6 Days in the 9th Circle

Remember how it already snowed 6 inches in my corner of central Texas back in January? Texas got wrung through the iciest wringer in the state’s recent history (meaning since weather has been recorded here back in the late 19th century) starting with Valentine’s Day. And then President’s Day. And this extended through an entire week — 6 days below freezing, 6 days of ice and snow, and wouldn’t you know it, our federal regulation-free, independent little power grid almost collapsed catastrophically! 

Along with many, many trees. So yes, as I am sure you have now read in the news, Texas went through days of “rolling blackouts” which were just straight up blackouts for some, no rolling about it. I stayed up all night without power the night it was 5 degrees at the lowest, snuggling Conrad under 5 blankets and drinking hot beverages periodically because the gas stove could at least be lit with a match to heat water. I have rediscovered the deliciousness that is percolator coffee. I was lucky, as my house stayed just above 50 degrees and we got power back before many people. And I never had a water issue, but I am sure you have also seen the news — Texas is in a water crisis as a result of the “rolling” blackouts. Water treatment facilities lost power and left 14 million Texans without potable drinking water. FOR DAYS. Some had no water at all. 

No, snow is not fucking pretty. No, we do not have snow plows in central Texas (Dallas has a few). No, we do not have snow tires, crampons, pipes buried eight feet deep, or taboggans. (We can’t bury pipes 8 feet deep in central Texas anyway because just below a thin layer of crappy topsoil you get into our limestone karst systems — our ground is a mix of solid sedimentary, fossil-flecked rock and hollow caves that live and grow and store water for some of us.) Why I bought snow boots years ago I have no idea, but it made me the designated backyard guardian so I cleared small areas for Conrad to relieve himself and for birds to eat birdseed. I regularly tromped through icy, crunchy, deep (for Texas) snow and I NEVER want to do it again. And compared to many, I had it easy.

People died here because of this weather. It started with a heinously nightmarish pile up in Fort Worth caused by black ice and ended with children and the elderly freezing to death in their homes, or dying due to lack of access to medically necessary life-saving treatments like insulin and dialysis. And but for Texas’ obstinate independence from federal regulation of electric utilities, these deaths were preventable. 

Like I said, I am one of the lucky ones. Conrad is totally ok. Eli is totally ok and was in the best care for the worst of the weather and it’s already spring-like here again, the kind of Texas winter Texans know and love. I may have gone 6 days without seeing my horse because of hazardous road conditions (and a car that did not want to start so that was a’ whole n’other thing), but I knew he was safe where he was.

Eli’s opinion of snow seemed pretty low, after he licked some while grazing – it produced the flehmen response so I’d say he is still indeed a summer horse. He finds the white stuff bewildering and of course there was too much ice along with the snow for safe turnout. The turnouts dried out enough fairly quickly and he’s had sunny outside time again. I am keeping tabs on him closely though, since stuck-in-a-stall time for 6 days other than hand-walking is not his favorite and I hope he is not getting ulcery again from it. 

So …. yeah. 6 days of the 9th circle here in Texas. I much prefer it in the 1st circle … or even the 6th is probably ok for me personally. Anything but entombment in this much ice and snow ever again. 

Incrediwear Circulation Standing Wraps Review

<Modeling the Incrediwear exercise bandages>

Let me just tell you how hooked I am on Incrediwear products — for horses AND humans now. This is another unsolicited review: I am actually just that impressed with this stuff that I am almost always going to recommend it now. I don’t know what I was even doing for Eli’s frequent dings before these things. Oh, no, wait, yes I do … lots of cold hosing, lots of clay poultice, lots of wrapping with quilts, and maybe once or twice even sweating a leg – although I have never been a fan of sweating concoctions as they seem a bit caustic to me and nobody likes messing with cling wrap in a barn.

<Goop-free therapy>

The Incrediwear Circulation Standing Wraps have gotten a lot of use for as long as I have had them because Eli never fails to whack and/or scrape himself in turn out. He frequently has had random cuts and swellings that require more than just a disinfection and application of antibacterial salve. And I even briefly used them in an experiment to see if they were thick enough to keep his right heel/shoe off his right elbow (and unfortunately the answer to that is no but it was worth a shot). Eli also has some hoof issues that benefit at least some from good circulation so both these standing wraps and the Incrediwear hoof socks assist with that.

