Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mosquito Bites, Tiger Balm and Fly Spray

Went to ride after work today. We had heavy rain late last night into the morning and everything is soggy. When it rains heavily, the mosquitoes get really bad at the new barn. They owners have two huge fans blowing through the barn to move the air and keep the bugs away and it does help but today was buggy even with the fans.

Poor Joey, he was miserable. Stomping flies as I tried to groom him, then to add insult to injury, the girl came to feed dinner as I saddled up. I kept stuffing handfulls of hay in his mouth since I felt sorry for him but I finished tacking up and out we went.

I planned on a short half hour ride, just walking and trotting because the bugs were so annoying. I swear at this time of year the critters just huff the fly spray and party on. I mounted up and once we were moving Joey seemed to get a little relief.

I kept my promise, 30 uneventful minutes later I dismounted and brought Joey back to the barn. I felt so bad for my hungry pony that I untacked him and then let him into his stall to start eating his hay as I finished up brushing him and adding another coat of fly spray. Once I finished brushing him down then he got his grain. I swear he sighed in relief.

Fly Spray - okay, here's where I need opinions from some of you folks in the steamy south, what brand of fly spray do you find really works to keep the flys and especially the skeeters away from your horse? I tried Mosquito Halt and it worked a little better than the Bronco stuff I normally use but how toxic do I need to get before my horse gets some relief?

And as for the Tiger Balm, well, I figured I'd spread the news that Tiger Balm works great to stop the itch from mosquito bites. I read it somewhere in some forum online and when I woke up at 2AM last night with 3 nasty, aggravatingly itchy bites on my leg I tried it.
You use a Q-tip and rub the Tiger Balm into the welt for about a minute. Then the itch is just gone! I was so happy it worked! Thank you internet!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Good Weekend

So I rode both Saturday and Sunday and Joey was a rock star as usual. There were lots of jumps set up as the barn owner's daughter was prepping for competition at the Hampton Classic on Sunday. I played with the cross-rail, LOL. I also was daring and trotted him over the small liverpool she had set up. Joey jumped it with no hesitation and better than the cross-rail.

The best part was on Sunday, as I rolled up the driveway toward the barn, Joey was lounging in his paddock. I rolled down the car window and called out to him, "Hey Pony, whatcha doin'?". His head lifted and he watched the car as I parked at the barn.

As I got out of the car and walked to the stable I called him again and he started to stroll up towards his stall. Then he stopped, he never took his eyes off me the entire time. I went into the barn and was now out of his sight. I stood in front of his stall, opened the door and called him again.

There was the thunder of hooves and Joey burst into his stall at a trot and came right over to me sniffing my shirt and nuzzling me. Mind you, he doesn't get treats right away when I arrive at the barn and those are always in his bucket. So I guess it was the scratches and nose rubs he was interested in.

But after the past week or so of worrying about what was, I was really happy that he reminded me what IS!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pictures from Joey & I at our first Horse Show

Well, they were pricey, and it's taken awhile but I caved in and bought two of the pictures from Joey's first Horse Show. They arrived the other day and now seems like the best time to share them here. Both pictures are ©Bruce Smith of Digital Hoofprints.

We competed in the English Hunter Pleasure horse division. I know, he's a little too "framed up" for a pleasure hunter flat class. Too many years in the Hunt Seat Equitation ring, LOL.

Here we are in the line-up. He looks so cute here. 

There was only one other competitor in the classes besides me. Actually, we were joking with each other when were entering the ring that everyone else was afraid to ride against us!

But for my first horse show experience with Joey, I didn't care. It was a great day as I posted before and  I don't know about you, but my pony looks pretty happy with himself in both shots!

I know I was very proud of him!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

And by the way...

I rode my horse this evening, and Joey was a good boy.

The rest of the story.

Thanks for all the constructive comments. It reinforced the positive for me and I appreciate it.

After processing it all further, I guess I should be satisfied the original owner told me what she knew. I have struggled with whether it's good or not for me to put his past to words but I guess it doesn't really matter all that much at this point. Y'all know now there's a skeleton in his closet anyway, if I tell, maybe to some of you it won't even sound all that unusual.

In the beginning, Joey was one of the stars of her young sale prospects. He broke well to saddle, was very calm, kind and willing. All the things she presented him as on his page, he was.

Then he was sold, and she got good money for him. I don't know how long after that it happened but apparently he bolted or spooked badly and ran off with his new owner, causing her injury. New owner's trainer tried working with the horse and he did it to her, going through a fence and sending her to the hospital. Joey was returned to the original owner and traded in for a different horse but the damage was done. It was also revealed he was returned with a sore back, like extremely sensitive over the lumbar vertebrae. (I've never noticed any extreme reactiveness or pain in his back.) My first thought was my God, what did they do to him?

