Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pony vs. Dawgs

I love my horse, obviously. Ideally I would be at the barn almost every day, barring illness and those blah days we all get sometimes when after work we are spent and just want to curl up on the couch with a book. Boarding is wonderful in that respect, because, well, we have that option. Still, there are 3 important reasons I generally only get there 4 to 5 days a week:



and Samual-

Our 3 dogs.

Now, I'm very, very lucky. Kyle works from home almost every day, so the dogs are rarely alone for more than a couple hours at a time. My office is also super duper dog friendly, and I'm usually able to bring all 3 monsters in for at least a couple of hours once a week or varies based on meetings, schedules, etc. We do have some limits. The dogs have it pretty good, is what I'm saying. I also may have a titch of irrational guilt about being away from them so long most days.

Still, they are so, SO happy when I'm home with them. They stay near me no matter where I am in the house, whether it's on the deck, in the kitchen, living room, or when I go to bed-all 3 follow me with the rare exception. Of course I don't think I'm some kind of Dr. Doolittle, but the fact is I feed them both of their meals and walk them twice a day (though Kyle takes pity on me once or twice a week and will do the afternoon walk honors). Dog loyalty, I has it.

Could I go straight from work to the barn everyday and get home between 7 and 8 pm instead of 4ish? Sure, sure. Kyle could walk them, or of course at least make sure they go out to do their business (which he does anyway) until I get home for walking duties (we live in the city, but I still like to make sure they get their off leash time, which makes a "dog walk" more complicated then it sounds). They would probably be fine.

Still, I wouldn't be able to do it. I put off starting to ride again in my 20's precisely because I didn't know how I would fit the dogs into a consistent riding schedule (Kyle was working at the office then). I also love hanging out with them-tonight we had a lovely walk and I spent 2 hours giving each one a thorough grooming (that's no joke for the 2 golden retrievers!). It was, well, fun, and I know that makes me lame but there it is. A super Wednesday spent dog grooming!

I'm also sad to say it looks like Mojo's neck "thing" is slightly bigger-she's still acting fine, but I have a feeling whatever it is it's not good and our time with her is limited. I want to hang out with my old girl as much as I can and appreciate what may be our last summer together.

I'm very lucky in another respect, in that my parents live relatively close to the barn and I can take my crew over to their place to run around with their 2 manic huskies on 6 acres once or twice a week while I ride. This is awesome.

Miles' barn is super dog friendly and they've tagged along with me occasionally, but I have to face the facts that I have city dogs and I'm never going to be able to go out and ride my horse while my dogs calmly sleep in the shade trees. No, my dogs would much rather run amok and chase the barn cat while getting shocked by the electric fence and harassing passersby. Don't get me started on the eating and rolling in the inappropriateness, you all know what I mean.

Look, I've saddled myself with the responsibility of having multiple animals ever since I was 19 years old, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Still, it's a balancing act. Those that add children to the equation truly have my respect and admiration, because...yikes. I don't have the words.

So, I will continue to live life with Miles getting a night here, the dogs getting a night there, and relying on the people around me to help fill in the gaps. We're all very grateful, and couldn't do it without you!

Finally, if someone else did all the evening dog chores for me, I wouldn't get to see Lebowski on a log overlooking a river, happy as a clam.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just a Thank You... everyone, for your kind words, thoughts and prayers for my Grandma.

Things were very bad late last week, but in the last 2 days she has made improvements! I saw her this afternoon and she looked great-not back to her normal, healthy self but I think she's on her way. I hope. She's still having seizures but no headaches and they're shorter and less frequent. She's so damn resilient. She had her sense of humor back, and I just got off the phone with her...she called me to ask if dogs can get hemorrhoids:)

Anyway, thank you again, everyone. Your kind comments and emails helped so much. I wrote the last post in a strange place and I'm feeling much more hopeful today, having seen her. It was the right thing to do. Kyle came with me and he was great with her, too.

On the Miles front, he managed to get himself a couple sores on his back-either bug bites or he rolled and cut himself on a rock?? It's possibly a bite from LaShore but I really doubt that. Nothing serious, and really quite superficial (also they're not saddle sores; I wish I was riding enough to consider that!), but I gave him the weekend off so they can heal and hopefully I'll be back in the saddle on Tuesday.

