Thursday, June 27, 2013


Does this stall make my butt look big?

Well, as you know, Gem has been recovering from a hoof abscess the last couple of weeks.  The farrier was out last week and dug a small hole in the bottom of his hoof at the toe.  LA supervised and a small amount of pus did come out, but not a lot.  We continued with the Epsom salt soak and the iodine poultice.  Quite honestly, I don't know what I would have done without LA.  There were many times that I was unable to make it to the barn to change his poultice and she always came through for me.  Over time, Gem's limp and discomfort became less and less.  LA stopped the poultice application late last week.  We continued soaking his foot, minus the Epsom salt because it was now becoming quite drying.  When I arrived last Friday,
No bootie!
LA told me to wait at the barn door.  She went and got him, fast walked him up the aisle and then trotted him around the open area in front of the barn.   He was sound at a walk and 95% sound at a trot; if you weren't looking for it, you wouldn't notice the very very slight hitch in his step at a trot!!!  Yipee!
But, I haven't been sitting around idly waiting for Gem.   Nooooo.......  While he's been dealing with his abscess, I have been cheating on him.  I decided to continue with lesson without him.  Cold, eh?  :-)  The first lesson without him, I actually rode LA's former reining horse.  Jazzy is occasionally used in lesson and is also used as a teacher of young riders who want to get into barrel racing.  This horse LOVES running and consistently wins at local competitions, no matter who is riding her.  :-)  There was a nano second of apprehension when LA told me who I would be riding and then it was gone. Go figure.  I saddled her up and off we went.  She is a lovely 15.1hh Bay QH, with a black smudgy nose.  Her stride at a jog and lope were much shorter than what I was used to.  I tried to relax into the saddle when loping, but I just couldn't; I felt like my body was a jack-hammer.  :-)   But her responsiveness was spot on and I did enjoy riding her very much; everything was so easy on her!  I actually spinned her!!!  This is what spinning looks like:

 I was very dizzy after I spinned.!!  I don't know how they do it!

A couple of days later, I borrowed steady eddy Sally and went for a trail ride with a couple of friends.  Jean had an incident on Stu - more on that later.  We warmed up in the front paddock and I had Sally up to a lope a number of times.  I was delighted at how smooth her lope was and how I managed to keep my butt in the saddle.  WTH??!  However, I did become a teensy bit nervous when we were out and she called to her herd mates and half a dozen came over and started to surround us.  She really to be with them!  I managed to convince her otherwise, with DH's Mom's help.

Last Tuesday, I rode Barley.  Barley is a tall gelding.  LA decided to put me on a horse that would approximate Gem's stride.  :-) He has interesting colouring; almost white with a grey and brown mane and tail.  He has freckles on his nose and around his eyes,.   Again, I had no apprehension about riding a different horse.  What's with that?  My lesson was....well....awesome.  So good in fact, that LA asked "Who are you and what have you done with Wolfie!"  :-)  Barley is a good all around western and English horse and is used in lessons regularly.  He was a delight to ride and for the first time I really experienced collection.  It's hit and miss with Gem, but asking Barley for collection was easy and keeping him that way was not so hard.  I left the lesson smiling and pumped.

LA said that I could use Gem in lesson this week at a walk/trot, but I wanted to continue on my winning streak with loping.  Yes, I chose another over Gem; I asked if I could ride Barley again!!  Did I feel guilty....actually, no.  And, Barley didn't disappoint.  Even with the oppressive heat we have been experiencing, he was willing to work and please.  Extended posting trot?  Easy.  Loping a small circle?  No problem.  The slightest neck rein pressure made him turn.  My butt??  In the saddle!!!!  I felt confident and in the zone.  It was nice to have LA focused only on my not-so-quiet-hands instead of EVERYTHING.  Barley made me look good.

