Monday, November 30, 2009

On With the Shoe!

And Rain Predicted Again

Just as I had finished putting the Boys out to pasture, Scott, my farrier showed up to replace Tuck's lost shoe. The never ending saga of men and phone calls. Ah well. So, I brought Tucker back in.

Scott will be back to do the full shoeing either at the end of the week or perhaps next week, depending on how his schedule is, so I gave him my friend's phone number and will give her a "heads up," in case he calls while I am still in the hospital.

Speaking of. Although the laptop is kind of a neat idea, I am not supposed to take anything expensive in with jewelry, money, a computer would not be a good idea. I guess they worry about personal possessions getting lost or stolen during all the shuffling about. During my D&C I was in at least five separate locations. Besides, I have a feeling that at least for day one, I will not want anything near my lap. *G*

If all goes as planned, I will be operated on Thursday morning and I will spend Thursday night and, I guess Friday night, in the hospital and hopefully come home sometime on Saturday. I will not promise to blog before Sunday, however. But if I can think of some method of letting you all know how I am before that, I will try. Maybe I could get someone to send an email for me. Anyone care to volunteer to be the official email address?

We'll see how the day pans out here. Tucker's shoe is back on, so I can ride him, but the forecast calls for rain later. I also need to put up my Christmas decorations so that is out of the way. Tomorrow is partially set aside for grocery shopping to stock up on food--after my last physical therapy session. And Wednesday, I will be on a liquid diet all day, so who knows how I will be feeling--except grumpy.

Backatcha later.

Stringing in the Rain

Just to update. It started raining very early--before noon. I brought the Boys in around 2 PM or so. The "waterproof" sheets they had on are definitely not waterproof. So, Chance and Toby now have on real waterproof ones, and Tucker is locked in his stall in a cooler. I'll sheet him later when he dries off.

I did, however, manage to get the outdoor Christmas decorations up and all the lights strung and working, despite the weather. It's more showery then really steady heavy rain, so with a good jacket and hat, I stayed relatively dry.

When I go out to feed later, I'll put a bag of shavings in Tuck's stall so he will be happy even though he's in. I still have to put the decorations and lights on the barn and set up my little tree here in the house. Then, I am about as ready for the holiday as I can be this year.

Well, aside from wrapping presents. Think that might be a good project for recovery time. Nothing is very heavy and it might keep me amused. If not, people will just get presents in bags.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Change of Plans

Sunny Sunday

It was a gorgeous day. I left Tucker inside...still shoeless while I was in church. I had a beautiful solo in our choral piece this morning and it went very well, making a good start to the day.

Instead of going out to lunch, I came home because R, my young rider, was coming for a lesson. I cleaned stalls, picked the arena, put Tucker's boot on and turned him out for the afternoon. He, Toby, and Chance all shared the pasture and arena until the lesson started and then they all stayed out in just the pasture.

R. doesn't quite yet have the concept of making her horse round on her own, but with my help, she gets it nicely. I did have her do some elementary jumping exercises as well, because her mare tends to rush the jumps a little. By setting ground poles before and after the little fence, we were able to make her horse check her stride on her own, and start to jump in a more relaxed and correct way.

After we finished the lesson, I saddled Chance and got on him for a few minutes myself just to be sure he was not going to be silly. Quite a change from the other day when he was supercharged. He was quite his lovely self today, so I soon set R. in the saddle instead of me. She did a nice job of riding him. Again, the on the bit skill was a little beyond her, but every once in a while his head did come down where it belonged. Still, though, even with his head a bit higher than is should have been, he looked really nice.

However, he also looked really big. R. is a petite rider and it was quite a revelation to see someone her size on Chance. It altered my perspective pretty radically. I do not think of him as a big horse--compared to Tucker, he is small--but there was nothing small about him with R. on his back. And, his gaits are really nice too.

We'll see how it goes during my recovery. At least I know R. can ride him well enough, so that's a good start.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doesn't Look Too Promising

Windy Changes

Cool/cold and windy today and yesterday. I also had physical therapy yesterday, so that put me off riding. Today is even windier.

And, to top it off, Tucker lost his shoe again. My fault, I suppose as, since the wind had largely dried up the worst of the mud, I left him out all night. I guess that is not a good idea.

He is in now, although I may put him out later in the sunshine with a boot on for a little while. I have to be careful as the boot will chafe him if I leave it on too long. However, if it settles down tomorrow, I could possibly take him out for a woods ride with the boot on. It's not exactly a good way to ride at much more than a walk as one boot on and one off makes the horse too unbalanced.

Or, perhaps Scott will get here and put a shoe on. This week is five weeks since the last shoeing, so we are pretty much on target as far as their being due anyhow. I hope Scott had me on the list but I also hope he didn't have me scheduled for Thursday--that's surgery day.

I called him back to tell him and left a message, so we'll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

I will probably go pick up a load of feed today, but I'm not sure about any riding due to this wind. I am too close to the woods to risk getting hit by falling debris.

Which reminds me of the "why" of my caution. I attended an event where there were a good number of fox hunters and during the course of the evening, I heard a story of a young lady who was killed by a falling tree branch during a Thanksgiving foxhunt on a very windy day. I recalled that day, mostly because it was the year one of the big balloons at the New York Thanksgiving Day parade broke loose, hit a lampost and seriously injured some spectators. Both those stories have made me far less cavalier about riding in the winds--especially this time of year.

If anything interesting happens during the day, I'll be back. *S*

Thursday, November 26, 2009

And The Horses Talk

Preferences Made Clear

Curious rides today, but certainly, my horses make their opinions known.

I was thinking of schooling in the arena, but it was such a sunny, lovely day, that thought deteriorated as I saddled up. Tucker was first, and I decided to give him a short work in the arena and then go out into the woods.

Now, to set the stage. There is a water trough in the arena since I use that area for turnout on wet days. We circled the track, got to the trough, and Tucker stopped dead. He laid his ears back and balked when I urged him on. I loosened the rein and he dropped his nose into the trough and sloshed the water around. That was it. I turned him away, nudged him on again and around we went until we got back to the trough. He balked, I let him slosh and then we went on. Third time around the same balk, but this time I pushed through a few strides when a light bulb went on in my head. I dismounted, pulled the bridle off, keeping the reins around his neck so I could hold him, and let Tucker reach down again into the trough. This time, he sloshed and then started drinking. He drank quite a bit, then lifted his head, turned back to me and let me put the bit back into his mouth.

I remounted and we rode around the arena at all three gaits in both directions with absolutely no problem again--no balk, no ears back, just go.

So, Tucker was trying to tell me he was thirsty and simply could not work without first having a drink. Then, of course, he could not drink successfully with the bit in his mouth, so, while he couldn't exactly tell me that, I figured it out. It was a moment of listening to my horse and understanding what he was trying to tell me. We worked for a nice little bit and then went out for an equally nice ride in the woods. Tucker was a superstar out there, perhaps more than happy that I had listened to him about the drink.

Strangely enough, Toby seemed ready to go for a ride too, so I took him out next. Again, we took a nice ride through the woods. When we got back, I rode in the arena long enough to do some canter work just so we could do the flying changes together. Toby is a master of the flying change and they are so smooth and easy you hardly realize he's changed. It was a good reminder for me as to exactly how a change feels and how to cue for one.

Chance was last on the list, but far from the easiest today. He'd seen Tucker and Toby go out for a hack and was bound and determined to do the same. I would have taken him out, but he was far too excited, eager, and stubborn about it to go. Instead, I rode around the arena, first at a full speed trot with a bulging dive towards the woods gate each time we passed that. The canter on the right was hardly any better with leaning shoulders, out of balance rushing and rather dreadful steering. When I switched over to the left rein, the canter was a bit better, but the rushing and lack of balance were still there.

