It had been … some time … since Eli had last had his stifles injected. Because I have FINALLY been able to ride him regularly over the summer, I did notice that his hind end was not really as active or powerful as usual. No question it’s his stifles. But with the suspensory treatment and rehab, and then the thin soles, therapeutic shoeing, and medicating, and then treating ulcers … injections kept getting bumped down (somewhat inadvertently on my part – I easily could have done his injections sooner!). He got injected a few weeks ago, and there is a noticeable difference in his hind end. Yay for modern veterinary medicine and the go-go juice!
For a while now, I had been sitting on a horse that felt like he was lacking in some energy. That has changed. To the point where I’m like, oh, crap, can I ride this dragon? Ha. Of course I can, I know. He felt SO GOOD last night, and was very focused on top of that. It makes for a fun combination in Eli. I have more confidence now that I can ask a little more of him. Not a lot more – he is 17 – but he feels like a horse that could jump around again.
In other news, I had to have both of my DeNiro boot snaps, the top ones, replaced with in a few weeks of each other on my Salentos. Another pair of my DeNiros needs a full zipper replacement on one of the boots. So add that to the pair I have had for years that need full zipper replacement on both of the boots. The fit is excellent, the leather wears extremely well and seems very durable, but gah, DeNiro. Your hardware. It kind of sucks! Still my favorite boots by far, but I may need to branch out and try a different brand with better hardware. My Ego7s have better hardware! Not sure I want to spring for Tuccis just now, though. I have been DROOLING over the Celeris boots. And for full custom, their base prices seem very reasonable …
What else? Oh, it is still hot here, but we have had a break from the 100+ temperatures and even got some rain this week. So there’s grass. And humidity, which I don’t like, but we really needed the rain and could use a little more for sure.
Well, it is the end of the fiscal year at my job, so I don’t have too much else to say on the pony. I rely on Eli a little too much for emotional gratification, but he always manages to come through, whether it’s by him just being his grumpy ass self or giving me a great ride like last night. Fingers crossed he keeps eating the Outlast! He seems to love it almost as much as the German Horse Muffins, and that is saying a lot.
Omeprazole: I’ve taken it myself. Eli just finished up a course of it. And now Conrad gets some for a few days.
Yep, this little man, who was quite himself on Tuesday — had a good walk, ate his meals, snuggled in his blankets — was just not right on Wednesday. This not-rightness went on all day and I finally decided he need to go to the emergency vet as he was refusing any and all food and treats. He had some other symptoms, too, and generally looked like he had a bad tummy ache.
Fortunately, the ER vet called with his blood work around 9:30pm on Wednesday night and said everything looked good other than that he was very dehydrated. He got IV fluids and antibiotics (because he had signs of some GI inflammation) and small bites of food and drank well overnight. Conrad felt much better Thursday morning. I got to pick him up and he was sent home with the antibiotics and omeprazole. He was also vvveeerrrrrryyy tired. The ER vet experience was interesting but very organized and seemed to work well. While it was upsetting that I couldn’t go in with Conrad due to COVID-19 restrictions, the vet and office were very helpful and communicative and everything was done through phone calls and emails. I’d use this ER vet clinic again if I had to! For anyone in the Austin area, it’s the Central Texas Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Round Rock. There is also a south location. There is a third location in northwest Austin, but that location is temporarily closed.
Conrad fussed a bit until he got comfortable on his sofa in my “home office” …
I’m going to split up his meals into three a day instead of two as the vet recommended this. And he can keep having his boiled white meat chicken toppings, so he’ll be happy about that! He has been eating and drinking well since he has been at home, too, so dear dachshund gods, please do not let my dog forget to drink water anymore!
In Eli news, in addition to the Incrediwear Circulation Wraps, Eli gets to wear wet Incrediwear Hoof Socks after a ride. His front feet need AAAALLLLLLLL of the help they can get. Don’t worry, his farrier is wonderful and I stand ready with Sole Pack paddies at all times, but I figure a little cooling down, especially in the coronet band region, can’t hurt, either!
