Monday 30 December 2019

Who Wore It Better?

I'll hopefully be mostly over this whole flu-thing in the next couple of days. It looks like Mother Nature is planning to cooperate (for a week or so at least) and my work schedule isn't crazy. I might actually get a couple of rides in this week!

Part of the prep for getting back in the saddle is getting the ponies clipped. Both of them have big wooly coats. Phantom is definitely the woolier of the two, but Cisco seemed to grow more this year than he did last year.

Sunday was a beautiful day, so a perfect opportunity to create some semi-nekkid ponies. I stopped off on my way out to the barn at the dollar store to pick up a couple of things - some kind of sanitizer spray so that I could wipe the mouse smell out of my tack locker, and a disposable painting haz-mat suit. I've worn one over my clothes the last couple of times that I've clipped and it's been fantastic at reducing the amount of hair that ends up attached to me.

But they didn't have any. And I didn't feel like driving around to find one. So I sucked it up and clipped in the clothes I was wearing. Which wouldn't have been too bad except that I wore a bra. I don't usually wear a bra when I clip, just a thicker shirt. I'm so not going to do that again! The girls will forevermore be free when I am clipping!
So itchy!

The kids were both pretty well behaved and my Lister Star clippers got the job done pretty quickly. They got their normal variation of an Irish clip and somehow I managed to get both sides pretty even on my first attempt. It doesn't usually happen that way.
I am saddened by the lack of dapples underneath his coat this year/
Phantom, aka the Polar Pony, was quite warm when I brought her in, so I'm glad I got her clipped. The weather has been pretty nice for the last couple of days, but it's hard to blanket. Today's daytime high was just over freezing in the lovely sunshine, but it's supposed to feel like -19 celsius tonight. Those 20 degree swings are hard to figure out how dress.
Not her most flattering angle.
Hopefully, the new racing stripes won't give them any bad ideas when I get on them on Wednesday or Thursday!
Bonus pic - the bright spot in the middle of the sky is the moon, which was actually a lovely crescent moon. The bright spot to the right and below is apparently Venus. It was super bright in the sky, though not as much as on my drive home on Friday night, when it was just below the moon.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas!

I had great plans for this week and was going to get a bunch of rides in. And then I got the flu. So I've barely made it off the couch for the last few days.

My family is doing the Christmas thing on Christmas Eve, so I'm hoping that I'll feel up to heading out to the barn on Christmas day. I doubt I'll be able to ride, but the ponies will be happy being stuffed full of treats.

I hope everyone gets to spend time with their loved ones, whether they be of the 2-legged or 4-legged variety. Enjoy the food, the company, and the gifts, be them large or small.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday 23 December 2019

Update: Smegma Transplant Results

Back in May I wrote about trying a smegma transplant on Cisco. Long story short: he'd been rubbing his tail and butt daily and his sheath stunk. The idea is that you take smegma from another gelding, stick it where the sun don't shine on Cisco, and hopefully it changes the ph balance in there and he stops rubbing.

Did it work?

A resounding yes!

I think he came in only a handful of times with a rubbed tail during the worst of fly season. Compared to before when he came in like that daily, there was a significant improvement.  I also no longer smelled eau de sheath whenever I was in his vicinity.

It's been about 7 months so far and I haven't had to repeat the treatment. With my old horse Farly, I had to re-implant smegma every 6 - 8 months. We'll see how the next few months go for Cisco before I decide if I need to do it again.

I'll have to find a new donor horse though. The one I used last time is no longer at the barn!

Saturday 21 December 2019

This Means War

For the first time in many years, this winter I've had a mouse problem in my tack box.

I think that they're getting in at the bottom where the doors don't line up properly as the ground it sits on is uneven. They only need a space the size of a dime to be able to sneak in.

On two of my last five visits, a mouse has greeted me when I opened the door. So that makes it obvious. Not to mention the raisins they've left behind and the distinct aroma of eau de mouse.

Whenever I've been out for the last month I've been in a bit of a rush so I haven't taken out anything other than grooming kits. Last night I had a few extra minutes so I ventured over to the saddle side of the box.

And discovered that a mouse had chewed into the lining of my Equestrian Stockholm saddle pad.

That's a declaration of war.

They couldn't have chosen the $10 pad that was with it. Nope, had to go for the good stuff.

I think that Miss Mouse was trying to set up her nest in there as there was what seemed to be a Kleenex all chewed up into bedding in the saddle pad. Hopefully I disrupted it at the right time.

I went home and immediately ordered bait stations. Nothing is fair in love and war.

(I'm pretty sure the saddle pad will survive to be usable - the hole is fairly small and on the underside. I just have to decide how I want to patch it.)

Friday 20 December 2019

Bad Hair Year

The ponies have been looking a little feral lately with their 5 weeks of little attention. They are super fluffy and have hair sprouting from everywhere.

Well, not quite everywhere. Cisco is missing a big chunk from his mane.

He is not having a good hair year. I buzzed off too much of his forelock last spring when I had to blindly put the clippers up above my head to clip his bridlepath. He is now much better about the clippers by his ears, so the forelock has been slowly growing back. He had a bit of a mohawk through the summer.

Then the top part of his mane disappeared this summer. It was either his fly sheet hood, or from sticking his head through the fence to eat the greener grass. That's now growing back, but it's growing straight up.

Lately, the bottom part of his mane got rubbed out by his winter hood. It's the same hood he's worn the last couple of years without issue, but it underwent some repairs between seasons and I think that the stitching is what pulled out his mane. He's now wearing a different hood so hopefully there will be mane there by spring.

The plan is to start riding again on Monday as work starts to quiet down. High on the priority list will be to get the kids clipped. I had a couple of hours free on Tuesday morning so I decided to get a head start on their makeovers.

Phantom was easy - I just shaved her goat chin and gave her cheekbones once again. She needs her mane done but I'll do that another day.

