Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Dance

We got bad news about my friend's husband last night. The doctors do not believe he has a chance for  a meaningful recovery and would exist in a comatose state. As a police officer and an active father, that is not a way he would like to live. So our friend has decided to end life support and put a DNR (do not resuscitate). I know the decision was heart rending, but in a way I am glad it was clear.

In light of everything, I am looking at the smaller things to be happy about. So my happy dance is because Rosemary finished her round of Chinese herbs. YIPPEE!!!

This has been the hardest medicine to get into her. We have not had a horse dislike the Chinese herbs before, but Rosemary was admit that no way, no how was she eating that stuff. Oh the trials...

Alfalfa cubes, worked once.

Alfalfa cubes with molasses, worked maybe 4 times.

After Rebel passed, Gretchen gave us her left over sweet feed, that worked only for the Chrysanthemum not the Chinese herbs (Max formula)

Sweet feed plus molasses, worked but I had to keep playing with the amount of feed and molasses. It would take her 20 minutes to eat two handfuls of grain. Rosemary stated her opinion quite well by pushing the bowl away.

Mixing the herbs with water in a dosing syringe (Sure Grip made especially to fit the smaller hand), worked well once then was a total nightmare. Once resulted in my mix falling out the bottom because the plunger did not seat well.

And finally...
Premixing the mix in a cup, using watered down molasses, then putting in the syringe. Through lots of trial and error, too thick, too thin, then just right. I swear that stuff multiplied when wet.
Rosemary was a good girl. She did not like the dosing syringe, but the most she did was clamp her mouth shut. Even having to put it in two or three times, she did not cause problems. We gave her a handful of sweet feed to help wash the taste away.

So after 19 days of administering 3 tbsp of Chinese herbs and 1 tsp of Chrysanthemum twice a day, we do not have to torture our poor pony any more. Time for my Happy Dance :)

Now we call Joyce's office to see if we wait or if Rosemary needs more. Holistic medicine is great, but sometimes it does take time to work.

I wonder if the ponies missed our night visit?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Drunken Bean Field Adventure

For the first time ever we did not do a turkey and fixings Thanksgiving dinner. We had already had turkey earlier in the month so it was decided we would have a boiled dinner instead. I know some of you will be scratching your head wondering what a boiled dinner is, so it is a ham cooked in a water/vinegar mix with cabbage, carrots and turnips. The best part is, you put it all in the pot and let it cook.
My mom was free to come to the barn and play. The day was a warm and sunny, perfect for riding. Mom was going to stroll on DaVinci since she hurt her back at work. I was going to ride Rosemary, but Winston pricked his ears and blinked his big brown eyes at me. He wanted to work.
Winston has an amazing trot. I swear he floats. Picture the big show jumping horses trotting before and after rounds. That is what he feels like when you are on his back.  Some horses really make you feel special when you can harness their energy into packaged working gaits. Winston is one of those. We had a great ride and we both were happy.
Now we could move onto DaVinci and Rosemary. This ride turned out to be a lesson in patience for Rosemary. She had to learn that just because DaVinci was  ahead of her, did not mean she could move faster to catch up. One correction on the walk out was all she needed to work on a loose rein. We caught up with Mom at the fence between the big fields. Then DaVinci surprised us by setting off across the bean fields. Fortunately these fields are not plowed and the footing was safe.
DaVinci who loves exploring was thrilled. Rosemary, still walking on a loose rein, was like a drunk. Where her nose pointed her body followed. I only did some minor directional cues. Once we crossed the field, we turned around and I took Rosemary ahead to do some trotting. Her drunkenness continued, but she had great rhythm so I let her roam. Then I got a surprise and started laughing. Rosemary started to feel light and bouncy. Not a bad thing except that her head was straight up. Cobs have two kinds of trot they are known for: extended, ground covering and suspended joint bending. This trot was the joint bending kind. It will be great once she is not being a drunk tourist. Mom and DaVinci waited at the top of the bean field. After our wondering trot work, I asked her for canter up the hill. Can you believe she became straight once in canter? Wonder if that is a green horse thing.
Anyway our ride turned out to be really fun and enlightening... for Rosemary. She needs ride time with other horses to learn to listen to me instead of worrying about where the other horse is. It will help her driving too. Not a bad way to spend the holiday :)

Here is a picture example of the joint bending trot. I asked Mom if this was what Rosemary looked like and she said her legs were more deeply bent than in this picture. I think her head was about this high though.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

We Have Created a Monster

Thank you all for your kind thoughts about Rebel and my friend's husband. Things are not looking good for my friend's husband. I keep hoping he will win, but the damage is so severe. Rebel's owner is grieving, but now has to focus on her mare who is alone for the first time. When she settles we will try to put her with my girls. No horse should have to be alone.

