Saturday, February 26, 2022

Some Clarification

 I wrote an opinion piece on Tuesday that was pretty well received. But it's been brought to my attention that I need to clarify something. I board in the wintertime at a pretty wonderful facility. The care there is incredible. I've said this over and over. I mentioned that I board someplace where work ethic is often commented on, but I want to be clear where I board, the workers are compensated more than fairly and appreciated. My post was in no way directed at my own current experience, but what I've seen and experienced throughout my time as a horse owner and boarder. And I've seen a lot. I've been riding, competing, and caring for horses for over 30 years. 

While my barn owner and I may have lots of differing opinions, that doesn't make either of us wrong or doing a bad job. Everyone does things their own way and has their own expectations. As long as the humans and horses are all well cared for, at the end of the day, that's all that matters. 

This blog space is mine, for me to share my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes people might not agree with what I have to say. And that's okay. But these experiences are mine, and if you think I've said something that might be harmful to someone else, please bring it to my attention yourself and I will be happy to clarify. Both right to you, and also here so nobody feels attacked. My intentions are never to attack anyone or hurt their business. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Thursday's Threads


Outfit day already! Unfortunately, it's not a fun warm weather outfit. Despite yesterday's 65 degree day, today it's back to a high of 29. Womp womp. And we're getting 6 inches of snow tonight into tomorrow to top it all off. I sometimes wonder why I live here. Then spring happens and I remember. But sheesh. Anyway, here's what I rode in today:

You know, this plus a big ol' coat. 'Cause brrr. 

Helmet: One K CCS Mips

Eros is actually our model today, but Pammon wanted to sneak in too. 

Top: Old Navy
I'm not sure if I've mentioned, but I love houndstooth. I've had this top for YEARS, and had forgotten all about it. Glad I found it for today!

Belt: Rebecca Ray
I love these belts from Rebecca Ray. I have a green one and a teal one too. This navy one I stumbled upon in a clearance section at some tack store. It's a size too big, but I punched an extra hole and it's working just fine!

Breeches: Horseware
Yep, back in the cords. This particular pair is in it's last season. There's a hole by one of the belt loops and the crotch area is getting awfully thin. Perhaps I'll have a retirement party for them and the boots when spring comes. They deserve and appropriate farewell. 

Boots: Tredstep
Last week's photo, but you know them well by now anyway. The holes are getting quite large... Do you guys thing they'll limp through the last month of winter?

I had planned on Al being our model today, but I forgot to take pics of his outfit. So Eros stepped up to the plate and volunteered. Here's what he wore:

Bridle: Camelot RCS Gold
Um.... yeah, also last week's photo. I was lazy. 

Saddle: Butet
Saddle Pad: Mattes
Quarter sheet: Equinavia
I'm so over quarter sheet weather. But here we are. Still needing it. I actually do have one that matches that Mattes pad, but I forgot all about it until this moment... Maybe next week if we still need one, we'll use that. 

Boots: Premier Equine
If you're thinking, wow she hasn't bothered to do the horse laundry yet, you'd be correct. These boots are working just fine though, so I may not do it next week either. Ha! #lazy

And that's it for this week! Any favorites? You guys freezing still too?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What's Up Wednesday


We're just over here riding this weather roller coaster like everyone else. It was AMAZING today. 65 degrees! And we even saw the sun! Ending soon though, snow coming Friday. Of course. Oh New England...

This week's edition of waiting for the drag
to finish: Hanging with Merlin the super 
fat goat.

I still have no media, but plenty to catch up on! We'll catch up alphabetically and start with Al. Guys, I just love this horse! We're certainly FAR from perfect together, but we're absolutely improving each week. The flatwork has come pretty far. He still likes to pop up out of the contact, but I can get him back a lot more quickly. For the most part it's due to his curiosity about his surroundings and not really that it's too hard for him to stay round. I don't think he struggles with that at all. He's just so nosy! If he comes up out of the contact, he can is able to see out the windows in the indoor. And apparently there is a LOT to see out there. Maybe this will all be easier when we get outside and he can see from any head level. He's wonderful to jump though. All business when there's stuff to jump over! Our biggest struggle right now is mostly my fault. Unless I really keep pushing through the turns, he will fall behind my leg and then my only option is the chip. But when I remember to keep my leg actively on the horse (you know, remember to ride the horse...) everything comes up perfectly out of stride. 

