Hey all! I want to thank everyone who has followed this here blog full of my ramblings, successes and failures. I appreciate you!
I’m moving the blog to a new one effective now. A post about Eeyore’s lameness is up there currently. I haven’t used blogger in forever so I’m still trying to figure out the formatting and such. Head on over to: http://www.moonlitpastures.blogspot.com. I gave it the farm name figuring why not?
The reason for the move is pure laziness on my part. I posted a bit ago that I’ve used up my media limit here and while I could go back and delete all the old videos, upload to YouTube and re insert in the original posts….that’s never going to happen. Ever. I don’t have the motivation.
So it was either stop using media which…ugh no. Stop blogging….also no. Purchase another account here. Move to blogger for free.
This blog will remain for at least 9 more months. I’ve already paid for this year so why not let it sit. But I won’t pay to keep it going in the future so it may disappear. I’m not sure how that works. Nothing I’ve said is earth shattering or that important.
If you care to, change the blog in your reader to http://www.moonlitpastures.blogspot and join me as I continue with my ramblings full of pictures and new YouTube video links.
You know what? I just deleted this entire post and I’m starting over. Why? Because the first five paragraphs were me defending my choice to take a lesson yesterday and screw that shit. Everyone makes their own choices and weighs the risks and benefits. I work in healthcare and I know the stats in my area. I’ve independently researched the virus, it’s effects and the real mortality rate and I’ve made my own choice. I won’t defend it and I won’t apologize for it. Shamers be warned. I won’t tolerate hate.
With a spattering of half days on my schedule thanks to a dwindling clientele who need to be seen at this time, I scheduled a lesson up at Trainer’s open air facility yesterday. Then Eeyore got hurt (he is still lame today but not fatally so so he should be on the mend. It’s hard to tell with him because he is a huge wimp) and I figured it would be canceled. Trainer didn’t let me off the hook that easy though and instead offered up her Appy mare to ride with the restrictions that I had to use her personal tack and not enter any of the buildings.
I’ll admit to being a tad nervous. I haven’t ridden any horse except Eeyore in 2 years and not that many prior to that. I was game though and soon found myself astride a very leggy, young Appy mare.
Trainer was a cold hearted killer from the start. In fact, she watched me mount and had me immediately dismount and do it again because I sat down a tad too heavy. I knew I was under fire from the get go. No more excuses because I was on a fire breathing Eeyore. This mare is well behaved and honest and now it was time to focus on me.
It took me a bit to adjust. The mare is lazy and requires a lot of leg to get going but then once there you can maintain. With Eeyore, his rhythm and pace are all over the place with no two strides the same. It’s a constant dance of moving him up, then bringing him back. Not so with her. I got her where I wanted her and then relaxed and let her go. It was….odd.
We did some flat work to warm up then started with a gymnastic line. Trainer apparently really liked what she saw on the flat because right before we started jumping she ran to get her phone to video. She never does that!
Anyway the line was a trot pole, vertical, two canter poles set one stride apart and then a gate. I was to trot in then let her canter the rest. It was scary at first. I’m not super brave and I’m definitely not trusting. She was honest though and did no wrong. The biggest thing I needed to learn was to get the trot in where I wanted and then….do nothing. That was hard. Eeyore loves to jump and gets very rushy and bully like in front of a jump so it’s a lot of sitting back and holding. With the mare though, all I had to do was set her up and flow.
It was pretty cool in fact. We did it a few times to get my relaxing and trusting her before we moved to a small course.
I have no media of the course. Maybe she didn’t take any. Maybe it sucked that bad she didn’t want to share it with me, who knows?
Started with a vertical, sharp right bend to a stack of barrels, continue right bend to four stride combo, then a sharp left bend to a gate. The first time I was a bit everywhere. My steering was nowhere to be found and I stuffed her through the turns. We made each jump but it was icky. The mare’s canter is weird. It’s not the rocking horse canter Eeyore has. It’s like there is a sideways motion included or something and I honestly had a rough time getting used to it.
As we cantered around the course, I always felt off balance and unsteady. Some of it was the saddle that was not my beloved deep seated BC, but most of it was trying to figure out her motion.
