Monday, October 24, 2011

Why I Should Never Have *Actual* Children

So, in all the excitement with Chamie, I've missed a certain gorgeous, lovely, perfect Thoroughbred's birthday. Cripes, it's like 16 Candles up in here. Or more precisely, 11. His sister is getting all the love and he's getting left behind with Long Duck Dong. Or something.

Mom, you don't even have a recent picture of me. What the FRICK?

I had such a lovely ride with him today. He was soft, supple, forward...we got our leads in both directions. We jumped a cross rail in both directions, and he enjoys it so much. I know my boy, and after a brief warm-up, we jump that little jump, and he's suddenly in front of my leg and happy to work. He will do anything I ask, but some things he likes better than others.

Bubs, you are my Dream Horse. You are going to love your sister (SISTER! Don't get pervy with her you fake stud!). Thank her, because she made me the rider and horse woman I am today. I love you so much-I can't believe you are already 11 and I've had you for over 2 years. They have been the best 2 years of my life, and I can't wait to experience the next 20 with you. Kisses, bubs...I will spend the rest of our lives together trying to make you as happy as you've made me.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What Does a Dollar Buy?

What does this buy?

How about...


or how about this cutie?

If this doesn't sell you, I saddled up my (!) 26 year old mare, put Cavallo Simple Boots on her front feet, and rode my girl for the first time in about 10 years. 20 minutes of walking, circles, and serpentines, and about 30 seconds of jogging...the most sit-able trot I've ever felt. After good supplements, months of turnout, and *very* light work, I think I'm going to have a very nice trail horse on my hands. I couldn't believe, after all these years, how soft and responsive she was, moving her ribcage over when I asked, bending, and did I mention responsive.

I'm pretty sure I just got the deal of a lifetime, and that was the best dollar I ever spent. Especially because her barn (whom her scum owner signed her over to) donated that dollar back to her care. That's one dollar bill that won't be spent. Everyone should have a Chamie in their lives. I'm someone lucky enough to have her twice, and she's not going anywhere ever again without me.

I've won the horse lottery, you guys. My dream thoroughbred and my angel, saintly first horse...pinch me. Hard.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Road to Health is Paved one Day at a Time

OK, I promise I'll get back to Miles and riding and blah blah soon (I am still getting out to work with him regularly, no matter how much it's killing me to drive between two barns). Right now, though, I'm so excited about my new old mare I could burst!

Yesterday she got her feet trimmed for the first time in 3 months. I am a scatterbrain and didn't get after pics, but I'll try. The farrier didn't touch her back feet because he said she didn't have much to work with. I thought that was kind of strange, but I'm not worried because my farrier will see her this month as well, and her real discomfort is obviously in her front feet. Also? He trimmed her free of charge, not only for the last 9 months but yesterday as well. He said he was so happy to see her with a light in her eyes again and someone attending to her that I shouldn't worry about it. You guys, I could not make this up; he said 8 or 9 months ago she looked like a horse that was giving up and wanted to die, which is why he started trimming her for free. On top of being confined to a stall with no movement she was in enormous pain. Thank god for people like him that work with horses. He's getting a Christmas card, at the very least. Thank you, Kurt, for helping my girl keep fighting.

Today Chamie had her first vaccines in 5 years. The vet took a fecal sample so we can worm her a little more strategically. She had a coggins pulled, and she has an appointment tomorrow to get her teeth floated (they are BAD, y'all. She needs sedation, power tools, the whole bit).

The most exciting things are that 1) I'll be signing papers tomorrow that make her officially mine. Apparently until YESTERDAY her worthless owner (who has a Ph.D., for chrissake) was still dragging his heels about agreeing to sign her over. I would have taken that MoFo to court, believe. Luckily, it's not coming to that.

The other exciting thing is that, literally, every day I go out to work with my girl I see an improvement in her. The very first day, last Thursday, she was a pill. She couldn't have cared less I was there and just wanted out of her stall/barn. Since then, she has made such progress. Her eyes are relaxed, deep brown and soft. She has been sighing and licking her lips constantly in the last few days. I don't have to cross tie her to groom her-she stands willingly on one tie. She picks up and holds each foot for me instead of fighting me. She is more in tune to me and looks to me to see what we're doing each day, rather than looking beyond me to see what's out there. She licks my hand, my coat. She is finally happy.