OK, there was a time when riding around at all three gaits would have tired him out and settled him down pretty quickly. Not so today. While he is not super fit, he is fit enough to express his opinion and keep up the "fizz" (as Muriel would say) for quite a while. I slowed him back to a walk, did some serious suppling with the reins until he finally decided to give to the bit and drop his head into a round frame and started off again.

This time, things were a lot better, though far from the best he has ever done. But the right canter had settled, needing much less correction and the left canter was excellent. Although I didn't time the ride, I suspect it took at least 30 minutes for Chance to get over his nonsense and start actually listening to me instead of the "Call of the Wild Woods." I did not reward him with the trail ride he wanted. While I do love taking him out, I will not do it when he is in charge. He will have to be obedient to the aids first and foremost.

Today, he was definitely not the kind of horse a young rider would enjoy. For a while, there, he wasn't the kind of horse any rider would enjoy. He never felt dangerous, but having to argue with him was certainly not fun.

Ah, well. It was Thanksgiving Day, and I was grateful to have three sound horses to ride and, as it turned out, the skill to ride them.

Hope your day had as much success.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There Will Come Soft Rains

And No Sunshine Today

The forecast was mistily right for today. It was damp out when I went to feed the Boys in the morning. But, since it had been dry for several days, I did not lock them in the arena and pasture. I wanted them to have full access to shelter. I also gave each one of them two flakes of the super tasty hay in their stalls.

Then I came inside to wait for the locksmith. My back door has been giving me trouble as I noted. He arrived around 9 AM and inspected the door. He found the problem with a bit of testing. The door has three dead bolt locks in it and the bottom one was slightly out of adjusment. I had to take the strike plate back to the shop to modify it. That took a little time, but the shop is really close by. When he got back, he fixed the lock and now the door seems to work really well. That was a relief.

I made some edamame bean salad to take to my friends' house for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and wasted a bunch of time on the computer. One of my teacher friends from school called to chat for a while and before long the afternoon was in full swing.

When I went out, the mist was decidedly a very slight, light rain. I opted for a quick lungeing session with Tucker and Chance. There's not much to report about their lungeing as both of them are quite beautifully behaved on the line. The biggest fault on their part is being too relaxed. Even the snap of the whip does not excite them. So I have to use quite a bit of body language to communicate more energy and I get a pretty good workout too.

They are now fed and Tucker is tucked in for the night.

This weather, however, is getting tedious. The constant overcast reminds me of a Ray Bradbury short story: "All Summer in a Day." If you want to read it, it can be found here:

By the by, my title quote is also a Ray Bradbury story which is really kind of fun...if you like being creeped out by science fiction stories. *G*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Physical Therapy

Timeout Tuesday

This was physical therapy day and chiropractic again--twice a week for now. I need to use up the appointments the insurance gave me before my surgery because after that, I can't do any real execise. Twice this week, however, and twice next...Monday and Wednesday, I guess...and that's that. I hope my neck holds out during the bulk of my recovery. It's been doing well and I haven't had any headaches, but I've been working the muscles and getting the adjustments. At least for the first week, I don't think I will be able to get adjusted. After that? Guess I will wait and see.

However, the chiropractic clinic also has an acupuncturist. I spoke to her very briefly today and to my wonderful chiropractor. Both tell me that acupuncture would be a big help in both managing my pain and in helping to speed my healing. If I add that to my recovery, it might make a big difference.

I will also be benefitted by cat purrs!! Believe it or not, there is some fairly sound scientific research indicating that the frequency of a cat's purr has healing properties. The frequency of the purr matches that of harmonic frequencies that are known to heal bone, tendons, and tissues. Since I have four cats with super wonderful purrs, I will definitely be four up on the catless households as far as my recovery goes. All I need to do is station them in their usual locations around me when I am in bed and the therapy will begin. *G*

PT takes nearly all morning. I do a bunch of exercises for my neck and shoulders with weights, rubber band thingies, a big rubber ball, and some general flexing motions. Then I get a massage with acupressure and I have to lie for some 15 mintues in a neck stretcher thing that positions my neck with a natural curve. Then I go for my adjustment which takes another 15-20 minutes. I got there around 9 AM and left close to 11 AM. If I get the acupunture, that will add even more time. Good thing I am retired!!

I then stopped at Home Depot on the way home to pick up some supplies I need to make things a little easier for my horse care people and to fix a few little things around the yard that need repair. And, I stopped at the locksmith as well to get some spare keys made for my helpers and to ask about my back door. The lock mechanism has been stubborn the last few days, and I am going to have an expert look at it to see if it needs some adjustments. Again, it's something I can cope with, but not something I want to impose upon people doing me favors with the horse/cat care. The locksmith is coming tomorrow to look at it.

Needless to say, with the adjustment, I had already decided not to do anything with the horses. Too bad, actually because as the remainder of the afternoon wore on the sun actually came out!! You all remember the sun? Big, shiny bright thing in the sky? I nearly needed my sunglasses when I drove over to the sand company to pay my hay bill.

Got home, did the barn chores, and fed the Boys. It's dark now, so no sun. Wonder if it will appear again tomorrow? It's turned into a real novelty.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughtful Ride

Mellow Monday

I did not sleep well last night. For some reason, I had a bit of a bout of anxiety about the surgery situation. I pretty much have everything under control, but I guess an occasional sense of worry is pretty normal. Not sleeping would have been OK, normally, but I had a breakfast date with a group of friends which included a meeting with my lawyer to finish signing my living will.

OK, so maybe that's what had me a little emotional about the surgery. I will guess most of you know what a living will or an advanced directive is. If not, it is, in short a legal document explains how you want to be taken care of should I no longer be able to make medical decisions regarding my care. This includes sustaining life by artificial means. In some ways, it's kind of a scary thing to do as it makes you contemplate your mortality, but at the same time, it's an important step to take.

Well, that said, the paperwork was finished up at breakfast and we all had a nice time visiting. When I got home, I ended up taking a rather long nap for most of the afternoon. But, my brain was still working.

My one friend is R's aunt and told me that R really enjoyed her riding lesson, so that was nice to hear. And, that lesson was a bit of an inspiration for me in several ways.

For one, R is getting a little big for her pony/horse. I have a feeling she would look just great on Chance. Since she/her mom will be helping while I am laid up, there should be some time for her to ride him. If that works out well, perhaps we can work out some way for her to do a bit more with him--perhaps even show him if she wanted to. I'll play it all by ear, but I kept saying he would be a perfect equitation horse for a young rider. It might give him something interesting to do beyond the training and riding I do with him.

The lesson also reminded me of the basic training issues I am still working out with Chance. The very things R's horse was doing wrong are the things Chance does--typical green horse not carrying himself well issues. So today, I gave him a pretty solid schooling session.

Chance is pretty soft to the left, but on the right rein, he tends to block with his shoulder. I find myself tending to ride too much off the right rein in an attempt to soften him on that side. But when I do that, he overbends his head and neck to the right and falls out to the left. That tends to put me too much on my right seatbone which then simply contributes more to his falling out.

After working a bit to get him to react to the left outside rein, I had to very consciously sit to the left--essentially straight. This brought his body back underneath me where it belonged. This was trickiest at the canter. As a lateral gait, it is very easy for the horse to one side or another at canter. Again, it is the right lead that poses a problem for Chance. When he does fall onto the shoulder, he breaks gait as he loses his balance. It's a relatively easy fix when you think about it, but lose focus for just a moment and....oops.