Our last ride on Wednesday was quite nice. We worked hard on transitions, and I replaced the hackamore we've been using with his bit. There was still some teeth grinding and neck twisting, more towards the end of our ride for some reason. Still, it was less than before, and I rewarded him with either a long rein or a walk when his mouth was quiet and he was moving straight and forward. He's a smart boy so I'm hopeful we will figure out the reason for this behavior together. It may very well be anxiety or boredom. I also may have to experiment with other bits. Right now he's in an oval mouth loose ring 5". He's got such a small mouth though, I want to try a 4 3/4" size next; maybe something like this. I'm very intrigued with the Waterford Bit-does anyone have any experience with this? I'm also curious about Myler bits, though the price is a huge turnoff.

It's also more than likely he just needs more mileage with a bit regardless of what it is (although single joint, fat snaffles are definitely out. He's much happier with a mullen or double jointed bit that is slightly thinner). I'm trying to be super conscience about keeping my hands still and in the "work zone" above his withers, and maintaining bend in my arms while moving with his motion, hence the transition work. We acheived some fairly happy, uphill trot-walk transitions by the end of our ride.

Looking forward, and totally unrelated, we're having a professional photographer come out to the barn in September, and I'm so excited! I hope she can capture Miles' spirit and goofiness on camera. I've never, ever had professional pictures taken of anything (well, OK, my wedding), so this will be fun!

I hope you all are enjoying your horses wherever you are. I was overcome with a feeling of gratitude and peace while grooming my boy this afternoon, and I hope the same for every horseman and woman out there. We are so, so lucky;)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


It's late Friday/very early Saturday morning.

My grandma is very, very sick. I'm worried and having trouble thinking about much else. I have other things to do and thoughts to occupy my mind, but she finds her way into my life nearly every hour, either with a sudden jolt of realization about how serious things are or a slow overtaking of my brain's activities. I haven't seen her in weeks.

I want that to change this weekend if she's up to it. No matter how uncomfortable it may be for me...that doesn't matter. It's what family does.

She's the one that introduced me to the first barn I started serious lessons at, Fox Brush Farm. I diddled about at other western barns before that, but they taught me to ride.

She took me to a dude ranch in Colorado when I was in Fourth grade-the Don K Ranch (snort). I learned how to barrel race and line dance-well, as much as a Fourth grader can learn such things;)

She has supported me through so much of my life, especially when I was younger. Whatever our differences now, she was a safe place for me to land for so long. That is a wonderful thing to give to a child. I will never forget it.

I don't really know how to end this post. I want people to know how awesome a grandma she was for so much of my life. I still want her to be my grandma, and stick around for milestones that are sure to come. She hasn't even met Miles yet. I wanted her to this summer. I want her to.

Get well soon, Grandma.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tinkerbell, He is Not

Just a quick post's late and I'm pooped. What a beautiful day though!

I thought I'd try some ground poles tonight, just to liven things up. Can I just say I've NEVER met a clumsier horse than my boy? He honest to goodness seems to care not a whit if he smacks them around, rolls them, whatever. He is plenty forward usually, but he just does NOT want to pick up those feet! This isn't a new phenomenon either-it's been a while since we've worked with poles, but he was the same then too. I don't ever want to jump 3 foot courses, but I DO think he'd be fun to take over some crossrails some day. It's a little strange because I've never taught a horse to jump, though in Miles case right now I'm not sure he could even make it over an 18 inch crossrail:) My sweet lil' clunker.

He was trimmed last Thursday, after having to wait 2 weeks too long and I think he was trimmed rather short, so that may have something to do with his bumbling the last few days.
We're continuing to have some issues with picking up the right lead as well, though I think that will come with strength and timing and straightening out my own self. I know this is not a unique issue among OTTBs either:)

He's still such a good boy, and even with the frustration I felt with the right lead on Saturday, I could tell something was off, whether it's me or him or a combination. He tries so hard, and any frustration I ever feel is at the situation, not Miles. I miss regular lessons, sigh....hopefully someday (soon).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pearly Whites

So, not much to write about lately, at least on the horse front. This is mostly irritating to me...though let me say off the bat I am so, so, SO happy Miles continues to gain weight and has worked really well for me the 2 days I rode him this week. Here's what's going on.

