Think Cold Thoughts

I would just like to point out that we have nothing to actually graze on here in Texas right now …

everything is burnt

The heat has done me the favor of making Eli fairly easy to ride, at least. No real work since April? No problem. It’s too hot for shenanigans. Hopefully we will be allowed to canter before it gets very cold. But for now, we are trotting in straight lines. Miraculously, Eli is just as easy to ride as where we left off. I can’t ask him for anything yet, but he just kind of shows up with a trot that is very easy to balance and work with. I don’t think he gets the whole straight-lines-only thing, but he doesn’t seem to mind it much. He gets to go outside with his friends now, so he is generally very pleasant to be around.

another perspective of burnt ground

Maybe in a few weeks, there will be grass again? The sun won’t be so oppressive? I do like to let Eli graze after we work, but right now that’s a bad idea. So we stay in the barn, in front of fans, with ice boots on his hind legs.

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!

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.

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!

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.

When Every Girth You Own is Suddenly Offensive to Your Horse

Eli quite obviously has my number. All he has to do is mildly object to something, and my brain goes into overdrive:

O MY GAH AM I HURTING MY HORSE IS HE COMFORTABLE DOES HE NEED SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW AHHHHH WHAT’S WRONG ELI HAVE A COOKIE

This is how he has like 4 fly masks, 4 bridles, I don’t know how many bits, many saddle pads and half pads and … um … not really sure how many girths I’ve tried on him. In the cooler months, I think the sheepskin or synthetic fleece girths are totally fine and he doesn’t mind them.

he likes this

But oi. He does NOT like them in the heat. All of a sudden. He’ll he stop and bite the girth and pull at it (if I let him, which I did like twice to see, is this really a thing). So I guess the fleece is itchy? I also have a memory foam girth which was working well for a while, but now it’s a bit hairy from Eli’s shedding, and the hair will NOT wash out. At least, not with normal attempts to wash. I may really attack it in the wash rack with some Dawn or something to see if I can get the hair off of it. It does seem to be the girth Eli is most comfortable it for now, but unless the hair washes out, that one is itchy, too.

care instructions: hand wash cold, line dry only

But I am looking for other options. No leather girth will be comfortable for Eli, and the neoprene ones kind of chafe him. Considering I have tried a variety of Professional’s Choice, Lettia, and other brands of synthetic girths, my options numbered. That number right now is looking like one.

This Equifit Essential girth has piqued my interest. However, the internets are a bit short on reviews (not that I looked very hard) … does anyone have experience with this girth? I really like Eli’s Equifit crown pad. I have a pair of Equifit hind boots, an older version and that material I am less excited about. A lot of vendors carry this girth, so I am not too worried about fit, as I can just shop with a tack shop that offers easy returns. But just jumping in without hearing about anyone’s personal experience? I am holding off for now unless anybody can tell me, yes, this girth is a good option. It seems like it would be! I like the wider belly contour — that’s something I haven’t tried with Eli and maybe that would be more comfortable for him, too?

Odds & Ends I Could Live Without … But Why Would I?

If you live under a rock, you may not realize Amazon’s Prime Day is happening across two days and this is day one. I am not sure how many deals are going to appeal me, but I guess I’m going to find out while window shopping online. In the meantime, I have found a handful of things via Amazon that I didn’t realize I needed until I had them and now I’m like, whoa. Glad I bought that. Maybe some will be Prime Day deals?

Who needs easy-care, comfortable work pants? Since my breeches are not work pants (well, okay, maybe sometimes they are) I have been digging through the internet for affordable, work-appropriate pants with a tailored look and reasonable price tag. I searched “betabrand” on Amazon. Amazon showed me Rekucci instead. (I am not going to pay $80 for work pants that fit like yoga pants, betabrand.)

Rekucci offers a lot of styles of pants that are all pull-on type pants that sort of feel like yoga pants but look much, much more tailored. My favorites have been the boot cut pants. They work for work. Pay attention to the size chart, for sure! And the length. In the regular length pants, I have to wear heels or the pants drag on the ground. (I’m 5’6″.) The short ones are good for me for wearing flats or kitten heel shoes. And they actually look like work pants.

