Wednesday, January 31, 2024

What's Up Wednesday


It was pretty quiet still around here this past week. 

Photo credit to one of my favorite barn moms!

As mentioned, Al is first re-starting lessons tomorrow, so he's just been flatting. We had mostly good rides last week, though this week he's been a bit more challenging. In his defense, conditions haven't been as ideal when we've ridden so far this week. For one thing, it's colder out. He's definitely a happier, more relaxed horse when it's warm out. And the second imperfection has been our company or lack of. Yesterday he rode with a horse that was also being afraid of the end of the ring. So Al took this behavior as confirmation of his fears and was just... not his best self. I eventually just went back to walk until that other horse figured himself out. Not long after, a horse came in to rig at the dragon end, and then one of Al's favorite buddies joined us, and he was back to being a solid citizen. It's really shocking to me that a horse who was cut so late (just before he came to the US) is so dependent on other horses. It's really interesting to me. Anyway, that was yesterday. Today we entered the ring as a horse was finishing up his turn on the rig. So he started out relaxed, but then that horse left. And Al was very not relaxed. Then a new horse came to rig. But also the goat and a dog came out too. Neither of which is usually a problem for Al. I do think he likes when the goat is around. But the horse on the rig was alternating between being ridiculously lazy and needing some encouragement in the form of lunge whip snaps (not so cool with Al) and then trying out some bronco moves. That coupled with the howling dog (he's an old senile man, not his fault!) and meandering goat left Al very distracted and not terribly settled. Eventually the dog and the goat wandered back out of the ring and the rig horse settled into behaving himself and our ride finished nicely. So I dunno. I'm feeling positive that we're ending each ride on a good note, but I'm a little frustrated that he's still so easily unsettled. But I guess he is who he is, and I just need to keep on keeping on. And doing my best to be patient. 

Shiny did get to lesson last week though! She did her Saturday morning lesson and was a total hoot. She was WILD! But no bucking so that was nice at least... I had to whoa in the lines which is pretty rare for her and she was just absolutely thrilled to be jumping. She has been starting to trip more again though, so I had scheduled her for a shockwave treatment this week too. Doc had to reschedule from during the week, but came Saturday, so that worked out nicely. We were able to lesson before hand, and then she had her shockwave in the afternoon. Nice little Saturday for her! She felt great Sunday for our bareback ride and even better this week. So I'm excited to see how she feels jumping tomorrow. 

All is well with this dude too. He still keeps insisting his retirement is going great. I've stopped correcting him, but boy will he be disappointed come March when the saddle comes back out. He still has some hives, but we did figure out that it was from the shavings. This particular load is nearly done with though, so I'm hoping the next one will be back to the usual stuff. I asked doc about what he thought I should do and agreed with me about not jumping straight to the steroids since he didn't seem uncomfortable from the hives. Instead, he got an Equimune injection which is supposed to boost his immune responses. It's definitely helped tremendously but he's still a bit lumpy. Seems happy enough though. Gave himself a very thorough mud bath today so he's living his best life. 

And that's about all that's happening around here. Oh that and I'm trying to support my shopping problem by selling beaded friendship bracelets. Like the Swiftie ones, but for horse girls. 

Breeches, Boots, Helmet Hair
Jumper, Gallop, Double Clear
Derby, Winner, Champion
Junior, Equitation, Era
Amateur, Horse Girl, Era
Whoa, Pony, Hunter

These sets are available now, but I can also do custom ones. Your barn colors, your horses' names, farm names, blog names, whatever you can dream up in pretty much any color. $6 for a single, $15 for a stack of three. Shipping is extra. Not sure any of you have any interest, I think they're maybe more interesting for the kiddos, but figured I'm not too proud to plug them here on the blog. They make cute gifts too!

