Thursday 31 January 2019

Play Date

I should have ridden Cisco today. Since this is happening:
That's 10 days in the forecast of weather that's too cold to ride. 

That's stay at home under a blanket on the couch type weather.

Thus, the ponies will be getting another mini-vacation.

So yes, I should have ridden Cisco today. I rode yesterday (write up coming, because I'll need something to write about for the next week) and though I was happy where it ended, I wasn't happy with where it started. But it's hard to get the motivation to ride an idiot horse once or twice knowing that we'll be back to the same silly stage when I get to ride again in 10 days. 

Plus I was late leaving the house and had to have Phantom ready to see the vet at a certain time. (Again, I'll fill you in later. All limbs are still attached and functioning pretty good.)

A friend has a mini pony (bigger than a mini, but smaller than a pony) who has been stuck in a stall while his paddock is being readied for him. I sent her a message to see if it would be okay if I were to turn Blue out with Cisco in the arena. She said go for it.

So they met for the first time. And had a blast running around.

There was an attempt to start a game of Biteyface and a short game of Grab My Halter. If they had been left alone longer I am quite sure that they would have become BFF's.

If I manage to get out this week, I'll see if the boys can spend some more free time together. The first play date went well!

Wednesday 30 January 2019

2/3's of the Way

I received piece #2 of the Wow saddle I am building.

Here are the panels.
Horse side on the top, saddle side on the bottom.

I had put an ISO ad on the Facebook page for Wow parts in the UK. The company that makes Wow saddles actually keeps an eye on the page, and they contacted me about these panels that they had available.

Below and to the left of the silver plate piece you can see the Flair tubes that are used to add air.

They were a bit more than I was hoping to pay, and the price was non-negotiable. These wide panels do not seem to come up very often on the second hand market, especially in the size I needed, so I figured I might as well grab them. They were still cheaper than they would be new.

I hand fastened the panels onto the seat. I still need the headplate to shape the front.

Wow said that they were in very good condition. The only mark I see on them is a slight imprint on the inside from when it would have been put together as a saddle.

Here you can see.... well, you could, if the Gray Flannel Kitty wasn't in the way. Move, Grover! 

The leather is super soft and the panels are squishy. I still have to figure out how to adjust the Flair system, but that will wait until it's on the horse.

Here.... sorry, one more try.

Next up will be the flaps. Thankfully I don't have to pay for them all up front, so I'm planning to order them within the next couple of weeks. They'll take at least two months to arrive, so I'd like to get the process started.

Here you can see the size of the panels and how much area it covers to disperse weight. They say It's more than a western saddle.

I'm excited to get to ride in it - fingers crossed that I love it!

Monday 28 January 2019

Severed Limbs

I spent my Saturday looking at horse legs.

The insides of horse legs.
Yep, those are cadaver legs lined up on a table.
(Fair warning - if you are easily icked out, you might want to skip today's reading.)

My farriers hosted an Equine Limb dissection. I've seen this type of event advertised on occassion but it's almost always only open to professionals - vet students, farriers, equine body workers, etc.  They are seldom open to plain ole' horse owners.

For this event, you had to pay if you wanted to hold a knife and cut into dead flesh, but as a client of theirs, auditing was free. I'm always up for free educational opportunities!
The first step was skinning the leg. Hunting experience came in handy here.

A vet from a large sports medicine vet clinic in the province donated his time to come and talk to the group and guide us through the parts of the leg. There were also a few farriers that were in attendance - some were wielding scalpels and some were just auditing. There was a lot of knowledge in the room and everyone was willing to share their experience.

I had a friend who paid the money and got to do the slicing and dicing. I apologized in advance for breathing in her ear as I looked over her shoulder. She was fine with that.

Most of the horse limbs came from a parts bin at one of the colleges in the province that offers vet tech and farrier courses. They had been waiting for this event in the freezer of one of the farriers (I guess his wife made him get a second freezer to keep horse legs in). There was one leg that came from a horse that was known to one of the farriers and at least one attendant - I'll get to that one later.

After some basic directions from the vet regarding knife safety and how to start by skinning the leg, everyone was free to start slicing. It was interesting that almost everyone took a different approach to the hoof area - I saw it cut in half, emptied from the top and picked apart in layers from the outside.
The hand on the left is holding the deep and superficial digital flexor tendons - they are kind of together. I think that the top ropey thing under the right hand is the suspensory ligament - but I could be wrong.

