Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blazey Boy Rejoins the Workforce!

Let me just say that while Desire is bigger, smoother, prettier, and more powerful--Blaze is just the dearest thing in the world! He is such a good soul, I don't think I've ever had a horse partner that I more just want to hug all the time. Especially in winter when he has his thick fluffy coat and looks like an over sized stuffed animal. I've been around the block with horses in the last 3 or 4 years of the endurance mount hunt and I haven't met a single one as relaxed and loving as Blaze. Today I pulled him, fitted the Specialized to him to the best of my ability, threw a water bottle in the pack and headed out through the neighborhood. He hadn't been ridden out in 3 1/2 months (due to no saddle to fit him and resting his back from saddle fit issues last season) and today he wore Easyboots for the first time that I've owned him (possibly first of his life?).

First time in Easyboots

 The saddle fitting was a yawn to him and the Easyboots being applied and settled into place with a smack of the rubber mallet didn't even get an ear flick. His first few steps out of the cross ties in the boots were leisurely but exaggerated--just like the first time I put full sport splint boots on him, his first few steps were VERY exaggerated in knee action, and let's face it, hilarious. I took him down to the arena and and walk-trotted him on the lunge line to let him feel the boots, get any potential freak outs out of the way, but being Blaze he just did what I asked, ho-hum, no biggey. I decided to let him off the lunge line inside the arena since that's the only time he seems to feel it's appropriate to really let his kinks out, and he cantered around the arena doing flying lead changes with his tail to the sky, boots stayed in place, no big deal. I'm a little confused on the Epics I've got, I've borrowed them from N and they are used, and I wonder if the cables are stretched out because even at the "tightest" setting of the cable clamp it doesn't pull the boot snug around the hoof like I assume it should. I've never used Epics before so I'll have to go read up on them and see if that is indeed how they're supposed to fit. They did stay on his feet at walk, trot, and canter today, but the clamp doesn't seem to be tightening the cable enough to do anything and there was a good amount of dirt accumulated inside the boot at the end of the ride which suggests a too-loose fit.

My little pony in the Specialized and Easyboots :-p

We took a short 4 mile spin around the neighborhood and it was just lovely, a gorgeous warm sunny day for a stroll on my Blazey boy. I'd gone about half a mile from home when a neighbor doing a burn pile called over "Hey, you don't want another horse, do ya?" You know you're on a rural country ride when.....  I ended up chatting to him and his wife for a good 20 minutes while Blaze alternately grazed and turned his head to my toe to look at me like "Hey, lady, what's the hold up?" There is a nicely built Palomino at that spot that I think about every time I ride from home. The poor thing is always underweight and turns out it is boarded by a neighbor on the land, while the land itself actually belongs to the old cowboy I met today. There is usually a bale of hay sitting in front of the corral but it's never the same kind of hay twice and isn't covered so at this point the open bale was fully molded through..and yep, the palomino was gobbling through a flake of moldy hay as I sat there talking to the landowners. They said they had been on the guy's case to get his act together on horse care, had offered him another field if he would fence it, but "That young feller ain't too big on working" as the cowboy said, and so the Palomino remains in it's grazed down paddock, leaning on fences to try to get grass, eating moldy hay when someone remembers to throw a flake his way. The horse himself is a friendly thing, he came over to hang out near us a couple of times, when he could make himself leave his nasty breakfast.  The landowners told me the horse was only 6 or 7 (he doesn't look old and broken down in body, but who knows how accurate that estimate is) and that the last time they spoke to the owner the owner said he'd give the horse free "to a good home."  Just about anything's better than YOUR home for him, guy! At least the dry winter has kept his paddock from turning into a mud hole, now that is a blessing for the Palomino. Anyhow I asked for the phone number of the owner and while I rode out and back the wife of the cowboy drove up to their house somewhere nearby and got the number which I collected on my way home. Now I happen to know of the horse owner by name, though I didn't know he owned the horse. He was briefly the boyfriend of the gal we bought our place from, I've never met him but have heard about him. Last I heard he had a couple of horses he had gotten from her, but I don't know what happened to those as neither was a Palomino and according to the landowners the Palomino is all he's got left. Well I'm not saying I'm going to take the Palomino or anything, but I've felt bad for him every day since we moved here and never knew who he belonged to. I'm glad to know the owner's name and have a contact #. I think I'll call a mutual friend and ask if they know anything about the Palomino or his story. I wish I'd taken a picture of him to share with readers, now that I think about it! Just helps to put a face to a story I think. He really does have a fine build, just a couple hundred pounds underweight. Looks tall though, hard to tell since he was a little uphill from us but at least 15 hands. The rumor is he's green broke, but who knows what that means around here. I'll have to go take a photo of him tomorrow, or I might zoom down there today in the Polaris, take the doggies for a drive.