All is going well with Eros too. He was a star in last week's lesson and didn't really run off with me at all. It helped that the course that week had no related distances... Those straight lines just get him so excited! Ha! He's feeling pretty sound (knock on wood) especially on days like today when it's warm out. I'm thinking he's almost ready to bump back up to jumping twice a week. Will just have to find another lesson we fit into. 

Pammon had a recheck on Monday with the vet and (BIG NEWS!) we get to start trotting! We're doing five minutes to start this whole week and next we can bump up to ten as long as the leg looks good still. He has to wear his Equibands every day for right now though as he's still only minimally using his core. Tough to learn new tricks as a teenager! But he's trying. 

Apparently I take a lot more photos of Shiny
than anyone else. Don't tell the others!

Per the vets orders on his last visit, Shiny needs to eat from a hay net to slow down her intake. Because she has some neck issues and since she's barefoot, I chose to try the hay pillow for her. So far, it's working out great. She really seems to actually like it. She had some loose hay in the stall the other day, and she opted to pluck from the pillow over that. 
My vet was surprised (pleasantly) that despite her obesity (his words...) her bloodwork all looked good. Since she was negative for lyme we decided to ahead with some injections. We've done Pro Stride with her before in her neck with good results, but this time we decided to try something different. I'm not in any hurry to put steroids in her body (given her age and weight) so we opted for Alpha-2 instead. These injections use her own plasma protein (ultra concentrated) rather than a steroid. She's on vacation until Friday, so I'm not sure how well it worked yet. But I'm optimistic. We did hocks and shoulders based on her work up from last time. Interestingly, despite her flexing well on the hocks, the lower was very tight on the right side. So I'm hopeful we will see a big difference, at least there if no place else. That is the leg that seems to struggle the most. Fingers crossed!
The neat thing about the Alpha-2 is that we actually had leftover plasma. If you keep it frozen it's good for awhile, so we can do more joints with what we already have if need be. I mean... everyone has some pony plasma in their freezer right?
I keep mine under the Eggos. 

The short kids are still challenging me every day in new and different ways... Pia's latest fun party trick is to bark ALL. NIGHT. LONG. So I don't really sleep anymore. We're experimenting with giving her Gabbapentin at different times, so hopefully a later dose will result in a nice sleepy pug come night time. I hope. Hope so hard. 
Rita is doing better. She is mostly peeing outside, and she only has to wear her diaper at night now. Pooping on the other hand... She just prefers to do that in my house I guess. It's a little frustrating. But what can you do? She's so sweet and good otherwise. We'll keep working on it. 
Family photo!

And that's it! We're all caught up! How's your week going?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Truthful Tuesday


I keep seeing this message being posted by a certain subset of barn owners about how folks these days lack work ethic, pride, values and respect. (The part that annoys me most is that they fear this more than "the virus" so I think we all know which subset I'm referring.) As a third party observer, I really don't think the problem is with "folks". It's with bosses. Barn workers aren't slaves. You don't own them, and they don't owe you. They are there to do a job in exchange for a fair wage. If you intend to work them like a dog every single day with rarely so much as a "Hey, you're really doing a great job, I appreciate you", why should they respect you and value that position? Let's be real, they're making minimum wage with no benefits and being worked into the ground. I wouldn't give my everything to that situation, and I know those owners wouldn't either.

I know that barn owners work super hard themselves. I will never deny this. But I also think, in general, people take more pride in something that is theirs versus something that's just a job. What really motivates a worker to give more of themselves to that job is feeling like they're part of a real team. (But for the love of all things, please don't refer to them as teammates or your team. Coming from corporate America, it feels super demeaning.) Make them feel like an appreciated and important member who's work makes a difference. The person who "just cleans stalls" is probably the first one to notice that your horse came in from the paddock with a twisted shoe. Or a cut on his leg. That person probably saved you a vet bill by tending to that issue. Tell that person thank you. You know what? Even if that person hasn't found something wrong with your horse lately, tell them thank you anyway. 