We finished up with a little more trot and a short ride through the closer wooded trails just as a relaxing reward since he'd worked so well for me.

I lunged Tucker for just a few minutes to see how he looked. Yesterday at the end of the lungeing session, he took a few limping steps on his left front again. He looked pretty good today, but I am still suspicious as when he trots on the right rein, he flattens his ears a little and makes a "face."

I am going to keep a close eye on this. When Scott comes to shoe again, I'm sure he will give that hoof a good going over in case there is a bruise somewhere. In the meantime, I will just take it easy and not insist on too much from him.

Rain is in the forecast again, but today there was only a super fine mist once in a while. I really hope it stays dry for a while so the footing stays good.

Or is that just too much to ask for this time of year?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surprise Sunday

So I Lunged Tucker

Choir/church in the morning, then out to lunch with the gang...I was going to opt out, but since it was my friends' wedding anniversary and the husband's birthday, I ended up going. I hate to not go out, anyhow, because it is a great group of people I really enjoy spending time with.

But, at lunch, I found out the wife had called me yesterday and left a message as she was hoping I could go out to dinner with them to celebrate the birthday. When I got home from all my Saturday adventures, I forgot to check my phone messages and missed out. I was disappointed, but perhaps would have been too tired anyhow, though I doubt it. So when I got home from church, I listened to my messages.

Oops. One of the potential riding student's mother had called to see if they could arrange a lesson today. There were two messages, for she had called again this morning. This was great as I was hoping to pick up a few students. I called back and sure enough, they were able to come.

That drastically changed my plans for the afternoon. I went out to the barn to clean stalls. Then I got everything ready for evening feed and went out to poo pick the arena--since is now part of the daily turnout. Once I'd finished all that, I had some leftover time, so I gave Tucker a lunging session.

He is quite the master on the lunge line now. I is a little lazy at the trot unless I push him along, but he is very obedient to the commands. I actually don't mind if he is a bit too relaxed on a day like today as all I really needed or had time for was an exercise session, rather than a training session. We finished up just at the trailer pulled into the driveway.

R, my student has a sweet little golden quarterhorse mare. R. is also an excellent rider with a good feel. This was proven out half way through the lesson when her horse suddenly came on the bit for us and a great big smile spread over R's face as she began to feel just how nice a forward, on the bit horse can feel. It wasn't long before she had figured out on her own how to combine her aids to get her mare to pretty much stay in the frame. It was much easier on the right rein, than the left, but there was a nice difference when her aids started to work.

I was really pleased with her progress. Since her mother is part of the crew that will be helping take care of my Boys while I am laid up, R may be able to come over to ride once in a while during my layup. I have offered to give some free dressage lessons in exchange. Once I am up and about, I figure R can learn a lot by riding Toby and Chance. Her cousin is the young rider who offered to help teach Tucker the flying change, so between the two of them, my horses may get some training attention over the next month or so. And, with a horse like Toby to ride, R may learn some really fun stuff. And, since Chance is not yet a "made" horse, she showed me today that she could also learn a lot riding him and developing his skills as well.

So, even though I did not ride as it was nearly dark when the lesson finished, I must say the surprise lesson made me feel a lot better about the horse situation during my recovery.

The Boys were cute as anything when the mare arrived. I'd left them in the pasture adjacent to the arena, but we were working at the opposite end so they could do little more than watch. But, for at least the first fifteen minutes or so, watch they did. It would have been the perfect time for me to have my camera. Ears up, eyes wide, and just total focus on the visitor made a gorgeous picture of three very handsome Boys. They really did look stunning.

But, they soon grew bored and went off to nibble on the little bit of grass left and then work on the hay piles I'd put out in the morning.

At least I thought the lesson was interesting. (Guess not. *G*)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Satisfying Saturday

Or Another Full Day At Follywoods

I was approved for more physical therapy, so I had a session this morning along with a chiropractic adjustment. That meant I wasn't going to ride, but would I have had time?

It was after eleven with I finished up at the chiropractor. Then I needed to go buy some cat food. Again, this is to stock up before my surgery. That meant a trip to PetSmart. Then, again in "stock up" mode, I headed for ShopRite to get some of the canned soup that was on sale.

I forgot it was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so shoppers were out in droves. I lucked out with a parking space close to the store, but everywhere there was traffic. I guess the Christmas shopping season is in full swing too.

When I got home, it was nearly one, so that meant time to take the second set of kitties for their rabies shots. It didn't start out well. Reggie was easy to find, but Church was hiding somewhere. I finally found him under the couch and the "chase was on!!" Once I'd closed all the doors to the other rooms of the house, I managed to corner him in the end of the hallway. He was really upset, but I managed to catch him.

Unfortunately, there was a moderately long line at the clinic. I would not have cared too much as the weather was nice, so that's good. But the bulk of the pets in line were dogs. Even that wasn't too bad as my kitties were in carriers, but right behind me a group of people came with three yappy, annoying little dogs--a Jack Russell terrier, a chihuahua, and a mini-daschund. The daschund would not stop barking with his high pitched yap. He was cute, but SOOOOO annoying. Then, the yellow labrador in front of me decided to pee on one of my cat carriers, much to his very nice owner's embarrassment. I had some paper towels in my pocket so I was able to clean it up pretty quickly, but I'm not sure poor Church, hiding in the back of the carrier, was too pleased. Then, when we got inside, the vet had me put the two carriers on the table and Reggie did and end swap in his, unbalancing it so it fell with a crash to the floor--Reggie still inside. Aside from being shaken up, he was none the worse for wear. That was clear when the guy helping the vet tried to pry him out for his shot. Talk about a Velcro kitty!! With the carrier completely tipped on its end, Reggie somehow managed to stick himself to the top. I finally had to reach in and get him myself. (Note here: Vets in the US have to be wary of insurance issues. If the owner handles the animal while it is being treated and gets injured, the vet can be sued!! Stupid, as far as I'm concerned, but I guess there are some idiot owners out there who have caused problems in the past.)

The afternoon was waning fast by the time I got back home with the kitties. I haven't seen Church since I let him out of the carrier, but I Reggie is back to his old outgoing self.

I was thinking I might lunge the Boys, so I went out to the barn to clean the stalls. Then I got preoccupied with setting up the new hose and reel for filling the water trough in the arena. By the time I finished that, I was worn out and my knees just wouldn't take any more.

I brought the Boys into the arena, and chased them around a bit with the lunge whip. Chance and Tucker really got into the spirit of the game, romping, galloping and bucking. Toby let fly a few times, but preferred to stand in the corner once he'd had enough exercise.

Carrots, treats and dinner for all ended another fall Saturday at Follywoods.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fruitless Friday

At Least Horsewise

It poured last night/early this morning. Torrential rain, thunder, and, I guess lightning, though I can't say I saw any. My little rain gauge fell over, so I don't know how much rain we had, but it sounded substantial. Paddocks, arena, etc. were pretty well soaked. Although the arena held up better than last time, partially due to my having dragged it and partially because a hard rain tends to run off instead of soaking in.

I decided that, at least for the morning, I would turn Tucker out in the arena, locking him out of the pasture. I did all the basic chores and fed the Boys their cubes in their stalls while I had breakfast. When I went back out to do turnout, lo and behold, Chance and Toby were out grazing on my lawn. Darn! In all my efforts, I had left the gate open when I'd rushed to turn off the water before the trough overflowed. Fortunately, they had found some nice lush grass close enough to the gate that they hadn't tromped all over the place making big hoofprints in the soggy ground. Big holes make it very bumpy when lawn mowing time comes. Guess I lucked out this time.

