Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm a drama mama...

Ok, so maybe his foot wasn't as bad as all that. I scrubbed it up again yesterday and it was already all dry and scabbed over. It doesn't seem to bother him a lick. I'm still waiting to work him until I'm absolutely sure that I won't be busting open a scab or anthing like that. Ugh... I hate blood. If its bleeding I'm pretty convinced its dire! Guess I was over reacting a bit. It still ruined my Sunday trail ride plans... :(

Rain, rain, and more rain. I don't remember California ever having this much rain. I guess its good since I want the spring grass to last as long as possible, and its normally dried up by the end of April! So I'll put up with it. It does mean I may not see the out doors again for a week. It sounds like its back to the indoor for me! That's alright for Bear though since it does have the softest footing, and once his heel looks good, that's were we'll be working until its 100%.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ho hum has now become RAARRRR!!!!

So I hauled the project mare out for a lesson today, and had the afternoon all planned for Bear. I had chatted with one of the girls at the barn that has a huge thoroughbred that she jumps, and we agreed to take them out for a trail ride on Sunday afternoon.

I get Lola back, feed her a sloppy, pull Bear out of the pasture, tie him up, walk away to get the grooming kit, and when I get back I notice he has some very black mud on his left front heel. I was hoping it was just very black mud. But no, it was blood mud. He has completely shredded his heel bulb! Now the banged up shin was really nothing. He wasn't lame, just hot and swollen. This is something. Still he's not lame, and its nothing that can get stiched up or bandaged, so I just have to wait it out, but shoot, if I didn't have a project horse I would never ride!

So I at least put the time to good use. I recruited the help of the barn owner's nephew who works around there, and we got all the poles in the arena so now I have something to use at trot poles and make some little cross bars out of. Then we got really creative and started hauling poles and logs out in the pasture for a bit of a cross country course! Yeah! So we have a little cross rail, a brush jump, two huge logs, and a skinny wall (one that about half as wide as a regular jump). So now at least we have some fun to look forward to. But Bear and I have a lot of homework to do before then, and his beat up legs are helping the situation!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ho hum...

So the vet visit went fine, he got his sheath cleaned and the vet pointed out two spots on his pink skin that I need to watch. Darn pink skin. She didn't think much of the lumps, and they've gone down since. We talked about his feet and skin, and he got his shots. Totally uneventful.

So I got back into the swing of things this last week. We had a great ride in the indoor arena on Monday, on Tuesday I through on his western saddle, rigged up a sort of draw rein fixture to lunge in, but then put on running shoes and took him for a run out in the pasture. Creativity is the only way I get things done these days. I need to get back into running which I can't do at lunch break if I don't have time to TAKE a lunch break! So I got a workout and he got the equivalent of trotting with side reins, just on a straight line and with a little more give than regular side reins would allow for if he tripped on the uneven surface... which he did. Then I hopped on and rode back in. He felt great.

Now we get to the "Ho hum..." part! Wednesday I was off doing my thing as usual. Thursday I pull him out of the pasture and his front leg is hot and swollen! You've gotta be kidding me! He seems to have caught his leg on something. He's all scabbed up there, but not lame. I have been hosing it and medicating and watching it. So he's not done a thing. What a silly beast.

Seriously I think I need to keep him in a bubble from now on!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taking action

Last night I said another offhand remark to my boyfriend about the pasture horses being fed last and the blankets not being put on. He tends to take a "Let me fix it" approach when I'm more looking for a "Let me whine and complain" reception. But last night his fix it approach got me realizing that I want things to be better magically. I want them to get better because I'm unhappy. I express my unhappiness to all the people that can't make the situation better. I need to take action. I need to step up and say something each time I'm not happy, and either the problem gets fixed or I move my horses. Simple as that. I jokingly told him that if I told the barn owners that I was moving the horses it would be because my boyfriend just can't handle any more of my complaining about the place!

I also realized I can regret and feel guilt until the cows come home, but until I took action and actually got back into the swing of things with Bear nothing would change. So I did. He has an appointment with the vet on Saturday. Check the neck swelling, check his teeth, clean his sheath. The second two are working towards making sure that other stuff is not working against us in the effort to get him in good show condition. The teeth are obvious thing to check since he's still showing just the slightest ribs despite spring grass. The sheath cleaning is the less obvious. It seems to be the solution to his tail rubbing! Being an appy he is pink down yonder, and the pink skin tends to have more issues. So despite my best efforts to keep up with it, I think he's in need of some cleaning up higher in his nether regions, because the tail started to go bare again a few weeks back.