Every time I see the barn manager she tells me how different she looks-how alert and interested, yet content. She doesn't pin her ears any longer. She holds her head up. I love these updates, as much as they make me sad to know how miserable my girl has been. The Chamie I knew years ago never pinned her ears at people, even in her most mare-ish moments.

I lunged her today in the indoor arena because it has been raining literally ALL day, and it still is. After a fresh trim she is striding right out, and the very, VERY brief trot I asked her to give me she did so willingly and it looked so much better than the shuffle she had a week ago. In fact, I lunged her outside this weekend, and she was so happy she started cantering circles around me! It freaked the shit out of me and I begged her to slow down but she completed several laps before breaking to a trot and finally a walk. I was SOOO worried I had made her sore, but she was fine the next day. She is on a low dose bute regiment, along with glucosamine and MSM, and it seems to really help.

Sorry to ramble on...I know it's not exciting reading. For me, though? No matter how crappy the timing is financially, it's my dream come true to have her back with me. I've always regretted letting her go, even when I thought she was in the best of homes. This whole experience has convinced me that all of my animals will be with me forever, because no matter how careful you are you cannot make sure your babies are happy and healthy unless YOU are the one in charge of such things.

This mare took care of me for years and years, and carried me over countless fences and through miles of trails. I can never make up for the last few years of her life, but I'm damn sure going to try.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chamie's Feets, and Riding in the Wind

It turns out, the pictures I tried to get of Chamie's feet don't really capture how bad they are, which is good news for all of you. I took these on Saturday, after 2 days of treating them with Thrush Buster. I also soaked all 4 feet in a Lysol/hot water/epsom salt mixture yesterday. I'll tell you, just the Thrush Buster alone has made a huge difference (that's the purple you see). A lot of that black shit I was able to just pick/scrape off after a treatment or two, which is great, and her frogs became much more prominent. Guess they didn't disappear after all! I didn't go out to see her today (wahhhh) to see how her feet look after the soaking, but I will be out tomorrow when she gets trimmed, HOORAY! So, without further ado:

Front feet. Not terribly overgrown, but they still look like they haven't been done in 3 months or so. Angles are awful, and she's obviously wearing the inside edges more and the outside edges are flaring. Also, it's hard to tell here, but her hoof wall doesn't come close to coming in contact with the ground. She's sort of teetering on this hardened "crud" that I tried to work on, but it's going to take more than a hoof pick.

Back feet. Here you can really see how the hoof wall is about a half inch off the ground. Just...bizarre. Keep in mind there is no crud in her feet-they were picked as clean as I could get them.

Right front. More frog is visible here than the first day I saw her, which was Thursday. Still, ew, right? I apologize for the quality of these pictures. She's still getting used to having her feet handled, and doing this by myself was a major challenge. You can see I couldn't even capture all the flare/overgrowth on the outside of this foot.

Left front, with my sleeve obscuring half her heel. Nice shot, Sarah. Still, you can kind of see more of the same. I still can't believe this is a CLEAN HOOF. Well, as clean as I could get it with a hoof pick and brush.

That's all I could get. My back is officially going to totally give out on me if I now have to handle and treat 8 frigging hooves almost everyday. Time for a pain management program for moi.

Now for Miles News!! It's been windy city here lately, but I so needed a good ride on my boy today I said the hell with it. It was beautiful and sunny-and the wind gusts were insane. I lunged him briefly (he was only a nut in the "scary end" of the outdoor arena, where there was farm equipment working in the field that was in ear and eye-shot). It's ok, because he needs to get used to that stuff, but combining that with the wind was too much, so I chickened out and rode him only on the "safe" side. Still, we had some very nice, very forward (ha ha!) work at all three gaits and we finished the ride by popping over our crossrail.