I brought the two vagabonds back in, and led Tucker out to the arena. Toby decided to follow close behind, so I ended up turning the both of them out together with Chance still in the paddock areas by himself.

It was a change of the normal configuration, but everyone seemed quite fine with it. The wind picked up for the bulk of the day, the sun came out, and by late afternoon I decided the pasture was dried out enough to let everyone out there as well. Chance needed no invitation to come to the arena gate to be out with his herd, so it was a virtually effortless exercise.

I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon in order to be cleared for my surgery. With a slightly longer than normal wait, my appointment, and then a trip to the pharmacy for a prescription, daylight was on fast fade by the time I got home again.

I cleaned stalls, changed the light bulb in Tucker's stall, fed the Boys and called it a day.

No riding, but with all the rain, perhaps the footing would have not been the best anyhow. Gee, do I sound like the fox and the grapes?? ---Well, my post title did say, "fruitless." *G*

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Threesome

Another Nice Day

Or the lull before the storm as rain is still predicted for later.

Footing in the arena was good, so I gave Tucker a fairly good school. I worked him in a frame at all three gaits, and did the basic exercises: 15 meter circles, 10 meter circles, shoulder in, half pass, and rein back. Canter lead changes were through just a trot stride or so, and he showed no signs of any obvious discomfort. I did still wonder a bit about the left front--the one he lost the shoe from repeatedly. Every once in a while, he MIGHT just take a little off stride there.

After the workout, I took him out on the woods trail. He had the most forward, businesslike walk you could ever want from a horse. I let him trot for just a few strides twice, but with the previous rains and the leaves over top of the ground, I do not trust the footing out there. So it was just a tiny bit of trot.

I managed to snag Toby next and I took him out for a ride in the woods as well. Unlike the other day, when I had to get off to lead him home, he was an angel. I think he actually enjoyed himself.

I finished up with Chance, taking him out into the woods without any schooling beforehand. I am sure he was delighted. However, as we walked along this time, I focused on how straight he was underneath me. He tends to lead with his right shoulder, fall a little to the right, and bend to the left in the process. Today, I kept correcting him with a little rein and some definite leg, pushing him back to the left so he was straight again. When he straightened out, he would drop his head down on to the bit and soften through his body. I'm sure it wasn't his idea of an ideal hack/trail ride, but he didn't seem to mind too much.

Everyone got a nice fat carrot as a reward once we were home again.

A good afternoon, and we didn't get wet after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Workout

Two on the Lunge Line

Spent the better part of the day doing....something. What, I don't know, but the time passed.

And the footing started to dry out just in time for more rain in the forecast. Showers. Whatever that may imply.

I decided to lunge Chance and Tucker. Again, not sure why. I just didn't feel like riding today.

Both were good boys. Not much to say when the responses to the "walk, trot, canter" commands are right on target and both horses moved along nicely on a circle around me. This keeps them at least a little fit, so it's good. But it doesn't make much progress in the dressage training except for the obedience.

After I tucked Tucker in for the night, I started up the tractor. I had to put air in one front tire again, but it wasn't as flat as it's been in the past. No sound of a leak, but there must be a slow one.

Then after a bit of doing--needed to clean out the leaves and grass--I hitched up the arena drag and headed out to do some arena grooming. If it does rain again, the surface will at least be level and loose, so perhaps it won't get as soggy as the last time.

Darkness closed in as I finished, so here I am, back at the blog. Once again, some work accomplished on another nice cool fall day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Tweaking

And More On The Medical World

I had my physical therapy and a chiropractic adjustment today, so I did not work the Boys...again. Also, since I slept so badly last night, I ended up needing a nap in the afternoon.

I did, however, accomplish something which is the bulk of my Christmas shopping. I still have a gift cards to buy for my cousins, but the bigger stuff is done. We have a store here in the USA called Kohl's which carries all kinds of nice clothes, gift items, linens, and household goods. Their prices are usually good to start off with, but this time I had a 30% off everything in the store coupon--and that included sale items. I ended up buying a memory foam matress topper for my own bed, already marked down 50% with another 30% off that sale price. I have a good matress already--one of those air filled ones you can adjust for firmness, but I have been having some back issues likely related to my medical problem, so I figured this might help. Besides, when I get home from my surgery, I will need the best bed option possible.

All that said, I got some nice sweaters for gifts, and a few other presents, nearly completing my holdiday efforts. I will have to check my list again to see if I forgot anything, but I think I'm nearly there. I will be putting up the inside tree--an artificial one--and the outside lights and decorations right after Thanksgiving, so I won't have to worry about any of that after my surgery.

And yes, Mary Ann, I am going to stock up on edibles as well. I've already scoured the recent supermarket flyers for deals on things I might want to eat while I am laid up. I'm going to make sure most of it is "easy cook" to save me some work, but aside from cans of soup, I'm not into too many prepared foods. But, if there is a deal, I might get a few just to be safe.

Hay is not a problem as that is delivered and I still have a fair amount. I just bought grain, but I will have to stock up again just before I go to the hospital. I only have a limited amount of storage, so I can't really load up too much. And I would also worry that grain stored too long in this damp weather might go bad. Again, I do not have to load it at the feed store, and I have lined up some "muscle power" to do any such heavy work here once I get the grain home.

Meantime, for at least a little while, my physical therapy is at a standstill. Once again, the insurance company requirements complicate things. Last time they allowed me nine visits before I needed to re-apply. Re-application requires an exam report by the physical therapist and a session with a referring medical doctor. Then, I might get nine more visits, or six, or whatever whimsical choice the insurer makes. This, of course will run into the period when I am laid up for my surgery, so until I recover from that, I will not be able to use whatever visits I am granted. At that point, I will have to go through the re-evaluation process all over again!

In order to have my surgery, the surgeon recommended and scheduled the surgery. But then, I had to have pre-admission testing at the hospital, and then the reports are sent to my primary care physician and I have to see her for another exam and her approval. Hopefully all of the running around will not push my blood pressure up too high, thus causing questions as to whether or not I can have the surgery as scheduled!!

All of these visits add up to the costs of medical care, that's for sure. I suppose caution is important, but surely there must be a more efficient way to accomplish the same ends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Moodiness

And Medical Tests

I had to go to the hospital for pre admission testing...a repeat of what I had done just over a month ago. Then I have to go to my primary care physician for another looksee to OK me for my surgery. The drive down to the hospital is about 35 miles away, so it takes just under an hour, accounting for traffic lights and traffic. (40-45 minutes with no delays)

I had to leave just after noon time, so I really didn't have a lot of time to do any "horsework" beyond the basics. Instead, I spent some time gathering up some paperwork I need to send off and making copies of documents needing filing.

The hospital was quite efficient and I hardly had to wait at all. Apparently, my appointment was at a super good time. The nurse told me they had been really busy all morning long and I had arrived just at a lull. I'd even found a parking place right next to to door! Blood work, EKG, a bunch of questions, and I was done, heading home. I'm nearly set up now for the surgery provided everything checks out as I hope it will.

Grabbed a quick bite at McDonald's on the way, arrived home and changed my clothes to go out to the barn. Cleaned the stalls, and went out to catch Tucker. I was planning on a short schooling session in the arena. But, it turned out the footing was a lot wetter than I expected. I am going to have to give it a good grooming with the drag tomorrow to help it dry out and even out. What I don't like is that some of the soggier places seem to be a bit more slippery than I would have expected.

So, plan changed and instead I rode Tucker out on his trail in the woods. Again, we ran into several wetter than usual places, but for the most part the footing was pretty good. Tucker behaved himself really well again, so I was pleased.