Heading out

Hehehe look at that shadow belly!

Home again

Anyhoo I had a really nice ride on Blaze in the Specialized. I randomly chose one of the three possible stirrup placements to rivet the stirrup leathers to last night and so far I like the angle it puts me at. I can already tell that Blaze's gait will be easier to ride in the Specialized, for whatever reason. I was impressed by how forward and powerful Blaze was in our couple of short trots today, he certainly hasn't forgotten his Power Trot from his LDs last season. I guess I was expecting him to be very lazy and out of shape and he certainly isn't in the BEST shape technically, but he seemed to be more on his game than I expected. He worked up a healthy sweat on the ride and the saddle left an even sweat mark. Since our saddle fit issues last season he gives me the hairy eyeball when I test around his saddle area, whether just grooming or before or after a ride, and he did that today when I touched his back after pulling the saddle. Because he just does that around his back, in general, I can't really tell if the saddle actually made him sore or if he is just using his habitual reaction. I'll be keeping a very close eye on things as he gets back into conditioning, but I'm hopeful that the Specialized will really work for him and his oddly shaped back.

Clean for the first time in a long time

Blaze got a warm bath and sent home to roll in the muck and then I had to pull Desire and clean and treat her hooves for thrush. Sheza was all up in our business so I decided to pull and groom her and check her hooves for thrush too. She barged right up to me and let me halter her nicely, then pitched a small rebellious fit about following me across the field, but quickly gave that up. It was the first time pulling her and bringing her to the tie wracks when the other horses are away across the property, and it was a bit hairy. Desire was calling pretty persistently for her filly and Sheza was replying and getting and getting pretty amped up. It took me a lot more skittering around and shenanigans than usual to get all four hooves cleaned, but she did seem to enjoy grooming since she has started to shed and was liking the scratchy shedding comb. She was intermittently quiet and interested in me and screaming and thrashing around like an idiot. I saw a tiny bit of thrush in her front hooves and managed to paint some Hypozin on there and even got her to stand for a very quick go with the measuring tape. 13.3 at the withers. Oy vey. De-worming was interesting, I ran the syringe all over her face and neck and let her get bored with that then did my ninja-slide and dosed her before she even realized what happened, and only got a little on my breeches in the process. The goats had managed to escape while I was treating Desire's hooves so they were roaming the property while I was working with Sheza but luckily they can't resist the call of grain shaken in a bucket and came galloping back to their pasture after Sheza and I. Of course filly ended up getting most of the goat grain but hey, isn't that her right as an Arabian princess?

Couldn't get a good photo of her today to save
 my soul, but there she is 

I re-upped my gym membership Thursday and have already been twice, I am way sore from the elliptical and free weights, but am feeling awesome energy wise. I'm going to hit a couple of the organized classes this week, probably a spin class and maybe something for upper body work. Spin classes suuuckkk but are so awesome at the same time. I worked out hard yesterday and had a brisk busy horse morning so I'm ready to kick back on the sunny porch and finish my book!

p.s. If any of the readers out there are large chested like I am, today I experienced a revelation in boob containment. I decided to wear my sports bra OVER my regular bra and it was magical for riding. In place and not squashed beyond recognition thanks to the regular bra, but secure and not-so-bouncy thanks to the sports bra. Try it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Ride in the Specialized Eurolight

Specialized Test Ride Results:  Definitely need to undo the rivet up under the saddle and lengthen the stirrups, once I got them to my height it had shortened them enough that the fenders were sitting directly on top of the stirrups themselves and it wasn't comfortable. Easily fixed, it's the first thing shown on the fitting DVD and I declined to actually set my stirrups to the correct length and discover this until I had hauled to the trail head away from available tools. That's good planning ahead, eh? Anyway I will adjust that tonight.

