The Big Board

Where I board Eli, there are 7 whiteboards that the trainers use to relay information to clients. The biggest big board has the boarder lessons and training rides schedule. A few of the other boards have scheduled vet appointments, a list for the farrier, notes about medications and treatments, and show and clinic sign up lists. There is a big board in the feed room, too, saying a little bit about who gets what as far as type of feed and supplements.

Okay, actually, wait. Every stall has a small whiteboard with the horse’s name and basic feeding instructions. So there are way more than 7 whiteboards …

But the board I want to talk about today is the “turnout board.” It lists every horse by name and has a column for every day of the week. X’s mean the horse needs to go out in the first turnout rotation. O’s mean the horse has been turned out. Other letters designate other things such as the horse has been ridden, or hand walked, or turned out under supervision in the round pen. And there is another wider column for turnout notes, like that the horse is on stall rest or needs bell boots during turnout.

Guess who had an O by his name on Monday evening?

y’all don’t need to know everybody’s names

I have spent the last few weeks reintroducing Eli to turnout, hoping that he would get a little energy out without re-injuring himself. And of course he LOVES to roll, like most horses, and that alone does him so much good. It’s how he releases tension in his back, for one thing.

he also loves to lick dirt and drool it back out of his mouth …

So it’s another step forward — Eli getting back gradually to his regular daily turnout schedule, weather permitting. I’ve been thinking about this process mostly from week to week, and not thinking too far ahead. There is still no timetable for Eli’s return to full work. And I like it that way. Why create long term expectations with an injury like this? I am happy to hop along from one vet appointment to the next and evaluating him as he is on those days.

I know other people might want answers like he can go back into full work in “x” number of months; but if there is one thing I have learned about horses over the years, it’s that horses can and will injure themselves inexplicably. It’s pretty much a guarantee. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

In other news, I have been struggling with the inflatable boots trees my DeNiro boots came with. As in they don’t stay inflated. But I didn’t want to shell out for proper boot trees. Even new inflatable boot trees seem to be unquestionably expensive for what they are. Plus I could go back to having the same problem. So I started looking for inexpensive solutions and found them on Amazon. I ordered one pair of the Fill Your Boots boot shapers to try. They worked so well, I ordered two more pairs. These are way better than inflatable boot trees because they can’t possibly deflate. You have to roll them up to get them into your boots at first, but then they sort of mold and hold their shape when not in use, so you only have to wrestle with then that first time getting them into your boots. I might need more for my not-riding boots.

And of course, what holiday week would be complete without a sale? has a ton of coupon codes right now for 25% off different brands that they carry, like Equine Couture, Baker, Henry de Rivel and more. Use INDEPENDENCE25 for your whole order!


A Little Progess is Still Progress

Managing a horse like Eli on stall rest is challenging. Up until today, if I walked him under saddle, he got some ace (although usually less than the vet suggested because he can be a bit of a lightweight with ace). And after walking, I’d let him out for 20 minutes or so and he … mostly … stayed quiet … mostly.

But on Thursday I was trying to beat storms, so I skipped the ace and the walk and let him out. He didn’t do anything crazy!

And then today, I let him out in the round pen. He had a good roll, but yeah, he had a brief zoomies moment. I stuck him in front of a fan back in the barn and tacked him up. Decided not to give him any ace. And we walked for 20 whole minutes without any spooks or his leapy signature move. Yes, it was after lunch and hot, but this gives me hope that we can do a little bit more every day without sedation.

He does enjoy all the extra grazing! I knew adding walking under saddle would at least initially require mild sedation, but maybe we can do without now? Eh, probably depends on the circumstances. If lessons are going on, it might be more fair to everyone involved to rely on some sedation to keep him from reacting ridiculously to a trainer clucking at a student & lesson horse.

But I felt like today was a good milestone, a good start to going forward with more work and fewer drugs. I also discussed a turnout plan with my trainer, so Eli will get out a little bit more, too.


He can look a bit silly with a mouthful of grass when he stops chewing it to ascertain whether there is something he needs to spook at.

Eli comes off as far too grumpy and catty to be especially derpy, although he has derp moments.

Does this face mean you accidentally swallowed a grasshopper?

