Weenie Wednesday: More Extractions

Conrad had his annual dental cleaning on Monday, and he had two more incisors pulled.

I felt pretty sorry for him, and I could tell his mouth hurt and he didn’t know why. The vet gave him pain medication, but that first night after getting home from the vet was a tough one for Conrad. He slept much better Tuesday night and I give him his last pain med this evening, so I am hoping he is feeling fully recovered! Not that we can do anything in this weather. But, I got him some treats and his Grammy got him some treats and he likes both. He is not spoiled. At all.

He was slightly unsure of the rabbit ones at first, I think because of both the texture and the strong smell. But once he actually ate one he wanted more.

Rides Before the Rain

Obsessed with this Asmar vest. It actually stays pretty clean …

Eli has been excellent under saddle lately. Even if we don’t get too much more practice before the first show on our calendar the first weekend in March, I still feel pretty confident we can get around okay.

Late last week I did not have this confidence, but have since had it restored. Phew.

It starts with Thursday evening. I realized I should probably jump Eli just a little bit, super simple, before schooling with my trainer the following Monday (since we had not jumped for almost a month). So we trot a gate back and forth, no problem. Then we move on to trotting in and cantering out of a vertical-to-oxer line that I suspect was set at 71′-72′. The jumps were low. So, if trotting in, then 6 strides. The first time through Eli dragged his fronts across the back rail of the oxer. Perhaps the lighting confused his visual perception a bit, as it was night and we were under the lights. The second time through, we just didn’t quite get there and did 6.5 strides … third time, over-compensated, too much horse … fourth time, let’s tone it down and do 7. Okay, that worked. 7 again? Erm, too much horse again, not pretty. 7 again? Okay. Got that. Now can we go back to 6? Yes. But meh. Still, that was the best time to end.

So now I’m like, well, crap, I can’t ride. Eli is broken, which would be solely my fault.

Next time out at the barn is Saturday afternoon. I bumped my lesson to Monday because I was not sure when I’d get to the barn on Saturday. But I got there well after lunch and decided I should see whether or not Eli and I can function o/f.

jompies from patentlybay on Vimeo.

And, we can. Oh, good.

I flatted him on Sunday and he felt great. I got to the barn on Monday, planning to school with my trainer, and it was so windy the fences were blowing over in the large arena. The fences in the small arena are basically just poles, so not enough surface area to catch wind and blow over. I admit, when walking up to the arenas, I actually dismounted and almost walked back in the barn because it felt like the winds were gusting to something like 40 mph. But then I thought, no, it is for sure going to rain all week, this is happening, we are going to jump.

I don’t have video, but even in the wind, Eli cantered around like some made children’s hunter. Wind? Not an issue. (But drizzle — forget it, he starts squealing.) We even got to some gappy distances where I did nothing and he jumped from there while I struggled to keep up, and he landed with no grudges about any of it. My trainer’s most frequent instruction was “WAIT” and I did (that was the part I could hear over the wind, anyway). It probably would have helped to have a light, supportive leg at the gappier distances, but the important part was I didn’t pick up the reins and I didn’t chuck my shoulder at him or lay on his neck. We have our tricky/angsty days but then we have a ride like this and I know I have the perfect horse for me. He really does take good care of me most of the time. If you think I gush too much about this horse, you’re right. And I ain’t gonna stop.

We will either show on the 3rd or the 24th but we will show dammit

Some rain came through with continued rain chances until next week. Hit or miss as to when we can ride again but it’s nice to go into a break on a good note.

Three Words Blog Hop

Nadia posted the three words she would use to describe Macy, and I found myself relating quite a bit to some of her description of Macy–I could use similar words to describe Eli, but of course not quite the same words and not quite the same reasons.

Agile

Eli is not simply athletic. I put him in some awfully awkward spots and he gets out of them in good form. I can’t ask more than that. And then of course there are his embellishments …

Intense

I would not consider Eli to be a horse for everyone. He can try my patience sometimes with his quirks and reactiveness. If he is having emotions, everyone knows it. The funny thing, though, is that this intensity is reserved for humans. Around other horses, he really just wants to play bitey-face and if a horse squeals and strikes out at him because of that, he walks away without a word.

