Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Frustrated Feet

So Now What?

Tucker is lame. He has a shoe on his front foot, but he is still lame. Scott said he had some evident damage from losing the shoe, and is concerned that he might still pop an abscess. All that aside, he is also worried about Tucker's other feet because the frogs have softened up...all this over the last few days and certainly after his shoeing just over a week ago. Scott says this can happen when it's been dry for a long time and then rains, but the puzzle is why is it such an issue for Tucker and not the other two Boys?

Either way, my vet is coming tomorrow and was supposed to try to see if he could figure out what is going on with Tuck's hind end, but now that he's lame in front, that may not be possible. At the moment, it looks as if I will have to put hind shoes on Tuck anyhow, but we will see. I am not used to having feet problems with my horses, so this is new territory for me. Sure, I've had the occasional lost shoe, and explicable abscesses, but never a horse with so many hoof things one after another. I have switched Tucker over to a low starch feed to see if he might be a bit insulin resistant, so I don't know if that can be a contributing factor...but that's another question for my vet.

For the time being, Tuck is in his stall, so that he doesn't aggravate the already sore foot. He was definitely sounder this afternoon than this morning, so I might luck out. But again, it's a game of wait and see.

Meanwhile, I have received a review copy of the "Horse Lover's Daily Companion," a wonderful new book by Audrey Pavia. I am working on a review for the blog and also for the Ansur Saddle Board at Yahoo. Today when I went to the saddle shop, I showed them a copy and left information suggesting they might want to get some copies to sell for the holidays. It is one of those books that would make a really nice gift for horsepeople in your life.

More later on that.

And for now, that's it. Nothing more to report until I talk to my vet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Shoe'd Me!

The Saga Continues

Went out to work the Boys. Since my back was bothering me, I decided to lunge a bit. I also decided to see if I could imitate some of the Parelli exercises I saw on a recent video, using my own methods and just the training I'd already done with my horses.

My theory here is that trainers like Parelli, Tellington Jones, and others with "magic wands" and "carrot sticks," have essentially just packaged good horse training skills in expensive wrapping paper, and there are many roads to the same ends. I used to ride Russell R. with no bit and just a rope around his neck to use as "emergency brakes" and I even jumped him that way. No Parelli there, so I know it's possible. Of the three horses I have now, Toby would probably be an ace in the rope exercises I've seen, but I pulled Chance in first, just to see what I could get him to do.

Two minutes in, he was backing on the lunge line just with a minimal signal from me. Then, after about five more minutes, I had the basics of getting him to reverse direction on the lunge, with, again, minimal signals. While it would take a session or two more to get it solid, we were well on our way. There was a cool exercise I did see of working a figure 8 around the barrels I was going to try, but I got distracted by the idea of having him do some jumping over the barrel and some plastic Blox instead. After a nice little session of plain old walk, trot, canter, I set him to the jump and he bounced himself over with casual abandon and complete confidence. What a nice horse he is!

Then I went to collect Tucker to play with him a bit only to shoe on his left front AGAIN. That is the club foot....the one that had the ligament surgery when he was a baby so it really doesn't look clubby unless you look really hard and know that it was once a problem. Anyhow, it's the same foot he lost the shoe on a couple weeks ago. Of course, I had to give up any plans to lunge and instead spent over an hour hiking up and down the paddocks and pastures in a vain search for the missing hoofwear. No luck.

Bless his heart, Scott called just before I left for the doctor's appointment to tell me he was coming over. Now this is good because the vet is coming on Thursday to assess Tucker's cantering issues, so he really did need those shoes. Scott asked me what was going on with Tuck and I told him about the hind end issues. He said if the vet recommended shoes on the back again, he'd come right out to do the job. What a great farrier he is! The thing I really love about him is that while he does shoe as a business, he really cares about the horse's welfare and goes out of his way to do what he can to make sure the Boys are as sound and happy on their feet as they can be.

I have read so many comments and heard so many comments from people that, "Oh, my horse was just shod, it will take a few days before I can ride him again. " Not so with Scott's work. Unless there has been a drastic change in shoeing, or the horse is recovering from some kind of injury and is being specially shod for that, he believes that a horse should be ready for work again as soon as he's finished off the last hoof. After all, that's the whole point of shoeing them in the first place. Same with Chance's trims for going barefoot. As long as there are no radical changes, he should be sound and ready to go as soon as the work is done. Gotta love a farrier who thinks that way.

OK, on to the flame orange sheets and other safety gear. I also have bright pink quarter sheets for the Boys when I ride out during hunting season as well as a collection of orange safety vests, sweatshirts, and a jacket for me. I also have a pair of orange breeches I got heaven knows where. At one time I made an orange helmet cover, but I don't use that any more.

I was once told by a hunter safety instructor not to put any white "clothes" on me or the horse, just to be safe, as it might look like a white tailed deer's tail. That does bother me a bit about Chance since he has a huge white blaze. Maybe I can rig up an orange flymask for him or perhaps a strip of orange to go from browband to noseband on his bridle. It would be easy to make with stick on velcro fasteners of some sort if I wanted to make it last the season. Add some orange leg wraps if need be and we're all set. Oh, yes, I have an orange saddle pad somewhere too.

Then, of course, should I really want to be obnoxious, I also have a sleigh bell or a sleigh bell neck strap I used to use when I rode in a Wildlife Management Area always filled with weekend hunters. Around here, I probably would not use the bells. It's not exactly fair to scare the deer off just because I am out for a ride.

And, if you recall, I defended the deer around here. I have to take that back. Apparently the local deer herd has nearly destroyed my farmer neighbor's pumpkin crop. This is a pick your own pumpkin patch where he grows Jack'o'lantern pumpkins for Halloween and decorative pumpkins for fall. The unusual rains have caused some fungus issues too, so he told me he is going to have to buy some pumpkins to up his stock for the customers who come. Bummer. I don't know how his business does during the season, but losing a good part of his crop hurts a lot.

So the deer, unfortunately, have to go on the "naughty" list after all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Busy Day

But Did I Ride? Not Yet.

Got up to some paperwork chores including calling to check on a prescription, calling and emailing about an environmental project I hope to work on, and talking to the fish, game and wildlife people.

Fish and game was not too helpful. They don't seem to think the hunter's position in the woods poses any danger to my horses. The law has not been changed, however, in that the hunter's blind must be at least 450' from my barn. If it is, that's OK, legally. If I ask the guy to move it so it faces in the opposite direction, though, then I am pretty sure he will infringe on my 450' safety zone. However, if I give him written permission, then it's OK.

In answer to a suggestion here, I do have flame orange outfits for the Boys. First, I have flysheets, which I put on them today. However, Chance has grown since I ordered the sheets so his is a little small, as is Tucker's even though his is the right size. They are inexpensive sheets and so are cut a little small. But, they are on, and the Boys are now VERY visible.

It was warm and humid today, with a brisk wind. Since tree branches were falling by the house, I decided to do some house chores instead of riding by the woods. Today was "clean the back porch marathon."

Now, mind you, my back porch is enclosed and had become the drop off point for everything that arrives at my house. The bird seed's out there, the cat litter is out there, the cat food is out there, my supplies of paper towls and toilet paper are out there, and just about everything else is out there in one jumbled up mess. I've been putting this off all summer so I figured it would be a good to start today. Suffice it to say I filled up three big garbage bags of throw away stuff, moved a bunch of horse stuff out to the barn...which also needs a good junk purge, and in general managed to get a pretty good initial attack completed on the mess.

It's not really done, as it started to rain again and I had to bring everything back inside without completing the sort, but a good start is a good start. I feel as if I did accomplish something.

I did find a set of reins I had misplaced, some organic fly spray I'd forgotten about, and some joint supplement I'd also forgotten about. Apparently too, I have an extra Sprenger Ultra eggbutt snaffle as well. It was in a bag I had been tossing horse things into, and I honestly don't remember buying it. I have one on Tucker's show bridle already, so what this one was for I can't quite figure. If I decide to use it, fine, if not, I will put it up for auction.