Here are the ones I made for me:
Casual, Shiny, Eros (I didn't have numbers yet to do Shiny's show name)
Determined, Backyard, Amateur
Winthrop, Corner, Stable

Okay, that's really it now. Hope you all had a good week and weekend!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Truthful Tuesday


Okay, so here's the thing. I finally joined TikTok because FOMO, right? But I'm solidly too old to be using that platform. I currently enjoy viewing my friends videos and whatever else the algorithm picks for me. But I honestly don't fully know how to use the app. Any of you on there? Friend me, because obviously, I am unlikely to figure out how to find you. I'm @stacieseidman0

I haven't added any content over there yet. I mean, I think that part is pretty straightforward, but I don't really have anything to add there yet. This time of year is so boring around here, I just don't have much to share. 

So that's today's confession. I'm officially too old for apps, and life is a little boring around here. But honestly, I don't mind boring. Maybe I should fill my time trying to figure out TikTok...

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Thursday's Threads


Outfit Day! Already. Time flies. Shiny's the model today because it's her turn, and she loves her pad this week.

So here's what she's wearing:

Is this not the most awkward angle I could have possibly chosen for her? No one tell her I posted this. It's a bad angle, but she still looks adorable if you ask me. Furry little yellow buffalo. 

Bridle: Joseph Sterling
Brow Band: Dark Jewel Designs

I'm not sure if I mentioned, but back in the summer I finally replaced Shiny's Joseph Sterling bridle. Her's was made of up of extra parts that I put together for her, but it never matched perfectly. I had some bonus bucks to spend this summer so I upgraded Shiny to a new JS bridle, which she's wearing here. They've made some changes to them, and I think for the better. The original had the noseband that threaded through the crown up and over. But this new one is a monocrown, so no more long strap over head. I think monocrowns sit a little more nicely, so I was very happy with that change. I'm not sure exactly what else is different, but the bridle just looks a little nicer and a little fancier in general. But I can't say exactly what the difference is. Maybe just that it matches... Lol! Either way, if you're looking for a new bridle,  recommend these still. They're wonderful, and at a ridiculously good price point. They are absolutely show worthy too.

Saddle: Custom Saddlery
Saddle Pad: Mattes
Awhile back... maybe two winters ago? I ordered a bunch of these pads that are sheepskin lined all around the edges. The horses seem to get really sensitive in the winter and get rubs from anything that touches them. So I got these pads to help with that. At the time, this green was a new shade from Mattes, but at this point it's been around awhile. Pretty sure it's called racing green but I'd have to double check to be positive. I absolutely love these pads and this color especially. I've been a loyal Mattes orderer through Hufglocken, but something definitely went down between the two companies recently and Hufglocken is no longer carrying Mattes. Kind of devastating because they offered impressive sales even on custom. I've been sleuthing around the interwebs to find another vendor that comes close to Hufglocken pricing, and I think Pink Equine is going to be the next best option as far as affordability. I don't have any extra money for new Mattes pads at the moment, but that is where I plan to order from when the time comes. 

Boots: Eskadron
These are the same as the ones Al was wearing last week. Each equine has their own pair because I love them very much. Both the horses and the boots. Ha.

So that's what Shiny is wearing this week and here's what I had on today:

I had wanted to wear this outfit last week with Al's saddle pad, but two things didn't work out for that. First, it was way too cold for these pants, and secondly, I couldn't find this sweater. Thankfully, I found it this morning and it was weirdly warm today so I didn't even need another layer on top to ride! Crazy. 
I didn't take a new helmet photo because I forgot, but I wore the Samshield and I'm sure you don't need to see it again. So we'll just skip over that.

Sweater: Ariat
Long sleeve shirt: Luyaa
This sweater is many years old at the point, so you've seen it before. I still like it though. it's a classic style so I don't feel like it's unstylish despite its age. It's a wool blend so it's warm without being heavy, but I still chose to layer a long sleeve shirt underneath. Since it was warm out (fifties today!) I just went with one of my long sleeve athletic shirts rather than a second wool layer today. It was the right choice, I was comfortable all day.

Belt: The Sugar Lady (Etsy)
I don't have a belt that's exactly the shade of this sweater, but I went with Rio's belt because it's pretty close. I'm so impressed with how well this belt is aging. I wear it fairly often, but it still looks brand new. I still really love how it came out. 

