Friday 14 February 2020

His Leg Hasn't Fallen Off Yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Proof Or It Didn't Happen - Coaching Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coaching Credentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody wasn't telling the truth.

Riding Results

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

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

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

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

Startbox - for eventing scores.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should you care?

It's up to you.

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

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

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Not As Bad As I Feared

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

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

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

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

Monday 10 February 2020

It Was A Good Run

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

He is now trying to make up for it.

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

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

Then I went left.

Oh yeah. He was lame.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 7 February 2020

Phantom Ride - With Pixio Video!

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

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

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

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

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

Old lady warmup trot

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

A little bit better

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Life Hack - Jar Salads

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

Jar Salads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 3 February 2020

A Glimpse of Progress

Well, I had great plans for Thursday (my day off). I had a productive morning at home, then planned on eating lunch and heading out to the barn. But I fell asleep on the couch. It was a great 2 hour nap in the afternoon, however it meant that I didn't get out to the barn until the evening.

I decided that I would focus on Cisco, mostly because I want to give Phantom Ventipulmin before I ride her but I didn't want to wait for it to kick in on this night.

He was a little up at the beginning of the ride - there was a group that had trailered in for lessons. Cisco believes that any horse he hasn't met is a new best friend that he hasn't made yet, so he was quite looky at what they were doing.
Cisco was a total drama llama when loose on Friday night. Emphasis on the llama part.
The good thing about riding during this lesson is that I had to spend most of my time down at the scary end of the arena. Because there were horses tied up at that end, Cisco didn't find it scary. So annoying.

The stopping in the corners that we've been doing for the last couple of rides really paid off today and we had some nice deep corners. At a trot at least.

Our right lead canter felt fantastic. Our left lead was running and inverted. But the transitions were prompt and we got the correct lead each time.

I was going to try to do some figure 8's with a simple change in the middle. But I kept having to change my path to accommodate the rider who was lessoning. I ended up having to do a half circle reverse on my left lead at one point and that kind of opened a can of worms.

We couldn't really turn. Whoops.

We had to keep trying it. I wasn't looking for a really tight turn. More like 15-18 meters. But because Cisco was so runny and inverted on that tough left rein, my outside aids weren't working and I had to grab my inside rein.
Suck a dork.

But on our third (or fourth?) attempt, we picked up what was probably our best left lead canter to date. It was slow and relaxed enough that it felt like something I could work with. And he mostly kept it together down the long side and through the turn of the half circle. It was our best turn - still not a great turn mind you - because for the first time he was relaxed and not running.

We just did our attempt at a stretchy trot after that and I called it a day.

Phantom did get ridden on Friday night. She got her Ventipulmin, so she wasn't puffy when I rode and we increased the trot sets to 2 minutes. She definitely started off a little stiff feeling. I still haven't decided if I want to get her looked at to see if I should get her some Previcox to give her before riding. Mostly because I don't want to find a new issue that I will need to throw money at. We'll see how the next month goes and then make a decision.