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!