Breeches: RJ Classics Harper
These are more of a dusty rose color in real life versus this kind of purple-y mauve color the camera wants to make them. I'm a big fan of this color, and have been trying to find some horse boots that match. Seems like it's about to be popular for spring, so maybe I'll find something then.

Boots and Half Chaps: Celeris UK
Heh... I forgot to take my knee brace off before this photo, but there it is up there! My PT thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to ride in it. Not so much for the riding part because that rarely bothers my knee, but mostly for dismounting since that's when I tend to re-injure myself. So far, I think it's helping as I've successfully dismounted without issue since I've started wearing it. Anyway, back to the boots. Yes, my sweater is a near perfect match in color to these! The breeches aren't exactly rose gold color, but I think it's pretty close. I like the combo anyway. I probably didn't need to wear all this sheepskin stuff today, but I wasn't overly warm with it on, and I really wanted to complete the look. The things we do for the blog! Ha! 

That's it for today! Any favorite items? 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

What's Up Wednesday


It got BIG COLD around here last week and thus, we had a quiet one. Plus our favorite instructor was on vacation, so that added to the quiet. None of my horses lessoned. And in fact, on Saturday, I didn't even ride. I was planning to, honestly. It was cold, but not really too cold for riding. The indoor was 21 degrees. But you see, my nieces had a recital for violin in the morning, so I didn't get to the barn until 1:30. And I dunno. I just was kind of like meh. Let's hand walk instead. So that's what we did! Everyone walked for 30 minutes so I got some semblance of exercise and they got out of their stalls for a bit. Sunday I rode Shiny, but opted to lunge Al instead. The wind was absolutely howling outside and rattling things inside, and that's a recipe for an Al disaster. He had one of his favorite buddies in the ring while he lunged though, so he was a good boy and got a little exercise in. This week we are back to work, and so far so good. No lessons until the weekend when our instructor returns though. I haven't signed Al up for one yet, I may wait until next week for him. I have to run an errand mid day on Saturday which would probably interfere, and I just don't really like to lesson on Sundays. Shiny is in the book for Saturday morning though! And she told me she's very excited for jumpies. 

Eros didn't really have any disruption to his current program since he's on the hand walk protocol anyway. But he's had hives since the weekend. We think it's the new shavings as that's the only thing that's changed since then. They aren't too bad, so I'm not treating just yet. But if they don't get better soon, I'll probably hit him with some dex and follow that up with benadryl if need be. I'm not sure if you guys remember, but he's had this happen before. A couple of summers ago he had to live on Bendadryl for months because of some kind of allergy that covered him in hives. I never definitively found the cause. I had kind of assumed it was some kind of bug that he was reacting to, but now I'm thinking it was maybe shavings then too. It's tough being a chestnut!

So that's about all that's really happening with the horses. I do have a funny non equine story though.... I received an Amaryllis bulb for a holiday gift but didn't get around to getting it planted yet. I looked over at the bucket it was sitting in earlier today to see that it had flowered. All by itself! No water, no dirt, no plant food. Nothing. Just grew itself some leaves and a flower. That's the kind of plant I can keep alive! Lol.

Anyway, I've since gotten this hardy fellow properly potted. Looks like another bloom is on the way too. I'm terrible with plants, but I do feel a lot of joy when they thrive. I have an orchid I was gifted for my birthday last year that currently has new buds on it too. So maybe I'm becoming a plant person in my old age. Or maybe these are the hardiest plants on the planet and I've just gotten very lucky. Either way, I'll take it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Truthful Tuesday


I'm trying to feel more comfortable about straying from my usual training schedules. I tend to be more of a type A person. I love a good set of rules. Schedules make me happy. Change is uncomfortable. You know the type. (I know, I even annoy myself sometimes.) But you know who is NOT generally very type A? Horses. I mean, yes, they do tend to thrive with a schedule and rules are important when handling 1300 lb animals. Yes to all of that. But they also don't necessarily want those schedules to apply when it's 13 degrees out with a feels like of 1. And maybe your plan for the day might go out the window when the wind is blowing so hard there is a possibility that the indoor will just blow right down. And when the paddock is a sheet of ice with no texture to it whatsoever so the horses are stuck in for the weekend? Maybe not the best time to demand your horse show up for lateral work. 