He's been great lately. We jumped a vertical last week. We've gone on trail rides with new friends. His coat is blooming and his weight is picture perfect. It's not great writing material, but it's great for me right now. I keep telling him he's going to be meeting his predecessor any day now, and how she's a super sexy older lady that he had better respect:) It would be great to pony her off Miles to get her into shape (assuming her feet get under control) before riding her. This from a girl who has never ponied a horse in my life (Hi Amanda! Want to teach me?;) My ultimate goal would be to have her available to go for trail rides when my parents or friends want to come out and ride. Either way, those two will be spending a whole lot of time together, so I hope my boy will be the gentleman I know he is almost all the time.

Happy Autumn everyone! Talk about change-it's everywhere I look these days.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chamie's Big Day

Champagne on Ice (Chamie), 15.1 hh, 26 year old Appendix Quarter Horse Mare, looking lively and adorable.

Yesterday I saw my girl for the first time in 5 years. It was wonderful and sad, after learning (and seeing) everything she's been through in the last 5 years. I know it sounds crazy, but I KNEW something wasn't right for the last couple of years. Just a...nagging. I'd have occasional dreams about her. I never got a reply from the last email I sent the barn owner, and I really didn't like that. What do you do, though? The last time I saw her she was wonderful, stalled in the main barn where all the activity is, fawned over by little girls and being used lightly for lessons. The facility she lives at is one of the better known barns in the area, and I never dreamed she could be neglected there. She was a privately owned horse! I guess I'm just thankful I can do something now.

Her beautiful, still in great shape back. Looking at this reminded me of why I loved riding her bareback...soooo comfy.

She is in GREAT weight (though she was always an air fern, it's nice to see she still is at 26). Unfortunately, that's about the only good thing I can say about her condition. I talked to the barn manager, and found out she hasn't been vaccinated or dewormed in 5 years. Yes, you read that right. The BM has worked full time at this barn for almost 4 years, and has seen her owner once. Apparently, he paid her board up until last year, but never once paid for farrier or vet services. Her teeth must be disastrous. I don't know HOW she's been able to keep her weight with no dewormer...and the fact that she dropped mouthfuls of grass when I hand grazed her is not a good sign for the state of her chompers.

I really can't blame the barn too much, although I would have handled things differently for sure. The guy refused to give her away or try to sell her. They told him I would most likely take her, and still nothing. What do you do with someone like that? The barn is out literally thousands of dollars on her at this point. I have a feeling legal action was threatened and that's the ONLY reason he changed his mind, though that's just my own theory. What a guy, eh? Keep your horse a prisoner because-well, who knows why. I can't see both sides on this one, sorry.

Grazing after a loooong grooming session and haircut by moi. Her mane was crazy gross and scraggly. Also, how cute is she in pink? I'm so glad I can use that halter again. If she didn't have so much gray on her face you would never know she is 26, for reals.

Her feet...oh god, her feet were the worst. I almost started crying when I saw them. They are totally wrecked. Have you ever seen a horse with frogs that have disappeared? Does anyone know what causes this? I assume it's from excessive thrush, as what she DID have was black and stinky. Thank god I brought thrush buster with me. At one point she went 9 months without a farrier touching her feet. NINE MONTHS. The barn farrier started trimming her for free in the last few months I guess. At that point she was in so much pain she was laying down all the time. I just seethe when I think about that.

Her attitude, thank goodness, is still good, somehow. Especially considering she literally lives in a stall 95 percent of the time. Occasionally she goes in a stall with a 24 by 24 run attached. Student volunteers would hand walk her when they could, about twice a week it sounds like. She was a bit of a pill yesterday-very pushy, distracted, etc, but I don't blame her one bit. Once out of her stall it's like she feels she has to make the most of it:) However, I also went to see her today, and the attitude was almost non-existent. She nickered when she saw me and I almost lost it. My sweet girl is still there.

This was how most of my pictures looked. She just wants out out out. I'm just thankful she didn't give up and shut down completely.

So adorbs.

I lunged her briefly, almost all at the walk. Somehow, she shows little pain or short strided-ness unless she takes a tighter turn. Her trot is more of a stiff shuffle, however. I'm still very happy that even in her miserable state of horrid feet, no movement, and no bute or supplementation (well, up until last night when I brought some to the barn), she appears to be quite pasture sound. She is alert and bright and interested in her surroundings. All great things. My resilient girl.