I think what this really showed us was just how little there really is that holds that big horse body up. Take off the covering of skin and hoof and you have a couple of big, thick tendons, some skinny ligaments, a rubbery digital cushion and inside of the frog, and bones. Not a whole lot more that that to support the close to a ton of weight above the legs.
The hoof capsule partially removed, exposing the laminae underneath.

Everyone had a different thing they were most interested to see, probably based on issues they've dealt with in the past. I was hoping to see a laminitic foot, but no such luck.

The piece de resistance was the leg that came from the known horse. It was from a warmblood horse who wasn't too old (somewhere between 6 and 8 I believe). I guess this horses conformation wasn't very good - his knee pointed out, his hoof pointed in, he was really over at the knee and couldn't lock it. One day he was galloping towards a fence in his field, turned last minute, and shattered his short pastern.

My farrier had seen the radiographs from the incident and they showed a spiral fracture. The horse was euthanized right away as it wasn't going to be treatable.

Everyone was curious to see what that pastern joint was going to look like when it was opened up. When they started with the leg, you could twist the hoof, so you knew something funky was definitely going on in there.

This is the result when they opened up the pastern. The white bone above is the same joint from an unbroken specimen.
fractured pastern

Yikes, right? The bone is broken in half from the top to bottom in the image. There are loose pieces throughout - you can see that there are chunks missing from the bottom left corner. They were floating around in there. This leg was also the only one that was bloody, and there are black spots that I imagine are blood clots.

We also saw one leg that had the beginnings of arthritis in the pastern (I think it was on P2). There were just three tiny dots on the bone in the joint. It probably wouldn't have been something that would have been found or noticed at that stage, but it was pretty cool to see that.

Everyone did really well - there was no puking, and I only know of one person who got squeamish when someone crunched through the coronet band with hoof nippers. She didn't like that sound. It was cool in the arena where we were working, and the legs had been pulled out of the freezer that morning, so the smell wasn't too bad, though I was starting to smell something funky towards the end of the session. It was likely the leg that apparently was forgotten about in the shop last summer for 3 or 4 days before being placed in the freezer.
The piece that's circled in yellow is the pesky navicular bone. The piece circled in blue is the inside part of the frog, which is underneath the keratinized part of the frog we see when we pick up the hoof. It had a spongey, rubbery texture.

What did I learn? Mostly that it's pretty incredible how the bodies of these animals work. It's amazing how little there is to support their mass, and how there is little room for something to go wrong and not mess everything up.
The carnage laid out on the tables at the end.
If you ever get the chance to take in a dissection seminar, I totally recommend it. At the very least, you will come out with an understanding of where that area that the vet is telling you is messed up on your horse is.

Monday 21 January 2019

Sunday Sun

Like most of the country, last week was verra, verra cold. Ponies didn't get ridden - heck, they didn't even get looked at. I watched a whole bunch of Netflix, made a delicious cheesecake (omg the Instant Pot makes amazing cheesecakes), and not much else.

Our weather changed for the good on Sunday, and it's looking like the rest of week should be doable to get some riding in. Starting Tuesday due to my work schedule.

On Sunday, I first taught a couple of lessons. There were some high-risk areas of the arena we had to avoid:
Not glass - ice from above.
More ice behind the standards
There were a couple of areas that had ice build-up on the ceiling of the Cover-All arena. With the sun coming out and the heaters on, it was melting and crashing to the ground. The spot over by the rail had some scary pointy icicles (like 2 ft long) when I got into the arena - I blocked that area up right away. It took a couple of hours for all of the ice to finish falling. Which led to some issues for some horses, thankfully not the ones I was teaching.

I had planned to lunge both of my horses.
I agree with barn kitten - Sunday afternoons are for napping.
Phantom got her chance to play. She had no sense of danger in the hazard zones - first thing she did when I let her loose was walk through them, crunching the ice under her feet. She had her normal fun time getting her zoomies out.
I took silly pictures of her nose while she was cooling off.
Next,  I lunged one of the lesson horses who had been lame with fat hind legs earlier in the week. His legs were no longer fat, but he was still very lame. And sassy. Which only lasted a few steps before he realized that he was owie.