Riding other horses has been a big confidence booster for me.  Will I do it again?  Yes, if I am having trouble learning how to do something.  Gem is not as experienced as these lessons horses and if I can learn something in particular on them and transfer that over to Gem, I think that's a win-win situation.  Gem and I are in this together.  We do have our work cut out for us, but I think we are both up to the challenge.  I am looking forward to riding my beautiful guy this weekend.  I may have been cheating on him, but I have missed him terribly!  ;-)

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Mona over at Panic and the Pony nominated me for a Liebster Award - thank you!!  It's a fun way to get to know each other.  Here are the rules:

HOW TO ACCEPT THE AWARD: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  • List 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  • Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  • Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
11 Random Facts about me:
1.   I will not leave the house without eyeliner and lipstick on

2.   I cannot imagine my life without a four-legged companion.

3.   I am a sucker for Turtles, chocolate covered almonds and potato chips - preferably being eaten at the same sitting.

4.   I am not good with bad table manners.

5.   Although vodka soda is my usual drink, I love a cold beer after I ride.

6.   I have recently become addicted to YouTube; horse stuff, operations, funny videos - can't get enough.

7.   My two favourite TV shows right now are Justified and Longmire.

8.   I prefer Fall and Winter riding.

9.   I am very social, but I like time to myself and can sometimes park myself on the couch with my dogs for an entire weekend re-watching favourite movies.

10.   I follow the "3 strikes and you're out" rule when it comes to relationships.  Relationships require work and I am more than willing to make the effort.  But I don't want to invest time in someone who takes advantage or doesn't reciprocate.  After strike 3, I close the door without looking back and walk away.
11.  Retirement sort of frightens me.

Questions from Mona:
1.  Were horses in your childhood?
Yes, but more from a reading perspective.  I did do some trail riding as a teenager, but I didn't become serious about riding until 5 years ago.

2.  What's the weirdest lesson/clinic you've ever had on horseback?
I haven't had "weird" yet, but I did have a lesson where I had to lope with no reins.  This was to improve my balance and help keep my butt in the saddle.  It actually worked.

3.  What one thing would you change about your horse?
That he wasn't so mouthy.

4.  What one thing would you change about yourself?
When it comes to riding, letting go of my insecurities out on the trails.

5.  Do you board or keep your horse at home?

6.  What is your favorite thing about boarding or keeping your horse at home?
I love boarding because someone is always there for my horse.  He gets checked a few times a day.  I have no worries about his well-being.

7.  What is your least favorite thing about boarding or keeping your horse at home?
I don't like the gossip atmosphere of a boarding situation.

8.  What nicknames do you have for your horse?
Handsome, Bubby

9.  What scares you the most about riding/horses?
Being swarmed by the herd when out on the trails.

10.  What is your best skill around horses?
I am actually good at calming them down for the vet or farrier.

11.  What is your dream pony vacation?
Attending a Buck Brannaman clinic with my horse at a ranch resort location.  :-) 

11 Questions for you:
1.  Who do you prefer - Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds?

2.  What is your favourite gait when riding?

3.  Have you ever had a light bulb moment when riding?

4.  Do you care what you wear to the barn?

5.  Do you wear a helmet when you ride? 

6.  What is/was your favourite book?

7.  What is your favourite part of the riding experience (grooming, competition, lesson, trail)?

8.  What is your favourite season for riding?

9.  Do you have other interests in addition to horses?

10. If you could only have one food if you were stranded on a desert island, what would it be? 

11. Would you prefer a social person next to you on a long flight or someone who keeps to themselves?

I couldn't stop at 11 nominees.  :-)  I wanted to include blogs that I have recently discovered.  Enjoy! 
On the Ground 
Never to Old
It's Harder Than It Looks
Alison Goulding 
The Hard Way  
YaYa Riders  
Artemis Areia

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rockin' the Silver Bootie

Monday evening, as I was sitting at my vet's office waiting for my bill to be done (annual vaccinations for my dogs), I received this text:

LA:  Gem is reported to have a swollen knee.  Kathy (her daughter) is icing it.  I am driving back from Montreal and will look at it when I am back.  Jeff (the vet) is out tomorrow. 

The bottom of my stomach fell out.

Me:  A swollen knee???  Is him limping?  Is he able to stand OK???

LA:  Not worrisome.  He's standing fine.  I think it's an abscess not a knee problem.  Will check.

Me:  I am freaking out.   I want Jeff to look at him tomorrow and I want to be there.

LA:  Will call you after I look at him.

Gem has never been sick (I am knocking on wood as I write this).  He seems to be resistant to the odd colds that go through the barn, rain rot, thrush, hives - you name it.  His feet are good and strong.  His teeth are great.  In fact, my vet is amazed at his hardiness.  :-)  He is a true "easy keeper".  He has also been fortunate to have never had an injury.  You can imagine how worried I was.

