Saturday, May 31, 2014

A lot, but That's Horses

"I'll post that tomorrow." becomes "I'll do a week recap post." becomes "Ughh, so much to catch up on and it's stressful, I don't wanna."  But in the spirit of horse bloggerdom* here I sit, ready to catch you all up on what some of you already know, and others will be surprised to read. It seems these days easiest to break the story recaps down by critter name, I am literally to the point with dogs and horses where I'm calling them the other's ones names like a person with a lot of kids. 

First, the easy ones! 

Scrappy is looking great, his saddle marks have grown hair back in wonderfully and only my total distraction over other horse, dog, and life issues have prevented me from trying out the treeless saddles still sitting in my tack room. Soon! 

Desire is queen boss as always, happily retired in pasture as my main filly babysitter, Mini horse torturer, and general Meal timekeeper. 

Blaze is looking great, he's maintaining a really nice weight for him on his diet right now despite a light work load. Other's would still call him rotund but you can just feel/see the line of ribs when he moves out and he is shiny and sassy as can be.

Rory is looking better every day, and is becoming a total convert to the Human Experience. She has started hollering at us when we drive in and is getting better at replying to "FILLY!" when I randomly call it, something that always got a goofy yell back from Sheza and that I love to do. 

Some photos from last week, thinking about being caught..
..45 minutes of mellow evasion, tahdah

 the Aurora's ;-)
brave girl marched around drinking from all the waters and investigating
 mentally tired, still wearing a little dewormer, decided that she ground ties ;-)
 She licks her mash bowls clean now, loving the timothy/alfalfa pellet and SafeChoice mix. We've had a couple of great haltered sessions and so far she is truly living up to the steady Rushcreek reputation despite not having been born to the range scenario.

***And now, for some drama! ***

Rambo began to weave last week. I saw him doing it one evening by his fence line and the rhythmic motion of his head back and forth immediately caught my attention. It was far enough out and he didn't have a fly mask on, so I had a passing notion that maybe, just maybe, he was scratching his forehead on the fence/keeping flies off with the rhythm. My gut told me that it was the early stages of that neurotic weaving I have only seen in unhappy, stabled, or lonely horses. He is living on Sheza's Hill in my 2nd biggest pasture and sharing a fence line with Scrappy, so it's a pretty ideal scenario but I do know that he has an active mind and wants to be engaged, something that his not-improved leg doesn't entirely allow for.  (full Rambo back story here)

he's certainly happy in his groceries..sigh

 I kept his fly mask on 24 hours for a couple days but sure enough saw him weaving at the fence line, in the mask, the next evening. He only does it for about 60 seconds at a time so far but I know that it can become a very nasty habit and need to be proactive immediately. My husband, used to my program of fixing up and rehoming horses, is ready for Rambo to move along and find his home, especially with the advent of the weaving. I understand his point and yet don't feel comfortable rehoming Rambo with his bad leg, nor can I risk my youngsters/competition/old horses in a herd setting to see if that would make him happier, especially with my husband wishing him to move along.

I very seriously considered the option of humane euthanasia as I do feel that that is the most responsible action to take for a hurt or unhappy horse, who's safe future once out of your hands you simply cannot guarantee. Anything else is what-ifs and maybes and fairy tales; even with a buy back or return contract and even with a sound horse, horses are going down the drain in terrible situations all over the country daily. 

Still, with the herd scenario still a very real possibility to quiet his mind and buy him time for his leg to heal, I reached out to a good friend who runs a wonderful local horse program, Back in the Saddle Project. Not to derail but there are many "horse rescues" out there going about things all wrong, and BITS simply isn't one of them. Deb is the most hard working, tireless horse advocate I've had the pleasure to be around and by that I mean she is out there at all hours --after her full time job-- all over CA, not just saving horses but actually rehabbing, evaluating, training, and placing them. Nothing about helping horses is easy, certainly not even giving them a dignified and humane death, but also that step beyond just "saving them" and actually going the extra mile to make that horse whole again, trained, and given a partner and a real life is huge and it simply isn't done well very often in my experience. If you have time please do check out BITS and donate, foster, or adopt as you can.

Website and Facebook:

Back to Rambo, I asked Deb if she had a herd setting he might be able to try out, to see if that didn't stop the weaving and give him the mental stimulation he needs for a time, while giving his hind end more chance to heal. Since BITS is local it would also be a safe location I could reevaluate him in *and* the perfect place to find another suitable home, if that were to ever be a good option for him.