Trainer had me do it again and this time went way better. I really like the mare. Maybe not her wonky canter, but her brain is fantastic and you can tell Trainer has been the one to get her going under saddle. She really is foot perfect and is only 6. Trainer backed her at 5. We talked about all the things I need to do better (stop hunching my shoulders, stay more centered in the saddle, look ahead to where I want to go, stay in two point longer on the back side of the fence, etc..) and I think the plan for now is to take more lessons on the mare so I can work on myself. I’ll still ride Eeyore at home, once he is sound again, but for now it’s going to be me centric in lessons for a bit.
The Great Muzzle War has ended folks. Sadly I lost although I’m not sure there is a winner here as Eeyore is currently on stall rest from his latest muzzle induced injury and I may need to call the vet out soon if he doesn’t start to show signs of improvement.
The first injury occurred the second day he wore the darn thing. He came in with the entire right side of his nose swollen twice the normal size. I panicked thinking he would suffocate on his own stupidity, but it quickly went down and he was fine by the next morning. I still gave him a few days without it, so point for Eeyore.
Round #2 happened last week. He looked a little funny coming in for dinner and then I noticed it. He had somehow managed to get the bottom two velcro loops undone which loosened the bottom half of the muzzle. Ok, kinda smart dude. But then he got the stupid bottom lip of the muzzle STUCK IN HIS MOUTH and couldn’t get it back out. Who knows how long he stayed with the muzzle stuck inside his mouth. I almost gave him a point for this, but it still did the job of not letting him gorge on the spring grass, so I’m taking it. 1-1.
All went calmly for 5 days until yesterday. He was chilling by the water trough instead of at the gate with everyone else at dinner time. Odd. I looked closely and noted that the halter was no longer over his nose, it was hanging around his throat only. And the muzzle was missing. He was happily eating all the grass he wanted. I went to get him, cursing his name slightly, and then my heart dropped out of my chest. He was not putting any weight on his front left leg. He limped miserably and slowly back to the barn for dinner and inspection and there he remains today.
Best guess as to what happened: the muzzle was found inside the water trough and the spicket that fills the trough was torqued 90 degrees the wrong direction. I’m betting he wedged himself into the small space between the wooden pole protecting the spicket and rubbed his face on it to lever the darn muzzle off. He succeeded in ripping the muzzle off and into the trough as well as removing the bottom half of the halter. I’m guessing he then tweaked the front left leg trying to get out of the spot he wedged himself into. He has a very angry muscle attaching the upper leg to his chest and a swollen “knee”/carpal joint. He got bute and will remain on stall rest for the weekend. If he isn’t better Monday, I will call the vet.
Point for Eeyore. He wins. I’d rather a fat horse than a dead one.
This now raises the question of what do I do both short and long term to keep him fit and protect against laminitis/founder? He shows no signs of either but he is obese and the lush spring grass won’t help any. He needs managed sooner rather than later. I really wish I was at a boarding barn and could throw him in a lesson program or ask a barn rat to hop on him a few days a week when I can’t ride. But that isn’t the case and no way can I perform enough wife mathematical gymnastics to make it make sense to go from free care to $600/month.
Dusty and I spent the evening stewing over various short term options first:
1). Use the arena as a dry lot. This was the most obvious to pop out at us, but it also quickly got thrown away. Yes, there is no grass to eat, he would remain outside and it is a large enough space for movement. It also has no shelter, no water source and I have spent hundreds of hours turning it into a nice arena. The thought of hay and poop in it makes me want to cry.
2.) Stall him during the day/out at night. The solution most barns employ is simply reducing time in pasture. It goes against all my own personal horse management beliefs to leave him in a 12×12 box for 12 hours a day. He also cribs and is ulcer prone.
3.) Fence in the barn yard to create a dry lot. Not an official one with perfect footing because we don’t have time/money for that at the moment, but the grass is a weird variety that doesn’t grow very tall and the horses don’t like it much. A water source would be easy to come up with as it is in front of the barn, but shelter would be an issue. Thankfully it isn;t super hot at the moment.