Certain people within my circle don't necessarily believe that very cold temperatures aren't great for horses' lungs. Despite lots of studies suggesting exactly that. And I used to care so much that I wouldn't be considered a wimp and would ride no matter what. But I don't anymore. Nothing terrible will happen to my horses if they have an extra day off every now and then. Maybe it's age? I dunno. But I really don't give two poops if someone thinks I'm being a wimp anymore. And not just about the cold. If I choose to lunge my horse, or skip jumping, or whatever the task may be because I think my horse is about to send me to China, I'm going to follow my gut. I may not be a horse trainer, but I do consider myself a horseman. (Horsewoman? I dunno, you get what I mean!) I think I'm having some success getting Al turned around, even if it's slow going. And I did that by following my gut (and consulting my vet!).

Anyway, I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, especially when it comes to horses. But I'm trying to change that a little. Confidence comes from believing in yourself and I need to work on that. I think Al is going to be the horse to teach me that. Time will tell!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Thursdays Threads: It's cold out edition


Happy cold weather outfit day! I'm looking forward to next week when we get to enjoy some weather in the 40's... In the meantime, it's low 20's and I have warm clothes on. But they're still fun! AND they're not blue.

See? Not blue! Definitely not blue.

Helmet: Samshield

Still wearing this one. It only has about a year left in it, so might as well get all the use out of it!

Sweater: Ralph Lauren

Yeah, it really is as bright as you think, and no this photo doesn't do the brightness justice. I've had this sweater for many years now (I also have it in a few other ridiculously bright colors) and I've never allowed them to be barn sweaters. Mostly because they are cashmere which is much too nice for horse slobber. Unfortunately, as not meant for horse spit as cashmere is, it is also ridiculously warm. Like better than wool even. This particular one developed a small hole on the side of my left boob area though, and so now it is officially barn worthy. 

Belt: Designer inspired

It's not quite as bright as the sweater. But it's close.

Breeches: RJ Classics Harper
Maybe not the warmest choice... But they were the right color. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in the name of Thursday's Threads. 

Boots and Half Chaps: Celeris UK

I couldn't get the camera to pick up the color that well on these, but they are very nearly exact to the breeches. They call the color Petrol but it leans more green than blue. There's a story to why I have these. You see, I bought the paddock boots last year on sale from a dressage store that stocks some Celeris items. They were on sale I think for Black Friday and happened to be my size. I thought they would match well with the trim on my full chaps, but alas, my full chaps just don't fit me like they used to. I need to get them to the cobbler to make some adjustments. Anyway, so I had the boots and then at some point Celeris had a sale and I ordered the half chaps. Both are sheepskin lined so super warm:

Obviously, I didn't wear them during the summer or I'd have died from heat stroke. But they're fully in the rotation now that it's miserably cold out. I can't say they are AS warm as those ridiculous winter boots I wore in years past, but they are definitely warm. This morning it was 21 degrees in the indoor when I rode my first horse. My feet got cold, but did not go numb, which my toes will go numb in 45 degrees in regular boots. Long story slightly shorter, I do recommend if you're looking for something for winter. 

That's what I had on, and here's what Al wore on this chilly day:

Yep, return of the butt cape! Tis the season.

Bridle: Joseph Sterling
Browband: Dark Jewel Designs
Same bridle. I have just two for each horse at the boarding barn for the winter, and Al's other one has his jumping bit on it. So we mostly use this one. Plus, it matches everything!

Saddle: Butet
Saddle Pad: Ogilvy
Half Pad: Mattes
Quarter Sheet: B. Vertigo
Funny thing about this quarter sheet... It used to be navy, but it's faded and somehow matches pretty closely with all this green stuff we wore today. It's a chameleon sheet! If you're looking for a nice quarter sheet that doesn't static zap your horse, I recommend this one. It's a wool blend, and I've never had any static troubles from it. It's also not clingy, so doesn't it pull on the horse at all when they move underneath it. 

Boots: Eskadron
You've all seen these many times before. I love these. We use them a lot. We have them in navy also, because you know... If you like it, might as well pick it up in another color. 

