Saturday, February 25, 2017

Explaining Colic To Non Horse People

Mom and I are fortunate to have long time employers who know how much our horses mean to us. They know if we call out or leave early due to a horse call that it is major. They also try to understand our worry, but sometimes who can just see the question in their eyes.
Peggy and I had this discussion about how to explain colic to non horse people. I think when they hear colic, they think about cranky infants.

They really cannot wrap their heads around the depth of fear that comes with saying colic. I told Peggy that for horse people colic is equivalent to hearing "cancer" in the people world.

Just like cancer, colic can vary in severity, require surgery, be easily fixed or result in death. And no matter the type, just saying the word in conjunction with you or yours brings fear. It elicits a feeling of helplessness, but also a deeper hope that this to shall pass. It is not choosy in its victims. There is no rhyme or reason.

Am I blowing this out of proportion because I have lost 4 horses to colic? I had the same feelings when we lost my grandfather to cancer and a close friend too.

Anyone else have to explain horse problems to non horse people?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Still Lost, But Some News

I still can't do his last post because I am not ready. I'm not ready to put his blankets away. I'm not ready to change his status of current to past. It is too soon. We are all still lost in the thoughts and memories. I nearly cried at a picture of a pony and horse with a leg raised forward on Facebook. Poor Rosemary is definitely missing her night buddy even though we have her with the older guys. I know how she feels.

I really appreciate every one's support during this time. That is a definite benefit to being a blogger.

And now I am changing the subject with some news before I get teary again.
Monday, after a day working all the Cobs, I saw another notice for Dressage Camp. I immediately messaged Peggy and she asked if I was taking Roscoe again. As much as I would have liked that, Winston's vet bill from last month left no extra. So Peggy told me she would pay if I ride Comrade. That was definitely okay with me. I can't wait to see what they can do with Comrade.
This time I will be on vacation the two weeks before and will have ridden more. Hopefully Comrade will be in better shape by the end of March when the camp is happening. He has been working really well and the other day he gave me one of his best canter transitions.
Camp will be something to look forward to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Loss of All Heart

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know what is coming. This morning as I left for work I grimaced at the drop in temperature. The horses were naked due to the warm weather last evening. I immediately thought of Winston who hates to be cold.

Then almost three hours later, Mom called and said it was bad. Larry found Winston down and rolling covered in sweat. He got him up and put a cooler on before starting laps while Peggy called the vet. Mom and my sister already on the way, floored it. My Mom's voice warned me this one was not one she thought would end well. I told my boss I had to leave and headed out. Nearly there, my sister called and said the vet confirmed it was not good. It looked to be a colic similar to Sherman's, a strangulation colic. Either caused by bands or fatty lympomas. The vet was not ready to give up yet and proceeded to pump fluids into him.
Unfortunately, as the sedation wore off his pain returned and not his gut movement. The vet said he was stoic and that settled our decision. One more palpation confirmed he was not improving.
The best ears ever
After 11 years we were losing Omnis Cor (All Heart), with everyone who welcomed him into the herd around him. Roscoe stood sentinel at the fence line, giving Winston and us his strength. Of course even at the end he was a challenge. We wanted him to lay down, after hours of telling him not to, so he stood firm. When most horses fall back, he came forward knocking the vet down. Winston always did have his own style. DaVinci was really upset so the vet told us to let the horses say goodbye. Rosemary breathed into his nose, then moved down his body. DaVinci too touched his face and legs, but added a squeal. I don't think he appreciated being left in charge of the girls. DaVinci thought hard about leaving Winston. He wanted to stand by him, but soon followed us back to the sacrifice area.
By 1:15 he was resting peacefully in the field, under the trees. Bless the back hoe guy who Dad said treated him like a Viking king.
I nearly lost it when I saw his food bowl with his container waiting inside. He was such a big personality and presence in the barn. As Peggy says, he is still around, just not in sight.

The out pouring of support online is always appreciated. Carly made my day by saying she loved his posts the best. His memorial post will come soon.

Funny Photo Fail

This weekend was a full one and I will write about it later. For now I give you a photo that was  supposed to be cute.

We drove up the driveway to see Rosemary and Dottie on one side of the run in and the Red Boys on the other with Ember sleeping at Roscoe's feet. So when we parked and I gave hay to the girls and Grey Boys, I attempted to take a shadow shot of the boys.

First Roscoe walked in front of Ember.

Then both Red Boys relaxed and "dropped."

So instead of my cute picture of baby sleeping with the boys...

I ended up with Sleeping baby with the boys "hanging" out.

I guess they knew they had work ahead so took the morning slow.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ember's Independent Study

Fuzzy Wuzzy...
During January the horses basically had a vacation. So I was not sure what to expect from Ember the first time I took him to the round pen. I was pleasantly surprised to find the defiant baby who got stuck at the gate and another point was not there. He was focused on me and not distracted by what was happening outside the pen.

He also was respecting me by giving inside turns. Which means he turned toward me when he changed directions rather than turning toward the fence. Before I had to work awhile before I got one inside turn. It was amazing to watch him work. I think he took the month to do an independent study of what we taught him. He thought about it and figured out it was not torture.

Trotting by his previous  #1 sticking spot

At times when we started working with him, I thought he was not ready. We did not start working Roscoe until he was a yearling. Goes to show horses definitely have their own way of working sometimes. Ember is such a good boy. 6 days later he did another session with the same focus.

We also began to work on him trotting next to me, which he found to be very weird. Then after the round pen work, Mom helped move him on and off we went. I was good until he relaxed and opened his stride. Let me tell you, my 5'2" legs to not go far when he does that. When I worked him later on by myself, he was able to trot next to me without the additional encouragement. Hopefully I can do him justice in the show ring.