I will also take full advantage of my $150-$300 visit to ask every question I've ever wondered about him. Itchy skin, supplements, feet, sleep patterns, you name it, I've got concerns about it!

Other part of taking action. I spent time with him first tonight! Not as much time as with Lola, but he got the precious outdoors daylight hour. I lunged him out in his pasture for 5 minutes solid trotting or cantering each way. I was trying to get him out of breath. It didn't work, he just got lazy. No coughing though, so that is great news. Then I climbed up on the gate so that I could get on him bareback and we walked all around, and even jogged a bit. He felt great. It never ceases to amaze me how cautious he is to just barely jog every so slowly for me when I'm on bareback, but under saddle he launches into a speed that could challenge a trotter! He is a fantastic horse. My goal with him is to make sure he's back into shape before I sell Lola so that I can launch straight into a training regimen with him. Nothing relieves the absence of a sold horse better than a steady training schedule with another.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Poor neglected Bear...

So I've been realizing just how much I have been neglecting Bear's training lately. I thought I'd have time for two horses, but Lola takes the priority since I'll never sell her if I never train her well enough that I can have people try her out successfully! Although its does seem like lately there is something or other with him that worries about working him anyway.

He had the scratches (grease heel) out break which is at least not spreading, but the scabs are huge and nasty. The same wetness also made his heels so soft that I was afraid to work him.

Then I took him out and lunged him and noticed he coughed twice, seemed odd. I rode him bareback, put him away, and didn't think of it again until I had my sister come out to ride with me and he coughed again. Bad news. For the next week I would go out to the pasture and trot him a few circles, he'd cough, I'd decide not to work him. I'd check his temp, he'd be fine and he'd gobble down his "sloppy". On Thursday I ran huge circles around the pasture trotting him as fast as I could until I had to stop and double over to catch my breath. No cough. Lunge him a little in the arena on Saturday, no cough. Lunged him tonight, walk trot canter, enough that I would imagine I he'd at least be breathing hard. One single cough, but wasn't breathing hard at all. I would hope that means he's back.

Saturday I notice he has two swollen golf ball-like lumps on his throat. (NOT strangles! Everyone relax!) Of course I didn't relax, I called the emergency vet line and made the vet talk me out of my "freak out" diagnosis. Worried about the neck swelling... what's next?

I think I am going to try to work in a vet appointment this week, Saturday I can't work out an after work appointment. He's got balding patches and he's constantly cut up, so I'm guessing he has some major itchy skin going on. I was reading into all the possible "itchy skin" issues, and many referred to secondary injuries and infections due to "self mutilation". Yep, that would fit Bear, he loves a good smack, and I guess if I'm not out there to smack him one, he'll just find a post to cut, bruise, and mutilate himself on! Seriously, I'm selling the wrong horse... but I don't think I could part with him. I'm just hoping this is a horse version of nasty teenage acne!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boarding barn blues... or maybe I should say horse mom rage!

So when I first made the choice to board I knew this day would come, the day I realized what the rest of you have been complaining about! I always hear people who are frustrated that their horses don't get the type of treatment they want them to get. It comes down to the boarders having a higher expectation of the level of care that should be given than the barn is giving. Any horse that I have actually owned, has been kept at my parents' place. That means that all the time I was off in college and then off exploring the world, I rode in many kinds of barns, with many kinds of problems, but never owned a horse there. In eash situation someone else had to be the horse's advocate in the age old battle of owner versus caretaker. So I realize now that when I moved back to the area and threw a horse into my parents' pasture that they were taking exceptional care to follow my desires for his upkeep. They took way better care of him, they didn't get paid for it, they had to deal with him at his brattiest 2 to 3 phase, and they did it because they know what good horse care standards are (and maybe because they didn't want to see my full wrath!)

I've been fighting the battle of getting the boarding facility to blanket/unblanket consistently, and the only consistent thing this winter has been that I feel like I must be being unreasonable. I thought it would be a given that if I paid for blanketing services on a horse pastured out where he won't be warm and sheltered, that it would mean that the blanket would come off in the morning, go on at night, and stay on for rain and other circumstances. The circumstances seem to be everyday. If the blankets are off, they want to leave them off because its not that cold at night, if the blankets are on, they always have reason to leave them on. I was asked if I'd like to blanket at night since I was out almost every night. "Sure!" I said. I figured that I'd at least make sure they got on right. But then the next week I had almost no time to get out to the barn and found myself making extra trips out just to blanket, only to find out that they had never taken them off that day! Then I start finding that the buckles have been take off wrong, straps put on wrong, blankets on the ground in the mud. Worst of all I found back leg straps still hooked in the back and crossed through eachother just as if the horse stepped out of the blanket. How does a horse step out of a blanket? It happens if you take a blanket off in a way that when the horse spooks the blanket flies off while still strapped to the legs. Do you have a good mental picture of that? Let me help. My lovely long legged 4 year old has all buckles undone but the ones around his legs, runs off through the pasture dropping the blanket off the side, spooks the other horses into a stampede with his winter blanket dragging along, now underneath him, tripping him until he finally stomps it to the ground freeing himself of it. Now maybe that didn't happen that way, but its the picture stuck in my head.

