Monday, August 29, 2011

You Want To Hit The Trails? How About We Talk Supplements?

Writing Rut? Um, yes. That "30 Day Challenge" thing I tried was a huge bust, lolz. Even with my pathetic bending of the rules I think I got to the fourth question or something. Blah. It's hard to write about my pony when so much else is going on job and family wise-both of which, by the way, are up in the air. Grandma is still in hospice, and (not to equate these things) I still don't know if I'll be working past October 1st.

Still, I want to write about Miles, because even with our challenges he is the "happy place" my brain goes to when I need to think of something good, something to look forward to.

First, a HUGE shout out to Aimee and Izzy - they were kind enough to ship us an Amigo Bug Rug that rubbed Izzy's shoulders but fits Miles like a very big, very covering, pretty light blue glove, sans rubbing. Combining this with going into a stall at night was exactly what he needed. He's getting much needed rest, along with extra calories, and is putting on weight again. I have to get a picture of him in his gear though-I never thought I'd own a horse I had to cover from head to hoof in the summer, but I totally get it now.

The mosquitoes seem to ebb and flow. Are you sick of hearing about them? Me too. I'm even sicker of being a prisoner to them. Sunday they finally ebbed, thanks to a super brisk breeze. It's a good thing because I was PISSED OFF-the day before was the very first time I had tacked Miles up, walked up to the arena, and turned right back around to the barn. Those little bastards were flying in my mouth, in my ears, to say nothing of what they were doing to my horse. It's been awhile since I've seen or felt Miles ready to explode, but he sure was. Poor boy.

ANYWAY, Sunday. I took the golden dogs out, and we had a short ride around the grounds and briefly down the trails. Ohhhh, it was lovely. There were a couple other riders milling about around the barn, and the dogs had a blast with everyone, though they aren't getting any younger. They were already pooped by the time I mounted so I didn't want to exhaust them by making them keep up with us on a mile long trail ride. When I did point Miles down his favorite trail though, the one that goes up a hill diagonally through a field, he started double timing it and wanted to break into a trot (and I'm sure a canter) so badly. I held him back and talked to him, and after he tossed his head and squealed he relented, begrudgingly. Y'all, he didn't want to turn back home - you know, where all the other horses were hanging out. I love this horse so much. I can't wait to canter him up that hill someday soon.

He can be a challenge to keep healthy and happy, for sure. I wish he wasn't soooo sensitive, for his own sake. I thought we were over the whole "hard keeper" issue until the mosquito invasion. At the same time, his issues are a nice distraction from everything else going on. It's horrible to admit; I like being able to focus on fixing something I have some control over, you know? However, between the fly sheet and stalling at night (not to mention, once again, the Durasole which has totally fixed his ouch-y feet. I can't recommend that stuff enough!!) I'm figuring things out slowly but surely.

Our ride before Sunday I actually popped Miles over a crossrail a couple times before we were chased out of the arena by insects (see a pattern?). It's no big deal to him at all anymore, which tells me maybe we can start working on lines and eventually cantering a course of three jumps or so. I have no desire to increase the heights of the jumps over 2 feet. My boy raced long and hard until he was 7 years old, and his joints have paid their dues. Besides, there's a lot of fun to be had with small jumps in the right configuration.

Finally, because SmartPak is awesome, their supplements in "SmartPaks" (individual containers) over $40 a month ship for free, and ANY order over $75 has free shipping as well-NO exclusions. I'm not a huge fan of any one company, with the exception of SmartPak. Everything, from their customer service to the quality of their products is far superior to anyone else in my (totally un-solicited, un-sponsored, unfortunately) opinion, horse-related or not. So, this free shipping business has given me the excuse to spend just a little more on Miles' supplements and put him on SmartFlex Senior Pellets. It's got the same (or more) levels of MSM and Glucosamine I've been giving him, with the addition of Vitamin C, Devil's Claw and Boswellia, not to mention pro and pre-biotics and another free-radical "scavenger" they call it. The very best part is it's pelleted, and he won't be losing half of it through his feed bag or having it left at the bottom of his feed pail. The reason I went with this particular supplement, even though Miles isn't technically "senior", is that I think his joints probably are:) It's also the highest rated supplement they have within a price range I can afford. My boy isn't "unsound" now, but it will be interesting to see if, for instance, it takes him a little less time to warm up, especially with winter coming. I'll keep you posted! More riveting reading about insects and supplements to come, no worries:)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Itchy