They usually involve him wanting attention or eating something he didn’t like. Or licking dirt. Or not paying attention to where he’s putting his feet.

This is that moment where he’s about to paw, but knows he shouldn’t, so he shifts around and makes faces.

Derp is not his factory default setting — it’s more like an optional upgrade. If you’re into watching horses look derpy, anyway.


Take for instance yesterday evening … I was grazing him, near the round pen, and another boarder walked over to ask a question. I ignore Eli for two seconds, and he’s rolling in the round pen sand mud (it had rained in the morning and everything was wet and gross). Luckily he remembered he was attached to a lead rope and did not do that thing horses do when they get up a from a really good roll and take off bucking … he just shook some of the sand mud off and blinked at me.

And then of course he was mad that I hosed him off …

Rides This Week

Actually riding my horse! We are up to walking 20-25 minutes now, and I have walked Eli in the fields a few times, too. He is edgy but overall taking this whole thing fairly well. He has his moments of squealing, spooking, leaping, etc., but he gets over it and listens. Then he gets to go out once he’s untacked. I usually have to catch him after about 15 minutes because he suddenly decides it’s time to buck and spin and bounce around, probably a little too much for where we’re at in his recovery process. But he looks sound?

mmmm yummy dirt

I hope we are cleared to trot after our next appointment (which is July 8). That would go a long way in expending more of his energy, and I would feel more comfortable about him being in turnout for longer periods of time. He just has SO MUCH unexpended energy and it’s tough to contain.

Loving the Salentos! They just need to drop about a 1/2 inch and I’m set.

I have also discovered the Banixx shampoo does a great job of getting rid of Eli’s elbow dandruff. Nothing much else has worked, so I am glad I picked up a bottle of this. It does a good job of keeping his hind cannons in good shape, too. And the top of his tail! No dandruff, no scurf, no rubs. Definitely worth the price.

no shortage of grass

Summer-Ready Tack

We left the arena. There was much rejoicing.

It’s about time to get back to truly horsey things up in here. Eli may not be in full work, but I wanted to get him an open front boot with more ventilation compared to his Veredus, which have none. I also wanted to pick up another nylon girth for him, as his oldest one is getting a bit too stretched out in the elastic area. I was able to find both at which I had a 30% code for, so I got a really good deal on both the boots and the girth.

Starting with the boots … did you know carries Majyk Equipe boots? That was certainly a nice surprise. And they have the Boyd Martin show jumping series, which have both ventilation and a non-neoprene lining. Plus they have my favorite hook/stud closures for easy on and off.

They are on sale for $60 right now, and I got the 30% off on top of that! I don’t know if anywhere else can beat that price. Of course, at the time of this writing, they only had 1 pair left in full … and 3 pairs left of the matching hind boots. also has a good selection of girths. They have my favorite, the Lettia Clik Coolmax nylon/fleece girth. I wasn’t ready to commit to that price again when Eli has one already that is in good shape, but also have a Henri de Rivel Equicool fleece girth that met my expectations in price and features.

I ordered the 52. Eli typically wears a 50 or 52 in the Lettia girths, so knowing he’s a bit fat (for once in his life) I thought a 52 would be the way to go.

I actually probably could have got a 54 — the Henri de Rivel Equicool girth seems to run a bit small, so I would recommend sizing up. But of course, a lot depends on the billets of your saddle, too. I would say this 52 fits like a Lettia 50. I also LOVE the dark navy elastic.

And right now you can get 20% off Henri de Rivel products at with the code HENRIDERIVEL20S or even 20% off the entire site with SASBR20! I wonder if the 20% off Equine Couture coupon code means I should buy the Beatta breeches in berry?

I got myself ready for summer, too, of course. I started wearing my Trauma Void helmet again because it’s lightweight and fairly well ventilated, plus the Equivisor.

The black actually cuts down on glare quite a bit. And I need all the help I can get with that!

Death to All Yellow Jackets

I had hoped to share a slightly more fun post than this one, but now I’m just out for revenge against anything with a stinger. Why I thought it might be fun was because I paddocked at a local show on Saturday, and as it was the rain date it was small but enjoyable, and it’s nice to hang out with the Austin h/j community if you like snacks, saintly horses, and neuroses. My plan had been to post about what all goes into being a paddock master … until I discovered I needed hazard pay.