Cisco also got his face sculpted, and then a bridle path. Then I tackled his mane.
A little bit better?

He doesn't grow a lot of hair so his mane is very fine and not very thick. I don't really pull it, I usually just use a combination of a thinning rake and scissors.

I grabbed my scissors. Which apparently were My First Scissors by Crayola. They sucked. Oh well, his mane couldn't have looked much worse than it was before.

Now it's kinda the same length. Except for the part that isn't there - can't really do anything about that. If only it all laid down instead of going in different directions!

Friday 13 December 2019


I've finally spent a bit of time with the video that I took using the Pixio. I suck at any type of video or photo editing - I've just never had the patience to learn how to do it.  Since I'm going to end up with a bunch of videos over the next little while (well, when I manage to start riding again, hopefully in a couple weeks!) I've decided that this is the winter to learn.

I bought a new computer which came with Cyberlink PowerDirector installed. Might as well try the free program first before deciding if I need something better. It's supposed to be pretty easy to use, and there are some good Youtube videos on how to do things.

My first project wasn't too ambitious - just a side by side video showing some trot from March and from November. Child's play.

I'm not going to lie and say that the video is great. I think I needed to change where the zoom was centered for a part of it to keep me in the middle of the screen. But you get a good idea of what I was trying to show - the difference in Cisco's tension.

The ride in March was a fairly typical ride in the arena by himself - erratic pace, erratic contact, and we couldn't make it down to the scary end of the arena.

The ride in November is typical for our current rides. The scary end hasn't been an issue since the spring. He's now good in the arena by himself - there's no significant difference if there are other horses or not. This ride was only his third ride in three weeks and was 18 days after my surgery. I actually chose to ride Cisco over Phantom after surgery as he is much more consistent with his energy level.

We definitely have lots to work on, but now that he is much more relaxed it will hopefully come much faster.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Well, Poop.

Tuesday was my one day off in the week.  I finally felt good (my last two days off I've felt crappy) but I still wasn't able to ride. Why? Because I had a whole bunch of things to do. One of which was clean a poopy horse butt.

I forgot to take before and after pictures. But trust me - it was gross.

Phantom tends to have an icky backend whenever she wears a blanket. It's not that she has constant diarrhea, it's more like with a tail flap on her blanket she doesn't lift her tail out of the way enough. It gets stuck on her tail, which then smears poop all over anywhere her tail touches.
This is what colour her tail would be if it wasn't put up. It's supposed to be white.

In winter, it also freezes. Which is probably better because then it doesn't smear. Except that it freezes in chunks on loose hairs of her tail or on the tail cord of her blanket.

In summer, it's no big deal to be able to clean her up on a regular basis. Winter isn't so much fun. She lives outside 24/7, so she has to be dry before she can go back out. My barn doesn't have hot water in the wash rack, though there is hot water from a sink that I can use in buckets. Also, polar pony fur doesn't dry very fast with a regular hairdryer.

I put her tail up all winter to at least try to minimize the damage. It definitely helps. But it doesn't work miracles.

Thus, I had to don the kitchen rubber gloves on Tuesday to do some scrubbing.

I had a helper = a 10 year old barn rat was killing some time before her lesson and she wanted to help. I don't think she believed me when I told her how poopy Phantom's butt was based on her comment when we went out to catch her.

A couple of large buckets of hot water later, and only one hole cut into my glove when I removed Phantom's tail wrap, I had a pony with a pretty clean tail, and tannish coloured legs and butt cheeks. She wasn't squeaky white clean, but good enough for trying to use a minimal amount of water.

Her tail got blow dried and put back up into its pink unicorn duct tape and vetrap cocoon. Phantom was put into a stall to eat some hay while the rest of her continued to dry (I had used the drier on parts of her legs so she wasn't soaking, but she wasn't dry enough yet). She was quite unimpressed so that didn't last long and we went over to the arena for a hand walk instead.

I'm hoping that this will last for a few weeks, but I'm not overly optimistic. I have a feeling that I'll be scrubbing poop again for Christmas.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Black Friday Deals in Canada 2019

I've spent far too much money lately. So let me help you spend yours!

Here's a list of Canadian online equine retailers who are having sales this weekend. I'm sure your local tack shop is also having a sale - make sure you check them out too!

Have fun shopping!

Bonnets by Sandy - 30% off any bonnet with black on it. Nov 29 only.

Frontier Western Shop - 15% off, online or in-store. Nov 29 only

Next Gen Saddlery - 15% off storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 2

Sprucewood Tack - 15% off storewide. Buy 3 clearance items get one free online. Nov 29 - Dec 2

Wilton Tack - tax free storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Bakers Saddlery - 10% off with code BLACKFRIDAY10. Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Summerside Tack - 15% off storewide. 30% off select Thinline saddle pads. Free shipping on all orders. Nov 29 - Nov 30.

Bahr Saddlery - save the tax. Nov 29 only

Solo Equine - all dressage bridles on sale. Nov 29 only.

NAG Bags - sale starts Nov 29.

Pleasant Ridge Saddlery - sale starts Nov 29.

On The Bit Tack - discounts on select in-stock LeMieux, Ariat, Scharf and BR Equestrian. Nov 27 - Dec 2.

Tack Shoppe of Collingwood - 20% off storewide. Nov 29 - Dec 2.

Equestrian Factory Outfitters - up to 50% off almost everything. Nov 29 - Dec 2.

Knixwear - 20-50% off everything.  Nov 25 - ?

Willow Equestrian


Tuesday 26 November 2019

It's That Time Of Year Again


The time of year that all I do is work. If I'm not working, I'm probably sleeping, or wanting to sleep but it's too early and if I sleep now I won't sleep all night.