The trails were slippery from the last week so we didn't move out enough to work up a good sweat as far as checking the sweat marks from the saddle. It looked like there were two small dry voids just behind her wither, but again she was barely sweaty so I'm not exactly sure about that. There looked to be a bit of ruffed up hair on both sides of the back right on the points where the stirrup leathers run down, I'm wondering if I need to put a thin flat shim under there to give more cushion from the leathers pressing down on the fitting cushions..but yeah, it was fairly subtle. Basically I need to point Desire up the hill from home and say GO, that always works up a good sweat pattern ;-)  So fix the stirrup issue, and I think I'll screw around here at home to work on the fit this weekend.

Comfort wise, the memory foam-esque seat was as lovely to sit in as I hoped it would be. The lower part of the fenders where it curls around your shin were predictably new-saddle stiff which put more torque on my bad ankle than I like, but the saddle does need to be broken in. The western saddle I've been using on her was the same--I borrowed it with only 4 rides on it and it started out stiff but now curls around the leg without putting a torsion on my ankle. I put the stirrups it came with on the saddle, though they are heavy and clanky they have really thick nice padding. It's so nice to have loads of D rings to attach things to again and it was awesome how perfectly the burgundy saddle seat matched my wine&blue colored tack. I scored a royal blue cantle pack from The Distance Depot to use for rides when I need to carry more water and it matches the blue saddle pad pretty darn well. I'm so gleeful about matching color tack, I could never go back to plain old leather!

It was a GORGEOUS day out on the trails, we met N and her mare and had a nice mellow ride chatting away--man, I enjoy talking horse and horse person gossip like nothing else and that is the truth! The lake was blue-green, the sky was deep blue, the sun was out--and Desire was spooky. She was pretty silly at the beginning of the ride, I think our choice to take the steep uphill trail first took a little piss and vinegar out of both mares which helped, but she still looky-looed more than usual. N and I were also both convinced that Desire seemed taller today. I know that sounds bizarre but I thought it to myself when I tied her to the trailer and when N came over to see the new saddle she said the same thing. My (totally scientifically based) theory was that her heat (OH YES, seemed like as soon as she touched noses over the fence with Blaze this week she went into winky heat) makes her pull herself up into true huffy lady form and look that much taller. Who knows. What I do know is that the annoyed little glances Desire was shooting N and I as we ooed and ahhed and poked around the new saddle on her back were HILARIOUS. She certainly wears her feelings on her face.

Miss D loaded and trailered there and back well. No more crazy crashing around since I opened the divider. Unfortunately my good friend Thrush is back in all four of her feet. All it takes is a little moisture and she gets thrush, which is unfortunate. I treated it with Hypozin this afternoon. Anyone know if there is anything to feed supplemental-wise to help prevent it, or do I just keep battling it? It gets better with treatment but doesn't totally go away if the ground stays damp.

I noticed 2 gaiter rubs and N noticed a heel bulb rub from the boots today. That's never happened before, but this is also the wettest and slickest ride I've done in them. We had to cross a number of puddles and a couple streams, so her feet and boots were wet the whole ride and clearly rubbed. Makes me nervous for any endurance rides with those weather conditions..we did 6 easy miles  and got small but visible rubs, so if I were riding a 30 or 50...yeahhh. Hmm. Could be a problem. Wonder what people do in that situation, I know I'm not the first to encounter it. Are there fleece linings for these boots or what?! Lol.

