Saturday, March 29, 2014

See Green, Get Mean

You all know what is coming, Muzzles.

We went from snow scapes to seeing fresh green highlights.

The biggest indication it was time for muzzles was the fact that some of the horses walked away from hay to go nibble at grass. This year we are not taking any chances. Winston and Rosemary have already started wearing muzzles. Then next month they all will start the sacrifice vs grass time. The girls will go two days sacrifice, one day grass. The boys will go one day sacrifice, one day grass. Winston will of course stay on sacrifice completely and will switch who he goes out with.

These two try to give us the sad pony eyes, but we are standing strong. No unhealthy fat allowed. As the grass comes in, we will do crest checks to make sure they are staying soft. Being young and old, Roscoe and DaVinci may get some lee way this year. We will see how it goes. Awareness will be our friend this year.
More later, dang internet is too slow for my patience right now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Bit Up


Well we had some drama at the end of last week. Lucky Deliah went in Monday to be spayed and other than protesting being confined was doing well. That changed on Thursday night, oh make that Friday morning. She did not eat her dinner and went straight to bed. Then later on came out and had bloody diarrhea on the wee wee pad. If you remember how we lost Kayla last year, you will understand why this put fear in our hearts.
Mom and I brought her to the emergency vet's office. They said it could be caused by her pain medication, hemorrhagic gastro enteritis (what Kayla died of), pancreatitis or some bug. Nothing definitive. They recommended keeping her overnight so she could get IV fluids and observation. The worst part was, even though she would only be staying 5 hours, it cost the same as if she had been there the whole time they were open. Major OUCH! It was worth the money though as she had 3 or 4 more episodes of bloody diarrhea. She looked better when we picked her up in the morning, but we still had to transfer her to our normal vet for further fluid treatment. Thankfully she improved greatly after the days worth of fluids and could go home that night. Now she just has to grow out the poodle cut on her front legs. Somehow it just does not work as well on short little corgi legs.
All the stress led to lack of sleep and a dragging lethargy. By Saturday I felt somewhat more human. I decided to ride bareback which limited myself. Comrade was a bit up, either due to me or to something he did in turn out. We worked with it, but never got the big open trot from previous rides. When he is like this, I stick with lateral work. It slows him down and gets him thinking. Of course, this is the day Peggy could actually video.
Here is a little video of one of his better Should In's and some of his walk work at the end. You can see when he does it correctly he gets very deliberate in his steps.
Shoulder In/ walk

This one is longer and shows a bit of squirreling over and around the little jumps. You can get a view of some of his evasions too.

Comrade has also proven that spring is here by wearing a batch of hives and beginning his clover cough. I think Peggy is going to call Joyce Harman to get him on something this year. Gotta love seasonal allergies :(

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blog Hop: What's in your bucket

Let's see what is in the ponies bowls:

For spring and summer they all get a tablespoon of minced garlic straight from the grocery store. This helps with the bugs.

For the fall and winter we top dress their food with table salt to encourage drinking.

For something the good bacteria can hold on to in the gut, we feed pysllium. This is something we feed more in the winter, but continue especially for Winston and Rosemary into the summer.

Another product for good gut health we use is Ration Plus, a type of probio. Since we feed rough hay, Rosemary tends to get a hay belly. This helps her keep pushing it through, so less of a hay belly develops.

For the two over twenty, we give them lysine. This is an amino acid that helps in muscle production. Older horses have a harder time with this, so we give them some help.

For joint health they all get Corta flex. It is an amazing product.

For pain management the two over twenty get BL solution.

Finally for healthy omega IIIs and coat health, they all get Flax.

Combined with great mineral pellets we have a feeding program to be happy about.

Separate from their meal, we offer them free choice Rush Creek loose minerals. I love to see who really wants them and who only needs a little. Most of the time Rosemary inhales hers and then given a chance will walk around eating everybody elses.

Rosemary eating DaVinci's minerals while Roscoe looks on

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Damn Auto Correct

I came up to my desk at work to find my Mom had sent me a text. Well it took we a minute to translate. It was a total head scratcher until I figured it out.
Here is what she sent:

They put the coffins under dads email. They are sending a copy of them all to him.

Any guesses as to what she actually is talking about? Thankfully a good thing.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Only the Distance From Back Leg to Back Leg

Deliah, the barn supervisor :)