Ember and Roscoe were doing crazy Cob laps today providing us with lots of entertainment. I missed getting the good stuff on camera, but here are a few shots.
Wee! Airborne

Cob turn around

Just before he took off again

Monday, February 13, 2017

Continuing Ripples

One of the other parts of camp was a chat with a vet. During which my Mom asked about feeding a stallion, a pony one at that. We noticed that yet again Roscoe dropped weight in January. Every year we try to stay ahead of his stallion cycle, but we missed. The blankets tend to hide the slow loss. Anyway we bumped his rice bran up just before camp to help. In talking to the vet we found out that breeding stallions are part of that high work category on the feed bags. Since he is a pony we would need to increase his fat intake rather than carbs. He recommended different oils, but we will stick with the rice bran even though it has the carbs. I don't think we feed enough to cause an issue in that area.
Looking good, but on the lighter side

That said, Roscoe has been on the higher fat now for just over a week and we can see a difference in his energy level. Both trainers remarked about his fitness, which I was well aware of. Hopefully with this energy boost he will be able to increase his overall fitness. Under saddle he is quicker off my leg and seems happier doing the work. I really like taking lessons where the exercises are ones I can recreate at home. Plus, the more relaxed with less distractions environment of home means that I get the answers quicker. The ten minute battle of the final lesson, was down to like a minute at home.

My new Pony who listens :)
I swear the Cobs take time to think about what we do with them in between rides. More than once I have seen marked improvement by the next ride. I told Mom I feel like I am riding a new pony. It is like he matured over that weekend. We knew he was ready to move on, but I needed the reassurance that the ugly giraffe impression and stomping feet were a natural progression. What I still was not sure about after the weekend was whether I would be able to get his canter consistent. We did not work canter at all, which I was glad in one way, but worried they thought we could not. I seriously dread asking him to canter. I work too hard to get too little. I started to wonder how much a training ride would be so someone could break through. I figured I reached my limit to doing things myself.

But I underestimated the continuing ripples of the weekend and changing his feed. My third ride after the camp was with Mom mounted on Comrade. She helped me figure out when he was going behind the vertical since his stallion neck is a different view. Then she pushed me to try his canter. The dread settled on me as I expected the ugly transition ahead. The ugly never came. He picked up right lead with little additional encouragement and maintained enough I could actually work on his frame. He did not fall in and I did not lose my stirrup. In awe I changed direction to his bad lead. He did need a smack with the whip and he was not as put together, but he was moving under his own steam. I seriously felt like I could ride my horse and there was hope for three gaits.
Roscoe needed gas in the tank. Stallion cycles and playing with your son burn way too many calories. Now we know and can keep track to see if he needs another bump.

Check out DIY Horse Ownership's Valentine day Contest! Great prizes are available.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lesson three, Sprieser Sporthorse Adult Camp

After Saturday anything that came on Sunday would be icing on the cake. We had to get up at 4am so we could leave the barn by 630. I had a ride time of 8am.
Sprieser had Roscoe fed and ready to be tacked up by time we arrived. Mom and Peggy put him in the aisle while I went to get ready. I had a surreal moment when I came back out to find Lisa cleaning Roscoe's stall. Never before had my instructor cleaned my horse's stall, especially with me standing right there. I did not have time to ponder though.

As the first rider the indoor was quiet and the lights still off. I had a quarter sheet on Roscoe since it was still cold and we enjoyed a quiet warm up. I was pleased to find I had more pony left then expected. Which turned out to be a good thing.
This was a lesson about boundaries and come what may, Roscoe and I were on our way. Lisa had me set my hands low, like side reins and push Roscoe forward. I had to stay that way no matter what drama Roscoe threw at me. Head ringing, foot stomping and suddenly stomping on the brakes were all his evasions. I had to take the quarter sheet off so my whip could be effective before carrying on the battle. Ten minutes, people. It felt like so much longer. Roscoe softened and began to move easier.

My favorite shot of the weekend

Both of us were tiring. Lisa wanted more trot from Roscoe and I literally could not manage more. My pony tried what he could. Amazing the difference even with his lack of fitness. It was way more than I expected to get out of this weekend. I laughed inside when Lisa said I was unemotional and that was good for a young horse rider. That is not something  I attribute to myself. I think the fact that she told me the method and his reactions were okay, allowed me to do what was needed.


We had a walk break and Roscoe saw the next horse at the arena door. Oh boy, did that knock everything we did out of his brain. It seemed we would end with another battle, but I was not sure we had enough time to end on a good note. Roscoe made me wait till the very end before just barely giving in. I'll take it to end soft. Roscoe received positive attention from the trainers and other riders. They said they had joked about starting Sprieser Sportpony and that he would fit right in.

I asked a lot of Roscoe this weekend and he responded accordingly. I loved the fact that he gave me some of his evasions because it gave the trainers a chance to teach how to deal with it. I could not wait to get home and see what kind of pony I now had away from the distractions.

So Tired!
Riding first meant that once Roscoe was settled, we could watch the rest of the lessons. Not everyone in the camp did this, but to me that is another way to learn. Only one horse/rider pair I missed watching each day because she was right before/after my ride. To be fair, the indoor was freezing. The trainers sat in a chair wrapped in a heated blanket while the observers wrapped up in coolers.
It was a great mix of people and was a positive environment. Everything together made $150 a total steal. I would definitely do this again. Plus I am going to try lessons there once a month.
Of course it would not be a trip without something going awry. When the time came to load up and leave, we had to deal with trailers everywhere. Got that figured out and then I could not find my car keys. With no time to search, I used my Mom's and we headed home.

There was quite the welcome home for Roscoe. Lot's of running and checking in with everyone. He was so happy to be home. The next day I made sure to take him for a trail ride and stretch out his muscles. We both needed the mental break. The real work starts now.