I think I'll see if the husband wants to see The Grey tonight. Because Liam Neeson vs. anything works for me!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saddle Fitting & Goat Bullying

While the rain has stopped, it's still been dark, gloomy, cold, and intermittently windy and/or sprinkling in the last few days. I've been playing around with my saddle fitting, re-watched the DVD for a refresher and dug out my notes from when I had the demo model. Due to one thing and another I haven't gotten it actually out the door and onto Blaze but we're getting there. I've got plans to meet N at the lake tomorrow for a ride and I haven't decided whether I'll take Desire or Blaze, since I now have that option. Blaze needs to get back on the conditioning program and now that I've got the Specialized and some Easyboot Epics to try on him, I'm feeling the self-imposed pressure to get him out, though I just LOVE flying down the trail on Desire. I am reminding myself that I have two wonderful, very different horses, and I'll just have to strap on my kidney belt and get Blaze going again. Not to discredit him, he is a doll, but the smooth powerful ride of Desire has spoiled me on his choppy gaits, I won't lie. Still he loves to get out and about and I'm hoping to do some gymkhana and team sorting on him this season as well as a few LDs. My first LD goal for him is probably Hat Creek Hustle in June, where my hope is to ride the 30 on him one day and the 50 on Desire the next.

I'm sure I've mentioned on here that we're boarding two little goats for our neighbors who have gone back to southern California for the winter--and let me just say they are, ahem, entertaining. First let me say, I am NOT a goat person. Various experiences from my own childhood and a friend who owned a herd of goats when we moved to this area 4 yrs back, well, it just cemented my annoyance with and dislike of goats. I find them obnoxious and the whole escape artist thing tickles my "Respect My Fences" pet peeve (be it a goat escaping or a horse leaning on them, if you disrespect my fences I get MAD, Lol). Luckily these two little goats are fairly low key, they do BAH obnoxiously any time they see you anywhere on the property but so far they satisfy themselves sliding under the gates from pasture to pasture, but haven't actually gotten OUT. They do like to be *let* out and will run around following you like dogs which is kind of funny but they have a tendency to branch off and end up on the porch chewing on things they shouldn't, so I'm not a huge fan of that. After the big storm I moved the horses from the barn out into the big east side pastures so they wouldn't tear up their soggy smaller paddocks here on the house/west side of the property, which meant the horses were out with the goats for the first time, which resulted in those funny pictures I posted last time.

The goats for the most part hang out in Sheza's pasture and they all tend to graze together now, with Sheza giving the goats the occasional run-around for entertainment, but when I feed the goats have a tendency to come flying over and slide under the gates to get closest to me. This morning they did that and ended up in Desire's pasture, where they promptly decided one hay pile was good as another. Desire pinned her ears to tell them to keep away from her hay but the female goat reared on her hind legs and offered to headbutt Desire! The surprise and confusion on Desire's face couldn't have been any clearer and it was pretty darn funny. Apparently that was enough to seal the deal because Desire and the goats began sharing the flake of hay, though Desire's eyes were riveted on the goats and we'll see how long the truce lasts. So far the goats haven't tried to bully into Blaze's hay and I really recommend they don't for their own good but no doubt they'll try it. Blaze and El Bandito keep their warfare skills pretty well honed in their daily love-hate relationship so approach with caution, goats! I really wish I'd had my camera to snap the photo of the goat rearing and threatening to headbutt Desire, these goats are VERY small and the juxtaposition of tiny she-goat vs. big she-horse was pretty great. Oh by the way, Sheza is showing some real flair for herding her goats around, maybe she'll be a good cow horse in the future ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Barn Horses

The rain has been falling steadily since yesterday afternoon and the herd are enjoying their barn time. Everything outside is washed clean and soggy but the herd are all smugly dry, dusty, and stickery, in Blaze's case, as if it were full summer outside (aside from the long coats of course). Sheza is still pretty spooky when I am working in and around the stalls but she is eating and drinking well and with shaving evidence all over her coat she has surely been lying down enjoying some stall lounging. 