The hoof socks are really interesting — they are super stretchy so not difficult to get on. You just gotta be careful about snagging them on nails but I have avoided that so far. They can be worn basically all the time when dry. I don’t think Eli needs that kind of use, but I do love using them after a ride.
I hose off Eli, put these on, and hose them off. He stands in front of fans to dry, so after all of that his fetlocks and hooves are nice and cool. The hoof socks seems almost foolproof to use, so if therapeutic polo wraps aren’t your thing, these would be a good alternative.
Eli is a very lucky pony because he’s got some Incrediwear standing wraps to try now, too. I see some goofy rooster walking in his future. I am even tempted to try the standing bandages on his front legs in hopes of a little extra padding to keep his right hoof/shoe from rubbing his right elbow when he lays down. I think it is just TOO HOT here for any kind of overnight wrap, but maybe in a few weeks the weather oven will no longer be on broil.
And one last thing — a few have commented on Conrad’s fuzzy blankets and I wanted you to know they are inexpensive and easy to get and come in a variety of colors. Strangely enough if you search “game of thrones blanket” they come up.
These blankets are fleecy on the inside and furry on the outside. They wash well, they don’t pill up, and they don’t shed in the wash or on furniture. Conrad might have three… the Rose Dust color is tempting me …
Blogging on a Saturday … What have Eli and I been up to lately? He finished off his Gastrogard some time ago but seems to be doing quite well, other than it being hotter than the surface of the sun in Texas at this time of year. I had been riding him every other day and the most exciting thing we have done in the past few weeks is cantering some poles. Eli was well overdue for stifle injections, so he just got those this past Wednesday. This coincides with daily highs of 106F so I am not sad about no riding for three days. My plan is to get back on him on Sunday (tomorrow) and probably do very little. I am still struggling with the humidity in the mornings and it may be still 100F at 8pm on Sunday so … yeah, it is hot here.
I did try Eli out on a longe line for the first time since before he injured his RH suspensory ligament. He remembered almost everything and we had only one incident of him losing his mind (at — no surprise — the canter). But he came back quickly and listened for the rest of the brief session. I have no plans to incorporate ground work frequently, but maybe every once in a while would be good for Eli’s questionable listening skills on the ground. At least he is attentive under saddle.
One of the things that has plagued Eli the ENTIRE time I have known him, about 8 years, is elbow dandruff on his right elbow. And just his right elbow. I have tried a variety of things over the years, for a few weeks at a time, and nothing really helps. I’ve tried washing with betadine, Vetrolin, Banixx; I’ve tried MTG, Neosporin, Gold Bond, Zephyr’s Skin Rescue Salve, Krudzapper (never again as it made Eli’s skin VERY angry), Corona, and I am taking the Desitin route right now. I am sure I have tried a few other things, too, and am just not remembering it all. Desitin actually seems to do the most good, but this is some damned persistent flakiness. While Eli’s vet was out to do his stifles, I asked about it. Eli’s vet suggested that it could be from the way he lays down, like his shoe might be irritating his elbow. This, of course, makes complete sense and I am glad I asked about it because I don’t think I would have thought of it at all. As far as capped elbows or shoe boils go, Eli’s is mild. Now, what to do about it? I hesitate to go straight to a shoe boil boot because I think that could cause pastern irritation. I could either try wrapping Eli’s right front with cotton padding and vet wrap, or I could try standing bandages. I’ll probably try both eventually. I am not sure how sustainable going through vet wrap & cotton on a nightly basis would be, and I can’t make it out to he barn to wrap Eli during the day, but overnight standing bandages might be okay?
It was SO hot yesterday that all I did with Eli was rinse him off. 106F at 6:30pm. UGHHHHH. He stays pretty comfortable in his stall at this time of day and he has a high powered fan. His stall gets a good breeze. But wow. The air felt kind of like when you are baking something in the oven and you open the oven door and the hot air hits you in the face. THAT hot. Where everything is hot, feels hot, and looks hot.