As it stands now, Rambo heads out to join the BITS herd next week! 
Sheza brought her own drama to the table this week, but first, let's acknowledge (in my case revel in) how wonderfully she has been doing up at Moore Horses, here are a couple photos sent along by trainer April:

Wednesday evening Sheza went out for a short ride with trainer April, and on return the only thing evidenced was this tiny bloody dot on her left front:
 Upon returning an hour and a half later from riding another trainee, April discovered Sheza swollen up and favoring that left front. Here it is cleaned up, clearly minimal, but the swelling and lameness was undeniable:

Sheza patient. The hospital kind, not the calm/non pushy kind ;-)
I am so fortunate and grateful to have April on the case, as she was sending me photos and updates immediately and set aside her schedule to take Sheza in to the vet the next morning, due to the nasty location of the puncture and swelling and the sudden onset lameness.

at vet next morning

 We got clear x rays on Thursday and the doc was fairly certain the tiny puncture wasn't even an issue, but due to the lameness and what he felt may be suspensory ligament pain, we opted to send her on to the doc's other facility for ultrasounds as soon as he could, which was the next day.

The vet called me yesterday afternoon with the good news that without any Bute for over 24 hours the swelling and lameness had decreased markedly, but I still opted for ultrasounds to be sure. Fortunately they were affordable through the vet and it gives me the peace of mind to truly know what is going on in her young leg. Within an hour or so Doc was back on the phone with the happy news that the ultrasounds looked good and she had most likely just whacked her leg and sored herself up. He recommended a couple of weeks off and a possible vet reevaluation before resuming work. PHEW!!!

April picked Sheza up at the vet last night and took her back home and as you may imagine, Princess face was not very amused at how her life had been going the last few days. Ooo cranky filly face!
In happier yet news, April messaged me this morning to say that the swelling and lameness is essentially gone! 

After discussing it with April, Sheza will be staying up there for the few weeks of rest, and in theory finishing her work with April when the leg is better. I have no reliable horse vet all of a sudden down here so her staying up there with April also ensures Sheza's  leg can be reliably rechecked by vets that saw what happened if necessary. It is of course totally odd to be removed from it all and I miss her and want to be there for every moment, but I also know she couldn't be in  better hands and am totally grateful to April.

PHEW! So that is the horse wrap up. Meanwhile, one of our mini dachshund pups got run over by the Polaris side-by-side, but xrays and a week of rest confirmed him to be okay fortunately. Now he's just covered in random hives for whatever reason. *sigh*  Good thing I don't have human children, and that is the truth!!

*the spirit of Horse Bloggerdom to me is telling it all, the good, bad, and ugly, so we can all learn

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Collection of Updates

Who's that big red working horse? Oh shoot, that's my filly girl, Sheza, excelling at Moore Horses!

 Scrappy's saddle rubs are growing hair back beautifully with the aid of Dy's Liquid Bandage, and in his off time he is glorying in his breed transformation to a pinto poopaloosa.
Wonderful endurance friends stepped up for me big time in the last week, and I am so very grateful once again both for the great community and camaraderie present in the sport of endurance, but for the silly social networking site Facebook, which has enabled so many horse and tack purchases, new connections, learning opportunities, and hey look--2 treeless saddles to try!

Sensation English and Sensation Hybrid. Thanks LCT!!!

 ***Crazy Wiener Dog interlude!****

my husband crossing a fork of the river with the pups
tired wieners are good wieners! ;-)

Five years ago this week I drove a few hours north to check out a craigslist ad that I had been looking at off and on for months. The horse I went to see was a 12(ish) year old, 14.3 hand(not!), Arabian(?) gelding with an unblazen face--and the unlikely name of Blaze. He pranced and trumpeted and bucked at the canter on our short test ride and when we got back to the barn I declared "Sold!" and spent an hour trying to get him to load in my 2 horse straight. 

Blaze the day he arrived at our then-rental, May 2009
Since that perhaps inauspicious beginning Blaze has pranced through gymkhanas, sorted cows, given many a child their first horseback ride, taken my mom and husband on special rides with me, ponied many the project and youngster horse, gone thousand+ conditioning/trail miles with many good friends, and completed 190 AERC Limited Distance miles (25-30 mile rides at a time) with me all over northern California. 

cache creek ridge ride LD 2011

Georgia riding Blaze who is telling past project Joey to STAY for me
My niece Araceli riding Blaze
 Wild West 2013 Blaze completed 2 LDs
 He has a farm plug walk, a kidney pounding trot, a build that makes people call him Fat even when you can see his ribs--and he's the best darn little horse I've ever had. I have a big grin as I type this just thinking of Blaze, and that's even after having perhaps the most frustrating and ridiculously slow ride on him ever yesterday. It simply doesn't matter what this fella throws at me, all he has to do is turn that big soft eye at me and I'm melty again.

see look, RIBS! as well as that luscious belly
 once you hide the ribs any notion of svelte is long gone but he's so adorable <3
A of GoPony had mailed me a full cheek Myler bit to try out so I rode Blaze in that yesterday and that was the most satisfactory part of the ride for sure. He carried the bit nicely and responded to it very well with no giraffey shenanigans and A was kind enough to sell me the bit after I decided I liked it! Scrap will try it next as he has been bumped back from the hackamore and has been going pretty well in the same 3 piece Herm Sprenger snaffle that Blaze was. Tack hoarder and expert friends rock!

