Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas is over, a new year looms

Another Christmas is over. Hope yours was a merry one. Yesterday I turned to my husband and sighed that I just realized it was the first Christmas in 35 years that I didn't have a horse to call my own. I didn't ask for or want any stable or riding gear. No need. Felt weird. Hope it doesn't become "the new normal".

So we've been gifted with a generous dumping of snow. The kids are psyched about that. Better gift than the Nerf guns they got from Santa. It's weird not to have a horse to worry about and go to check up on when the weather is bad. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't slightly a relief, too. See, the "new normal".

I can say that as much as I thought 2009 sucked, 2010 really surprised me by sucking as much or more. Will 2011 bring something good? I have no resolutions and no goals for this new year. No dreams means no let-downs.

At least half boarding Ruby has been a brighter spot than I imagined. His owner is a sweet, easy lady to deal with and Ruby is one of those horses it's just a pleasure to ride and work with every time. He has eased my bitterness somewhat but makes me wish for a horse of my own even more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Riddle me this

RANT WARNING: This is not a "sunshine and butterflies" post.

How do you find a horse when your budget is minimal? (and by minimal, I mean 5k or less)

I've been looking and trying horses. All I hear is, "in this economy there are lots of horses needing homes" and "you can find a decent horse for a low price" and "Thoroughbreds are a dime a dozen these days".



Oh yes, there are lots of horses needing homes. The same kind of horses that needed homes before. Old ones. Lame ones. Sick ones. Unbroke ones. Backyard foals. Horses with training/mental issues. And as much as I want a horse of my own, I actually want to ride it. And not just at the walk.

Then, when you find an ad for one that seems within your budget that's pictured with a rider on it's back and hopefully sound and you go to check it out, this is what you get:

- the horse is listed as being 16.2 hands tall when it barely is 16 hands tall and built downhill. Well sorry that just sucks for me because when I say I need a horse 16.2 and up I'm not stroking my ego, I really DO need that tall horse because I'm 5'9" tall and not exactly a small boned gal.

- The horse needs a GPS to get around the arena. That's not just "green" that's WTF is this thing in my mouth and why is this person sitting on me "green".

- the horse isn't up to date with its shots or coggins or hasn't seen a vet in who knows how long. So, how am I supposed to bring it into my barn even if I decide to buy it? I don't think the other boarders are going to be all warm and fuzzy with a case of strangles or God knows what else if my luck keeps it's recent course.

- sometimes I check out horses slightly above my budget and I'm baffled that they are even worse than the ones listed BELOW my price range!

- I find horses in my budget that seem like a good prospect but they are out of state. That will require me taking time off from work, finding a babysitter and spending money to travel to look at them. So unless I am so frickin' sure this horse is going to rock my world I have to scratch them off my list.

- I tried one horse who had gaits so rough that my lower back was hurting by the time I got to the canter. Sorry. No. Whatever years I have left in the saddle, I don't need to live on Advil and wear a back brace to try and ride.

- horse is not traveling right behind and he's only 6 years old. I'm told he is a little stiff today and needs to warm up. At 6 years old? No - how about - his hocks are shot already and you'll be paying for injections until he's burned out in a few more years.

- horse is obviously somewhat underweight when you go to try him and you're told he's been sitting around doing no work because of any number of reasons so he isn't muscled up. You ride the horse and he's kind of quiet if you have REALLY soft hands but gets forward to the jumps. And you think to yourself, as soon as the weight is put on and you add proper muscling I'm going to need a gag to take him for a walk.

- You see the horse is wearing a huge, ugly cribbing collar when they bring him out to be tacked up. Just NO. Monty turned out to be a cribber after I bought him and I HATE cribbing collars and having to deal with that but thankfully Monty was so damn cute and wonderful that I didn't care and he gave up cribbing when I moved into the vet's barn. So, if the horse is wearing a cribbing collar he'd better be a stunner to look at and blow me away with his manners and skills before I'll go there.

- I live in fear of finding one I really like, then having it vetted and paying a bunch of money to find out it is a mess and then I'm a little more broke and still horseless.

See, I have a problem. I know too much. Monty set a bar so high for me to know what a good horse should be that you can't sell me on promises. I wanted to believe in potential when I took on Rugby but after what happened to me with him I'm just bitter on top of everything else. Yeah, I understand no horse is perfect, but I am very aware of what imperfections can be dealt with and which are just NO.

My frustration grows each time I look at a horse and my time is wasted. And it isn't going to get better in my budget.

Am I whining? Maybe, and I don't give a fat rat's ass. This all just sucks. I hate what's happened to me. I didn't deserve it, I can't fix it and unless I win a lottery I won't be able to change it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

They just KNOW

My favorite days of the week are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They are the days I get to ride and spend time with Ruby. You don't realize what a luxury owning your own horse is until you only get a certain 3 days to spend with the one you half board. Now, even if the weather is freezing or raining or if I'm feeling unwell, I HAVE to go or I miss whatever time I get to ride. This is not something I'm used to at all but it's the hand I've been dealt.

Ruby makes it worth the trip. When I walk in the barn and call his name, he comes to the door and looks out. When he sees me I get a happy nicker. That will always make me smile. If he's outside in his turn-out when I get there, he'll nicker when he sees me coming to catch him out there, too.

One day when I came to the barn to ride, Ruby did his usual whinny when he saw me and was watching my every move as I gathered all my tack and grooming stuff to get ready to ride. While I had him on cross ties and was brushing him he was nuzzling me every time I walked around him to work on his other side. One of the boarders was watching him and she knew him from his horse show days with his previous owner. She commented she doesn't remember him being so affectionate with anyone like this before. I was surprised, I figured this was just him. So I told her, maybe he just knows I need a little more horsey love than most people with all the bad luck I've had lately.

And it's not just him. The horse who lives next to Ruby and the one across from him put their heads out while I have Ruby on the cross ties and try to get my attention while I'm grooming him. I always blow into their nostrils to say "hello" and rub their faces and they keep coming back for more. Ruby's neighbor will actually stretch his neck and reach out to me with his muzzle if I catch his eye. He just begs for my attention.

I just figure they are good natured horses and curious. Maybe they just want in on Ruby's treat action. But I like to think they know it means so much to me right now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Santa -

Dear Santa,

Remember all those times when I was little how I always asked for a horse? Remember how I promised I'd take good care of it and would love it forever? In your vast wisdom of how children work, you always saw to it that I received one or two beautiful Breyer horses, knowing they were the most I could handle at that age.
You know what, Santa, I kept my promise. I still have those Breyer horses. Even after all the years of our imaginary adventures and playtime they are clean, unbroken and stored neatly in dustproof bags. And you know what? Now they are slowly returning to being cherished playthings for my own children.
So Santa, I know it's been years, but this time I'm going to ask for the same thing again but as an adult, and as an adult who has proven she can take care of a real, live horse.

Santa, would you please find me a horse for Christmas? Trying to find the right one by myself is so hard. I know if anyone can do it, it's you.

And I promise, I'll take good care of it and love it forever.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks - for what?

Okay, yes, I'm thankful for the typical things. My family, my health, my job, my friends, etc.

As far as the horses go, I'm still thankful for my passion for them. My memories are filled with some of my greatest moments of joy from having horses in my life.

Unfortunately, that love comes with a dark, painful side, of which I have been "blessed" with far too much lately, in my own opinion.

So, be thankful if you have not had to walk the path I have over the past two years.

If you have been there, then I am thankful I'm not alone, and that I can be there for you with total understanding.

And thank you, if you've stayed with "A Good Horse" through all of this.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Animals in War Memorial

A day late but still worth checking out. I came across this site awhile ago and thought the monument was lovely. Animals in War Memorial The web page is an interesting read and gives information about all the animals who served their countries in conflict.

This painting of "Goodbye Old Man" by Fortunino Matania is one of my bittersweet favorites.

This is the accompanying poem from the same page by the Great War poet Henry Chappell (1874-1937) called "A Soldier's Kiss":

Crying now? I am.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Awkward moment...