I had a mind to ride Chance too, but for some reason, I was far too tired. I don't know if it was the long drive, or just a general lack of energy, but I surrendered to it. Instead, I poo picked the arena to prepare it for dragging, fed the Boys and came back into the house to blog.

All Quiet on the Sunday Front

And A Rather Hot Day

I went to church, went to lunch with my choir friends, and got home in time to change into something cooler so I could drive over to the tack store for the big $1000 drawing. The temperature was over 70 F, too warm to do much with three horses sporting their winter coats.

I didn't win. Again. I have been going for at least 10 years, perhaps more, and still no luck.

I did see Lisa Post there and we had a nice chat while we waited for them to draw the winning number. Lisa owns and operates Helping Hearts Equine Rescue in Perrineville, New Jersey, not far from my home. Some of you here in the US may have received emails from me to vote for Helping Hearts at the animal rescue site so the rescue can win a cash prize.
I am not sure if overseas Internet visitors can vote too, but if so, I'd surely appreciate your support for the rescue. Voting is free, and each click earns food for shelter pets as well. Once you click on the first page, look for the "Vote Now" button at the top of the page, click it, search for Helping Hearts Equine Rescue in New Jersey, vote, and then identify the animal in the picture.

But now that I have digressed, Lisa has done a remarkable job rescuing horses from the "kill pen" at the very local horse auction. She brings some of the horses to her own farm for rehabilitation/training/adoption, and manages to find foster or permanent homes for many more. She is by no means against euthanasia as an ulitmate end for horses with no hope of recovery, but does try to give all of them the best care, medical attention, and kindness possible instead of the horrible end at a slaughter house in Mexico or Canada.

Here on our continent, horse slaughter is far from humane, and is not at all a kind end. I know that may not be so in Europe, but until something is done to change the situation, horse rescues like Helping Hearts are trying to do their part.

However, there is a good flip side as well. Many of the horses sent to auction, are sound, healthy animals their owners no longer have a use for. Lisa has recently rescued two yearlings--a Thoroughbred and a Hanovarian--both with wonderful potential as riding/competition horses. For whatever reason, they too ended up in the kill pen, but now, both should have bright futures in new homes.

It was, as always, a pleasure to talk to Lisa and hear of her plans to expand the rescue so she can take in more horses. I wish I were in a position to do more myself, but I have no room here for another horse. As it is, three pushes the limits of my acreage. But, I am ever hopeful I will win a wonderful sum of money and some point and then be able to help out in a real way.

For now, I can just dream, and do what I can to support Helping Hearts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And Still It Rains

In A Heavy Mist During the Day

But, it had rained enough during the night to make everything a soggy, muddy mess again. I did put Tucker out in the arena again, but all day long it was either showering a shower or misting a mist. Darn hurricane. It is going to take a while for things to dry out, that's for sure.

I did the outside chores and came inside to do the inside chores and do some more cleaning--the perpetual task. Suddenly, when I was nearly 2 PM, I remembered that the Township was running day one of the free rabies inoculation clinic for dogs and cats. My plan had been to take two cats today and two next week presuming that there would be a line and I could only carry two cats in their carriers at a time. I didn't want to leave the other two in the car for very long, especially since my kitties are all indoor cats not used to the outdoor temperatures.

As it turned out, there was hardly a line at all and the whole process took less only about fifteen minutes. Had I only known!! By that time, I did not have enough time to get back home, pick up the second two cats and take them over. Well, I just MIGHT have made it if Church, the gray cat, had not melted into the shadows and disappeared somewhere in the house. It would have been really tight, but I just might have made it.

Oh, well, that just means I have to take Reggie and Church next week. Hopefully, I will remember an hour sooner so I don't have to feel so rushed.

When I got back home, I decided to go to the feed/tack store as they are having a 20% off sale on everything including feed. I picked up some alfalfa cubes, stopped by the hardware store to get some hose couplings on the way home, and got back in time to feed the Boys.

The misty rain stuff was getting more persistent on the way home, so I just gave up the idea of working the Boys. Too wet in the arena anyhow. All we'd be doing is puddle jumping.

I put a brandy new sheet on Tuck today and so far, it survived.

Oh, yes, as for the snowman's "Let it Snow" comment. I don't agree with it either. I much prefer the sweatshirt I have with a little gumpy snow bird sitting on a branch. His motto?
"Let it snow....somewhere else."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hurricane Passing By

Tucker waits for dinner.
So I Took Pictures

Hurricane Ida was coming up the coast all day. I figured it was going to rain hard, but it never did. I'd put Tucker out by himself in the arena and ended up taking an unexpected nap for most of the supposedly rainy afternoon. It did rain...sort of, but nothing like what I'd expected.

When I went out for evening feed, what did I find? Turned out all by himself looking like this?
H-m-m-m-m-m. No place to rip that sheet inside the arena. I wonder.....

Could this innocent face have something to do with it????

Or, more likely, this one?
A portrait of seasonal contrasts. The leaves are golden and the holly bright red. And look who's waiting on the front porch for the holidays!! (Just put him in place of the jack 'o' lantern. *G*)
Wonder if it will rain tonight as predicted?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Forecast Was Right

Raining at Follywoods, So I Watched the Reining

When I went out to feed in the morning, it was OK--gray and cloudy, but still dry. That changed rather quickly. I did leave Tucker out anyhow, after I had dressed him and the other two Boys in their slightly more than lightweight waterproof sheets. He will have to stay in tonight, I fear, hopefully with both shoes still on.

I did some cleaning inside again in the never ending project of trying to get the house in order, but I am a dreadful housekeeper and there is still much to do. And, I spent a good bit of time watching the Euroreining Futurity which was being broadcast live on the Internet. Muriel had posted the link on her blog and I finally had a chance to visit.

Well, I soon became quite captivated watching the performances. Reining is, essentially, like a western riding dressage test with various required movements and a set pattern all competitors in a class must ride. (There are freestyle tests, too but that was not on the card for today..tonight.) This was the International Limited Open Class for four year olds. I watched the first few rides, trying to figure out the scoring. Then, I went to a few websites to see exactly what was required of each of the exercises so I could try to guess what kind of scores each ride would get.

At that point, once I had a benchmark score of 218--high score of the early rides--I began to estimate what each ride I watched would earn. I am happy to say that I got pretty darn good at it! Two of the later rides--the last one, especially--really impressed me. The ride was smooth, especially the transitions between required gaits. The horse was not overbent as some of the others were, and the rider was very subtle with his aids. The pair: Spark N Whiz ridden by Paolo Orlandini . Sure enough they earned the high score of the night at 219.5. Turns out this horse has quite a background, and was a reserve European champion last season, so he was one of the class horses in the field. But I was really pleased to have been right in my assessment of his performance.

What was interesting to me was that head carriage did not seem to be a vital issue. A good number of horses were really low in front and nearly behind the vertical. Others were totally "open" in front, and some carried their heads in a more traditionally accepted dressage frame, opening up for the extended gaits, and going into the sliding stops. As a matter of fact, the winning horse had that kind of frame, and yet was very quiet about varying his head according to the exercise. To me, it demonstrated a horse really working through his whole body to his his front end. Just a nice, overall picture.

So, while I did not ride my own Boys because of the weather, I had a good lesson inside. I have always admired good reining horses, but now I have a much better understanding of what is good and bad about required movements and just how the exercises should be performed.