This is the Indigo color. And I cannot live without Worishofers.

If you are super curvy, I am not sure how these would work — they are pull on and while they do have some stretch, they are not super stretchy in the waist. I can get them over my hips easily, but I am not sure how they would work on someone with wider hips and a trimmer waist. I also wash them inside out in cold water and hang to dry. Some reviewers have noticed fabric wear after only a few washes, but I have not run into that problem yet.

Since the Amazon oracle (or search bar, whatever) showed me reasonably-priced work pants, I wondered what it would show me for boot trees. That are not actually boot trees. And also not inflatable boot trees. Would such a thing even exist? I have mentioned them once before, and yes they do indeed exist: boot shapers.

Not gonna lie … these things are genius

They are basically flat plastic inserts that conform to your boots’ shape. I liked the first set I bought so much that I bought more for all my tall riding boots. I am kind of thinking I should get some for my wear-to-work boots, too.

If you have not figured out by now that I am susceptible to online advertising, you must be a new reader. Scrolling through Instagram can be dangerous when it’s not actually kind of boring. I see all kinds of ads, one of which was for amazing hair towels that speed drying and minimize frizz! How can this beeeee! Okay, well, let me just see what Amazon has … and yep, they have the advertised towels. You don’t have to get them via Amazon, but I have found the Amazon price to be slightly lower than other vendors. The product is Aquis towels, and they do indeed speed drying and minimize frizz. Do I end up with completely dry hair and zero frizz? No, don’t be daft. My hair is fried from years of dyeing it. But I am in the midst of a hair renaissance and have stopped dyeing it. The 4-5 inches of growth that has not been traditionally dyed is actually pretty healthy looking, thanks to Olaplex, oVertone, and these towels.

The dyed hair is a lost cause, but the Aquis towels do seem to keep my frizz from getting out of control. They have towels for fine hair, towels for curly hair, towels for long hair, turbans … They are also WAY easier on my neck than big heavy bath towels. 10/10 recommend. (Also got hooked by Sand & Sky from Instagram ads …)

Don’t think my animals don’t benefit from my window shopping. First, Conrad: he is REALLY sensitive to fat content. For a while there, he was doing okay with treats under 10% crude fat and I was giving him the single ingredient duck liver treats, which he loved. And they are like 9% fat. His digestive system eventually rebelled, so I sought out lower-fat options. I found single ingredient chicken breast treats from the same brand.

They are freeze-dried, made in the USA, and are 3% crude fat. And luckily, Conrad loves these, too. I am now sticking with treats for him that are under 5% crude fat. You know what other treat — that Conrad loves — has just 5% crude fat and is made in the USA? Milkbones. Classic! He gets one after each of his meals to chomp on.

So Eli is no stranger to me stuffing his face with all kinds of treats. But I needed something that wouldn’t crumble in my pocket or get all sticky or melty when it’s hot because it is really hot here right now. Like … so, so hot. I found these Ginger Ridge Meadow Mints, and the brand also offers a Vanilla Flax flavor if you are looking to add a little more flax to your horse’s diet.

These stay in tact in my breeches’ pocket, they aren’t gooey, and they aren’t in a plastic wrapper. Eli may not go nuts over them quite like he does for Stud Muffins or German Horse Muffins or Gala apples, but he likes these and these keep his mouth occupied while I am doing up his girth.

He also might get one to chomp on during a ride as a reward for not killing me. What? Our bar is low right now.

I discovered a few other interesting things offered via Amazon that deserve a mention. The first is a newer version of the Polaroid Cube. I have a Polaroid Cube+ and it has been a handy little camera for filming rides. I ran across a Polaroid Cube Act II for an interesting price — much less than what I paid for the Cube+. Does anyone have experience with this one? Do I need it?

