Monday, March 31, 2014

The pufferfish leg remains a pufferfish

Previously on “The Working Rider” …..

DC was neglected and did not have enough paddock cakes in his life, in retribution he came down with a puffy (veterinary defined) front left pastern.  In much guilt, Anna built a wrap for all ages, gave 2g of bute, and called it a day.  

Since my last blog, I have officially renamed DC’s front left leg pufferfish.  Same color, same texture, same ability to puff up at the first sign of danger.  And by danger I mean possibility of working, or lack of paddock cakes, squeezy buns, or at very least peppermints.  

I went to the barn the day after my original pufferfish discovery pleased to find that all filling was gone, and pufferfish had returned to a normal non puffy size.  As a result of this nice turn of events, I was rewarded with a lovely hack on a lovely gray beast.  He was soft, supple, and fluid through his gaits.  His transitions were smooth, and he had a long and low feel that I might obsess slightly about.  We also did some pole work at both the trot and canter.  Poles are a funny little thing, they can really show holes in your training without putting any strain on the horse, or the brain.  In DC’s case his left lead remains weaker than the right, and given the opportunity he will ease his way to the right side with even the slightest opening to head that way.  

I had a renewed sense of goals, and training ideals in mind.  

I came away from the barn elated that I had a lesson on Sunday, and ready to go lesson at Matt’s the next weekend.  

Then came Sunday.

I arrived at the barn on Sunday to do a thorough tack cleaning, and spend some QT with my favorite seahorse.  DH was playing golf so it was a great opportunity to relax at the barn for the afternoon.  

I also arrived at the barn to a pufferfish of a leg that had returned to its full pufferfish glory.  Ugh.  OK, perhaps once again I am being slightly dramatic, and it wasn’t that bad, but bad enough that I cancelled my lesson and once again texted vet.

I will spare you the conversation but it ended with “Yes, you’re right, always right, smartest owner ever, best client of mine.”  Word for word, I swear it.  

So, new plan is wrap for 48 hours, bute for 4 days and recheck on Friday.  Pufferfish and I are not friends.  

DC on the other hand was quite pleased with this turn of events, as he got to spend the afternoon grazing and being force fed paddock cakes.  

DC – 1 Anna – 0

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tales of the neglectful horse owner

I know it is almost impossible to imagine, but over the last two weeks I have been quite the neglectful horse owner.  Or perhaps I should call DC a latchkey horse.  A week ago Monday I hacked DC with the full knowledge that I would be unable to see him again until the following week.  I was leaving for my vacation on Wednesday, and due to work commitments would be unable to go out on that Tuesday.  

I lined up a couple of hacks for when I was gone, and figured he would enjoy a little semi-vacation to go along with mine.  I explained to my stand-in rider that DC was of the type to try to convince you he was almost un-broke and clearly had never learned to steer in his entire career.  

Upon her first ride, I received this text:

DC’s two favorite lies:

1. My mom totally lets me bulge in the corners.

2. I do not have walk canter transitions.

Upon reflection, these two lies are much improved from the previous lies he would like to tell new riders which were:

1. I don’t know how to trot or canter

2. Somehow my mom manages to canter around a course of jumps, but she does so by osmosis without using any aids whatsoever.  

I call that progress.

When I arrived back in Austin, my plan was to ride DC on my first day back, and leg him back up to full work over the next two weeks before hauling up to Matt’s for some lessons.  This excellent plan was foiled by a cold that I came down with in Vegas.  There is absolutely nothing worse than being sick on vacation.  Except when you’re still sick when you get home and can’t go ride your pony!  Stomp foot. 

Thus the latchkey horse went from latchkey to benign neglect when I didn’t get out to even see him until Thursday.  That would be one full week and a half since I’d laid eyes on his grayness. 

Being a horse, and being a horse who is feeling neglected and without enough paddock cakes in his life, I arrive to a swollen front leg.  Ok so maybe it had a little bit of filling and not actually swollen, but alas there was filling in it without a doubt.  Luckily my vet is also a good friend of mine, and our conversation went something like this:


Vet: Are you sure?  This sounds like an exaggeration. 

Side note. He knows me well.

Me: Ok, its just slightly swollen, but definitely not normal.  

Vet: What would you like me to do about it?

Me: I don’t know, vet stuff.  

Vet: I’m pretty sure you’re capable. 
Me: sends pics

Vet: Does not look very swollen to me.  Maybe a little puffy.

Me: More than puffy. Less than Swollen

Vet: Can you give me definitions of each?

Me: Smartass

Vet: (with what I’m assuming is a lot of eye rolling) Maybe has an abscess brewing.  Maybe tweaked it.  Maybe needs a furacin/DMSO wrap and some bute.  Or just amputate!! Whichever is best.

Me: Smartass

At which point I chose the "furacin/DMSO wrap and some bute" route.  I may or may not have overdone the wrapping.  You be the judge.

Guilt resulting from neglect I assure you.     

The good news is he was completely sound, and I hope to still leg him back up and take him to Matt's next weekend.  To be continued.....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March Madness!

Some of you may have noticed the snazzy new banner I put up about a week ago.  I was actually quite delighted in how easy it was to create, and I think it puts a much nicer “face” to my blog.  But alas, it was not for this reason alone that I created the banner. 
My newbie blog is up against some tough competitors in a blogging march madness bracket.