I know most of my audience here is the stall cleaner and often the barn owner as well. So you don't really need this message. But it was something that's been bothering me as I see more of these owners posting this same story. And I just needed to talk about it.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Thursday's Threads


Outfit Day! We're back to blue again this week. I know. Kinda boring. But it's super warm, so at least it's a less bulky outfit. Here's what I wore:

See that? A thin sweater! It was 55 today and it was AMAZING. It's short lived, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Helmet: One K CCS Mips
I should really wipe down this helmet! I had no idea it was so dusty!

Sweater: Ariat
I love these merino blend sweaters that Ariat makes. They look so classy with breeches, and you can throw them in the washer!

Belt: Brighton
I found this belt second hand a few years back to match my navy boots. It was a wee bit too small for awhile, so I found this longer buckle for it. It fits great now though, and I've been wearing it a ton. 

Breeches: Dover Wellesley
I like these breeches for in between weather. They're too thick for summer, but are perfect spring and fall. And the occasional fake spring day in February. 

Boots: Tredstep
I figured it was time for a new photo... They're not doing well... I just need them to survive a few more weeks! The good news, is that I'm actually using my left leg when I ride now. It's evidenced by the hole that's opened up on that boot! Doh.

Eros is our equine model today. Here's what he wore:

Bridle: Camelot RCS Gold
Browband: Boy O'Boy Bridleworks

Peep that lil' tongue sticking out

I'm about ready to see this adorable face in some of my tack that's at home... Warm days like this make me itchy to get back home with these guys!

Boots: Premier Equine
The fuzzy boots were getting pretty gross, so they're home for a washing. The non fuzzy ones are still pretty cute on him though!

Saddle: Butet
Saddle Pad: Mattes
I really like the PEI pads, but I LOVE the Mattes pads. They just seem to fit every saddle well and the quality is tops. They wash nicely too. 

And that's it for today! Any favorites? Are you getting to have some fake spring days? Or is it still wintering hard where you are?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

What's up Wednesday


Things are plugging along over here. I have almost no media to share because I'm the worst blogger ever. And you know, winter. The weather has been all over the place, and we had the most lovely Friday and Saturday when the temps hit 60! It felt like Spring and the horses were all pretty happy too. Then Sunday it was in the 20's and snowed all day. Ah New England...

I don't really have much to report on. Eros and Al both did their lessons this week. Funny how jumping consistently makes lessons less anxiety inducing isn't it? Eros was fantastic for the first half of the lesson, but he did decide to put a 3 in the four stride line the first time through. After that he had to trot in and halt a few times. Then trot in and do 5. We didn't give him the chance to canter through again this lesson. We like to set ourselves up for success around here! He lessons again tomorrow, so we'll see what horse we have for that... One never knows with Eros! 

Al's lessons have been going so well! We still struggle some on the flat. I find that we are better on our own when we flat versus in a lesson. In the lesson we have to do what the instructor says more or less immediately. But Al is still a little young and easily distracted. So if I'm on my own I can do whatever I need to get his attention, but in a lesson, I have to be doing what I'm told. Which isn't always what we need in the moment. But that's just life, and if I ever do a flat class with him in a show, he'll need to be able to do these things. So it's good practice even if we aren't doing things right all the time. The jumping part though? That's been so fun! He's just so game and honest. He doesn't ever get offended no matter how stupid of a distance I choose. I'm starting to get pretty excited for the future with him.

I rode Eros at the wrong time yesterday
and had to pause mid ride so they could
drag. I was too lazy to get off, so I just sat 
on him in the barn and played with Pammon
while we waited. Pammon thought it was great fun!

Pammon is doing well with his Equiband walks. I think they're helping him, but it's hard to really tell just at the walk. I feel like he walks better with them though, so that must mean something. He will have another recheck soon, and hopefully after that we'll get to start trotting, Hopefully... 30 minutes of walking is still really boring.

Shiny is pretty much the same. Her bloodwork all came back great so that's a relief. Next step is to inject with a biologic (trying to avoid steroids still due to her weight). I'm not sure yet when the vet is coming, either this Monday or the following. Fingers crossed this will help her because I want my sound pony back! I got her a hay pillow to slow her eating down and I've been trying very hard to work her a little longer than I used to to help burn some calories. They say horses like her are "easy keepers" but honestly, it's just as hard having one that gets fat on air as it is having one you need to pump full of food. 