The ponies have taken a back seat for the next four weeks. I managed to ride Cisco once last week, and he was wonderful and I have Pixio footage from it. But like my other post that I've written about my first ride with the Pixio that has been almost but not quite completed for the last ten days, it might not get written about.

The Pixio is great so far. A couple of glitches for me to figure out that should be related to where my beacons and camera are placed. But nothing I couldn't deal with if I can't figure it out. Editing the video at the end of the night sucks though. And it hasn't happened.

I had great plans for today, my one day off in the week. But I woke up feeling crappy, same as last week on my day off. I was hoping to ride this evening, but between the crappy feelingness, the new snow we got overnight, and the fact that it's getting cold again, I don't know if I'll be feeling it later today. Not to mention that I'm pretty sure both of my horses won't be super sound. We had some rain, and then it froze, so the ground is either super icy or frozen chunky. The arthritic old horse will be stiff from tip-toeing around and the thin-soled young horse will be foot sore.

Today is probably going to mostly be a sit in front of the computer and start playing Planet Zoo. And maybe finish up those Pixio blog posts.

But don't count on it.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Stiff Legs

As soon as it got cold this fall, Phantom decided that she was old and feeling her age. She did the same thing last year. I was hoping that by getting her hocks injected this past August she wouldn't feel so creaky this winter. But nope. It got chilly, she got stiff.

I hadn't ridden her in at least three weeks. Cisco is actually the more reliable of the two - Phantom can get a bit silly when she's full of herself. Cisco is generally the same every day, which is what I wanted for my first few rides back.

But I decided that I would hop on Phantom on Tuesday. I planned ahead and let her loose in the arena on Monday to get rid of any potential sillies.
Guess who had a good roll first?
The old gray mare moved like she was old. She wasn't too enthusiastic about doing much. Well, she did a short canter with a horribly uncomfortable downward transition and I could see her rethinking getting the zoomies. Her old lady hocks were bothering her.

I definitely need to get her looked at. I'm thinking I'll see if I can get some Previcox for her and give her that when I'm going to ride, at least in the winters. She was pretty good while it was warm in the summer.

For my ride on Tuesday, since I don't yet have Previcox, I gave Phantom some bute before getting her ready. She was also a bit stocked up in her hind legs, more so on the left than the right. That's new.

When I got on she was definitely taking short and tight steps. We walked around on a loose rein for about 15 minutes and it got better as we got going.

I was expecting her trot to start off terrible. But she actually felt pretty good! Well, she felt pretty even, at least. It took a while before she started to work into the contact, but I had no expectations for the ride so I wasn't worried. I just wanted to see how she felt and get her moving around.

I did a quick canter each way and ended the ride there. I didn't want to overdo things, and I hadn't given her any Ventipulmin and I could hear her breathing was a little laboured. I was happy with what she gave me. Phantom's fat hind legs also looked much better post-ride.

I was also happy that I didn't feel like I had no strength on this ride. This is the first ride after the surgery where I felt almost normal.

Until I can get her looked at, I guess I'll keep her on the gram of bute when she gets ridden - not that she'll get ridden much in the next few weeks. I was already planning on giving her some bute for her farrier appointment next week since she was fussy last time she got done.

I was telling someone last week that if Phantom were a human she would live in Lululemon clothing and Uggs because they are comfortable (and expensive). This horse has no stoicism and does not like to be uncomfortable. A princess should be pampered!

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Warm Thighs

Winter has most definitely arrived to the Canadian prairies.

Alberta had the dubious honour of being the coldest place on earth this weekend (not our first time to get this award). We had a high of +7 celsius on Friday, rain during the day on Friday, snow overnight and falling temperatures through to Saturday night, where it hit a low of -19.6 celsius (felt like -26). And by Wednesday, it's supposed to be back up to +5.
There was no snow two days earlier. 

Go home Mother Nature. You're drunk.

On Friday I bundled the ponies up in their snowsuits and made sure I had groceries in the house just in case the roads were crap. They were. So I spent far too much time on the couch and on the internet over the weekend.

By Monday it had started to warm up a bit and the roads weren't atrocious. I went out to the barn in the evening for a ride. And I took a new/old piece of kit to try out during my ride.

When I first started riding, my coach foxhunted. She had this wool cape/poncho that she would wear when the weather was crappy. My mom copied it and made one for me. I never really wore it that much - I never really needed the extra warmth.
Not a picture of the actual poncho, but think this but longer.
Last week, I remembered it's existence in a closet at Pony Grandma's house. I thought it might be worth a try to see if it would keep me warmer when I rode in the winter. Specifically, keep my thighs and butt warmer.

Because I was on the internet all weekend, I rediscovered riding skirts. And got really excited about them. Pony Grandma and I went to the fabric store on my only outing this weekend and picked up material to make one. She has some mad sewing skills, and really, it's just a fleece-lined poodle skirt with a zipper down the front. It shouldn't be too difficult to make.
It's going to be gray softshell with a silver lynx/tiger lining. It's going to be beautiful.
When I went out to ride on Monday evening, I decided to try the wool poncho to see if it would keep my thighs warm. The arena was a balmy -4 celsius - cold enough that my legs would usually be chilled while I rode.

I didn't think Cisco would have a problem with me wearing it, but I made sure first. I just draped it behind the saddle while I mounted, then as we walked around I brought up one side, then the other. I don't know if he noticed at all.

It definitely worked. My legs and butt were totally comfortable through my ride. When I got off the coldest part of me was my feet, and I never have to worry about having cold feet.

Unfortunately, I didn't like riding in the poncho. It was just as I feared - too bulky. The top part of my body was too warm, despite only having a couple of the middle buttons done up at the front. Then the wool would pull backwards and the poncho rode up in front. Not to mention that changing my short whip from one hand to the other was a little awkward.