At this rate, I might be able to find a nice selection of things I can auction off. Why is it that horse people seem to accumulate horse "things," anyhow? If I find anything really cool to sell, I'll let you guys know first.

Right now, I do have a Passier Nicole/Grand Gilber saddle, 16 1/2", black, in very good condition for sale at $1200 plus shipping, if you know of anyone.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ah, Phooey!

Rain and Then Humid

So far today's weather has been less than inspirational. It was raining in the morning when I went to church, raining when I went out to lunch, and gray when I got home. For some reason I needed about an hour's nap, so I took one, and when I got up the sun was out. But when I went out to feed the Boys, it was warm and muggy...not nice at all.

Tucker was out in the front paddock and when he came in, I noticed some welts on him--bug bites, flies, I presume. I was stomping a little in the stall so I put his flysheet back on and sprayed his legs with some fly spray. Toby and Chance seemed fine, so they are still naked, although I did put the stall fans on again, just to blow any determined flies out the door.

It rained enough to make everything soggy, so I am not likely to do anything with the Boys tonight. And, if Tucker's bumps are any indication, I suspect the woods is not bug free today either.

My neighbor called to tell me about the hunter's blind in the woods. He too is worried because the door through which Mr. Hunter will shoot aims directly at my pasture. Apparently a new law passed the New Jersey legislature this year changing the "safety zone" around barns and silos from 450' to 150' for bow hunters. So that means this blind is in legal distance. But the law was explained that bow hunters usually shoot at targets within 30 feet or so and mostly from a tree stand up high, so their arrows go down into the ground if they miss. Now, I'm worrying. This hunter, if he's a bowman, will not be shooting down but straight ahead. While there are quite a few trees between my pasture and his blind, an arrow still could go through.

My neighbor called me on the phone today, worried as well. He suggested I call the game warden on Monday to see what he says. The land is State property, so I really have no recourse if all is legal here. I just wonder why he has to shoot towards the houses instead of away. Maybe we could work a deal where he puts the blind closer to my property so he shoots in the opposite direction? While I don't really like hunting and could never do it myself, I have to respect the laws here and since it is legal, I need to try to make it safe for everyone, especially my Boys.

I am also guessing the blind is for deer hunting as the only animals it is legal to bait are the deer. Unfortunately, New Jersey's rampant development has forced an over population, so hunting has become a necessary evil. I do not see hundreds of deer in the park, though, nor do I see a lot of deer damage to the cornfields or the vegetation, so I am pretty sure the parkland can sustain its population. But again, if it's legal in the State in areas that need to cull the herds, it's usually legal everywhere, so our deer too have to suffer the consequences.

I just don't want my horses to suffer too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Not Fair

You Call This Hunting?

It was a positively lovely day, so I decided to take all the Boys out for hacks. I decided to start with Toby for several reasons. Since I know him best and he is the most experienced trail horse, I would be able to judge the bug annoyance quotient best with him. And, he hasn't been out in a while. And, he like to go on hacks.

Off we went, nibbling tree leaves on the way. We had a super nice ride out, and as we headed for the trail back home, I even let him stop at the "salad bar" mound of dirt and green grass for a nice little graze. Then, we reentered the woods for the trail back to the arena. Snort! Spook! Spin! Try to gallop back the other way!!

What the hey?

A hunter had pitched a camouflage pop tent off the the left, facing a diagonal back towards my house where a little trail goes out to the cornfield. This was obviously a hunter's blind which is legal and OK, though I wish it were not so close to my property. (It is on State land, probably several hundred feet into the woods.) But here's the rub--something I had already seen a few days before--the trail was baited with corn in several piles.

Now, what is is baited for? Deer? Turkeys? And just how fair is that? Make a bait station to lure the animals in days before the season starts so they get comfortable feeding there and then shoot them? Now, in the olden days when hunters depended on game for survival, perhaps...but today, when hunting is a "sport?"

I am seriously considering putting a note in the tent telling him..."Horses and houses just ahead of your line of fire. Please be extra cautious." It just might make him think a little without antagonizing him.

But back to the "Spook" etc. I had to dismount and lead Toby home to get him past the "terror tent."

So that kind of put a crimp in my plan to take Tucker out, because there didn't seem to be a way to avoid the tent, at least using trails I could trust Tucker on. So, I put the bridle on him and led him out to meet TT face to face. Good thing I didn't try to ride him. He was snorting from yards away and quite prepared to head home posthaste if I'd let him.

But horses are actually, by nature, pretty curious beasts and eventually, curiosity and my bold demeanor got the best of him. Soon he was sniffing TT and perfectly content to walk all around it. (Hunter might be perplexed with the hoofprints at his door.) Then I decided that perhaps I should just take Tucker on a walking trail ride instead since we were already out there. Off we went on a little jaunt, cut short by the sound of ATV/minibike engines in the woods somewhere. Once again, I opted for the safer alternative, turned around and headed home again, making sure TT did not upset Tucker on the way back either.

Then I put the bridle back on Toby and introduced him "face to face" with TT as well, hoping that next time out he will walk by without incident. (Mind you, TT is maybe 25 meters off the trail, tucked into the trees.) *sigh*

Done with the big boys, I decided I might as well lead Chance out there to have a look. Well, my goodness. He would have walked right in TT, sat down in the chair and kicked his feet back for a little nap if I'd let him. He didn't even react at all he was so calm about it. What a good boy, and definitely not a Thoroughbred.

Daring soul that I am, I then took him into the arena and decided to try to ride him bareback for a few minutes. How about 30 seconds? The first problem was getting on. Even with the three step mounting block, I couldn't swing a leg over. I had to use the mounting block to get on a barrel and then on to Chance.

Well is a nice round boy and did feel comfy, but all these years away from bareback, slightly slippery breeches, and a horse who really didn't have a clue what to do when my balance shifted the wrong way and I made I half way around the arena at an erratic walk before I decided not to risk it any more and got off. How totally discouraging that I should have felt that insecure. I used to ride Russell R. and PJ bareback all the time. I've ridden Toby a few times, but his spook is so dramatic, I wasn't too keen about it. Needless to say, I never tried "Bucker Tucker" bareback, so it's been a while. Who would have thought I would have lost my knack? Ah, well, that's why saddles were invented, and why I have one...or more, actually.

I went back into the barn, saddled Chance up and took him on a proper, but short hack, taking the "Tucker Trail" just to finish off the day.

Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon mowing the lawn. Took me a bit to get the mower started, but once I did, I even managed to mow the grass in the front area by the road where the water collects after the rain. It was far too wet to mow in there the last time, so the grass was pretty high. I never quite do the most perfect job, but it's mowed, and that's all that matters to me.

I did a bit of weed whacking, came in for a bite to eat and now I have to go back out to feed the Boys.

It's a good feeling to have accomplished so much during the day. And I'm pleased I had the energy and ambition to do it all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Toby Houdini

How Do These Things Happen?

Brought the Boys in for breakfast this morning and...well, blush...Toby was naked!!

Now, mind you, I bought brandy new fly sheets at the beginning of the season. Nice, texilene ones which are usually pretty resiliant. At this point, I am honestly not sure which of the three Boys is still dressed in one of the new sheets, but as of last night, every one of the sheets has had some repair work.

But Toby is always the neatest about his outfits. He hardly ever has any rips or damage.

Well, that was until this morning. I found the sheet lying in the dirt, not too far from the barn. The two front chest straps were torn off. Trouble is, I can't tell whether that was where the sheet actually came off, or whether a certain Chance had dragged it there from someplace else. If Chance was involved, me might well have ripped the straps too as there is nothing he quite enjoys more than the sound of ripping things. (He once walked off with my jacket and very deliberately stomped on it with his hoof and then tore the sleeve off. )

At any rate, what happened? The only thing I can suspect besides one of the other horses having taken it off him, was that he lay down, and caught his hoof in one of the leg straps somehow and in his kicking at it, tore the sheet off.