Could it possibly be October yet? Or even just back to highs in the mid-90s?
I forgot to mention yesterday, Eli’s RF lameness from a while back resolved with two days of soaking and wrapping with Epsom salt paste. He never blew an abscess, so I think he may have just stepped on himself in the trailer or something like that on the way back from the vet clinic. He is ok now!
Lots of horses live 24/7 in bell boots, and Eli falls into that category. He usually keeps shoes on (unless they are bar shoes ugh don’t remind me) but he does have a tendency to grab his heels A LOT in turn out. So hooray for mitigating with bell boots. Because he wears them full time, they need to be durable but also “soft” enough to not give him rubs. The pull on Italian jumper bell boots meet these requirements. Does it pain me to spend $40 on bell boots that may only last a few months? Not as much as a lame horse from a grabbed heel. Amazingly, I got about 10 months out of Eli’s last pair until he finally pulled one off in a rippy sort of way. I usually have a spare, but not this time.
Okay. I needed Italian jumper bell boots ASAP. But oh, we are in a pandemic and some stuff isn’t open and other stuff is only open for limited hours and really only Dover in town would maybe have these but let’s see what the internet and overnight shipping have to offer so I don’t have to go somewhere unnecessarily.
While I did check a few other online tack stores, Dover is offering OVERNIGHT shipping for $14.95 on orders over $75 (and $19.95 for orders under $75). Find a tack store online that offers that for less, I dare/challenge you. Oh, and it has to be one that carries the Italian jumper bell boots in size III in black. In stock. Now bonus points to Dover for carrying them at $34.95. Not the lowest price I could find online, but the second lowest (and tied with Beval). The lowest was from a tack shop that did not offer such inexpensive overnight shipping (it was more like $75 haha no). I had to buy a few other grooming supplies for Eli anyway, so getting the Dover order up to $75 did not take much. (Maybe I should have ordered second pair of bell boots, actually …) Dover has instituted these shipping rates primarily, it seems, as a result of the pandemic — so THANK YOU, DOVER for recognizing how complicated it can be to get necessary horse stuff right now and offering reduced shipping rates.
As promised, Eli got his new Italian jumper bell boots the next day (an addition to some potions and cookies).
I have not always been a fan of Dover in the past, but recently they have really stepped up their customer service game with some new policies and they have moderated a lot of their prices on popular items that horse people buy ALL THE TIME. (I am almost positive a few years ago I paid $37.95 in store at Dover for these same bell boots.) No, obviously, they are not the only game in town. But for this order, and the overnight shipping rate — I am happy to be a satisfied Dover Saddlery customer. That overnight shipping saved my horse’s heels!
I still have not figured out why it feels like I have less time instead of more time while this working-from-home lifestyle continues. I have neglected blogland as a result.
The pony and the puppy still get a lot of my free time, though, and those are the priority components of my lifestyle, so I can’t say I am too bothered by not blogging. I try to keep up on Instagram, at least. Eli has had his Gastrogard and seems to love the Purina Outlast and he has been doing well under saddle. As you can see in the above picture, he is wearing some grey polo wraps that are the Incrediwear Circulation Exercise Bandages (the mouthful of a name comes from the Incrediwear Equine website ).
I wound up buying these partly because the big top-lid freezer at the barn ate it, so I brought my ice boots home. I was looking for alternatives to hauling ice boots in ice in an ice chest to the barn every day in case I felt like Eli needed icing that day. Although, the freezer in the barn refrigerator still works, so my ice boots may end up in there. But too late for my wallet, the search for icing alternatives was on, and I had seen these Incrediwear products a few times on Instagram and was curious about them.