In a pinch for something warm to wear, I would use it again. But now I'm super stoked for the riding skirt. It will definitely keep my legs warm, and I can wear whatever layers I need to on my top half to stay comfortable. Plus I can wear the skirt over my breeches when I'm doing chores - when I went out to feed hay after riding my thighs froze.

Hopefully Pony Grandma is able to get it made really soon!

Saturday 9 November 2019

Saturday Snowed In Santa List

Since I'm snowed in this weekend, I guess it's time to make my Christmas list!

One thing won't be on my list for this year  - the Pixio - because I ordered it yesterday! They have a promo for the next week of 60€ off, which is about $90 Canadian dollars. That's probably the best deal that I'll find so I jumped on it!

What else do I want need? My list is actually pretty small this year.

Saddle pads. Man, there are some pretty ones these days. And they come at a pretty price too.
Equestrian Stockholm - faded fushia

PS of Sweden - Jade
I've spent my morning looking at winter riding skirts. I have a hard time dressing my bottom half in clothing that lets me move but is warm enough that my thighs don't take 4 hours to thaw out when I get home. I'm really liking the idea of a riding skirt. These ones by Arctic Horse would be just the ticket.

Does the scenery come with the skirt?
They are a little too pricey for my liking - this skirt would be about $300 Canadian. If I was sure that I would ride in it a bunch, I would pay the money - it's only a little more than a pair of Pikeur breeches. I talked to Pony Grandma to see if she thinks it would be doable to make and she feels confident that it would be (basically a modified circle skirt). We're going to price out fabric and see if it's worthwhile to make at home.

And you know what? That's it. 

I would like to get some custom boots for myself (my short, wide legs will need custom). But I'm hoping to lose some more weight so they will be at least a year out. 

Same reasoning behind not wanting to buy any clothing. 

A kinda horse-related purchase that I might have to make will be a new computer. My laptop is getting slower and I don't know how well it will do with the video from the Pixio. Not to mention that half the time that I want to type an "o" I have to stand on it to get it to work. I think this time I will go with a desktop - I would just need the tower and would get more bang for my buck. Hopefully, I won't need it for a while though.

Otherwise, I want to save my money and make this next year a year of education. I want to try to get some regular lessons again. I might not manage weekly, but bi-weekly will be my goal.

Since there's not much on my list, I fully expect Santa to bring me everything. Got that, jolly man??

Friday 8 November 2019


Before I went out to the barn on Thursday I was determined to clean Cisco's bridle and breastplate that I had brought home to work on in the comfort of my living room (and in front of the tv). I hate cleaning strap goods - I will happily clean multi saddles before I will clean a bridle.
My tack cleaning nest in my living room.
Thus when I finally clean them, I do them properly. Take it apart, go over everything with just water first, then with saddle soap, and if needed, a conditioner. It takes a while.
One set done. Many to go.
I got out to the barn in the middle of the afternoon and grabbed Cisco. I was feeling pretty good after finally getting a proper sleep (aided by a muscle relaxant in the hopes of fending off another migraine) so I was optimistic about having a decent ride.

That all changed when I got on and realized I had no strength. I tried to put my left leg on him as we walked away from the mounting block and could barely apply pressure. Okay then. This ride was just going to be about using balance to stay on.

I managed some trot that wasn't atrocious. Lots of walk breaks where I rested my hands on the pommel and just let the horse carry me around. Then tried a canter. One circle each direction. I was a wet noodle in the saddle. No strength in my body to be of any help to the horse.

Total saddle time was about 35 minutes. It felt much longer.

That ride did me in. I was noodle-y for the rest of the day.
I spent my evening curled up on my couch wearing The Comfy Original Blanket Sweatshirt. This thing is super toasty and warm (and so not flattering!). I luvs it!

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Celebration Ride

I had an appointment with my family doctor yesterday, and she had the pathology report. The results - negative for malignancy! No cancer!

This was the best possible outcome for the circumstances. I mean, no one wants to hear that a part of them was cancerous, but then there's the realization that we took out an organ that didn't need to come out. No perfect win-win either way. However in order to get to this conclusion at least half of the thyroid had to be removed, and I've been on Synthroid for a few years already, and with the removal of the whole thing I'll just be taking a different dose of the same medication.

And most importantly, I won't have to do any other treatments, which means that I won't have to be radioactive for a few days at a time.

So I celebrated by getting on and going for a ride last night.

Ignore the mane of many lengths. 
I did a quick grooming on Cisco. I was trying not to use up all my energy before I got on the horse, but my plan was slightly foiled. Phantom has lost a bit of weight again so I brought her in to eat some alfalfa cubes while I was riding. She came in with a big ball of snow on one foot that I had to remove before I could put her in the very lightly bedded stall. And I could not get that snowball out. I ended up grabbing my hairdryer and melting part of it until I could get the hoof pick under it enough to flip it out.

When I settled my butt in the tack, I felt the weakness in my body. Really, my only goal for the ride was to walk for 10 minutes, and anything above that was a bonus.

After wandering around on a loose rein, I decided to try a trot. Thankfully Cisco was game for it and gave me a relaxed forward trot with a little bit of sass that made me laugh. Some of the lesson kids entered the arena with some dishes of food for their horses post-ride. I'm not sure if Cisco was thinking of spooking at them or slamming on the brakes to try to mug them, but his shoulders bobbled for a couple of steps and then I bobbled and burst out laughing. The perfect release for my stress.

I didn't last long of course. A few minutes of trotting on a loose rein, then I asked him to round a little and drop his nose a bit, which he quite happily did, so I left it there. I still had to get horses put out.

And blankets changed. Because this was the forecast for the night:

Winter has officially hit.

Monday 4 November 2019

It's Never Just a Saddle

It's going to happen verrry, verrry soon.

I'm getting a Pixio.
I got a smallish bonus at work that would pay for about half a Pixio. I added a little bit to the account from sales at the tack show a few weeks ago. I already have a tripod, video camera and bag I can use. So the plan was to wait through the season and see if a sale pops up between now and Christmas. I won't really be riding for the next couple of months, so I can wait if I have to pay regular price.