If you want to check out the live video--making adjustments for the time difference in Italy--here is a link:

It's kind of like dressage on fast forward. *G*

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No New News

But Some Reflection Instead

Because of yesterday's comments, I decided to fill some space with thoughts about horses and stuff. I had my physical therapy and an adjustment this morning, so since the day was kind of dreary, I opted out of working the horses. I rained just a little, stayed cool and breezy, never quite turning into a nice day, but not miserable either--just dreary.

At my PT, we figured out a gallon of water weighs in at just a bit over 8 pounds. That means that for four weeks after my surgery,I can't lift even the small 8 quart *2 gallon* bucket filled with water will be too heavy. For those "across the pond" who read my blog, ten pounds is about 4.5 kg. One gallon is about 3.78 liters and would weigh in at a bit over 3 kg.

I guess I will have to weigh my flakes of hay too. A full bale is out of the question, that's for sure, but how much does one portion weigh? Will I be able to feed the horses? The grain is fine as long as don't have to move a bag of the stuff. Each horse gets around 2 pounds--just under 1 kg--each feeding. But how much does the hay weigh per serving? I have to laugh a bit at this because more average women are not used to lifting the kinds of weights we horsepeople are, so perhaps to them, 10 pounds is a far more comprehensible and sensible limit than it is for me.

Oh, and all my cats are too heavy too. They all weigh in at over 10 pounds--I do not "grow" small cats here. Guess they will have to get used to my not picking them up for extra cuddles for the duration.

As for "hacking," it is a more British than American term, but I do like it. It's always been trail riding for me, however, in the past. Sometimes, it does mean kind of "hacking" your way along as Chance and I did the other day through the weeds along the edge of the corn field. Or, sometimes, I might try to blaze a new trail through the woods. *note to self: need to check out that one path I thought I might be able to use*

And as for the bucking. Toby and Tucker are masters at it. Toby does not often, anymore, choose bucking as a reaction to things, but when he gets overstimulated and does his "Thoroughbred Space Out,"--attention, brain is leaving body--bucking just becomes his mode of expression. Tucker, on the other hand, doesn't have to "space out," but will choose bucking as a form of intentional protest. My former trainer, Chris, told me that conformationally, Tucker would use bucking as his evasion. Apparently his short back just makes it easy for him. Bless their little hearts that neither one uses rearing as a main option, but I am always wary. That is one vice I dread.

As for who "invented" bucking, I'd blame the first predator that ever jumped up on an equine back. Unfortunately for us humans, horses do tend to revert to their survival instincts when threatened. Some horses are quicker to that mode of thinking than others, of course--so far Chance hasn't thought of that option--and my Thoroughbreds tend to be a little reactive.

Which brings me to spooks--another survival instinct. Of my three, Toby is definitely the master. He has a huge sideways spook when something frightens him, but most of the time the first spook does not tend to escalate. He's kind of a "boy, that really scared me...let's just walk off now" kind of horse. Tucker generally will stop dead, look, then either decide the thing is not scary or else whirl around and try to run off. Once he does get scared, he tends to hold on to it for a while, taking a bit to settle--and during that time is when he might decide to buck if I try to hold him back from running away. While Chance does spook, and I've had him do the spin and run once or twice, he is more and more the spook in place and "just let me have a look" kind of horse. I am growing more and more fond of his style. *G*

None of my horses is suitable, at the moment, for beginner riders. Tucker is too unpredictable. At times, he is too lazy and at other times too reactive. Toby is too sensitive to the aids, but under controlled conditions, he makes a great lesson horse. Chance's flaw, at the moment, is that he is just not well enough trained as far as I am concerned. Of the three he is the safest, and most level headed, but until a horse is really reliable to the turning, stopping, and "going" aids, I don't consider him a good horse for an inexperienced rider. Besides, he still acts as if he would walk into a tree while he is "sightseeing" out on the trails. *lol*

If the weather holds, I might do some longlining tomorrow instead of riding. Both Chance and Tucker need to so some serious on the bit suppling, and my being on the ground is the best way to get that done. The question, as always, is whether the weather will cooperate, as rain seems to be in the forecast.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ride And A Half

Coward's Way Out

Again it was a really nice day--cloudy, but nice. Did the barn chores in the morning, hung around doing nothing really worthwhile except to make a casserole and headed back out in the afternoon.

Cleaned stalls and under both run in roofs. Then I got Chance and took him out on a trail ride/hack (for all you Brits). This time I headed out to the Christmas tree farm by going along the edge of the Halloween pumpkin field. The only think that bothered Chance was one "dead" pumpkin lying in a pile of pulp in front of us. Out of respect for the dear departed, we detoured around and continued on.

Then I had to make a decision. Right to go along the Turnpike with all the noisy trucks and cars racing by--while at a distance of several hundred feet, still pretty disturbing--or left to go up along the edge of my road with trucks and cars whizzing by, but not so many. Since there were all kinds of things set up in preparation for the tree sales, I decided to go left, only to realize at that end of the driveway track, there were signs, barrels and banners advertising the tree sales.

Once again, however, Chance scored an A+ for taking all of this in stride including a bunch of farm machinery, a big huge black plastic pipe thing and items stored under blue tarps! He walks cautiously, attentively, but also bravely past it all. Once back on the dirt lane between cornfields, he marched along and even decided to head further away from home to go back the long way through the woods. What a great trail horse he is proving to be.

I rode Tucker next, giving him a short workout in the arena again, this time asking him to be even more on the bit for the most part of the session. Then we too headed out for a trail ride/hack in the woods. He was bold, forward, and very relaxed so when I got to the fork in the trail to either head home or head out to the ridge above the lake, I chose the ridge. That seemed to please Tucker who was enjoying himself....

Until....we got to the clearing that opens to the lake and we heard whistling and calling. There was a hunter out there with his dog. Trouble was, he was mostly noise and disturbance without being clearly visible through the tall weeds and bushes. Tucker, quite in contrast to Chance, assumes most "new" things are dangerous. He started dancing around. While he may well have settled if he'd actually gotten to see the hunter--but I am not so sure about the dog--the moments in between were getting darn scary.

Now, please note, Toby has a twisty buck and Tucker has a "rocket launch" buck with a ton of air time from an absolute standstill. Give him the piaffe impulsion he was building up today and we would have had major liftoff. And since I was the one destined to lift off, I decided to get off instead.

Call me coward, but I just don't have the seat to ride too much of that kind of stuff anymore. Then again, leading an excited 16.3 h Thoroughbred along a woody trail is not the easiest task either. Times like that all the training you've done previously on the ground really comes into play. I had to remind him dozens of times that it was fine to crane his neck and prance trying to see where that evil hunter/dog was, but that climbing all over me when he did so was not proper behavior.

By the time we reached the "safe" part of the trail home, there was no place for me to climb onto something tall enough to remount--I can't get on from the ground with my knees--so I had to lead him all the way home. Once back, I remounted in the arena and rode for a bit more, just asking for some basice obedience.

The best part was when I halted and asked for a rein back. He kept his head nicely down and stepped back about five lovely lateral backing strides, then moved forward as soon as I asked him to. At that, I dismounted and called it a night.

A ride and a half isn't too bad when the half ends well.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Three Outs

Lovely Day For A Hack or Three

Yesterday, Sunday, was booked up with singing and lunch. I only went out with the choir crowd because an old friend was dropping by. That took up enough of the afternoon after church that I had to get home in time to check my dress out for the evening.

I was singing, dressed in a colonial gown, at a speech on slavery in New Jersey presented by my good partner in preservation, James. His daughter was singing one song, and I two to accompany his talk. James and I have done this before, so despite its being a last minute request, it was easy to do. It was a great evening.

