat man!

Thursday 16 November 2017

The Cookie Monster

I started working nights on Tuesday night. As in from late evening to early morning.  So sleep during the day is now a priority.

It takes a few days to get into a new sleep schedule so I woke up after about 4 hours of sleep on Wednesday morning, and then took another hour to convince myself that I wasn't going to back to sleep so I might as well get up. I needed to get out to the barn early enough that I could have enough time to get a nap and a couple more hours of sleep in before heading to work again.

Phantom's leg looked much better when I pulled her in from her paddock. The fatness was about half of what it had been the previous days. (Apparently there had been some hijinks out in the field earlier in the day, so maybe the extra exercise had helped to bring it down.)
Looking better. Still some thickness above the fetlock, but much better.

I used a baby wipe to take off some of the leftover goop before applying a fresh layer. She still wasn't happy about me touching it, but didn't try to kick my head as soon as I touched it, so progress?

I squirted a bunch of Liver Flush into her mouth (which she spit on the ground) and then some bute (which squirted on me) and that was all for her. I didn't want to stick around, though it was tempting since someone was waiting for a vet to look at a hole in their horses leg that had just occurred (and probably wouldn't have if they had done things the safe way!), but no idea how long before they showed up, so I took Phantom back out.

Before leaving the barn I had loaded up a handful of treats into my pocket. I felt guilty about not giving Cisco any attention, since he was the one who walked up to me when I went out to the field. So I was going to give them some treats out in the field.

Cisco did his normal gallop to the gate when he saw Phantom coming. I let her loose and fumbled into my pocket for a cookie - and they left. With some exuberance. Sigh. So I tromped through the snow down to the far end of the paddock, holding my hand out with cookies in it.

Phantom was the first to clue in. Cisco was right behind her. I stuffed their little mouths and then tried to take a picture since their heads were so close to each other. I had to take a couple of steps back to fit them in the frame. So they would take a couple of steps forward. So I would step back. And them forward. Another picture taking fail.
Probably the best one that I got!

Phantom was pretty sure I still had more treats in my pocket even though I said I didn't. She had her cookie begging face on, and as I walked backwards to try to get a pic of it, she kept following me. If I turned and walked away, she would stop. As soon as I faced her, she put the cute face on and got close.

Not spoiled. Not at all.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Barn Aisle Exercise

I think Phantom's leg looked a wee bit better on my Tuesday visit. It definitely didn't look any worse. When I brought her in the leg looked about the same fatness as the day before. I wanted to hand walk her for a bit, but didn't want to do it in the arena (didn't want the sand to get on her fetlock goop), and it was too cold outside for me to be happy, so we stuck to walking up and down the barn aisle.

Actually - walking and jogging. Thankfully I had put a sportsbra on before heading out, as running wasn't in my original plans for the day. I was hoping that the movement would help Phantom's leg come down a bit, and after I thought I saw a bit of progress I decided to amp it up with some trotting. She didn't sound lame like she had been on Sunday. And most importantly, I didn't take a nosedive while running in my clunky Muck Boots.

I'm pretty sure I saw improvement in the amount of fatness in her leg after the little bit of exercise she got. So that gives me a little bit of optimism that it's not real serious, and not about to turn into cellulitis.

I re-gooped her leg, fed her her beet pulp soup (too much water - oops) and popped her back out.
Post barn aisle exercise and re-gooping. There's almost shape to her cankles.

I had enough time before having to go home for a nap to put Cisco in the arena to run around. He had quite a bit of sass in him. When I took his halter off he squealed and leapt into the air. I had to stand in towards the corner where the gate was with the lunge whip, or he would have just run back forth along the fence by the gate, so there were some more sassy moments while he tried to figure out if he could get past me or not. Thankfully his sass didn't last too long, and he didn't get himself sweaty so it didn't take too long to cool him out. 

Then I popped my current treeless saddle on him with a standard 26" girth. I have to order a new girth for the new saddle, and needed to confirm the size. It looks like the new one, which is a short flap, should need a girth that is 4" longer than the standard flap would take, so Cisco will need a 30", and Phantom a 32". There is a bit of a forward angle to the billets, and this pic was taken with the saddle just sitting on his back for a couple of minutes. So I'm pretty sure that the forward anatomic type of girth is the right option, I just have to decide which one to order.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

No Change

There were no obvious changes in Phantom's leg overnight. It's still fat with lots of crusty crud. It didn't seem to be as sore today, since she didn't try to kick me in the face when I touched it. That could be because of the bute from last night.

