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….


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!!


Saddle Shopping…Where to Begin??

I know…I have to figure out the Q3 results but that takes a lot of mental power to come up with a great prize and I haven’t done it yet. It will get done by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I need some help. H’Appy (you all can thank Amanda for this new name. I LOVE it and can’t wait to use it as his show name) needs a new saddle.  Thankfully Trainer has offered to have me try any of the saddles she has at her barn on him to get a good idea of what to look for and I plan to spend a day doing just that once he is cleared for riding again. I have no idea what all she has beyond a Thorowgood (fit Gemmie well when I tried it and is the reason I got one for her) which obviously I won’t try, but beyond that..no clue.

Doofus was very bored waiting for the farrier to make his custom…yes custom…shoes. Horse, I’ve never had custom anything in my life. I found it fascinating to watch him make a shoe from a bar of steel. 

Saddle shopping is a bit mind boggling to me at the moment. Many moons ago with Gem I was shopping for endurance saddles and tried every possible english saddle I could think of before giving up and going with my beloved Advantage endurance saddle which someone will have to pry out of my dead hands to get from me. That saddle, BTW, does not fit Doofus one bit. Of course not, right?

But anyway…I spent over a thousand dollars on trial fees and return shipping trying everything I could think of that might work for her. I really don’t want to go that route again. I mean, opening box after box of nice leather goods wasn’t terrible, but it was expensive and tiresome. Even going through a reputable dealer with tracings went haywire as they sent me very much the wrong size and I still had to pay return shipping fees.

He also didn’t appreciate the small of the hot shoe process. He had lots of opinions. So did my check book. 

With Doofus, I’m a little clueless as to what will work and what won’t. The T8 was fitted for him and looked really good…until it didn’t and the Big Orange Beast is extremely sore. I would not have guessed based on the way it looks to fit him that he would be this reactive and while I know endurance saddles inside and out and what I need/like, I am a little lost when it comes to jump saddles.

There are no independent fitters in my area. There are a lot of brand specific ones and while I’m not opposed to any single brand I also can’t afford to spend money on a fitter for every single brand to figure out what I like and need. Every time I try to search online I get stuck. Where do I even begin? I have a small budget and prefer used to new, I’m talking maybe $1500 max here, and I don’t mind waiting for a good deal but I need to know what deal I am even looking for and that is where I am stuck. I test rode one of the sales horses in a CWD and adored it, but yeah…not going to be affording one of those any time soon and to have the rep out to give me his specs to still not be able to afford it seems wasteful and sorta mean to myself. I don’t know. Someone better at shopping may be able to give me some tips here.

By the end of the 3 hour long farrier appointment, he was falling asleep in the cross ties. As was I. 

So…blogger friends who are always amazing…where do I begin? What saddle brands are typically pretty good for low level jumping on a wide horse? Anything to absolutely stay away from? Do I just pick something at random and try it or is there a website that I am not aware of that can help with these things? The used tack shop in Aiken allows you to bring the horse with and the owner is apparently pretty fit savvy, but there is no place to ride and really ends up depending on the current inventory which can be pretty hit or miss. The only wide they had was the Kieffer I brought home and the MW I also brought to try was way too narrow. That cost me $70 to ship back. Ugh.

My old BO is a Stubben dealer. She can come do a fitting, but I wasn’t very thrilled with the Stubbens I tried on Gem while I boarded there. I mean, it was Gem and she was a fitting nightmare but they all seemed so very expensive for what I was getting. They are easy to find used though, so maybe it is worth it?

Bell boots are really not enjoyable to get on. They kept sling shotting off his leg and flying across the barn aisle. I was giggling at myself the entire time. 

Basically what I am rambling on about is that I need a starting point. At least a rough idea of what to look for, where to go and where to begin this search beyond opening Smartpak and randomly ordering saddles because they offer free shipping. I know that each brand fits differently so having a fitter out for one brand may not give me very useful information to put towards a different brand…ie: Stubben measures in cm and others in Medium/Wide etc… Plus you know there is flap length and how forward it is and blah blah blah.

So….help?! How did you all begin your saddle search? Did you happen upon your saddle through your Trainer or a friend? Did you pay a fitter to come out? Was it helpful or did they only know one specific brand and it wasn’t applicable to others? I’m pretty fitter skeptical based on previous experiences that ended in saddles that very much did not fit in any way, shape, or form and fitters not standing behind their decisions and making it right, but maybe I’ve just had bum luck I don’t know. Where would you suggest I begin?


Phew! What A Load Off

Eeyore went in for his lameness evaluation this morning. I had the day off work for a trip to Chicago that never happened. The drug rep cancelled my flight in August without telling me and I had no way to get there last minute. Shucks.

I was a nervous wreck all morning. I bothered Michele a lot and KC had the bad idea to text me to see how things were going and probably immediately regretted that decision 🙂 Thanks girls for the support!!!

In my typical type A ways, I left really early and arrived 30 minutes before my appointment. Eeyore travels better each time and unloaded only a tad sweaty. They have lovely sand paddocks for the horses to wait in and I let him chill outside while I went in to fill out paperwork.

Surveying his new world

And by chill I mean run around like an idiot, work up into a thick lather and then roll in the sand. I swear I brushed him and made him clean for the vet. He was disgusting by the time the vet met him. Doofus, try not to embarrass me ok?

I had verbal diarrhea all over that poor vet as soon as she asked. I mean every tiny detail I could regurgitate came out. It was her birthday too. I wasn’t a very good present.