Today, the weather was warm again, and dry. I put the Boys out in the morning, let them enjoy the sunshine and went out later in the afternoon to ride.

Tcuker was up first, and I worked him just for a short time in the arena. He may be a little "off" on his left front, but if so, it is so slight, I hardly notice it. It may be my paranoia, but until I am sure, I don't want to work him too hard. The better part of it was that he was just fine to canter on both leads. Whatever was bothering him in the hind end doesn't seem to be a problem now.

Then, I took him out on a hack in the woods. The leaves were crunchy underfoot and the air was delightfully warm in the fading sun. It was a perfect ride.

Chance and I worked next with a solid little session in the arena. My goal was first to work him until he stopped trying to bend his way to the gate going out to the woods. He will either try to go to the gate or slow down almost to a stop when we get there, making it really obvious that he wants to go out on a hack. The second part of the goal was to start getting him more reliably soft on the rein. He tends to lean on his right rein and shoulder, so I did some suppling to work that out a bit. Once I had made some headway on both goals, I headed out for a nice ride through the woods.

When I got back to the barn, Toby was making it clear that he too wanted some attention by coming into the aisle of the barn every time I left a stall gate open. On the second entry, I put a halter on him, finished up with Chance and then saddled up. Truth be told, Toby seemed quite pleased to be a part of the action.

Out on the trails, Toby was the perfect gentleman, quite unlike the other day when I had to take him home on foot. He was settled down before we left as the other two Boys were hanging around close by, and when we left, Tucker was in the arena, supervising as we went out the gate.

Beautiful weather and three good horses to ride. It was definitely a worthwhile day.

I've left Tucker out for the evening. The mud is drying up, although it's not all gone, but I am hoping he will keep his shoe on in the meantime.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Well, Maybe Sound

Just a Hint of a Limp...Maybe

Chiropractic and physical therapy again this morning--I go twice a week. Then, after doing nothing for an hour or three, I headed to the feed store to stock up on grain and some shavings.

Came home, unloaded the truck and decided to do some lungeing, since I really don't like to ride after an adjustment.

I took Tucker out first. He looked essentially sound on that front foot, but I say "essentially" because every now and then I thought I saw a little head nod. I am sure when he pulled that shoe the second time he probably did some damage to the hoof wall and it may well be growing down so that every now and then he feels something. He looked super going in the other direction, so whatever it is is on inside of his hoof. At any rate I gave him a full lungeing session, and he didn't object.

Toby kept walking away, very clearly letting me know he wanted no part of any kind of work, so I let him be.

Chance bopped right over and practically stuck his head in the halter. But despite his rather eager surface work ethic, once he gets out on the line he doesn't make any extra effort. He takes this nice little steady trot and prefers his special little collected canter on the left lead. On the right, the canter is not as well balanced, so he goes faster, but I must say he doesn't expend a lot of energy unless I chase him. Tonight, I didn't bother too much. He was just too cute for words.

Fed them all and just remembered I forgot to give the working boys their extra treats. When I go out for late feed I will make up for it by giving everyone an apple.

Weather has been super and looks to stay that way for at least the next week!

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Little Worrisome

Windy Afternoon

It was rather windy most of the day, enough to put me off from being outside since the temperature was in the 40's. But then, my friend Shelley called to tell me she was going to stop by to pick up some scenery I had stored in my attic, so that set me to a quick cleaning frenzy, doing all the things that needed doing within about two hours.

When Shelley arrived, I had the scenery (A painted drop--which is a huge piece of fabric painted with a background for a play) downstairs waiting for her. So we were able to have a nice little visit.

I'd gotten the call from the doctor, scheduling my surgery for December 3, so at least that mystery is solved. As usual, there are tests to be done and I have to get a clearance from my primary doctor as well, so more time and effort will be consumed on all of this.

I finally went out later in the afternoon as it looked as if the wind had died down and I was hoping to take the Boys out for some hacks in the woods. But I was wrong, it was still windy. So I decided to play with Tucker and Chance in the arena. I got the lunge whip and popped it at them and before you could take a breath, they were off, romping around in circles, and occasionally free jumping the little jump. Every time I simply stood there, they stood looking at me, waiting for me to send them off again for a free lunge session. They easily could have gone out to the pasture to get away, but both of them stayed in the confines of the arena, running and playing.

When I dropped the whip, they both came over to me for a little cuddle and, of course, whatever treats I had stashed in my pocket. I'd kept Toby out of this by letting him into the area by the barn and he seemed quite content just to watch.

But the "worrisome" in the title? I thought I saw Tucker limping when I let him out into the barn paddock. So I got the lunge line, put it on him and took him back out to the arena. Sure enough, he was limping on the same leg where he'd pulled that shoe weeks ago. When Scott was here to shoe he said he still felt some heat in that foot so it is possible something is brewing and all the running around aggravated it. Or, he might have just hit something or taken a bad step and temporarily done something. He will be in his stall all night anyhow, so I'll just see how he is in the morning.

As the sun sank lower on the horizon, the wind died down at last so I saddled up Chance to take him on a hack. Chance is the first horse I've ever had who moves faster on the way out than on the way back. His enthusiasm for trail rides is quite obvious as he wants to trot out the gate. We took it easy for the most part as in places the footing was a little slippery. We took the upper trail on the way to the lake and circled back into the woods for a nice little change of pace.

Nice ride and we got back home just as the sun started to set. Darkness falls quickly this time of year, but I did have enough time to poo pick the arena before the light faded.

Another day with "things" accomplished.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thanks Everyone

Good Wishes and Advice Always Appreciated

Still no word on the date of my operation, so I am waiting.

In answer to comments, I will have to have the full incision, not laparoscopic surgery. I did discuss this with my surgeon, but apparently I am not a good candidate. However, according to the doctor, the basic full recovery time is the same, I guess the hospital stay is just a little longer.

I ended up just lungeing Tucker and Chance today. I set up a little jump--about a foot just for variety. When I was working Tucker, Chance was still in the arena as I hadn't been able to easily herd him out when I brought them all in for the work.

For the most part, he stayed out of the way until I switched directions with Tucker. Then Mr. Chancypants decided to start romping around the arena. Bless Tucker's heart that he hardly reacted at all to the galloping idiot. But what was cute was that Chance jumped the little jump all on his own three or four times, with lots of extra air time! He was really soaring as if he were trying to show off.

Still, Tucker ignored him...good boy, and when he jumped, he kept his composure and did some nice relaxed work.

I lunged Chance anyhow, despite his solo exercise routine. Again, the funny thing with him is that he far prefers his neat little canter to trotting, so I had to check him up a few times to keep the trot. Trot builds muscle and canter develops stamina, so he needs lots of trot to gain strength. I do love his canter, though, so seeing him so willing to offer it is nice. And, he's pretty good about taking the correct lead nowadays.

After I finished the lunge work, I cleaned out under the run in roof on Chance's side, so that looks a lot better.

Not exactly what had planned, but still something worthwhile finished for the day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Medical Leave

AM and PM

Doctors all day today. Chiro and physical therapy in the morning and my surgeon in the afternoon.

Nothing to report on the horse front, except that I will probably not be able to do much work for four weeks after my surgery--hysterectomy. Joy, joy. Don't know when it will be yet, but perhaps I will in a day or so.

My friend Donna, who lives not to far away, said she will be able to help with the horses. These are the times when having knowledgeable horse people in the area really makes a difference. Hopefully I can work it out to be a minimal imposition on her.

I figure I should be able to do most of the basic feeding. I don't have to carry hay bales, just flakes, and as long as the grain is in an accessible place that's OK too. Watering is another problem, but an addional hose the barn will help out there. I have one hooked up to the outside trough by the run in, so I need another one for the outside tub in the arena. It will be fine if all is taken care of before things start to freeze up.