The Incrediwear bandages can be used for exercise similarly to polo wraps, but then can also be hosed down after exercise for an icing effect (yes, it says this on the website, these are the actual instructions). Can I just tell you right now how unbelievably weird and difficult and cognitively dissonant it was to leave these things on and hose them down while rinsing off Eli after a ride? Wet polo wraps? My brain was breaking a little. However, it is important to remember two things: these wraps were designed specifically for this, and these wraps are not regular polo wraps. The material handles water differently than regular polo wrap material. So there is (I keep reminding myself) no danger of bowing a tendon, or causing some other injury like chafing or something, if these wraps are used as directed and applied properly. There is a TON of information on the Incrediwear Equine website, and if you are at all interested in these, I encourage you to read it and judge for yourself what you think and how you feel about the science behind them. (But don’t forget to recognize generally that science is true whether you believe in it or not.)
I have been using the Incrediwear wraps for about a month now, and have left them on to get wet for “icing” on Eli maybe 3 or 4 times. First, I’ll talk about using them during exercise, and then I will go over using them while wet for icing.
For exercise, color me impressed. These simply do not compare to other wraps I have tried, including regular polo wraps, Eskadron combo bandages, and Back on Track polo wraps (still love you, BoT). Be warned, however, that these things are hard to get used to at first as far as being able to wrap competently with them. The material is stretchy and I had a hard time with how snugly I should wrap them. I didn’t do it tight enough the first few times and one of those times the wraps almost slid off. So maybe pull them a little tighter than you are comfortable with? Or not? I don’t know how tight y’all wrap, sooo … anyway, I am pretty confident in my wrapping skills and these things took me a few times to really get them on in a way that felt right to me. I am STILL (after a month of use) occasionally wrapping, hating, and redoing the wrap while tacking up Eli. The fabric can bunch and fold on top of itself while wrapping around the fetlock so get comfortable redoing wraps until you figure these out. Like I said, I still redo them sometimes before I am satisfied they are on Eli’s legs safely. If you aren’t confident in your wrapping skills, these may not be for you or you may want to ask someone who can wrap well to help you.
Okay, so once they are on, Eli-of-the-rooster-walk tolerates them well. I know this because he walks normally in them (I mean, thanks for the big clue, buddy), even when I have wrapped his hind legs. (Yes. I know. My horse spooks at wearing hind leg wraps sometimes. He has unique sensory processing abilities. Just let it go.) Once I figured out how snugly to wrap them, they do not shift around while we ride. Eli has been feeling good under saddle lately, so I don’t have much to add related to use during our ride.
But after the ride? First, I have observed that his legs don’t get very hot and sweaty under these wraps. He sweats some, of course, because it’s like 94 degrees here until 8 o’clock at night and too humid in the mornings for me to tolerate. The wraps seem to wick moisture to a certain extent. But more importantly I can directly observe that these seem to regulate surface temperature extremely well. Like I am shocked at how not-hot his legs feel after a ride when I pull these off. It makes me want another pair so I can just wrap all four legs. Caveat: Eli and I don’t work too hard when we work. It’s a light ride of about 20-25 minutes with maybe a canter pole or two and a cross rail or two but that’s where we’re at right now. I certainly would not hesitate to jump in these, though. And it really is in the 90s when I am able to ride. It’s interesting. The wraps themselves feel super warm on the outside after a ride, but Eli’s legs feel normal. Based on personal experience, this would not be a result after using BoT polos or regular polos. So that ion transfer thing does seem to do its job.
And then there’s leaving them on after a ride and hosing them down for that icing effect. I have done this 3 or 4 times and left them on for just about 15 minutes or so, although the claim is they can be left on for 45 minutes while wet. Does this actually ice the legs? Not exactly. These wraps reportedly do not cause vasoconstriction, the way true icing would and the benefit of that is that blood flow is not slowed. And we all know how important blood flow is in the horse’s lower extremities. The wraps do seem to draw heat away from the leg even more quickly when wet than when dry. I am wondering whether this could be a good substitute for icing in all cases? What about after harder or longer work? And again, upon removing the wraps, the wraps themselves feel very warm but Eli’s legs feel very cool. Not really cold like icing with actual ice, but completely cooled down and a bit beyond that. I have some skepticism, but the product does seem to work very much like the product information claims. And they make stuff for people that works the same way (and I am tempted by the elbow sleeve …). Eli’s hind legs look and feel great, though. Very tight after using the wraps, holding up that tightness day after day now with continued use. He does experience some fill/windpuffiness/minor stocking up in his hind legs if he ends up stuck in his stall for a day due to weather but by all appearances these Incrediwear wraps have helped him enough for me to keep using them. And buy the hoof socks (review forthcoming, only used them once so far), and want a second pair of the wraps.