I had another sheet to put on him, but when he saw me with it, Toby walked out of his stall into the paddock to let me know he didn't want me to put it on him. So, I left him unsheeted for the day, periodically checking to see if the flies were after him.

The most I saw him do was swish his tail a few times. I can now say, at least for today, the flies really have gone away. It is kind of strange because we haven't had any freezing weather yet, and at least yesterday, it was still shorts and tank top weather--hot. Today was cooler, but still shirtsleeve weather. So why no flies?

I think I will take Chance's and Tucker's sheets off too. I would think it would feel good to them to not have anything on for a while. Soon, hunting season will open and I will be putting flame orange sheets on them--fly sheets or lightweight sheets--just to be safe. They might as well enjoy it while they can.

Hope I get to ride tomorrow. I got sidetracked today with some shopping and a chiropractor appointment I'd made weeks ago.

I'm hoping that being able to hack out in the woods will revive my ambition with the Boys. I need some kind of motivatoin.

It WAS Thursday


I woke up with a start yesterday, suddenly realizing it was Thursday. The significance? Garbage day, and I hadn't put out my cans and recyling. I leapt out of bed, put the stuff out, less than half hour or so before the first truck showed up. Whew!

I had an early doctor's appointment anyhow, so being up was not a big deal. Went to the doctor and did some errands on the way home.

Then, I spent the day doing a bunch of chores and catch up paperwork, figuring I'd work the Boys in the early evening. It was pretty hot all day, so I left them to their own devices in the barn, if they decided to stay, with the fans blowing on them

I was caught in a couple of long phone calls and was kind of hanging out later on when I suddenly realizes....again....It was THURSDAY! That meant church choir rehearsal.

So much for the horse plan. That fell by the wayside for singing.

Now that I'm retired, I think I am going to need one of those big calendars or some kind of alarm system to remind me what day it is! Funny how when you are not working on a set time schedule how things like what day it is can get away from you.

Kind of nice in a way as when I was teaching, my life was totally controlled my strict time schedules and bells. I'm enjoying just letting one day kind of slide into another without worrying about it too much.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bugs Be Gone!

Is It Wishful Thinking?

I went out into the woods to collect something...ended up with cornstalk make a witch's broom. While I was out there, I realized I was not being bothered by either flies or mosquitoes. Not a one! Don't know if it was the time of day, or that the bugs have finally died off.

I ran some errands, including getting some more low starch pellets for Tucker, came home, fed the Boys and then decided to try a hack.

I figured Chance would be the least likely to throw a fit about flies, so I brought him in first. However, on the way in, I thought there was a B52 buzzing around, so I ended up putting the bug armor on for our ride in the woods.

Chance was positively delighted to go out. He has, from the first, loved going out on the trail and today was no exception. There was a spring in his step, and I'd swear he was smiling. I took the middle route, so we were only out for about 20 minutes or so, but that was fine. Aside from a few gnats annoying me, I didn't notice a single deer fly or a mosquito. I'm hoping this is not wishful thinking. It was almost hot today, and quite humid as there is some kind of rain thing on the way, so it was "bug weather."

Then, I took a risk and saddled up Tucker with no fly protection at all. I did not ask him to go on the bit for the bulk of the ride. As I am still not sure what is bothering him in the hind end, my goal is mostly to do a lot of trotting to strengthen his stifles. Although he did lay his ears back on the first canter depart, after we got past the initial ugliness, he was fine. I do feel something just a little out of rhythm when he is on the left lead, again possibly the right stifle as that's the one that has to "twist" when he is going left. I did not try any circles smaller than 20m, but the turns through the diagonal were fine. I'll just take it one day at a time with this.

Then I put him into an dressage frame for some more serious trot work. He offered two nice shoulder-ins, one on either rein, so at that, I called it a day. Upping the "bug" stakes, I took him out for a mini-hack in the woods to cool off. This was just a minor loop of the little trail right behind the barn where I can ride kind of a "go out, come back." I was able to go the whole way on a loose rein with Tuck moving out in a nice forward walk, and a quite brave outlook. We both had a good time.

So, all is well. If it hadn't started to get dark, I might have taken Toby out too, but no worry. Once I am sure this was not a fluke, and the flies are really gone, he and I will take some nice rides together.

And I'll let him nibble on all the trees along the way. (Safe varieties only....)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So Here's the Plan

Sort Of....

I spent yesterday writing...working on two children's Halloween stories to be read at the farm market/pumpkin picking/corn maze place. It ended up taking me longer than expected but I was having such a good time, I forgot about nearly everything else.

I did have a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon which took up some more time, so somehow the day just slipped by.

So the deal is that, if all goes as planned, I will don my witch's costume for a weekend or two or more and head over to the market to become the witch storyteller for the little kids.

One story has a fireman as a main character since the market is celebrating local firefighters during the season. The other story focuses on a black cat named Reggie...gee, seems to me I have a black cat named Reggie...who is looking for some meaning in his life. Both stories are written in poetry form, something the kids seems to enjoy.

I have written children's sermons for church so I have some experience at such "entertaining." It's always fun if the stories go over well. And I am ever hopeful.

Haven't done much today except start on some much needed house cleaning. The never ending project has a long way to go, but I figure a little at a time can go a long way.

The Boys? Just kind of hanging out, mostly in the stalls. It's a little warmer again and I'm thinking perhaps the flies are active again. If I get up the ambition...something I seem to have in short supply as far as the horses go right now....I'll go out in the evening for some kind of work with them.

So, for now, that's it. Nothing more at the moment.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trotting Trio

Three Horses Of Follywoods

A little warm today but not hot. The humidity is a thing of the past, for the most part.

After church, I went to lunch with the choir friends, so I wasn't home until well into the afternoon. And I am working on a story for Halloween, so I spent some time writing...more on that in a later post.

I finally went out as evening crept in..still slowly this time of year and it takes a while for the sun to slip below the horizon. I ended up with the lunge line in hand, gathering horses one at a time.

Chance was first. His hind leg looked fine. But that's the leg he sometimes is a little short in, so I had to watch closely. I didn't see a limp at all, but I still think he is a little weaker on that side. The goal is to get him really fit to see if it makes a difference. We are not there yet, but I would say he was sound and ready to go back to work. I gave him a nice workout, but didn't ask for anything special.

Then I took Tucker out. He will just jog around on the lunge on a lazy little trot if I let him. But once I pushed him on, he started to gather some enthusiasm. We did a pretty active session and then I set up about a 2'3" jump along the rail. After finishing up a nice little warm up, I sent him over the jump a number of times on each rein. He is figuring out how to take off on his own, judging both impulsion and distance quite nicely. However, on the left rein, he landed on his left lead and kept cantering. On the right, he looked to land on the left lead again, but it was hard to tell as he acutally landed on a trot stride and just kept on trotting.

I don't know if this is a "I'm left handed" consequence, or if he is a little reluctant to land on his right front. That is the hoof where he pulled the shoe, the leg that had the club foot surgery, and the leg that had the ankle injury when I first got him. Any one of the three reasons might make him a bit "left hoofed" either at the moment or out of habit. Again, no big deal, but worth and observational note here.

I sneaked in on Toby in the stall and took him out last. He looks wonderful out there. Not only does he stride out soundly, but there is a decided spring in his step. Since he hasn't done much work at all in the last few months, I kept his session short, just warming him up with some trot and canter work on each rein before sending him over a lowered jump for some fun.