As it is wont to happen occasionally at a small show, if you are paddock master you are also jump crew. Before classes got underway, a trainer brought to my attention that a jump had to go both ways. I “borrowed” another flower box from a different jump to create a similar ground line on both sides of the fence. So the jump I borrowed it from need some fill back. I grabbed a brush box from somewhere and started moving it … and felt a fire ant bite on my arm. I looked down and it was a yellow jacket. He had brought friends. Apparently the brush box was home to a yellow jacket colony, so it was not going to stay in my arena. (Also how did no one notice this sooner? Presumably the jumps were moved around a lot Friday night while setting courses?) A trainer came in the ring to help me toss the offending brush box over the rail and my trainer came over with wasp spray and drowned the yellow jackets in deadly chemicals.

I still had to play jump crew and musical brush boxes a few more times, but we were done by 2:30pm so really it wasn’t too bad. The yellow jacket sting felt sore but actually wasn’t that bad so I figured I’d take some Benadryl before bed.

I woke at 3am with a horrendously itchy arm on fire. I took more Benadryl and hoped for the best. At a more reasonable hour of the morning, I took Conrad on a walk and my arm was still itchy. The sting had swelled up and reddened. But that wasn’t the only itchy part — basically my entire arm from wrist to elbow itched. I took more Benadryl, slathered cortisone all over my arm (which helped exactly two minutes) and iced the sting. Then I had to go about my day. I just wore one of my long sleeve shirts for sun protection but also hopefully to forget about my arm. But I could tell throughout the day that it was getting worse. My arm was hot and tight and the redness was spreading. I borrowed one of Eli’s ice boots after taking him on a walk. The icing provided the most relief. I iced more once I got home and took even more Benadryl. I slept through the night this time, but woke up with a bright red itchy arm with an area of tightness nearest the sting and an ache all up and down my arm to the shoulder.

Luckily, we have an in-house nurse at work (when you work in 1,000,000 sq ft of office space you get a dedicated nurse) so I thought it would be easier to just go see her than trying to go to urgent care. After discussing the whole thing and looking at and poking around my arm, she said she had concerns that this was turning into cellulitis. Like the texture of my flesh was troubling. Eesh.

Really, yellow jacket? Cellulitis? I am killing everything that buzzes from now on. Butterflies can pick up the pollinator slack.

So now I get to fill a few prescriptions after work and hope my arm starts to feel better in a few days. I really want to just scratch my skin off, but I think I can make it one more day without doing that … I actually cut the toes out of some knee highs to wear as a base layer arm sock under my regular shirt. I have no idea why this helps, but it stops me from digging at my skin directly with my nails. I don’t handle itching well at all. I would rather be in pain.

The Day Finally Came

wait … boots?

I thought I’d be riding Eli after work on Tuesday this week, but weather and traffic had other plans. I had enough light left to let him roam and/or buck around a turnout again, and hand walked him around the barn again.

immediately curious about everything outside of the arena

But yesterday, I finally got to ride Eli for the first time since before Easter. As per the plan his vet set forth for us, we walked for 15 minutes.

All of Eli’s buttons at the walk still seemed to work well, so that was a relief. I am not sure what I thought would happen — he’s clever about the aids most of the time so in retrospect I suppose he’d not forget any of that stuff. Why would he? I stayed in the arena this time, but may venture outside of it over the weekend.

And after we walked, I turned out Eli into one of the paddocks again before rinsing him off, in case he wanted another good roll. He actually didn’t roll, but just kind of snuffed around. I was starting to cut into his feeding time, so I think he may have been looking for minuscule hay scraps or something pathetic like that.

I am hopeful another ride will be in the cards this evening! I forgot my watch (that I got specifically for timing our walks so I wouldn’t have to check my phone) so I’ll have to set a timer on my phone which seems dumb but oh well.

Eli will be just walking until July, when he will be rechecked again.

Small Big Step

Initially, I thought Eli would be getting shoes Wednesday. And let me just tell you, he needed them. Being two weeks overdue does not look good on this kid.