I am not going to clean it as that seems to piss it off. It seems to look worse the day after I clean it.

I picked up some more Polysporin with the triple antibiotic (and pain relief!), some athlete's foot ointment from Costco (which was a zoo since a lot of people have Monday off due to Remembrance Day falling on the weekend). I already had Desitin at the barn. I wish I had remembered that yesterday and I would have put that on last night.

They all got mixed up and applied to her pastern. Pony Grandma helped by dispensing treats when I clicked the clicker as I was applying. Phantom was quite good about me slathering on the goop, which honestly surprised me a bit. She's usually kind of a cow when it comes to being doctored. Using the clicker does seem to help, as she's a bit of a treat whore and will usually do whatever it takes to get a treat.

Still fat. Post-goop application so you can't see the crud.
I am a bit concerned about the possibility of cellulitis. I took her temperature - 37.1, so no worries there. I gave her a couple of grams of bute again before I left.

I also started her on Liver Flush from Alpha Omega, just in case she did ingest something she shouldn't have. I had a look at the hay since I made it out during daylight hours, and did find some clover in there, but had to look pretty hard to find a dried flower. Apparently it's difficult to tell what type of clover it is once it's in hay and dried, without getting it tested. But alsike clover is still toxic in a dried state. I guess the bales that they are feeding are from a new batch - same supplier, different field. And the results of toxicity are usually seen about a month after ingestion. So I am going to try not to overreact to the fact that there is clover in the hay. 

Monday 13 November 2017

Well, Crap.

So, that crud that I cleaned off of Phantom's leg last week, that I originally thought was scratches, but after cleaning it was thinking maybe it wasn't scratches?

I'm pretty sure it's scratches.


I hadn't been out to the barn for 3 days - two of those days where my work schedule makes it hard to get out to the barn. Hard, not impossible. When I went out Sunday evening, my fingers were crossed that I would find a relatively clean leg.

This is what I found:

Crusty crud on the front of her pastern, fat, and sore.

I turned Phantom and Cisco out into the indoor arena to let them move around and play a bit. They both had energy, but Phantom was not at all comfortable on that leg. It was pretty hard to watch her jog tiny uneven steps. I had Pony Grandma put a halter on her and park, and then I attempted to chase Cisco for a few more minutes. Which went about as well as I expected, as he didn't want to leave Phantom. So that didn't last long.

I used some warm water to try to get some of the crud off, then dried it with a blow dryer. I had some Polysporin Triple Antibiotic in my first aid kit, so I applied that. And gave her a couple grams of bute.

Tomorrow I will pick up some more Polysporin and athlete's foot cream to mix up to slather all over it. I'm hoping I can give it a chance to improve for a few days before getting a vet involved, but if it stays that fat or gets worse I guess I'll make the call.

The only time in the past that she has had scratches was when she had alsike clover toxicity about 5 years ago. The scratches showed up first, then she had a photosensitivity reaction, which led her owner to have her liver enzymes tested. I think there was one other summer when she had a small spot come up on one heel, so we moved her to a different pasture, and it cleared up with little effort on our part.

So I am a bit concerned that this might be because of something she has ingested. And if it is, it's in the hay. There was no clover in the fields that she was in this summer. I've been trying to find out if alsike clover in hay is toxic, but haven't been able to confirm. I'm thinking I will add some milk thistle to her feed for the next bit just to be on the safe side (milk thistle is used to help repair liver damage).

Of course, this has to happen just as I am about to start working nights, 6 nights a week. So life for the next bit will consist of work, sleep, barn, sleep, and back to work. And money spent on gas and goop to slather on her foot.

Friday 10 November 2017

The Girth Conundrum

Santa is bringing me a new treeless saddle this year. He's just delivering it - I'm paying for it.

It's supposed to ship around December 15th. So I should get it just before Christmas, and be able to start using it when I get my guys back into work after the holiday. If I have a girth to fit.

It's a short flap saddle, so the billets will be shorter, and I will need longer girths. I have tons of options for long girths, but only 2 dressage girths, and they are both the same size.

I am pretty sure that my best option for Cisco is going to be one of the anatomic, forward girth-groove type of girths. That cost many $$$$. And he's not the picky one. The princess is pretty opinionated about her apparel, and she usually doesn't approve of the cheap stuff.
Total Saddle Fit StretchTec

For the last 6 weeks or so, I have been scouring the interweb for anatomic girth options.  And I'm still no clearer on which one would be my best option.

