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Volunteer Challenge Check In

This year flew by in a blur. As we near the end of the year and the end of the Volunteer Challenge I wanted to do a little check in for those of you who may be point chasing for year end awards.

October and November will be random draw months, so even if you haven’t volunteered before you could still win something. Even just 1 hour gets your name in the pot, so to speak.

December will be the end of it all with year end awards given out to the Champion (highest points) and Reserve Champion (second highest). In the case of a tie, I will randomly pick the winner and depending on how much money I have at the time the other person may get something small too.

What will you be winning you ask??? At first I had thought about a cooler and a halter, but eh…I’ve gotten more creative and personal as this year has plodded along and I have the perfect idea for the Champion. I’m still working on the Reserve Champion idea, but believe me it will be worth it and I’ll announce them both in December.

Here are the standings so far, inclusive of those who have given me hours for October already. Don’t worry, I’ll do the call for hours towards the end of the month still. In case anyone feels compelled to get out there and win this thing in the homestretch, here is what you are up against so far and man is it impressive:

Everything Pony – 4 hours
Holly – 4 hours
KC – 4 hours
Teresa – 6 hours
Betsy – 7 hours
Carly – 9 hours
Amanda (beljoer) – 12 hours
Olivia – 16 hours
David – 16 hours
Amanda C – 17 hours
Sarah O – 19 hours
Emily – 21 hours
Naadia – 26.5 hours
Bette – 46 hours
Amy – 77.5 hours
Emma – 79.5 hours

Total: 364.5 hours

Dang folks, that is A LOT of hours given back!!!!!!

Amy and Emma you guys are super close, so get out there and get those hours in!! The rest of you still have time to win this sucker. Trust me it will be a prize worth winning.

 

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Waving The White Flag of Defeat

Riddle me this:

How much time off does a horse need coming off a 5 month hiatus for hoof related lameness?

The answer?

10-14 more days.

H’Appy. Courtesy of Emma.

I probably sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress the fact that in nearly 10 years of owning, riding and competing Gem , she never had a lameness and only had one incident with a wire fence while being boarded that required veterinary care and time off enough. Even now, happily retired she is sound, healthy as can be and injury free.

20 years old, healthy, sound and about as happy as this mare gets. 

Oh, and she was also only $800 and I did not do a PPE on her. I’ve never even seen her legs or feet on xray. Oh, and she was barefoot for everything except the 100 mile ride.

I’ve had H’Appy for 5 months. In that time he has had two vet appointments for lameness, a very expensive farrier appointment with pads and custom shoes, and has been given most of that time off for lameness and/or injury.

I’m shocked too buddy. In a terribly defeated way.

Today was supposed to be a great day. I took off work, scheduled a lesson and a saddle fit appointment through Custom saddlery. Life has been one big giant suck fest lately and I really, really needed this day.

H’Appy and I tackled our first trail ride last weekend and all went well. Then on Monday he came in for dinner with this:

How? How on earth in a 15 acre paddock of grass with no buildings or sharp objects? How??

Thankfully he stayed sound on it, but it was angry and over a joint so that granted him the beginning of the week off to heal. Come Wednesday he looked spiffy and ready to rock and roll for the lesson Friday morning.

Only last night he came in with this:

Seriously, horse – HOW?!?!?!
The other two don’t have a mark on them. At this point, if this guy lives to 10 I’ll be shocked. He is an accident waiting to happen. 

Now, Dusty is forever telling me to suck it up and ride the dang horse, so when I had him look at it and he told me no way should I ride and he would need at least 10-14 days off to prevent that from splitting wide open and requiring sutures, I sagged in defeat and texted Trainer to cancel the lesson and oh yeah no saddle fit either.

Me handling life right now.

Plus I texted Emma to commiserate with. Life sucks less with friends.

Adding this all up – in the time I have has H’Appy he has had maybe 2-3 consecutive rides before yet agian needing a chunk of time off to heal something or another. At this rate, we may be ready to show by 2025, if he is still alive at that point which is highly unlikely.

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Trusting the Trail

Deep down in my bones I’m a trail/endurance rider. My heart and soul live in the woods and my peace of mind can be found on a single track, hilly trail.

H’Appy killed any shred of confidence I had when he threw me over his head at a walk in the pasture. Before that I laughed at his shenanigans and shrugged off any behavior I didn’t like. Once I landed in a heap in front of him, all of that changed and fear and mistrust replaced it. I now know that he can pull a nasty buck and rear maneuver and he isn’t above being mean to get his way.