And then Pony Grandma gave me some news.

She received the last bit of money from my grandfather's estate this summer and was planning on giving it to my brother and I for Christmas. And she wants me to use it on something for myself that I want - not to go towards paying bills. And she knows how much I want that Pixio.

So I'm definitely getting a Pixio!

Now, I already have a tripod that I can use. Two, even. One is my "good" tripod for my DSLR - I don't know if I want to subject that one to the dust in the arena since I often use it in the house. The other one is a cheap, short tripod, that would probably do the job.

But once I set it up to look at it, I don't know if I'm comfortable using it for the Pixio. Do I want to risk the $1500 setup of Pixio and camera with a flimsy weak stand underneath it? Not really.

So I ordered a new tripod to go with the Pixio (that I haven't ordered yet).

I bought the Slik Pro 700DX tripod legs. The legs come highly recommended. I'm not going to put a ballhead on it - the Pixio will screw right onto the legs, and the manufacturer actually doesn't recommend using a ballhead. The tripod doesn't fold up as small as I would like, but at the price I was happy to pay I can either get stable but not compact, or compact but not stable. I'll stick with the stability.

Then I started thinking about the case I would use to keep everything together. I was planning on using an older bag from a no-longer usable camcorder until I could get something better. I had put a price alert on a hard-shelled case from a Canadian chain store as they go on sale quite a bit and I thought that it might be a good option. Sure enough, the next week, they go on sale for 50% off.

I sent Move n' See a message to get measurements of the pieces so that I could figure out what size of case I would need and scoured the internet to see if I could find any pictures from anyone using hard cases for storage. I got an idea of the size that I would need. And looked at other case options.

Originally I was looking at cases with the pluck & pick foam, where you pull out pre-cut foam cubes to make spots to hold the items in the case. And then I remembered that I had that type of foam in my big DSLR case. And I hated it. I was much happier with the options that the padded dividers I swapped it out with gave me.

So now I have a hard-shelled case with padded dividers coming my way for the Pixio I haven't ordered yet.

I ordered a Nanuk 920 case. Similar quality to Pelican cases. I actually like the latches better on them (it's what I have for my DSLR). And it's made in Canada - an added bonus.

I don't have any intention of upgrading the video camera (or so I keep telling myself). They're either entry level $300-450 (which is what I have) and then they jump up to closer to $900. That's far too much money to pay for something that isn't going to make me money.

So, apparently buying a Pixio is like buying a new saddle - it's never just the saddle. It's also a new girth (the old one doesn't fit), stirrup leathers (the old ones are the wrong colour) and a new saddle pad (some sort of $$ specialty pad). There's always hidden costs!

I'm hoping that the Pixio goes on sale in November. I don't know if I can wait much longer!

Friday 1 November 2019

Buh Bye Thyroid!

On Tuesday this week, I had surgery to have a total thyroidectomy to remove my potentially cancerous thyroid. It was exactly one year earlier that I had originally been told that the biopsy of the nodule in my thyroid was malignant, but it turns out that it was unconfirmed. A second biopsy in April came back with the same results - unconfirmed, but about a 30% chance that it was (usually about 5-10% of nodules are cancerous). The original plan was to only remove half the thyroid, but when I told the surgeon that I was already on Synthroid that plan changed to remove the whole thyroid (it already wasn't working properly, it would just be sitting there for more nodules to form in, and if the first half came back cancerous then I would have to undergo a second surgery to remove the remaining half).

I wasn't too worried about the actual surgery. I had a previous co-worker who had the same surgery back in June, with the same surgeon, and a current co-worker who had had this surgeon for a gallbladder surgery a few years ago. I had faith in the abilities of the surgeon. And I had read a few accounts online of people's experience with the surgery, and it generally was a good experience for all. So the actual procedure was not much of a concern to me.

I've been far more concerned with how I will feel over the next couple of months following the surgery. Specifically, tiredness. At work I'm on my feet all day, walking between 13,000 and 18,000 steps a day. And we are just hitting the busy season. Not to mention trying to do something occasionally with the ponies.

I was the lucky winner for my surgery time. I had to arrive at the hospital for 5:45am for surgery at 7:30. Which means everyone involved on my end got little sleep the night before. I was sitting up on the gurney as I was wheeled into the OR. The anesthetist put an IV into my hand (18 gauge needle, which resulted in us talking about horses as I commented on how I use 18 gauges on my horse and he has done large animal anesthesiology), they put a scope up my nose to look at my vocal cords (not pleasant, but manageable), and I don't even remember laying down on the table before I was waking up in recovery, in front of a window of beautiful blue sky at about 10:15. I was shortly transferred to my room for the night.
Shortly after I got to my room. The red face was due to whatever they spread over it to sterilize my skin.
The only pain was a very sore throat due to the intubation. I sipped on lots of ice water and was able to eat some soft foods around 1 pm. I needed some Gravol to help though - I was a bit queasy with the first couple bites of Jell-o, but once the Gravol hit I was pretty ravenous. I hadn't eaten in about 16 hours so I think my system was a bit shocked when I actually fed it.

By 2:30 I was able to pee and then go for a walk around the halls. I had soft foods for supper and some blood pulled sometime in the evening. I hadn't been able to sleep during the day so by about 8pm I was done and settled into my bed.

But I couldn't sleep. I had to sleep with my head at no less than a 30 degree angle to minimize the swelling in my neck. Having to sleep sitting up, on my back, and in a room with two other people who had machines constantly making noises does not make getting rest easy. Not to mention that every time a new nurse came on board they had to take my vitals - but at least I was taken off the IV at around 10pm. Thankfully a nurse gave me some earplugs at some point in the night and they did a pretty good job of blocking out voices - so much so that I missed the party that apparently happened in the hall at one point during the night.