Blazey rocks our first Myler
 I will attribute the appallingly slow pace of the ride yesterday to a surprisingly humid day (both horses were *soaked* after 10 miles), a bad pairing of horses in Blaze and Willow as neither of them is a forward leader, Blaze being barefoot in the front which he milks tragically despite always going barefoot at home and in the hinds-- and finally the gigantic pee that Blaze desperately took in the cross tie stall when we got home. He's not a great drinker so he had an electrolyted mash with breakfast hay, drank and ate and pooped wonderfully out on the ride, but just had NO forward momentum. I pedaled my little legs off and vacillated between extreme frustration and concern that he was dying, but when N's Willow finally decided to trot in the lead for a bit Blaze immediately perked and *charged* forward in fine fettle, so I decided that 1) he was dogging me and 2) he probably had to pee. I did of course pull off trail, spent time on foot, we stopped to graze a few times; he certainly had chances to pee but he held it, and it sucked for all involved. In a perfect world I would have stayed out there til he peed and/or got his act together but we were all just done after 10 miles so we called it a day.

lovely day for a plod ;-)
 Yet another great buddy helped me out and we have now finally gotten RC Rory's fecal run, 3 different ways no less, and concluded that she has a low dose of worms that is totally safe to be treated with a standard dewormer like the fenbendazole Safeguard dewormer that I just happened to buy the other day! Woohoo, progress! Rory has shed out quite a bit more and is finally getting some shine to her but her ribs are still showing and I was nearly certain she came with worms but didn't want to dose her until I was sure where we were at.

Treeless saddles to be tried, a boarder filly coming home Wednesday, Sheza done with training and coming home in a few weeks, ah, the fun never stops! :-)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Celebrating, and Not

Yesterday was my 27th birthday and today is my 4th wedding anniversary. My mom is on her way  here for a couple of days' visit this morning and the sun is shining beatifically despite a wild wind that hasn't entirely quit for days now.

Here's Sheza the other day, doing wonderfully with April at Moore Horses, and just confirmed to be staying for another 30 days of brain boot camp:

9 month old RC Rory is finally starting to look better, shedding out her Nebraska fluff and gaining weight. Her legs go on for miles it seems!

morning filly yoga

There are indeed many things to be joyful about and grateful for this day, but going forward with my intended ride schedule doesn't number among them. After a final Decider test ride on Scrappy this past Saturday I have thrown in the towel on attending NASTR 75 (and thus hopes for the Triple Crown this year).

I've been updating the blog with my recent saddle issues, but here's a synopsis:

*Happy Scrappy goes great in western Abetta saddle for 2 Lds and 20 miles of an RO'ed 50 last fall

*I decide I miss riding English, the Abetta fenders tweak my knee, and impulsively trade my Specialized Eurolight (didn't like the narrow twist anyway) for a 17" seat wide tree Frank Baines All Purpose saddle in January of this year.

*Scrappy flies delightfully down the trail in a saddle that seems to fit us both great for the next approx 4 months (in winter hair). His sweat marks are pretty darn good but not picture perfect,

*April 5th Nevada Derby 50,  Scrap finishes with matching sore spots on his back under my seat bones, nowhere near future rub marks and most likely due to Surprise!-traveling inverted like a giraffe (which is since being addressed with lateral/bitted work)

*1 mellow 8 mile jaunt from home a week after the 50 to stretch his legs, no real sweat pattern or exertion, nothing noticed

*3.5 weeks after Derby 50 I ride my first hot (in the 90s), hilly, moving out 15 miles of the year on a now shed-out Scrappy. Not back sore afterwards but saw the sweat pattern looked less even than has previously when saddle comes off. Get home, wash him, and with the hair clean and swirling see PINK bald patches revealed, perfectly matching, behind the shoulder where the uneven sweat marks were.

*1 week later, Have hissy fit. Assess tack room. With Trailmaster and Abetta we still have 2 viable options, huzzah! Put Abetta on Scrappy and realize it in no way fits at all anymore. Play with Specialized Trailmaster fit, goop up rub marks, reintroduce crupper, and do short but hilly 5 mile ride from home. Back, spots, and saddle fit seem good, so 2 days later goop the spots up again and ride 14 miles at the lake to see if there is any hope of getting to NASTR. Post ride reveals left side mark, which had grown some callused skin already, fine, while right side looks more pinked out.
The hair immediately in/around these pink areas is cruddy and wants to be shed out. I guess that's the dead hair wanting to escape?   I have little to no experience with saddle rubs previously and I am totally appalled that I have matching pink bald patches on my horse now. Never were the rubs/bald spots painful but I can't in good conscience ever walk into a ride camp with an underweight, tack galled, or otherwise NQER* horse, so there it is.