LA called around 10:00 p.m.  She told me that he was fine Monday morning when he was brought in (he has night turnout), but when they went to put him out Monday evening, he hobbled out of his stall.  She checked him over and told me that she believed it to be an abscess because there was heat in his hoof; his knee was not really swollen.  She believed the barn help over-reacted because Gem has never had any ailments and they assumed it was his knee.

I arrived Tuesday afternoon as the vet was unloading his bag of tricks.  Gem was in his stall and LA warned me not to freak out as she walked him up the aisle to Jeff.  Out hobbled Gem, trying hard to walk on three legs.  Well, I did sort of freak out.  :-)

Jeff confirmed what LA suspected;  an abscess.  He explained that with the torrential rains that we have had the last two weeks, the wet conditions have caused hooves to soften up making it easy for little stones or a bruise to take hold and fester. In addition, the flies have came back in droves once the sun poked out, so there's a lot of bruise-creating stomping going on.   He is anticipating quite an increase in abscesses over the next few weeks.  He used his hoof pinching thingy and located the sensitivity on the right side of his right front hoof.  He let me feel Gem's hoof so I could feel how it was slightly warmer on that side of the hoof.  Jeff did a little scraping, trying to locate where the abscess might blow, but couldn't readily find anything.   He left instructions that I am to soak his foot in an Epsom salt water solution and then apply a poultice of iodine and sugar, held in place with a baby diaper and lots of duct tape.  This is to be changed daily.  He thought that the abscess would blow in a couple of days. 

Fortunately, LA gave me the shopping list prior to Jeff's arrival, so I was prepared to take care of Gem right away.  LA helped me, showing me the correct amounts of the soak and the poultice and wrapped his foot up.   It was horrible to watch Gem so lame.  It appeared he could barely put any weight on his hoof.  I worried about him being in pain, but it was recommended not to give him any bute.  

After LA wrapped his foot, I went down to the arena to give DH's Mom an update.  If I was gone 10 minutes, that was all.  I came back up to the barn and as I walked in I saw Gem's stall wide open.  WTH?  I thought LA wanted to keep him in???  As I walked down the aisle, a movement caught my attention.  There was Gem, parked at the hay storage, chowing down like there was no tomorrow!!  Obviously, I had neglected to shut the top part of his stall.  Good grief.  He had opened his stall and hobbled all the way down from one end of the barn to the other.  Pain obviously does not stand in the way of a good buffet!

Since Tuesday, I have solicited the help of DH's Mom and another boarder to wrap Gem's foot.  It is a two person job.  He's actually a pretty good patient.   When I bring in the bucket to soak his foot, he lifts his leg and puts his foot in the bucket. Good boy.  (Note to self:  to avoid a bright yellow hand and green coloured nail polish, never mix up sugar iodine without wearing a glove.)   LA turned him out Wednesday (he was getting stir crazy) and he managed to keep his bootie on, so he's back on regular turnout.  I think he's making quite the fashion statement, don't you??

As of today, the abscess has not burst. In fact, each day his limp gets less and less pronounced. He's still in some discomfort but I have been told that sometimes abscesses actually go away, particularly if it is bruise induced.  This is what I am hoping for; that it will simply go away.  I think Gem is, too. 

Have a great week!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Bunch of Stuff

Please send your positive energy over to my blogger friend Living the Dream.  He had a bad fall off of his lovely Canadian horse and is currently recovering from broken ribs and a bruised kidney.  Ouch!!  Another example of how important it is to wear a helmet (yes, he was wearing one)!