Of course his right hind is the one with the worst angle, too

Fast forward to yesterday. That’s when he got shoes. And what a relief, because his feet look a lot better. He’s never going to have much heel anywhere, but I’ll take what I can get. And hopefully I will be able to keep him on a five-week schedule.

Improvement. It’s gonna take more than one setting, of course.

But since he got shoes, I can ride him and re-introduce him to turnout! I didn’t have my tall boots with me yesterday because honestly I wasn’t even sure whether or when he’d get shod. But I did give him a little turnout time.

It is going to be a challenge keeping him quiet in turnout. He walked around and rolled, which is fine, but then once he got up from that good roll he was like F YEAH TURNOUT. He was trying to get me to run around with him, I think? He wasn’t so much running as leaping and striking out and doing a very large trot. Fortunately, he couldn’t go far, and wasn’t moving all that fast, so I grabbed him and stuck him in front of a fan in the cross-ties.

we will still be doing a lot of grazing while the grass isn’t fried yet

Today I have my tall boots with me! The plan is to start Eli with 15 minutes of walking under saddle, and add 5 minutes each week until the vet checks him again in a month.

The Sunscreen You’ve Been Looking For (If You’re Me)

I have been on a search for mineral sunscreen for my face that doesn’t have zinc oxide in it. I am divorcing from the chemical sunscreens, primarily from the press they’ve been getting lately – they destroy coral. Not okay. They also may leach into your bloodstream, but I am less concerned about that because we don’t know whether that’s bad or not yet. On a more personal note, my skin doesn’t react well to the chemical sunscreens, either.

But I also seem to be allergic, or at least hypersensitive, to zinc oxide. I discovered this allergy over time, partly from getting rashes around my waist after wearing cheap belts (although that could also be from nickel), and partly from trying a variety of brands of baby sunscreen, all of which have zinc oxide – sometimes a lot of it. The common denominator among the mineral baby sunscreens I tried was zinc oxide in concentrations of 20% or higher. And EVERY TIME my skin would shortly looks like a tomato with small pox.

So I started looking for something with only titanium dioxide as the active ingredient in it. A long time ago, I used the Elta MD face sunscreen. This wasn’t too successful, because that also irritated my skin. Plus it had the irritating aspect of only being available from doctors at the time I was using it. After that, I found the Garnier BB cream, which uses titanium dioxide but also a chemical sunscreen. I used it for a few years, not finding much else on the market, but I felt like my skin was still a bit irritated by it.

I started searching … googling “mineral sunscreens without zinc oxide” or variants of that phrase mostly turned up sunscreens with zinc oxide, but it also turned up a brand I had heard of but had no experience with: Coola.

I started browsing the different Coola sunscreens, still finding quite a few with zinc oxide and some with chemical sunscreens. And then FINALLY I clicked on the Coola Rosilliance BB cream. The ONLY sunscreen in it is titanium dioxide.

maybe it’s the stem cells

So, of course my skin wants $52 BB cream … but after years of searching, I wasn’t going to not try it.

“farm to face” …

It has a tint and smells kind of like roses. It goes on smoothly with sheer, somewhat “dewy” coverage (i.e., not matte). But the best part? My skin is finally calming the f down. The Coola seems to be healing the dry, raw skin I get on my chin and jawline. Rosacea symptoms have diminished.  My skin still needs a lot of help and this sunscreen is too sheer to cover sun damage, but it doesn’t make my skin angry! Not a lot of stuff out there fits that bill! I’ll be using this stuff all summer, and I hope it lasts a while for the price. Titanium dioxide AND healing powers? I think I might buy a second bottle to keep in my purse or barn backpack. This stuff is too good.

I have no idea if any of y’all are sensitive to zinc oxide, or how many of y’all want to ditch chemical sunscreens, or whether any of y’all are struggling with rosacea, but this is a great option if so. Coola is expensive for what I have spent on sunscreens in the past, but so far it seems to be well worth the price.

25 More Questions

First, thank you all for the kind words of support and encouragement about Eli’s progress. Eli says thanks, too.

Now, stealing content from the $900 facebook pony, who borrowed from Viva Carlos … I am not on tumblr so I have no idea who should get credit for originating the questions.

