Cleared for …

Eli’s vet visited on Tuesday to recheck Eli’s suspensory ligament. After Eli’s little round pen half-wipeout on Saturday, I also figured the vet could check Eli’s right front, left hind, and suspicious swelling on the right hind that was higher up than the suspensory branch.

extra surprises for the vet

The right front and left hind really posed no concerns, and Eli jogged sound. The right hind swelling that was higher up — I pointed it out to the vet and said this looks like a bandage bow (which it would not be because I have not been wrapping him) and he said he saw what I meant. Luckily, it felt normal. Even better, Eli was sound upon flexion of the right hind! The ultrasound also looked good. The vet said the tissue needed some more organizing, and an increase in exercise would be a good idea.

YAY WE CAN TROT!

we still have to walk a lot, though

But not a lot, not right away. It’s hot AF and my horse and I are both out of shape, so I assured the vet we wouldn’t be doing too much anyway. Straight lines only for now — so we did a whopping four straight lines at the trot yesterday. I tried to walk about 10 minutes before picking up the trot, with lots of walking in between trotting and a little more walking at the end of the ride. Eli threw in a little celebratory hop at the end of our first straight line at the trot, which was completely adorable. The energy drained pretty quickly, as it was around noon and already in the high 90s. Not the most ideal time to ride, but that was when I could ride yesterday.

I guess the water is weird? Same water as inside the barn, bro.

Eli is also allowed back into regular turnout, which made him noticeably happier pretty much immediately. The turnouts now have shelter and water, so horses are staying out longer. I am sure Eli has dreamt of this day, as he longingly stared down the barn aisle, watching almost every other horse walk by him to the turnouts. I felt phenomenally bad for him while he couldn’t be outside as much as he would like to. I was to the point that, even if it meant extending the length of time before Eli could return to full work, I wanted him in regular turnout again.

water tastes better with a friend?

Eli’s next recheck will be in September. Maybe we’ll get to add more exercise, maybe not. But some trotting is better than no trotting!

Weenie Wednesday

Conrad had his grooming appointment yesterday and now he smells so clean and his fur is so soft.

I have had the last two days off work for a bunch of appointments, including Conrad’s grooming appointment, but we also had Eli’s recheck on Tuesday, so more to come on that topic tomorrow! I am not really looking forward to work tomorrow, but I moved everything I needed to on Monday to the new work (temporary) location, so I don’t have to worry about trying to organize any more moving, at least.

Balancing Soundness and Turnout

In a perfect world, a sound horse is outside in a paddock or pasture for hours at a stretch; 24/7, even, for some horses.

Eli, however, definitely likes the luxury of a stall with a fan, where he can eat without competition and nap undisturbed in between lunch and dinner. And not be “outside” in the dark.

But Eli also likes turnout. On a regular turnout schedule, it’s super obvious when he’s ready to come in: he doesn’t walk away from you as you approach with halter in hand.

But he is on a modified schedule, mostly stall rest, with hand walking, walking under saddle, and some turn out if he stays quiet.

IF he stays quiet. That’s a big “if”. Even when he stands “quietly” in the round pen after a good roll, he goes from idle to bronc in .02 seconds.

On Saturday, he did this … from a standstill, he suddenly tried to buck and spin at the same time. Which he is not very good at. Which resulted in him halfway wiping out upon landing, and scrambling to stay on all four feet. I was torn between face-palming and eye-rolling. Eli quietly enjoyed the rest of his outside time. We went for a 30 minute walk under saddle after that, as the only visible damage he did was a small scrape on the front of his right hind fetlock.

I cleaned him up and slathered Corona on his scrape, and rubbed some liniment on his front legs just in case. When I pulled him out of his stall the next evening, he had some localized swelling around the scrape, which I expected. He also had some localized swelling at the back of the fetlock on his right front. Good times. I decided a leisurely graze was the way to go.

Poofy fetlock

After icing 3 of his 4 legs, I put some poultice on the swollen areas.

he plays with his tongue a lot after he gets cookies and he gets a lot of cookies

Maybe there will be less swelling this evening? His vet will be out on Tuesday to recheck his suspensory so if the swelling is still hanging on I guess we can just flex and maybe ultrasound those legs, too.

Weenie Wednesday: Xolo Boutique

A few weeks ago, Xolo Boutique had some limited, flash sale coupons and while I wasn’t fast enough to get in on the biggest discount, I still got Conrad a collar (and me a bracelet to match) for an excellent price. He is definitely at the lowest end of the size range for this collar, so it’s not a snug fit, but his leash is never attached to his collar so it’s not like he’s going to slip out of it.