Here's what I am considering:
Total Saddle Fit Stretchtec  (leather with neoprene liner) $284
Prestige Anatomic Dressage Girth - approx $220
Prolite Performance (Synthetic) - $210

There are a couple more on the list, but they will be more expensive, so they are way down the list. So, realistically, I need to choose from these 3.

I'm thinking that the Prolite might be my best option. But then I have to decide between the regular and narrow options. I measured the kids today as per the Fairfax website, and Phantom would require the narrow, and Cisco could use the regular. Except that I'm not sure that I measured them correctly, so I will have to try again on my next visit.

The only thing that I am wary about with the Prolite is that it doesn't have elastic. Not sure how I feel about an elastic-less girth.
Prolite Girth

This girth isn't carried in any of the local stores, of course. It can be ordered at one store so I will likely go that way. Unless I can find it cheaper in the UK.

Then there is the next issue - what size? I think it needs to be about 4" longer than my current girth, which puts it at 30". Big girth for my little ponies.

I will probably change my mind 20 times over the next 6 weeks until I am ready to try the new saddle. And then hope that the ponies agree with whatever I pick.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Mystery Crud

On my Monday visit I noticed that Phantom's right hind pastern seemed to have some excess crud on it. I'm pretty sure she had a minor scrape on it a week or so ago. I didn't do anything with it at the time as it was probably a day or two old when I first saw it, and it's been well below freezing out, so anything that involves water isn't fun. Phantom is well past her conformation class days, so I'm not too concerned about her gaining another blemish.

When I brought her in on Monday, it kind of looked like it had been oozing. Or something. Not bloody. Not really dirty. But something was going on. Her pastern also looked a bit thicker (not surprising, her legs will blow up due to a itty bitty scratch).

The more worrisome thing, was that it felt crusty all across the front of her pastern. Kind of like scratches. Yay. I do not want to have to deal with scratches in the winter months.

So, on my Wednesday visit, this pastern was the priority.

Here is what it looked like when I brought her in:

That crud on the front of the pastern was the problem. And it looked worse than it did on Monday. Now, I had put some Vetericyn on it that night, so maybe it was mainly dirt. But I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to be treating scratches for the next while.

So I started the soaking and scraping with warm water. Phantom, as per usual, was not terribly impressed, and gave me a range of reactions from dancing around, to stomping her foot as soon as I touched it, to holding it up and out to the side. Stoic, she is not.

I had someone have a look at it when it was about half done, and she was pretty sure it was scratches. There was a couple of big crusty spots left on the inside pastern at this time. But I kept soaking, and it didn't take too long for those to come off too.

And surprisingly - everything looked good underneath. No open sores. No bare spots where the hair came off. No signs of scratches.

No idea what was going on. I am sure that there had originally been a scrape, and it got cold at that time, and wounds take much longer to heal in the cold. Phantom got super fluffy around that time, so maybe a lot of the crustiness I felt is the scabs from the scrape being embedded in the thicker hair.

I dried the area off with the blow dryer, and then sprayed Aluspray all over the area. Not sure if that was the best option or not, but it was something that would dry out. I forgot to take a picture before spraying, so here is a pic of her silver pastern after cleaning it up.
So we'll see what it looks like when I visit on Friday. Really hoping it's not scratches, or really anything else, as I start nights next week, and having to go out every day to treat wounds becomes difficult.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

So Fluffy!

After I lunged Cisco over his "jump" on Monday night, I tacked Phantom up. You know it's been a while since you last rode your horse when you get on and their neck looks odd in front of you. But in Phantom's case, it's probably because she got so fluffy in the last couple of weeks! When I looked down at her neck she made me think I was sitting on a big, plush stuffed animal.

Make that a big, plush, spooky stuffed animal. Who felt like a ping pong ball underneath me.

I still haven't figured out which light switches to flip in the arena to get the right lighting. And the switches aren't in an area I can access once I have a horse with me. So I had gone over before I grabbed the first horse to turn on the lights, and didn't really pay attention to which ones came on. Turns out I turned on all the lights down one side, but none on the other side. More than enough light to ride in, so I didn't feel the need to correct it.

However, it resulted in shadows on the other side.

Phantom is generally not a spooky horse. But she can be a bit silly about light and shadow.  And tonight she was looking for an excuse to be silly. Generally if she is going to do anything, it's a bit of a bolt. Head up, butt down, zoom forward. It doesn't really last more than a few steps, and if I don't pull back on the reins (hah!) she doesn't get too bouncy through it.