I was woken up at 5am by a tech to have some more blood taken. At that point, I was wide awake so I started to walk the halls. I saw a resident, the surgeon's assistant, and the surgeon by 7:30am. My vitamin D was a bit high in that morning's bloodwork, but thankfully my calcium levels were good (so my parathyroids do not look like they were damaged during the removal of the thyroid). They wanted to pull one more lot of blood to retest the vitamin D before I left.

My only directions were to apply Polysporin to the incision for about 4 days then start using lotion. Doesn't matter what kind, whatever I had on hand would be fine. I had no restrictions given in regards to lifting or activity and thankfully no longer had to sleep propped up.

I went to my parents' house and slept for 3 hours that afternoon. And had a very good sleep that night.

There has been very little pain. I've had a couple of twinges at the incision site, but only a couple. The muscles at the front of my neck were pretty achy by the end of the second day, so I took the only painkiller that I've needed so far - just a regular Tylenol.
The incision has a bit of puffiness above it that will go down over the next little bit.
Otherwise, I kind of feel like I have a head cold, minus the stuffed up face. My head is a bit fuzzy, I've been coughing a lot due to the irritation in my throat and my energy level is low. How much of this is due to undergoing anesthetic, or because my body is trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my missing hormones I've yet to determine.

I made it out to the barn on Friday afternoon. Pony Grandma drove me out and grabbed one horse while I grabbed the other. I looked the kids over (they're fine) and stuffed them full of carrots. We went for a quick walk down the driveway before putting them back out. And then I yawned all the way home.

The goal over the next week or two is to try to slowly up my activity level and get myself onto a proper sleep schedule. I'm okay with needing to take a nap, but it needs to be earlier in the day so that I sleep through the night.

I'd probably be okay to do a quick and easy ride - provided someone groomed and tacked the horse up for me. Pretty sure that process would leave me exhausted. Hopefully sometime later next week though!

I don't see the surgeon for my follow-up until November 18th. At that time I expect to find out what the pathology report said about the thyroid. I have an appointment with my family doc next week, so there is a chance that she'll let me know. I can't decide if I want to hear that it was cancerous and we made the right decision to remove it or that it isn't and it could have stayed!

Friday 25 October 2019

A Grey Chunk Up Close

I really like taking pictures of things close up. I love being able to see texture and details that the naked eye cannot make out. I'm not very good at it - I have a macro lens for my dslr camera, but to get really good pictures I would need a ring flash and a macro rail that would allow me to do bunch of pictures that would get merged together in a process called focus stacking. Since I'm not going to make any money off my pictures, I don't feel the need to invest a bunch of cash in equipment.

So imperfect pictures it is!

A couple of years ago I took some pictures of parts of a horses hoof that were trimmed off by the farrier (and apparently I didn't blog about it). And then I took some pictures of a tooth cap that I found one day in the arena footing.

Last week I finally got around to something I had been wanting to do for a while.

A horse chestnut!

I managed to peel a good sample off of Cisco two nights previous. This wasn't my first attempt at this - I've taken many pieces of chestnuts home in my coat pocket. However, I usually forgot about them and by the time I remembered it had dried and shriveled up.

The pictures left me a bit disappointed.

You know how they say that a horse's chestnut is like a fingerprint? Everyone is different?

I expected to see lines and formations that would be noticeably different from another one.

But no. It just looked like a grey chunk of something keratin-y.
The inside.

The outside.

Maybe I need to apply an ink pad to it.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Good Rides

I'm behind on the whole blogging thing as of late. I feel like I've been super busy, and the little time I've been home and not sleeping has been trying to catch up on a few household things. My thyroidectomy surgery is next Tuesday - so far I've been far too busy to stress about that, but I'm sure it's coming!

Cisco has been giving me some really good rides lately. He's been super relaxed and trying really hard. We still have to work on our forward - I think that's going to be a lifelong issue with my naturally lazy-ish horse. I've been schooling a ton of transitions, including halt/trot, and he gets those pretty easily and with energy, and then as we are trotting around he settles himself into a trot that's just a little behind my leg. I'll be doing transitions within the gait for days and days. So exhausting.
Post-ride selfie after a really good ride last week. Cisco is a hugger.
Last night I really wanted to pop him over a couple of crosspoles. I had to wait until the beginner lesson was over, then a friend made a couple of adjustments to the jumps for me.

Cisco was super! We did the single crosspole a couple of times and he was straight and on a very light rein. He didn't put much effort into it, but we're still in the just get to the other side phase, so I'm not worried.

Then we attempted the line that had been a one to a one stride. Were not ready for that yet. But I left the placement pole in front and left the pole down for the first one stride. He looked but didn't really even hesitate and on the second time through had the idea of cantering over the pole. So I left it there, really happy with him.

I was hoping to do something with Phantom to get her moving a bit but the expected crappy weather  had hit and I didn't want to be out too late. She's definitely sore in her left hock but it gets better with movement so I'm pretty sure she's decided that since it's gotten cold she's feeling her age. She'll just get some light work for the next couple of weeks as I can manage (not that I'll be up to doing much anyways) and I'll have to remember to bute her for her next farrier appointment.
Hoping I don't see her behind Cisco and make her start to run again.
I've got a few other rides and a lesson to blog about - hopefully I get them written up before I forget how they went!

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Old Gray Mare

Despite getting Phantom's hocks injected in late August, I've been thinking that something is going on in her left hind. I wouldn't say she feels lame. Left lead canter feels slightly uncomfortable (but it's our tougher lead at the best of times). She's been a bit stiff/reluctant to bend to the left. And I keep seeing her rest her left hind a bit oddly.

On Tuesday night I let her loose for a run after a week off. And confirmed my suspicion.

Her first couple of downward transitions from a canter looked like they stung. Not comfortable.