So, complications at Follywood seem to be building, but so far it looks as if all will cope well with the situation.

Hope the weather holds tomorrow. Things seem to be drying out a little. I might be able to get some chores done and work a horse or two, or three.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bouncy, Jouncy, Fun, Fun, Fun

The Wonderful Thing About Toby is He's the Only One!!

Ok, gorgeous day, at last, sunny an warmish. Election Day, so I needed to go vote, and on the way home I dropped off some bags of clothing in the Red Cross charity bins.

I decided to ride any horse that came my way, and to my surprise, Toby let me catch him almost at once. I guess he wanted some attention. I lured Chance and Tucker out to the pasture with some hay cubes and locked them out there so I could use the arena without being molested.

I decided to take Toby out for a hack in the woods. While he was standing on the crossties, he was whinnying and dancing around because his buddies were out of sight. I should have heeded the warning. We headed out and were about five minutes into the ride when the bouncy, whinnying prelude came to full head. What you must understand is that Toby has tossed me off before with his nonsense. He has an even bigger buck than Tucker and adds an athletic twist for good measure. He was lifting off even at a standstill and though I tried to circle him to settle him back down, I wasn't having any luck. I finally dismounted for my own safety's sake.

I led him the rest of the way, not letting him stop to nibble on anything all the way home. Once back, I mounted up in the arena and gave him a workout. It wasn't long, but I did a lot of circles and changes of direction, over and over. Then, I took him back out for the mini-loop trail just behind the barn and he was fine. All the frantic behavior had stopped, so I accomplished something.

I rode Chance next, with a moderate workout in the arena as a start. This for training, and also because he kept trying to go out the gate to the woods. I actually got some nice work from him, although he still can be difficult to get down on the bit with consistency. But he does feel quite nice when he's "there."

We went for a hack afterwards and this time, for the first time, I decided to take him around the cornfield. Nothing too dramatic, or so I thought. But, as if turned out, there were a number of "scary things" to negotiate--a big truck parked across the trail so we had to detour, some pipes, various farm equipment, traffic going by on the road, and a camper trailer. I am pleased to report that the worst Chance did when faced with these "things I have never seen before" was stop and stare until he was sure nothing was jumping out at him. Then he went on by.

A good horse by all accounts.

I finished up with Tucker, but by that time I was pretty worn out and my knees were hurting. I gave him a short school in the arena, pleased to find him quite willing to canter off the aid without any protests. I ended the session with some canter/trot one stride change/canter, once again starting the basics for the flying changes. I will definitely have to develop his canter more before I actually attempt to school them and I also need to be sure that whatever physical issues that have been bothering him in the hind end are resolved. If it is his hocks, I don't want to stress him unnecessarily.

Then I took him out for a mini hack on the trail loop behind the barn. I was heading back when I suddenly realized I wasn't wearing my helmet!! I had a winter head thingie on under my helmet when I rode the other two Boys, but something in it was rubbing, so I'd taken off my helmet when I was grooming Tuck and I'd forgotten to put it back on! Paranoia struck hard, and in about two more strides I dismounted and simply led him back the rest of the way.

I never want to be on a horse without my helmet and somehow I'd managed to ride Tucker the whole time without one. Thank heavens nothing happened. Id been lulled into a false sense of security by my head covering. Since I've been riding without anything under my helmet all season long, I simply felt something on my head and thought I was OK.

Mental note to self....DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lunging Between Puddles

Tucker Doesn't Like to Get His Feet Wet

As I am still preoccupied with the closet effort inside--I did dig the bed out today--I didn't go out to work the Boys until late afternoon. By then the arena, aside from the few low spots with puddles was pretty nice.

If I were to drag it now, it would be quite good, but with the time change and my house cleaning, I didn't get the tractor out there. Might make it tomorrow, which would be good.

So, on the lunging circle, no matter where I did in in the arena, there were some puddles. Tucker is a "neat freak" about it and will either jump over, skip through, or dance around the water if there is any way at all to do it. It's probably just as well that I didn't try to ride him as he would have frustrated me no end with his skippy steps. At any rate, we did get a good lunge session in as long as I allowed him to pick the line of his circles so that he could avoid the wet.

Chance wasn't quite as neat, so he also had a good lunge session. I must admit, he is getting to be a better and better mover in his trot as he learns to use himself. His right canter has improved tremendously too and he seems far more able to balance himself on that lead. The left canter is cute. He can go around in a super collected little relaxed gait. Muriel--you'd love it! But for dressage, I need to move him out a bit more, so I did insist he go on with a little more forward stride.

Then, I lunged him over jump set at about 2'3". He was super! Once again, I think he would make a nice hunter/jumper/equitation horse if I should ever decide to play around with that again.....not likely. But I do love seeing one of my horses eager and willing to jump with decided athletic form. As far as I'm concerned, it just adds to their "specialness."

I gave Toby a quick groom so he wouldn't feel left out, and fed everyone some carrots with dinner.

The rain seems to be gone for now. Maybe it will stay away long enough for it to dry out.

Sunday Monday....SUNday???

Bit Of a Guilt Trip

When I fed Sunday morning, it was horribly wet and muddy everywhere as it had rained much of Saturday night. I didn't want to put Tucker out in that stuff, so I figured I'd let him out after church.

I'd forgotten it was our church's 275th anniversary, and there was a luncheon after the service for which I'd already purchased a ticket. Since one of my friends was the moderator of the program afterwards, and we ended up at a table in front, I felt obligated to stay for the after lunch lecture.

It was about David Brainard, for whom the town's lake and other historical elements are named. He was a minister/missionary whose life was perhaps best defined by the influence of his teachings after his death rather than while he was alive. While the talk was interesting, I was a bit fidgety as the rain had blown off and, although it was not sunny out, at least things had dried up a bit.

All I kept picturing was Tucker stuck in his stall all afternoon. I didn't get home until after 2 so I put all three Boys out in the arena/pasture turnout and just let them enjoy each other's company. The weather never did clear, despite forecasts to the contrary, but at least the rain stopped.

Not so this morning. Since I decided to start cleaning closets yesterday, I had piles of clothes and things to be sorted on my bed. I ended up sleeping on the couch so I can't quite be sure that what I thought I heard outside was rain, but when I got up this morning, sure enough, it was raining AGAIN! To add insult to injury, there were patches of blue sky actually showing between some of the clouds!

Come on, already!

My mud is, except perhaps in the one section of paddock by Chance's stall, and some areas of the front paddock, not really deep. Where I have to cross from the barn to the watering trough in the arena, it's only perhaps six inches or so before you hit some solid earth underneath. But that top layer is slippery and shoe "sucking." I almost lost my muck shoe again this morning when I was filling the trough, and that's exactly the kind of footing that pulls Tucker's shoes too.

I may just put him out in the arena today if the pasture surface is like that. I feel bad for him, but it's no good if he goes lame because of a missing shoe. Right now, the sun seems to be showing a little out there. I can only hope.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rain Again


Chiropractor and physical therapy in the AM, and rain in the PM.

I did not get to go to the farm market to ply my trade as a fortuneteller. Guess I will just practice until next time.

But I did go to my friend's Halloween party, so that was fun.

Now, I just wait to see if it dries out. At least the Boys were able to go out together in the arena and pasture. Fortunately, since my land is high and atop some very good draining land, I do have a not too muddy place for them to go in this weather. And the run in shed is perfect sanctuary.

All is well and wet at Follywoods.