4.) Sell him and buy a hard keeper who could use the grass. Only partly kidding here. It crossed my mind. I won’t do it because I adore him but he could try even a little bit to make my life easier.
At the end of it all, I think he is going to get the barnyard for the short term once he can leave his stall again. It only needs one cross line of electric strung from the barn to the existing wooden fence to make it a smaller area without any of the barn equipment reachable. I can drag a spare trough for water and hang a hay bag on the fence. It will be a bit of a pain to get in and out of the barn and use the tractor, but hopefully we get to the long term plan soon and reclaim our barn yard.
The long term plan is harder. I went down some pretty deep rabbit holes researching my options here. One even included buying a bunch of sheep as they are known to eat the pasture down enough to limit horse use and keep weeds at bay. But they seem to be a PITA to keep up and ignore electric altogether, so that won’t work.
The truth here folks is two fold: I LOVE green grass and large spaces for movement is of utmost priority for me in the way I manage my horses. It makes me immensely happy to watch Gem pick up a full blown canter and race the others across the pasture. This happens daily. They love the room too. I also get joy out of looking out at my farm and seeing fields of green. I don’t want large patches of dead dirt staring back at me. I also don’t want a dead laminitic horse, so I have to come up with a happy medium.
My solution? One that really makes the Hubby unhappy. Oops. Sorry Honey. You see, he has spent the last 2 years moving fence line. I’d come up with a plan, he would spend hours moving the long fence rows and then a few months later I’d realize and error in my planning and make him move it somewhere else. He is tired of moving fencing. My plan includes a whole lot of fencing.
We are going to build a Paradise Track System around the property. It is going to take some serious planning and maneuvering because I would like it to include as much of the acreage as possible versus creating three separate ones within each pasture. It would be super simple to just place an inner fence in each pasture to create an outer track and an inner field, but that isn’t what I want long term. If I’m going to do this, I want it to be great. We have woods we can incorporate into the track, plenty of natural protection and easy access to water sources everywhere. If done how I imagine, there should be enough grass to allow some grazing without gorging, lots of room to roam still and I can take them off the track and use it for conditioning. A win-win.
Poor Hubby though. It is going to be A LOT of fencing.
It appears I am out of space to upload media here on the blog. I already have the premium version and can’t see an option to increase it. Maybe it is because I am on my phone?
So….what do I do now? I love using media and love uploading my videos and pictures here. I switched from blogger to WordPress to have easier access to uploading straight from my phone but maybe I need to go back there?
Folks, I’m stressed. Even through 100 hour work weeks in residency, so many board exams I’ve lost count and starting a business, I can’t recall any time I’ve been more stressed than I am right now. There is not a single moment of my life that hasn’t been changed thanks to the virus. I’m still able to work since I’m a physician, however my office is slow and I’m stuck between trying to keep my wonderful ladies paid and trying to not go bankrupt. Add in the daily call with the hospital for my required corona updates which often times goes against what the talking heads are saying and it’s a lot.
Friday I said enough was enough. All the stress, all the decisions would still be there come Monday. I took the weekend off, put down my phone, stopped reading/responding to anything about the virus, stopped talking about it and forced my brain and body to de stress.
It was just what I needed.
Friday became a horse day. The morning was spent cursing the dressage gods as I built my own dressage court. It took nearly 3 hours and over 6,000 steps and was still a little wonky. Apparently making straight lines isn’t my thing. But…I did manage to put together a serviceable and mostly accurate dressage court before Trainer AB pulled in for a Come to Jesus dressage lesson.
I debated having her come to me, but she comes alone, it is outside and she touched nothing. I opened all my gates, tacked up my own horse and stayed 6’ away from her at all times. It seemed as safe as anything.
This lesson was pretty important. After the disaster that was my last dressage outing, I needed to know if this was even something I wanted to pursue. I don’t care if I win, but coming in last and feeling like shit after each test isn’t enjoyable at all. Could we improve? What would it take?