The price seems exorbitant for polo wraps. But consider they have multiple uses. I purchased these via FarmVet and used a 10% off coupon code, which helped a little. However, FarmVet seems to be out of stock and is not taking back orders. These can, however, be ordered directly from the Incrediwear Equine website. I have noticed that these and the hoof socks seem to sell out quickly. I bought the hoof socks right when they had been restocked in early July and they are also sold out on FarmVet, but appear to be available on the Incrediwear website.
Once I have used the hoof socks more, I will review them, too. But tomorrow, look for a kind of ode to bell boots:
Oh, OF COURSE you take the right one out, Eli. Anyway. Final word on the Incrediwear circulation wraps? 10/10 would buy again.
Eli had a very mild bout of colic a few months ago, right at the afternoon feeding time, which resolved with Banamine and a little hand-walking. Of course with any colic, things can go south fast so I was relieved that it was alleviated quickly. But then it happened AGAIN this past Sunday, same exact situation. I called the on-call vet and after talking over the situation, getting Eli scoped was the best next step. So Eli went up to stay at the clinic Monday night and got scoped Tuesday morning. He has ulcers. I feel like a bad horse mom. The ulcers may or may not be the cause of the feeding time colics, but I am hoping that’s it, because ulcers are treatable and manageable. Not that I want my horse to have ulcers at all, but if that is the cause then we are addressing it.
Eli got sent home with Gastrogard, misoprostol, and Eli’s vet also suggested Purina Outlast and his regular turnout and exercise routine. Luckily, Eli hoovered the Outlast, so he will get that on top of every meal and he’ll also get some as a snack before exercise.
But then, Eli being Eli, he had other plans about that exercise. I pulled him out of his stall Wednesday evening and noticed nothing amiss. I offered him the Outlast, which he ate happily. I tacked him up and walked him around for quite a while, not feeling anything weird in his walk. And then I asked for a trot, which he picked up with no protest or difficulty BUT he was super lame on the right front. I got off to see if it was a rock or something like that and it wasn’t. I got back on and kept walking because the vet indicated moving around is a good thing while Eli is being treated for ulcers, and his walk still felt fine in the arena footing.
But after I got him untacked and rinsed off, he was clearly lame on the RF at the walk after stepping out of the wash rack. His farrier happened to be at the barn, so I asked him to look at it. Based on the sudden presentation of the lameness and a few other things, the farrier thinks it may be an abscess, and that seemed about right to me. Honestly Eli had been more lame with a heel bruise, so maybe it’s just a bruise — we know he likes to get those. I wrapped his hoof in Epsom salt paste and he will still be turned out, because again, moving around is better than not moving around.
If the lameness gets worse, the farrier will pull the shoe today. I am going to soak Eli’s hoof in Epsom salt and rewrap. If the situation doesn’t improve in a few days, I guess Eli will get to see his vet again? Ugh. I hope it is just bruising or an abscess that blows soon.
Anyways … I am keeping the bag of Outlast at my house and got some reusable deli containers and plan to pack up a week’s worth at a time for the barn staff for easy administration. Hopefully the deli containers don’t get tossed but if they do I’ll just switch over to plastic baggies. I’d rather go the reusable route, if it’s feasible, though.