Devoted

This is a very silly and tricky word to use to describe a horse. I don’t think he is devoted to me, particularly (my presence just offends him the least because I am a cookie vending machine), but I do think he is devoted to doing well under saddle if we are going to be doing that. Everything I ask, he does. Sometimes he does a little extra, but I don’t think of that as an issue. I think we are finally doing what he really wants to do and he tries really, really hard to understand his job. Maybe dedicated would be a better word, but it doesn’t have the same emotional gravity with which Eli approaches his work. I think many thoroughbreds could be described this way.

I tried to get some video last night but the Polaroid Cube is just not good for night videos. Then it ran out of room and didn’t catch the last part of our ride. That’s my fault, though, since I hadn’t deleted like three other videos–it does have a good bit of space for video storage. I couldn’t ride my way out of a paper cup last night, anyway, so it’s just as well.

How to Texas in Michigan Weather

My parents are from Michigan. In what I can only characterize as a stroke of genius, they moved to Texas in the 70s (and it had absolutely nothing to do with the Army. Nope.). So every time I say something about this winter of never-ending ice and wet and cold and fog and freezes, they just retort something about how I would die shoveling snow. Yeah. You’re not wrong, forebearers of Swedish, German, and Scots-Irish descent. My DNA may come from the land of ice and snow, but weathering these dank, dark, Moria-like conditions is not for me. No, really, I feel like I am in a giant cave of stuff I want nothing to do with. Where is the sun?

So, how does a Texan cope in this purgatory of dreary desperation?
1. Spirits. Self-explanatory. Flask optional. Be aware that tequila may make you a little too aggressive about demanding more tortilla chips for your queso …

2. Layer-up: Eli gets to wear his quarter sheet A LOT right now, and honestly I think he appreciates it, which is to say he doesn’t try to kick or buck it off. I wear a puffy vest under a puffy coat and groom while wearing gloves and sometimes I leave my helmet on for a really long time after riding because hunter hair keeps my ears warm. I may have driven home with it on the other day, but I can’t say for sure.
3. Stay layered-up while indoors. I wear my puffy coat at my desk at work and at the dining room table at home. I am just trying to recreate what 85F and sunny feels like. But inside. Where the heat is not turned up enough, in my opinion.
4. Scalding hot Mexican food. Slathered in scalding hot queso. Oven-warmed (or heat lamp, either way) tortilla chips are the appropriate utensil.

5. While we are on Mexican food, jalapeƱos. I put them on everything right now. On toast. On potatoes. On salads. I think they might be good in Greek yogurt …
6. Scalding hot showers: the only time I am actually warm.
7. Scarves … this goes beyond just layering up. I wear scarves everywhere year-round. In winter, I maybe wear two at a time. Then I can wrap my neck and my face from the nose down.
8. Keep a wardrobe of enough winter layers to satisfy a Sherpa in the backseat of your car because when the weather guy says it’s going to get up to 50 today, he means for like 3 minutes. The rest of the day will be like 36F and you might see penguins.
9. Fire. Fire pits, chimineas, grills, smokers … if you have to be outside, light something on fire and cook meat until it gets that smoky, crunchy char around the edges. And then eat it with queso and jalapeƱos.

And like any devoted Texan, I have added both “chimineas” and “queso” to my spell-check dictionary.

Procrastination

I have really funny friends, and sometimes we have amusing conversations. And sometimes the culmination of such conversations result in:

I let my art speak for itself.

You know how it is. We are all trying really hard not to suck. Some may try harder than others, and some are in different places in their journey of trying not to suck. And not all journeys are in straight lines. (And there might have been a slightly different expression used during the development of this metric.)

Just imagine one side is the good/happy side, the other is the bad/sad side, and the middle is like Kent Farrington-level competence at not sucking. (Or any admirable rider/horse person of any discipline.)

