Saturday, July 24, 2010


14 pounds gained in a week, baby!!! Ok, I know it's not earth shattering, but I'm SOOOO relieved to see that tape move in the right direction:) I measured him many, many times, from both sides, and got the same result~phew. I'm so, so happy to know he's probably not sick, and just needed more food, AND is gaining weight thanks to his new regiment.

Of course, this is no time to relax and let up, as I'd like to see another, oh, 86 pounds or so on him; no big whoop! I hope this isn't a fluke, though next Saturday will tell us for sure.

It has been another ridiculously humid and hot string of days here in Mid-Michigan, so I don't know if I would have been riding much even if he was at a healthier weight. I'd like to take him out for a short hack this week though...I've sure missed it. Honestly, I think Miles has too-I know it's crazy but he really seems to enjoy having a job to do, and certainly having an outlet for his TB energy, even as he's not had an abundance of it under saddle (I'm talking about silly energy-he was plenty forward on our last ride). It has been kinda cool bringing him in every day though, with no expectations on either of us, enjoying each others' company while he eats and I groom and babble at him.

Brief product review and rave-I've been treating Miles' hoof soles with Tuff Stuff, hoof conditioner and hardener, which I grabbed on impulse at the store a couple weeks ago. This stuff does what it says...Miles' soles are MUCH tougher, no flaking, and he is much more comfortable walking on gravel and over stones. No rocks lodged in his feet either, hooray! Great for barefoot horses who may be a bit sensitive on tougher ground. Also-CHEAP! The first week I treated his soles about 3 times, every two days or so. Then I gave it a week and treated them again today. His soles were still nice and healthy, and fairly hard although we've had a TON of rain the last 2 days. I hate to think how soft his soles would have been without it. Anyway, two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

That's all the equine news for now~Miles couldn't have picked a better time to ease my mind, as it looks like our old dog Mojo, matriarch of our herd at home, needs to go to the vet on Monday to have herself checked out. Hopefully it's nothing, but her neck (lymph nodes?) feels very swollen and hard to me, and she's been making these weird guttural noises. Anyway, one animal at a time...Mojo is a tough old broad and I hope this is no big deal. We will see.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!! Thanks to each and every one of you that reads and comments, or of course just reads. It's cool to know I'm not just typing to see my own words:)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Weighty Issues Update

I know I said I didn't want to post pictures, but I'm going to anyway. I took these last night.

I thought the sun was really cool in this shot...well, as cool as a picture can look taken off of a cell phone.

I think he was in a food coma for these-he had just finished his dinner of beet pulp AND grain (his pail was thisclose to overflowing) in addition to about a half scoop of alfalfa cubes.

He was very sweet yesterday. When he slowed down eating his alfalfa cubes, I picked up the pail and held it for him, just to see if he wouldn't eat a few more. He gave me this look-like, "I'm FULL already ma, but you look worried so I'll humor you." and so he did, with a few more bites. I'm sure I'm anthropomorphizing, but I swear some days he just gets me.

I hope he's ok. I hope his new feeding regiment is helping. It's sooooooooo tempting to weight-tape him everyday, but I'm resisting until Saturday, a week from the last measurement.

I wormed him with Ivermectin on Monday (all the horses at the barn are on the same worming schedule), but after talking to Amanda and doing some research I wish I would've waited and given him Zimectrin Gold, which also treats tapeworms. He did get a double dose of Strongid two months ago, which is supposed to also take care of tapeworms, but it's possible he could have acquired the problem since them. Anything is possible, sigh. Mr. Vet Student at the barn is going to check into it though and get back to me about dosing him with the Gold anyway. He's a great resource to have.

Anyway, riveting reading, I know! Cripes, I'm bored just typing this. I cannot WAIT until this is all behind us and we can get back to riding. I know it would probably be ok to ride him now, but I just don't feel good about it. You can't really see it in the pictures but his topline is a wee bony. Awesome, right? Patience, patience, patience. It's been less then a week that I've been tracking his weight and he's been on his new diet, but my god it feels like a month. I guess worry will do that to you.

Everyone go ride your horses if you're lucky enough to be able to. If not, hug them and love them and appreciate them for the individuals they are, and be grateful for everything they bring to your life. That's what I'll be doing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sigh...I Should Have Known

I'm really worried about Miles. He is continuing to lose weight. His topline looks horrible. I would say he was a 4 on the condition scale (with 5 being ideal) a month ago-he's now a 3.5 or even a 3.

I don't know what happened. Well, I have some thoughts and theories, but I really don't want to conjecture on my public blog. Really, the responsibility ultimately falls onto me. I'm his owner, I'm responsible for him. I should have been tracking his weight diligently with weight tape for a long time now. I know it's not a perfect way to estimate a horse's weight, but it IS a great way to monitor changes. I just assumed a lot of things this past month, one of them being that he was maintaining or even gaining a bit of weight. This past week it is obvious I have been waaaaay off track.