Anyway, IT’S SO PRETTY.

I love this color combo on Conrad. I may have ordered yet another blue harness solely to match this collar. And also possibly to use as his backyard harness because it’s a step-in harness that’s easy to get on. I’ll have to review it at some point, but so far I like it.

Back to the COLLAR, which is definitely more important right now.

Conrad doesn’t wear collars inside the house. But maybe he should?

He is very skeptical of my suggestion to wear a collar inside the house.

Trying Not to Melt

By late last week, I had given up on riding after work, considering how hot it stayed into the evening and beyond sunset. Eli got to graze a lot and spent time in the round pen, which catches some shade in the late afternoons. I may not be riding much, but I am still spending about the same amount of time at the barn, getting Eli out of his stall for a couple hours. Except on Friday — I went and did a little shopping and a lot of eating.

it might have *said* cinnamon sugar dipped marshmallow cream around the rim but it could have also been Crisco, not entirely sure

As good as truffle garlic bread with ricotta is, a criminally large milkshake did not sit well on top of it at 11pm while I was trying to fall asleep.

On Saturday, Eli and I did go for a walk regardless of the heat and humidity. We were very, very slow. Getting a marching walk out of Eli is usually easy, but not so this August, I guess. Perhaps he thinks he is permanently retired?

On Sunday, we actually caught a break in the weather here, and it even rained a little bit. Although by the time I was able to go ride Eli, that break was over and the ride soon turned into just grazing and rinsing him off.

2 fans are better than one

I have also continued with the physical therapy, and my back is muuuuuuuch better. My hope is that my last appointment will be this week.

I cleaned out my closet and drawers over the weekend, too. Not that it looks like it. But there is definitely less of everything. I *do* have to keep stuff that does *not* bring me joy because if I wore what brings me joy to the desk job I would be violating the dress code. Hanging on to so many sweaters always feels weird in August, until I get to work and start freezing at my desk, which feels about like a meat locker.

we do this a lot

And then I get off work, walk outside, and it’s too hot to breathe.

on high alert at sunset

At least by the time I get to the barn, the sun is lower in the sky. I don’t really want to wait until 9 o’clock at night to ride, but that is not off the table right now!

Weenie Wednesday: New Collar Preview

Xolo Boutique had some awesome flash coupon codes recently and I took advantage! I haven’t had a chance to get good pictures, but maybe by next Wednesday?

Posting here is taking a backseat right now — I just have too much going on, which I find somewhat annoying but that’s life. Hopefully in a few weeks things will settle down and I won’t feel so brain-fried (and I’m a little body-fried, too, to be honest).

Casual Friday Ramble

Walking with purpose is actually a pretty good workout. That’s not what Eli & I did yesterday, and probably won’t be today, either.

 

It’s more like we wandered aimlessly, but in an arena. I had been hand walking him the last few days, waiting for him to get a new set of shoes. The shoes weren’t sprung, but they were a bit loose and his toes were ridiculously long, so riding didn’t seem appropriate considering we are in recovery mode.

I do use boots on Eli, even though we are only walking. They are basically extra insurance in case anything dramatic happens and I fall off and he takes off. Not that they would help much, but he likes to bang his legs up so a little extra protection makes me feel better. And of course he wears boots or wraps in regular work because he is crooked and interferes. And he lives in his bell boots.

I have a few new shirts, and one I wore last night. It is an It’s a Haggerty’s, a brand I had not yet tried. Based on other reviews, I sized up, and I love it. The material is very comfortable. The sleeves are long enough. The shirt is long enough. And It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirts don’t just stop at solids and color blocking. The sleeves of this shirt are like a blue rose & leopard/cheetah print. I am kind of obsessed. Even better, the shirt pairs amazingly well with the Kate Botoris. I could sleep in this outfit, it’s so comfortable!

Eli also has a “new” bit, and I can’t remember if I mentioned it before? I got it shortly before he got injured, so it has mostly seen a lot of walking. But Eli does seem very, very comfortable in it. It’s a custom Myler that I picked up used. If I were to order him a new custom Myler, it would basically be this one. Except way more expensive. Yay for the resale market!