I say "fun" because he really does "get into" the jumping with definite interest. He tends to get a little extra forward energy into his fences, but as long as he's having a good time, it's fine with me. He always has shown quite a talent for jumping and if he had not been such a chicken about approaching new obstacles--he'd either run out badly, spook, or stop the first time we'd head for a new fence--I might have done some little competitive jumping with him. I did compete him once or twice over fences and, if I recall, he was second in his very first class, won another time, and then was dead last with a rather dreadful effort in a class that required just two "test jumps,"--handy hunter. Frankly, the worst thing for me is a horse that stops/spooks/runs out at fences. I used to be able to sit a bad jump, but those last minute quits were never any fun at all. Thus, I never pursued jumping with him and lost my taste for it.

Too bad, as I've said before, because I think Tucker would be good at it. PJ was for sure, with a bold, almost too daring attitude about it. Tucker, so far just heads for the fence, but I don't know what he would do about jumps with flowers, decorations, etc. That, I think, would just be a matter of acclimation and some training.

But, not for me. I'll pop over something little now and then, but my jumping days are over. The ground's too hard for a fall.

Stacie is looking at two horses closer to home this weekend. I've seen pictures of both and standing there, they look like nice possibilities. I hope I'll hear something good soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Driving Around All Day

And A Visit to My Chiropractor

I scheduled an adjustment for myself this morning, got taken care of in good time and headed for PetSmart to pick up some cat food for my kitties. I bought enough to hold us for a while, and drove home, only to find that the clerk had mistakenly rung up ten of my cans twice.

I called the store and they told me if I went back they would make an adjustment. Off I went again. This is, by the way a 15-20 minute drive. Now that means that already I'd gone once and come home, so I was repeating that round trip. Instead of getting a refund I opted for ten more cans, and the clerk who waited on me was quite pleased as I guess it saved him a bit of paperwork needed to issu a refund.

Then, I decided to check out a local craft store to see if they had some bobbins for my sewing machine and a glass jar for my squirrel feeder since the first one broke. That trip took me another 15 minutes in a different direction and a much larger circle to get home. I found the bobbins in a different store nearby, grabbed a quick lunch at McDonalds and headed home.

Less than a half hour later, the phone rang. It was my good friend Shelley. She lives up in North Jersey, but was down here to get her hair cut and hoped to meet me for lunch. I never want to miss a chance to spend some time with her, so I agreed. I wasn't very hungry, but figured a salad would do after a cheeseburger. (I was not a good girl.)

Guess what? The diner where we usually meet is less than a block from the store where I bought the bobbins less than an hour before! Ah well. I drove back.

It was worth it, of course because Shelley and I had a great visit with good conversation as always. We have been friends now for nearly 25 years, so we get along super well and generally agree on most things. And even when we don't, it doesn't matter much.

By then, it was well into the afternoon. When I got back home, it was time to feed both the Boys and the kitties.

I am pleased to report that it looks as if the swelling is completely gone from Chance's hind leg. I did not trot him off, but he was walking quite comfortably, so I hope that if I try to work him tomorrow he will be OK.

Since I had chiropractic, I decided not to ride Tucker either. Weak excuse, perhaps, but after all the driving back and forth I was pretty worn out. At least I have some bobbins so now I have no excuse of not stitching up some of the salvagable ripped sheets/rugs in the barn.

But as they say, tomorrow is another day. I'll put off the sewing until then.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Two Down

OK, I have three horses. Now there is something slightly wrong with two of them.

Of course, there is Tucker's "whatever is bothering him" in the hind end. And now, there's Chance of the swollen hind ankle.

I don't think there is anything serious wrong with Chance. It looks as if he has a little abrasion there so he may have hit himself somewhere, or gotten caught in something. Hopefully the filling is due to that and not some other more serious injury. He is not super lame, but definitely did not want to use that leg fully. Since I know how it feels when your leg is swollen (last time I hurt my knee) I can sympathize. I wrapped him in a little bit of a pressure wrap bandage, just to give it some support and protection and I'll see how he is tomorrow. I'm not worried yet as I've seen this kind of thing many times before.

I lunged Tucker instead of riding, just to give him a chance to work without my weight. He was perfectly happy to canter off in both directions and I didn't see a sign of anything. His stride looks pretty even and he kept both leads with no problems. He had a nice little workout.

My vet will becoming in about two weeks for fall vaccinations, and I asked that he include a lameness exam for Tuck. By then, I will have tried the bute to see if he's better. Also, he will be fitter, so if it is the stifle it may well have resolved by then.

I did not do anything with Toby. He again made it clear he had no interest in being worked. But I will be riding him now and then since the weather seems to have at last turned to fall.

After all, he may be the only sound horse I have. *lol* (I can laugh because no one is really miserable out there. Although Chance found it kind of hard to figure out how to walk with that bandage on!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Something Is Bothering Him

Nice cool day, promising of rain.

I chopped down a lot of weeds aroung the arena this morning and again tonight. As in the past they had taken over during the heat wave when I simply could not handle cutting them. If I'd gotten them even earlier when school was still in session, I probably could have handled them with the weed whacker, but now they have nice sturdy stalks so I had to use a hand cutter to get rid of them. More yet to do, but things to look better. I can weed whack some of the vegetation, but that will have to be another day as I wore myself out today.

Then I rode. Tucker was first. His trot work was quite nice. Forward and responsive. The canter? Kick out, buck, lay back the ears, and generally miserable. I had to make a choice of letting him fuss his way out of it or work through it. I decided on the work through, for now. Eventually, with a great deal of determination on my part, he gave me a series of good departs on both leads and some pretty good canter work, although I did not challenge him by asking for any sharp turns or small circles.

The horses are due for fall vaccinations, so when I get the vet out, I will have him give Tuck a going over. If it's his stifle, then he needs to work. If it's his hock(s) then I will have to decide about xrays. Until then, I'll work through it. I still have not tried giving him some bute to see if he works better, but again, that's for another day. The forecast is calling for rain over the next few days, so I will have to wait it out anyhow.

I rode Chance next and he was much steadier than the other day, so I will have to guess the flies were bothering him then as I suspected. Not too much to report as all the work is very basic with him. I did a few transitions, working on keeping his head down, so that was good. While the transitions into canter are still unbalanced, the canter itself is improving every time I work him. He stays round and on the bit for the most part, but will fall apart and break gait if I am not quick enough to correct him before it happens.

Successful riding is often anticipating a problem before it happens, so you can make an adjustment before it actually becomes a problem. That way you never really have to make a dramatic correction. It doesn't always work, but the quicker you can be the better the ride.

With Chance, adjustments need to come every two or three strides right now. Sometimes, I am a little too slow, however, so I have to make a bigger deal out of what I want from him. But he has a really good attitude and does try to do things right. Sometimes, it's just hard for him to balance himself and me at the same time.

I do feel a little weakness on his right side, however. That is the hind leg where the strange lameness showed up. I still don't know what that problem is, or whether it's still there, but I do think he is not as strong on that side. Again, it's kind of a wait and see thing. As he gets more fit, it will either get better or worse. So far, so good, and since the vet never did find anything specific, we'll just play it by ear.

I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. When horses are not exactly "lame" it is a tricky proposition. Many people would just ignore it and treat Tuck's behavior as a training issue. I'm just not that kind of person. I do not think horses lie to us about how they feel. They try to tell us if something is wrong and as trainers/riders/owners, we need to learn to listen.

Sometimes it's just hard to understand their language.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Joys of Retirement

Surprise Visit From My Farrier!

Early in the afternoon as I was just kind of sitting around doing nothing, the phone rang. It was Scott, my farrier. He said the Boys were due for shoeing and if it was OK with me, he'd be able to come in about an hour or so. He said he'd forgotten to call earlier.

Ah, so now the truth comes out about retirement! Now that I'm home more often than not, I can schedule all these "horsey" appointments almost anytime it's convenient for everyone!

I went out to the barn, brought the Boys in, swept the aisle, then went out to poo pick the arena just to keep busy. It was darn hot out there and I got pretty sweaty too. Summer still has us in its grip. The only difference is that the humidity seems to have vanished for the most part, so it's not quite so uncomfortable. Still, it was the kind of day that makes me miss the swimming pool--closed for the season.