Most of the time I feel pretty orangey-yellow or yellowy-orange when I am working with or around horses. Can I wrap a hoof? Definitely. Is that wrap going to stay on overnight? Mostly. But I ain’t no FEI groom.

Honestly, at some point I think any horse person has experienced almost every level of sucking or not sucking. But where do you think you’d put yourself on this spectrum the majority of the time? Questions and answers here are just for fun. Don’t nobody take ’emselves too serious now.

In other news, I did not ride last night. I had riding clothes for 50f, not 30f. I am sure I can think of the exact place where I’d put meteorologists on this spectrum.

Relief

When I rode Eli last Monday, I knew he needed his stifle injections before we could do much of anything. Light flat work, sure. But anything more intensive would have been unfair to him even though he felt sound (just no real push from behind while cantering left). So throughout the week he rested and was free to go in turnout after getting his stifles injected. I looked forward to our ride on Saturday, hoping to feel a difference in his left lead — would the right hind be back in gear?

taken by Olivia H.

I had all week to wonder about the results. Of course, I know that injections’ results may not really peak until a week or so after the procedure, but in the past Eli has always felt back in business the first few rides after injections so we get back to jumping by ride three or four. Maybe it’s partly the time off, too, who knows. Honestly I think this winter he has had a few too many vacation days — he likes to work and feels better in regular work, seeming much happier to me, anyway. And we all know Eli is not one to conceal his emotions.

Saturday morning was very mild and the forecast left all of us riders and trainers at the barn with the impression that we’d have to come back in the evening to blanket the horses because of how warm it would be during the day. (Not that we’d all have to come back but sometimes I offer to because Eli can be a wanker about it.) I took my time tacking up because I would not be riding in a lesson, just flatting to see how Eli felt. As I placed my saddle pads on Eli’s back, a very chilly gust of wind from the north blew through the barn. Moments later, the cold air had settled in. It went from 60-something to 40-something in a matter of minutes. And here I am tacking up a horse that hasn’t worked in a week, who will now, no doubt, pass beyond the boundaries of fresh into the hinterlands of spooky. Plus I was cold as I had not dressed for 46F. I had a puffy vest on which helped but the ride that I had just minutes ago looked forward to suddenly seemed a bit daunting.

However, I had nothing to worry about. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, horse. Not only that, but I was able to play with some of the concepts from the clinic that Eli took to right away. Best part? His engine. He had all the power from his hind end that I am used to at our disposal. (Not to say he is especially magically powerful, we were just back to where we normally are.) He responded to my seat. He was light in the bridle. He cantered very well in both directions, without feeling like he was trying to run himself into a ditch going to the left. He could rock back and push forward. He remained quite focused, especially considering the circumstances.

Because the cold front came through much earlier than expected, that answered the blanket question for us. I threw his wool cooler on after our ride. I have already gotten so much use out of it this year — I hadn’t used one in ages and now suddenly I am using it regularly. What the hell is happening in Texas?!

As for Sunday, we had thundersleet here. Yes … I did not know that was a word, either. Most riders I know didn’t ride, including me. I am hoping Eli will feel just as good tonight as he did Monday, and we are supposedly going to get in the 50s today. If it’s chilly by the time I get to the barn, I’ll be using that quarter sheet again. Decades have passed without me having need for either a quarter sheet or a wool cooler maybe but once a year, if even that, and now I am reaching for them regularly.

I have also just added a few new supplements into the mix for Eli — one daily and one as needed, both given orally. I’ll see if I can get him to eat the daily one on a few handfuls of grain and if that works out I’ll just leave it for the barn employees to feed to him with his lunch. He can be finicky about supplements on his feed but it wouldn’t be a problem for me to give it to him daily, and then I’d know he was getting it rather than eating around it. I’d like to keep using both for a while before writing much about them. Supplements are not overnight miracles and to evaluate either before a few months of use would be pointless. For those who are curious, one is hyaluronic acid and the other is magnesium. A number of clients at the barn have used similar if not the same things with positive results, so I am not just throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks.