Major Breakthrough

Smiles for days over here at Team Eeyore folks. Smiles. For. Days.

Last night was my preemptive make up lesson for missing next week. I debated not even going. Eeyore had been stalled for the day Wednesday for the chiro and then again Thursday for the farrier. By the time I got home from work and loaded him straight from his stall, you could see the devil in his eyes.

The beginning of the lesson sorta went how I imagined it. He was doing his utmost best to behave. You could tell he was repeating the mantra of “Need to be a good boy. Good boys don’t buck. Need to be a good boy” over and over in his head as we worked through the warm up. In fact, I could feel his energy vibrating underneath me. It is a bit unnerving. I know he won’t do anything stupid under saddle, but I can also tell he really, really wants to.

After a little while she suggested we lunge him. Her theory on lunging is pretty simple. Let the horse be a horse. Let him get his sillies out on the line where he can safely. If he wants to gallop – gallop. If he bucks – laugh. Because we know Eeyore will not translate that under saddle, we can let him get the wiggles out on the line. And boy did he! He threw in some impressive bucks, snaked his head in glee and galloped around that circle with his tail flagged high. When he told her he was done, she asked him to trot 5 circles around nicely and then switched sides where he didn’t buck but he did kick up his heels into another nice gallop before saying he was done and then trotting 5 more circles.

No new media, so you get some old favorites to break up the text

When I climbed back aboard it was onto a completely different horse. He was calm, listening and steady. He was no longer vibrating underneath me and was instead able to listen.

But this wasn’t the break through. This is the lead up.

We worked for a while in the front half of the arena starting work on the 20 m circle of doom. She even made me do the sitting trot. A lot. It hurt. It was a bit hard on him due to his very awesome most amazing stop button which I have no intention of training out of him. HA! It was next to impossible to comfortably sit his zoomy, endurance horse impression of a trot on the circle, but when I’d ask for him to slow way down, lean back and really press my hips into the saddle to sit – he would halt. Which, yay!!! I love a good set of breaks. But it did make trying to keep him trotting slow enough to sit it a bit more of a challenge. We did get several circles both directions that pleased Trainer AB and she gave me a ton of insight on the 20 m circle of doom that really helped ease both of our obvious tension with it. More on that in another post because that still isn’t the break through.

We stood in the arena chatting about everything we had done so far – the use of the lunge to get his sillies out, her theory on lunging, the 20 m circle, some things to help my sitting trot improve, etc…and I thought we were done. It had been over the 45 minutes we usually ride and we had accomplished a good bit. I gave him a pat and told her that I was happy to work on all that homework and she looked at me like I had three heads. “Oh, we aren’t over yet.”


She had set up two ground poles 42′ apart down one of the long sides and I began by doing the simple change of bend trot exercise from a couple lessons before. Trot over, turn left, turn right, represent over, turn right, turn left, come back over. Easy peasy at this point. Then the real fun began.


The exercise is meant to be ridden over at the canter in 3 strides. She was beginning to teach me striding!!!! You’d think that with all the other lessons I took, this wouldn’t be the first time anyone has specifically discussed striding with me, but it is. She talked about the feel of it. She talked about looking at the dirt just in front of the ground pole where I want his front feet to land before going over. She talked about the landing, counting the three strides, feeling his front feet hit, his back feet hit, the take off and the landing again. She discussed the theory of knowing when to ask for more to make the 3 and when to hold back and wait for the 3. She talked about how early on in a course horses tend to hit long spots but by the end they are feeling full of it and you have to wait to get hit your strides.

So there I was walking and listening to her. She wanted me to get the canter left and present to the exercise.

And here it is folks. My major breakthrough.

The canter has always been my down fall. It isn’t so much riding the canter that has always turned me into a rigid beam of fear. It was the transition. Gem had a horrible canter transition mostly because her trot was always too rushed, a little too flat and a whole lot too fast. Plus her canter felt like a washing machine and I rarely spent much time in it. Eeyore has a lovely canter transition and since my homework has been working hard in the canter, I’ve been playing around with it a lot. Every stadium round I’ve ever watched has had me super jealous of one thing. Not the jumps. Not the course work. It was always sitting there watching people nonchalantly enter, pick up a stride or two of trot and immediately float into a canter and go do the thing. It would always take me gulping down big breaths of air, sitting up, organizing my reins and body and then saying a silent prayer as I asked for the canter 15 circles later. How did everyone else do what they did??

Ok..back to last night.

So there I was walking down the long side at the far end of the arena tracking left and she told me she wanted me to canter into the exercise being aware that the first time through he would likely get a long spot.

I was already halfway down the long side and still at the walk. Space was running out. I picked up the trot near the corner and then without even thinking about it a stride or two later asked for the canter, got it, and proceeded through the exercise.


Trainer AB thought my fool’s grin was about how awesome Eeyore went through the poles. We hit 3 strides exactly, he wasn’t rushing and he wasn’t holding back. Really, the exercise was fantastic. But at that point he could have tripped and fallen on his face or grown wings and flew over the poles and I wound’t have cared.

I cantered without fuss, without needing 15 minutes to gather myself. I just….cantered. Like a normal person.