And now to better the mood...My niece came and tried out that lead line saddle we bought in July. She walked into the barn and just marched right up to Rosemary. It is so neat to see her lack of fear and her complete fascination.
She started by riding Rosemary. Lily called the saddle her "chair" and boy did she settle right in.
Round and round we went with one happy little girl. And then one of the best moments...
"Hi Mom, I got this"
We went back into the barn and removed Lily, who started crying. My sister in law took off the helmet, which upset Lily too. She kept pointing at Rosemary and saying "chair." So I told her she could ride Dottie. A quick tack change and off we went. Though we had to convince Lily that Dottie was just as good as Rosemary. It did not take much :)
Dottie's walk is smoother, so she felt really confident. She even took both hands off the grab strap.
My brother had to work harder because Dottie is taller and because Lily believed she did not need him holding onto her at all. She pushed his hands away, so he had to sneak to hold the saddle. We took her for a walk around the big field which she loved. I think Dottie forgot there was someone on her back, until Lily babbled.
At the end, we all held our breathe for Lily's reaction. Luckily, she was satisfied and ready to explore the barn. She helped me walk Dottie back to her stall. Dottie very quietly walked next to her.
I love this picture
Lily played in the sawdust while Griffyn wondered what she was doing. Then she picked up the lead line again and led me holding the halter out of the stall and out the barn door. Lily came over and took the halter, which was as big as her, and continued walking.
The halter was discarded when she found...Rocks. She picked up one for each hand and set off for a destination only she knew. She did at one point, drop a rock and pick up a ball of manure. It was bound to happen at some point. My sister in law handled it really well. Lily dropped the manure and picked up her rock again.
She did a circuit around the boy's turn out with a stop near the pond. All during she was followed by the dogs.
Griffyn says " time to play?"
I don't remember where the rocks ended up, but it was a fun stroll through the field. Lily ended her visit visiting the boys. DaVinci was so gentle, putting his head down for her while Roscoe tried not to eat her fingers, but you know they were there. Winston was safe behind his stall wall watching the little noisy person.
I did not get to ride or do most of the things on my list, but Lily brightened my day. I think she is hooked, so my brother better watch out for the monster we created today.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nothing Worse Than...

...Coming home from the vets with an empty trailer.

This week has been horrible. My friend's husband suffered an aneurysm and is currently on life support. Please keep him in your prayers as he is not out of the woods.
Then my mom backed my car into a cement wall's corner. Dad had an absolute cow over that.

And today I had the day off since I have to work Saturday for a sale. I really hate the holidays sometimes. We pulled up to the barn and were greeted with the Appies owner, Gretchen telling us Rebel was colicing. She asked us to come see him and give our opinion. Well it only took one look and we said call your vet again. We told her if he needed to go to a clinic, we could take him.
An hour later, we had him loaded and were headed to our vets. Mom and I were both having visions of Sherman on his last day because Rebel was very similar.
Our vets tubed him, palpated, put him on IV fluids and ultra sounded his belly. During all this they constantly had to give him the good drugs to manage his pain. It was heartbreaking to see his pain and that of Gretchen's. For mom and I, is was no easier.
The surgeon who examined him was the same one who did the procedure on DaVinci last year. She pointed out to me the distended portions of small intestine on the ultrasound. Each time she found one, his prognosis declined. They did some blood tests to determine whether or not surgery was necessary. Unfortunately, Rebel was a candidate for surgery having numerous fatty lyphomas and it was way beyond his owner's means. Rebel's pain was continuous. We knew the time had come, Gretchen made the hard decision.
Gretchen bred his mother, helped him be born, trained him, bred him and now she said good bye. They had 20yrs together. Mom and I have known him for about 8yrs and worked on his feet for about 2yrs. He was a great, kind, sometimes stubborn horse who enriched all our lives.
We went home with an empty trailer and heavy hearts.
RIP Rebel  April 27,1992 - November 15, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Show and Tell (Roscoe Video)