Scott arrived soon after and for the rest of the afternoon, I alternately sat talking to him as he worked, and playing the endless game of "fetch" with his border collie. I have decided we can end the energy crisis simply by harnessing border collie perpetual motion to operate our power plants. Scott says sometimes he has to stop Mick from playing. He just keeps going and going even after he is actually worn out. I decided Mick thinks I am just some wonderful toy when he comes here. But he is adorable and really well behaved, so it's a pleasure to have him visit with his "dad" the farrier.

Not sure if I will work the Boys at all tonight. The possible lesson for the weekend has been canceled, so I don't have to worry about that. Things had gotten a bit complicated anyhow, so it's just as well.

At least, for the moment, everyone's feet are fine. We are keeping an eye on Tucker, though. First because when he pulled his shoe the other day, he did some damage to his hoof, so I need to watch that. And, one of his hind feet has a pretty bad crack that needs to be monitored. The constant wet/dry/super wet/somewhat dry/wet/very dry weather did a number on him. If it gets any worse or doesn't show signs of improvement by the next shoeing, we will need to put back shoes on him again. And, I need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't go any higher to his coronary band.

Just one more thing to worry about.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chance Has A Bad Day

But All Is Relative

Chance was not at his best today, but behavior wise, his "bad" is nothing compared to Tucker's. For Chance, "bad" is tossing his head and cranking on the bit.

Granted, there were some flies out there, and at one point, when I dismounted to see if something was wrong with the bridle, I saw a B52 buzzing around and landing on him. Now had that been Tucker, I would not have dismounted on my own, but been tossed to earth. So that is high score for Chance in the bug department.

I did get some good work in between the head tosses, so I accomplished something. Since he was so fussy, I will chalk it all up to the bugs and give him a pass. I may go out later in the evening, to lunge him, just to build up some more fitness. If we have a lesson this weekend, I want to take him and I need to know he has a bit more stamina.

He really has progressed in keeping his head down and reaching for the bit at the canter, so I tried a number of trot/canter/trot transistions. Let's just say they need a lot of work. On the other hand, they are much better than they were a week ago, so progress continues. If we can just get rid of the flying distractions, we might actually get somewhere.

Tucker was actually quite interesting. Since I had the Ansur Elite and Konklusion here for the demo yesterday, I decided I'd like to ride in each to see how they felt. I saddled Tuck up in the Elite first. This saddle is designed for the hunter/jumper rider in the show arena. It has a very "flat" saddle feel and is also quite close contact. I liked the balance and overall feel. It tends to put you in a foward seat position, but I could easily do a sitting trot and felt my position was good. I did not put in any of the optional knee rolls, but if I were planning on doing any jumping, I probably would, although when I did show jumpers, I was perfectly fine in a saddle with minimal knee rolls.

Then I tried the Konklusion, which is Ansur's cross country saddle. Since I have an older model this saddle was familiar to me. However, after riding in the Elite, I did not like it as much. For me, cross country jumping needs a shorter stirrup length... mine were too long, and more of a feel of being "behind" the horse with your two point. It is difficult to explain, but generally on a cross country course, you never want to lose your security by riding too far in forward seat. The Konklusion definitely gives that feel. But, to my surprise, it was not as comfortable as the Elite.

As for Tucker, he seemed very happy to go forward in the Elite and cantered right off when I cued. In the Konklusion, he did not seem as forward, and when I asked for canter, he laid his ears back and gave me an "attitude." If it was not a fly bothering him, then it was the balance of the saddle. Since I had "told" him we were just doing a test ride, perhaps, he was "telling " me which saddle he preferred.

To be fair, I then switched him over to the Excel dressage saddle. While he was a little less quick to the canter cue than he had been in the Elite, he was fine once again. Kind of interesting. I am sure, all things being equal, he would be quite content to be a hunter/jumper instead of a dressage horse. But, since he has to do what I want him to do, dressage in an Excel seems to be OK too. However, I will think about trying to make my seat lighter when I ride him to see if that makes any difference. I don't really drive a lot with my seat unless I have to, but I can be very light if I need to. Perhaps riding in a jumping saddle has taught me something about Tuck I needed to know.

All in all, an enlightening morning.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dry Day to Drive

Maybe Tomorrow

Had church in the morning, grabbed a quick bite at the annual church picnic, then headed home.

I had my Ansur saddle demo up in North Jersey at around 2 PM. Since the drive is a good hour and a half, I didn't have much time to fool around once I got home.

It seemed to take forever to get up there, mostly because my GPS directed me along the major highways, and that drive is rather boring.

I ended up having three clients try the Ansur saddles. The woman who had contacted me originally was interested in the Excel dressage saddle, and one of her friends wanted to try it too. At least six people in that barn ride Ansurs already. Most of them are the Classic saddles which are quite different than the Excel. So everyone was well versed in the concept of treeless saddles.

L. was riding a a big Thoroughbred/Belgium cross, a former eventer, now focusing on dressage. He was a nice sweet horse with big gaits. She was a really good rider and liked that saddle quite a bit. However, she is having a demo from another saddle maker as well, so before she makes a decision, she wants to look at their saddles as well.

J. has a really cute, and good moving Appaloosa. He has been a bit of a problem horse and she is not an experienced rider, so she had a bit more trouble evaluating the Excel. The trainer rode her horse in the saddle, however, and really liked it. Again, no decision, but I feel everyone had a good chance to evaluate the saddle.

The trainer had, years ago, owned an older design/model Konklusion event saddle and had ended up selling it. She was interested in the new Elite jumping saddle. She rode two different horses in it and really liked it a lot. I also had her try the new model Konklusion, but she ended up preferring the Elite. Again, no decision, but once more she had more than enough opportunity to try the saddles, including some jumping on two different Thoroughbred mares.

I do not do a "hard sell" when I demo Ansurs. I try to evaluate the situation, make sure the saddle suits the horse and fits the rider. I will make suggestions about saddle options or pad options, and answer any questions that arise. I really want clients to make the decision to buy or not to buy on their own. I always explain the benefits of treeless saddles and why they are a good investment.

If the client is sold on the concept, that saddles usually sell themselves. But, especially in today's economy, buying one is a big financial investment and a big decision. Hopefully, one of these women will buy a new Ansur, but if not, I feel quite confident that I gave them the best opportunity to test ride each saddle.

I did not get home until nearly 7PM and I am tired. I want to test ride the two jumping saddles myself, but I guess I will wait until morning. Then, I'll pack them back up and send them off to the other distributor.

One more long, exhausting day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

God Bless The Farrier

But It Was Still Raining

When I got home last night after getting my hair cut, I noticed tracks in the grass on the lawn leading up to the barn. Sure enough, Scott, my farrier had been here to put a new shoe on Tucker. As a matter of fact, according to the phone message he left me, I probably had just missed him by a few minutes. I called him back and left a thank you message.

I left Tucker in for the night anyhow as it was raining pretty consistently. He did look pretty sound walking, though and when I put him out this morning, he seemed to trot off evenly.

However, the arena was puddly, and I had a chiropractor appointment, so I didn't have much opportunity to check him out much further.

And then, it started raining again.

Two of my long time friends were having their annual pig roast in the afternoon. I made my salad for the pot luck part of the dinner, waited an extra hour until the skies cleared a bit, and headed over to his house.

It stopped raining for the bulk of the afternoon and well into the evening. I had a great time talking to all kinds of people. My one freind is a professional writer, and his wife was a library director, so the group of people there tended to be pretty literate, well spoken, and very interesting.

I kind of bopped around from one group of people to another enjoying some great conversations. The food was great, the company marvelous, and didn't get home until around 9. Believe it or not, it was raining again by then after holding off for most of the party.

Fed the Boys their late night snack a short while ago and everyone looked just fine.