Usually I let her warm up on a very long rein at a walk. Not tonight. I was waiting for that bolt. And sure enough, one sort of happened. I think a pigeon in the ceiling above us shifted it's weight as we walked past the shadow. Which was all the excuse she needed. Head up, butt down, maybe 3 steps. I pulled on the reins, tried to keep my balance, and that was the end of it. I got off lucky!

When I picked up the trot she felt very tight. She wasn't giving me her back at all, and it felt like I was sitting on a ping pong ball.

So I just started to move her around. 3 or 4 strides leg-yielded left, 3 or 4 strides right, all around the arena. This worked nicely and it didn't take too long before she was putting in some honest effort and reaching forward and down.

Then I moved onto some bending work. The jumps from the clinic this weekend were still up, so I did a bunch of changing direction around the jumps with a strong inside bend. She felt really good to the right, which is usually the side that she pushed her ribcage to the inside. To the left, I have recently figured out that I have to put myself a bit right in the saddle, which straightens Phantom, and then I have to actually use my outside aids to turn her left. Her right shoulder likes to pop out to the right, so if I straighten her first, I can try to get that shoulder to come to the inside. I still have to figure out how to get a good connection in that right rein though.

After a bit more trot work, I decided to quit while I was ahead. If she's going to get silly, it's going to be with some canter work. She rides up, and in the mood she was in, it wouldn't take much for her to decide that she wouldn't be able to walk any more. There was absolutely no one around, so the safety issue was there. And the reality is that I get one more week of riding before the ponies get their vacation.

Phantom has a couple of spots on her side with a big crusty scab on them. I can't figure out if the scab is still attached to her body, or if it's just embedded in all of the fluff of her winter coat. She isn't happy when I pick at it, but that doesn't mean much since she's such a princess. So I vaseline'd those spots in the hopes that on my next visit I can try to get some of the crusty bits off.

The more worrisome spot is on her right hind pastern. I can't quite figure out what's happening there - I think she had a bit of a scrape, but last night when I was feeling around that area it feels like there is crusty crud all over that area. Kind of like when she had scratches and her winter hair came in while it was healing. But she didn't have scratches this summer. So I have no idea.

I didn't have time to scrub it up and get it dry before sending her back out in to the cold. Next visit I will have to make that a priority. I promise to try to get pics!

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Jump Distraction

I braved the cold weather on Monday night to do something with the kids. It wasn't really that cold, but it sure wasn't warm. And now, since the time changed this weekend, it's dark when I get out of work, so it just feels so much later than it is. I would much rather be at home on the couch in this weather.

I figured the barn would be extra quiet tonight after the clinic this weekend - and I was right. I had the whole place to myself, and didn't see anyone.

I decided that I would do something with Cisco before I hopped on Phantom. The other thing that I hate about the cold is that I get sweaty when I ride, then I get super chilled and can't get warm. So I wanted to ride last.

Phantom nickered at me when I went out to the paddock to grab Cisco. She never does that. It gave me the warm fuzzies.

But Cisco was still my first victim. After a quick groom I took him over to the arena.

He immediately went on alert, worried about the scary end. I really just wanted a relaxed night, so I lunged him in the safe end. I just didn't want to deal with his drama.

He hasn't done anything in a week. So he was looking for a reason to get silly. He was pretty sure that reason would be at the scary end, so he kept gawking at that end as I lunged him.

I figured I would try to see if I could get him focused on something else. So I set up a cavaletti right at C. My last attempt at this didn't go well - he whacked his legs a couple of times on the poles, then lost confidence, so he would either stop and walk over it, or try to go around it. So I started this one really small, and worked our way up.

He was actually very good, and seemed to enjoy it. It did seem to move his focus away from the scary end, and he kind of dragged me onto the circle that took him to the cavaletti.  So I was really happy with how this went.

Here's a cell phone propped on a jump standard video. The biggest "jump" was either 12" or 15" tall, so tiny. The next step will be cantering into it, but keeping his confidence up is more important.

Monday 6 November 2017

It's That Time of Year

I am entering into the time of year that work gets busy. In a little over a week I start 6 weeks of working nights (as in overnights), and for most of that time I'll be working 6 nights a week. So the ponies are about to get a 6 week vacation. Not that they've worked hard as of late. When working nights all I do is sleep, do laundry, and try to occasionally pick up some groceries. And of course, work. Ponies fall by the wayside.