Well our holiday weekend was full of visitors. My Dad's family came on Saturday to meet the horses. Unfortunately my grandmother is not an animal person so she stayed as far away from any furry creature as possible. Roscoe was fascinated with one of my Aunts and luckily she was willing to love on him too. Dottie showed them the other side of the size scale, but felt she did not get her due attention. Her size made them a little nervous.
After pictures, we hooked up Rosemary and Mom took them for a drive. I was standing there watching, thinking Rosemary was being a bit of a pain. She would get trotting and not want to stop or she would not want to turn. At one point she spooked at a bunny and picked up a canter. Mom was trying to stay calm, while mentally  going "oh boy." Rosemary came back to her with little fuss and my Aunt said "That was fun." Oh ignorance is bliss :)
With four trips, Rosemary worked her butt off. Everyone, except maybe my grandmother, had a lot of fun and no one got eaten. Whew, family can be exhausting.
My Aunt up first for a drive while the Uncle takes a picture

Mom and I finished the day giving all the horses, not Roscoe though, trace clips. Ended up being perfect timing since Sunday brought almost 70 degree temperatures. It also brought a text from Roscoe's breeder. She was on her way back from the Royal Winter Fair by way of an airport near by. Time permitting she wanted to come visit.
The way the timing worked out she beat me to the barn. I went and rode Comrade then met her at our barn. She was clicking away with the camera with the boys. The sun was beginning to set giving a really nice background. Then we let Roscoe out in the bigger field to get him moving. IE me swinging her shirt at him. He was in a mood to show off and did some stallion air blows, flipped his tail and produced an awesome trot. I got distracted from my job watching him move. He is just so cool.
Anyway she tried for some pictures, but the light was going so I do not know how many came out. We moved him back to the sacrifice area with the grey boys and we started looking at the pictures from his run, earlier and from the Royal show. She got some really great pictures of Cadence and the Sec. C Harri. As we stood there, Winston came up behind her and rested his head on her shoulder. Winston is our shy boy, so it was a big compliment for him to snuggle with her. My ponies read people really well and were obviously comfortable with her.
She only had a short time before heading to the airport, but it was great to catch up with her. Plus, she agreed our boy is amazing. Glad to know it is not just our biased eyes :)
When she got home she asked for music suggestions to put with Roscoe's video. UH OH I do not listen to much music. I mostly listen to books on CDs in the car.  Coming up with a song on short notice was not going to happen. Well she did just fine on her own. Once some technical difficulties were worked out, she sent me the video with music. It was not music that I would have immediately connected to Roscoe, but as the video goes along the better the song works.
So enjoy the video, by Lisa Brezina of Castleberry Welsh Cobs and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Product Review: Spursuader

Over the weekend I rode Comrade twice and DaVinci and Rosemary once with these spurs. None of them had a negative reaction and they responded really well.
For me the spurs seemed so big compared to the micro spurs I have used previously, but they actually were easy to engage. The nice rounded edges and wide surface made a gentle but firm contact with the horse.
With Comrade, who you all know is not shy about bucking, it was amazing. He did not take offense when I used the spurs and actually had a bend through his rib cage. That bend released the tension in his neck creating the nice floppy top line. I was also able to work on his lazy right hind leg when asked to step under and push. He likes to shuffle sideways instead of crossing. With help from the spurs he did achieve the cross over, though it still needs work.
With Rosemary, my drama queen, I got a little swishy tail action, but that is normal whenever you tell her what to do. I did get a much better bend through her body, which we have been working on.  I can't wait to see Mom use the spurs while working her.
With DaVinci, I had fun. He is our lateral king, but I am not so good. With the spurs, my timing was working and DaVinci gave me some awesome half passes. Then I turned my foot out so the flat side contacted his side, not something I would normally do, but he was fine with the pressure. And by keeping the correct bend our lateral work was much better than I normally achieve.

So overall, I have been persuaded. I know that was bad.
Three different horses at different levels of training and all had positive reactions and better work. They sell for about $55. I do not know what other spurs go for, but these are worth the price. And for those of you who ride western, they have a western version.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

IT'S BACK, Bigger and Badder

All year we have been dealing with a growth on Rosemary's eye lid. After a biopsy determined it was a sarcoid, we having been consulting with our holistic vet, Joyce Harman to treat her with various remedies. So far none have made a definitive difference. Unfortunately the sarcoid is huge now and surgery is almost inevitable.
So big now

Our last hope of a noninvasive solution is a Chinese remedy. It is pricey, but cheaper than surgery.
Rosemary will get 3 tablespoons of this twice a day. I would tell you what is in it if I could read Chinese. I can tell you it is very aromatic. In addition to this formula, she will get a teaspoon of Chrysanthemum. It serves a supportive role.