Where have you taken me, Human??

All of this has created a lot of tension in my rides of late and I felt like it was time to turn to my trusty trainer – the trail.

The proper trail can teach a horse a lot of things, but what I love most about it is that the trail itself has a personality and requires respect from both the horse and the rider. I ride better on the trail. My posture is better and I hold my horse more accountable than I do in a lovely, flat and secure arena. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am more lax in the arena often times allowing the horse to not walk immediately or turn after I had wanted or cut a corner because what does it matter? On the trail, a cut corner could mean falling over the cliff and an ignored halt could result in getting run over by a car at a road crossing. As such, when I give an aid I expect it to be listened to immediately without question when on the trail.

In addition, the trail hashes out a lot of things in a way that makes the horse responsible for bad outcomes instead of the rider. If you ignore my request to rebalance and slow down and then face plant over a root, that’s your fault. If you stop paying attention and walk into a tree, again your fault horse. Plus most horses aren’t stupid enough to go charging off through the brush on a whim.

It was a gorgeous day too. Cool enough to need a vest and most importantly- dry.

With all that in mind, I reached out to just about anyone I could think of in my area to see if they wanted to ride Gem to babysit H’Appy and me on the trail. Everyone was busy (or claimed to be so as not to have to ride my Gemmie) and so I found myself with my heart in my throat at the trail head of my favorite system, alone.

My biggest fear with him out and about is his herd bound tendencies. Once another horse is around, I no longer exist. Pulling into a busy trail head scared the crap out of me and so I decided it wise to hand walk him along the road, out of sight of the trailers and into the woods before mounting. Once in the woods, I realized this was the first time I’ve ever mounted him from the ground and it took way too long to get him to stand still for me to do so.

Not feeling as in love with these ears as my favorite black tipped ones, but some day I will get there

Once on him I was very very nervous and forced myself to breathe deeply and exhale relaxing my body and mind. Unfortunately a big part of the start of the 6.5 mile loop had been redone since I was last there and they lost about a mile of woods replacing it with a wide open gravel road. I was planning on using the terrain to keep any bad behavior at bay but now found myself in the open.

Very open and very inviting for a long canter. But I kept him a a walk not trusting him yet to not be a jerk about it.

H’Appy actually did very well. He didn’t spook at anything we came across: downed logs and piled up branches (Gem’s nemesis), deer bounding away, squirrels rustling in the leaves above and cars racing down roads. Once we hit the woods again after the gravel road, I calmed down a lot and put my faith in the trail.

I dismounted to walk across the two creeks on trail after getting to the first and feeling him try to bound over it from a stand still. The entire point of this first outing was to instill confidence and a positive experience in both and I thought that would be the opposite

It did not disappoint. H’Appy learned that by cantering instead of trotting he would miss turns and run into a tree. He stayed a trot or came back with a very small half halt after that. He also learned that when I ask for a walk after trotting and he doesn’t, he will regret that choice as he barrels down a hill and nearly face plants at the bottom. After that he slowed to a walk every time I asked.

He crosses bridges, roads and handled steep hills both up and down without pause. All great things

The biggest thing I hope he learned was to pay attention at all times. We came across my biggest fear with a mile left to go. As we crossed the road I heard horses up ahead coming towards us. When we got to them, they pulled over and we passed. He didn’t throw a tantrum because there was another horse ahead of us going our direction. We quickly came upon them, the lady pulled over, we passed and then she followed attaching herself behind us. Thankfully H’Appy was happy to lead (something Gem would not have done) and I enjoyed a small bit of company. When we crossed the final road though, the lady peeled off and we went straight. Well, that was too much for Doofus who had spent so many miles alone to finally find a friend. He stopped paying any attention to me, threatened to rear/spin/bolt back to them when he stumbled on a rock and near face planted. I laughed. The rest of the trek back to the trailer he focused on me and the trail although he threw in a few melancholy calls to his long lost new BFF.

After the second creek, I even trusted him enough to use a wobbly log to mount from. He stood perfectly still and was a gentleman

All in all it was a good time. Once I got over myself and started trusting him a bit. He ended tired and sweaty which is the exact way a horse should end a technical and hilly trail ride even though we walked 90% of it. I’m actually excited to go back out with him and hope that with time and miles the beginning settles down. I think I may try to do more trails and less arena work for now until I get a better understanding of how he works since I am most comfortable on the trail.