Okay, y’all. I have tried a variety of sunshirts: EIS, Ariat, Kastel, Tailored Sportsman … I LOVE the look of the Anique shirts, but honestly their price made me balk. I had seen them for around $120 in some tack shops, but I won’t even spend that on a show shirt so I hoped at some point the Anique shirts might go on sale somewhere.
Luckily, Riding Warehouse had just such a sale, and had the white and northern sky Anique colors on sale for around $75. I picked up a medium.
Once I got the shirt, the first thing I noticed was the excellent construction and attention to detail. From the pictures online, I was a little concerned the collar would not work for me, but it is actually tall enough to protect the back of my neck from the sun. Now would be a good time to mention — these shirts are made HERE in the USA. That could account for the retail price. I feel much better about buying a shirt that is made here than one that is made somewhere else, like China (*cough* Ariat *cough*). And not that this next thing is the most important factor, but I really like the zipper. It has a bit of weight to it, making it feel pretty durable.
The next thing I love about the Anique shirts? The sleeves are long enough for my long arms. The sleeves are longer than every other brand sunshirt that I have tried. My entire wrist is covered. No wrist sticking out between sleeve and glove to get sunburned when I’m riding.
But let’s go back to the details and construction.
The Anique shirts do not have the mesh sleeve panels like Kastel or EIS or Tailored Sportsman. However, there are panels of a tighter weave mesh-like material along the sleeves and sides. I don’t think UV anything could get through it. And while we are comparing to the other well-known brands, the Anique material is 100% nylon but it is thicker and seems to hold its shape better than the other nylon/icefil shirts. Thicker is not always better in Texas, though–more on that in a sec. It is, however, by far the softest sunshirt I have ever worn.
At this point, I was convinced that I liked this shirt a lot, and then Riding Warehouse had a sale on top of a sale, and had two larges left in the Northern Sky color for around $56. So OBVIOUSLY I bought a large. This is the one pictured here. Don’t worry, the sleeves on the medium are just as long. I like to wear the medium with breeches and a belt because it tucks in well, and I like the large for wearing with my Botori riding pants untucked. I also REALLY put the Anique shirt to the cool comfort all day test and wore it while paddocking at a local show (the first of the year finally!) ALL DAY. In HEAT. Real heat. 95F and humid heat by the end of the day. The fact that the material is thicker than other sunshirts did not seem to make me any hotter than I would have been otherwise. I didn’t even feel real sweaty or anything.
After that experience, I am ALL IN on Anique sunshirts. The quality, the tailoring, the actual usefulness in heat … this is a four-season shirt in Texas, as far as I am concerned. While Riding Warehouse is sold out, you can find these shirts directly through the Anique website or if you are feeling super generous and want to kick a little affiliate money my way, you can get Anique shirts, currently from $80-$99 on Amazon. (That Peacock Blue is $80 and I am sorely tempted. Oh, AND these are eligible for an Amazon Smile donation.). Anique is the third-party seller, and Amazon does the fulfillment, so it’s not some random foreign third-party seller selling knock-offs. And if the shirt doesn’t work for you, Amazon’s return process is easy.
THE PEPPERMINT, THOUGH. I need it. I might just have to suck it up and pay the $99. And honestly, these shirts do seem to be well-worth it!
You know that song “Somewhere” from West Side Story? It’s been in my head for a few weeks now. I keep hearing it if I think about everything going on in America right now. So I thought I’d say, I’m listening and I am trying to learn as much as I can, and that this blog (sporadically active as it is right now) is a place for Black Lives Matter. I’m not here to write about it; I am here to say I am learning about it, and I want to help. Honestly, this post isn’t even about that, it’s just a quick Eli & Conrad update, as mundane as any other Eli & Conrad update. But I just wanted to say at the outset here that I am taking a side, and that side is Black Lives Matter, mainly because I had not yet said that here before. I want to keep listening & learning.
Now to the more personal “Somewhere” episode of what my dog and my horse have been up to lately …
Conrad has definitely learned the WFH routine. I have breakfast, sit with Conrad for a few minutes downstairs while I go through personal emails, and then I ask him if he wants to come with me to work, and he runs upstairs and takes his station on the couch by my desk. IT IS SO CUTE.