All I can do is move forward from here, and do the best I can for my boy from here on out. I weight-taped him for the first time on Saturday. I'll do it again this Saturday. I will be at the barn every day (except for Tuesdays and Thursdays, when Kyle has class) to feed him and monitor his outlook/behavior. Amanda and the barn owner will take care of him on the two days I can't.

I honestly don't even want to ride him at this point. While his energy, personality and general attitude still seem unchanged to me (thank goodness), I can't put my saddle on him (no matter how much padding I use) and ride him in good conscience right now. When I'm at the barn, I spend the whole time feeding him, grooming him, checking his attitude and movement with some groundwork and maybe a little lunging to make sure he's balanced and not stumbling, and then hand grazing him on some rich grass around the barn. Of course I started googling and now I'm scared of everything from EPM to cancer.

I don't even want to post his picture at this point. He doesn't look horrible-no protruding hip bones or anything like that, but he really doesn't look good either. Think good, happy, healthy, fat thoughts for my boy. I probably won't be posting again until I have something new to report, as our routine is not exactly good reading material right now:)

I just want him to be ok, whatever it takes. The only thing stopping me from getting the vet out tomorrow to do tests is that I want to be able to tell him, for CERTAIN, what Miles has been eating the last week or two. I am all over this thing now, no matter how horribly I've handled it prior to this past weekend. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

Tonight was my first ride on Miles since last Monday, over a week ago. The heat was unbearable last week (well, for me; we've established I'm a wuss, yes?). Then, Miles became Studly Do-Right over the weekend, as a new (very active, very small, very cute) Paso Fino arrived at the barn, and a new mare was introduced to the pasture next to him. Boy oh boy, did we have some fun times! I can't tell you how much I love that screaming whinny in my music, I tell you. In addition, the bugs have been bad, and I think that's been contributing to his "heightened" state, if you will. He wasn't horrible to work with, just distracto-man, so I did lots of ground work and lunging. It was actually good, and needed. I haven't done much lately and it really is fun to see his attitude change, his brain relax and his attention turn to me. Thanks Clinton Anderson:)

Today was still fairly warm, in the mid-80's, but I suppose we are in mid-July. Miles and LaShore have been switched back to their old pasture, which is great because it gets him away from the mares, and he was 100% amazing. Relaxed in the barn, and honestly the best I've EVER felt him under saddle. He was forward, happy to work, straight, relaxed, submissive, attentive, with no tension in his neck or back-I'm really not exaggerating, he was my lil' superstar. I don't think I'll be switching to the bit anytime soon, as I could bend him and do circles and serpentines, stops and rein-backs with no issues whatsoever. There was no teeth grinding and chewing or twisting of his neck (his favorite move when he's anxious and I'm asking him to stay on the rail, particularly to the right). We only worked about 20 minutes, because it had been so long since our last ride, and we were both hot. It was certainly long enough to make me grin ear to ear though, and bestow upon him many pettings and treaties.

What a good boy I have. I don't know what I did to deserve it, and I really am sorry if I sound, I don't know, like I'm bragging? Look, I know we have so much to work on, and if anyone saw us today I'm sure they wouldn't see what all the fuss was about. I just could FEEL such a difference today, and it was lovely. An excellent Bastille Day ride!

As for the weight issue, it turns out Miles hates soaked alfalfa cubes, siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. He doesn't mind them dry, but will stop eating them after about half a scoop. So, we're going to do a scoop of soaked beet pulp mixed with his SafeChoice grain (which is now up to a scoop and a half) every day. This is in addition to the FatCat supplement and a little oil, plus upping his hay a bit; I feel really good about this strategy. If there's no difference in a month, there WILL be reinforcements in the form of vets and dentists marched in. Honestly though, especially after his attitude today and our amazing ride, I can't believe there's anything wrong with him, other than a lack of calories. Oh Miles, if I could give you the fat off my ass I would:)

Anyway, that's where we are now. It feels pretty good, I don't mind saying. Thanks for the ride, Bubs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jack Sprat the OTTB

You know the old nursery rhyme..."Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean." That's all I can remember, actually (his poor wife; did she even have a name? Gawd, the patriarchy starts the kids early, doesn't it?;). So, 3 guesses who Jack is and who the wife is in Miles' and my scenario? Bet you don't need the last 2!