I'm starting to think about who's coming home this summer. It may be all of them! Rumor has it they're talking about closing the barn to non showing horses, so unless I show with them, I wouldn't be able to board there. I do plan to show Al with them in the spring a little, but come summertime I'm not sure if I want to ride with this barn, or my regular trainer. I don't want to be forced into anything, so if that becomes a rule there, I'll likely just opt out of that barn. Disappointing since it's so convenient and the care is great, but they need to do what's best for their business and I need to do what's best for me.

That's about it from here. I'd love to say I'll have more media next week, but I can't really promise that. We'll have to see what happens! Ha!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Truthful Tuesday


I sat down to write Truthful Tuesday this morning but I had nothing. So I figured I'd try again tonight instead. Also, I knew I had something entertaining to write about, but could not for the life of me remember what it was. And well... I still can't. So I'll have to save whatever that was for another week. 

Instead, let's talk about my lack of motivation for anything other than riding my horses. I have a bunch of stuff I need to sell but I just can't seem to make myself get it all organized, photographed, and posted. Part of it is that much of the stuff is outside in the shed and/or barn and it's back to highs in the 20's around here. So that doesn't help. But I have two bags full of breeches in the house that I could do something with. Plus, the sooner I get stuff sold, the sooner I can buy new stuff. Like a saddle for Al. Which I really think he needs. He's sharing with Eros, and while that saddle doesn't seem to be bugging him, it's not working 100% either. I feel like it shifts around on him some, and it definitely slides back despite using a breastplate. Hopefully this weekend will be back up to the 40's so maybe I'll kick myself in the behind and get to work on this.

Maybe you all can help me out in the meantime though... Any of you need anything I might have in the for sale section here at the farm? Any of you a size 30 breeches and need to add to your collection?

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Thursday's Threads


Outfit Day! I finally just accepted that I am who I am and I'm not bringing any more helmets or horse boots out to the boarding barn. But I came up with a great solution! I wore navy and green too! Hahahaha! Good thing they compliment each other... Anyway, Shiny is our model this week! Let's see what she wore.

Bridle: Joseph Sterling
Browband: Dark Jewel Designs

I took her noseband off the bridle while her face heals. She doesn't need it anyway. I think she looks kinda cute without it!

Saddle: Custom Saddlery
Saddle Pad: Premier Equine
I still really like these pads. If you're looking for a pad with the half pad built in and don't want to spend your life savings, I definitely recommend these. 

Boots: Punk Ponies
Punk Ponies boots still are probably the best fit for her. Often times size small horse boots are just a little too long for her. Punk Ponies actually has two sizes for ponies and these fit her perfectly. They are regular pony size, the other is small pony that's available. It's nice to have those options. Many pony boots run smaller so they'll fit smalls and mediums, but then they don't work for Shiny. 

So that's what Shiny had on for outfit day this week, and here's what I wore:
I went with another sweater this week. Sweaters do feel so much classier that a giant hoody. But still love me a giant hoody.

Helmet: One K MIPS
Yep, still wearing this one. It's dirty. Keepin' it real here at Amateur at Large!

Sweater: Amazon
I was on the hunt for some not too expensive Merino sweaters for the barn and found this one. Unfortunately, it's so blended that there isn't all that much merino in it, and thus, it's not super warm. It's a nice enough sweater though, and I'll get plenty of use out of it. I like the color a lot!

Belt: Mare Goods by C4
Mare Goods has the cutest prints, and this is one of my favorites. Maybe it's the color scheme or maybe the apples... I'm not sure. But I think it's adorable.

Breeches: Tailored Sportsman
This is one of my favorites shades of blue. I need to sell these breeches as they're a little too big on me, but I also want to make sure I can replace them in a size smaller. 

Socks: Mare Goods by Dreamers and Schemers
Told you I liked this print... Clearly I needed the sock/belt outfit. I've had them both for some time now and I wear them all the time. 

Boots: Tredstep
I hate to say it, but these boots aren't doing well guys. The one I had sewn at the start of the season has another huge hole at the seam. And the left one has a broken snap up at the top so now the zipper falls down. I do have a backup pair, but I'm trying really hard to save those for next year. I would have hoped they'd hold up a little longer, but to be fair, I do ride four horses in them everyday. Perhaps I need to adjust my expectations. 