We repeated this several times. The next time through he rushed and we didn’t get the 3, so then we presented again and this time I used my brain (which was still celebrating my win over my canter issues) and held him back through the line to get the 3 and she was so so so excited for us. We switched to the right lead and by this time both Eeyore and I were very tired so we flubbed it a bit more, but in the end got two great trips hitting the 3 each time though once required me to push him up to the 3 and the last holding him back for it.


For the first time in the three years I have been playing at this new sport, I finally feel like a real jumper. Sure it was just ground poles and not a jump or a course, but I finally feel like I am working on real jumping things. I’m learning striding! I’m learning to count the strides, to plan for it, to hold him back or push him up to get what I want.



Damnit Eeyore

Having professionals that I trust who are willing to come out while I’m at work is not something I take for granted. I basically kiss the ground they walk on for being so flexible. It does get a bit frustrating though when I get a report that I’m not sure warrants panic or just mild interest. Let’s face it. Anything horse related will automatically cause panic until I’m told otherwise.

We left all three inside for the day awaiting the chiro. As soon as I got home and let them out Gemmie dropped for a luxurious roll in the grass

The chiro vet came out yesterday while I was working and I waited anxiously for an update on how it went. I had been noticing some extra sensitivity to his left SI area while grooming lately and worried he may be super tight or need some extra help back there. He was moving fine under saddle and didn’t seem resistant to anything, but it caught my attention. Really I’d been meaning to do this for an entire year ever since he was lame last summer but only recently found someone I trusted who didn’t require me to take off work. She is the same vet that does our equine dental work and the one who recommended we test Gemmie for cushings. I love this woman.

Dusty gave me a brief text update mid afternoon that “Eeyore was good. Report to come later tonight”. Did that mean good as in well behaved or good as in healthy? Who knows?

Eeyore took note and thought it looked like a great idea

It was around 9 pm before the report came through and it made my stomach tighten into a ball as I envisioned a fiery death to all my future plans. Maybe a bit melodramatic but after spending all of last year fighting his right side lameness from his hoof, seeing on the report “mild head bob right front and hind” made my vision go dark around the edges.

She did note that his left shoe (not sure which but guessing the hind where I yanked the errant nail out of Monday night) was loose and needed a reset (farrier already planned on coming today so that is covered) and that he was sensitive to palpation to the left SI and had a mild effusion to the left stifle.

The only recommendation noted was to reset shoes and give Equioxx 57 mg once daily for 10 days.

So he plopped his big butt down nearly on top of Gem to join her. You can see how much she loved this idea

Of course I read this and immediately thought “oh great. He is lame on that right front again. Another summer of no riding. And now apparently his left stifle has gone to shit which probably means no jumping in his future and what am I going to do with an 8 year old horse who can’t be jumped when I want to event but I love his big lug head and can’t see selling him but he can’t be a retired pasture puff at 8 years old and ahhhhhhh!!!!”

Normal horse ownership stuff.

I then proceeded to annoy the crap out of Dusty who obviously had no answers but had the misfortune of being near me so he got bombarded anyway. He did agree to bring the Equioxx home to start that today and then told me to just call her in the morning and talk to her about it. Which is all good and dandy except my mind had already gone off the deep end.

This morning at 8 am I called her and immediately blurted out “Is he lame? Does he need retired? Please tell me he isn’t lame!” Which was very professional of me, I know. I’m all cool and calm like that. She laughed because she is awesome and proceeded to tell me that while he isn’t lame, she does think there is something wrong and that it isn’t chiropractic. Well, damn.

The perfect look of ” Damnit Mom, why did you choose this moron?”

Basically, she isn’t a fan of his left pelvis as a whole. The stifle effusion is related to the way he is traveling in the hip so she wasn’t too concerned about that. She also shrugged off the right sided head bob as also related to the left hip. Phew, I mean, it isn’t great to have an issue but if it was the same issue biting me in the butt yet again I might have pulled my hair out. At least this is something new. She noted that in gait he is bringing the left hind medially under him with forward progression more so than he does with the right hind. All again tied into the left hip.

She wants to do a 10 day trial of Equioxx to see if maybe it is just inflammation and soreness though she didn’t sound particularly optimistic it would help any. It is free though, so why not try it? She wants me to continue to ride him thinking more work and movement will be beneficial so my lesson for tonight is still on. Yay? I don’t know. Maybe Trainer AB will have some insight in his way of going. I’m off for my first vacation since 2012 all next week, so that will give him a week off to digest his meds and then the vet will be back out on July 8th for a recheck. If he isn’t any better, she will do a full on lameness/performance exam on him to try to see what is going on in that left hip to create this issue.

He rolled a few times and then decided the grass was too enticing and laid there eating grass for a solid couple of minutes. I snagged an adorable video but for some reason it won’t load.

I guess best case is he gets better with the meds and life moves on. Next best case he needs a left side SI injection and becomes right as rain again. A little maintenance with a yearly SI injection doesn’t bother me though he is only 8 years old and I had hoped to not need anything like that until his early teens or so. Sigh. Worst case….I don’t know. I’m not letting myself go there until she takes me down that route. For now, he is getting new shoes this afternoon, I have a preemptive make up lesson tonight in place of next week, and he will get some meds and time off while I sit on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no cell service.


Own The Outside

Eeyore loves to bulge towards the inside of the arena. Doesn’t matter which direction we are going though he typically prefers to grab the right rein tracking both directions.

Summer has shown up in earnest. Sweat monster before tacking up. He is a gross boy.

When put on a track he will bulge that inside shoulder and when that doesn’t work he will swing his hindquarters as well. Anything to avoid the hard work of tracking up and moving straight.

4 weeks. The darn horse has to see the farrier every 4 freaking weeks. My bank account can not wait until Eeyore retires. In 20 years.

Trainer AB would tell me to “own his right side” as we tracked left. By committing to the outside rein, he stays under himself and straight albeit begrudgingly and with angry Appy faces. I’m not to give an inch and I’m not to worry about anything else.

It was too nice not to ride last night so I pulled the nail out, made sure the shoe was still stable and he wasn’t sore and off we went to ride any way

Last night I tacked him up and told him “Bud, this ride can go as easy or hard as you make it. It’s hot as heck out here and I’d prefer a nice w/t/c ride with a cool down in the pasture. But if you want a fight then so be it.”

Right from the start I kept Trainer AB’s words in my head, “own his outside”, and own it I did! The ride wasn’t hoof perfect, but it was lovely anyway. I don’t know how to explain it. Before I always felt like I was fumbling in the dark. When he would bulge and resist, I felt like I had no response and things would continue to spiral away with both of us getting more and more frustrated. Now though, when he begins to bulge out, I own that outside rein and can feel his body move back underneath me, see our progression straighten out and then boom – it all falls into place.

My new favorite between the ears shot

Another Trainer AB-ism that ran through my head last night was “wrestle with him”. She never wants me to be rough, but when he decides to take matters into his own hands…er well mouth…and grabs the bit to go cantering off when all I want is a trot she wants me to play with the reins, flop around a tiny bit, “sorta act like you are going to fall off”, anything to snap his attention back on me and away from his own plans. She uses this technique for spooky horses as well to get their mind off whatever it is they are spooking or nervous about. She wants them to learn to focus on the rider and by being a little silly up their she has had great progress.

So when he picked up the canter going down the long side back towards the gate I told myself “wrestle with him” and within 2-3 strides he was back to the trot versus half an arena later. That is a big win. I didn’t just stay along the rail this time either. I added large full arena figure eights, would circle at one end before continuing down a long side, made smaller and large circles as well. All with the mantra of owning the outside rein and not letting him dictate anything.

She may be over weight but looks at those bay dapples and that shine!!!!

We did get to cool out in the big pasture. It’s too inviting to pass up when it is freshly mowed. The entire thing is a series of rolling hills that make it the perfect conditioning pasture. If I trusted him more. I managed an entire lap around the whole field at a walk without him losing his marbles. He called out for Gem and Pete at the very beginning but otherwise was a very good boy about it. I’ll slowly add more laps and eventually trot out there. One step at a time though.

He has a big week this week. The chiro/acupuncture vet is coming out Wednesday (she is also our equine dentist) and the farrier is due out Thursday so he will get both those days off and then we will see how he feels come the weekend. I’m hoping he feels like a million bucks since that is about what I will be spending on his this week.


Barn Upgrade

In a lot of ways I think we would have been better off buying property and building our farm rather than buying one that had been neglected for so long. The price was right, the location was perfect, and we loved the layout and bones of the place which makes it all ok but looking around at all the major projects we would like to complete gets a bit overwhelming at times.

Accomplishing some more minor projects helps keep my anxiety at bay and this past weekend saw a nice one get crossed off the list. This post is not a DIY how to because, well I didn’t do any of the work and was mowing the pasture to get ready for the monthly rotation while Dusty planned and built it for me.

Each pasture gets to rest for 2 months. In a perfect world I would mow right after pulling the horses off it and then again right before putting them back on. In my world, I mow right before putting them on it. This pasture takes about 6-8 hours to mow depending on the time of year.

A big issue for me has been my grooming/tacking area. We placed cross ties right outside the tack room for easy access which makes sense. The problem was storage. Sure I could just keep walking in and out of the tack room to grab whatever I needed, but this is real life and that is annoying. The one tiny shelf that was created by an old window (I turned the barn office into my tack room as the actual tack room lacked both a ceiling and a door so everything was disgustingly dusty all the time) quickly got crowded with brushes and various hoof treatments causing them to fall onto the dirt floor or needing stacked. It was sub optimal for sure.

Ignore the big hole below the shelf. I realized I didn’t have a before picture after Dusty started cutting the wall out.

I asked the hubby if he could build me a cabinet in place of this window/shelf and then added the kicker that I wanted it to be accessed from both the aisle and the tack room. Even easier to fill it or grab things that way.

Umm…and I wanted it decorated with a X like all the other doors and stall fronts in the barn. Too tall of an order?

The hole cut out and ready for the cabinet framing to go in.

He started the project a couple of weeks ago by cutting the hole in the wall and then it took a while to figure out the doors and argue over how to latch everything. I didn’t want them attached to each other with a sliding latch but I also didn’t want a central vertical board either.

Framing going in. You can see inside the tack room.

At first he wanted to make just a single door and while that would have made the project quicker and easier, the door would have been large and heavy. I worried it would swing open and hit Eeyore in the cross ties and imagined the annoyance of having to walk around or constantly shut and open the door to move around him. If you are building custom, you might as well make it the most efficient you can.

Shelves in place. I wanted the bottom one large enough to hold my treats and fly spray.

So two doors it was. He ended up building a single door and cutting it in half which worked out super well. That is about all the tips and tricks I can give you on this project.

Looking at it from the barn aisle

All he had to do was repeat it a second time for inside the tack room

And from inside the tack room

And fill it up!

Easy, organized access to all my grooming and horse care needs right where they are the most useful. I can’t gush about this enough

I adore it!! Everything is nicely organized, super handy and while it doesn’t super matter if your treat bucket has dirt on it, the doors will help keep the dust off everything.

I’m debating removing the top shelf and installing hooks instead to hang things on, but I don’t really have much to hang. All my tack lives inside the tack room on hooks and stands, so we will see if that ever needs to happen. For now, I am thrilled to not be fighting that stupid little shelf any more and am happy with how this turned out. The next project for the hubby is a feed bin in the feed room.


Spicy McNugget

Ever wonder what an angry Appy looks like?

Hahahahahahhaah! Oh Eeyore. When will you learn that compliance equals an easier ride and more time for the fun stuff??

Last night was my second lesson and it did not disappoint! Knowing he had had a lot of time off due to the 7+” of rain we got from Friday through Monday, I hopped on for a stretching w/t/c ride on Tuesday. He was a bit up but it was warm and sunny and he quickly got settled.

It was 30 degrees colder with a brisk wind and the constant threat of rain when I pulled into ht barn. Trainer AB asked how he had been going for me at home, what I had worked on, and how he was being tonight. I filled her in on our rides of late as I mounted and warned her he was being a bit fresh.

Thankfully the clouds decided to pass us by and not unload during the lesson

And boy was he ever! She had me only walk around once before moving to the trot and then after watching us zoom around she laughed and said we might as well canter and try to wear him out. Eventually, after about 5-7 minutes of us cantering around with no end in sight, she asked how I was doing and commented that his canter looked really nice. I told her I was fine and that this was the benefit of an endurance background. I could quite literally do this all day long though I was started to huff and puff and sweat was pouring down my back. He is an exhausting ride when he is like this.

She did offer to hop on him and I was more than happy for the offer. She can work him through his first 10 minute temper tantrum and maybe gain some insight. She got on and off they went. Ho Boy was he unhappy about that idea!! She remained calm as always, didn’t cave in when he snatched the right rein and tried to take off to who knows where, and after about 10 minutes of really hard work, he gave up and settled. For a while. She did remark that he isn’t that committed and will only try it for a few strides before settling but then that only lasts a few strides before he tries his head flinging, chin curling nonsense some more.

She threw me back up on him and we hit the rail to attempt a nice trot to the right all the way around, then a canter before doing it to the left. He was much more settled than in the beginning, but he never settled into what I know he can do. By this point in the lesson he had decided that he could no longer hold his own head up at all and so I got to learn some pointers on that nonsense. Really, it is growing old.

But….he was being good so we tackled four trot poles set along the short side at the far end of the arena going both directions. She was proud of the work I had done at home with him as he stepped through them like a good boy without turning them into a bounce exercise. He was doing well enough, that we tackled the small cross rail.

The big take away here for me was that once I presented him to the fence I was to leave him alone. He was doing his whatever with his head going along the rail so I’d tell him to pick his own damn head up please and thank you and then he’d decide curling his chin to his chest must be the answer I was looking for so I’d tell him no you can’t do that either and then bam there was the fence. We made it over no issue because he is a beast of a jumper, but she told me that once I presented him I need to stop worrying about fixing his head flinging monkey ways and let him sort it out. That way if he is curling and fumbles it is on him and he can’t blame me for it.

So we did that a few times and eventually he decided that we were on to the fun stuff and he was going to be a good boy. Once we had that down, she added a second cross rail one stride out. I’ve never done that with the Orange Butthead before. Gem always hated gymnastics as she felt we changed the rules by adding a new element and would then get pissed off. I was curious how he would handle it.

He handled it just fine. In fact, he was more interested in this game we were playing now and settled his ass way down, no more head flinging, no more nonsense. He was game on, looking ahead, coming back to me on the back side, super awesome good boy. Trainer AB was really gushing about his jump style too. She LOVED him over fences, though joked that in the dressage court we will likely walk away with a record breaking 80 or some such penalty score..har har har Trainer AB.

The first time through I got left a little behind for the second fence, so we came again and she fixed my jump position to bring my leg under me more and it felt way, way more smooth. She again gushed about his lovely stride between fences and easy out jump and then I thought we were done for the night.

But nope…she wanted a jump off the left lead as we had done this one entirely off the right since it was off set so far left in the arena. There were two jumps set up just to the right of the above picture, both were more in the mud and both were verticals with a massive black drainage pipe over them. Uh….

She asked if I wanted to do it. I looked. The jump was big and it was scary looking with the pipe but I was actually feeling really good about things. Eeyore is a lot of things, and one of those is bold and brave to the jumps and has never once taken a peek at anything I have pointed him at. She was pretty convinced he wouldn’t care. And I was nearly convinced as well. I was just about to say “sure!” when this tall drink of water of a chestnut OTTB came into the arena for the next lesson.