OK, I know, I KNOW I've written so much on here about the weather. If I look at my tags, I'm pretty sure "weather" has to be the most common one. Seriously though? It. Is. Horrible this year. Every fricking day, with very very limited exceptions, is hot and humid as all hell. I've never seen a summer like it and I've lived here all my life. Even living through droughts we've had, or extended heat waves, didn't come close to being as miserable as this swamp like weather we've had. You guys, I let the lawn go for 2 weeks, and when I mowed it, there were SLUGS looking at me and the sun like "What? Where is our rain forest cover? I could have sworn we were in Brazil or wherever the frick there's lots of rain forests." Never, EVER, have I seen slugs here, and never, EVER EVER do I want to see them again. Nope Nope Nope.

Hey, guess what happened on Sunday? Central Air go Boom! EFF ME. So, that's been super fun! Hey, it's only the old furnace, which can be fixed for a paltry 2 grand. FML.

Also in the last 2 weeks, we've had our giant maple tree in the back yard split in two and fall down go boom. My Father in Law is wonderful and made the trip down from Escanaba to help us deal with this super fun development, thank goodness.

You all know about my old girl Mojo and her issues (weird neck thing continues to get smaller, though something is still there, and she's been SUPER itchy lately. She becomes much more comfortable with a little Benadryl, thank goodness, and it's not fleas...I'm chalking it up to all the mutant skeeters and other bugs around here). Overall, she still is doing well, thank goodness.

My 90 year old grandma, the only extended relative I've been really close with in the past and lives near us in Lansing, has been struggling with seizures in the last 2 weeks-not the falling down passing out kind, but she gets a headache and involuntary arm/leg shaking. She is amazing in that she has all her wits about her and then some, but after an initial hospital stay she refuses to go back. She is on medication but it's not working, at least not yet. My parents have been dealing with the docs and neurologists and checking on her at least once a day. We are a very small family, so it's been very hard on them and I've been thinking about her, and my parents, a lot. Please keep her in your thoughts if you don't mind.

So, there's all that. Miles also had his purty teeth floated again on Wednesday. Looks like he is super special and the kind of horse who will need to be floated twice a year (high maintenance thoroughbred is high maintenance). He was done November last year and was apparently looking super sharp and quite in need according to Doug LaRose, Equine Dentist Extraordinaire for those of you in Mid Michigan. Doug uses no sedation, just patience and an amazing technique to get the job done. I had to work during the time he was at the barn on Wednesday, but I held Miles for him in November and it was truly a pleasure to watch him work. I'm convinced you do NOT need sedation in most cases, with a true professional like Doug. If you want more information about him feel free to ask! He does not charge a farm call, even though he lives in Riverview which is not exactly close to Charlotte where we are. He's my equine dental hero. At 50 bucks a pop I'm more than willing to get Miles floated twice a year if that's what he needs-hopefully this only continues to help with his weight as well.

I'll ride Miles this weekend, even though, again with the hot and humid. He still really enjoys being worked-actually, he just really enjoys PEOPLE, and any kind of interaction, which makes me happy:) He's such a sweet, good boy-every time I leave the barn, even if I've only spent 20 minutes there, I'm in a good mood. Thanks for that, boy. It's sure been welcome these last few weeks.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Small Request...

You all should go read my friend Amanda's blog right now and give her some love.

She has sooooooo much knowledge about horses, and helps me immensely with Miles. There's no way I can be at the barn every single day, and she is there for him to feed his beet pulp and bring him into the barn to hang out with everyone, which he loves. She gives me updates on his condition, and, well, she's just an awesome person with a TON of good stories to share. I really can't emphasize enough how she helped me in the beginning with Miles, when we were both driving each other crazy-she's the one who told me to be patient with his "busy TB brain" and pointed me towards resources that were a great help. She even let me practice techniques on her sweet mare Cody-THAT'S a good person:)

She's also pretty darn good with a camera and took a lot of the pictures on this blog:) I can't begin to tell you how great she was on the day Ebony was put down.