I'm at the barn grooming Ruby before saddling up. Another boarder is also tacking up and getting ready for her lesson. We're having polite conversation as she's also a student of my trainer and she's going on about her lesson and the show she's going to this weekend. Then she asks me about Ruby. Seems his owner comes to the barn at odd hours because of her schedule so the only person most of the boarders have come to associate with him is me. I explain how I'm just half-boarding him and while our trainer would like me to take him to a horse show, I feel uncomfortable doing it as he's not my horse and besides, what I really want to do again is hunter paces and maybe fox hunting.

Then she says to me, "Well, have you considered getting your own horse?"

That just stung. A most awkward moment, to say the least.

I know it was said in ignorance, and I explained my circumstances with as little dwelling on my whole horse related drama as I could. What I wanted to do was stomp my foot and say -

"Yes, you stupid twit! I can't think of anything else BUT having my own horse again. As a matter of fact, trying to find a horse on the budget I've been left with has all but broken my spirit as well as my heart. So take your big, handsome horse and do him the justice and the courtesy of riding him correctly and loving him for more than blue ribbons and bragging rights!"

It sucks to be me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Horse Show Ribbon Pillow

That's what I Googled. I want to gather up the little handful of ribbons Monty and I earned in our time together and have something meaningful done with them. I think I have enough for a pillow but will need to search thoroughly to be sure.

Has anyone reading this had a pillow made from their horse show ribbons? Who crafted it for you? Were you happy with the end result? What was the approximate cost? I'm looking for references, contact information and prices and would really appreciate any help from the horse blog community. I have found a few websites of people who do this but would also like some actual commentary from anyone who had one made.

BTW, the pillow above is an example taken from Show

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My autumn

Still half-boarding Ruby. Going into my 4th month as a half boarder. I ride my 3 days a week and I live for my Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at the stable.

How fast do horses form friendships? Within a month, as soon as he heard my voice when I walked into the barn and talked with people, he'd pop his head out over the dutch door and nicker a greeting! I suppose my generosity with treats doesn't hurt, but he'll do it even if I have no treat on me. How nice to have a horsey friend to greet me again, even if he's a "borrowed" friend.

The changes in weather have made Ruby very stiff and creaky. His owner has him on supplements to help but old age and lots of miles will still have their effect. I spend many rides just hacking on a loose rein for a half-hour with lots of walking and short trot/canter sessions in between. It's still more than I was doing with Rugby but there's a different feeling here. I have great respect for an old schoolmaster, who has paid his dues and has earned the right to not have to work hard. I want to do more but feel guilty to push him.

Ah, but the days when I come to ride and he works out of his stiffness are so fun. Taking a jumping lesson again with my instructor and finding that I haven't lost my eye to a line or the thrill of a jump (even a little jump) is uplifting. The flying changes across the diagonal, the turns on the haunches to reverse, riding on no rein contact and using my seat and legs to do figure 8's and riding in the grass field or the trails and not having him spook at every strange thing make me appreciate over and over the gift that a well trained and seasoned horse is.

I'm such a sucker that after his owner had him body clipped, I bought a quarter sheet so I could still ride the old guy on chilly days and his back, hips and haunches would be warm and help keep him from feeling too stiff.

Two more horse prospects have come along, funny that they are both also red horses. There is a chestnut working on the school line that my trainer thought might be a good boy for me but then the horse started acting up in lessons and his opinion of the horse changed. I also went to look at a horse that is for sale locally. He's a young chestnut TB and is currently healing from a hoof abscess. He's very cute and I told the owner that when she feels he's ready to go back to work I'd love to come and try riding him.

I dream that a year from now, I'll be writing on this blog that I'm preparing to enter my first hunter pace with my new horse friend, and the crisp fall air and crunch of leaves will bring joy and excitement instead of such a feeling of melancholy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In a perfect world... just reminiscing

Just wandered through some of my old posts this morning. In a perfect world, This is what I would be doing at this time of year...

A Good Horse: Picture Proof from Hunter Pace: "Okay, I couldn't wait to post so here's one of the proofs from the photographer. The photo is © Leslie Wilson, Photographer. I will order co..."

I miss my friend Monty so much...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Strike out

So, we took the chance. I couldn't bring myself to make the call and my husband called with our agreed upon lowball offer for the red horse. The woman didn't take it. My husband left it that if she can't find a buyer in the range she wants, to reconsider and know the horse will be going to a good home.

I'm okay with that. At least I know where I stand and can close the door here.

So I continue to half board. And it's nice enough - but it's boring.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What do I do?

I want that red horse. His asking price has come down since I tried him out. I have been tempted to make an offer and see if she accepts it. I did like what I felt when riding him. But I'm actually scared she will say, "yes".

Why? For one, he's in PA, not close by. It's not like I can try him once more before I commit to buy without a road trip and stay over. I don't know any vets in PA who could check him over for me and though I have a reliable friend who can put me in touch with someone who may be able to find one for me, I still may not get someone. He needs all his shots. He's only been wormed while being at this place. He has thrush in all four hooves. That's treatable and also not making him lame.

Does he load into a trailer? Good question. Does he stand for clippers? No clue. All I know is he stood on crossties, didn't freak out when my kids were petting him, walk/trot/cantered and swapped his leads with some coaxing and willingly jumped the crossrails without racing to them.

Do I close my eyes and just do this and let fate sort it out? I will admit I have a better feeling inside from the get-go about this guy than I did with Rugby. In one trial, I did more with this horse with no trouble than I did with Rugby in an entire year.

Yeah, I have bills from my last nightmare. But bills I would still have if Rugby had survived. My trainer will probably want to kill me but we've known each other long enough that he'll get over it. ;P

And I do like and appreciate this kind old horse I'm half boarding but this hole in my heart can only be filled with my own horse to love and become a partner with.

I may do something crazy... will let you know.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Disturbing Equines

Who collected model horses as a kid? Who still collects them but only talks about it among others with the same obsession? My model horses were my #1 playthings as a kid. I still have a vast reservoir of Breyer beauties that occasionally descend from my attic to be given to my kids or to be sold on Ebay for needed cash.

So I enjoy checking out the Breyer blogs. I have always held the best custom-makers in highest regard because even though I am an artist, what they can do with a model horse leaves me simply intimidated.

That being said, this little blog is encouraging for those of us who are not going to be messing with their factory issue model horses anytime soon. If these critters were good enough to leave the factory this way, then anything I could do to a Breyer horse would pale by comparison!

Enjoy! This site always makes me smile! Disturbing Equines

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recent Rides

I've been riding as often as I can this past month. Below are pictures of the horse I've been half-boarding at the stable where my riding coach teaches from. The girl who owns this horse is great and we have a good rapport in texting our riding schedule out each week, LOL. The big bay is the horse I nicknamed "Ruby". He's about 19 years old and is a "been there, jumped that" old show horse. He's a great horse to ride and a real gentleman.

And this is a horse I tried out while vacationing in Lancaster, PA with my family. I really liked this big (17 hands!)fellow and he needs a home. I would love to make an offer for him but it's not that simple. He was a sweet guy, under different circumstances I know I'd probably be calling him mine. Anyone in PA looking for a nice big horse that just needs care and a job? I'll give you the details.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Riding Rules for "Older" Horsewomen

From the website. Worth sharing, as I too am an "older" horse woman:

Some RIDING RULES for the, ahem, Older Horse Woman:

• We DO NOT need to show up with our hair combed, makeup on and wearing a clean shirt.

• Moaning, groaning and complaining about aching muscles is perfectly acceptable, as is taking Motrin (or something stronger) prior to a ride.

• Helping someone on or off the horse does not mean the rider is an invalid. It only means the horse got taller overnight.

• No one will comment about how big someone's butt looks in the saddle.

• When a horse is acting up, we will accept that the horse is just having a bad- hair day and it is not the rider's fault.

• Mentioning it is too hot, too dry, too humid, too wet, too buggy, etc., is considered self expression, not whining.

• We will acknowledge that horses are very strange animals and sometimes for no reason at all we fall off of them. If this happens to any rider, the other riders will ascertain that the person is okay and then not mention the incident to another living soul, especially husbands and significant others.