He was sweaty and tired at the end but in all the best ways possible. He was very good for most of it.
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Feeling His Vitamin B(ute)

Tropical Storm/Hurricane (I’m no longer sure which) Michael is currently pummeling us with high winds and an ocean full of rain. I got up early to help tuck the horses in the barn with hay for the day. I don’t think they actually cared about being outside in the rain. The temps are still in the mid 70s so the rain was probably a bit refreshing. They have plenty of natural shelter and instead chose to stand in the middle of the open pasture grazing, but I felt better tucking them in and letting their feet dry so in they went.

Last night though, I grabbed the Orange Beastie for his test ride. Thankfully all four shoes have remained in place and his bell boots seem to be preventing heel grabs. He over reaches with his hinds just hand walking him. You can hear his hind hoof hit the front as you walk him in/out of the barn, so I was a bit skeptical they would remain. I love to be proven wrong.

I put the Kieffer on him and still really like the fit. The cut back pommel gives him plenty of wither room and the panels tuck behind his massive shoulders nicely. It remains a size too small for me, but it is serviceable for now. Anyway…he lunged sassy and bit bratty trying to reach down and grab bites of grass (yup my arena still sucks and I can’t get anyone to actually show up to an appointment to quote me) but with a firm hand he got the memo that it was time to work. He threw in some bucks and squeals for funsies and was perfectly sound both directions.

I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation getting on him all alone in the arena. His theatrics were a tad impressive on the lunge and I wasn’t feeling particularly brave in a slightly too small saddle. He stood to be mounted (a feat that took about a month to instill in him) and off we walked. You know how you try to do what is right and think you are but then realize you weren’t the entire time and feel like shit?

Yeah. That was me.

Not only did he give me a gloriously forward and long strided walk, but his entire back felt freer and he was much happier with his existence. Sorry, buddy. I love the way he moves in the Kieffer and with shoes/not sore feet.

Smokey is now 15 years old. She adores dogs. Thankfully Einstein has gotten used to her snuggles. 

I don’t love the sass and he kept trying to curl back and offer up more than I was asking which awarded him with a ton of turns of direction and random halts to keep his feet moving and his brain engaged. I still haven’t figured out if he is really stupid or wicked smart yet. Really it is a toss up most days.

On to the trot work and um…where on earth did this guy come from? No more shuffling old man gait. Nope. He was on fire. He kept asking to canter instead and I’d continually bring him back and make him trot. He would then try to curl behind the bit and that rewarded him with a boot forward. This is all evasion behavior, by the way. Why trot nicely and use the hind end when you can blow out all the shoulders and whip around and pretend you have no idea what being a gentleman is all about? Maybe I’ll get scared and get off. When that didn’t work he began halting and standing there with his ears back on me like “Ok…that was fun. We are done now though.”

Probably my favorite picture of all time. A tech at work snagged this picture as Dusty prepared to do a dressing change on Waggy’s bad leg. 

Big Orange Beastie has enjoyed his vacation.

I didn’t work him too much because the storm was blowing in and the skies were looking pretty angry. By the time I got off and put him out they opened up, so I stopped just in the time. While it wasn’t the best ride ever, and was a bit frustrating in all honesty, I’m glad he is feeling better and he was without a question 100% sound. He wasn’t bad by any means, just feeling fresh and sassy and trying to get out of going back to work. I know with a consistent schedule again he will return to his normal pliable self. I don’t fully trust that he won’t throw a buck or a small rear in there for fun, so I am a bit more tense and rigid than I know I should be. He isn’t the only one out of riding shape.

Time to get off

With him feeling better, I got back on trainer’s schedule for a lesson next week and asked if she would hop on him first to get a feel for him and help with a plan. She was game, so that will be fun!

Yup…time to get off. About 10 minutes later the sky opened up and it has only gotten worse since then. At least my arena is getting watered. 
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Ahh..The Universe

It is a common theme on here that I truly believe the Universe has a wicked sense of irony and a dark sense of humor.

Last Monday, H’Appy went for his lameness eval and it turned out t was exactly as I thought: crap feet and a sore back from saddle fit. He got his new shoes put on that same afternoon and was given the vet prescribed week of pasture rest and bute.