* * * *

An old timer passed away on Tuesday.  Chance, a lovely Paint, was one of the original school horses purchased by LA's family.  He performed his duties with pleasure and was the favourite of many, including a friend of mine who remembers riding him 25 years ago!   He was retired from his job a few years ago and enjoyed hanging out with the herd, where his pleasant personality put him in the lower half of the herd hierarchy.  If you were out on the trails, he would mosey over and say hi, maybe even walk with you a bit and then turn back.  He survived yet another winter; he was a bit underweight, but his summer coat had come in nicely.  This past weekend, boarders and staff noticed a change in him.  Instead of staying with the herd, he hung around the turnout area, close to the barn.  He kept the staff company when they were bringing horses in or putting them out.  He was a little more social.  He came up to some and allowed them to stroke and pet him, something that he usually didn't do.  On Tuesday morning, LA called in the old timers for their morning mush.  While the others chowed down, Chance came up to LA and put his head into her chest.  LA stroked him for a while and then he ate a little of his breakfast.  LA decided to keep an eye on him throughout the day, but by late morning, Chance was once again standing at the gate looking towards the barn.  LA walked over to him and as she started to check him, he collapsed.  Within a couple of minutes, he was gone; quick, painless and on his own terms.  LA was devastated, but comforted that he went as he did, with her at his side.  LA estimates he was at least 36 years old; she's not sure how old he was when he came to them.  I believe he had made up his mind that it was time and he was saying good-bye to everyone over the last few days.  RIP Chance.  You will be missed.

* * * * 

We have some new boarders/horses that arrived last weekend.  One is a quarter horse, the other is a Clyde-cross, Marty.  Marty is actually a little bigger than Stu and right now is trying to figure out his place in the herd.  The new guys were put out with the other horses on Saturday.  Sunday, I was out on the trails with DH's Mom and a couple of other boarders.  There was a neigh from across the field, and then this huge horse appeared and came trotting towards us - head up, ears up, chest puffed out - making a bee-line right to Gem and I!  My heart started to race. Gem's head and ears were up, too, looking at Marty.  Imagine 1500 lbs coming at you.  I had visions of these two horses deciding to duke it out with me in the middle.  I turned Gem around and went back to my group, and as Marty was trying to come up to Gem from behind I just kept Gem moving, around and around.  There was some yelling, and Marty was eventually moved off by my body guards riding buddies and we continued our ride.  After I calmed down,  DH's Mom commented that I actually held it together pretty well, I didn't scream like a girl, and Gem behaved himself.   :-)

* * * *

A few of us purchased Cashel Leg Guards for our horses.  These are mesh socks that allow for air circulation, but prevent bot flies from landing and laying eggs on your horse's legs.  They are quite sturdy and the quality is good; worth the $40.00 I would say.  You remove them when you ride.  I put them on Gem for the first time on Tuesday, after lesson.  DH's Mom inspected to make sure they weren't too loose or too tight.  Yesterday I emailed a fellow boarder asking if she would mind checking Gem's guards when she was at the barn.  She emailed be back saying that he had removed both.  There are four sturdy velcro closures on each sock, for cripes sakes!!  When I replied, "No way!", her response was what do you expect from a horse that can open his own stall door.  She has a point.  She kindly put them back on for me.  I got a text this morning from one of the ladies who works at the barn saying that he took them off again last night (he has night turnout) and she retrieved them from the small field and put them on his blanket rack.   Sigh.

* * * *

Last June.
My Niece came for a visit the long Victoria Day weekend.  Our usual routine on Sundays is to go to the barn; we groom, I ride for a bit and then she gets on Gem and rides for a bit.  While we were tacking up, I was chatting with a boarder who had just come in from the trails.  As she started untacking her horse, she asked if My Niece would like to ride her horse instead of sharing Gem.  Yes!  So, we actually got to ride together, which was amazing.  For someone who has only had 8-10 lessons over a winter, two years ago, I was amazed at how well she managed on this horse.  Walk, jog, lope - no problem!   She was beautiful.   It was a joy to watch her and I admit, I was a bit envious of her youth and how effortless she made it look. 

* * * *

My lesson on Tuesday was really good.  I actually was able to lope half the front paddock (did I mention how big that paddock is???) a number of times, consistently, without Gem breaking down to a trot and without me collapsing from exhaustion.  My butt was in the saddle most of the time, but I know my hands are still not quiet.  If I ride one-handed, my seat is better, perhaps because my free arm keeps me balanced???  However, I have problems steering when it comes to circles.  If I use two reins, my steering is better.  So for now, I am going to concentrate on keeping my butt in the saddle, using two reins.  Once I have the butt thing down pat, I will then start focusing on steering one-handed.  LA complimented me on the lesson saying that I had now raised the bar, so she was going to push me into the next level of training; I was ready.  Yikes!  :-)  

The weather is going to be awful the next few days.  Cold, rainy and blustery.  I am still planning on getting some riding in, though!  Have a great weekend everybody and ride safely!