Anyway, she's a great friend who's got a lot on her plate with getting married and dealing with sweet Cody who's struggling with knee lameness, and she's another great addition to Mid-Michigan horse bloggers. Stop by and say hey!

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Year

This little note is less than she deserves but all I can muster without losing it, all over again. My sweet Ebony died a year ago today. I've been thinking about the anniversary of her death for a few weeks now, but it literally just now occurred to me today is the day. Lately when I think of her, it's with fondness and a profound gratefulness that we shared 2 years together, rather than sadness...she taught me so, so much, and I would not have felt able to take on an OTTB without her in my life. I know she and Miles would have adored each other-well, he would have adored her, and she would have tolerated his adoration. As it is, I hope she is gently bossing around another herd of mares and making the boys crazy, wherever she is. Still miss you, sweet girl.

I loved those ridiculous ears of hers.

The Princess and the Bean

So many titles ran through my mind for this post.

A bean in the hand is worth two in the bush?
Miles and the bean(stalk)?
I came, I saw, I de-beaned?
A bean of a different color?

Hey, I didn't say any of them were good. You all know what's coming, right? Well, those of you with geldings or stallions do. Those that don' just consider yourself lucky and go hug your mare.

Yesterday was a particularly beautiful Michigan fact, so is today, and the weekend looks gorgeous. This is an important detail. Nice weather emboldens me.

(Amanda, who helps me stuff my horse with nootrishus beet pulp when I cannot, tells me he's been quite bum-itchy in the stall the last two days. Hmmmm...tapeworm? Sweet itch? Dry skin? Could be a million things. Sheath? Oh sure, sure, could be, but it could be OTHER things. I pick up Listerine and Baby Oil in hopes of "other things". ANY other thing.)

I arrive at the barn, and Lovely Miles was lovely. He's looking so fit and healthy, and he was in a spectacular mood; relaxed, good appetite, all that stuff. No sign of tail rubbing. Hooray! I threw his tack on and took him to the arena to lunge before riding.

He's a good boy on the lunge, with the exception of two HUGE monster bucks...again. Miles just...doesn't buck. Not two lungings in a row.

(What's that you say? Bucking can be a sign of discomfort?? Possibly GENITAL discomfort? Hahaha, let's not jump to conclusions! He's just happy it's not 90 percent humidity! Look, there, he's showing off for his mare-girlfriend who's watching him! What are you, some kind of perv?)

Pshaw, other than the two bucks he's moving really well. I get on and we have a super ride, all things considered. He's a bit lazy and seems to be taking full advantage of the fact that I've forgotten my crop, but all in all I'm happy. We quit after a particularly nice 20 meter circle at the canter.

(See he's fine! Phew, that was close! Always looking for the worst!)

I lead my good boy back to the barn for many pettings and treatings and hosing-downs. He adopts the pee-stance, so I hurry him into the stall where he goes. And stops. And goes again.

(CRAP. My mission is now clear.)

So, he's eating his dinner and acting just fine. I'm a little nervous and twitchy, knowing what I have to do. Do I wait for him to drop? Do I just go to town and start, um, exploring as is? I don't have gloves, dammit. OR soapy water. Maybe this can wait until tomorrow....

Just then Amanda leads her two mares into the barn. Miles raises his head, gives his Casanova nicker, and resumes eating.

Dropping!!! We have dropping people!

NOW I'm nervous. I look around. No witnesses-Amanda's back is turned, busying herself with her girls (damn lucky Amanda with her girls!). Here is where impulse takes over. We have no logical thought process from this point on-this is all some weird reptilian brain-stem instinct. A summary:


And Scene!

Miles best WTF was that?!? face

Actually, he barely noticed. By the time he raised a hind leg in annoyance the bean was on the floor, as it were (if anyone is curious, it truly looks like a off-white kidney bean. Don't think I didn't consider taking a picture, though it turns out I do have limits. Who knew?). He never stopped eating. I like to think it was my Mad Skillz.