And then I was done. No energy left. It was about 3:30 and I'd only had a bagel all day. At 9:30 that morning. I didn't have the energy to tromp through the snow and lunge a horse who might have a heart attack if the collapse of the arena roof was imminent.
When your mom is too tired to carry anything other than a small pail and you have to stuff your face in it to nom.
But I'd already made up his food. So I trudged out to Cisco's pen with his dinner in a bucket. He came to the gate when called, I parked the bucket on the ground outside the gate, and he gobbled it down. That was all the attention he got.

He got lots of attention from his neighbours though.

The girls were jealous. 
Hopefully, I can convince my butt to get off the couch this week and get lots of saddle time in before the weather changes again.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

1/3 of a Saddle

I've started to acquire the parts to make up a Wow saddle for Cisco.

I've been watching the Facebook page for used parts since October. Apparently, the parts that I need are not overly common. And if it's the right part, it's the wrong size.

So just after New Year's, I put an ISO ad up. To my surprise, I had a pretty quick response that someone had a seat that fit my requirements available.  The deal was made, money was sent, and a few days later I had in my possession a shallow seat on a flat y-bar.

Condition is fantastic - there are a couple of very small nicks on the cantle (I had to look for them). Those were the only marks I could find on it.
wow flat y bar

I hopefully have the acquisition of a set of panels in the works - someone from Wow contacted me from that same ISO ad. They are a little higher priced than I was hoping, but since I haven't seen many posted over the last few months, especially in my size, I will probably just grab them. They'll be about 1/3 less than new and are supposed to be in very good condition.

I'm going to need to save whatever I can since the last big part, the flaps, are going to be more expensive than I hoped/thought. Unfortunately, my short little legs are happiest in custom sized flaps, and I don't anticipate finding those used. At least, not in the near future.
wow saddle seat underside
The taped bag on the stirrup bar on the right has the bolts in it.
I was hoping to put this saddle together for somewhere in the $2500-$3000 range. Looks like it's going to be closer to $3500. If I didn't need custom flaps, the $2500 would definitely be doable.

I have a saddle listed for sale at the moment - my beloved Crosby Centennial that I can't use on either horse. Hopefully, I can sell it in a somewhat timely manner, and I'm going to go through my garage and try to sell a whole bunch of stuff that I don't use or have in duplicate (or triplicate). There's a tack sale in March that I'll take it all to - I hate dealing with people on Facebook. With any luck, I'll have flaps for maybe May.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

To the Right, To the Right

I dragged Pony Grandma out to the barn with me on that cold and windy Saturday night two weekends ago with the intent of getting some video of my ride on Cisco. Of course, I was hoping for a better ride than I got for some more flattering screenshots, but nonetheless, the video was useful for something else.

It made me realize that I can't turn my body to the right.

When I was taking lessons last summer, that was something that I got nailed for. Going to the right, I should be turning my torso so that my right shoulder comes back, and my left shoulder goes forward.
It's not happening here.
It makes a huge difference with Cisco. He prefers to drop onto his right shoulder when tracking right, and falls to the inside. I'm 99% sure that this plays a significant role in our difficulty in picking up the right lead canter.

When I remember to turn my shoulders, Cisco softens and bends right. When he is being resistant that way, I've been trying to just keep my body turned and wait him out instead of getting into a pulling war on the inside rein.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I ride. And making progress.

Or so I thought.
Or here.
To my dismay, when I watched the video, I didn't see any movement of my shoulders. Like if you took away the walls of the arena, I wouldn't be able to tell if I was tracking left or right.


So on my next ride on Phantom, which was a week later because it was fricking cold all week, I worked on turning my body to the right. I trotted around with my right hand on my cantle, looked at her right hind foot, and turned. Thankfully I was riding by myself, and there were no jumps to worry about running into, and Phantom is reliable and able to stay on the track, because I was looking behind me and not where I was going.

Then I had to turn to the right, and stay on my right seat bone. I kept wnting to fall onto my left seat bone and throw everything to the outside.
So not happening here.
My back and left side was not happy. Especially after I got off.

But I did hit a point where it almost felt easy and fluid. I actually saw my left shoulder in front of me. Hello left shoulder, where have you been all my life?

Since my rides on Phantom are legging-up type rides for the next few weeks, I think I'm going to keep concentrating on turning right on our rides. She's nice and steady and reliable and doesn't care if I'm doing weird things.

Unless I do airplane arms.