I am so lucky to have such a good farrier to take care of my Boys' feet. I have a wonderful vet too and access to some really excellent equine hospitals less than an hour away. The New Jersey Horse Park show grounds is perhaps 45 minutes from here, two great tack stores are less than a half hour away, my hay supplier is across the street, and so far, all is well in Follywoods.

Friday, September 11, 2009

And Then Came The Rain

Soggy, Boggy Friday

Had to try to sort out some medical appointments as one doctor's office did not communicate with the other. But I think I have things sorted out. Had some routine bloodwork in the morning, but no biggie, as it was already raining by then.

Tucker is still locked in his stall, but doesn't seem to mind too much since the other two Boys seem to be hanging out right there, sheltering from the weather under the run-in roof and Toby's stall next door.

Had the solar installers back out to try to seal up one annoying leak in the roof where they had fastened one of the solar panels on the barn. So there they were in the rain clambering about and entertaining the horses for an hour or so. Chance apparently took the opportunity to bite one of them on the shoulder...shirt actually. One of those, "Hey, pay attention to me" kind of things along with his famous, "Gee I wonder if this will rip?" activities. Kind of out of character for Chance as he is not usually mouthy, but I guess the rain had him a little bored??

Anyhow, no one was hurt, just a bit surprised. Figures it was the guy who knews less about horses. The guy on the roof is totally cool about them.

See how good I am to my Boys? I provide live entertainment on rainy days! I'm hoping the roof drip will stop but the roof guy said he was having trouble getting the rubber patch stuff to stick on the wet surface.

As ever, I am impressed with the company's committment to its customers. I called them this morning to report the leak and they were here around noon or so. This is the second call on the leak, but after the first trip it didn't rain for a while, so we couldn't tell if it was fixed. Hopefully he got it this time, but if not, he assured me he will be back as soon as I call again.

Cool. We think one of the roof screws got put into a seam where one roof joins another and has made a hole that needs a patch. Maybe the one he got on there will stick it out and solved the problem.

Meantime, as if it doesn't need saying, I did not ride.

I do, however, have two Ansur test saddles here for a demo I will be doing. One is the new Elite show jumping saddle and the other is a new model cross country saddle. They look really nice. If it stops raining before I have to send them back on Monday, I hope I will get a quick ride in each one to see how they feel. Maybe, if I am lucky, my client will want to buy one of her own.

Once again....we'll just have to wait and see how things go.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

OK, So I Rode

Taking A Chance On A Ride

I rode Chance tonight. It was "spritzing" a bit of rain, but nothing serious. Kind of strange as the arena was still dry enough below the surface to kick up some dust. Dust in the rain created a strange visual effect, almost like a bit of a fog.

Anyhow, Chance was a really good boy. He still tosses his head now and then, both to "test" the bit and also to catch his balance, particularly in transitions. Nothing serious, just green horse stuff. If I am super careful to get him round before a transition and then take a very insistent contact to the rein, I can get him to keep his head down, but it's almost as if I have to support him into the gait.

The nice thing is that it feels as if he changes gait from behind instead of dropping onto his forehand. His trot was good, although as time went on, he lost some energy. Part of it is losing his initial excitement and the rest is a combination of being a bit lazy and getting tired.

I did quite a bit of cantering to build up his stamina and he is getting better and better about stretching for the bit. He takes both leads easily but the right is still a little less balanced, so he tends to rush now and then. Again, no bit deal as he never feels as if he out of control.

After a bit of a break I decided to finish up with some figure eights, focusing on keeping him down and roundish on the change of rein. Then, after trotting the pattern, I tried to canter it. Normally, he is fairly good taking the canter off a cue. He's not quite sharp enough to do it at an arena marker, but he will go in a stride or three. This time, he just didn't canter when I asked. I had to work to get the gait for nearly half the twenty meter circle on each lead.

I get the feeling that by then he was pretty tired. Good kid though, as he never really quits trying.

Tucker is locked in his stall until he gets reshod. He doesn't seem the least concerned. When I went out to ride, Toby and Chance were way out of sight in the pasture, and Tucker was not in the least concerned. When I had to keep Toby in the last time, he was frantic every time the other horses disappeared from sight. I'm glad it's not an issue now for Tuck.

It is raining more now. I hope it doesn't rain enough to make more mud. It was actually getting kind of nice to have decent footing in nearly all the paddock areas.

Perfect Timing

Shoeless Wonder

It is cool today, so in the early afternoon, I went out to ride. I figured I'd give Tucker a short workout and Chance a longer one.

Tucker was dead lame. He had pulled his left front shoe and was limping badly. I brought him in to look at it, and then came back inside to call my farrier.

Then I went back out, cleaned the hoof thoroughly and wrapped it in cotton, vetrap, and duct tape to protect in. I locked him in his stall and headed out on a shoe search.

You know the routine. Criss cross the pasture and paddocks, looking ofr a needle in a haystack...a lost horse shoe. After about an hour, I had no luck. So I went back into the barn, tidied up a bit and then cleaned under the west run in shed.

All this because I was waiting for the road department tree trimmers to finish up on my property and get their noisy truck and chipper a little further away before I rode Chance. Of course, by then, I was time to feed, so I did , and I've just come in.

I am hoping the rain will hold off for another hour or so, in which case I will go back out to ride Chance. The tree guys are still pretty close, but his stalll is on that side and he has had a good look at all the hustle and bustle so he will probably be fine. And his tummy will be full so he will be happy.

Ironic about the shoe. It has been dry for days, and all the mud has dried up in my paddocks for only the second time this summer. So NOW Tucker loses his shoe???

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lungeing on a Rainy Morning

The Weather Looks Foul

Yesterday, I drove down to the outlets in Jackson to meet an Ansur client to pick up a saddle she had borrowed. I'd never been there before. Good thing I didn't know about what was there before I stopped teaching.

There are 70 outlet stored for name brands. I won't list them all, but it's pretty impressive. I did get some shoes at Skechers, some underwear at Jockey, and some casserole dishes at Corning. I browsed in some of the other stores and saw some really cute dresses, tops, pants, sweaters, etc. But since I no longer need an outfit a day, I didn't buy anything. I have so many clothes now it's ridiculous. One of the banes of teaching is that the students notice what you wear--especially high school students--so clothes become an added expense of the job. The Ansur client used to teach as well and she said she has a closet full of clothes just gathering dust now that she is no longer in the classroom.

It will still fun looking. And it was a good exercise of will power and pocketbook protection.

This morning it was "spitting" rain. Since Chance is likely the "horse of choice" for the next lesson, I geve him a good lunging. I'll see what the weather does the rest of the day. I have a medical appointment later which will fill up part of the afternoon, and then I'll see. The forecast is not too promising.

Chance really likes to canter. I noticed that out on our hacks when I asked for a bit of trot and he went into a nice little "soft" canter instead. When I lunge him, he will also just break into canter on his own after he has trotted for whatever he considers too long. I will usually correct him back to trot and then ask for canter just as an exercise in obedience, but he is so willing I try not to make a big deal about it. No point in discouraging a horse that wants to go forward, even if it is the wrong gait.

I'm not too sure what to do with Tucker at the moment. If the weather gets bad, I will not be able to work him much which then leads to a "no go" on the plan to leg him up really well to see how his hind end is. "On again, off again" is not exactly the best way to evaluate him.

So, I guess, once again, I will just have to see what the weather is going to do.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back To the Pool

Last Day

I put on a more swimsuity outfit and went back to the pool for the afternoon. I just didn't want to bother making an issue should that little lifeguard be there again. I don't know, as there are so many different girls there which one she is. (Does "They all look alike," work here?) Since it was the last day the pool was open, I just wanted to swim.

I must have done double laps. The water felt great. I am going to miss it.

I do intend to follow through with upper management to get a swimsuit clarification. I have no idea why there are restrictions. I am sure what I was wearing was quite appropriate and sanitary. It certainly was modest enough. But, I will get to the bottom and the top of it eventually.