First, the good...I got in 3 rides since Tuesday! I know, nothing earth shattering for most people, but with everything going on (and yes, the mosquitoes are still trying to eat my horse alive-that's The Itchy) it's kind of a big deal. We also are fortunate enough to be able to stall-board Miles through the end of August, and I may continue through September just to make sure he's able to bulk up before the cold weather. I swear, Miles loses weight the way gas prices go up. He must have lost 50 pounds in just over a week, but he'll never put it back on that fast. Ah, well. He's still outside and able to graze and hang out with his buds for 12 hours a day, and he's never been the type of horse to mind going in a stall at night-especially right now, he down right welcomes it. I'll totally admit that I love "tucking" him in at night too, leaving him in a clean, bedded stall with a heap of hay in front of him. The other day I put him in his stall and loved on his big ol' thoroughbred head before I left, and I swear his eyes said "thank you".

As a result, he's soooo much more alert when I'm working with him. He really wasn't resting at all at night when he was outside, that's for sure. Our ride was super short this morning because I had to be somewhere, not to mention the mosquitoes were feasting on both of us, but I didn't care about any of that. Why? Because, he was finally FORWARD, and never took a wrong step despite horrid arena conditions, and I rode him without his hoof boots for the first time in a couple of weeks. I would like to thank our new BFF Durasole.

Hell yes it does!

I've only treated Miles' hooves 3 times, but already he's walking over gravel like it ain't no thang. I trotted him all over the arena (water logged in some places, hard and rocky in others), and then trotted him outside on the grass today and he was totally comfortable. I'm sooooo happy-rarely does a product actually live up to its promise, especially when it comes to sore pony hooves. If this hadn't worked (or, if this is some kind of fluke and he gets sore again), we were going to put shoes on his front feet. It's not what I want, but he was quite sore from our wildly inconsistent arena conditions, exacerbated because he was stomping so much due to the bugs, it wouldn't be fair to keep him barefoot just because I want him to be barefoot. So, fingers crossed the good times and free movement continue! At 12 bucks a bottle (where a little goes a loooong way) it's kind of a no-brainer. Two thumbs and four hooves way up!


Now, the bad. We didn't show on Thursday. I admit, I wasn't super excited to parade my ribby OTTB around in front of everyone (cute as he still is), and again, do I have to mention the bugs? The other major reason we didn't show-My grandma has had a stroke. It's...bad.

She is currently in hospice (my god, this is all happening so fast) and seems comfortable. The doctor has said she has days left. She is very tired and has trouble talking, but she knows what's happening-thankfully, she is not scared, upset or confused. Still, of course it's a very sad, strange time for my family.

She's such a wonderful woman, and I have so many lovely memories of her when I was a kid. This was a woman who, in her 70's, flew her 11 year old granddaughter out to a dude-ranch in Pueblo, Colorado, and we rode horses together in the mountains. At my wedding 7 years ago, she got on the dance floor and got down with the best of them. She's a grand dame. I wish her a peaceful passage and transition into whatever lies ahead. Love you, grandma.

Taken the last day I saw her before her stroke, on her 91st birthday in June. We had a great day. She's a beautiful woman, and always has been.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mosquito Invasion 2011

I love my sensitive OTTB...I HATE how his sensitivity is making him absolutely miserable right now. He's literally being eaten alive-he's lost about 50 pounds in the last couple weeks and is totally miserable. I don't know when Michigan turned into a swampland filled with millions of blood-suckers intent on going after MY dark bay Thoroughbred, but this is what we're dealing with. He has sore feet from (I'm 99 percent sure) stomping his feet all day and night. He's losing weight from constant pacing. When I bring him into the barn, he scarfs his beet pulp mash and then almost instantly falls asleep. The barn is the one place the mosquitoes aren't horrible right now, so he finally relaxes.

Time for night time stall board. I know, I know. Why didn't I put him in a stall long before now? I guess because I know he loves being out. I tried 25 percent DEET sprays. I tried a nylon sheet. I suppose I could buy a super expensive fly sheet with a neck cover and whatnot (and I still might), but what he really needs is to get AWAY from those little bastards.

There's a show (super laid back, at the barn) on Thursday. I really wanted to make our debut this week, but I've been riding so sporadically I don't know if we even should. When I do ride him, Miles is shaking his head and we are fending off bugs (see a pattern?), and he's sooooo lazy. I now realize that's most likely because he's exhausted. My poor boy.