But it got better, and instead of bunny hopping behind she started to keep her legs separated and step into the walk or trot from a canter. So I'm hoping that it's just arthritis type stuff. She's 16, it's been cold and damp, and she hasn't been getting much exercise. All contributors to stiff joints.

Not that I'm going to do anything about it at this point. I hope to get about 3 or 4 rides in on her over the next couple of weeks, then she'll likely end up with most of the next two months off. If there still seems to be a problem after I start her up again after Christmas I'll have her looked at at that time.

The good news is that her respiration has been good for the last month or so and I haven't had to give her any Ventipulmin. It definitely helped her this summer. Traditionally she is usually better in winter, although last year that wasn't the case. We'll see how this year goes!

Tuesday 15 October 2019

A Turkey Day Ride

This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canuckistan. My family was doing the big turkey dinner on Sunday evening, an hour away from home. So I had re-organized my lesson schedule for the day so that everyone was done early and I would have just enough time to run home and get changed before heading out of town. 

I got out to the barn early so that I could let Phantom go for a run in the arena before I used her for a beginner lesson. When I arrived, I discovered that the local 4H group was starting up again, which meant that the arena was not usable. There had been no notification of this, despite me asking a couple of people over the last few weeks when they would be starting up again. I was not impressed.

I ended up having to cancel the two beginner kids, but the first rider (an adult who leases) was already on her way out. 

Since I was there, I decided that I would go for a ride with her. I wasn't really dressed for it - I was wearing jeans, I had my glasses on instead of contact lenses, and as I went out to catch my horse I realized I wasn't wearing a sports bra, and was in fact wearing one of the least supportive bras I own. So it was going to be an easy ride. 

It was a chilly morning, only a couple degrees above freezing, with a threat of light rain all day. I threw my chaps on over my jeans - I had no idea how silly Cisco would be feeling in the cool weather. That caused another problem - I couldn't bend my knee enough to get my foot into the stirrup when I was getting on. I had to unzip the leg up to my knee and then find someone on the ground to zip it back up again once I was on. It was not a graceful mounting. 

We hacked around in the big field. Cisco was very well behaved and pretty relaxed. I wasn't really asking much of him - my position reverted back to my hunter/jumper days with my shoulders rounded and a forward lean to try to minimize the bounce to my boobage. Sitting trot was definitely out of the equation. 

The other person hadn't ridden her lease pony outside much so we decided to go for a walk down to the neighbours driveway. I can't take Cisco on the gravel road as he is very owie if he steps on a rock (barefoot) so the grass on the driveway is perfect for him.

Cisco hasn't been down that route for a few weeks. He was happy to let the other horse lead and walk along on a loose rein. He didn't even spook at the shed like he normally does, and when the other horse did a splat spook he just kept walking.

It was a nice relaxed ride. And the best part was that we got back to the barn just as the rain decided to start coming down. Perfect timing. 

And I only had to grab my boobs once when Cisco took a bad step. 

Thursday 10 October 2019

Nothing to See Here

So what's been going on in the Gray Flannel world?

Not much.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've gotten a few rides in on each horse. On Cisco I continue to work on the homework from my last lesson of using my inside seatbone to get him to step into my outside rein and hopefully fix our lack of straightness going to the right. We get it, we lose it, we get it again. His hissy fits about having to stand on contact have gotten shorter, though the left leg in the air makes at least one appearance per day.
Well, the arrival of my Equestrian Stockholm saddle pad was exciting. Still not the right shape for my saddle though. Sigh.
As in typical horse fashion, when you try to fix something, something else breaks. Thus we no longer have a right lead canter transition. Ugh. It's all related to the same problem - lack of straightness/dropping the right shoulder. I think he's in a pretty good balance and as soon as I ask for the canter everything falls apart and the shoulder drops and he picks up the left lead. The other part of the problem is that the transition isn't overly clean/quick, which allows lots of time for things to fall apart. So I've also been working on asking for many transitions to try to sharpen them up.
And I bought a Bucas Atlantic blanket in the hopes that it would work with my Rambo liners. It doesn't. But I think I can add some tabs to them and then it will be fine. I really like how the Bucas fits Cisco.
Phantom has been getting her two or three rides a week. She's either super relaxed or super bouncy and silly. Her hocks are definitely feeling better since they were injected at the end of August, but I have a feeling that something is going on with her left hind. It's probably just some more arthritic changes (she is 16 after all) as it seems to work out through the ride. At this point I'm about two weeks away from the horses having most of the following two months off, so I'm not going to worry about it until she gets going again around Christmas.
Phantom's tail is now up for the winter. It's too cold now to wash it, though I still need to wash Cisco's.
So yeah, nothing overly exciting. I have a lesson this afternoon. I have to make two cheesecakes for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday, my work schedule is all over the place (very early mornings, regular days or evenings), I have to clean my house/garage in the next week as my garage door is getting replaced, the fall tack sale that I have a table at is coming up quickly, and my thyroidectomy surgery is in 19 days.

Nothing exciting on the horse front is going to continue to happen. Hopefully.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Mr. Roboto

I have a milestone anniversary coming up at work at the end of the month. And I just discovered it comes with a cash prize.

Not a huge one. But a decent one to be able to do something fun with.

I should be a responsible adult and use it wisely.

But I have horses. So that isn't going to happen.

I'm not going to spend it on custom boots - which was oddly the first thing that popped up on Facebook after I found out about the money. They are still going to have to wait.
Purple boots? Yes please Celeris!

It might be this guy that I've long lusted for:
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!

It won't pay for the whole thing, so I still have to decide carefully. I already have a camcorder that will work for it, so that won't be an extra expense. I also already have a tripod that should work with an inexpensive adapter added to it, so again, one less expense. 