• We will acknowledge, without apology, that riding more than 6 hours increases our grumpy level far more than any ego benefits we may get from riding longer.

• Looking at my bouncing fat is NOT an acceptable way of determining if I have a good seat. My fat always bounces, thank you. It is cushion I carry in case I fall off.

(author of the above rules is unknown)

The following was added by another equestrian on a different site where this was posted. I love this, so for your enjoyment is yet another "rule":
• No OTD (Older Than Dirt) rider shall be asked "What's your discipline?", "Are you showing next weekend?" or "What level are you"? Answers like "I am totally undisciplined", "I showed up today; isn't that enough?", and "Actually I tend to list a bit to the left" will be acceptable should anyone younger than dirt ask those ridiculous questions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Foxhunter's Guide - new fave blog!

Just found my new favorite blog - Foxhunter's Guide. If you have ever hunted or know someone who does, you might find this a fun read! Here's an exerpt that should make you chuckle:

You Might Be A Foxhunter If…

1. You’ve ever been charged with riding while intoxicated.

2. You’ve ever been pulled over on your way to the hunt ball and been asked if the circus is in town.

3. You’ve ever mucked out a stall wearing a tuxedo or an evening gown.

4. You’ve ever peed in a stall while wearing a tuxedo or an evening gown.

5. You have your orthopedist’s private number on speed dial.

6. You can legally claim your vet as a dependent on your income tax forms.

7. You drive a $2000 car and ride a $20,000 horse.

8. The only religious service you regularly attend is Blessing of the Hounds.

9. You think it makes perfect sense that a heavy, dinner-style meal served in late afternoon is referred to as “breakfast.”

10. Your sporting attire is all custom made and the rest of your wardrobe comes from Tractor Supply.

11. You can recite the bloodlines of every hound in your club’s kennels but frequently forget the names of your own children.

12. Gentlemen: You’d rather read Practical Horseman than Playboy.

13. Ladies: You’d rather read Covertside than Cosmo.

14. Your house has a mudroom that’s actually full of mud.

15. You’ve ever been busted for possession of a controlled substance and it turned out to be Ace.

16. You’ve ever run out of Tylenol and used Bute instead.

17. You’ve ever found out that your spouse was having an affair with the huntsman and decided it would be easier to replace the spouse than to find a new huntsman. (Submitted by Harry Kuniansky)

18. You’re only willing to accept a job that allows you to take off at least one weekday from September through March.

19. You can walk through airport security naked and still set off the metal detector.

20. You’ve ever told a paramedic, “If you even think about cutting off my custom-made boots, I will get up off this stretcher and kick your ass!” (To personalize this one, feel free to replace “custom-made boots” with “leather breeches,” “scarlet coat,” or any other garment a thoughtless EMT was approaching with scissors in hand.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Melancholy rant

"But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes." - William Shakespeare - beautifully said by the bard.

Every morning on the way to work I drive past the riding stable down the street from the vet's barn where I was boarding at. And every day I see riders working with their horses in the morning. And every day I am reminded of what I seem unable to have. And it really hurts. I am trying to be upbeat, but let's face it, There is a level of bitterness that I cannot deny.

I have been slowly removing all the horse related emails I'd get from tack and gear retailers. I don't want to know what's new. There's no point, really. I'm trying to clean up my FaceBook page and "unlike" a bunch of horse related sites. I don't want to know about what's new there, either.

I'm still going to ride the horse my trainer suggested this Friday. If I like him, I'll try the half boarding situation. But I have owned my own horse for the past 35 years. Hard to swallow I have to play by someone elses' rules with their horse. Depending on how much freedom I am given with the horse, this will either work for me or not. And I can't shake my dream of foxhunting and I still love the hunter paces which I will never be able to do in this arrangement.

I hate that I am tall and have a large frame. The same problem is going to haunt me until I give this up. I need a big horse. But there are many more affordable horses available that I could even consider if I could ride something between 15.2 and 16.1 hands. If I was about 5'6 and smaller, I might even have been able to find a sound, younger riding horse that I could have adopted. The big ones are hard to find.

I spent so much money trying to save Rugby that the thing I feared has happened to me. I lost him. I owe a lot of money and have nothing. I woudn't wish my luck on anyone.

In a dark place, and bitter. Thank you William Shakespeare for saying it better than ever I could.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hey Lady, need a Ride?

I was given several offers of horses to ride after Rugby was gone. The woman at my barn with several lesson horses offered me her old show horse Petey and I've ridden him twice already. She offered him to me as a free lease but I'm not quite sure if I want to do that. Free lease means I'm responsible for full board and shoes and since I've been wrecked with vet bills from Rugby, she agreed I would not have any responsibility for vet care. Sounds okay except this horse is just too small for me. I can ride him and I have but I know I'm really not a good fit for the old guy.

The vet who cared for Rugby through all this offered me a chance to adopt an OTTB from a client of his who has the horse stabled at Aqueduct. Yesterday I rode to the track with the vet on his rounds and checked out the horse. It was a big Bay gelding, 5 years old who had raced on turf and won about $100k for his owners. He was coming to the end of his racing career and his owners just wanted him to find a good home and were willing to adopt him for free to the right person. The vet was told he'd had some swelling in his rear right fetlock and it had been x-rayed and whatever it was shouldn't affect him as a riding horse. So we checked into it.

The horse was nice enough, not particularly handsome but 16.3 hands - good size. I wasn't crazy about his long, sloping front pasterns but the vet asked to have the horse jogged for me. As soon as the horse jogged off the vet muttered, "off in right front, not hind". He did a flexion test and sure enough, the horse reacted up front. Not so good. We thanked the trainer and as we walked away the vet said softly to me, "even if you like this horse, I'm telling you no". Well, we agreed on that one. The best part of that adventure was I got to see both Aqueduct and Belmont racetracks from the "backstage" view. The stables and paddocks are so interesting. Belmont is incredible, like a city of horses with people as their servants, LOL!

I also have an offer from my trainer, the Master. One of his students has horse that was a big A circuit show horse and won the hack at Harrisburg back in his day. I know this horse because he was about the same age as Monty and we used to compete at the same shows. I'll call this horse Ruby for the blog. This horses' owner hasn't been riding him as much as she used to and the horse is at best a 2'6" jumping horse, now. He can do smaller shows but still go out and perform. The Master spoke with Ruby's owner and she's willing to have me half board him, where I only pay for half the board and half the shoes, no vet care included. Riding time is 3 days a week. The best part is, the horse is a 17 hand warmblood and should be a good match for me physically. This Friday I'm taking a lesson on Ruby with the Master to see if I like him.

The hard part there is, Ruby is stabled at the farm where my children take their lessons and it's about 30-40 minutes away. I've gotten spoiled with the 5 minute trip to the barn I've been at for the last 10 years. But maybe my karma needs a change. I haven't had the best of luck in the last year and a half being there, maybe a change will break the bad karma and something new will have a chance to come to me.

Change is hard. I will miss being in the vet's barn but maybe being at the bigger barn, with more people and show horses something will come my way if I'm out there and seen by more than my little core group of riders at this quiet barn I've enjoyed for all these years. The end of July is fast approaching, will see where I decide to go for August.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Good Ride

The horse blogging community is just an amazing bunch of people. To all those folks, old friends and new, who took the time to stop by my page and share your kind words of care and concern, I say, "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart". You have helped me face this and move through it.

Surprisingly, I feel okay today. I guess you could say I feel "lighter" as if the huge burden of Rugby's health and comfort has been taken from me. It really was for the best to give him into the hands of God and let him be at peace.

My friend at the barn who owns the old horse that Rugby just adored has several lesson horses there. She graciously offered one of her lesson horses, Petey for me to ride. And this morning I decided I would get back out and do it. So I went to the barn this afternoon and my friends were just thrilled to see me again and so soon. Those who were there yesterday when Rugby was put to sleep told me it was the most peaceful, quick and gentle passing I could have hoped for. I was glad to hear he looked comfortable and quiet and everyone gave him a little extra attention throughout the day. My heart felt even lighter at this news.

