Horse Clothes: Yes or No

It’s that time of year … the time when all horsey Texans have this nightly conversation with themselves and each other: sheet? blanket? Well, he’s clipped, but the barn will be closed up; he’s not clipped but it’s going to be in the low 40s all night; it stays pretty warm in the barn when it’s closed up, though; I don’t know, I think I’d want a blanket right now, etc., etc., etc. …

Modeling Kensington

What is the answer? My horse isn’t clipped, but he doesn’t grow much of a coat. He always seems warmer than normal to me on any given day, cold or not. And when the barn is closed up, it does stay considerably warmer in the barn compared to outside in the wind. But when it’s wet AND cold, everything seems so much colder. Eli has really only been in Texas or Louisiana his whole life as far as I know, so I am pretty sure the 40s and 30s definitely feel cold to him. Wednesday night, it was in the 30s all night and wet — blanket weather for sure for my horse. But those other nights … when it’s in the low 50s at 9pm and I’m leaving the barn, but the low is supposed to be in the high 30s, but not until 6am … sheet? blanket? Sheet now and drive back out at 1am to throw on his blanket (I have never gone that far haha)? For what it’s worth, Eli currently has a cotton stable sheet from Kensington (favorite sheet ever) and a Rider’s stable blanket consisting of “1200 denier polypropylene shell. 400 grams poly insulation. Ripstop nylon lining.” If it is in the 20s, he wears both. He’s from Texas, not the Arctic circle.

I have seen many funny cartoons, diagrams, and flowcharts about when and when not to blanket. I read about a study from not too long ago where the researchers concluded the horses studied were capable of communicating whether or not they wanted a blanket. And I even remember Kristen from Stampy and the Brain posting a user-friendly, sensible, and logical chart that is actually helpful about when to use blankets and sheets but now I can’t find it!

How do you decide when to blanket or not? Which do you think is worse, too hot or too cold? Does your horse have a way of telling you he wants a blanket? How do you feel about turnout sheets or blankets? Trailering in sheets or blankets?

(I think/know that too hot is BAD and it would be really hard for a horse in Central Texas to get too cold. But then what is the likelihood of a horse in a blanket really getting too hot in 30-40s weather if he is in a stall at night and not running around? Temperatures in Fahrenheit in case that wasn’t obvious–when I was a kid that line “a steaming 45 degrees” from Midnight Oil was really confusing until someone explained Celsius to me, so I thought it might be best to clarify.)

Weenie Wednesday: Do you get your pups holiday presents?

Conrad most definitely gets Christmas and birthday presents, and you-were-SO-BRAVE-at-the-vet presents sometimes, too.

I am sure Conrad will insist I post about all the presents he gets for Christmas. It makes me wonder whether lots of people give their companion animals presents? Is it a distinctly American thing? Do you think the animals even get why? I think Conrad enjoys Christmas tree lights–the tree is next to a chair he likes to sleep in. Whether he connects that with thinking Santa is bringing him presents … who knows?

It was so much warmer just days ago …

Winter has finally arrived in Texas, nearly every house on my street has lights up, and Conrad can’t wait to play with the gift bags and tissue paper that his presents come in.

Who’s in Charge?

Luckily for me, Eli and I share the same general over-arching opinion about jumping: we like it. We just differ about what happens between the jumps.
Not by a whole lot, and sometimes Eli is right to disagree with me because sometimes I make stupid or bad decisions. However, Eli’s rideability in between the fences may be acceptable enough for me to get to the next jump, but it is not good enough for success in the hunter ring yet.
We have MANY things to work on. One of the things my trainer wants us to work on, and we introduced it to Eli in Saturday’s lesson, is for Eli to stop resisting downward transitions and halts, even if we ask for such things in the middle of a course.
We started slow, trotting and then cantering just one fence in a straight line and halting straight after the jump. This particular exercise is not all that new to us, so it went pretty well.

So foggy on Sunday, though

Then we kind of blew Eli’s mind a bit by asking him to trot in AND TROT OUT or even better trot in AND HALT in the middle of a line. A 48′ line. I could tell there was a lot of “wtf are you asking me, cookie lady???” going through his head. We were not looking for perfection, just improvement. My trainer wanted me to be able to trot in, get the halt or trot promptly, and then soften my hands and be able to trot out quietly.
Did we ever do that well? Eeehrhrmm. Nah. It was ugly. BUT I was getting a stronger listening response from Eli toward the end, as opposed to a resisting response. I was able to practice the same exercise on Sunday on my own, and I could tell he retained a lot and understood much better what I was asking. We were able to trot in and trot out with no real issues (other than a right drift which is me).

Phone cameras do not do melodramatic celestial events justice

Although the weather looks bleak, I will try to trot in and canter out of a line quietly some night this week, just to let him know that cantering jumps is still part of his job, too. Hopefully in the next lesson we can build on this.