I wasn’t the only one to notice her and Eeyore lost his ever loving mind. He became a heat seeking missile for this mare and completely shrugged me off. The bravery I had stored up was gone in a flash and so Trainer AB removed the pipe and left it as a plain vertical which he jumped fine though he bucked on the back side when I told him we would not be galloping straight for the mare. I came and did it again and he paid zero attention, clobbered the entire thing, and still tried to run over to the mare who, had she cared about him before, was probably thinking he was a goober now. Not the way to impress the ladies, Eeyore.

We eventually cleared it and called it a night. I asked her if she honestly thinks we can train the dumb out of him and she laughed and said yes, with time and consistency he should learn that being a dweeb will get him nowhere. Her end analysis, seeing him at his worst, is that he does it to get out of work, gets angry when it doesn’t work out, and then returns to normal. He should eventually figure the game out and she thinks with his movement that he should lay down some really lovely dressage tests, when he feels like it.


One Year Later: Eeyore Addition

It’s no surprise that the horse I chose was not necessarily the horse I ended up with. Now I’m a skeptical person by nature, but I honestly do not think the seller lied about him more so than anyone trying to sell a horse hides some of the bad and plays up some of the good. Truth is, he changed life styles dramatically and it took him as long to adjust to this life and me as it did for me to adjust to him. Plus, his personality is a boundary pusher at heart and he will push the buttons necessary to see what he can get away with. It was a pretty big adjustment period to prove to him that I do mean business and there are some lines he can’t cross.

A photo from his sales ad.

A year, or well a month over at this point, later and I’m starting to see the horse I knew was in there when I trialed him. There is just something about this goofy orange beast that gives me the shivers when I think about where we could be in the future. How much he can teach me and all the adventures we can go on. True, all of it is just a feeling at the moment, but I never felt like this with any other horse and deep down I know he is worth the effort. He has come his own long way in the last year plus.

For starters, his ground manners have done a 180. I’m not sure if they weren’t really installed in the first place or if he was just used to being able to bully his way through life, but man did he drive us all crazy on the ground for a while. He was pushy, would bite, and my biggest pet peeve of all: he’d try to barge through the gate when bringing another horse in. I despise that unsafe behavior to my core.

Pawing in the cross ties last fall.

I’m happy to report that now he stands politely at the gate and lets the others come and go while standing patiently aside and moves out of the way with a single mare glare from me. Wyatt can now lead him safely as well and he hasn’t tried to bite me in months. His cross tie behavior has also improved. I can’t recall the last time he pawed, weaved or cribbed on the ties themselves and he has gotten used to the fact that grooming is a thing that will happen, so suck it up buttercup. He isn’t quite as easy on the ground as my Gemmie, but he is getting there and is now safe enough that I no longer am on high alert around him at all times.

Second, his tacking behavior has also improved. The first time I ever tried to bridle him he almost broke my nose flinging his head all over the place. Forget about doing it in the open. The one time I tried that by my trailer out xc schooling he left me. This was a pretty long process to fix. I started by always wrapping his lead rope around his neck so I could have some way to keep him still. Once he began to behave in the barn I switched to bridling him in the arena in the same manner. Wrap lead rope around neck, slip off halter, grab lead rope so he didn’t vacate the premises, bridle, remove lead rope. Eventually I became aware that I wasn’t having to touch the lead rope, so I stopped using it and now he is an actual real horse about it.

Handsome devil

The last major change is in regards to his overall attitude. He isn’t the perfect under saddle horse and isn’t easy. Trainer AB called him complicated on the flat when she rode him. But here is the biggest thing. Before, last summer and all fall/winter, he had zero interest in working with me. None. He’d try to get out of it by pulling every trick he knew and sometimes it did work. Riding him was a struggle not necessarily because he was that bad or I rode that poorly, but more so because he fought me every step of the way. If I asked to go right, he would try to go left. If I wanted to walk, he would trot. It was like banging my head against the wall over and over again. I’m not sure what made it change. Time is my best guess because we really haven’t been on that many fun adventures and only took a single lesson. But all of a sudden I find that I have a willing, if obstinate and a bit defiant, horse under me. He still tries his crap, but once I say “no buddy, we really are trotting now” he settles in and generally won’t try again. It is like he sat there in the pasture and decided “ok, maybe she isn’t so bad and I should let her in” and bam! just like that he is meeting me at the gate, shoving his head in the bridle, and getting to work. We will see how this holds up in the lesson this week if it happens. It has been raining non stop since Friday. Last I saw, before the storms rolled through yesterday, we had gotten 5″ of rain. I’m sure we had at least another 2″ yesterday and it is still raining right now. My arena is flooded and I am sure the lesson facility is under water as well, so unless they have the most amazing drainage ever, I’m not too hopeful it will happen. We will see though.


Blog Hop: 25 Questions

Hopping on this bandwagon!!!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?

Tricky because my horses are at home, so the first thing I do when I get there is change out of work clothes and then bring all three in for dinner. If I’m riding that night, I leave the other two in their stalls and bring Eeyore out to the cross ties to groom and tack up. Then once the ride is over they all get put back outside for the night.

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?

Probably not a mini ever. I don’t see any point where we would need one, but other than that I am open to just about anything that fits me. I’d love to own a pair of Clydesdales one day and have a cart for them to pull. Dreams…

3. Describe your last ride?

I just posted about it, but in general it was fantastic. Eeyore got down to busy with minimal convincing, he tackled the ground pole exercise a week before he couldn’t figure out and everything was peaches and cream.