His right front X-ray. You can see the long toe that needed to come off and his lack of sole. The alignment was great though

Last week the weather was gorgeous. A bit hot and humid still, but the mornings and evenings were cool and the sun was shining. Nice weather to ride in. Or you know to walk your horse with expensive footwear in and out of the barn for food. Either works I suppose.

This week. Now this week I was allowed to do ground work Monday and if all looked good I could hop on for a light flat school Tuesday. I was excited. If all went right we could finally be back on track feeling good and working towards goals. I was a bit bummed when my body work lady rescheduled his Sunday session to this Saturday as I was hoping to get him feeling his best muscle wise before I hopped on and while still on the bute, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

The front left. Also long toe and no sole but with the added bonus of crap angles and a low heel. This foot got a leather wedge pad.

And then Monday dawned cloudy but dry. I left work at 500pm and was excited to get to work the big orange beastie. I pulled into my drive and the sky opened up dumping a ton of rain on me. Ok…it can’t last long. I’ll feed the horses and start dinner and by the time Dusty is home it should be clear. And clear up it did. Until he came home after an emergency c-section at close to 7pm and the skies opened up once again.

No working him Monday.

Yesterday the day was clear and bright but cool and wonderful. I figured I’d lunge him first to watch him go and then hop on him if all looked good. Hahahahahahahah!!!

Yup. You guessed it. Once dinner was started and I was heading out the door to ride it decided to pour once again. As of writing this Wednesday morning it still hasn’t stopped.

Sigh.

I’m telling myself that waiting isn’t a bad thing. More time off can only help his feet heal and after waiting 5 months what is another few days to a week?

In the meantime I’m making plans. Nothing set in stone but I’m looking towards the fall and penciling in some fun horse times because damnit after the summer I’ve had with him I deserve it!!! Between some hunter paces and a couple local schooling jumper shows it could be quite the exciting fall and early winter around here. If the weather cooperates and if my horse is sound. You know, the minor details.

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Q3 Prize Announcement

When I started this contest, the goal was to get people thinking about giving back and spending maybe a little less time competing and more time lending a hand to allow others to do so.  Amy, you really knocked that out of the park. I know WEG helped that number out, but that does not detract from the fact that you took time away from work and family to go volunteer several states away.

Typically this prize package is worth around $50, but I thought of something you might really like and it is a stretch over that. Since I fund this myself nobody can argue about my spending, right? (Except the Hubby, but shhh…) And you deserve the extra bit spent with all those hours.

I’ve been reading a lot about these new mohair endurance reins by Wild West Endurance Company. Apparently they are absolutely amazing and while I’m not currently competing in that sport, I am already drooling over a pair. Mohair for life for me.

q3 prize
PC: Wild West Endurance website. Soft fluffy, durable mohair that provides grip without ripping your hands to shreds plus biothane ends? Sign me up!

You like purple, or at least that is what my stalking abilities came up with, and so you will get purple. Exactly what type of purple and what else is added in will be a surprise. Something has to be a surprise, right? Anyway…I hope you love them as much as everyone else seems to and thank you for getting out there. Email me your mailing address at agemofahorse at gmail dot com and I will get them ordered.

 

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Volunteer Challenge Third Quarter Winner

Wow you guys. Simply WOW.

Once all the hours were in, September ended up being a killer month with 105 hours donated to the sports we love. That is amazing!!!! What is even better is that over the last quarter 13 of you got out there, didn’t mount up and instead worked your butts off to help the event run. Thank you to everyone who participated this quarter!!

Here is a list of everyone that got out there this quarter (Sarah O and Holly, I could not for the life of me find your blog address so I apologize for not linking):

Sarah O – 1 hour
Holly – 4 hours
Carly – 6 hours
Olivia – 6 hours
Teresa – 6 hours
Betsy – 7 hours
Amanda (Beljoer) – 10 hours
Emily – 12 hours
David – 12 hours
Bette – 20 hours
Nadia – 23 hours
Emma – 27 hours

And the winner with a whopping 37.5 hours is….

Amy!!!

YAY!! Congrats on getting it done in spectacular fashion. Umm…I am going to spend the weekend finding you the perfect prize, so hang in there and I will post it once I figure out what it is going to be. I have an idea and since you also do endurance I can use some pretty fun items to round it out, but I need to do some digging and thinking to make it right.

October is the second to last random drawing, folks. Get out there and help out and have a chance to win something fun and free!!