<This therapy was that time when Eli did something to his left hind and the wraps were one of many things I threw at that. He has since fully recovered from that mystery (suspected hamstring) injury.>

Once again, if you are interested in the science behind the Incrediwear material, I encourage you to go to the website. This review is all about the practical application so I won’t get into the science — I am basically just observing whether these things reduce swelling and heat. And let me tell you: they reduce swelling and heat quickly, drastically, and sustainedly. (Is that a word? Is there a better word? I can’t think of it right now so you get an awkward word.)

<Yes, I do have a lot of pictures of Eli wearing these things because he wears them a lot.>

Okay, so, as I have said, Eli comes in from turn out with dings. After the left hind injury, he decided a slice on his left cannon was necessary (I think I mentioned it earlier in a post?), and then he decided to whack the left hind fetlock pretty hard and scrape the top of that pastern. This all resulted in some cold hosing and wrapping for a few days. Within one day of wrapping with the Incrediwear standing bandages, the swelling and heat in the fetlock were gone and never came back. I kept wrapping overnight for a few more days, but I am wondering if I even needed to? I did not limit his turn out in any way and he managed to stay ding free long enough for me to feel satisfied that that whole left hind minisaga was behind us. I kind of feel like these wraps are not just an excellent replacement for but a major improvement over a more traditional sweating bandage wrap. (Obviously in instances of new acute injury to your horse CALL A VET.) Honestly, with ceramic fiber products, I was always like … huh, well, they seem to be working … and they have evidence to support the benefits they are asserting … but I only ever noticed minor improvements with using the ceramic standing wraps and polos (although still love the mesh sheet). With Incrediwear wraps I notice a rapid and significant improvement in heat reduction and swelling that lasts. It’s almost shocking.

He has worn these a lot on his hinds, I swear, I just have almost no pictures of that and I don’t know why considering I take a thousand a week.

One other thing I’d like to mention about these wraps is their thickness and how they wear. They are thick. It doesn’t take much to get them snug around a horse’s leg, though, if you use the stretchier stable bandages. I don’t think I could use these wraps with flannel bandages, although I haven’t tested that. They can be left on all night without any kind of “breaking in” acclimation period that the ceramic fiber brands suggest, because this is not a ceramic fiber brand.  The technology is different and this goes the same for their human products. I have the fingerless gloves and they have helped my slightly arthritic hands a ton. I type a bit for work, and I handle books – some of which are stupid big – a lot for work and the Incrediwear (fingerless) gloves for people really diminish the achiness and fatigued feeling I get in my hands. I also get a slightly cool sensation from wearing them which boggles my mind but I guess that means they are working? Anyway, when wrapping with these bandages, make sure you’ve got the correct side of the fabric toward the leg. The outside is smoother, the side that goes against the leg is more textured and it seems a bit softer to me, like a soft sweater a little bit, maybe. (I am doing a poor job of describing it.)

So if you’ve a got horse that needs some help with reducing swelling and heat for whatever reason in any of their legs, I 1,000% percent recommend the Incrediwear standing wraps. They have been immensely beneficial to Eli over the past few months. Dear Incrediwear, please tell me saddle pads and quarter sheets are on the menu in the near future!

And one last unrelated thing — this bit is still for sale: 5 1/4″ Myler full cheek w/hooks & copper roller. Too big for Eli. Considering all reasonable offers.

So I am curious — have you had a good experience with new products or technology that has helped your horse, or you as a rider, way more than you expected?

New Year, New Girth, New Trunk

Resolutions are not my thing. But I am constantly hitting the refresh button on various aspects of my life. While 2021 just feels like an extension of the endlessly jacked up timeline know as The Ides of March MMXX, it hasn’t stopped me from extensively weeding my closet, getting a new tack trunk, and tracking a few of my health markers with a fitness wearable.

Don’t worry, Eli gets a few new things himself for 2021. First off, without trying to even explain the situation, Eli has a new farrier. The first setting with the new farrier marked a significant improvement to Eli’s hooves, and I can feel it in his gaits. I’m not holding my breath but so far, so good.

Secondly, for whatever reason, the synthetic fleece girths that were initially Eli’s preference, and that he has worn for YEARS, are suddenly VERY OFFENSIVE to the point of Eli trying to bite his girth off while I am on him! He is, if nothing else, a very effective communicator.