 "What are you doing peering through the bars, lady"

 Eating out of the manger like a big girl

 This is the stall where Sheza was born :-)

 El Bandito being wary as usual

Sheza took the longest drink, she was literally turning her head back and 
forth spectating while drinking for a good 2 minutes. Good sign for an endurance prospect :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This is me rocking back and forth in my corner..

Winter horse:

Seeee, my dirty dirty blonde is actually this color..ohhh amazing.

Definitely lost her baby belly in her winter pic though, eh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Last Hurrah before the Rain--and a Saddle!!

This is how my Android rolls, how bout yours?

After false starts Monday and Tuesday (due to freezing pipes, bursting pipes, guests, etc) Desire and I finally made it to the lake today to squeeze in a ride before this big rain storm (finally) hits us. We rode with C today for the first time in a few months and it was also the first time riding Desire with C's big gelding. I always felt like  I was on the verge of getting left in the dust by C when I was riding Blaze but Desire and her gelding rate pretty darn well together. We did the short loop around horse camp since it was cold and gray and C's guy hadn't been out in a while but it was a perfect length for leg stretching, some trotting fun, and not getting the horses too sweaty for the chilly day and rainy night to come. Desire rode really nicely in the trailer again, the husband reported no tap dancing when we pulled out and I didn't hear any coming home. I had to stop at the feed store for shavings and she was dancing around a little bit and nickering at me when I was loading the shavings but she still came out of the trailer at home mostly dry and much calmer than previously. I looked at the divider itself and it's actually easily removable, just pull two big bolts and it's out, so I think after the rain I may just take the whole darn divider out.

Ready to Go

The shavings I stopped for were for bedding down the stalls in the barn. We've got 100% rain in the forecast for the next 4-5 days and with Sheza's latest blanket already not fitting I decided I'll put up the herd in the stalls for at least a day or two, depending on the severity of the storm. Our stalls are so ridiculously large, I still laugh in disbelief every time I walk into one. I've literally seen paddocks smaller than our stalls! We bought the place with all the fencing, stalls, horse stuff already installed and we really lucked out. The gal we bought it from was a breeder and trainer so all six stalls are large, stallion-secure, and ready to go. It's a mare motel style barn so the stalls aren't fully enclosed but still, pretty luxurious. I realized when I was getting water buckets ready that I haven't used the barn at all since Sheza was born 9 months ago! Wonder if Desire will have any weird birthing flashbacks ;-)  I don't think she had a clue what was happening or happened when Sheza was born so probably not, Lol. I still remember the evident bewilderment after we helped deliver Sheza and Desire just stood in the corner with her back to us like "Woah, okay, woah, I need a breather, what the hell just happened." Then we showed Sheza to her and she kept the filly in front of her at all times in good eye shot and didn't want to let her go around to nurse, Lol. Got to keep an eye on that thing that just came out of her! I only had to halter her the first few nursings and she got the point though. Silly mare. She was a great mom, kind and tolerant of baby but not over zealous and always ready to leave the nutty baby and go be a REAL horse again.

This evening was herd round-up, which was pretty entertaining. We had the usual fracas trying to get El Bandito into his stall--picture Bandito running circles around the barn snatching mouthfuls of grass w/ people and dogs hot on his heels. Blaze was at his arch necked, snorting, stallionwannabe best when we took his girlfriends away first. Sheza was convinced she had NEVER been in the barn EVER before (Despite being born there and staying nights there for weeks after). Desire had eyes only for her mash bucket. They all have their priorities, Lol. 

Once the herd was settled the husband arrived home with Chinese food for dinner--and a very exciting box!


Whoop there it is!