Now the only problem is getting her to eat. The first meal, no problem. Then for her second dose we soaked some alfalfa cubes to mix it in and so we could share some with Dottie. Our horses only get one meal a day, so this is a treat. Well Rosemary decided she was not hungry enough to overlook the taste. Mom and I ended up mixing the remedy in a dosing syringe and shooting in her mouth. The cube mix went in the fridge to try again.
Today I put the cube mix in her stall and she grudgingly ate about 95%. She did not eat it well enough to try again for her second dose. Unlike like mom, I did not get the remedy mixed perfectly in the syringe. First attempt, I lost most of it when I though the plunger was in far enough and turned it over :{ Second  and third attempt, the mix clogged at the end of the syringe. Fourth attempt, I used my fingers to push the clogged bit into her mouth. After all that I had a small amount left that I rubbed into a sweet feed treat and finally she had gotten the whole dose. Whew, there has to be an easier way.
I think tomorrow I am going to mix the remedy with water before putting it in the syringe. If all else fails, I guess we could buy sweet feed, which we normally avoid, and hope that is enough to get her to eat the remedy. Oh the lengths we go to for our horses.

And for those of you interested in how Comrade's brother did at the Royal Winter Fair, he placed second to his travel mate, a 12yr old Sec C stallion. He did really well in the crowded barn and around all the people. Pretty great for his first show. Here are a couple pictures his breeder sent to me:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Canadian Royal Winter Fair

I have known for about a month, but now I can finally tell. Comrade and (if you follow Jen at Cob Jockey) Connor's full brother will be showing at the Royal in Canada. Castleberrys Cadence has been in training at a driving farm in PA which actually is where Connor was trained to drive too. He will only be showing in hand though. I can't wait to see how he does tomorrow. I was fortunate enough to have met both Connor, Castleberrys Contender, and Cadence when we bought Rosemary. Cadence was a two year old, but behaved so well. We met him when we picked up a pony for his breeder from a different field to bring back to her barn. Worked for me, any excuse to meet new horses.
Now Connor, I had to drive all night to meet in PA. We helped fund our trip by bringing one of the breeder's recently sold ponies to his new home. When Manny, the other cob, was unloaded we went to look at the other horses and found Connor and Crackerjack. I admired both these boys and would have taken either if they had been in my price range, but things happen for a reason. Crackerjack is now an awesome driving pony owned by the driving farm. And some of you know Connor is now on his way to being an awesome eventer. It is great to see how the 3 full brothers are similar, yet definitely have their differences.
Anyway wish Cadence luck for his debut and safe drives both ways. Now I have to go back to work for a little while longer :)


Cadence, 4 year old Stallion (Picture credit to Castleberrry Welsh Cobs)

Just for fun: Picture of then 4yr old Connor while he was on the east coast at the driving farm


Another picture of Connor, this time with another Castleberry pony Crackerjack.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Equine Extravaganza

And it was a little hit. The best part was spending time in great company. But there were good points.
First we saw two really cool Gypsy Vanner stallions. They had to use two french braids in the mane, two braids in the tail and the forelock braid went past his nose. We missed the stallion showcase, but heard that the owner rode one stallion while long lining the second so they both could be seen. I did not realize Gypsy's came in 3 sizes: Cob, Vanner and Grand Vanner. The things you learn :)
Second we walked around the vendors. Neither of us really needed anything, but you never know what will jump out at you. We went into a tack store area and I noticed black bridles. I told Peggy Comrade needed a new bridle. His is too small. She told me to pick one out. These bridles were $80 dollars and nice looking, but they all had crank nose bands. So I just moved on and kept my eyes open.
Sometime while I was looking at bridles, Peggy disappeared so Mom and I started looking for her while checking out vendors along the way. This wide, padded halter caught my eye in a "that's weird" kind of way. I walked over to see what it was and noticed the black bridles just above. I never did find out what the halter was for, but I did find out the bridles were "a hit in Europe." The vendor, for Horze, came over and started selling the bridle to me. I did not have the heart to tell her, that I was sold when I saw the $36 dollar price tag. She found me the right size for Comrade and wrote me a ticket. It was then that I noticed the bridle has the slightest bit of bling on the brow band. I am not a big bling fan, but this was subtle and did not rub me the wrong way. The bridle came with web reins, which I prefer, has buckles for the bit and rein pieces and the throat latch has buckles on both sides. So for the price it is a great bridle.
Comrade says "really"