I do have a Professional’s Choice wool girth that Eli does not protest, so he still wears that one. And during winter, that’s fine. But a wool girth in the summer in Texas? You can imagine my point well enough. I had been considering the Equifit schooling girth but couldn’t really find any reviews that talked about how the sizing runs. Additionally, the wider center part of the girth might be kind of weird with a martingale. So I returned to Professional’s Choice and ordered the vented neoprene one, just kind of hoping Eli would be comfortable in it.

Definitely got to love the “Made in U.S.A.” So I tacked up Eli with this girth.

Not once did Eli try to bite at the girth. He had no reaction to it at all, really. I’ve been riding him in it since. So at least one Ridiculously Sensitive Thoroughbred approves unreservedly of this girth. 10/10 recommend.

And on to the tack trunk … my wood trunk, made in 1997, needs HELP, so it is now in my garage awaiting its revision/restoration/refurbishment. I liked the idea of these big tool chest trunks, the 50-60 gallon kind with wheels and a handle. I also like the idea of spending $90 instead of $900+ that a wood or vinyl/metal trunk would cost. The Stanley ones seemed to be out of stock in my area, but my local Home Depot had Dewalt ones in stock so that’s what I got.

I had to rearrange how I store stuff in my trunk and locker. My groom box now lives in my locker (plenty of space for it since my tack locker refresh project) and without a tack trunk tray, I nabbed a few of my unused leather pouches and small bags from home for storing all the weird little contraptions and junk that had been in the tray, things like rein stops, hairnets, double-end snaps, gloves, etc. It is also now much easier to get to the clay poultice and hoof packing.

I have made it out to the barn almost every day this month, although I have only ridden Eli a handful of times due to weather. No surprise for January in Texas.

With all this new stuff that makes Eli more comfortable and makes me feel more organized, 2021 is okay so far in my tiny little personal corner of the world. Hopefully we can all only go up from here.

The Injury of the Week Club

Eli seems to enjoy a life of leisure. Basically since Thanksgiving, I have only ridden him a handful of times.

And the majority of the handful of rides? Pretty much just walking.

Walking … in the dark. So also spooking. He has a lot of energy. He expends some if it in turnout, but …

He has also managed to bang himself up while expending that energy every few days or so. His Incrediwear stable bandages are getting a lot of use.

So in the past two weeks, he did *something* to his left hind, up high. He visibly limped at the walk and turned on three legs instead of four … ultimately I think he just strained his hamstring but it took days of strategically applied DMSO and long walks under saddle to sort that out.

So THEN, he decides after managing one ride with some trotting under saddle, his left hind just wasn’t messed up enough so he sliced it. Fortunately the slice seems to be shallow. So that earned him a bit of disinfecting and cold hosing and wrapping again.

Not two days later, he managed another ding on the left hind, this time with a little swelling and heat. More tack walking to get the swelling down, more disinfecting, more wrapping.

He gets hours of turnout pretty much every day. I expect dings. Just … not so many so close together!

The Hunter Clip

I prefer a full body clip over other styles, but I put Eli’s needs first. And he needs those legs to be fuzzy. And he needs a back patch for the saddle.

I don’t think he needs a hairy face, necessarily, but clipping over his face dent does freak me out a little so he gets to keep his face hair this winter.

Eli is very amenable to clipping. He is okay with me clipping his legs and I have in the past. But he also bangs his legs up in turnout. My hope is that if I leave the thick hair, it’ll offer some protection from smaller scrapes and dings.

I realize that a traditional hunter clip would mean clipping a smaller, contured patch for the saddle and clipping all of his head. My back dictated skipping the extra time on a step stool.

Eli looks okay to me! And he is now much less itchy. Body clipping is practically a necessity here in Texas. It maybe be almost November, but it’s getting up to 90° every afternoon this week. Could you imagine living outside in a fur coat in 90°? No thanks! Eli also dries so much faster now, too, if he needs a rinse after a ride. In this climate, I really can’t think of why you wouldn’t clip!

Tack Locker Refresh

Most of this is now not in my locker.