As promised a post about Comrade. In between snow and rain storms I have managed to get some rides. The first couple with Comrade were bareback. Boy did he make me work. He was so frisky, but the footing was not that which I would feel comfortable just letting him burn it off with speed. So I resorted to Squirreling, aka a shitload of constantly changing lateral work. I had to keep him thinking and the hardest part waiting for instruction. He has a tendency to say "I know what we are doing!" With the second ride, my thighs were shot. I did not have it in me to get the lateral movement and stop his evasions. My Mom came to the rescue by getting on him and working through that squirreling session. Comrade's biggest evasion is to overdo the movements, like swinging his butt too much. This time he also decided to try and sit down and then attempt to canter. I guess we could be happy he was pushing off his hind end.
I take full advantage when I have Mom around. Nothing beats eyes on the ground and she has sharp ones. I got back on to work on Comrade's shoulder in. She helped me by telling me when he was cheating. To help prevent him from just swinging his butt instead of moving his shoulders, she had me put him on the fence. This way the fence blocked him and I could focus on the shoulders. All good right? Not quite, then she had to work on me. At times I was asking for too much. She told me to picture his back legs and the distance in between. That distance is ALL I need to ask for. Less for a shoulder fore. With the fence for physical help and the picture for mental help, we both did shoulder in cheat free.
Another exercise she had me do to help with this was to circle. As I reached the fence and he just came off the track, we moved forward. In both methods I knew immediately by Comrade's body language we were doing it right. He slows down, which means he is working rather than running through the movement. Mom told me not to rush to push him and let him figure it out. So I used enough leg to keep him moving forward, but not beyond his comfort zone.
Well, both of these rides ended on a very high note. Comrade gave me the most awesome trot ever. The energy circle was complete and unblocked. Being bareback, I could really feel the push from behind. My seat did that great lift movement at center and Comrade maintained the connection through his shoulders, neck and head. Both directions too.
Sweaty, but happy boy after being double teamed

Still riding high from those two rides, I put a saddle on the next weekend. Still had to use the squirreling method to get him thinking and working, but it did not take as long. His work still felt great. The next day, the pony decided he wanted to warm up doing canter laps. The footing was much improved so I let him. Oh and I must not forget that the pony also did some smooth flying changes during those laps. Even to the right. Then he was ready to work. Four rides in a row that produced awesome, consistent work. He has definitely turned a corner.
I had hoped Peggy would come to watch so I could get pictures or video, but she was painting the tack room and missed the whole ride. Ah, well maybe next time. One of the biggest differences all of us have noticed is in Comrade's walk. A horse uses his head and neck at the walk and canter, so the rider's hands must follow. That was not the case with Comrade before his chiropractic visits. Now after 3, maybe 4, visits his front end is so different. His walk is true and through. He can maintain contact at the walk and my hands have something to follow now. I told Peggy that all the money she has spent ($150 each visit) was worth seeing these results.
I was so impressed I took a short video from his back at the walk. He does lift his head because the scary dog he lives with came running into the arena, but then finds his groove again. Notice the lovely floppy neck, nicely lowered and long. That right there is worth every cent :) Jen at CobJockey commented when I posted it to Facebook that it reminded her of Connor. One of these days I would love to get the brothers together. They seem so similar.
These rides also motivated me to finally start the exercise program my brother talked me into. It has been painful, but promising. I am taking it day by day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Blog Hop: What's in a Name

Well, L must have been on the same wavelength as me. This was going to be my post either this time or the next. She has a cute unicorn so I am glad she got the topic.
When I started this blog, the biggest question was "What the heck am I going to call it?" That is the first thing most readers see and being new to the whole scene I was stumped. Eventually I just fell back on what I have always been called on the world wide web: Equinpilot.
My Dad dubbed me thus waaaay back when he was starting my AOL account. He had seen me pilot Barry over numerous courses taking flight at each jump, so the name was apt. Ever since then that has been the name I use. Though a pilot without wings, it is the best way to fly :)

One of my favorite T-shirts

For the blog it fit. People could easily tell it was a horse blog and even that it was a rider. Best of all it was true to myself. Beyond jumping, I constantly navigate through the horse world just to train, ride and care for my horses. I bet my Dad never expected the name to last over 10 years. He has always had a knack for giving names.

I promise a write up about Comrade soon. Between internet connection issues and starting to exercise (oh the pain) time has not been working in my favor.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Viva Carlos' Magical Blog Hop: 7 Deadly Sins

This looked like fun, so I am putting off my other post idea to write this one :)

7 great things, strengths in riding life

1. Sharing the experience with my Mom
2. Having great friends, especially Peggy who made buying Rosemary possible
3. Owning 5 super horses.
4. Being a horse woman, not just a rider
5. Able to adapt to different horses instead of making them fit me
6. One of my greatest strengths is simply patience
7. Recognizing that owning, riding, training and taking care of horses can take a village.

7 things you lack for you or your horse

1. Property to keep my horses in my own backyard, sigh. Some day
2. The money to be able to provide "extras" to my horses like chiropractic work
3. A leather dressage saddle, preferably a Bates Isabel
4. Lessons, clinics
5. Britches, I only wear them to show or for lessons. Wish I had enough for everyday riding.
6. Heated wash rack
7. With this winter, I definitely envy those that have an arena. Our grass one has been too wet.

7 Things that make you angry

1. Not wearing a helmet, especially if you are in a position that could influence younger riders
2. Archaic horse care methods used by people who are not willing to advance even if their horse would benefit.
3. Having to watch a horse become 3 legged lame before receiving treatment.
4. Over use of "gadgets"
5. People who judge me by my cover and decide I can't possibly ride.
6. Not being able to find tall boots easily because I am short and wide.
7. People who ask "When are you getting a real horse?" because they think anything below 16h are substandard.