It is a bit smashed from however it was packed

Subtle bling

When I paid for the bridle, I noticed the brand of boots Peggy wanted to buy. We tried to call Peggy, but could not get a hold of her. Off we went again looking for Peggy. After a few circuits around, no luck. We decided to head back to the vendor with the boots figuring she would end up there at some point. Sure enough, she was trying on boots when we arrived. She was so happy to buy new sets of Red Back boots just in time for her birthday.
As we were heading to the next vendor area we were caught by a demo. Guy McLean was doing a demo that eventually involved 5 horses, doing liberty work and two did some ridden. I love watching horses do liberty work because you know they do the tricks out of joy of working. Were the horses perfect, no but that made the whole demo more fun. One of the best things he said was that growing up no one told him he couldn't do anything he wanted with his horses, so he always tried. And out of trying he developed a relationship and trust with his horses. Between his personality and that of each of his horses the demo was really great. Peggy had fun during one part when he put a tarp over his 3yr old horse completely. The girl sitting next to her was a bit snotty about having to sit so close and Peggy was determined to break the ice. She turned to her and said "A couple of my horses have laid under tarps just like that." The girl's eyes widened and Peggy continued "But they were both dead." After a heartbeat the girl broke out laughing. Horse people what can you say.
When the demo was done, Peggy wanted to show us a pair of spurs she had seen. She just had to remember where in the three buildings they were at. Cue the walking and walking. Of course we walked right by them maybe two times before she finally noticed the right vendor. These spurs are called "Spursuader" Instead of the small ball that pokes a small area on the horse, these are round like a coin about a 1/4inche deep. They are suppose to be for the more sensitive horses. We did get a set to try, but I have not been able to test them yet. So more about them later.
Different, Can't wait to try them
So the show was a little hit in that we found what we were looking for, and something new. We ended the day trying out Comrade's new bridle. Mom has not seen him work for awhile and she was impressed with how he is moving. We have moved him into the widest gullet Wintec makes and he is coming out his shoulder the way he did wearing the treeless. After some warm up, Comrade and I showed off a bit by doing a flying lead change. He surprised me the ride before this by doing a flying change and he did it just as smoothly to show Mom. Such a great sign he is moving forward, literally and figuratively :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Sandy Effect

Sandy made her place in history, that's for sure. Fortunately for us she did not effect us beyond wind and rain. Neither my house nor the barn lost power and there was only a little flooding on the roads I travel.

The rain made our grass arena a bit to slippery to ride on, so the ponies have had a vacation. I took advantage of being able to do less at the barn to bite the bullet and go in for an eye exam. My last exam was 5 yrs ago, about 4 yrs longer than they like between exams. I tend to put my money towards my horses before myself, but my glasses are limping. I survived the exam, even the dreaded puff test for glaucoma and got a pleasant surprise. My insurance covers contact exams too. So I also got fitted for new contacts. These will make life easier. Then it was onto picking out frames for my new glasses. I have not picked out new frames in about 8 years. After my last exam, I  just had my lenses changed. Well in 8 years frames have changed making the decision really hard. After about half an hour, I finally picked out a pair of pink, yep I said pink, frames. I did almost choke when I saw the price, six times what I paid 8 years ago. Well that was the easy part. My sister came too and she looked at frames for 2hrs. First she wanted one kind, then she settled for another. We had it down to two frames, when she decided she wanted color. Another half an hour and a phone consult with Mom and she finally settled on a purple frame that hmm I showed her nearly an hour before. By next week this chore will be completed.

We still had dreary, drippy weather so my having to go into work for a couple of hours was not too bad. While I went to work, my sister went to the barn to take care of the horses. Roscoe loves when she comes because she lets him walk in by himself, where Mom and I use a halter. She uses the extra incentive of a carrot, I know cliche but true, to lead him into his stall. He really could be so bad with her and he does not do it. The horses seem to know she will work with them if they help her. They got to go back on pasture after only one day on dry lot because Dottie is still with out her shoe and the pasture is softer. After I did my time, my sister came to get me and we went to the used bookstore. This was much better than frame shopping. I got just under 20 books for about $30. My sister got like 30 books for $22 after taking out her trade in value. Horse stuff or book shopping are the only kind of shopping I do willingly.

And tomorrow Mom, Peggy and I are going to the Equine Extravaganza. Sandy did not cause them to cancel this event. It is located more centrally in VA so I do not think they saw much damage. These shows can be hit or miss, so cross your fingers for us that it turns out to be a hit. One of these shows is where I bought my trailer for a great deal. We don't need anything that big but some good deals would be nice.

Best of luck to anyone still battling the effects of Sandy. I hope your family and animals are well.