My tack locker at the barn isn’t a large space, but it is definitely enough for a saddle, some strap goods, a few sets of boots … I crammed quite a bit more than that in there over the years. A lot of it was collecting dust and getting very little use. So I took out everything that needed cleaning, and sorted through that to see what actually needed to stay in my locker.

The snicky-snake commuting from feed room to the locker bay! There’s some kind of tiny space under the lockers — the snake is going there and not in someone’s actual locker. I haven’t seen any mice lately (other than a dead one in the arena, ew) so Ms. Serpentes gets the right-of-way. I am certain this is not a venomous one.

A few things got to stay in my locker, like the roller ball spurs and Eli’s spare halter. The rest came to my house to live in a bin or on a shelf. This still leaves quite a bit of stuff in my locker — three bridles, many bits (because you never know), a few girths, saddle and saddle pads (duh), spare clippers, many pairs of boots …

Myler full cheek = nap time? Or is it exasperation? This bridle gets to stay in my locker because I actually use it occasionally! I really like how Eli goes in it, but it’s a bit too much bit for everyday use.

I’m constantly weeding my closet, too. So guess what’s next? Yep, you guessed it: a few things for sale…

60″ SmartPak poly fleece quarter sheet, like new, $40.
Sheepskin Eskadron fetlock boots, GUC, $30. I … don’t need three pairs of these.
Le Fash shirt, medium, showed in once, $35

So in addition to a little spring cleaning in pleasant fall weather, Eli got clipped! More on that on Thursday.

He managed to get real fuzzy real fast and then this is Texas though and wow did he need less hair in this pre-fall heat. As you can see above, he is fuzzy and in an outside set of crossties — these are new to the barn. It’s a set up for the farriers to work in, but I am slightly apprehensive about how Eli is going to handle that — it is right next to the turn outs, and if horses are out there playing around, he is NOT going to stand still for anyone. The round pen is nearby, too, and again … well. Anyway, I took him out there myself before he’s due for shoes again, and I will probably take him out there a few more times. His farrier is not his trainer and has no duty to introduce Eli to a new situation like that, so I am trying to get Eli accustomed to the space first. When the weather’s nice, it seems like an otherwise nice set of crossties! The barn owner is continually making improvements like this to the barn and property and I really appreciate her dedication.

Rocks Eat Horses

Progress continues on improvements the barn owner has underway at the barn. Some landscaping boulders have been placed along the driveway. Eli first noticed these on Thursday and he was exceptionally cautious about approaching them. I held off introducing him to the rocks because some workers were still messing around with equipment nearby – which Eli didn’t care about – and I didn’t need a spooky horse to spin into or fly backwards into a front end loader or whatever. Large hissing machinery = no reaction. Giant rock = many snorts and pounding heartbeat. I don’t get it but whatever, Eli!

Fortunately, the introduction drama was shortlived on Friday. Eli did indeed snort more, cautiously approached on tiptoes with lots of ducking, half-spins, and steps backward. Then I had the above genius idea of standing on one … see, Eli? Mommy killed the rock. The rock is dead and can’t eat you. We grazed along and smelled all the dead rocks and everything ended peacefully.

In less rock-y news, Eli is doing brilliantly. He’s flatting well and getting stronger. He is also packing it on, so I’d say the Purina Outlast is doing its job. My hope is to start riding him in a few group lessons a month as my schedule allows. We both need it! A little more structure can’t hurt. I am still not inclined to jump him much, but he happily and quietly canters crossrails right now. He might miss jumping a wee bit?

And last bit for right now – I have a NWT AA Motionlite for sale. Black, size small. I love these coats but I would rather have a green or navy one. (And obviously I’m wearing the Aviation Blue in this blog’s header). $200 shipped in continental US but maybe you could talk me into a blogger discount.

I realize blogging on a Saturday is kind of awkward, and blogging from my phone is even more awkward! But that’s what works for me right now.

Go-Go Juice

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.

I tried feeding Eli a treat from the saddle. He was confused because I never do that. He kept walking the opposite direction that I was leaning over so I might have, maybe, could have almost fallen off out of my own stupidity. We’ll keep treats for the ground handling. When he finally got it, his face was like, wait, a treat, why you do this now? This not normal. Luckily, his long neck saved me.

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 for Everyone!

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.

Debating with myself whether I can get him to wear a pair on his hind legs with no drama …

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 …

Playing Catch Up Again

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?