Trainer AB dealt with my initial verbal diarrhea about it all. The consistent comments across all three tests I’ve done have included: counterbent, bad geometry, not against rail and falls on inside shoulder. Trainer AB said it was time to take dressage seriously and buckle down. As a side note, she explained that with new pairs to Eventing she focuses on jumping first as those phases are more dangerous. A bad dressage score may stink but a bad stadium round can get you hurt. Once stadium is doing good and xc is safe, she dials in the dressage. Apparently we are now in the “dialing in dressage” phase.
What proceeded was a full hour of getting my butt kicked. Oh my but I haven’t been that sore or tired in a long long time. We began by lowering my stirrups a hole and then continued to work on each individual element of the BN A test since that was the one we both remembered at the time.
It was….hard and yet really enjoyable to get down to the nitty gritty versus looking only at the big “don’t get eliminated in dressage” picture.
The basic gist of it all is that I need to be firmer with Eeyore. Instead of kinda sorta hoping we make a circle at E, I need to insist on it. Demand it. Not be mean or harsh but set him up and make him realize that when we enter the little white box, it is time to get serious. Trainer AB also helped me understand tiny details such as aiming for just left of the letter when doing the free walk diagonal and when exactly to start packaging him back up for the medium walk.
It. Was. Eye. Opening.
By the time we ran through the entire test I finally knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing and when. There was no more hanging on and hoping to survive. I rode every single stride. It was so nice to run through the test and hear her constant feedback and then to feel the difference it made.
I have a lot of homework but now that I know what I’m striving to achieve, it is going to be a lot easier to work on. I still don’t love dressage but it is starting to grow on me. No change to pure jumpers just yet I suppose.
Stop going to horse shows. Stop going to group lessons. Stop going to clinics. Stop going on group rides. Stop hanging with groups at the barn.
Stop going to get a hair cut. Stop drinking with friends. Stop having dinner parties. Stop in store shopping for tack, equipment, clothes.
STOP IT ALL. NOW.
Why? Because its your responsibility to be a mature adult. Because even if these feel like important tasks to you, they are not essential to survive. Just because a clinic or a show is still running, it does not mean it is a good idea to go. Because it isn’t a good idea to go. It is a very bad idea to go.
Here is the bottom line deal: if we allow COVID-19 to run amok through our communities because we believe that our own sanity in keeping life normal, keeping routines set, going to places we want to go is more important than some stupid safety warning, then we see the same amount of morbidity and mortality that has occurred in Italy.
The simple truth is that we do not have enough ICU beds, gloves, masks and respirators to support the number of people who will become infected and require those items. People will then die on a mass scale simply because we will not have the resources to treat them. read that line again. PEOPLE WILL DIE ON A MASS SCALE NOT BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OR EXPERTISE TO TREAT THEM BUT BECAUSE WE WILL NOT HAVE THE NECESSARY BEDS AND SUPPLIES TO DO SO.
And why will we not have those? Because you decided that a horse show or clinic was more important. Sounds pretty dumb, doesn’t it?
The entire point of this shut down is to slow the progression of the infection so that while the same percentage of people may still get infected, it will be at a slower rate thus allowing the ICU beds to empty, the ventilators to be freed up, the masks and gloves to be restocked. The point is to avoid making decisions on who should live and who can be allowed to let die. To avoid looking at two people equally ill and equally deserving a fighting chance at life, but knowing you only have one bed available.
Everyone is being impacted by this pandemic. EVERYONE. Some of us are being hit financially as our businesses are being shut. Some of us are losing our jobs. Some of us our working longer hours, being quarantined from our family as we work directly with those infected. Some are having to cancel plans and disrupt their lives.
Make the right choice. Your right to ride your horse is not more important than someone’s right to live is.
If you want to have life return to normal quickly, you will stay home. Limit interactions. Avoid groups. Cancel show plans, group lessons, clinics. You will do your part to stop the spread or at the very least slow it down.
Folks, if the first part of my day was one big giant cluster, the second part was my redemption. It was glorious. I’m still grinning. My face hurts. I don’t care.
Eeyore fell asleep at the trailer and napped away our two hour break between phases while I hydrated, ate fruit snacks and wondered why I was there.