The owner tried to salvage her investment by having her trainer work with him and he went along okay for awhile and then did it again to her trainer. I don't think her trainer was hurt but the horse was deemed unfit for riding by the original owner. She also said he failed a vetting after he was returned and she pointed out the lump on his fetlock that I noticed in my own studying of his legs. (I had that fetlock x-rayed in my vetting of Joey and my vet said it was a "callous" on the bone, that he was not sensitive in that area and it would not affect him as a pleasure horse. He also passed the ridden flexion test in my vet exam, too.) He was supposedly sold from there as a pasture pet only. In all, she must have lost a lot of money with him and wasn't about to put any more into him with a damaged history. Obviously, he no longer fit her profile of the quiet, safe horses she sells.

And surprise, I call out of the blue maybe 2 years after horse is gone and tell her I have this horse and have been riding and working with him for a year and he's wonderful and the nicest horse ever and I just wanted her to know such a nice horse is safe with me. I guess she was caught off guard, too. She seemed surprised to hear the horse went on to a different dealer (who I bought him from).

She warned me he'd do it again. Out of the blue, with no warning. I said well, it's been a year and I've never had anything like that happen under saddle. She said well, she had him in her rotation for a year before he was sold and he never did anything like it and then it happened. She told me at the very least, never to allow anyone else to ride him. As I think on it now, it bothers me that she kept blaming the horse.

I know Joey is a sensitive horse. He is calm and by all appearances bombproof but will not tolerate heavy handling. He has so much "try" and will go along with almost every task I've asked of him. He's never refused any jump I've put in front of him. But I've moved slowly, I wanted to "take as long as it takes" for us to become partners.

One thing I noticed almost immediately after starting with him, he's very wary of crops and whips and you have to be very savvy in your use of these tools. I carried one in the beginning because he's so lethargic and was surprised how as soon as he saw it in my hand, he became worried and had trouble focusing. I noted that - especially since Monty also had a very big fear of whips and crops. But my experience with Monty taught me how to be very subtle with that tool and I have to say, Joey has become much better about me using it.

Hmm, Monty also was started in Virginia and fox hunted early in his career. Same fear. Just sayin'.

I had one instance in a lesson where my trainer told me to ask for a lead change after a small jump as we cantered to the corner. I just tickled Joey with a dressage whip behind my outside leg to emphasize my "ask" and he zoomed off into a gallop from fear of that little touch. But I simply circled him, told him a gentle "whoa" and he stopped immediately. Then we settled him and joked about how the poor thing is scared of the whip and we will definitely not be using that method to ask him for a long time.

After I described his past to my trainer, he said well, maybe that explains a little more why he's so scared of the whip. Maybe it had some part in his bad experience.

Now that I know what breeds go into Joey's genetics, obviously he's presenting more Thoroughbred than most of her crosses and though he looks drafty, there's a very sensitive, emotional horse in there. Maybe the problem was, he was sold and handled as a bombproof draft cross but needed to be ridden a little more as if he is a Thoroughbred. Which is exactly how I've been handling him. Because that's how I had to ride Monty, too.

One more thing, when I had his teeth floated this past fall, the vet said the poor horses' teeth looked as if they'd never been taken care of. He had hooks and a few ulcers in his cheeks from the condition of his teeth. If that is true, we have all heard stories of horses reacting badly in the bridle due to pain in their teeth.

Anyway, I could speculate and ramble on but I think it's all said. We move forward. We build on all the many good things so far in our partnership and we progress.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Well, suffice it to say, I did have a phone conversation with the farm owner where Joey came from. And it wasn't what I expected. I'm not sure how much I want to share, but the horse I have worked with and loved for just over a year didn't exactly match up with the horse she described to me.

I was stunned, disappointed and taken aback. What I can share is that he does have the American Warmblood Society brand and there are no registration papers available for the horse.

I spoke with my trainer about the phone call. He listened and then said he was glad I called as it might explain some of Joey's quirks that we've noticed and worked through. He also reassured me that if there are any dramatic issues with the horse, that after riding him and working with him for just over a year the odds are high we would have already seen it. He told me I'm an experienced, sensitive horseman and rider and I offer my horse considerate training and consistent quality vet, dental and farrier care. Everything is in the horses' favor to succeed and I should continue to ride and work with him.

Logically I know he is right. Emotionally, I wish I'd never gone searching. Ignorance is bliss but I guess informed is enlightened.

When you get a horse from a horse dealer, you get what you get. My trainer and I both knew this when we decided on Joey. This horse probably was pulled from an auction but we both felt he had potential to be a good horse with me. His past is most likely how he wound up changing hands and at an auction. That I even put this much together and found out where he started is a miracle in and of itself.

I thought Joey was rescuing me when maybe I was rescuing him.