Conrad does not let work get in the way of his daily routine of napping, and then napping again. But he is a quiet coworker, so he can keep his job.
Eli has proven his worth as a hot weather horse. Y’all. He is so much more comfortable and happy in warm weather. He has been a joy to ride this last week or so.
While I am still thinking I need to keep his work load light, maybe we can bump up to a little more work now, and see how it goes? We’ll never be in a regimented conditioning program, of course, and I am not sure horse showing is in Eli’s future any more (totally okay with me!), but lately he feels like he could be happy cruising around 2’6″ at home for fun. The navicular journey is most definitely not a straight path so all of this is subject to change should Eli show signs of discomfort or lameness in front. There’s a possibility that the issue could have just been that Eli’s soles were too thin. However. I see no reason to push the soundness boundaries of a 17-year-old ex-racehorse. But, maybe we are on the other side of both the suspensory injury and the hoof issues? Maybe? Knock on wood? Throw salt over my shoulder? Feed Eli four-leaf clovers?
What I cannot believe, is how long I let Eli’s mane get. COVID-19 fatigue is real. I got kind of lackluster there for a while about staying on top of routine things. Because who hasn’t right now? Still, that’s not fair to my horse, so luckily I snapped out of it and/or the expired stay-at-home orders energized me bit. Not that I am willing to eat dine-in in a restaurant yet and I will take this light traffic all day every day, but I think getting to visit some friends around Memorial Day weekend and not feeling guilty about it restored some sense of regular old unextraordinary life. Eli even got a bath. With shampoo.
Eli’s reminding me how quirky he is, too. Fly spray = acid. Sleeping dog curled up in the grass outside of the arena = EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION AND SNORTING. Compact front-end loader moving paving gravel around on the driveway and loudly scraping it and dumping it on the driveway at the top of the arena = zero issue/yawn/big whoop. Human exits aforementioned compact front-end loader = WHAT DIS NOW IT MOOV.
Last little bit of catch-up (maybe one day I will blog more frequently again) … I have tried a few new things lately, and I might have to review them here. The newer style (i.e., higher waist) Ghodho Elara breeches, an Anique sunshirt, and Incrediwear circulation exercise bandages. Anyone curious about this stuff, and I can get some reviews up?
The lack of horse showing has been upsetting for some people, and shows starting back up seem to be very popular — a few A shows in this area have “sold out,” meaning they are limiting entries and have already hit those limits for a few shows in mid-June. I completely understand that horse showing was and is a primary motivating force for riders, so it doesn’t surprise me that people are excited for showing to start back up. Even with major international tours canceling the rest of their dates, horse shows in the U.S. are pressing forward. Horse show ecosystems employ a lot of people and provide a fun social outlet for many, many riders. I am happy for all of those people whose lives will hopefully get back to “normal” or at least some kind of “new normal” very soon.
But horse shows don’t motivate me. Not at all. They may have at one time, but they don’t now and never really have in my adult life. So I’ve been thinking about what does motivate me, and whether I can even articulate this, or put some kind of label or name on the driving forces that get me to the barn almost every day. Strong emotional connections with animals calm me down on most days. Riding is good exercise. Being outdoors is a relief after a 9-hour slog at a desk. I am pretty sure even just looking at Eli lowers my blood pressure. (Unless he is sick or injured.) Cantering around over sticks is a fun thing. It looks like I have this laundry list of superficial motivations, but is that … it?
I am thinking the strong emotional connection to animals is the primary motivating force for me. I would much rather talk to my dog or my horse than a person. My big and small mammalian companions seem to get me, to accept me. Not that they really have a choice, of course. But early on with Eli especially I am fairly certain he wanted me to be his person. And the humans around us that saw us working together said all kinds of encouraging things a long these lines well before I owned him. I started worrying about his future if he didn’t have me in it. How can a horse make a person feel this way? Is it not odd? But what would a life without such empathetic creatures be?