That's it for today! Any favorite items from today? Do you have winter lined boots?

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

What's Up Wednesday


Apparently I took exactly zero photos of any of my horses this week, so this will be a boring wordy post. Sorry. I'm a bad blogger. Maybe I'll just pop in some old photos instead. That will help. (Courtesy of Chelsea Lothrop Photography of course.) Also, I barely remember this week, so it may not be all that wordy. Separately, do you ever wonder if you maybe had a head injury go undiagnosed based on your inability to remember anything some days? No? Just me? Okay then. Anyway....

When we last left off I was preparing for my lesson with Al on Thursday. I had very little angst about it because I was 100% prepared to abort mission if that seemed like what he needed. I'm happy to report that he did not require that! My instructor knew of my current plan with Al, and was happy to play along. She felt like things were going the way I'd hoped (as did I) and didn't see any reason to change course right now. After doing some warm up flat work, we started off trotting some cross rails. Al thought that was easy and boring so we started stringing some together. Everything was teeny tiny and mostly cross rails. This way, if something "scary" grabbed his attention I was still comfortable enough to trot the little jump. Al was really excited to be doing something other than flatting and was very well behaved. We even extended the area of the ring we were using which was a big deal. We used about 3/4 of the arena but mostly jumped heading toward the barn. The one exception was a diagonal fence that was set closer to the non scary end. Still, in the past, that could be a tricky jump for Al, but this lesson, he was great. We strategically had a friend on her horse hang out at the scary end while we jumped which seems to help Al a lot. I see no problem with using these little crutches right now while we work through our stuff. Unfortunately, this instructor is on vacation the next week and a half so we're back to flatting for a bit until she returns. That's okay though. It's ridiculously cold here now, and who even wants to jump in this weather? Not even Al! He continued to be a very good boy through the weekend. Which is encouraging. We're still having low pressure rides, but we've progressed to using 3/4 of the ring for our rides when there isn't a rig happening simultaneously. He's handling that well, and hopefully over the next few weeks we'll be able to get back to rides that are little more like work and less like happy hacks. It's hard to be patient and just let him progress slowly, but I think it's worth doing. 

He came out a little fresh yesterday but there are so many reasons why that's perfectly fair. He had Monday off since the barn is closed, the temps went from 50 on Saturday to teens this week, and with the exception of our lesson last Thursday, our rides have been very short and easy. He's not working enough to stay quiet, so I need to give him the chance to blow off some steam with a free lunge here and there. I should have done that yesterday. Since I didn't, I chose to spend that ride just doing walk trot. He was wanting very badly to revert back to being spooky and I just had to open the trust bank, and let him try to make the right choices. For the most part he did, which was wonderful. I was smart enough to know that the canter might be make shenanigans irresistible though. Ride smarter not harder friends! Anyway, I put him down for a free lunge today but somehow no one saw that. Fortunately, with the cold weather, the barn was a ghost town so I was able to do it myself before riding him. He wasn't overly nutty which was nice, but did let off some steam. He was then kind of too quiet for our ride (and I forgot to put my spurs on, doh!) but I'll take that! He still was a bit spooky, but the ice on the roof was making some sounds and he was alone in the indoor too. He prefers a buddy or two. Though it wasn't a perfect ride, it was a nice ride, and we even did some trot work in more of a working frame. Not for long, just a a little bit each way, but it was a step toward adding some pressure back in. 

There are moments where I feel like he's maybe testing the boundaries of my not pressuring him. Like he's waiting for me to get after him. He'll break sometimes when I don't think he really needs to. I'm trying very hard to just calmly put him back to whatever gait we were in and continue along. But I do sometimes worry I'm causing a different problem by being to nice. I'm still staying the course for now (but will be sure to remember my spurs next ride!) because I really do think I'm doing the right thing for Al at this moment. And if it turns out I was wrong? Well then I'll try something different. Eventually, I'll get it right. Hopefully. 