Now March comes, the sun comes out, they say it seems like nice enough weather, so why don't they refund the blanketing fee from my board that I've just paid. I'd been insisting on the blankets coming off in the day because Bear had shoulder rubs, so I took this as a hint that they'd had enough. But they are being super nice, saying they feel bad having me pay when its going to be such nice weather and never necessary to blanket. So I agree, since I don't think they'll do it anyway, so why pay, and they agree that they'll still blanket once or twice if its bad weather or rains. Literally the cold came back in two days. Raining, and storming and back in the 30s at night. I was the one to put the blanket on, I don't think they took it off, fine, whatever, at least its on. I mentioned to them that its really cold, that Bear has a cough suddenly, that I'm going to put it back on. I go out tonight, its not on. Its in the low 40s. It's an issue. I'm not afraid of being assertive, but I'm afraid of passive aggresive retaliation if I piss them off. It's like living in constant fear that your food has been spit. Imagine you've had to ask for a clean glass, remind the waitress you have no silverware, get up to tell the hostess you can't find your waitress so maybe they could do something about the hair in your butter, then you have to send back the plate becasue its not what you ordered, then again to be cooked all the way through. By the end you're so afraid that they hate you and they've done terrible things to your food that you don't even want to eat it. None of it was your fault, but you're at their mercy. That's how I feel with the service at the barn.

Well that's my rant, I guess this has been building over two months, so I needed to get it off my chest. I'm not sure what I can do since I know this place is the only one that has all I need to train with this good of a price. If we can make it past blanketing season I'm sure I'll have no other reasons to be pissed off. At least I hope... I'm afraid the blanketing issue is a sign of an overall lack of horse care at the place. I'm worried. Tonight I'm really in the ranting mood because when I went out to ride tonight there was no power in the barn! Nothing. Who knows what's going on, maybe wiring issues. But seriously if I hear they got their power cut off for not paying the bills, I'm looking for another place to board!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Where the heck did February go?

Wow... what a month! I wish I could say I was so busy riding my handsome horse that I just didn't have time to post, but I was busy with other stuff, stuff that pays the bills if you get my drift.

Highlights and lows of the fastest 28 days of the year... (I swear it flies by every time!)
  • Good: Bear was ridden by another girl out in the barn! Great to have some one else on him.
  • Bad: Bear has scratches, ie: super grunge skin condition from too wet conditions.
  • Good: He stood quietly while I scrubbed up his ankles, dried them, and clipped them.
  • Bad: I suck with the clippers, and it sort of looks like what a 4 year old does to their bangs when they get a hold of scissors.
  • Good: The nasty scabby grunge hasn't come back.
  • Bad: His coronet band (peripole I think?) is so wet and squishy all the way around that its starting to separate from his hoof and I'm really concerned about his feet.
  • Good: I've been tying him in the barn while I ride Lola so that his feet dry out at least for an hour, and low and behold, the boy doesn't act like godzilla hooked to a tie rail anymore. Or at least not as much.
  • Bad: He's got blanket rubs on his shoulders again this year!
  • Good: I swapped the horses blankets and since it fits differently they are getting better not worse! Phew...
  • Bad: Weather has been terrible! So I don't get out to the barn because I can't face trudging out to the pasture to find the horses in the storm.
  • Good: He LOVES being in this big open pasture, and the herd seems to get along, and he can run and play and eat all the grass he can yank out of the ground.
  • Bad: I haven't been riding him much at all. The other horse takes priority because I bought her as a training project, and that means a certain level of commitment to make it happen.
  • Good: I found a summer schooling show series that I'm excited about taking him to! I need a goal to get motivated, he needs to get out and about in inexpensive ways this summer so that if and when I can really start showing him I'm not wasting my show fees getting him (and me) over show nerves!
That's a brief run down of our month. More bad weather sadly, but soon an extra hour at night will help motivate me to get out there with enough time to work both horses!