I cannot remember a time when I did not feel an innate connection to animals. That I have had so many meaningful partnerships with horses continues to amaze me. Eli’s ability to communicate with me so clearly about all kinds of things amazes me, too. Secondary to the emotional connection I feel to this horse is perhaps the other motivating factor: what will Eli teach me next?
I ran across an interesting phrase just this morning: “last days of the old ways,” from a GQlist of the best restaurants of 2020. Talk about a time capsule (so worth reading for perspective if nothing else — like, remember how affected dining out had become?). But it struck me because we are never going back to the world as it was before COVID-19. “The old ways” will be tinged with new adaptations of existing in public spaces, hopefully with a good dose of charity and kindness. Adaptation that I personally have no problem with, honestly, mysophobe and agoraphobe that I am. Eating out is fun and everything, but I am just as happy staying in.
As horse people, while many of us have had to change routines, or suspend them entirely, we -most of us- will get to come back to horses. Barns in my area have had varying degrees of openness or closedness, and I have been lucky enough to continue my daily treks to where I board Eli to ride, or just let him graze, or groom him until he rolls his eyes at me. We passed the ownership milestone of May 1, the day I bought him in 2014, with little notice from him, as Eli is most definitely the one who owns me, and that started before May 1, 2014 for sure.
The horse world at large is looking at attempting to get back to showing. What changes will we see? Hand sanitizer at all the in-gates? Limited or no concessions? Ticketed schooling at EVERY show, not just the big A shows? Will we even have to answer these questions? The idea of certainty is a tenuous one in this post-old ways-existence. I am not about to craft an editorial on how or why we can live alongside a newfound pathogen and still keep capitalism, leisure time, and the service industries alive.
Rather I’ll just give y’all an Eli update: he is out of pads in front, he got his bone juice, and he has energy to burn. He feels pretty good under saddle, but he is out of shape. As am I. So we are not doing a whole lot yet, just building on the ride before and looking forward to doing a little more the next ride. I trotted him over a crossrail a few times the other day and there was much excitement in the first few steps after the fence in the form of tiny little dolphin leaps and head tossing. Seems like classic Eli to me!
Getting the trot squared away is relatively easy for me. I am a less coordinated rider at the canter, and that’s the gait of Eli’s that needs the most work. Due to his veterinary history, I am not going to attempt to accomplish this on a longe line, so getting it done under saddle will be a slooooooowwww process. The formula: A few decent steps? Reward with a walk. Add more decent steps next time. Next time could be 2 minutes later or the next day, it doesn’t really matter. The rewarding is the important part, as Eli is very sensitive and responsive to that kind of thing.
So that’s where we are, “we” being me and Eli. It has been such a protracted process, bring him back into work after his suspensory injury. It’s been about a year since he did that, and I think we are now on the right path with that and his front feet, too. For the time being, the main goal is to get Eli back into shape, to a reasonable level of fitness for a low-level, local show horse. If we can get there, then I’ll consider doing more, but it’s also okay with me if we never get there. Horses are perhaps the best teachers of adaptation, moreso than even a viral pandemic. At least, for some things. Horses teach you what you can control, and what you can’t, and what you have to let go. (Pride … the inside rein …)
In a completely unrelated, frivolous aside, this Chardonnay is really good:
Oh, lors, speaking of the old ways. I had gone to the grocery store to pick up a few things, including some beer. There are always very helpful, dutifully face-masked employees in the wine and beer section at HEB, and as I trundled down the refrigerated aisle of beer, an employee asked me if I needed any help finding something. I said, yes, I am looking for the Guinness four pack of cans with the nitro ball … ? The guy said, yes, right down here, in the import section which is sadly smaller than it used to be … and he handed me the four pack and left me wondering if there were any good domestic nitro ball options. Nothing like a slow burn apocalypse to make me question my casual consumerism. Vive la nouvelle façon, I guess?