The seat is Sooooo cushy, it feels like it's made with memory foam! Can't wait to cruise down the trail in this puppy. Won't happen til next week at the earliest if the forecast holds, but we'll see. In the meantime I can do a refresher course on fitting with the DVD and my notes from the demo etc. I also got a forest green pad for riding Blaze--and coz I don't own any other saddle pads and thought 1 might not be enough for competition.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Exciting Box Headed This Way

A couple of days ago I finally got the much-awaited shipping notification in my inbox that said my Specialized Eurolight saddle will be arriving within the week. I just checked the tracking with UPS and it says my 20 lb box is on time and will be delivered this Wednesday by end of day--hip hip hooray! I'm sooo excited! Blaze better get himself together because once the saddle comes and we get it fitted to him, his fat butt is rejoining the ranks of the working Arab world! 

It's a new season buddy, there's a saddle coming, get ready for some miles!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Desire and I joined N and her mare at the lake today for a gorgeous, sunny, warm 16.9 mile ride. Then I came home, fed the horses, ate an epic steak dinner prepared by my miraculous husband. And then I tried to get up off the couch--umm, I think I broke myself!! I can't believe how sore my seat and thighs are already, only a few hours after the ride. Once in a while I'll feel a little tight the next day but I am fully 100% sore from the waist down tonight! That's what the holidays will do to you. All the drama with our heater and visiting family etc meant Desire sat for 2 1/2 weeks. And so did my bottom. I bet I'll feel interesting tomorrow. 

Desire's Trailing Issue:  A much delayed stroke of genius. The divider in my 2 horse straight load actually has a pin to pull that allows it to swing all the way over to the other wall, essentially giving the horse twice the standing room. This morning I used the beta loop/string attachment salvaged off an old pair of reins to secure the divider to the far side of the trailer so it wouldn't swing or bang too much. I also found one sharp spot that she could cut herself on and fixed that (Yeah, zebra striped duct tape makes it all smooth--what! Serious engineering happening here). I turned her out into the arena for a 5 minute spazz, groomed, and she loaded in nicely (with the dressage whip in my hand). The first thing she did in there after loading was one of her jelly legged spazzes and then SWUNG her butt over to the right which in the past would have caused her to whack the divider but today there was that extra space and she just stutter stepped into it. I fully saw her turn her head in surprise to see what was happening back there. Aha! More room for my rumpus. She came out of the trailer at the lake dry!

We had a great ride out over the ridge and down below the dam, we even crossed the road and did a loop on the far side of the trails that are best accessed from the parking lot where my truck got robbed. Those far trails are really my favorite and I hadn't been on them in a long time, I so enjoyed them today. Desire drank at almost all the water stops and we had a couple of good grazing sessions along the way. She peed--in the stream where we stopped for them to drink! Luckily I was downstream of N *cringe* Desire is NOT shy about her bodily functions, she always poops and pees under saddle. Just like last time, after about the 15 mile mark was when she really quieted down, got a little tired, and when we would stop for any reason she would just Stand. Still. Not easy for her to do. But she was sure standing like a champ 15 miles in :-)  Both horses were hungry, they were eyeballing and snatching at the grass along the trail the last few miles and Desire ate out of her hay net back at the trailer as well as gobbling any carrots offered. 

Sweaty hungry mare back at the trailer

Oh! My right hind boot came off when we were trotting uphill. Well not came off, it actually stayed on thanks to the gaiter and somehow slid all the way around so Desire was stepping on the gaiter and the boot was facing behind her. Amazingly the gaiter didn't rip at all, but the screw holding the gaiter onto the boot came off. Not a big deal though, I saved the little threaded washer part so I just need a little screw. So Desire finished the ride down one hind boot but did fine and I'll fix the boot tomorrow. N brought me a bag of her Easyboots that weren't working out for her mare and I scored 2 size 1 Epics to try on Blaze! I'll try them out and buy them from her if they work. 

Desire trailered home nicely, she came out of the trailer totally dry again! It was exciting to see and I hope that this is the beginning of the journey to Desire traveling happily in my little trailer. 

I'm beat. And a little sunburned I think. Great day :-)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sheza Blaznhaat Xpres: 9 months old

Took some photos of my wild and silly filly this evening before feeding. On Saturday she will be officially 9 months old!

Sheza at a few days old and at 9 mo