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?
I grab Eli’s halter from my tack locker and go get him. If I don’t do this immediately, he starts yelling at me.

We have a standing 7pm grazing appointment daily.

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?
I don’t know. I can’t imagine that I would have occasion to own any breed of draft horse but I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. You never know. I could win the lottery and start a horse rescue and welcome neglected draft horses into my life. Never say never, unless you actually want what you just said never about to happen.

3. Describe your last ride?
Sunset hack on a TB mare over a week ago.

Or maybe it was the grey gelding? I don’t remember.

4. Have any irrational riding fears?
No … of course not … my fears are rational. And they are of rotational falls. Or rather, of catastrophic injuries to horse and rider due to a rotational fall.

best lesson horse in the universe!

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?
This is both hard and easy, because I love so many lesson horses, which makes narrowing it down to one difficult. But not impossible because one of my all time favorite horses ever is now a lesson horse. His name is Skip and he is perfect, no matter his job. He also recently had his top teeth removed due to gum disease (I think he had that EOTRH thing but not sure), and this makes him even more perfect. He is literally perfect. And oh crap I just realized that one of my own horses was the world’s awesomest applebooty lesson horse so maybe this is a tie. I hate ties. But my answer is Skip AND Anchor.

also best lesson horse in the universe!

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?
I probably will not ever lease out Eli. However, my three previous horses were all leased/free-leased/borrowed at some point in their careers so I am not at all opposed to the idea. Again, never say never.

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?
No, thank you.

8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?
Every day, most of the time.

not missing this face if I can help it

9. Favorite thing to do on an “easy day” with your pony?
Bathe and graze in the sun. We take “easy” seriously.

easy like Sunday morning … considering spooking over the sound of a distant donkey braying

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?
Excessively short back or neck. I am not a fan of thick throatlatches, either. Too long or too short pasterns give me pause.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?
Oh, I do so enjoy being told I am on the wrong diagonal … yes it still happens because sometimes I am paying attention to something else, to the overall detriment of my riding. But it’s also hilarious.

12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?
No. Why don’t YOU come here and ride Eli without stirrups for a month, instead? I am sure he’d love that. If I had an Anchor or a Skip I would be more amenable to it, though. I did no stirrup work at the end of almost every ride daily for years on my little black horse, so I do understand the value of riding without stirrups.

13. What is your grooming routine?
Wipe nostrils with baby wipes. Pick feet. Curry. Brush mane and tail. Brush coat. Paint or treat feet. Wipe fly spray everywhere.

he loves him some baby wipes

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?
Right now his days are pathetic because he is on stall rest. So his day is stall rest, with about an hour outside of his stall to graze, get groomed, and hand walk. Otherwise he would be out of his stall 4-6 hours a day in turnout and work. Eating or napping the rest of the time in his stall. Night turnout is going to gradually be instituted at Hilltop soon, but I am not sure Eli would be a candidate for that. I have had rotten luck with night turnout in the past and am leery of it. Considering he has jumped out of paddocks and the round pen before, I have nightmares about that happening at 3am when no one is awake to notice.

15. Favorite season for riding?
Whatever season not-winter is.

16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?
Outdoor but covered.

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?
A good working ranch horse is the marvelous treasure of the American West.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?
Probably about what Eli wears now. Might get the saddle and bits custom, I guess. And I guess I could fork over for some new Edgewood strap goods.

19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?
Eli has 3 sheets and a blanket. I blanket him when it’s cold. Cold is subjective, and Eli is a hot weather horse. So he wears clothes a lot during winter.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?
Eli loves Gala apples and Stud Muffins. He likes Mrs. Pastures, too. He won’t say no to carrots, and two of his supplements are in treat form and he loves them, too, especially the omega one. He likes the tops of his shoulders scratched, like right in front of the withers.

21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?
I like where I broad my horse. And not having a covered isn’t exactly driving me crazy but if I could wave a magic wand and get a covered built there, I’d do that.

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?
Short — pulled or trimmed appropriately.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?
Do you mean emotionally or physically or what?

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?
Flips himself over. That’s never an okay response to something. (I have a long long list of things I don’t want in a horse but this one tops it.)

25. Favorite facial marking?
Any and all! Super asymmetrical ones are especially adorable.