Actually, I don't. I do not want to think of myself being skilled in this area, ever.

In fact, we shall not speak of it again. I did what I had to do. And so would you:)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's Official?

Today I sent my last update on Miles to New Vocations. Three times a year they require current pictures and a detailed explanation of the horse's health, activities and any problems the adopter might be experiencing. All updates are also forwarded to the horse's donor, though I have no idea who this is in Miles' case. If this last update is satisfactory, he is officially mine!

Suffice it to say, this particular update was glowing...I wrote about our progress in training, what we've been up to, our bit experiments and fun with hackamores. I was also very, very honest (ugh, I hope not to a fault) about the challenges we've had with his weight. I told them I was too lax about tracking it up until 3 weeks or so ago, but things are much better now and that particular mistake won't happen again.

And things are better. My boy has gained approximately 25 pounds in just over 2 weeks. Hooray!

There's no reason not to start riding again now. I had every intention of getting on him this week, and especially today, but then I got to the barn and caught up on some REALLY good barn gossip (if there is such a was really more like interesting information:). Before I knew it an hour had passed, and Miles' still needed to eat his beet pulp, which depending on his mood can take up to 45 minutes alone. Ah well. Tomorrow then. It's supposed to be hot (shocking! I'm so sick of talking about the weather), but after all our time off I'm not anticipating doing much more than a pleasant little hack.

I have been lunging him this last week. He actually gave me a couple MONSTER bucks the first time I worked him, and Miles never bucks. Silly boy. Guess he needed that outlet more than I thought-unfortunately, I can't help but think some sexual frustration is part of it. He and LaShore have swapped pastures with the older sweet haflinger stud, which means Miles is now right next to a harem of sex-ay mares, and the gelding who lives with them and lurves them. So far, it's "okay", though I was less than thrilled when I turned him out the other day and he ran over to the fence, squealed at the gelding, and then pawed at the wire fence and actually hit it. UGH, MILES, you damn fake stud! I yelled at him, he looked at me like, yeah?, and then proceeded to graze like everything was cool. So, I'm sure things will be fine now that they're settling in, but I really, really don't want to get a call saying my horse has cut himself all to hell on the electric fence.

Anyway, it's been a long time since my last post as there's not been much on the Miles' front to report. My old dog Mojo did go to the vet last Monday, where he preliminarily diagnosed her with a tumor on her thyroid. Monday was a very bad day. THEN, said tumor shrunk, literally overnight, and Mojo's blood work all came back normal...very, very good signs, but then what is this thing on her neck?? Vet was reading to me out of a textbook when he called me...yeah...that's all I'm going to say about that.

I'm hoping it keeps shrinking and goes away, but unfortunately it does not seem to be-after the initial reduction, it has stayed stable in size. It's still there, but she's not making all those weird guttural noises and is acting perfectly normal. If it gets bigger or anything changes, back to the vet I suppose. She IS 14 years old...who knows what weird things can pop up on ancient dogs.

Cat-Butt also seems to have the equivalent of a cold the last week or so. Thought she had a hairball or something, but then the sneezing and runny nose and flemmy whatnot started this weekend. Why why why always on the weekend?? Ugh these animals...I want to stop worrying about them already! Kitty is up to date on her shots, and I remember she had something similar some years ago...when we took her to the vet, she was fine and he couldn't find anything. We'll give her a day or two more and if it's still bad it's her turn for vet fun. Still reeling from the 300 plus vet bill on Mojo, so I'm hoping Kitty's immune system kicks into gear like, now.

On a more pleasant note, here are the pictures taken of Miles this afternoon that I sent to New Vocations. Not the best, and they are off a cell phone, but I'm finally starting to see the improvement with my own eyes. I will take it!

Doing his best quarter horse impression...what the heck, Miles? Beefcake!

Still not as much muscle as I would like to see, but not so horrible considering he's been on temporary layoff, as it were. His face is cute here...his bleached out coloring (on his body, but not his neck, natch), not so much.

Final pic...ribs a bit more visible, but still a vast improvement. I think he looks quite cute and compact here...I need to get back in that saddle already!