I'm hoping to get a few more rides in before starting my new schedule. But it's not looking too good. I have 3 days this week that I can't ride due to work. And honestly, it's frikkin' cold out. The weather has been well below average, and nights have been in the low minus-teens. I'm a wuss when it comes to cold, and it doesn't take much to convince myself to stay on the couch underneath the heated blanket. And it doesn't look like it's going to warm up anytime soon.
Why???? It's too early for this weather!

But I made it out on Sunday! In between teaching in the morning, and having to go into work in the evening. I had a whole two hours to spend at the barn.

There was a clinic on at the barn so I couldn't do much with the kids. I watched the clinic for an hour and a half - looked to be the standard basics - don't pick at your horse, ride your line, use your eye to find your line. I did like this exercise in the warm-up - trot poles on a straight line, canter a circle, come back to trot right at the poles, pick up the canter right after. start the circle at 20 m and make each circle smaller aiming for 10 m. I'll be trying this one.

I brought Phantom in and put the proper liner in her Rambo Duo. That was all for her.

Cisco was toasty in the blanket that he was wearing, so I left him out. He walked all the way across the paddock to say hi to me, so I had to give him some snuggles. When I went out later to catch Phantom he was involved in a pretty good game of bitey face over the fence with another gelding. I missed getting video of when he turned to look at me and his playmate grabbed Cisco's blanket by the wither and yanked on it. Thankfully his suit of armor is working as I hoped it would.

Hopefully I will have a proper ride review tomorrow!

Friday 3 November 2017

Favourite Things #5

The Rambo Duo blanket.
I bought one for Phantom 3 winters ago. I love almost everything about this blanket.
  • It doesn't twist. I've never seen it twisted on Phantom. Almost every other blanket she has worn always twists to the right.
  • I love the layering system. Easy to change a layer when the temperature changes, and the liners aren't horribly expensive.
  • Reflective stripes allow me to easily find my horse across the field in the dark with the light from my headlamp. Well, my horse and any other one that wears a Rambo.
  • No leg straps.
  • The fit is perfect for Phantom.
  • It seems to be super durable. Phantom is pretty easy on her blankets, so she maybe isn't the best tester. She put one small slice in it within two weeks of first wearing it. I patched it using the Rambo patch kit, and it's been fine ever since. Otherwise there are a few small poke holes in the outer layer, but after 3 years with 8 months of use each year, I'm not too worried about those.
  • The shell has the perfect amount of fill for the spring and early fall.
  • Because each layer isn't overly poofy, I can wash them myself at home in my washing machine, saving me money. Plus I know that it was washed correctly. (Unlike when I took some blankets to a local tack store for washing and discovered that they used fabric softener on them. Wrecked the waterproofing on my Bucas blankets. I was pissed.)
Unfortunately, it doesn't prevent a grey horse from turning brown. 

What I don't like about it? 
  • The front has the 2 different velcro connections and the double clips. Kind of annoying to have to undo 3 things every time, but a minor nuisance.
  • The tail cord - one broke last winter, so it had to be replaced. No biggie, it lasted almost 3 years. In winter it gets kind of gross as it gets covered in poo - frozen poo. But I don't have to touch it, so it doesn't bother me too much.
  • I can't decide how good the waterproofing is at this stage. I only wash the shell once a year in the spring, and use Microtek blanket wash shampoo and hang to dry. After heavy rain it seems a bit damp inside. Not soaking wet, just a bit damp. I probably just have too high of an expectation as to how dry it should remain.

But the biggest thing I don't like about it?

They're so expensive!!

I paid about $420 CDN when I bought Phantom's Duo. Now they're about $560. 

I would love to have one for Cisco, but until he learns to take care of his things, I won't spend that kind of money on a blanket for him. I keep trying to find one on sale, but no luck yet.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Snow Suit Season

Winter has arrived.

We have snow. Like, enough to cover all the grass snow. And nighttime temperatures will be in the minus double digits all week.  So winter is here, possibly to stay.

I was planning to ride Phantom this evening after teaching a lesson. But I had been told that the roads were getting slippery, and on the way to the barn the radio said that roads were greasy and some areas in town were slow going.

The barn that I teach at is about 10 minutes from the one where my guys live. I wanted to check on their blankets, and since I had made Phantom's food, I decided that I might as well head over.