So I went to meet Petey and saddled up. And as I eased into the tack and walked off on a loose rein I felt such joy. I was RIDING! Riding an old show horse who enjoyed my skill and rewarded me with a lovely walk/trot hack for a half hour. It was blazingly hot and I kept it short as Petey is not exactly fit. Then I hosed him down to cool him off, allowed him to nibble on some grass for 5 minutes and put him away. He turned and gave me an inquisitive look and slobbered on my shirt. Ah, horse slobber! I thanked this old campaigner with a few treats from my arsenal and sat in a chair outside his stall for awhile with just his stall chain across so he could hang out with me, and that's just what he did.

Life is hard, but happiness is out there. There is a world full of horses, and a new journey waiting for me to begin when I am ready.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I love you Rugby

Rugby 2004 - 2010
There is a painted angel who galloped through the gates of heaven today to run free in green fields and wait for the day we meet again. R.I.P, my Big Guy, Rugby.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Laughter amid my tears

After Monty, I promised my children that if Rugby became so sick that he couldn't be made well, that they would get to see him and say goodbye beforehand. So tonight we headed over to the grocery store for a bag of baby peeled carrots and went to see him. Rugby was still managing to stand and eating but so very thin and unsteady on his hind end. He seemed happy to see us and came over at the sound of the carrot bag crinkling.

My children hugged their big friend and he enjoyed their attention and all the baby carrots. I didn't want to try taking him out to graze as I was afraid of him falling. My boys got choked up but didn't cry, they gave Rugby carrots and then frisked off to run around the farm and jump the show jumps like they usually do. Kids have a resiliency that I envy.

I had brought my scissors to snip off some switches of his tail to have a keepsake made. To keep him busy, I gave him another flake of hay and put some baby carrots on top. He busied himself with his treat and I snipped off the first swatch of hair. After rubber banding the first clipping together I went in to get another. Again I offered him another handful of baby carrots. As I bent over to put them on the hay next to his mouth, I heard a loud, "RRRRipp!" and suddenly was aware of a breeze across my tushie.

My old faithful jeans, the most faded, loose and comfy, those of many long trail rides and days spent at the barn decided it was their time too, and simply split open across my rear along the pocket!

I slowly reached around and touched my butt, realized my undies were now on display and I laughed like a banshee. Rugby looked up at me as if I had lost it completely. My kids came running, took one look at mom's pink cotton drawers peeking out of her jeans and howled with laughter. My friend, who's old horse who is Rugby's closest horsey buddy was grooming him outside the stall so he could be with his friend one last time, looked over at my laughter and I turned to flash her and she gasped and cracked up.

Ah, the fates may be cruel but God has a sense of humor. My husband came in to see what all the noise was about and I flashed him, too. He smiled his evil little smile and said, "only you!" Then he chuckled. After that, the mood was lighter. I did tuck the grocery bag into my belt to have some butt coverage. It was the best I could do since my kids kept singing the Spongebob "I ripped my pants" song as long as it was in plain sight!

We gave our Big Guy another hug and left him to peacefully eat his hay. And though I was greatful to my husband for the cold beer we shared when we got home, my heart was lifted more by the simple act of my barn jeans heaving their sigh of relief

(I put one of my silky equestrian scarves inside the opening so the rip would be more visible in this picture.)

Letting Go

Rugby hasn't much strength left. Last night when I went to see him, he was standing in the stall, looking out his window, staring out into the grassy place in the yard. When I said his name he turned to look at me and nickered. I was shocked, he hadn't done that in a long time. I put on his fly mask and halter and took him out to graze.

He walked to the grass with a purpose and was eating greedily but he's begun to drop weight again and now he's very unsteady on his hind legs. Instead of walking on them he lifts them with each step and slowly paddles the air a few inches above the ground before placing them down. Sometimes they buckle and he has to right himself. He's weakening and I can see it is only a matter of time before he just goes down and I don't know if he will be able to get back up.

I let him graze for a long while then slowly led him home to his stall. He walked in carefully and tried to find a comfortable place to stand. I took off his halter and fly mask and he gently rubbed his head against me. Then he did something he hasn't done since before he got sick. He put his head over my shoulder and arched his neck to pull me towards his chest. He used to do this all the time - it was his way of hugging me.

I choked up as he turned and went back to staring out the window. I offered him some of the soft, sweet timothy hay that just came to the barn and he was happy to have it. He was still shifting his hind legs awkwardly and I thought for sure he wasn't going to be able to stand the night. But this morning he was still up and out in turn-out.

I took him out to graze and he's still bad in his hind end. There were two times I feared he'd lose his balance and go down. And I knew it's time to let him go. So I called the vet's office and have asked that they make him comfortable today and tonight, offer him whatever he can eat and tomorrow to have him put down.

I knew why he'd hugged me last night, he was saying goodbye.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I wish I saw what others may see

I know I should probably just have him put down. But Rugby is still here. Yes, they did administer Banamine yesterday afternoon and when I got to the barn last night, he was standing, walked out of his stall with me and down to the grass and hand grazed happily for about 40 minutes. But then when I put him back in the stall, he stood and I could see by the way he became very quiet with his ears slightly back and how he kept shifting his feet that his insides were bothering him again.

I expected a call this morning that he didn't make it through the night. But he did and was out in his turn out paddock at 9:00AM today. I walked down to see him and put his fly mask on as the small gnats were annoying the poor guy. When I work around him and interact with him, he still wants to interact with me. I can obviously see and feel he's not well but I don't feel that will to live is gone. But is he really living now or just existing? God, I don't know.

I contacted the woman with the farm in upstate NY and she has agreed to take him and keep him in her small quarantine pasture with a shed and watch him. I trust this person completely with his care but I'm having difficulty in saying it's a done deal as it will require a long trailering to get him there. Even though I will hire a trailering service to ship him in a box stall gooseneck so he has some comfort level, I don't know if he can handle it at this point. What happens if he colics and dies on the trailer? How horrible for him and what will it cost me to have the trailering service handle that?

I don't want to be ungrateful to her but I am also reaching out to people I trust here and seeing if there's something for him closer to home.

Should I even do this at all? Would it be more peaceful to end it for him here, in familiar surroundings with people he knows? Or do I take the chance and send him away, not feeling well, into a strange new situation, however kind and safe? Am I only hanging on because I have run up HUGE vet bills for my budget and if I lose him I have NOTHING. I have no savings to try and find a new horse but debt that still must be paid. Will I ever be able to own a riding horse again?

Every time I think I can let go, he shows just a little more heart, and acts a little like himself and then I'm torn apart again. Even though I've had to have my past two horses put down, I just KNEW that they had come to the time to let them go. Both circumstances told me immediately my only option. And though it hurt, I was at peace with my decision. I have no clarity, no answers and no peace.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two Difficult Choices

So, as of today's phone conversation with my vet, I am at the fork in the road with two difficult choices.

One fork is to have Rugby euthanized now, before he slips deeper into discomfort and suffers further.

The other direction is to see if a woman my vet and I know and trust is comfortable having Rugby sent to her farm to live on pasture and see if living in the field on grass without the confines of stall and a stalled horses diet will save him. We will send her enough Banamine to keep him comfortable but will take no more measures medically to prolong this. We don't know if he will survive the trip upstate to her place. We don't know if she will feel comfortable with it and agree to a potentially terminal case to be in her care. And I completely understand if she says no.

If she doesn't agree to it then I will not let him suffer any more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We need a Miracle

Long day at work and with family today. My vet called today to tell me Rugby has been laying down for most of the day. He's quiet, but you can tell he's not feeling so great. At this point there isn't much else we can do. The vet strongly suggested we pull one more blood panel and see if we have some revelation, at the very least to help me decide what to do. So I said go ahead.

My husband and I went to see him late tonight. He was laying down. He looks so thin. I went in and sat with him and talked to him and hugged him. He kept reaching his nose toward his water bucket hanging on the wall about a foot above his face so I asked my husband to bring it down for him. He sipped up about a quarter of the pail. I started crying. If he was thirsty and just didn't have the strength to get up for a drink it doesn't look like he's going to win this time.