I did not work the Boys. It was a combination of all the swimming and the fact that, for the first time in weeks, they were all out in the pasture enjoying the grazing. It was rather cool, with a fairly nice breeze blowing. They seemed so content, and didn't even want to come in for dinner.

Now the truth of retirement comes into play. Yesterday was Labor Day, the traditional last day before the start of school. Normally, today, I would be at a teachers' meeting and then in my classroom, trying to set things up for the first day of students.

As I have said before, I honestly don't seem to miss it. I did have another dream last night, though, so it must be on my mind. This time, I was in a new little classroom. There was a nice window, and a nice breeze. The room had a teacher's desk but no student desks yet. Again, as in the last dream I remember, I was there to set things up for my replacement.

The room was too small to hold more than, perhaps 10 students, so that was a plus. But when he, a nice young man, finally arrived and I saw his schedule, I knew why he had been so reluctant to even show up. He had been given three of the worst classes in the building.

I woke up, then. I suspect, analyzing it, I had somehow regressed to my own first day of teaching there. The principal who had hired me was a major male chauvanist. He was totally convinced that female teachers could not possibly succeed in a vocational high school. In fact, the woman English teacher I was replacing had supposedly been driven from the job in tears by one of her classes.

Since one male teacher and I were the only two people who even applied for the open jobs, they had no choice but to hire me for one, but it was with great skepticism on my principal's part. Of course, to prove his point, he put two of the most notorious classes in my schedule. The one class, a third year (11th grade) group of welders had guys in it who were only about three years younger than I was at the time.

Well, they were big guys, but not as big as a 1200 pound horse, so I just worked on teaching them with similar principles. I will not say there were days when I went home totally demoralized, but I succeeded. Bt the end of the year, they were actually moderately good for me, doing my required work to some degree, and had started to defend me once in a while. One of them, going out the door on the last day of school, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "You'll do fine here, Ms. Dvorak. You made it through our class. You can make it through anything."

Words to cherish and abosolutely true.

After that, more and more female teachers came into the school.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Now Get This

Just What Is Swim Apparel Anyhow?

There I was happily doing my laps, when one of the teenage lifeguards called me over to tell me I wasn't allowed in the pool as I wasn't wearing a swimsuit. Now mind you I was not naked, that's for sure.

I had on a pair of nylon running shorts, with interior nylon panties, and a matching nylon sports bra that is identical to a Speedo competition swim top. Some of these combos I have purchased along the way have had labels noting, "for sports and swim." This particular set did not but it was virtually identical to other sets I have. I have a pair of Lands End swim shorts designed exactly the same as the shorts I had on. I have been swimming in these sets for at least eight years or more and I've been at the pool nearly every nice day this summer and last summer and the summer before....

The teenage lifeguard insisted "management" had told her it was not a swimsuit and therefore I had to leave. I climbed out, and stalked out to the office where I found one of the managers and asked her exactly what their definition of a swimsuit was. She was totally confused and had no answer, telling me she never would have said anything to me. So she called the big manager...some guy who was there for the first time on the job. He kind of shrugged and suggested the Speedo racing suit the woman had on was a swimsuit. Now, if everyone at the pool was wearing a Speedo racing suit, I'd be fine, but that is not so. Plenty of the boys and men are wearing shorts of one kind or another and the women's suits...or bathing apparel... run the gamut from full Islamic coverups to mirco bikinis. I kept asking just what a swimsuit was and noted that many of the lifeguards wore similar shorts over their suits. "But," he insisted, "they had bathing suits on underneath."

"So, what is a swimsuit?" I asked again. I was told it was made out of my shorts and top. They clearly had no answer. "Fine," I replied. "I have a suit at home that is made exactly like this. I wonder if it's worth it to go home and change into it?"

"Well, that is a sports bra. That's the problem," the woman said.

"No," I replied, "the lifeguard also said my shorts were wrong too."

Above is a picture of a Speedo top. My top is a different color combination, but the design is exactly the same.

So, no one had an answer. I left and drove home, still wet and fuming. The pool is only open one more day for the summer. I have my swim shorts and a true bathing suit top, so I'll wear that tomorrow, just in case all the lifeguards are on the lookout. "Little Miss Fashionista" who knows her "swimsuits" might not even be on duty, but I will take no chances as I want to get all my laps in.

However, I intend to pursue the matter with upper management. I want a clear definition of "swim apparel," and an explanation as to why it is part of, according to the lifeguard, the pool insurance policy. I could, by all accounts sew up a nice little two piece swimsuit from almost any fabric in the world and have a legitimate "swimsuit," so fabric is not the answer. And certainly, my outfit was modest enough so that's not the issue. Frankly, I just don't get it. Seems to me Little Miss Lifeguard was on a power trip or something and no one bothered to tell her it wasn't appropriate. And I surely would like to know which manager supported her assertion in the first place.

Then again, I could be wrong. So I will let the legal eagles sort it out for next season--provided they are willing to renew my membership after this!

Well I came home and, since it was rather cool and breezy, I decided to ride. I have decided to take Chance to my next lesson, since I am not sure about what it bothering Tucker. When I went out to the pasture, Chance bopped right over to me, so he was an easy catch. Of course, when I gave him a treat I was immediately surrounded by two pushy Thoroughbreds, but I kept them at bay and took Chance into the barn.

It took a while to get him to soften to the bit tonight, but eventually we got there. He still doesn't have the concept firmly in his brain and body, but every once in a while he settles in to some really nice work. I figure if I get some training in over the next two weeks, he will be pretty good about it. I say this because in a bit over a half hour of work, he was able to canter on both leads with his head down. The departs are still a little "iffy" as far as balance goes, but he's getting there.

Now for the best part! Chance passed the B52 test with flying colors. As I was riding him, a big horsefly started buzzing around. Chance fussed a little, which was the only clue I had that the fly was there. It landed on his rump, I tried to hit it and it flew off. I dismounted quickly, and this time got the critter when it landed again...on his rump. Chance scored super points as he actually stood there and didn't make any threat to buck or jump away. Remember, when Tucker was attacked by one of these monster flies on a hack, he bucked me off, and both he and Toby will buck in the arena if one comes near them.

Not Chance! He is a star. I gave him the biggest carrot I had after I cooled him out.

I decided since there were some B52's about that I'd long line Tucker instead of riding. I won't quite give him super high scores, but he was pretty good. I had to work a lot to keep him from curling up behind the bit instead of pushing out to it through his whole body, and he did kick out a few times--not quite enough in my direction to be punished for it, but a bit threatening nonetheless. If I could have reached him with the lunge whip, I would have swatted him for it, but he was too far out on the lines for me to reach. Once he got himself going truly forward, he gave me some nice work, but it took a good bit of convincing to get him there.

By then, the B52's had been replaced by mosquitoes and they were certainly finding me, so I called it a night and fed both Toby and Tucker the other two, smaller carrots.

I may not have swum my last four laps of the pool, but I got some good exercise anyhow.

Just In the Neck of Time

And the Heat Is On

Summer returned yesterday, and I woke up with a stiff, sore neck. I couldn't get a chiropractor appointment until after twelve, so I used my heating pads, ice, and a hot bath all morning to ease things up.

By the time I was home again, it was hot! The thermometer on the garage--in full sun--was reading over 100F. The only blessing was that it was not particularly humid, so it didn't feel too awful.

I had a bit of lunch, put on my swimsuit and headed out for the pool where I spent the rest of the afternoon.

Once again, I never quite got around to working the Boys.

This morning, Sunday, it is cooler and there is quite a nice breeze. But, I have to go to church to sing in the choir for our first service after our summer break.

Stacie called to let me know there are some nice horses and people we know riding in a big show at the New Jersey Horse Park. She was there yesterday to watch. She said she saw Betsy Steiner riding an FEI test (Betsy was a US Equestrian Team Rider who rode in the World Equestrian Games in 1990). Stacie said it was clear she was head and shoulders above all the other competitors there.