I still haven't really figured out what I want to do for blanketing Cisco. I don't want to buy him any blankets this winter until I figure out how destructive he's going to be. So far the Kensington fly sheet armor that he is wearing seems to have helped. There has been no damage to his blankets since I added that as the top layer.

I'm lacking a lightweight turnout blanket for him. I would like something with 100gm of fill, but everything I own is either mid-weight or warmer, or unlined rain sheets. I think I will try to pick up a liner type of blanket that I can use under the rain sheet for those warmer days. Cisco isn't going to be able to walk very well with all the layers he will be wearing.
Cisco will be the horse on the right.

Tonight I bundled the kids up. Cisco wore an old BMB stable blanket with his Kensington over top. I didn't grab a liner for Phantom's Rambo Duo (because I want to clean them first) so she's wearing a lightweight Bucas over the Rambo. She's the cool kid wearing all the brand names.

I didn't ride as I was worried about the drive home. Thankfully the highways were good - not slippery, just snow blowing across the road. But the roads in the city were quite slick. My ABS brakes kicked in a few times. Tomorrow morning should be a fun commute!

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Killer Kitty Episode #2

Apparently Cisco's instincts were right about the Killer Kitty.

On Tuesday I took Cisco into the arena with the intent of riding him. Jerry, the kitty, followed us out of the barn. I called him over to the arena, with the thought that at least I would know where he was  and not worry about him suddenly popping through the door.
He may look innocent, but he's not!

I started with our normal routine of lunging in scary end. Cisco was distracted and not paying attention to me, and was much more concerned with staring into the end looking for something evil to pop out. I put a bit more pressure on him than normal to stay the hell away from me when he dropped his shoulder staring into the abyss when was on the far end of the circle. It got better, and we had some circles where he stayed out and stayed at the pace I wanted him to.

I took him right into the end and just hung out for a bit. He seemed to relax, and wasn't so concerned about just wanting to leave.

Up until this point, Jerry had been hanging out with Pony Grandma. Since I was now standing still, he decided to come all the way down to the other end of the arena to visit with me and Cisco. He perched on the fence, Cisco gave him some nuzzles, and I decided to head back down to the other end to hop on Cisco.
Maybe snuggles are the problem....

Jerry stayed on his perch as I headed down. This had me a bit nervous, as I wasn't sure what Cisco's reaction would be. I don't think he really noticed him.

But then it happened. Jerry, the snuggler, morphed into Jerry the Killer Kitty. And all Cisco's nightmares came true.

There are still pigeons roosting in the arena. They are annoying, and flap around and make noise and probably contribute significantly to Cisco's concern about the scary end, as that is where they like to hang out.

When Jerry jumped down from his perch on the fence, he stalked one of the pigeons that was on the ground. And amazingly, caught it. Well, sort of caught it. Caught it enough that the pigeon was injured, and could not fly.

Cisco saw Jerry race in to make his kill. All the way down at the other end of the arena. And immediately turned into a giraffe. A sweaty giraffe. That was incapable of using its brain for anything sensible. Sigh.

I led him down to the end to make him face his fear. Jerry was hovering over the injured pigeon on the other side of the half wall - I could see him, Cisco could not. Not that he was trying -  he was desperately looking for a way out of the kill zone.

At one point Jerry popped out by the gates. With blood dripping off his fangs and a horse in his cross-sight. At least that's what Cisco thought, based on his reaction of flying backward in an attempt to get the hell out of there.

The pigeon eventually flopped his way down to the other end along the outside of the half wall, with Jerry following. Still terrifying, as we could only see them as they passed a gate opening, and then they would disappear.

At the far end, Pony Grandma managed to get the pigeon outside, and sent Jerry out with it. And she warned me that the Killer Kitty took off down the side of the arena, so be prepared for him to come through the hole in the door again. Which he did about 2 minutes later. And proceeded to look for the pigeon that he was sure was still down there.

I decided that I was not getting on Cisco, that tonight some groundwork would probably be a better idea. That hamster in his brain had hopped on that wheel and was running for its life, and it was going to be a bit before it slowed down.

Back down to the scary end. And I worked on getting his attention on me. Every time he would gawk and stare at the outside, I abruptly changed direction. Or stopped and backed up. It took a few minutes, but he did manage to relax. He actually relaxed sooner than I thought he would.

Next ride I will make sure that I leave Jerry locked up in the barn. And maybe I will find a way to cover that hole up.

And maybe I'll start to trust Cisco's instincts. If he ever meets a person he doesn't like, it's probably because that person is a serial killer.