So that's what we wore this week! Any favorites? Nice solution to the mismatched helmet and boots, right?! <<Pats self on the back>>

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

What's Up Wednesday


It's still winter. I know that's not news, but just in case you forgot. We are enjoying a few days reprieve though, with temps in the 40's. Feels almost like spring! Ha. Anyway, you're not here for the weather, you're here for horses. So let's talk about them!

Listen, in the winter we're lucky for any media...

Al has been wonderful! We had lessons Friday and Sunday this past week. I think jumping twice a week is what my little brain needs right now. I'm finding Al a little tricky in that you have to stay on the gas pedal all the time, but you also still have to keep all the parts in line. If you focus on something other than forward he thinks he can have a break. Which, I mean, relatable.... But boy, do I get out of breath after a course! It may sound like I'm frustrated, but I'm really not. I'm enjoying the learning curve we're on. But I am also looking forward to when we are more in sync with each other. It will come!  
I had some struggles in our Thursday lesson. Nothing major, but he was a little up so trying to manage forward with keeping his attention was TOUGH! Sunday though, he was very relaxed and everything was just so much easier! 
Here's a short clip from our Sunday lesson:

Oh but Saturday... Ha. Saturday we had a little excitement. It should have been a nice easy flat ride. But the winds outside were blowing hard. So much so that the roof was rattling, which Al isn't so much a fan of. He can handle things he doesn't like, but if another horse has a moment... Al thinks he should too. What can I say? He's still a kid, not yet 7 after all. Anyway, we were trotting toward the "scary" end of the ring when there was a huge gust of wind and one of the other horses in the ring spooked and bucked. (Thankfully that horse's rider is used to such antics and she held on fine.) Anyway, Al took that cue to also spook, except as he was spooking he tripped and fell on his face and knees. Then in the process of righting himself, let out an enormous buck. Somehow I held on though! (Pure luck I'm sure.) He was fine too (thank goodness) though seemed a bit embarrassed. He was a perfect gentleman the rest of the ride.

Eros is doing well. Per our discussion with the vet, he's trying a little Meloxicam for his winter soreness and I think it's really helping him. He's not 100%, but honestly, he never is. He's giving me great work though, and while he's still pretty strong when we jump, I think we're making progress in getting back to where we were last summer. In our lesson last Thursday, we were able to jump a small course, though we did need a few circles to reestablish our canter. Still an improvement over where we started a few weeks ago. Back then he was just torpedoing at anything I pointed him at. I mean... remember when he did the 4 in the 5? I do. I did not like it. Yesterday, I tried to recreate the exercise I liked having at home, but with poles instead of small jumps. It's just one pole on each diagonal, and I let him figure 8 over them until he thinks it's boring and stops trying to take over. Unfortunately, we didn't quite get to that point before someone came in to rig a horse, but I still think it was a productive ride. We have a lesson tomorrow, but hopefully I can try it again another day. I think if I can get his internal metronome reset, I'll have my summer horse back. Wish me luck...

Not much to report back on with Pammon. We're walking 30 minutes a day still, but using the Equicore bands every other day. They seem to be helping I think? I can feel a difference in how he steps with them on. But it's really hard to say for sure until we're able to trot. All in good time though. No need to rush things. 