Hoof Care: Winter 2017 Edition

I can get really bogged down in hoof goops and which ones to use. Eli’s hoof care routine got modified while transitioning out of the heel pad he had on his RF. I briefly posted about this earlier, but now have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t right now for Eli. I think it might be worthwhile to list my top 5 hoof care necessities that I use regularly on Eli for this season. Hoof care is a daily activity for Eli, so some of this stuff touches him every day on any given day. Texas weather means experiencing all four seasons in one day sometimes, and that can be really, really tough on hooves, so I take daily hoof care seriously.

Hooflex


This is the near-daily stuff I use on Eli. I paint it on the outside of his hoof frequently — maybe 2-3 days a week. I have been using it a very long time and I think it does what the bottle says it does. Sometimes I paint his soles, too, if they are looking a little parched.

Forshner’s

I swapped to Magic Cushion recently, until I realized Magic Cushion made Eli’s feet … angry … I have seen just how well Magic Cushion works on other horses. It is an amazing product, just not compatible with my horse’s hooves and soles. Enter Forshner’s. This is what I used all the time before Magic Cushion to alleviate hoof soreness. I have returned to it, and love the results I get when I use it on Eli. Plus, I think it is a little easier to work with and less messy than Magic Cushion. I can pack Eli’s feet with it without having to wrap, which I can’t say about Magic Cushion.

Sore No More Poultice


I want to say I asked sometime earlier this year whether Sore No More poultice was worth the steep price tag, especially just for bentonite clay. I am still not sure whether I couldn’t just go back to using Uptite and get similar results for almost half the cost. That being said, a thin layer of bentonite poultice on Eli’s soles on particularly dry days (like we’ve been having here lately) help keep his hooves a little more pliable and a little less brittle. The Sore No More poultice is definitely the easiest poultice to wash off, and it really does go on more smoothly than some other brands.

Corona Ointment


The perfect — perfect — salve for heel bulbs and the coronary band. Accept no substitute.

Durasole


This is now a fixture in my groom box, and Eli’s farrier has recommended using it about once a week on Eli’s RF sole until further notice. I like it better than sole paint because it doesn’t smell as noxious, although it is purple and stains, so some care in application is necessary (or not, if you like spotted purple breeches). I use a toothbrush to spread a thin coat of it on Eli’s sole and frog.

Whenever I apply the Durasole, I put Corona on Eli’s heel bulbs first so I don’t have to worry as much about getting Durasole where it doesn’t belong.

Any other good hoof goops out there that y’all like to use?

Weenie Wednesday: Festive

One of the things my family does every Thanksgiving is put up the Christmas tree. This is mostly for practical reasons: we are all around and have time off work. Being the “tiny” person in my family, it’s my job to get up on a ladder or step stool and put on the tree lights, as well as the tree topper and smaller ornaments at the top of the tree.

Tree Boss

Conrad supervises.

He also enjoys sitting in his chair next to the tree. Perhaps to admire the finished product of his powers of delegation?

He also naps there.

I find decorating a tree — hanging my favorite ornaments especially — very soothing. It’s such a simple thing and it brings such joy during the dark of winter.

Saturday Lesson: Pace

Many thanks to Olivia for taking pictures! As an aside–I tried using her (extremely fancy) camera to get pictures of her on her horse. Sports photography is hard.

Keeping the same pace for an entire course is a skill beneficial in all three rings. For Eli specifically, he is definitely partial to not having to speed up or lengthen his stride at the last minute to get to a jump from a reasonable distance. For me, every time I come out of a turn I see a move-up distance and speed up a bit. This is a habit I must break myself of.

We have cadence at the trot pretty much wrapped up at least.

Another thing I wasn’t as disciplined about as I should have been on Saturday were lead changes. I think I should have committed to doing simple changes as needed instead of occasionally trying a lead change when I felt like it. Eli prefers consistency so I need to give him that in our rides.

I kind of like the effect in this picture, whether intended or not.

But, the good parts look good and the bad parts are fixable.

saturday course from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Friday Bonus Jump School

Nothing like a holiday weekend for getting in extra time in the saddle during daylight hours. Eli got Monday and Tuesday off. Then we got back to work on Wednesday. I think having more purposeful flat work on a regular basis is paying off over fences (duh). I even took Eli out for a relaxed sunset ride on Thanksgiving since we had an early meal. Friday, we did a short jump school:

6 easy fences from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Eli felt so easy and adjustable. If canter-walk transitions is what it takes to get that then so be it.

We had our regular lesson on Saturday, but more about that tomorrow (or maybe not until Thursday if I can’t get the video sufficiently chopped up before then). I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday weekend!