My favorite picture of him to date. Even if he was an asshat immediately after taking this

4. Have any irrational riding fears?

It is weird because most things that I am perfectly fine with out on trail with varied terrain and all sorts of uncontrollable factors simply terrify me in the arena. Like, why? There is a fence and even if the horse goes a bit too fast where are they even going to go?? Around the circle again? I think it is something about that big open space without trees and turns to stop them that freaks me out a bit. Or the fact that I am 100% responsible for everything in the arena whereas out on trail, the trail itself dictates a lot. I don’t know.

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?

I never really rode lesson horses. My riding education was on the back of my aunt’s TWH out on the trail. My favorite was a huge chestnut with a wide white blaze and two white socks. His name was Somorrow and he was amazing. He LOVED to explore the world and always wanted to see what was around the next bend or down a different trail. He never spooked a single time in all the thousands of miles, enjoyed a good swim in the river on a hot summer day and was the best companion I could have asked for.

6. Would you ever lease out your horse?

I think the better question here is if anyone would ever want to lease one of my horses…LOL! None are super polished or easy, so I don’t think they would be hot commodities to anyone but me. I thought about it for a while when Gem was in her endurance prime. Someone who had more time to campaign her could have won many races. She was a machine at her finest. But…eh…she never cared about her record and I am a control freak and would never forgive myself if I leased her out and she came back injured, so she stayed with me. Maybe one day if Eeyore is better trained and is ready to step down but not retire fully, I will lease him out. I don’t know.

A lizard came to visit us the other day. Anything that eats insects is welcome at the farm

7. Mares: Yay or neigh?

It all depends on the specific horse. Eeyore is more mareish than Gem ever was. He has a better mare glare and more personality. She was very work like and aloof.

8. How many time per week do you get to see your horse?

Seven, but that is cheating a bit since they live outside and I bring them in for feed every day. When I boarded it was 3 times a week on average. I ride 2-3 days a week if I am lucky and the stars align. Having them at home is a life saver for me.

9. Favorite thing to do on an “easy day” with your pony?

Spa days are my favorite easy days. A full body scrub down, shampoo, conditioner and finish off with Asorbine Cool Down lineament rinse. Manes and tails included. If it is an easy riding day, some light w/t/c work to stretch the legs in the arena. Riding out in the field isn’t mentally easy on either of us just yet.

I have never seen a horse enjoy a roll as much as he does. He will even dig with his front hoof to bring up more dirt. Filthy pig of a horse

10. Conformational flaw that bothers you the most?

A long back. It is just so unappealing to the eye and in my limited experience is a big weak spot. Give me a short backed horse any day even if it gives less real estate for a saddle.

11. Thing about your riding that you’re most self conscious about?

Probably how easily I can talk myself out of doing just about anything. Does that jump that is only 2″ look a little scary? Brain says I’ll die? Then no way! I’m getting bolder and more willing to try things looking through my new orange ears, but it will take some time to become a braver rider.

12. Will you be participating in no stirrup November?

No. I did enjoy 2pointober and saw an improvement in my position with that and have incorporated more two point into daily rides, so maybe I’ll brave no stirrups in the same manner at some point.

Love his playful smooshy face and donkey ears

13. What is your grooming routine?

Eeyore is sensitive and does not like the curry or a stiff brush, so currently am using a soft brush all over and then pick his feet out, apply whatever concoction they require at the moment, apply fly spray and then tack. His mane and tail are pretty pathetic, so I leave those alone. Someday I want to get a brush set that is above TSC quality and see if I can’t get a better grooming routine that he tolerates.

14. Describe a day in the life of your horse?

Eat, sleep, play with Pete, sleep some more, eat some more. He is outside 24/7 in a large pasture with lots of room and natural shade. They move around a lot and utilize the entire thing nicely. He gets brought inside to eat morning and evening and is kicked right back out still chewing his last mouthful or else he will start to eat his wood door. Some days I ride after he eats dinner.

15. Favorite season for riding?

Fall has always been my favorite time to ride. It really is the perfect combination of weather, lack of bugs and daylight remaining to make it possible.

IT is very hard to get a good picture of anything but his very large nose

16. If you could only have 1 ring: indoor or outdoor?

I’m going to cheat here and say a covered. Honestly down here a full indoor wouldn’t really be needed since most days are nice enough to ride outside. There are cold and rainy days though that a covered would be really nice. Plus the added benefit of shade. So..covered.

17. What impresses you most about the opposite discipline (english vs. western)?

Well, I have ridden both and I must say that in general (oh boy I can already hear people getting their panties in a twist up in here) western folks have a better relationship on the ground with the horse. It seems more horsemanship and daily care is provided with western versus the english disciplines where being more of a jockey with grooms and full time care is more tolerated.

18. You have unlimited funds to buy one entire tack set for your horse, what is he/she wearing?

CWD. I fell in love with it when I rode a potential horse in the get up. Too expensive for my blood though.

He is the perfect match for the carolina red clay soil.

19. How many blankets do you have? When do you blanket?

Each horse has 1 medium weight. Gem actually also has a light weight and a fleece cooler but neither get used. I only blanket when it is below 40F with precipitation. Otherwise they have thick winter coats, plenty of forage and enough natural shelter to stay warm on their own.