Well at least underweight is never a problem ;-)

Now what? A few weeks (or however long) til I like what I see hairwise on those spots, and back to the drawing board on saddle fit. We'll catch a 50 later in the season when we're sorted out and in the meantime there are always other horses needing riding and training. Onward!

*Not Quite Extra Right, my personal qualification for sending in those dollars and asking my horse to carry me an inordinate number of miles

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rushcreeks: Yay and Neigh

I think I've cleared this up on the blog previously but just in case I didn't, a reminder that Rushcreek Aurora will be called Rory around the barnyard. It was a nickname my birth father called me as a kid and something I haven't used or heard since; it seems an appropriate nickname for this new little filly since we certainly can't both march around being Aurora's. ;-)

The first 2 days Rory had eyes only for the herd. The third day she began to watch my movements around the property. By the fourth day she had begun immediately noting my voice and heading for the gate, helped into that habit by hog-let fenceline sharer Desire, who perv-whinnies at me and rushes the gate every time I appear in case I'm en route to fulfilling my sole purpose on earth, i.e. feeding her. 

oh Hey, morning, whatcha doin?
pause for scratches
sleep baby chew coming to investigate
Rory's hooves need a trim pretty badly, having never been done, but I don't feel the need to tangle with baby legs until she's ready to present them to me, just like I wouldn't want to rush and jump on a horse until the foundation was there. As my horse trainer says, "If you can't run a rope all over it, you probably don't want to get on/under it." For now I haven't even haltered Rory again since her arrival, just spending time with her at liberty, bringing her around to me theory of scratches and human interaction. She loves to be rubbed all over her head, neck, back, and haunches, and each day I run my hands lower on each leg and between her front legs and belly, the ticklish spots. She squirts away when alarmed but always circles right back for more.

She is also a fan of naps! And naps taken in/next to breakfast are generally preferable:

***Crazy Wiener dog Interlude!!***

Wilbur laying in a ditch
Kodiak excavates the other end  ;-)

I had planned to spend what was a gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot Sunday yesterday riding *the other Rushcreek* (totally tickled to type that! <3 ) Scrap at the lake, seeing how my next-in-line saddle fit was going.

ho-hum, saddle fitting is boring
His fully shed out coat coupled with a hot 15 mile ride last week showed me pink rubs behind the shoulder with the Frank Baines that I had never seen before. I've been riding him in the FB just the last handful of months and he was going great in it aside from some backsoreness after finishing the Derby 50, which  I had potentially attributed to his surprise rushy high headed giraffe way of going during that ride (also being addressed). I suppose with the look of the rub spots now they might well have been brewing under the winter coat right along. Sigh.

fleabitten Scrappy grey makes saddle marks easy to see! not!
Easier to see wet, or highlighted
With the NASTR 75 mile  literally 3 weeks away my next saddle solution was to go to the Specialized Trailmaster I use on Blaze. As I stared gloomily into my tack room thinking about the unsquashed fitting cushions of the correct width that I *didn't* have, I realized that I still did have the leather western Abetta saddle that we happily finished both very hilly days at Mendo Magic with. I was super excited about that possibility and got my husband to help me shanghai stirrup leathers on the Abetta instead of fenders--then I put the saddle up on Scrappy without a pad and discovered that he had very much indeed changed shape with all that fitness in the last few months and the Abetta didn't fit in the shoulders at all. 


Specialized it is, then. I dug out the old 3/4" fitting cushions I used for Desire and gloomily assessed them. I knew the cushions were too thick, except where they were too thin from apparent stirrup bar pressure..
I was still determined to piece together some sort of fit, but next realized I'd butchered every shim ever and there weren't even going to be shims to use--until I remembered my last hoarder spot, the ride vet bag in the horse trailer, where I found these, complete with god light and angels singing:
Except for that whole wrong fitting cushions part. After making a bad fit worse with the shims, I decided it was actually a mighty fine day for brushing and hoof trimming instead. And my tack room looked like this, post World War Saddle:
 I went whinging off to my Facebook friends and Funder promptly replied that she had 1/2" unsquashed Specialized fitting cushions and would be UPS'ing them to me in the morning. Endurance buddies!! <3 <3

So no riding this past weekend, but after chatting with Funder, somewhat calmer horse contemplation, and now, watching for the UPS man obsessively.

Sweet, no work! Scrap doesn't mind
 Rambo getting Scrappy's scraps
RC Rory thinks it's not too shabby being a California girl!

 Hey Human!