Shiny had two great lesson last week! One on Thursday morning in which she was pretty perfect and another on Saturday morning in which she was a actual star! Thursday, she was good. If I had any complaints I'd say a little behind the leg, but she was listening nicely and there weren't any antics after the fences. I was happy with her. Friday our chiropractor was out and worked on both Shiny and Al. (Eros sat this session out since he's on vacation. Plus I can use those funds for some other expenses I have this month... sorry E.) Neither horse had any remarkable findings, and in fact, they both were feeling a lot better than last time. So that's great news. 

Saturday, Shiny came out feeling SO GOOD for her lesson. Not in a wild sort of way, but in a very fluid, and comfortable kind of way. In fact, once we started jumping, I actually was over-riding in error because she was so tuned in to my leg (which never happens). It took me a minute to realize I could back off a little and let her take us around instead. It felt amazing. I'm so proud of her. She's missing her Thursday lesson this week since she shares an instructor with Al, but I was planning to do our Saturday with one of the other teachers. BUT (there's always a but) I think it's going to be under 15 degrees for our lesson time (we go first thing) which to me is too cold for working them. And also, my nieces have a recital that morning which I'd like to attend. So no lessons for Shiny this week either. We'll get back to it next week though.

Eros is handling his vacation very well so far. He's hand walking nicely and staying calm for his turnouts. Very encouraging for his recovery. I find that the colder it gets outside the more he hates the ice boots though. He paws for the first five minutes he has them on. Poor guy. I get it. I also hate having to ice. Anyway, I'm glad he's happy and handling things mostly well. Definitely a better patient that Pammon used to be! I sure do miss riding him though. His March recheck can't come soon enough!

That's about it from here. This week will be quiet with no lessons and all the cold weather. But it's nice to have a quiet week after all the drama we've been dealing with! Hope you're all staying warm! Seems like most of the country is cold!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Truthful Tuesday


Many, many years ago, for my birthday one year, my mom gave me a necklace that was a sterling silver blue ribbon. I went to wear it to my friend's bridal shower this summer and couldn't find it. I turned my house upside down trying to find it. I think I even posted about it on Truthful Tuesday one week suggesting that I may have thrown it out by mistake. But it was really driving me crazy because deep down, I knew I hadn't done that. 

Well, I've been spending part of every Monday this winter organizing a different subset of my crap. This week was my jewelry. I don't really wear much anymore now that I spend most of my time riding horses. But you may recall from past Thursday's Threads that I do love a good arm party and therefore have a LOT of (mostly homemade) jewelry floating around here. Anyway, while I was going through stuff, I found a tiny box. It originally held one of the gorgeous pendants that you all got for me of Rio and Jampy's faces. But those currently reside in a jewelry box when I'm not wearing them. Anyway, I opened the box, expecting to find just the chains those pendants had come on. But when I looked inside I found this:

MY PENDANT!!! You have no idea how excited I was to see it. I knew I had taken the chain off this one to use with the horse heads, but I thought I had put this somewhere I hadn't. I did in fact put it in the little box with the other chains. Where I really went wrong was putting the little box in a random shoe box with a bunch of unrelated items. Past me made a poor choice. But all's well that ends well in this missing pendant saga! 

Any of you guys manage to do something like this before? Did you find your item? Where was it?

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Thursday's Threads


Outfit Day! Okay, I definitely lied about sharing my winter boots this week. I had very much planned to, but then the weather took a lovely turn for the warmer so my feet would have been much too warm in those. Maybe we'll try again next week! So this week, we'll be skipping helmet and boots since I wore the De Niro's and the Samshield as per the recent norm. I did have a cute-ish outfit on though! So we can look at that.

I'm not sure if you've all noticed but various shades of tan are very much having a fashion moment right now. Which is good because I own many tan items. 

Sweater: Old Navy
I somehow found myself on the Old Navy website whilst holiday shopping this year. And well. Let's just say I did not find any gifts for my family, but I found several for myself. Oops. I picked up this sweater in both this camel color and also a nice pine green. Then I discovered that they had a puffy vest and jacket in the same green and maybe I bought those too. Stop judging me. But feel free to bring up these indiscretions when I'm whining about not affording to horse show. That's fair. 