Just sad. Waiting for what tomorrow brings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Did I speak too soon?

I posted earlier today that it seemed Rugby had the worst behind him and he was slowly progressing toward getting better. Well, tonight I was hit with a call from the vet that he was down in his stall on his side. I went to see him and made him get up so I could walk him. Unfortunately he was showing some of the discomfort signs he'd exhibited in the past when his condition was really bad. The vet gave him a dose of Banamine and that's all we will do. We put him in a larger stall for tonight and we'll see what happens.

I'm shot. I can't do this much longer. Monty died and took all the good luck with him. If I lose Rugby too, I am finished.

I guess where there's life, there's hope

Rugby is still here. He has been through hell and is slowly coming back. At the time I last posted it was pretty bad. I finally requested that my vet just give him antibiotics. This was a suggestion from one of the vets consulted on Rugby's case. My vet was hesitant to do it since he had no idea exactly what he was administering antibiotics for, as nothing definitive has shown up on any tests. My vet was concerned if he gave Rugby antibiotics without knowing what he was treating, we could kill off the good bacteria in his gut and give the bad stuff a chance to get stronger. I saw it as our last chance. If this didn't work, I was finished and if he had another bad episode, I was going to have him euthanized. He has maxed out a credit card, caused me major emotional stress and it's affecting my family.

Things didn't change immediately for Rugby upon introduction of the antibiotics. They were broad spectrum and very strong. We were watching him very carefully and he was being medicated as needed in addition to the antibiotics to keep him stable. Then as the antibiotics ended their course, he just didn't get worse. He wasn't getting better, in fact he dropped even more weight and if I had to guess, his body weight registered about a 2 on the equine body condition score scale. He was stable, but now very. very weak and still laying down a lot.

The vet carefully gave him a judicious dose of steroid to stimulate his appetite and Rugby has slowly but consistently been eating himself back to life. I have been going to see him every evening and hand grazing him for up to 45 minutes. He eats a few "mini meals" throughout the day and at this time I'd give him a 3-3.5 on the BCS scale.

What I am still worried about is his "bottoming out" in his back end. Sometimes when he walks, his hind fetlocks just seem to knuckle over and he stumbles behind but quickly rights himself. The vet feels it is just extreme muscle weakness from the muscle wasting that went on through his illness. As he regains his weight and muscle, his co-ordination should hopefully improve. He's also developed a rather unsettling cough. It's not constant but usually happens when he starts to move. Again, the vet feels this is residual from his illness and it's compounded by the extremely hot and humid weather we've been having here in the northeast.

And slowly, Rugby has been returning to himself. His eyes are brighter and he's more alert. He's happily returned to his "home" stall from the medical barn and I can see he's been gaining weight faster since he's back in the company of his horsey friends. If I jog as I'm leading him, he will gamely try to jog along with me, sometimes he'll even canter a stride or two. Then he'll cough and we quit. He is sniffing my pockets for treats and I have thrown all my hand feeding rules to the wind and buy him a small bag of fresh carrots almost every night and snap them into pieces for him to enjoy.

It really hit me about a week ago, when I came to the barn in the evening on that first really hot day. Rugby was standing under his stall fan, waiting for me to feed him some treats and take him down to the grass. I led him out of the medical barn and noticed a new patient's stall door was open and the lights in the clinic were on. The card on that horses' door read "colic". Never a good sign. About 20 minutes into our grazing time, the vet came to the clinic. And a little while later, I heard the sound of the farm tractor starting up. And my heart sank. At 9:20PM the tractor starting up means only one thing - the poor horse didn't survive the colic, had been put down and now needed to be removed from the clinic for disposal.

I kept grazing Rugby and hoping the removal from the clinic would be finished before I had to stop grazing but it wasn't and I had to stop Rugby's grazing and lead him back to the barn. If I stayed on the grass any longer I was afraid for my own horses' health. So we walked quietly back, and as we passed the remains of the poor, chubby little chestnut who didn't make it, I looked at my big, skinny horse and whispered to him, "You're still here. I don't know how or why but you're still here. That horse was probably feeling well and healthy just 24 hours ago and you have been gravely ill for weeks but you're still here. You don't want to go, do you?" All I got for an answer was a sniff search for treats upon our return to his stall and he dumped my grooming bag to see what was in there, too. For Rugby, that was as good an answer as any. I guess as long as he has someone to spoil him with snacks and love, he wasn't ready to go.

Thank you to all if you kept us in your thoughts. I am sorry I left this blog in limbo but it was too depressing to keep posting about as it all was rolling over me. I just want to believe now that I will get my rideable horse back at the end of all this.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I apologize for the lack of further updates. It has not been very good. Rugby is still alive but he is not well. The ultrasound showed no physical deformities or tumors. The ultrasound specialist is also an equine internist and she and my vet discussed his case and have called other vets about it. Nobody seems to have a definitive answer.

Bloodwork is still not normal. Horse still has rounds of colic symptoms. But one shot of Banamine and he's comfortable again. He eats, he drinks and he passes manure and urine yet he's lost a lot of weight and strength. His coat is shiny, his hooves are growing well yet something has made him very sick. Now he's got swelling along his jaw and behind his throatlatch. It looks as if he has swelling around his cheeks, too. None of the tests, blood, urine or feces have given us an "aha" moment to pinpoint what is going on. I've even gone so far as to let the vet run a tox screen to see if something has been poisoning him.

I have tried all the vets suggested within my means. I have exceeded the purchase price of the horse in vet bills. I cannot afford to go much further with this and it is killing me. I gave up on hope weeks ago and now just wait to see what happens.

I don't know if he'll ever return to full health and I may have a very hard decision to make. So if I do not post it is because if this. If it comes to him either fully recovering from this or being put down I will post but I can't write about this roller coaster I'm on with him, it's too frustrating.

Hug your horse today. If he/she is sound, shiny and healthy, go for a long ride and truly enjoy it. I would give anything to truly enjoy riding mine again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Something's Got to Give

"Horses are different from humans. We have to take responsibility for horses simply because they’re always in our care. They can’t get along without us. They’re forced to live in our world. That’s why the rules have changed: an adult horse in our world is still our responsibility. This doubles the burden for us humans. A human must be responsible for himself and for his horse. And when you succeed in both of those areas, life will be pleasant for you as well as for everyone around you." - Buck Brannaman

Mantra for the day. Actually the past few weeks. Rugby is not doing well again. Were it not for the magic of banamine which he's now needing on an almost daily basis we'd be in deeper trouble. Once he gets the shot, within 20 minutes he's up, alert and looking for food and water. This can last for 24 hours and then he gets uncomfortable again. He's having no problem passing manure or gas so though the symptoms say "colic" it's not exactly the case. Something is bothering his insides and the "phantom colic" episodes are starting to increase. Today an ultrasound specialist is coming to work on him with my vet and see if we can get a non-invasive idea of what in hell is causing him such discomfort.

This was taken last night as I watched Rugby while waiting for the vet to come and give him some relief. He may look cute but don't let that fool you. Prior to this shot he was flat on his side and kicking at his belly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Holding my Breath

Rugby's situation keeps improving but I'm not relaxed about it yet. When I went to see him after work yesterday I was thrilled to find him back in his home stall and out of the medical barn. The I.V. port was out of his neck and he was as alert, standing up and bright as he was the day before. I took him out to graze for 5 minutes and he was devouring the grass with a good appetite. He's been eating bran mashes every day and I don't know that he's being offered much hay. My poor Big Guy looks so skinny to me. You can tell he's lost weight. Now instead of looking like a draft cross, he looks like a Godzilla sized racehorse.

One thing the vet tried different was to give him the Panacur 5-day Power Pack wormer. All our horses in the vet's boarding barn are on strict rotation worming schedules. Rugby was just paste wormed a month ago. The vet felt that maybe since Rugby'd been sick, and his immune system had taken a pounding, if there was a parasite migration going on it might be what is causing him additional stress at this time. So far it seems to be helping but I still feel on high alert.