 

It’s a 5″ dee, double-jointed with a copper roller and a contoured sweet iron mouthpiece with copper inlays. It may be a tad on the thin side, but I am a firm believer in fitting a horse’s mouth based on the horse’s actual mouth. It means the finer-boned, smaller-mouthed TBs with narrow palettes might find fat bits – that people think of as soft – as totally annoying and uncomfortable. So don’t let preconceived notions about bitting fool you into thinking certain bits are “soft” while others are “harsh.” Try different bits, and whichever one your horse takes up well and doesn’t fuss in, is the right bit. I had a fat KK Ultra loose ring that Eli HATED. You’d of thought it was bike chain for how he acted. A thinner mouthpiece made all the difference. The double-jointed bits seem to work well for sensitive horses that have narrow palettes or might be offended by the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit. Add in a contoured mouthpiece that rests in a neutral position on the horse’s mouth bars and you’re set. Bitting is easy!! Haha just kidding. I spend a ton of brain power just thinking about bits and how they might or might not work on a particular horse. It’s one of my favorite training topics.

I am so glad it’s Friday! Work has not slowed down AT ALL and I am hanging on by a thread here. I can’t wait to get out to the barn tonight and play with Eli and then enjoy a glass of champagne while sitting with Conrad in a comfortable chair.

Muscle Memory v. Fitness

While Eli is still okay’ed to walk under saddle and have limited turnout, all last week I only hand-walked him. His shoes are definitely a bit loose, and if I can avoid the setback of him stepping right out of a shoe, I will. The farrier should be out this week.

So of course all Eli has done is walk. I have been fortunate enough to catch a ride on my trainer’s mare every so often, so I have had a little trotting and cantering, too. But I haven’t pointed a horse at a jump since April.

brown bay mare ears

I am not sure how much apprehension I truly have about this. Superficially, I have none. What is there to worry about? Presumably, Eli also has zero apprehension right now about jumping. If he has apprehension, I think it’s along the lines of “will I ever be turned out again” (poor guy).

slightly obsessed with her canter

But how deeply ingrained is my muscle memory? Riding the classy little mare on Sunday morning, it felt functional enough. I haven’t forgotten how to post; I can still hold a two-point the entire time I’m cantering. I can still use my seat and core for adjusting speed. Nothing feels off. Nothing would stop me from pointing a horse at a fence.

loaf of bay bread

My fitness, however, is another matter. As is Eli’s. He’s getting chunky, and I definitely could stand to tone up a bit more. We are going to need every minute of the gradual upping of our workload to get back in shape. And then of course I realized those programs for rehabbing injuries are just as much for reintroducing the exercise itself, as for the healing of the injury successfully.

working on making faces at the phone camera

As I think about this, I know I am just not that hard of a worker. When I ride Eli regularly, most times it’s just for about 20-25 minutes. Having some previous experience with rehabbing a soft tissue injury, I am prepared for the vet at some point to say, horse is okay to trot 5 minutes each way. Just as we started at 15 minutes of walking and added 5 minutes a week, I also hit a limit. Could we walk up to 30 minutes at a time? Yes. But did we? I’ll be honest, after about 25 minutes of walking in the heat, I say enough. And I’m thinking, 10 minutes of trot is about what we might normally do anyway; what could I add to that?

“hill work”

I am rethinking our fitness. Does every ride need to be 45 minutes instead of 25? Probably not. But it could be if we warmed up at the walk for longer. So maybe I do need to suck it up and walk for 30 minutes for now, until we can add more gaits. I can’t say I think we need much more trot at 10 to 15 minutes, but we could spend more time cantering. And work more on transitions.

These things are still a bit far off, and there is no guarantee any soft tissue injury will heal well enough for a return to full work. But I can at least think about it in advance. Eli obviously doesn’t, so it’s up to me to make sure our fitness gets built back up just as much as Eli’s injury heals with healthy tissue. Something tells me the thoroughbred very much has the advantage over the human in this endeavor.

Weenie Wednesday: Pet Safety in Hot Weather

Conrad and I do just fine in the heat because we stay in air conditioning. If we walk, it’s in the mornings, usually before 8am, before the pavement heats up. But because I’ve seen some idiots walking their dogs in the afternoons lately — when it is HOT AS F*** HERE — I thought I’d collect a little guide of links to pet safety tips for hot weather. It’s not exhaustive, just some stuff from reputable national organizations about keeping your pets in air conditioning, first aid for pets with heat stroke, not walking your pet on hot pavement, and not leaving your pet in a car that will basically become an oven in five minutes.

The heat wave forecast for basically the entire country was a second inspiration for this post — so check on horses and people, too.

Conrad is not a barn dog by any stretch, so I don’t worry about keeping him cool while I am at the barn. Here are some pictures of him enjoying a Milkbone, in a chair, in the air conditioning:

I like how his eyes get a little crazy when he chomps on a treat.