Belt: Mane Jane
This is one of my favorite Mane Jane straps, and it's definitely getting more wear this year. 

Breeches: Dover Wellesley
My winter go to for pants! They aren't winter lined or anything, but they are heavier than TS, Equiline, and RJ's. I really feel uncomfortable in multiple pants layers, or overly thick pants, so these are a nice alternative. Plus they fit nicely and don't fall down like Pipers. 

That's what I had on this week, and for the horse outfit, we're doing something a little different this week. Eros feels very left out because he hasn't been able to model a riding outfit. So this week, he is modeling his walking outfit. 

He is sporting his Two Horse Tack halter with the leather crown and a matching lead line. Both are labeled with zipper pull tags (that I use as blanket tags as well) from Thoughtful Colors (on Etsy). His blanket is the Amigo Insulator 350 gram. All the horses wear the same outfit at the boarding barn, so all three kids have this one on right now. I actually really like these blankets, and would consider them for at home too if they came in green. But they don't, and the Kentucky ones are so much nicer, so we will stick with those for now!

I know what you're thinking. You think I forgot to take photos of Al's outfit today and that's really why Eros is modeling his pajamas. Well. You'd be right. But hey, I think it was a pretty good save! Sorry. I've been a bit distracted lately. I will try and do better!

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

What's Up Wednesday


Thanks for all of your thoughts on what a program means yesterday! Clearly, there can be many iterations, and it may vary from horse to horse and rider to rider.... And even pro to amateur. No one is wrong and no one is right. And that, my friends, is why horsing is hard. 

It was an interesting week/weekend around here. We're back to our regular schedule, and the horses are more or less on board.

Eros stopped his walk to spy on his sister walking in from turnout.
That's her in the door window with the blue blanket on.

Shiny had her lesson Thursday and while she was mostly quiet, the more we jumped, the more excited she got. By the end there was a bit of bucking and celebration, so I let her have a free lunge on Friday. She definitely needed it! Saturday she did her second lesson of the week and although a bit too quiet, there were no theatrics. Good pony! Sunday she enjoyed the laziest Sunday Funday ever, in which we rode bareback and mostly just meandered around at the walk and gossiped with our friends. Some days, you just need to do that. She's been great so far this week too. A little on the quiet side, but that kind of is just who she is as a pony. I'm always here for too quiet anyway.

Eros is still telling people he's retired. He is not. He is, however, very much enjoying his life of leisure. He goes out for a few hours in the morning. Comes in for lunch and a nap. Does his 30 minute hand walk, and then gets iced and groomed. It's a very rough life, but someone has to live it! Might as well be Eros. 