Brief lunge. That barn has some AMAZING footing, I'll say that.

The barn has their vet and farrier out next week, thank goodness. She will need blood work, a Coggins pulled, vaccinations, teeth done, Panacur Power Pack (if I get the go-ahead from the vet), and a trim (if I think about how much all this is going to be I get a little dizzy. Goodbye unemployment check!). I really don't blame the farrier for her feet-god knows what he started working with, and he's been doing it for free. Also, as much as I believe in power-tool and sedation-free dentistry, I think hers are bad enough to warrant bringing out the big guns (and consequently, big dollars), though I won't know for sure until a professional looks at them.

She comes to my barn to meet Miles and company the first week in November. I'm so geeked, and I can't wait to have her home! In the meantime, I will be spending most of my days driving between two barns, and getting to Chamie as MUCH as possible. Knowing I'm her only escape from her stall is a lot of responsibility, but it's only a couple of weeks. Thank goodness, because I'm already feeling neglectful of a certain gorgeous dark bay thoroughbred. Luckily, I'm sure he would understand.

If anyone has experience with any of the issues I've listed, please feel free to chime in. This is a first for me. I'll also try to get some pictures of those lovely feet of hers. Do not eat when viewing, I'm just warning you now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Do You Do

...When, after a nice day at the barn, you get in your car and check your email, to find a message from the owner of the barn where your very first horse, very first Love, resides. The email says that your Love "has been abandoned, physically and financially", and asks if you can take your Love back?

...When you talk to your Love's barn owner, to find out her "owners" haven't been to see her in a few years, and haven't paid her board in a year? The barn owner has exhausted her contact with these "people" (I use this term loosely). They don't want her. The barn owner understandably can't continue to pay for her upkeep, with her own financial difficulties, and knows you have offered her a home before.

...When, further into the conversation, you learn your Love has little to no turnout. She is given the, water, vaccinations, hoof trimming, occasional hand-walking. She is arthritic. Barn owner does what she can, but it is not enough (her words). No bute, no supplements, little exercise. She hurts.

...What do you do, when you have no job (and no certain promise of a job, beyond a second interview in 2 days), and your husband is working part-time for a University?

...What do you do, when the fact is when you WERE working, you barely had enough time for your horse (you know, what's-his-name), your dogs, and everything else? Not to mention barely enough money?

...When you have not yet spoken to YOUR barn owner, or other barns in the area, or rescue groups, or explored retirement barn options? Or even your husband?

...What do you do?

...You agree to take your Love. You will make it work. Because if any horse deserves it, she does. Because you have to be the anecdote to the pond scum who abandoned a 26 year old horse with a heart of gold. Because there is literally no. other. choice.

Mama's coming, my Love. I'll see you tomorrow, and I can't wait. It will be ok.

It will be ok.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

U Read This Now! Volume Grateful-Volume Awful

Go now and read Kristen's post. It's beautiful, and the kind of thing I wish I had written.

Now, go hug your pony, dog, spouse, whatever. I'm so sorry, Andrea. Godspeed, Gogo.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lady Of Leisure hasn't even been a week yet that I've been unemployed, but the days and hours stretch out before me, promising infinite possibility. I'm not gonna lie, I needed this break, even if it comes from, you know, getting laid off. It helps that the weather is unbelievably perfect-sunny, mid to high 70's; just lovely.

Lo, I did have an interview this morning. I don't want to divulge all the details here, but it was for a position I know I could do, and do well. I felt good during the meeting, tried to be honest and humble while still speaking about my strengths. The entire thing took 25 minutes! This is with me asking a few questions of my own at the end...I can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing. They are scheduling 2nd interviews next week, so I'm going to go with the "We're weeding out the crazies" theory and hope I get that call to come back.

MEANTIME, sweet Miles is not a pony of leisure. As promised, he's getting lots of face time, though I'm pretty sure he loves it. Today we took the most gorgeous trail ride with a fellow boarder and then hopped over a couple jumps. He was so perfect-relaxed but super forward, listening to my aids and responding. How did I get so lucky with this one? I know we're not out there galloping fields or doing passage or jumping courses, but he's exactly what I need right now. As always, the best part of my day. Some things never change.