7 Things you neglect or cut corners on

1. Cleaning tack. With five horses that tends to pile up. Which reminds me...
2. Cobwebs, the spiders are taking over the barn lately
3. My exercise, really should get started
4. Although my horses truly do appreciate being blanketed, I really do it because it saves me time.
5. I do not always do a perfect groom before riding, though I always make sure pressure areas are clear of dirt.
6. I really should try to clean the horses food bowls everyday, but normally we run out of time. So they end up getting food built up and having to be soaked.
7. Barn laundry, saddle pads, towels, blankets. I am procrastinating taking it home and starting the process

7 most expensive things for you horse/ riding

1. Rosemary probably tops the list for this since she cost more than all of the other three put together and we had our travel expenses too. Then add in pregnancy expenses. Thankfully Peggy and Lisa helped us manage this purchase.
2. Rosemary's sarcoid medication. That is $140 every three weeks.
3. The horses food. We pay $22 for a 40lb bag of Mineral pellets and $35 for rice bran pellets. It is quality and it works so the expense is worth it.
4. My two horse Gore trailer, aah. Except for college, this is my biggest purchase ever at $14, 000. It is perfect though.
5. My Thornhill Germania Event saddle. This was almost $1000 when I bought it and then I paid to have a point billet put in. Right now no one uses it, but I won't sell it.
6. Blankets, each horse has at least four levels of blankets. I shop for deals, but am specific about the brands I will use.
7. Owning and maintaining 5 horses. Not many people can say that at my financial level.
All five of the ponies (Roscoe just happens to be inside Rosemary in this picture)

7 guilty pleasures

1. Spending time just loving on the horses. We are almost late to work sometimes because we take the time to talk to them all.
2. Driving, it is so expensive but so fun
3. When the vet looks at our 20+ year old horses and says they look great
4. Sleeping in because my ponies can handle not being on a set schedule
5. Living at home, paying minimal rent so I have more money for the horses
6. Taking pictures of the horses and dogs
7. Proving all those people who judge me by my appearance wrong by showing them I do have riding skills.

7 Things you love about riding/ horses

1. They all have their own characters and mine show it
2. The connection that builds on the ground and in the saddle, so great
3. The constant challenge and growth
4. The satisfaction that comes from providing well mentally and physically for your horses.
5. The good surprises and fun that can happen, like Rosemary helping pull the hay the other day.
6. The variety of disciplines available
7. The love my horses show me everyday

Monday, March 3, 2014

Amish Roots Shine

Winter decided to remind us that it is not over yet with another snow storm. This one had less snow, but more ice. After a two hour drive, we found a car off the driveway blocking the way. I got out to see what the situation was and to start working on the horses. Eventually, Mom was able to make it up the hill to park. We left the horses inside since rain came before the snow. They all were hungry, but settled. I gave them some hay to tide them over and started on the stalls.
I cleaned DaVinci and Roscoe's stall into our little spreader and Mom had pitched to doorways to pick up later. The snow prevents us from being able to use our tractor to pull the spreader, so normally we would have this sitting until the snow clears. I started thinking about rigging something for me to drag the manure out to the big cornfields to dump. We have a bucket of the wheelbarrow Winston broke when he fell last year. As we talked about how to use it, we contemplated having Rosemary drag it for us. The wheels began to turn.
Peggy gave us a single tree awhile ago that can be used in situations like this. So we ran a rope through the holes in the wheelbarrow and tied to the metal loop on the single tree. I would have loved to have a solid clip to use, but we did not have one at hand. Her traces attach to the tree on the ends. To test it out we just put hay in the wheelbarrow to put out in the fields. Mom put on her blinkers and breast collar, the only pieces of harness needed. Then we used a lunging surcingle to hold on a quarter sheet. It was freaking cold so that was a necessity. A halter completed the set up. We attached the traces and began to asked her to move.
Spur of the moment, after a night inside, not having driven in ages, Rosemary took to the task like she had done it before.
Short video of the first run:
The traces hit her legs, the wheelbarrow made noises, but she listened so well. Heck the hardest part was keeping up with her. She powered through the snow. Her Amish workhorse roots were definitely shining. She was so happy to do the work. Success!

We took off her harness pieces and put a cooler on over the quarter sheet to keep her warm while we finished stalls and fed the horses. To help with the next load we put trace extenders, little pieces with buckles, on the single tree. This way when we need to detach from Rosemary it is easy as unbuckling the traces. With three stalls loaded in the wheelbarrow, I pulled it out of the barn beyond where the vehicles were parked while Mom got her dressed. Then we had to wait for the snow blower to go away. She cocked a leg, waiting to go.
This time went just as smoothly as the first. We made to the cornfield, unbuckled her and I dumped the load. We let her go back without pulling. I took that job. The funny thing was that she was better behaved when she was hooked. The night spent inside showed itself on the walk back to the barn, silly girl.
I love that we can utilize her training for practical purposes and she is so satisfied with the work.