I got back on him 25 minutes before my jump time and did a brief flat warm up before popping over the cross rail, carefully avoiding the large ascending oxer in the middle of the three warm up options. He was so much better behaved mostly because he was tired but also because I had my beloved Pessoa back on. I love this bit because it allows me to talk quietly to him and then shut up and he is so much lighter and more responsive.
Anyway…I was happy with my cross rail warm up but then Trainer AB showed up and pointed me at the middle oxer. A quick reminder to her that she has not yet had me doing oxers in lessons was met with a shrug and a “nows a good time”.
The warm up then became a mini lesson where she had me coming at the oxer at a canter on a left lead but then landing and making the sharp right turn to come back at it off the right lead making a left bend at the landing. It was hard for the fact that it was a sharp turn and there were other people to avoid but it also got me sitting up, looking where I wanted to go way earlier than I normally do, and riding more aggressively before and after the oxer.
We left warm up ready to go and headed to the ring with two ahead of me.
I then proceeded to have the best jump round of my life. It was AMAZING. We cantered every fence with only two breaks to trot when I wasn’t sure we were on the correct lead and a sharp turn was coming up, but instead of trotting the fence I picked the canter right back up.
I have never had a round like that. He was easy to rate, game to go over everything and felt perfect. We hit 5 hard when he got a bit lazy and I caught myself looking back at it which is stupid. I yelled at myself though and got my eyes back on 6 before it was an issue. We were clean and we were under time for a double clear stadium round at height and with a lot of filler.
I left that arena grinning and met Trainer AB at the rail with an even bigger grin on her face. The round was not perfect but damn was it close enough for me. It was everything folks. Everything.
It also brought us up from last to 7th out of 11. Not too shabby after all. One more love higher and we’d have come home with a ribbon.
Eeyore got all the pats, half a bag of Nicker Makers and put on the trailer to rest and eat hay while we waited another couple hours before M had a jumper round on one of Trainer’s lesson horses, a gorgeous grey mustang with ice blue eyes. M had told me one of her bucket list items was to do a show here and while we couldn’t make a full show happen, Trainer was nice enough to offer him for the jumper round, bring him and stay the extra two hours to wait for her to go. She is an amazing woman.
I have soooooo many thoughts to share but for now all I’m going to say is that Eeyore gives me wings. He isn’t easy, but damn that horse folks. I can’t imagine having another in my barn in his place. I adore him and he isn’t going anywhere even if he hates dressage.
It all started with this text on Thursday with my Farrier:
I had hoped to sneak out of work a little early on Friday to do all my show prep: clean my tack, ride Eeyore in his dressage legal bit for the first time in months, set up my dressage court to run through my test at least once before the show, pack, bathe the beast etc….
Except I didn’t get out early. In fact I got out later than ever. Ok. No big deal. It stays light later I could still sneak in a short ride.
So there I was at 5:15pm the evening before the show putting a hoof boot on my horse and throwing all my plans to ride out the window.
I called the show office but no farrier was scheduled to be there the next day. My farrier could not come out that evening and Trainer didn’t get a response from hers. It looked like the show was a scratch so I did what every good horsewoman in this situation would do: I went to Tipsy Taco to drown my sorrow in queso.
While there a friend called me to tell me that she got in touch with her farrier for me and he was happy to meet me and tack back on the shoe, which I fortunately found in the pasture. God, I love horse people.
This did mean that I needed to switch back into horse show mentality at 8:30pm. I had a disgusting horse that hadn’t been ridden since Tuesday, muddy tack, an unpacked trailer and only a vague sense of my dressage test. I went home and went to bed.
The next morning I did my best to knock the two inch thick layer of grime off my disgusting horse, roughly cleaned my tack and threw everything in the trailer so I could meet the farrier at 8:30 am. My dressage time was 10:58 am and I planned to get on at 10:15 am. The farrier arrived right on time, tacked it back on in 15 seconds (omg but Eeyore was the best boy! I have to write an entire post on how great he was at this show in general) and then spent 30 minutes discussing biomechanics and his hooves. Which, great. I love the education but I have to show and I don’t have time for this right now.