20. What is your horse’s favorite treat? Favorite place to be scratched?

Stud Muffins are the biggest hit. You apparently can’t beat molasses and oats. He likes carrots too, but has turned up his nose to some other stuff I have tried. Gem only likes carrots and will spit everything else out. Pete adores mints and will suck on a single hard mint for 10 minutes of bliss. Gemmie loves the inside of her right ear scratched. She makes the most adorable face while doing it and really leans into it. Don’t touch the left ear though. Pete’s favorite is in between his front legs right between the muscles. Eeyore loves a good butt massage. He blisses out to that pretty hard.

21. Something about your barn that drives you crazy?

Hmmm….my biggest complaint at the moment is how dirty it is. The dirt floor is ok, but it is 3″ thick with loose dirt and needs scooped up and watered to take that down a hundred notches. The individual rooms (tack, feed, bathroom, etc..) have walls but no ceiling so all that dust from walking settles on to everything. It drives me crazy. Nothing stays clean for more than a day and I am very tired of cleaning my tack all the time only to see 1/4″ of dust a couple days later. The hubby is currently working on making me a new grooming cabinet in the wall by the cross ties but then his next project is building me ceilings.

Before he faded for the summer his coat was a gorgeous copper penny this spring.

22. Roached manes, pulled manes, or long flowing manes?

Gem and Pete are long and flowing. I prefer it when the horses live outside as it does provide extra protection from bugs and weather. Eeyore has a funky mohawk at the moment that I sorta love. It is partially spiky, partially floppy and all adorable.

23. Can you handle a buck or a rear better?

Ugh I hate both. I don’t think I’ve ever really ridden a horse with a true buck or rear. Eeyore likes to threaten but his rear is coming up off his front feet all of 1″ and then he thinks he was a bad ass. I’d say neither.

24. I would never buy a horse who ___________________?

Who knows at this point? I’d like to never buy another horse who has crap feet because this road sucks to go down. A horse who truly bucks or rears would be a big no. I also passed on a good horse because he was psycho in the cross ties and I have a kiddo so they must always be safe on the ground no matter what.

25. Favorite facial marking?

A big bold white blaze especially if on a chestnut face. Swoon every time.


Who Is This Horse?

Thank you everyone for the comments, suggestions and articles on my Gemmie post. The equine vet said to not worry too much and retest in 6 months as her numbers were barely elevated but that either more exercise or a grazing muzzle wouldn’t be a bad idea. So…coin toss which one comes first. Probably the dreaded muzzle to be honest. It’s easier even if I don’t like it.

Wednesday I’m usually working at the wound center trying to heal people’s massive foot wounds in spite of their best attempts to do the exact opposite of everything I say. It’s a mental battle that can be very exhausting. Yesterday though I took off for Wyatt’s kindergarten graduation and with a forecast that blissfully promised 5 days of straight up rain storms, I snuck a ride in on the Orange Butthead early on.

One happy kindergarten graduate

I set up the exact same ground pole exercise we did in the lesson: 4 trot poles exiting turning right, bend left to come back the opposite direction, exit turning left and then bed right to come through again.

Just in case you missed my horrible paint rendition the last time

During the lesson he was a bit unruly going through trying to make them into two jumps with a bounce between. Honestly, I think it was the fact that they went through a jump standard. A standard without an actual jump always blows his poor little mind. It is like he thinks “standards mean jump but there is nothing raised but standards mean jump and I GOOD BOY so I jump any way!

I didn’t add the standard cuz lazy and 1000% humidity, but I did set up the line of poles slightly off center line like she had them in the lesson.

Handsome boy

He warmed up really, really well. Only tried to pull some crap one time at the beginning and only broke to canter once for a few strides. The approach of ignoring it and letting him go as long as he remains in front of my leg is really working. He doesn’t see the point since I’m no longer fighting him and he returns to the work quickly and quietly. It is a huge change from pre lesson Eeyore.

He trotted nicely so I picked up the canter both directions this time. The canter is still a bit wild and unruly. It swings from underpowered to race horse mode with very little time spent in between but those moments in between are getting longer and better so progress is still being seen. The biggest win in the canter is that my brain is beginning to function and not just go blankly into survival mode.

I was really pleased with it so I gave him a stretchy walk break and tackled the ground poles. I really expected him to fumble through it or try to jump again but instead I got a horse who decided it was too hard to hold his head up and went through in his best attempt at being a western pleasure mount.

I adore his mane. A little floppy, a little spiky and a whole lot Eeyore.

He was easy to maneuver on the change of bends and we approached again with more forward and his head not dragging on the ground. He went over just fine yet again. I repeated in both directions one last time to confirm and then we quit.

It was a pleasant ride from start to finish which has not always been the case. I’m not sure who this new orange beast is but I do love working with him!

I’m on the books for a lesson every other Wednesday night at 8 pm at least through the summer which I think will be a nice balance between consistently getting instruction and giving me time to work on it. He may not agree, but I’ve gotten a sense from him lately that he does actually like the routine work even if he pretends he might die during it. I can handle head dropping, lagging behind Eeyore a lot better emotionally and mentally than I can head shaking, threatening to rear Eeyore. I don’t mind getting after him to move, but I get more than a little fetal when he gets a little crazy. I’m sure the 1000% humidity played a role, but in general he is becoming more and more malleable to the tasks I am asking and I am riding a whole lot better which helps too. Bring on the rain and then please stop for my lesson next week.