Monday 14 January 2019

Llama Llama Ding Dong

It was a dark and stormy night....
The snow blowing off the roof of the barn when I left.
Well, a dark, windy and snowy night. I dashed out to the barn last Saturday evening determined to get horses ridden since the temperatures are plunging next week and I likely won't get many rides in.

Cisco was on extra alert right from the get-go. The wind had picked up and was blowing snow everywhere. One disadvantage to riding in a Cover-All arena is that when it's windy, it's noisy. Everything flaps and clanks. Cisco no-likee.

He entered the arena and immediately adopted the llama position and stared at the scary end. And that set the tone for my ride.
Our ride was mostly like this.

He was on edge the whole ride, and felt like a ticking time-bomb. I spent the majority of the ride just trying to maintain a somewhat rhythmic trot in the safe end of the arena. If there was an extra loud clank at the far end (like 50m away), he'd scoot away to safety.
Or this.
Some brave souls rode over from next door, and Cisco found a little bit of comfort in their presence. I was done by this point, but spent some time walking him off under saddle in the hopes of getting some relaxed work under saddle.
Or this, which was "run away" when I circled across the center of the arena. 
And he finally gave me something.

I asked him to stretch his nose down towards the ground as we walked. A bit of extra flexion, and a big give. And he figured it out. And was very happy to do so.
And there were a few short moments of trying to do this. By which I mean trying to stretch his head and neck forward and a wee bit down. 
Hopefully, I can use this tool earlier in my rides to get him to relax a bit when he want to be up. I mean, it will take a while to become confirmed enough that I can get it on command. But I can start asking for it earlier in the ride instead of just at the end.

Of course, getting some regular rides in will help. Which at this point, seems like it might happen in about May or so.
The temperatures over the last two weeks. From a high of 8 to a low of -22. This weekend is on the uptick again, to be followed by another cold spell later in the week.

Monday 7 January 2019

Ride #2 of the New Year

Last Thursday, which was the beautiful day that I washed both horses tails, I also managed to ride both horses. Pretty easy rides for both, partly because they are just getting started back, but mostly because I'm totally out of shape for riding. And because I wanted to be able to walk the next day at work after riding two days in a row.

Phantom's ride was very easy - only the second ride at the first step of the interval training program I'm doing with her. So it was mostly walking with a small amount of trot sets thrown in. She would have been happy to do way more - she kept trying to speed off every time we went across a diagonal. But nope - I'm sticking to my plan. 

She felt a wee bit off on our first trot to the left, hopefully just because she still had a bit of fill in that right front. I didn't feel anything after that first trot, though her symmetry score on the Equisense was pretty low. Not sure if it was because we didn't really trot all that much so it was a bit of a false reading, or if it's because she's actually not overly sound. Something to keep in the back of my mind.
A little hard to see in pictures, but there is a definite green tinge to the bottom half of Cisco's face. Either he's getting ready for St. Patrick's day really early, or he's made a hole in the slow feeder net and is sticking his face into the round bale.
Next, I tacked up Cisco. He had been in for a bit after getting his tail washed and dried, so he was pretty mellow. That didn't seem to carry over when we got into the arena. He was on alert, though not high-alert. Groundwork usually helps to tune him in, so I did some of that before hopping on.

He stood nicely for me to get on, but once I was on wouldn't stand still. This seems to be hit or miss (mostly miss) depending on how up he is. I foresee a couple of days of just repeating getting on and standing in the near future.

He was definitely more up than the previous ride, but by no means crazy.
That yellowy/browny tinge above and below the noseband is actually a green tinge in person. 
I decided to bite the bullet and try for the right lead canter. My goal for the next short period with Cisco is to make sure that I canter every ride.

We didn't get the right lead. Well, we did, but it probably took at least 10 attempts.

Last summer I had a lesson and the focus was getting the canter quicker and a trick to get the right lead. Mr. Smarty Pants quickly figured that exercise out, and every time I would do a circle and re-approach the track he would anticipate that I was going to ask for a canter so he got super antsy at the trot. So I'm trying to not use that exercise and trying to change up where I ask for the canter.

He was actually pretty good about not doing the up-and-down trot in between the canter attempts. Eventually, we got the right lead, though we only kept it for about halfway around the arena, with suspect steering.

He got lots of praise, and we went back to some more trot work. He was anticipating, but not obnoxiously, and he stepped quietly into a right lead canter. I didn't ask for it, but decided to stick with it and not dash his hopes that he was doing the right thing. It was a nice canter about a lap and a half around the arena. Good boy.
Tired pony post-ride.