The day this becomes a weight loss blog just shoot me. It's something I struggle with and will always struggle with, but I'm not giving up the fight. What's important is that I am getting more fit and increasing my stamina, and Miles has no problems carrying me or working under me. He doesn't flinch when I mount and has shown absolutely zero signs of having back problems...believe me, I am ever vigilant for any signs of his discomfort, and so far so good. Besides, I watch reining on RFD-TV every now and then, and my goodness there are some small horses working very hard under some large men and their heavy tack. In other words, this isn't about me.

This is my boy in October 2009, about a month and a half after I adopted him. Obviously too thin, the thing that concerns me most is his topline. However, he came to us underweight, and was VERY stressed for most of September; he may have even lost weight in his transition from New Vocations to my barn, so that's mostly what I attribute it too. He was on Du-Mor Weight Gain supplement at this point, which was pretty much worthless to him. I switched him to CocoSoya (oil supplement), he settled in and got a turnout buddy, and this was him in January 2010.

MUCH improved. Yes, he had a winter coat, but not much of one as he was blanketed and coming into a stall at night. I would've liked another 50 pounds on him, but his topline and neck look great.

June 2010. Sigh. He's just...not where I want him. Of course, I still think he is absolutely stunning:) And yes, he had just had a bath and was still slightly damp, and the early evening sun was just radiating off of him, accentuating those TB ribs of his. He's not as bad as the October 2009 picture (no bony topline, not as "tucked under"), but his neck isn't as filled in as the January 2010 picture either (though he is in better shape with more muscle than in January). If it were October instead of July I'd be very concerned, actually.

So what have I been doing? He was getting a beet pulp mash about 4 times a week up until a couple of weeks ago, when he and LaShore were moved to a much grassier pasture. Great, great thing, but he stopped being interested in eating the beet pulp whatsoever. He and LaShore have been getting 1/2 bale of hay am and pm, and he's getting about 9 lbs of Nutrena Safe-Choice a day, divided up am and pm. He has been on CocoSoya for the last couple of months as well. I dunno how much that stuff is actually helping him put on weight though. Yes, his coat looks great, but that's not what I'm buying it for! I've also found if it's not REALLY mixed in his feed, he won't eat the really oil-soaked parts of his grain....sigh.

New plan...I picked up some alfalfa cubes today. He's going to be getting about 5 lbs soaked a day (please please please let him eat it!). I also ordered Fat Cat supplement from SmartPak. It's economical and got great reviews on their website.

If none of this seems to make a difference by late August, I guess I will have to call the vet. Trust me when I say he's getting enough food, both forage and grain (although I wish he could get a mid-day feeding of hay as well, it's not possible unless I go out there and do it. Judy, LaShore's owner, does often toss the boys additional hay after she's done riding in the morning, however). He had his teeth floated 6 months ago. Current on his de-worming, and in fact has received double doses of some wormers in the past 9 months as recommended by the 4th year MSU vet student who boards at the barn with his wife. He has no signs of ulcers, other than being a wee bit ticklish on his belly near his sheath area. He isn't cinchy in the least, thank goodness. His attitude is great, his appetite is good (although I noticed the heat has slowed it down a bit these last few days, the weather is supposed to break this weekend). I hope it won't come to this! If it does, however, we will still have some time before the weather gets really cold to treat whatever needs to be treated (if anything) or try something different.

I don't expect him to look like a quarter horse. I just want him to be healthy. If he becomes ill, god forbid, I want him to have some fat stores to draw on.

Anyway, not the most stimulating post, I know, but it's what's been on my mind when it comes to Miles. By the way, I stayed for about an hour of the show (and it was HAWT). I hosed Miles down and took him up to graze and watch the festivities. He was interested but not scared, although he did shy (so mildly I wouldn't even call them spooks) a couple of times. Apparently I am a huge wuss puss because they had a great turnout! The class(es) we would've entered had only 2 riders in them, however. Ah well. NEXT time, come hell or high water, we're getting out there! Miles, ribby or not, is too damn cute not to show off:)

Miles-doesn't know what all the fuss is about.

Also please to note: shoulders in this photo are not as straight as they appear:-) Good lawd that thing looks practically vertical!

Align Center

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cue Sad Trumpets...

Wah Wah Wah....

No show for Miles and me this Wednesday.

First though I want to talk about today...I rode him in the blistering heat, and he was lovely, lovely, lovely. It was our second ride using the English Hackamore, and I think it's safe to say we are a fan. I'm not giving up on riding with a bit, but I'm going to stick with the hackamore for another week or so and see how things go. It's a piece of equipment that really is No Joke, as far as how harsh it can be, so I have to be careful with it, but so far so good. Anyway, our ride was short but really awesome. He was so happy and relaxed, his cute little ears flopping to the side and occasionally twitching back to listen to my babble. I asked him to be Forward Pony, and in return we would quit after 15 minutes; he was happy to oblige. Dammit, I was so proud of him.