Monday, May 10, 2010

24 hours later

Rugby got through the night okay and his condition stayed the same from when I last checked on him yesterday. Vet is happy he's comfortable but everyone is baffled by what keeps making him so uncomfortable. He's staying in the medical barn and they are monitoring him and everything this horse ingests. We should have the results of his blood and stool samples by the end of today. When he's showing symptoms, it will make you think of colic but he's still passing manure and wanting to eat. The vet felt no impaction and there's no reflux into his stomach. I'm going to visit him after work and the vet said I can take him out to hand walk and graze him a little.

My poor horse. I think he's tired of being sick, too. He got shoes on Saturday and was a doll for the farrier. I was looking forward to a return to light work under saddle and now this. Many thanks for your "get-better" thoughts. Keep them coming, this Big Guy needs to get past this.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, please say a prayer for Rugby

Not a good Mother's Day. My kids have been laying on the love but my horse, Rugby is very sick again. He's in the medical barn now and the vet is watching him very carefully. He's not colicing in the usual sense of the condition but he's uncomfortable and it seems to be a continuing effect from the sickness that hit him for the last month. More bloodwork being done. I just want him to get well.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Better but still not Well

Rugby has been quite sick. For weeks. For 3 weeks he had the swelling along his belly and in his sheath and occasionally behind his jowls. Every day it looked different, some days it was so swollen that it was hard for me to keep patient and stay with the conservative approach of my vet. As if that wasn't bad enough, then the nasty diarrhea started (not to get too graphic... aww, hell why not - we're talking lift the tail and spray liquid poo in a 5 foot long stream diarrhea). The bloodwork indicated that whatever it was, was attacking his G.I. system and we had to immediately pull him off everything - bute (which we were phasing out anyway from the whole lameness episode) and his usual feed supplements. Then start him on UlcerGuard to stop the irritation and the diarrhea.

Now that belly and sheath swelling has gone down but he's definitely lost weight and his blood counts are still way off. Whatever hit him, hit him like a ton of bricks. I don't know if it was in reaction to his spring shots, a virus, that he ate something that triggered this reaction or God knows what but my guess is he's a pretty lucky horse to be here now.

I feel it may have been almost a "perfect storm" of events. The bute he was on for almost a month to help the lameness issue. Then he got his spring shots, then the swelling started several days later. I'd think that the bute should have also helped control the swelling but at that point maybe he'd been on it long enough for the added stress on his immune system to cause him the stomach problems - or something else got in the mix like a virus or he ingested something. I'm not a vet, I'm speculating based on what I know and all my years of experiencing the ups and downs of horse care. I'm just hoping he's now on the upside of all this.

As for his unsoundness. Okay, at least that seems to be doing well. He's been sound on the egg bar shoes since he got them 5 weeks ago and completely off bute for almost 2 weeks. I've been mainly lunging for 15-20 minutes at the walk and jog 3-4 times a week with the vet's ok to lightly stimulate his circulation to help with his swelling condition and every time he's been sound. Yay. I feel he can go back to light saddle work (walking and some jogging for no more than 15-20 minutes) but only if he seems up to it.

So, as I close my eyes and accept the vet bills like a firing squad, I'm hopeful this is coming to an end and he gets better. I was so looking forward to spring and nice weather to get his saddle training under way after this long and crappy winter. All I seem to be able to do with this horse is lose time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rugby is sick

So just as it seems my horse is sound, now he's sick. Not sure exactly what. Could be a reaction to one of his spring shots or something else. Poor boy has swelling along his tummy and sheath and today has diarrhea. Vet has been watching him and did blood work today. My poor sweet boy. I just came back from checking on him and he was laying down quietly in his stall and so were almost all the other horses! I guess 11:00PM is bedtime at this barn ;) At least he was quiet, not rolling or in distress. Will go there again in the morning and check on him again. I wish I could just sleep in the barn and stay with him all night.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Ah, spring. Time for a clean sweep. Toss out the old and the broken, donate the unused but still serviceable, Ebay the good stuff. It's cathartic to do this, sometimes even fun and often a relief. Clutter follows me like a shadow. Every time I do it though, I have some feelings of melancholy.

Like this morning when my husband and I put my boys' battery operated 4-wheeler ride-ons to the curb for the trash to pick up. Yes, they were sun bleached, the batteries didn't charge well anymore and one had a broken switch so it only went backwards, not to mention my kids are too tall to sit on them comfortably but I still felt sad when I saw the garbage man heave them into the back of the truck and then they were gone.

All I could see were two smiling little boys, about 3 years old, driving around the back yard, chasing each other and having a great time. Last night, when I gingerly brought up the subject that maybe it was time to get rid of the 4-wheelers since they couldn't really ride them anymore, I was kind of shocked when they said, "yeah, you can throw them out." No hesitation. Wow.

So many memories. On my dresser I found the following pictures of my black Thoroughbred mare, Alta. She's the black horse I'm riding jumping over a fence in my profile picture. These must go back to 1998 or so. She was already retired, and probably around 20 years old. But she still looks shiny and healthy. There is hardly any graying around her muzzle. I scanned them and want to share them as you get the full range of her personality from just these 4 pictures.

That's Miss Alta to you. Yes, I am the queen and you may take my picture, now move along.

See my cuteness? You bore me so I will go to sleep now. (by the way, the red arrow points to my tack trunk, the one I had custom made with my own design of 3 horse heads on the front!)

WTF are you staring at?! If you don't have treats or scratch me in the right spot I'll show you what pisst off looks like.

Yes, pets do take after their owners. After around 16 years together, my goofy sense of humor even rubbed off on the mare!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So Far, Shoes Good

This Saturday makes it two weeks that Rugby has been wearing his egg bar shoes. And he's sound. I have been stopping by the barn almost every day since then and have been regularly lunging him for 20-30 minutes mainly at the walk but with a few times around at the trot to his left and only once or twice around at the trot to the right (his sore side). And he's sound. If there's any head nod at all to the right, it's almost as if I'm so paranoid that I'm making myself see things.

I even lunged him in the polo arena in the sand to see how it would affect him. I was also curious to see how he'd handle being out in that big arena after not being worked in there for about 4 months. He was a star! Rock steady, calm and completely in tune with my groundwork! A very pleasant surprise! One of the boarders commented on how well-behaved Rugby was and I told her it feels as if he's grown up a lot this past winter!

He's still on the bute but at a reduced dosage and this Saturday we will be weaning him off even that. I am considering adding an anti-inflammatory supplement to his feed to see if that can further help him. I've been reading about Devil's Claw and many people like the results.

Also, the vet agreed if he's consistent by Saturday that I can get on him and ride at the walk for a bit. I am super pleased with that. Each step has been adding something else and seeing if the horse stays sound or not. So far, so good!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Updoc™ Bit - amazing bitting breakthrough!!

How did I miss this one!? Click the link below:

The Updoc™ Bit

Be sure to click on all the sizes and colors available! I NEED one of these!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rugby's New Kicks

As of this past Saturday, Rugby now has a nifty pair of egg bar shoes on his front hoofers. He's a first in that department for me. I've never owned a horse that wore bar shoes of any kind. It was nice to work with my old farrier again. I'm reminded of just how good he is at his craft. I was also rather impressed when he took a look at Rugby's unshod feet and shook his head and said, "wow, his hooves are really nice. It's almost a shame to put shoes on him".

He took his time, Rugby was pretty good but very aware of what was going on. He wasn't overly nervous but he did get a bit fidgety especially when he smelled and heard the sizzle from the hot shoeing. My farrier was patient and kind and simply chalked it up to Rugby having "forgotten" what it was like to have shoes nailed on. The best part was when the shoes were on and the farrier brought out the rasping stand. As soon as Rugby put his hoof on it and heard the familiar rasping sound, his entire body relaxed and he submitted. All the nerves were gone! It was as if he just said, "ah, something familiar! whew!".