So, the cowgirl in this English rider now wants more than anything to show that Joey's past is where it belongs - in the past. Every day is a new day. That his partnership with me is the better part of his journey. That I am his "Journey's End" just as I feel he is mine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

OMG! I found him!

More searching with Google and more studying Joey's stifle. The more I look the more I'm convinced there is a brand there. It looks like a hot brand but the faint outline is there. It's hard to capture on my phone's camera but in person it is there.

So this morning I'm Googling some more and then it happens, I open a web page and there is my horse's sale page! My hands start shaking as I scroll down and I have this lump in my throat looking at all the pictures of him - foxhunting!! I watched his sale video, and he is still the same lovely horse.

It's definitely him. One thing about a painted pony is the markings don't lie. I can't believe it took me a year to actually do this. (Yes, this past August 4th it was one year ago I found my Good Horse) I guess I just took all information given to me on faith and was just so happy that Joey was so good to me. After what I went through I didn't want more than that. But this faint brand marking has stirred my curiosity.

I emailed the farm where he came from asking for any information they are willing to share about him. And I told them at the very least, I just wanted them to know he's safe, loved and has a forever home. I wonder if they'll answer me.

Click the link, and meet "Rembrandt" - now known as Joey.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Does Joey have an American Warmblood brand?

So the other day I was hand grazing Joey after a good scrubby bubble bath. As the sun is glistening on his damp coat, I'm admiring my chubby, handsome pony when I notice something on his left stifle area. Something I never actually caught before and it never occurred to me to even look. There seemed to be a very, very faint marking in the fur. The longer I stared at it and moved around him in the direct sunlight the more I was convinced there was something there. It almost looked like an uppercase "A" and these curvy things on the top at both sides. I rubbed the fur, smoothed the fur, even rewet it and tried to make it go away but I still noticed it if I stared long enough.

When he dried, it was almost non existent. When I went home I Googled different kinds of horse brands and there it was:

This is the brand for the American Warmblood Society. 

I now was even more curious, so the next day I went out to graze him again. I wet the fur on his stifle on the left side and took some pictures with the camera on my phone. Here's the best picture I took:

Look at this very carefully. Now look at this picture:

Look more carefully at the area circled in white. 

Do you see these lines and points? I added the actual brand to the picture to now help visualize.

Now I slid the brand into place. It seems to line up to what I saw.

Could my horse really have this brand? Would it be this size on a full-grown horse? I couldn't find many pictures online of horses with this brand to compare the size, it does seem a little large but I just don't know...

I know there are cases where horses are branded but the brands are so faint as to be almost impossible to see unless the horse is shaved to the skin. I don't feel like shaving off a patch of Joey's hair right now to look, but maybe if I body clip him in the fall all will be revealed. (I didn't clip him last winter so it would make sense that I wouldn't have noticed this then.)

And what would it mean if he is branded as an American Warmblood? I received no papers for him when I bought him but the brand would mean he is registered and passed some kind of inspection to have it, wouldn't it? So would there be some way to track him down or would that be a waste of time? Anyone familiar with these brands and especially the American Warmblood Society with any insight would be very welcome. :)

I love Joey no matter what he is. But if he is branded, how cool!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Home for Joey and Me

Well, a week ago we took the opportunity and made the move. Joey is now only 15 minutes from my house and from my job. He also now has a big bright stall with his own attached paddock. The stall has a rubber matted floor and the barn is very well ventilated. His stall is always dry and there is no "barn smell" about the place. At this time of the year, he is able to walk in and out, day and night, as the door to his stall is latched to stay open.

He's made friends with the geldings and the mini horse stallion on the one side of his paddock and has learned the mare on the other side prefers to be left alone.

I can have my shoer, vet and trainer. There is a good sized riding ring with sand footing (with no rocks!) that is watered and well maintained. There are lots of jumps of various kinds that I am welcome to use. It's great that the other riders all ride english/hunter/jumper.

The tack room is clean and nice, my big show trunk fits in the corner and there's a place for all my stuff. The best thing is it's locked and alarmed so I feel okay about leaving all my gear there. I have a key to the feed room too, and the hay is fresh and the feed is plentiful. There's even a good sized grazing area where we can graze in hand as long as we want.

It's quiet. I've ridden when the daughter of the barn owner rides once but I mostly have the place to myself when I'm there. And you know what, I like the quiet. My life is so busy and full of people that spending time with Joey alone in a calm, quiet place is so soothing. He's such a good boy and once he saw everything that needed to be seen and snorted at, he has settled down and we have spook free rides - even when the neighbors are in their pool and the dogs are playing in the yard.

I even see him almost every day now, which is another plus. Before the distance to the barn made it so I would only get there 3-4 times a week. Now I can stop in, even if it's just to graze for a few minutes and check his water.

I'm trying to get in touch with my farrier right now to schedule a shoeing. Hope he will come to this place and I don't have to switch.

Joey, just off the trailer and in his new stall.