More news on the Shiny front though... She was actually going to see the vet this Friday, but he was scheduled for a pre purchase on Monday for a horse that was delayed in transit. So she had her appointment Monday instead. If you remember, when the vet was out last, Shiny had hit her head and couldn't be ridden that day. We tried some shockwave, but honestly, it didn't really help, and she had some new issues developing. Namely, kicking out any time I asked for right lead canter. That's not entirely new, but in the past it might happen on the first transition of the day and then it went away. But now it was every single transition, and that really screams soreness to me. 
So doc watched her go, did a bunch of flexions, watched her go some more. Finally we did some blocks and watched her go AGAIN. Long story short, the biggest problem? She's much too fat. She always puts weight on at the boarding barn because she eats too much hay there. Mostly when she's out in the paddock since they just throw hay for the day out there, and she goes out early so has ALL of it at her disposal. Girl can hoover I'll tell you. While it's easy to say, "please only throw one flake out there for her" it's not always easy to actually get done at a busy boarding place. People get used to what they do, and it's hard to change habits. But I just ordered her a hay pillow, so hopefully that will at least slow her down in the stall. 
The weight might be the main problem, but the symptoms are many. She was actually mildly lame right hind for the vet visit which I've sometimes thought I felt, but was never convinced. Doc hasn't seen it until this time though. In addition to the lameness behind, she was also showing soreness in her SI as well as up front through her left shoulder. That's a lot of things to be hurting, and so we have some more investigating to do. There are a few things we're checking before proceeding with any sort of injections. First, doc pulled blood to check for Lyme. It's VERY common here in CT ( it was named after the next town over) and frequently will cause soreness in multiple body parts. It can come and go too. Lyme is weird and presents weirdly. The second thing he's checking is her insulin levels. Being that she is part quarter horse, she is predisposed to have some metabolic issues. Hopefully those results will come in this week, so when doc is back Friday, we can proceed with any therapeutics she might need. The current plan is to inject with a biologic rather than a steroid. We'll do hocks and shoulder and hold off on the SI for now. Hypothesis is that the sore SI may be from favoring the hocks. As for the shoulder, that's something we've been thinking about doing for some time, but held off since we knew the neck was troublesome. I'm telling you, this inexpensive pony has turned kind of high maintenance... Good thing I love her so much! I just really want to get her comfortable again. She tries so hard, and I can tell she's struggling right now. Fingers crossed we can get her patched up this time. 

And now you're all caught up on our week! How are all of your equine doing? Any dramatics or are things going well? Or maybe both? It's usually both. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Truthful Tuesday


Do you guys remember when I couldn't find my trailer keys? And I finally decided that I must have never taken them back with me from the dealership? Well. I was doing some cleaning/purging yesterday and when I was cleaning out an old tote bag...

I found them! Which would have been more exciting a year ago before I threw out two of the locks some of those keys go to.... But I'm so glad I found them! 
I have apparently had this tote bag on the back of one of my dining room chairs for actual YEARS now though, and that's maybe a bit of a concern about my housekeeping.... I guess that's today's confession. While I keep a tidy barn, my house is totally different story. Sigh. Hey, you can't be good at everything.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Thursday's Threads


Outfit day! In honor of Pammon's new workout journey, he will be our model today! We'll start with him.

Here's what he wore:

The most awkward animal...

Bridle: Camelot RCS Gold
Browband: Boy O'boy Bridleworks
Thought we'd try this angle today... He's so goofy!

Saddle: Butet
Saddle Pad: Equicore
Half Pad: Ippico
The saddle pad is kind of an odd shape, but I'm guessing that has to do with keeping the bands in the right place and also to make it compatible with both dressage and jump saddles.  It's a nice saddle pad though, not too thick, but definitely sturdy. 

I decided to keep it somewhat monochromatic so I'd match him. Here's what I wore:

I'm really looking forward to weather that will allow for less bulky clothing... Come on spring!

Helmet: One K
Sorry it's a recycled photo... I'm still wearing this blue helmet. It's what I keep at the barn, and I enjoy convenience.

Hoodie: Nantucket Gift Shop
Though we skipped visiting this year, we often have a family weekend on Nantucket in the early fall. The fun part about that timing is the gift stores have all of their end of season clear out sales. Thus, I have a very large Nantucket themed wardrobe. I love this hoodie, it's really warm!

Belt: C4
I have way too many C4 belts. I think I may include some of them in the spring clean out sale. I like this one though, it's pretty neutral and bits are always a classy design.

Breeches: Dover Wellesley
The Wellesley breeches are a nice weight for mild winter days. I'm a big fan of them, they really just fit well!

Boots: Tredstep
Yeah, another reused photo. I mean, how many photos does one need of the same boots? These are falling apart again despite having been repaired before the season started. In their defense, I do ride four horses a day. But still. I need them to live a long time! It's mostly just the seam coming undone again, so I imagine they can be fixed again. The heels will need replacing pretty soon too. Worth it for warm feet though!

That's it for this week! Still kinda boring, but hey, at least it wasn't a green or blue outfit! A little variety! Sort of.