When my farrier was done he asked me to get my lunging gear and let's see what if any difference we made. At first it all looked the same. But the longer Rugby walked on the shoes, I started to see a difference in his stride. He was laking longer steps with both front feet, and landing the same. Gone was the shorter step on the side opposite his soreness. Then I asked him for a little trot. Pretty good to the left, still slightly "off" to the right. My farrier said only time will tell. He asked that I keep him updated with the vet's reports and to not let the shoes go past 5 weeks.

When I went to the barn on Sunday, I took Rugby out for a little lunging again, no more than 20 minutes and mostly at the walk. And was rewarded with a 100% sound horse to the left at both the walk and the trot and going to the right he was 100% sound at the walk and about 90% sound at the trot There was a marked and very visible improvement on day #2 wearing the bar shoes. My fingers are so crossed. If he can stay sound and can get back to very light work it will be enough for me for now. At least I can train and work on his steering and forwardness if I can at least do a little at the walk and trot under saddle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shooz for Rugby

Rugby will be wearing front shoes as of tomorrow. Based on his new X-rays and further discussion with my vet, we agree that front shoes are needed to give him support. The good news from the X-rays is that there is no change or problem involving navicular. But there is something there, however small, that my vet feels is an old injury to the coffin bone, possibly a healed fracture from Rugby's youth that is flaring up and he needs the stability of the shoes to help him. It seems egg bars are the prescription and my vet is speaking with my farrier to let him know exactly what he wants my horse to have done.

I remember his former owner telling me he wore shoes up front. Of course, I never thought to ask what kind since Rugby was barefoot and sound when I bought him. I figured it was just the usual considering he didn't give any indication of needing more at that time.

He's now walking barefoot better than he was but he's still not quite right. He's also on the bute and isoxiprene and I really want him to start weaning off that stuff. I contacted the farrier who used to shoe Monty and he's happy to come and work on Rugby for me. Tomorrow morning I'll be there to help my old farrier and Rugby get acquainted. I will miss working with my barefoot trimmer. I really like how he works around my horse and I feel he's been such an important part in my horses' impeccable manners when having his hooves tended to. He's not thrilled I've opted for the shoes. I understand that and respect his opinion. I've given it thought both ways and I just feel it's an option I have to try at this time.

In the meantime, I have been doing very light ground work exercises involving leading only. No lunging, since turning to the right aggravates his unsoundness. Rugby is the kind of horse who just craves interaction and mental stimulation. I gave him simple exercises like stepping over a pole forwards and backwards, lateral flexing, backing, turning, stepping up on a low platform and off and he was a star. He was so good that one of the other boarders was leading her aged, seasoned show horse around and my super green, unsound and unworked 6 year old had more self control! I even brought him to the mounting block and leaned on his back and he just relaxed and enjoyed the attention.

More and more, as my relationship with Rugby grows, he's becoming a star. He's already known for his perfect ground manners. Over the past weekend I brought out the clippers and he stood for having his face, ears and legs trimmed better than some of the best show horses I've met!

And I had an opportunity to ride this past weekend! One of the instructors who boards her lesson horses at the barn where I keep Rugby has often offered me a chance to ride some of her horses. I took her up on it and had a short but very sweet walk, trot session on her little thoroughbred. I'm still buzzed from getting a few minutes in the saddle!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Recycling Horseback Riding Helmets: Update

I have been in contact with a representative of Troxel and she told me Troxel is very interested in exploring the recycling options for their product or at least for parts of their product! We will be working together to inform and update you as we learn what you can do if you wish to recycle helmets after damage or when no longer useful.

I agree that even being able to recycle a part of the helmet would be worthwhile. I would certainly feel better spending a little more for a helmet if I knew that when it was damaged or otherwise in need of replacement, it could be recycled rather than thrown in the trash. I'm sure there are other horsemen who would agree. Also, as a parent of 2 young, growing children who ride, it would be nice to know that the helmets they outgrow (both horseback riding and bicycling) are not just cluttering a landfill!

I still plan on contacting other helmet manufacturers for their input as they may use different components than their competitors and they should also be aware of the recycling question. I also encourage these companies, should they find this post on my blog before I get to contact them first, to feel free to get in touch with me as well.

In my previous post, a few people just suggested donating an old helmet to a riding school after you are done with it or sell it on ebay or at a swap meet. But I am a little leery about doing this. How effective would it be as protection if it was over 3-5 years old and maybe even been in a few minor falls? I would also be wary of this for legal reasons. What if someone took a fall and they were hurt wearing my old, used helmet? How liable would I be in that case? How long before something like this appears in a lawsuit?

I'd rather see riding schools purchase lower priced models that are up to date in safety standards to provide for their students who don't yet have a personal helmet or have left theirs at home on lesson day. These should be monitored by the instructors or barn manager and replaced as the manufacturer suggests.

Please share your thoughts, suggestions. Constructive input is welcome and encouraged. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Unsoundness, no answers yet.

Not good. I went to the barn last evening to do some groundwork with Rugby and he was unsound. I tried lunging him and he was short striding and seemed sore up front and it would come and go. He didn't want to do anything more than walk and when I asked him to jog just to see if it was worse he was especially aggravated when moving to the right. I stopped him and brought him back inside.

I called the vet today and he checked Rugby out. It's definitely his right front. He didn't respond when his hoof was tested, there are no signs of heat, swelling or elevated pulse but showed improvement when nerve blocked. The vet diagnosed it as a heel pain condition but could not give a definitive diagnosis based on that alone.

He noted that when we X-rayed Rugby for the pre-purchase exam a year ago, there was no indication of navicular disease at that time. He suggested bute and isoxaprine as starting therapy to see if it would alleviate his discomfort. He also suggested egg-bar shoes to give him relief but I asked to hold off on that until we pull some X-rays of that foot since he's currently barefoot and would need to be barefoot for the X-rays. I figure at least we can compare to last year's pictures of that hoof and rule out things or find an answer by comparison. The vet agreed so tomorrow he'll be X-rayed.

So I'm trying to stay calm until we know more.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Recycling Horseback Riding Helmets?

I've decided to research this further. After my post yesterday I continued to look around online about recycling safety headgear and it seems that bicyclists are the only ones that have any information of value at this time on this subject. I found a few topics about how to recycle old or damaged bicycle helmets. Please read about them at these links:

Can I recycle my Bicycle Helmet?
The Bicycle Helmet - Reduce, Reuse or Recycle?
How to Dispose of a Bicycle Helmet
How can I Reuse or Recycle a Broken Bike Helmet?

Some horseback riding helmets seem to use similar materials as the construction of bicycle helmets, such as some of the Troxel helmets, maybe these suggestions would be useful for some of those models.

I also found very brief discussions on disposing of motorcycle helmets and safety hard hats, which you can read about here:

How can I Reuse or Recycle a Motorcycle Helmet?
How can I Reuse or Recycle a Yellow Hard Hat?

So now I'm beginning to write to the horseback riding helmet companies themselves to see if they have any information to offer regarding the end of usefulness of their products. I'll be updating this topic as I hear (or don't hear) from them. Let's see which company can be the first to be "green" with their products from start to finish!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Old GPA riding helmet - recovery or research value? Or just trash?

So, with all the talk about helmets, due in part to Courtney King-Dye's unfortunate accident, I have a question that I can't find addressed anywhere.

What do you do with a helmet that's ready to be discarded?

Okay, the first answer is to throw it out, right? Well, maybe that's the correct answer but I want to know if anyone has another suggestion. Throwing it away doesn't seem very "green", does it? This thing will take forever to decompose in a landfill!

My old helmet is a GPA and if you've seen them in tack shops and catalogs, they are not cheap!! Call me a miser, but it bothers me a little to just throw it in the trash after I worked so hard saving up for it years ago. A more fitting end, in my opinion, would be to send it back to the company for research (and I would be happy just to do that, I expect nothing in return) but I can't find any information if they do that sort of thing. That helmet has given me 5 years of safe rides, maybe they'd learn something from it even though it hasn't been busted badly in a fall. All those years of riding in sun, rain, cold and humidity. All the sweat, makeup and hair products residue inside and the occasional ding and drop might have information of value to offer. I know there are other helmet companies that do this, I think it's great field research!