At this point I figured we were a go for this show and all the gremlins were exhausted. Hahahahahahah. Nope.
When I went to check in, I walked past Trainer and said hello. I mentioned that perhaps I didn’t dress appropriately. You see, I had grabbed my dark green tights in the pitch black of my room trying not to wake the hubby that morning and while I did have my white show shirt and coat it really wasn’t a great dressage picture. Plus every single other person was in white or tan. This was a schooling show and I’m sure they wouldn’t have said anything but I really stuck out like the red headed step child.
Of course this is Trainer and she just said “go find my trailer. I have tan breeches inside”. Which then led to a 20 minute hunt for a trailer I only vaguely remembered. Eventually I sorta guessed which was hers. I laughed as I slid into a pair of tan breeches I found and hoped I hadn’t just stolen pants from a stranger.
At this point it was 950 and I had wanted to be on by 10:15. I still had to tack up and change into my show shirt/coat and my nerves were shot. I managed to get on him in time, but then realized I forgot my gloves and just said screw it.
I ran into Bette at this point and jokingly said something along the lines of getting all the issues out before I mounted so now the ride would be amazing.
Someone. Please. Make. Me. Stop.
I’m going to blame a lot of the warm up on me. Is there a class on how to deal with it? I get soooo tense. I hate it. One person claims the entire far end with her trainer and stays on a circle that you can’t get around. Another person is doing a huge figure 8 that is sorta haphazard so no matter what I did I’m cutting her off. Others are zig zagging. At one point I just halted in the center and hyperventilated. I was doing my best to pass left shoulder to left shoulder but people were going right and hugging the rail which made it impossible and I froze.
Which obviously was great on my wound up, hadn’t been ridden in forever horse who doesn’t handle warm up all that well himself.
At this point I saw Trainer waving to me at the rail. I made my way over and she offered to get on and canter him around. I asked if that was legal and she said it was fine. I wasn’t so sure but I was happy to hand him over.
And then he promptly bucked her off.
Want to feel smaller than small? Have your horse throw your Trainer in the dirt in a crowded warm up when you aren’t really sure she was actually allowed to even be on him in the first place.
This show was going super.
She got back on, rode him hard, he looked like he regretted his life decisions hard core and then she gave him back to me. Thankfully by this point there were only a few people left in the warm up arena, so I kept my brain from melting and we actually had a decent warm up.
Before long we entered at A and laid down the worst dressage test in history. It isn’t even worth a play by play.
On the plus side we did do all the things we were supposed to do when we were suppose to do them. Even the odd canter circles at A which aren’t done fully at the canter. We got both our leads correctly, didn’t canter the entire test and stayed inside the white fence. All base line good things.
We also went around counterbent as he gawked at the jumper ring next door, pretended to be afraid of the rail/letters and remained tense. I knew we’d get dinged for not being on the rail, but I also knew that putting my inside leg on to shove his orange butt over would break him to canter and I decided to take the hit on my track versus breaking gait.
We scored 43.3. Ouch. All comments were either “not on rail” or “counterbent”. End comments were “score will lower once proper bend and track achieved”. Which. Yup. Can’t argue that.
Trainer said it’s time to learn shoulder something. Fore? In? Can’t remember at the moment. But she said it would help with his penchant for going around looking outside the arena the entire time. I also want to discuss the bit options with her. I hate this full cheek. He completely blows me off and I have zero half halt or ability to get him round. Yes, I know bits aren’t magical and it is a rider issue. He goes so lovely and round in the Pessoa and I feel like I can talk to him then become quiet in that bit versus screaming and him still putting his hooves in his ears and going “lalalalalalla I can’t hear you“ in the full cheek. But sadly the Pessoa isn’t dressage legal so I’m going to talk to Trainer about it and see what my options are.
Anyway here is the video if you want to see it in all its three minute glory
I went back to the trailer to let us both rest before our stadium round at 12:55 and contemplated if he was the right horse for me after all, if Eventing was the right discipline and if maybe I shouldn’t have even come.