I'm thinking of allowing it to be rented out to people at my barn to record their rides (totally justifies the purchase, right?). I would have to set it up for them, they supply the memory card and take it home for any editing. I'm not sure if this would work well or not as trying to organize my schedule with someone else's might be a huge hassle. If it would work though, how much would you be willing to pay? I'm thinking $15 for an hour or so.

It's still in the "we'll see" stage. I don't think that there have traditionally been Black Friday deals on these units. If that is true again for this year, I'd wait until the new year to order it as I don't anticipate riding much November/December. They have a 14 day full-refund policy, and these things can still be a bit buggy, so I don't want to waste that period and not be using it.

It won't stop me for shopping for a storage case though.... (I'll be sitting on my ass for two weeks after surgery at the end of October - I know I'm going to buy something!)

If you already have a Pixio, let me know if you think it is a worthwhile purchase or an expensive piece of crap!

Monday 7 October 2019

Officially Fall

I've had this queued up for a week but I haven't managed to get any pictures to go with it. Since I've been too busy to write anything else, here it is. It still applies - our weather just took another turn and there's a good chance I might wake up to snow on Tuesday morning!

Many people in North America are complaining that it's too hot and it doesn't feel like fall these days.

Boo-hoo for them. I'm sitting here after being out to the barn today wearing my long-johns, fleece breeches, my winter coat, and a touque. And still freezing.

We had a little bit of snow fall on Saturday - not enough to amount to anything, just enough to be able to say that it snowed. In the southern part of the province however, they had a huge dump. I know one region for sure has declared a snow day for school on Monday. In September.

The cold hit us on Friday. I know that it's not the crazy cold we'll get in a few months, but man, I cannot get warm. I don't know why but when it gets cold early in the fall my body just doesn't seem to be prepared for it.

Thus, when I went out to the barn on Friday, I couldn't make myself ride.

I bundled myself up in my warm clothes though to let the ponies go for a run. Phantom had a great time - she hadn't done anything all week so she had lots of energy to burn.

The owner of Cisco's little buddy, Blue, showed up just as I was heading out to grab Cisco. I asked if Blue could join Cisco for a playdate, and she said sure, and could her TB join them. The arena is plenty large, and none of the horses are assholes, so it was no big deal.

Cisco decided that Blue was his best friend, and he was not allowed to talk to Ocean (the TB). Cisco and Blue totally mean-girled Ocean, who just stood by us in the corner staring at them. It was pretty funny. And rather surprising to see Cisco be possessive.

They didn't play as much as they usually do (and by play I mean Cisco continuously bite Blue on the bum trying to egg him on) since Cisco had to make sure that Blue didn't talk to Ocean.  But they got lots of exercise moving around!

Then I went home and bundled myself up in bed under two duvets and a blanket and tried to warm up. Gotta love fall!

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Throwback Thursday - Sunflower

I've had a whole bunch of 13-14 hours out of the house in a row types of days lately. And I feel like I'm this close to getting a cold (seems like everyone I work with is already sick). So when I get home at 10:30 at night I've been pretty well going straight to bed and not blogging about what's been happening with the ponies.

So enjoy these throwback pics.

Sunflower was my first pony, who I owned from 1987-1993. She was a QH/Appy/Arab who was born in November, 11 months after a stallion jumped a fence.

I was looking through an old photo album recently and found this one from about 1991.

Not too shabby right?

Also from that jumping session, I present to you:

Pretty sure I ended up with sand in places it shouldn't be.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Fine Then!

Cisco came into the barn on Wednesday evening with a bit of a 'tude. He wouldn't stand still while I was tacking him up, he kept trying to flip the blanket off the rack in front of him (and it wouldn't fall off, which probably pissed him off even more) and I was going slowly because I kept messaging people about what had gone down yesterday.

I kind of thought he'd be a bit of a turd when we got into the arena, but he wasn't too bad. I did some TRT groundwork before getting on just to make sure his brain was firmly lodged in his head. It seemed to be.
He had these marks all over his butt, as did one of his fieldmates. Could this be the reason for his idiot dance?

This was the first ride since my lesson last Thursday. Thus the plan was to work on the same stuff we had done on that day - namely teaching Cisco to put together the concept of inside seatbone application means step into the outside rein with the inside hind.

I let him mostly warm-up at a walk on a loose rein.  I wanted there to be a clear distinction of either being on a loose rein or working into a connection. I intended to let him trot on a loose rein, but he apparently remembered our last ride and kept himself much rounder and straighter than he normally did. And slow.

We did just a few minutes of trot before I brought him back to a walk and shortened my reins to begin the real work. By which I mean mostly brain work, not physical work.

We started the same as we did in the lesson - halt, ask for a turn on the forehand type step from the seatbone, but keep him straight and keep a connection with the outside rein.

Cisco definitely remembered the concept. But like the beginning of the lesson last week, he wasn't real happy about it. Backwards and forwards and sideways and stick a front foot out and not move at all and move only the shoulders. And when he did take the step from my seatbone, it was huge and I couldn't stop him - still a hissy fit move.

And then he suddenly stopped. And halted quietly. And waited for me to ask him to move, and took one reasonable step at a time when he did. And it pretty well stayed that way.

At that point he got much praise and more long rein breaks.
Fall is definitely here - it's rainy and cool for the next few days. The "s" word has also been uttered for this weekend. 

We spent most of the ride at a walk or halt, but did throw in some trot. The whole inside seatbone thing at a trot is much harder for me, although after the walk work he is starting much straighter at the trot. He is trying though!

I have to watch myself though - when tracking right and I pick up my reins to put him together, he really wants to drop the right shoulder in, and I want to try to bend him right as the correction. I need to stay off my right rein, and use my right seatbone to straighten him out into my left rein instead. Gotta fight my instinct on this one.

I plan for my next couple of rides to go the same way, adding some more trot. Hopefully his temper tantrum won't last as long next time and we can get right into the "work".