And then there's Al. The first few rides back were pretty similar to as I had left him. Tense, anxious, not interested in following direction. But, I've always been a problem solver. I was more of a math/science person in school. So I applied some of those skills I learned way back then. I know from experience that not all horses are created equal. So I formulated a hypothesis and came up with a plan to test it. (My high school science teachers would be so proud!) 
My working hypothesis is that Al does not thrive under too much pressure. He prefers some hand holding and a little time to think things through. I do not believe that Al is the smartest animal I've ever had, and so he needs time to percolate on things. When Al feels anxious, adding more pressure just makes him more anxious and he loses his trust in his rider. Or at least, this is what I'm thinking at the moment. 
To test this hypothesis, I spent our first few rides applying nearly zero pressure. He was expected to walk, trot, and canter on the half of the ring where he is most comfortable. It was not required that he travel in a working frame, nor that he travel at a forward working speed. He just had to give me the bear minimum answer and keep moving in a forward trajectory. I also had no real time expectations. We walked until he was confident. Then we trotted until he was confident. Then we changed direction. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then we cantered in much the same manner. Once each way. Back for a little more trot, and then he was done. Some days we had to walk a lot longer than others. 
Was it good, hard, productive work? Depends on your definition I suppose. It was not hard for me. But I think it was for Al. Mentally more so than physically of course. Productive? Yes and no. It was productive in that I achieved a more relaxed, listening horse. Was he working on his fitness? No, not really. But truthfully, while we're working through his emotions and in the dead of winter, I really don't care if he's in tip top fitness. It's probably best right now if he's NOT all that fit.
I had varying degrees of success, but the horse got a little better each day. I planned his rides around the ring being quiet to the best of my ability. Barn owner was home this weekend, so the schedule was not as normal. We started our ride Sunday with a fairly quiet arena. But soon a young horse came in who was feeling just a little sassy. Al was wanting to feed off this, so rather than pressure him into behaving, I let him go back to the walk and just try to relax until that other horse finished his ride. Then we went back to work. And he was just fine. Did it end up taking me almost an hour to get our ride done? Yes. But was it low stress and successful? Also yes! 
So for the time being, I'm feeling positive about my current hypothesis. Our vet texted me Friday with Al's Lyme results. He was positive for both Lyme and anaplasmosis though I haven't really noticed any typical anaplasmosis symptoms. Fortunately, doc was scheduled to come out for another horse on Saturday, so he brought us doxycycline and also gave Al another hormone shot. The one we are trialing gets done every two weeks so he was due for his second. As for the Lyme, he had a very low positive last time we tested, but since the titer looks for immune response, a very low positive isn't always worth treating. This time however, his levels were higher and so we are trying the doxy. He also got his foot fixed on Monday by our favorite farrier. Nice to have that piece of horn off his frog I'm sure!
Monday he had a day off since the barn is closed to boarders. Yesterday we were back to work, and I had a very relaxed and happy Al. And today? EVEN better! He ventured further down the ring, closer to the depths of Hell (as he calls the far end...) and even touched the scary boxes that I couldn't get anywhere near last week. Now. Is this new behavior due to anything I've been doing? Hard to say. Probably not. My guess is the meds have kicked in and maybe he's feeling a little blah since the doxy can be hard on them. He is a on a probiotic though to help with that. I'm hoping VERY hard that the Lyme is the root of all of this angst we've been dealing with. I'm not sure if that's going to pan out for us... But one can hope. Tomorrow we are having our first lesson in awhile. The plan is to continue on with our low pressure hypothesis. We'll stay away from the dragon's lair and he'll get to do some jumpies, and hopefully it will be a great re-entry to my iteration of a program. 

I was told this weekend that my horse has never been in any sort of program and amateur rides are vastly different from pro rides. And that he obviously has had months of bad riding. (Yes, really. I was told this. Fortunately my summer trainer doesn't subscribe to this thought process.) So I have to say, feeling like I've made some strides in getting my horse "fixed" with only me on him has helped me feel a little less defeated. I'm not going to pretend I can train a problem horse, or that I'm doing this on my own. No one does anything with horses on their own. My vet and farrier are playing a huge role (clearly) in getting this horse comfortable and able to focus on his job and not what's bothering him physically. But I am going to say with confidence that I can listen to my horse, and try to do what's best for his needs. Despite my terrible riding and being an uneducated nobody amateur. Sometimes not getting the help you asked for is actually a blessing, because you can look a little harder and see what's actually happening. Might Al revert back to being anxious and spooky tomorrow? Sure. Could happen. But I'm going to keep reformulating that hypothesis and throwing solutions at it until something sticks. Because being a horseman means listening to your horse and bringing out the best in him/her. For us talentless fearful amateurs it might take a little longer to get there. But we WILL get there. Even if we have to do it mostly on our own.

To counteract all of my emotions this weekend (believe me, there were a lot of emotions) I went to a post-holiday cookie swap that my sister-in-law hosted. It was actually so much better than a normal holiday time cookie swap because most of the Christmas and Chanukah treats have been eaten by now. Plus, the holiday stress is over, so what better time to congregate with friends and swap cookies? Plus we had a snowstorm hitting the next day. A bucket full of cookies certainly makes a snow day more appealing. I made glazed sugar cookies:

They were mittens, snowmen, and snowflakes. Though the glaze perhaps does no accentuate the shapes so well... Whatever. They were still delicious!

The snowstorm was mostly a bust. We were predicted to get up to 8 inches, but I think we maybe got 2? Maybe. Fine by me. I'm not a snow person. 

So anyway, that's it from here. How are you all doing so far this winter?