Hopefully, the next few nights (and however many nights it takes after that) in the barn will help. Sorry, Miles. I'm trying to get it right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crap News, Crap Bugs...

So, I'm a little in the dumps lately. The's just allllll baaaaad. Debt ceiling ridiculousness, economic uncertainty (to say the least), rioting overseas, etc. It doesn't help on a micro level that the husband is still unemployed and my job is STILL up in the air (holy shit is this frustrating-STATE OF MICHIGAN, MAKE A DECISION ABOUT YOUR CONTRACTS ALREADY). Ahem, sorry.

Also? In addition to the B-52 bomber flies we're dealing with, there was another massive scale mosquito hatching. In AUGUST. We went from drought conditions to many feet of rain within like 3 days. The skeeters were so bad that barn time was literally unbearable, and the city is only slightly better. My poor Miles-the barn owner called me Monday morning to say he was banging "something" in his pasture at 10 pm the night before. When she shined a flashlight on him, he was running around in frantic circles and pouring sweat. She sprayed him with some DEET and he was better....but still, I feel awful for the sweet boy. The weather has been nice the last 2 days, and I think the skeeters are tapering off, but it still feels a whole lot like this:

No, no. Don't thank me for the most awesome 70's movie trailer ever, from the movie "Frogs". Kyle's favorite part is the evil butterfly:)

So, I've been out to the barn a lot, feeding and watering and spraying (pretty sure Miles and I are both radioactive at this point), but not a whole lot of riding is happening. Tomorrow a photographer is coming out to the barn to take pictures of all the horses "in their natural environment". I don't know if Miles will be included, but seriously, how could he not be?

I know these are old, but come adorable.

I hope to get back into a better routine tomorrow. The weather is gorgeous and my horse is gorgeous and I miss working, like really working with him. Pretty soon I will be bitching about the lack of light and cold temperatures, naturally. Looking on the lighter side, potential unemployment starting October 1st means lots of riding time! Oh Miles, you will be SO sick of your mama:)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All Alone In The Big Bad Woods

Ok, so our trails around the barn are mostly fields. Still, we went! Alone! For many, many minutes!

Like the rest of the world, it seems, we've been in a weeks long heatwave, but today was lovely, low 80's, low humidity, light breeze, all those nice things. (As an aside, even with all the kvetching about the weather, it's August?!? Really? It's not right. Where is my summer? It was just May, I swear).

Conditions are never perfect though, are they? The ginormous B-52 bomber flies are now out and about-Miles was running and bucking up a storm to get away from one in his pasture when I got to the barn, and we were harassed by at least one out on the trail today. Don't think it didn't cross my mind multiple times to give into temptation and start galloping away from the damn things, either. However, for whatever reason, I was feeling less than confident. I don't know why-believe me, I wish I did. Miles was wonderful, alert but relaxed and curious. Even with the Death Flies buzzing about, he never lost his shit, because he is such a good boy. I was the scardy-cat, worrying about turkeys or deer jumping out from bushes and trees around the bend-I started having a conversation with Miles about how he was going to go back to the pasture and have a good laugh with LaShore and the mares next door about what a wuss-puss his owner is.

Ah, well...I guess I'd rather be annoyed at me than him:) It has been a little bit since our last ride. I didn't lunge him today and haven't in god knows how long. I miss that little activity exactly not at all. Don't get me wrong, lunging is a wonderful tool, but I love not having to do it before a ride. I love it a lot. Today I got on, did two laps at a walk around the arena, and headed out.

Anyway, the fact that I'm whining about not feeling brave enough to canter my OTTB on a trail ride alone is kind of cool, right? I'm so glad I have this blog to look back-it wasn't so long ago I was wringing my hands over the fact that we hadn't gone out on the trails at all.

Next ride, however, we need to work on our walk-trot-walk transitions in preparation for our show debut. It turns out we are both lazy creatures by nature-time to inject some energy into our work! Three weeks and counting....

(Also, we still have the chicken, Marigold. She is very pretty, charming, and she poops. A lot. It wouldn't be so bad if she was an actual back YARD chicken, but it turns out she likes to hang out on the deck by our door-but not come in!-most of the time, until it gets to be dusk and she trots up into her roost. So, I'm pretty much constantly cleaning up chicken crap. We're looking at getting a friend for her, so she feels more confident about hanging out in the yard, and a roost farther away from the house. How cute are Silkie Chickens? VERY CUTE! Image from

Hullo, we r poofy and adoorable, yes? Also, we don't see so gud.