I had a lesson with Betsy back in, I guess, 1990 up at the USET headquarters and she was a marvelous teacher. Her summer location is probably about an hour away from here, so it's something to consider for next year. Like so many of the top riders, she spends the winter months in Florida.

The show was running only three arenas this year instead of the usual five. And apparently, at least one of them will finish up by around 2:30 today. That just goes to show that the economic downturn is affecting the horse industry around here as well.

Hope things make a move for the better. *sigh*

Friday, September 04, 2009

Ultimate Irony

And I'm A Little Sore

The irony? As I was coming home from the chiropractor this morning, the road mower was just passing my house. With one swipe of his mower, the guy could have trimmed my entire bank within a matter of minutes. If it's the same guy who came by last time, that is exactly what he would have done! Had I waited a few days, I would not have had to weed whack at all!!!

That'll teach me. Teach me what, I don't know as there was no way of knowing he was coming. Phooey.

I am a bit muscle sore from riding. Nothing serious, but a few little aches inside my thighs. I had planned on a chiropractic "tune up" anyhow, so I scheduled an appointment for this morning.

I got up extra early to work the Boys a little...just lunging again. It was cool and bug free out there again. Today I just worked Chance and Tucker.

Since I am pretty well convinced something it bothering Tucker in his hind end, if I do have a riding lesson on Sept. 20, I plan on taking Chance. This means I have to get him fit and ready. So I gave him a good session. He really looks to be a nice mover who will get better as he gets stronger and learns to carry himself through his back. He is very obedient on the line and was a good boy.

Tucker went well too. I do not see anything in his gait to hint of trouble. He has always had a habit of switching leads in the hind end and cross cantering on the lunge line, so that doesn't tell me much. What I plan on doing in the next week is giving him a couple doses of bute, letting it work, and then riding him to see if it makes a difference. If one of his joints is bothering him, he should feel better. If it is something muscular or a back issue, then it probably won't do much, if anything. No rush, though. I also need to leg him up a bit more and get him fitter before going haywire.

If the bute affects him, then I will likely call my vet and have him look at him and maybe even take some xrays....unless he sees it as the stifle in which case it's back to exercise to build up his muscles.

As I have said, at this point in my career, if Tucker cannot become an upper level horse, that's fine with me. I have no real ambition to compete any more. Kind of "been there, done that." Since I cannot afford a true Grand Prix prospect, I will just play with my Boys to see what I can teach them and enjoy the experience.

Hey, with Toby's training up to Intermediare I, (PJ too) all I need to do is teach one horse to piaffe and one to passage and I will have one Grand Prix horse by combining them! Perhaps I could invent a new class...."Who can to which movement?" So we will have a class for flying changes, one for piaffe, one for passage, one for pirouettes, one for half passes....etc. Evens out the playing field for those of us who do not own horses like Totilas or Ravel.

Cool.. Let me work on this. *LOL*

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Whacky Wednesday and Trot on Thursday

Is Autumn on the Way?

Lovely days both, but it did get a bit warm on Wednesday. I weed whacked again, this time in the back yard and around the exterior area of the barn. This included a horribly overgrown rosebed I had neglected. In the process I accidently whacked the only rosebush that had a blossom on it. It is now just a stick. If I feed it, it may come back before winter comes in, so I will try some tender care.

A very nice couple dropped by to look at my solar energy system. The company installed it referred them to me and they had called on Tuesday and actually driven by. But, the barn is in the back yard so they couldn't see anything from the road. We had a nice chat and I explained everything I knew about the system to them. Hopefully they will make the investment in a system for their home, mostly because we can all use as much energy savings as we can.

I ended the day with a nice long swim and a cruise along the lazy river. When I got home that was that. Once more I was worn out.

This morning, Thursday, I got up very early and fed the Boys. Then I went back to bed for an hour or so. I went back out again, thinking of some lunging and changed my mind. The Boys were hanging out in the arena and there were no flies about at all.

I brought Tucker in and rode him first. I didn't ask him to work in an upper level frame until the very end and that for only a few minutes of trot. The rest of his work was done on a lower level frame with lots of stretching. Something is definitely bothering him in his hind end. This time, though, it is when he is on the left lead. He is very cranky and breaks gait if I try to do a small circle. As a matter of fact, he was even cranky at first doing a twenty meter circle, so he was trying to tell me something. When his hock was bothering him, he would not take the right lead. So it's not the same problem. Could be that his right stifle is a bit weak. Right now, I will just see if I can leg him up to see if it makes any difference. No pressure. If it continues to bother him, I will get the vet out, but for now as long as he is not lame, I will just work it carefully.

Toby let me put the lead rope on him, so I rode him next. This would have to be one of the world's shortest workouts as he has had very little work over the last several months. We trotted around the arena three times in each direction, then cantered three times each way with a flying change on each hand. Then we walked a little and called it a day...and a carrot. He feels so sound. It is just wonderful to have an older horse go so well.

I collected Chance from the pasture where he had strolled when he saw me coming for him. But he was easy to catch, so no biggie. He too felt really good. There was no sign of his strange hind end unevenness which shows up now and then. At the trot, he worked nicely into the bit in a stretchy frame. Two things I need to work on are getting him more laterally supple and not allowing him to drop me into my right seat bone. He wants to carry me on the right which then allows him...on the left fall into the left, so I have to consciously sit more on my left seat bone....or evenly.

The nicest moment was our first canter depart on the left lead. He "slid" into a soft canter without throwing up his head for balance. And, he kept his head down as we cantered on. It was short lived success, however as after two circuits of the arena, he broke gait and then it was a little difficult recreating the same soft depart. The right lead was a head up affair as well, but again, it is a matter of both balance and suppleness. After I finished the basic,"let's just canter for a while to get fit" part of the ride, I worked a little bit of suppling/softening at the trot and then managed one little session of much better canter with a decent depart.

I actually think Chance has grown a little. I measured him this morning and he seems to be just about 15.3 h. I don't know how I look on his back, but he seems to fit me really well. Since Tucker is nearly 17h, there is quite a difference, but in this case it's a nice one. Chance is one special boy.

I also had another surprise yesterday when Paprika, the stray orange tomcat, showed up in the hay shed. I haven't seen him for months and was quite convinced he had met his maker. I can only guess he spent the summer visiting lady cats somewhere in the neighborhood. I tried to catch him two years ago to get him neutered, but the gate in the trap came unlatched and I lost him. I have a feeling he's too smart to fall for that again. I don't know how old he is, but he is apparently a survivor. He begs for food, and I give him nice dishes full of both canned and dry food. I have a little house for him with a nice foam pillow when he wants to take a nap. I think that's where he was when I went out to feed this morning. It is sad to think of him roaming about instead of settling into a good home, but there's not much I can do. I will continue to feed him and give him shelter for a long as he wants. I'm just glad he found his way back to his haven here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Whacky Day

The Bank Is Done

Lovely day again.

This time, though, I took advantage to get some work done outside. I hooked up the weed whacker and started in on the front bank. The grass and weeds had gotten really thick. It makes it hard to see when you pull out of the driveway.

It's rather a hazardous job with the traffic on the road too. Most cars and trucks do not slow down when they go past. And the often do not move over to give me a little extra room for safety. Luckily I somehow managed to pick a time when the traffic wasn't too bad. Only one big truck went by and when it did, I "hugged" the bank. As you may recall, this bank is nearly 200' long, so that took some time.

Then I did the trimming under the trees and around the front of the house. That still leaves the area along the side fence, the back of the house, and trimming around the barn area.

Claire would appreciate this. When I was done, my left hand was all tingley and weak. The vibration of the weed whacker had severely affected the nerves. It took quite a while for the sensation to go away.

I ended the day with a nice swim.

Thought about doing something with the Boys but was pretty worn out by that time.

Ain't as young as I used to be. *G*