Like recycled electronics, are there any components in riding helmets that are harvestable? Like the titanium composite strip in the front of the GPA?

Are there any artists out there looking for helmets to create something from old horseback riding helmets?

Have any of you ever thought about stuff like this or am I just odd? ;)


Love this! Found on the L.I. Equine message board and decided to share here! Enjoy!


Why do I like horses?
I reckon I must be mad.
My mother wasn’t horsey
And neither was my dad.

But the madness hit me early
And it hit me like a curse.
And I’ve never gotten better
In fact I’ve gotten worse.

My stables are immaculate.
My house is like a hovel.
Last year for my birthday
I got a brand new shovel.

I hardly read a paper
But I know who’s sold their horse
And I wouldn’t watch the news
If Mr. Ed was on, of course.

One eye’s always on the heavens
But my washing waves in vain
As I rush to get the horses in
In case it’s gonna rain.

And though they’re wearing 15 rugs,
The best that you can get,
I bring them in to keep them dry
While I get soaking wet.

I spend up every cent I’ve got
On horsey stuff for sure.
I buy fancy rugs and fancy rugs,
And then I by some more.

I should have had that hair cut
Or bought that nice blue shirt
At least it wouldn’t be now
Ripped to shreds and in the dirt.

I can’t make a bloody sponge cake
I don’t even try
But I can back a truck and trailer
In the twinkling of an eye.

It’s pants and R.M. boots
That I live in night and day
And that smell of sweaty horses
Just doesn’t wash away.

Once in every… now and then
I can dress up for a ball.
Make up and a hairdo
With high heel shoes and all.

I ache from long forgotten falls.
My knees have got no skin.
My toes have gone a funny shape.
From being squashed again.

But late at night, when all is still
And I’ve gone to give them hay,
I touch their velvet softness
And my worries float away.

They give a gentle nicker
And they nuzzle through my hair
And I know it’s where my heart is
More than anywhere.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happiness is a Warm Day in March!

As I write this, I am exhausted. I finally got my two wild children to bed and one is simply resisting to the point where I have to keep getting up and making sure he stays in his bed. They both have testing this week at school and I hate having to fight him but he needs his sleep. Dozing off during an exam when you are 6 years old does not bode well for your future!

Today was just gorgeous here, weather wise. I've been a weekend warrior at best the last 3 weeks. Rugby's training consists of Saturday and/or Sunday and that's been about it. I have to give the big horse credit. He's actually been quite good considering he's been worked so inconsistently. With all the snow and ice here we've all been confined to the one small riding arena behind the main barn. I've been forced to perform lunging exercises in that small arena while 2 lessons have been going on. And Rugby has been a perfect gentleman. The other horses riding around his small lunging circle don't bother him and he's been content to simply walk and trot calmly. I am impressed. For a horse in the middle of winter that hasn't done much work, I know horses twice his age that would lose their mind in the same situation.

I did groundwork and rode yesterday and today and he was very good. All I can do under saddle are walking exercises. He's lost a lot of condition this winter (me too) and I even had to change the gullet in my Wintec saddle yesterday from Wide to Medium Wide. He's in need of work to improve his balance and steering again. He gets stiff through the neck and jaw to the right side and today I carried a dressage whip to tickle his haunch and help him move his hind end through when being asked to turn so he'd get the idea a little better. He's very long in the body and right now especially he feels like his front and rear are in two different zip codes!

But it's so good to ride, I'm happy with just walking. I feel we're on the right track and once I'm sure the weather will allow more consistent work, I'm setting up a session with my natural horsemanship trainer, Tony to get us back to trotting again.

Keep that warm weather coming!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fox Hunting Bridleless!

In my travels throughout the web researching the Micklem bridle and other bitless bridles, I somehow stumbled across this rather awesome page. Chris Armour's Help for Heroes page A huntsman named Chris Armour has a fund raising page set up to raise money for soldiers wounded in the conflict in the Middle East. He rode his horse on a hunt without a bridle to bring interest to the cause. If you go to the link, be sure to check out the pictures on the page.

I also found a video of his ride!

More pictures can be found here

I wish I could have seen more. I've fox hunted in the past and it can be a wild ride sometimes. I give Mr. Armour and his horse, River, credit to have that good a partnership that they could safely ride in company out in the open country without a bit or bridle. I've seen demonstrations of bridleless riding, much like those about to follow, but never quite in this context.

Here are 3 more really great videos of bridleless riding;

And no bridleless riding post would be complete without Stacey Westfall and Roxy!

"Sigh" I can't wait for this winter to thaw out. I miss riding.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Micklem Multibridle - I'm Intrigued

I've been checking these out online for a while now and find them interesting. I found out very quickly that Rugby is not easy to fit to a bridle. Only one of Monty's bridles could be made to fit him and I've had to buy a new bridle in Oversize for a better fit. I now have an oversized flat leather hunt bridle and a black, raised leather flash nosed dressage bridle. I've been selling tack like crazy on Ebay to clean house. None of my bits fit either, Rugby wears a 6 inch mouth and all the bits I have are 5" or 5-1/4" mouth bits. I'm keeping a few of the "classic" styles of these smaller bits but most of the other stuff I've collected is also moving on Ebay.

Rugby has a very wide jowl, he has a warmblood to draft sized browband, warmblood crownpiece and needs a warmblood noseband. He has a smallish mouth and though he needs a 6" bit, I'm not convinced he's really comfortable with a bit. The only style bit that works well on him is the 3 piece mouth Sprenger type bits.

So, new horse has meant many changes in the tack room as well. Since I've got a little extra money from selling my smaller tack, I'm very tempted to buy one of these Micklem bridles. I'm intrugued by it's multiple features and that it can be bitless or bitted. The new "Competition" style is more streamlined but has less features, such as the noseband ring for lunging (which I don't think I'd be using much anyway).

I've been reading anything I can find about it by people who've used it. There seem to be discussions both for and against, as I expected, but it seems to be more in favor of the results from using it. I wish there was a tack shop nearby that had a "loaner" model that I could test first.

I've posted some links below for further reading about this new bridle and if anyone reading has used one I'd enjoy hearing your experience with it.

Micklem Multibridle

Bitless Forum - Micklem Bridles

Forum Discussion - Micklem Multibridle

Should Bitless Bridles be Allowed in USEF Competitions?

Video - Fitting the Micklem Bridle

And here's a "Friday Funny" for you that I just came across! "Yeah. He's the best horse in all of Europe." LOLL!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This IS Bad Riding

I can't take credit for finding this video. I was reading the Bad Riding Blog and it was the first entry today. But it made me grit my teeth enough that I decided to share it over here, too.

Where do I start? The horses in this video are simply magnificent animals. The riders - not so much. Not only are they not the greatest riders but they obviously aren't the brightest, either. We could make a contest out of spotting how many things are wrong in what's going on here, ending with their decision to take the jump.

When the first rider jumped her horse, I cringed. But when the second rider, the one using DRAW REINS approached the jump I kept saying, "No, no, no, no, no he's not - not with draw reins," well, you'll see where that got him in the video. The poor horse couldn't extend his neck to balance for the jump and almost has a nasty injury.

I watch stuff like this and ask myself, why is karma like this? I have a green, grade horse that I'm taking the tiniest of steps with and then you have fools like this, riding elegant, athletic, well-bred horses and treating them like a drunk driver behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

Good riding is more than sitting well and having soft hands and a good release, it's making good decisions too. If this is your "first time jumping" as the video title indicates, this is not the way a good horseman attempts it. Sorry.

Just, wow.

And for those of you who may say, "I've jumped with draw reins before" well, so have I but only over gymnastic cavaletti pole to small fence exercises. I'd never use them under circumstances like this and always with a trained professional to guide me. I've attached some links below for further reading and discussions about the proper uses for draw reins as this seems a good time to add that subject as well.

Using Draw Reins and Side Reins

Discussion on Draw Reins and Jumping

Can I Improve my Horses' Jumping Style?

Question: Draw Reins - Good or Not?