But I can't do the show. Too many things are coming at me at once, all rightnow! rightnow! and I can't put them off or ignore them. Mostly it's really boring crap you all have no interest in hearing and I have even less interest in describing. They're all related to money, and car-leases being up, and the other car being in the shop, and work going bananas, and the husband going out of town, and wtf do I do with the dogs, and did I mention the heat? Yeah, we're looking at 90 degrees tomorrow and Wednesday. I just can't do it all right now. It pisses me off and makes me sad and fills me with relief all at once. Yes, I know it's just a "Fun Show", but it's still a show, our FIRST show, and I'm going to be nervous no matter what. I'd rather be able to focus all my energy on it and have butterflies because we are making our showing debut, and not have this be something I'm anxious about because I've got 10 other things on my mind. Shows, especially fun shows, should be, ahem, FUN and not just something else I need to squeeze in before I have to do something else. Or feel guilty about because I should be doing something else, or spending the money on something else, or or or....

The only thing I can take comfort in is that none of these reasons are related to Miles' and my progress. I'm so, so, so proud of my boy. Working towards this silly little show in the last couple weeks has really brought out the best in both of us, I think.

So, poo. I know there will be other opportunities, but as I write this I'm struck by how really down about it I am. Sometimes I am utterly perplexed at how much time it takes to do all the stupid shit we have to do just to LIVE (like errands and appointments and oh yeah working hours and hours and hours at a job in order to be able to afford to do what we really want). I'll get over it. Things will calm down. When we finally get out in the show ring, we are gonna kick some serious tail.

Forlorn Miles is Forlorn. Sorry Bubs. It's not you, it's me.

7/6 Update: Okay, honestly, if I had all the time in the world this week I'm still not sure I'd be showing. The forecast just keeps getting hotter and hotter, with a high of 94 today and tomorrow. That's just not safe for doing much outside, let alone riding. I'm thinking the only thing Miles is getting today and tomorrow is a couple of baths. Ugh, Michigan, you are killing me this year!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July-It's HAWT

Miles is getting the day off today. It's approaching 90 degrees outside, and since I'm pretty sure there's going to be firework action we will be able to hear and smell at the barn, I'd just as soon stay home.

He's been getting worked quite regularly this last week. I decided to experiment and shortened my stirrups a hole (let's face it, while I really WANT to ride dressage, I'm in an all purpose/close contact saddle! It's a Custom Saddlery Revolution that I got for a song since the line is now discontinued), and WOW did that feel good. My base of support is so much more stable. I wish I was strong enough to have slightly longer stirrups, but whatever, right now I need to work with what I've got, and that one hole makes a big difference. Great thing to discover right before the show!

Yesterday I was short on time so I thought, "Hey, we haven't had a lunge session in quite awhile, let's do that. Let's make it super-fun and do it in the scary area of the farm where Miles pulled his Michael Jackson (thanks for that phrase Kristen!) Hot Move (MJHM) when I bit the dust and see if we can't get that TB brain of his to sloooooow down and think, as it does so well in the arena."

So, we're out there in the grass and he's walking-head up and looking around but walking, in a very nice circle around me. I ask for a trot. He takes about ten lovely strides, and then pulls the MJHM. This would not have been a big deal if the damn cheap sonofab*&#h lunge line had not then snapped at the latch under pressure (and it wasn't even that much pressure!), and away he galloped, back to the barn, tail in the air, super duper pleased with himself.

This is now twice he has pulled the MJHM and gotten to run back to the barn. Not good. SOOOOO not good.

Sigh, I collect the TB (who is now snorty and prancy and quite cute, actually, though I couldn't let him know I thought so!), grab new lunge line, and head back to the scene of the crime.

This is his "safe and sane as a lesson pony" face. It is not to be trusted.

I would have seriously questioned my boy's intelligence had he not tried the same thing again. Of course, though, he did, a few times naturally. What was supposed to be a short session turned into something much longer, but actually I felt great when we were done. We're not going to solve this issue in one session, but by the end he was doing walk trot transitions with his head down and licking and chewing. Good good good boy. I wanted him to actually relax enough when we were done to graze a little in that spot, but he preferred to stand and look around, and honestly I didn't have the time to stand with him and wait.

Anyway, I'll be riding tomorrow and Tuesday of course (no matter how hot it is, ugh), and then Wednesday is our Big Day! Hope everyone has a wonderful Fourth of July, and that your animals get through it sane, safe and sound. Lebowski hates hates HATES fireworks, but luckily they make drugs for that:)

Babushka Bean hate loud boom boom noise. Feel safe wrapped in towel along with many pettings.