We did a bit more trot, and what was this? Was he trying to reach down and forward? He was probably rooting down, but I'll take it.

I was happy with ride #2 of the year. It feels like he's trying to figure out where to put his head and I'm happy that he's figuring out that he can go forward and down with it. Now we just need to get some consistent relaxation!

Saturday 5 January 2019

What Does It Mean?

There's something odd about this picture. Can you see it? (Hint - it's not that it's a crappy picture with the top part of the horse cut off.)

Compare it to these photos of Phantom eating:

Do you see it now?

In case you haven't seen it, here it is:

Phantom always adopts a right foot forward stance when she eats. Like, always.

But for some reason, on Thursday, after getting her shoes reset, she ate her food with her front legs mostly square.

Why?????? I want to know!!

Was it because she had just had her feet trimmed and shoes reset? If so, what was done differently by her normal farrier?

Is it because she's sore somewhere in her body (I know she needs her hocks injected, and she was a bit uncomfortable about holding her right hind up for the farrier). Her front right had blown up a bit again because of that itty bitty cut from last week, but she wasn't apparently sore on it.

Or am I just being overly paranoid and totally overthinking the fact that on one particular day she changed her stance for the 5 minutes it took to eat her dinner?

Nope. That can't be it.

Something is definitely wrong with my horse.

Her normal, non-eating stance is square up front. 

Friday 4 January 2019

Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange 2018

I have been remiss in posting what my secret Santa from the Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange. I put up a short note on Christmas Eve saying that it had arrived that day but it may have been missed. My apologies to my Santa!

I didn't give my Santa much help on choosing a present - I put down "something fun" when I filled in the form. So what did Santa bring me?

Santa, aka Tori from Boss Mare Eventing, sent me two pairs of fun coloured boot socks- bright pink and purple with stars. There was also a tube of Cowboy Magic Detangler and Shine - I have a friend who loves this stuff, so I'm excited to try it in the tails of my gray horses. And I'm guessing Tori got to go to the WEG last fall, as she wrapped everything up in a tote bag from the Games! I love fabric tote bags and use them for everything, so this will get plenty of use (and abuse).

Thank you so much Tori, and again my apologies for not posting this sooner! (How are we already 8 days post Christmas??)

And also thank you to Tracy at the Printable Pony for organizing everything. I have a feeling it's a lot of work to do at a busy time of the year!

Thursday 3 January 2019

The Sun Came Out

That temperature swing hit us on Wednesday, and it got up to a glorious +7 degrees Celsius. That's almost t-shirt weather in Alberta!

Well, maybe not t-shirt weather. But it is tail washing weather! Especially when you have 2 white tails to deal with.

Phantom's tail wasn't actually too bad. It has been up in it's Vetrap and duct tape cocoon for about 8 weeks (whoops) and needed to be changed, so I figured I might as well take the opportunity to clean it. There was a bit of poop above the wrap that I wanted to clean before rewrapping it, but otherwise I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it was.

Cisco's tail has been down all winter. Since he is a pooping machine (especially when at all nervous or worried) it wasn't overly clean. I mean, it wasn't like it was caught up in his leg straps and acting like a shelf and holding his frozen balls of poo on it (which is gross and the reason why Phantom now gets her tail put up every winter). But it definitely was more brown than whatever colour it should be.

He was a turd about getting it washed. He was tied up in the horse murdering stall (or as I call it, the washrack), and could not stand still. At all. I was using buckets to clean his tail because I didn't want to get more than his tail wet. Somehow I didn't end up with water spilled all over me, though I've no idea how I managed to dodge that.

It was a quick washing of just the bottom bit, which was the poopiest bit. Not perfectly clean, but much better than it was.

This might be the last chance to wash tails until April, so I put his tail up too. I forgot to bring out the duct tape that I bought for him - something manly instead of all the pink patterns I have for Phantom. He got boring blue.
And yes Cisco, it does make your butt look big.
The ponies also got to spend some time outside nekkid in the sun. I turned Phantom out after our ride without her blanket. She cantered away from the gate to the other side of her paddock, stopped, dropped and rolled. She was obviously happy to be free of clothing.

Both horses also got ridden. I spent almost 7 hours at the barn, got home around 9 pm and was in bed typing this post by 10 pm. Very tired.