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.

That’s a Lot of Snow

For here, anyway, in Central Texas. I got like 6 inches of snow at my house! It snowed ALL DAY. That just … doesn’t really happen here.

I really don’t like snow at all. Snow is pretty and magical for about an hour, then it’s just cold, wet, and hazardous to tree branches. Some of which snapped loudly as though someone fired a rifle just on the other side of the fence. 

Cardinals do look really good in snow, though. I am sure the ones here were surprised AF. Conrad was also surprised.

I did not think I would ever need snow boots for my dog, but he could have used them on Sunday.

I am pretty sure I am satisfied with the amount of snow that has fallen at my house in 2021 for the next 30 years or so. 

The snow was nicer than the usual ice storm we get around this time of year, at least, so perhaps we’ve dodged that bullet? Ha, yeah right. 2021 seems to be continuing in the tradition of 2020 but on steroids so I am sure we will get an ice day before the end of February. 

I am ready for warmer weather now for sure!

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!

Weenie Wednesday

Conrad update! He had a minor surgery a while back and was a bit restricted in his movements. He also did not enjoy wearing a tshirt inside.

But his stitches have come out and he is busy sleeping, or enjoying sunny weather, or eating, or enjoying cold weather slightly less than he enjoys sunny weather.

Maybe he needs sunglasses? Our walks have been short and we are still avoiding the park for now, mainly in an effort to avoid people but he doesn’t seem to mind the shorter, slower walks because I give him as much time as he wants to smell everything.

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!