He had no clue what was going on but was a Very Good Boy through it all

First was a basic exam followed by flexions on the cement slab. I was a bit anxious about the whole cement slab thing. Poor guy hurts on good footing let alone cement, but I watched and mostly kept my mouth shut.

I need to give him credit here. He was a saint. He trotted when asked, let everyone poke and prod and generally annoy him and he took it all in. Thankfully no other horses were around or it would have been a different story. He is an angel when he thinks he is all alone in the world but gets a bit fixated and unruly if another horse is in sight. We will work on that.

They kept calling him the “Happy Appy” Better than Doofus I suppose

Anyway my Big Orange PITA flexed normal all the way around. No left hind creating front right issues. He did palpate strongly positive to the back and that is having had all last week off.

Diagnosis #1: bad saddle fit. I already knew this and the T8 will never touch him again. More on this later though.

It was on to the round pen for lunge work. They started going left since he is better that direction.

I see you!!! His eye is ever on me

He was 1/5 going left but was being super good and moved out well. They kept him going left for a while and the vet mentioned at least half a dozen times that he was a really cute mover and she liked him a lot. She told me to imagine what he will be like when he isn’t lame. My response? “Not rideable” I’m so very funny.

He really was a super cute mover this morning. He thought about being sassy a few times but wasn’t dedicated enough to the effort

Off to the right and…3/5 lame. Which surprised me actually having not been worked in a week but thinking on it I’m sure the trotting on the cement hurt and this was residual from that.

Appy style zoomies

They didn’t ask much to the right. There wasn’t much point, so from there we went back to the cement and she got out the hoof testers. Trying to be nice she started on the front left. And boy did he react! He wasn’t mean but he hurt. Everywhere she touched. When she moved to the right foot he shied away and looked at her like “No way! That thing hurts!” The right front was equally positive but to the toe only.

Well dang. Sorry guy your feet hurt so bad.

We agreed that X-rays would be beneficial for a lot of reasons, most important to look at angles and help the farrier better do his job. I was nervous here too. I knew the PPE had some odd questions about his navicular and I worried she missed something awful that would show up and cause his permanent retirement at the ripe age of 7. I expressed this and the vet told me he was too young for that and she could fix just about anything.

Of note, Big Man lets it all hang out all the time. So much that the vet told me I need to start using sun lotion on his manly bits to avoid skin cancer. I mean I knew it was a risk but maybe put it away big guy.

Eeyore is super light weight and enjoyed his time inside with sedation an awful lot. Between the air conditioning, the cushy mats and the happy juice, all the techs and the vet were laughing at my poor Doofus. He wants to be an inside horse.

A lot of snaps later and the results were in. Nothing wrong with his bones or his joints. This is when I finally let go of all my anxiety and concerns. No navicular changes. No arthritis. Big deep breath.

What they did show though was interesting. I’ll start with the RF. The new hoof growth is growing in parallel to the bone and is healthy. The articular angles are spot on. All good news. The sole is barely there which I knew from my farrier telling me that months ago. The main thing is that the old toe is super long and is creating a mechanical laminitis. Basically every time he pushes off the slope of the toe is pulling the hoof wall off the bone creating pain. As the hoof grows in this will self correct but yikes! Not good. Cutting all the toe off should improve his pain immediately.

The LF was surprising. It is his low heel, but looks like it is growing in nicely. Yeah, no. No laminitis and the hoof is growing nicely parallel to the bone but the angles are all sorts of bad. This puts him at high risk for ligament and bone issues in the future if not corrected.

Diagnosis #2: shit feet. This I also knew.

I was relieved though. No tendon or ligament issue. Just bad feet and bad saddle fit. Both of which I knew going in. I asked if she wanted to block him and she saw no need today. With everything else he was literally screaming “my feet hurt!” If our plan doesn’t work that will be the next step.

What’s the plan?

Shoes. She wants the toes cut off all around and steel put on. He can’t get full pads because he is so sore he won’t tolerate them. RF will get a pour in rear pad to offload the toe and spread the weight out more evenly. Eventually he should be able to get out of the pad. LF needs a frog support pad to raise that heel and correct the alignment. She doesn’t trust that a bar shoe will stay on and he barely has enough to shoe. If he rips it off we are screwed. He may never get out of a pad to the left but time will tell on that.

She gave him bute IV and wants him to remain on bute daily for the next week. Farrier is scheduled for this afternoon so hopefully the bute makes shoeing not too much of a torture session for the poor guy. No riding for the next week but she wants him out in pasture.

Next week I am to do ground work Monday and a light ride on Tuesday. In a different saddle which fortunately I have. If all is good then get the massage/chiro out and get a new saddle (my $200 Kieffer is too small for me but works for the short term). She doesn’t think chiro will help until after the feet are better since he isn’t walking normal. Same with the saddle really. Bad gait can make the saddle hit weird so no use getting a saddle fitting until he is sound.

Unrelated, Waggy came home this weekend finally. She is likely going to lose her leg but I’m still too messed up over that to talk about it. It is good having her home though.

I’m happy. I’m glad my gut wasn’t wrong that saddle fit and bad feet were the cause of this. I’m glad she liked him and he flexed fine. I’m glad it isn’t anything worse.

I’m sad that his feet suck so bad and that he lost so much hoof we couldn’t shoe for so long. I’m sad that I rode him when he hurt and I’m sad that we lost the entire summer to this.

But it could be worse and she told me she saw no reason we can’t be jumping our tiny jumps for years to come. I’m hanging on to that as we move forward.