Blood Work Results

Remember when the equine dentist came and was concerned about Gemmie having Cushings? In her opinion, any horse over the age of 20 needs to be proven to not have it especially one that is on pasture 24/7 and is erm…a little portly.

It took a while for the hubby to get in contact with the rep from the company offering free testing, but eventually it got done and the blood was drawn for that plus Coggins. Hubby went ahead and ran the test on Pete too because he is 30 and it was free. Pete’s came back 100% normal in all regards. That guy is a tank. Gem’s, well her’s came back a bit meh. I

Facebook reminded this morning that it was 2 years ago today that Gem and I did our first and only CT

Her Cushings values all were normal, so no Cushings though right now I’d have preferred that as a diagnosis. It is really easy to manage with Prascend and the hubby can order it through work. Life doesn’t always give you the answers you want though.

While those results were normal, her insulin was at 70, normal is 40, and her glucose was up as well though I do not know that value off the top of my head. Neither were impressively high, but they certainly weren’t normal either. These results point to EMS and the recommendation was to retest in 6 months. Dusty is reaching out to the equine dentist for her opinion on the results (she was a full care equine vet before reducing down to acupuncture/chiro and dental only). In the meantime, I started my own research and picking of the brain.

I can;t wait until Eeyore and I are ready to go out and show. I miss it.

EMS is Equine Metabolic Syndrome is basically Type 2 Diabetes in horses. Increased fat cells make the body resistant to insulin so the pancreas pumps more out to get a response and serum glucose levels remain elevated. The biggest risk is laminitis. Gem is over weight but she is more like a 7.5 or 8 on the BCS, not obese like most of the ponies and horses I saw online with the condition, but she is also pretty low on the test values. In general treatment is aimed at lifestyle changes much like it humans with early and mild Type 2 diabetes: eat less sugar and exercise more.

The recommendation is for grain to be under 10% NSC and I immediately checked her bag of feed when I got home yesterday. It is 12.8% but is a ration balancer and she gets maybe 1 pound total a day. Math makes my head hurt, but after doing some figuring she gets extremely little in her feed, so we are good there. I’ve not had her hay tested, but she also hasn’t had any hay since the grass started coming in several months ago, so that is an avenue I’ll explore come the end of summer/early fall. It should be ok from preliminary research as she gets a fescue/bermuda mix and that is pretty low in general.

She wasn’t too shabby at the dressage thing

Her biggest nemesis is the grass under her feet and the fact that she is retired. Right now the grass is basically yellow straw from the high heat, constant blazing sun and no rain in weeks. It is literally crunching under our feet. A grazing muzzle may be in her future but that is my last resort. I know plenty of people use them and that is fine. I personally hate them. I hate anything on a horse’s face in pasture with others, it is a safety risk, plus they screw up their teeth something fierce. It is better than laminitis though, so we will see if I have to go down that route. I’ll do it before I let her hooves go to crap, but I think tackling her exercise and weight is a better option.

The recommendation here is to exercise 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Get those extra…erm 100….pounds off and get the body responding to itself better. Except this is me we are talking about here and there is always an issue. Time. I barely get the time to ride Eeyore, my hopeful competition horse, ridden 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes. There is no way I can sneak in 6 rides a week total. Won’t happen. Hard stop.

She looked so pretty all braided up and in white

This is where I wish I was in a boarding situation with a big barn rat population of kids dying to get on anything that can move. It would be easy to find enough butts to w/t/c her around or hack her out (her specialty) for 30 minutes or so a few times a week. Instead I may need to get creative on finding some warm butts to do it for me. I worry about the liability and will need to check with my insurance company to see if I need to add anything to the policy to cover myself in case someone comes to ride her and gets hurt. She is pretty safe, but she isn’t point and shoot simple and you just never know with horses. Having someone come out would also only work while we are also home. We do not own a boarding facility, this is our private home, and I would not be comfortable with them coming when I wasn’t around. It will be a bit tricky, but hopefully the right person or person’s come out of the wood work to ride a horse for free a few days a week.

I believe that if I can get her back to a shape other than round, that her blood work will return to the normal range without anything drastic happening. There are two medications that can be tried but the research all highly recommends lifestyle changes first. Metformin, a human diabetes medication, can reduce intestinal resorption of glucose therefore helping reduce intake though it seems to have little benefit overall. Levothyroxine, a medication for hypothyroidism, has shown some benefit in increasing metabolism and helping to shed the pounds. Its interesting, to a geek like me with medical stuff anyway, in that there are no reported cases in hyperthyroidism with use. I would rather not go down either of those paths at the moment.

So…first we will be retesting in 6 months to see where her values lie. In the meantime, the summer grass is poor quality, she already gets no grain and what she does get in a balancer is low NSC, they are not eating hay at the moment (it is always available in their stalls but they ignore it when the grass is in), and she will be pulled from retirement much to her chagrin so she can lose those pesky 100 lbs she has gained from living the life of luxury.

We didn’t make that bad of a team

If anyone has any suggestions as to finding a rider to come exercise her a few days a week , I am all ears. Not being a part of a barn family does hurt in a lot of ways sometimes.