I thought a new banner might edge me out of the competition.   


I actually meant to post about this much earlier, but alas I have been participating in my own personal yearly march madness experience in Vegas.  Every year DH and I take the great trek to the land of lost wages to participate in an experience that aptly takes on the name Madness, after the tournament that spawns the craziness.  

A large group of our friends from all over the country all meet for the first weekend of the March Madness basketball tournament to watch games, bet on games, drink, eat, and generally have the most merry time possible.   

Although I’m in for a good 4-5 hours in the sportsbook every day, DH and the rest of the group don’t  move from their seats starting at 7 am to around midnight every night.  That’s around 17 hours of nonstop basketball.  It’s nuts.
When I do manage to tear myself away from a room full of this:

I manage to spend time at the pool

And shopping
I did not buy this.  But man I wanted to.

I DID buy this.

And PLENTY of people watching.

Overall it’s one of my favorite yearly traditions and I’m always sad to see it come to a close. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gulfport Day 6 – And so it ends

Although I am actually writing this blog a week and a half removed from the actual day it happened (it’s been a busy week and a half!), I am still mourning over the end of my winter showing.  It is also possible that I have the shakes, the sweats, and other general symptoms that can only come with withdrawal from a serious addiction.  For those of you wondering (there were at least 3), I absolutely plan to continue to blog, about horse shows, horses, things related to horses, and horse things.  I’m currently on vacation in Vegas, I’m sure that too could make for some entertaining blog material.  As a note, I packed 6 bikinis for 5 days.  No one can rival my packing abilities.  I thank everyone for reading, and all of your kind words over this fun and adventurous 6 weeks, and as they say on television…. “stay tuned!”

I started day 6 with that extreme bittersweet feeling that can only mean things are coming to an end.  On the bright side MY MOST FAVORITE BRAIDER IN THE WORLD was still there braiding DC when I arrived.  Braiders have a tough job with all of the pain in the legs/back/neck/fingers and none of the glory.  They braid all night just so our horses can look pretty bright and early in the morning.  DC’s main braider and I are close friends, though I rarely see her as we are like two ships passing on different schedules.  I was so excited to see that she was still there, and we got to spend at least 20 minutes talking in the flesh.  

The only downside was that she reported that DC was VERY grumpy and was sleeping with his head in the bucket when she got him out to braid.  Sleeping with a head in the bucket might not seem like that big of a deal, unless you know DC.  He only sleeps that way when he is so exhausted that he doesn’t feel like holding it up on his own.  I think it's kind of genius myself.  And grumpy?  I think I’ve only seen him grumpy one time in the entire time I’ve had him.  He’s so boisterous, outgoing, friendly, and in your pocket all the time.  

When she was done braiding I spent some time in his stall feeding him treats and scratching on all of his favorite spots.  Although he slowly chewed the treats, he definitely was not his normal happy go lucky self.  This was a red flag to me for sure.  I whispered to him, only a flat and two jumping and we go home, sadly, he doesn’t speak ‘merica.  Grumpy does not a good show horse make.

With that “exciting” piece of knowledge in hand, I tried to make the most of my last show day in Gulfport.  I once again walked with the jr/ams for their classic.  

These always makes me giggle

I had a chai smoothie, I watched as much as I could, and I hung out with DH, who once again was having the time of his life.  Oh wait, maybe that was me. 

Same as the previous Sunday, my day started with the hack.  Also similar to the previous Sunday, there was a small panic as the divisions were running much faster than thought, and I was in a huge rush to get down to the ring.  So, instead of a nice relaxed mosey, it was more of a rattled speed walk.  

The resulting showing really can be displayed by a simple math equation:

Grumpy horse + Tired horse + flustered rush to the ring != Good flat class.

There was nothing particularly wrong about it, but absolutely nothing particularly right.  I didn’t have time to warm him up and get that long and low feeling that equates to hack success, and the results were somewhat as expected.  He trotted around in a plain way without suspension, hind end impulsion, and a plain face.  We ended up 7th.  

When Matt came down for our jumping, I told him we had an irritable horse.  His response?  “Oh good, because we know how emotional this horse is.”  I had actually never thought about it, but he’s right.  Once again the yang to Tj’s yin, DC is an open book on how he’s feeling and it absolutely affects his performance in the ring.  

We warmed up in a very nice way, and I had hopes that we could put in some nice trips to finish off our show series.  I am sad to announce that my hopes were dashed with a horse that just generally was not agreeable.  Again, quite simply nothing was going right.  He was not listening to me through the corners, not wanting to balance up to the jumps, riding around on the forehand with no response off my leg, and pulling and heavy though the bit.    

That description alone is enough to know that the resulting ribbons were not fabulous.  Our handy trip was actually not awful, and we were 5th.  I don’t want to pain the picture of a sullen horse, because that wasn’t the case.  He just simply ran out of DC gas, and as a 7 year old still greenie I honestly can’t blame him.  

The day concluded with the 77k grand prix that Matt and Caronline were both doing.  Woodhill had a table in the tent, and much fun was had.  

Search and Rescue demonstration

Stephen found a jump he can understand

Wow, DC has a new career!


And with that, I said goodbye to Gulfport knowing that I had my worst fear to face, the dreaded bridge in Baton Rouge on our way home.