I was surprised to find that you can get a 23andMe DNA test kit through Amazon, too. Honestly, I was looking for a doggy DNA test kit and saw that 23andMe could be purchased via Amazon. This is something I have experience with — and the genetic reports keep coming. When you test with 23andMe, you get initial results, but the company keeps your DNA and keeps studying it. On one hand … creepy. But on the other, it’s a wealth of health knowledge. No, you can’t be diagnosed with anything through your DNA, but the company notes what genetic predispositions you might have. That information you can use over a lifetime. If you don’t mind strangers mapping your DNA. If you can’t get past the potential privacy issues, this probably isn’t for you. Because 23andMe will know if you are more or less likely to have wet or dry ear wax. Nope, I am serious. The latest Trait report I got was about Ice Cream Flavor Preference …

Ultimately, I think the best deals are going to be on Amazon devices. I am not in the market for any today, but that Ring doorbell/home security stuff is super tempting!

Back On

I resumed walking Eli under saddle last night. He tried a little head toss play initially, but it’s so freaking hot out that merely a lap or two later around the larger of the two arenas, Eli adopted a tamer attitude.

Even at 7:30 in the evening, it’s still in the mid-90s here. The good thing about riding in the evenings, though, is that the humidity is lower. Eli still sweats a lot, and I still sweat a lot, but I don’t have much choice as to when I can ride during the work week. Waiting until 8:30 or 9pm? No. Mornings before work? No thanks. So we’re sticking with 7 or 7:30 on weekdays. I have slightly more flexibility on the weekends, and typically ride in the morning but not always.

I did let Eli out in the round pen for just a little bit after our walk, so that he could roll because he loves that. Then we had a nice long rinse before I stuck him in front of two fans while I cleaned tack. This is our routine now, and it’s not much different than what it would be if he were in full work. We just can’t can’t trot or canter, but all the grooming and cleaning up stays the same.

Honestly, I am glad it’s hot. If it were cold out, this would be a much more difficult recovery process because of how much the cold irritates Eli. I maybe don’t graze him for quite as long as he would like because I don’t want to be in the sun for too long. But he still gets his grass time daily, too. Eli’s next recheck is another 30 days from his last appointment — so that will be August. Where is this year going?

Still Walking

Eli had a vet visit yesterday. We do not get to trot yet, but we can keep walking under saddle and he can keep going out for turn out if he can stay relatively quiet (again, ha). While the injury area showed some inflammation, the tissue was not damaged beyond that. The vet recommended another shockwave treatment and a few days of just hand walking, and continue icing the RH daily.

why, man?
swelling started here, but has been moving down the leg since

Eli had also developed some swelling on his left hind, but I thought it was probably just one of his regular dings, and the vet did not seem concerned about it. I’ll probably just ice both of Eli’s hind legs daily until the end of time.

poop face

The vet also remarked that Eli seemed very chill. His appointment was in the middle of the day, which is Eli’s nap time after lunch, so I just offered that as explanation. He’s just a sleepy horse in the afternoon. I also think at this point, since Eli is seeing his vet pretty much two times a month, maybe he’s finally calling truce? Like hey maybe this vet guy isn’t so bad? Maybe we don’t have to pin ears and grind teeth so much? Dรฉtente, can we?

The turnout time, limited as it is, still makes a huge difference for Eli’s mental state.

While we can’t add any new work to our current routine, I am pleased that all the walking and turnout did not affect the injury too terribly. This feels like a delicate balance between healing and keep the pony sane. Hopefully the shockwave will help it along a bit more! I still have no long term timetable for when Eli can go back into full work, but the initial expectation was that Eli would be out for the summer at least. We still have a lot of summer left here, so I don’t think we’re too far off the recovery pace.

can’t jump the jump, so itches face on it

But dude. Walking for 30 minutes is boring. I break it up with some walking in the arena and some walking in the fields but we can’t really do much else beyond that. It’s a little more interesting when other people are riding, so Eli gets exposure to a little more activity and remembers he doesn’t care when a horse canters up from behind to pass him and things like that. The benefit of the heat is that Eli is MUCH more relaxed!

have you seen the Kate Botoris?

Speaking of heat, my summer riding wardrobe has expanded recently, since Botori came out with a few new colors. The Kate pants in pewter basically are the color of show tan breeches and I may or may not be tempted to show in them one day. They are also slightly less stretchy than the black Botoris, so no need to size down in these.